For many of us breastfeeding isn't glamorous or easy, it's a private struggle emotionally and physically. When I look at this photo I remember the tears, the fear, and the isolation of those first months. Those were some of the hardest of my life.
This photo is from my first full day as a mother, for the first time. I labored for a day in a birth center and transported to an Arab Hospital in Nazareth, Israel (not my country, nor my culture) where I had a c-section. I had an amazing team loving me, so while the labor + surgery weren't what I envisioned, I wasn't frightened or discouraged.
The hard part for me was the recovery and postpartum phase in a culture not my own (although warm and loving) in a hospital where my husband couldn't stay over night. I remember, viscerally, reaching out for that crying baby in the middle of the night. Searing pain terrorizing my body, and my milk slow, slow to come. I felt we'd never be ok this baby, my boobs, and my ego.
It took us weeks to find our way to each other, this baby and I, once he arrived. But we made it due in great part to the commitment of the people around us who loved, encouraged, and cheered us on.
As a pro-breastfeeding community, we tend to have a lot of dogma about how and when women should breastfeed. What this experience taught me, in a personal way, is that every mother and baby have their own private, personal breastfeeding path. Let's do less judging, and more loving. That's what new moms really need.