Christian. Wife. Mom. Weirdness Magnet. Choosing Laughter and Joy.

Just Give Me The TMI Crown Already…

I got all riled up after reading a news article about breast feeding. Here’s a link to an article about the horrors of a man bottle feeding his baby girl.  http://moms.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/28/10520642-sweet-photo-of-dad-feeding-baby-turns-controversial

I keep having to delete and start over. I is riled up. Consider my hide chapped. Breathe, Lindsey… Men, if you do not want to read about nursing infants and the gory details, than you should leave my blog now.

I am writing this as a breastfeeding mom. I nursed 4 kids. The shortest length was 7 months. That means I’ve lactated for over 28 months. I have experience. I’m almost an expert! Or something…

What I’m about to say is going to shock some people, but I don’t care… Ready???

You can be a good mom. No, you can be a great mom and never breast feed your child.

Shocking, right? Gird yourself for TMI zone….

When I had my first baby at the advanced age of 22, I was going to nurse. For lots of reasons. And for lots of reasons nursing my baby ended up damaging me and hurting me. We worked with the Lactation Consultant and she threw her hands in the air and said, “I have no idea how to get this kid to nurse.” My body was so damaged from nursing that after less than 2 weeks, we had to quit nursing and pump. Pumping allowed me to enjoy 4 mastitis infections in less than 2 months. After 2 months of pumping, I tried to get my son to nurse. He finally did. Well sort of. He never nursed right. It hurt physically every time he nursed. Which with a 2 month old is every 3 hours. That’s a lot of pain and stress and dread.  I really, really, really did not want to do formula. Big bad evil formula. I looked into switching him to goat’s milk. I talked to 5 different people and got 5 different answers about cautions, or concerns about goat’s milk. So with no viable alternative, at least in my crazy brain, I just kept on nursing.

What I had been expecting to be a beautiful, bonding, healthy experience with my sweet baby was instead painful, stressful and depressing. I would tense when I heard him cry, or when I knew he was hungry. Our first night home from the hospital, my milk came in. No one warned me about how bad it could be, how I should have a pump to relieve the pressure. Noel ended up driving across town to Wal Mart in the middle of the night to buy a pump. I was crying, the baby was crying, and when Noel got home and opened the pump only to discover that it was MISSING A PIECE!!!! AND WOULDN’T WORK!!!!! He started crying too. One of us threw that useless thing against the wall. One of the worst nights of our lives! Still is 12 years into our marriage! I finally got a pump from a good friend and thought things would work better. I was wrong.

My baby was fussy, so fussy. He would never stay awake to eat. I called the hospital late one night to ask a question and the nurse I was talking to asked what I was doing with the milk I was pumping to relieve the pressure(which had nothing to do with why I called). I was just dumping it because I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to deal with keeping it in a clean way. She yelled at me, “That is liquid gold you are dumping down the drain!” I hung up on her and cried. Thanks for the help, lady.  I heard from women, “I’ve never heard of a baby not nursing.” And other really helpful comments. Not everyone was horrible, but in my crazy, the horrible is what I remembered and believed. Some of the horrible was accidental; people just trying to be helpful. I realized that some of the horrible was purposeful. It was that competition/knock-others-down-so-I-can-feel-better-about-myself-thing that women do so well.

Newborn babies don’t have many needs: clean diaper, sleep and food. Here I was failing at the simplest of things, what on earth was I going to do when the baby got bigger and had more difficult and complex needs? The challenges of nursing and insensitivity of others made me think I was a horrible mom. I felt like a failure constantly. I was depressed and scared. What on earth was I thinking becoming a mom? I couldn’t even feed my baby right!

Just to be clear, most of the pressure was coming from myself. I don’t even know if anyone could have forced me to switch to formula. I can be crazy, stubborn, determined.  I nursed that kid for 7 painful, stressful, depressing months. And he thrived. He was huge! The only problem he had was he was a projectile spitter-upper. Yuck. At 7 months, he was eating a lot of foods, so I weaned him(my milk supply was waning) and switched him to goat milk. Guess what happened. He quit spitting up. Totally. I laughed and cried about that one. If I’d have known he’d quit spitting up I’d have switched him earlier!

Months after weaning him I realized how insane I had been. How depressed I had been. How digging my heels in about nursing had been a mistake. Me breast feeding my baby had made me a worse mom. It stressed my relationship with my baby. It wasn’t worth it. Nursing my first born was not worth what it cost me physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. I would have been a better mom if I’d just given the kid some formula.  But it was too hard to give up my dreams and expectations. Too hard to accept that I wasn’t in control, and never had been. I promised my husband that if nursing was that hard with any more kids we had that I’d quit after a month and just give the kid formula. An emotionally healthy mom trumps the physical benefits of breast milk.

