Friday, September 23, 2011

Humbling my Mother's Heart

Job 40 :3 Then Job answered the LORD and said,
4 “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
5 “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;
Even twice, and I will add nothing more.”

Today has been extremely humbling in my journey as a mother. For the past several days, Gracie's been cranky as can be. I chalked it up to teething; when the teeth didn't appear, I claimed she was tired, since she's been waking up more at night. Then, God forgive me, I credited it to her having a temper and a spirited personality like both her father and me. It wasn't any of those things.

My poor baby was hungry.

I've been seeing it for a few days and stubbornly refusing the truth. You see, through all my doubts and worries, I've been prideful in my heart about breast feeding. I'd never say it out loud, but I'd think in my heart, "Those women who suppliment gave up too easily." Or, "Formula-feeding moms are selfish, not wanting to give of themselves for their babies." And maybe, for some of them that is true. But not all. And maybe, not even most.

God's been gracious enough to chip away at the beam in my eye. One friend told me this morning of her heartbreak when, for some unknown reason, her milk never came in and they couldn't afford the expensive options offered by the lactation consultants. And then, I spent the morning together at the library with a new friend, watching our sweet daughters roll around on the carpet in the board book area. She's used formula pretty much since her baby was born, because she needed gall bladder surgery. It was possible to nurse, but she'd have to forgo pain medications before, during, and after this excruciatingly painful procedure. After a day of trying to "muscle through it" she realized she'd be a much better mother in less pain.

And now, you can add me. I don't know why, but at 4 1/2 months, my milk is drying up. I don't have an explaination or an excuse. But what I do know is that my darling has been suffering from my stubbornness. I gave her her first bottle at 3pm, after which she truly giggled for the first time in her life. At bedtime she received her 2nd, and went to sleep without a single tear for the first time in weeks. I'm heartbroken and happy at the same time: heartbroken for not being "enough" for her; happy because she's at peace.

I guess I would have had to learn this lesson sooner or later - no mother is "enough" for her children. Only God can provide everything even a very small human heart needs. I've got a constant chatter running through my head: "It isn't too late, you can try harder, pray harder, want it more..." But then, whose power am I leaning on? Who am I trying to trust? No matter what I do, I can't fix this myself. And it is more Godly to submit to him.

I'm still nursing. I'm feeding her bottles afterwards, though, and today at both times she took a full 4oz of formula. I hope to keep nursing for a very long time, at least in a small way, but we'll see what God plans. And while I'm definately praying my supply rebounds, doing some small things to encourage that (bring on the oatmeal!), I'm not going to make Grace sacrifice any longer for my prideful needs. That way, I know she'll be fed, and hopefully, someday, I'll be a better mother for her out of all this.


Serena said...

I don't want to minimize anything that you have been learning, because God uses what He needs to teach us, but babies will have a growth spurt around this age. It's possible you need to be nursing more often, and that Grace will seem hungry, but that she just needs to nurse more to build up your supply. It doesn't necessarily mean that you are losing your supply, even if it seems like it. I'm saying all this to encourage you, because I know you want to breastfeed, so please don't take this as me saying "Oh, you shouldn't be using a bottle!" I would also encourage you to speak to a lactation consultant, or a La Leche League lady in your area. :)

Organizing Mommy said...

Oh Sweetie! You must be so emotionally torn up over this! Remember, we love and nurture and feed our children in so many ways! Follow your heart on this one. You need to keep the baby fed! I had to give Emily bottles also, and she's probably the healthiest of them all. And yes, Joanna can photograph you guys, but I think you may need to plan a visit here. She's a busy senior in high school--you remember those days? We'd love to meet your hubby also!