Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Comforting Breasts

The other night while S and I were enjoying dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants, I noticed a young couple seated behind us, and they were the parents of two adorable little boys, one toddler who was making a lot of noise with his silverware, and a baby seated in a high chair who seemed perfectly content to drool his way through a dinner roll. They were absolutely precious, and I smiled at them as I was being seated, and that was when the older of the two set his dining utensils down while offering me a very charming crooked grin and the baby dropped his roll on the tray of the high chair so he could join his brother in returning my smile.

After we had placed our dinner orders and were waiting for our meals, S smiled and said, "You have a fan."

I wasn't sure what he meant until I turned to find our smiling  "neighbor" leaning over the back of my seat in an attempt to catch my attention. I laughed. The little boy's mother turned him around with an embarrassed apology, but I didn't mind. As a matter of fact, I've grown accustomed to those sorts of things because it happens a lot--and has for years. Children are drawn to me, like tiny moths to a flame, and on the frequent occasion that little ones follow me as if I'm the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and babies reach for me from strollers and high chairs, people have teased me by saying, "Maybe it's the breasts," to which I have always responded with laughter.

Once S and I were in the car, we laughed again about my unexpected dining companion, and many of his counterparts over the years, and  I said, "Do you really think the attraction has anything to do with my breasts?"

"Maybe," he said. "They look so warm and soft and nice. Little kids don't know to see them as anything other than a form of comfort."

It makes sense, doesn't it? We are born with the instinct to find our mother's breast and to suckle from it. Viewing breasts as sexual objects and understanding that they can be used for erotic pleasure and sexual gratification comes to us much later in life, for some, replacing that initial need for nurturing and comfort. But not for all of us. For some of us, the need to come to the breast--or to take our partner to the breast--remains throughout our lifetime, and can  gratify and sustain us as well as any common form of breast play.

I realize that over the years, I have used my breasts more often for nurturing and comfort than I have for sexual pleasure, beginning 14 years ago when I became a breastfeeding mother. As soon as my son was born and the doctor had held him up for our inspection, I took him in my arms to admire that consummate perfection, and he snuffled and began to root for my breast, latching immediately, and with very little effort. I understood, at that very second, the true purpose that my breasts served: to nourish and sustain another human life.

Later that day, as baby and I were resting from our big morning, snuggled up together in my hospital bed with his mouth latched onto my right breast as he dozed contentedly against my chest,  lulled to sweet slumber by the rhythm of my heartbeat, a nurse came into my room to check my vitals, and when she saw the baby asleep at my breast, she frowned a little and said, "Baby goes to the breast for 15 minutes, and then is put to the opposite breast for 15 additional minutes before he is put down. There isn't a need to keep him on the breast for longer periods of time, especially when he's sleeping."

"Not even for comfort?" I replied. "I know he isn't feeding right now, but he's very content."

I was young, and a first-time parent, but I was this child's mother, and I knew what felt right for us, so, against the nurse's advice, I kept my little one nestled against my bosom, refusing to detach him from his haven of security, and it became a practice that I employed over the years, not only with him, but with his brother and sister (and father), too. My breasts truly didn't belong to me; they were readily available for the need and repose of my little ones and the man who had helped create them, and this seemed so natural, so normal, as it heightened my own femininity and brought on greater awareness of my role as a woman, a wife, and a mother.

I had found my purpose. And it was a beautiful discovery.

The children came to the breast so often that I began to teasingly refer to myself as a "human pacifier". When they were tiny, I would kangaroo pouch them by sliding them down the front of my blouse with their tiny heads peeping out, and cuddle them skin to skin to soothe them with my warmth and heartbeat. They would settle against me contentedly, reassured by my closeness and by my love. When they learned to walk and had shown those first signs of independence, they still sought their mother's comfort; often, they would put down one of their little dump trucks or dolls to toddle over to me so they could rest their cheek against my breast for a fleetingly tranquil moment, as if to remind themselves that I was still there, before their newfound freedom called them away from me once more.

And their father has taken great comfort in the swell of my bosom over the years, too. There are moments when he will come to kneel before me just so he can rest his head against my breasts. He'll close his eyes as his face relaxes, and after several long moments, he often says, "I can hear your heart beat."

It is a heart that beats for him.

There are times, too, in a marriage, when words are not enough to express the encompassing emotions that threaten to carry you away, and I realized that several years ago when S lost his mother. His grief and pain were palpable, and I was struggling to help him through such a terrible time, but nothing I could have said would have been sufficient. He didn't say anything, either. Instead, he came into my arms to rest his head against my breasts, drawing his comfort from them, and allowed me to hold him until he fell asleep. It was the only thing that I could hope to offer, and, much later, he told me that it had been enough.

My decision to become an "extended comfort nurser" was not always met with approval, but it was a choice that I will never regret. I am the blessed mother of happy, healthy, self-sufficient, and independent children, and the wife of a devoted and extremely content husband, so I remain staunch in my belief that I made the right decision for us. Because my breasts were made available to my children when they were small, they now believe that I am available to them whenever they need me, and they are secure in the knowledge that their mother will always be there for them, as a source of comfort and support.

We take two vacations a year, and one is a fairly large trip that includes many family members. During one of these winter vacations about four years ago, we decided to spend a week at Disney World. My little lady had only been off the breast for about six months at the time, and all of the excitement--and the large, noisy, strange crowd of people--threw her for a bit of a loop. One morning, we elected to take the ferry rather than the tram into the Magic Kingdom, and as we churned our way through the choppy waters, surrounded by exuberant, chattering people, my daughter became overwhelmed, and reached for the front of my shirt to find my breasts. Just as I was prepared to stroke her head and tell her that everything was all right, one of our family members noticed what she was doing, and grew flustered. Because of her embarrassment, she quickly, but kindly, pulled my daughter's hands away from my breasts with a gentle admonishment of, "No, no, K. You mustn't touch Mama there."

I was stunned, and so was the baby. She had never been taught that breasts were a forbidden place. She had only known that they provide food and comfort. This is how shame is born, and why stigmas arise. Sometimes, unintentionally, people take the most innocent and perfectly natural acts, such as reaching for a mother's breasts as a source of reassurance, and transform them into something wrong, which is why, I believe, that many people, particularly women who have grown accustomed to recognizing their breasts as mere sexual contrivances (when, in fact, they are so much more than that), cannot fully enjoy a nursing relationship, whether it be with their child or their partner.

While it is lovely to know that my breasts are pleasing to my husband's eyes, and sate his physical desires, it is far more glorious to understand that they fulfill his emotional needs.

And this is what sustains me.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Nursing Diary Update: Week 9

The Ninth Week (5/22/16-5/29/16)

The ninth week in the beautiful nursing journey that I share with S has passed with as much love, wonder, and joy as the previous eight weeks have blessed us with. We are both feeling wonderful--content, rejuvenated, and excited to proceed with our ANR; S and I agree that re-opening this part of our relationship was the perfect decision for us as a married couple, and we are eagerly anticipating the next steps along this amazing path of life.

On Saturday (5/28) and Sunday (5/29), we were able to share three nursing sessions (6 a.m., 2 p.m., and 11 p.m.), so pumping was unnecessary. The greatest quantity and flow occurs during our morning nursing session, which seems to be typical of many nursing women, as our bodies work laboriously and lovingly through the long hours of night to prepare our breasts for our recipients' willing mouths, and the let-down and amount of breast milk he receives at night, seems to be relatively comparable. I have noticed during our afternoon sessions that his nursing truly is much more effective than my pumping, but I remain very pleased with what my body is accomplishing during the afternoon, even when S isn't available to feed.

I am now able to gauge my milk flow fairly easily, and he and I are ecstatic with my production, as I seem to be producing approximately 18 ounces of milk per day! This has increased from the 16 ounces that I was producing earlier in the week. Since the "average" (as if there is such a thing! ;)) fully lactated and largely exclusive nursing woman produces about 25-40 ounces of breast milk per day, I am extremely happy with my production number! When I exclusively nursed our children, I produced greater quantities of milk than the typical 40 ounces, so I am really hoping that, even with nursing one person on a somewhat limited basis, I will be able to produce at least 40 ounces per day. At this point, this is my new milk making goal, and I am committed (although flexible) to it. It's actually quite exciting to set an achievement and work toward it. I'm looking forward to the attempt! For now, of course, I am simply delighted with my milk production, and could not be more grateful for those lovely 18 ounces! :)

S, of course, remains so supportive, assuring me that, even if I never reach my goal, he will be just as thrilled with our nursing relationship. That assurance is so wonderfully welcome, and brings me so much security as it prevents stress.

