I wanted to write a lighthearted blog this week. I wanted to tell all of you how excited I am for the upcoming Birth Center move. And how I am psyched to see all of you at the events coming up for the farewell week.
But I would be amiss to not take this opportunity to tell you that I had one of the most challenging weeks of my life since January of this year.
Why is it important to let you know that I cried almost every day this week? (FYI, I don’t cry much). And that I literally had an eight-hour breakdown on Sunday? It is critically important that you know that life is not just this hard for you or for me. It is this hard for anyone who is brave.
Mind you, nothing “bad” happened to me this week. Everything is fine. Everyone is fine and healthy and I am deeply blessed for this; I know and acknowledge it every day, many times a day. My week simply involved a lot of triggers and opportunities for me to need to be brave. It was exhausting. And scary at times.
You, mama, are brave. I know this because you are a mama. Being a mama takes bravery every day, many, many times a day.
And brave women have really hard days and weeks and months. We take punches to the jaw many times a day (life happening), then we kick ourselves when we are down on the ground (mean self-talk). Often, the kicks on the ground are ten times worse than the punches to the jaw.
Take Jo, for example. She worked her butt off to breastfeed her baby girl. She even got married eight weeks postpartum and nursed at the wedding! She went back to work and her supply tanked despite her doing everything right (I know, I checked). She tried her hardest to get her supply back. She came and saw me and we made a plan and her supply rebounded a good bit!
And then it plummeted again.
And she realized after the 46th night pumping at 3:00 am while her baby slept, when she had to be at work in four hours, that this was not the life she wants. Her marriage was suffering. Her self-care was non-existent. Her mental health was wearing thin. She was in treatment for postpartum depression and anxiety and she still wasn’t making nearly enough milk.
And she had to ask herself:
Is pumping eight times a day (four to eight hours a day total) worth eight ounces of milk to me?
Now, stop here. I didn’t ask you if you think eight pumps per day is worth eight ounces of milk. However, you probably almost immediately had a response to that question.
“Yes, it is worth it.” Or, “No, it isn’t worth it.” Or maybe, “HELLL to the no!” Or perhaps, “Absolutely! She shouldn’t stop!!!”
All of these are right choices by the way. There is no wrong answer.
No matter what your response, all four options are brave. And whenever you do something brave, plan to get the shit whooped out of you.
Being the face of Balanced Breastfeeding, running a busy lactation department, raising a twelve-year-old girl in this terrifying world, nurturing my marriage, nurturing my home, and, above all, honing my self-care repertoire is brave and hard.
But do you know what is downright intolerable?
The shame I feel when I don’t do it all almost perfectly. The shame I feel when I am behind on deadlines.
And when I say shame, I mean that feeling when the inner critic in my mind starts telling me the same three stories in 37 different ways:
“You are not good enough.”
“You are not doing enough.”
“Just who do you think you are? Get down off of your high horse; you’re not that special.”
She got really loud and really convincing last Sunday and I straight up shattered under the crushing weight of her words. I believed her and I was ruined.
I bet you know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you?
I thought so… because you’re brave, too.
Go ahead and give yourself permission to be down there on the floor for a little while if you can right now. If you can’t right now, be sure to go lay on the floor later.
There is an important place for “falling apart.” Since I had Lucy, I haven’t let myself be sad and really feel my feelings. I used to do it all the time in college (it wasn’t pretty, but at least I let the sadness out).
I highly recommend giving yourself permission to fall apart. Keeping all the feelings inside is more exhausting than letting them out. Also, when you don’t leak out the tears, the damn bursts. I’m talking that moaning, snotty, ugly crying. That’s where I was last Sunday.
Being sad and ugly crying isn’t the hard thing; getting up afterwards is the hard thing. Luckily, you can do hard things.
Before you pick yourself up off the floor, go ahead and let it all out. Go ahead. It’s alright to cry.