The Foxhole of Breastfeeding
If I knew then what I know now…
I thought breastfeeding was going to take me out. As a woman that has battled with depression most of her life, I can now recognize my descent into the pit of hopelessness and despair. Which is exactly where I found myself in the handful of weeks that followed my daughter’s birth.Which is exactly where I found myself in the handful of weeks that followed my daughter’s birth.
Where’s my milk?
My reality had become hiding in my room, away from my husband, firstborn, and mother, with the curtains closed, wrapped in covers, bawling my eyes out and pleading to God for a breakthrough in my milk supply. Even though I had “set my atmosphere” w/ constant praise music and listening to sermons morning, noon, and night, there wasn’t a praise song, sermon, or scripture that could lift my head at the time. Furthermore, my low milk supply was not a self-diagnosis. I had seen three different lactation specialists and, more-or-less, they each confirmed that my daughter wasn’t getting enough milk from my breasts.
Low milk supply was not a foreign phrase to me, but no one told me about this: the despair that can come with it. I followed the consultant’s advice nursing my daughter on each breast for 10-15 minutes and then pumping immediately after for 15 minutes on both breasts while my mother or husband bottle-fed her formula. I repeated this every 2-3 hours every day (including overnight) for about 4-6 weeks, in addition to taking all of the supplements and tea I was drinking in an effort to aid raising my milk supply. Pumping 8-10 times a day only produced 4-6oz a day. The average is 30oz a day. Moreover, I was healing from a Prodromal Labor, two tears, one of which was very significant and I am still aware of even now (six months later) and of course wrapping my head around being a new mother. To make matters more intense, my husband was still out of work due to a layoff.
Where was God? I often thought. Lord I’m crying out to you every day giving you a sacrifice of praise but you haven’t said a word. Until one day He did. “We need to have a talk about what you’re afraid of.” Imagine my shock. Afraid? But this is about supply and demand. Literally. Nevertheless, I obeyed Him by grabbing my prayer journal and positioning myself to hear from Him by surrendering my heart through repentance. Yes, I repented for having chosen fear over His wise counsel. He then asked me what it was that I was afraid of and because I had already surrendered, the deeply hidden fears quickly floated to the surface of my heart like a water buoy. The following is what I discovered:
- I was afraid that a low milk supply was a reflection on my abilities as a woman and a mother.
- I was afraid that I wasn’t going to bond with my daughter.
- I was afraid of formula.
- I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to encourage other young black women to breastfeed.
- I was afraid others would think of me as “another” black women feeding my baby formula.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS HAVING PROBLEMS PRODUCING MILK,
YOU MAY WANT TO TRY THIS OR THAT.
God still requires repentance. I know that I am forgiven of my sins by the blood of Jesus, but I have to turn from sin and die to the flesh daily. We all do. Furthermore I confess my sins, as Jesus tells us to do, so that my heart won’t condemn me. While daily confession is not a “requirement” for salvation, confessing your sins to Abba Father and repenting from them will keep your thoughts Holy and your heart pure. I was so blinded by despair that I didn’t even realize the enemy was using my “unrepentant” heart as a leg to stand on for his attack. I was choosing fear and fear is not of God, to choose fear is to choose death. After confessing and repenting for having chosen fear, I was now rightly positioned to hear from the Lord about my situation and in true Omnipotent fashion, He addressed every fear and then some:
- There are always going to be elements outside of yourself that are required for the well-being of your child and I will provide each and every one of them.
- You’re going to bond with your daughter whether you breastfeed or not. I chose her for you and you for her.
- Be at peace with formula, you need it now. Also, remember that there are mothers out there using formula because they don’t have a choice. Formula can be a blessing if you let it.
- Whether you bottle feed or breastfeed, you will inspire women (young mothers) all over the world.
- People will judge you no matter what you do.
- I am here for you, always.
These words refreshed my heart, but it was a fight holding on to them. The enemy pursued getting me back into worry and I had to respond each time by going back and reading over what the Lord had said to me. His words gave me a way of escape every time. Over time, I saw how trivial each worry was and could care less that my healthy joyful daughter is formula fed! The funny thing is, my supply never got over 6oz a day yet somehow I managed to store up enough in the freezer for my baby to get breast milk every day until she’s about eight months. God is able!
If you struggle with breastfeeding, hang in their Mama, God loves you and He will walk you through your own fears step by step like He did mine. He restored my peace, joy, and gave me Clarity. That’s right, Clarity Kennedy-Hope Joseph born April 4, 2018, being true to her name from the very start.