"Ohhh....!!! My gosh!!! We are such bad parents!!" I squeal into the air somewhere in the direction of Mike as rain pelts me in the face, and I try my best to tilt Eleanora's car seat in such a way as to prevent her from becoming drenched, too.
"Just run!!!" He yells back at me, an increasingly wet Evie in his arms, as we both dart as fast as we can toward the burger place we decided to attempt to dine at. All four of us. Right as a rain storm unleashed itself from the heavens.
We reach the door and some cover, but the door says something like, This is not an entrance. Please use the door around the corner.
To which I respond with an, "Oh, come ONNNN...SERIOUSLY??"
At this point we are all very wet...except for Eleanora, thank goodness, who is scrunching her face into a slightly perturbed expression, nonetheless.
Thankfully a guy working at the burger place had pity on us and opened our not-an-entrance door so that we didn't have to continue our harrowing journey to the real entrance door around the corner with our not yet three-week-old and not yet two-year-old.
I just really, really wanted to get out of the house because lately I've been feeling like a cave woman stuck in a cave. And so we thought, Ok. We can do this. It's just dinner out with our two kids. Not like we're trying to get the One Ring to Mordor or anything. We. Have. Got. This.
But we did not factor in the rain storm. In truth, we saw the gray clouds of foreboding as we left our house, but there was no turning back. Not when we had already packed up everything and actually gotten out the door. And that, my friends, is neither an easy nor speedy process.
But isn't this just how things go sometimes? Life? Our plans?
In the grand scheme of things, getting wet while trying to go to a restaurant isn't a huge deal, but it does illustrate the truth that things don't always turn out quite the way we hope.
I will probably forever feel this way about breastfeeding. Even if I have another baby, I think breastfeeding and I will have a complicated, if existent, relationship.
Though it's been a completely different experience this time around, we've decided again that feeding our baby with a bottle is what's best for our family.
With Evie, breastfeeding was a complete disaster filled with many factors working against us. After two months with a starving, inconsolable baby, we switched to formula. I felt like I had failed, but there was also a part of me that felt that things were out of my control, and I had done the best I could.
So this time, I was determined to have a much different experience with feeding our new daughter. I went to a lactation consultant while I was still pregnant to make a plan to set myself up for success, whether it was nursing her or feeding her another way. Honestly, I wasn't feeling very optimistic that I would be able to nurse her, so I was expecting to have to pump or do formula again.
I wasn't expecting to have a baby that would actually latch and want to nurse, but that's what I got. Eleanora wasn't great at attaching; sometimes it took over half an hour to get her to latch on, but she always would. And my milk supply was great, too. She was getting plenty to eat when I nursed her, and she was happy and sleepy and gaining weight.
The problem was that it was excruciatingly painful for me every single time. My nipples were cracked and bleeding and blistered. I dreaded the next time I would have to feed her. I was becoming depressed and ridden with anxiety because all I could think about was having to endure the next nursing session. One morning I was trying to get her to attach and she was having the hardest time. She would attach, get agitated and pull off. Over and over again. And each time hurt like hell. On the last time she attached, I felt like my vision blurred the pain was so intense. And that was all I could handle. I couldn't do it anymore. My pain tolerance and endurance had reached it's limit after a week and a half of trying. I wasn't 100 percent ready to give up, but I desperately needed a break. So I pumped and fed Eleanora with a bottle for a day to give myself time to heal. But when I tried to nurse her the next morning, she wouldn't nurse. And so we made the decision to stop trying.
I learned so much about giving myself grace with what I went through with Evie, but I guess some lessons need to be relearned because I have struggled so much with the decision to stop breastfeeding. I've felt guilty for depriving a baby who wanted to nurse of the opportunity to do so. Many moms have said that it is normal for it to be painful the first few weeks, and so I also felt like I was weak because I couldn't hang in there and tough it out.
Comparison can be such a bitter and manipulative friend to me, especially when I am struggling through something that seems to carry so much pressure along with it. I am still in the process of understanding there is strength in knowing myself and knowing my God and knowing I am drenched in a whole mess of grace.
The first time with Evie taught me to recognize my limits and also helped me see what was important. It's better for me to be emotionally and mentally healthy for my girls than to be miserably breastfeeding. It's better for me to be able to be present and loving toward my daughters and my husband than to be constantly on the verge of breaking down.
Knowing these things has been somewhat freeing to me as I feel this flood of emotions toward this thing that just did not go the way I had hoped.
And I can rest in knowing that I have done the best I can with what I have been given- this life, this set of emotions, these unique experiences, these quirks and stumbling tendencies, these areas of strength and those where things are a bit weak, this pain tolerance and these daughters. Comparison seems silly when you look at how complex each of us is with all that makes up who we are. Like comparing apples to oranges, really. If you think about it this way, there really is no room for us to feel less than, only different.
And different is ok because it is all of our bunches of different coming together that makes spaces for us to comfort others or to learn lessons, or to teach them. Our unique experiences and stories and struggles help shape us into who God wants us to be. They make us relatable and they make us authentic and they make us human. Big struggles and small ones. Interesting stories and tedious ones. Awesome experiences and hard ones.
Ones that tell of hardship in nursing a newborn and even ones that involve running through the pouring rain with your two kids just so you can eat a burger.