And not just “a little.”
This isn’t the first time it’s happened either. It seems to be that when the milk comes in my babies immediately turn up their tiny noses and deem one side to be of “sub-par quality.” The quintessential picky-eaters from birth.
When my daughter was born, she struggled to stay latched. Those first few days were anxiety-riddled as her weight decreased and her diapers dried up. It didn’t matter that I had a full and healthy milk-supply. It didn’t matter if I used a nipple shield. One side was simply boob-non-grata.
It was exhausting.
It was stressful.
I felt like a failure.
And it took me three times as long to feed.
And so I quit.
I quit doing what everyone else said was “right” and I did it my way. I fought hard to breastfeed. I pumped and I used a nipple shield and ultimately, I started breastfeeding almost exclusively on one side.
I’ve heard the comments. I know what people think.
When my son was a few months old, I attended a moms group. Seated in a semi-circle, we listened to the public health nurse advise us on topics like how to brush our newborns’ non-existent teeth. With greasy hair piled in ponytails and crumpled shirts stained with spit-up, we gathered together for a brief respite and some adult conversation. And then came the day we stumbled our way onto the hot-button topic of every new-mama class: breastfeeding.
I sat silently through the discussion as ladies giggled about mothers who let themselves become *gasp of horror* uneven. With a subconscious repositioning of baby against my chest, I hoped they wouldn’t notice my own asymmetry. I was too new of a mom, too unsure of my choices, to stand up proudly and say, “That’s me.”
I’ve heard their opinions on my differing cup sizes. “Oh hon,” they say, “You just need to be more diligent. To never give in to the baby’s demands.” And I get it. Because honestly, that sounds good. And it worked for them. But please don’t judge me for carefully setting that advice aside. I appreciate the love with which you may share it, but it’s not for me.
Because the truth is, this isn’t something I feel I need to fix. I HAVE fought for this. And I’m winning. Because I’ve found something that works for me and my baby. I battled my way to this lopsided, wonky-boobed place. And I’m proud of it.
Who cares if my cup-sizes are a bit off? Not me. Not my husband (he doesn’t have a choice). And certainly not my baby.
And in this situation, no one else matters.
We’ll look back at these days, thankful for these quiet bonding moments. Relishing the memories of soft baby breath against bare skin and the gentle slurp of swallowed milk. Years from now, we won’t care about our nursing bra size — we’ll just miss the weight of a tiny, sleepy baby filling our arms.
It’s not considered a “failure” to be uneven, or to use formula, or wear a nipple shield. There is no failure when the baby’s fed.
So instead of freaking new mothers out about what’s “right” or “wrong,” help inspire in them the confidence to say, “This is what’s best for me and my baby.” Breastmilk or formula, nursing for 12 months or 3 years, nipple shield or not, one side or two – let them figure out what works for them without judgement.
Because I guarantee that they fought hard for that decision.
And lopsided or not, we’re doing this.