New Years Eve was a messy, rainy D.C. day, but we were determined to do something to mark the occasion for Stella. Yards Park was holding a Noon Day Eve balloon drop. It was muddy, windy, and very crowded. After stumbling through the crowds for an hour Stella scored a balloon, which was enough to call the event a success. We headed indoors for lunch.
I ordered a thai iced tea and then fumbled through the diaper bag to find the bottle, water, and powder formula I’d packed. Luna readily drank the bottle and later sucked on a cucumber as Stella, Jason and I enjoyed fried rice and panang curry. A totally normal family lunch, and yet it wasn’t. That thai iced tea contained the first dairy I’d had in about six months, and the bottle I prepared Luna was the first formula bottle she’d ever had in public.
I’d often and easily breastfed in public. Sometimes I’d use a cover, usually not. No embarrassment. No shame. But there I sat feeling guilty as I fed Luna her bottle while my breasts were achingly full. I stopped breastfeeding the day prior – a few weeks shy of Luna’s six-month birthday.
I was doing pretty good with my decision, but there I sat wondering if others in the restaurant were judging me. It’s doubtful anyone else noticed and even more likely that absolutely nobody cared.
My New Year’s Resolution is to make choices from a place of kindness. Seems easy enough, but on a day to day level it gets a little tricky. And being kind to self is my first (and hardest) aim.
There is of course a longer story as to why I quit breastfeeding. A story as to why it is the kindest choice for Luna and for me.
When Luna was first born I had told Jason I wouldn’t breastfeed past the first year. He was happy to hear that. I had nursed our first daughter Stella for about two years. The sweet connection and the ease I had nursing Stella had been a saving grace as a new mother. I needed the love and reassurance from this new life we’d created, and she of course needed the nutrition and the comfort. But in as many ways it made everything else much harder. Stella never took a bottle and was unhappy in anyone arms but mine…for two years! I didn’t want a repeat.
Nursing Luna was a rocky road. From her NICU days working to establish breastfeeding while she had a feeding tube up her nose, clogged ducts here and there, and her sensitive tummy providing plenty of colic storms, it just wasn’t a dreamy relationship. By about two months old we’d figured out Luna’s biggest triggers were dairy and gluten in my diet. At first the change in diet was kind of fun. The gluten free diet gave me more energy and I felt I couldn’t complain about the healthy switch.
A few months in the diet was all consuming. Luna would scream her head off for two days anytime I slipped up any little bit. It was stressful and led me to often not eat enough. I was always worried I was going to eat something that would trigger Luna. My supply was going down and I started getting really bad stomachaches. Luna was struggling. I was struggling. I started giving Luna a formula bottle before bed each night. From night one she calmed easily and began sleeping for longer stretches.
After putting Luna to bed that first night with the bottle I came back downstairs and told Jason it felt like freedom. It took the doctor scheduling me a abdomen CT Scan for me to finally say uncle. It’s the best choice. Luna has started eating some solids, loves her bottles, and is learning more and more how to comfort herself away from momma’s boob.
As for me I should apologize to colleagues and yoga students who might have found me jittery in the past week. I’m training my body back to caffeine after a good year and a half away. And while the new year is a popular time to jump on the healthy eating bandwagon I’ve purposely indulged in all things gluten, dairy and alcoholic. And wouldn’t you know my stomach pains went away. It’s been a good year and half since I got to make the choice, be it good or bad, about how I treated my body.
Just a little reminder that this motherhood is real. We do exactly all that we can do. No judgment. And for the record, the kindest thing I’ve done in 2017 has been to eat pizza and drink beer.