Be.You.Tiful. Mom Series: Nursing is Not Natural

A seed of insecurity was planted the day I held my first born in my arms for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong, there was unexplainable joy and deep seeded love the moment our eyes met, but with it came dark feelings that I didn’t invite into my heart or home.

I watered and nurtured my seed of insecurity every time I compared myself to other moms. Their nursing successes, their rapid weight loss, their baby gadgets and the list goes on and on… With every unsolicited advice from family, friends and complete strangers, the seed grew.

Then one day this seed of insecurity took flight and bloomed. It started as a routine check up for my one month old. The cold room was filled with tired moms with fake smiles who held their babies.  I walked in feeling confident not knowing what was awaiting behind those double doors.  Our pediatrician began examining our son.  His facial expressions showed concern as he questioned me about my baby’s bowel movements, eating habits, etc….  He left the room.

Though this was my first visit with this doctor, I immediately knew something was wrong. He came back with a nurse and they both examined him quietly and they left the room again.

He walked back in with a serious look on his face and he said, “You can’t go home with your son.” Time froze. His words and condescending voice just became one long sentence, spoken in slow motion.

Finally, I tuned back in and I heard him ask, “When was the last time you fed him?” He was now speaking to me as if I was a reckless, careless 15-year-old mom. It didn’t help that I looked young, even though I was 28 years old.

He said in his most professional, cold and emotionless voice, “Mrs. Tuten, he is alarmingly under weight.  He was born at 6.5 lbs and he has now lost more than a pound. I am afraid that he won’t make it through the weekend if I let you go home.” He walked out.

The words, “He won’t make it through the weekend”, kept ringing in my ear. What does that mean? My precious baby is going to die. Then the lies filled my mind and heart, “You were careless. You don’t know how to be a mom. You can’t even nurse your baby. He’s dying under your care.”

He walked out and I sat there in the cold, sterile room holding my precious little baby and weeping.  Truly feeling like a helpless 15-year-old who is in need of her own mother.

My crying quickly turned into sobbing. The nurse walked back in to clean up the doctors lack of tact and she began to reassure me that this was not my fault and this could’ve happened to anyone . . . but the damage was done.

I didn’t need anyone else to help me feel guilty, I had my own thought to torture but now I had a professional confirm that I really didn’t know what I was doing and, for that matter, that everything I had done up to this point: the sleepless nights, the bleeding nipples, the constant feeding was NOT good enough.

I felt shame, embarrassment, confusion and frustration but all I could do was sob as I held my sweet boy.

Surely, this was just a dream.  I must have slept through my appointment and I am just having an awful nightmare.  I will wake up and this will all be over.

Unfortunately, it was really happening.

My husband left work and rushed over to be with us, we spent 2 nights in the hospital, what seemed like an eternity.  I watched my sweet baby boy scream in anguish as the nurses poked and bruised his little arms in an attempt to put an IV in his thin arms.  I will forever have etched in my mind his tiny little 5 lb. body laying there with tubes running through him attached to a monitor.

His diagnosis:  “failure to thrive” or, as I interpreted it, careless mom who was unable to provide and feed her child.

What the doctor didn’t know was:

I nursed him every three hours.

I spent an hour each feeding trying to wake him, stimulate him, play with him in order to get him to nurse.

I had bleeding nipples because I cared about my baby.

I didn’t get much sleep because every little coo and sound he made woke me up in panic.

I may not have been the perfect new mom but by golly this baby boy is loved. He is cared for and he is a happy and content baby. That’s why there were no signs of “failure to thrive.” in our home. That’s is why I didn’t see this coming.

He didn’t know me. He didn’t know that I wasn’t a careless 15-year-old mom. Those days in the hospital changed me. My spirit for mothering was crushed and I left the hospital with an insurmountable amount of baggage:

Guilt– I should have known he was near death?

Shame — I’m a woman, I should be able to feed my baby but I can’t even nurse him properly. What kind of mother am I?

