Early on in my pregnancy, I decided that I would like to try to exclusively breastfeed my baby. I took some breastfeeding classes. I ordered a good breast pump and a huge pack of special freezer bags. Two weeks after my daughter was born, we met with a lactation consultant to make sure breastfeeding was going okay. (It was, and still is, and it’s working out just fine.)
What I didn’t expect was for breastfeeding to be a full time job (in addition to my first full time job of raising a child, and my other part-time job that pays the bills.) I also didn’t understand how much of an emotional roller coaster breastfeeding would be. My daughter is six months old now and, as she grows, I have been reflecting on the number times I have cried about my breast milk. My husband jokes that I need one of those signs that resets itself when I cry. It’s currently been 0 Days since I last cried. The sign would only ever get to three days.
I cried because I thought my daughter wasn’t getting enough to eat. (She was.)
I cried about sore nipples.
I cried about having enough of a milk supply in the freezer to go back to work after eight weeks.
I got the flu and cried as I was throwing up in a bucket over my nursing daughter.
After a very successful pumping session at 3 a.m., in a dazed stupor, I accidentally dropped the bottle and spilled all the contents on my copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I laughed at the irony. But then I cried. A lot.
I cried when my mom poured 3 oz. of my breast milk down the drain after leaving a bottle out all night. I cried about my dad telling me that he was not sure I was feeding her enough. (I am.)
I have cried about eating enough calories in any given day without worrying about my weight.
I managed to hold it together the first time I had to pump in the storage closet at work during my lunch break. But then I cried on my way home that same day about being stuck in traffic with engorged breasts.
I cried coming home early from the first date night with my husband in four months because I actually thought my breasts were going to explode.
I have cried many times because I don’t want to be touched by my husband after my daughter has been latched on most of the day and, for the love of all things holy, I just need some physical space.
… about a sink full of dirty dishes and no place to wash the 20 different pump parts.
… about choosing to feed my daughter some donor milk.
… about the constant worry of “drying up.”
… about leaking at awkward times.
… about how much time I spend glued to the couch watching mindless TV.
… about not being able to enjoy a gin and tonic, a cup of coffee, or sauerkraut without worrying about the effect it could have for my daughter.
“It’s currently been 0 Days since I last cried.” The sign would only ever get to three days.
I cry because I am jealous of moms with an oversupply, even though I know that’s also problematic.
I cry thinking about how some moms desperately want to breastfeed but can’t.
I have cried about how much I actually enjoy breastfeeding. I know I will miss it when my daughter doesn’t need me in this way anymore.
I cry because my wonderful husband will never be able to understand what I’m going through. Even though he tries his absolute hardest and has supported me in every single way possible.
I don’t know if I ever could have been prepared for how emotional breastfeeding would be. Nobody could have possibly warned me. When other moms ask me about breastfeeding I often joke that I will never tell my daughter not to cry over spilled milk, because I certainly have.