Once upon a time, approximately 3 years ago, there was a woman thrilled to be expecting her first child. This woman was not familiar with breastfeeding because no one in her family ever did such a thing. They were straight up formula feeders and this was all she knew.
But her husband’s family did something so intriguing, something so special. The women in his family were super heroes wearing their capes backwards as covers, shielding the world from their super power that is exclusive breastfeeding. This woman thought, “I can do that! It’s supposedly really good for the baby. Plus, boob milk is free!”
On October 7, 2014, the woman gave birth to a sweet little lady named Cecilia Ann. And so their journey began. At first, so natural, so easy. Then, so many questions. “How will I know she’s getting enough? Is anything even coming out? Why are my nipples bleeding?”
Nurses and her ever supportive husband started to notice the woman was becoming discouraged. It could have been her extremely subtle meltdown and quiet, not at all obnoxious, sobbing that tipped them off. Doing anything they could to help, they brought her gifts of breast pumps, nipple cream, and lactation specialists. “Hang in there!” they said. “It will get easier! You can do this!”
The woman persevered. Two months later, she was STILL the least natural breastfeeder who ever existed. Her daughter was barely back to her birth weight and alternated between nursing and crying. There was nothing else. The woman felt like a failure and a terrible mother.
It wasn’t until Thanksgiving that the woman’s mother finally said to her, in the most loving and not at all accusing tone ever, “YOU ARE STARVING YOUR CHILD!” With that oh-so-subtle hint, she knew she needed to make a change.
“Get the formula! STAT!” Despite never drinking from a bottle, Baby Cecilia chugged like a freshman at college. Then she slept… for the first time in her whole life.
In closing, breastfeeding is hard. Really hard. Breastfeeding is not for everyone and it is a real struggle, but that does not make you any less of a mother. The woman went on to breastfeed her second child, no problem. Each child is different, as is each pregnancy, and breastfeeding experience.
Oh, and, that woman was me. I thought breastfeeding was going to be sunshine and baby snuggles and wish someone would have been there to say, “Hey Kid. You’re not alone.” So here it is for you, Momma. You’re not alone.