- Do you fear leaking all over yourself so you stay home?
- Do you stay home because your baby's head flails around under a cover so they don't even eat well?
- Do you stay home because said "cover" is a prank Ashton Kutcher is playing on mamas just to sneak a peek?
- Do you stay home and loathe the next time you have to feed your baby because of the anxiety of how it might go wells up within you?
- Do you dread looking at the clock because it might be close to the next feeding?
- Do you feel enslaved knowing you have to feed them...again...soon?
- Do you feel like you suck at it only to have it confirmed (in your mind) by a lower weight check?
- Do you dream of bottle feeding because you think it would give, dare I say, freedom?
I love being a mom. Love it. I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom since I was in elementary school. It is hands down, the hardest, more rewarding gig I've ever had! But can I just be honest and say the first year kills me? I have combed through everything about PPD, taking every check-list there is. Nope. That's not it. I have looked through all the information on PPA and yes, parts of that, but not the whole. So I sit on my couch, yet again, texting my mom friends and crying because I am struggling with anxiety over nursing. See, with my first, Lewis, we had a rough start too. I had to use a nipple shield for six months so he could nurse. So with our second I thought, "OK I don't want to be enslaved to that, so let me teach her how to nurse better." Guess what, you guys?!?! IT WORKED!! Until the same thing that happened to Lewis hit Phoebe. The little devil referred to as acid reflux and his a-hole buddy, colic. They love nothing more than to tag team an already tired, overwhelmed mama and kick her while she's down. It's a fun thing, really. False. It is hell. Crying what seems to be non-stop. Except this time, it came out of nowhere. I was unprepared. Here's how that all went down...
Phoebe's birth was beautiful. She latched like a champ. I was determined to make it better this time. My first PP appointment was phenomenal. I had no complications and not even any pain after my c-section this time. Praise the Lord because mama was SCARED of those things happening again. So when I arrived at my six week check-up, I felt on top of the world. I was even afraid of how normal I felt. The best part was that it lasted!! Until it didn't. Three months after she was born, she stopped eating. My sweet girl was thriving. Growing pretty impressively. Then she wasn't. I kept asking people if they thought she looked too little. Everyone thought she was just petite, but I knew in my gut something was wrong. I took her in for a weight check and yep, she lost weight. The doctor was so kind, but concerned, so we began medicine for acid reflux and supplementing because she needed to gain weight and my supply dropped drastically. I began taking Reglan as well to boost my supply. It worked, but she is still in a low percentile for weight and I am still attempting to nurse. Except, I don't LOVE it like I so desperately want to. I want her to be well. I am so over the constant crying and feeling helpless. Completely helpless (more on this in a minute). I'm honestly thinking about throwing in the towel because the Reglan makes me SO tired and intensifies all of my other emotions. It's like airplane safety..."In case of emergency, adults put on your oxygen mask first, then assist the children." If I didn't feel anxiety about, well, everything to do with nursing, then I know my outlook would be so much healthier. So I'm gonna' spend some time thinking over this one.
Feeling completely helpless is not a feeling I feel very often. I tend to see the glass half full and when all else fails, refill it! Except the first year with a fussy baby. I don't love the first year, ok. It is a whirlwind of a hot mess for me. I am an extrovert who is shut in the house due to PPBA. I feel like I give and give (which I am pretty happy to do) except I have little to no way to recharge or refill. By the time I DO get around other adults, I act like a total weirdo who has been living under a front porch her whole life because I am just socially malnourished. The thing is, I KNOW I'm not alone. I KNOW other women feel these things. Guilt because you don't nurse and grief for it not working out, but it SUCKS because NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT. Well, friends, I am here to say the things no one really confesses, but desperately wants to. The first year of motherhood is hard. You deal with things you haven't dealt with before. The trickiest part is that you have NO idea what you'll even experience so there truly is no way to prepare. It's hard because as a mom, you feel things differently than a father tends to feel. You cringe when your baby cries in the back seat while you are driving and you just can't seem to get to where you're going fast enough. By the time you arrive, you're a mess because you soak up the pain of whatever your baby is crying about. Again, feeling helpless. You stay up when they are sick and you can't do anything to make it just vanish. Again, helpless. If your family lives out of town, you are limited on help. When you have to go to the store because your child is sick, but you can't take them, so you have to wait until some help arrives, helplessness sets in. Or they cry from the pain of reflux and you can't make it better. You can't take it away. Helpless.
I try SO hard every single day to remind myself that this is a season. A season I don't love because the decisions are heavy and carry much weight. But then again, they don't. While I'm IN it, I can't even see to the next season. I don't want to wish this season all away, but at the same time, I have not looked back once on when Lewis was a baby and wanted that season again. Heck no, actually!
I have to constantly remind myself of the big picture. The biggest picture of the truth of it all. The TRUTH is that no matter how weak my faith becomes in the midst of the struggle, God is in fact NOT punishing me! Man, can it feel that way!! That's not how he works. Period. It means I need to lean into Jesus more. I need to figure out ways to "keep calm and carry on" when she is screaming...again. I need to reach out to my friends, leak breast milk on my couch while our older kids play, and make wild plans for when our kids grow up! I need remember that this feeling of prison in my home goes away quickly. I need to remember that this is hard now, but my heart will ache to its core when my kids move out (although I'm sure the sadness won't last long as I drive to the airport to fly to an exotic location with my husband...alone!). But right now, it IS hard. One kid or 19 Kids and Counting, it's hard. Let's not diminish that fact. Let's not overlook the moms who are afraid to be honest for fear of shame they don't love the first year either. If you LOVE the first year, that's awesome! If you don't love it, that's awesome too! Because at the end of the day, we are all tired and drained from working all day and loving our little people. You are the BEST mom for your sweet babe who trusts you and loves you no matter what! God feels the same way about you too! But, the truth is, we can only do this if we KNOW Jesus and trust Him more than we trust our own efforts! We have to trust him and lean into him even more the first year. The worst part of all of this would be if we don't trust him enough to stretch and grow us because then it's all for not! I certainly don't want to waste a huge opportunity to grow. An entire years worth actually!