When I first saw that faint pink stripe appear in the plastic window of my home pregnancy test, the only thing I was absolutely sure about was that I would breastfeed my baby. I read all the books I could get my hands on and I browsed the Web for hours on end in search of breastfeeding advice. By the time my daughter was born, I thought I knew all I needed to know. But nothing I read prepared me for the reality.
Newly pregnant, I anticipated the arrival of those luscious pregnancy breasts I had heard so much about. In a lifetime of bra shopping, I had never had the chance to purchase anything more impressive than a 36B. Well, my child is now four months old, and a 36B I remain. The fact that these tiny orbs never changed shape or size could have been an early clue that disaster lurked ahead. But no, I remained a woman bent on breastfeeding and determined that the experience would be textbook perfect.
The revelation that breastfeeding bliss might evade me occurred in the hospital. My hungry little newborn went right to the breast but became increasingly irritated, as her efforts to extract colostrum seemed to be in vain. Steadfastly determined in her goal, she camped out there nearly 24/7, rewarding me with an occasional high-pitched scream a mere eight inches from my face. I knew the facts: Colostrum should be enough for the first days of an infant's life. For some reason it just wasn't enough for mine.
Somewhere along the line a pacifier was foisted upon my infant by a particularly caustic nurse who insisted upon the non-existence of nipple confusion. Reluctantly I caved in and permitted the pacifier, much to the apparent delight of my daughter. My little bundle and I went home three days after her birth with all the reason in the world to believe we'd have a joyful future together. Not true in the short term, at least: My child did not eat for the next 48 hours. Oh, the agony.
I rallied a group of advisors—a lactation consultant, a nurse, a doctor, and a friend affectionately dubbed "Mother Earth" among them—and tried every remedy they suggested. Nothing worked. The baby was hungry and ticked off, and there was nothing my 36Bs could do about it. My resolve worn by fear and fatigue, I finally broke down and stuffed the child with formula. At last, we slept.
We slept, but I wasn't ready to give up. Staying the course in my quest for breastfeeding success, I discovered that three major obstacles stood in our way: Tongue-tie, hypoplastic breasts, and my "type A" personality.