Diamond Boobies Bullshit

I love breastfeeding NS. At first, it was a source of worry—is he getting enough? too much? at the right time? is he latched? is he full? fuck, what are my boob doing all the way down there?—but these days, it’s easy-breezy. He’s eighteen months and a riot of laughter and movement, and he will nurse in every position and for any duration.  In the daytime, he’s nursed with one knee on the floor and one leg draped across an ottoman; in his high chair; standing up; with me in the tub; on the TTC; in the foodcourt of several local malls; on the floor; in bed; in the Christie Pits pool (sorry, teenage lifeguards); and in every museum we’ve ever gone to. We still do a dream feed: a snoozy, sleepy, 10 PM nursing session where he casually rubs a hand over his hair and snuggles in after he pulls off. We nurse when he has a cold, when he’s grumpy AF, and when he’s hilarious and charming. We nurse before naps and after, in the mornings and before bed. He asks for it now—”Milk? Peez?” and I’m like, Sure! He knows the thing that covers my breasts is a bra, and says the word a lot. Sometimes, when we’re nursing, he tickles my armpits or sticks a foot in my mouth. It’s a weird thing, but I love it.

What I unequivocally do not love is this Breastfeeding Boobie Awards bullshit. Have you seen this? I don’t know where it’s from, but every once in a while it pops up on Instagram or some corner of Mom Facebook. It’s a series of cute little awards—if you nurse for four months, you get ruby boobs! Make it a year? Golden titties for you! Is your three year old still latched? DIAMOND BOOBS WITH JADE CRYSTALS AND PLATINUM NIPPLES. Oooh, it makes me so cranky. It’s not that breastfeeding shouldn’t be celebrated—it should be, every day—it’s just that I don’t want a bra full of Craft Barn glitter in my honour.

Shit like this sets up women in competition with each other. You want to breastfeed until your kid is in the first grade? Be my guest. But in my eyes, you share superstar status with the woman who tried her damnedest for four months, supplemented with all kinds of potions and lactation cookies, pumped around the clock, and then threw her hands up in the air and said, “You know what? I want a kid who doesn’t cry all the time, who isn’t constantly starving, with whom I can bond and feel relaxed.” And both those women share superstar status with the woman who decided ahead of time that formula was going to let her stay on her meds, or let her partner take over some of the feeding duties, and decided right from the get-go that the bottle was going to be key to surviving the early days. And the mom who pumped, and the parent who supplemented, and the dads who made the formula, and the people who used donated breastmilk, and the people who donated it. Champions, all.

I’m militantly Fed Is Best, and also very much against parents feeling guilt about their choices, so this kind of “Rah, rah! You go, mama!” bullshit makes me seethe. If some people win at breastfeeding, then, by extension, other people lose. Fuck that. And you know what, I’m just going to go ahead and say it—this is ableist crock. Sure, it may not be as bad as how in the 2017 the year of our Lord our local transit system is still not fully wheelchair (-slash-stroller) accessible, but the moment you prioritize some bodies over others, you start down a narrow little path where the distinction between “not trying hard enough”, “not being able to” and “not wanting to” gets lost in a fog of morality, and all they look—and get judged—the same.

You know what winning at breastfeeding really looks like? It looks like a mother pulling out her breast at the gas station or in a library without someone getting weird about it. It looks like breast pumps not costing $300 or more. It looks like generous lactation support for people who are struggling, from health care professionals and long-time breastfeeders. It looks like encouraging words from across the aisle, from formula users to breastfeeders and back again. It looks like a world where nobody claims that formula is poison (it’s 2017 and this conversation still happens arrrgh I can’t stand it). It looks like nobody batting an eye when a toddler nurses. It looks like removing the gap between the 73% of African-American mothers  who aren’t nursing at six months, and the 46% of white parents who are. It looks like nursing shirts that actually flatter a body and don’t cost a load of money. It looks like nursing bras that are sexy. It looks like nursing clothes for non-binary and trans parents. It looks like a world where how people feed their kids—and their choices, ability levels, or politics around that—are nobody’s business but their own. Breastfeeding is great. Formula is great. Babies are great. We’re just doing the best we can.

Take your glitter boobs and shove them in a drawer somewhere.

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Kaitlyn Kochany
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Kaitlyn Kochany is a Toronto-area freelance writer and editor. She had her son, NS, in January 2016, and has been trying to sleep and write since then.

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