It Takes a Village: Practicing Receiving During the Season of Giving
It’s 2:23AM. Eli is rocking Moxie next to me in bed with a bottle of warm milk and sweet encouraging words to soothe her. I’m attached to my breast pump in a somewhat desperate attempt to continue producing breast milk for our baby.
It’s a disappointing reality for me that I’m not making enough milk for Moxie. I’ve tried a lot — multiple lactation consultations, herbs, teas and tinctures, and pumping to promote production.
As Moxie grows and needs more milk, we are faced with making important decisions about supplementing my supply.
Exclusively breastfeeding my baby isn’t an option for me and that makes me sad. It also triggers an old story of feeling like I’m not enough or I’m not worthy, or worse yet, that I’m a failure.
Just now, before Eli took Moxie to bottle feed her, we tried nursing. She was very fussy and wouldn’t latch on. My brain shouted, “she’ll never latch again! You’ve ruined her with bottles!”
Then a compassionate voice, from a kinder place, came over me, “You have a choice here — see this as a failure or see this as love. You are providing nourishment for Moxie however you must.”
Tonight I choose love. It’s a moment to moment practice — choosing from a place of love and trust rather than fear and failure.
Moxie is 2 months old. It’s been an incredible journey so far — fulfilling, emotional, and at times exhausting. Motherhood is an opportunity to relate to my Self as nurturer. Parenting is an opportunity to show up to my marriage with Eli and put trust in our team.
I’m finding I need a lot of support as a new mom. This holiday season I am practicing receiving the gifts my community has to offer.
What is your relationship to asking for and receiving support? When you have a need does your heart clam up and pretend everything’s ok or do you stretch your heart muscle and share your needs with those who love you and want to see you thrive? When you are given a gift do you allow the love it represents into your heart?
I’ve been thinking about these questions as Christmas approaches.
Since my first daughter’s tragic death 2 years ago and with Moxie’s recent arrival, my ability to ask for and receive help has expanded. Still, sometimes the fiercely independent me goes at it alone. I try to solve the problem or fill the need myself and end up struggling alone. Sometimes I ask for help righteously and my request lands harshly — an opportunity for connection missed. When I ask for help from a humble, open-hearted space the need is readily fulfilled.
This brings me back to my low milk supply. We started supplementing weeks ago because Moxie wasn’t gaining weight. We didn’t want to use formula, so I reached out for donations of human breast milk. The response was overwhelming.
While the practice of human milk sharing is controversial, we have received over 400 ounces of breast milk. Although Moxie is not exclusively feeding at my breast, she is now thriving solely on breast milk.
For the most part I’m deeply grateful for these donations, but some days I feel inadequate. Having lost my first baby for reasons still unknown, the trauma resurfaces and I imagine the worst.
Logically, I have nothing to fear. Formula is always an option and our freezer is full of donated breast milk. The sticking point is how I perceive myself and the effort I’m making: Am I receiving with an open heart? Do I acknowledge myself for the abundant love I am providing my baby girl?
Yes, I am. I am practicing grace during this time of growth. I am committed to loving myself through this new adventure of motherhood. I am committed to my husband and a joyful marriage. I am committed to providing the best for my daughter. I am committed to asking for support when I need it.
What are you committed to in your life? Whatever challenges you face in your life right now, I encourage you to face them with grace and forgiveness. You are not alone. When asking feels tough, do it anyway. Receive the abundance with an open heart and see what happens. The Universe will provide.
Sometimes I wonder why I feel compelled to expose such intimate details about my life. But writing is my therapy. It is a form of asking for help and receiving it — when you read my experience we are connected. They say it takes a village to raise a baby — I’m so thankful for mine.