I am honored to have Laura share here today. Please welcome her and be sure to join in the conversation happening on this blog tour.
I didn’t enter parenthood expecting it to be easy. I’d seen enough sitcom episodes and read enough comic strips to know that life with an infant would bring its challenges. Less sleep, more laundry, new responsibilities -I understood all of that.
What I did not anticipate was that one of my most intense struggles in new parenthood would be in an area I’d long expected to come naturally: feeding my baby.
In my pre-motherhood mind, the most difficult aspect of nourishing a newborn would be the breast vs. bottle decision. And since we’d already made our choice, based upon financial reasoning and a breastfeeding class that thrilled me with the God-designed way my body was made to sustain my child, I assumed this feeding stuff would be smooth-sailing.
Reality would soon crush my every expectation.
The reality is that breastfeeding can be hard. And sometimes, it can be really hard. The physical difficulties many new mamas face in the beginning are not often mentioned ahead of time. From the pain of engorgement to awkward positioning woes, to latch issues like the ones I experienced with my daughter-requiring hours of work with lactation consultants and months of extra equipment I’d never known existed. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, yes. But for some that beauty come in glimpses through the blur of tears.
The reality is that some babies don’t read the manuals. Those feeding chars which neatly lay out how often you can expect your child to eat at birth, six weeks, three months, etc? My baby defined the phrase “off the charts”. And while I’d entered motherhood determined to side with the schedules in that whole schedule vs. demand-feeding debate, my daughter’s needs soon launched me into the practice of feeding on-cue and far more often than I’d anticipated. I lived in the tension of feeling as though this were the right thing for my child, and yet fearing that I was failing by not heeding that tidy, “right way” advice. Those chart babies laughed at me, I imagined.
The reality is that for some mothers, making peace with the bottle is a road marked with heartache. Some confidently find that bottle-feeding is the right choice for them from the beginning, only to have that decision questioned and challenged by friends, family members, or even complete strangers. Others deeply desire to breastfeed, but find that traumatic birth situations or physical demands and difficulties force them to let go of this dream.
The reality is that it’s okay. In Spirit-Led Parenting, Megan and I tell our own stories, but are also privileged to offer stories other mothers have shared with us about their struggles and lessons learned through the journeys of feeding their babies. Our desire in this chapter is to sort through common issues and debates and give some practical advice, but also to just speak honestly to new mothers about what to expect. And to encourage them that no matter how-or how often-you are led by the Spirit to feed your little ones, it is okay. You have not failed. And our God, who is faithful to heal, comfort and redeem, is ever-present and ready to take those stinging words from others or expectations left painfully unmet and bring beauty from ashes.
Someday I might be able to chuckle over my naïve anticipation of a ponies-and-rainbows breastfeeding experience. Not yet. In our book, though, I testify to God’s redemption of my intense initial struggles in feeding my daughter.
God knew all along. In the days before giving birth, when I barely gave breastfeeding a second thought, He knew that it would be my biggest parenting struggle in that first year, as well as one of the most vivid examples in my life of something that drew me closer to Him and taught me about serving through hardship. It was in the heavy shadow that I learned to cling to Him, trust that the Spirit was leading-even leading me outside the popular advice, and put one trembling foot in front of the other to follow.
Spirit-Led Parenting, page 85
Those early days from years ago are still fresh in my mind, as I know they are for many mothers. Whether your babies are grown or growing, in your arms or on the way, we would love to open up a discussion in this space and hear from you.
Have you encountered difficulties in your experiences with infant-feeding, or in making plans to feed your baby? Have you weathered physical issues, personal disappointments, or judgment from others? How have you found healing from those hurts, or are there areas where the healing is yet to come?
Why do you think this aspect of parenthood is so contentious, with battles over breast vs. bottle and schedule vs. demand? What can we all do to help foster an environment of encouragement instead among those in our circles?
Thank you so much, dear Alia Joy, for allowing us the honor of sharing here! Join us for discussion on another BIG topic-sleep-tomorrow at Life-Edited.
Spirit-Led Parenting is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Larua Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband , daughter, and son.