Before I proceed with this entry, I just wanted to start by sharing this song. I’ve been trying my very best to be the warrior everyone’s been pushing me to be but as soon as I heard this song this morning—the warrior in me was completely obliterated and I turned into strawberry JELL-O. Click Play and you’ll know why. If you’re going through a difficult season, I hope this song ministers to you as well.
“Even when the fight seems lost, I’ll praise YOU. Even when it hurts like HELL, I’ll praise YOU. Even when it makes no sense to sing, LOUDER then I’ll sing your PRAISE.” It’s like someone took the words straight out of my lips. It hasn’t been easy to be in a state of praise when there have been many days of anguish and many nights of despair… but still, Patrick and I have chosen to praise JESUS—just because HE deserves it, regardless of our circumstance.
Just last week, I wrote a blog post chronicling all my struggles with breastfeeding for the past month. A lot of you were so sweet, cheering me on and your words were like honey to my soul! Salamat, salamat 🙂 🙂 🙂 I had every intention to try, try, and try—and honestly, I thought one day I would actually succeed. If you read the entry you’ll see my unwavering hope laced in between those paragraphs. God knows how hard I tried and how desperate I was waiting to experience a breakthrough, but sadly it never came. It just was not part of God’s story for us.
My friends, it is with a very heavy heart that I have to share that my breastfeeding journey has finally come to an end. I am in tears as I type these words because putting it out there makes it all the more final and yes, all the more painful. Knowing that the Lord caused for this to happen puts my heart at ease though and I can grieve this lost battle with acceptance. And I hope that by being open about it with all of you, you too will respect and accept my decision as well. I am stepping out of the shadows and declaring this boldly because I don’t want to feel shame, I want to be able to celebrate MY brand of motherhood with Theo openly and proudly 🙂
Last Tuesday was the final straw as I had to undergo an emergency surgery for my left breast because of complications caused by my breastfeeding problems. A huge mass developed so quickly, they had to cut and drain just within hours of what seemed like a regular check-up. I didn’t even bring any clothes with me to the hospital and everything just happened so quickly and abruptly. I was surprised at how things escalated so fast and the gravity of the situation I was faced with. I will not go into further detail because I am still not ready to talk about my entire experience–at least not yet. I am still dealing with the trauma of the whole ordeal and still in a lot of pain, so I hope you can just give me time to get through this. I still cry whenever I see my left breast—which I have lovingly dubbed “ScarFace” and “Franken-Breast”. Hehehe. My sweetheart Patrick changes my dressing several times a day and I’m glad he doesn’t cringe at the sight of it.
The night after the surgery was when I decided to give up the fight. There I was hooked up on an IV, groggy from the anesthesia, immobile with a dismembered breast, in a hospital gown, staring at the world’s slowest wall clock telling myself again and again “I should be HOME!!!!”. And yes, home was where I was supposed to be–hugging, snuggling, cuddling with my newborn son and telling him how much I love him. It was too CLEAR to deny, it was spelled out for me in ALL CAPS, in RED, and in BOLD. It was time to stop, it was time to accept my painful reality and move towards another direction. It was my sister-in-law Cecil who even pointed it out to me, “Patty, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ve been through 2 major operations (C-section and Breast surgery) within weeks, plus all the ailments of breastfeeding—your body has been through a lot and you deserve to be healthy and happy again.” I was so consumed with trying to give Theo breastmilk that I was pushing my body to impossible limits and I forgot to take care of myself. In the process, it caused me to fail in my mothering all the more! I was always in excruciating PAIN and down with a fever, chills, nausea. My breasts would be bleeding, bruised and swollen—it stopped me from hugging Theo tight and caring for him the way he needed to be cared for! I was missing the point. And it had to reach this extent, to get my confined at the hospital, to wake up from all this and do something about it.
But I do want to be clear about this—Even with all the pain and trauma attached to my personal breastfeeding journey, I still am and will always be a big supporter of breastfeeding. Just because it didn’t work for me personally, doesn’t mean it’s something I don’t believe in. Just because you’ve been divorced, separated, heartbroken, cheated on or single—doesn’t mean you can’t believe in true LOVE right??? One doesn’t have to be in a happy and perfect relationship to attach value to LOVE or to understand how much LOVE matters. That’s where I’m at now. Even if I can’t physically breastfeed, it’s still something I will always look at with the highest regard. I still see the undeniable power of a mother’s breast to nourish and nurture and I will always encourage moms out there to breastfeed IF THEY CAN. The bonding between mom&baby, the health benefits, the security your baby will feel when attached to your chest—all these things and more make it worth all the sacrifices. Breastfeeding is a God given mechanism, something so pure and beautiful! But in the same breath, I am also comforted by the fact that the Lord equips each mother with the freedom of choice and her own motherly wisdom and intuition. And that in my decision (prompted by my medical condition and physical limitations), I am still able to choose a path of health, love and happiness with God’s blessing for me and Theo. It may not be the ideal situation but it’s the set-up I am determined to maximize and make the most out of. I will make our “handicapped” journey the best one yet and I am determined to make a testimony out of Theo’s life through this experience! Whatever I may lack, the Lord will be faithful to FILL through and through!!!
I know that the F word (formula) is such a sensitive topic these days but this is the path my husband and I are now on and I hope instead of criticism, we will be faced with compassion and consideration instead. We are new parents and we are really just trying our best. Some will say “Maybe she didn’t try hard enough?” or “Maybe she didn’t exhaust all her options” or “Maybe she was doing it all wrong”. Maybe this, maybe that. OH, How I wish I knew all the answers just like you, How I wish I was strong like you, How I wish I had your functioning and problem free breasts instead of mine. But I’m not you and you’re not me. And I will never ever know how it feels to be in your shoes even if I tried—and in the same way, you will never ever know how it feels to be in mine. So for those who are disappointed (or even angered) by my decision, I don’t expect you to agree with me—but I do pray that you would show some kindness to me (and to all the mothers out there who are struggling just like me!). I hope you would resist the urge to leave that critical comment, any corrections/suggestions, or ungrounded judgment calls and instead channel that energy towards praying for me. Because that’s what I need, your prayers. Yun lang, simple lang po. From one mother to another, I hope that despite our differences, we would be able to still support and love one another because at the end of the day—we’re united by our intentions to LOVE our children the best way we know how!
To my parents and my in laws—THANK YOU for supporting our decision and for caring for Theo while we were in the hospital. Indeed, it takes an entire village to raise a child and I have the BEST, MOST AMAZING village 🙂
To my friends who sent me prayers via text, who reached out to me personally, who fed me in the hospital—thank you for being tangible reminders of God’s faithfulness in my life.
To all my friends in the breastfeeding community, thank you for standing by me as I made the decision to let go of breastfeeding—for not making me feel guilty for doing so and for respecting our plans as a family. Your validation meant so much to me!!!
I am still continuing my treatment at home and I still need your prayers for FULL and COMPLETE healing! Just this morning as Patrick and I were doing our couple’s devotion, I prayed that God would make us “normal” again..that we would be able to go to a restaurant, to the mall, to a friend’s house with Theo—just like a normal and perfectly healthy family!!! It’s been a month of trial after trial after trial—we are just dying to catch a breather. Just a small, little break from all this. I want to be my kengkoy and babaw self again!!! I miss that Patty and I hope I see her again soon 🙂 🙂 I can’t wait for Theo to meet HER—and to see how wonderfully corny his mom really is!!!! I love you Theo, I love you Patrick, I love you JESUS!!! All these hardships won’t erase the fact that I am still the luckiest girl in the world.