I over-share to make a few points. In my situation with my first born, people looking in didn’t know all the details. Some people assumed I was just clueless or stupid or a drama queen. How helpful would “Breast is best!” be to someone like me? Not helpful at all, in fact more harmful than helpful. Another point is that I tend to have to learn things the hard way. But once I figure something out, I’ll never forget it, and I’ll share it with other people so they don’t have to struggle as much as I did. I also share so that people don’t think they’re alone, or that they’re crazy or a failure. I learned so much from the challenging experiences I’ve had with pregnancies and labor and babies. I was such a black and white person! Black/White. Right/Wrong. Up/Down. It took these really, really hard experiences for me to see grey. To learn that grey is acceptable. Life doesn’t have to be so extreme.

One of the important things I learned was that it’s great to have ideals and standards (especially regarding pregnancy, birth and parenting), but sometimes we have to let them go. Letting go of an ideal or expectation doesn’t mean that you quit or compromised or failed. It means you’re mature enough to not be in control. You’re mature enough to not turn molehills into mountains. Just let it go.

The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. How many of us are insane in more than one area of our life?
 

I also learned that there are different stages in your life. Different seasons. Same for other moms and families. What works for you now may not work for you in 1 or 3 years. What works for your friend now may not be right for your family now. It all comes back to not beating each other (or ourselves) up. I used to roll my eyes at statements like those, but I’ve lived it and I know it to be truth. You need to do what’s right and best for your family in the season you’re in and those seasons are going to change. So if you are wise, you will make changes also!

For moms to criticize other moms for nursing or not nursing (or a million other areas that moms differ) is totally inappropriate, judgmental and wrong. I’m not going to be a part of that! Yes, there are some moms out there who really are horrible, but they’re few and far between. Instead of turning our noses up and whispering about other moms and their horrible decisions and how their children are going to end up stupid, crazy and criminal because they were formula fed or went to public schools or were from a broken family!!! THE HORROR!!! (by the way I am all three of those things ;) The latter, not the stupid, dirty and criminal.. At least not most days… ) Or patting ourselves on the back for not being like so-and-so. Instead of that, let’s encourage, help, exhort and love each other! Let’s accept our differences instead of condemning everyone different than us! Radical, I know, but imagine what our world would be like without the criticism and insecurities!

Some of you may read this and start to feel defensive. Please don’t. I am not judging you if you made the same decisions I did and would choose to make them again. I’m also not judging if you totally and completely disagree with everything I’ve said. I’m responsible for me. You are responsible for you. I just want for women(including myself) to make good decisions for their families and themselves in their season. Decisions based on health and love and abundance and truth, not out of fear. Fear of failure, fear of not measuring up, fear of not fitting in, just plain old fear. That is a horrible way to live. I know. I lived it and it was a miserable experience!

I want you and me and our daughters to be free from the inner and outer critic. To accept Grace from God and each other. To give grace to ourselves and to each other. To be free to be who we were created to be. To believe we really are fearfully and wonderfully made. If we’re so caught up in criticizing and condemning and reveling in self righteousness, we’re missing it.

I don’t want to miss it!

Do you?

What not to do or say to a pregnant woman

I wrote this when I was pregnant with our fourth baby. Apparently I felt rather strongly about some things…

