Labor and delivery is the easy part. Before and during my pregnancy, this was the thing I feared most. And hey, if you’ve never had a human being come barreling out of your lady parts before, it’s perfectly natural to be horrified at the thought. I must have read three books on the subject, on top of the email newsletters I subscribed to and the classes we took. I’m glad I educated myself, but ultimately, I was induced and ended up having very little control over anything. And you know what? It was fine. Don’t get me wrong; it was no picnic. Contractions hurt. Pushing is exhausting. Your significant other will see your body do things they can’t unsee. But in comparison to the weeks that follow (see #2), my 10-hour labor and delivery experience was relatively easy.
Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally. And if we’re being totally honest, it kind of sucks. Yeah, I said it. For starters, it hurts like hell in the beginning, and some babies (I’m lookin’ at you, C.J.) have a difficult time latching at first. Oh, but what about the bonding? You ask. Isn’t it amazing? Pshhh. Bonding? What part of it was supposed to be bonding, exactly? The crying, the bleeding or the cursing? From the sound of his shrieking, you would think I was trying to torture him, not feed him. For the first eight weeks (a.k.a The Longest Two Months of My Life) the only things I felt toward nursing were extreme stress and anxiety. I actually used to Google, “I hate breastfeeding” and, “My baby hates breastfeeding” just to see if I was the only one. Guess what? I wasn’t. I’m not exaggerating when I say that to begin with, I dreaded every feeding—which by the way, was every two hours. Which leads me to my next point.
Babies eat every two hours. OK, fine. Technically, I knew this to be true. But the reality of this seemingly simple, harmless fact doesn’t really hit you until you’re doing it. Every two hours. Around the clock. Day and night. Your whole life lived in two- to three-hour increments between breastfeeding. One session ends and before you know it, another begins. This ball-and-chain phase doesn’t last forever, but when you’re in it, you wonder if it will ever end. No one told me how hard it was going to be. No one told me that as long you breastfeed your life will revolve around it.
Note: I don’t think everyone has the same challenges C.J. and I had when it comes to
nursing, and I’m happy to report that we eventually found our way (sort of) with nursing.
I could write a book about breastfeeding, which ultimately ended up being one of the
hardest, most soul-sucking, yet rewarding nine months of my life.
After you deliver, you still can’t (really) drink. That glass of wine you’ve been waiting nine months for? Yeah, about that. If you’re nursing, you won’t be able to really enjoy a full glass of wine for weeks.
You will be a ticking, tear-filled time bomb. I don’t cry. Correction: I never used to cry. Before I gave birth, I could count on one hand the number of times Jonathan had seen me cry (excluding TVs and movies). Now, there’s no telling what might set me off. One day, while getting ready for a work party, Jonathan asked me if I was going to straighten my hair. If it were physically possible for daggers to shoot from my eyes, I swear they would have. “You hate my hair curly!” I exclaimed dramatically, my eyes filling with tears. I sometimes want to shake myself when these episodes take over and tell myself to “get a freaking grip.” But then I think about what I and my various body parts have been through (please refer back to items 1, 2 and 3) and I feel pretty entitled to a good cry.
Stay tuned for Part 2.