Would you call yourself
“Go with the flow”?
No? Me neither. Turns out, you and I are the type of people who have a hard time adjusting to motherhood.
We decide something. We research and plan and set goals for this something. The goal is always perfection, even if we say things like, “I mean, I am perfectly fine with formula.” We say that, but we are thinking, “…Just not if it means I am failing. I can’t fail. I’m not someone who fails.”
I am not saying you are failing if you use formula, of course. I am saying that when you set yourself up for rigid breastfeeding perfection, you will likely feel like a failure if you need to use formula. No matter what. When you set your goal as “perfect,” you will inevitably feel like a failure pretty much every time. That is because perfection occurs almost never.
So, we set a goal and then we do the work to achieve that goal. Oh, do we do the work.
We often look really good doing it, too. Not because we try to look “cute,” but because we are confident and vibrant. Passionate and determined. We have dew on our skin and a secret smile that says, “I triple dog dare you to tell me I can’t.”
Then there is Motherhood. The true leveling playing field. It is here where we all struggle.
Conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding draw dividing lines. They have the power to isolate us, alienate us, shame us. So much of these processes is, after all, completely out of our control.
Take a deep breath with me here.
How you conceive or choose not to conceive, how many times you have had a pregnancy that ended early, however many weeks you carried a pregnancy, however this baby was born: vaginal BIRTH or Cesarean BIRTH, and however much breastmilk your baby eats for however long…
IS NOT IN YOUR CONTROL.
Sure, you can set a goal. You can work like hell toward that goal. But, at a certain point, you have to accept the fact that your mind can only take your body so far before your body stops responding… and perhaps even starts malfunctioning.
Here’s something cool I recently learned:
Don’t believe everything you think.
I used to be under the impression that what my brain said to me was in fact the truth since it came from my own brain. Turns out, the voice in my head lies! A lot! She’s really convincing, too!
Like, when she used to tell me, “You never stick to anything.” And I was like, “Yeah. I never stick to anything.”
And then I decided to publish a blog every Tuesday at 7:00 am no matter what. And I published a blog every single Tuesday at 7:00 am for 225 weeks. That’s 4.3 years.
(Except for that one time Kasey sent it on a Monday, but I immediately forgave her because 1. It was early, not late and 2. She was definitely nursing more than one person at that time. And/or she was nursing through a pregnancy.
Editor’s note: I was taking one of the kids—Vinny, I think—to the pediatrician for a sick visit the next morning. I was all sorts of discombobulated.)
From the youngest I can remember to only recently, I believed the lie “I never stick to anything.” But here I am, sticking to something. So maybe I am flexible after all. Or, rather, I learned to be flexible by choosing to not believe my negative self-talk any longer.
Conception, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding—these are packed with emotion experienced unlike almost anything else in life. When we are struggling to process them, we can often worry when our experiences fall outside of what we think we know is true.
Are vaginal births really better than Cesarean births? If so, does that mean my Cesarean birth was bad? Am I bad? Am I a bad mom?!
Is breastmilk really better than formula? If so, does that mean my need to supplement with formula is bad? Am I bad? Am I a bad mom?!
No, you’re not a bad mom, but you could probably benefit from becoming a more flexible mom. Let’s think about improving your flexibility, even if you “aren’t flexible.”
Here’s where most of us start: “I am disappointed/angry/upset that I have to change my plan A to conceive/birth/feed my baby to plan B, the plan I was hoping to avoid. I believe plan B is necessary and probably not harmful, so I will do it… but I still think plan B is ‘bad’ and therefore I think I am ‘bad’ for doing it.”
Now, the flexibility:
“Do I choose to believe the thought that plan B is ‘bad’ and therefore I am ‘bad’ for doing it? Or do I choose to believe I am making the best choice I can given my personal circumstances?”
Once you leave room for self-acceptance of your imperfections and for the things outside of your control, you begin to gently bend. The more you bend, the more flexible you become.