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I thought breastfeeding was going to be easy. To be honest I didn’t give it much thought. To be really honest, it never even crossed my mind.


Then my daughter arrived. Hungry. Okay, no problem. Here you go. Here we go. Good cry, mouth is open. Perfect. Here it comes… No?

I was instantly a failure.

Congratulations. It was day one. How was she going to eat?

I wish someone told me when I was taking my hypnobirthing class that there’s no breathing exercise to induce a nice “latch.”

I wish when I was stressing out over which wall decal to choose for the nursery, someone would have mentioned I needed to figure out how my boob was going to transfer the milk into my child’s body—because I can’t squirt it in.

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I wish someone told me I would be obsessing forever over how much she ate and how much milk I was producing.

(Oh, and by the way, your body won’t produce a single drop of milk for a couple days after delivery. Don’t worry, you’ll make little dribbles of colostrum that are more than enough nourishment for your newborn.)

I wish someone warned me how vulnerable I would feel needing my husband to help latch and unlatch, as I breathed through the tears.

(Actually, it was nice discovering him taking care of me, protecting my nipples from our little baby shark.)

I wish someone told me that I would look back on that initial pain and smile—that it would be the first thing we would figure out together.

Just because you have a set of breasts doesn’t mean you will know how to use them to feed your baby. It’s okay to ask for help.

I was terrified that my daughter wasn’t eating enough and gaining enough weight. I spoke and met with lactation consultants weekly. I literally would walk into their office, weigh my child, feed my child, and then weigh her again to learn how much milk she was able to transfer.

Those ladies got right in those milk makers and showed me what’s up. I remember being told it should be like my daughter was taking a big bite of a hamburger and putting her whole mouth over my areola. Well, that explained why each nipple was cracked… she was trying to suck the milk out like it was a straw.

Even with the inside info, it still took about a month for my daughter to latch like a champ and for us to get into our groove. Learning from the lactation experts, removing some of the pressure I put on myself, and practicing every few hours with my little teammate is what helped us find our rhythm.

Looking back, I wish I didn’t put so many expectations on myself. Instead of just being present with my baby, I would worry about why I wasn’t better at this, why my left boob seemed less full, or how many bags of breast milk I had stockpiled in the freezer. It became a mini obsession.

Breastfeeding is such a brief window, whether you do it for two weeks or two years. Embrace your journey because the next thing you know, the page will turn and eventually breastfeeding will be just a memory.

Looking back, I would tell myself it’s okay to feel a little (lot) lost, to not be good at this. I would say: You’re not alone. You are learning. In real time. No practice rounds. So please be kind to yourself.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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