Dear Mom Who is Struggling with Low Supply,

I feel  you.  I really do.  I understand your pain and how the hot tears prick the back of your eyes when you read articles that talk about how lactation failure is a rare thing.  I understand the rage that you feel when people tell you to just try harder and drink more water. You say that you’re disgusted with the current healthcare given by providers, and I’m right there with you.  I was in the same position as you, feeling like a freak of nature.  I even had a nurse practitioner tell me that my breast milk wasn’t good enough.  That only sent me back further into my abyss of despair.

I’m not here to tell you how to feel.  I’m not going to say, “Snap out of it” or “Focus on the positive.”   I’m here to tell that it’s okay to feel this way.  It’s okay to crawl under the covers and cry deeply; to allow the sorrow to flow as the sobs come from your gut.  Let it all out.

But I’m going to make you a promise.  I promise you that things WILL get better.  I’m not sure when.  I’m not sure how. But they will.  If you can cling to this promise, I hope that your day will improve slightly and you’ll begin to feel the sun shine on your back and smell the sweet scent of autumn, and embrace life just a little more.

You are a beautiful woman.  It wouldn’t hurt so much if you didn’t want the best for your baby. The fact that you’re fighting is unbelievably commendable.  The average woman doesn’t battle as hard as you do.  You are awesome.  Please don’t forget this.

Ever.

With much love,

BorrowedBoobs

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Shine

I know that you’re tired. I see the dark circles under your eyes. I noticed the sweatpants and the dried spit up on your wrinkled shirt.  I see how you slightly cringe when your child says, “Mom” for the 25th time, demanding your attention when you feel that you’re empty with nothing else to give.  I see that you’re ready to break; ready to crumble to the floor, void of any positive emotion, and just sink into an abyss of nothing.

I’m here to you tell you, break.  Break down. Pull the blankets over your head.  Feel with intensity the emotions that have been threatening to push you down and hold you hostage.  Let the tears find their way down your soft cheeks.  Sob from your innermost despair.  Let your body contort with sorrow as you spill forth the desolation that’s been manifesting deep within your gut.  Sink to the bottom of the shower and let the water wash over the bright red stretch marks on your spongy stomach and aching breasts.  Let the tears mix with the water to cleanse your soul.

Don’t hold back.

Let it all out.

Cry.

From the pool of your tears, you will rise above this.  From the cracks that are left from your brokeness, your light will finally creep through. For only when you are broken can you be a blessing.

Shine on my dear, broken friend.

When God Says, “No.”

It is with nervousness that I confess a secret. I have put away the breast pump. This decision did not come lightly. I used to feel that despite giving my daughter breastmilk from other mothers, I was failing her if I didn’t give her MY milk.   I tried everything: herbs, supplements, power pumping, changing my diet, working out, decreasing calories, increasing calories, lactation cookies, esoteric foods, consulting with a nutritionist, meditations, hypnosis, breast massages and weight loss.

I hoped for a miracle. I prayed for a miracle. I laid hands on my breasts and professed lactation. Surely, goodness and love would follow me all the days of my life. My cup would runneth over. I sought and knocked and the door would be opened. I claimed, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). I meditated on the verse “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6). I had faith GREATER than a mustard seed. I believed that if I just kept going, God would honor that and suddenly my breasts would unleash a grand flow of nourishment for daughter. Surely, the Maker of heaven and earth would want his child, who was created in His image, to receive nothing but the best that a nature has to offer its young.

Nevertheless, nothing happened.

Finally, around 4 months after Squishy’s birth, I had a rare and random evening to myself. I went to Starbucks and met a friend while coincidently getting milk from her and left feeling edified after having amazing discussion about the will of God. I fell into bed that night trying to worship while angry, demanding more answers. Why can everyone else breastfeed but me? If only 1-5% of the population can’t feed their babies, why me? Why?! In the darkness of the night, I heard the Lord whisper, “I didn’t call you to breastfeed. Therefore, I have no obligation to sustain you in that manner. Quit comparing yourself to others and focus on yourself. Be the woman that I called you to be and not the woman you’re trying to be. ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Meditate on that for a minute.

You would think that I would have packed up with the pump that night. In my stubbornness, I continued to pump for another month, secretly wishing for a small miracle but with each pumping session, the amount dwindled to nothing but a trickle.

