Good Boob, Bad Boob by Annika Rahe

It all started years ago, when a thoughtless boyfriend gave me a backhanded compliment. He told me that if he were to create the perfect woman he would give her my boobs, but he'd make both of them like the left one because it was bigger.
 
"Bigger?" I asked. "One side isn't bigger. They're perfectly the same."
 
"Yes, they are perfect, but not the same. And if I were making my perfect woman, they'd both be like the left one."
 
Now, if I hadn't noticed, in all the years that I'd spent with these boobs, that one was bigger, it couldn't have been that significant of a difference. All my life, people had assumed I had small boobs, when really they were just more low profile. That was all right with me. But now I learn they aren't the same? His comment stayed with me, reminding me of a mean kid in junior high. This guy was huge, and my scrawny ninety pound frame didn't stand a chance when he pinned me against the side of the pool and asked, "How are you ever gonna feed a kid with those things?" as he tried to stick his chubby hand down the top of my bathing suit.
 
Seventeen years later here I am trying to "feed a kid with those things," and let me tell you, one side is bigger than the other. But to hell with the ex and that mean kid back in junior high because this little baby loves these boobies more than anyone. The left side makes three times the amount of milk the right side makes. I call the right one the 'bad boob.' The good boob is rock hard most of the day, eager to spill milk into my little baby's mouth, while the 'bad boob' sits and slowly fills up, ready to put out three times a day tops. You can guess which side my little guy prefers.
 
I've always felt comfortable about revealing my bare boobs, but never has a face lit up like little Jude's when I pull these puppies out. He actually squeals, kicks his feet, and waves his arms when he sees me unsnap my bra and release a booby. The other day Jude was playing with his binky, twisting and turning it around in his hand, thinking about putting it in his mouth, when he saw me lift my shirt and unhook one side of my bra. One look at my 'good boob' and the binky was completely forgotten as he reached out for the boob with both hands and an open mouth. It cracks me up every time he does that and I want to film it. It's the sweetest look in the world.
 
When I join him in the bathtub, Jude shows no interest in his toys. He just wants to nurse while I wash his hair and scrub his toes. He laughs as he goes back and forth as though he's comparing the flavors of the two sides. In the tub he actually prefers the bad boob. Go figure.
 
At first, I tried every trick the lactation consultants recommended to balance out the sides during the day, but nothing worked. Jude not only preferred the left side, but at times completely rejected the right. I used to be diligent about switching sides at night, trying to keep the bad boob up with the good boob, as far as the number of nursings went. As the months went on, sleep became more important, so I gave that up. Besides, he's so accustomed to sleeping on my left side that if I change sides, he wakes up disoriented. That's when I accepted that it was beyond good boob, bad boob and headed towards complete lopsidedness.
 
Jude often wakes up for a nighttime nursing before I've gone to bed. As I lean in towards him, he reaches up with his little hand and rests it on my breast, barely opening his eyes. I smile as he turns his head back and forth trying to find the nipple with his nose, and again as he puts his tiny mouth around it. Watching my baby's primitive instincts in action make him seem all the more intelligent to me. I like feeling like a lioness with her cub as my mothering instincts kick in. Sometimes in the haze of this sleepy time nursing, I lower my shoulder, lean in further, and trick him into taking the bad boob. In his sleep, he seems to love it almost as much as he loves the good boob. I feel lucky that such an easy act can bring him so much comfort and joy. Watching his face as he nurses is the most peaceful, serene feeling I've ever experienced. His life is simple. When he smiles up at me, and tries to stick his fingers in my mouth and laughs, I feel protected from the entire world inside the bubble I live in with my baby.
 
When I first had Jude, I nursed him out of obligation. Now I can't imagine feeling as comfortable and close to him if I'd been feeding him solely from a bottle this entire time. It's amazing witnessing what my body is actually designed to do. It knows how to make a baby, how to deliver a baby, and how to feed him. Breasts as pure decoration seem silly. Breasts as beautiful appendages with a function are mind-blowing. I'm glad to finally have more use for them. I doubt anyone will be using my boobs as the prototype for their ideal woman, but at least I know they're all my baby needs to make him happy, and that's all I need.
 
Then again, maybe I'm still trying to prove that mean kid wrong.
 
Annika Rahe is a freelance writer and a full-time mom. She wrote this essay when Jude was six-months-old. He recently turned two and his love affair with the left boob has ended, but the one with his mama continues. They are living happily ever after in Los Angeles,CA.