Jealously– I couldn’t watch, much less hear, another mom gloat about their amazing nursing experiences.

All of those feelings soon turned into resentment.  From that day forward our nursing sessions looked like this: nursing for an hour, supplementing with a bottle, and then pumping.  This all took about two and a half hours, leaving only 30- 45 minutes of “free” time to get things done around the house before I had to breastfeed again.  I did this for six long and hard months.

Everyone cheered me on in my decision to breastfeed because after all, this was the best thing for my sweet baby boy.  Little did we know that it was the worst thing I could do for my son, myself and our family.  Those six months were filled with exhaustion, bitterness, jealousy, and resentment leaving me drained.  Though this was a dark time in my life only by the grace of God can I look back now and still say that I couldn’t get enough kisses from him, he was loved.

My husband encouraged me to let go of nursing, but I didn’t listen.  I became a determined, crazy nursing mom – reading anything I could get my hands on about how to make this work, trying all sorts of crazy recipes to make my milk supply increase . Alas, none of it worked.

 mommynme

image via demandaj

Now an explanation to what probably got you reading this far, my title for this article. In light of my negative experience I would still choose nursing if I had that choice. My hope is to encourage women to realize that it does take time and effort and to share that we don’t all have a choice in the matter of nursing. Some of us do have to reluctantly go and stand in front of the formula aisle for hours making ourselves buy it for the sake of our baby. I quickly realized what I wished more people would share with new moms, nursing does not come naturally. You do have to learn how to breastfeed your baby and for some the learning process is harder than others.  I equate “natural” to something that does not need my active participation, it just happens. Babies don’t naturally latch on correctly(this is important) and suck to their heart’s content.

“Falling in-love. Making poo. Producing tears. Tummy flutters. Goosebumps. Cold shivers. Muscle cramps. Any of these fall neatly into the category of “natural”. Breastfeeding isn’t like that. At all. At best one could describe the production of colostrum as natural. I didn’t give a moments thought to its production, but there it was…ready and waiting when my babies were born. Breastfeeding, like so much of parenting, is learned. And like most things that are worth learning, it hurts. And takes time. And patience. And it almost always helps to have some kind of teacher (even if that teacher is a book).” via Learner Mom

Looking back now, I would tell myself:

  • You’re not less of a woman if you don’t breastfeed.
  • It’s okay if someone has to teach you and your baby how to breastfeed most need a lesson or two or three or four.
  • Mari, all 3 of your kids are healthy even though you could only nurse one of them.
  • It’s not your fault that nursing didn’t work for you all.
  • Look at all those kids on the playground.  Can you pick out the ones that were breastfed?  NO.
  • For the sake of your family and yourself; let it go. Yes, there are great advantages to breastfeeding, but clearly this is not working for you.
  • Nursing can be hard and painful. Your boobs will fall apart from incorrect latching.
  • After children, your life IS going to look different, it IS going to change, so embrace the change.  Stop fighting it!
  • Not to mention your body is going to change.
  • Even if you’re exhausted and all you can manage to do is sit on the couch and flip channels, make time for yourself, for your hobbies, for your interests.
  • Yes, YOU still exist under all that extra baby weight.
  • Have realistic expectations- most likely your baby will not latch on without any help or go to sleep through the night in the first week and you won’t lose the baby fat in a week (so stop trying on those pre-baby jeans, hide them)…
  • No, your baby is not born with this innate natural ability to breastfeed. Unlike all those videos you watched and claim this.
  • You will enjoy your baby a lot more if you haven’t spent 80% of your day trying to feed him, and then feeling resentful, and then feeling guilty because you feel resentful.
  • Everyone will want to give you unsolicited mothering advice. Take it with a grain of salt and pray for wisdom and be you.
  • Throw modesty out the window the minute you walk into the labor room.  You will show parts of your body that you didn’t know exist to complete strangers and nurses will come in the room, grab your boobs like there is nothing to it in order to help you nurse . . . .
  • Whatever you do, for the first couple of bad nursing days stay away from those moms who gloat about the gallons of milk they have stored in the fridge and how their child feeds in 5 minutes.
  • Don’t ever forget, that in the midst of all those dark feelings you LOVED your baby like crazy.
  • Be vulnerable and talk about the frustrations you are having with nursing.  You will be amazed at how many other moms have struggled.
  • Stop the comparison it only robs your joy. What works for another mom may not work for you.
  • You are not perfect- your baby will fall and get bruised (yes even on your watch), he may sit in a dirty diaper for hours, he will get sick, he may even cry himself to sleep . . . .  Life happens.

