I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever attempted to do in my life.
Harder than college.
Harder than nursing school.
Harder than optometry school.
Harder than training for a marathon.
Emotionally harder than having to buy smaller bras after having my first child...I thought your boobs were supposed to get bigger when you have a kid...
Insert bewildered sad face here.
I think that anyone that has done it successfully is a wizard-genius.
Before we had Henry, Michael and I took a breastfeeding class and the brochure strongly encouraged both the mother and father to attend.
In hindsight I realize this is for several reasons:
A. They show some incredibly up-close shots of giant zoo-animal like nipples. These screen shots take you by surprise and make you want to scream and run away or poop your pants. I now know they do this to desensitize your spouse in advance. By the time he sees your National Geographic nipples he will not immediately go to the court house and file for a legal separation.
B. He is made aware of the fact that nipples can indeed crack, bleed and basically be festering open wounds. He will not vomit into the trash can or dial 911 as he watches your vampire newborn nurse with blood dripping down her chin.
C. He will realize that your blood curdling screams are just temporary. Just until you establish a "proper latch."
D. He will learn that he must do anything you ask. Like a trained monkey or seal that jumps through hoops. He must do anything in his husbanding power to facilitate a "proper latch." Even though there is nothing he can do, he must learn to do it anyway. With a smile on his face.
E. He will learn not to flinch when he rounds a corner and is face-to-face with your giant rhino nipples. After all, you were instructed by 12 different lactation consultants to "let them breath." I never knew nipples had to breath, but at this point they can do whatever they want. I'll take them to the mall and buy them a new dress and matching nipple shoes.
F. Sometimes a woman's anatomy just isn't cut out for breastfeeding. At this point he must be prepared to give a "nipple pep talk." Encouraging and ensuring you that your nipples are indeed, good enough.
G. There are several tools to facilitate the breastfeeding process; breast shields, nipple shields, supple cups, nipple gel pads. He must learn to differentiate these tools, find them in the dark and wash them with one hand tied behind his back. These really are drills that should be practiced and timed with a stop watch before birth.
H. He will learn what a supple cup is and realize that while it may sound sexy in Fifty Shades of Gray, having a suction cup applied to your nipple so as to pull it out from where it went to hide in your spine...is not sexy.
I. He will learn to laugh and rejoice with you upon the discovery of wet and poopy diapers. He must change these diapers with glee, all the while thanking you for producing the milk that allowed that mess to happen. Respect.
J. He must be prepared to restrain you should you find yourself in a conversation with a woman who flaunts how breastfeeding was "super easy and so convenient."
K. When no one else is looking he must help you slap said woman in the boob.
L. Lastly and most importantly, if at the end of the day, after all the tips and tricks and back bends it just doesn't work out, he must be there for you to cry uncontrollably, and say five things:
- You are amazing. I would have given up weeks ago.
- Formula is just as good as breast milk. She will still go to college; I promise.
- I'm glad you stopped because now I can help with the night time feedings.
- Your nipples already look more normal.
- Look how hard you tried, you are an amazing mother.
You are amazing. You have an honorary degree in boob wizardry.
And to all the bottle feeding mothers out there;
You are spectacular. Your nipples look great.