Being A Mom…

The love of my life, my reason for living, my motivation to be more, be better, be everything… weighs just over 9 pounds and has existed for all of 6 weeks. 

I get the greatest peace from watching her sleep and I use the edges of my fingers to wipe the milk off her cheek. And there has never been happiness like this before. 

She is everything I have ever wanted…and so much more. And I never knew what love was until I met her. I remember imagining it, fantasizing about it, thinking I could understand it. And now? Now I understand that I could’ve never been more wrong before. I could never have dreamt this. Imagination, in all its freedom, isn’t capable of wrapping it’s fingertips around even the essence of how much a mother loves her child. There isn’t a mind in the world that can conjure the way it feels to look in eyes you made for the very first time. There is no poem or song or perfect set of words that could even come close to describing the way it hurts to love someone so fucking much. Nothing could describe the way that one moment changes your entire life. It’s just not really real until they cry. But once you’ve labored and pushed and gutted your insides all to make this little person “really” be alive and they cry the first time? Everything is different. The bottom has just dropped out and everything you once knew is now different. Your beliefs and what matters to you changes. You see everything from this whole new perspective that you never knew existed. The world is full of dangers and all the sudden you sense it…

I could never know that love could be so big and whole and all encompassing that it’s almost suffocating… but in the most incredible way. I never knew love could be so utterly, completely, and wholeheartedly terrifying. The moment I first laid eyes on her I felt more love and sheer terror in the same instant than I ever have in my life. And I wasn’t afraid of breaking her. 9 1/2 months of her kicking inside me taught me just how strong she is. No, I wasn’t afraid of dropping her. I wasn’t afraid of being alone with her (much). I wasn’t afraid of all the things people talk about. I was and am afraid of all the things parents WON’T talk about. All the things that suddenly become too terrifying to say out loud. 

I am terrified of never being enough. Of never being able to give her the whole world I know she deserves. I am terrified of everything the world may someday do to her. Of the things she’ll have to endure. Of the pain she’ll have to feel. Of the feelings that will get hurt and the cries I won’t be able to console. I am terrified of SIDS and rapists and kidnappers and bad drivers and the blanket getting too high on her face and that funny gasp she makes when she’s asleep. I am so utterly afraid of losing her that the thought literally makes me sick to my stomach and not just because of what I would lose; but because of this incredible little person that the world would lose. I don’t think I could survive it; because this love I have for her is so enormous that if I don’t have someone to give it to, I’m pretty sure I would cease to exist. 

I am also afraid of her pain. Because it cuts so deep it feels like it’s gutting me. When she was a week old she had an allergic reaction to her diapers. This reaction left her with two chemical burns on her cute little butt cheeks. And she screamed. And screamed. And screamed some more. And I felt like I was being gutted. Like I had failed as a parent. Like if I was good enough I could make it all go away and the fact that I couldn’t made me insane. Powerlessness has never felt so real. Or hurt so much. All I could do was buy nine kinds of butt paste, use washcloths instead of baby wipes, give her baths and turn my heat up so she could lie naked and air out. I did everything right and logically I knew that. But being a parent taught me that even when I do everything right, I will still always want to give her more. I wanted to snap my fingers and make it go away. I wanted to find the magic butt paste that would heal it in a day. But it took two weeks. And in those two weeks I did everything. I consoled her, cried with her, gave her to her dad so I could take a breather, bounced her, rocked her, and ran home to my mom. Because Gigi is magic and could make the crying stop. Being a parent taught me that my child being in pain hurts me far worse than any pain I’ve endured myself. 

Being a parent taught me that it will never be about me again. And it shouldn’t be. Every choice I make, action I take, and decision I weigh is now premised by “How will this effect her?” I drive slower, eat better, am much calmer, and I’m constantly trying to be the best version of me I can be. And every single day I fall short of what I think she deserves. But I know being good enough for her means questioning whether or not I’m good enough for her and that my very fear of never being enough is exactly what makes me enough. Because I will always work harder for her. I will always push further. I will always do everything I can to be the woman that she can look up to the way I look up to my mom.  

