It hurts. I have never been so aware of my nipples in my lifetime. Granted, almost three weeks later, the pain is subsiding and things are getting easier. But for a good week or so there, every time the girl needed to eat I would have to grit my teeth and bare (bear?) down to get through the first few seconds.
It's hard. Being the sole source of my new daughter's nourishment is a huge responsibility, and thank goodness we've had an easy time of it. We haven't had problems with latching on or any of the common troubles that can occur with babies learning to nurse, but it is still hard. I'm the only one who can be there for her in the middle of the night. Skip can get up and change her diaper, but ultimately it's me who has the job to do. I can't hand her off to anyone else and say, "Here, you do it." And you can only sit down and lift up your shirt so many times before you feel like a cow. The on-demand-ness of it is what makes me the craziest.
I'm all for breastfeeding. To read the research and information on how awesome it is not only for her but for me, it's extremely clear not only that our bodies were built to do this, it's not just a coincidence that women can also nurse their babies, but it feels like I'd be cheating her out of the, literally, best food for her in the world. And she's only a baby! She doesn't deserve to be cheated out of anything.
But damn all those people who told me, "Your life is about to change forever!" or "Get your rest now!" Why the hell didn't anyone ever tell me, "Enjoy the last few weeks of your nipples feeling normal! Breastfeeding's a bitch!"