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Dating as a Mom With Pancake Breasts

Photograph by Getty Images

I have to admit that for the last week I've been feeling old, and when I look in the mirror I expect to see an old lady looking back. When I look at the younger women in the locker room at the yoga studio, I wonder whether I need to do something more than another hour of downward dog.

A few weeks ago I agreed to have tea with a man I'd dated when we were both about 30 years old. We've run into one another since then, but much has happened, at least in my life, in the intervening 16 years. I got married, had a child, breastfed for more than three and got divorced. While I don't regret nursing my son, those three years had a major impact on the shape and texture of my breasts.

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The conversation turned to his ex-girlfriend, who I happened to know was very beautiful. He mentioned that toward the end of their relationship he'd started noticing that her breasts were beginning to sag, just slightly, and that had they stayed together he would have paid for her to have a breast lift. As I sat there, imagining this single, childless, 30-something woman, I wondered what could be so wrong with her breasts that they needed to be surgically "improved."

Dating, with a body that's been through the rigors of mothering, reminds me repeatedly that I'm getting a tiny bit older every day.

I then had a quick flash of my son latched onto my breast—all the pulling and squeezing that had made my them the flat pancakes they've become. I recalled how, seemingly overnight, I'd gone from a D cup (full of baby food) to a B cup (from the side, pretty much gender-neutral.) I admit, I actually prayed to God that my breasts would stick around. My prayers were not answered.

When my date reminded me how wonderful our time together had been and what fantastic chemistry we'd had, I changed the topic. I couldn't go there, knowing that my now flattened breasts would be deemed highly inferior (should we get to the point that they would be revealed anew.) When he complimented my lips, I felt some part of myself reach for my phone to see what time it was so I could make a mad dash for the door. "I need to go," I said, "I have a client at 1."

While age is not something I've dwelt on in past, parenting an active little boy has made me aware that I'm no longer a kid. And dating, with a body that's been through the rigors of mothering, reminds me repeatedly that I'm getting a tiny bit older every day. For example, I just told another 40-year-old man that I'm not interested in having any more children. The truth is, at 46, I'm close to being unable to have any more children. I'm watching day turn to night right before my eyes.

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As I said earlier, I don't regret breastfeeding my child. I love that our anatomies are so extraordinary that they allow us to breastfeed our children. My breasts may be lacking in perkiness, but they worked well when they were needed. And that's something I'll always appreciate.

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