I have survived breastfeeding for 3 months with my third child. Breastfeeding is an amazing feat and I'm so glad I've been able to nurse my children so far. I nursed my other 2 children until they were a year and I still forgot so many things about nursing a newborn. Before having this baby my memories were fuzzy and blissful. I loved my sweet delicious smelling newborns, we loved cuddling all day and nursing and everything was so easy. That's all I could really remember, just the happy stuff. I remembered too that it was hard, but I couldn't put my finger on why-who wouldn't want to snuggle a baby all day? Why did I ever even put my babies down?
Now that I'm back in it, I'm remembering why it was hard.
1. It is ALL THE TIME.
I remember watching one of my friends nurse her newborn almost continually while we chatted one day. Her baby was around 3 weeks old and I remember having the thought that she might be nursing too much. That was incorrect. Newborns need to be nursed SO MUCH. I forgot that for the first 3 months of their life they are very literally attached to you. Which leads to my next list item...
2. My Nipples Hurt.
I went into nursing my third so know-it-all and indestructible. This was my THIRD baby, I thought. My nipples won't hurt. They've been roughed up plenty by my other 2 children, I said. Nope. My nipples still hurt initially. I had packed away some nursing gifts I received thinking I was above nipple cream and hot/cold packs. I am no longer above those things, I am actually very grateful I already had them on hand. This third-time-mom's nipples HURT.
3. It is Suffocating.
I'm drowning. I completely understand why women quit nursing purely because they cannot be the sole nutritional support for their babies. It's exhausting and seems like such a heavy burden to carry alone. My sweet baby likes to cluster feed in the middle of the night and by the 4th time waking up after dozing off only 15 minutes before I just want to cry and be all done.
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4. I am Tired.
So, so tired. It has been too many nights since I've slept for longer than a 2 hour stretch. It's a cruel trick to go from pregnancy-waking up every few hours to pee, to a newborn who needs to eat continually. The joy of being a third time mother is knowing that these nights will be over before I know it, and I WILL sleep again...but right now I'm very tired.
5. Mom Guilt is so Real.
My children were very neglected through my pregnancy and it's hard being more coherent and aware of just how neglected they feel now that I need to spend so much time with their baby brother. My oldest has asked a few times if my new baby is her favorite child and seems legitimately worried that this might be true. Based on how much time I spend with him vs the other children, it seems true! It is overwhelming meeting the needs of 3 little people and I try my hardest to connect at least once with each of them daily.
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6. It Will Not be Weird.
Whipping your boob out in public, that is. I have forgotten how much breastfeeding becomes so normal to me that it almost surprises me when people I'm with aren't sure how to react to it. I stopped bothering with a cover because I've found that seems to attract more attention-without one people walk past thinking I'm holding a sleeping baby, with one I'm broadcasting "I'M NURSING AND TRYING TO BE PRIVATE ABOUT IT." Never in my life did I anticipate mastering the art of sneaking only one of my boobs out of my shirt in public while making sure no one notices.
7. I am so Hungry.
I remember only a few weeks ago sitting at a restaurant waiting for my food. I noticed that the table next to us had left and much of their food was still there. It actually crossed my mind to walk over and help myself to their leftovers and I had to remind myself that this type of behavior is socially unacceptable. I am so hungry. I've needed to eat before bedtime or I wake up because my stomach is growling (and I really don't need anymore waking up right now).
8. Every Baby is Different.
This little boy started out so sweet. I have two vicious little girls when it comes to eating and they were not there to snuggle or cuddle, they were nursing for food. My newest baby started out so sweet and lovey while he would nurse. Unfortunately he has taken after his sisters and now sucks me dry as fast as his little gulper can keep up, scratching and biting along the way. He has had completely different patterns than his sister did though and it's driving me crazy. I am once again humbled because I apparently do not know everything and cannot seem to anticipate anything about how my children will be, even though this is my third. Oh well.
9. I am Touched Out.
I do not want ANYONE touching me. On the rare occasion when the baby is not being nursed or held I don't want to be holding anyone else. I forgot just how strong this feeling can be. My poor husband just misses his wife and I just can't. It's getting better now, but for several weeks I had a very cold shoulder to the rest of my family and they were not taking it well.
10. A Milk Drunk Baby is the Best Thing Ever.
Even with all of this, watching his little eyes roll back in his head as he's eating is pretty much the best thing ever.
It wasn't until I breastfed my first baby that I finally found the love and respect for my body that it deserved. At that point my body had survived pregnancy and I was amazed that I was surviving breastfeeding. I couldn't believe I was capable of making food and keeping another person alive. As much as I currently feel like I am touched out and suffocating, I'm so incredibly grateful I've been able to breastfeed and I wouldn't trade this season for anything.
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