I thought this title may bring about intrigue, as many wouldn’t envision these words going together….and if they did indeed go together, publicly speaking about it, is even more peculiar. But this was my experience and I believe, an important one to share, as things don’t always go according to ‘plan’ and there is value in being vulnerable.
I was fortunate enough to become pregnant and had a pregnancy consistent with what many others experience. There were certainly unique twists and turns for babe and I, but each pregnancy goes through these and on the whole, it was a good experience. My delivery was wonderful and I was able to go through labour without an epidural due to the sheer speed of moving through contractions. I healed easily and readily with the use of Arnica and was up and functioning really well the same day. All was going according to ‘plan’.
Breastfeeding took a bit of getting used to, but I was prepared that it could take 4-6 weeks to get this thing figured out and was committed to that. I loved it and felt my babe and I had figured out a latch that worked. Again, all was going according to ‘plan’ and then she was weighed on Day 2 and had lost 10 ounces. I kept things up, but as she was continually losing. Sometimes it was an ounce a day, so intervention was necessary.
Every resource you can imagine was brought in to increase my milk supply that has helped so many of the people I work with: herbs, drugs, meditation, relaxation, lactation consultants, blood work and analysis, every breastfeeding pillow imaginable…but I didn’t have enough milk…I didn’t have much at all to give my babe. The amounts of formula continually needed to be increased to get her filling enough diapers and by week 8, and 2 rounds of plugged ducts and a case of mastitis, I was done. It was like my body was yelling at me to stop what wasn’t working and I finally listened.
So, why share this story? For some, there was an easy solution here, as we live in a place where formula and breastmilk banks are readily available to ensure babes are nourished when breast milk isn’t an option. And, I was fortunate to have a babe, which some are not, so why speak about this?
Why I am writing this is to remind us all that sharing our imperfections doesn’t make us weaker…but empowers those around us to be real and feel comfortable.
We live in a world where we want others to believe we have it all together, that things are going perfectly and according to our ‘plan’.
But this is rarely or ever the case.
I am a Naturopath who couldn’t get my breasts to make enough milk to nourish my baby. That was my experience. Do I wish I tried harder and longer to make it work? Absolutely. Sometimes, daily. And when comments are shared or looks are given when I pull out a bottle, they reinforce the judgment that already exists inside of me. The interesting thing is most people have no idea how powerful these statements or expressions can be. I’ve heard too many stories where people are asked why they don’t have children, or why they only have one, or why they don’t breastfeed, or why they don’t use this particular formula, or sleep train, or use cloth diapers, or, or, or. And this is just scraping the surface of fertility/childrearing…it exists in every domain. There is enough pressure out there to look like we have it all perfectly together, so why not ease up on each other and ourselves?
Being vulnerable and honest has always been helpful for me and my hope is, helpful for others too. If a naturopath can share that she couldn’t breastfeed, hopefully that empowers someone else to share something they are going through.
When life doesn’t go according to ‘plan’…try sharing your experience and if you are connected with good people that you trust, you may find them beginning to become more vulnerable with you…reminding us all to be kinder and more compassionate. It’s much more enjoyable living that way.
Amanda Cressman, ND