Bessie the Blue Ribbon Cow (An Ode to My Boobs)

When I was young, someone told me a joke about Dolly Parton:

How do you know Dolly Parton has been running?
She has two black eyes.

After someone explained the joke, I was traumatized. I vividly remember lying in my bed as a middle-schooler and praying that my boobs would not grow big. I strongly related to all female characters in books and movies who, for one reason or another, taped down their boobs to make them flatter. Heaven forbid I would ever have two black eyes as a result of doing any kind of physical activity. I wanted to be active! And, when someone told me that boys liked big boobs, that just made me pray even harder.

I gained a newfound appreciation for boobs after I had a baby. Never again will I see boobs as annoying, weird-looking things. They are magical!

In no particular order, here are my top 11 reasons boobs are amazing and deserve some serious respect:

1. Boobs make magical elixir that gives life and wards off germs.
Let me say that again. They make a life-sustaining potion that can keep a baby alive for at least six months. This “liquid gold” or “nectar of the Gods” also contains ingredients to fight off the nasty germs that make babies sick. This means it supposedly protects from illnesses that range from colds to childhood cancer to diabetes to a host of other medical conditions. This magical elixir is specifically tailored to each specific baby’s needs by responding to stuff in the boob owner’s blood and then secreting other stuff to protect the baby. Amazing. But, boobs had me at “keep a baby alive for at least six months.” Goes without saying that this reason alone is enough to inspire kowtowing respect for boobs everywhere. But, there’s more!

2. Boobs can sense when their baby is nearby and make more milk accordingly.
Yeah. That’s right. It’s like they’re alive. They know when their baby is close and they produce more milk if the baby is around. For working moms like me, this is bad news because our boobs make less milk when we are away from our little ones all day even if we pump regularly. I read that you can try to fake out your boobs by looking at pictures or thinking of your baby while pumping, though I’m not sure this is actually true. I’ve tried it and I’m skeptical. Boobs are too smart to be faked out.

3. Boobs keep track of each other. They don’t like to be left out.
If baby is nursing on one side, the other boob sometimes starts leaking. It’s like it is saying, Hey! I’m here too! Don’t forget about me! If boobs are extra full, this leaking can be a full-on stream. There are times I’ve had to grab a burp cloth or towel to stem the tide. Super annoying and kind of gross, but pretty cool if you think about it.

4. Boobs know when it’s action time.
Unless they are totally engorged, or new to the game, boobs don’t just go around leaking all day long. They know when it’s their time to shine. They hold in the goods until a baby or pump latches on and starts sucking. Then, they open the gates and let down the milk. One can actually feel the milk starting to flow inside. It’s go time.

5. Boobs work according to laws of supply and demand.
As in, they supply more when there is more demand. And, they supply less when demand goes down. As baby grows and nurses longer or needs more, boobs learn that they need to make more milk, and then they do it. Just like that. Unfortunately, the flip is also true; if, for whatever reason (illness, mom is away from baby etc.) the baby nurses less or misses a feeding, boobs also learn that they don’t need to make as much milk, so they produce less. You can’t pull one over on boobs. They know.

6. Boobs are the ultimate calming devices.
Crying baby? Screaming baby? Upset baby? No problem. Boobs can handle it. No matter the time of day or night, stick a boob in a baby’s mouth and the baby will calm down 99.9% of the time. That is a better success rate than white noise, shushing, swaddling, swinging, swaying, and singing combined. This may or may not be backed up by research.

7. Boobs put baby to sleep.
I know, I know, after a certain age it probably isn’t the best practice to boob your baby to sleep. But, the point is that you can. Because it works. A baby with a boob in his/her mouth is a happy baby. More importantly, a baby with a boob in his/her mouth is a baby that will get sleepy. And who doesn’t want their baby to sleep more, especially at 3 o’clock in the morning when babies are fond of waking up?

8. Boobs have their own useful accessories.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered the whole new, very unsexy world of boob gear and pumping. Or, more accurately, imagine my cousin’s surprise when she woke up one morning to see her Amazon Prime shopping cart filled with these aforementioned unsexy and terrifying looking items. Have you ever seen a hands-free pumping bra (here is one of my favorite online picture. Because I definitely looked this put together and productive when I was pumping at work)? Or, been attached to the medieval torture device that is a breast pump? There are flanges and milk storage bags and nursing pads and pumping bras of all shapes and sizes. Boobs even have their own clothes: typically unfashionable, frumpy looking nursing tops and dresses. Not to mention all the fancy creams and lotions that are available on the market. Boobs can be quite high maintenance.

Torture device, PumpEase hands-free bra, milk bags and pump bottles. Just a few of the riveting boob accessories for superb boob maintenance.

9. Boobs are a good way to bond with baby.
Boobs are not the only way to bond with baby, but they can provide some strong attachment. Never mind that the attachment is to the milk and not necessarily to me, but whatever, I’ll take it. This attachment is so strong that baby sometimes wakes up when I enter a room even if I don’t make any noise; he senses my boobs and they call to him. He also wakes up more often if I sleep in the same room; the siren call of my boobs can penetrate his slumber. Boobs have a gravitational pull of their own.

10. Boobs are the boss.
A nursing mom must plan her days around her boobs. Literally. Can’t miss a feeding or a pumping, or she might mess up her milk supply (see #5). I carted my pump everywhere. I’ve pumped in public restrooms, work meetings, airports, conferences, hotels, you name it. If I went there, my pump was probably with me. I’ve missed trains, social activities, and definitely sleep because of my boobs. They put you on a strict schedule and they mean business.

11. Boobs are better than squirt guns.
TMI? This whole list is TMI. Which is why I never fully understood most of these things until I had a baby. Their range is longer than you realize. In fact, someone once told me that she could squirt all the way across her bedroom with a full boob. Again, disturbing and gross. But, I bet you’d try it if you could.

I’m grateful for the blessing that is boobs. They don’t call me Bessie for nothing!

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