Breastfeeding did not come easily to me.
My nipples cracked, they bled, I got thrush, which shot white hot pain through my body with every feeding. It was joyous.
(As an aside, was anyone else shocked that: 1) your nipple is like a sprinkler head, rather than a single hole? and 2) that your nipple could stretch EIGHT FEET? Anyone? Just me?)
I had such an incredibly hard time breastfeeding and I tried so hard with the Mother's Teas and the pumping and the massaging and nursing Boppies and the Ebay shopping (oh, wait. That last one might not have had anything to do with breastfeeding at all actually).
The point is, I was determined to succeed. How hard could it be to stick my boob in a baby's mouth and relax?
As it turned out, very hard.
My milk would come in. It just wouldn't let down.
I would sit and lay my head back and try to think about the surf crashing onto the sandy shores of Hawaii. I would do deep breathing exercises. I would do yoga just before nursing. I tried everything.
And we would sit. And she would nurse. And nothing.
Most of the time, after a full two minutes of sucking, my milk would let down. And let me tell you, THERE IS NO BETTER FEELING IN THE WORLD. I would start weeping every time.
But, other times? Savannah would pull away, her face red with exhaustion and absolutely WAIL. Wail with frustration, wail with hunger. Wail that she had such a high-strung malnourished CHILD for a MOTHER!
And I would rock her and calm her down. And we would try again. Often, with the same result.
And so, was our dance for nine months.
All of this to say, I was exhausted with breastfeeding. I wanted it so badly. And it just didn't want me. And my milk supply was dwindling BY THE DAY. And my baby was losing weight.
Well, one night, in the midst of all this "stressfeeding", Chris and I met his family and a large group of their friends for dinner.
Prior to walking in the restaurant, Savannah and I had just had yet another go-round of crying and nursing in the car out in the parking lot. We battled it out and finally walked into the restaurant, a half hour late.
And as we approached the table, filled with many people I had never met, my mother-in-law's best friend (who is a lovely woman, generally) shouted out "WHERE ARE YOUR BOOBS? AREN'T YOU BREASTFEEDING? YOU HAVE NO BOOBS!".
And the entire table, including many men, stared at my lackluster chest. And I stopped walking and just stood there, stunned.
My mother-in-law attempted to do a little damage control, but her friend just steamrolled right over her.
"BUT, HER BOOBS! THEY'RE GONE! HOW CAN SHE BE BREASTFEEDING A BABY LIKE THAT?!"
And I sat my horrified self down at the end of the table with my fussy starving baby, tears stinging my eyes and mumbled something about "my boobs" and "it's the shirt" and "do you want me to show them to you". And she started to drill me: How often are you nursing? What positions are you using? The football hold! What? What are you eating? Are you burping her? Is she latching? She's probably not latching! Are you drinking coffee?
Needless to say, I ended up back in the car for the rest of dinner, crying.
And would you like to hear the best part?
Having my breastfeeding capabilities questioned caused me to mentally step back and take inventory of my motivations for continuing to struggle with breastfeeding despite my body's unwillingness. I realized that I had been so wrapped up in judging MYSELF and berating MYSELF for what my body SHOULD be doing that I had lost sight of the end goal: to have a HEALTHY baby.
And it wasn't until someone else made me angry doing the same thing I was doing to myself - judging - that I was able to snap out of it and make the adjustments that were ...wait for it...RIGHT FOR ME AND MY BABY.
I started supplementing with formula the next day. And Savannah thrived. As a matter of fact, just this morning she ate three donuts. Don't judge.
Did you breastfeed? If so, were you blissed out by it? Or did you want to stab yourself in the eye sometimes?
***This post is dedicated to Liz of Mom-101, Christina of A Mommy Story, & Tammie of Soul Gardening for their Babeeeee Shower. May assvice not make you cry in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant and may you remember the BEST advice: you'll always feel guilty, so you may as well get used to it.