Breastfeeding, A Retrospective

Breastfeeding and I were not friends. Ok, fine, I totally tried to get breastfeeding to like me, but it was like, um, NO.

We certainly did not have an easy relationship: poor latch, poor weight gain, clogged ducts by the dozen, mastitis three times, pumping after every feeding. There were many, many times I asked myself why I kept going. The fact that I was so strung out about it certainly couldn’t have been great for the baby. Yet, I continued.

I continued for six months, at which point Colette decided she was done with nursing, thankyouverymuch. Now that I know her a little better, I’m kind of surprised it took that long for her to stop. Nursing requires a sister to focus for longer than 2.5 seconds. You can’t look around when you’re nursing. You can’t squawk at the dog. You can’t investigate every noise within a three-room radius. You kind of just have to chill, and my girl is not a chiller. I continued to pump for another two months after she peaced out and then called the whole milk-making thing quits.

Am I glad that I continued to nurse, even though it was anything but smooth sailing?


I’m not saying that just because it was good for the baby. Of course it was good for the baby to have that bonding time, and to get all of those mama’s milk nutrients. That goes without saying, really.

Because here’s the thing: breastfeeding was good for me. What I’m about to say is going to win me the Most Dramatic Statement of the Century Award, but here goes:

Breastfeeding saved me.

The first few months after Colette was born, I don’t even know where I was. I think of that time and it’s a big blur. There was the usual sleep deprivation and craziness that goes along with a newborn. And then my mom died. I’m pretty sure I had an out of body experience for an entire four months. I mean, I was out of it. I was scared. I was sad. I thought I was never going to feel better ever again.

Except for when I was breastfeeding. That was the only time during those first few months when I felt at peace. I was right where I was supposed to be: feeding my baby, holding my baby. In those moments, I was doing the right thing. I was loving her and caring for her and cherishing her. It was just me and the baby, me and the baby, and nothing else mattered. It was the only time I felt grounded. And, if I’m going to be honest, it was the only time I felt hopeful.

So now, despite all the crap that went along with it, I look at my time nursing Colette as a gift. It was my anchor, and through it I was able to find my way back to myself.

A Letter to New Mothers Everywhere: It Gets Easier

Dear Desperate New Mother,

I’m looking at you. You know who you are: the one with a brand-new bundle of joy. Maybe you’re freshly home from the hospital, or maybe you’re two months into this mothering gig.

It’s hard, right? I mean, everyone told you it would be hard, but so what? It’s not like you could do anything to prepare. Not really. And now you’re in the thick of it and it’s hard to the billionth power. Like, another-dimension hard.

I mean, I kind of had a difficult newborn who cried the entire time she was awake and couldn’t figure out how to feed. But I’d imagine that even if you’ve been blessed with a Sleepy McSleepster who eats like a champ, you still may be thinking um, WTF just happened to my life.

And even if you wanted this baby with every fiber in your entire being — longed for it like you’ve longed for nothing else before — it’s still effing hard.

Perhaps you’re googling things like, “I’m feeling overwhelmed by my baby” or “When will my baby get easier?” or even “I don’t like my baby right now.”

Been there, done that. I’ve googled all of those things, multiple times. I came across the same sites over and over again, but nothing really brought me any measure of comfort.

So that’s what I am hoping to do. Bring you comfort.

It gets easier, mama.

I swear. I SWEAR.

It may not seem like that’s possible right now, but believe it, sleep-deprived new mama. Believe.

Like, is it easy for me now? Um, no. But it’s definitely easier. I’m getting more sleep, for starters. Not enough, but more. My babe usually takes two naps a day (except for when she’s at daycare, then she’s a sleepless wild woman), and unless she’s sick, she sleeps ok at night. My baby is happy now. She smiles at me all the time and sometimes even laughs. When she cries, there’s usually a reason. Also, she’s more independent. I can put her in her exersaucer and she’ll play in there by herself for a solid 15 minutes. 15 minutes of hands-free time! Can you imagine, mama? I couldn’t, when I was in your shoes.

Ok, great, good for you, you might be thinking — but when? When does it get easier? For me, things started to get gradually better around 3 months. The incessant crying stopped right around then. And now, 6 months in, she’s like a whole new baby. I rarely see any sign that her crazy newborn self ever existed.

I know you might be thinking that you can’t possibly wait until three months for things to start getting easier, and maybe you won’t have to. Every baby is different. But if you do have to wait that long, I’m here to tell you that you can do it! You can! Ask your friends for help, hire a post-partum doula — do whatever you need to get through these first few months.

You are doing a great job.

You are a wonderful mama.

And, most importantly, you are not alone. Every mama under the sun has slogged through these early days, and we all made it to the other side. That’s how we know you will, too. Picture us rooting for you, waving cheerful flags, shouting words of encouragement every step of the way.

You got this, mama. You are a rock star.