This time 5 weeks ago, we were being released from the hospital with our daughter. Those words -- "our daughter" -- are still so strange to type, let alone say out loud and I can't believe that I've settled into this new role of being someone's mother.
Having Avery is everything and nothing like what I expected. There are some things you can prepare for -- how to change her diaper, giving her a bath, installing the car seat -- but there are other day-to-day struggles, lessons, and emotional moments that are so unexpected. From the moment they put her on my chest in the hospital, there's been a tug on my heart -- a constant worry about whether I'm doing everything I can to make her feel safe and happy.
As someone that thrives on control and orchestrating every situation, this whole motherhood thing put me on my back foot. I had a series of wins early on -- a smooth delivery, getting her to sleep in the hospital, introducing her to the dogs but my confidence fell flat when we struggled with breastfeeding. I physically couldn't catch up with the volume Avery needed and the pain from latching made me resent the moments she asked to be fed -- no amount of breastfeeding classes or books can prepare you for that emotional letdown.
Three days after she was born, the doctor told us Avery had lost 14% of her bodyweight because she wasn't getting enough milk. Hearing this, my heart dropped. In that moment, I felt as those all of my diligent preparation was wasted, and in just the few short days since I'd been her mother, I'd already failed her.
We immediately started supplementing with formula (a hit to my ego), saw a lactation consultant and pumped after every feeding. While my ego was a bit bruised every time she took a bottle of formula, the real pain for me was loosing the precious bonding time with her. I felt isolated in my bedroom each time I had to pump and it felt more and more like a chore and less like a special time and gift to be shared with my daughter.
Once my production increased, I slowly started putting Avery back on my breast and she latched right away. I remember watching her the first time we had a true feeding just in awe of the whole experience, and that my body finally caught up to where she needed me to be. Now, we're 5 weeks into breastfeeding and I'm honestly so proud of both of us for making it this far. There were so many times when I was pumping or pushing through the pain of breastfeeding that I just wanted to quit. But we powered through. I gave up what little control I've had so far and I let Avery guide the way -- telling me how much she needs, when she needs it and being okay if I need to offer her a bottle if I can't be what she needs in that moment.
Those days were the hardest so far. Giving up control. Putting her needs over mine to make sure she was getting the nutrition she needed from formula instead of me getting the validation and badge of motherhood in the breastfeeding category. One parenting hiccup down, a lifetime to go.