"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be." - Shel Silverstein

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cheated and Robbed

I am about to pour my heart out. You are officially forewarned.

There are certain feelings I try to keep at bay. Feelings of resentment, feelings of being robbed and cheated out of "normal". The normal pregnancy and infancy I missed out on with Marissa. The normal toddlerhood. The normal anything. And the normal she has missed out on too. I try to keep these feelings at bay not because they are not real or valid, but because dwelling on them takes my focus off the positives in my life. Namely, that Marissa is here, happy and thriving.

But these feelings are very real and very valid. And they bubble to the surface periodically and unexpectedly.

I had a dream that brought all these feelings up once more. In the dream, I had just given birth to a baby boy. I was so in love and the feeling was compounded by being able to have my little family all together in the same bed. The hospital said it was a new concept they were trying out to have the whole family (father, mother, new baby, and siblings) in the same bed so everyone can bond. I liked it. No, I loved it.

I was able to breast feed my new son. Oh, the feelings of pure joy and deep love I felt! Heart soaring. Soul flying. Indescribable.

At one point, I looked at my baby boy, cradled in my arms and saw an all too familiar look cross his face. All of a sudden he projectile vomited. The nurse came running in and said, "Oh my, that's not just spit up. It looks like he threw up everything you fed him. And it looks like way more volume than his little tummy could handle. I'm not sure he knows when he is full. He may not be able to regulate his own feeding, so I recommend you start pumping and feed him by bottle so you can monitor how much he takes in." Great! I already had a kid who I couldn't breast feed because she never learned how to eat by mouth. Now I couldn't breast feed my new little one because he didn't know how to stop eating! My heart dropped to my toes. I was distraught.

And, all of a sudden, I was no longer in the hospital with it's cozy soft lighting and family bed. I was at home now, and lights were dim. I had left the hospital and was actually talking to the nurse over the phone. Once she said I would need to pump my breast milk, I looked at the clock on the wall and realized it was late in the evening. The lactation department at the hospital was where to rent pumps and they were probably gone for the evening. I started to feel desperate.

I also felt sickeningly inadequate. I could not provide for my baby like I was supposed to. I had failed. Again.

I tried looking up the number for the hospital's lactation department but the lights were too dim for me to read the phone book. I grabbed my babies up, strapped them in the car, and told Jeremy to just drive me to the hospital on the off chance someone would be there to rent me a pump.

This is where my dream ended. I distinctly remember actually feeling the pain of engorgement as I was waking up. It was the strangest yet familiar feeling.

Obviously, I was unable to breast feed Marissa. The guilt and sadness that brought on was overwhelming. I was lucky enough to have a strong supply of milk, so I did feel like I wasn't completely failing her. I was able to pump for Marissa for five months. I had about another month of milk saved up in the freezer for her. I loved that I was able to provide the nutrition God intended for her but it had just become too much of a task to sit and pump every three hours, 20 to 30 minutes at a time with a little one that I had to suction, hook up to a feeding pump and do cares for, above and beyond the "normal" newborn stuff.

I became seriously depressed when I stopped pumping. I had always known that I wanted to breast feed my babies. It is not only the most nutritious, natural, and beneficial option for the baby, it is a bonding experience like no other. It is the one thing only a mother can do for her child. It is for this particular reason that I actually took pride in the fact that I could provide breast milk for Marissa. The doctors and nurses may have saved her life, even more than once, but they could not do what I could do.

The fact that she could not actually nurse cut into me like a knife. Unbelievable pain. When I made the decision to stop pumping, the knife went deeper. Deeper still when I came down to the last bit of frozen breast milk. I actually wanted to hold onto that bag forever, like a badge of honor that I could have showing how I physically loved my baby.

I haven't thought much about this whole breast feeding thing until today, after that dream. I realized today, that aside from being overly tired, stressed, and hormonal, I am still not healed from the trauma of not being able to provide "normal" for my baby. Not sure I will ever be. I do feel cheated and robbed. And I do feel guilt. I pray there is at least one more chance at normal for me, one more chance at redemption. Either way, I do know that I did the best I could for my baby and, someday when she is old enough to hear about it, she will understand. And I pray she will love me for it.


Amber said...

WOW Alicia! You certainly hit it home for me. I feel the same way you do. I just wish I could write it all down like you did so it made sense.

Tara said...

I can say with utmost certainty that Marissa will love you forever. It breaks my heart that you feel this way when you're such an amazing parent. Remember that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to HIS purpose. He called you and ONLY you to be Rissa's mommy. And the Lord doesn't make mistakes. True story.

Colleen said...

