(Circa 2009. December. When my boobs were my best friend.)
If pregnancy makes you shed your inhibitions (I actually posed in a bikini top for a mommy and baby magazine in week 37), motherhood destroys the last vestiges of it. May be it has to do with the fact that the whole of womankind now has a claim over your body and how to rectify (or optimise) it and therefore, nudity (part or whole) is never an issue for starters. Neither is talking about stuff as it is.
But the one thing motherhood doesn’t really prepare you for is a strange phenomenon called lactation politics. It’s as though every woman and her cow (pun intended) has an opinion (or some advice) on your lacto-barometer. Which is why questions like “Are you producing enough?” or “Is he exclusively breast?” or “No top feed?” or “Have you started pumping?” pepper every conversation, no matter whether the said party is one or six degrees of separation.
The problem with nursing is that whatever you do, you are upto scrutiny. ‘Have access, will ask/tell’ seems to be the norm. So your place in the mum hierarchy is decided by whether the baby latched on instantly, whether you have to supplement with formula, or are rich enough in the milk of human kindness (aarrrgh!) not to, and further, how long do you intend to nurse, when will you wean, are you having enough oats/methi/juices/milk/Bournvita/badam/whatever, have you turned to the bottle yet, etc etc.
It takes gumption to get this intrusive, I thought, but turns out, I was wrong. There is no such thing as subtlety in titspeak. Asking a woman if she’s doing well on the milk-front is like asking a man if his sperm count is okay, or whether he is getting an adequate erection. Would anyone do that? So why is it legitimate to subject the woman to such intense scrutiny?
On the other hand, may be it’s an opportunity for hitherto marginalized women to re-establish themselves in the power ladder through their lacto-quotient. “I could feed the whole of Bombay”… or “I have enough reserves for six months” or “I am leaking all the time” makes them look good vis-à-vis seemingly over-achiever mothers who have otherwise been ahead of the game.
I wondered what the big deal about, one wasn’t about to give competition to Nestle, all one needed was enough for the little one. And if anyone ever asked me about a rainy day, my answer was, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Anything more than what the boy needs is really a waste.”
Therein ends my tit-ology.