I made it.
I really actually made it.
Man, this month hasn’t been pretty.
(see post I wrote in the most annoyed and irritable and emotionally hungry mood last night LOL)
Which, can I just say, I love y’all?
For every comment you saw (on Facebook) (and there were lots of them)– I kid you not for every one public comment, I have a private message inbox of SEVERAL private messages for every public one you saw.
Moms and women writing me through tears telling me either of their inability to breastfeed, their desire to quit because it was too much, their shame for quitting, their joy in supplementing, their pain from never having had a successful breastfeeding relationship and regretting that years later, COUPONS for formula… all of that.
The message with coupons especially made me smile.
The messages with shame from not breastfeeding and not wanting to admit that they didn’t breastfeed publicly on my wall made me sad.
Here’s the thing, guys– we’re all in this thing called motherhood together.
Whether you breastfeed or bottlefeed– I love what a friend said yesterday in “Fed is best!”
All the yeses to that.
Despite my 11pm post that showed me so raw, so annoyed, so done, and SO dang hungry– I’m very likely not going to quit breastfeeding Annabeth.
For several reasons, but does that mean I think less of any mom that decided formula was better for her family?
But do you want to know a secret?
I used to. I absolutely used to judge moms that weaned at 6 months or never tried breastfeeding or said they didn’t make enough milk so they had to use formula.
In my narrow perspective of what mothering looked like, as the mom of one June Harbor, I didn’t think any of that made sense.
I thought #breastisbest was the only way and everyone could and should do it.
Oh, goodness gracious, I’m embarrassed even typing that out, and I pray you’ll forgive me and honor my honesty in what I used to think.
I’m going to go one further and re-live an actual real life situation from when I was nursing June and got mastitis for the first time when she was not even 2 months new. It had become pretty bad and I had to go to the emergency room.
I can remember as clear as day the fear and absolute worry that flooded my heart.
NOT for my own health nor worrying about all the things that could be going on with me, but such a concern for June and how she was going to be fed if something was really wrong with me and they had to do something to me where I couldn’t breastfeed her.
In tears, I remember texting my sister-in-law (who is also one of my best friends) asking her if she would nurse June if something happened to me.
Which honestly, I still love that I did that and that Bailey was willing and I would do the same for any of her babies, BUT here’s the problem with it all… I was SCARED of formula.
My dad came in to check on me and I don’t remember what the doctors were discussing doing to me, but I just started crying and said, “Dad- what if I can’t feed her and they have to give my Baby June… formula!!?”
And I said “formula” with a scrunched up face like it was some awful bad word.
My dad, who has always had an uncanny ability to calm me in my most stressed out of moments, laughed and with such sincere eyes looked at me and said, “Erica… my mom gave me…. ‘formula’ (he even scrunched up his face and said it identical to how I had) and I’m not perfect, but I’m certainly still doing okay.”
I am crying and laughing and smiling remembering this whole scene.
You guys, I looked at him— in a hospital gown and bed, with tears in my eyes– and instantly realized how radical and crazy I had become.
All the #breastisbest hashtags and propaganda had filled my mind with this thought that formula was poison I couldn’t dare give to my precious Baby June (EVEN IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION) and all of the sudden, as I looked at my Dad and realized he’s one of my favorite people ever and HE GREW UP ON FORMULA LOL, I realized how crazy and ridiculous my fears and thought process had become.
As a new mom, you’re just overwhelmed with information and it’s so hard to know what is best and you so very, very badly want to only do the best for your baby, so I really know my poor judgement came from such a place of good intentions but goodness, I was so many kinds of wrong in thinking there was only one “best” way to feed a baby.
Because you guys, I feel so much differently now.
Fast forward 3 years, a Smith and a pregnant with a Bomber belly later as I’m sitting at Pillar Church one Sunday night.
I looked around and I saw not one, not two, not three, but FOUR moms with nursing covers on breastfeeding their babies that Sunday night at church.
And where a former me would have thought, “Awwww, that is precious and look at all of that sweet bonding and nursing happening…” that is about the opposite of what I thought.
I looked around, looked down at my big belly that was proof my time was coming and thought, “Oh crap. I am NOT ready to be doing that again.”
I even told my Shippmate a few nights later over a dinner date at Texas Roadhouse, “So yeah… I am completely dreading breastfeeding this time. I just do NOT feel geared up to give my body over like that again.”
