Edgy Mama: Milk machine

The media and the message boards have been all over breastfeeding rights lately, what with the hubbub around a nursing mom being reprimanded for alleged immodesty in a Kentucky restaurant.

I’m not going to get into that ferocious debate here. Instead, I thought I’d engage in a little nipple-gazing reverie because really, I can only tell you what I know — babies like to nurse and boys never forget.

I nursed my babies all over the place. No one ever told me to cover up or leave a restaurant. I did occasionally get some funny looks, but those were mostly from my traditional Southern father.

Both of my kids took to the breast easily, so I was spared the difficulties some mothers have with the initial stage of latching and letdown. I figured this was my karmic reward for being nauseated throughout most of both pregnancies and for sharing DNA with a man whose head circumference relative to my hip girth almost made us genetic dead ends.

My first child, my girl, was a voracious nurser. So much so that she would drink too quickly, then projectile vomit. I would panic, convinced that she was going to “fail to thrive,” so I’d nurse her again.

I became a dairy farmer’s dream.

I’m convinced that, after nursing her for several hours a day I could’ve fed the entire baby population of a small village single-breastedly. Within an hour of feeding her, I’d look like Dolly Parton, my B cup a far-off, distant memory.

Even so, she weaned herself at 16 months. And once she left the breast, she never looked back. Within a week, she seemed to have forgotten where she’d gotten 95 percent of her sustenance for most of her life.

Less than two years later, my son was born. The Tick, as I sometimes called him, was a sucking machine. While most babies lose weight the first week after birth, he actually gained a pound.

He got so big so fast that the only way I could nurse him was to lie on my side with him next to me, suckling away. I spent so much time in this position that I started worrying about bed sores.

Turns out that my son is also verbally precocious. All that sucking must have developed his speech muscles. His second word, at about 10 months, was “nurse.” After I’d heard someone else’s kid screaming, “Me want boobie!” on a city bus, I decided that I’d never use certain words, even around a baby.

I had to force wean my boy when he was just under 2. Yes, 2 years old. I first tried leaving Junior alone with his Dad for a night, only to be attacked with the frenzy of a tiger shark upon my return. On my second try, I found an awesome weaning opportunity — kittens! I took them home, much to the horror of my pet-challenged spouse, but they worked. Every time the boy begged to nurse, I’d say, “Look at the cute cavorting kittens!” Distraction is a gift to parents from the gods.

Of course, I should qualify my “it worked” statement by saying that, unlike my daughter, my son has not forgotten the wonder of the breast. He is now 6 years old and still talks about nursing. He pretends to nurse when he wants affection, even though he knows that touching my nursies is off-limits. He still manages to “accidentally” nose one every once in a while.

There has been one change in his breast obsession. He’s noticed that I’m not the only one blessed with them. Recently, we were at Marco’s for dinner, and just as our waitress walked away after taking our order, my boy said, “Wow. She’s got nice nursies.”

He must be growing up.

— Anne Fitten Glenn is a freelance writer based in Asheville. She covers a number of topics (including parenting) on her blog, EdgyMama.com.


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12 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Milk machine

  1. Rio

    I hope you will keep this for conversation at your son’s rehearsal dinner one day!

  2. Janeen Lee

    I think people who don’t breastfeed (men included) make a big deal about it. But those of us who do (or did) breastfeed, just do it. I’ve always found the freedom in making personal choices one of the keys to happiness.

  3. Kriss

    “I think people who don’t breastfeed (men included) make a big deal about it.”

    I’m a man, and the only “big deal” I’ve ever made about it is to strongly encourage it. My three children were all born in the early ’60’s, and believe it or not, that was a time when breastfeeding was not encouraged at all. The majority of young women just assumed you had to deal with bottles and formulas. You actually had to affirmatively tell the hospital and doctors that you intended to breastfeed – because by default you did not. My children were breastfed and grew up to be very healthy, hardly ever having childhood sicknesses like some other children who were not breastfed.

    Btw, slightly off-topic, but none of my children *ever* had a pacifier stuck in their mouths either. They sucked their thumbs as is normal for a small child, and since we never made some kind of big deal about that or tried to discourage it, they soon gave that up as soon as they were able to do other things with their hands.

    I think people should nurture their babies and children as nature, or God, intended.

  4. thomas

    i am 27 and still have ‘not forgotten the wonder of the breasts,” either. i often find myself ‘accidentally’ bumping into my girlfriend’s, and rushing her when she comes in the door after an evening out without me. she, too, distracts me with little kittens. so it must be a guy thing.

  5. golden

    That is the cutest story EVER.

    I have a pj tee that says “Hooray for Boobies!”

  6. Jessica

    Another great topic and, yet again, Edgy Mama, you know how to come at it in a light fun way. Thanks for that!
    I just was woken up by my 6 month old for his first of many middle-of-the-night nursies. I hate them and I love them at the same time! (the nursies, not the baby!)
    My girl nursed till I was 4 mos pregnant w/ her brother, @ 2.5, and has nursed a few times since. I figure it’s no biggie; doesn’t bother me and really reduces their sibling rivalry, I think.
    It’s just not something I feel like limiting; there’s so much NO that goes on for children, I like to be a big ol’ YES in their lives as often as possible.

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