Emotionally, it seems that Week 9 has shown me so much, and offered even greater moments of self-discovery about myself and my relationship with S. I feel so joyful, so at peace, and so content. I am blissfully aware of my femininity, the overwhelming mutual attraction that my beloved and I share for one another, and I could not be more thrilled--or thankful--for such an incredibly beautiful gift!

Physically, my breasts have undergone a new change over the past seven days. Although their size remains the same (which I am actually relieved to discover, as the weight is honestly a bit cumbersome at times, particularly now that the weather is growing much warmer, and it's expensive to replace bras, and difficult to find blouses that fit properly--just a few of the challenging realities of this journey), they are much fuller, and so beautiful to me--and him.

My husband has seen my breasts so often over the past 15 years that they should be so commonplace to him, but they aren't. S is enamored by them, and each time they are revealed to him, it seems that he is seeing them for the very first time. They, and the milk that flows from them, are my gift to him, and he handles them with such gentle reverence. I am so privileged to be his wife, and the woman he comes to for nurturing and nourishment.

Week 10 has now begun, and I am so excited for the next seven days! :) I'll be back on June 6 with another diary update!

You can read Weeks 1-6 of my nursing diary by clicking HERE

And Weeks 7-8 can be found HERE

Saturday, May 28, 2016

ANR Story: Got Milk?

Something very interesting happened to S the other day while he was at work, and when he came home and relayed the story to me, I found it to be very fascinating--and a bit thought-provoking, so I decided to share it with you. Think of this as "Saturday Story time with LMM". ;)

If you've been following my blog, then you'll know that S works in a very male-oriented environment, and his current job is normally classified as a "masculine" one. I won't go into great detail about his job, but I'll let you know that, just like his previous job, this one requires the wearing of a uniform. Because of this all-male environment, testosterone levels often run pretty high, and it isn't uncommon for the men to engage in a bit of shop talk throughout the day.

I was raised with brothers, growing up, one of my closest friends was a boy, and I've been married for a very long time, so I can honestly say that I know for certain that men, shall we say, talk and share, just as much as women do. And because they do, S knows a lot about his co-workers' personal lives--and they know quite a bit about his, too.

They just don't know all of it.

One of S' co-workers, a man named E, is the new father of a breastfed baby. While he is perfectly fine with baby having her breakfast, lunch, and dinner directly "from the tap", E admits that he personally steers clear from the milk--and the breasts from which it flows, which has begun to stifle the relationship that he shares with his wife.

While discussing his plight and frustration one afternoon, many of the other men commiserated with his current situation; none of them seemed to have a taste for breast milk, and one even went so far as to relay his own personal "accidental ingestion" tale, which concluded with the phrase: "And some even got in my mouth!"

It was then S' turn to chime in on the conversation, which he did by saying, "That's good stuff, my friend.  I love my wife's breast milk."

At first, his co-workers thought he was joking, and then, when they found out he wasn't, my brutally honest and blunt love, was forced to take the brunt of their jokes and ribbing, which, he, of course, did in stride. When S came home and told me about the exchange, it wasn't his co-workers' teasing and their faux yuck noises that gave me pause for thought--it was the curious questions that followed that made me think.

I began to wonder how many of those men were actually interested in breast milk and nursing (even if they didn't realize that ANR exists), and secretly wanted to try it, as opposed to the ones who were merely curious about the "kinky" thing that S has done with me.

It's happened to him before. Many times. The topic will turn to breastfeeding, the milk becomes a sort of colossal punch line to a tasteless joke (which I find so sad, because I can never see the hilarity in it, or understand how breast milk can be funny), and S is always there to set the record straight about the beauty of nursing. The comedy routine commences, the laugh track rolls...and then, privately, the serious questions commence. These are the inquiries that S answers with both confidence and confidentiality because, like so many others, he understands that need and desire for privacy and discretion, and, on the off-chance that these questions are a way for his co-workers to begin the journey into the lovely world of the adult nursing relationship, he wants them to understand that they will have someone to turn to. But it never goes much further than queries.

So, on Wednesday, while S and E were having lunch together, and talking sports and golf and fishing, the conversation took a very different turn when, out of the blue, E said, "So, S, you're a milk drinker, huh?"

Although it's very rare for S to be at a loss for words in any situation, he was, because he was so surprised by such a quick turn in the conversation. He admitted to me later that night, while telling me about the incident, that he was a bit unsure of just exactly what E was asking. When you are actively involved in a nursing relationship, and you hear the world milk, I think your mind often immediately turns to breasts. It's sort of as if breast milk is the only milk that exists--and matters. But because he was so taken aback, he replied in very typical and classic S fashion.

"Milk? Oh, yeah. Love it. I drink it every morning and drink it every night."

To which E replied, "Yeah. Me, too. Well, at night, anyway."

The whole incident left me to ask a lot of my own questions. Was that E's way of broaching the topic of adult nursing and opening a conversation with someone who, apparently, had often indulged in "sampling the goods", and could, obviously, be trusted, or was he merely making a bit of off-subject casual conversation?

I guess he could have been, but that question just didn't seem to fit, you know? There was no segue, no transition. One minute, they were discussing bogies and bass, and the next, he was asking about S' drinking preferences, and sharing a bit of his own.
I believe he was attempting to open the conversation about ANR in a casual and off-hand way, perhaps as a way to test the waters while unburdening himself of a secret that, to many, seems so terrible, but isn't such a shameful one after all, and when I told S this, he thought it over for a minute, and nodded.  He admitted that there was a part of him that had truly believed the same thing, but it was his own uncertainty that had kept him from pursuing the issue.

"So, why didn't you say more?" I asked. "Think about it. What a perfect way to open up the conversation about our lifestyle choice."

"I guess I could have," he replied. "But if that was E's way of bringing up nursing, I didn't want to embarrass him further by just jumping right in. I know that there's no shame in what we do, but maybe he doesn't know that yet."

And that part made perfect sense to me. The situation really wasn't about us. It was about him.

Sometimes, when you are a nursing couple, you find yourselves in a bit of a Catch 22 situation. While you want to provide support and understanding to others who are floundering and struggling a bit with their own personal lifestyle choice dilemma, you don't want to come across to them as presumptuous and pushy. Over the years, S and I have realized that as much as we want to share our joy in such an amazingly beautiful experience, ANR really is a difficult subject to bring up. That is one reason I began blogging about it--as a way to open up those lines of communication. Now that I have, I allow others to come to me, if they choose to, as a way to offer support and encouragement. I've found that even in very open, nursing-specific forums, people are sometimes leery and reluctant to freely discuss their lifestyle choice.

For a very long time, even as S and I were partaking in the glory of ANR, without realizing that there was an actual name for what we were doing, I thought we were the only ones who enjoyed nursing. Until one of our acquaintances let her own lifestyle choice accidentally "slip out" at a social function several years ago, which you can read about HERE, I didn't realize that S and I were so closely associated with another nursing couple. Looking back in retrospect, I think there were probably others, too, others like us, who believed they were alone on this magnificent journey.

Nobody wants to be viewed as different; nobody wants to be ostracized. It is in a human's nature to "fit in", even if this means being forced into a stifling and suffocating mold that has been created for you by a society that claims to be liberated and open-minded, but is, in reality, still quite judgmental in many ways. I believe it's even more difficult for men to come forward with their feelings on the issue of ANR for fear of being chastised and viewed as "soft" and "weak".

Will S ever find out if E is a secret ANR enthusiast? I don't know. After giving the incident even more thought, the Mister drew his own conclusions and came to a decision. He said, "If the subject ever gets brought up again, I'm going to say, 'my wife and I practice ANR', and allow the discussion to go from there. If it turns out that I'm wrong and E really isn't into nursing, what's the worst thing that can come out of it? He'll know that I am."

I think that's a wonderful way to look at it! Simply open the conversation, and allow events to take their course.

And, really, what more can anyone do?