Above all, pray like crazy. Pray for wisdom, discernment, sanity, love, patience and strength to make it through the day.  Your desire should be to honor Him, not to please your friend who has all the baby bling or be the first mom to fit into your pre-baby pants or out-do that mom who is making gourmet baby food.

You are BEAUTIFUL! Don’t be afraid to be YOU as you mother.  You are wonderfully made by God with different passions, skills and personality, so enjoy basking in His presence as He delights in giving you opportunities to shine, even if the spotlight is over a changing table.

“Let the King be enthralled by your beauty, honor Him, for He is your Lord.” Psalms 45:15

On a side note, we did discover later in life that I produce skim milk. In other words, my milk doesn’t have the fat that is needed for my babies to gain weight and grow.  In spite of all our issues, I am glad to report that I have 3 healthy, handsome and growing boys. I learned after the first child well maybe it took the second one to accept that nursing wasn’t going to work for us. Thanks to God, even though the process has been long, insecurity, jealousy and bitterness are not a daily struggle in my life as a mother anymore!

We are giving away 2 of the Be. YOU. tiful  prints shown above via Printable Scripture to two of our subscribers. See here for details.

Don’t want to miss an article in this series  BeYOUtiful Mom Series simply click here

beYOUtiful Mom

As women we are constantly bombarded with messages from the media, television, church, magazines, the web and peer pressure (yes, even at this age we are dealing with peer pressure).  These messages crowd our hearts and haunt us as they whisper: who we should be, how we should dress, what we should feed our children, how much we should weigh, what we should think, are we man enough or are we women enough.

For this reason this series, Be You Tiful Mom, has been on my heart for months now, a place where you can come and be encouraged as we bask in His presence and discover that we truly are beautiful women. And that our creator delights in nothing more than when we discover who we are, who He has made us to be.  Walk with us, as 5 women share their story of discovering who they are and His everlasting love through grief, adoption, nursing dilemmas, parenting alone and much more! Don’t miss some fun recipes and our Stroller Excercise tips as this new fitness craze makes it easier for moms to stay fit and play with baby!

If you like Inspired by Family articles and don’t want to miss a post in this series you can simply click here to get our updates.

Our Series: (as we move along in the series we will be adding the links to the articles below)

Craft: Freezing Time Craft for Moms- Embroidered Hand Prints of your kiddos!

First Story: Nursing is Not Natural

Our Gift To You! be.You.tiful printable

Second Story: Mothering Through Loss and Heartache

(Daddy is in heaven and living each day after for the sake of my….)

Craft: Lovely Mother’s Day cards you can make

Third Story: Yes, That’s My Son (bi-cultural adoptions)

Tummy Toning…. Losing the Baby Fat- Stroller Fitness Excercises

Mommy Moments Photo Challenge– ends May 11th.

Craft: Creative Mother’s Day Cards Part 2

Fourth Story: What I Wish I Could Say To My Mom

Fifth Story: Don’t Parent Out of Pride

Craft: Paper Flower Wall Art

Sixth Story: Wasted thoughts on dissatisfaction with my body

Part 2 Lose the Baby Fat Toning  Stroller Excercises

Craft: DIY Camera Cover Strap

Seventh Story: A Savvy Grandmother Shares

Fashion: 5 Simple tips for Dressing Down your Fancy Dress

Do Our Kids Really Need Consequences?

free as a bird
Build bridges with your children not walls.

