A pregnant friend called last week. We talked about co-sleepers, and pants with expandable waistlines, and what types of excretions to expect during labor. As we said goodbye we made plans to speak again soon. “Next time,” she declared,  “I want you to tell me what nursing is like.”

I hung up the phone with a mission. I was going to come up with the ultimate breastfeeding metaphor. This was a friend who had been with me throughout every step of my pregnancy, she listened to my freak-outs, brought me crackers when I felt nauseous and offered feedback on my endless lists of three-syllable baby names.

But then I moved, and now we live in two different cities, we don’t have the daily contact that we used to. We’ve lost touch. I wanted to give her something spectacular to make up for the distance; something that would paint a perfectly perfect vision of the bonding, and the sensations, and the mechanics of it all. Like the way Shakespeare summed up the journey of human existence simply by saying” All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

Like that…but with boobs

Try as I might every attempt turned into a horrendously epic run-on sentence. I could not distill the experience into a concise statement. There was no metaphor that would capture the many phases I went through as a first time nursing mom.  I decided I’d make a list- sort of like the “ages and phases” stuff that baby center offers the expecting parent.

It would be my Eriksonian attempt at capturing the mammary glands in all their glory.

The first three days – were like puberty. I was massively sweaty and my shirts were way too tight. My breasts felt suddenly powerful yet completely overwhelming. I cried all the time.

Days 4-6 – were like assembling a bookshelf from IKEA. I knew if I could just get the fucking positioning right it would all come together. I looked at diagram after diagram and it appeared so easy in the pictures. But each new attempt left me bruised, demoralized, and frustrated.

Days 7-18 -were like S&M. The pain was so bad I wanted to puke but I went back for more every two hours. Many people told me that my experiences did not sound normal; they speculated that perhaps there was something very wrong with what I was doing. They suggested I seek professional help.

Days 19-50 – were like learning the guitar chords to your very favorite song. It was hard, there were blisters, but they weren’t too bad; certainly nothing that would stop me. Each day it got easier. Eventually the blisters were gone, my hands moved with ease, I just knew what to do. I could finally experience it, like a song. I felt so proud, I felt like telling everyone, “Do you see this! Check me out. I’m going to do this everywhere. I’m going to do this right in your face! I’m a total rock star!”

Fifty-one days to two years – were like one amazing conversation. Like the kind of chat that leaves you knowing everything about someone. The kind that ends with you staring into someone’s eyes and feeling like the entire world is being held somewhere in-between your gaze.

Two years to two years, four months- were like the last two hundred pages of a very good book. I slowed down, I paid very close attention, I did not want it to end. I was not sure what would happen after I finished. I sensed that I would feel a little bit empty.

The other night was like saying goodbye to a very close friend who suddenly has to move.

After stressing over whether or not to finally wean my daughter, she announced while nursing, “Mommy, your boobies aren’t working any more.”

And just like that, the entire experience shifted

Somewhere

Into

The distance.

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