Disclosure: This post is part our series in observance of World Breastfeeding Week and is sponsored by Woman’s Hospital.
Gilmore Girls and Breastfeeding
I had all these plans when I found out I was pregnant. I was going to have a medication free birth, in a birth tub, and I would rock it. I would breastfeed and my child will be well adjusted and sleep perfectly. All of these things seemed pretty reasonable.
The plan slowly unraveled.
I remember coming out of the operating room, and between the zofran, epidural, and 43 hours of labor, I was stoned, and my nose itched, and my padookie (pony tail holder for future reference) was busted. I carried this perfect specimen in my arms as they pushed me back to my labor and delivery room. I don’t remember that ride back, but I do know that nowhere in my mind was I concerned with the fact that I had not had the birth I wanted. I wasn’t even concerned with breastfeeding, my Birdie had these chunky cheeks and hands that seemed to be pulling at every little string in my heart, my plan was so far from my mind.
I had the best nurses. They walked me through the epidural experience, held my shoulder, and fussed for me when they kept missing the spot to poke me. When contractions never came, they bounced on a ball with me. They said they would only have clear liquids (I suspect they snuck some food outside of my room). When we made it back to the my room, it was no different. One held my hair while the other squeezed my boob and my nipple in such a way that Birdie could latch. They took my hand and taught me how to guide my boob to her sweet, perfect mouth. She wasn’t latching and my nose itched. Why did my padookie break?
As my 36 hour stay lingered, the nurse and the lactation specialist worked with me. They came with all the tools and tips they could muster. They assured me that she didn’t need a lot. Right now her belly was tiny. I shouldn’t worry. It was in hour 24 that it hit me, my plan my was currently halfway blown. I felt like all I had left was breastfeeding. I couldn’t fail at this.
Gilmore Girls all. night. long.
When Birdie came home, the milk started coming. I thought, “This is it! She may not be latching, but I am going to give this little every bit of me.” Two weeks later, staph came at my incision site. The antibiotics were strong and there didn’t seem to be enough water I could drink. My milk supply plummeted.
The sound of the pump became my friend while everyone else was sleeping. I watched Rory Gilmore start at a fancy private school, drop out of Yale, go back to Yale, and planted my feet between Team Jess and Team Logan. I got countless rounds of advice, some professional and some unsolicited, all with the best of intentions.
Birdie started sleeping through the night at three months, I was still setting my alarm to pump. I would cry through every last bit of it. There has got to be something more than this, right? This was not how it was supposed to go. This was not part of my plan.
Facebook can be beautiful.
I finished “Gilmore Girls” and found myself beyond resentful. The breastfeeding support groups and pumping support groups seemed to taunt me. I removed myself. It became notification after notification of what I couldn’t do at all and couldn’t do well. Birdie was four months old, every day I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. I kept setting my alarm and moved on to “Parenthood.”
In a moment of weakness, I posted a blog about my frustrations. I wrote out the status and posted the blog. My Facebook blew up with private messages from strangers, “Me too!” they typed through tears. I knew this because they told me. My e-mail blew up with comments on the post. Each one thanking me and full of hope. My tribe was full of strangers I would never meet.
Then there were the texts. Some well intentioned, yet unsolicited advice. There were two phone calls in the midst of this that completely redefined breastfeeding for me. Both went something like this:
Hey girl. Don’t give up. You are not doing anything wrong. I know that’s easier said than done, so I want you to know. I have reserves for days and it’s yours.
One was my best friend who struggled herself for her supply. That was her gold and she was giving it to me.
The other was my cousin-in-law who was blessed with the gift of milk.
I swallowed my pride and my tears, and I took the milk.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing. There is so much pressure out there for it to look a certain way, and sometimes it looks like the mom proudly dawning her super power while others look on in a restaurant. Sometimes it’s the mom sitting at her desk with a cooler full of pumped milk. Sometimes it’s generosity of strangers. Whatever it looks like, I promise it never looks like failure.