If I were to write a letter to my pre-baby self about breastfeeding, it would go like this:
Go easy on yourself…because your baby won’t. You will feel guilty 95% of the time. Every time that the baby cries, you will feel like it is your fault. Every time your spouse looks at you when the baby cries, you will burst into tears thinking he is accusing you of neglect. Try to fight that feeling. Try with all your groggy self to remember: “My baby is alive. That is all that matters. I am winning because my baby is alive.” Oh, and stop reading about how other moms are rocking this. It’s not helping.
Your Future Self
P.S. Spoiler alert: the babies are still alive!
Seriously, though, when Lacey suggested we make breastfeeding the theme this week, I cringed a little inwardly. I am not winning any medals in this area. Then again, I don’t know a ton of moms who feel they are either. So, here goes.
With my first, I caught on slowly. I was always paranoid about not having a good latch and that she wouldn’t get enough. She threw up a lot. The doctor was not concerned as she kept consistent with her growth curve. Yet, for me, this meant a lot of frequent feeding since she didn’t keep a lot of it down. I had painful engorged moments to moments of panic as she would try to get something and I would have nothing left to give (worst feeling ever). She would thrash her head about frantically and cry. I would sometimes cry too.
Months later, we made the decision to start her on food- adding rice cereal to breastmilk and working our way up. Sadly, I compared myself to my sister: after hearing what she was doing with her son, I sped things up. Lots of new foods, snacks, etc. This comparison game in my head made me lose my supply by nine months. Although I am thankful we made it that far, I wish we had made it to a year- both for her development’s sake and for my wallet. Formula is NOT cheap!
My son was born four months ago. I felt like my brain had completely reset since my daughter- I didn’t remember the baby years at all. Latching was incredibly painful in the hospital. I made sure with the nurses that I had it right before I left, but the first few days … Ouch. I would brace myself every time he got hungry and force myself to count to ten as he ate. After those first ten seconds or so, we would be fine.
I am happy to report that my son is an eater! Unlike my daughter, he generally keeps everything down and is happy as long as he is fed. He has battled thrush and that has been a pain (literally), but it has never stopped him from eating. For me, breastfeeding is a sacrifice. I feel gross, unattractive, and frustrated most times. His cry does make me feel guilty, and if my husband looks at me how ever innocently, I can fall apart. Still, I know that it is what is best for me and my little guy. It forces me to stop and rest. To spend time with my son- when my daughter either requires or desires attention at all times. It is God’s way of carving out that time for just me and him.
For that reason, I treasure the experience. Also, I may not always be able to provide all that he needs, but for these months, I can. That is incredibly special. The whol experience gives me a glimpse of God’s great heart for me as well:
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15
He doesn’t forget me. He even relates with me.