I suppose you don't want to tell a happily first-time-pregnant mom of the difficulties awaiting her when trying to do what seems like the most natural thing in the world - feeding her baby. I honestly expected to have no problem breastfeeding Lottie unless I was in the extremely small percentage of women whose milk never came in in the first place. After all, we had taken the class at the hospital. I read the book they gave us cover to cover (except the chapter about feeding multiples, praise Him). I practiced the cradle hold AND the football hold just days before Lottie's birth. It wasn't until I started raking in advice from fellow mamas that I realized that, for the majority of these families, feeding was the most treacherous and emotional and confusing part about having a newborn. It wasn't that some of those feedings took place in the middle of the night and you're all of a sudden sleeping like NOT AT ALL. No. It was that they had low supply or no supply or mastitis or a slow let down or an over active let down or a zillion other possible issues. It was what everyone was now saying that they cried the most over. Which I, of course, now understood since I was shocked to be in the thick of the most emotional three weeks of my life due to nursing issues.
Supposedly I had a sleepy eater with a bit of torticollis which gave her an "unorganized suck" as well as seemingly unsolvable low supply. Whatever. I couldn't feed my baby and I was shocked and heartbroken and exhausted and so very confused.
I'm glad to say that those feelings have subsided. My stomach no longer ties itself in knots every time we give our baby a bottle of formula. I don't hold her and cry hot, sad tears when she hungry cries while I have nothing left to give her instead of happy tears like during that week-o-ecstasy following her birth (and since!). The turning point from those unexpected low moments was one of the clearest conversations I've ever had with The Lord.
Ironically, it happened when I was driving to rent an infant intake scale from the private, in-home lactation consultant that had come to see us a few days earlier. We saw her after our pediatrician, after three visits to the hospital's LC who was finally out of ideas for me and my little non-eater (this was the emotionally low point), and after countless hours of research and picking the brains of loooots of very patient friends. The two days before I had "power pumped" (it sucks as much as it sounds, no pun intended) and was renting this scale so that we could weigh, nurse, weigh again, supplement, and then pump. And by the time it was all done, start over again thirty minutes later. But I was down for it. Very determined. Motivated by love and emotion and, unfortunately, a little bit of pride. I'd do it as long as it helped even though I was so desperate to know what our feeding situation would look like long term. What our normal would be.
This private LC had been amazing and incredibly knowledgeable. I counted eight friends who had used her and all said that she was the reason they were able to breastfeed. She was "magic" and "wonder woman," and I just knew that surely I wouldn't be one of the only people with an unsolvable issue. Plus, her website is literally feedyourbaby.com (SC friends - she really is amazing!), so SURELY she could fix us. See? Expectations are the killer. I was gripping onto expectations within my bigger, disintegrating expectations.
After several more days of that weighing and pumping and supplementing grind, unfortunately this magic-maker was eventually out of ideas for us too. But this time I wasn't as heartbroken as I was afraid I would be if it came to this, and that was because of that in-car conversation with a loving God. There's been few times when I've heard this clearly from the Lord. Most of the time it's through the truth of His Word. Or the encouragement from voices in our families and community. Maybe this time was different because He was speaking directly to the tender heart of a new mother. Maybe it was because all the wonderful people he was speaking through in my life weren't getting through my emotional fog.
I was driving and praying for this next strategy to work and that I would be able to exclusively breastfeed my baby just as I had prayed throughout pregnancy. When we first met with the LC, I had to fill out a form that informed her of any pregnancy and birth issues we had that may affect nursing. I checked a box next to PCOS, told her about a few pregnancy issues, and about the c-section. And when we were getting started with our appointment, she commented that we had had "quite the time of it" or something like that. To me, it was our normal. But as soon as she said that, I started feeling sorry for myself. We battled through a few issues already, couldn't this just be easy? Didn't I deserve to be able to do what was best for my baby?
After days of wallowing in those thoughts, I was reminded that we live in an imperfect, fallen world where our bodies don't work perfectly. Duh. And I was convicted for feeling like I deserved to be able to do this. That's a dangerous place to be. The only thing we deserve in this life is wrath and judgement and separation.
But because I haven't gotten what I deserve and have been given so much grace that nothing else should really compare, I could hear Him telling me to simply trust Him with feeding Lottie. I could hear Him remind me that He loves her so much more than I do. I'm sure it was the beginning of letting go of lots of control over her life. D had said that the Lord would give her all she needed, and that finally rang true with me. He even said that Jesus could turn that formula into breastmilk in her belly if He saw fit! I'm so thankful for his steady faithfulness. And I'm sure he's thankful for this clear conversation with the Lord so that I could finally talk without crying.
I had asked Him to make it clear to us how we should provide for her and for me to be able to joyfully follow His direction. I knew it would be hard to officially make the decision to stop all of the crazy remedies (even though they were officially not helping), and I'm so thankful for the peaceful transition into nursing and then offering Lottie a bottle since she was always still hungry. I was (and am) a peaceful appetizer. I am thankful for all the help that we received, but I had read so much and asked so many questions until I could feel my mothers intuition getting louder and saying STOP IGNORING ME. Because the Lord answered our prayer for direction, I was able to do what was best for us as a family instead of having "breast is best" flashing in my brain at every feeding. And though I agree with those annoying websites and blogs and message boards, I also wanted to punch them in the face every time they said "you CAN do this!" Nope. Can't, unfortunately. And that was (finally) ok.
It's not always super easy. Sometimes I still don't like that I have to pack a bottle and formula in the diaper bag (even though we've been really happy with The Honest Company's new formula, if you're curious about that option). Sometimes my heart still breaks when I read things like, "there's no way to replicate a mother's milk exactly, because it contains living cells, antibodies, enzymes, and hormones that can't be added to formula." But most of the time I embrace the peace and encouragement given on that turn-around day. And, most importantly, I check my perspective. She's healthy, she's growing, and she's ours. Three things (among many more) that we certainly don't deserve.