On Gisele Bündchen and Breastfeeding

I did not look like Gisele when I was breastfeeding.  I say this because I had a vision I would.  The reality is I don't look like Gisele ever.  I am 5'3, my brown skin looks more yellowy than bronze and my hair is more of a Drybar before and after ad than a PanteneProV poster.  I tell you all this because I literally felt like Gisele when I was pregnant.  I have never been as confident about every part of my body as when I was carrying Bodie.  And I saw this picture:

So naturally, that's what I imagined I would look like nursing.   When Bodie latched easily at the hospital, I felt like I aced a test in the lactation class.  My milk came in quickly but no one warned me that this little angel was actually a blood sucking vampire.  I could barely concentrate on the labor recovery, as my nipples were in a general state of shock.  Similar to when people described labor pain as horrible menstrual cramps (um, no), I couldn't reconcile the false advertising that nursing would feel easy after one week.

That said, eventually that pain subsided (thanks to earth mama nipple butter) and I got back to wanting to stage my own photo being blowdried in a robe with Bodie cradled sweetly on my breast.  But I never got to the low key cradling bit.  I brought my Brest Friend everywhere with me and would set Bodie up on it with multiple burp cloths to catch the excess.  I had a massive oversupply (which I cringe saying knowing how many friends struggled with production) but I never got to a point where I could hold Bodie casually on my chest and then simply pull my shirt down.  Feeds took about 30 minutes, 15 on either side, and usually warranted a change of clothes for both of us.

When my oversupply peaked, I was producing 16 oz at a time (I pumped to measure) and my poor baby was gagging on the firehose that was my nipple.  So I gave in to exclusively pumping and gave up on my dreams of gorgeous photo opportunities.

I started pumping that second month and nothing drove me more crazy than attaching myself to that silly machine for 20 minutes before going to sleep when all I wanted to do was get into bed. So around month 4, I started to cheat, pumping for 5 minutes before I called it and the breastfeeding gods got me back by morning with clogged ducts.  That first time, I called my mother-in-law in a panic to come over so I could stand under a scalding shower and comb the knots out of my breasts.  

And by month 5, when I was set to resume consulting work two days a week, I used the excuse that I couldn't bring myself to pump on client time and I intentionally slowed my supply until Bodie was on exclusively formula. 

I wished I could have made it the recommended 6 months, and a year as many of my committed and super strong friends did.   But for no other reason than to be able to say that I did.   Bodie was perfectly content with formula, I didn't feel the guilt I expected to and I relaxed more into motherhood when I let go of that part of it.

I still watch my friends, casually popping their babies under their shirts and continuing on chatting and I watch with awe.  It looks so special and sweet!  I had a totally different - funny, painful, annoying, sometimes bearable - experience with it.  But I am grateful for it because it was my first lesson in letting go of the image of it, embracing our unique reality and trusting my instinct.  

Thank you to one of our readers who commented on Monday's post asking for me to share my experience with this big part of finding your sense of self in early motherhood.  

Did you enjoy breastfeeding?  Did you struggle with it?  What advice or tips do you have?  We would all love to know.  Remember in regard to all of our different experiences with it, good for her, not for me. xo