Friday, May 27, 2016

TGIF: Bountiful Fruits ANR Chat

The Bountiful Fruits ANR Chat Podcast will launch in 5 days!

Here is a feel good Friday message from me to you :)

General questions, comments, and feedback: lovingmilkmaid@gmail.com
Podcast feedback: podcast@bountifulfruits.com
Follow me on Twitter @Marriedmilkmaid

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Nursing Friends

As we proceed through life, various relationships sustain us and play a key role in our very existence. We experience the parent/child relationship (in which many of us play both roles), fringe family relationships, casual and platonic relationships, marital relationships, and sexual ones, and, yes, even the nursing variety, but until I re-opened my ANR with the Mister in March, and began my journey of knowledge and self-discovery, I never realized that another, and very real, relationship would be available to me--the relationship shared between nursers.

While talking to a friend of mine one day, he happened to use the phrase "nursing friends" during our conversation, and I immediately thought, How fabulous! What an interesting way to define our particular friendship! And, why not? After all, we define friendships in many different ways. We have best friends, close friends, good friends, and online friends, so why not nursing friends, too? I think maybe my friend was a little surprised that I was so intrigued by this concept, and when I went on to ask him why he defined and compartmentalized certain friendships in such a way, he explained that because he couldn't share his feelings on adult nursing with just any friend, he had made nursing friends, people he shared a common interest with, just as he shared more traditional common interests with other friends.

Don't you just love that? :)

Nursing friends truly play a vital role in an adult nurser's life. It is wonderful to surround yourself with people who actually understand your feelings on the adult nursing relationship, and do not question or judge or criticize your decision to practice such a lifestyle. You never need to feel ashamed or embarrassed or stifled--or wait to be asked the age-old question why? Nursing friends provide a liberating freedom, an outlet for the burden of secrecy; they listen, empathize, and are available to lend support, encouragement, and understanding. Nursing friends share their joy and accomplishments as well as concerns and struggles within ANR. Together, you can celebrate and commiserate. It's a lovely friendship, a comforting friendship, and one of the most unique friendships you will ever form.

Just like traditional friendships, nursing friendships are built on trust. I think, in my particular case, this has been especially true. I have met a lot of wonderful people over the past two months through my blog, and they know that I write about the ANR experience; this makes trust so much more important because nobody wants to end up as the unwilling topic of a blog post, right? Although many people tread lightly and a bit warily when they approach me, over the course of these past two months, I have been blessed to form a few nursing friendships of my own, and they are precious to me, and I treat these people with as much respect and kindness as I do my non-nursing friends, taking their ideals and feelings into strict confidence, and sharing their thoughts anonymously--and with their consent. I understand the need for privacy and discretion. And I respect that.

Nursing friendships are intimate. After all, you are sharing a very personal and private part of your life with this friend, often a part that you have never shared with another person before. This friend knows more about you than even your best friend knows. Does this mean, though, that nursing friendships can't be platonic? Of course not! All of my nursing friendships are, and it is wonderful!

I think, perhaps, I realized just how important a nursing friend can be when Mr. S had to be away from home three weeks ago. I was feeling the strain of the separation, and a friend of mine was there to see me through the week. It was so comforting to know that I had a person to turn to, someone I could discuss my feelings with, someone who was there to lend support and encouragement along the way. Who else could I have talked to, who else would have understood what I was going through at that particular point in my journey? I understood then that when you have a good nursing friend, you never have to feel alone.

Nursing friendships are much more than a surface friendship. They are very real friendships, and, just like everything else that is presented to us in life, they hold their own reality. The truth is that you probably won't become friends with every fellow nurser you meet. Although upon first meeting, there is that base kinship, nursing friendships require the same chemistry, that little click of connection, just as traditional friendships do.  I am drawn to my nursing friends because we share more than the need and desire to nurse; we view ANR in the same basic ways, and share many of the same ideas, thoughts, feelings, and ideologies regarding the beautiful adult nursing relationship. But not all of my nursing friendships are identical. They are all very unique, but nonetheless special, to me. One of my nursing friends and I discuss only ANR while another friend and I rarely discuss the lifestyle, instead focusing our conversations on other, more common topics and interests. One of my friends and I formed a friendship very early on, just after I began blogging about my journey into ANR, and we talk about everything--from nursing to how we spent our weekends. Nursing friends can become true friends, and that is a very nice reality. :)

I am a nurturer by nature (say that three times fast! ;)), and I tend and cultivate my nursing friendships as if they are the most exotic of flowers blooming in my garden of life. While the pansies and poppies that blossom among them are just as beautiful and meaningful, these very special flowers require the greatest care.

I feel very privileged to have these rare friendships, and I hope you are fortunate to make nursing friends, too! They are a true blessing and a gift!

Have a beautiful Thursday! :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Menstruation, Lactation, and Fertility

Many things can affect a woman's menstrual cycle and fertility, including breastfeeding, which I learned a great deal about during my first pregnancy 14 years ago--right from the moment I left my OB/GYN's office after my first pre-natal appointment with a prescription for vitamins and a lot of pamphlets, but I didn't give an enormous amount of thought about menstruation, lactation, and fertility as a nursing wife until a month ago when I was asked if the act of adult nursing would affect my cycle. The whole concept was very interesting to me, and gave me pause for thought. S and I have been a nursing couple throughout the course of our long and happy marriage, and I had never really noticed a fluctuation in my cycle, but I chose to pay closer attention to my body now that we have re-opened our ANR because some things really have changed in our nursing relationship style. I am older. I am no longer breastfeeding children. We are nursing on a regulated schedule rather than free-form nursing.

During pregnancy, a woman's body becomes one big jumble of hormones, and producing breast milk, even while not pregnant or recently post-partum, causes many of the same hormonal changes. In essence, we are producing the same chemicals and hormones as expectant mothers, so it seemed logical to me that adult nursing might affect my cycle in the way breastfeeding an infant had. I couldn't give a clear answer to the question will this affect your cycle? at the time it was posed to me because I had not yet come to that particular path in my journey, but a month has passed since then, so I know a little more--at least about my own body. But before I share what I've learned, I thought I would delve a bit further into M.L.F. (menstruation, lactation, and fertility ;)

Lactational amenorrhea is the natural postpartum infertility that occurs when a woman is not menstruating due to breastfeeding. Some women practice the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM or Exclusive Breastfeeding Method) as a form of birth control. Opinions are conflicted regarding the effectiveness of using LAM  because this method of birth control adheres to a very structured set of guidelines to ensure its effectiveness: baby must be less than six months old, menstrual periods must have completely stopped, and he must be exclusively nursed around the clock with no artificial supplements (including pacifiers), even if just for comfort.

Even before our oldest son was born, S and I decided that we would use a method of Natural Family Planning as our preferred method of birth control, and just before I was discharged from the hospital two days after the baby's birth, a nurse came into my room and actually tried to force me to accept a Depo-Provera shot, which I refused. (She was not pleased!) S' job made Natural Family Planning very effective for us, as he was frequently away from home, and we used this method until the birth of our youngest child when we decided that our family was perfectly complete, and opted for a more "sure-fire" and "fool-proof" pregnancy prevention technique.

But I didn't use NFP in conjunction with breastfeeding and lactational amenorrhea, and I couldn't have relied on LAM. Because, even though I was exclusively nursing baby (and his father), my cycle never truly stopped.

When a woman becomes pregnant for the first time, it's such a beautiful experience. There's so much excitement and joy, so much anticipation. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of inaccurate and conflicting information available to her. I was young when my first child was born. I read every pamphlet, listened to every expert, and in the end, realized that only I knew my body, and only I knew what was right for me. Instead of agreeing to every suggestion and piece of advice and crumbling beneath the pressure, I relied on that glorious instinct that we lovely females seem to possess within us, and it all worked out beautifully! :))

Two of the most common (and inaccurate) myths that I read were actually printed in a medical pamphlet that my NP gave me after one of my pre-natal appointments.

Myth #1:
Almost all women's menstrual periods will cease after childbirth, particularly if they have chosen to breastfeed.

Almost all women? What does that even mean? I was an exclusive nurser who breastfed around the clock, without scheduling my children (or their father), and I never truly experienced the freedom of lactational amenorrhea. My cycle balanced itself very quickly after childbirth; my period returned, as scheduled, before each of my boys was three months old, and it never stopped at all following the birth of my little lady.

