The Story of my Boobs | Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Once upon a time, my boobs used to be perky.  Once upon a time, I wore push-up bras to make my perky boobs even more perky.  Once upon a time, they were porcelain, round and perfect, or at least perfect to me.  Not too big, not too small.  No sags.  No stretch marks.  No loose skin.  And I won't even tell you about the separate but closely related story of my nipples.  {I don't think my mom, dad, grandmom,  or husband would really appreciate me sharing any more about that.}

 I remember when I was pregnant with Callie how a coworker told me, "Your boobs will never be the same!" and I couldn't imagine what she meant.

Looking in the mirror, now, I do.  I totally get it.  They are totally and completely different.  Interestingly, though, I don't really miss my old boobs that much. 

You see, these new boobs tell a story.  

One of heartache and loss.  One of joy and happiness.  And everything in between.

image by the talented Sandi Farrell of    Four Wishes Photography

image by the talented Sandi Farrell of Four Wishes Photography


I can still remember attending the breastfeeding class for new moms that was offered at the hospital.  Sweet little Callie wiggled around in my tummy as I took notes furiously and John tried his best not to laugh.  I couldn't wait to give it my very best shot.

But then, I didn't get to.  Callie was born and rushed to another hospital on life support.  I can still vaguely remember asking one of the nurses who attended me in the few hours I spent alone in my hospital room how Callie would be fed without me.  Should I be doing something?  Pumping?  Would she be hungry?  They patted my hand and looked at me sadly.  "They are taking care of her, try and get some rest."  I still had hope then.  Hope that she would survive.  Hope that she would need me and my boobs and my milk.

But God had different plans.  Callie passed away the next day in our arms.

When I was released from the hospital, my favorite nurse, Cindy, gave me instructions for how to stay comfortable when my milk came in.  I was in shock.  I heard the words and let them go in one ear and out the other.

For a while I started to worry that I wouldn't get any milk at all.  What did that mean?  Had I completely failed as a mother?  And then, a few days after...  My milk came.  Oh, boy, did it come in.

My boobs were rock hard reminders of all that we had lost.  With no baby to feed, I was left to wear tight sports bras with cold cabbage leaves stuffed in them.  I can still vividly remember the first time I laughed after Callie died.  It was when my dad and sister stood over the cutting board with a head of cabbage and a knife trying to decide if they should cut out holes in the leaf for my nipples.  I'm pretty sure my dad was making jokes about me becoming rabbit food or smelling like a salad.  They (like everyone) were helpless to heal my pain, but dammit they could cut some holes in some cabbage leaves!  Ha, still makes me laugh even though it was so sad.

So, when Charlotte came along, you can probably understand my desperate desire to breastfeed, to do the simple, natural act of mothering that was I was robbed of with Callie's death.  And so Charlotte's very first experience nursing (after cleaning her up a bit from the C-section) was at my breast as I laid on the operating table.  An amazing nurse held her to me and she took to it right away (little Barricuda that she was!).  I did the same with Lila and will always treasure those moments of bonding.

Breastfeeding and me didn't always get along.  There were so many times I wanted to quit.  The pain!  The hassle of pumping at work!  Negotiating clothing!  Everything (seriously, everything!) revolving around my boobs. But every time I wanted to quit, I thought about those stupid, smelly cabbage leaves.  It was hard work and a complete sacrifice, but the memory of my sweet angel kept me going through each tough turn.  

I would do it again in a heartbeat despite the lumpy, dumpy, stretch-marked boobs that were left in breastfeeding's wake.   These boobs, they tell that story.  Mine.  My angel.  My sweet girls' hands resting gingerly on my chest.  The coos.  The snuggles.  The late nights.  And all the weird places we nursed together.  I'd do it all over again.

So here's to you, breastfeeding mommas.  Happy World Breastfeeding Week!  My wish for all of you is to look down at your tatas and embrace the story that they tell.  

And don't worry, there's always push-up bras ;-)