Watching the television show Weeds last night, I admit my interest in whether Nancy was breastfeeding her new baby bordered on obsessive. In the last episode, I caught what looked like Nancy applying lanolin to her nipples. But still, two episodes into a new baby on the show and she still hadn’t made any direct mention of how this child was being fed. It bugged me.
But from early on in last night’s episode, there were references to breast milk – mostly references to pumping and where the bottles of breast milk could be found, but I was satisfied. Honestly, at this point I could case less whether Andy is a good father or if she marries Esteban. I managed to get through the circumcision scene in the previous episode only because the rabbi’s response to the question, “How do you practice to do this [circumcision]?” was “on goyim.” Sorry. I’m Jewish. It was funny. If you are offended by the term “goyim,” my apologies. Footnote here: I didn’t circumcise my sons and think the practice is barbaric so I was working pretty hard at finding humor in the scene.
Back to last night’s episode: Suck ‘N Spit. I should have seen it coming in the title. Nancy is out to dinner with Andy (her brother-in-law for those of you who don’t know the show) and becomes painfully engorged. You can literally see it. Watching her discomfort, her squirming and gently pressing her breasts – well, if you’ve been there, you know. She gives up on waiting till she gets back home and heads for the ladies room where she pulls what looks like a battery operated breast pump from her purse, leans over the sink, and starts to pump. But the pump kicks out – seems the batteries die. At this point I am on the edge of my seat. I know she has to empty those breasts.
It probably seems marginally disturbed to be so drawn in by a plot line about engorged breasts. I just don’t see my life on television very often. Having spent nearly nine years lactating, the fill-full-empty-fill-full-empty arc of breast milk production is so familiar that I can read it in the way a woman moves, sits, breathes. Being aware of how much milk I had, how near full I was, how soon I needed to empty, was part of my every day for a significant chunk of my adult life.
When Nancy leans over the bathroom sink having tossed her dead breast pump, I thought she was going to hand express. She obviously wasn’t walking out of that ladies room without relieving the pressure. Then she hollers for Andy and I squealed so loud my kids jumped. I immediately knew what she was going to do.
I never asked my kids’ father to suck breast milk from my breasts – something of which I reminded him as we watched Nancy beg Andy to “suck ‘n spit.” But I totally would have. And he damn well better have done it.
This morning I searched the Internet for a clip of the scene to post here. Until one goes up, you are just going to have to trust me that Andy relieving Nancy’s engorged breasts was not at all sexual. People with experience breastfeeding are probably going to wonder, perhaps aloud, why she didn’t just hand express. As someone who could never get a drop out that way, I get the need for suction. And Andy’s character on Weeds kind of annoys me much of the time so I loved that he pretty much just got to business doing what needed to be done.
But I suspect there is going to be a fair bit of Internet chatter about that scene. There are people who are going to write about it being disgusting or sexual or inapprorpiate. That he swallowed the breast milk instead of spitting it out will be an issue. And my response? Grow up! This was real. This was human. This was as it should be. Women who have babies lactate. Their breasts fill with milk. If the milk is not removed, their breasts will become engorged (too full) and the pressure will need to be relieved by removing some milk. If there is no hungry baby around to do it, the milk will need to be removed some other way. There it is. Thank you Weeds for putting it on television.