Myth #2:
A woman cannot get pregnant while breastfeeding, even if she has seen a return of her menses.

Umm...yes. You can. I was an exclusively breastfeeding mother when I conceived two of my children.

Lactation, even the lovely induced sort that occurs without the aid of pregnancy, does cause a shift in hormone levels, and this can affect a woman's cycle and fertility, but I, personally, would not recommend relying on adult nursing as an effective form of birth control--even if you are one of the lucky few who has the beautiful opportunity to exclusively nurse your partner. ;)

So, what have I experienced thusfar as a nursing wife?

I am a very regular sort of lady, and have rarely seen a change in my own cycle since my emergence into the world of womanhood, but following the re-opening of the ANR I share with the Mister, I did experience one unusual shift. I was 5 days late. Everything else remained very well-balanced without a change in flow or length of cycle. The nursing did seem to ease any tension or mild discomfort, so that was wonderful! Although some women feel that their milk supply is adversely affected prior to, or at the beginning of, their periods, I did not experience this shift in production, although it was a concern I'd expressed to S. I assume that the delay in starting was caused by my body's reaction to the hormonal imbalance it was going through at the time, and I expect a return to normalcy now that things have evened out and leveled off a bit. :) I suppose I'll just have to wait and see what the upcoming month brings!

Before I go, I think it's important to bring up one more point, just another little tidbit I recently read that made me go hmmm...

All changes to your menstrual cycle are perfectly normal if you are breastfeeding, so don't be concerned by this.

Well...all is a very general term, isn't it? And while I agree that a breastfeeding woman may certainly see a shift in her cycle, I would personally suggest listening to your body--and your instincts. If something is taking place inside of you that simply doesn't seem right, or is giving you cause for concern, discuss it with your healthcare professional. When it comes to your body, you are the expert!

And, there you have it! My middle-of-the-week thoughts on M.L.F.!

Happy Wednesday to you! :)

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Nursing Diary Update: Week 8

Week 8 (5/15/16-5/22/16)

Where can I possibly begin? The eighth week into our beautiful ANR and lactation journey has come and gone, bringing with it more changes than I ever believed I would see in a seven-day period of time; these changes have been both physical and emotional, and I cannot honestly say which of these I have enjoyed more!

To begin with, the week was absolutely beautiful, and the weekend was amazing. Although we had a lot to do (it seems that we stay much busier in the spring and summer), S and I were able to nurse three times on Saturday and Sunday with no skipped two p.m. sessions! It was wonderful--and very important, as my milk continues to increase by the day, and I noticed throughout the week that my lovely little manual pump, although I still love it and highly recommend it, may no longer be adequate for my needs at this particular point in my milk-making journey. I feel that once I am fully lactating and expressing large quantities of milk, it will work beautifully once more.

I noticed a much larger increase in my milk supply on Tuesday (5/17) following our 6 a.m. nursing. About four hours after, my breasts seemed to be very fuller, much fuller than normal, and when I was able to hand express around 10:45, I produced a greater amount of milk than I've been seeing previously. I had to fit in another hand massage/stimulation two hours later before I pumped at 2 :00, and from that point, began charting my production to the best of my ability. I've found that it's a bit too challenging right now to pump more than once during the day, but if this progression continues, I will have to figure out how to make time to do so. There has been a very full heaviness, particularly in the areolae, and the milk must be released to prevent engorgement.

I have enjoyed pumping much more than I'd thought I would, and because making milk for S' pleasure has become so important to me, I feel that the time has come to invest in a different breast pump. He and I discussed this over the weekend, and he is, of course, as supportive and encouraging as ever! (I love this man!!) I feel that a dual electric pump may be what I am in need of for efficiency and effectiveness, and we plan to purchase one soon, which I'm very excited about!

It seems to me that lactation levels 8 and 9 vary little for most women; the biggest difference appears to be the amount of milk that the nursing partner receives during feedings. S and I talked about this, and he said he is receiving "mouthful after mouthful" of milk from each breast throughout the length of each nursing session. I feel wonderful about this--so blessed and accomplished! I've noticed that his suck and swallow rhythm has changed; sometimes, while nursing, he has to swallow much more quickly, and in greater succession now. When the milk stops flowing, he stays on the breast for an additional 3-5 minutes, to ensure that my body's "supply and demand" mode remains in effect! ;) Let-down is immediate, and milk begins to flow the moment he is properly latched. I continue to move toward full lactation! We are both so excited about this!

Physically, I feel wonderful, but emotionally, I feel over-the-moon incredible! Over the past week, S and I have grown even closer; perhaps because we are working so closely together to reach our final lactation goal. I am so blissfully in love. We've talked a lot about our ANR over the past week, sharing our thoughts on my lactation level, discussing our feelings, and I think being even more open and communicative has aided in the strengthening of the bonding process. To look up and find the man that you have spent 16 years of your life with smile at you as if seeing you for the first time is emotionally overwhelming. (Oh, I love his face! ;))

Although I am anxious to continue producing greater quantities of milk over the course of the upcoming week, I am even more eager to reach greater levels of emotional intimacy with my husband. It's a beautiful experience.

I'll update my diary next week, and share with you what I learned during the ninth week of my spectacular ANR journey!

Pure Serenity: An Interview with Mrs. D

Mrs. D is a 39-year-old professional who works in Sales & Service, and her husband, Mr. E., 45, is a business analyst. They have been together as a loving couple for 12 years, married for 11, and are the parents of three wonderful teen-agers, ages 18, 16, and 15. I first had the privilege of meeting Mrs. D through Bountiful Fruits when she contacted me with this beautiful message:

Our ANR journey started about 4 years ago. We stumbled on this as I was beginning my treatment for fibrocystic breasts. I struggled with breast pain for years. Thankfully, I have such a wonderful husband, open minded enough to start an ANR. Since starting our ANR, I no longer suffer.
At first, as we started this journey, we had to truly sort through our emotions, as to was this wrong or right. We all know how society can make us feel, right! Sadly, more do not engage in this, or, if so, then they don't/can't proudly discuss, including us.

Our ANR has blossomed into something so beautiful over the years. Not only has it brought us closer together, but in general, we've found such peace. Nothing (life in general) seems to be as crazy as it once was. There is truly nothing like unwinding from your day in each other's arms as I share myself with my husband. We can't imagine life without ANR!

I was immediately moved by the beauty and candor of Mrs. D's words, and when I asked her what ANR means to her, and she replied with, "PURE serenity is one of the first things that comes to mind! There's nothing like feeling my husband snuggle close as he takes in my breast. It's as if life completely fades away," I knew that I had to share this amazing lady's story with others! I think you'll find that Mr. E, who was generous enough to share his thoughts, too, shows that love holds no barriers, as he brings both emotional and physical comfort to his wife through the practice of a loving ANR. I hope you enjoy "Pure Serenity".

An Interview with Mrs. D

LMM: Although you discovered the ANR lifestyle by chance, was it your search to find ways to control breast pain that led you to seek further information on nursing?

Mrs. D: I knew stimulation was helpful in controlling breast pain, which sparked my interest, and I wanted to know more.

LMM: Was ANR something that you were always interested in, or did you choose to open your ANR based on the health benefits it obviously provides?

Mrs. D: I never knew anything like it existed. At first, it was opened for the health benefits. It wasn't until after we experienced the emotional side of nursing did we feel that the experience goes hand in hand. The added benefit is the emotional connection we were able to establish because of it.

LMM: Since your journey began with the hope of gaining health benefits from the experience, did you and your husband initially realize how many emotional benefits would also arise from the nursing experience?

Mrs. D: No, we didn't. Not at all. Once we sorted through how it made us feel, it turned into one of the most beautiful things we share together as a couple.

LMM: And when did you realize that nursing truly is an emotional connection?

Mrs. D: Right away, we felt something, but we couldn't really explain it. With more conversation between one another, and by being open and honest, we knew we were venturing on more of an emotional connection.

LMM: Let's talk a little more about pain control. Did you begin breast therapy by solely pumping? And how long did you do this before incorporating suckling into your daily routine?

