There was that one time I thought I was super mom…and then I had my second child.
When I became pregnant with my first baby, I was determined to breastfeed. I read all the books on the market, registered for every item targeting breastfeeding mothers and applied for my breast pump through insurance at only 12 weeks pregnant. I also informed everyone in my life to prepare to see my boobies for the next two years. I refused to be shamed into a toilet stall to feed my baby.
From the very first moment, the baby and I just clicked. She latched right away. I was a little tender for a week or so, but I never had terrible pain. The first time I pumped, when she was a about a month old, I got 12 ounces of milk in about 5 minutes. We nursed wherever we were and most of the time I didn’t bother to cover. She was quick and efficient when it came to nursing and we were usually done before anyone ever even noticed I had whipped one of the gals out. When I went back to work, I insisted on a room to pump. Not everyone was happy about it but they accommodated me. I pumped twice a day at work and we made it all the way to 15 months until she weaned herself. I had a clogged duct on my first day back to work, but other than that, we had no issues. I thought that we were extra tough and just terribly capable as a nursing duo. I was feeling pretty good about us….and then I became pregnant with my second child.
After number two was born, everything seemed ok in the hospital and she appeared to latch pretty easily. I recall thinking that it hurt more than it did with the first child but she seemed to be thriving. Once we got home however, everything went downhill. The pain was unreal but I was determined to push through, thinking that it would all work itself out. Then a hefty bout with mastitis knocked me on my rear. From there it was three months of nonstop appointments with my doctors and hers. She had a lip tie and a very serious anterior tongue tie that required not one, but two, procedures. I would have given her a bottle in a second except that she literally could not figure out how to extract milk from one. At one point we had to use a dropper to feed her. I remember being up alone in the middle of the night with her and I was literally shaking with fear. I was so scared that that she would never be able to satisfy her hunger and grow as she needed to. Despite her hard work she was failing to thrive. On top of this and probably because of this, she developed reflux. Having a baby with reflux is something I would not wish on my worst enemy.
As the end of my maternity leave approached, she was still not able to take a bottle and I was at a loss on how she would eat at school while I was working. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to return to work but luckily I was able to keep her with me while I worked from home for three more months. That was hard. It sounds great in theory but it was hard. Finally after months of speech therapy and maintaining a happy spirit through all of this, she was able to take milk from a weighted straw cup and the enormity of this feat will never escape me. It saved our lives. Figuratively and I believe even literally. Around 7 months, nursing seemed to finally work itself out for us. Her willingness to try again and again never ceased to amaze me. It’s never pain free, but the pain is minuscule compared to the relief of knowing that I can work and know that my child will be able to receive proper sustenance.
She had her 9 month check-up this week and as she weighed in at 29lbs, I was overcome with a feeling of satisfaction. I was so proud of her and myself. We scraped, clawed, wept and fought for every ounce on that scale. And in that moment is when I realized that things coming easily to us is not what makes us Super Moms. It is those impossible moments. Those moments when we feel like we have no fight left in us but yet we manage to fight for them. It’s the ability to just hold on and take each day at a time until all of the sudden you are at the other end of the tunnel. The faith that something is at the end of the tunnel and the strength to crawl toward it is what makes us moms. Super Moms.