There is a lot of anguish and hurt that goes along with not having a full supply of milk. Anybody with a low supply who wanted to nurse can tell you that. In the beginning (and even now on difficult days) I felt utterly inadequate. A failure as a mother, as a woman, as a human, as a mammal. I cannot do the most basic of things for my baby. I cannot feed him without help.
I remember being at a Le Leche League meeting late in my pregnancy. They handed out little slips of paper with questions. I chose the one that said something like, "Breastfeeding my baby makes me feel..." My answer was, "Superhuman." The thought of sustaining a little being all on my own made me feel powerful. Just as powerful as growing that little person inside of me did. Imagine how powerless and crushed I felt when I needed to ask for help. It still takes my breath away.
But there is another side to that story and those feelings. The love and warmth I feel every time we get a shipment of milk is overwhelming. My heart swells with joy knowing that there are other mamas out there who have band together with me to help me take the best possible care of my boy. I cried when I found out a mama had donated money to help us cover shipping and dry ice costs. I cry every time a new cooler of milk arrives. It takes a village, and we have found a village. We are so blessed.
These struggles have been a beautifully bittersweet lesson in asking for help. I was never good at asking for help. I, like a lot of other people, like to do things on my own. I am headstrong and independent. But when this little person entered my life, I knew I would fall to my knees and beg before I put my own sense of embarrassment over my inadequacy before his needs and best interests. Babies are funny that way.
The other lesson I have learned is that, no, I can’t do it on my own, but neither can anybody else. What the ‘it’ is changes for each person, but we are not alone in needing help. We all need each other, and finding a community that recognizes and supports that need has been the greatest blessing of all for us.