Mrs. D: Yes, but I didn't solely pump for long before introducing some suckling. We had to work on my husband's jaw stamina to enhance the experience. Now, we attempt to spend time together nightly, and as time permits. I also pump twice daily, and Mr. E incorporates breast massage into our schedule.

LMM: What made you decide to include suckling into your routine?

Mr. E: The main focus was to help eliminate breast pain. As the husband, I wanted to do anything that I could to help. I knew that on a physical level, I enjoyed being with her, but with the mindset of wanting to help, it also changed the experience and made it more intimate, past the physical and more emotional.

LMM: You must be a wonderful husband! Your ANR is so unique because you are easing discomfort as you work alongside one another to build an unbreakable bond! Mrs. D, how did you broach the subject of opening an ANR with Mr. E., and what was his initial reaction to the suggestion?

Mrs. D: I came right out and asked him, and his first reaction was a "raised eyebrow" as he processed what I'd asked him.

LMM: I have read so much about the benefits of pumping and extended nursing in regard to breast health, and I am a firm believer in both.  Was pumping a medical suggestion given to you by your physician, or were you first to broach the subject? And how dd you discuss pumping and nursing with your health care professional?

Mrs. D: My breast specialist suggested breast massage, stimulation, or pumping. The doctor suggested that I first rent a pump to test the waters before purchasing a pump. When I had my yearly exam with my OB/GYN, I explained to him what we had been doing, and he instructed me to continue, as it was beneficial for the reduction of fibrocystic breast pain, and has also helped with my leaky breast ducts.

LMM: If you don't mind, I would love to discuss your breast pumps. I understand that you use both a manual and electric pump. Which brands do you currently use, and how well have they worked for you? Do you find them effective and cost-efficient?

Mrs. D: I currently pump with a Spectra S1 with a rechargeable battery, which I love! It has a vibration let-down mode that is fully adjustable to suit me. This is a hospital grade pump with a closed system that is very affordable. It includes a night light and timer. Hands down, the suction is the best. I purchased this pump on Amazon for $185. I also have a Phillips Avent manual comfort brand pump for when I am on the go. I purchased it from Babies R Us for $39.99. The manual pump has just the right amount of suction that works for me. I've read tons of reviews on many different pumps over the years. It is honestly about trial and error, and finding what works best for you.

LMM: That is wonderful advice--and very true. Not every pump is suited to every woman, as we are all so unique, and sometimes require the aid of a breast pump for very different needs. What pumps have you used in the past, and how did they compare to your Spectra and Avent models?

Mrs. D: The Medela Pump in Style and Medela manual pump did not offer a strong enough suction, which caused me to have issues with my let-down.

LMM: From a physical standpoint, what benefits have you noticed from nursing, and what advice would you give to the women who suffer from breast pain?

Mrs. D: I no longer suffer from breast pain. Research and have an open mind. Only you know what will work for you.

LMM: Wonderful! And on an emotional level? What are some positive changes that the adult nursing relationship has brought to your marriage?

Mrs. D: We have experienced more of an intimate, emotional bond, a need for one another, to be able to share that moment as a way to complete the way. But to be able to share the same experience without saying a word...we both feel complete.

LMM: Have you faced any challenges as a nursing couple?

Mrs. D: The main challenges we have faced are time, consistency, and finding the right nursing position. In the beginning, my husband's jaw would grow tired quickly.

LMM: What advice would you give to other couples who are considering the opening of an ANR in their own relationship?

Mrs. D: Communication is the key to any relationship. When you stop communicating, it can lead to hurt feelings and misunderstanding. When you start an ANR, it's very important to be open, honest, and put everything on the table.

LMM: Again, that is wonderful advice! Thank you again, Mrs. D--and Mr. E--for sharing your personal experience with us!

Mrs. D: Thank you for finding interest in our story and for talking to me. It's been a pleasure getting to know you!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Boob Chat: Part III

Boob Chat: Part III
As a "developmentally advanced" member of the female species, I learned very early that many hardships cone along with the blessing of possessing big breasts. There are the obvious challenges of course, such as the inability to sleep on your stomach at night, the method in which you wear a seat belt, and the dangers of amusement park rides, and while all of these are realities worthy of open discussion in the world of big boobs, the subject I want to chat about today is one that I think every buxom lady can relate to: the subject of bras. And more specifically, bra shopping.

I love to shop. I also love a new bra. But I do not love shopping for a new bra. It seems so cruel to go into a store where there are racks and racks of pretty lingerie, and know that I can't have any of it. Oh, those beautiful bras of lace and silk with the tiny cleavage bows and the cups patterned in roses and polka dots and--be still my heart!--leopard print. All of those dainty, perfectly molded cups and delicate camisole straps are almost more than I can bear. And the most hateful part of all? Some of those glorious bras actually come with matching panties. It is a big-breasted girl's unattainable dream to have one of those feminine bra and panty sets.

Once, while we were shopping, my well-meaning husband, who finds me sexy even if I am wearing one of his T-shirts and a pair of sweats, but knows how dearly I adore lingerie, had the audacity to hold up a too-cute-for-words bra and panty set for my inspection. "Check it out, baby," he said. "I'd love to see you in this."

"Oh, really?" I said, coolly as I offered him a dirty look. "I'll bet you would. Personally, though, I think it would make a very odd pair of gloves, which, of course, is what I'll have to utilize it as, because my hands are the only things that are going to fit into the cups of that bra."

"Well, the panties are your size," he said.

"Yes, and I'm going to shell out 40 dollars for a bra and panty set that I can only use half of? If I want a 20 dollar pair of underpants, S, I'll buy a 20 dollar pair of underpants."

He quickly replaced the bra and panty set where he found them and skedaddled out of the lingerie section a wiser man than when he had stepped in.

My love, bless his sweet, well-meaning heart, learned a valuable lesson that day. When it comes to pretty lingerie and shopping, remain quiet and observant, but do not attempt to help. If I linger longingly over a beautiful bra and sigh, "Oh, I wish I could wear this. Isn't it sexy? I just love it," commiserate supportively and encouragingly with a nod of the head and a pat on the shoulder, and say appropriate things like, "I know, baby, but I love your huge boobs. I'd rather see those great big knockers in an ugly granny bra than a smaller pair in a pretty bra any day." Aww...

Before I dive further in, I think I should clarify that I developed at a very young age, and when my body decided to undergo its amazing metamorphosis, it did so as if it were the Amazing Boobini performing a clever magic trick in reverse: now you don't see them...and now...you DO! You see, I did not beautifully blossom into womanhood...I sort of exploded into it.

By the time I was 14, my mother, who, as a proud B-cup lady, could not understand or empathize with the plight of the big-breasted, finally realized that purchasing off-the-rack (no pun intended) bras was no longer going to be an option for me, as sizes were limited and many offered very little support, so one Saturday, she took me to a large department store to be fitted properly for a couple of very good bras (and there went my college fund!)

After spending long, painful moments being measured, calculated, gauged, and observed like some prized farm animal at a little county fair, the sales clerk, a middle-aged lady, who, like my own mother, didn't "get it", stepped back, and said, "I think we have just what you're looking for. We call it the Natural Lift brassiere. It's very flattering to the busty young lady, and offers wonderful support with bias-cut banding. And I believe we have it in just your size. Hold tight, I'll be right back."

She returned with an armload of bras (well, okay, there were just two of them, but they looked like an armload) in fabulous colors--white and nude, which was not nude, but dark beige--for me to try on. I took the white bra into the dressing room with me, and wrangled my way into it.

It was ugly. And scratchy. The straps were about four inches wide and pressed uncomfortably into my shoulders, and I was horrified to realize that that fabulous bias-cut support band seemed to be impeding my breathing. I turned slowly to face my reflection in the full-length mirror and almost screamed.

My breasts had been molded into two dangerously sharp torpedoes that rested just beneath my chin like a pair of "naturally lifted" weapons of mass destruction.

"How are we doing, hon?" asked the sales clerk as she poked her head into the dressing room.

"I don't know," I replied and pointed to my brand-new chin-chest. "Are these supposed to be up so high?"

"Well, of course, honey," she said, in a mad rush to keep the commission that would more than likely be enough to pay her electric bill with change to spare that month. "You just aren't used to good support, that's all!"