Oh I SO remember these feelings. I also pumped for 5 months and it felt good that I could provide SOMETHING for the little man. I can totally understand the grief that comes along with not being able to feed your child like everyone else. Marissa is so very blessed to have you as her mother and I'm sure she would tell you that right now if she could!

Shauna Quintero said...

You did great by providing breastmilk for Marissa! And you do an amazing job providing "normal" for Marissa. She is a beautiful little girl and her normal is beautiful. You have done not failed this little girl.


The VW's said...

OH, the emotions that come with raising a child and being a Momma! Especially those of a Momma with a special child! I can't even tell you how many times I've said, "I wish that I could turn off my thoughts and feelings!"

I can relate to your breastfeeding desire and pumping. This was one of the saddest parts of having Gavin born the way he was! Mommas are supposed to be able to feed their babies and hold them close to them as they do this.....it's heartbreaking when you can't!

You did AWESOME and continue to do awesome for Marissa! She is one blessed girl and I KNOW that she feels the passion you have for her and she always will know and feel this!

I can't totally relate, since I have done it the "normal" way before as well, but I do understand your feelings! I pray that you will get the chance to have your dream of breastfeeding come true! May God give you peace, strength, hope and grace, concerning this.

In the mean time, remeber that you are a great Momma and Marissa is a product of you and Jeremy.....and look at her! She is one AMAZING girl! Love, Hugs and Prayers!!!

Kendra said...

I'm not sure what I want to say, but want to send you some love. I'm with what everyone else has said and am sorry that even though what you do everyday is wonderful and amazing and such deep, true mothering that you still have to deal with feeling inadequate. Stupid dreams! I, too, hope that some day you get experience a less stressful "normal" infancy and toddlerhood, but know that breastfeeding is only one small (though great!) part of being a mother. Watching you mother Marissa makes me feel like a pansy. So, know you are awesome and loved and say no to the lies and yes to working through the crap that nags our hearts!
Adelyn almost bit through her tongue yesterday and Timmy has been SO sad about it. I finally sat him down and told him that she's okay--God knew we would get hurt, so he made us so we can heal. When I said it, that really struck my heart. Don't know if it's for yours, but thought I would share.
Hugs to you!

Wendi Taylor said...

I wish all of the women who use formula without even trying to breast feed for no reason other than convenience would read this post.

Gretch said...


DevonLeah said...

i too, pumped for a yr for camden and it killed to quit. After breastfeeding my other babes, it was so so weird NOT BF, let alone feed it through a pump. ;s I had a hard time with my emotions...especially having my momma and husband making me pump for a baby that they said wouldnt make it. But he did make it, he got Bmilk, and he is thriving. You need to get your feelings out sometimes, and there are so many of us moms that get it and we are here to listen. YOU are a wonderful mother...I knew that the first time I met your blog LOL

DU's Place said...

Thinking of you! You and Jeremy are doing a great job with your special angel!

Candace said...

HI Alicia,
Nice to meet you, thanks for visiting my blog. I have to say, I agonized about the same thing with Faith. We got her to latch but she could never stay away (too much work) so I pumped for...16 months! Of all the missed stuff...this is the most painful!

Nana and PaPa said...

Sweety, I know how much it sorrowed you to give up pumping. I remember that tearful conversation with you. None of you kids were special needs, (Michelle just needed a lot of extra attention because of her feeding issue and later her ear infections) but I remember when I was told by your pediatrician that since you weren't gaining enough weight that I would HAVE to give up breastfeeding you, I was absolutely crushed and felt like the biggest failure a parent could ever be! The humerous side was not that I didn't have adequate milk, YOU were too dang lazy and didn't want to put out the effort!!! LOL But...when I begged and pleaded with the doctor to let me supplement or do something that would keep me from giving up on breastfeeding completely, his comment cut through me like a searing knife..."Well, some women are Gurnsey cows....and some aren't." That cold, uncaring, cruel comment just added to my feelings of inadequacy and failure. So, I understand how difficult that decision was, and apparently still weighs heavy on you. But like all the comments before mine, you have shown your true colors of being a strong, competant, caring, loving Mommy who, I know, would give up her own life for Marissa. That kind of love comes through to Marissa, with everything else you do for her, that says you love her. She is our special granddaughter named Marissa. And she is SO loved by you and Jeremy...she WILL understand that you provided 5 wonderful months of mother's milk to help her grow and thrive. And you...are my special daughter named Alicia. NOTHING will cause my love for you to diminish. You are a GOOD Mommy.....
Nana & PaPa

Dana said...

I am sure the hurt will be there but I am guessing one day she will thank you for it. You all do an awesome job with Marissa.