Well, I've made it to the two-week mark. My lactation consultant said that if I could manage to breastfeed for two weeks, I'd be able to nurse for the long haul.
It was one of the things I was looking forward to most about motherhood. I couldn't wait to get started. Fortunately, Allison didn't have any problems and immediately latched on with ease.
I know I should be thankful simply for that. During my research on the topic, I had read lots of stories about women who tried unsuccessfully for weeks to get their babies to feed. Others had to restrict their diets to practically nothing because their babies were reacting negatively to the food they ate.
I haven't had any of those problems.
My only reality check was discovering how painful it was. Until my nipples toughened up, they felt like they were constantly on fire. Taking a shower was agony because the water felt like sandpaper. I developed a few bloody sores and even just brushing against the inside of my shirt made my entire body cringe. When she fed, the first minute hurt so badly that I couldn't help but cry.
Fortunately, that's no longer the case. They're still very sensitive and tender, but it doesn't feel like my nipples are being shredded in a food processor anymore.
Another frustrating part is finding clothes that are conducive to the task. My button-down tops would be perfect if they weren't all dressy. Well, if they even fit me anymore. I can't fasten any of them at the waist or chest and probably won't be able to for a long time.
That leaves me with a few baggy T-shirts that have definitely seen better days and the long-sleeve tops I confiscated from Jerry's dresser. I can't wear anything other than stain-resistant cotton because my boobs have started leaking so much while I sleep that I wake up completely soaked. And that's only going three or four hours in between feedings.
Plus, it's exhausting knowing you are the sole source of nourishment for another human being. I feel like my shirt is up more than it is down these days.
I finally left the house for the first time yesterday to make a quick trip to the grocery store and it was great to feel like a part of society again -- even for just a moment. But I worried the entire time that Allison would wake up hungry and Jerry wouldn't be able to help. The guilt followed me around each aisle and didn't ease until I rushed into the house breathless asking, "Is she alright?"
It was the reality check I needed to figure out how to work the damn breast pump that I bought months ago. Besides, maybe it'll help with the leaking problem.
Although it's challenging at times, I'm sure the alternative has its own set of hurtles to overcome. When Allison's crying, I don't have to worry about measuring, mixing and microwaving. My boobs are always ready no matter where we are.
All that said, I feel tremendously accomplished to have made it past the tough part. And nothing beats the feeling of breastfeeding in the early morning hours. Even though I'm exhausted, it's just the two of us snuggled under a blanket and surrounded by pillows in the darkness.
And there's no place in the world I'd rather be.