Somewhere between having peace with the situation and being slightly frustrated, I heard the Holy Spirit once again whisper “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).   “Accordance” is a word that is related to “accord” which means “to be in agreement.” Once again, I was reminded that breastfeeding was NOT an obligation/fulfillment that I was supposed to orchestrate.

And you know what? Despite the tears, anger, and bitterness, I’m glad that I’ve had this experience. I’ve had an easy life. I’m privileged beyond measure. If this was the very thing to cause me to run back in to the arms of my Savior, while simultaneously helping other women heal and deal with the same loss of womanhood, then so be it. In light of the whole situation, I’ve found my passion and drive to help promote the use of donor milk. There is a healing in still being able to breastfeed while redefining the HOW. Knowing all this, I know now that I’m okay.

“You can be pitiful, or you can be powerful, but you can’t be both.” – Joyce Meyer

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

In my opinion, Christmas will forever be replaced with World Milksharing Week as being the most wonderful time of the year.  It’s a time when women honor each other and regale each other with hopes, dreams, and gifts.  It’s a time when strangers come together to bond over a precious gift that society far too often views as gross or taboo.  It’s a time when mothers celebrate the special connection made between two strangers but part forever in each others’ hearts.  It’s a time when women who can’t traditionally breastfeed relish in the fact that they ARE breastfeeding while redefining the HOW.

Prior to having my second baby, I thought formula was the only option if breastfeeding didn’t work.  I mean, let’s face it. When was the last time you saw a Help Wanted ad for a wet nurse?  Long story short, breastfeeding didn’t work for me. One of the other mamas in a Breastfeeding Support Group on Facebook suggested donor milk, considering that I was so dedicated to giving my daughter the best. Immediately, the search began and I reached out to other mothers on Human Milk for Human Babies and Eats on Feets. Within 30 minutes, two mothers contacted me saying that they had milk. We set up a time and place to meet and within 1 week, I had 600 oz of frozen breast milk in my deep freezer.

Not gonna lie.  It sort of felt like I was doing something illegal-transporting frozen bodily fluids.  But as weird as it felt, it felt reassuring to know that a community of women was (and still is) out there, WANTING to help you reach your breastfeeding goals.

I’ve been very open about my struggles with not being able to breastfeed in the way I wanted. However, my vulnerability has opened doors. Several of my friends from college and high school contacted me to tell me that they have their milk. I’m humbled and grateful.

Five months have passed since my daughter was born and I still don’t have a definite reason to “why” I have lactation failure.  I occasionally grow weepy and often catch myself longing for what should have been. I still question God and His motives.   But I do know that through the process of using donor milk, there’s been a healing. The liquid gold may not come from me, but through the use of nine different donors, I have found my village.

So, in light of the most wonderful time of the year, please join me and Snugabell’s Pump Across America to help celebrate the beauty of all forms in breastfeeding.  Snugabell will be giving away a PumpEase Prize Pack as a grand prize and Through a Child’s Eyes Keepsake Coloring Books as runner-up prizes.  In addition they will also be offering 15% off PumpEase hands-free pumping bras on Snugabell.com, Amazon.com, and Amazon.ca with the promo code GIVEMILK. (Just during September 24-30).  Check out their Facebook page for more information!

Follow my journey by checking out my FB page at facebook.com/borrowedboobs

What if…?

what if

Inevitably, when the stars dance in their glittery pattern across the black sky, while the moon beams light through my bedroom curtains casting a soft glow throughout the room, questions start to plague my mind.

As the hum of the fan drowns out the deep sighs of my lover on the other side of the bed, watching his body rise and fall with each breath, feeling his warmth next to my body, my mind continually replays the first 6 weeks of baby’s life.

It’s 4am.

The dull ache of exhaustion screams as I check the clock every ten minutes.

I begin to count backwards to see if sleep will accept my invite for this tired soul. 100, 99, 98, 97…What if my baby had been born heavier? She was so small. Maybe her size didn’t allow her to nurse properly-to allow the proper latch.

Oh, wait…97, 96, 95…Why was my baby born two weeks early? Did I do something to cause the waters to break? Did I eat something? She could have gained another pound if she had stayed inside my womb. Was it because I moved that bookshelf two weeks prior?