Being a mom taught me that I can love someone with every ounce and inch of my existence and that loving like that feels like the greatest blessing I’ve ever been given. Being a mom made me more forgiving of other moms because now I know just how hard it is and I also know that I probably still don’t have any idea of how hard it can get. Being a mom taught me that I know nothing; but also, that my intuition can tell me anything. I know which cry means hungry and which one means bored. I know when she’s in pain and when she just needs to be swaddled. I know when I’m just too exhausted and stressed out and she can sense it in me and it’s time to go to Gigi and get some help. I know that something as simple as “having a gassy baby” can mean non stop crying for hours of the day that could drive any parent crazy. I know that giving a bath to a 7, 8, 9 pound baby can be terrifying… and slippery.

But above all else, I know that no other little face in the world can make me melt the way hers does. I know that I will never be this tied to another human being in so many ways ever again. I know that I need to cherish everyday, even the bad ones, because they will all fly by far too quickly. Being a mom has taught me that I could never have known just how blessed I would feel when given the incredible gift of molding and loving another human being. There just aren’t enough words… We don’t have the right words to even come close to expressing this. But hey, I tried…

by Ashley King 

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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Nursing at 7am

It’s 7am and you’re nursing for the fourth time in the last 6 hours. I am exhausted.. beyond all belief. My stomach is grumbling and angry from lack of food and whatever thing has been wrong with it lately, my back is on fire from hunching over in one hundred wrong different ways, and my head is pounding because mama needs some caffeine. And none of that matters. It’s all dulled at the edges by the feeling of your small, warm breaths on my chest. I can’t hear my stomach grumbling over the sweet little coos in your exhales and the squeaks you make when you’ve fallen asleep and wake up to find that the food is still right in front of your face. Choosing to breastfeed is the most insane thing I’ve ever done and stuck to. I always planned to; but never in a million years could I have imagined how exhausting it would be. It comes easily to some people; but not to you and I little one. No, we had to work for it. When you were born, you were so tired from the jaundice that you struggled to stay awake long enough to nurse and as you got older your slightly recessed chin made it hard for you to latch. So I pumped the milk instead; 8, 9, 10 times a day. I felt like all I did was pump, bottle feed you, and put you to sleep, all to start over again as soon as you were out. 

Still I tried everyday to latch you at least once. I was doing it so that my milk could change based off of what your saliva told my body you needed. And then one day you actually latched and started to eat. I swear it was like the clouds had parted for the sun to finally shine through. You would only nurse for the first few minutes when the milk was really flowing, but it was something. And everyday we worked on it. Some days you nurse until you’re almost full and only need to eat a little from the bottle. Other days you just scream anytime I try to get you to latch and I have to pump some more (which never gets enough out now) and then supplement with the formula that your tummy has never taken to. 

Who knew feeding a child could be such a battle?

Sometimes I swear I’ve read every article in existence that explains different tricks to getting your child to latch, or tells how to up my supply so there’s a heavier flow to keep you interested longer. I’ve read articles about getting the most out of pumping, what supplements you can take, hot compresses, breast compressions, hand expression, watching videos of your baby to induce let down. And that, I’ve read about let down, hindmilk, foremilk, different kinds of nipples, nipple confusion, and sooooo much more. It’s enough to leave anyone rocking back and forth in the corner with a box of Thin Mints and White Collar on Netflix (because Matt Bomer is yummy.)

But, it is all worth it at 7 in the morning when you’ve finally latched and eaten your fill and you look up at me, coo, smile, and pass out milk drunk. 

It is all worth it. And I wouldn’t trade this time for anything in the world. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Note: to any moms who need support with breastfeeding or are in search of some of the information I mentioned above, I recommend checking out the following websites..

http://www.lllusa.org (La Leche League. They’re the gods of breastfeeding information and support. You can even call them and speak to lactation consultants who will walk you through anything they can.)

http://kellymom.com (A blog site with “evidence based information on breastfeeding and parenting”. It’s run by a mother of 3.)

http://www.babycenter.com (This is the website for an app I used my entire pregnancy and continue to use now that Baby T is 6 weeks old. It has articles, discussion boards, community support and an all around wealth of information. Just a personal like of mine.)

Good luck! Don’t give up! It will get easier.