Dear Diary,

In terms of conception, labor and delivery, and breastfeeding, the latter was the only one where my easy button actually worked.

One of my children had to be coaxed into the oven; we conceived him by IVF.  Neither child wanted to come out the natural way, meaning I had not one, but two C-sections. Luckily the Breastfeeding Goddesses gave me champion nursers right out of the womb. They made the piggy baby face as they rooted around for the nipple, and then latched on easily. Suddenly, a wonderfully sweet part of their babyhood that consumed me with awe and love (and easy breastfeeding) was born.

There was nothing more convenient.  I was a one-woman feeding machine. No snacks to pack; nothing to forget; nothing to mix.  No matter where we were, if my babies were hungry, all they needed was me.

As long as I had my hooter hider, I was good to go. Sure things could get revealing once my babies got older and decided they didn’t want to eat their meal hidden from the world behind a curtain.

Once early on, my nursing cover, nursing bra and sweater got all discombobulated, and there I was, in a photo with my neighbor and her baby with my nipple peeking out at the world.

Luckily I live in a neighborhood where feeding breasts faze no one. I had friends who nursed blissfully uncovered at the playground.  In our minds, if you thought public breastfeeding was disgusting or sexual, you belonged in the 1930s–nowhere near 21st century Chicago.

I loved the calm to breastfeeding. Playdates with a young baby meant a group of moms sitting on the sofa, chatting it up, simultaneously feeding themselves and their infants.

This stands in stark contrast to today, when playdates are referee sessions and mealtimes a frenzy of playing short order cook and waitress to the most persnickety of diners. As a nursing mom, sitting and lying down were regular parts of my day. I had built-in time to read, watch TV, or even stare into space in a fog of new mom exhaustion. And other times, my emotions jangled by hormones and adoration, I would simply gaze into my babies’ eyes and let the tears course down my cheeks.

As much as I loved nursing, it did have its challenges. I constantly questioned myself. Were the beans or broccoli I ate going to give my kid painful gas as though I’d hooked her up to a tire pump? Should I pump and dump or will my kid get her first taste of Pinot Noir because I thought I’d metabolize the alcohol after a while? Is my kid getting enough milk? Are this kid’s gums made of sandpaper and pushpins?  Ouch!

Then there was working, or spending any significant amount of time away from my babies. This meant winding up with boulder boobs that would either spring a leak through my shirt or spray my baby like a mini fire hose when I finally fed her.

Let’s not even mention pumping.  It was tedious and bovine, and made me feel as though I’d hooked my udders up to a milking machine, which in fact I had. It was almost enough to make me quit breastfeeding.  And it was really fun to do it in my car or shared office, covered by my hooter-hider.

Still, by far the worst was nighttime.  It seemed so convenient to keep my kids in a co-sleeper right next to me and feed them when they whimpered.  Now, of course, babies snortle and stir in their sleep every hour or two.  Which meant that I shoved a boob in their mouths every hour or two. Which meant that I woke up every hour or two, thereby training my babies to settle back to sleep only after nursing.  I spent the first six months of each of my children’s lives as a psychotic, sleep-deprived, hot, steaming mess.

Then blissful and the nightmarish duked it out until breastfeeding grew into something I loved more in theory than in reality.

The stars would align for my nursing days to end.  Maybe it was my desire to stop. Maybe it was my kids eating more solid foods and drinking more milk. In the case of my son, it was because I was pregnant with his little sister.

Each of my kids came to a point where they had to work harder and harder to get any milk, until the pitiful outcome wasn’t worth the effort.  Pretty soon I was shoving a breast in their face while they writhed away in desperation from my useless ta-ta.

Until finally one day they pushed me away and were done.  No weaning necessary.  They moved on, leaving me both thankful for and mourning the abrupt separation and my sudden freedom. Just like that, the nursing ritual was over, gone into the realm of memory, as smoothly and as beautifully as it had arrived.

Before her two children re-choreographed her life, Keesha was a professional dancer who performed in the U.S. and in Europe. Today, she teaches modern and jazz dance in the Chicago area and blogs at Mom’s New Stage. She’s also an editor at BonBon Break’s The Attic, where she stores not only her memories, but also those of other über-talented writers. A multitasker at heart, she shows fierce skills at simultaneously writing, choreographing, checking Facebook and Pinterest updates, playing the role of a mother named Joan ‘Kumbaya’ Crawford, and overcooking food. 

Keesha is one of the select contributing authors of In The Powder Room’s first anthology, You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth. Her writing has been featured on Mamapedia, The Huffington Post, and in the bestselling anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone. You can also find her on Twitter. Having breastfed her son and daughter, who are 18 months apart, for 9 months and 15 months respectively, her formerly perky boobs have now acquired that old sweat sock look beloved the world over. 

About The Author

#Chocolate Milk

Throughout August, in celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Diary of a First Time Mom will publish a new nursing story each day, written by 31+ black mom bloggers. DFTM Creator Heather Hopson asked each blogger to submit a personal breastfeeding story, and they immediately emailed their experiences—both good and bad. They wrote about everything from allergies and ignorance to pumping and working. Heather curated this collection to educate other African-American women about breastfeeding. That way, they will be armed with information to make a decision. Heather hopes you will join the movement on Twitter. Follow @dearmomdiary and the participants. You can check the #ChocolateMilk blogger ambassador list! Be sure to tweet using #ChocolateMilk. And don’t forget to share your story by clicking on Breastfeeding→ Lactation Nation on the menu bar above. Meanwhile, let us know in the comment box below why you nursed—or didn’t.

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