I sat alone in a rocking chair in a dark room holding my 6 week old daughter. The weeks prior were quite a blur. I was a new mommy and still hadn’t really been able to grasp the situation at hand. For the first time in my life, full blown failure was staring me right into my eyes.
She was blue eyed, delicious and and fierce. She screamed her first 4 weeks straight with a terrible case of colic. I had cut my diet down to what seemed like lettuce and water and we just weren’t gelling. I was frustrated beyond belief by this motherhood experience in general, as it was nothing I had read about. I quickly realized she was calling all the shots!
I had always been a researcher. I love information. I have always prided myself on my ability to search out my own answers and make put my own formulations together of how to succeed or how to get from point A to point B. I read every breastfeeding book. Every motherhood magazine. I watched 200 live natural childbirth videos so I would be fearless, practiced it all in my minds eye over and over. Then here she was. And she was NOT COOPERATING!
During one of my pregnancy check ups my midwife had mentioned that I had inverted nipples. (yes Im sorry TMI) but this is real life and this was a real life baby in front of me and she needed milk. I was not going to give her a bottle. Over my dead body!! I had no choice but to succeed. I had survived to this point with nipple shields, and a lot of cussing and crying. When she nursed I pretty much wanted to fling her off of me and plunge my sweaty painful body into an ice bath. If I were a man my guess was it was like getting kicked in the balls about every hour and a half for 6 weeks now. It wasn’t getting better, it was getting worse.
I would sit there and repeat Native American Poems in my head over and over to meditate my pain away. I would curl my toes, clench my teeth and shake while tears rolled down my face and onto hers. I was angry that this wasn’t the STORY I had heard about how amazing breast feeding was. I was pissed and angry at all other moms for lying to me. How could those bitches do this to me?
NO matter what I did She just couldn’t get a good latch. It was explained to me by a lactation consultant that the baby would actually stretch the ligament out under my nipple and over time it would be normal……. WTF????????!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy rat balls this was horrible. I even at one point had convinced myself it was her. She was premature and tiny. Maybe it was her fault. LOL There was no way this was actually that complicated. Was it?
So what did I do? i set out to do my own real life research. One of my nursing friends was over with her nursing friend. In my despair I told them my story. I asked my friends girlfriend if she would see if she could get her to latch onto her. Im telling you right now this was the biggest form of failure on the planet. I watched as if it was in slow motion. My face went numb and I felt the urge to grab this girl by the hair as she lifted her shirt. But this was about my baby, not me. BOOM she latched right on and I wanted to die. Ill be honest I hated her so much after that. Luckily I never had to see her again. She non-chelantly ripped my womanhood away from me in those short seconds. The sense of failure I felt was soul sucking.
After that I had to really come back to my body and the realization that this was the deal. It was me. It was my stupid nipples fault. How could my breasts do this to me? Thanks Dad for the lame boobs. Funny thing was I never even knew mine were different. And then here I was with these mammaries that were trying to crush my dreams of being the rad baby wearing, breast feeding hippy mom.
SO I just had to accept the fact that I couldn’t research or reason my way through this one. I would just have to commit and put in the work. And so I did. I did a complete mind set change and committed to one session at a time. I lived my life one to two hours at a time. If I tried to even think about doing this thing 500 more times in the pain I was in I would fail and give up. As I previously stated I was not going to give up. My mother handed down a ton of health problems to me from living off popcorn, kool-aid and Marlboro’s when she was pregnant . Then she topped it off with a diet of freeze-dried formula from there 70’s. I was going to do better. I had cancer by 24 , and this little lady was not going down that path. Even of my breasts fell off in the long run.
4 more weeks later I could nurse her without crying. I survived 4 bouts of mastitis from the open wounds and infection (one so bad I was hallucinating the fever was so terrible) and then almost over night it all changed. That ligament had finally stretched and BOOM we were in business. It was like someone had lifted the iron curtain of hellish pain. Nursing for her and I finally became glorious. I could stare into her big blue eyes and melt. I made it through entire sessions without chanting the F word 400 times. She had turned from a tiny preemie born soon after my cancer debacle, to a chunky, smily, monkey baby .
Her name Zoe means life. She breathed that life into me those months to follow. She taught me a valuable lesson. Motherhood wasnt quite the world of graphs, charts and Points A’s to point B’s. It was flexible, static, and there was no norm. No baby was the same, no mothers body was the same, and no experienced matched.
I set new goals…..her and I would train together for a 1/2 Ironman. Together just like our earlier feats together, we crushed it! As I crossed the finish line my deliciously breast fed toddler was standing there jumping up and down. We had found a way to train by doing the coastal playground tour. I would run and ride in 1 hour increments and then she would play in 30 minute blocks. Then we would do it again until I reached the miles I needed. We found a way together. She gave me a newfound sense of accomplishment that I had never felt. It was called patience and flexibility. We were quite a team of bad ass chicks. I used to tell her as I would load her into her jog stroller, “lets go cheer mommy on to being a bad ass.” She would sit here with her AC/DC tape deck and rock out and yell “go wady go, wun!”
This past weekend the relevancy of this hit me as I stood upon my pedals and raced my heart out at the Southridge Super D in Fontana. I came over a hill and Zoe was standing there in all her Raving beauty 14 years after this Booby nightmare, taking the picture above and yelling “GO MOMMY!!!” She’s still teaching me many lessons and inspiring me to be rad to this day.
I have now followed with 3 more babies. Justice is a complete hellion, well so is Marley, and Willie seems pretty mellow. All of their pregnancies different. All of their deliveries different and all of their personalities polar opposite. Thankfully nursing them was normal, FINALLY! I always did love a good challenge. Motherhood has taught me that it is ok not to be perfect. All I can do is my best and persevere one baby step at a time. This has helped me in my real estate business the past 12 years, in being a better athlete, person, and wife.
What is perfection anyway? For Zoe and I our early struggle set the stage for our super close bond. Zoe always knows I will do anything for her, I will go the distance and I will endure for her. Just as I used to stare into her eyes as she nursed, now I deliver milk and cookies to her room while she studies as a freshman in high school (gulp). Its those moments when our eyes lock that I know I really am the best I can be. I have her and my other three Hellions the thank for that. Without them I would be a graph loving nerd with a sick up my keister for order and normalcy. Nothing is normal in motherhood.
Now for some Milk and Cookies…….NAILED IT.