When you find out you are having a baby for the first time, there are so many emotions. You are happy, scared, excited. Everyone tells you about how life-changing babies are. They tell you about your filled heart, but no one tells you this part. They tend to leave out the hard truths about breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is not a walk in the park for everyone.
That getting your baby to latch may cause you so much stress.
That the nurse in the hospital will make you cry by insensitively telling you “your baby is starving,” but you are trying to feed her. You are trying so hard, she just can’t latch, and there seems to be nothing you can do right for this little being.
Your only job is to feed her, and you are failing.
You hear about all those mommies that this comes naturally to. They love breastfeeding, can’t get enough of it, and you — well, look at you.
No one tells you about that first case of mastitis where you wake up feeling like you got hit by a car. Your whole left side is in so much pain, you can’t move and are shaking with such vibrato, you are afraid you will wake the baby sleeping at your bedside.
The next time you get it, you are in the NICU with baby number two and are shaking so much, your husband thinks you are having a panic attack. Nope.
It’s mastitis and by the time you get home you have a fever of 103 and are shivering so much you can hardly get out from under the blanket you covered yourself in for warmth to pump that clogged milk duct.
No one tells you that you will spend the next ~14 months attached to a baby or a machine.
You will live by that pump. That pump will be used at least five to six times a day. It will become such a big part of your “mommy routine” that your toddler will pretend to be you and attach it to her own “boobs” and say “Mommy no pump” while the baby rests her head on your legs. This will become your new normal.
No one tells you that when you stop pumping your boobs will ache and become so hard and big you will question whether they will explode — they don’t.
No one tells you that you won’t feel well physically and mentally. Even if you don’t get mastitis, your whole body will be thrown off. You will feel a little bit of the blues creep up; your nose will start to run, and you will regret everything, from stopping pumping to this whole having kids thing (you are erratic and hormonal).
No one tells you that you will take stuffing your bra to a whole new level, and put cabbage in it to try to stop the pain. But, oh my goodness, you don’t want these things to get any bigger. No way! You can’t wait until your much smaller boobs re-emerge.
There is a bittersweet beauty to this dark side of motherhood.
It’s the end of a phase. It’s a “goodbye” to that baby that needed her milk four times a day. She does not depend on solely you for nutrients, and there is something sad about that. But the beauty is, she is developing, healthy and happy. She is thriving.
So here I am letting you in on this big secret — that BREASTFEEDING ISN’T EASY. That stopping breastfeeding isn’t easy. That there are parts of motherhood that aren’t easy.
But one thing you will always agree on hands down is that all of it, all of the pain, the struggles, are worth it.
This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook.