No one ever told me that as a preggo or new mom not only do you get swollen ankles, raging hormones, food cravings, sleepless nights, and diaper blowouts, but also a serious case of insecurity all packaged with a host of lies.
I fear even writing these actual words because the insecurity and heartbreak is all too fresh, because I am currently losing the nursing battle. For some moms it seems easy-peasy and then there's those of us who wage war and go to battle in order to breast feed our babes. In addition to the learning curve of being a full time new mom, there's also this part-time job you take up as well called nursing. At least if you're on the struggle bus like I am, it takes more time, energy and hours than you could have imagined. Despite the blogs, articles, podcasts and apps I ingested to prepare myself to nurse, I never really thought about the emotional roller coaster I would go on when things did not quite go as planned. Lots of pumping and teas and fenugreek pills and lactation cookies and lactation consultants and (for me) tears. Then finally my pediatrician said the one dreaded word I did not want to hear....supplement. However, the hard work of it all is not what I shied away from, I knew nursing would be hard. It was feeling like a failure when it wasn't working that I was scared of most. There is this God-given ability to be THE food source for your child, so if it is not going as planned, what is wrong with ME? Then the comparison game comes in for the final one-two-punch. Every mom around you who breastfed for months or years and have freezers over-flowing with stored milk serves as a friendly reminder of what you are not.
I knew life would change as new mom, but I never realized how insecure I would feel at moments, especially with my desire or perhaps over-desire to be a "good mom." I decided being a good mom is equated with ample milk supply, perfected naps, a consistent schedule, etc. Would my little one be in counseling one day recounting the first time formula touched her lips and how traumatizing it was? It sounds silly, but it's a real fear, does she think I am failing her? The gross part of it all is the fear of other's opinions that paralyzes me from making decisions that are best for my family. Decisions that are truly between me, my husband and God.
Recently I was holding Rosie at an event and she was getting hungry so I told a friend I needed to go feed her. The friend asked how it was going. I simply said I was having a hard time with it all. She looked right at me and said,
"You are a GOOD MAMA."
I cannot begin to tell you what this did to my soul and how it felt like instant ointment to my discouraged heart. I am thankful for the tips and tricks and advice of many of my mom friends. My inner Olivia Pope, my 'fixer,' tried them all in order to fix the problem and to assure those around me, "I tried." But I'll just say the thing I have needed the most through the trials of motherhood so far was for a mom to just say the words to me "You are a good mom!" That's it. No advice, just encouragement and a truth to combat the lies. I love my baby girl, she is well fed and healthy, adored, doted on, cuddled, snuggled, and prayed for everyday. Hm. Maybe I'm not failing her after all...
I recently heard a birth and adoptive parent say, "I can tell you that what "works" is touch, nurture, safety, and steady unconditional tireless love. That's what makes healthy happy humans."
We are all just trying our very best and loving our babies, and keeping them alive for heaven's sake! A task in and of itself. So if you are a mama and reading this, no matter if you are on victory hill or in the trenches of struggle-valley, can I just say to you, "YOU ARE A GOOD MAMA!" Receive this truth and toss the comparison and lies and insecurity to the wind. Do not waste your heart or time on such things, instead go snuggle your babe and thank God for the little miracle and gift that is your sweet child. At least that is what you will find me doing today. Kissing the chubby cheeks of my happy, healthy, and well fed baby girl.