Another time I ran into difficulty with in-store bra shopping came just before I was married. Like any girl, I had spent long hours planning my fairy tale dream wedding, and everything was turning out beautifully. I'd found the perfect wedding gown, a long, frothy white confection with a sweetheart neckline and sheer, beaded Queen Anne sleeves. The only problem was that the bodice of that beautiful gown came off-the-shoulder, which meant that I would require a strapless bra...

(And, speaking of strapless bras...hahaha! You should see what I have to do to keep my boobs inside one of those things while preventing the appearance of "uni-boob". I won't get into the gory details, but let's just say that the process entails a lot of big safety pins, Velcro stickers, and a modicum of pain. Oohhh, Frankenbra...scaarrryyy...but I digress.)

My mother and I returned to the bridal shop where I'd purchased my dress, and when I explained to the sales clerk, an older, no-nonsense lady named Brenda, who also didn't "get it", what I was seeking, she gave me a brisk nod, and said, "I know exactly what you're looking for! Our long-line bra is very popular and makes the perfect wedding gown undergarment!"

I immediately had romantic visions of a lacy white brassiere that would beautiful complement the frilly panties and pearl-and-bow bedecked stockings waiting for me at home, so I happily nodded. "I'll need a DDD cup," I told her.

"Our long-line bras only go as large as D cups," Brenda replied.

"A D cup won't work," I said. "My breasts will never fit inside the cups."

Brenda gave me a quick once-over, and when she had pulled her gaze from my chest and focused it on my face once more, I was scared by the strange glint in her eyes and the little smile playing around the corners of her mouth, and even more horrified to hear her say, "Oh, I'll make them fit," before she scurried off to secure a long-line bra from a headless mannequin standing at the back of the bridal shop.

"What does that mean?" I whispered to my mother. "What is she going to do to me?"

My mother shushed me.

"There is no way my boobs are going to fit into a D cup!"

"Ssh," said my mother. "Here she comes."

"Ta-da!" trilled Brenda. "Here it is, and in your size, too! Imagine that. And I think you'll find the price of $72.00 very reasonable."

What she held up for my inspection and approval was the ugliest and most horrifying contraption I had ever seen in my entire life. It was not white. It was Ace bandage brown, that terrible color that clever marketing specialists try to pass off as nude to the unassuming female consumer. (I am so fair-complexioned that my personal nude is actually white). It was not frilly nor beaded. It looked like canvas. And it was not in my size. It was a D cup. Brenda had been accurate about one thing--it was long; as a matter of fact, it was so long that a portion of the bottom band buckled at the hip.

Well, at least my panties and stockings were pretty.

About a month ago, just after my breasts had magically transformed once more, thanks to the beauty of lactation, I realized that the time had come for me to purchase a roomier bra, and I approached S with this notion one evening while he was reading the newspaper.

"Honey," I said, "I need to buy a new bra."

"Okay," he replied. "Let's go get you one."

"I know it's a lot to ask because the bigger the bra, the more expensive they are," I went on. " I mean, our cruise to the Bahamas is definitely out of the question now, and we might have to re-finance the house, but I really need to upgrade."

"Honey," he said. "It's fine. We'll take out a loan and get you a new bra. No big deal."

Well, I may be exaggerating a little bit here, but not by much. Big boob bras cost a lot of money. Sometimes, in the triple-digit range. Mine are more precious to me than gold and are treated as reverently.

So, foolishly believing that I might actually have a bit of good luck in finding a suitable bra in my size at a big-name department store, S and I headed out one Saturday in pursuit of lingerie. This time, the sales clerk, a woman named Melissa, was in her late-twenties, and, like her older counterparts of my past, still did not "get it". I launched right in with the sort of bra that I was seeking, and when I divulged my cup size to her, she looked at me as if that particular letter was not a legitimate part of the alphabet.

"I beg your pardon?" she said.

I repeated the letter to her.

She glanced down at my chest and sort of shook her head before saying, "Hold on one second. I'll talk to my department manager and see what I can find."

Melissa and a slightly older brunette stood whispering with their heads together for quite some time, gesturing off and on in my general direction before disappearing into a back room. When they finally emerged, Melissa came back to me with a terrifyingly hideous and dusty harness, some sort of combination post-op orthopedic brace and torture device thing held up by boned straps.

"What the heck is that?" I blurted before I could remember my manners.

"It's a bra, of course," she replied. "A very high quality one, as a matter of fact. The Glamorizer. It offers incredible support, and the flexible shoulder stays ease discomfort while the back fasteners promote excellent posture. And it's white, see? Unfortunately, we don't have it in your particular cup size, but we think this one just might work for you. Would you care to try it on, or should I just go ahead and ring you up now?"

Oh, I knew what she was thinking. I could see it in her eyes. If she was able to sell me that...thing...she was going to win the title of SALES ASSOCIATE OF THE MONTH and take her children to Disney World on the commission bonus.

I'd bee through it all before. I'd allowed myself to be sold on bullet bras, and had permitted women to stuff my watermelons into egg cozies all for the sake of figure-flattering support and brassiere desperation.  I'd made car payments for and supplied fancy dinners to pushy saleswomen, and the cost had been much greater than that of our monthly grocery bill.

I looked at Melissa and slowly shook my head.

Not today, my friend. Not today.

"Thank you anyway," I said, "but I think I'll look elsewhere."

And I did. Right in the pages of a catalog in the comfort of my own home.

There you have it! The plight of bra shopping when you are fortunate enough to be amply endowed! It isn't always pretty, but it sure makes for a funny story!

Oh...and speaking of shopping...and funny stories...

Did I tell you about the time I tried to buy a button-down blouse?


Well, maybe next time then! ;)

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Myth Busting: Underwire Bras and Milk Supply

Although breastfeeding is a beautiful part of life, an act and practice that I have always cherished as a woman, wife, and mother, there are a lot of realities involved in nursing--and some of them can cause anxiety. The most common worry I experienced as a breastfeeding mother (and even now as a nursing wife) was that I would not be able to produce an adequate milk supply to ensure that baby (and Dad) were being properly nourished and sustained. It turned out that I didn't need to worry...I nursed around the clock, baby and Dad did their parts by coming to the breast, and my body took care of the rest! S used to tease that he and our son were both "fat and happy", as they thrived on my milk. ;)

Being able to maintain that wonderful supply and fearing a noticeable decrease in it are two other common worries that many nursing women express, and it seems that there are always a lot of well-intentioned experts  on hand to offer opinions and advice on these subjects, which dedicated nursers, such as I am, take very seriously. As kind as it is of other women to share their views, there are times when they are offering up inaccurate information based on wives tales and superstitions--and this can cause even more anxiety to the new-to-nursing. We ladies know that relaxation is key to proper milk production and successful let-down, so the last thing we need is another stressor, right?

Today, I am going to quell a very common myth--that of the UNDERWIRE BRA, and the negative effect it has on a woman's milk making powers.

"You shouldn't wear an underwire bra if you're breastfeeding! The wires will push against your milk ducts and blocks the milk. You'll dry up!"

I actually received this piece of advice years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest son. This might have frightened me if I had been one to wear underwire bras, but I have never been able to find one that seems to fit properly. (I guess you realize that your lovely ladies have a mind of their own when they literally break the wire stays  inside a brassiere!)

It seems very scary that a bra can actually be detrimental to milk supply, doesn't it?

Yes, it does!

But is it true?

No. It is not. There is no concrete evidence to support the myth that underwire bras impede milk supply in any way. The argument against wearing an underwire bra while nursing is based on comfort rather than any dangers the wires might pose to your milk ducts.

Nursing breasts can sometimes be painful, and the mere thought of silk-covered wires (even flexi-wires) digging into that tender flesh makes me cringe. Nursing breasts are often heavy, which means they require a lot of support, more than a pretty plunge bra with rigid side stays can even provide. Nursing bras offer a roomier cut and are made of softer, more breathe-able fabric and offer banded built-in wire-free support. However, if you feel comfortable in an underwire bra and desire something prettier than a nursing bra, you can wear an underwire bra without fear of harming your precious milk supply. :)

If you are hoping that a tighter fitting and more constrictive bra will prevent post-nursing sag, this really won't help. How your breasts change after nursing weighs heavily on heredity--and how much they transformed during your pregnancy and while you were breastfeeding.

