Thursday, July 14, 2011

In regards to my lifelong aspiration to do everything perfectly...

Motherhood is not something that came naturally to me. Motherhood was not something that was on my mind in that season of my life. I was planning a wedding (don't judge, it happens to the best of us), finishing up college, and mapping out the rest of my life. Then BOOM, I was a mama. A non eventful pregnancy turned into a very eventful birth, a hellish few days, and then Mike and I were at home, ALONE, with a baby. I was uber confident my entire pregnancy that I would be a great mother, a natural. I am one of those people that learns quickly, excels at most things I try, how hard could it be? Mike was worried the entire pregnancy that he would suck at it. He was 36, had never so much as held a baby, what would he do?

Guess which one of us was the natural? Mike, of course. It was like the book "Are You My Mother?" and Olivia picked him. I was a drugged up, worn out, miserable person for the first few weeks of her life. I had a severe reaction to one of my pain meds, but didn't know it was a reaction, so I was sick as a dog, thinking it was normal. It is literally a fog, I remember very little. I tried and tried to nurse Olivia, but she would have nothing of it. I cried and cried, she cried and cried, and Mike kept us alive and sane. I would stuggle with her for hours, trying to get her to nurse, trying to pump, tearfully talking on the phone to the La Leche people, to no avail. Then Mike would feed her a bottle, while I sat in the corner, watched TV, and cried. It was a happy time :) But, in my mind, the perfect mother nursed her baby, she put her to sleep in her own bed, she sang lullabys and never got tired. Dang it, I was going to be the perfect mother. At Olivia's one month appointment, our sweet doctor told me that she thought Olivia was lactose intolerant. We switched to soy formula and I made the hard decision to stop nursing altogether. I was devastated, but she wasn't really getting much from me and it was exhausting. She was up from 12 a.m-8 a.m every night/day. I was at my wit's end. So, I started giving her formula exclusively, I put her in the bed with us, and started singing songs I liked. You know what? She was a new baby! She was happy, healthy, and finally seemed to like her mama!

Fast forward eight years. I have a new baby, and quite frankly it feels like being a first time mama again. I have forgotten so much about babies and this baby is completely different. All he wants to do is sleep. He has jaundice and it takes a few days to get him better. My milk takes forever to come in, so we have to supplement with formula. Once my milk is in, I stop the formula and I'm determined to be "perfect" this time. Well, he nearly starves to death and sleeps all the time. I'm not making enough milk for the little guy!'s a repeat of last time, I nurse, Mike bottle feeds, I mope. Finally, I throw in the towel. I also don't make him sleep in his bed either, he sleeps with us and is happy as a clam. He's a healthy, happy baby.

Now, here comes Matt. I told Mike it would work this time or I would die trying. However, when I was pregnant, I found out that the stupid, awful, non life threatening disease I have that caused all the infertility issues, weight issues, etc also causes poor milk production. AHA! We have a reason! It's not my fault, well at least not in a way I can control. So, I go bonkers researching what supplements I can take, what I can do to make it work. In the hospital, I start taking herbal supplements. I spend hours with the lactation consultant. When we get home, we are already supplementing with formula. He dehydrated in the hospital and they insisted. Go figure :) But, that's okay, because he's nursing good and taking very little formula. Then, he starts to grow. I can't keep up. Every nursing book out there tell you that your body will keep up, but mine didn't get the memo. So, after having two kids, raised on formula, who are incredibly healthy, bright, and wonderful, what do you think I did? Well, you're wrong. I didn't give up, not yet.

For some reason, I am bound and determined to torment myself one more time. I am taking the most random and expensive combination of pills and supplements. I just took 18 pills before I sat down to write this. Is it working? Nope. But, I figure every little bit of breastmilk he gets is good, so I'll keep plugging along. We have a system now, Matt and I. I nurse him first, then I give him his bottle. He stares at me the whole time, so sweet and trusting. He doesn't care where the food comes from, he just feels loved and safe that it keeps coming.

The last few days, I have really questioned my motives. I don't buy into the whole formula conspiracy. I do believe that breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, but I don't think that formula is bad. My other kids thrived on it. But, I find myself watching the faces of others when I give Matt a bottle. Are they judging me, assuming I'm too selfish or ignorant to breastfeed? What do other mothers think of me? I feel the need to tell people the whole story, which is extreme oversharing, but I just want them to know that I'm trying to be "perfect", it just isn't working.

The funny thing is, I don't think twice when I see a mother giving a baby a bottle. Statistics show that a majority of mothers wind up switching to formula. I don't judge any mother as long as they are keeping their child safe. So why do I assume they are judging me? Why do I feel the need to be "perfect"?

It's not just breastfeeding. I spend every day making sure my kids look great, attempt to get them to act great. I make sure the house is near spotless every night before I go to bed, even if it means sacrificing sleep I dearly need. I volunteer in excess, I will go out of my way to make sure my family is happy, no matter what the need. The only thing I don't focus on making perfect is my appearance, which could use some work! All in all, I am an extremely happy person. I adore my husband, I love my children, my home, my job, my church, everything.

Anyway, there is no conclusion to this story, just a brain dump, I guess. Take care, dear readers, I'll be back with something lighter and fluffier soon!

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