Hey, wanna hear a traumatic story about breastfeeding?

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.


  1. Josh, tonight 11 teenage boys had their sleep disrupted because of you! Eleven! You should be ashamed of yourself.

    And on top of that I have to repent for "loud laughter"…not once, but repeatedly…

    All this because I carelessly read YOUR blog while I was at work.

    I blame all this on you, of course.

  2. Seriously…I would be disturbed to the very fiber of my being. You have every right to be traumatized!

    BTW…you totally deserved it for making fun of your aunt. You may have never known otherwise!

  3. @Crystal–your sympathy only widens the circle of trauma, but I appreciate it.

    @Leslie–I take full responsibility. I'll try to be less disruptive next time.

    @Christine–Thank you for the validation!

  4. @YLIDHG–Yeah. This is definitely the type of story that requires tums on hand. I wonder if I got heartburn the day she nursed me… *dies*

    @Dave–Um, I have some bad news. It was your mom. Totally kidding! It's a full blooded aunt, so you're safe with my dad being an only child.

    @Paul–Well that's good. Because I lose a piece of my soul every time I tell it.

    @her daughter–First, this is definitely the most confusing user-id ever because at first I thought it was saying you were HER daughter, but then I realized you were her sister's daughter and my mind exploded.

    Second, I think I'm going to keep her identity a secret because I already feel bad enough sharing this story online, but seriously, how could I not?

    Third, I believe I was the only victim out of the sibs.

  5. Actually, I probably would have gotten angry. My relatives pull the "I changed your DIAPERS" all the time when I don't want to do something for them. It gets rather annoying – not like I asked them to change my diapers or anything.

  6. Josh-wa! This story is sooo terrible and wonderfully hilarious all at the same time! Oh my gosh! And, I promise you, before God and all these witnesses (currently, Booth and Bones), that I will not nurse a child who is not mine.

  7. @Lindsay–Sorry to the 2.5 year old! (See that? I'm an adult taking into consideration the feelings of an infant so he or she is not scared for life. Hopefully.)

    @Chrissy–Yeah, as a frequent diaper changer, I've gotta admit I might pull that one later in life… sometimes it's just nasty.

    @Mary–Your solemn oath brings peace to my soul, as well as the souls of infants.

    @Anonymous–isn't the human's capacity for denial amazing???

  8. Oh, Josh, you make me giggle.

    After considering all of your wonderful posters' opinions, I have decided the breast feeding is 100% worse than just changing your diaper. There's a certain… intimacy involved in breastfeeding. Sorry.

  9. Okay, Josh…I must be a voice of reason here. Nursing is real. Human milk was designed for human babies. Babies get hungry even when it is inconvenient for adults. Giving a baby a homemade science experiment-completely untested on humans-is just plain inhumane…and it's done everyday because nursing anothers baby is "gross".

    Sorry, a soapbox. I love reading your stories and I even laughed at this one, but the disgust it is receiving in your comments couldn't keep me quiet.

    Btw, nursing anothers baby is listed in the Quran is an honor and the children belonging to that mother can no longer marry the nursling as he is concidered a milk sibling from that point on with all of the privileges of a sibling, for the rest of their lives. It is also mentioned in the Torah. It's really okay…really.

  10. Despite the beautiful teachings of the Quran, I still want to find a sharp object and stab myself in the face in a vain attempt to remove the thoughts and images of me possibly sucking my Aunts tit. Its just weird when its your Aunt.

  11. In 10 more years, you will no longer be embarrassed by this. That is my prediction, anway. I can make this preduction because I am 45 and can attest to the fact that once your children get to be a certain age (read teenaged), anything that actually happened to you has ceased to matter long ago.
    Kudos to your aunt, though. I used to use the same method with guys who were much uounter than I was growing up but decided to hit on me when they got old enough. I just told them I had changed their diapers. Sometimes it was true, sometimes it wasn't, but it always shut them up. lol

  12. Oh you poor repressed prude! Seriously, there is nothing sexual about breastfeeding, nothing about it is gross or wrong, even if the child is 5 years old (yeah, I said it, shout out to my !Kung sisters in the Kalahari!) I wish that all LDS people would come to grips with the fact that breastfeeding IS NEVER IMMODEST AT ALL! Whether passersby happen to see a nipple or not. Yep, I am coming out in favor of nip slips, so long as they are due to breastfeeding. And one other thing to consider, if it were not for women nursing babies other than their own, quite a large segment of the current population would not exist. My little brother had to be wet-nursed for a short time when my mother was in the hospital for a few days with acute pancreatitis, and he is no worse for the experience. The breast that feeds the baby rules the world!

  13. I am so glad I found your blog and that I read this entry. My sides hurt from laughing. I don't think I need to hit the gym on Monday from the workout you so kindly gave me. I can't promise I won't be a wet nurse, if I am needed I will be of service, however this is one tell worthy tale!

  14. My mother in law and I would joke whenever she would tend I would say you are not allowed to nurse my baby! And she would say fine I wont! As if she was some what disappointed and if it were even possible as she is not producing milk. We just thought the idea of that was nasty. In my mind boobs are still boobs its not sexual to nurse but I still don't want people seeing my personal business and don't want to make others uncomfortable. I will grant you its different in other countries and they can abide by their culture. Also nursing a five year old may be necessary for nutrients in a third world country…maybe but their is no nutritional reason to nurse that late in life when a child has access to proper nutrition. Its just a weird attachment at that point

  15. I haven't laughed that hard for that long in quite awhile! I struggled not to wake up the sleeping child next to me either by my uncontrollable shaking or the few squeals of laughter that I just couldn't suppress. Let me just get a few of my thoughts out there…1)wet nursing is an admirable, amazing thing if it's NEEDED, in my opinion. 2)i'm still scarred from the time I was at a family party over-hearing two of my uncles talking about how delicious breast milk is. I think I was probably 10 or 11 and absolutely horrified at what I was hearing, lol. I think I was probably equally bewildered and horrified that I wasn't sure if they were referring to drinking straight from the spout or not! The things that leave such deep, dark marks in our minds…. Somehow I survived and I'm glad you made it out ok. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Heather Farrell of womeninthescriptures.blogspot.com recently did a post about wet nurses in the scriptures. She had this to say and I found it very nice: "I had an experience that gave me a little taste of this. I was in the hospital for several days when Asher was just a few months old. I was taking strong medications and so I couldn't breastfeed him. I had to "pump and dump" all my breastmilk in order to keep my supply strong. During this time my sweet sister-in-law, knowing how important breastfeeding was to me, took Asher to her own breast and fed him along with her six-month-old daughter. I didn't know about it at the time (I was groggy with drugs) but when I found out afterward I felt such immense gratitude to her. She laughed and said it had been a little weird, but that she was glad she could help us. That experience gave me a little glimpse into the gratitude that women would have felt for the wet nurses who sustained their children. It would have been an experience that brought women (and babies) together in a very unique way." I thought that was beautiful and I hope someone would do that for me if I was in that position. I'm not sure I'd tell my adult son that though unless we grew up talking about that sort of thing and it was more normal and beautiful than weird. Sorry you were scarred! 😛 🙂

  17. Holy heck! I spent WAY too much time on my mission in NYC looking at breasts. I didn't expect to see breasts on my mission. Nor did I expect to see the combination of four-year-old children nursing from breasts. But I did. Ohhh, I did. Thanks for the PTSD flashback and a great laugh!

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