*and many months prior too.
It’s been almost 6 months since I last posted, and since then, parenting has looked so, so different. Half a year is an eternity in a baby’s life, and each day feels endless as we confine ourselves to home. As the saying goes, the days are long, but the years are short, and right now, I am praying for that latter brevity as the world around us shelters away from a virus from which we don’t have protection yet.
But this is about parenting.
Or is it?
This week I took a very proactive step towards ‘claiming’ my old life back. As if something were so easy – as if I could still attend happy hours and window shop and aimlessly wander around city streets for hours on end. That’s not to come for awhile. But in pursuit of some semblance of independence, I did it.
I ate some dried sage.
It may mean nothing to you, but it means everything to me.
Disclaimer: if you would prefer not to read about one mom’s journey of breastfeeding, please skip ahead to next ‘month’ (an arbitrary time estimate given I don’t have too much free time to write nowadays). No offense will be taken. However, inevitably, as a mother, this is one of the most significant parts of the first year of this new life.
As shared by the highly revered Kelly of Kellymom.com, sage is a natural way to decrease one’s milk supply. The warning is to ONLY take this if a mother is in the process of weaning. Take 1/4 of a teaspoon 3x a day for 1-3 days (wide range, if you ask me), and milk production should lessen. And for me, this small dosage didn’t come without a lot of consideration.
The last eight months have been a rollercoaster because of my journey with breastfeeding. Before #ESLee was born, I told myself I would be 100% fine with feeding her formula. I’d do my best to breastfeed, and if it didn’t happen, I would go to the pantry.
Then post-partum, somewhere between her birth and a few weeks in, formula became the enemy. It meant failure. And I refused to give in, even if it meant multi-weekly sessions to a lactation consultant (LC) and two breastfeeding support groups, ongoing pain that was never ever quite explained by any OB or LC, both my mom and sister forcefully kneading my breast to try to get the clogs out, and the tension between my husband and me when he tried to gently urge me to cut myself some slack.
The problem was not that I didn’t have enough. I had too much. This led to perpetual stress about the balance between nourishing my daughter’s body and manipulating mine so not to encourage further overproduction. The worry weighed on me for 8 months, causing almost more pain than breastfeeding itself.
And then a day after celebrating my motherhood with the rest of the country, I chose to lean away from this innate part of being a mom.
The feelings are oh-so-mixed. The WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of a child’s life. On the flip side, research by Emily Oster placates me though I know the #momguilt is lurking in the shadows. Each time I nurse my daughter, I feel a pang of fear. Will this be the last time I get to do this? Watching the contentedness cross her face as she is nestled close to me is a pretty indescribable euphoria – and yet that moment is so frequently interrupted by mental and physical anxiety.
I know that to be a better mother, I am allowed to be selfish at times. And perhaps this is one of those times. I can’t promise I won’t regret this, but I can promise there will be moments of relief and gratitude to my own self for making this decision.
The pendulum of parenting.