I had spent the better part of the almost nine months of my first pregnancy preparing for my little ones arrival . Listening to the recommendations, the dos and don’ts, making the decisions of light wood vs dark for the crib, butterfly’s or flowers, and answering everyone’s questions about how I was feeling. I had never been a person that was all for breastfeeding. However, while my little gymnast did somersaults in my ever stretching stomach prior to her 36 hour entrance, I had made the decision to give it a go when she arrived.
So there I am. A new Mommy to a beautiful baby who knows nothing but to totally entrust me with their wellbeing, love, and care and I felt like I was drowning. Nursing was a natural bond between my other half and me, but she wreaked havoc the first few weeks. What was once a smooth canvas was now a dimpled, wrinkled, pot holes everywhere after the long winter mess. I barely kept it together and couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to be a mommy when I could barely make it through a day without my own Mom. Eventually, like all things, we settled into a routine and my husband was even able to take over some of the feedings while I feverishly pumped away in hopes of filling an entire bottle a day. (Whoever said don’t cry over spilled milk clearly has never knocked over a bottle of liquid gold and had it pour off the counter while the dog and cat go tit for tat (pun intended) for every last drop).
At about five weeks in I declared myself a feeding warrior and slapped an imaginary gold star on my spit up stained shirt. I entered the days with a “you got this” attitude and went about our days. The thing was while I was happy in our communal union of mother and child, my daughter was upset a lot. She cried often. She was in pain. The doctors had every answer in the book for her unhappy well being and patted me on the back with a well done, good job. I figured since my breast had been declared BEST by others than my loving husband, I was doing the right thing and we would just keep on keeping on. The doctors were wrong. I was wrong. We all were wrong.
My last memory of nursing my daughter is of her projectile purging her little body of what I had given her. My liquid gold was seemingly toxic sludge. The doctors suggested formula to clear her system while I made even more diet changes. The bloody diapers, sickness, and pain continued. In 24 hours time, my beautiful perfect baby was lifeless. Upon our arrival to the hospital, we were told our precious little girl was so sick that she may not make it through the night. She was diagnosed with a severe milk allergy to the proteins found in dairy. We spent a week in the children’s hospital and watched as they poked and prodded her with needles and catheters while what seemed liked a never ending entrouage of doctors came into the room. We were stuck inside a revolving door of empathetic faces while clinging to the hope of recovery; which she did. With the empathic faces came willing minds and capable hands. Hands that helped heal my now very tough, strong, and encouraging three year old.
She was better, but we had all changed. My husband became even more protective than he had already been. Cautious. Stern with others when it came to her health and wellbeing. Our daughter no longer like to be cuddled or held by anyone but myself or my husband. She was now a strong and independent fighter. Her gold star had glitter and flashing lights on it; mine had fallen off. I was relieved and happy that my baby was now healthy, content, and pain free. I was also crushed, let down, guilty, and defeated. I mourned the loss of our private bonding time like the loss of a person. Breast feeding was not something that I necessarily wanted at the start, but it was something that I needed at the end. Like a tragic accident it was ripped from me. The close of that chapter was painful both emotionally and physically. I couldn’t understand why the thing that was supposed to be the “best” could be so damaging.
A year and a half went by and as I prepared for the birth of our second tutu wearing bundle of girly cuteness, I cut out dairy completely. I was determined to get this right. When five and six weeks after her birth came and went without a glitch I slowly unfolded the corners of my tattered gold star. It was at 8 weeks old that the familiar signs began again. My heart sank. My stomach ached. I looked into the eyes of my baby and just wept. After weeks of formula and cutting virtually everything out of my diet I tried one more time. To no avail, the results were the same. The problem did not lie within my little girls sensitive and new digestive systems, but instead inside of me. My children were literally allergic to me like a pollen or mold.
Grief. Anger. Grief. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. Acceptance. Peace.
My reasons for sharing my story outside of dumping my pent up emotions onto the screen are simple. Best is not always best. This applies to all areas of our lives and to all people, not just parents. The old adage of trust your gut is so true. My gut (or in this case theirs) was telling me something was not right. Had I listened earlier, maybe my oldest child would have been a happier newborn, a healthier one. I have decided not to dwell on the what if’s or could have been’s. That’s the thing about life, nothing we do can change the outcome of what has already happened. We cannot wave a wand and get different results, but we do have the power to learn. What I grasped onto in the end about becoming a new parent is that a fed baby is best. My oldest traumatically threw me into a new mom nightmare, but in my experiences I have become educated, smarter, more capable, an advocate for my families wellbeing and a fighter. I wear my gold star proudly with all of its imperfections and achievements. Life is messy. It hurts sometimes. We carry our scars hidden in the aged lines of our skin, but life is also beautiful. Live every day fearlessly. Trust in yourself. Learn from your heartaches. Grow stronger with experiences and last, but not least, wear your gold star close to your heart. Wear it proudly and don’t fuss over the bent corners, cracks, rips or holes. You have earned every one of them because you too, are a fighter.
Until next time,
One Cool Nerd Mommy
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