There are certain things about being a new mom that no one likes to talk about. Don’t get me wrong, I love my new little nugget to death, but I wasn’t prepared for the aftermath of birth that hit my body like a tidal wave. They tell you about the sleepless nights and the baby blues, but the fact that I left the hospital with two sizes of diapers – one for my baby and one for me – was somehow left out of the conversation.
And let me tell you about maternity leave! I’m convinced it exists because the fashion industry has not yet caught up with the postpartum body. Even if you’ve managed to escape stretch-mark free, chances are you’re still dealing with a five-month-pregnant-looking uterus and boobs that are at least three times the size of your baby’s head. I have a new respect for granny panties and don’t get me started on my newfound love for mom jeans (especially following a c-section)!
But let’s get down to it – the heart and soul of my struggle with motherhood so far: breastfeeding. Breast is best, they say. It will help you bond with your baby, they say. But what they forgot to mention is that breastfeeding is bloody painful. Literally. Bloody and painful. For the first week after I brought him home from the hospital I cried every time I fed him. His mouth was so small and I was so engorged that his latch was terrible and my nipples were turning into bloody pulp.
Enter the lactation consultant. During a tearful visit in her office she helped with his latch and gave me permission to use a nipple shield until I healed. It was fairly smooth sailing for a while until he started gaining more neck muscle and head control. Then he started thrashing about during his feedings and I was convinced he was trying to bring me down. But I am steadfast in my desire to continue this journey. Even when he is spitting up blood and scaring me to death. Even when I realize it’s my blood he’s spitting up. Even when it’s 2:00 am and my tears are streaming onto his cheeks. In those moments 90% of me wants to call it quits, throw in the burp cloth. But then I look down and he’s looking up at me with his big bright eyes, his eyes that say I need you, mama. Don’t leave me, mama.
So I will not give up. They say it gets easier and that one day it will be the most natural thing in the world. I am so looking forward to that day, but until then I will clench my fists and sing to my baby while he eats. Because I love him. And because he deserves my best.