During pregnancy, we read all sorts of things about the 9 months and the journey after that. I was no different. I was monitoring every change in my body and comparing it with the texts and the Internet, all of which helped me become more confident and prepared.
Amid all this, there was one thing that I read but didn't give much thought to. I considered it very natural and nothing to be fretted about really. It was during my second trimester, I was on a call with a relative and she suggested that I could leave the baby with someone when I go for shopping or even a vacation. I responded saying it wouldn't be possible as I'd be breastfeeding. The reply that came from the other end was, "How will you breastfeed when you won't have enough milk?"
That comment infuriated me. Naturally! But it also got me preparing for the worst scenario - what if I didn't have enough milk? And then, there were many things that I learned which I didn't know till then.
I learned that I had to be assertive and tell people at the hospital that I WANT to breastfeed exclusively.
I had to let those around me know that I'll make enough milk to satiate my baby and do not need anyone to measure it for me.
I had to get away from all kinds of negative people and thoughts that would affect my breastfeeding journey or make it stressful.
Was all of this easy?
Of course, everyone around had their own views and experiences. What annoyed me the most was when people would question me whether I was giving my son top feed or not.
No, I didn't and why would I do that either?
The replies I'd get were infuriating and amusing at the same time.
"You'll get some rest while someone else feeds the baby with dabba wala doodh! (formula)"
"You'll able to go out, without having to worry about feeding your baby."
"The baby will not be clingy and get used to being away from you."
The reasons they gave were endless.
But all my well-meaning well wishers realised, sooner or later, that this woman will not budge. And she's better left alone.
I was sure that I'll exclusively breastfeed my baby till 6 months.
Was it easy? No.
But it wasn't that difficult either. It did mean a whole lot of life changing decisions.
It meant that I be confined to my room for months with a newborn, trying to understand his feeding pattern, if not really predict.
It meant that every time my baby cried, eyebrows raised questioning if 'I was making enough milk'.
It meant learning time management better and taking a shower in 2 minutes, or better yet, postponing it endlessly to the next break between nursing sessions.
It meant sleepless nights with my baby latched on, while trying to adjust innumerable pillows to soothe a very aching back.
It meant waking up with pains and aches in your body and then sitting through another feeding session with your groggy self.
It meant restricting your outings or going to only those places where I could feed my baby.
It also meant meeting only those people who would understand that you cannot have a coffee without a nursing and a diaper change break.
It meant getting down to almost zero social interaction with minimal social outings.
Above everything, it meant being there physically and whole heartedly for your little one, at every time of day or night.
To say that breastfeeding has been a very smooth journey, would not be entirely correct. We had our issues latching initially. But yes, it's been the most fulfilling one. To know that I'm able to provide my little one with the best that I can, despite all odds.
I still wake up with an aching back every morning. Breastfeeding is a blessing I'm thankful for every morning and night. For when my son wouldn't eat, would be teething or would be ill, it still nourishes him and comforts both of us. While the health benefits of breastfeeding are innumerable, so is the inner satisfaction you get when you know you're providing your baby with the nourishment that only a mother can.
It has changed me. Yes. I've slowed down. No longer I'm multi tasking or juggling with several things at once. Even now, as we sit down for nursing, I'm reminded of how beautiful my life has become when those innocent eyes look into mine and give a smile that just the two of us share.
If given a choice, I would not change a thing about this phase of my life. It's beautiful and breastfeeding has made it even fulfilling. No, nursing isn't easier than giving your baby formula. Both are difficult, but then, raising a child is not easy either :)