When I started blogging, I most certainly never anticipated displaying my personal struggles, much less my battles with my new-found motherhood. The fear of exposing my ups and downs as a new mom is terrifying; especially in a day and age when “mommy wars” are so profound. The shame one feels when you “don’t measure up” is unlike any fear I have experienced. So to break the fear of failure, I’ve decided to take the power out of it by sharing my experiences.
My most recent struggle: Breastfeeding.
Before Noah arrived, I would pray all the time that I would be able to breastfeed. It was just something that had been put on my heart and that I knew I wanted to do. When our precious little gem finally made his debut, our journey with breastfeeding did not have an ideal start. I remember sitting in the hospital bed with all these pillows, completely sleep deprived, with a nurse I had just met, and my body completely exposed. I thought, “I am going to need to turn in to an octopus in order to get the hang of this.” We were also experiencing some latching issues, and for almost a week we had to use a shield in order to nurse. (Which by the way, was a life saver! We got ours at the hospital, and while although the lactation consultants weren’t exactly ‘pro nipple shield’, I’m pro doing what it takes to get the job done.)
Once we got the hang of things, we had no real struggles or issues. In fact, the next two and half months absolutely flew by! Now I still had to make an effort and monitor my water and food intake – I’m not one of those lucky individuals who can diet and workout constantly while breastfeeding – but otherwise, we had a fairly easy time. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that my body slowly started producing less and less milk. I found this extremely frustrating, considering the fact that I had tried absolutely EVERYTHING to continue breastfeeding. You name it, I tried it. Here is a list of my many endeavours: Fenugreek, Mother’s Milk Tea, drinking dark beer, baking my very own lactation cookies (which were delicious), eating oatmeal every morning, devouring hummus, pumping for an additional five minutes after every feeding, and taking Motherlove More Milk Plus pills.
Currently, I’m on a daily regimen of Fenugreek, Motherlove More Milk Plus, and pumping for an additional five minutes after each feeding. I will also still drink some tea when I think about it. Since I started taking the Motherlove supplement, I have seen some improvement in my milk supply (thank goodness). While this routine may seem a bit strenuous, I think the most difficult hurdle is the one I face every night at 4:00am. Noah has been sleeping for about 10-12 hours a night for a few weeks now, and you think that would mean mama gets that many hours of sleep. That would be 100% inaccurate. In order to keep my supply from diminishing, I have a lovely alarm set on my Fitbit every night for 4:00am (four hours before Noah’s first feeding of the day). Every night at 4:00am, I pull myself out of my cozy warm bed and sit myself down in front of my new best friend, the breast pump. While at first I loathed this newly established routine, I am now finally becoming grateful for it. I say this because every night for the past two weeks, I have had to give Noah at his final feeding what I previously pumped that morning. This was originally discouraging, because I wanted to save that milk for occasions when I would be away from Noah for an extended period of time, and instead I have had to use it daily to help supplement my lack of production every evening.
As I mentioned, this was extremely discouraging for me. Here I was praying multiple times a day that God would allow me to continue breastfeeding and would supply me with the perfect amount of milk to take care of my son, and I felt as though I was seeing no progress. I felt that way because I wanted to be able to save the milk I was so diligently pumping at 4:00am and not have to use it every evening when my supply was at its lowest. My prayers began to turn in to complaints, and I started to struggle with having full faith in the petitions I was making to the Lord. Then something changed.
A few nights ago, after completing my 4:00am ritual, I was laying in bed unable to go back to sleep. My mind was wandering all over the place and I was restless. I decided to do what I always do when I can’t sleep – I prayed. Instead of my usual prayer list, I had a conversation with God. I asked him why I was still having such difficulty with breastfeeding, and why was I not able to “stockpile” my supply when I was working so vigorously to pump when I could easily be sleeping. I was humbled by the response I received. To my first inquiry, the Lord responded with another question, “Are you not able to give your son breast milk at all of his feedings?” (Talk about a gut check.) To his question I meekly responded with a simple, “yes”. To my second question, God answered me with a statement; “Your path will not be like everyone else. Your struggles will not be the same.”
This morning in my quiet time, the Holy Spirit lead me to meditate on Proverbs 31. “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household…”
My strength and encouragement during this season of what feels like struggle, is solely found in my relationship with God.Today, I do not feel discouraged by my breastfeeding “hurdles”, but grateful that I am able to provide for my son in a way that is desirable to my heart. While I daily have to pray for a good attitude and grateful spirit, I am happy to be able to publicly share my experiences in hopes of lifting up others in their own battles with motherhood.