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Respecting the Breasts

The boobs have started growing again. I’m imagining them jostling frantically at the starting line with the hips, the bottom and the double chin, each desperate to catch up with the belly who’s already several laps ahead on the weight-gain field. They’re squeezing painfully out of my bra and almost sigh when I unleash them at night, leaving them to loll around contentedly like loose cannon balls. I feel I need a cart to heave them around in and I’ve still got half a pregnancy to go. Yikes!

I don’t remember this from last time. I remember they were extraordinarily large come giving birth time only to soar to stratospheric levels of boob-age once breastfeeding kicked in proper. But I certainly don’t remember things being this prominent, this early on....

Bodies – they’re extraordinary things. I’ve been greatly humbled by the fact mine managed to grow and feed a baby in utero, worked with me to push it out, provided  means by which I could nourish my child exclusively on its bounties for six months, then magically once I’d stopped breastfeeding, resumed it’s normal service. Bodily mechanisms returned to the status quo so quickly, it was almost as if my body hadn’t accomplished the enormous feats it actually had. Of course it couldn’t go through all that without a few battle scars and mine bears hallmarks of pregnancy, childbirth and nursing. These are my badges of honour and I wouldn’t be without them.

But although my body innately knew what to do on the inside, that didn’t necessarily compute to the outside. I chomped Pac-Man style through raisin toast, orange-flavoured chocolate and triple-sized portions while pregnant with Eliza so had my work cut out when it came to getting back in shape. I had it all figured out – I’d get back into the running I’d stopped during pregnancy and combined with regular swimming, the weight would be off in no time. Of course this plan was etched pre-childbirth when I hadn’t yet become acquainted with time or boob management, new mama style. I expected I’d just pop in my IPod, slip into some Lycra and go pound some pavement. I hadn’t considered the emotional and physical consequences of sleep deprivation and certainly hadn’t banked on my boobs holding me back.

It being my natural home, I was back in the pool within a few weeks. But as my boobs hadn’t quite worked out their feeding schedule yet they began to leak and I was forced to skip the communal shower afterwards to avoid alarming other swimmers unnecessarily.

For the running, I invested in an industrial-strength sports bra capable of securely holding a battalion of beefy soldiers, never mind a pair of nursing breasts. The boobs were clamped down, seemingly immovable but once I started jogging, they began to protest. After a quick limp around the block I had to admit defeat and the boobs cheered their victory.

I got it. These weren’t the competitive A-cup boobs of old, the ones which had scaled mountains or run with me on an epic half marathon and several 10km road races. These were DD bad boys with a job to do - and my getting thin again didn’t feature on their program.

So I learnt to respect the boobs. Once I’d gotten into my nursing vibe and done away with the once-ever-present breast pads, I stuck to the swimming – this time, with no need to skip a shower at the end of my laps. I did lose some weight, enough to get into a shop-made bridesmaid’s dress but only thanks to the help of a resourceful seamstress who nipped, tucked and ultimately added to the dress’s front in order to accommodate the boobs.

I stopped breastfeeding at eight and a half months. It was a natural conclusion for both Eliza and me, and as someone who’d struggled so much with it in the beginning, I was delighted I’d lasted that long. The boobs of course had to go through their transition from almighty back to ordinary – a bit like Superman changing back into Clark Kent but with a lot more pain and a little more leak. Next thing I knew, I was back in my old pre-baby bras while folding away the DD’s, gobsmacked at nature’s gigantic feats of engineering.

I got back into running proper and the weight came off. Old clothes fit me. It was fantastic. Then I fell pregnant again. I’d like to say I was being more careful this time around with what I’m eating, knowing how hard it is to shift weight after a baby. But I’m not. I’m not being stupid by any means – I eat a well balanced diet. I just top it off with a lot of orange-flavoured chocolate and raisin toast.

The way I see it, it’s such a short time out of my life – in the grand scheme of things. There’s so much we pregnant ladies can’t do right now – drink, scuba dive, keep awake past 10pm – that it’s nice to be able to indulge ourselves a little.

I hope to breastfeed Number Two and if it’s like last time, that means I won’t be signing up for any road races in the near future. This time, I’m going easy on myself. Running isn’t just about losing weight for me, it’s about time on my own, fuelling my body with happy hormones and taking in the scenery. But that will make it all the more enjoyable when I finally get to do it again. It may seem a long way off but looking at the big picture, it’s really just a drop in the ocean.

So rapidly growing and quite sore boobs, I will do my best to salute you. I’ve no idea why you’ve decided to expand this early on and I know you’ll cost me a bit in new bras but you are to be respected for all you do. But please go easy on me? We’ve still got a long way to go....