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Resilient Is Another Name For Mother


At four weeks postpartum I was coming undone. I remember sitting alone in my bedroom at 2:30 in the morning, pumping while the whole house was asleep. I should have been sleeping (you know, “sleep when the baby sleeps,”) but instead tears were silently streaming down my face as I listened to the incessant sound of the breast pump, tugging at my body. My mind was filled with worry and my body ached with exhaustion. I hadn’t slept for more than 60 minutes in a row for over a month. I was coming apart at the seams.


My son wasn’t gaining enough weight, and this reality was destroying me. Faced with the unexpected challenges of tongue ties, weight gain struggles, and breast-feeding issues, I was brought to my knees over and over again with worry, overwhelm, and feelings of inadequacy. When my son was labeled as “failure to thrive” I was devastated and felt like my body had failed me.


As a trained midwife, I had done everything in my power to set myself up for a successful postpartum. But despite my education as a midwife, my best-laid plans, my supportive partner, and community — I felt completely powerless. I found myself in an almost constant state of feeling stretched beyond my capacity and yet at the same time feeling like “I am never doing enough.” The experience of being a mother sometimes felt like being turned inside out. Vulnerable and raw.


We had tried everything to help my son gain weight — breastfeeding, syringe feeding, pumping around the clock, bottle feeding with a mixture of my pumped milk and donor milk. Nothing seemed to work. I had hoped that if I could only unlock the magical combination of things that would help my son gain weight, then I would have done my job as a mother. All of this efforting and worry prevented me from sinking deep into the sweetness of new motherhood.


Over the next four months, I found myself stuck in the swampy waters of insecurity and doubt. Flooded with stories of not being enough. Some part of me knew it wasn’t true, but at the time I deeply believed that this was MY fault.


“If only… I could make enough milk.”
“If only… I could find the solution.”
“If only… I was a good enough mother.”

I was no longer making the amount of milk that I had been at the beginning of my son’s life. The stress had completely taken a toll. As I embarked on my journey as a low milk supply mama, I found myself lost at sea without a life preserver. What I needed more than ever was a kind voice reminding me to be gentle with myself. What I got instead, was a regimented plan to do more, and push harder.


The support that I received from the so-called experts left me more overwhelmed, exhausted, and with not an extra ounce of milk to show for all of my hard work. Yet, despite all of these challenges I continued to show up day after day with hope in my heart and tears in my eyes.


This experience reminded me that our bodies are not machines. I learned that in order to make milk we first need to slow down and feel at ease. More than anything, we need to feel held.

When I realized this, I became that voice I had been looking for. What that meant for me was not waking up every two hours in the middle of the night and pumping while my baby slept. It meant putting my own needs first by getting more rest and nourishing my body. I learned to let go and trust. It was in these moments of letting go, that the tides began to turn. It was only after I had made peace with no longer breastfeeding my son, that the right tools fell into my lap and the milk began to flow. After many months of striving, I could finally exhale.

My story isn’t special. I know this because I have worked with and spoken to dozens of mothers who have navigated these very same challenges. Mothers who have shed tears as their pumps tug on their breasts. Mothers who have experienced the soul crushing feeling of not being enough.


As mothers, we all share a common thread: We are resilient. Resilience is one of the greatest gifts of motherhood. Resilient is another word for Mother. We keep going despite the urge to crumble under the weight of it all. We grow new capacities and show up for the work of caring for our littles, because our babies need us to. In showing up day after day for my son, as I faced my feelings of grief and defeat, I slowly grew into the strongest version of myself. This journey has made me stronger than ever before.


So to all the mamas out there who are dancing in the shadows: rest assured that you are not alone. I see your strength and your courage. With each diaper changed and each loving embrace, I see you.


You are exactly who your baby needs. You are enough.


In the meantime, remember to be kind and gentle with yourself.





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