Welcome to Part 2 of our series: Teaching Our Kids Boundaries  (based on the book Boundaries with Kids)

As a counselor I have heard many children say this:  I disobey. I get lectured. I get grounded. I get the silent treatment. And sometimes I don’t even get a kiss goodnight. Relational consequences are not a healthy form of dealing with disobedience. Even though I am very familiar with this pattern because my parents reverted to this form of consequences, I was shocked to find out as a counselor how many parents use this as a form of punishment towards their children.

Life works on reality consequences. Psychological and negative relational consequences such as getting angry, sending guilt messages, nagging, and withdrawing love usually do not motivate people to change. If they do, the change is short-lived, directed only at getting the person to lighten up on the psychological pressure. True change usually comes only when someone’s behavior causes him to encounter reality consequences like pain or losses of time, money, possessions, things he enjoys and people he values; that is reality consequences.

  • How many late nights have you spent helping with a school project that was due the next morning?
  • A child who doesn’t want to wake up in the morning because they were online until 1a.m. the night before.
  • Emailing a teacher for the spelling words because your child decided that they would rather draw in their notebook instead of copying the words from the board for their test.

Sounds familiar?

The Law of Sowing & Reaping

This is the first principle shared for setting boundaries- The Law of Sowing & Reaping.  “Consequences transfer the need to be responsible from the parent to the child. Consequences make it the child’s problem.  Too many times, children’s behavior does not become a problem for them. It does not cost them things they value. Instead, parents allow the problem to become a problem for them instead of their children.  Remember, the child needs to worry about and solve the problem. The next time a situation arises remember these questions:

  1. Whose problem is this?
  2. What can I do to help him experience the problem?
  3. What am I doing to keep  him from experiencing the problem?

Give children freedom, allow choices and then manage the consequences accordingly. Heap on the praise and increase the freedoms when children use responsiblity well.  Make sure they know why they are getting more privileges because of their trustworthiness.

 When children make bad choices, empathize:

  • “That’s sad not getting to play today.”
  • “I know. I feel for you missing the game. I hate it when I don’t get to do something I want.”

Avoid statements like:

  • “Don’t come crying to me.  If you had just done your work you wouldn’t be in this mess.
  • “If you would of done…. you would of gotten to….. Maybe next time you wont’ be so selfish.”

Build bridges with your children instead of walls.  The first set of statements will help the child correct their behavior instead of resenting the parent.

The goal is not to control the children to make them do what you want.  The goal is to give them the choice to do what they want, and make it so painful to do the wrong thing that they will not want to.

You are letting them choose their consequence.  “Sue, hitting your brother is not okay.  If you would like to stay down here with us and play you need to stop if you don’t stop you will go will go to timeout (she hates being by herself in timeout).

Wear your heart on a string

Freedom = Responsibility = Consequences = Love

Give freedom, require responsibility, render consequences and be loving throughout.

Do Not Interfere

As parents it’s a struggle to allow our children to suffer consequences. Sowing and reaping principle only works if we do not interfere.  Let children suffer the sorrow now instead of later as adults when they can’t hold a job because they keep getting to work late on account of having stayed up late the night before. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

Balance Grace and Truth

“Grace includes support, resources, love, compassion, forgiveness, and all of the relational sides of God’s nature.  Truth is the structure of life; it tells us how we are supposed to live our lives and how life really works.

~Examples of this principle, will be discussed in our next article. If you missed Part 1- Parenting With the End in Mind click to read.

If you don’t want to miss an article in our series and you’d like  the Teaching Our Kids Boundaries Series to come to your inbox simply click Subscribe to Inspired By Family Magazine!

images via flickr-demandaj

More Than a Feeling

Contributing Writer: Virginia Davidson

Young Love strolls down the boardwalk hand in hand.  Life is sweet and indescribable feelings of excitement crowd the sidewalk.

