Nobody ever talks to mothers to be about how hard breastfeeding truly is. Sure, I heard all the advice lauding breastfeeding and its benefits but I had some trepidation at the thought of .) The size of my milk-filled breasts and b.) Feeling more dairy cow than human. In an odd twist my two main worries did not come to pass. Yes, my breasts are huge, but they are not horrifying to look at and I can still run. And yes, I occassionally have a dairy cow moment when I leak, but I truly love being able to provide nourishment for the child that came from my body. It is all so earth mother and delicious.
The stuff I SHOULD have feared were the parts no one mentioned like the TIME COMITTMENT. It took me days to actually face the fact that I would spend at least 6 hours a day with a lamphrey hanging from my boob. I guess I had not really spent a lot of time thinking about the time I would be spending feeding her. Still, I believe I had the vague notion of a civilized three meals a day that would take five or ten minutes to eat. Pardon me as I laugh at my naive pre-Samara self. Initially she wanted to eat every 3 1/2 to 4 hours for twenty minutes a feeding (I was taking her off when I was done) At the time THAT seemed like a lot. Apparently it was not as she did not gain weight. The pediatrician then recommended that I feed her every two hours and let her take herself off. Usually this means forty minutes--do the math and you will see I am feeding her about four hours a day and that is not counting the cluster feeding when she wants 20 minute snacks in between official meals.
If that is not enough scare you, how about the NIPPLE SORENESS? Ouch. I am finally starting to get used to it, but for the first few weeks, it felt like someone was pinching my nipples with sandpaper every time she latched on. My right nipple cracked and was so painful, I quite literally thought she would pull off one day and it would be gone--swallowed like it was on the menu along with the milk. As a result, I fed less on that side and have now found that I produce less milk on that side. Live and learn, I guess.
No one told me that PUMPING WAS HARD, too. I just started pumping last week only to discover that the average sized breast shields I was using were too small. Yes, apparently they come in different sizes and guess what? You can actually bruise your nipples if you pump with the wrong size. Imagine how I learned that lesson? If you said, "the hard way" then you win the grand prize. I am now awaiting delivery of my extra large breast shields since, guess what else?!--Babys R Us only carries one size. I am so anxious to be able to pump since this will buy me more than 80 minutes of freedom in between feedings. I may be able to sleep longer or actually spend time at dinner or a movie or the gym.
This week the little one is going through a growth spurt and wants to feed every hour. Yesterday I spent 6.5 hours feeding her and I still had to give her our one and only bottle of pumped milk. Still, with all its faults I am getting used to feeding her this way and--though I would have never said this in the beginning--I think I will be sad when the time comes to wean.