I saw you the other day at the breastfeeding support group, choking back tears. You were looking down at your new baby and trying to hold them back. I wanted to say so many things to you, but all I could think to say was “everyone in this room has been in your shoes, we’ve all cried in this room at some point or another”.
Here is the full story. I have bawled my eyes out in this group, multiple times. I have sat down in the chairs exhausted, guilty, worried, and ready to give up. Before I had my first baby, I thought that labor and delivery was going to be the hardest part. After a 30 hour labor with a baby positioned posterior and horrible back labor that lead to a natural delivery of my 9 lb 15 oz bundle of joy, I thought I was invincible. Then, I brought our baby home. Within 2 days, my nipples were cracked and bleeding, and I was literally begging my husband to take our baby girl into a different room so she wouldn’t smell me and want to nurse. I felt so ashamed, avoiding her like that, and like I was the worst mom in the world. After 3 days, I was ready to quit. This granola mama who wanted so badly to breastfeed was on the verge of giving up. I was SO sore, and tense, and in a full on battle with baby blues.
A mama friend came over that day and helped me with my baby’s latch, and reminded me to use nipple cream. It helped me get through each day, but I was still terrified that we weren’t going to make it, and that at some point it was all going to be too much for me. A few days later, even though I was supposed to be on bed rest, my wonderful husband carried my little girl up the stairs to the support group and told me to call him when I was ready to go. He had seen the desperation in my eyes, and new I needed help.
That day, I cried and cried and cried in front of women who I barely knew. I confessed all of my guilt for not wanting to feed her, for letting her down, for being so tempted just to give her a bottle of formula to appease the pediatrician who had me worried sick about her weight gain. I told everyone how scared I was for my husband to go back to work, and my fear that I didn’t really know how to be a mom. Someone came over with a kleenex, and then the whole box. They told me they had all been there at one point, and that it WOULD get better.
After a year of sitting in that support group nearly every Tuesday, I have seen so many more moms cry. I wasn’t alone. I got to know other moms, and hear and learn from their struggles. Between us, we had battled through some really rough times. There are many moms who have dealt with tongue ties and lip ties, inverted nipples, and weaning off breast shields. We have dealt with thrush and staff infections, plugged ducts, and mastitis. There are moms in the group who have gone back to work and continued to pump and breastfeed, and even a mom who reinduced lactation to be able to breastfeed her adopted baby. We’ve suffered through nursing strikes and teeth coming in. We’ve nursed through surgeries and pregnancy. Some of the mamas in the group are even feeding two kiddos. We’ve all cried. We’ve all fought really hard to keep our nursing relationships going, and we have been there to support one another.
So when we say that we’ve all cried, we’re not just trying to be nice. We have. Sometimes crying and acknowledging how we are really feeling is the BEST way to move forward. When you need to cry, come here. This is your safe place. We will be here to hold your hand, and to listen. Breastfeeding isn’t easy, but it does get better, especially when you have a group of women to support you.