The End of an Era

As far as I can tell, it's official: feeding Roger breast milk appears to be done. After so many tears shed in my efforts to provide breast milk for him, those close to me who have walked with me through those tears have been surprised to see that I'm actually quite alright with it. This makes perfect sense to me, and I'll share why with you; even if you're a student of the word, don't just skim over this story, but let it sink in and think about its implications:

II Samuel 12:15b-23, italics mine

And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

I don't pretend for a second that not being able to breastfeed Roger until he's a year old (I was hoping for a session a day even longer, say to 18 months) is nearly the same pain as losing a child. With that said, the desire to provide the very best things for my son, including the best food possible, is strong in me. The inability to feed him as I hoped was painful, and I pleaded with the Lord to increase my supply, to make Roger want to nurse again, to let the medication miraculously make milk "come out of my ears."

So long, farewell.
[for the record, never will I be able to hear a mother complain about leaking breast milk again and feel the same for her; it's humiliating, to be sure, but I'd choose that over not being able to nurse any day!]

I ate foods considered to be galactogogues. We dropped $300+ on a high rated pump and I pumped my brains out. Ok, maybe it only felt like it, but oof. I took literally hundreds of fenugreek and blessed thistle pills. I took the nastiest drops you could ever imagine allowing to rest on your tongue with the hope that my mouth would absorb more nutrients since my gastric bypass-ed guts couldn't. I took prescription meds. I didn't sleep on my stomach (that was one of the hardest things!) and wore bras that were less than flattering so as to not put any undue pressure on my breasts that might cause them to produce less. I tried to force a screaming baby to nurse, shoving my breast in his mouth as his little face turned red and tears streamed down his cheeks. I quite literally put much of life on hold in order to keep to my pumping schedule, rarely doing anything beyond my three regular Jesus-related commitments each week (Sunday evening church, Tuesday evening community group, and Friday morning Bible study). Other than actual care of Roger, my life pretty much revolved around trying to nurse.

The most exhausting part was the aforementioned pleading with the Lord. I wrestled to be at peace with God if he chose not to say, "Yes," to my prayers. I knew he could choose to miraculously allow my breasts to produce abundant food and could show Roger that his hard work to eat would no longer be in vain. It hurt when his answer was, "No, my daughter." I cried out to him to soothe my aching heart--I mean not to be exclusive at all, but only mothers whose bodies cannot feed their children but who long to be able to nurse will ever understand the pain of feeling like a failure. It is a pain which I would wish on no one. I even at times ignored God and decided if he wouldn't do it then I would make it happen, which was part of some of those methods in the previous paragraph.

Finally, though, I felt the Spirit urging me to find freedom in Christ, receive the grace known as formula (praise God I need not get a wet nurse!), and let the nursing come to an end. I stopped taking my meds, which reduced me from 6 ounces pumped a day to about 3 ounces. Then, I stopped pumping by routine but did it only when it was convenient, like first thing in the morning and before bed. Finally, I stopped pumping, doing it only when my breasts felt painfully full--that happened only once, last Saturday morning, and now it's been 4 full days. The pump and all accessories are put away, and it's over.

And, much like David, I have peace. Even with the prescription meds my supply was dwindling, and being tied to my pump every 3 hours felt like chains. I was willing to do it for Roger, and if it produced adequate milk I likely would still be doing it. But I realized that one bottle a day simply wasn't worth it and it was time to embrace the freedom of being done. I can trust Jesus to give my son the immunity boost he's missing out on and provide for the unplanned financial hit formula brings. My Father loves me and his grace is sufficient, even in the form of, well, formula. Instead of tears and mourning I have peace and joy.

I will pray for the joy of embarrassing I-leaked-all-over-my-shirt-at-Target-in-front-of-my-father-in-law stories with subsequent babies, but for now, I'm resting in this new freedom. Thank you, Jesus!

1 comment:

  1. I just posted a blog post that could be your posts twin. There is so much pain involved in failing at breastfeeding. Yesterday inwas at a woman's conference and even then, in a room of godly woman, I felt alienated by a group next to me as 2 moms pumped and swapped nursing stories. Jesus has died for these feelings and emotions and I need to remember that.