I Won’t Breastfeed My Child, And If That Makes Me A Bad Dad, So Be It
I’m always taken aback by the gall of people who ask me why I don’t breastfeed my child. It’s a deeply personal question with an answer that can be complicated for some. But mine isn’t. I always explain to them that the reason I don’t breastfeed is that I am a man. As a man, my nipples do not produce milk. They are simply there for aesthetics, I guess. To be honest, I don’t really get why men even have them. But just because I do doesn’t mean they produce milk that can nourish my child. I’m sorry if that makes me seem like a bad dad, but so be it.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love for my nipples to produce milk. I’m not a strong believer in keeping things around purely for aesthetics. As such, I would love to throw away my nipples; they’re frustratingly useless. I’ve tugged, I’ve yanked, I’ve squeezed, I’ve stretched – nothing. Nipples as dry as the Sahara. Nipples with their tanks on E.
When I’m lucky, the person asking this highly personal question will be kind enough to change topics after I’ve explained myself. But others persist. I try to brush it off by saying things like, “Believe me, I’d love for these teats to squirt!” and they nod sympathetically, but I don’t know if they actually believe me. Maybe they think I’m getting them off my back by telling them I want my child to suckle on my front. Hard to say.
Judgmental parents out there assume I’m withholding my breast milk from my child out of some misguided moral stance against breastfeeding. I’m actually totally cool with anybody breastfeeding anywhere they want. I just don’t want to feel like a creep as I press a baby’s mouth to my nipple knowing full well nothing will come of it other than maybe an arrest warrant.
The truth is I’m awed by women who risk being scorned by people too repressed to understand the deep bond being formed between mother and child. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I were confronted by such ignorance. I feel like I would put my baby on the ground, then chase that ignorant person down to teach them a lesson they shall not soon forget. The mild tickling sensation of the breast milk dribbling down a single nip, maybe even squirting a little when I get real angry, would only fuel my fury as I ran down my anti-breastfeeding oppressor. What I’m trying to say is, you may think I’m a bad dad for not breastfeeding my child, but you’d think worse of me if I did.
Some people will go as far as to ask that if the male Dayak fruit bat can lactate, why can’t I? I try to explain to them that I don’t know why the male Dayak fruit bat can produce milk for its offspring, but I do know that I don’t produce milk nor am I a male Dayak fruit bat. I always assumed that last part will end that particular line of questioning, but sometimes they, too, persist. They’ll say, “How can I be sure you aren’t a lactating male Dayak fruit bat?” At this point, I usually throw my arms up to prove that I don’t have bat wings, but also as an expression of unfathomable frustration.
All of that should be more than enough to explain why, as a father, I will not breastfeed my child. But more than anything, I think it’s because my child is 34 years old.