I was only able to breastfeed for a handful of months with my first child, but while I was doing it, I made my husband get up with me in the middle of the night.
When we had our first baby, we had no idea what we were doing. Looking back, I'm surprised we kept our son alive for crying out loud. To no surprise, breastfeeding did not come easy for me either. My nipples cracked and bled and my toes curled every single time my son tried to latch. With all that struggle, it was only fair that my husband got up with me to serve as my moral support.
Honestly, I never even had to ask him to do this. All he had to do was see me cry once, in the dark, way past midnight, and he was ready to do all he could to support me. Once he saw how grateful I was that first time he was up with me and how my stress decreased, he continued waking up with me. He could tell that I simply needed him.
I know that there was really nothing my husband could do to help me breastfeed, but just knowing that he was there with me helped my mindset (and rageing hormones) tremendously. He supported me during my pain while my son and I were trying to get the hang of it all. And when our little one couldn't be consoled, my husband took him in his arms and rocked him, giving me just a little break. Even better, he often was the one to change that mustard-yellow blowout that somehow always seemed to happen around the 3 a.m. feeding . . . every damn night!
After the first or second week being up all night, we both became increasingly cranky and decided we desperately needed to come up with a smarter plan. The new strategy was to alternate who got to go to bed early. One night, I'd crash by 8 p.m. and the next evening, it'd be my husband's turn. We would both still wake up for every feeding, even as our child started sleeping in longer stretches, but only one of us would be up during those haunting witching early evening hours while the baby fussed. What mattered to me was that when it was feeding time, my husband was there to help me and my breaking sanity. It became our little routine.
We went through those first couple of grueling months together as a team.
He didn't mind at all. He knows that it's unfair to be a woman! We have to grow a tiny human for nine months, then endure arduous, often long, and painful labor. He always said that he'd be pregnant in my place in a heartbeat if he could. By getting up with me and our newborn, he chipped in, doing all that he could. Yes, there were times that it was more difficult to shake him awake from his slumber, but he still did it.
Our plan wasn't perfect, and some may say pointless, but it worked for us. Honestly, I think it strengthened our marriage, too. My husband saw how hard breastfeeding was for me and didn't take motherhood for granted. He praised me for all that I did and we went through those first couple of grueling months together as a team — even while he nodded off on his lunch hour once he went back to work. Overall, he understood that just because I was the one with the milk supply I wasn't the only one who could help.
I'm grateful that my husband supported me throughout those first months as a new mother. There were times I was about to break in the wee hours of the night, clueless as to how hard motherhood actually was, but the two of us slowly ironed out those kinks together, forming a new bond with our baby and between us. Without that encouragement, I just may have crumbled. Today, our two kids are no longer babies, but my husband and I still do our best to work together as a team. We try to make all of the decisions together by having two generals in our troop, not just one.