Monday, October 27, 2014

nursing nova: part 6 - practicing compassion

{Read Part 1 here}
{Read Part 2 here}
{Read Part 3 here}
{Read Part 4 here
{Read Part 5 here}

How long will these "nursing nova" posts go?  I really have no idea, but I have a feeling I'm getting close to the end of them.  Who knew that mourning the loss of nursing would open up a million other things I needed to sift through?  For today, I have some last thoughts on just being nice to each other.

So if you haven't figured this out yet, we have to be careful how we talk about feeding babies.  Not like walk-on-eggshells-with-everyone-and-never-have-opinions careful, but sensitive careful.  I'm not suggesting we constantly worry that we'll offend someone, I'm just saying this is a touchy area and it'd probably be nice if we all had a little extra dose of awareness when speaking about breastfeeding.

A friend once asked on Facebook if it was worth trying to nurse for the 6 weeks that she would be home with her baby.  She would return to work at that point and wasn't really even sure how she felt about pumping, so she was on the fence about the whole thing.  Most answers were full of grace.  Then there was this comment:  "Exclusively pumping is very hard, but very worth it to give our babies the best."

We've got to change our wording on this "worth it" thing (myself included!).  "Worth it" is so relative.  "Worth it to me" needs to be used more.  "The best for me" needs to be used more.  We have got to decide that THE best isn't MY best or YOUR best.  I mean, we all know breastmilk is the actual best on a broad level.  It truly is.  But when you zoom into my home or your home, is it the best for our situation?  Is it possible?  Is it desired?  That part is up to you.  We all know it's WORTH fighting for our babies.  Any mom would agree with that.  But whether that fight is breastfeeding or pumping or buying formula or homeschooling or paying for private school or only eating organic foods or whatever is up to you.  All of our fights look different and all of us place worth on different things.  And that's okay!  I can freely say that I know breastmilk is the best thing a baby can have, but for my family this time around, it wasn't the best, and it wasn't worth it.

While I will always encourage anyone and everyone to breastfeed, I can't and won't wear it as a badge.  Because this is the truth - I didn't do anything to earn nursing Duke.  Sure, I worked hard by sacrificing my time, being the only nourishment, pumping when I was away, being diligent with my diet and exercise so it didn't interfere with my supply or result in negative reactions from Duke, etc.  Yes, all of that happened.  But all of that was within my control and, thankfully, Duke responded well.  But that "Duke responding well" part?  Totally out of my control.  We have to remember that even if a mom is wanting to nurse and pushing for it and fighting for it, it doesn't always work.  Babies don't always get the memo.  Sometimes our babies determine the path we take, not us.  And on top of all of that, some moms don't want to nurse anyway!  Feeding decisions can be calm choices made on a whim or they can be heart-wrenching choices made through agony and tears.  We just don't know about people and we have to have room to understand them.

If you can nurse, consider yourself blessed.  I can't tell you how awful I felt knowing my body had enough for Nova but she couldn't get it from me.  Even a few days ago, I got that sick stomach feeling thinking about how I had to say "No" to my body and my supply and how I did everything I possibly could to make it work.  Yet, somehow explaining to others that "She just wouldn't nurse" sounds like "I just didn't want it bad enough and I'm lazy" in my head.  But it sounds like that to me because after breastfeeding Duke so easily, I bought into that judgmental lie when I heard others express struggles with nursing.  It's just wrong.  And now I know that it's wrong.

But this isn't just about feeding and parenting stuff.  It's everything.  This experience is a good reminder for me and all of us to just be compassionate.  We should just be that way.  Bottom line.  We don't have to know the ins and outs, we don't have to DECIDE about people, and we don't have to analyze their choices.  Even if someone's situation is identical to yours, they are still not you.  We are different people with different brains and hearts and ideas and feelings and priorities.  We can't place our logic or our decision making process on other people.

Compassion will take practice.  It won't just come to us.  We have to practice hearing people and getting in their foreign shoes and imagining where they're coming from.  We'll have to fight off judgements and critiques and "If it were me"s and "Can you believe"s and just listen to them.

If all of us (talking to myself here) really understood what kind of compassion we've been shown, we wouldn't be so bad at it.  There's no way we can possibly understand the depth of the cross and the depth of someone choosing our awful, sinful selves to die for.  However, if our aim is to live in that reality, compassion will be easy.  The more we focus on Jesus and who he is and what he's done, the more natural compassion will be.

The easy option after things like this is to get mad and stay mad - at God, at people who have the things I prayed for.  To be bitter and claim that nobody understands me and my situation.  The hard option?  To give in and let the Spirit stretch and change my heart.  To allow God to work compassion into me.  Some days I feel this surrender and some days I want to fight against it.  But what I know is that in the end, this hard option actually becomes the easier option.  It takes way more work to hold onto bitterness than it does to freely give compassion. 

I'm not done with all of it and God isn't either.  But I plan on continuing to press in on what I know is true and what I know will one day be redeemed.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going back and reading these posts because, to be honest when you initially posted them I skipped them because I wasn't in the baby place and didn't really understand. But I totally get it now, and I resonate with what you said about not earning nursing. It's hard to not wear it as a badge because it is a sacrifice and I'm proud that I can do it, but it's nothing I could control as far as R doing good and me having a good supply. But what you're saying here most resonates about daycare vs staying at home. I do feel judged somewhat for "not trying hard enough" to cut back to be with her all day, when for our family it IS best for me to work right now. There's a lot of judging around that issue too, and what you're talking about here applies to that as well, so thanks for sharing this! You always write so well about faith issues and it's encouraging to me! :)


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