Saturday, September 28, 2013

Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Boobs

   This morning, Joey shared a dream with me that he had last night. He maintains it was just a weird, random dream, but I felt the need to read a little more into it. That, and it reminded me of some things I wanted to write up for a post. So here's the dream...

   Joey, his family, and I are driving in a car in Memphis when all of a sudden they say we need to go by Hooters to pick up Joey. Joey is of course confused because he's right there. So they clarify- no, baby Joey. So we go to Hooters and pick up this baby named Joey who is apparently hungry. I keep offering to feed him, but everyone keeps saying to just give him a bottle.

  So there. That's it. You might agree with Joey that it is just some random conglomeration of firing neurons. I, being me, read a little more into it. I saw an amazingly symbolic representation of Joey's infantalized self being rescued from rampant hypersexualization of breasts. Then, in an attempt to reestablish breasts with their natural purpose, he is constrained by the cultural beliefs in regards to socially acceptable infant feeding.

  Regardless of how you see it, it brings up something that I often think about and discuss with Joey- how his view of breasts has changed since having Perrin. Honestly, I think I had more of a transition in seeing my breast sexually to seeing them in a more utilitarian way. Joey maintained from the beginning that it was my body and I could use my breasts (or not use them) however I wanted. That being said, I still expected there to be a bit of a transition for him.

   I asked him once if he felt like he lost part of his youthful sexuality after Perrin. He said it didn't feel like that at all, though he admits that he doesn't really see breasts as sexual anymore. And he has seen lots of breasts. We are usually surrounded by nursing moms, so even without oggling, you see your fair share.

   What's even more interesting is that when he does catch a glimpse, he is actually being fairly productive. He studies latch technique! Because I was struggling with feeding so much in the beginning, Joey basically became a lactation consultant. He read everything he could get his hands on and talked to everyone he could find. He knows all the lingo and can trouble shoot a latch or weight gain problem with the best of them. It's pretty impressive.

  And even when it was hard for him to watch me cry and writhe in pain with every feeding, he was nothing but supportive. He never suggested I just give him a bottle. The one time I was "going to the store to buy formula" he very gently asked if that was what I really wanted to do. Of course it wasn't. He has also never claimed that not feeding Perrin interrupted their bonding. He actually isn't a big fan of giving him a bottle; it's kind of a pain. Instead he takes Perrin for walks, bathes with him, and changes his diapers. They play in the floor and we all snuggle together in bed. He gets plenty of bonding time.

 I always read stories of other women who had less than supportive partners because apparently breastfeeding was sexually threatening and traumatizing for men. Apparently it prevented them from loving their babies. Maybe it is more of an individual phenomena, but that is definitely not the case for us, which would suggest that it doesn't have to be the case for anyone. Appreciating breasts for their ability to feed babies does not have to be some huge thought-altering life transition. So maybe that is why the dream lacked meaning for Joey. Maybe the huge event that I saw it representing wasn't an "event" for Joey at all.

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