What Still Makes Me Sad

I am not a religious person, but I know that I am blessed. I found a fantastic partner in CH, and through some type of cosmic luck of the draw, we ended up with a healthy, beautiful, funny and really, really smart little girl. My heart explodes as I type this.

Miss Red

But there are some things that I haven’t been able to let go of from Miss Red’s first months, even as she heads to birthday number three this summer. It’s something I was reminded of Tuesday night and wasn’t surprised at how raw I still feel about it inside.

At  yoga a woman commented that she and her nearly two-year-old were weaning. In her daughter’s cuteness, she was relaying this information to her stuffed animals, “No more nurse, it’s OK, it’s OK.” The other women crooned and smiled. The thought of how clear and conscious we are, even at two, was so grounding for me. But tears sprang into my eyes because Miss Red and I didn’t have that relationship.

Miss Red didn’t nurse. I’ve written about it here and here, but for those who don’t want to click, I did try everything and I have an amazing support system. Five lactation consultants, including hiring the best in town for unlimited home visits in addition to the help from my doula, syphon systems, you name it. I produced milk, but she never got the hang of it, so I spent the first six months of her life pumping, storing, and generally making our home a mini breast milk factory. I loved providing for her, but that closeness, that convenience, that extra snuggle and comfort we didn’t have.

More than two years since I packed up the pump, I am still sad about it. I am sad that I couldn’t have that relationship with her. I am sad that it was something I had wanted so dearly that I was driven to the edge, and it just didn’t happen. I was sad that I tasted some of the disappointments of parenting so soon after becoming one.

I know that other side of this story: the bonding she had with CH, and ultimately that she was taken care of. But that sadness, that longing, still hasn’t left me, even as time dances on with Miss Red leading the way.

– MD

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  1. Oh, M. Your honesty is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry you are sad. Just wanted to let you know that I am hearing you.

    xo e.

    • firstsmilesandtears
    • May 19th, 2011

    Thanks, Elizabeth! Amazing, this parenting thing, huh?
    – MD

    • Nikki Gamble
    • May 19th, 2011

    Marlena,
    You are not alone. Isaac and I never got the hang of acutal nursing either. I produced enough milk for almost 3 babies, but (despite help as well)never found our nursing groove. Isaac will be four this year and it still haunts me (probably will forever). I pumped and pumped too and yes he was takned care of and fed, but there is that primal urge to nurse that never got stasfied. My experience with Simon was so totally different and amazing and I am so happy we did nurse together. But that still does not erase any of the pain and guilt I have about Isaac. I think I have even more guilt sometimes because Simon and I had something that Isaac never had. Being a mom is so darn complicated. Thank you for sharing this. Again, you are not alone in those feelings!
    Nikki

    • firstsmilesandtears
    • May 19th, 2011

    Nikki,

    Wow – I didn’t know that. Thanks for sharing. It’s almost like a shameful secret, especially in a town that is so amazingly supportive of breastfeeding, and something I planned on doing – happily. I’m glad we both got help, and that you and Simon were able to have that relationship, but I know that sadness. Thank you!
    – MD

    • Nikki
    • May 19th, 2011

    It does feel like a shameful secret or at least it did. I’m pretty open about it, but during that time, I never really talked about how my baby got his breastmilk. Good thing Isaac and Cora both turned out so amazing despite us 😉

    • firstsmilesandtears
    • May 19th, 2011

    Nikki,

    You are so right! I remember being ashamed when I took out a bottle when everyone else was opening their tops. I also remember being at a family friend’s house and C was fussing even with her bottle. The woman said, “well, it’s because she wants your breast.” Thankfully, my stepmother said, “that’s how it works for her.” I didn’t even want to explain that it WAS my milk, freshly pumped from the tap and that I had even brought my pump with me in case we’d be gone for a while.

    But yes, those smarty-pantses are doing A-OK!
    – MD

  2. I really struggled for a long time with not breastfeeding but I don’t feel guilty now. My relationship with T improved when I stopped trying to breastfeed because I was resenting him and hating myself when it wasn’t working out. It took a long time to forgive myself, especially, like you, with everyone around whipping their boobs out at feeding time! I don’t think my bond with T is any different though and I hope you can find peace in yourself. You tried so hard and I think you’re amazing for giving your beautiful girl breast milk for so long 🙂 x

    • firstsmilesandtears
    • May 19th, 2011

    Lindsey,

    Thanks for your comment! Maybe part of the lingering feeling is that it really was the beginning of parenting and being faced with the feeling that I couldn’t provide for my daughter what I thought was the most basic of needs. But there are so many other needs they have! And she’ll never remember those months, and it’s my job to be OK with my feelings but then, yes, forgive myself.

    Best,
    MD

  3. You’re so right, they have SO many other needs! xxxx

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