This one goes out to all my BFing homies, yo. Werd to your babas.
G woke up at 1:45AM this morning. This is not unusual. He’s EBF (that’s Exclusively Breast Fed to those of you not in the know) and sleeps with me and M, and he wakes a few times a night to nurse. The unusual part about last night was that I could NOT get back to sleep afterward. Just when I thought pregnancy might have re-set some of my body chemistry and my insomnia (for which I’ve been medicated most of my life until I had to go on the wagon for pregnancy and nursing) was gone for good, here we go again.
Because G sleeps between me and M, and M sleeps like a log, I can’t get up in the middle of the night and leave them alone. If G wakes up and decides to quietly crawl off the bed and kill himself when I’m not there… well, let’s just say I don’t want that happening. This means I was stuck in bed the whole time before I finally fell into blessed almost-sleep at 4:30.
So, my brain churning, I had multiple epiphanies and wrote at least 10 blog posts in my head. I was convinced these posts would gain me international fame, friends in high places, and a magic monetized blog that would allow me to quit my day job and do nothing but write all the time. But such is the way of sleep-deprivedness that all I remember is this one, so this is all you’re getting.
As evidenced by my last post, I’m a little obsessed with breasts at the moment. For your enjoyment, here’s how to measure your breasts for a blog post:
1. That desk that you’re supposed to be doing work at right now? Clear both keyboards, the used tissues, and innumerable scraps of paper from that desk.
2. Confirm the webcam is not operational. Got it? Good. Moving on.
3. Go find your fabric tape measure. You know, the one that you dig out every once in a while so you can obsessively measure your thighs, hips, calves, wrists so that you can plug in the numbers on a website which will helpfully and (unfortunately) dispassionately tell you how fat you are for your height.
4. If a Stanley tape measure is all you’ve got? Fine. Just remember it’s not my fault if your nipple gets caught when the tape snaps back into the case.
5. Take off your shirt and bra (What? You’re not wearing a bra because you’re a WAHM or SAHM who hasn’t made it out of jammies yet, or you’re a man? That’s ok, it’s not really material what you take or don’t take off to get naked, just get there… and you did turn off that webcam, right?).
6. Pretend you’re getting a mammogram. (Or don’t. Really, on second thought, don’t, those things suck.) Plop one of those babies up on the desk making sure the edge of the desk is as close to your ribcage as possible. Admire how big that puppy looks while you’ve got it there, go on.
7. OK, show’s over. Grab that tape measure. Put the beginning of the tape between your breasts on your sternum (that cartilaginous thing in the middle there).
8. Imagine what someone would think if they walked in on you right now, laugh. Know that this is not the weirdest thing you’ve been caught doing, and you know it.
9. Run the tape out from your sternum, across your nipple to the hollow of your armpit (did you shower today?). Very scientific here.
10. Double-over as your injured rotator cuff sends your biceps and triceps and every other muscle you didn’t know you had into spasm. Wait the spasm out, breathe through it, it’s just pain. Once you’ve recovered, try that measurement again, but a bit more gingerly. In the end if you have to fudge that measurement, how would we know? Act like it’s the truth and it will be (’cause it’s on the Internet).
11. Rinse and repeat on the other side. If you repeat more than three times, you’re playing with it. You perv.
Why are we measuring breasts? You may very well ask. I hope you did ask, otherwise the rest of this post is not going to interest you in the least.
My rack has never been big, but it hasn’t been negligible, either. I’ve always had enough to not feel deprived, and the men in my life have never complained (that I know of…). I’ve basically had the same size breasts since I was a sophomore in high school. It was that year that I noticed a rather large lump in my breast. DON’T PANIC. It wasn’t cancer. It was a very large (think a ball with a diameter the size of a quarter) benign fibroid cyst. Of course, when I first found it, I was pretty damn scared. I was a teenager, and that meant I already had huge hangups about my body (I say that like I don’t any more, did you catch that?). My primary doc, who in all other visits had seemed like a really great woman, performed a biopsy of that lump. No anesthesia, a really long fat biopsy needle, and what felt like lifetimes of agonizing digging around to break and suck up tissue later, we had a sample to be tested. I sweated for two weeks, but in the end, all was well. But, it had to come out. It threatened to interfere with normal breast development, and we couldn’t have that.
I had a lumpectomy and then the next day, hopped up on pain meds, took the SAT. To this day I credit any academic success I’ve had via those SAT scores to drugs. Better living through chemistry!
When the solidified blood, that had seeped into the cavity left by the lumpectomy, eventually dissipated, I was the proud owner of one breast that was now a cup-size smaller than the other.
No big deal.. most women have a size difference. I’ve lived with it all these years and made my peace.
When I got pregnant, I dreamed that, perhaps, I would be one of those lucky women for whom all the hormone shifts cause their breasts to increase and that my laggard breast might catch up to my all-star. But no, they both got bigger in proportion and the difference remained. OK, fine. Situation normal.
Then came the birth, and later, my milk coming in. HOLY SWEATER COWS BATMAN! It was so awesome!!! I was now the proud owner of a seriously voluptuous duo that had the added super power of giving sustenance to my offspring. The size difference was still there, but in light of all the other bonuses, it hardly registered any more.
You BFers out there know that BFing can be challenging. It wasn’t any different for me. My milk came in late after an unplanned c-section, and the breast which had the lumpectomy was having trouble producing. G would try to nurse on that side and get so frustrated and cry because he just couldn’t make it work. I would try and try… always on that side first, hoping that it would suddenly just work. Over time, as I offered it to him, he would give me a look that most clearly said, “Woman, what are you trying to pass this off as? Do you think I was born yesterday? Give me the real breast, STAT!”
In the end, I had to accept the fact that I had a “dud”. G began to nurse exclusively on the “good” side. Luckily, woman’s body is miraculous, and can easily make enough milk from one breast to nurture a tiny human, so G got what he needed. Yay.
Now we come to the crux of the problem. As a BFer, I started to lose the baby weight (nursing uses up a ton of calories, yippee!!).
Guess where I lost it first?
Yeah. That’s right, the “dud”.
What once was a negligible size difference has now become as vast as the Grand Canyon (at least, to me). If you happen to own a copy The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding, go to page 381. The middle picture? That’s me. No exaggeration. Since not all of you may have that book, picture a good-sized grapefruit in one hand, and a lemon in the other. Now make that lemon saggy because the skin on it had been stretched to bursting during those halcyon wonder-rack months.
For those of you who are fruit-impaired, I present my measurements obtained using the method above:
The Dud: 10″
Super Boob: 13.5″
So that I don’t feel really strange when I go out in public, I’ve put my now-defunct nursing pads to good use as filler on the Dud side. (Nursing pad alternate use #2? Waxing your car.) I’m pretty sure no-one else can tell.
M is amazing. He doesn’t appear to notice at all… well, he notices when I feel bad about it, and he hugs me and tells me it’s OK. I’ve almost managed to forget the discrepancy while we’re getting busy. Almost.
But what do I really have to complain about? I don’t have cancer, I didn’t get a full mastectomy. I can feed my child. I am lucky in so many ways. And I really am grateful.
But damn I wish I had two “good” ones. A girl can dream.