Made you look.
I’ve always known I would breastfeed. My mom, as I’ve said, is way into all this natural stuff, so it just kind of seeps into my thinking from an early age. Once I get pregnant, this is confirmed for me by all the truly riveting fun facts I read about breast milk. Dude, that stuff is magical. Like sci-fi superpower magical. Like Gummiberry Juice and Fizzy Lifting Drink. Great! I’m going to give my baby this amazing gift which will come totally naturally to me because it’s a natural thing and we’re all mammals. Yay for me!
I am 100% positive that I have been judgy about people who say that they couldn’t nurse because it hurt too much. Whatever, dude. Lazy. How bad could it be, really? Look at the lovely pink Impressionist paintings of nursing mothers! Look how serene they look, with a baby at their breast and a ribbon in their hair! I have judged, and for that I am truly ashamed, because (to quote a once-popular movie that now everyone hates) OW OW FUCKETY OW. I mean, OW.
I feel lied to. NOBODY has been clear about just how truly excruciating this is going to be. It never occurs to me that having my nipples pulled into a tiny, hot tube approximately a BILLION TIMES A DAY will hurt. I don’t know why I don’t anticipate how uncomfortable it will be. I mean, I don’t know your life, but for most of us, that’s a LOT of nipple play all of a sudden.
The bitch of it is that in the hospital, everything is fine. I give birth in a place that is very pro-breastfeeding; not in a “you are a bad mother if you don’t do this” way, but in an encouraging “if you want to do this, we will make it happen” way. My teeny tiny baby with basically no physical strength in his jaw needs 10 drops of milk per feeding. The lactation consultant comes a few times and it all seems to be going smoothly. Fast forward a week, and I am sobbing big fat tears onto my newborn’s head and resenting him for needing to EAT. AGAIN. C is supportive and encouraging. He reminds me of all the benefits, and how important this was to me before I started. Every once in a while, though, he sees how miserable I am and says maybe I should just stop. Formula isn’t poison, he says, which is true. Babies thrive on formula all the time. Lots of moms can’t nurse, and it’s ok. All true.
But when I’m REALLY despairing, he knows what to do.
“It burns 500 calories a day, honey. Remember?” This is the fact I have asked him to remind me of when I can’t go on. Not that it reduces the baby’s risk of obesity, not that it’s full of amazing vitamins and minerals and magical fairy dust. Not that it reduces my risk of ovarian cancer. FIVE. HUNDRED. CALORIES. Sitting in a chair. So now that we’re 13 months in and I’m still nursing, I’m embarrassed to say that it was not the benefits to my son but the benefits to my ass that got me over the hump.