Open Letter to the Women who Use the Word “Tits” When Slamming Other Women for Breastfeeding in Public
Dear Women who Use the Word “Tits” When Slamming Other Women for Breastfeeding in Public:
You know, as in “cover ur tits!”
As in, “No one wants to see your saggy tits.”
As in, “My little boy doesn’t need to see your tits.”
As in, “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, lol. I just personally don’t want to look at tits in a restaurant!”
As in, “Put your tits away.” [Implied: Around my boyfriend]
As in, you make me shake with rage that you – A woman! An owner of your own glorious breasts! – feel compelled to use such a base, demeaning word to describe a female’s body part. That you use this word when speaking about a woman who, likely, you don’t even know, and who deserves nothing but the utmost respect from you. Because she is a woman. Because there is supposed to be this really cool, uplifting, life-affirming thing called a sisterhood between you two. Did you not get invited? Because, shit, it pisses me off that you choose to rhetorically put down another woman by attaching her to a porn search term.
As in, you make me judge you. Yes, that’s right. I said it. You say things like, “Holy balls! Is that a tit in Target? Yes, yes is.” And you make me draw flat, unfair assumptions about you. Like, that you are not very intelligent. That you are incredibly insecure. That you probably have little appreciation of classic art or literature or cultures outside of your nearest Starbucks, let alone on other continents. That you are the kind of woman who thinks, deep down, that maybe the sister in the short skirt really was asking for it. You bring out the ugly in me, and I resent that in you.
As in, you make me sad. You make me take that ugly and turn it into pity because, girl, this kind of attitude doesn’t come from thin air. What made you so insecure? What made you doubt yourself so much that you think your boyfriend might see a sliver of areola on the breast’s way into the baby’s mouth and be more turned on than he is by the wide open soul you lay before him every time you lay before him? What closed-door, closed-heart kind of childhood did you have that made you genuinely fear that exposing a young child to breastfeeding would mess with his understanding of what a woman is? Of what it means to grow a human and give your whole self to that child? Of what it means, even, to be comfortable and present with your own self? I can only assume that you have deeply rooted self esteem issues that are darker and sadder than I have room in my heart for today. Please, heal yourself. But don't tear other women down in the process with words that are small and angry.
Because, when you use words like "tits" instead of "breasts," you are not trying to have a conversation. You are not trying to learn or understand. You are not seeking a connection; you are instigating an argument. When you use words like "tits," I can't hear you over the sound of your smirk. I can't see you beyond your folded arms. I can't know you for who you might be outside of your anger.
So, Women who Use the Word “Tits” When Slamming Other Women for Breastfeeding in Public? Yeah, don’t.
My eyes are so heavy, and my heart is beating a little too fast. I should probably drink some more water. But I lie here, lost in my thoughts, my to-do list scrolling over and over through my tired brain, causing my heart to pound even harder. I have two days before we leave for Florida. I will never get everything done.
I worry about the flight. I must be out of my mind to fly with all three kids by myself. I think about needing bottles for the boys.
Wait. I'm supposed to be breastfeeding Little Hawk.
But, I can't remember the last time I nursed him. What day was it? I know it hurt, I know he crawled up my body, yanking my nipple, desperately trying to get more milk. But, that last time? I don't know what day it was. I don't know when.
I panic. I wasn't paying attention. Even when I knew this was going to be my last baby, I wasn't paying attention.
Lying in the darkness, I want nothing more than to nurse him, caress his cheek, stroke the budding hairs that seemed to have bloomed out of nowhere on the top of his tiny round head. I want to kiss his forehead and tell him he is my sweet boy.
I desperately try to think back, but my mind just scrambles pictures of the memories of the last couple weeks -- none that include that moment I need to find. None that can show me when exactly we were done.
The tears well up. I squeeze my nipples in the darkness. I think I feel some wetness. Relief rushes over me like the touch of the wave on your burning feet when you finally reach the water after running through hot sand.
I decide I will nurse him tomorrow, in the rocking chair. I will watch him and smile, and I won't go on IG or Pinterest or Facebook. I will make a point to remember.
It only lasted a few minutes before he started pulling my nipple like a piece of beef jerky and climbing up my chest. No more milk. But now if this is the last time, I know we ended nursing right. Just the two of us...my last baby.
And so it passes quietly, unceremoniously, in the long, layered shadows of your nursery. In the stillness of 5 a.m. In the tedious unraveling of a wicker rocking chair, the scant warmth of a mustard-colored sweatshirt. In the crook of my left arm, the familiar curl of your spine, the steady rhythm of a sleepy suckle.
This is the last time we will do this. And you, my last baby.
Our time together as breastfeeding mother and nursing infant comes to a close with a final, generous nighttime feeding. You've been ready for weeks, months really, and I've been holding on because, as a mother, that's what I know how to do best. I've spent eight years now, holding on. To impossibly small hands, to cardboard castles with crayoned windows, to chicken nuggets wrapped in paper, to tiny teeth, to snips of golden curl. To your sister who outsmarts me with logic and wit. To your brother who leaps off furniture and past milestones with reckless enthusiasm. And here, now, I'm holding on to you. To the utter completeness of this, of us. Of my ability to grow and nourish a human life.
What mad beauty it all has all been, the babyhood of my babies. What raw, hungry joy.
I don't know it now in the earliest hours of Thanksgiving morning, but today is the day you will cut your first tooth. A first wrapped in a last, on a day dedicated to gratitude. Back in graduate school, in my MFA program, we used to call these serendipitous moments "nonfiction gold" because, as lucky little details, these small truths served our stories better than fiction could. They made our truths truer; our personal narratives, universal. But I know, too, that as humans, we apply meaning wherever we need it. In this moment, in this chair, I don't know about your tooth and I'm not thinking about Thanksgiving, and applying that context after the fact would be a curious dishonesty.
