It seems simple enough. Woman has boobs. Woman has baby. Woman’s boobs fill with milk for baby. Baby sucks milk out of boobs. Thousands of other mammals all over the earth manage to do it and make it look effortless. You’ve never seen a mother dog complain, have you? And those puppy teeth are like razors! But no, we humans have developed an entire industry around breastfeeding. Check out any baby store and you will find a vast array of nipple creams, soothing breast pads, pumps, special foot stools just for breastfeeding and special pillows. There are even people who get paid to watch you breastfeed your kid then cop a feel while they correct your latch, your hold, and teach you how to massage your breast. Hell, it doesn’t even stop there. There are groups of women who meet regularly to talk about one thing and one thing only – breastfeeding. You want to know why? Is it another example of out of control consumerism and the pregnant/new mom’s ability to spend excessive amounts of money on anything touted as a “must have” for their new baby? No. I’m here to tell you it’s because breastfeeding sucks. There…I said it. It sucks. It hurts like hell. It truly does take a village to convince you to keep doing it. If it wasn’t for all the support (a.k.a. experienced women commending me and promising me that it seriously DOES get better) and the helpful products, like nipple creams and soothing gel breastpads, I would have quit this shit a loooooong time ago.
I still get extremely frustrated with it, especially when my little wolverine/barracuda/gremlin a.ka. The Destroyer chomps onto my breast with such ferocity that I clench every muscle in my body and spout out a stream of dirty words at 3 in the morning. We are six weeks into this, and while it has become much more comfortable (worlds better, really) it’s still not something I can honestly say I fully enjoy. I still don’t understand women who say that it’s such a bonding experience and that they are so sad when their kid starts to reject their breast. I mean, there are small moments where the pain has faded or maybe my breast has become numb and I look down at him and he’s all peaceful and not screaming and then I like it a little bit….until he starts pulling on my nipple like a piece of salt water taffy. Then the moment passes. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s what’s best for him, and I’m not going to quit merely because it hurts or gives me mastitis or forces me to risk exposing myself in public everytime we leave the house (Have to say, God bless the Hooter Hider…I made fun of it in the past during my pre-baby days, but I eat my words. It’s a Godsend.) . It’s just that, once again, I never heard anyone really talk about how much it really does suck at the beginning. I heard people tell me it was hard, but never details, which I guess is why I was so surprised to hear so many women tell me that it was completely normal that there was a chunk of flesh missing from the side of my nipple after 3 weeks.
That’s right…there was a hole the size of the tip of a marker where flesh once was on the side of my nipple. It freaked me the hell out. Here I was thinking my child had toxic saliva that was disintegrating my breast or that he had the suction power of a Dyson. I was so scared of the hole getting bigger and more of my nipple coming off that I stopped breastfeeding on that side and just pumped until I could get in to see a Lactation Consultant (the person who makes all the money off of feeling you up). She took one look at it and simply said, “Oh yes, that happens. It’s a type of crack in the nipple. It should heal on it’s own, but it’s probably what lead to the mastitis infections.” That happens??!! What the hell? Could someone have told me this? Maybe on my way out the door of the hospital….just a quick, “Hey, by the way, your nipple may start losing chunks, but that happens…don’t freak out. It will grow back.” Seriously, does La Leche League make all new moms swear not to tell expecting moms this stuff for fear of scaring us off?
I vividly remember a night a few weeks back after I discovered the hole, was hit with my second round of mastitis, and was just plain exhausted from having to be up for every freaking feeding that I called my husband at work sobbing and told him I quit. (Scott is in LOVE with the idea of breastfeeding. It’s one of the few things in this world that works with his cheap side and his must have everything all natural /don’t want anything to contaminate my baby side. We both agree that the whole childbirth experience would be far more fair if the men did the lactating). I could see the cans of formula Enfamil sent a few months back as freebies. I was desperately close to reading the instructions and busting out the bottles….but I didn’t. I pressed on, and I will continue to press on, even if it’s only to find out if all you bitches are lying to me about it getting so much better! I honestly can’t fathom a time where I will sit down to breastfeed and look forward to it…where I won’t have to brace myself as I see that open mouth vigorously searching for my nipple, but I’m not saying it’s not going to happen. For my sake and Kendall’s, I truly hope it does, and then I’ll be sure to come back and tell you all how sad I will be when my son rejects my nipples.
I do have to say that it has provided some comical moments, like the many times my breasts have been so full that I’ve squirted Kendall in the face with a high pressure stream of breast milk unintentionally. I look forward to the day that I can nail Scott.
6 weeks 3 days old