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Have you ever known a pair of siblings that made you think, “How are you from the same set of genes?” Isn’t it funny how two children, from the same parents raised in the same environment, can be so different from each other? Just one of the many ways we can see God’s unique design and plan for each of us.
People had told me before I had Andrew that he would probably be completely different from his brother, because that’s the way it usually happens. And I believed them, because my sister and I are very different in many ways.
So I was expecting Andrew to have his own unique personality and skill set as he grew.
I wasn’t fully prepared for how early those signs of differentiation would exhibit themselves.
In many ways, having my second baby was much easier than the first. Before I had Aidan, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and I was completely overwhelmed by the new responsibilities and changes. The second time around, I was much more relaxed and confident (though we definitely still had some growing pains in the transition).
“I’ve done this before. I got this.” I thought.
Well, as I’m sure you know by now, just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, kids have a way of proving that you, in fact, never will.
I was expecting Andrew’s infancy to be just like Aidan’s, and I thought I knew what was coming.
He had other ideas.
One of these “other ideas” was not sleeping through the night until six months (actually, we’re still working on it. But we’re so close!)
This post isn’t about that, however.
Nor is it about the frustration of a fussy baby who cries all. the. time. I was fairly well-prepared for that. Aidan had been a very fussy baby as well.
No, this post is about a different frustration, one that I was not prepared for – a difficult nurser!
“This is so frustrating!”
Breastfeeding didn’t come quickly or naturally to Aidan or me, but with some help from a lactation consultant, we eventually figured it out. However, once he (and I) got the hang of it, he was an easy baby to nurse. Our only struggle was that he often got gassy because I’m an overproducer (I know, not a problem to complain about, but it is a problem nonetheless.) I could nurse whenever, wherever, and multitask while I did it.
When Andrew was born, he knew what to do right away. “This kid’s gonna be a piece of cake to feed,” I thought.
Not so much.
Unlike his brother, who could NOT be convinced to take a bottle for the first few months of his life, Andrew seemed to prefer the bottle. He even went on several nursing strikes. (If that ever happens to you, here’s a helpful article of things to try. There were several days I had to work to convince him to take the breast again.
In addition to his artificial nipple preference, I also learned another thing about Andrew that was not the case for his brother – he was (and still is) highly distractible while nursing. Feeding him around other people (especially his energetic older brother) often just didn’t work, and I could forget about trying to do other things during feedings. At the slightest movement or noise, he would stop eating and crane his neck to see what was going on. Almost every feeding was a challenge.
“This is so frustrating!” I would often say to Levon.
I was so thankful that I could even breastfeed at all, and grateful for a good production, but I was tired of struggling through every feeding.
I very much wanted to continue, though, so I resigned myself to the fact that it was always best to feed him in private, removed from any distraction or noise, and without multitasking at all, not even reading a book or checking Facebook on my phone.
A New Perspective
For several months this was really irritating to me, and I slightly resented the fact that I couldn’t do anything else and had to seclude myself in order to nurse the baby. For someone who is an extrovert and an accomplishment-driven person, being alone and still was annoying.
I talk about the book Real Moms…Real Jesus a lot on the blog, and one of the things it taught me was to start using the baby’s feedings as opportunities to talk to Jesus.
Related Post: Real Moms…Real Jesus: A Real Mom’s Review
I started doing that every time I felt irritated over what I thought were “boring” feedings.
And you know what? My whole perspective on being alone and still shifted.
I started seeing those times as opportunities to savor Andrew and bond with him. With a toddler to wrangle, a household to run, a blog to grow, and a store to manage, my life gets pretty full. I’m usually in task mode, trying to figure out how to do more and be more productive.
Having to be still, silent, and secluded forced me to take a few minutes to just be with my baby. Instead of thinking of everything I could be doing, I started looking at him, I mean really looking at him. Watching him, drinking it all it. I looked at his little fingers on my chest, cherished the feel of his body in my arms, and watched the changes in his face as he drank.
With another child to take care of and more on my plate this time around, I’m finding that Andrew’s infancy is going by even more quickly than Aidan’s did. Without being forced to completely stop what I’m doing to feed him, I’m not sure I would have ever taken the time to just savor him. And that makes me sad to think about what I would have missed out on.
What started as a huge frustration, had become a blessing. And looking back, I wonder if God didn’t design him that way for that very reason.
Now that Andrew’s a bit older, our nursing relationship has gotten smoother and easier. I can now sometimes get a little work done or talk to friends and family.
But there are still many times that he won’t eat well unless we get away from everything. I no longer see it as a burden, though. I now see it as an opportunity for some much needed one-on-one time with my little baby who won’t be a baby much longer.
Here are a few things I learned from this experience:
- Sometimes what you think is a burden is actually a blessing in disguise. Look for the ways that you can use whatever is frustrating you to get more out of life or motherhood. Maybe it’s building character or patience. Maybe it’s preparing you for something to come. Or maybe, like me, it’s causing you to slow down for a minute and enjoy the moment.
- Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? How can I grow? How can I use this?”
- In those moments of pure frustration, talk to Jesus. Share your frustrations with Him. He is a friend who never leaves and is always there to listen.
- Trust God to either work on the situation or work on your heart. Remember, His way of “fixing” the problem may not be to take the problem away. It may not even be a problem in the first place. Sometimes it takes hindsight to see that.
What about you? Have you ever experienced a frustration that you later realized was a blessing? What caused your perspective to shift, and what was the result in your joy levels? If you have a story like that, please share it in the comments below!
By the way, if you could relate to the “nursing strikes” in my story, or if you have encountered some other kind of breastfeeding obstacle, be sure to check out my epic list of breastfeeding tips and resources! Because no mom should have to struggle alone!
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- Epic List of Breastfeeding Tips & Resources
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