I do not respond well to tough love. In a moment of difficulty or pain, it is the absolute last thing that inspires me to pull through and triumph. If you don’t believe me, pop over to see my dentist and ask to see my chart. Highlighted in bold letters across the top, you’ll see the abbreviation “TLC”. I know it’s there because I’ve seen it from across the room while sitting in the chair, awaiting my fate. But, it doesn’t offend me; it’s the truth, and I’m impressed that they “get” me.
I am not going to tell the story of Jude’s birth just yet. I’m not ready to share my battle wounds. But I will give you the following:
I arrived at the hospital at about 9 pm on June 6th, but Jude wouldn’t make an appearance until after 8 am the following day. Over night, the labor nurse whose job it was to check on me did not administer the toughest dose of love in those 11+ plus hours, but she was far from gentle.
I was in pain. I was exhausted. I was scared.
Sometime around 6 am, her shift was ending, and she was about to be replaced with an more tenacious nurse. But before she left, she pulled Mike aside.
“She isn’t planning on breastfeeding, is she?”
“Uh, yeah. She is,” Mike said.
“Oh. Well she cannot handle that. It is just going to be way too hard for her.”
Of course, I couldn’t hear a bit of this exchange because I was busy throwing up in between bouts of terrible discomfort. But that’s a fun story for another day.
When Mike relayed this exchange to me, I was appalled. It had been a month or so into nursing Jude, and despite the labor nurse’s doubts, I was getting nothing but positive feedback from his pediatrician in terms of weight gain and health.
Last month, at his 6 month visit, Jude’s weight dropped from the 31st percentile in to the 16th . I was still nursing and feeling very confident, but this development had me puzzled. I was well over the difficult hump of breastfeeding and had become so accustomed to it that it never occurred to me that Jude could be anything less than perfect. I wasn’t about to let the nurse’s words get to me after all this time, but that didn’t stop me from feeling angry at her all over again. The pediatrician wasn’t too concerned about Jude’s sudden drop in growth, but he did suggest that we schedule a weight re-check for 6 weeks later.
Like a good student, I went to work, determined to make real progress during that 6 week window. Finally, we had our appointment yesterday, and as I expected, Jude had an excellent report. He gained almost two pounds in this short time, leading the doctor to say:
“I don’t know what you’re doing, Mom, but awesome job!” [Insert thumbs up.]
Now, Jude has been on solids for almost a month and a half, but the pediatrician was quick to tell me that most of his nutrition still comes from nursing.
This was just the kind of TLC I needed.
I would be lying if I said I don’t get mighty irritated every time I think about that nurse pulling Mike aside to tell him I was too much of a coward to breastfeed my son. She had no right to try and put that doubt in my husband’s mind or to pass that kind of judgement along to him. But when I hear Jude’s doctor tell me that I’m doing a great as a mother or when I watch my happy baby smile, laugh, and play, I let her meaningless words fall away from me. Breastfeeding is hard, and there were days in the beginning when I fought to keep going, but it was something I wanted for my baby, so I persevered.
Okay, that’s a little bit of a lie. When I heard Jude gained almost two pounds, I was giddy with vindication.
Wouldn’t you be?