My mom assumes Aaron and I have it all figured out based on Max’s blog. The three of us are doing great but that doesn’t mean there aren’t difficulties, they just don’t show up in carefully curated photos we share with the world.
One thing I still have ups and downs with is breastfeeding. While I was pregnant, I had friend after friend recount their struggles and failures with breastfeeding. Secretly, I told myself it can’t be that hard and everything would be okay. After Max was born we quickly discovered the challenges were very real. But we took advantage of the resources available to us, especially the lactation consultants at VCU, and after 3 tough weeks I was finally breastfeeding successfully (and non-painfully!). At his early check-ups we were told Max was gaining weight beautifully, which felt like I was acing some sort of unspoken parenting test. It felt great. I loved saying he was exclusively breastfed and would beam with pride when people commented on his chubby cheeks and legs.
But everything changed when I went back to work. I initially felt confident about breastfeeding and brushed aside my doctor’s warning that my milk supply would drop. But after just 2 weeks back at work we depleted the frozen reserves and I began to panic. I started pumping at night, which barely helped. And during the day I was letting sleep deprivation impact my mood. Aaron would ask what he could do to help and if I was okay but I would curtly reply “no, I’m fine.” I was becoming difficult to be around.
Around the same time, Max started going through a growth spurt and his daycare teachers asked if I could bring in more milk. I found myself getting frustrated when he wouldn’t finish a bottle and we had to dump out the rest of the milk. Logically I knew that if we had to supplement with formula Max would be fine but I still couldn’t help feeling an overwhelming sense of failure.
Last week at Max’s four month check-up his doctor gave us the go ahead to start introducing solid foods. I found myself breathing a huge sigh of relief because I will no longer be the sole source of food and the pressure to produce will be somewhat alleviated. But it made me stop and think about how hard it is to be a new mom. I know this won’t be the only obstacle I deal with as a parent but I also know I will always do my best to take care of Max and that will always be good enough.