The moment you unclip your maternity bra and whip out the tatas, your world changes. You no longer walk on solid ground. You no longer exist in a world of comfortable normalcy.
You have entered a world of warring dualities. You can feel happy one second and then plunge into the depths of misery the next. While it is awesome and great and all of the things your lactation consultant promised you it would be, breastfeeding is nuts and, at some point, will have you thinking these 15 things.
1. How long can this kid breastfeed?
You were but a young sapling when the breastfeeding session started: innocent, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. A lifetime has passed since then. You’ve aged and this kid is still feeding. You wonder whether it will ever end. You worry that it won’t. A part of you doesn’t mind.
2. Is it over already?
Your baby is done in five minutes flat. “What’s happening?” you mutter, confused. You should be happy. You know you should be happy. So why are you checking your baby for signs of malnutrition and the ceiling for signs of a candid camera?
3. What is that little head-shaking thing you do?
It’s so cute. Are you looking for the nipple? Is that what’s happening? Never stop.
4. I don’t ever want to stop breastfeeding
You bring tears to your own eyes thinking about how beautiful breastfeeding really is. “It’s a real bond,” you whisper to your suckling infant, who remains oblivious to your sentimentality, “and I never want it to end.” Then you wipe away a tear because you know you do not plan to breastfeed an 18-year-old.
5. When can I stop breastfeeding?
Sometimes you have to stop yourself from bursting into manic laughter at the thought of weaning. Soon, so very soon, your nipples shall be free.
6. Left or right boob?
You learned your left from your right pretty early in life and yet now, faced with your baby’s adorable little eyes, you are having some trouble, some real trouble. You can’t remember which side you’re up to. Eventually you play a little game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe, grab a boob at random and hope your baby doesn’t get too much hind milk.
7. Am I running out of milk?
You try not to panic as you breathe into a paper bag and start a low chant of, “Milllk miiiiilllllk miiiillllkkk mmmiiilllkk.” You’re convinced it’s all over and your boobs have handed in their notice…
8. Drink, baby! Before my boobs explode!
… except a couple of hours later your chest feels like it could burst and your boobs have taken on a life of their own. They’re perky and growing towards your chin at an alarming rate. You’d be proud and delighted if not for the fear that they might actually suffocate you. “She died happy, crushed by the weight of her ginormous knockers,” your obituary will read.
9. What will it be like when she gets teeth?
One day when your baby is particularly rough with her gums, a sudden thought occurs to you, “One day she’ll have teeth.” You wake in night sweats every night after that.
10. I wish I could drink a beer. I need a beer.
A beer. Just one cold beer. That’s what you’d like in that precise moment. Just a beer. Just a cold beer. Just a beer. A beer, please, Just. One. Beer. Cold, please.
11. Are you just using me for my boobs?
Every now and again you look at your baby — her enthusiasm when she sees your boob, the unbridled glee as she feeds, the complete look of satisfaction when she’s done — and you wonder, “Do you like spending time with me for me, baby? Or is it all about the boobs?”
12. Did you just bite me?
The inevitable happens. Little teeth dig in and for a moment everything goes white. When you come to, your baby is looking up at you, smiling sweetly. You never saw it coming. Your nipple still throbs. You feebly tell the baby not to bite, aware that another attack is probably imminent.
13. My nipple is not a pacifier
“Seriously, baby?” you mutter as you watch your baby innocently suckle herself to sleep. An arrangement needs to be made; a talk needs to happen because she needs to know the correct function of a nipple. “In the morning I’m going to set some nipple rules,” you lie to yourself.
14. How do I do this discreetly?
You find yourself in a crowded cafe with nowhere to hide with an infant who is about to lose it if she doesn’t get milk. You look around for help. There is no help. “How do people do this?” you wonder as you try to use your elbows and a pot plant as a shield.
15. Hey, kid, why are you showing my boobs to the world?
The jig is up. Everyone has seen your goods. The people at your table, the people at the table across from your table, the man on the other side of the street, the small child peacefully sleeping in her bed three blocks down the road. Somehow, by some force of nature, your baby has ensured that everybody has gotten a peek.