I remember Ryan looking up at me over those amazing rolls and cinnamon butter (SOMEONE TAKE ME THERE RIGHT NOW) (FOOD IS SO EMOTIONAL TO ME RIGHT NOW AND I NEED IT ALL) (and it’s 4pm, not 11pm yet so WATCH OUT lol) and he said, “Erica- are you serious… like are you really considering not breastfeeding this baby?”
I was 39 weeks pregnant and I looked back at him and laughed, because I said, “Oh my gosh NO, of course I will but I just do not want to right now, but SURELY once she is born and I see her I will want to feed her and it will be all magical and amazing and great.”
Except it wasn’t.
I’ve never once loved nursing her like I did with my others.
I HATE admitting that.
I am looking at her sleeping so sweetly and beautifully in her swing right now and I feel awful that I have to be honest that I really don’t enjoy it the same with her.
BUT, I love her ABSOLUTELY NO LESS than my other two. Oh my gosh, not at all.
In fact, since we’re in the spirit of confessions here in My Dyer-E today, let me just go ahead and be so honest to admit I think she’s the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
…as in including my other two in that pool of babies LOL.
She just is. Like I did not expect that or even plan on it but oh my gosh, I can’t even with her– she’s flawless and beautiful in such a way I can’t even believe sometimes.
But nope. I’m still yet to say, “Ah Ryan, I DID change my mind and I now am geared up for this and I LOVE BREASTFEEDING!!!!”
A few weeks ago, June was playing with her dolls and Smith was the grandpa and I overheard her say to him, “Ugh, Pa- I HATE breastfeeding. It is SO much work!!!!” while holding her baby and pretending to be me.
I couldn’t stop laughing at that then and I’m still laughing at it today.
It’s true. This time breastfeeding is a chore for me. It wears me out and exhausts me and takes every last bit out of me.
I do NOT want to sit down and be what I’ve called “a prisoner of the couch” for all the feedings.
I want to be up and on a walk with my big kids. I want to be cleaning things up or getting things ready. I don’t want to just sit and feed her. I don’t want to wear weirdo breastfeeding friendly clothes. I certainly don’t want to be trapped under a breastfeeding cover with a sweaty baby against my sweaty boob.
But I’m going to, because it’s what I think is best for our family.
I also was so sweetly reminded by a few private messages that I’m kind of in the trenches right now.
Cluster feeding is INTENSE. I’m still just 7 weeks postpartum and have had A LOT happen since Annabeth was born.
It WILL get easier. It WILL get less intense.
My Shippmate looked at me in tears and so hungry and worn out last night and said, “Can I order you some food or make some protein balls or shakes or something for you for when this happens tomorrow night?”
God bless him, I do love that guy.
And honestly, it was even comforting reading SO many messages of other moms who got so hungry nursing and have to eat something even at 11pm to just feel better.
Sometimes, when you’re in the trenches of nursing a newborn and cluster feeds and all the emotions, it’s just grandly huge to hear another mom admit she’s been there and it’s just hard.
Those honest and vulnerable words are so important.
Those kind of words felt inspiring to me today. I can do this. I can nurse a third baby.
It might not be as magical and full of rainbows and unicorns as with my first two, but I’ll keep on keeping on with her and what I lack in enthusiasm and heart eye emojis this time, I will make up for with a sincere and steadfast commitment to keep going!
That’s a sweet kind of love in and of itself.
Which kind of brings me full circle to where I started this post in celebrating the end of EVERYDAY IN MAY.
It wasn’t as enthusiastic nor the quality I would have preferred, but I kept on keeping on.
I wrote something every night.
I didn’t give up when I really, really wanted to.
I cried that my posts were lame and that I had thoughts and great posts that never would make it to the keyboard.
I cried that it wasn’t fair so much happened that was out of my control that absolutely affected my ability to write.
But today, on May 31st, with iced coffee, the most special and thoughtful of EVERYDAY IN MAY flower delivery (and three not pictured babies sleeping peacefully) I finished what I began and am proud to say–
I did it.
Thank you for your patience, for your love, for your support, and for your friendship.
You are a very precious tribe to me– one that sends formula coupons when I say I’m over breastfeeding, one that prays for my people, and one that shows me grace when I have none to give myself.
For each of you, I am the most grateful.
And I had to share these two pictures I came across on my phone from this weekend. Just so you wouldn’t think I spend all of my time nursing her scowling and annoyed lol.
Far from really.