As I grow older, I find myself thrust into scenarios that I didn’t hope to encounter until I had at least 10 grey hairs. Sometimes the far-off foggy future proves to be frighteningly close: a fact that my dear boyfriend recently brought to my attention. We’ve been together for a while now, and although we can comfortably discuss almost anything, sometimes the hypothetical smacks uncomfortably of reality.
We were talking about the prospect of having kids in the most casual way. You know, keeping things silly to distinguish our talk from the responsibility and seriousness of the act. Mostly we were truth-joking about how, genetics being what it is, our offspring would be especially attractive and have wicked taste in music.
The tone of the conversation took a sudden turn, however, when he asked “So, when you’re lactating, can I drink from them?” Shocked, I evaded any real consideration of his query by informing him that I would not be bearing his hell-spawn any time soon. It seemed that I had escaped; but I realized I could not simply leave the problem for some distant maternal version of myself to work out on her own. No, now that the metaphorical seed was planted, breast-feeding flooded my thoughts.
That night, during foreplay, his mouth followed its natural downward trajectory from my face, to my neck, to my chest, to my…nipple. I immediately tensed up, smacked his head, and yelled “Stop! Don’t do that!”
“Why?” he asked, “I always do that.”
“You have ruined it for yourself,” I replied, “and for me.”
I was miffed. What had previously been quite a titillating erogenous zone was snatched from me by a sudden awareness of its other, biological function. Motivated by this injustice, I proceeded to face the problem head-on.
I went to my friends, but they were divided on the point, and therefore unhelpful. The inexperienced were grossed out and hinted that maybe it was time to end the relationship – in their eyes, I was dating a “pervert.” Conversely, my more sexually seasoned friends were disappointed in me for freaking out – in their eyes, I was a “prude.”
These labels told me nothing. I took to the libraries, and stumbled across some wisdom: Dr. Marrianne Neifert’s Dr. Mom’s Guide to Breastfeeding. In the book, Neifert asserts that most couples with a breastfeeding child incorporate nursing into their sexual activities. A strong biological link between lactating and sexual pleasure provides grounds for this behavior; according to Neifert, when lactating women climax, a hormone called oxytocin is released, signaling the nipples to squirt milk. Dr. Neifert had put my mind somewhat at ease, but I was still kind of grossed out.
I needed the advice of a woman who had actually born a child. Unfortunately, the only woman with authority on the subject, that I know intimately enough to ask such probing questions, is my mother. I called for advice with the careful warning not to disclose any particular references to my father.
“It’s funny you should ask me this,” she said. “When I had your brother you made the same request.”
“Did you let me?” I asked.
“Of course not. You had teeth and were talking in full sentences. It would have been weird.”
The tables of disgust had been turned on me. At one time, apparently, I had shared the same “perversion” as my boyfriend: a perversion, which I have come to realize is hardly a perversion at all. She also reminded me that I should finish my degree and “preferably law school” before I consider getting knocked up.
I have since reconciled my discomfort with my boyfriend and my nipples are again an integral part of our sex life. As for the man-nursing question, I think I will probably let him try. You know, just as long as he doesn’t call me Mommy.