Tuesday, September 07, 2004

My chest...a new conversation piece

My boobs used to be private. My own personal business. I kind of liked it that way, to be honest. When I had conversations with other people, we talked about the weather, work, local news. My breasts rarely made it into the chat. Then I got pregnant. Suddenly, everybody seemed to feel they had a right to talk to and about my chest. All women wanted to know, right away, "are you breastfeeding?" and when I would say no, I was asked "why?" with a tone that clearly indicated I was not fit to be a mother. I don't know why anyone bothered to ask "why?" since no matter what I said, they all launched into the same spiel, about how good breastmilk is for the baby, how it would help me lose weight, etc. However, during my first pregnancy I dutifully told all who asked that due to a breast reduction surgery years ago, I was unable to breast feed. It's amazing how many women know someone who has a cousin who married a woman who breastfed after a reduction. I am very happy for the lady, wherever she may be. It didn't work out for me, but I understand it might work for someone else. Even after my explanation, a number of people would insist that I should "give it a try. It can't hurt." Okay. For the record, I DID try, with my second child, and I'll have you know it DID hurt. It hurt me, and it really really pissed him off. For 3 days, we tried. It was like trying to get blood from a stone. Actually, he did draw blood, and I'm sure a stone would have been less cranky.
Men had a completely different reaction. They would ask the favorite question "are you going to breastfeed?" and after I explained my story, 99% of them would immediately try to not check out the new and improved boobs, while grasping for something to change the subject. Why do men ask this question? Do they really care? The other 1% of men were really women in disguise, and they would tell me about their friend's cousin's wife, blah blah blah.
Now that I have child #2, and I have become hardened and even more cranky, I just say "no" when asked, and if people insist on asking why, I just say nothing. It might be rude to not answer a question, but really, is it all that polite to ask other people what they are doing with their boobs? What would happen if I started walking around asking men "so, are you circumcised? No? Why ever not? It worked out really well for my brother's friend's husband. They both are really glad they went that route..."


Elizabeth said...

Isn't it amazing how much getting pregnant and having a baby seems to open all sorts of previously personal and private things to open air??

I went through something similar, and got aggravated after a while with the lactation police... I'm all FOR breastfeeding, anywhere anytime. I'm NOT for respecting anyone's right to not breastfeed.

I know a woman, she was a friend so I thought it was OK for me to ask - she said "No. After the baby is born, I'm going to start smoking again. I figured nicotine in my breastmilk would negate any positive properties."


Told me.

Hold your head up, woman. :) And don't let the turkeys (like, clearly, me) get you down.

Elizabeth said...

I meant to say - I'm not for DISRESPECTING...

'CUz yeah, I'm that feeeble this evening.

BTW --- Great site! Thanks for blogrolling me!