As a mommy to a four month old, I have chosen to take the beloved, yet oh so exhausting path of breastfeeding. If you happened to catch my first post (Breastfeeding Bumps), then you have already had the pleasure of reading the struggles I experienced with my firstborn. Breastfeeding is by far the most difficult thing I have ever committed myself to. Yes, even more difficult than delivery (although, to be fair, I had an epidural with both of my deliveries – however, pushing a bowling ball out of your body is never an easy task, no matter how medicated). The process of birthing an infant is relatively quick and short-lived; but breastfeeding…that is a true undertaking. My intention is not to paint breastfeeding in a negative light, but rather share my opinion on how truly devoted one has to be, because it is not all sunshine and rainbows.
I have to be honest. When we were gearing up to bring our second son in to the world, I was unbelievably anxious. Noah, our first son, was not the easiest of babies (I wonder who he gets that from). He never wanted to sleep. Like ever. He also liked crying. A lot. But by far, our biggest struggle was nursing. It just didn’t go well for us, yet for some odd reason, it was put on my heart to try to do it anyways. Needless to say, after we found out we were pregnant with Emmett, we were constantly praying over that child that he would be a great eater and an excellent sleeper. I could not even begin to tell you how many times I presented that petition to God.
March 18, 2015, the morning we were scheduled to induce, my alarm went off. I was extremely nervous, so I asked God to give me a verse to meditate on during our hospital stay. Clear as day, the Holy Spirit downloaded in to my brain Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
My husband and I started a tradition with our firstborn. Throughout our pregnancies we each have a verse that has come to us during our quiet times for each child. Then, on the day of delivery, we ask the nurses to stamp our child’s footprint over that verse in our Bibles. I knew the day my pregnancy test was positive what mine was for Emmett (Psalm 127:3-5), but JD wasn’t certain on his. It was not until we were at the hospital that I asked him if he had figured out Emmett’s verse. Without hesitation, he looked over at me at said, “Joshua 1:9” (and no, I had not shared what had happened that morning during my prayer time).
Finally, the time came for Emmett to make his debut. I kid you not, that boy is living proof that God answers prayers (Noah is too, but that is a story for another day)! As soon as the nurses were done getting his stats, he went straight to the breast and camped there. No issues at all; he didn’t need to be coaxed or coached. He was born an expert eater! Once we got settled in to our recovery room, he passed out. I actually had to ask one of the nurses if I needed to be waking him to nurse (hallelujah!!). Those next two days, we just slept and nursed. He never even really cried. He would just grunt around, speaking baby, that could only be translated as, “Oh hey, I’m here in case you feel like feeding me.”
Some of you may be thinking, “What’s all of her excitement about? Isn’t that what babies do?” My response would be, “Did you meet my firstborn when he was an infant??” Didn’t think so. This was an incredible victory in our parenting book!
Shortly after we arrived at home with our newest bundle of awesomeness, I was already fretting over when I should start pumping. I did not want a repeat of my experience with Noah, so I wanted to start creating my liquid gold stash as soon as possible! Thankfully, I had an amazing support team straight out of the gate, found in two genuinely incredible ladies, who I happen to share the same birthday of our second sons with. These two gals, who are also my sorority sisters, cheered me on daily and drove me to push past my fears and insecurities with breastfeeding. They will probably never know how big of a role they have played during this season of my life.
Fast-forward to three months postpartum.
I had turned in to a pumping champion. I had more milk stored than I could possibly imagine myself creating; and while it doesn’t compare to some ladies treasure trove of golden tickets to occasional freedom and date nights, I was more than thrilled. By the middle of June, I was proud of myself. I even took a picture of our freezer and sent it to my husband, saying something along the lines of, “Look at all of this milk I’ve pumped, I am such a rock star!” (Oh you silly, silly woman. If I only I would have recognized what I had said at the time.)
A few days later, I was getting ready to cash in one of my golden tickets, so I took some milk out to thaw. Then something strange happened (I say strange, because I can assure you this never occurred with Noah). Emmett turned up his nose and was not having any part of it. Are you kidding me – how dare you dismiss my hard earned breast milk so easily?! My human nature took over and I got curious. I started thawing out random bags of milk I previously stored to see if there was a theme or if this was just a fluke; and guess what…Emmett declined them all. I began to get seriously discouraged. When JD got home from work, I shared my discontent over the situation.
I have to take a minute to brag about my relationship with my husband. He is truly my best friend. We are extremely alike, yet see situations from two completely opposite perspectives. This makes having discussions with him extremely
frustrating enjoyable, because he provides me with a new view of how to see things (he is very black and white and I tend to see the gray area – otherwise known as the “emotional” side of things).
So imagine my surprise when he didn’t share in the same temperament on the subject. After my rant was complete, he plainly said to me, “I’m very proud of all the milk you have pumped and your dedication. However, when you text me, you didn’t give any glory to God for this accomplishment, you only mentioned how proud of yourself you were.”
Talk about a punch in the gut! I know his heart behind this statement. It wasn’t to hurt me, but to highlight my own pride throughout this process. Especially since this was something we had spent numerous times praying on. How could I take all the glory for myself??
After putting the babes to bed that evening, I went straight to my closet. It sounds strange, I know, but that is the best place in the house to get some one on one time with The Big Man – minimal distractions. I got on my knees and immediately repented for not recognizing God’s provision in answering my prayers. There was absolutely no possible way that this accomplishment was all of my own doing. Remember, I’m still the exact same person who couldn’t produce enough milk my first go around. During my conversation with The Lord, I was reminded of my stopping point in the new book I had started that week (‘Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity’ by Jen Hatmaker). It was a part of Scripture that I honestly never paid much attention to or put much thought in.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me? Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
So my response to God was something along the lines of, “Okay, that’s great and all, but why are you giving me this Scripture?” You want to know what I got back? “Donate it. All of it. Feed my sheep.” Me: “I’m sorry, what was that?” God: “Donate it. All of it. Feed my sheep.”
I am not going to sugarcoat how I was feeling about this. I was not excited. How could He possibly want me to donate all of that milk?? Simple. He was the reason I had all of that precious gold stored to begin with.
Fact 1: Our children have never gone without what they have needed. Fact 2: There are immense amounts of children who go without something to eat on a regular basis; and God was calling me to participate in providing food to some of His most precious sheep.
As I began the process to become a milk donor, I was faced with the temptation on a few different occasions to use some of what I had stored. This was extremely emotional for me, because it would have been easy to use what was in the freezer and replace it the next day. But I refused. I firmly believe that what God speaks, is exactly what he means. It is not to be added to or taken away from.
Two weeks later, I loaded up the boys and we made a trip to Downtown Fort Worth to drop off 177 ounces of breast milk to Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas.
The event itself was rather brief. In case you were wondering, I was not greeted with a high-five, a pat on the back, or asked to have my picture taken for their wall of super awesome donors (not that they had one). It was all very transactional. On our drive home, my tiny humans were passed out in the backseat and I was rocked with emotion. It was as if I had run the car in to a wall of feelings. Tears randomly started building up and I was overcome with an overwhelming amount of joy. A feeling I am certain that I would have not gotten out of simply holding on to my milk stash.
I share this with you for a couple of reasons. One, so you can understand that I am just as human as the next person. I am not walking flawlessly in my Christianity. Two, to encourage you to pray, listen, and obey to whatever God is leading you to do. I can assure you that His plan is always immeasurably greater than the plans you can make for yourself! So trust in His guidance and take a step of faith.