The (other) truth about breastfeeding

Sometimes, breastfeeding sucks. (Get it?)
I’m a huge advocate of nursing. In addition to the nutrition benefits, there really is an amazing bond that develops. I already know how much I’m going to miss it, as my 15-month-old is slowly (like, really slowly) weaning herself.
Sometime in early August was Breastfeeding Is Better Than Jesus Week (or something like that). I am thrilled that there are blogs, articles and bare-chested celebrities dedicated to normalizing breastfeeding, portraying it as the beautiful, nurturing activity that it nearly always is. And heaven forbid anyone ever call into question if “breast is best” – you will have an army peaceful protesting of hippies sending you a million links and telling you a million stories about the miraculous healing power of breast milk.
We get it – breastfeeding is friggin awesome. But can we also agree that nursing is not always sunshine, rainbows and fluttering butterflies? Yes, the gigantic pros outweigh the teeny tiny cons, and I never second-guess my decision to nurse my children.
Yet I willingly confess that I have had a few moments – even just a split second from time to time – in which I sort of look forward to the day my daughter recoils and asks for a cup instead. If breastfeeding mothers unite to encourage the practice, can we also come together to commiserate over a few things?
Sometimes, it hurts.
Anyone who has ever tried to nurse knows that the first few weeks, even months can be incredibly painful. “Oh, it’s just the baby’s latch,” I was told as my 2-week-old Monster nursed, my toes curling and mouth agape with the silent scream that only a nursing mother knows.
It took us six weeks to get it right. There were many creams, devices and prayers employed during that time.
Also: Teeth.
Sometimes, it can be annoying.
Yes, there is the rare occasion in which I lament my daughter’s desire to nurse nonstop for hours on end. When she doesn’t feel well, she wants to attach herself to me for at least two episodes of Dora, which thankfully occupies the toddler. 
It’s worse when she embarks on her marathon at night. Look, baby, it’s 11 p.m. and I should have been in bed hours ago so I can get up in a few hours to nurse you again so that I can maybe get four or five hours of sleep so I can nurse you all day tomorrow.
Sometimes, it can be inconvenient.
There have been moments in which I would have loved to hand the baby a bottle. Imagine: I could have used both my hands to eat my meal, do the dishes, clean, feed the dog or any of the other million things I have done while nursing because my daughter refuses to take a bottle.
Sometimes, you miss your old breasts.
I don’t always want to champion my sagging bosom as the proud marks of a nursing mother. I don’t always like the fact that bras are no longer cute undergarments but are instead highly technical devices in which I have to stuff, arrange and manipulate skin that now has stretch marks.
I know that I am going to miss nursing. Those sweet chubby cheeks nestled into me, little hands playing with my necklace, tiny toes curling and uncurling with delight. She is my last baby, so when she weans, I will never get to nurse again. That notion kicks me in the gut in a way very few things can.
But it can be relieving to think that one day, it will all be over. When I have those frustrating all-night nursing marathons or she starts playing the “let’s bite mommy” game, I have to remind myself that she will not be 10 years old and still lifting my shirt (dear God, she better not be).
I’m not saying these pitfalls should keep anyone from nursing, but I do think that mothers should feel they can admit that it’s hard without fear of criticism. If we are going to normalize breastfeeding, let’s be honest about all of its ups and downs.

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