Breastfeeding is one of those things in life that is dubbed as “beautiful”, “natural” and a variety of other harmonious adjectives. While it is – when it goes smoothly – it is also so many other antonyms of those words at the exact same time.
While I don’t like to harp on what is hard, negative or challenging in my life, I do find this particular strife to be an interesting topic to dwell on because it is the aforementioned harmony that most people find to be synonymous with the phrase “breastfeeding”. Society is very adamant about “breast is best” (and I agree), but society fails to mention the precursor to that statement – “while breastfeeding is ridiculously challenging in all meanings of the word… breast is best!”
Fortunately I have never felt pressure from society or anyone close to me personally to breast feed my children. It has only been my own desire that has driven me to stick to it. And I have also never looked down upon a mother who didn’t breast feed her child. But I have always felt the need to quantify and qualify my breastfeeding experiences when talking to others. For example, when asked if I breastfed my other two children, my answer isn’t a simple “yes”. The answer is: ” Yes, with Parker I exclusively pumped for 8 months because I couldn’t get him to latch on and Connor for 3 months until he went to daycare.” No one asked for all that info! Thanks a lot society…
In the first hour of my 3rd little guy’s life, the phrase “Very sucky!” spoken by Will Ferrell in the movie “Elf” was the only thing that came to mind. He was immediately a vacuum-packed bundle of joy.
It was around 8 weeks after my Riley was born when our breastfeeding experience together had just started to become relatively easy. Still not entirely pain-free, but compared to the first 4-6 weeks, it was a nice walk in the park. And even in the subsequent weeks it continued to improve to what is now the harmonious activity it is dubbed to be. Imagine that?! 8 weeks! It’s no wonder that so many women just throw in the towel and succumb to the grocery store shelves full of options.
For anyone reading that hasn’t experienced the pleasure of breastfeeding… here’s a sampling of what the first few weeks or even months may be like:
- cracks, blood and blisters
- 45 minute feeding sessions followed by a 15 minute nap (on you), gas pains for 30 minutes, a giant poop up the back followed by another 45 minute nosh sesh
- gushes of hormones upon latching that cause sudden bursts of rage from your total and utter lack of control over anything in your immediate surroundings
- gushes of hormones during letdown that cause massive hot flashes
- armpit odor from another place and time – the words “dirty hippie” come to mind
- swells of guilt when you wonder if it’s time to quit
- swells of satisfaction when the doc says “impressive weight gain”
- a pool of breast milk making a cute bulls eye on your tank top
- siblings looking at their own nipples and trying to feed their stuffed animals
Just one more notch on the Joys of Motherhood belt. Despite all of the harsh realities, it really is quite a beautiful thing, all of it. And it’s also quite astounding to my brain. Imagine being a little kid experiencing this part of human nature? They totally have no way of understanding conception, fetal development, birth or breast feeding, especially when it’s hard enough understanding it as an adult! Just trying to fathom how a couple of cells turns into a real live human, blows my mind…