We all know that ‘breast is best’.
And I did it. For thirteen whole months.
I am an advocate for breastfeeding, if you are able to, but I will be the first to admit that I had selfish motives for doing so. Before I became a mom, I didn’t think I could handle breastfeeding. The very idea overwhelmed me, not to mention the thought of another human being attached to my breast was very, very alien.
And then Ava was born, and the nurse barely even gave me an option. Big on skin-to-skin contact, the hospital only asked me whether I wanted her immediately or if I preferred her to be ‘cleaned up a bit’. I chose the latter because, ew.
Anyway. Having gained sixty pounds during my pregnancy, I figured I would at least have the benefit of all that baby weight falling off without any effort on my part(on top of all the baby benefits, but like I said, selfish).
So began my journey through breastfeeding.
But there were things I could never have been prepared for, things the entire world conveniently ‘forgot’ to tell me about. And so I will prepare you.
- It hurts. A LOT. Those first couple weeks were the closest thing to what I imagined torture was like. My nipples were like two huge raisins; dried out, bleeding, and sore. (Perhaps raisin was a poor simile. I would not eat these raisins.) I applied the coconut oil, I bit my lip through the feedings, and I tried my hardest to not throw up from the pain and the sessions that seemed to last for hours on end. I kept thinking, ‘why is this child so effing hungry all the time?’
- Growth spurts are cause for mass hysteria. I mean, everyone heard about my dwindling milk supply and what I needed to rectify the situation, and no one was happy until my boobs leaked on their own. See Boobie Juice Smoothie.
- Nursing in public is HARD. I give mad props to the women who fearlessly feed in restaurants, parks, and other public places. Don’t worry, I was only staring because I was jealous of your supermom abilities. The anxiety caused my milk to dry up and Ava to have toddler sized tantrums. Not to mention the sweat factor. One time I nursed at the zoo(in the shade, away from crowds, and was attacked by the spiders falling out of the trees), and the Swoob made it impossible for me to concentrate, which meant no milk. And nursing covers? My child demanded to see the world from her sideways vantage point. No covers for her, thank you very much. In a perfect world, air conditioned nursing rooms with unlimited television would be mandatory in every. single. establishment. EVER.
- People will become know-it-alls. They will assume they know everything about your boobage and their abilities, and they will freely share their opinions. And no matter what, you will be wrong. “You’re only nursing for three months? I heard at least six months is the best.” “Oh, you’re going for a whole year? I heard that nothing past six month means crap.” “It’s been a year. Didn’t you say you were quitting at a year? Shouldn’t your baby starve rather than nurse for more than a year???”
- If you have to pump at work, people will turn into juvenile asshats. Meaning, some douchenozzle WILL walk in on you(if you’re unlucky enough to not be locked away with the only key)and act like they have no idea what it means to be a mother who must return to work. And, if you work in an establishment with certain obnoxious management, your efforts will be mocked. One manager I work with attempted to force his way into my private space so he could ‘watch’. Sexual harassment, anyone?
- Oh, yeah. Pumping BLOWS. Bring a Kindle or a Nook and prepare to escape to another world because you will be bored out of your mind otherwise.
- You might spill your hard work on the conference room table post-pump. And then cry. Don’t tell anyone who actually uses the conference room, because those juvenile geniuses will probably burn the table and then charge it to your account.
- If you get your period before you’re done with all the nursing, you will lose your milk. It is terrifying and upsetting and Boobie Juice Smoothies will not help, because you are not losing it permanently; just during your cycle. Pump often when your supply comes back so the next month, you don’t purchase a whole new pump thinking something is wrong with the old pump and now you have two perfectly good pumps….like some people I may or may not know. I mean, if more people had blogged about this, I would have one less major appliance in my tiny apartment.
- Wear a bra. ALWAYS wear a bra, for goodness sakes.
- Make sure you’re eating enough calories!!! I cannot stress this enough. If you do NOT eat enough(and of the right foods), you WILL gain weight, and you will most likely lose some supply. Food is fuel, people, and that does not just apply to exercise. Eat enough, and eat wisely. Please.
I’m sure I missed some key details, but seriously? Enjoy this. The miracle outweighs the suck.
That bond they talk about is real, and it is fierce. And all you can do when things get tough is laugh. You’ll make it through. And you’ll never regret it.