In the meantime, my breasts have always fascinated her. There are times she sees them and she wants to know when she can have her own. I remember one time she went with me to look for a bra and she wanted to get one too. I told her that she can’t have one because she doesn’t have breasts yet. This led to her wanting to know when God would give her breasts. I told her that one day she will get them when she starts becoming a woman. From then on, becoming a woman was a very special thing she talked about once in awhile. It wasn’t just a result of the conversation about breasts, but that was definitely part of it. She would say things like:
“I haven’t peed my pants in a long time, Mommy. That must mean I’m becoming a woman.”
“When I become a woman, I’ll sit up in the front seat and you will sit in the car seat.”
“When I become a woman, I’ll get married and have babies.”
When I became pregnant with her little brother, the fascination with my changing body was evident. In anticipation of the blessed event, we watched videos of childbirth and nursing together. Again I asked her if she remembered when I nursed her. She said that she didn’t and I was sad once more to see that she really had lost the memory. But then as we were snuggling she’d say things like, “I love your boobs!” or “Your boobs are distracting me,” or she’d rub them with her hands or her face. At first, this seemed weird to me and I admit I was a little worried. This sort of behavior just doesn’t fit into our cultural understanding of breasts. But I chalked it up to curiosity. I also figured that the fascination probably stemmed from her subconscious memory of our nursing days. Soon, Baby Bear was born and the breasts were out all the time. She grew accustomed to seeing me nurse him, seeing a breast hanging out when he was done nursing and my hands weren’t free to cover up, seeing me pumping, and seeing me hand expressing milk. If you are a part of my family or around my house a lot, you’re just going to have to get over seeing my breasts now that I have a little nursling because they’re out a lot.
After awhile the questions stopped to the point that she doesn’t even seem to notice my them anymore. They are now a nonissue.
A couple of weeks ago, I read an informal interview a woman did of a preteen who nursed for an extended period of time and remembered it. Well, she said she didn’t remember it per say, but she remembered how it felt: sweet, warm, safe. It was cool to hear that.
Then today, we snuggled again at naptime (something that only happens a couple of times a week now that her little brother has come into the scene) and as I was trying to settle down the wiggling and the story telling into quiet stillness (I was the one who really needed a rest), her little hands found their way to my cleavage again and she started saying how she liked my boobs. She put her head on them, then, telling me it was a nice pillow. Then, she did something she hadn’t been able to do until now: she started deeply inhaling the scent of the milk that lingers around my chest. With the interview fresh on my mind it suddenly occurred to me that my daughter does have a memory of breastfeeding, she just doesn’t know it. She remembers the way it felt to snuggle up safe next to me and how my breasts were a comfort and a pillow to her.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m smelling you!”
“Do you like how it smells?”
“Can you smell the milk?”
She continued taking in deep breaths of me for a few more minutes before settling her head back down on the “pillow”
I smiled and held her close as she soon forgot about my comfy bosoms and focused on her Princess Sofia doll instead. I smiled to myself and held her more tightly. It’s comforting that she can smell my milk and be brought back to that time of complete and utter safety that she found there in the two years after coming into this world. She may not have nursed as long as I’d wanted her to, but the time she did nurse really left a lasting impression of love on her. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know that.