Sunday, May 13, 2007

Momma's day reflection

This evening, while sorting through some video I have of baby O, I was transported back in time to when he was really just a cooing, smiling, slobbering, blob of baby goodness. How in the world was it as hard to take care of him as I know it was? In the videos he's just a lovely looking little bit of innocence. What could have been so hard? What did we do all day? I don't remember, and I guess that's a good thing because, well, the species must persist, as they say. I wish I could jump around in my son's lifeline, just for moments, to hold the itty bitty baby again.

Last night I had to wake K up at 1am. I was thinking of breastfeeding and regret and the immovable past. I stopped nursing O when he was about 5 months old. He was very sensitive to dairy in my diet and it seemed that no matter how hard I tried, somehow, the dairy sneaked in. I am also a vegetarian and hypoglycemic. Those factors, combined with a very fussy, screaming all day cause of the dairy, baby, led me to question whether my continuing to breast feed was a selfish act. My baby was suffering, I was not well nourished during the days while I was alone because I couldn't manage to cook for myself. And I was loosing my mind. Several voices in my life urged me toward the opinion that I'd "done enough" and implied that I should give it up. Every time I came to the brink to deciding to leave nursing behind me I got intensely sad and felt as though all the cells in my body were crying out for me to not give up. Again, I felt I was being selfish. Eventually I did quit altogether. I hated it, but I thought it was the best thing for O.

Several months later a doctor told me that what might have been irritating O was prescription I was taking (it was absolutely safe for O and absolutely necessary for me to take). "Oh joy," I thought, "If it is the medication then there was nothing I could have done and choosing to stop nursing was the right thing to do." Several more months later, once O was eating solids, we gave him cheese. Again came the crying, clinginess, and spitting up. It was not the medication. It was the dairy.

Since then I have been inconsolable with regret. I think about what it was like to breastfeed everyday. I think about how much I miss it everyday. I am confronted with breastfeeding culture everyday, and it is like a punch in the stomach, everyday. About once a month the emotions build to the point that tears are necessarily and, like last night, I cannot sleep.

I feel such a deep sense of loss. I feel regret like never before. I wish I'd known how to ask for help. I wish I'd been strong enough, or thoughtful enough, to keep seeking out help from lactation consultants and pediatricians until I got the solutions and support I needed.

I use to think that when I have another child, and I breast feed that child for just as long as we both want to, that I would be healed and my regret would go. I don't think that will really happen tho. I will never get back that opportunity to be close with and nourish my baby O.

I know it's not the end of the world, and I am very grateful that everyone in my life is healthy and relatively happy. I'm grateful that O was not suffering from sensitivities to my diet for any longer than he did. I also have never in my life done something that I so clearly regret . Most regrets come with a shinny happy side that one can focus on. Usually there are some positive outcomes, or some sense that the best choice was made from those available. In this case, had I been stronger, listened to my own voice, sought help relentlessly, I could have continued to nurse O to our mutual benefit. There is no shinny side, positive outcomes, or recognition that it was the best choice at the time. It was absolutely the wrong decision and I don't know how to live with the sadness that brings.

On a lighter note, look who still fits in his sling!!!

1 comment:

Larissa said...

Wow,I never realized how difficult a process this had/has been for you. I'm sorry if I was insensitive to it, not being a mother myself. I hear your sadness, regret, and what ifs. It sounds like you really need to meet yourself with compassion and your own loving.Forgive yourself for the judgment that you were not strong enough, thoughtful enough, relentless enough. All of the "enoughs" are judgments, not the truth about who you are! You made the best decision in that given time frame with those circumstances.