Gone Coastal

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Faith like a mustard seed

This I have, with a few provisions. I need to see good soil in a good location with full sun and plenty of available water for my mustard to grow. And a suitable long-term forecast wouldn't hurt.
So, what brings me to this brilliant personal insight? Our breastfeeding epic (you didn't really think I could post without some reference to T, did ya?) I think it was sometime last week, after talking with a great former neighbour of ours, that the cumulative wisdom of various nurses, doctors and friends came together, and I concluded I needed to think about the point at which I would stop trying to breastfeed. I needed to set some sort of boundary, lest I continue at the detriment of both my health and T's to play the martyr to keep her in breastmilk. By the time of Friday's setbacks, I had settled on giving it until this Friday, tomorrow, which would be a full six weeks from T's birth. Not a bad start, as far as the benefits of breastmilk go.
Over the course of the week, as my deadline has grown closer and T has shown little progress beyond one good latch last Saturday, I had started the inevitable process of preparing myself for the seemingly inevitable conclusion, a grieving of sorts for my breastfeeding dreams. Last night I kept the Bear up a little later than he'd planned (that's a switch) as i shared my reflections from the day, specifically the potential upsides of eliminating the breastmilk at this point. I've pretty much decided already what the outcome of this will be, that I'll be spending next week slowly tapering off the pumping and letting my milk dry up.
And then an odd thing happened. At one of last night's later feedings, T was fishing around, rooting actually in the direction of my breast, rather than towards that ubiquitous silicon nipple that can appear from anywhere. A recognition of sorts that this was where the good stuff came from. I tried latching her, but she just fussed and eventually pushed off. This morning again, after feeding her the small bottle of breastmilk from the previous round of pumping, she was lying across my lap and then started to root, quite insistently at my breast. Again we didn't succeed with a good latch, but she did at least sit on the nipple for a bit and didn't push it away right off.
Eventually I topped her up with a bottle of formula before starting the pumps, but it was enough to get me thinking. I had been light-heartedly talking to T, telling her she had so many days left to figure it out. As if it were her choice. I had prayed to God about the situation and given Him my timeline, but what was I really expecting? One of two possible outcomes. Either she'd figure it out over a week and a half and we'd live happily ever after, or she wouldn't and we'd adapt. Having pretty much accepted the latter outcome by the middle of this week, waiting until Friday has become mostly a weak exercise in obedience. But this shift in T raises questions. Maybe it is still possible for things to turn around in the next day and a half (I figured I'd officially cut it off at my doctor's appointment Friday). And if it did so at this point, I'd have to count it as a miracle. But how much grief and struggle could I have saved myself if I'd set a much less 'realistic' timeline. If I'd said "Lord, I know I can't keep this up forever. I can't do it in my own strength, so if it's your will for me to breastfeed T, please have her latching and sucking her heart out today, and clearing up my clogged and possibly infected ducts in the process. And give me the right amount of milk with the right flow so she can feed comfortably and I won't need to pump or supplement anymore." perhaps I'd have had the answer I was looking for a week and a half ago, and might even have saved myself the stress of the whole weight loss scare on the weekend.
Instead, I said something more like, "Lord, I'm really tired. I'm working real hard around the clock to keep her fed, and keep on top of all the things that need to be done. I think I can probably survive another week and a bit, so please could you maybe help T with latching? Just get her started so she nurses a bit regularly, and I'll know then to keep working with her until she's able to sustain herself on nursing alone. Otherwise, after next Friday I'll have to start phasing out the breast milk, or at least the nursing attempts. I can still offer her the breast now and then to see if she changes her mind, but it won't be the focus. Thanks, Lord."
Of course, along the way I always acknowledge that God is God and is able to change things overnight if He so chooses. But I realize this morning what a very safe thing it is to believe that God can do something. After all, how could such a belief be proven wrong? How can you definitively argue that God can't do something, as opposed to what he simply chooses not to do?
And if one of the purposes of miracles is to bring glory to God, how much glory are we allowing him if we only ask for something that's got a reasonable chance of happening all on its own. When Gideon laid out his fleece, he asked for something that couldn't be explained by anything other than God's direct intervention.
The funny thing is that I'd now be almost equally satisfied with either continuing breastfeeding or dropping breast and pump altogether. I guess my prayer now should be for his glory.
As the Spirit prompted me with these thoughts this morning, and prompted me to share them here, I balked a bit, as the last few days I've found rarely more than a few minutes at a time between feeds, changes, etc., and it's been even harder to stay focused and conscious in those moments I do find, typing one-handed through short comments. "So," I said, "if you want me to post, make me the time. And here I am.
Here's another twist to show how God messes with our heads. Throughout most of the last week and a half, I've been trying to get my milk production up, as it had dropped somewhat the previous week, after I'd dealt with the oversupply issues. As I started to expect the less desired outcome, I've found myself having to resist starting to scale back production in anticipation of weaning, and have actually allowed myself to be a bit lax on my pumping schedule, stretching out the time between whenever it was convenient. Yet as I typed the first bit of the post, I filled two bottles to at least twice what I had been averaging per breast over the last two weeks.
Definitely not the way I would choose to fix it!



  • Costal,
    Being male, I know better than to even imply the tiniest of understanding (lest my wife find out and wound me greviously). However, having seen Ferf go through the rigors of breastfeeding I can at least empathize from a safe distance.

    On the specificity of prayer, I have often had the same considerations. You however were much more eloquent than I have ever been when you said:

    "But I realize this morning what a very safe thing it is to believe that God can do something. After all, how could such a belief be proven wrong? How can you definitively argue that God can't do something, as opposed to what he simply chooses not to do?"

    How would we all be different if that was the tact we took to approaching God with our prayers. I think the only thing we are more afraid of tan God saying "No" is Him saying nothing at all. You are so right. It's easier to believe He CAN do than it is to believe that He WILL do.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:11 a.m.  

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