I have not read much Shakespeare, although when I studied drama, I was desperate to have you believe the opposite.
My earliest exposure was, as a teenager, lying on my sister’s bed repeatedly reading the same page of her copy of Macbeth while she sat at her desk ignoring me.
Years before I could grasp the language, Act I Scene VII was being burnt into my memory. I assumed it was forgotten, but 20 years later, it resurfaced, just as I was giving suck.
Watch: Explaining nipples to my baby. Post continues below.
In 2017 I gave birth to twins. A girl and a boy - babies I had longed for desperately.
Having given up performing in community theatre years earlier (and along with it, my ruse that I knew anything about Shakespeare), it came as a shock when I heard the words of Lady Macbeth ringing in my ears.
‘I have given suck and know how tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me. I would, while it was smiling in my face have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out had I so sworn as you have sworn to this.’
Lady Macbeth is calling Macbeth a p***y for wanting to back out of killing Duncan after he had given his word (you’re welcome).
But as I sat on my couch breastfeeding two babies at once, the context meant nothing. All I wanted to do was pluck my nipples from my children’s boneless gums.
Breastfeeding sucks. From the moment I got the hang of it, I began googling ‘when can I stop breastfeeding?’ As my children sucked, I imagined their faces as the suction cups from the machine in The Princess Bride.