You know what I worked out the other day? Of the past four years, I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for all but four months of it. I just finished breastfeeding Little Red before Christmas and it’s taken a few weeks for things to settle down in the bra department and for everything to get to a point of calm.
It felt big to me this time – bigger than with the other two. Partly because Little Red fed for longer than the others (15 months – not as long as some, I know, but still a fair whack), and partly because I knew this was the last time in my life I would be doing it. So what I have been left with, after everything has abated and gone down and settled, is the boobs I will have for the rest of my life.
I should tell you, at this point, that before I had children, I had FANTASTIC boobs. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet or anything, but they were great. Once when I was in my late-20s, I went swimming with a female work colleague who said to me, after a few drinks were had, “I hope you’re not offended but can I ask you, are those things real?” Yep, they were so good they seemed unreal.
After so long, I knew this was no longer the case, and made peace with that fact. But I wondered what they might look like now. Would they be heavy and pendulous? Or light and perky? (Yeah, I didn’t really expect that.) I am lucky in that I come from pretty good boob stock. (There’s one of those sentences you never knew you’d say – don’t you love those?) Both my mother and my grandmother have managed to make some kind of respectful arrangement with gravity where nobody loses too badly.
And so, there I was a few days ago, studying my boobs in the bathroom mirror – and them staring back at me. Sure beats them staring at the floor, right? And I realised I’m okay with what I am left with now the baby tide has gone out. Do they look 20? No. But they’re okay – and more importantly, they haven’t tried to kill me yet.
Breast cancer runs in my family, and it’s something that I am not yet scared of, but am definitely aware of. I turn 40 next month and I am keeping an eye on those suckers, because I know incidences of breast cancer go up astronomically after 40. It is the most common cancer affecting women, and Breast Cancer Network Australia estimates 14,940 women were diagnosed last year alone.
So I’m checking in for my first mammogram (after childbirth, does anyone really find the process that uncomfortable?). BreastScreen Australia specifically targets women without symptoms between the ages of 50 and 69, but women from the age of 40 are eligible for free mammograms, so why not? What is there to lose? I love free shit!
I’m checking for lumps and other anomalies every month, of course. And I’m grateful every day that I have uncomplicated boobs that have fed three children and made my shirts look pretty for a long time now.
Thanks, boobs, it’s been a fun ride. Long may our relationship continue to flourish.
How do you feel about your boobs? Are they friend or foe?