Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hang In There, Mama

As I nursed my 16-month-old son to sleep tonight, I thought about what I wanted to write. I could provide useful tips for recognizing low supply, or share my experience with tongue ties, or recommend light and fashionable summer nursing outfits, but I find myself thinking of all the new mothers I know. These are women with fresh and screaming newborns, women with the undisguised tone of desperation and terror in their voices and online posts. I do what I can to help, but repeatedly, I find myself falling back on the most vapid of encouragement:

Hang in there, Mama.

I HATED hearing that when I was living through the horror of new motherhood. Did my more experienced mommy friends really have NOTHING more to offer me than that? No magic bullet solution, no sage advice, no eternal wisdom, or even a trendy mothering "hack" with its own catchphrase and a few blogs devoted to it? That's all you've got for me? "Hang in there????"

But when you've checked and rechecked that newborn's diaper, when you've swaddled him 18 different ways with at least as many blankets, nursed through the excruciating pain and STILL offered the breast after an hour of continuous latching, and tried any number of expensive gadgets that promise to calm your baby, there's only one thing left to do, and that's to hang in there.

One day, you'll be here.

The day will come when your toddler blows kisses to Daddy when it's time for bed. He'll latch onto your no-longer-painful nipple and do an odd planking motion before settling in and draping an arm over your breast as though it's a pillow. After a few minutes, he'll be out and you'll wait to put him in the crib just so you can enjoy a few more moments of precious snuggles.

When he bumps his head on the playground, your breast will calm him, and you won't feel any self-consciousness about nursing him like that out in the open. In fact, you'll see another mother smile at you, and you'll smile back.

One day, you'll put away that stupid pump for the last time, and just feed your toddler when he signs for milk, asks to nurse aloud, or reaches for your shirt. Your supply will adjust perfectly fine and the thought of not having enough milk won't even occur to you.

When your child's unique personality begins to emerge, when he runs and dances and makes faces and blows raspberries and shows you his belly button, you'll marvel that you grew this little person with your body. That as biologically mundane and culturally sensationalized as breasts are, yours were almost solely responsible for the life, growth, and development of another human.

And the memory of that first week and first month will be a distant battle scar, one you share any time your new-mommy friends cry "Is it really this hard?!" Even though you'll be forced to answer "Yes," you can also say,

".... but it gets better."

"Hang in there, Mama."


  1. Thank you! My daughter is 3 weeks old and this is so much harder than I expected.

  2. Missy this is so apt and beautiful. This fits my experience perfectly. Thanks for giving shape and form to the thoughts I've been pondering lately. <3