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.