When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had high hopes of breastfeeding. Was I nervous I'd fail? Absolutely. Society had placed enough pressure on me about nursing and being the perfect mother that before my first baby was born, I already felt the stress. I'm not going to lie, the idea of having a tiny infant attached to my boobs all day did not sound that appealing, but I wanted to try because, well, "breast is best."
Every time my new little blessing became hungry again, I could feel the stress shoot across my shoulders.
Turns out, breast wasn't best for my baby and me. Actually, it was the worst. Right from the beginning, breastfeeding was a fail. After my C-section, the nurse placed my baby at my breast, and the little guy was hungry. Yes, he got his liquid gold, but my nipples were destroyed in the process. I tried everything: pumping, lanolin, nipple guards; you name it, I tried it. Nothing worked. Every time my new little blessing became hungry again (like every two hours), I could feel the stress shoot across my shoulders.
And it hurt. He would latch on, incorrectly because I didn't know what I was doing, and I could feel new cracks forming in my nipples. The pain made my toes curl and my entire body tense up. I clenched my eyes shut the whole time wishing for the day I'd finally enjoy it, but that didn't happen. Finally, the lactation consultant stopped by my room to see how I was doing.
I began to cry — likely not a new image for the lactation consultant. Many new mothers feel helpless when nursing tanks right away. "Your nipples are severely injured," she said. "You should probably just pump for a couple of days to let them heal, then try again." I could have leapt out of my bed and kissed that sweet angel on her face. I was thrilled, mostly because I was so afraid she'd judge me for sucking at this new mom thing so much.
Finally, after a couple months of hell, I made the decision: I stopped trying to breastfeed and pump. I threw society's guilt out of the damn window. I let my milk dry up. That was the best parenting decision I could have made for my new sweet baby. Finally, I could be a mother and focus on loving my baby.
Many of my friends said, "You just have to push through, it'll get easier." Bullsh*t. It didn't get any easier for me — just worse. The judgment was slaughtering my spirits and stealing my joy of being a new mother. The day that milk dried up in my breasts was the happiest moment I'd had since the moment I laid eyes on my new baby. Yup, breastfeeding was the worst for me.
Moms, if you're going through something similar, just know that you're not alone. Not everyone can be that adorable mom who breastfeeds day and night with ease. I know I certainly didn't fit that picture. If you're feeling down about nursing, just know that there are many other women out there with the same woes. Do what's best for you and your family — always!