It might be hard (and amazing and both at once)

Breastfeeding is hard.

Is that surprising to hear, coming from a strong advocate of breastfeeding? It’s too bad that it’s not something we say often, because when a mom finds breastfeeding to be difficult, whether physically or emotionally, sometimes what helps is simply knowing that it doesn’t come easily for everyone. I would wager that it doesn’t come easily for most of us, in some way or another. And this goes for parenting in general, too.

Breastfeeding is also natural, amazing, tender, sweet, cuddly, and biologically normal for mammalian species such as humans.

Sometimes breastfeeding is painful, especially at the beginning, before mama and baby have figured out how to do the dance without stepping on each others’ toes. It can be emotionally draining. It can be tiring. It can be frustrating. Sometimes it can be your least favorite thing.

But then there are those moments where you squeeze your little one’s thighs and realize that your body and your baby, working together, are helping this little one grow. And those other moments where you have a sleepily nursing baby who catches your eye and can’t seem to decide if she wants to grin or continue to eat, milk dribbling out the side of her mouth. Sometimes sitting down to nurse your little one is the only oasis of calm in the entire day; you get to focus on one another in a way that only your pair (or trio!) can.

You might hate breastfeeding (or parenting) sometimes. Your insides will clench along with your teeth and you will curse yourself for ever thinking your life was hard before this. Then, you’ll have moments of sheer, brilliant glory where the skies part and angels sing and you think to yourself, “Yes! This is what they’re talking about when they say that parenthood is an amazing experience that changes your life!” This reverie will no doubt be interrupted by your toddler dumping a full glass of ice water on your lap (just how do their arms stretch like that?) or your baby pooping with such vigor that his new outfit (that actually matches this time) as well as yours (that actually got ironed) will be replaced with, respectively, something that only somewhat coordinates and an outfit that came from the very bottom of the laundry basket because that’s all that fits anymore.

Breastfeeding, like parenting, can be described with many adjectives at the same time. And I’ll let you in on a little secret—you are allowed to feel any and all feelings you feel. Not loving every single moment does not make you a bad parent; it makes you a normal one.

(Required reading: Don’t Carpe Diem.)