I loved nursing. I nursed each of the kids for their first year and for me, it was a wonderful experience and one that I would never change. I loved the closeness, the bonding, the quiet moments and just the overall feeling it gave me.
With that being said, it wasn’t without its frustrations. I was a horrible pumper, the kids didn’t all take well to bottles, latches weren’t always perfect and I went through the painful experience of thrush. In addition, there were many many times when I felt like I was tied to our baby. Bursts of freedom came in two hours increments and there were days where I really felt like I needed a break and literally couldn’t have one.
Part of me feels guilty for even saying that publicly (which is hilarious because I stopped nursing our last baby more than two years ago). There’s this weird thing that we put on ourselves as mothers in those early days where we feel like we always have to be there. And even more so, that it’s a bad thing to say that we need a break to enjoy some time away from our babies.
I felt that way. I remember feeling like I had to do things perfectly (whatever that meant). I remember feeling like I’d be judged for getting the babies used to bottles too early (either with pumped milk or formula). I remember feeling like I had to put on a happy and brave face on the days where I was the most exhausted, the most frustrated and just wanting to cry. Picture a smiling face saying things like, “Oh things are great. She’s doing really well – just started smiling and is grabbing for things.” Meanwhile on the inside I’m thinking, “I just need to sleep. I haven’t eaten anything but crackers since yesterday. I’ve worn these same pants for three days. Yes I realize I’m leaking through my shirt on the left side but there’s nothing I can do about it right now and I really don’t care. I need a break.”
With distance comes clarity. I look back at those days and really do remember everything wonderful about our babies and that time together. I’d even go so far as to say that I miss having one around despite the frustrations I mention above. I think now, because I’m out of it, I can be much more realistic about what those early days of motherhood were like. They were hard. Wonderfully hard.
So as someone who has been through it a few times, I want to encourage all of the new Moms out there to create a pause and do what they need to do to take care of themselves. It could be asking for help, it could be getting the baby used to a bottle, it could be confiding in a friend. Whatever it is, take care of you – you are ridiculously important in this mother/baby equation and no one in this moment deserves some extra love, time, focus, attention and support like you do.
Deanna is a Mom of three, wife, marketer and blogger – lover of travel, morning coffee, family time, belly laughs, good friends and uninterrupted showers! Follow her on twitter @DeannaCMiller
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