I breastfed our daughter until she was 2.5 years old. Our daughter’s nap today was the last time I would ever do it again, and I find myself needing to write this down.
I’ve been busy the last 2.5 years and never got around to doing it before now…
I’m not an expert, there are people who’ve breastfed MUCH longer than I have, so if you’re one of ‘those’ people who are going to bring that stuff up – stop reading now.
Seriously. This isn’t for you.
This is for my daughter, when she’s ready to read it. This is for the sleep-deprived, self-doubting mom. This is for the moms-to-be.
Click on “Read More” to laugh! You didn’t think this was one of those sentimental, touchy-feely posts, did ya?
This is fair warning: there is strong language (like the “F” word) in this post. If you are easily offended or feel slighted by internet strangers who use the “F” word, please leave. I’d love to have you back to our normal posts which are, surprisingly devoid of the “F” word.
Okay, so I fibbed when I said there would be no sentimental, touchy-feely business in this post, but I promise it will be kept to a bare minimum and limited to just pictures.
As I mentioned, this post is for my daughter, when she’s ready to read it.
This is for the women who are searching the internet right before giving birth, who are kind of scared shitless about the whole process but trying their best not to freak out.
This is for the new mother who is up at 2 am (again) because she is doubting the process or believes her body is failing her.
To those women, I say: I’ve been where you are – tons of us have. We’ve been scared, full of guilt and self-doubt, and here’s the stuff I wish someone would have told me.
Getting this out of the way… I am not a medical professional; I never could be a medical professional. Hospitals FREAK ME OUT.
I don’t touch anything when I go to a hospital. I become that guy from MONK.
I do. It’s embarrassing. Not for me, but embarrassing for others. It doesn’t bother me at all.
The point I’m making here is that this should be taken with a grain of salt and a hefty dose of humor. Everyone’s experience is different. If you have any real medical concerns, you should get your ass to a doctor, not the internet.
Now, to the mental dump of what I’m feeling about breastfeeding after 2.5 years…
1. Mastitis never reared its ugly head. I think that’s genetics, ‘cuz I know people who’ve breastfed for only a couple months and they got it all the time.
Did I think I had it? Yep. More than once? Yep.
I never did.
Lesson learned here: be thankful if you don’t get it, like me. Schedule a consult with your doc or lactation specialist if you suspect you do, like me. Do not self-diagnose by Google or WebMD, like me.
2. I’ve never had the unfortunate experience of thrush, either. I thought we did. I obsessed about it. I Googled it. It kept me up at night.
Did I go to the pediatrician and ask specifically about thrush? Yep. Did I go to the OBGYN and ask specifically about thrush? Yep.
Lesson learned: seek out help if you suspect you do have it. If you don’t, celebrate briefly with a new nursing bra or a pair of yoga pants. Livin’ the dream, baby.
2. Starting to breastfeed was the hardest — and the most nerve twisting — thing I’ve ever done. I actually screamed once, “why aren’t my boobies working???!!!” Even though I only shouted it once, I thought that every fucking minute of the day for weeks.
Once I got going though, it was really, really easy. Isn’t it always?
Looking back, here’s where I failed myself: lack of sleep led to greater stress. Now, I’ve never been a ‘good’ sleeper; there’s too much life to be lived for me to close my eyes sometimes.
My doc told me to drink a meaty beer one week into this whole thing. Wanna know why?
There’s probably no medical reason AT ALL, she just thought I needed to calm the ever-living-fuck down about it.
She was right.
Lesson learned: Calm down. Sleep. Drink a lot of water. Then? Calm down again.
3. If your child loses a certain amount of their birth weight, the hospital loses their shit. It’s weird to me that throughout our time there, everyone discounted the fact that they had to pump me (and therefore the baby) full of fluids to do the whole unscheduled c-section procedure.
But did I remain calm?
You bet your ass I didn’t. The hospitals scare the shit out of you because of their liability. Now, I knew this going in because I am a type-A, over-reader and classic over-worrier. It never occurred to me that we’d have any problems with my milk coming in. Yeah…
Lesson learned: stay the course and get a second opinion (preferably not one associated with the hospital at which you gave birth).
4. A good lactation specialist is worth every penny. A bad one isn’t worth the worry. Two bad ones? Well, that’s my story.
Because I didn’t take those really powerful pain meds after having an unexpected c-section, they kept me the hospital a bit longer than normal. I hate drugs like that – so powerful, I can’t think straight. Not fun.
I’m a type-A, remember?
Anyway, while we were basking in the sterile oasis of our recovery room for what felt like eternity, we had two lactation specialists. One was great and she only came once.
The other one was like a freight train. I’m not sure she even took a breath until 5 minutes into our first visit, too concerned with spewing out the reasons that breastfeeding isn’t necessary anymore. She came back every few hours and was less and less useful each time.
|Source: Picasso here|
Needless to say, I didn’t look forward to our visits.