This is my attempt at helping all the non-pregnant people in the world avoid physical/mental/emotional harm from accidently inciting a pregnant woman to violence/sarcasm/finally losing it. This is meant in fun and as encouragement. I am joking… Kind of…=)
Even if a woman is 3 weeks overdue with 14 pound twins, never, EVER tell a pregnant woman she looks “Ready to pop”, “Ready to burst”, “Really uncomfortable” “Really pregnant”, or any other reference to her size or comparable shape… She is WELL aware of how hugeously pregnant she is, thank you very much.  She’s been living with the indignity of pants without zippers or buttons and ever increasing underwear size..  She probably also has this thing called a mirror, somewhere in her home. She probably catches glimpses of her body from time to time.. Every time she has to put her shoes on or take them off without being able to see her feet she knows just how big her body is. Not to mention the fact that she has to get on a scale every time she goes to the Doctor =)   Seriously, make a comment about size and you might get a “You are as dumb as you look” back, or “Thanks, you’re ugly” back.  For real.. Every woman reaches a hormonal point where she can no longer be held legally responsible for words that may come out of her mouth.. Common decency no longer has any meaning to her… Speak softly, and gently to her. Most important, say things that you would want someone to say to you if you were in her situation and bloodshed can be avoided!
On this topic, it is also ill advised to make comments like “Haven’t you had that baby yet?” Ummm… Yeah, I did but apparently I swallowed a watermelon seed, sat outside with my mouth open and drank lots of water, and wouldn’t you know it? A watermelon plant’s growing in my stomach now! I had my baby and the baby only weighed 4 pounds! We’re all excited to harvest the watermelon though!!! Yummy!! Or  “Are you ever gonna have that baby?” You may get hit for this one. Every pregnant woman has moments of very real fear that she may actually die of old age and still be pregnant with this child… It is a horrible fear and only intensified by “well meaning people” calling/posting on facebook/texting/asking to your face “Anything happening yet?” Or again the “Have you had the baby yet?”  Yeah, I had the baby, but we hate you so we decided not to tell you and to just make you think that I am gestating for 14 months =)  Not good, people, not good!
Raise your hand if I’ve offended you yet…. Ok, brace yourself!!
This is for other women… Are you one of those ladies who “Loved being pregnant!!!!”, “Never felt better than when pregnant!” Ok, first of all, Congratulations to you! Second, keep that to yourself until a minimum of 6 months after I’ve delivered my baby.  Go google “hyperemesis gravidarum”(or just click the link)… I’ll wait!!…. MMMmkay, sounds fun doesn’t it??? I’ve basically had the stomach flu for 7 months while GROWING A BABY!!! I really am not encouraged by your superwoman pregnancy.. Really… Doesn’t do a thing for me! I’m glad you ran a marathon in your 5th month.. Way to go! So, why don’t you have 42 kids?!?! If pregnancy is so wonderful for you?!? Oh, is that an insensitive comment?!?! I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings! It’s just that I have had 4 really difficult pregnancies and some pretty traumatic deliveries, did I mention I broke my own tailbone after pushing for 4 HOURS with my FIRST baby?!?And yet I soldiered on for 4 pregnancies! I got a nice shiny trophy, wanna see it? (Please read previous comments regarding my own pregnancy/labor with the sarcasm it is dripping with) See?!? It just is not good…  I really think it is great that some people have “great” pregnancies. Or pregnancies that minimally interrupt their lives… But the great “Mother/Wife/Woman competition/comparison/judgement” thing is horrible and it may cause you to be snarked at, snapped at, evil-eyed or hit by a pregnant woman..  Every woman, every pregnancy is different and instead of comparing and judging and proclaiming what someone else is doing is wrong or different, maybe we should encourage, pray and help each other out… Just a suggestion =) This all of a sudden got serious… Hmmm… Can’t have that… Just one more serious note quick, then back to snark. I feel the need to clarify that I do love every one of my children, including the one we’re waiting to meet. I would go through all of it all over again to bring them into the world. I am not trying to denigrate pregnancy or having children. I believe ALL children are planned by God and He has a purpose and destiny for each child regardless of circumstances surrounding the conception of that child. I am humbled to be involved in this amazing process. Truly I am grateful for my children. I do not take any of them for granted and I have known the pain of pregnancy loss. I’m just observing what I have experienced in 35 months of pregnancy =) And laughing at the hysterical, absurd, and crazy things people say and do to pregnant women and the response of a pregnant woman to said things =) That’s the point here… Moving on…

Finally, NEVER, EVER, EVER touch a pregnant woman’s belly. For the love of all things right in this world, just DONT!!! The only time it is ok, is if it would be appropriate for you to touch her stomach if she weren’t pregnant… OK?!? ‘Cause here’s the deal.. You’re not touching the baby, you are touching HER!!! That is just violatory. I am a touchy feely person, but please don’t touch my belly unless I invite you to! If you do, I might just rub your belly too! Or your bald head! Or show you my stretch marks! They make a neat starburst pattern around my belly button. Quite artistic! Who needs tattoos? Or my swollen legs and feet! We can have hours of fun pushing on my legs and seeing how long it takes for the indent to go away! Or you could watch me throw up! It’s very exciting! You could hold the garbage bag!  Broken blood vessels, projectile vomit, loss of bladder control and sometimes, if I’m really lucky, a bloody nose too!! Is that inappropriate?  TMI?!? So is touching my stomach!!! So just DON”T!!!

