Crib, check. Changing station, check. Closet organizers, check. We went down the Babies R Us list line by line and scanned away with a determination that couldn’t be quantified. I am a checklist person and this was the ultimate experience. I had scoured the internet and collected advice on must-have’s and don’t-waste-your-money’s to create a comprehensive list of items we would register for. I checked out reviews and price matched on line. All that was left was to pick that final piece of furniture for her nursery.
Rocker or Glider? Ottoman or no?
I sat in at least ten different options, waddling my pregnant self down the row in the back of the store. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back, imagining rocking that new bundle of joy. This one didn’t have enough head support. I put my legs up on the ottoman and glided back and forth. That one made my butt slide down when I used the foot rest. I sat in a large arm chair style glider and pretended I was holding a book. This one doesn’t have high enough arm rests. We ended up at a cream cushioned white glider with a rocking foot rest. I sat down, put my arms on the arm rests and imagined holding my sweet girl while nursing her. The arms were perfect. I could clearly see the nights I would stay up with her when she got hungry. The head rest allowed my head to lean to the side a tad in case I fell asleep rocking her. This was the one.
My parents so lovingly ordered our newly chosen glider online and set it up in the nursery as a surprise for us. It fit perfectly. We placed baskets of books on either side for bed time stories and we were ready. Everything we needed to welcome home baby was set up. We could do this.
In the following 2 months I would go into her room and sit in that glider. I spent so much time just relaxing, rocking, and looking around. I could perfectly see myself holding her; nursing her. This chair was going to hold such amazing memories. I was going to learn every tiny inch of her beautiful face and she would listen to my heart in this chair.
My Dr. suggested some classes, and I attended, notebook in hand. We went over all the benefits of breastfeeding and I learned so many tricks. We talked about freezing breast milk and how long you could store any extra.
They tell you all about how to handle an excess of production, but they never tell you what it’s like when your body simply won’t cooperate. I didn’t believe it when the lactation consultant, who had fought our pediatrician for 2 weeks so that I wouldn’t have to supplement, finally caved and told me it was time to break out the formula. This didn’t make sense. I was prepared. I went to the class, I knew all the secrets. I had the chair.
Rather than a relaxing and loving time in the glider to nurse baby, like you see in the ads, I had a routine that consisted of nursing for 15 minutes on each side, then pumping for another 20 minutes, while bottle feeding for the balance of her needed calories. I set up shop in the corner of our couch where I could watch TV and distract myself from what I considered my failings as a new mom. I had my pump, covers, extra flanges and bottles and some rags. This was business.
Whenever I would walk into her nursery, that chair was there. It stared at me. That damn cream cushioned glider that was supposed to hold so many sweet memories had now become a symbol of moments lost. I found myself avoiding even looking at it because of what it represented.
By the time I stopped pumping at 6 months, we were at about 25% breast milk per bottle with the balance being formula and I had exhausted all options, tips, and tricks. I had started using the glider to rock her at night with a bottle so she would be asleep before going into her crib. Slowly but surely I found myself more “in the moment” for her night-time bottle. I would watch her eye lids get heavy with each rock back and forth. I watched her little chest rise and fall as she drifted off toward the end of the bottle. I would brush the hair off her face after putting her pacifier in her mouth. I already knew every little inch of that amazing little girl’s face but I realized that there was still so much to notice and I hadn’t even started.
My husband and I unintentionally fell into a routine where I would hold her with a bottle and he would sit on the ottoman, my legs on his lap, and he would rock us both back and forth while he read a bed time story.
It must have been about two months into the routine that it hit me. She had almost finished her bottle, her daddy rocked us back and forth (bed time story finished) and I sang our night-time song. All of a sudden, my eyes filled with tears. I realized that this chair which had, for months, been a reminder and symbol of how I put my daughter at a disadvantage, had actually been intended for something completely different from the beginning. It was never meant for stolen moments in the middle of the night for the two of us. It was meant to bring our family together every evening before bed; to surround this precious little package with love and support on a daily basis; to let her know from the beginning that she would always have her mommy and daddy by her side.
I sit in that glider almost every day when I get home from work and I watch her play with the toys in her room. She brings me a book and shows me a stuffed rabbit. We make noises back and forth at each other. Sometimes we clap if one of the cats runs through and she gets excited. I spend as much time in that chair as I can because it is a different kind of reminder now. It is a reminder that my daughter’s life will not be dictated by the things that happen to her, but by the people that surround her. Her abilities in life will not be decided by the fact that she is a formula baby, but by the fact that she is loved and cared for from the bottom of our hearts. Her life will be shaped by the moments we spend rocking in her room.
I love that damn chair.
Disclaimer: I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of losing a child or the struggle of raising a child with mental and/or physical difficulties. I know that I am truly blessed to have a healthy little girl and that there are things MUCH harder as a mother than not begin able to breast feed. I am in no way insinuating that my struggles should even be cast in a similar light to those that many other mothers face.