Who doesn’t, right?

So, I’ve got a lot of semi-traumatic stories about breastfeeding, as many probably do. Because I’m really normal, and it’s really normal to have a lot of semi-traumatic stories about breastfeeding as a 30 year old male.

There’s the one about how my mom got a really bad infection from breastfeeding after I was born, and then my grandpa sent her a card which contained a picture of a baboon whose boob was so infected it was literally touching the floor.  You know. To comfort her.

Then there’s the stuff from when I was a missionary in Venezuela. We’re talking the normal rural South American fare–the girl who we were talking to who leaked milk all over a pamphlet we gave her and then handed it back so we could explain something, or the time I was teaching three women who all, during the course of the lesson, lifted up their shirts and flopped themselves out and started nursing, one after the other after the other. I was like “IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?” except I didn’t really say that because I was too busy trying to look like I hadn’t even noticed that there were three very conspicuous breasts hanging out of shirts so as to not make anybody feel awkward with my sheltered North Americanism.

Yes, I was worried about not making them feel awkward. What’s wrong with this picture?

Oh, and I forgot to mention. One of the kids being nursed in the room with the three women? Five years old. That might be a slight exaggeration, but he walked and talked and looked old enough to be in kindergarten.

Here. Here’s a diagram:

Confession: this poorly made diagram isn’t helpful at all. There’s just really not much else I could insert that wouldn’t be pornographic.

But as I insinuated before, none of this is the actual traumatic story to which I refer. And I’ve gotta say, I might tell this story and people might be like “That’s really not a big deal.” But, to me, it is a big deal.

Here it goes.

One time at a family gathering, it came out that my aunt was something of a wet-nurse. She had nursed other people’s babies besides her own, and felt totally cool doing so.

When I was making fun of her for this, she looked at me and said “I’m not sure what you think is so funny. I’ve nursed you too.

And then, my world came screeching to a halt.

Suddenly, everything I knew about childhood, motherhood, happiness and sexuality shattered before my eyes and I lost about 3% of my basic childhood memories due to the nature of this trauma–and I refer to the trauma of knowing where, exactly, my mouth had been on her body.

Her son who is my age pleaded “Mom, was I passed around??? Tell me I wasn’t passed around!”

“No,” she said. “It was just him.”

When I asked “why?” (which wasn’t so much me inquiring why that had happened as much as it was me looking to the heavens and asking “whyyy?” as I questioned the meaning of life with my fist to the sky) it was explained to me that my mom had had so much trouble nursing me that my aunt simply wanted to see if the problem was me or my mom.

And then my aunt said the thing that haunts me in the twilight between wake and sleep. She said, “it was you by the way. You tried to rip me up.”

Yeah. Yeah, that’s the phrase she used about me. About what I did with my mouth. To her nipple.

I’m not sure enough counseling exists to resolve this for me.

portrait of a young female psychiatrist in session with a young male patient

Sir, I’ve seen milder cases of PTSD in Vietnam Vets and genocide survivors. You’re pretty much screwed.

So, my advice to women out there: don’t breastfeed children who are not your own–especially dudes. Because one day that child will grow up. And you will converse with it. And it will be an adult male. And then you will let it slip that his mouth touched parts of you he really should never have seen let alone have touched. And it will traumatize him forever and ever because even though it should be all “natural” and “chill” and “hakuna matata,” the truth is that for a guy it all boils down to a mouth touching a breast.

And then he will write about it in his blog.