I have a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding. I love the benefits, but sometimes, I hate the process. It’s painful, it’s draining, and it’s time consuming. My Lamaze teacher asked me how long I planned to breastfeed and I confidently answered, “Two years”. She smirked and said knowingly, “Let’s see”. I thought to myself, “Is there something she’s not telling me?”
When I finally gave birth and the nurse wheeled my baby in for the first time to breastfeed, I was so excited. I had no idea how to do it and I did not think that my baby was getting anything, but it was such an awesome feeling to have him there just the same. I knew that I would need to be getting up many times during the night to feed him, yet, strangely, I was looking forward to it.
My excitement slowly dissipated with the succeeding feedings. I could not seem to get my baby to latch correctly and the lactation counselor brought more panic than relief. She said that my nipples did not protrude enough so my baby could not latch properly, but offered no tips on how to solve this problem. My mom gently encouraged me to keep him at my breast anyway. I went home from the hospital petrified.
The first week home was a struggle. “What’s wrong?” I thought. The Breastfeeding Book by Dr. Sears made it sound like such a fairy tale. I was constantly in pain and worried about dehydration and kept re-reading the book to make sure that I was doing it right. On the second week, I vowed that it would be better. I tried all the breastfeeding positions until I decided on the one that was most comfortable for both of us: tummy-to-tummy, chest-to-chest, nipple to nose. This became my mantra. Each time feeding time came around, I would cradle my baby and chant this. All the while, the book was in front of me. I was adamant that we would get it right.
By the third week, it was still not a breeze, but it was definitely better. The first visit to the pediatrician confirmed that we were fine. The doctor encouraged me to breastfeed for a year, but made me commit to at least six months. I agreed and figured this would be manageable.
As I started writing this story, I realized that it was a year ago exactly when I had my first breastfeeding experience. It has still not been a fairy tale. There has been many a day that my baby and I struggle through breastfeeding, but here we are still chugging along. I got a little choked up remembering the long and tumultuous journey it has been. People ask if I would do it again. In a heartbeat.