My daughter was 8 weeks old, I hadn't slept more than 20 minutes in the last two months and my brain was a hormone-ridden mixture of love, shock and everything in between.
But I had a wedding to attend.
So I diligently dusted off my high heels and stared vacantly into my wardrobe... but all I could think about were my breasts.
Because they took on a life of their own immediately postpartum. They were ridiculously big, ridiculously tender and ridiculously leaky. Not exactly the perfect recipients for my structured dresses, spaghetti straps or tailored jackets.
For a few weeks, I contemplated cutting holes in one of my old dresses to allow my daughter easy nursing access, but I am no seamstress. I considered attending the wedding in yoga pants and an oversized t-shirt, but vanity won out. I even considered not going.
In my new-mom-fog, I somehow missed the memo that there are real nursing dresses available, from actual shops, to buy. What is this magic? Dresses that look good, feel good and -- essentially -- allow your baby to nurse without having to strip naked during the first dance?
I am writing this as a Public Service Announcement. For real. This is important, so listen up.
Don't make the mistake I made.
Never -- and I mean never -- choose a regular dress with a zip-up back when you are attending a wedding as a newby breastfeeding mom.
Sure, the zip is eye-catching and funky, but it will defy you. It will turn on you in the worst possible way, at the worst possible moment.
Because zips have no "give." They don't stretch... even when your boobs are literally bursting at the seams.
Upon arrival, I was already lightheaded from lack of oxygen, due to the tightness of the fabric strangling my bust.
By the time of the vows, I could hear the threads at the seams stretching, as engorgement set in.
And by the speeches? I was gone... hauled up in my hotel room, dress unzipped to the waist, heels left at the door, with a content little girl guzzling roughly 10 billion gallons of liquid gold...
If only I had thought to type "nursing dress" into Google... swoon... the styles, the colors, the choice! They look so good, feel so good and the best part? Your baby can nurse. All. Day. Long.
You might be reading this as one of the lucky ones; the ones who did their research and found brands like Momzelle, who not only create swoon-worthy nursing clothes, but who also form an online sisterhood -- a true community of like-minded nursing moms who are there for each other in those moments that our wardrobes defy us. You see, you might indeed be reading this as one of the lucky ones; the ones with a support network to reach out to... but there are others like me.
There are other moms, sleep deprived and engorged, who didn't even think to find virtual villages of moms who know their nursing wear... there are other moms who didn't even think to search for nursing-friendly options. And why not? Partly because of the mommy fog, for sure, but I'd go a step further and make a wild assumption...
What if we aren't looking for alternative options -- options that are made specifically for motherhood -- because we are told so very clearly that once we pop that baby out, we are supposed to pop right back into those skinny jeans before we even leave the delivery room?
What if we are settling for regular -- instead of choosing oh so very special -- because we are being sold the idea that motherhood should fit into the pre-pregnancy mould without so much as a seam adjustment?
What if we are buying into this utterly fake and unattainable supposed ideal?
I've said before that it's been four years since I last wore my favorite jeans. Four blissful and whirlwind years of growing a child, birthing a child, breastfeeding a child and mothering a child. Four years of feeling burnt out and over-touched, all while simultaneously feeling like the Most Important Person In The World.
Because to my daughter, every single mommy curve is perfection. And better than that -- it is unquestioned perfection. She doesn't view my structured dresses and tailored jackets, hanging so naivly in my wardrobe, as targets to squeeze back into. She sees straight through society's airbrushed image of motherhood and sees Me. With my new curves and slightly older curves, with my strong arms and proud smile lines. Just Me.
I wish I had taken Just Me to the wedding. I wish I had waved the zip farewell and instead, found myself a beautiful nursing dress that allowed me to be me: uncensored, unfiltered and unapologetic.
So whether you take a stand against the censorship and airbrushing of motherhood or not... please just do yourself one favor as a nursing mom... never ever trust a zip.
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This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.