Some new moms look forward to quiet moments with the baby once they've returned home from the hospital. After all, there's a special bond that needs to happen ASAP, and what better way than through the art of breastfeeding? This is, of course, a rhetorical. Any nursing mothers knows there are some breastfeeding moments that'll leave you wanting your own mom, and I "lucky enough to experience all of them, sometimes simultaneously. Motherhood is never lacking in painful, humiliating, and often comedic moments, and breastfeeding is certainly no exception.
My breastfeeding woes began immediately. I held my beautiful, healthy newborn daughter, hopeful she and I would get things figured out pretty quickly and eager to dip into all that pre-baby knowledge I'd soaked up throughout pregnancy. Unfortunately, we experienced the exact opposite and my hope sank fast. Not only did she refuse to latch, but her fussiness from being hungry only intensified my "failing mother" feelings and, in turn, interrupted that special bonding process while simultaneously feeding into my postpartum depression.
As if the whole pregnancy, multi-day labor and delivery, and painful recovery weren't enough, breastfeeding was there to remind me how not capable I was. Well, at least that's how it felt. So, with that in mind, here are a few of those moments, when all I wanted was my mother (who probably knew what she was doing when she was in my position).
When The Baby Won't Latch
One of the first really frustrating moments during those initial breastfeeding attempts came when my daughter wouldn't latch. Multiple nurses, doctors, and finally an in-home lactation consultant, tried to intervene on my behalf. Yeah, my sweet girl wasn't having it.
My mom breastfed me and though she's talked of having similar issues, she got through it. Yet, throughout every feeding session, my daughter and I struggled until eventually (and due to other health concerns), I made the switch to the bottle where she could actually benefit from my pumped breast milk and we could finally bond.
When It Hurts
I'll be honest, breastfeeding isn't all roses and sunshine like the commercials portray. Maybe at some point it's less horrific, but in my case, it freaking hurt. When it wasn't painful, it was unbelievably uncomfortable in a number of ways. I cried through nearly every session, wishing for my own mom because, ouch.
When Your Milk Doesn't Come In
Breastfeeding is magic. Like, real unicorn-infested magic. That is, unless your milk doesn't come in and your hungry baby continues searching for any sign of food or nourishment.
Continuing to try to breastfeed when there was nothing to really feed my baby from my breasts, not only left me with a frustrated baby, but exacerbated my own frustration. You can't control if, or when, the milk arrives. It's a fun guessing game. Plus, with no let down, it really hurts.
When You Get Mastitis
The peak of breastfeeding horror is when you reach what the Mayo Clinic describes as "an infection of the breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness," otherwise known as mastitis. You can get this "fun" infection via poor technique, clogged milk ducts, or bacteria. All are equally awful, only to be outdone by your still hungry and wailing baby.
When There's No End To The Leakage
I never realized how much breasts leak, even when you're not breastfeeding. Long before, and even after, breastfeeding, my shirts were stained with wetness. I became so self conscious, I doubled up on layers and avoided leaving the house unless it was absolutely necessary. Why didn't my mom tell me about this "unimportant" tidbit? Mom? Hello?
When You're Too Tired To Feed
During the first few days of new motherhood, I ran on the adrenaline of becoming a mom for the first time. My postpartum depression (PPD) hadn't fully set in just yet, and as I adjusted to the new schedule I felt like I had it all covered. Well, except for the whole breastfeeding thing. Once extreme fatigue set in, there were times I'd fall asleep, sitting fully upright in the middle of the day and while trying to feed. I can't say going to the bottle was any easier, because I was too exhausted to exist then, too.
When Nothing You Do Works
I've never wanted my mom more than when my daughter and I tried all the suggestions and, even still, breastfeeding was a huge fail. It's such a beautiful, natural thing; almost like a mother's right of passage (to at least try if she wants), and I couldn't do it. I felt like I'd failed my daughter and myself. Thankfully, once she adjusted to a bottle, our relationship became a lot easier and we eventually bonded the way I had hoped we would.
After all I've gone through with breastfeeding, I have an infinite amount of respect for my own mother, and what she endured long before the progression of the traditional medicines we have today. Mom, you're the real MVP.