Weeks, months, years pass, life (and 10 lbs) happens and the scheduling of dates falls by the wayside.  The butterflies no longer visit when hands are held.  The “lovin’ feeling” is gone….or is it?

she is love

The idea that we can or should “feel” everything in life is dangerous.
The heart is deceptive and tells us that if we’ve lost these feelings, love is gone.  The heart tells us to go in search for more.  Isn’t love more than just a feeling?
True love isn’t based on feelings – yes, the feelings are there at times, but it’s not what makes it real. They’re more like the icing on the cake than the foundation.
So what does true love look like?  I can’t even fathom trying to describe it completely.  Here are just a few things I think true love is, but first we’ll look in the Bible;
Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs.  Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. ~ I Corinthians 13:4-6 (NIRV)
  • True love ACTS – Serving when it’s needed, sitting and listening at other times.  Acting with the other person in mind.
  • True love SACRIFICES (time, resources, life)

No one has greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13 (NIRV)

  • True love NEVER LEAVES – Read these amazing words God said to Joshua.
  • True love HOPES & ENDURES – How awe-inspiring are words of encouragement in the middle of the toughest times.  I want to possess this.
  • True love SEEKS & WANTS TO BE SOUGHT –  There’s something about being sought that shows our true hearts.  Where our priorities lie.  God promises in His Word that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart.
  • True love REQUIRES TIME – if we don’t make (notice I didn’t say have) the time to invest in a relationship it’s hard to grow closer.
I cannot show true, perfect love to anyone.  It’s just not in me. I can practice this and choose (with God’s help) to live like this, but none of us will ever love perfectly as Jesus does.  Single or married we can all experience THE Ultimate & True Love in God.  Thankfully we can pray to God for wisdom, patience, peace, kindness, love and He can and will change us.
The moments of butterflies are amazing, but I desire the deeper love.  Love that sacrifices, seeks and endures.
image via flickr-demandaj

Those Precious Moments Slipping By!

Snap, Click, Shoot…. Whatever you call it, don’t let those moments slip by! It doesn’t matter how old they are 2 or 18yrs old, just snap away because before you know it the moment has passed or your memory has.

Capture everyday life, NO:

matching outfits,

posing,

field of flowers,

fake smiles…. needed.

The Moments

Capture the: I am so ready for your daddy to be home moments!  Believe me one day you will look back and wish he still needed you as much as he did then. So I have been told by empty nesters.

Go here for our fun Mommy Moments Photo Challenge!

Capture the: All grown up but still in diapers moments! One day she will fit into those heels and walk out the door to her senior prom. You will try to hold back the tears so not to embarrass her. As she walks away all grown up, you will think to yourself “but it was just yesterday she was 6 and she was slipping all over the living room wearing my heels.”

 via Mod Memento

Capture those: To be a Kid Again Moments! Because one day you will need proof for yourself that once upon a time you were able to lift your legs up that high and straddle a tire.

image via Scott Gossip

Capture: The JOY & LOVE!  So when they are in their room grounded, claiming no one loves them you can slip these pictures under the door.

via Happy Jax-Melanie

Capture the Messy Moments!  Sometimes we just need to remember that when we were young and life got messy we jumped in the mess  with all smiles and made the best of it.

 via Team Gurner

Capture those: I just cant’ get enough moments! Proof that they do love each other!

via Grae Place

Join in the fun! Capturing our Mommy Moments through our Lens Photo Challenge!  Do it for fun or for prizes!

Before you run and go grab your camera don’t forget to stop by and join the challenge. It’s not too late, you still have 16 days to capture 12 days of Mommy Moments. Above are some of the fun shots our moms have submitted. Click below for the challenge and see all of the other great shots that have been submitted!

Inspired by Family Magazine

No smiles, matching outifts needed, just be yourself!

via M Rivas Photo Life