Day’s Verse:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4

I’m in the process of weaning from the pump. This is easily said and difficult to accomplish: an object in motion tends to stay in motion until acted on by an outside force, right? I’ve got a pretty strong vector in the milk production direction and am having to apply some significant outside forces to change to a non-milk-producing vector.

This is not fun for two reasons: First, it’s uncomfortable (surprise!); I can’t just say, “OK, thanks, boobs, I’m done. You can stop making milk now,” and have my body comply. There’s a tricky balancing act between removing enough milk to stave off infection and discomfort on the one hand, and on the other removing so much that my body takes that as a cue to make more. This means spending days and days uncomfortably full, hoping for my body to quickly figure out I’m quitting. It’s a tough message to get across. This is really not the natural way of weaning; normally it’s a long, slow, gentle process as baby decides he doesn’t want as much milk as usual, and the mom’s body responds accordingly. Quitting all at once isn’t how babies normally do it.*

Second, the emotions are so complicated. Mentally, I know I need to quit pumping. This most recent round of mastitis I got last Sunday was frightening, how close we got to a serious life-threatening emergency before I was able to get it under control. I’ve been on some drug or another for the last month or more. Evidence suggests that, despite the extreme measures I took over the last month, the yeast infection doesn’t seem to be entirely gone. For my own physical health, it’s time to stop. That’s setting aside the time spent as a slave to the pump (and its accouterments), time I desperately need to spend on other things. I’m willing to sacrifice the time, but not my physical health.

Emotionally, though, it breaks my heart a little bit at a time every time we feed him and it’s not milk I’ve pumped. I’m physically capable of feeding Benji and have always made tons of milk, I want to feed him, and… I can’t. I know this probably seems inconceivable after all the misery I’ve gone through, the literal blood, sweat, and tears to feed Benji breast milk; wouldn’t I want to stop? YES! And no. I’ve taken joy in the fact that, even if it’s mostly not nursing, I’m still able to provide for Benji. It’s illogical, but I so long to continue doing that, despite all the good reasons to stop. I feel increasingly depressed as all my milk-drying-up measures kick in and knowing that very soon it’ll be all formula. I can’t explain it**, but there you have it.

It’s been a hard week all-round, actually. Benji is a darling and I adore him, but that doesn’t counteract the misery of a week spent convalescing. My parents and Ian’s parents helped out a ton, and cared for Benji while I couldn’t pick him up. A huge thank-you to them, without whom the week would’ve been unspeakably bad.

I keep thinking of the song “It is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

While I was really sick, I kept singing it to myself. I didn’t feel healthier, but it was a needful reminder that my physical body isn’t everything.

* That said, family lore says that I weaned myself promptly the first time I received a sippy cup. I was an on-the-go baby and immediately loved the efficiency of a cup compared to nursing. Mom couldn’t coax me back to nursing after I got a cup. So it’s not exclusively true that nursing babies don’t inflict sudden weaning on moms.

** Nursing moms produce a couple of feel-good hormones that stop when the milk production stops. It’s more extreme the faster the weaning. This is certainly a factor in my feeling depressed about quitting nursing, but I don’t think that’s the only thing going on. It’s complicated.

4 thoughts on “Hard Things

  1. Life IS complicated. We are but slender strands of twine compared to the awesome poser of God. Entwine yourself with Him so that you are relying on His strength to keep from fraying or snapping.

    By the way, I still have the sippy cup that started you off down the road to freedom!

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