Dear Boobs,

What a wild ride it’s been, huh? We’ve been through so much in my 37 years of life and yet I never took the time to stop and thank you for all that you’ve done and for everything we’ve been through together.

I remember when I was about 11 years old, riding in the backseat of the car looking out the window (this was in the ’80s, we weren’t great with seat belts then) and feeling pain on my chest. I told my mom, shyly, thinking something was really wrong with me, she panicked and took me to the doctor the next morning. “Her breasts are developing,” he said with a tone in his voice that almost seemed to mock both of us for not realizing that, well, my boobs were growing.

I remember that summer not wanting to take my t-shirt off because I was ashamed of how you looked. Kind of there but not really. Suddenly causing attention in a way I did not want nor did I know what to do with. You, dear boobs, made me feel uncomfortable and I wasn’t a fan of you.

I remember that quickly changed in high school—my not-so-big but also not-so-small breasts made it easy for me to buy clothes, wear bikinis and also get the attention of the boy I liked. I remember the first time he touched you over a shirt, feeling so adult and also so not ready for anything.

I remember when in college I thought you were suddenly way too small and all I wanted was to get implants. I insisted that was what I wanted to my parents, when really I was following my friends, all who had done it before me for very different reasons. I hate pain, I hate needles, I didn’t really want to go through surgery but everything around me was telling me that I needed you to be bigger.

I remember how, in an act of rebellion, I got my nipples pierced. Something many, many years later would cause issues with breastfeeding my first baby. But how was I supposed to know that? Or even think about it? Back then I didn’t think I would meet anyone who could put up with me or keep up with me enough to get married, let alone have children. My piercings were my pride for a decade, something very few knew were there, my way of making my boobs different to others. Maybe more memorable?

I remember my first pregnancy, how suddenly no bras fit and blue veins covered my chest, almost like rivers of blood filling up my breasts which were soon going to become essential in my baby’s life (or so I thought). I remember how my coworker commented on them, making me feel so disgusted, so used. I was carrying life but I was still being sexualized and harassed, because it never stops. It made me feel 11 years old again when those stares began.

I remember giving birth—in a way that I didn’t expect—and having a tiny slippery baby laid on my chest. I could barely breathe afraid of him falling off. He latched onto you, and we all thought he was a champ at breastfeeding, except he was not. Days and weeks went by with poor weight gain and I started to feel like a failure, like you boobs were failing me in my most important role in life. Defeated, I started pumping and bottle feeding my skinny baby and soon he was chunky and happy, just like he is now years later.

I remember being engorged, leaking, milk stains all over my shirts and bras. I remember being in love with your new quality and at the same time being constantly uncomfortable by it.

I remember hating being attached to the pump for hours a day. The bzz bzz bzz of the motor getting on my nerves. Not realizing that my body, again, was part of something so surreal and magical, I was making milk. Until I wasn’t anymore and we switched to formula and I felt like myself again. I had my body back.

I remember finding out I was pregnant with twins and sighing because I was not going to be able to breastfeed again, I knew I didn’t have it in me to feed two babies for hours on end without any extra help (thanks, global pandemic). So here we are, attached to the pump again, seeing these two little girls eat what my body produces, still in total disbelief that we (you and me, boobs) were able to do all of this.

I remember going to the beach for the first time, my favorite activity ever, and seeing how deflated you looked. Stretch marks covered what used to be perky smooth skin, a reminder of the huge sacrifices I’ve made with my body in order to create and support my three children.

So dear boobs, thank you.

Thank you for putting up with me all these years.

Thank you for supporting me in such monumental changes in my life.

Thank you for providing nourishment to my children for as long as you can (no pressure, I’m ready to stop when you are) and I’m sorry I ever wanted to change you. I didn’t realize until now how special you both are.