Although it isn't true that bra wires can cause plugged or clogged milk ducts, they can bring pain to them by pressing into the tender spots on the breasts.

If you have been wearing an underwire bra and do notice a decrease in your milk supply, this probably isn't caused by your choice in undergarments. A lot of factors can play into poor milk supply, including infrequent or irregular nursings, diet, and medications, but if you still feel uncertain, you can always go wire-free for a couple of days to see if you notice a difference. :)

So, there you have it! Myth Busting in regard to lingerie!

Always remember: you should do what makes you comfortable and what feels right to you. If you do that, you can never go wrong! :)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Our First Promo Video on ANR!

Lactation after Hysterectomy

Because lactation sometimes plays such a vital part in many loving couple's dedicated ANRs, there will often be concerns regarding a woman's ability to produce and build an ample supply of breast milk for her partner to enjoy. Although I advocate the aspect of intimacy within adult nursing relationships, and encourage couples to participate in the bonding practice of dry nursing if lactation is not available to them, I completely understand the burning desire to make (lots and lots of) milk for my husband.

When I began blogging about my personal ANR journey, my goal was to share my beautiful experience with others as a means of breaking stereotypical taboos regarding the lifestyle while giving other nursers a resource and an outlet to turn to as well as utilizing my blog as a way to discuss issues that often arise within (and outside of) the nursing relationship. So, when I received an email from a concerned wife who was hoping to embark on a wet nursing relationship with her husband, I decided to blog about it in hopes of sharing information and alleviating anxiety for her and other women who are facing a similar situation.

Can full lactation be achieved after a hysterectomy?

To ensure that I was able to share accurate research and information with you, I turned once more to my friend, the lovely Holly, who is a L & D RN at one of our local hospitals, who was wonderful enough to discuss this topic with me.

Whether a woman has had either a partial (in which the ovaries are left intact during surgery) or radical (in which the uterus, cervix, and ovaries are surgically removed) hysterectomy, she should find no more difficulty in achieving lactation than a woman who has not undergone a hysterectomy.

The most important hormones in milk production are prolactin (which aids in maintaining milk supply) and oxytocin (which controls the let-down reflex, allowing milk to travel through the glands and out of the nipple), and neither is related to the uterus or ovaries, so their production should continue after a hysterectomy.

While full lactation can never be guaranteed to any woman, it is a definite possibility, even if you've undergone a hysterectomy. Like other women, you'll find that achieving full lactation is sometimes much easier to accomplish if you have previously been pregnant or breastfed in the past. To aid in the milk making process, nurse your partner on a regular basis, as your schedule permits, ensuring that he uses the proper latch technique for the most effective suckling, and incorporate breast massage and stimulation (either manually or with the assistance of a breast pump) as often as possible.

Physicians will often prescribe estrogen supplements to women who have undergone hysterectomies, particularly if the ovaries were removed during surgery, and because this can adversely affect milk production and cause a decrease in supply, Holly suggested that you talk to your health care professional about this, and ask if it's possible to receive a very low dosage of estrogen.

I hope you found this article informative and helpful! To the lovely ladies who dream of
achieving their lactation goals, regardless of circumstance, remember, that with hope, confidence, determination, and a lot of effort, you can do this!

And now that you know that you can, enjoy your Wednesday, and go make some milk! ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Debut Interview on Freesexpod!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the lovely ladies of Freesexpod for an interview on ANR!

You can listen to the podcast by CLICKING RIGHT HERE!

I hope you enjoy it! :)

Nursing Breasts

Over the years my body has gone through many changes, and aside from the breathtaking transformation of pregnancy, which I absolutely loved, none has been more exciting or fulfilling than the ones I have seen in my breasts, particularly when they are lactating breasts.

Breast metamorphosis is a very real part of the nursing experience, and breasts that are used to comfort, nurture, nourish, and sustain (what I refer to as nursing breasts) are very real breasts. They are not perfectly round and symmetrically sound, nor are they as smooth and unblemished as airbrushed and altered photos splashed across the pages of magazines would have you believe. Some are large, others are not; as they begin the loving and laborious process of preparing to feed another human being, their size and shape may shift, becoming fuller at the sides and growing a bit more pendulous, the areolae often darkens due to hormonal changes, and the nipples enlarge to aid in the ease of proper latching. As they swell, the skin will sometimes appear more translucent. They are soft and pliable to the touch and rest heavily against the palms of welcoming hands.

Once they have filled with milk, they will never be the same again.

They are perfection.

When I chose to become a breastfeeding mother 14 years ago, I received a lot of advice from well-meaning women who had already been through the rigors of childbirth and lactation, and not all of it was positive.
"Enjoy your boobs now. You probably won't later!"

"If you breastfeed, your boobs will never be firm again."

"Have you ever seen a breastfeeding woman's tatas?"

"They'll sag."

It was enough to frighten a woman away from the beautiful experience of nursing, and although I heard many horror stories (including the one that began with "S will never be attracted to your breasts again...") over the nine months that it took my body to create life, I knew that breastfeeding was the right choice for me to make on behalf of my son--and his father, who, surprisingly, became even more attracted to my breasts than he was before! Giving up the breasts that I had known my entire life in exchange for the ones that provided my child with everything he would need to grow and thrive did not feel like a sacrifice to me. As a matter of fact, the first time I put my son to my breast, just minutes after his birth and his tiny fist pressed against my flesh as his face nuzzled close to my beating heart, I realized something magnanimous.

Nursing is the epitome of love.

Before the baby was born, as my body blossomed in preparation of bringing a new little person into a great big world, S and I would lie together and he would explore every inch of my flesh, running his fingertips gently along each line and curve and swell, lingering over my new breasts for long, sweet moments, those magnificent rounded teardrop-shaped vessels with the slightly upturned tips that had empowered me to sustain another human being. My new breasts had a beautiful perky profile of their own, rising slightly in a pert and natural lift as my milk supply increased, and S reveled in resting his cheek against their softness and testing their weight in his hands.

Those breasts made me feel as if I were the most accomplished and exquisite woman alive. I had never been more aware of my own femininity as I was when I was a nursing mother.

And that is how I feel again now that I am a nursing wife.

One night, about a week ago and just after he'd returned home from his business excursion, S came into our bedroom and found me staring at my reflection in the mirror above my bureau; before he could ask what I was doing, I turned to him, lifted up my shirt, and said, "I'm actually getting nursing breasts."

He sensed my excitement, and it made him smile.

"I know," he replied. "And I love them. They're beautiful."

"All breasts are beautiful," I said.

"Okay, but typically, breasts are there just for visual stimulation and sexual gratification. Nursing breasts serve a purpose, and, in my opinion, that makes them even more beautiful than other breasts."

To truly appreciate nursing breasts you must first appreciate nursing in all of its glory. And my love certainly does. My lactating breasts appeal to his sensibilities as he comes to them for comfort and nourishment, and views them as a warm haven of strength and security. He adores their very real and perfectly imperfect beauty.

And so do I.

My nursing breasts tell a story...the story of a very genuine woman who has gladly traded late nights for early mornings, peaceful sleep for the cries of a hungry baby, halter tops for maternity tops, evenings on the town for evenings spent at home, demi-bras for nursing pads, and would do everything all over again if given the chance.

I am a woman.

And my nursing breasts make me glad that I am.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Questions Answered on Bountiful Fruits

New questions have been answered on the Bountiful Fruits site!

Is it safe to breastfeed during pregnancy?

Is it painful to nurse an adult?

Is it normal to become sexually aroused during a feeding?


Friday, May 13, 2016

Product Discussion: Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump (and updates)

I posted a product discussion/review on my brand new Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump (which I love!) on Bountiful Fruits. To read it, please CLICK HERE :)

It's been a busy week in the M Household! In between the sometimes arduous tasks of running the every day aspects of a (mostly) typical home, wife-ing one big person and mothering three little people, I've been re-planning my site layout as I prepare to add a fiction and prose section to the mix while working on brand new interviews and fresh posts (and on-the-side writing) that I hope you'll enjoy!

Tomorrow morning, Mr. S and I are planning to film our first promo slideshow video for Bountiful Fruits, and he has been helping me plan our debut podcast, which, if all goes well, will launch sometime in mid-June.

