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Sep 8 2011

Empty Breast Syndrome

By at 12:36 pm

When I flew to Los Angeles for eight days, I took the following with me: Ten pairs of underwear, eight tanktops, six pairs of pants, four bras, and two lactating breasts.

Yes, Little Homie was still on the boob, and as I struggled with the decision to go to LA or not, the breastfeeding issue was the big pink nursing elephant (spraying milk all over the room.)

The thing is, Little Homie is 20 months – and while, like Mayim Bialik, I love the idea of child-led weaning, after 21 cases of mastitis and sleepless nights spent lying like a sow in bed next to my (not so little) nursling, I have reached the point of no return where every time he latches on, I want to bite back. Dude has molars, people. And an extensive vocabulary which includes the words “boob,” “nipple,” and “areola.”

Fortunately, we had already nixed the day nursing a long time ago when Little Homie started gan (kindergarten)¸ but that still left us with the night sessions, which most parents will agree are even harder to end because, after all, during the day, you’ve got about 10,000 distractions you can draw on if need be. But at night? Well, it’s just you, your “booboos,” and your (screaming) baby. (And a palpable awareness of your neighbors. Several blocks away.) And when your kid’s “transitional objects” are your breasts, weaning…well, sucks.

And in the week before we left, we had some rough nights: Little Homie was like a belligerent frat boy, pissed off that this beleaguered bar-wench had announced last call. But (somehow) we made it, and by the time I boarded the plane, I had effectively closed Mama’s Milk Bar.

But while Little Homie was dealing with this sobering new reality like a champ, on the other side of the world, my breasts were very confused. Because, after all, ever since that day in May of 2008 when M. corkscrewed into this world with a mighty yell, my boobs have hung (precariously and pendulously) in the balance between supply and demand. Every few hours, they would swell with milk, and one of my babies would empty them. And so it would go. From sunrise until, well, sunrise, through each passing season for three years and three months.

Lactating (and leaking) through the baby years was par for the course. Until I went to LA without taking the baby with me. The first 24 hours passed without much incident, and I figured my milk would just go quietly into the night, but on the second day of my trip, I woke up from a nightmare about fire ants crawling all over my chest. Half asleep, I tried to brush them away, but the sensation of hand-on-boob felt like getting knifed in the aerola. In my dream-daze, I looked down, and where my rolling hillocks had been the night before were mighty mountains I barely recognized as my own.

Can I get a “WTF,” people?

It was like Beyonce’s ass had landed on my chest. All firm and round and whatnot.

And it freaking HURT. Read the rest of this entry →


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