*Warning* This is not for the faint at heart.
Fine, don't say I didn't warn you.
Breastfeeding is hard. I know it seems like the most natural thing--what our bodies are made to do. You make milk, you stick a baby on there, how complicated can it be? Unless you have done it , you have no idea. It sucks! Your breasts--they have a mind of their own, ok? They swell up; they ache; they get rock hard (and I mean rock hard); they have veins popping out of them like they turned into the Incredible Hulk; they freaking L.E.A.K. when you least expect it, they can shoot milk across the room even though your sweet baby is sitting in your lap, mouth agape in front of you (and more than once, milk shot right into my baby's eyes). Did I mention your nipples stretch out like an inch or more thanks to the sucking action of the baby and/or your freakish breast pump. And lest us not forget, they itch like a word that rhymes with witch.
Breastfeeding is hard.
Even if your baby takes to feeding like a champ, it is hard. But those whose babies do not have a great latch (like my first) or prefer the bottle (like my second) have extra challenges.
Breastfeeding requires nerves of steel.
I have a friend who is working night and day to breastfeed her child as I type. I have another friend who breastfed her baby until he was 3. I have yet anther friend who thought nothing of wiping her nipply out anytime, any place, without shield to feed her baby. I was never that strong.
I did have my breast pump--a double pump to speed up the process. Boy, that was interesting. And a bit painful. And freaky to see since everything was in clear plastic. But nothing I could not live with knowing about myself.
Eventually, my babies weaned. My breast pads were tossed in the trash. My pump--sold on ebay to the highest bidder. It was just a memory. But today I had a run in with a woman who reminded me how hard breastfeeding can be.
I ate Mexican for lunch. A refried bean taco salad to be exact. And by the time I was at preschool to pick up The Girl, it hit me. I took off for the potty like nobody's business. Now, our preschool has a really nice potty. It is big, it is clean and it has--get this--a couch! Right there in the bathroom! No kidding. It also has a really nice, curtained off area for nursing moms--complete with rocking chairs. That bathroom is nicer than the break room at most companies. It is set up for quiet, peaceful, reflection. And here I came.
So, I burst in and run to the potty and realize that there is a woman who has set up her breast pump and is ready to pump. But I cannot wait--I have to go. So, I do what any human being would do and I go. From my stall I can hear the pump turning on. My mind takes me back to those days. The pump is not comfortable, but is a tool. When it is on, it literally pulls your nipple and sucks out the milk out of your body. And it feels about like it sounds. The storage bags even come with a slot to hold your baby's picture so that you can "let down" your milk easier without your baby with you. I never had to use it. I always pumped at home. But here is this Mom--no baby--at work, pumping. And here I am, in the stall close by, making horrible noises and smells. (Remember, not for the faint at heart here.) I tried to hold it in people. I really did. I even thought about apologizing from the stall, but could not figure out how to say that and make us both not feel more uncomfortable than we already did. I knew she was trying to relax and get into that zone--the milk zone. And me and my poop had interfered. The farts did not help. *sigh*
Needless to say, I cleaned up asap and left as fast as I had entered, all the while silently apologizing for the scent stamp I had left behind.
Like I said, breastfeeding is hard--really hard. You have to do all sort of things you never in your life imagined you would do, like have a machine clamped to you left breast in a public restroom while strangers were relieving themselves. But you do it. Cause that is what being a parent is all about.