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The F-word

Don’t we all feel like failures sometimes? Especially us, mothers, who constantly try to do everything right, but often have to face limitations that make us feel not good enough. I’ve felt like this a LOT of times during my journey as a mom, and I would like to share a certain struggle with you. I will repost this article I wrote a few months ago on my other account, Baby’s Little Corner, and I hope it will encourage you to stand up for who you are, a wonderful and dedicated mother, and embrace that job with absolutely everything that it brings along! Ok, here goes.

Breastfeeding my baby was fierce the first two months. Each feeding session would begin with tears (mine, not hers) and shooting pains all the way to my toes. She was latching on perfectly and I never had wounds, but that intense pain the first few seconds into a nursing session, were completely agonizing. “Why doesn’t anybody tell you it hurts??” I kept wondering. Every woman talks with such delight about breastfeeding, so I never even imagined there would be a different side to the story.

However, I was determined to breastfeed. Months and months of thorough research had taught me that breast is best and, no matter what, you DO NOT give baby formula. You DO NOT use bottles, and definitely no pacifiers. I had this romantic illusion that I would breastfeed my baby as long as possible (even up to 3 years if possible) so, when three days into being a new mom had passed and my milk had still not arrived, I started thinking that perhaps my research had been a little bit biased. I had only read what I wanted to, because the alternative was OUT OF THE QUESTION.

So, here I was, three days in, squeezing just a few drops of milk for my hungry baby who was losing weight fast. All my friends were telling me not to panic, that the milk would soon come , that my body would adjust, so I firmly believed in that and was looking forward to that day. In the meantime, my baby was hysterical. She was screaming so hard, those screams that break your heart together with hers, but I kept listening to those voices that told me “dont give in, don’t use formula, the amount of milk you produce is just enough for your baby.” At one point, my lactation consultant and all the midwives who were visiting me started telling me that I had to let go of these “principles” and do what I had to do: feed my daughter. One way or the other. So, with tears in my eyes and feeling like a complete failure, I sent my husband off to the grocery store to buy a bottle of the big, bad f-word. He came back with the most expensive formula on the market, we prepared a bottle and Evelyn ate, for the first time, a good, satisfying meal. She chugged down that bottle like she hadn’t eaten the whole day and suddenly, her heartbreaking screams were completely gone and she became a happy, cheerful baby.

I wasn’t about to give in and supplement all her meals with formula though, so I started doing ALL the things they told me to: feeding on each side a few times (for the active suckling), pumping to stimulate lactation, drinking teas of all sorts, spraying oxytocin up my nose then feeding again, pumping, then power pumping (which was THE WORST) and so on, an endless cycle that exhausted me all the way to my bones. But I didn’t care. I wanted to fight and give my baby what she needed most. That never happened though. No matter how hard I tried, I could never produce enough milk. I still had to supplement some of her meals with a little bit of formula, just enough to make her remain happy and cheerful.

I cried. A lot. Every time I would prepare a bottle, I would shake down to the core and feel like such a failure. I would look into my baby’s happy eyes while she would enjoy her fake milk, and break down inside for my incapacity to provide that for her. I had been brain washed by a certain category of moms, into believing that I was a failure.I would feel their eyes on me while preparing my baby a bottle out in the park or a restaurant. Even the formula package seemed to judge me, saying in bold letters, right above their title: “Breast is best.” Gee, thanks, formula company. I didn’t know that.

For a long time, I blamed myself and felt like a horrible mother and less of a woman, because I couldn’t produce enough milk to stop the supplement. I thought I was ruining my baby, and the word “Failure” kept creeping in deeper and deeper, hand in hand with the word “Formula”, words that turned many of my days and nights into burdensome nightmares.

Finally, I realized something. My baby was happy. She was protected. She was in God’s hands, and also in mine. And we have good hands, our hands are love and we carry her. Formula or breast milk, my daughter is protected, she is wrapped in constant care. I surrendered my fears to the One who washes over them with His abundant peace, and I saw: I had not failed. I was not a failure. I was a good mom, i AM a good mom, because everything I do comes out of this crazy love I carry for my daughter. I stopped leaning on my can’s and cant’s, my should’s and shouldnt’s, and rely completely on God. Pray every day that my baby will be nourished, that she would be protected. The details of that process don’t matter, they are in God’s hands. But in what concerns me, the f-words don’t frighten me anymore.


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