Like many aspects of motherhood, figuring out how to breastfeed a baby is equal parts miracle, yoga pose, and calculus equation. It's supposed to be natural and instinctive (and for some, it is) but my own experience was anything but. It took weeks of stress, lactation appointments, tears, and teetering on a constant ledge of almost giving up, before I finally got the "hang" of breastfeeding. I mean, some of the hoops I jumped through to make it happen felt about as unnatural as one gets. And based on what breastfeeding moms say to one another, I know I'm not alone in many of these experiences.
Of course, lightning doesn't always strike when it's expected to, so I want to give supportive and subtle head-tips to my non-breastfeeding brethren. I see you all, and your experiences are just as valid and important as the experiences of a breastfeeding mother. However, for the rest of us who managed to strike oil (or milk), there are some universal experiences that go along with it, including but not limited to: leaking, plugging, possible infections, a bit of shaming, and gritting our teeth as our tiny people clamp onto our nipples. However, once we come out the other side (much like pledging a sorority or tolerating a Trump visit to your town), you feel like you've accomplished something, and you're ready to share those experiences with other breastfeeding mothers.
Which is probably why there are certain sentences all breastfeeding mothers say to one another. Consider it a "secret code" of sorts, except it's not all that secret because we'll shout it from the rooftops in the name of much-needed solidarity. Honestly, we've earned it.
"Did You Know The Football Hold Is A Thing?"
This isn't to say that it works for me (or everyone) since I still require a specific nursing pillow, soft lighting, and a noise machine to make breastfeeding work. I'm just intrigued by its existence and am wondering if you are, too.
"Mastitis Is Terrible And Life Isn't Fair"
If there was a way to unleash Mastitis on our political enemies, all threats of war would be eviscerated.
"I Watched The Entire Collection Of Carpool Karaoke Videos On YouTube Last Night"
Oh, you did, too? Perfect. Let's talk about it for 45 minutes. You're watching tonight's too, right?
"Have You Tried That Thing Where Your Baby Lays On His Back And You Dangle Your Nipple Into His Mouth?"
Not only does it help with blocked ducts, but it also feels like a super advanced Pilates pose, so it's basically getting two birds with one stone.
"Have You Seen What Happens When Milk Gets Into Your Baby’s Neck Folds?"
Are you familiar with the Star Wars character Jaba the Hutt? No? Okay, then you should probably just take a look when you're feeling particularly brave and holding a warm wash cloth.
"Beep Boop Beep LATCH Beep Beep TONGUE TIE Beep Boop OUNCES Beep LANOLIN"
I like to call this one, "newborn auto-pilot."
"I Woke Up in A Puddle This Morning"
As if there aren't enough things to wash, now every single piece of bedding I own is in the laundry.
"This Is Harder Than I Thought It Would Be"
No, seriously. People warned me it would be hard, and I heard them, I really did. I guess I was just hopeful. However, my hope was for naught because it was not only just as challenging as people told me it would be, I also made myself miserable in the process.
"I Can't Tell If That's A Nursing Top"
WHERE DID YOU GET IT AND HOW ARE YOU HIDING NURSING PADS UNDER THERE?
"I Can Totally Tell That's A Nursing Top. I'm Only Telling You Because I'm Your Friend."
...And become I'm sleep-deprived and am totally forgetting my manners. Forgive me.
"Nursing Pads Don't Work"
If they did, I wouldn't be wearing four layers of clothing in the summertime.
"I Sprayed Myself In The Face In The Shower This Morning"
Why don't more baby books warn you about that?
"Sometimes, I Want To Give Up"
You too? Thank you so much for admitting that to me, because sometimes it can be a lonely, self-loathing feeling. I know I need to keep at it and I will, but those thoughts cross my mind frequently and it's pretty awesome to know that I'm not alone.
"Congratulations, You Are A Hero"
As is any mom who manages to feed a baby and herself on the same day, is doing the seemingly impossible and deserve a parade or at least some sleep. Actually, yeah, just go with sleep.
"Well, This Is The Worst..."
I mean, we've all thought it so we might as well say it out loud, right? Yes, breastfeeding is amazing and magical, but it can also be painful and exhausting and it's definitely alright to admit that; especially to other breastfeeding mothers who can completely understand and who won't make us feel like defunct moms for not loving absolutely every aspect of feeding your kid from your body.
"...But Also, You Know, The Absolute Best"
And, you know, when it's not the worst it's the absolute best. The smell of their little baby heads; their soft skin; the way they look at you while they're eating; their cute little milk-drunk faces when they're finished; the snuggles and bonding time. I mean, should I go on?