You read all about it while you’re pregnant; how to get a good latch, the benefits of breastfeeding, how to bond with your baby, storing your milk, when and how much to pump, your rights to breastfeed in public; and then your baby is born.
There you are, exhausted in the delivery room snuggling your little one with your lady parts throbbing in pain and the nurse suggests, “maybe it is time to try breastfeeding”. And it all sounds great, the skin-to-skin and wonderful benefits you get by nourishing your baby through your body just like you did while s/he was in the womb. I thought I would have a decent start- I knew how hard it could be, but I also read that “if it is painful it isn’t a good latch”. Sounded simple enough- just make sure baby is latched right and I would be good to go.
Genevieve didn’t suck right when she was born- I’m not sure exactly why, but something with the way her tongue was in the womb. Nevertheless, it wasn’t too painful. I asked how long it could take them to nurse, and they said anywhere from ten minutes to an hour. So, if Evie wanted to stay latched for an hour I let her. She would take little breaks, but it was constant sucks. By the next day after nursing every two hours (which turns into every hour since it goes start time to start time) I was not only exhausted but my nipples were raw.
The lactation consultant came by before we left, and during her visit she threw a whirlwind of information at us. Tyler was extremely helpful in the breastfeeding process after she came by- she had him hold Evie’s hands so I could latch her better, and tickle her feet to keep her awake during the feeding. Contrary to what the nurse said, the LC said baby should nurse about ten minutes per breast-not one hour on one breast like I had been doing. The LC and Tyler stepped outside of our room towards the end of her visit so she could give him some paperwork. I stayed in the room and continued nursing.
And I cried.
I felt like such a failure. I had been doing it all wrong, it hurt, and there was nothing I could do about it. I stared down at Evie, sucking away as tears rolled down my cheeks and onto her soft little belly. In those moments, I was so in love with her, but so frustrated, angry, and in pain, that I began to hate her. I hated that she had to eat every two hours. I hated that she hurt my nipples and made me feel like a wussy for not being able to take the pain. I hated that Tyler got to hold her and get all her lovely snuggles and every time I held her I just watched the clock counting down until when it was over.
I heard the door open, and quickly wiped my face before Tyler came through the curtain. We went home and I pretended everything was fine.
The next few days,
Tyler was up with me at every feeding. He was the best support I could have asked for. Changing her diaper, holding her hands, getting her dressed. I was in so much pain, slathering MotherLove on my nips at every chance I got. My day consisted of nursing, eating a breakfast Tyler brought me (otherwise I would forget to eat), nursing, soaking in the bath, nursing, eating a weak lunch, nursing… you get the idea. I was literally only with Evie when she was hungry because every other chance I was trying to feed myself, take a shower, soak my sore bottom, or sleep.
When my milk came in things got a little easier. I felt bad that Tyler was having to hand-hold me in something I was designed my nature to do. So When the next night feeding came, I didn’t wake him. I tried to soothe Evie as she cried while I changed her diaper. I nursed her screaming out in pain more than once, and crying all over her when she got fussy because my letdown stopped since I was so frustrated. I held her out in front of me and angrily asked her WHAT DO YOU WANT more than once. But in the morning when Tyler woke up, I smiled because I was fine.
Did I worry that postpartum depression was creeping up? Yeah. But I was still in the grace period of having the baby blues.
Two weeks later,
I was still emotional. I was still in pain. I hated breastfeeding. I just wanted to love my baby (and I did) but it was so fogged over with hatred for something she couldn’t help.
Tyler caught me bawling and began to ask if we should switch to formula- the stress was beginning to cause the two of us to fight and he hated my mood. He hated that I always walked around the house “like someone killed my dog”. I got even more pissed off- I did not want to use formula. That was why I was going through all of this! But then I would think, formula isn’t bad. It was made for a reason: it was made because breastfeeding isn’t easy, and not everyone can do it. I made a point to hide my emotions so he would think things were fine.
Breastfeeding is a mind fuck.
I had thoughts of suicide. Thankfully, I never had thoughts of harming my baby. I would get angry and yell at her (whisper yell so I didn’t wake Tyler), bawling and then put her down in her swing as she screamed. I would pray Tyler would wake up and take her away, but he was too heavy of a sleeper. So I would stare at her as she cried, and my tears would stop. I would just look at her in such frustration that I couldn’t muster a tear.
And then as I stared, I would notice things about her. Her little hands searching for comfort as they flailed outstretched. Her quivering chin that she got from my side of the family. Her red face, exhausted from crying since it was her only form of communication. And I would feel bad. I would feel guilty for yelling at her, for getting frustrated with a human not even one month old, innocent and guilty of nothing but trying to survive and love. So I would pick her up, and hold her against my chest.
and I loved her. I would cry because I loved her so much, all I wanted was to nourish her and enjoy the bonding that we were supposed to have. She would calm down, and we would try again. It would be agony, but I would sniffle and run my hand over her hair as she nursed and tell her how much I loved her.
Evie is a month and a half old, and we are still breastfeeding. Every once and a while she will fuss at my breast, but I know this time is limited. I know some moms who can’t nurse no matter how much they try and I need to be thankful for the opportunity I am given. I need to be thankful that even if we only make it a few more weeks, at least I could for a while.
So I can’t wait until she wakes up in an hour or so, and I have to nurse her again. But for now, sleep tight my sweet, sweet Evie.