My breasts come with a bit of a reputation. They have always had a mind and presence of their own. I’ve never thought them to be outrageously large or particularly special, but somehow they’ve always had their own presence. In my squandered youth I can honestly say that I had no issue ‘flashing’ anyone who asked nicely, provided that I’d had a few shooters down, honestly, 50% of the population has them so what was the big deal?! My flashing made me very popular amongst the guys, and very unpopular with their partners. I’m well aware of the names and accusations placed against me from ‘friends’ about my behaviour, being more comfortable around the guys than the gals and not having an issue with going topless probably did not endear me to many women. Hubby often jokes that he knew my boobs before he knew me. Thankfully we all grow up at some point and my flashing days are but a distant laughable memory.
Well, that’s what I thought at any rate. Up until the day we had our child. At a little over 26 weeks of pregnancy, when most women are shopping for goodies and starting to think of themes for the nursery and baby name options, we were faced with the hard reality that our little girl would be making a severely early arrival. The very last thing on my mind at this point was breastfeeding.
From the second I was wheeled out of the recovery room and placed in a special ward for 24 hour post op monitoring I was told that it was of absolute critical importance to start with breast stimulation as soon as possible. Not having the faintest idea of what lay ahead and on the opposite end of the hospital to the maternity ward, I lay flat on my back with the daunting task of providing my baby with breastmilk.
At some point in the middle of the night, the curtains around my cubicle were drawn and I was connected ‘Matrix’ style to a very strange machine. I had suction cups attached to my breasts and was told that I should start expressing like the dairy queen soon. Imagine my horror when nothing more than 3 drops made an eerie appearance and I was informed that this process had to continue every 3 hours in order to start producing sufficient quantities to nourish my child. The mysterious and terrifying milking machine was then wheeled off into the night and I got to lie flat on my back for a further 12 hours without access to said milking machine, ever aware of how many sessions I had missed and how utterly unprepared I was for all of this. Cue husband…
My rock and sanity arrived at my bedside with promises to deliver something that would assist me in becoming the ultimate milking machine. My sanity depended on his success. So, he called on backup in the form of Bob, the Thelma to his Louise, his partner in crime. Cue the theme music to The A-Team and these two blokes saw the despair and panic on my face and ventured off into the world of breastfeeding. The details are somewhat foggy, but somehow they got in contact with a rep for Medela and ended up hiring the Rolls Royce of pumps for my personal use.
So, armed with a special machine I had to set a schedule to hook myself up every 3 hours to stimulate. Sounds lovely doesn’t it. The best part? Anything I produced was totally and utterly useless because of all the medication in my system. So, I was still of absolutely no use to my own child.
I’ve become accustomed and comfortable with my breasts being exclusively available for my husbands viewing pleasure. That luxury does not exist in a hospital and no sooner have you hooked yourself up and are rendered totally exposed, vulnerable and incapable of covering up when a Nurse, Sister, tea lady, cleaner or lost visitor comes barreling into your room . Nobody is bothered by what they see, even though you are mortified. That’s on day one. On day two you’ve given up trying to cover yourself and to hell with the shame, at this point you may as well be walking around topless in the ward, everyone has seen them at any rate. And suddenly I’m having flashbacks to my squandered youth and realising that you really don’t need Tequila to flash your breasts.
The skill required to connect the suction cups at the perfect angle and position to ensure that there are no gaps for air to interrupt the flow is astonishing and requires utmost attention. In order to give me a bit of a break we purchased a special ‘bra’ that holds the caps in place, so I am able to sleep upright while a bizarre machine milks me. I can totally understand and appreciate why women breastfeed in public without covering up. Ensuring that the connection between suction cup and boob is tricky, imagine replacing that stagnant item with one that wriggles and moves and I can imagine how impossible a task this must be.
Feeling uncomfortable with all the titty talk? Imagine how I feel…