This is one of those weeks that I have begun three different drafts. I have half formed ideas swirling through my head- and I am not sure which one to complete. It’s interesting, I have so much that impacts me and scrolls through my mind on a daily basis, that sometimes it feels like there isn’t anything there to write about. Nothing of substance to put on paper. There isn’t that one idea that pounds into my consciousness over and over again, demanding to be documented.
I sit with my fingers resting on the keys, paralyzed, convinced that I am a hack and have run out of ideas.
I recline in my chair and realize I have three drafts begun. That’s three ideas! I feel utterly ridiculous on these days. So, I choose. Today, I choose breastfeeding. Which feels odd, since I haven’t sustained my child with my body in a year. To tell my tale this week, I must first digress a little.
I have mentioned in several different posts that my Moose-man was a reflux baby. Those blessed with babies that did not suffer from the condition may not fully understand what that means. When an infant is born, though they are formed enough to live outside the womb, they are still developing in a lot of ways. The obvious- they cannot control their movements. They cannot hold up their own head or roll over. But there are undeveloped portions within their tiny, incredible bodies as well. There is a flap within our esophagus. We all have one. It’s a pretty important little thing, as it keeps stomach acid from escaping and climbing. When an infant is born, that flap is not fully developed. Some babies get the luck of the draw and their acid doesn’t create any issues-others experience acid reflux. Moose did.
So what does that mean-other than the anatomy? It meant my baby couldn’t sleep. Laying down increased his pain. He would be fast asleep on my shoulder, but as soon as I altered his position the painful wail would begin. The first two weeks at home, I spent on the sofa, his little body curled on my chest. For months, I couldn’t put him down. It meant that eating was a slow and painful process for him. It was generally filled with tears- both his and mine. A processes we repeated often, as we couldn’t go more than a few hours between feedings.
But mostly, it meant that I was periodically convinced that my son hated me.
I feel really dramatic typing that. The memories I have from that first year, as I cried over him or sobbed in another room about how my son hated me, feel really dramatic. I cannot describe how inferior I felt that I could not comfort my baby. I worried that I was a bad mother. That I didn’t have the instinct I needed to be the best for him. Worries I still have from time to time.
Because of my experience, I do not remember my year of breastfeeding warmly. There are other factors, like postpartum anxiety and battling my body due to my autoimmune disease. But it all created the perfect storm of a difficult situation. One that has filled me with sadness- and a little bit of jealousy.
My views have been challenged recently. It started after the post about my birth experience-the sadness I harbor over my c-section. My perspective challenged by a person born via c-section. He saw his mother’s love through how he entered the world. The feats she went through, without hesitation, to ensure he was healthy and strong. He brought to my attention that the way I view my c-section will eventually color Moose’s view. Instead of seeing the joy that he brings me, he may worry about the sadness I experience when remembering the day I got to meet him. That conversation has begun a shift. A shift in how I think about my son’s birth. A shift that is causing a ripple effect. One I didn’t realize was happening until this afternoon.
Through the mystery that is the internet, I stumbled upon a photo. Staring back at me from my screen was a sweet moment captured in time- one of a mother feeding her baby. My initial reaction to said moment is how I knew something had begun to change in the shadows of my mind. Instead of jealousy or memories of frustration, I just saw peace. I saw the beauty. And I thought- if I ever had another baby, I would try again. A thought- I must admit- that surprised me.
I am no longer overwhelmed with the struggles of breastfeeding- the battles to achieve a successful latch, low milk production, or clothing restrictions. My body is now my own. The insecurities and anguish no longer integrated into my daily routine. As those unfavorable bedfellows have departed, I realize that I see my pride. Pride that I didn’t let the difficulty overwhelm me. I relinquished my body for nearly thirteen months. I made it a second job. I cried, worried, and lost sleep for the greatest of reasons. I did a miraculous thing. A thing a lot of women with my condition can’t.
There was a flash today- a pang I recognized. I missed it. I missed the sweet, stolen moments as my son slept on my lap and I dozed in the rocking chair. His face angled toward me, relaxed and safe. An experience I rarely get these days, as he is an entity of perpetual movement. Allowing the hardship to slip from my mind, only holding onto the stillness- the accomplishment- the beauty emerges. As with anything we experience- but particularly as a parent- there was a great deal of frustration but the reward was oh so sweet. A shift in perspective I hope to hold onto- because hard days won’t end, but neither will the joy.