Pausing here to note the following: look at this painting by Picasso! Who knew he made such beautiful ‘mother and child’ pieces?
We also went through the hospital’s off-site lactation center. Okay. I’m going to do away with being kind: this chick was awful. AWFUL. It still pisses me off to no end, so I will leave it at that. She was worse than the ‘bad’ one at the hospital. Dreadful.
At 11:45 at night, when Elise was a couple weeks old, exasperated and way over-stressed, I reached out to an unbelievable woman who was indispensable in getting this thing going.
She was a lactation specialist who wasn’t worried about liability. She wasn’t overworked with too many people on a hospital floor to visit or any of the other stressors the hospital lactation specialists were facing. She was a great fit for me and it literally took one meeting and we were off and running.
To this day, when I meet a new mother who has concerns about breastfeeding, I urge her to consult a lactation specialist. Many, if that’s what it takes.
Lesson learned: lactation specialists are not created equal, no matter the training program. Like other medical professionals, find the one that’s a good fit for you.
5. Although it was a bonding experience, there are so many other ways to feel close to your child. To those breastfeeding die-hards who say “there’s nothing else like it in the world,” shut your fucking pie holes.
It pisses me off to no end to hear them up on a fucking soap box, intentionally or not, making mommy guilt surface in those who either choose to, or cannot breastfeed. Fuck them, the polarizing twits.
And if they don’t know they’re doing it and they’re just extolling the wonder of moving into this whole process as “natural as can be,” they’re being insensitive and my advice still stands: fuck them.
Lesson learned: other people will talk about their experience and some will be insensitive twats. Smile and think of them getting to the front of a ticket line just to have the last ticket sold to the very nice new mama who was in line just before them.
Brief pause here…
I apologize that there is this much foul language in this recap of the last 2.5 years of this process.
But if we were friends in real life, this is exactly what I’d be saying to you. I’m not going to edit this because it’s supposed to be an honest account, not a “well, it’s mostly honest, but I was worried about offending someone so I left some strong language out” account.
6. Missing your child is nothing compared to the pain of your very full boobs missing your child.
That. Shit. Hurts.
Ugh, I never perfected the whole shower massage thing and when I forgot the pump, I paid for it. Don’t be like me: remember the pump! Even if you’re dumping it, bring the fucking pump to your girl’s night out.
Lesson learned: find a way to get rid of some of the pressure so that you can hug your girl friends when they finally convince you to get out of the house and away from your precious bundle of joy. Which brings me to…
|Source: Picasso here|
7. Get away from your precious bundle of joy. Listen, I know it’s hard. You start thinking, “why did I marry this person? Do I trust them enough to leave my kid with them?”
Don’t laugh. That shit will run through your mind more than once, trust me.
But you will NEED to get out. You won’t think you need to get out, but just ask everyone for their honest opinion and the answers will all be the same: get out, without the kid, and enjoy yourself.
Even if it’s for two hours and you’re miserable the whole time. GET OUT.
Lesson learned: after a couple of weeks, leave the kid for a few hours. And don’t call or text every 10 minutes to check on them.
Apparently, husbands don’t like that shit.
8. If you make the decision to fully move to or supplement with formula or other options, do it and don’t feel one, single iota of guilt. We did for a short time while I straightened my head and my boobs out, and I don’t feel culpable.
Lesson learned: do what you have to do. There are options, but there is no room for guilt.
9. Nipple confusion with a bottle? In my honest – and unprofessional opinion – it’s bullshit.
|Source: Cassatt here|
Sometimes mama needs a break – hand the kid and the bottle with your liquid-o-choice to your partner, care giver, relative, stranger at the grocery, whatever. Take a break because you will start feeling like a fucking milking cow at one point.
Luckily, it went away for me quickly, but I’m not gonna lie to you: it got downright awful at about the 6 week mark when our bundle of always-hungry-joy hit a growth spurt.
Lesson learned: You’re going to feel like a milk factory, especially when they start to hit growth spurts. You’ll say, “but I just fucking fed you!!”more times throughout the day than you pee. Which leads me to…
10. You will drink more water than a woman licking the desert floor clean. The human body goes through unbelievable changes to produce a child – duh, right? – but the weirdest to me was my insatiable thirst.
Seriously, after 2.5 years of this, I still drink 120 ounces of water a day.
Lesson learned: know where all clean restrooms are everywhere you go. Pee before you leave the house. Pee when you get to your destination. Pee before you leave for the destination. Pee when you get home…
It’s late and 10 is a nice number to call it done. Thanks for joining us.
But, I am not going to leave you without some additional laughs.
Check out this list of “10 Comebacks When Assholes Criticize Public Breastfeeding.” I had a good laugh.