Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Puddin' Boob

What’s funny about making the decision to put Ditto into Hospice care, is that I thought the internal post generation process would also slowly die…and yet, I find myself writing blurbs/quips/stories in my head all of the time. Especially while running, in the shower, or commuting. I call it my mental floss time. I clear out the plaque through story telling. And much of the time, I still write out posts, but I keep them in unpublished format. The difference is that now I don’t feel pressure to post, or pressure to be funny. Or pressure to give equal “face time” to all of my kids (someone once accused me of playing favorites and that the frequency of each child’s representation on my blog—and their images on IG--was commensurate with how much I love them. #ouch).

And I’m still doing my 52 weeks of pictures challenge, but it’s kind of a Facebook thing because all of that cross posting made me cross-eyed. And when talking bang for your buck, my network (most importantly the family segment) is most saturated on Facebook. But then I have moments that I want to transfer some of my thoughts in this space. Coupled with an unsolicited “I miss your blog” from an old friend (hey K!), I am reminded that it’s okay to still make a footprint from time to time.

 I wrote the following last week and figured, why not post...we all could use a little diversion from the daily grind.


It’s world breastfeeding week, and as the mammary jungle starts to age and show signs of wear and (it’s like the Annie E. Fales Funspace—amazing in its heyday, but eventually doomed for destruction after lots of loving. And if you get that reference, you also probably had a crush on Mr. Gatley and used the word “bubbler”.), I figured I might as well join in on the conversation. 

Gus still nurses about 1 time a day. It’s not nutritional. It’s a little more Ninja Warrior than I’d like (can a toddler actually deviate your septum? Because I think Gus has tried a few times), but he’s my last kid and it’s some special 1 on 1 time I rarely get having 3—needy—children. And he’s not sending me into preterm labor like Miles, or biting like Felix, so we are just going to keep on keepin’ on until he refuses…or does reconstructive surgery on my face…or goes through puberty (I kid). 

 So, yeah. This whole boobhaha brouhaha over Olivia Wilde and her magazine cover image? First, I have no idea who Olivia Wilde is, but she sure is purdy. Second, before I make my official statement on the image, let me remind you that my journalistic integrity is a hair above US Weekly, so let’s consider this a very biased Op-Ed piece. 

 I feel like the conversation is just another iteration of the mom wars, and part of me just wants to tune it all out and sit down with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and watch Naked and Afraid (please tell me you’ve seen this). It’s not that I’m not passionate about breastfeeding. It’s not that I don’t care about how others feel about the image, it’s that I get overwhelmed by how complex it all becomes when people talk about how we to feed our babies. It’s like all I can see is a big ole word cloud with entries like: commoditization, alienation, beauty, inappropriate, natural, glamorous, necessary, sexualization, irreverence...and the weight of the words changes from person to person. With such high attention/anxiety/scrutiny, I get confronted with the fight or flight response. And I’m a FLIGHTER. 

Ultimately, it just feels like women frequently walk away from discussions regarding breastfeeding feeling misunderstood, unsupported, angry, confused...because really, the right way to feed a baby is by your breast

…or with an SNS system 
…or under a Aden and Anais blanket 
…or with a bottle 
…or a syringe 
…or an NG tube 
…or with formula 
…or using a wet nurse
…or with half formula half mother’s milk 
…or on the floor of your minivan in the Target parking lot 
…or in plain sight on the NY subway 
…or with powdered infant soylent…AMIRITE? 

I’m creating a new movement, and I’d like you to join.

It’s called BIBU: 

I really do think breast is best unless:
…you have an adopted baby and are using formula 
…you are on medication that prevents you from nursing
…you are suffering from a raging case of yeasty mastitis and it’s like torture nursing (or pumping) 
…you went back to work and it’s just too much to keep it up 
…you have low milk supply and you are just overwhelmed and stressed by it all 
…you just don’t want to 
…[fill in the blank with whatever your personal reason is—it’s not for me to judge] 

So this about this “conversation” the interwebs got into over Olivia’s picture. I get it. Sometimes you have to make a big deal out of things in order for them to eventually NOT be a big deal. But I just want to be at the point where I can get an “amen” from other moms who relate to puddin’ boobs (see below) without others accusing me of indecency or conceit. I had an acquaintance say to me the other week, “I’m sick and tired of women complaining about breastfeeding when so many of us couldn't even do it. And honestly, it makes me uncomfortable when you talk about it.” I was all “ruh-roh”, and thought “please don’t ever find my blog.” 

I want to get to the point that even if someone doesn't have experience with nursing a child, that me mentioning it doesn't send them into a rage, or want to hide under the towel with all those kids eating cereal whose lactavist mothers are making an example of what some feel to be the cruelty of nursing under blankets. I want to get to the point that on world breastfeeding week, I can reach out to the universe and bemoan the fact although (almost) post-nursing boobs make exercise and the decision to opt for a rash guard top at the pool far easier, that there is a little sadness when I realize that my anatomy resembles used bags of space pudding. 

Okay, space pudding. Take a snack bag and fill it with pudding. Gather 3 ends up, and snip off the end filled with pudding to create like a homemade pastry bag. Dress your kids up in cosmonaut outfits (the space program ended in the US, right? Gotta go with the Russians), and ask them to pretend to be on MIR, eating dessert. It’s a twofor: snack and make-believe. But once the pudding is almost all sucked out of the bag, you get a weighty, wrinkly, almost empty bag that I can only say is a great description of a (my) body post-nursing. 

I don’t regret a moment over the past 6+ years of nursing and pumping for my boys (and I can’t bring myself to use the last of the frozen supply I have), but I would like to feel license to talk about the changes and new realities without issue, judgment or concern. Offer up a: “it’s been fun, but sad you took your elastin and excessive oxytocin with you…” without a blink of an eye. 

Going back to Olivia, personally, she looks GORG. Do I think she is normalizing the actual act of breastfeeding? Eh, not sure. I think the if nothing else it is that the conversation is slowly normalizing. Of course, it is not lost on me that A) the magazine’s intent, in part, is to sell issues, and B) I’m sure Olivia has the money to buy cruelty free, gluten free, paraben free, wrinkle free, reality free unicorn salve to get that flawless appearance (or in plebe speak: Photoshop). Hey, rock on with your bad self, girlfriend! If I had a legion of help to make me look like that, I’d whip off my shirt and nurse my 6-year-old in Waffle House if you asked me to. So I’m giving her a full on round of applause (for which there isn't a vestige of cleavage in a 100 mile radius as my hands hit together sadly) for looking so flawless while feeding her child. While my milk ducts tell me that the majority of nursing moms have never looked like this, I don’t begrudge her for making the process look so beautiful. And let’s be honest, puddin’ boobs never sold a magazine. 

PS- Olivia, if you are reading this, throw some of that unicorn salve over here!


  1. Pudding boob. I can't even...ok. back to naked and afraid.

  2. Love that you've posted again - enjoyed it as always! I also enjoyed the flashback to the Funspace (my parents helped to build it), as well as memories of Mr. Gatley giving spelling tests AND bubblers, of course!

  3. Did you see this re: Ms. Wilde? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/25/olivia-wilde-breast-milk-ice-bucket-challenge_n_5709025.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000037

  4. I love this post as well, Alison. I nursed you for just the same reasons you nurse Gus - it's precious private peaceful time with baby #3 which is all too rare. You've not lost the ability to express yourself with wit, charm and keen observations. Wouldn't it be great to be able to dictate those thoughts that come to you when you are running, though? I always thought my spontaneous thoughts conceived while doing housework or performing other mundane tasks were far superior to those I can actually get down on "paper". Love you!