feast or famine, part one
After our son died at 21 weeks gestation three years ago, I was in shock, needless to say.
I knew I’d never stop grieving this child, our first and only. I knew my emotional and psychological recovery would take time. I knew physically my body would have to heal. I knew it would be a while before we could try again, that I’d need surgery to even get to that point. I was well aware I was facing an uphill struggle to ultimately conceive again and carry a baby to term.
Yet I had no real sense of how I’d be able to forgive my body for its betrayal. How could I forgive my body for failing to sustain my child? How could I ever have faith and trust in my own capacity to nurture and sustain life again?
As devastated as I was, as much as my heart and womb ached, I honestly don’t remember the physical pain of my loss as much as I remember the anguish. My core ached with loss.
Yet aside from my aching womb, much of the real physical pain came from my breasts.
I had been warned that my milk would come in. But I had no idea how hard that would be. I’d been given the usual precautions — i.e., tight bandages, avoid stimulation, hot water contact, drink sage tea, apply cold cabbage, ice, etc. — but hardly anything worked. I was in pain. I stayed in bed for days as much from discomfort as depression. I wish I had this information and support available then, but I did not.
All I had was empty arms, full aching breasts, and no baby to feed. The pain in my core encompassed my heart and my womb. Blood, milk, tears. For days, that’s all there was.
I think because of this experience, I feel an added sting when I see nursing mothers. I know it’s one of the most natural things in the world. But for a long time, for me it was like an extra punch in the gut. Nature may be beautiful, but it is also cruel.
After my inability to conceive again, I faced further resentment, frustration, sadness, anger, all of it. Now, three years later, after a lot of processing, I have finally accepted my body’s limitations.
And now that I may become a mother soon through adoption, I am faced with a choice.
Can I try to reclaim and have faith in my body? Can my body still sustain and nurture life in some form?
To nurse or not to nurse? That is the question.
For part two, read this…