How Breastfeeding Ended My Body War
When I was 13 years old, I saved my money to order TBRS from a catalog. TBRS. Total Body Reshaping System. At 13, I was already sure my body needed to be totally reshaped, starting with my boobs (because I had none). Over the next 10 years, I raged against my body. I hated it, wished it were different. I dieted, binged, overexercised. But, mostly I was just mean to it. I said a lot of nasty things to it that I wouldn't say to my worst enemy.
When I was 21, I was at the height of my body hatred. I was in nursing school and had gained the inevitable freshman 15. Okay, by that time it was the junior 30. On one particularly dark and lonely night in my Baltimore apartment, I painted a life-sized mural of myself naked. My body was misshapen and ugly in my depiction. There was no head, only clouds. This remains in my memory an illustration of my body hatred of my teens and early twenties.
When I was 23, I became pregnant with my one and only child, Lucy. Almost immediately, my relationship with my body changed. I was planning a birth center birth and wanted and needed so deeply to have a natural birth and a long, easy breastfeeding relationship. I decided it was time to have a “come to Jesus” with my body. It was time for us to confront our differences, set them aside, and move forward.
So, I said to my body, “Body, I know I have been shitty to you for 10 years. I have thought and said horrible things about you, I have abused you, fed you poorly and sometimes not fed you at all. I’m so sorry, body. But, believe me when I tell that I have changed. You have grown this amazing baby living inside of me. Thank you for her. I need to ask you for a really huge favor. I don’t deserve this favor because I am such a crappy friend, but I have to ask. Please birth this baby for me. Please let me have my baby naturally and please let me breastfeed her. If you do that for me, I promise I will never mistreat you again. I will love you no matter what size you are. I will feed you well and exercise you as best as I can. If you do this for me, I promise I will never say mean things about you again.”
And my body obliged. It birthed my 8 pound 14 ounce baby after 15 hours of labor. On July 16, 2006, I reached down and accepted my body’s gift to me: a fat, wet, wide-eyed Lucy, hot on my chest. I waved my white flag and retreated from our body war. I felt humbled. I thanked my body that day. Together we nourished Lucy for almost three years enjoying an easy breastfeeding relationship.
Since then, I swear I haven’t said one mean thing about my body. We have gained weight and lost weight, eaten well and eaten poorly, been fit and been out of shape. But we have been best friends.
You are so much more than a size or a shape; you are revelation. Thank you body.
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Katie Madden RN, BSN is the founder of BalancedBreastfeeding.com, The Pumpin’ Mama’s Blueprint,™ Weaning Gracefully™