by Alexis Barad-Cutler
This post was originally featured on Motherly (formerly Well Rounded) on October 14, 2015.
I feel stupid for even bringing this up again, because you guys, I have been talking about ending this breastfeeding thing since like, ten years ago. Ok, maybe just for the past six months, but still. We are STILL nursing with no end in sight at all. I know that it is totally normal to nurse as long as you want, and I want to hug and give spa days to the women who make it past two years but I. Just. Can’t. Anymore.
Believe me, I have tried to wean. I’ve offered many enticing bottles (ooooh! Yummy yummy pretty pretty bottle!) and he’s swatted them all away. I know I need to grow a pair (oh, wait) and go House of Usher on my breasts, building a brick wall around them or whatever, and just deal with the screaming and tantrums.
But like I said before, I am tired. I just want this to go away without my having to exert any effort at all and sadly that is not happening. I fear it never will.
And now, with The Not-So-Little One being over sixteen months now, and having become very um … vocal? Demonstrative? I don’t know, however it is that one describes how sixteen-month-olds let you know their needs without having a proper grasp on language and overall decorum – well, we’ve reached the point of what I like to call Extreme Nursing. Or better yet, Obscene Nursing, because I’m nursing a human being who can walk and whose body is so long, he needs to rest his legs on top of the table and who, when finished nursing, I half expect to snap his fingers and order a Martini or something. His latest nursing proclivities can make even the biggest nursing crusaders among us blush.
It would be one thing if we were just nursing in the privacy of our own home. There, no one would see that when he suckles on my right breast, he forcefully shoves my face away so that I can’t look down at him, and proceeds to play with my earrings. And if I dare turn my head to face him again, he will straight up slap my cheek. Or pick my nose.
If we only nursed at home, then it wouldn’t be weird that while he nurses one breast, he likes to rub my other nipple between his thumb and forefinger like its some kind of good luck charm. “Ah yes, Lucky Number Two,” I imagine him saying in a resonant smoker’s voice.
But no, this happens all over town, at every cafe or restaurant, every park, every Duane Reade we happen to be in at the time. Shit like, the kid is literally standing on the floor, pulling my torso down to him so that he can nurse with his neck upturned like a baby calf’s at his mother’s teat. I might as well get on all fours. That would surely impress the folks at Le Pain Quotidien!
Or how about the one I call The Bronx Cheer because of how he’ll paw at me until I disrobe and then, nurse for all of five seconds before he pulls off, looks me in the eye, and blows a raspberry. Then goes back to nursing.
And the other weekend when we were celebrating his big brother’s birthdayat Benihana in Midtown, I had to keep fighting him while nursing, to get his long legs off of the table because they were precariously close to the hot cooking surface where the shrimp were being made to dance and fly in the air into the chef’s hat. And while I was wrangling his feet, he pulled his favorite nursing move, which is to put two fingers in my mouth while he breastfeeds. I call this one The Violator. (He likes to save The Violator for family-friendly food establishment only). I can’t even fight him on this one. If I swat his finger away he jabs at my lips with a pointy nail and rams his finger between my teeth until they part.
But perhaps my absolute most despised nursing position of his is the Forced Pacifier one. This is when, just prior to clamping down on my nipple, he will remove his pacifier from his mouth and plonk it into my own. If I attempt to humor him by delicately holding the plastic edge of the pacifier between my teeth he looks at me like, “No, Bitch. But nice try,” and removes the paci before reinserting it so that I resemble Maggie from The Simpsons or worse, a fetishist.
It just ain’t right. Not anymore. My milk supply has gone waaaaayyyy down, so much so that he has to tug really hard to get anything at all. So hard, that he caused a fissure in my nipple that sends searing pain that I feel all the way to my toes whenever he nurses or when I get into the shower. Sure, this stuff is run of the mill to any mother of a newborn, but this should not be happening now, sixteen months in.
I just want to tell him, “Give up the ghost already! Nursing is SO last year! Nipple-free is the New Black!” but instead I remove my super expensive, new non-nursing bra from Saks that I had hoped not to stain and stretch out by pulling it down five times a day for this guy. And I close my eyes and pretend that all the good people and It Girls at the taco restaurant in Soho where we’ve decided to have lunch at that day won’t judge me too harshly as I wince in pain, and eat my carne esada while someone gingerly plays with my left nipple.