My First Time Breastfeeding: the Good, the Bad and the Unexpected
It’s 3 a.m. and I’m on my knees wiping my liquid gold off the floor. My 2-month-old baby, Stella Rayne, is screaming. Eric, my fiancé, is out on a boy’s night. I feel completely helpless and alone.
Rewind 15 minutes. Like clockwork, Stella had woken up to feed. She’d been asleep for four hours, which meant the wet spot on the sheets was from my full, leaking breasts. I could feel the milk stream roll down my sides as I pulled off the blanket, swung my legs over the edge of the bed and reached into her bassinet to rescue her from the starvation I think she’s suffering from. As a new breastfeeding mom, you always wonder, “is my baby getting enough? Am I producing enough milk?”
As I unclipped the milk-stained nursing bra I’d been wearing for three days straight, I looked over to find that Eric hadn’t gotten home yet. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “ugh, men!” But before you write him off as an uninvolved father, let me explain. He deserved a night out that didn’t involve spit-up and lullabies. Normally, he gets up almost every night to help make the middle-of-the-night feedings more bearable. He gets Stella out of her bassinet and places her on my chest to feed, he changes her diapers and even puts my breast pump together and takes it apart for cleaning. Sometimes, he massages my neck and puts a pillow under my arm to relieve the weight from her head. Winning!
But since he wasn’t home, I was tip-toeing my way to the kitchen so my milk-drunk baby wouldn’t wake up—when BOOM! My milk bag dropped and splattered across the floor. FML! Which brings us to me sopping spilled breast milk off the floor while Stella screams her little head off.
When I was still pregnant and trying to envision my breastfeeding journey, I didn’t expect to literally be crying over spilled milk. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it wouldn’t be all rainbows and butterflies. You see, I worked for a premier breast pump company for a year, so I knew the hard work behind breastfeeding and pumping before committing myself to this labor of love. But of course, nothing can truly and completely prepare a new mom for this journey. Every woman has her running list of The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected. Based on my own breastfeeding and pumping experience, here’s mine.
- The sense of warmth and peace that overcomes me when I look into my baby’s eyes while she’s feeding
- Bonding with Stella and building a foundation for my relationship with her
- Learning my baby’s hunger cues
- Providing comfort to my little one
- The daily reminder of how truly amazing the female body is and how powerful motherhood is
- Living in the moment for most of the day
- Burning up to 500 calories a day
- Benefiting from all the amazing health benefits to mom and baby
- Saving money by breastfeeding
- Enjoying the priceless support and information from free exclusive breastfeeding mom groups
- Stella’s little hand on my breast while she’s nursing. (Cue the tears)
- Watching her eye contact transform into full-blown staring contests
- Being on call whenever Stella demands my breasts
- Keeping up with a proper latch
- Sore nipples are no joke. Feeding every two to three hours can be excruciating and exhausting
- Not having enough time to do whatever else I need to do, like brush my teeth, shower, pee, eat, do my hair—you know, the essentials
- Waking up several times a night to feed my baby when I’m exhausted and healing from labor and delivery
- Going from a need-my-space kind of person to loving the constant company
- I got used to the feeding pattern and lack of sleep after two weeks and function fine
- That tingling sensation I feel in my breasts when my milk is coming in
- Discovering that my breasts leak even when I don’t feel totally full
- A forceful letdown. What?
- Dehydration. I always feel thirsty!
- Constipation is real! (Eating lots of fiber and greens helps)
- Vaginal dryness. Yeah, I said it! Thanks, low estrogen levels
- I got my period once and then not again; I didn’t think I would get it at all
- Cluster feeding. Stella will nurse what feels like all. damn. day
- When my baby cries, I cry too
- Stella uses my nipples as a pacifier. Just when I think she’s done, she keeps on going!
- That it’s okay to unlatch baby when she uses me as a paci
- I didn’t know I needed to start offering a bottle as well as the breast, since I’m returning to work
- When they say babies sleep 18 hours a day but I still get nothing done and wonder why and where the day went
- I don’t want to leave my baby with anyone—and I mean anyone!
- Just how hard breastfeeding really is, and the amount of tears I’ve already shed over it
- My emotional attachment to the breastfeeding process and journey
I prepared myself for breastfeeding as much as I could, meeting with lactation consultants, reading articles and watching videos, but there are still a lot of unexpected situations that arise on the daily. No two days are the same, and as soon as I think I have my baby all figured out, she goes through a growth spurt and everything changes.
I’ve learned how important it is to have a support system. Eric is amazing and I still have those moments of overwhelming defeat, where I wonder if we made the right decision to go through this journey. I feel guilty admitting that, but it’s the truth. When you feel like you’re completely failing this precious, beautiful baby that you created and adore so much, you sometimes wonder if you are cut out for parenthood. It’s easy to get wrapped up in thoughts of total despair when you’re sleep-deprived and dealing with a screaming, defenseless baby. If you’ve ever been there, know that you’re doing the very best you can, that you are enough, and that you’re not alone!
Published April 2019
Boston-born, Florida-raised and New York-seasoned, Adriana Quaranto is a former New York City fashion PR agency owner and New York Fashion Week show producer. She is now a lifestyle blogger documenting her journey into motherhood on her blog 4F’s Given talking about her four favorite F words: family, fashion, food and fitness. She is also a contributing writer for the Miami Moms blog. Follow her journey on Instagram.