We all have a “default” mode for our parenting. It’s that place we go when we just don’t really know what to do. My newborn default for my other two children has been to feed them. There’s a reason the mackerdoodle was a FAT baby! Every time I didn’t know what to do I fed her – and I was a first time mama; I didn’t know what to do A LOT!
As is frequently the case with defaults, mine was rendered useless when my snickerdoodle took a nursing strike on Saturday. When she woke up around 4 am she wouldn’t latch. Eventually I gave up trying and we both went back to sleep, but when she repeated her behavior again at 7 I became a little alarmed, not to mention uncomfortable. Around 9 am I was in genuine pain and concerned about infection, so I pumped. Because “feed the baby” is my default, I put that milk in a bottle and offered it to my snickerdoodle. She sucked it dry and went to sleep for four hours.
I was a mess!
During the four hours that she slept, I went outside while four families drove their trucks full of their belongings away from my neighborhood. Then I went back inside and had a cry.
I just felt hopeless. I didn’t know what to do, and the thing I do when I don’t know what to do was the thing I couldn’t do and DIDN’T KNOW WHY!
At 1 she didn’t want to eat.
At 5 she finally ate for five minutes and then cried for twenty.
At 8 pm she latched like there had never been any trouble, nursed in textbook fashion, ten minutes on each side, and went to sleep. We haven’t had a problem since.
I can’t explain it.
For years I have been saying to women who struggled with nursing, “Breastfeeding isn’t a moral imperative or a scriptural command. Praise the Lord we live in a time that formula is accessible and high quality.” I earnestly believe those things to be absolutely true, but they weren’t as comforting to me when I thought that my daughter was rejecting nursing. It felt like she was rejecting ME. I was taking it personally.
Was some of that hormonal? Probably. And there was probably a lot of sleep deprivation factored in too, but that didn’t stop it from being a very real struggle for what seemed like days, but was, in reality, less than 24 hours.
There are three things we cannot do as mothers:
- We can’t make them sleep
- We can’t make them eat
- We can’t keep them healthy
I thought I had learned this with my other two, but even with a third there are still curve balls – curve balls that force us to re-set our “default” settings.