High Goals, Low Expectations

High expectations are hard.

I’ve struggled a lot with high expectations recently, but I’m learning a lot from them.

I’ve always been pretty bad about having crazy high expectations, then being extremely disappointed when I don’t meet them.

When I went to Florida College, nearly twelve hours away from home, I expected to adapt right to college life, make tons of friends, and excel socially and academically. Then I called home crying after two weeks, begging to come home. (But I recovered when I met and fell in love with my future husband, and I also became closer to some people who are my best friends).

Again, when I graduated with my AA degree, got married, and moved across the world to Romania within two months I thought I would surprise everyone and be totally fine and adapt to marriage and the Romanian culture with ease. Instead I cried every day and wondered what in the world was wrong with me. (But our year in Romania turned out to be wonderful and a blessing. I actually really miss it right now!)

When I found out I was pregnant I had great expectations of running throughout my pregnancy, having a healthy baby and a natural birth, and breastfeeding. Yet, as I mentioned in Mae’s birth story, at 37 weeks I found out she was not growing and I was induced at 38 weeks. My body did not readily respond to the pitocin, and after hours on an extremely high dose I gave up my plan of a natural birth (which was already unnatural due to the pitocin) and got an epidural.

After Mae was born we had our golden hour together, and I was eager to begin feeding her. But I realized I did not know what to do. I kept wondering if someone was going to tell me how to feed her. When Mama came back in she helped me, but I never could get Mae to latch.

We got settled in a room and a nurse showed me how to do the football hold, but since she still would not latch she showed me how to hand express and feed her drops of milk from my finger. I just cried that first night because I felt like I couldn’t feed Mae and I was a terrible mother.

I did not expect breastfeeding to be hard. Now that I am reading a lot about it, I am realizing that I was not prepared at all. Many people have said that mothers tend to read up a lot on childbirth and take classes, but, like me, expect breastfeeding just to come naturally. It is worth it, but it is hard, and support is essential. I have been so blessed to have the support, help, and advice of so many mothers that I really admire.

The day after I got home from the hospital I was still having a lot of trouble getting Mae to latch and I felt like she was not eating enough, so I called the lactation consultant at the hospital. She asked me to come in that afternoon so she could watch me and help me. She could not get Mae to latch either, so she decided to give me a nipple shield since she was so small.

That thing was like magic! Mae immediately latched on and ate more than she ever had in her life. And I thought all our problems were solved.

I continued to feed Mae with the shield most of the time, trying to wean off of it, but we’re still using it about 60% of the time. She ate often and long, and I could see her growing (way too fast in my opinion!)

Yet at her two-month check up this week her weight had fallen below the curve from her previous check up. I felt like she had been eating and growing, but this is what I feared. Thankfully, my doctor did not immediately suggest supplementing with formula, but gave me tips on increasing my milk supply.

I hope I do not have to supplement with formula. But I am a firm believer that fed is best, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep Mae healthy. It will be hard, because it is not the perfect plan I expected, but it will be okay.. So I will take Mae back to the doctor in a week for a weight check, and if she needs to have formula supplements it will be fine.

As Mama told me, I am learning (or trying to learn) to have “high goals, but low expectations.” And if I don’t meet my high goals it is okay. I’ll keep trying my hardest, but also giving myself a little grace.

Content, sleepy baby