When I started thinking about this post on Wednesday, it was titled, "The terrible, terrible, awful day". I am not sure if it was a wave of new mum hormones which amplified the issues, which were enough to make any women cry anyway, but it had been a lot of crying, self doubt, fear and feelings of failure kind of day.
I was struggling with breast feeding. Firstly, it seemed like Levi wanted to feed every hour and a half which just made it hard to do anything else and made me feel as though he wasn't getting what he needed. I felt as though we had to continue to supplement with formula to give him enough to eat. I hated that I couldn't give him what he needed. Secondly, I was so sore it hurt to even hold him against my body when I was clothed, and it was truly agony when he was feeding. It hadn't hurt to feed him for the first week, and the lactation consultant at the hospital had told us his latch was good. I just thought I needed to suck it up and tough it out, but the cracking and bleeding was only getting worse, and the pain was worse than my c-section recovery. I was pumping because it was more gentle and trying to feed Levi with expressed milk, but he would try to snuggle and root every time I was holding him, I knew that the bottle wasn't the same for him and that he wanted to nurse. He would cry, and I would cry and both of us would just be crying. I was certain he felt rejected as I let me parents and J hold him so I wouldn't get his hopes up. And the though t of that, meant I just couldn't get it together and stop crying. All day. Floods of tears, at every little thing...I took a shower at one point to try and help me relax and encourage my milk flow because my pumping wasn't being very fruitful. As I stepped out of the shower, Jeremy asked me, "Do you feel better now"? My response, tears and snot. And that was the start of a long desperate night.
This all happened after a night when Levi had slep all of about 10 minutes at a time after 45 minutes of rocking and shushing and singing.It was an exhausting cycle and left me exhausted and feeling as though I was never going to sleep ever again.
It was safe to say I was overwhelmed. The simple things like getting your baby to sleep and feeding them seemed beyond my capabilities. How was I ever going to cope once my parents leave next week? How was I going to have any time to nap, or eat when they are not here to help me by shopping and making meals and holding the baby so I can get ready for the day? I know other people manage to do it but clearly they are just better at this mum thing than I am. See, self doubt all over the place.
I feel a different kind of overwhelmed as I think about the beautiful community that I have around me that really changed my perspective. Firstly, a simple status request on Facebook for prayer resulted in so many encouraging words, stories of others experiences and advice as well as a beautiful sense of peace which I believe came from the prayers offered on my behalf.
Then I had text messages from friends who I had contacted, people offering me advice and wisdom, as well as phone calls and emails helping me process what I was feeling, and helping me to make a plan to deal with the breastfeeding issues.
I contacted a lactation consultant who came over yesterday and was such a blessing. She taught me how to latch Levi properly, and said she is confident that once we figure this out the soreness will go away. She was very affirming of my ability to feed him and that renewed my spirit and my hope for what the future will look like.
Today, I went out to a restaurant for lunch with Jeremy, my parents and the baby and I even breastfeed while we were there (using my nursing cover). Levi had to latch a few times before he got a good one that didn't hurt me, but once he was on it felt great. Looking down at his sweet face while he was feeding was so sweet. Afterwards we went to get frozen yogurt and walk some of Greenlake before laying out our blanket and layed out in the sun while Levi napped in the stroller in the shade.
Today, life is busy, and tiring but it can have such beautiful moments. I am regaining my breast feeding confidence and seeing how well a god feed can make my boy sleep too. Last night he did a few longer stretches of sleep and so did I which was also helpful in finding a new perspective.
I wand to be the voice of affirmation in the live of other friends in the way mothers around me have spoken them to me. I am realising that in the early weeks when the learning curve in parenthood is the most steep, it is vital for parents to hear that they are doing a good job.
I am not perfect, but I am the perfect Mum for Levi which is why God blessed us with him, and he is perfect for us.
Thank you to all the women who have blessed and encouraged me in the last few days. It is very much appreciated.