Warning: Sensitive readers may want to know, this blog post is about to get very “real.”
When I had Gracie, my goal was to breastfeed her for the whole first year of her life. I made it six or seven months with the boys and I thought, “Meh, what’s a few more months to make it a full year. It’s good for her and for me and it’s better than having to buy formula. That stuff is expensive! And this way, I know what she’s getting from me is all natural.” In the beginning Grace was easy to nurse. She latched like a champ. She fed very consistently, other than a few clogged ducts and my supply dwindling at times (normal breastfeeding challenges) she was a dream come true.
Then at about three-months, my baby piranha sprouted her bottom two teeth. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the average baby-teething timeline, teeth usually don’t enter the picture until the kid is around six months. But I sucked it up, winced through her biting me out of frustration from teething, and continued nursing her. I still enjoyed the time with her, after all. I got used to the pain just like nursing a toothless newborn and I hardly felt it after a week or so. Then she got her top two teeth around four months. Quickly followed by the two next to her top two. So by six months, baby girl had six teeth. As you could imagine, “the girls” are starting to look a lot less like themselves these days.
Then last week she grew another tooth on the bottom and is currently working on the opposite tooth on the bottom. And the “best” part is, while she’s teething, she uses me as a chew toy. She has started pushing me away while pulling on this very sensitive part of my anatomy. I love my daughter. I want to do everything I can to make her life happy and healthy, but I have been starting to lose my resolve about breastfeeding for twelve months.
Along with the less than pleasurable aspect of nursing an eight month old with the mouth of a toddler, my supply has started to become alarmingly low because she is eating table foods and not nursing as long as she used to. I am facing a sad truth which I really didn’t want to consider eight months ago.
This is not a knock on moms who choose never to breastfeed. Believe me, I get it! It’s a lot of work and for some moms with certain careers or physical issues, it just can’t happen. And for some, it’s a personal choice and they don’t want to. Whatever the case, I understand everyone’s situation is different. I, for one, have always enjoyed the bonding time with my babies and haven’t minded breastfeeding. However, I am enjoying it a little less as of late. I don’t hold it against her, she’s only eight months old. But I feel in my heart the time has come for me to let Grace have a bottle with (brace yourself…) formula.
Yes, organic-food-buying (usually), cloth-diapering (most of the time), all-natural-home-cleaner-using-mama has decided to give Grace the “devil dust.” I bought a container of the stuff last week and she’s had about three bottles now and really likes it. It’s a little stinky, and I feel my heart sink each time I have to make her a bottle feeling just slightly wimpy about my decision to supplement her.
But she seems happier. Fuller. And she can go to town on that bottle nipple! Then I noticed something else today. When I actually do nurse her from me, she seems happier to be with me. You’d think that would feel like salt in the wound for me as if I’m depriving her, but it’s kind of the opposite. It makes me feel she still likes me best, but she wouldn’t know that if she didn’t have the bottle sometimes. And she’s still getting what she needs. I’m not quitting cold turkey or anything. That would be very hard for both of us. But I have made my peace with the choice. I know that sounds odd. Scott thinks I am crazy and probably just trying to rationalize my decision even though he’s been encouraging me to do this since she cut her first tooth.
But I also realize that there is a bigger lesson to be learned in all of this. It’s not always about what I want to happen. I forget that all the time. I will get something in my head about the way I want things to be. But sometimes, I am given signs over and over again that I need to be able to change; to be adaptable. I remember a story my cousin Angela told me when she taught kindergarten years ago. A kid in her class asked her at their prayer circle, “Mrs. Igielski, why doesn’t God always hear our prayers?” Angie was trying to think of an answer when one of the other students gave the answer so perfectly and with just the right amount of attitude, “Because sometimes it’s not all about you!”
And there it is. It’s not all about me or what I want. And maybe I could keep up with breastfeeding, although both Grace and I are getting frustrated with it. So then I look at how much I am still enjoying what I have with her. How really, I am not a failing because I had to deviate from my goal. I need to allow myself the very thing I named my daughter after: GRACE.