Can we be Breast Friends?

When I found out I was pregnant, I pretty much knew what I was in for. Since I said sayonara to my teens, I have been exposed to pregnancy culture from various friends, family, film & reality television shows . I knew there was a possibility I could gain 100 lbs., get stretch marks all over my stomach, or any random thing that happened to a friend of a friend that conjured a fear & sort of stuck in my mind only to resurface once I saw that small second line on my pregnancy test.

Oh man, but boy does pregnancy take on a new life (pun intended). Once you begin to show (around 5 months or so), suddenly you’re an epicenter for unsolicited birth & baby advice. “Did you watch the Business of Being Born?” Yes. “Are you having an epidural, you know it drugs the baby, right?” Probably. The mommy advice never stops. So at some point, you’re spinning around in circles praying for it to stop, then suddenly you find yourself in my position.

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Why doesn’t anyone talk about how hard it is to breastfeed?

Obviously I knew the first couple of weeks would be tough while your nips get accustomed to a newborn feeding on them every two hours, that’s common knowledge. But what happens if your baby, like mine, wants to feed for five hours straight? FIVE HOURS. I thought it was a joke the first time it happened. Nope, P was a cluster feeder and she continued this pattern for 2 months straight.  Imagine feeding her at seven pm and sitting on the couch for five hours with just enough time to change and burp her, and maybe she’d end up taking a nap or two–but she’s asleep in your arms. Your day will fly by, and you won’t accomplish a single thing.

Oh, and food allergies? Your baby has them. Their sweet sterile stomach isn’t capable of breaking down certain foods, so currently I’m on a dairy (especially cheese), chocolate, caffeine, peanut and alcohol free diet. Jealous? Thought so.

Then there’s the whole nipple confusion/milk supply dilemma. You can’t introduce a bottle too soon otherwise you’ll confuse the little one on how to latch properly so your breastfeeding her every time. Oh and two hours? Lies. I have a snacker. Girlfriend feeds every hour or so, still pretty consistent at snacking hourly even at 3 months. “She’ll start to go longer between feeding” they say.

Oh, & you have to constantly worry about your milk supply. I worry more about this on a regular basis then I do about the recent measles outbreak, Russian politics, American Sniper celebrated as a war hero, and my finances COMBINED. As if I wasn’t already sleep deprived, I’m probably losing more sleep on it. Oh, if you pump too much before your milk stabilizes then you’ll over produce which you’ll a) have to keep up with (pump and store–but who has time for that?) or b) you’ll lose your supply because he/she won’t eat enough. For the first month & half, I was her bottle and had to stop, drop and feed at her command & I can’t tell you how many hours I spent feeding her in the backseat of my car because she wanted to be fed at the most inopportune times (like a graduation ceremony).

So then, praise Jesus, you begin to pump. Now you have to introduce the bottle. “If your baby is hungry enough, she’ll eat.” Lies. The first time we tried the bottle at home, she took it like a champ. So for my boyfriend’s 30th, we went out to a nice restaurant & after I had my first glass of wine postpartum it was like she never saw a bottle in her lifetime as she screamed her head off in hunger pains. We went through over $100 in various bottle systems and suffice to say we’ve finally gotten that down (ILY, Dr. Brown). But even so, it’s still a pain–like you are on this endless search for hot water (to warm the bottle), or  you accidentally pack the wrong nipple flow, or you forget to refridge the bottle when you get home therefore you throw out a full bottle.

No matter how many ounces, it hurts me to waste breastmilk.

So then comes the “Is she sleeping through the night?” questions that haunt me every day, and it’s like “no, she breastfeeds and it metabolizes at lightening speed.” Hell,  I’m happy with 4 hour intervals. Leave me alone, judger.

So am I bitter? Probably. It’s like everyone told me how their sister’s birth was the WORST ever, or that if I got stretch marks as a teen I’d get them again during pregnancy making me inspect every indent from clothing under a microscope to make sure it wasn’t one, or tell me I’ll never wear my beloved shoes again because my feet grow with pregnancy, BUT did anyone tell me that breastfeeding was going to be the hardest thing ever?!? No, and I could have used the unsolicited advice.

But here I am. 3 months postpartum and things are finally getting easier & I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

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