5/10/2013

Eat, Baby [part III of III]

This is a 3 part miniseries on my breastfeeding journey, particularly with Jules. Parts I and II are here and here, respectively; they were written in late February but not posted until now(early May). Oops! For that reason, I added a part III, today's post, with how the last 2 months have gone and where we are now.

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It was interesting getting back into my head for where I was two months ago: in my last post I talked about the peace I felt because at least I was mostly breastfeeding. In the two months since I wrote that my supply slowly waned more and more. Part of it could be because at 6 months I started really watching my eating and only eat 1,500 calories a day (I plan to write about that whole area--beauty, weight gain and weight loss, etc, so you can look forward to that in the new few weeks!). A part of it though is just that my body still struggles so much with making milk. Again, inexplicably (before I started eating less) I suddenly could only pump about 2oz at a time and Juliet would be frustrated coming off the breast except for the very first feed of the day. That got even worse when I did cut calories, but as you'll see in the forthcoming post I didn't feel I had a whole heck of a lot of a choice.

I finally just embraced it. I offered the breast at every feed, but the only one that satisfied her was the first of the morning, and even then I had to give her formula an hour later before her first nap. Even though she was only getting maybe 2-3 ounces of breastmilk it was at least something. But then I started feeling this nagging like I was holding onto something I shouldn't be, like it was time to be done nursing. Wouldn't you know it, my prescription refill for the lactation help was denied for some reason (still not sure why) and it just washed over me--Jesus clearly said, "We're done now." It's just one of those things where I know it's time. I was at a women's training day for church on Saturday and never nursed and there was no sign that I ever had nursed. No tenderness, no pain, no build up, nada. My body was just done.

Here's the thing: I can try every method. I can listen to every expert (self-proclaimed or actual) about nursing. But for whatever reason--my surgery? Just my body genetically? Some unknown?--my body struggles like heck to make enough milk to feed my babies on only breastmilk and then long term. I can claw at the air or I can accept it. After wrestling with Jesus and praying for a miracle I finally surrendered and accepted it.

This is an image that should never be a harbinger of shame but of gratitude for the grace.

Wouldn't you know it, now instead of guilt I feel gratitude. I am grateful for the first 4 months being exclusive nursing. I am grateful that Jules still got a decent bit of breastmilk until 7 months. I am grateful that we have a solid two months worth of pumped milk in the freezer to replace that first morning nursing session. And I am grateful for formula. Most of all, I am grateful that Jesus really does care, he doesn't belittle me, and this is important to him, too, because it's important to me and I am important to Jesus. What a beautiful savior to love, an honorable lord to serve, my Jesus is.

I still wonder if we have more biological children if the third time will be the charm. One of my husband's coworkers shared how his wife really struggled with babies one and two but babies three and four were exclusively breastfed and basically problem free. So who knows. Well, Jesus knows, actually, and one lesson I learned with Juliet is that I put my hope in those statistics about bodies producing 30% more milk with subsequent pregnancies. I pretty much begged Jesus to make me able to breastfeed and have ample supply and not a care in the world nursing wise with Jules. Had you asked, I would have said Jesus was my hope, but honestly, he wasn't. My hope was in those dastardly statistics. Not that it's their fault--the problem is my heart.

Here's what really matters: I am enough. My body is enough. I am the mother Jesus chose for my children, low milk supply and all. Even more importantly, I think for the first time (insofar as I can tell) I have actual true peace that Jesus is sovereign and good in his sovereignty even though I don't make enough milk. Plus I feel freed from worrying about what others think since I am resting in him. Someone may read this and think I didn't try hard enough, or say, "Did you know..." or, "Have you tried..." and I can listen, and say, "Thank you for your concern and desire to help, but I'm at peace with my situation and don't feel the need to try anything else but simply let things play out as they will." And I am finally truly ok with that. I am enough because my Jesus is enough.

I wish I could put into words how free I finally feel. Maybe struggles will return or I'll look back in retrospect and see what I can't now, but in this moment I am at peace. If the peace is fleeting then I'll have Jesus to cling to when it hurts that I don't get to nurse my baby girl to 12 months, 18 months, whatever. That's all Jesus and his work in my heart.

A precious shot of my beautiful girl during our last nursing session.
I wanted the memory saved for future reference to the grace it was.

And honestly, honestly, because of the ways he's worked in my heart to face my fear of man (letting others' words about what I "should" know or do rock me and haunt me and accuse me even if they didn't mean it that way) and to see my unbelief about his goodness in my trial, plus my identity as blood bought beloved daughter regardless of if my boobs make lots of milk or not...well, damn, I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't. I do still think it would have been amazing if breastfeeding had been a bountiful supply thing for me, but it wasn't and if bountiful supply meant not being redeemed and sanctified in the ways I have been then I just wouldn't change it.

I just wouldn't even change a thing.

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