Posts tagged ‘Doubts’

June 9, 2011

On Nursing

On the days when I was feeling sleep-deprived while carrying Jacob, my view on pregnancy looked something like this:

A little person is living inside of me, stealing my food, zapping my energy, and kicking me to boot.  Once it’s born—a process I don’t even want to think about—it will continue to feed off of me, relegating me to the sad life of a 24/7 cafeteria.

I haven’t seen the movie Aliens, but I was pretty sure I was living it.

Yes, pregnancy is exhausting, and labor and delivery are not the most comfortable situations a woman can find herself in, but there are joys in these experiences all the same.  Likewise, there are joys in nursing.  It may have taken me eight months to really appreciate them, and some of that may have to do with the imminent, though still distant issue of weaning, but finally I am here.

For someone who has always been physically modest and who has never had any serious medical conditions, using one’s body to sustain another life is rather overwhelming.  In my view, our society focuses on our minds, and sometimes our souls, as the defining characteristics of who we are.  Our bodies are simply vehicles to get us here or there, something practical but impartial to take us on the ride.

Becoming a mother has forced me to understand and appreciate my body in new ways.  I respect all that it is able to do, or rather all the fascinating capacities God has built in to it.  I find that when I get dressed and check to see how flat (or not so flat) my tummy looks post-partum, I am reminded that something so much more has happened there, and I’m not so critical anymore.

The same goes for nursing.  What was before a mysterious process that involved partially disrobing several times a day is now a special time to chill out, relax, and refocus.  I’ve read that there is a relaxing hormone that is released when a mother is nursing her child and I’ve definitely felt it.  In the first few weeks, that sometimes even made me feel lightheaded at the start of a nursing session.

Now, although my mind still does ramble sometimes, and it can be frustrating when I want to feed Jacob before we head out somewhere and he doesn’t want to eat, I appreciate these quiet times that we share.  Especially in the evenings, when he’s sleepy and clean from a bath, it’s as close as we get to snuggling.  I sing to him and gaze at his face, memorizing every detail so that I can think about him later in the evening when I’m still awake and starting to miss him.

Like so many things God has created, nursing—and pregnancy, and labor & delivery—seems like a crazy idea at first.  But with time, trust, and the right perspective, it turns out to be one of the most rewarding, encouraging, and literally life-giving things I could have ever imagined.

June 1, 2011

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

When I was pregnant, a wise co-worker and fellow mom told me that during the first few months after the Peanut was born, I would feel like I was in a tunnel—a place where there was only baby on the brain all the time, when I wasn’t really sure who I was anymore because of the dramatic change in my life (and the sleep-deprivation, of course).  I saw her a few months ago and told her I had emerged from the tunnel, but now I don’t think I really did.  I recognize that parenting is never stagnant, things are always changing, but then I still felt like I was floundering at times.

 

Now eight months in, I feel like I have a better hold on things, and I think I am finally seeing the light for real.  I’ve nursed and changed diapers in restaurants, at church, on buses, in subway stations and in a subway car itself.  I know how to pack for trips of various lengths and I’m not afraid to take day trips or even travel across the country.  I can play with Jacob and still get things done both around the apartment and for work.  I am excited to start each day and content when I reflect back each evening.

 

This is not to say that things go perfectly every day—or any day, for that matter.  When I make plans, I know I need to be ready to change them the next instant, depending on naps, nursing, or weather.  I still struggle to keep my priorities straight and tackle the tougher things on my plate instead of surfing the web or vegging out in front of Hulu. I know I can’t do everything at once, but I feel more confident that I can do anything if I try.

 

I write this today for new moms, expectant moms, and for myself for when, God willing, the next Peanut comes along.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

 

When I was pregnant and after I gave birth, I was nearly convinced that all the things that were supposed to happen with new moms would not happen to me.  I had no problem believing these things occurred for almost every other mom on the planet, but I knew I would be the exception.  For example:

 

  • I would not be able to figure out how to change a baby in public, especially when there wasn’t a changing table in the bathroom.

 

  • I would not be able to nurse my baby in public, nor would I be able to discreetly nurse without essentially undressing and redressing myself.

 

  • The above two points proved that I would never be able to go out in the world for more than forty-five minutes at a time, for fear I would not be in the comfort of my home when a feeding, changing, or napping need arose.

 

  • I would never be able to wear my pre-pregnancy clothes again, which meant I had a closet full of clothes I couldn’t wear and would need to rebuild a wardrobe from the ground up—for a body I wasn’t comfortable in.

 

  • I would not be able to decipher my baby’s cries.  (I’ve learned that maternal instinct is not necessarily “instinctive”, per se.  I may not have figured Jacob out right off the bat, but I have come to know him very well, and now I trust my gut when it comes to his needs and wants.  That’s what it should be called:  “maternal gut.”)

 

  • I would not be able to keep the baby happy, the house clean, us well-fed, and continue the work I love as a writer and editor.

 

By the grace of God, every single one of these fears has been quashed.  I know I am not perfect, but I know that I am doing the best job I can.  I know that I was given to Jacob and Jacob to me by some greater plan than my own, and I trust that that is the right thing for both of us.  Despite my doubts, despite my fears, I know that I am exactly where—and who—I am supposed to be.  I only hope I can come to that more quickly the next time around!

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