I'm on to you, Formula People. And I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED.
I know there are legitimate reasons why people choose not to, or cannot, breastfeed, so this is mostly definitely not a post judging anyone's choice. I really wanted to breastfeed, so I went to the class (I even dragged my husband along, who admitted later that it actually was pretty helpful). I researched pumps, so I could keep breastfeeding when I went back to work. I stocked up on lanolin (thank God) and I bought a box of breast pads for my newly-purchased nursing bra. I was set.
Unfortunately, they do not sell extra nipples at the Baby Industrial Complex Store. Now THAT would come in handy.
So far, our breastfeeding diary looks something like this:
Day 1: baby is born. Nurse helps us breastfeed within an hour of birth. Recommends the "football hold," which feels a little odd at first but works fairly well. All seems okay.
Day 2: go home with baby. No nurse to help. Husband and self manage to maneuver baby into football hold with relative success, six pillows, and four towels. Kind of time-consuming, especially at 2:00am. But baby seems happy.
Day 3: downhill slide begins. Baby does not want to latch on. Husband is worried that I am not producing enough milk. I am worried that I might kill husband for such suggestion at 2:00am. Milk has not yet arrived. Maybe child is starving to death? Panic. Burst into tears. Also, nipples start hurting. A. LOT. Post-partum appointment nurse says I have "short nipples." What to do about this? Can one elongate one's nipples? Sounds like medieval torture. Or Bush-era interrogation technique. Perhaps should call WikiLeaks for help.
Day 4: child seems to have developed allergy to left boob. Problem. Milk is now arriving and child is not adjusting to increased volume. Call hospital nurse line at 1:30am when child simply refuses to latch. Suggested that we should dribble sugar water on nipple to entice child. This works, although results in extremely sticky child and breast. Possibly we have glued child's eyes shut with glucose water. Oops.
Day 5: child seems to have recovered from glucose water incident but is still not a fan of left boob. Visit world's nicest lactation consultant (thank heavens for these people) who weighs child after feeding and assures panicky parents that child is, in fact, getting enough to eat. Consultant says short nipples are quite common (relief) and child will probably learn to latch just fine. Nipples, however, register routine complaint of EXTREME PAIN.
Day 6: "pain" now relative term, as nipples hurt like SONOFABITCH for the first few seconds and then pain subsides. Realize must stop swearing in front of child at some point but, fortunately, child does not understand that mother is whispering "fuckfuckfuckfuck" during midnight feedings instead of sweet lullaby.
Day 7: lanolin cream seems to be helping. Also, changing breast pads each time (huh: should have read directions earlier) is definitely good idea.
Day 8: if child could just eat every three hours instead of 2, nipples would be much happier. Also, milk is now flowing freely and child is gulping like piglet, probably to save herself from drowning. Results in much gas pain for poor baby. Fortunately, daddy has excellent child-burp-inducing skills.
Day 9: late-night scream-fest probably due to left-boob-over-production-gulping phenomenon. Decide to feed from left breast first and then right. Seems to help.
Day 10: pediatrician appointment confirms that child is gaining appropriate amount of weight. Nipples sigh with relief, as are willing to take one for the team as long as there is progress. First public breastfeeding in doctor's office reception area goes well, thanks to handy stylish boob cover. Very cool. Feel like chic mom. But would chic mom wince with pain and use labor-style breathing techniques to survive latch? Who cares. Screw chic mom.
It really is getting better. But it's hard. And "it doesn't hurt if you do it right" is up there in my book with, "early labor is characterized by contractions which are generally painless." I'm happy that my kid seems to have the sucking reflex of a Dy.son vacuum cleaner, but I also understand why people give up on this. We're just taking it one day at a time. One nipple at a time.