She’s just not that into me.
Or, more specifically, my boobs.
Within the past month, Eliana has started solids, grown a tooth, decided she’d like to stand holding onto something if that’s an option, selected a rubber spatula as her toy of choice, and chosen a catchphrase: “Hi, Da!” (Note: “Da” refers to food, parents, Lila, toys, a particularly offensive poop, and anything that provokes either delight or frustration; i.e.: poop.)
At six months, Eliana weighs 19.3 pounds, is 28.5 inches, and thinks it’s hilarious if you throw a (soft, fuzzy stuffed-animal-like) ball at her face. Hobbies include: rolling onto her stomach and then getting pissed because she can’t roll the opposite direction, using my face as a handlebar, speed-growing her fingernails, and watching Lila’s every move as if Lila is a god on Earth.
Things she is suddenly not so interested in anymore: my boobakas. In other words, she seems to be saying ta-ta to the ta-tas.
Once upon a time, Eliana and my breasts had been besties, meaning they had lunch together all the time and seldom talked shit about each other. Their easygoing friendship was made all the more delightful for me since, back in the days of Lila’s babyhood, Lila and my breasts had been frenemies: the jugs were a source of food, but latching was a nightmare for all parties involved, and I basically pumped and bottle-fed—an experience that lets you be righteous in that you’re giving your kid breast milk, but perpetually annoyed that you are basically tied to the Pump-in-Style, a milking-machine whose “style” is evocative of the torture devices of the Tower of London.
By comparison, Eliana’s experience has been positively blissful. As in, I finally get it: THIS is why people breastfeed babies—it’s so EASY! In fact, I rarely would say, “I’m breastfeeding,” which is clinical and sounds extremely biological. With Eliana, I’ve taken to saying, “I’m nursing,” which sounds loving and special, and like I’m either in a turn-of-the-century epoch piece or like I’m a wet-nurse in the sixteenth century. Because while I would never say I’ve enjoyed being a human vending-machine, Eliana’s made that experience about as enjoyable as it can be. She gets in there, and she gets the job done. Ten minutes flat, tops. When she’s done, she burps like a champ, and the show’s over. Nursing her is a surefire way to calm her down, get her to sleep, chill her out. In the Golden Age of my nursing Eliana, the experience was an efficient experience filled with nutrition, snuggles, and cuddles. When she would finish eating, she’d even look up at me, with—dare I say it?—reverence. Gratitude. Appreciation and love.
But ever since she’s started solids, the show’s been over. The sad fact is, I just can’t compete with real food. I am a has-been and a wash-up. My breasts have become Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard,” which is a hard blow, particularly when the ladies used to be Gypsy Rose Lee.
Realistically speaking, I am proud of myself for making it this far nursing Eliana. I sort of feel like I’m at mile twelve in a marathon, which is nothing to sneeze at. I had set a goal for myself of six months, and holy cow (which I’ve been), I’ve made it! While the American Pediatric Blah Blah “recommends” (translation: guilts you into feeling terrible if you don’t give your child) a year of nursing, I figure that any child of mine “gets what you get and you don’t get upset,” because that’s how shit shakes down in nursery school, and it’s never too early to learn the cruel hard lessons of the street. Whether that means my kid gets an hour, a day, a month, six months, or a year of breast milk, it’s good enough. I know, I know, “breast is best,” (lactivist propaganda) but I also know that most of the people I know in my life (including myself) were fed formula as babies, and, as far as I can tell, they’re all pretty awesome in spite of being deprived of the “liquid gold” that would have obviously propelled them into lives rich with intellectual fulfillment, artistic ingenuity, and instant fluency in six languages.
Honestly, having nursed Eliana for six months and two weeks, I feel like I deserve an award, and with the Oscars right around the corner, these honkers at the very least deserve a nod for Best Actress(es) in a Supporting Role.
Even if I won the award, it wouldn’t change the fact that it’s hard not to take Eliana’s sudden disinterest personally. It’s like she’s breaking up with me, but I’m the hanger-on, unwilling to let go.
This morning, I tried to feed Eliana before heading to work. It went a little something like this:
Me (gently mushing boob into Eliana’s face): “Come on. Hey. Let’s go.” (I fill with shame as I realize that these are the exact lines that Sonny the hooker in The Catcher in the Rye says as she tries to convince Holden to get busy.)
Eliana (looking up, contemplating a particularly intriguing light fixture): “Hi, Da.”
Me: (getting annoyed, shoving boob more aggressively into Eliana’s face): “This is no time for hi-Da. Let’s do this.”
Eliana (smiling/humoring me…begins to eat; pulls off abruptly and suddenly with a panicked look on her face that says, “WAIT! Did I forget to take out the garbage?”)
Me: (looking at watch and sounding more like an irritated prostitute): “Seriously, Eliana, I don’t have all day.”
(Enter Lila stage left, assessing the situation)
Lila: “What’s she doing?”
Me: “Not eating. She keeps getting distracted.”
Lila: (walking over to Eliana on my lap; looks Eliana in the eye, puts her hands on Eliana’s cheeks) “Eliana! FOCUS!”
Eliana: (smiling innocently) “Hi, Da!”
This much is clear: Eliana is breaking up with my boobs, and she’s not looking back. I’m not weaning her, but she’s weaning herself. I had wanted to continue nursing through our trip to Disney World in two weeks, both for convenience’s sake and because I’m pretty sure it’s illegal under any other circumstances to watch the Electrical Parade in the Magic Kingdom topless. But alas, my dream may not pan out, because Eliana is over it. Will she last two more weeks? Doubtful, but both the guy dressing up as Aladdin in the Magic Kingdom and I both remain hopeful.
The sad fact is that Eliana has breezily broken up with me, but I’m clinging to what we once had together. I am the sad, desperate ex-girlfriend who wants to get back together…but why do I want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me anymore? Sometimes, at four AM, when my boobs are swollen into full-blown milk-inflated howitzers, I think of Eliana and miss her, if only for her ability to unload the boobs and make me feel human again by making me feel like a cow. I wish for the way it used to be between us, with the whole gang together, our blissful and loving moments of reverie. When Eliana and the breasts first became an item, we were with each other all the time—in fact, it seemed like we couldn’t get enough of each other. In the early days of our relationship, we even dreamt of the future hopefully, and what it would be like when she didn’t want to nurse all the time. These days, there’s no talk of the future. No finishing each other’s sentences/wiping up spit-up. Those days are long gone, and now, I’m just left with my blissful memories of what our relationship used to be.
For these next two weeks until our trip to Disney, I will cling to our nursing relationship and try to make it work like a sad loser who just doesn’t get the message. Because as Cinderella might say, “A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you’re fast asleep [and your boobs are ready to explode]”. But if that fails? Well, then I’m looking forward to kicking back some sangria with Cinderella, Belle, and Jasmine at Disney World, and who knows? Maybe my dream of being topless at the electrical parade could still come true.