I listened to her screams from down the hall, as my husband tried once again to give her the bottle. I cracked the door open to peer down to the living room and watch, as my heart broke in pieces once again and my breasts plump with milk ached.
I watched my sweet man’s face filled with defeat at the failing act of trying to feed his child. She just wouldn’t take the bottle, gagging and throwing up over and over again. I sobbed and felt my entire being break in desperation, as my heart screamed the truth:
She needed me.
Everyone told us to bottle-feed her so she wasn’t exclusively breast-feeding. We heeded their direction, and in our despair attempted over and over again with no success. I had enough. I ran down the hall and stopped the torture for the final time.
As I took her from my husband’s arms, he succumbed to his failure with weary eyes and forfeited the loss of the blessing he could not accomplish on his own. It wasn’t his fault. My baby needed me and with her severe reflux, we were fools to think she could do otherwise.
Every new bottle nipple we ordered on line didn’t work. All the time and energy we put into this was a waste. We were dishonoring the very thing we were called to do. This wasn’t our decision, but so many other voices directed this choice. Why would I bottle-feed my sick child when I was successfully breast-feeding her and was home to care for my lamb? What were we thinking? Why did we go through all this pain and suffering?
We didn’t trust that we knew what was best. We didn’t have faith in our own decisions. We were scared and in that fear, we listened to every one else’s opinions and neglected our own.
I never felt more convicted in that defining moment. It was then that I realized I knew what was best for my baby and our family. I tormented for weeks about this horrific path of forcing pain on us all, because I just didn’t believe…
I had my own story to write.
I exclusively nursed my baby her first year. And when I had my second, I had no doubt that this was the plan. All the opinions were just that. They would not define our parenting journey, nor would they change our course. I had new faith in my mothering instincts and what I believed what was best for my children. Another full year of exclusive breast-feeding was beautiful and exactly what each of my babies needed.
This was our story.
And each new and scary step was another chapter, another page in our life… Completely different and unique than anyone else’s plan. We fumbled and failed and made turns and changes, as we followed our path in writing our own words as our world of parenting continued. It was difficult and scary as so many voices told us what to do and what NOT to do… we vacillated many times and prayed for discernment through every step. And we made our own decisions…
We became the true authors.
And as I gain more confidence each day in my child-rearing tale, I realize how important it is to respect and honor the stories I see unfold around me. Every mother has a true and unique journey with parenting, and no one can write it for her. There may be contributors that are helpful and sharing their truths, their words and their ideas. But each child brings a miraculous creation of twists and turns that can only define each family and how they live according to their values and deepest desires.
I wish I were told this powerful truth the moment I was pregnant with my first. Instead of all the well-intentioned advice I was drowning in, I wish someone told me…
Embrace your story. It is yours to write.
Dear friends, always embrace your story. The Author of life has given you the greatest honor in writing each precious word.
Before having children, Chris Carter worked as a music therapist for several years in Chicago’s inpatient psychiatric hospitals. She also managed creative arts and recreation programming for four group homes. In that time of her life, she learned and grew to know the pain and suffering of so many people. She is now a stay-at-home mom and currently spends her days running kids to and from school four times a day, volunteering and keeping the house in some sort of order! She has a thriving blog, The Mom Cafe, where she regularly shares her mothering experience and wisdom.