I remember holding the plastic baby to my breasts, awkwardly perched on the couch of my breastfeeding class, trying to perfect the football hold. Following this single 90 minute class I was obviously a breastfeeding guru, equipped with all the knowledge I needed to nourish my baby.
Cut to me actually having a tiny, living, breathing, screaming, hungry baby. My real child was way harder to wrangle into the football hold than the well-behaved plastic baby I used for practice. No worries. My type-A personality decided that everything would be better once I was home in my chair, with my Pinterest-inspired basket of breastfeeding necessities within arms reach.
Once my milk came in I was like hell yeah, I’m a rock star, I make milk with my body. And I made a lot of milk. Like a cow on steroids. I went through breast pads like a teenage boy goes through Kleenex. I hadn’t stuffed my bra that much since middle school. Nevertheless, I figured all the milk was a good thing, since my baby was excessively hungry.
But she hated it. See, I didn’t know it at the time, but I have a forceful let down. When my milk lets down it’s like Old Faithful erupting. If you are ever going to a Super Soaker party, just bring a lactating chick with an overactive letdown. First off, no one will want to get sprayed with that, second, you’ll definitely win.
Anywho, imagine a newborn baby having a Super Soaker full of milk shot into their mouth. Depending on where you are in your pregnancy/postpartum journey that will either make you laugh or cry. I’m laughing, sorry. Still, most babies obviously aren’t into that and there’s really nothing you can do.
I remember feeling like the world’s worst mother. I read online that my baby would “get used to it eventually”. All I could think about was how I was torturing my daughter in the meantime. She choked, coughed, sputtered, gagged and pulled off my breast. It felt like I was feeding her Mountain Dew out of a broken beer bottle and she reacted accordingly.
God forbid she pull off my breast after a let down and things got out of control. She got shot in the eye, I got shot in the eye and I was screaming for my husband to bring a towel. Everything was constantly wet. Everything. I just kept telling myself to try to make it one more day.
And here’s the crazy thing.One more day kept coming and going and before I knew it months had passed. During those months, my daughter truly did get used to my forceful letdown. Somewhere along the road I stopped needing breast pads. The Lanolin is lost in my daughter’s room, and my super useful breastfeeding basket is no more.
There are some great tips on dealing with a forceful letdown, the hardest of which is giving it time. It’s the last thing you want to do. I wish I had some super awesome advice that would make everything better., but I don’t. The thing is, no one really does. We’re all just trying to make it and do what’s best for our babies and our families.
I can tell you this though. It DOES get better. Breastfeeding because painless and easy and beautiful. Even if you’re in the trenches, even if you don’t feel like you can do it one more second, even if you’re ready to give up, just make it one more day. As each of those days passes you’ll become stronger, you’ll heal, your baby will adjust to life outside the womb. And if it doesn’t, you’ll know that you lasted on your breastfeeding journey one day longer than you thought you could.
I’m learning that no one really has answers, but we do have this amazing bond of motherhood. It’s a bond that gets politicized and embattled, but at the end of the day, it’s a bond that shows us we can get through the hard times. That there are women just like us who survived and lived to tell the tale. So here I am, just one of those women on this crazy journey called motherhood here to tell you it will be okay. Just give it one more day.