Abba. PLEASE help me. Jesus, please deliver me. As Dear Husband prayed over me tonight – heal me from these deep emotional wounds that seem to be hindering my precious quiet moments with our newborn.
The shame that flows through my spine and makes me want to hide in a corner when I’m nursing. The beautiful breastfeeding mother with babe image is forever tarnished for me, I feel “let-down” and I want to run and hide. I hold Cora Beth (and earlier, Claire) as tight as I can, staring into their beautiful faces knowing I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, but my body, my physical/emotional body rebels against this beautiful, natural, INNOCENT moment.
WHY am I still struggling with this?
I remember the intense fear I had when I thought we were having a boy (and the guilt-ridden relief when I knew that our baby was a Cora not a Kenny) because I didn’t think I would be able to nurse a baby boy. That the shame would be too much for me. And already, even with my baby girl, the shame overwhelms me. She is 11 days old.
WHY am I ASHAMED to have a baby on my breast?
I don’t think it’s the society of people trying to not be intimidated by a barren breast. I am all for mamas breastfeeding in public (with dignity and some modesty). There are definitely times that it doesn’t bother me at all. In the hospital, with Mimi or Dear Husband around, even when my 5 year old is asking a thousand questions about pumping and where milk comes from, I don’t have any problems.
But my WORST moments of shame are when I’m at home, with just the baby and I, and the let-down happens – it’s not just the physical movement of the milk starting to pour into my baby’s mouth, it’s the horrible feeling I have that I am doing something sick, wrong and deserving to be punished, and that I want to hide. Even from God.
The deep, dark corners of the closet feel like a place I should be hiding. Reminiscent of a time when I was a victim and couldn’t hide.
I keep trying to tell myself that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I have a lot of milk. I’m blessed with the ability to provide nourishment for my baby. And the best nourishment that she can get. Especially with our sensitive intestines (celiac, colitis, and multitudes of auto-immune issues).
I tell myself how much I love her.
I tell HER how much I love her.
And I still shake in guilt, fear, shame.
Like I’m a “naughty” girl doing bad things. When Dear Husband is around, I don’t feel that way. When ANYONE is around, it doesn’t happen (usually). But sometimes it really just strikes me out of the blue. Like tonight, when I was pumping. My first breast filled a 5 oz packet in 5 minutes. But then the shame poured over me and in 15 minutes I couldn’t get another ounce out of my second breast. And I wept.
It’s not like I’m getting sexual pleasure from the pump or the baby. Mostly I am still dealing with either raw, sore nipples OR hard, engorged breasts. It’s not a physically good feeling, it’s rather quite painful, and I am pretty sure I’m not a masochist. Especially considering I’m weeping and NOT getting any “pleasure” from the process.
SO WHY do I deal so heavily with this? WHY is it poisoning my mothering of my newborn?
WHY am I a pile of sobbing tears (with pillow pushed into my incisions tightly) tonight? And for so much of my breast-feeding with Claire?
Has anyone else experienced this “let-down” with let-down? Or is it something that is just special for me and my history of abuse? Will you, can you pray for me in this process? I want SO MUCH to enjoy breast feeding. I longed to breast feed Claire longer and couldn’t because I couldn’t fight the feeling anymore, I had too much lead in my milk AND not enough calcium to keep my bones healthy (and she drew blood more than once when she bit me).
I WANT to be able to nurse Cora Beth for a LONG time, but I don’t know if the crazy feelings I face when I feed her are worse or better than the guilt of not nursing her for a longer period of time.
How do I do this? It didn’t pass last time. Is there something I should read, do, try to make this (I suspect) remnant of sexual abuse fade, if I can’t find a way to deal with/accept/grow through this. Does anyone have passages of scripture that would be healing to meditate on? Books or articles (even in psychology journals) that deal with this horrible feeling so that I can really enjoy this time with Cora Beth? I don’t want to be fearful of these feelings (they don’t happen every feed, but often enough that I do get a knot in my stomach after particularly difficult feeds) I really do want to enjoy the intimate (and not sexual) moments with my child. Is there something “stuck” in my memory that has wounded this most precious time of connection?
I “denied” that I suffered with PPD after Claire, but I wonder if this isn’t some kind of PTSD related PPD that I haven’t connected with other people on. I originally wrote this in my journal, but wondered if any of my peers who have faced similar histories have had similar experiences in their early mothering moments.