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I thought breastfeeding would be so easy.

It's natural, isn't it? That's what women have done since the beginning of time. So, how hard could it actually be? I read all the mommy blogs, attended a class on the how-to at the hospital, practiced holds on those creepy baby dolls. Certainly, I was good to go! I'd know what to do when the time came, right?

But only after several exhausting hours of labor, when the nurse handed me my little girl with the words, "She's hungry" did I learn that nothing can really prepare you for the physical and mental toll breastfeeding can have on new mothers.

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And that absolutely nothing, nothing can prepare you for when it doesn't work.

We left for our daughter's first doctor's appointment a week after her delivery and I was feeling pretty good. Tired, yes, but I was healing marvelously and was in high spirits. I had gotten dressed, had breakfast and even brushed my teeth. My little one was calm and we were out the door on time. I felt like a superhero. I was made to be a mom.

But my euphoria died 16 minutes later at the weigh station when we learned our daughter was still not at her birth weight. How had I not noticed? I kicked myself as we talked in the car about how to feed her even more before our follow-up appointment a few days later. And while her weight rose slowly over the next few months, it never seemed to be enough.

Every time we went to the doctor, I'd leave in tears unable to put into words the disappointment I felt toward myself. I'd spend the rest of the week furiously feeding my child, trying to make up the weight or I'd walk straight down the hall to the lactation consultant to see if maybe this time, we'd finally have an answer.

Her latch was fine, my supply was good. She was eating every two hours, nine times a day for several months. I was doing everything I possibly could. I was a milk machine. I was physically exhausted and emotionally spent.

Why was my body, that had nurtured her for nine months, failing her? Why, after all this time, was it failing me?

Finally, as the doctor talked to me and my husband about supplementing, I couldn't even hear what he was saying. Instead, all I could hear was confirmation of my deepest fears: You are not good enough. You are not strong enough. You are not enough. Period.

I wish I could have told myself, "Being 'enough' doesn't mean you have to do it all alone."

I'm not a superhero, and even the most convincing of capes couldn't change that. I'm a beautifully fragile human, who needs to be kinder to herself. So I'll remind myself again.

Being "enough" doesn't mean you have to do it all alone.


I learned that then, and I remember it every day now.

I alone won't be able to fulfill her every need or stop her heart from getting broken. There are some scrapes and bruises and aches my kisses won't fix and tears I won't be able to dry.

Nothing about this life will ever exactly go according to plan.

And if I'm being honest, I'll probably never have this whole motherhood thing totally figured out.

While the issues we were having with weight gain were aided by formula supplements and my problems with breastfeeding fixed themselves over time, the early days in many ways shaped who I am as a mother and as a woman.

Over the 16 months, I was able to breastfeed my child, my idealistic visions of motherhood came to a crashing halt, but brought me deeper into the reality of who my daughter is and who I am.

I'm not perfect, and I'm certainly not the supermom I once thought I would be. I can't force my life or my motherhood to look a certain way, just like I couldn't choose how my breastfeeding journey would go, but both I and my daughter are the better for it.

I don't have to worry about fulfilling her or ensuring her lasting happiness, I just have to be her mom.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

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

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking. Late Wednesday night news broke that Rivera was missing and presumed drowned after her 4-year-old son, Josey, was found floating alone on a rented boat on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ventura County Sheriff's Department Capt. Eric Buschow said the mother and her preschooler were swimming near the boat Wednesday afternoon. Josey got back into the rented boat after the swim but his mother did not. The preschooler was later found by other boaters, sleeping alone in the boat. Rescuers were able to figure out who he was because Rivera's wallet and identification were on the boat.

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Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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