Cut Down to Size.
by Jennifer Sey
Where were you Stefanie Wilder-Taylor when I was wrestling infants into the nursing hold on the bathroom floor, reeling in boundless and unfathomable shame for not being woman enough to flood their little bodies with the mommy produced, golden panacea … breast milk? I needed you! I had no one to tell me it was ok that this wasn't going quite as smoothly as I'd hoped, that the formula I was supplementing with wouldn't poison them. I didn't know! Well, I knew in my head but in my heart I felt that with every scoop of Similac I was squirting the equivalent of arsenic down their gullets, condemning them to a life of asthma, allergies, Aspergers and other harrowing afflictions.
Of course, my boys are just fine now. They are 8 and 6, well past the ages in a developed nation where breast feeding is acceptable. They both thrive in school. They have no allergies as I was threatened they would if I didn't nurse them until they were 18 months old. They are not developmentally challenged, never had ear infections and seem to have bonded with me.
I nursed. I did. Both boys got the breast until they were about 8 months old. But they got formula too, from day one. Here's the deal: many years ago, during college, when anorexia transitioned to bulimia, my weight ballooned. And so did my boobs. There was great shame in that. And discomfort. My body was bloated and out of control. And my boobs had a mind of their own, inflating beyond the rest of my oh so puffy physique. To this day, I'm not really sure how big they were.
I crammed those suckers into the smallest size bra possible to avoid having to claim higher letters in the alphabet. I suffered the usual array of symptoms - permanent strap indentations on my shoulders, a sore back and unmanageable embarrassment due to ogling from crude college boys. I hated myself.
So I got a breast reduction. I told very few people because I was ashamed that I needed one. I was mortified that my body was so grotesque and disorderly that I had to mutilate it in order to feel even semi-normal. And then, once I had those puppies knocked down to size, it wasn't like they were small. Still a generous C cup. I still felt pretty unruly. But it was better.
Of course, I didn't think about the impact this surgery might have on my ability to nurse my children a few years down the line. And even if the doctor had told me – and she might have, I don't recall – that there was a chance I wouldn't be able to nurse, I wouldn't have cared. I would have had the reduction anyway. I was desperate.