Your jaw still suckles in your sleep, and I hold you an extra few minutes before laying you in your crib, tucking your knit blanket under your chin and waiting for the sharp intake of breath as you stir and resettle. Here, now, I only know this quiet fading.
It's VERY important for breast feeding/pumping mamas not forget their breast pump during a weekend away from the baby.
Otherwise, instead of spending time doing this:
You'll be spending time looking like this:
I mean, we all know that a night away for a breast feeding/pumping mama is not really a night away. Even when you are among a sea of feathered pillows and crisp white linens, your self-squirting, lumpy, engorged, and painful boobs are a strong reminder that there is no true escaping-at least not yet. But at least you can try to make the most of your "escape" by not wasting time searching for a baby store and self-expressing.
Did you get spit up on today? Have you dealt with an epic diaper blowout? Maybe you're experiencing dramatic postpartum periods? There is no shortage of reasons why you, as a mother, may be completely disgusting today. Whether you work in a trendy office environment like I do or are a busy SAHM like my fellow MOTYs, I highly recommend that you always, always check your jeans.
By Scarlett & Layah
Nursing my first son was a disaster. You see, about 6 years ago, I decided, for health and cosmetic reasons, to get a breast reduction. I'm 5'3", pretty slim, and clocked in at a whopping 34 DD. I hated my breasts and wanted something more manageable. My doctor assured me that he would try to save as many mammary glands as possible and that the technique he would use would leave the nipple attached to the pedicle that holds it underneath (thereby preserving all of those little channels that the milk travels through). I nodded, only half listening, because I was almost 27 and was convinced that I never wanted to have kids. Ha. Joke's on me.
Fast forward 2 years and there I was, struggling to breastfeed my newborn son. Because of the reduced nerve sensitivity in my nipples, my letdowns have never been fast. So, slow milk letdown = frustrated baby = sore, cracked, bleeding nipples. With Desmond, I had to wear a nipple shield most of the 6 months I fed him because my nipples wouldn't heal. My friend Christy told me that it sounded like he had tongue tie, which could very well have been the case. I had to rent a hospital-grade pump to help keep up my supply. It was this HUGE, heavy machine that looked like the engine of a muscle car. It was so heavy and so loud that the only place I could pump was at home. Desmond was hungry all the time and it showed: he was in the 1% of weight and 25% height for his age group up until we started weaning at 6 months and giving him solids.
You know you have succeeded in creating an open and natural atmosphere around breastfeeding and pumping when your toddler comes up to you with a nasal suction bulb to her bare nipple and says:
"I just need to pump a little bit of berry juice for my babies."
Take a deep breath...can you smell it? Fall is in the air, mamas! The sky's a little bluer; the breeze, a little crisper. Starbucks is featuring Pumpkin Spice lattes. The season is upon us. And with it, come my favorite fashion essentials. Scarves! Jackets! Tartan prints! Mustards and wines and emeralds! And of course...boots!
When my kids and husband rattled off exhaustive back-to-school lists, and we spent a stressful weekend walking in and out of every store in the mall (all three kids in tow) draining our bank account, I requested just one item for myself: a new pair of boots. It was to be my one splurge. Brown leather, tall enough that I could feel sassy, but sensible enough that I could walk across the uneven polished brick in my office. And, believe it or not, the stars aligned and I found the perfect pair on clearance, in my size, and I even had money left over to buy an infinity scarf.
So, I was feeling pretty savvy this morning, armed with my new boots, infinity scarf, and plethora of sweaters that didn't fit over my pregnant belly last autumn and thus feel refreshingly new. I selected a striped sweater with whimsical hues and spent an extra moment dusting bronze shimmer across my eyelids. Even these idiots were fairly tame this morning, and I was able to get out of the house and on the road for my hour commute in plenty of time.
I had an extra spring in my step, flipped my hair a little more than necessary. Smiled during my morning meetings. Until...
I never had a breastfeeding problem. All of my babies latched with ease immediately after birth, nursed on demand, grew chubby and happy and whole. Smooth sailing on a sea of milk. I could breastfeed with one hand and let the dog out/stir pots of chili/fix my older daughter’s hair with the other. I proudly considered Midge, my third and final baby, a breastfed girl.
Until I realized, abruptly, she isn’t.
This time around, I am at the start of a new career, working full time an hour away from home. After my six weeks of “short-term disability” (a stark contrast to the six months paid maternity I had with my first and the flexible, part-time schedule I had with my second), I returned to work with a fully stocked freezer that looked like a hybrid of Medela parts and Jenga pieces. I wore stylish easy-access tops and sneaked away from my desk two or three times a day to pump, producing 10-12 oz. a day.
But, gradually, the time away from my baby affected my supply, and 10-12 oz. became 6-8 oz. and settled somewhere around 4-6 oz. I was producing 1-2 fewer bottles a day than Midge needed, the freezer stock rapidly depleted, and by the time she was 3 months, Midge was getting formula for most of her feedings. Yet, in my mind, because I never saw her drink the formula, I still had the image of a breastfed baby. She still feasted voraciously when I got home, fell asleep at the breast, and spent the wee hours suckling for comfort.
And really, supplementing didn’t bother me. I love breastfeeding and identify with the culture, but firmly believe that formula is a safe and nutritious alternative. My girl was healthy and content.
But then, two weeks ago, I left for three days for a conference, and my milk supply plummeted.
We love our kids. They drive us crazy. We write about it instead of going insane.