This week, for the first time in Edith’s life, there have been times when nursing didn’t hurt.
I have to say it again because it still blows my mind.
Sometimes. Nursing. Doesn’t. Hurt.
For this I have to thank a clear slip of silicone called a nipple shield. It creates a bit of a barrier between me and baby’s croc jaws. It also has space at the tip for milk to pool a bit so she’s not inundated by my fast flow.
But I wouldn’t have asked for the nipple shield at my most recent (dare I say it—perhaps last?) lactation appointment if it weren’t for the women who read this blog and the women in my new moms group. You shared your stories, many of them similar to mine. You mentioned what worked for you without assuming it would work for us. And best of all, you offered love, support and encouragement.
There is so much judgment wrapped up in motherhood, both from myself and others. But I never felt judged in the comments you’ve written here and on Facebook. “We support you no matter how you feed your baby,” I heard again and again. Those were the words I needed when I felt as if I were sinking.
I haven’t wished Edith would just keep sleeping since we started using a nipple shield. (Well, except for when she wakes hungry in the middle of the night an hour and a half after I last fell back asleep. Who wouldn’t?) I no longer dread strapping on my nursing pillow, getting ready for that first painful latch and every suck after that.
Now when she nurses, I appreciate how her hand rests on me as she eats. I laugh at her appreciative food critic noises. (I swear sometimes she sounds like Bill Murray eating corn in What About Bob?) And I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to nourish my baby—who is thriving—the way I had hoped. After nearly eight weeks of struggling, this taste of hope feels so good.