The first 365 days I felt like I was raising a koala. Constantly reading, researching, scrolling. Trying to figure out how to raise this incredible little being. Breastfeeding sucked. I worked my ass off but couldn't produce a ton. I think I could have swung it if my daughter didn't have a dairy and soy allergy, but the crazy restrictive diet I had to go on caused my supply to tank. I persevered, and managed to go six months, but by the end I was hand expressing just a couple of ounces per day. Supplementing with formula made me feel guilty and stress that I wasn’t working hard enough. Lactation consultants told me to power pump 8-10x per day and then charged me $150. I was so tired. I felt so defeated. It was insanity. It shouldn’t cost new mothers that much to get help. Uninsured mothers, low income mothers should have access to help. I get a knot in my throat thinking about how hard it was and how it broke my heart when I squeezed that last ounce from my breast. Heartbreaking to say the least, but looking back I realize that I worked harder than I needed to. My baby, who is now one, shows me every day that fed is best. She is smart and agile and strong and hilarious. To clarify, when I say fed is best, I mean that breastfeeding is a beautiful experience if you can do it, but if there are complications, don't let it drive you mad. Breastfeed if you are able. It is an incredible experience, but don’t suffer over it. Don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t come easily. Don't spend more money than you can afford on pumps and lactation consultants. Rest. Stare at your baby. Spend that precious time being with your child and delighting in their wonder. Your child isn’t going to remember how many ounces you were able to produce in one sitting. Your child is going to remember the love they felt when they looked into your eyes.
Now that she is one, the koala phase is over, and I feel more confident as a mom. I listen to my gut. I don't get sucked into the super mom social media feeds as much as I used to. I take bits and pieces of what feels right to me, some early education philosophies, solicited and unsolicited advice, even an occasional instagram post, and I make my own coat.