Breastfeeding Gorilla

Breastfeeding Gorilla

Here’s another in my nursing animals series. There will probably be more. There’s something compelling, to me, about images of animals nursing. Something about the everydayness, the boringness but also the unknowable. I’m still spending a lot of time nursing twins, watching as they grow bigger and bigger.

There’s a Hole in My Stomach (and Wallet)


Last week I was on a walk with some friends who are mothers. “Do you find yourself hungrier, with breastfeeding?” one asked.

“Oh man, yes!” I said, enthusiastically. “I go through like a big tub of peanut butter a week!” There was a moment of silence. I imagined them imagining me eating a tub of peanut butter. “Maybe that was an over-share,” I said.

Later the conversation moved to drinking water. “Do you find breastfeeding makes you really thirsty?”

“Oh man, yes!” I said. “I’m drinking constantly! I can’t breastfeed without a big canteen of water to drink at the same time.” I must drink a gallon a day. I began to realize that everything I’m experiencing is double.

My stomach is a bottomless hole. People seem impressed that I’m back in my pre-baby clothes. I’m happy I haven’t shrunk down to nothing. There’s a hole in my stomach (and my wallet–same cause–though that’s a subject for another post). 


My hair is coming out in big chunks. Apparently when you’re pregnant you stop shedding hair, and then after you give birth all the hair you didn’t lose when you were pregnant sheds together. This morning the shower drain was completely clogged. The babies seem always to have my hair wound around their fingers now.

I’m reminded for some reason of my family dog growing up, Sophie. She was a yellow german shepherd lab mix, and in the summer she would shed giant clumps of white hair. We would brush and brush and brush and it would just keep coming out, spreading across the yard like shearing sheep.

Durning pregnancy and now baby-rearing I haven’t been able to escape this feeling of being an animal. Breastfeeding, for one. There is something in particular about breastfeeding two babies at once that strikes a mammalian chord. Here’s my two little fuzzy-headed babies, busily suckling, my arms curled protectively around them. When my mother was here, watching me do this, she said, laughing, “You’re such an Earth Mother. I never would have thought that of you.” I’m not sure about Earth Mother, but there’s no escaping a feeling of kinship with the dogs and cats.

Pumping breast milk, on the other hand, as I’m sure I’m not the first to note, makes you feel like a cow on a factory farm. And another thing, when the babies smile, they wag their whole bodies like happy puppies. Who could resist nuzzling?