Facebook groups and motherhood discussion boards tout “fed is best.”
And it is. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to eradicate the guilt and shame associated with breastfeeding struggles or the inability to breastfeed. It also doesn’t seem to elevate empathetic discussions around breastfeeding.
So here it is, the tea on how I feed.
As I rock Shiloh back and forth, patiently waiting for him to finish his bedtime feeding, I catch my mind wandering to other things still left on my to-do list: clean bottles from daycare, write my next Columbia Mom article (in the process), finish the laundry, make the bed, draft copy for social media, call the babysitter…I quickly reel myself back in. Stay in the moment.
I love breastfeeding. I take pride in exclusively breastfeeding, but not for the reasons you may think.
After all, we were almost a part of the formula-fed club. Shiloh was born with a visible upper and lower tongue tie. You could see the impact reverberate through his entire body, from the hunching of his shoulders to the tightness of his grip. For two weeks, pre-release, my husband and I fed our baby boy through syringes. One syringe. Two syringes. Three syringes. Four syringes. Each feeding. Every two hours.
The procedure didn’t come with a magic wand. There was no light switch moment. Instead, it came with six weeks of mouth exercises, chiropractor appointments, and a couple of sessions with a lactation consultant. It took months of patience, a revolving door of nipple shields and nipple balm, and more than a few tears of frustration…from both of us. Stay dedicated, am I right?
The videos from our birthing class made the whole process look easy. Maybe breastfeeding was always easy for you, but it wasn’t for me.
Sure. When this chapter comes to an end, I won’t miss being wet all the time. I won’t miss having aching and bleeding nipples now and again. Although I’ve become accustomed to being grabbed, scraped, pulled, and pushed, I look forward to reclaiming my breasts as my own. At least my milk production anxiety will subside.
There’s far more I wish would never end, though. The feeling of fulfillment. The recognition of how far Shiloh and I have come in our breastfeeding journey. The opportunity that not everyone is afforded. Shiloh in his purest and happiest state: milk drunk. The closeness is fleeting. Stay grateful.
All this to say, breastfeeding is hard. Nothing lasts forever. The adventure is worth embracing. Oh, and fed is best.