If you have knowingly, or unknowingly committed one of these atrocities, I am for a limited time, offering you a pardon on behalf of all pregnant women. Just learn your lesson and promise to never, ever do it again.

This has been a Public Service Announcement…

My Formal Resignation

To Every Woman on Planet Earth,

I am writing this to apprise you of my formal resignation. I am resigning from the following: Mommy-wars, Wife-wars, Christian-wars, Woman-wars, Estrogen-wars, Martyr-wars (et. al).  I have informally resigned, but for record keeping’s sake, I thought I’d do it in writing too, so there’s no confusion. It would be nice if there was some kind of badge or certificate I could have so when I start getting sucked in, I could simply hold up my certificate and be excused from said war. (Something to think about for whoever’s in charge of that kind of thing!)

In resigning my position, I give up the following:

  • Judging other women/wives/moms/Christians so I can feel better about myself. (We are all at different points on our journey, after all!)
  • Comparing myself to others and spiralling into a depression because I am no where near as amazing as they are. (We are all at different points on our jouney, after all.. Wait didn’t I just say that?!?)
  • Giving passive-aggressive compliments that are actually veiled put-downs. ( I don’t do passive-aggressive very well, anyway!)
  • Believing that someone else’s accomplishments somehow diminish my value or my accomplishments.
  • Feeling like I need to explain myself (ie: why I can’t do something, why I did something a certain way, and on and on ad infinitum) in order to be accepted, and not have people mad at me or disappointed in me.(If I did something, or didn’t do something, there’s a probably a good reason. Even if I give that reason you will still think what you want to think, so I’m not going to waste my time or surrender my dignity for no reason.)
  • Holding other women to unrealistic standards- and judging them for not “measuring up.”
  • Holding myself to an unrealistic standard and hating myself for not “measuring up.”
  • Pretending like everything’s just fine and dandy when it’s not.
  • Thinking that if someone does something differently than I do that it’s wrong. Sometimes it’s not a matter of right and wrong. It’s just a matter of being different.
  • Assuming I know the whole situation and judging a women for what she is or isn’t doing in said situation; when in fact I don’t know all the details and should stop the criticism and help, encourage and pray.

In formally resigning,  I embrace the following instead:

  • I will not take criticism, gossipping, badmouthing, back stabbing, or immaturity personally and I will not participate in these things either.
  • I will also not retaliate if above occurs. Instead I will forgive you (or myself) and pray for you and love on you.
  • I will remind myself that I am not at war with other women for friendships, men, beauty, fame, success,  The “Mother of the Year”, The “Wife of the Year” (those awards don’t really exist, by the way), the perfect life. We were created for friendship with each other. Deep, meaningful friendship. (Remember the story of Ruth and Naomi? Girl left her country, her religion, her family for her relationship with her mother-in-law, after her husband was killed! “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people. And your God will be my God. Where you die I will die and there I will be buried.” Ruth 1:16-17a) Those verses are used at weddings, but it’s a model of female relationship.
  • I will remember that all of us are broken. All of us have been hurt. We are all insecure in some way. I will love you and myself anyway.
  • I will accept that I don’t have to be close friends with every woman, personalities and other factors make that unreasonable and unrealistic. I will accept that and not try to find something wrong with you or myself if we don’t “click”.
  • I will give you the benefit of the doubt.
  • I will be honest about what’s really going on in my life. And that makes people uncomfortable, but I’ll do it anyway. If I can be honest, maybe you can too.
  • I will cheer your successes and grieve when you mourn. I will not grieve your successes and cheer when you mourn.
  • I will keep fighting myself, the world, the devil and his minions, for us as women to grasp how beautiful we are. Even with frizzy hair, an extra 20 or 200 pounds, a horrible job, single and getting older, married and given up, it doesn’t matter. God made you. God made me. He knew how crazy we would be, and still he chose to make us! You have a destiny that is too huge for you to grasp, and we need to stop believing the lie that we’re not good enough, pretty enough, young enough, old enough,  smart enough, or skinny enough to matter or to make a difference. We won’t make it if we keep fighting each other and ourselves. We won’t make it if we keep believing the lie.
  • I will remember that “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV
  • I will fight. I will not give in. I will not give up.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139: 13-15 NIV

You are a work of God, His works are wonderful. That means you are wonderful!

Your frame was not hidden from God, is not hidden from God. He sees us, all of us. He sees our hurts, our hearts, our dreams and He loves us. He sees what we try to hide from ourselves, and still He loves us.

We need to love each other. We need to love ourselves.

We all need to resign.