The Nursing Diary will update on Sunday (5/15/16), and Monday (5/16/16) will start the week with new questions and answers in Advice and my most recent ANR interview. Oh, and BOOB CHAT returns on May 21! :)

I hope you're having a lovely Friday! Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Setting the Nursing Scene

Nursing sessions can be as romantic and passionate or as light-hearted and fun as you wish to make them--and sometimes, they are both! But no matter how you choose to indulge in, and enjoy, a loving suckling session, setting the scene is an important part to every encounter.

Although Mr. S and I have nursed in various locations over the course of our loving long-term ANR, (on the sofa, in hotel rooms, and even once at night in a parked car on a quiet deserted road when we were young and really adventurous), our lifestyle truly doesn't lend us the opportunity to partake in many spontaneous feeding sessions, so we chose a private room in which to luxuriate in our time together, a space that belongs solely to us, and I do my best to ensure that it is a comforting and relaxing environment that we both can enjoy.

Being limited to one room does not need to feel confining or suffocating as long as you keep the area "fresh" and interesting. As a matter of fact, a set feeding space can be just as beneficial to successful nursing as a suckling schedule because the familiarity and routine aids in proper relaxation and let-down due to sensory triggers.

The space I share with S is our bedroom; we nurse fairly late at night, so our bed is the perfect place to lie back and enjoy our time together; when he has finished nursing, we can snuggle together and drift off to sleep without having to leave that comforting nest, and it's very soothing.

To set a beautiful scene, I make sure that our sheets are very soft, and one of our favorite cozy blankets is nearby. Early into our ANR, we found that a plentiful amount of pillows was very helpful to our nursing sessions, and invested in a pair of soft reclining pillows to aid in my comfort. S discovered that he enjoyed resting against a small velvet throw pillow, which aids in elevating his head and preventing neck strain, as he feeds. We now refer to this as his "nursing pillow", and it is used specifically for our time together.

Lighting can be another key factor in keeping your nursing scene exciting. There are nights when I leave a softly lit lamp on, or light candles to provide a soothing golden glow to the room. This is visually stimulating because I can look down and watch S nurse. Being able to see how his eyes grow heavy just before they close and observe the way his face relaxes into a visage of pure peace and serenity is emotionally overwhelming. I can see that I am fulfilling him in every way possible, and it is a magnificent sight.

As wonderful as soft, romantic lighting is during a loving nursing session, there is just as much thrill in being surrounded by darkness as your partner feeds. The experience of "dark nursing" is quite scintillating, as you must rely on your other senses to gain the full experience of the nursing session. When the room is completely dark, I am even more aware of S' closeness, as I use my hands to caress his shoulders and trail my fingertips along his jawline, reveling in the way it flexes and relaxes as he draws milk from my breasts. I am so attuned; I love to listen to him nurse, and pay close attention to that gentle suck-and-swallow reflex and the slow, steady rhythm of his breathing as I nourish and sustain him. In the dark, I am also more aware of the sensation of being suckled from, that incredible pull and draw that tugs not just at my breasts, but at my heart and soul, too.

Temperature control is actually very important to a successful nursing session because both partners need to be as comfortable as possible. When that much flesh is pressed so tightly together, a lot of body heat is generated, so I often open the window slightly, or even turn on an overhead fan; the breeze feels lovely against warm, flushed skin, and if either of us begins to feel too chilled, our cozy blanket is nearby.

There have been times when S and I have set the nursing scene with a bit of soft music, but, normally, we prefer to share our intimate moment in silence, without outside distractions. The quiet solitude keeps us very in tune to one another's presence, and he enjoys the sound of my voice as I ply him with soft endearments and words of encouragement and praise. He tells me it's very soothing to him.

Every aspect of the nursing relationship is a personal one--and the nursing scene is no exception, so be sure to set it to your liking, surround yourself with the things that you love, the things that are most pleasing to you and your loving partner, to create an intimate space that belongs only to the two of you!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Long-Distance Nursing

Being separated from the person you love is always difficult, but when you are a nursing couple who has come to rely and depend upon each other for the fulfillment of emotional and physical needs, greater challenges arise during that time apart.

If you have been following my posts, then you'll know that I just faced many of these difficulties when Mr. S had to be away from home last week. As his impending departure approached, I began to suffer from separation anxiety--and a lot of worry, particularly in regard to my lactation level and milk supply. The thought of seeing a decrease in either was terribly upsetting, but the mere idea of being away from S was agonizing, and our upcoming time apart was just as difficult for him because we have begun to function as one. We remained strong for each other, just as we have always done.

The years I have been blessed to spend with this man have taught me many important life lessons, and one of the most onerous is that when you are faced with a situation that you simply cannot change, you step away from it so that you can strategize a way to make the problem less daunting and a bit more tolerable.

And that was exactly what I did this time, too--mostly for S' benefit, because I knew that he would be able to leave with peace of mind if he was sure that I was going to be all right in his absence.

I devised a plan of action that the Mister and I now refer to as "Long-Distance Nursing".

And here is how I made the most of our time apart.
"So, tell me...what sort of pump are you using?"
Before S left, I purchased a breastpump to simulate his suckling, and used it faithfully, during our normally scheduled nursing sessions. Because a breastpump, although a second-best choice if proper nursing is not an option, is never as effective as suckling, I incorporated an additional afternoon pumping session into my typical daily routine to ensure that my breasts were being well-stimulated to encourage milk production and flow. Because I was unsure if I would be a dedicated pumper once he returned, I chose a very nice, basic manual breastpump, and it worked beautifully!

The key to successful Long-Distance Nursing is to create the illusion that your partner is with you--even though distance is keeping you apart. I did this by using a variety of visualization techniques, which proved to be very beneficial while S was away.

Prior to each pumping session, I set our nursing scene, just as I do when he is suckling from my breasts, by using the same lighting and pillows that my mind and body have grown accustomed to during the past seven weeks. I looked at his photos, listened to his voice on an audio recording, and as I began to pump, I closed my eyes and focused only on him--on what I was doing and why. Everything I do is for the man I love, and making breast milk is no exception! I dreamed of him coming home to full milky breasts and reaping the rewards of my week-long dedication to him. As I pumped, I envisioned him lying next to me with his face nuzzled close to my flesh, and could almost feel the firm, steady pull against my breasts as his receptive mouth draws sustenance from their tips.

We also added "phone nursing" to our night-time feeding.

It's a little bit like phone sex--only much better, and far more rewarding!

My 11 p.m. pumping sessions were my favorite because that was when S and I could truly feel that we were together. With the stress of the day behind us, we were free to settle into bed (two of them, as a matter, of fact, and 500 miles apart, which was actually a bit romantic because it reminded me of a night we shared during our engagement when S was living in Japan, and neither of us could bear the thought of saying good-bye during a phone call, so we left our telephone receivers off their hooks and slept with them on our pillows all night...aww...:)) and enjoy the new excitement of long-distance nursing as a couple.

The first night when my phone rang, signaling S' FaceTime request, my heart soared, and I couldn't wait to see him smiling at me from the screen--or hear him begin our conversation as he did each night thereafter:

"How are you, baby?"

"I'm good. I miss you."

"I miss you, too. Are you ready to nurse?"

(Oh, yes, I was ready--my body was ready, my soul was ready...)

From the comfort of our bed, I relaxed against his pillows and began to pump, watching his face and listening to his voice as we shared such a stimulating and sensually intimate moment as a married nursing couple. And my body responded in kind to his loving devotion and sweet attentiveness.

I think I fell in love with him (all over again!) that night.

So, you see, there truly is a bright side to every situation; sometimes, you just have to look a little harder to find it! :) During that week, I was given the opportunity to experience romance, passion, and intimacy on a plane that I had never before stepped upon while reveling in my dedication to ensure that my husband would remain nurtured while we were apart--and nourished once we were reunited. I also learned about self-reliance and how strong I truly am! (Well...maybe I already knew that, but just required a gentle reminder...;))

If facing an imminent separation from your partner, I hope you'll find my long-distance nursing tips helpful! If you need additional support and encouragement, you know where to find me--I'm only a blog post or email away...:)

Oh, yes...I almost forgot...

I learned something else while S was away:

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder--and the breasts much fuller!"

Happy Tuesday!