94, 93, 92, 91…Surely, I did something wrong. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a good lactation consultant at the hospital. They say the first 3 weeks are critical but she never ONCE corrected my baby’s latch.

90, 89, 88, 87…No, I never felt my milk “come in.”  I only know it was there because I was able to squeeze it out. Surely, it was the latch, no?  The second lactation consultant corrected the latch. Wait, she only transferred 5mL even with a proper latch. Why did my boobs fail? She never mentioned tongue or lip tie. Squishy does have upper lip tie. That’s crazy. I have upper lip tie and nursed just fine as a baby. Her pediatrician said that her lip tie wasn’t very severe and was hesitant to even touch it.

86, 85, 84…I don’t have IGT. I don’t have PCOS. I don’t have a thyroid problem. Maybe, I have insulin resistance. Maybe…?

83, 82, 81, 80, 79, 78, 77, 76…Wait, what if I do have IR? What if that’s the reason? Does my fatness impede my ability to produce? I’ve read several studies but quickly dismissed their conclusions. But honestly, I know plenty of people who are bigger than I am and still produce enough milk to feed three babies.

75, 74, 73, 72…At what point will I accept my body for what it is? At what point will I cling to the scripture that states that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made? At what point will I let go of the “what if’s” and start living in the present? At what point will I quit the witch-hunt for a cause? At what point will I forgive myself for doing nothing wrong? At what point will I be able to fall asleep without a playlist repeating in my mind? At what point will I be able to let go and let live?

71, 70, 69, 68…I sigh and roll over to find my beautiful baby. Her chubby arms and legs stretched out into a starfish position. Her tiny chest softly undulates with each breath that’s drawn. Her sweet breath passes over my face and I drink in her pure innocence. Her countenance is at peace and she softly smiles in her sleep. Indeed, I am blessed. Tears of gratitude pool in my eyes while a smile creeps across my face. I am still able to breastfeed despite the “how” being a deviation from the norm and I’m going to be okay.

The alarm rings. It’s 7am.

Follow my journey with donor milk here.

Struggles Matter

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When the tears won’t stop flowing as the pump struggles to express milk from your breasts, your struggles matter.

When you take your baby to the doctor and the physician tells you that she is underweight, your struggles matter.

When you can’t bear the idea of dragging the pump out ONE MORE TIME, your struggles matter.

When you see that your co-worker pumped 8 oz in one session and suddenly you feel “less than” because you only pumped 1 oz, your struggles matter.

When your family member asks you, “What’s the point?” and tears sting the back of your eyes as you walk out of the room, your struggles matter.

When your husband can no longer support your attempts, your struggles matter.

When your baby refuses the breast because she has gotten used to the flow of the bottle; her cries raising your anxiety level as you desperately try to calm her down and you both end up in a frustrated heap of tears, your struggles matter.

When you curl up in a ball at night feeling inferior and trying to figure out where you went wrong, your struggles matter.

When you’re exhausted and sleep deprived and your baby wakes up for the 3rd time that night and you’re fumbling around the dark, spilling formula all over the bed and you scream your frustrations into a pillow, your struggles matter.

When you hear the words, “She’s finally filling out!” your struggles matter.

When you cringe because you’ve heard the phrase, “Only 3% of women can’t produce enough milk,” your struggles matter.

When you drive 3 hours for donor milk from a stranger, only to get lost, your baby is screaming from her car seat, and you want to slam your head into the steering wheel, your struggles matter.

When you just feel helpless, alone, and bereft, your struggles matter.

When you wish that the first three lactation consultants had recognized IGT, your struggles matter.

When you’re ready to throw the all the herbs and supplements in the trash, your struggles matter.

When you feel a stab of pain during World Breastfeeding Week, your struggles matter.

When you feel the eyes of judgment piercing the back of your head while using formula, your struggles matter.

When all hope seems gone, your struggles matter.

When you prayed and pleaded with a higher power for a miracle, only for your cries to fall on deaf ears, your struggles matter.

When you are honest about your frustrations and people tell you “Just be grateful,” your struggles matter.

Every tear that was shed, every hope that was made, and every secret that was whispered matters.

You are enough.

Your struggles matter.

 

 

 

 

Come share my journey at facebook.com/borrowedboobs