World Breast Pumping Day + me.

Today is World Breast Pumping Day, and it’s so sentimental to me that my youngest babe is also one month old today!

*if breast feeding/pumping/breast milk weirds you out, do not proceed – there, you’ve been warned, ha!*

Just a little back story: after my daughter (my first child) was born, I really wanted to breastfeed, but was largely unsuccessful. I underproduced and we struggled to get a good latch. Even pumping didn’t yield enough to sustain her, and we were supplementing with formula almost from the very beginning. Overcoming those hurdles was way more difficult than I could have imagined back then, at barely 20 years old. After 5 weeks, we’d completely transitioned to formula, and I sat in my bed and cried for a good 20 minutes or so, feeling like a complete failure as I gave up on breastfeeding her for good.

After my oldest son (my second child), I really wanted to try again. I was older, now 26 years old, I had a network of people around me that breastfed their babies, and I was looking to leave the work force and stay home, making myself more available to him than I was as a working mom the first go-around. Much to my dismay, my milk never even came in. When he absolutely refused to latch (a tongue tie, I suspect), I tried pumping in the hospital, but nothing happened. I never was sore or engorged; nothing. I wasn’t so disappointed this time, because if anything, I at least felt validated that even if I’d have known more and been more determined the first time, it wouldn’t have mattered. I wasn’t a failure; it was just my body that had failed. It was comforting. Plus, I’ve got a good sense of humor about these things, so I just cracked lots of useless boob jokes.

So, when I got pregnant with my third child, and my second son, I never planned to try to breastfeed. I wasn’t even going to attempt it. When he was born, there was no question; I told them to bring me a bottle. Alone in my room with just a nurse, we did try – for about 20 minutes before I gave him a bottle, we made a number of attempts to get him to latch. None of them worked even a little bit, and it was already wearing on me. A bottle it would be.

Again, none of this bothered me in the slightest. I have now raised two smart, healthy, and bright babies that were formula fed. I believe that breast milk is best, but formula is good, too, and I’m grateful for it as someone who’s baby would have literally starved without it when my supply never arrived at all. It works just fine for me, and I make no apologies for having used it in the past, using it in the present, or any potential use I’ll have for it in the future.

But, then…

A few days after the birth of my third child, I was home and getting ready to take a shower when I noticed that I was carrying a significantly different weight in my chest, and that I was sore. Reaching up to massage my ache, like you would anywhere else, I began to notice that I could express colostrum.

I freaked out for a second. I yelled for my husband.

For a few minutes, we talked about the options, and I immediately texted my sister who successfully breastfed my niece for nearly a year. I needed advice – and a breast pump, like now.

I placed an order for one, but in the meantime, she brought hers to me and gave me the rundown on how to use it. I consumed so much information about breastfeeding in the next 24 hours, but no number of holds or shields or anything got my newest little guy to latch. He was spoiled by the ease of the bottle, I think, so why work twice as hard at the breast, right? So, whatever. I had a pump I could use to make sure he could have his bottle and still be breastfed.

I committed in my mind to pump and feed breast milk for as long as I could, but I would go at least a month if I was able.

Today is one month, to the day.

In the last month, my supply never did quite catch up with the demand, so we’ve still supplemented with formula. In the last week, it was dwindling even so – despite drinking copious amounts of water and eating foods and snacks to help boost my supply.

I pumped my last bottle just about 48 hours ago and froze what was left to hopefully someday turn into a keepsake. I want to remember this time. Not because I think I’ll forget that I pumped for a month, and believe me, I understand it’s not some great feat. So many do SO much more for their children than I have. No, really, I want to remember this because it was really incredible.

I had all but completely given up on the idea of providing breast milk for my babies ever again. Before I was pregnant with my second child, I’d asked God to 1) help me conceive – I’d been on birth control that sometimes cause delays in conception after using it – and, 2) help me breastfeed. That’s potentially two miracles in one, depending on how you look at it.

Right away, I was pregnant. I never was able to breastfeed him.

But in His time, man. Here we are. Even if I wasn’t breastfeeding, my baby, who I never expected to, is breastfed. Incredible, it’s incredible.

I wondered about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the last few days as I’ve reflected in this. Then it was covered briefly at church today, and I know it’s no coincidence that its been on my mind. If you’re not familiar, their story can be found in Daniel 3, but just to recap:

Nebuchadnezzar wanted to be worshipped. They were like, or nah. So he threatened to throw them in a fiery furnace. They says, okay bet. (Sorry, that’s actually not how they said it. It’s how my husband and his friends would have though. And you get the idea right? Moving on).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.’ (Daniel 3:16-18 NLT)

Nebuchadnezzar tossed them in the fire, and they survived, miraculously, with a fourth man seen in the furnace – presumably, Jesus. But before that is the striking thing to me, and probably to most. Less than they survived a fire, they were willing to praise God and forsake other idols at the risk of death just because they knew God could save them. Not would, but could.

They had promise of deliverance, just a deliverer.

They had no promise of healing, just a healer.

They had no promise of protection, but of peace and security.

They knew he COULD, and their faith was unwavering.

Of course, my story is not like every story, and neither is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s. Not everyone who prays for deliverance, protection, or healing will be granted it. I asked God to heal my body to be able to conceive and carry and nourish babies. It took 3 years for the last half of that prayer to be fulfilled. I don’t want to forget the shock and surprise and honest-to-God AWE that we felt knowing I could produce, that not only could He, but He did. Never late, never wrong – but always for our good, amen?

As I close out today, my son’s one month old and it’s World Breast Pumping Day – the alignment of these days is incredibly ironic and perfect to me.

I’m just so thankful to God, our Creator. I’m always floored by the way He meets us and the way He works in our lives and the way things play out. Sometimes, it’s in a way that leaves me without answers and closure, pursuing Him in blind faith. Others, are like today, where I feel like I can sit back and reflect some. I can see where He was working in my waiting. I can see how things fit together.

And I know it’s just a taste of what the reflection will be like when we’re heavenside. The peace and contentment here is palpable and so sweet.

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