In my early days of motherhood, I was desperate for signs I was doing something right. On top of the crazy learning curve all new parents experience when they bring home a newborn, I dealt with some breastfeeding issues that nearly wrecked me and my belief that I had it in me to parent (yes, it was as dramatic as it sounds). Thankfully, once I got the hang of it (and even before, technically,), there were some key breastfeeding moments that made me feel like a mom.
For context, my son and I eventually had a long and (mostly) happy breastfeeding journey together. And yes, I realize that makes it sound like we took an adventurous free-spirited road trip through the American southwest, but really, I just mean that we did it for two years. That's what worked for us.
Also, please let the record show that breastfeeding is in no way a requirement to be a “real mom,” and that we’re all allowed to define “real mom” however we see fit. There’s no one single way to do it and no specific set of levels to unlock. Breastfeeding was simply one piece of the parenting puzzle that made me feel more secure in my role as a mom, and I can tell you that some of these specific moments contributed to that:
When Nursing Got My Baby To Stop Crying
I mean, anytime I could get my baby to stop crying I felt more and more like a “real” mom, so breastfeeding wasn’t unique in this respect. However, there’s something to be said for knowing it was me and my body that were meeting his needs.
When I Was Simply Feeding My Baby
On more than one occasion, I remember telling myself while breastfeeding, “There’s nowhere else I need to be more than right here, right now.” Seriously, when my child needed to eat, was there anything else that mattered more?
When I Could Nurse And Smell My Baby’s Head At The Same Time
Smelling my baby’s head always got to me, so doing it while I was nursing was no exception. And, fun fact: he’s almost 3 now, but my son’s head still smells awesome (usually, and assuming he didn’t eat anything particularly messy and cheesy that day).
When The Baby Paused To Look Up And Smile At Me
Be still my heart. Once a baby starts to smile, we’re all prone to warm fuzzies, but the warm fuzzies that occur while the baby is nestled up to you are next-level.
When I Was Able to Multi-task
Sure, it might not seem like eating take-out is a feat worth writing home about, but when you manage to eat said take-out while an infant nurses from your lap, that’s something to be proud of.
When I Could Do It Without Relying On A Pillow Or An App
It took what seemed like ages for me to be able to nurse my son without a bunch of bells and whistles required for positioning, and to help keep of timing, and length, and side. When we finally reached that point, it brought a new level of comfort and confidence.
When It Was Messy
Not that I enjoyed getting spit-up on, or peed on, or pooped on, but there was something kind of affirming about knowing I was in the parenting trenches. Like, no one could say I hadn’t been working hard and making sacrifices and losing sleep (like all new parents), but dealing with bodily fluids just makes you go, “Yep, this is the part I was warned about and, yet, I persisted.”
When I Thought I Was Doing It For The First Time
I mean, I attached him to my breast in the hospital and everything seemed fine. Why wouldn't I feel like a mom?
When The Nurses Told Me It Was Working
I certainly don't blame the nurses for not realizing that my baby wasn't properly latched. I mean, I was even closer to him than they were, and I didn't realize it either. However, it did give me a false sense of security for a few days that did temporarily boost my confidence.
When I Was Able To Do It Quickly And Casually In Public
What’s that? We’re in the middle of an Italian restaurant? The hungry baby doesn't realize we're in public? NBD. Allow me to handle it with my powerful body.