No one mentions just how much of a betch breastfeeding is in the beginning. I’ve always heard how incredible breastfeeding is from other moms. People are quick to relay the beautiful moments, and there are a million of them (like the first time you feed your brand new babe), but nothing prepared me for the frantic, desperate moments of my babe’s third night on earth. It certainly wasn’t captured in a pretty photo; hubby would have DIED as soon as the shutter snapped.
My milk still hasn’t come in and my nearly ten pound baby was starving and she was letting me know. She was losing her mind at every latch out of desperation for more than a few drops. I was nearly bleeding, probably sleep deprived, and I was shamelessly crying. I was devastated that my body wasn’t responding immediately and my baby was suffering. (She wasn’t. I was emotional. Babies can survive for two weeks on colostrum. She was just hangry and impatient. After all, my meatball likes food as much as her mama does.) On the verge of a breakdown, I was dying to satiate my little one. I grabbed the supplement samples that had been sent to me “courtesy of” some store trying to peddle their product and was sobbing at my baby how sorry I was that I couldn’t feed her how much she wanted. When I say sobbing, I mean ugly-cry-sobbing. Inconsolable, inaudible, unintelligible, ugly-cry-sobbing.
Somehow, I managed to talk myself back from the proverbial ledge and slowly started to reassure my babe and myself that I would give her milk as soon as I could. Let’s be real – I was reassuring myself. For the next twelve hours, I pumped whatever I could and spoon fed it to my baby and then we would practice latching when she was calmer and not quite so vicious. My milk came in the following afternoon and we’ve been great since, but it still takes work.
It takes that gross Mother’s Tea three times a day, mundane oatmeal every morning, less than yummy lactation cookies – no amount of chocolate masks Brewer’s Yeast, fenugreek supplements twice a day, measuring my water intake, consuming enough protein, making sure I stave off mastitis, accepting that many women (AKA me) don’t actually lose weight while breastfeeding, and not succumbing to the crazy lady inside my head when there is the slightest decrease in production. Breastfeeding is an immense challenging.
It’s so challenging that not everyone is able to produce or sustain production. Women no longer have the “Red Tent” of past generations where these challenges were discussed and solutions were passed along mother to daughter and woman to woman. At times, women are made to feel like failures when their bodies aren’t responding the way we expect them to. My first pediatrician told me something must be wrong because the babe lost 8% of her weight within the first week. For the record, 10% is the time for concern and discussion of supplementation with a pediatrician. That stress in itself hinders production, but more importantly, it erodes at a new mother’s confidence in herself and eats away at the most tender moments with a new baby.
Other times, women are shamed into not feeding that new baby in public from the stigma of female sexuality. The sight of female breasts, sexualized and objectified by the patriarchy, is seen as perverse in public. Even in nursing lounges, I’ve encountered women that seem afraid to attract attention to the fact that they’re breastfeeding. Covered up in those impossible and awkward apparatuses to make breastfeeding in public “acceptable,” they avoided eye contact and shirked all communication. Mothers are expected to stay out of sight and out of mind while feeding this baby or otherwise be subjected to dirty looks and awkward glances from people’s peripherals. We’re expected to not discuss these challenges and thus, we often feel alone and less likely to overcome just how hard breastfeeding can be let alone how difficult motherhood is some days.
These challenges shouldn’t be silenced; they should be celebrated. After all, if we can make it through labor, we’re pretty much capable of anything. Motherhood – whether or not you’re able to or choose to breastfeed – is a beautiful and wonderful sisterhood. There is reason for the saying “it takes a village” and I certainly couldn’t get through the day without my “Mom Tribe.”
This is me celebrating those challenges, the dreams, and the drama.
Cheers to the dreams and drama of being a mama! 🍼🍷💕