I had no idea how I would feel the moment I pushed my son into the world. I had no idea how I would feel when I held him for the first time. I definitely had no idea how I would feel after the first time I was able to breastfeed. In fact, let's just cut to the chase and say that, when it came to parenting, as a first-time mom I didn't know sh*t. I did my research and my reading and I asked my questions and I tried to be as up-to-date and informed as possible, but motherhood is one of those things you simply have to experience in order to truly comprehend and understand. Breastfeeding, of course, is no different.
I was one of those lucky people most breastfeeding mothers hate (and for good reason), in that I was able to breastfeed my son easily and only a few minutes after he was born. He latched on as if he had been breastfeeding in the womb, a champion and a pro, and I was somewhat shocked it was so easy and "natural" for us. (See, you hate me now, huh?) Now, that doesn't mean that I didn't have my fair share of difficult breastfeeding moments, because I did. However, I looked back at that first breastfeeding session with such fondness, because the feelings that followed made me feel like an empowered, badass, capable mother. (All feelings I definitely needed to feel, as I was also scared out of my freakin' mind.)
While it truly is impossible for you to adequately prepare for motherhood, I have learned that even the smallest amount of preparation can go a long way. So, with that in mind and because I feel like being a little nostalgic today, here's what I definitely felt after I was able to breastfeed my son. Motherhood really is an incredible experience, you guys.
Whether you've been experiencing some trouble, or your baby latched on your first try, chances are you're going to be a bit relieved once everything goes according to plan.
I was lucky in that my son latched on and started eating almost directly after he was born. Still, I remember letting out this huge sigh of relief, thankful that I was, in fact, able to breastfeed. Phew.
I mean, look at this cool thing my body is able to do, right after that other cool thing (bringing a human being into the world) my body just did! Whoa.
Yeah, I was pretty excited about the whole breastfeeding thing. So excited, in fact, that I flashed my boob to my poor, unsuspecting gay best friend to show him how awesome I was. He appreciated my excitement, because duh. Breastfeeding is cool.
It was extremely difficult to hate my body — even when it was postpartum and I was having a hard time coming to terms with all the ways my body had changed — when it was doing something so extraordinary. After that first breastfeeding session, I stopped and patted myself on the proverbial back. I might be biased, sure, but I definitely deserved it.
Granted, I had breastfed right after I had finished a grueling 23 hour labor and delivery. So, I mean, feeling exhausted was to be expected. However, having talked to many a breastfeeding mother, the amount of energy a woman expels when breastfeeding adds to a pretty natural feeling of fatigue. Your body is literally burning an additional amount of calories in order to produce enough milk for your baby to thrive.
As a new mother, I can't necessarily say I had all the faith in the world regarding my capabilities. As a matter of fact, I was pretty scared. I mean, I knew I wanted to be a mom and I could be a mom, but I was pretty damn petrified that I might screw up in some way, and my son would pay the price for it.
So, that first successful breastfeeding session was a boost of confidence. I felt like I really could do something right, and provide something my son needed. I carried that feeling with me through the rest of my postpartum journey with my newborn (and definitely when I started potty training my kid, because dear freakin' lord in heave that's so hard).
I can breastfeed, so the rest of this whole motherhood thing is going to be a breeze, right? You know what, don't answer that. That's my story and I am going to be sticking to it. Thank you.
After that first breastfeeding session, I got a little greedy. While my son drifted off into a milk-induced sleep, I wanted him to wake up and be hungry so we could do this whole thing all over again. I mean, I just breastfed, kid! I want to show off! Wake up, you lazy baby, you!
After a while, of course, this impatience wore off and I really didn't mind if my kid took his sweet time between feedings. But still, for a while there, all I wanted to do was breastfeed and stare at my kid.
I mean, if I do nothing all day I can still say I am hard at work, making food for my kid. Did I rest and recover from labor and delivery by laying on my couch and watching every episode of The Office on Netflix? Yes, but I was also making food and feeding my baby. Boom. Look at me, doing all the things.
Like A "Real Life" Mom
It's silly, to be sure. I mean, I just pushed a human being out of my vagina. I was a mom, in every sense of the word. Still, being able to breastfeed made me feel like a "real" mom. Like I was "really" doing this mom thing. It doesn't make any sense (and under no circumstances does a mother need to be able to breastfeed in order to be a "real mother") but that's how my brain came to terms with my new reality: I was responsible for another human life. Forever.
A Little Too Cocky
Yeah, yeah. I'll admit it: I let that first breastfeeding session get to my head. I thought I had it all figured out, and I wouldn't have a single problem breastfeeding going forward.
Then, as a sexual assault survivor, I started experiencing triggers every time I breastfed my son. I developed a pretty nasty case of mastitis. I was shamed when I breastfed in public without a cover. I had more than my fair share of breastfeeding difficulties, but I always thought back on that first session I had with my son. It was picture perfect, just like him.