I have heard that who knows how many times, from who knows how many people. There are those that have found their passion and just want to be heard. That's where a lot of us struggle. Being heard. I see all the anger in the world and think everyone is angry because they just want the other side to see it the way we do. Not change necessarily, but just understand our point of view.
But that doesn't happen very often. When was the last time you felt really heard?
When was the last time you actually had an incredibly fulfilling day that was good enough to help you coast on those fumes of positivity? My guess is the fumes ran out before you got to your next emotional fill up. So, that leaves us with asking ourselves "Am I living my purpose? Am I doing what I was put here to do?"
How is it that something like 80% of people hate their jobs? The real question is, who doesn't? Those are the people I want to hang out with. Where are those 20 percenters?
I have a passion, I am passionate about moms and babies. I am passionate about giving them the best start, whatever they envision that to be. Being their advocate to help them achieve their dreams of parenthood. I have been a lactation consultant and nurse for a long time. We ran a report the other day looking at stats, and in my 5 years at OU, I have seen almost 1500 new moms and babies!
Every one of them is unique and I'm honored that I get to be invited into that sacred space, that period of vulnerability where a new mother is being grown. Even if it isn't her first child, she's being grown into a mother of two, three... and growth is painful, yet nobody wants to talk about that. No one wants to mention that there will be a point that you think, in spite of the cute squishiness that is your newborn, you'll think you are grossly underprepared and not sure you'll be able to get a grip. That is terrifying.
The common thread when they come see me in clinic, sadly, is that most of them are not where they wanted to be. Their reality doesn't match with the websites, social media, glossy, waiting room magazine cover version of parenthood. Their day to day reality doesn't match the Instagram feed of their friends, and they feel like they are failing. While my friends' boy is rocking his newborn photo shoot with the cutest expressions in all of the must have photos, I am over here cleaning explosive baby poop out of the embroidered onesie Aunt Susie gave me at the shower.
Then it comes...comparison is the thief of joy. And the joy they should be feeling is replaced with an inner monologue of "I'm failing at this." Then comes all the advice, put them on a schedule, attachment parenting, tiger mom, free range babies. and on and on. Google is no help here. Each site says something different and they are all telling you that if you don't follow there XYZ plan either the baby is manipulating you (not developmentally possible BTW for a newborn) or you have to hold them all the time or they won't love you. All these ways to "do it right" and you are certainly not doing it right!
That my dears, is precisely why I had the photographer take, and I then purchased this photo. My husband said he thought I was being cruel and even laughing at her pain. That wasn't the case. I don't know why this all clicked for me, but I was like "this, we need to remember this. We need to be giving the full picture here. We need to remember the challenges as well as the perfect smiling kids. If social media is supposed to connect us to our "friends" then they should be sharing all of our lives, not just the cherry picked, extra glossy, photoshopped moments.
In my clinic, when I'm with my patients, my job, is to bring light to those dark places. 90% of what I do has very little to do with breastfeeding. Most of my job is active listening, reassurance and counseling people on how to get through the "100 days of darkness" (as I once heard it characterized) after having a baby.
My job is to tell those mamas, as they sit across from me, swollen, full of fear, and with nipples that hurt because something is amiss, or fears that somehow they are starving their babies, that everyone has been there. That everyone goes through this and this is a normal part of the process. You can do it too. There will be moments of pure bliss and moments that 100% are awful. I also tell them that it's okay that at 5 days in, they aren't masters. I'm 13 years in and still don't think I'm "doing it right."
But I tell them. I share with complete strangers that I am imperfect. That I, the board certified expert, have made my kids organic, homemade food, that we grew in our yard, and that I have also let them eat candy off of the floor at the doctors office because I didn't want to deal with that meltdown right before a stranger sticks them 4 times.
I tell them imperfection is not just acceptable, but expected. Brene Brown wrote a wonderful book called The Gifts of Imperfection. Share your truth, be vulnerable. That's where the real power comes from.
I tell them that motherhood is a new normal, that the independent, I always look cute and never leave the house with peanut butter handprints on my butt version of myself is dead. Or at least currently in a coma. She will awaken later, and not every day for a while. Once they are teenagers she will turn the corner and be back in the land of the living, if you want her to be.
All life changes are hard, whether we want them or not, they are an adjustment, and a child is a HUGE one. Erma Bombeck said "Instead of wishing away 9 months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment, and realized that the growing wonderment inside of me would be one of only a few times that I consciously helped God in creating a miracle."
Oftentimes we wish away the day to day, in hope of something fantastic. Only to look back and see that the fantastic, was in the day to day. I beg you, the things to remember are not the middle of the night feeds, the times you lost your temper and screamed. The thing to remember is that raising those babies are the most important thing you will likely ever do in your life.
I have a photo on my desk given to me many years ago by my sister in law. I love it dearly and try to look at it often to help keep my focus strong. It has two little blonde boys on it, they could be mine were they closer in age, and it says "One hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much was in my bank account nor what my clothes looked like. But, the world may be a little better because I was important in the LIFE OF A CHILD."
I can think of three ways I can try to make a difference in this world. If I succeed there, that will be the biggest accomplishment of my life.