When I had my first son, I had just finished college. I graduated with distinction, earned a high GPA and was floating on a smartypants cloud. So naturally I thought motherhood would be like another class I would master, an honors course for people who dominate Jeopardy categories and can tell you an author's real name. I had applied the same academic drive and dedication to some of my pre-parenthood preparation like reading phonebook-thick books on babycare and attending classes. Somehow I didn't think I needed to prepare myself for breastfeeding, that it would be a simple enough equation: baby + boob.
I was ill-prepared for the brambles that breastfeeding would bring my way. I felt like I was back in college, having arrived to an exam to find out that I was being tested on whole sections I skipped. I wish I had known then that there were (and still are) a massive amount of resources that would make nursing not so difficult or isolating.
I was 23 when I had my first son and while I was Chief Einstein of the Oh I Know! Tribe in college, I was too embarrassed to seek help in the real world. I felt like it was an admission of my failings as a mother, as a person. I had joined a mom's group then but even surrounded by these women, I didn't have the confidence to admit that I was suffering from latch issues and other physical snafus.
If I could teleport back to the days before I had my first son, I wish I could tell my younger, more vulnerable self that there will be people who can help, in fact, a whole LEAGUE of women at the ready when breastfeeding the baby seems like a struggle. I would tell her about the people who would be my resources, my mentors, my guides when it just feels impossible.
I would tell her about everything I wish I had known — the troubles that would come and what to do. I would tell her that it's okay to share the struggles and triumphs — find the people who know what they're talking about and will listen to the news, good and bad. I would tell her that though it may be difficult, it's worth it. Your baby will be healthy and so chubby you'll have to find a new baby carrier to fit his fat baby thighs. You will fall so much in love but there's no way to know this now, you'll just have to wait until he's here.