On August 22nd, 2018 at 7:21am, I was handed a small human. He was aggressively put on my chest as to stimulate the initial latch for breastfeeding. I had a look of terror and pure joy on my face as I muttered “I had a baby.” This small human was nuzzling his way to my nipple and alas, he found it (with some help) and began suckling right away. To be honest, I don’t know what was happening in that moment or how it felt. I just knew that I was now a mother.
The days that followed were the most challenging I have experienced in my life to date. Breastfeeding hurt. It hurt so bad that my nipples bled and once the scabs healed, new ones formed. It was a cyclical experience that was the furthest thing from joyful and blissful as I was told it would be.
Yet in the short moments in between painful breastfeeding and frequent night wakings, I found myself in love. In love in a way that I could feel in my soul. A love that penetrated my entire being. I did it. I gave birth to another human and we were in love. Despite the painful breastfeeding, exhaustion and disconnect from reality. I was in it. I was a mother.
After about ten days of painful, frustrating breastfeeding, things got better. It just sort of stopped hurting all of the sudden and a small sigh of relief provided me with the additional energy I needed to continue on the journey. Next up, breast pumping.
Two weeks postpartum, I remember trying to attach parts and naively pump my breasts. When milk didn’t come out, I immediately stopped and proclaimed I wouldn’t be able to do it. Little did I know, I hadn’t had a let down yet so the milk didn’t come out. My let downs usually happen within about 30 seconds or so, which I learned shortly after.
I navigated my way, with help, through a pumping journey that was also far from perfect. I got a lemon of a breast pump from my insurance company and it constantly needed new parts. I was also diagnosed with a lactating adenoma at six weeks postpartum and ended up having an outpatient procedure done; which supposedly “contaminated” my milk and required me to “pump and dump” for 24 hours. Zen also loathed the bottle and would drink my milk with resistance. Through all of this, I was chronically hungry and ate upwards of 2,500 calories a day to keep my supply up without feeling like fainting.
Neither option has been easy. I haven’t even gone into the sterilization process for pumping. I’ll spare you on that part. The point is, neither option has been a walk in the park. In fact, the entire thing has been extremely stressful. The most stressful part however, is the basic lack of research and accurate information available about breastfeeding, breast pumping, and everything in between.
My greatest resource has been other mothers, blogs, and following my intuition. I wish there was a way to get more support from the system. The system that relies on free breast pumps and short maternity leaves to incentivize mothers to come back to work. The system that relies on shaming women for becoming mothers if they request flexibility in the work place. Yes. This system. Because the truth is, if we support women in their roles as mothers, we would actually increase productivity both at home and in the work place.
Yes. Support is the answer. Research is the answer. Ease is the result.
Being a mother hasn’t been easy but it’s been amazing at the same time. Giving to another person beyond myself has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Every time I look at him, I realize that I am more. And I meant to do more in this world. Motherhood is a free class that challenges the identity of womanhood. It doesn’t validate womanhood, it just gives it a certain amount of denseness that supplies life on this planet. For that, I think we deserve more. We deserve all of the resources, support, and access to creating a better world. When we do this, when we come together to support her, we empower her. We give life to the mother.
At Lilu, we truly believe that moms deserve more and we want to start out by hearing your experience. How can we contribute to providing the support that our mom, Dionna Chambers, speaks about in this narrative? Leave your comments below. ⬇︎