Before I became a mother, I never really had any interest in breastfeeding. I thought it was weird. (Give me a break, I was 22.) My husband, however was reading all the books, signing us up for Lamaze classes, and generally being Superdad. He made me promise to at least give breastfeeding a try because, you know, breast is best and stuff. I said ok.
Everyone talks about how wonderful breastfeeding is, but no one will tell you what breastfeeding is really like, so I will.
When the little nugget arrived, breastfeeding came naturally. It wasn’t weird at all. It hurt like a mo fo, though. Why didn’t anyone tell me about that part? Seems like good wisdom to impart.
Trying to figure out the latch with a moving target that is starving and can’t see too well was an utter delight. The lactation consultant said we just needed practice. I thought the kid needed a bigger mouth. (A feeling I totally regret now, by the way.)
I quickly realized that sleep was no longer my jam. I mean, this new person wanted to eat every hour or so, and it’s impossible to pass out while someone is scraping the skin off your nipples. Remember those pacifier things? My baby was too good for the synthetic version. Nothing but the real deal for my swanky kid. It’s all cool though. My resume may say that I have a degree in professional writing, but my biggest ambition in life was always to become a human pacifier.
Having a baby who likes to constantly suckle has some definite perks. You need to sit down and relax a lot. Someone else needs to make dinner. Someone else needs to do the laundry. Someone else needs to clean the toilets. Downtime was enjoyable at first, even with a tiny human dangling from my chest.
Before long the little nugget became aware of everything and started thrashing so nothing would be missed. (Plus I realized that my husband didn’t know how to make dinner, do the laundry, or clean the toilets.) A new issue emerged; instead of never giving my nipples a break, I had to try and convince someone to suck on my boob. (Really, when is that ever an issue in real life?)
Unfortunately I couldn’t be with my little bundle all the time. When it was time to go back to work, I had to take the mechanical sucker with me in order to survive. There were times when I looked like a playboy bunny but felt I was walking around with rocks on my chest. It was a successful work day if I managed to go home without soaking through both my bra and my shirt.
We’ve all heard about pregnancy cravings, but another bit of wisdom the mommy community forgets to share is that you’ll never be more hungry than when you are breastfeeding. Those mommies who get down to their pre-pregnancy weight during the breastfeeding months are not my friends. It’s the most hungry I’ve ever been in my life. Being a milk machine takes fuel, so bring on the Double Stuf Oreos.
Plus, you never realize how difficult eating with one hand is until you have to feed yourself and your baby at the same time. Just know that if you have licked something off the top of your baby’s head, you’re not alone.
The best part of being a human pacifier you ask? I don’t get to indulge in the things that pacify me—like wine. I deserve to be comforted too, yes?
Through all of this, I did eventually reach a point where breastfeeding became natural. (I knew I had “made it” when I started breastfeeding in the grocery store. Champion status.)
The most important confession you’ll ever hear from me is that breastfeeding is the most special experience I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the Double Stuf Oreos in the world. (Really.) It hurts, it’s challenging, and it’s exhausting, but once you get past all the tears, it’s amazing.
After a month or two, I could feed my baby while I typed, while I vacuumed, and even while I ate. Looks like Superdad isn’t the only superhero in this house.