It’s supposed to be such a beautiful thing, this whole nursing experience. And it can be.
But sometimes it’s not and for me, that sometimes is now.
He’s my 8th child which also means he’s the 8th child I ‘ve breastfed. You’d think I’d have it all down by now. And maybe I do but my little guy sure doesn’t. It’s been a rough go from the start when my milk refused to come in. A normal lactating experience for me is that my little nursling has ample amounts of colostrum in those first few days followed by ridiculously-more-than-ample amounts of milk about 4 days in. Only this time the only thing I had in ample supply was stress because the milk part just wasn’t happening.
Determined not to supplement with formula I scrambled to find ways to stimulate production. My darling husband drove far and wide in his new-dad haze of exhaustion gathering supplies I had deemed necessary. On my list were the following: Fenugreek, Brewer’s Yeast, Oatmeal, Mother’s Milk Tea and copious amounts of bottled water because I am the biggest water snob you’ll ever hope to meet. He also threw nearly $200 into the hands of a retail shop carrying the pump we were both sure would save the day. Maybe it has but most of the time I just want to toss it down and stomp on it.
Sorry, but I feel you should know the truth. Even about my fits of irrational rage directed at inanimate objects.
Anyway, equipped with my arsenal of milk-inducing ammunition I commenced on my journey. And while my milk did indeed come in, this whole nursing thing is is still just hard. So hard, in fact, that I recently saw a magazine advertisement with a mother serenely nursing her peaceful baby in a quiet room amidst perfect order and I got teary eyed. Like tears flowing down my cheeks while I gulped back the frustration of my failure kind of teary eyed. If only my body would produce milk the way my eyes can produce tears, we’d be in business.
But unlike that glossy ad, my home is not serene or quiet. It’s bustling and busy and energetic and chaotic and loud. (Yes, it’s fine to use different words to say the same thing 5 times in a single sentence…but only if you really, really mean it. And I really, really do.) And my tiny baby is not a champion nurser by any stretch. I mean, unless by champion you mean one who thrashes and cries when you attempt to feed him. Because in that case he’d be top dog.
And therein lies why I hate my pump. Because if I express the milk after he won’t nurse he’ll gobble down the bottle like nobody’s business and the next nursing session is even harder because he then wants the rapid flow of the imposter. But lest you’ve begun to think my baby simply hates nursing let me assure you that many, many times it’s his happy place. His sweet spot. His comfort.
Which translated means he gets so cozy he goes right off to sleep and cannot be roused. Little scamp is determined to thwart my efforts from every angle.
He’s been checked by the doctor multiple times and he’s very healthy. He’s on the skinny side but still on the skinny side of healthy. We’ve gotten lactation help and tried pretty much every trick in the book. Nothing. We’re basically help-resistant, it seems.
So here’s what I know. It is God who created the nursing relationship between a mother and her babe. And He alone has the ability to provide me with adequate milk and my tiny one with sufficient patience to accept it. So while I continue to do everything within my power to stimulate supply and encourage healthy feeding habits, I am at the place where all I can do is trust that He’ll give us both just enough…one feeding at a time. I don’t love the hard times. I detest trying to sit down to nurse only to feel like I’m scrapping with a 3 month old who is otherwise probably the happiest baby I’ve ever known. I hate that I am the starkest contrast to those perfect breastfeeding mom photos. I’m the bumbling middle-ager with worn out nursing pads, sour shirts and a plethora of lofty aspirations that rarely materialize.
But I am his mom. With his milk. And so long as God continues to allow just enough to get us by, I’ll praise Him and be thankful for it. Because sometimes just enough is exactly what we need so we remember who’s providing it.
Note: It seems seemly to add that nobody should be concerned. If we ever thought, for even a moment, that our baby was suffering from lack of nutrition or dehydration, we would supplement without hesitation. This is not a matter of stubborn pride but rather a matter of humble acceptance. His diapers are carefully monitored as is his growth. And we have the kindest doctor who understands our desires and is collaborating with us to see to it that our little guy continues to thrive under our very best efforts and the unfailing grace of God.