I was only able to pump four ounces of milk this morning.
Four ounces in one pumping session isn’t something to sniff at when we’re talking about an exclusively breastfed ten-month-old who has a stay at home mom. But when that mom usually pumps ten ounces every morning without any effort? It’s a bit disheartening. My journey towards the end of nursing has officially begun.
Whether it happens at twelve months — as I had originally planned — or ten months, those four ounces sat in my hand this morning as a stark reminder that this is almost over. And I fought off tears.
Okay, I didn’t fight them. I wept.
Yeah, I know that fed is best. I have a family full of healthy, formula-fed siblings who can attest to that fact. But as the Proverb says, “a dream deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
I have literally been sick this week trying to juggle postpartum depression, nursing, pumping, a new part-time teaching gig, and doctor’s visits. But the decision that’s hanging over my head: to buy the first canister of formula I’ve ever purchased, or not.
And so, I grow reflective. As I sort out my feelings, the thought that keeps sprouting into my mind (with the help of daily, sometimes hourly reminders from my husband): God nourishes and provides for Wynn, not me. Nursing or formula feeding, this is a reminder that all mothers need.
Our Provision Is Not Ultimate
It can be so easy to mistake our efforts as ultimate. My husband goes to work and brings home a paycheck. That paycheck pays the bills that keep the lights on and keep food on the table. That food goes into my body and turns into fuel for nursing my son. My son eats and is nourished and lives to be adorable another day.
Phillip is a provider. And, when it comes to sustaining Wynn, I am a source.
But, ultimately, God is the source and provider.
My husband wakes up because God put air into his lungs. He collects the paycheck because God orchestrated a job opportunity for him. We have food at the grocery store because God sent the rain that watered the crops, and blessed the crops that fed the animals. That food turns into fuel in my body because that’s how God designed it.
Phillip and I are instruments in this massive plan that God has written for his glory. We are not the creator or designer.
Our Image Is Not Ultimate
However, God, the planner, created us in his image.
God is the ultimate provider (Philippians 4:19), but Phillip providing for our family echoes God’s provision and is an instrument of God’s provision (1 Timothy 5:8). God is the ultimate sustainer, but my ability to nurse my son is a tiny picture of how or Father loves and sustains us (Isaiah 49:5). God made us in his image (Genesis 1:26), and our dominion here on earth is a tiny picture of the authority God has over everything.
Even though God’s provision is ultimate, we don’t sit around waiting for the crops to grow and feed us. We water the plants, fertilize the soil, harvest and cook the food. We make the utensils to eat the food, build tables that we eat from, and launch the TV network that shows us how to cook the food. I think you get the picture.
Our image is an imperfect echo of the image of God, but that does not remove our effort to obey the command and example of our Father (Genesis 1:28).
Nursing Is Not Ultimate
But our effort isn’t ultimate.
Now, before I get twenty private messages and fifteen comments about boosting my milk supply, thanks, but no thanks. This is not the time for mommy advice.
My decision to continue to nurse my son either exclusively or to supplement, or to give up nursing altogether, is mine alone. I will make it with the help of lactation consultants, pediatricians, and an army of nursing mama friends who want to see me succeed.
When we lose the job that provides for our family or the ability to sustain our children, it’s a reminder that our efforts are efforts at best. When God defers our dreams, and our frailty is greater than our most valiant efforts, it is a reminder that we are weak beings in the hands of a gracious God.
No matter how earnestly we desire our efforts to be, they are not guarantees. Our plans are not the ones that set the world in motion — God’s are.
We All Need Reminders
Those four measly ounces of milk might have caused some moms to shrug, go to the cabinet, whip out the formula, and supplement without a second thought. Others would not have been hooked up to that pump in the first place and would have fed their babies a bottle without a second thought. And that’s okay. That’s their story, and I can guarantee you they’ll have another reminder today that God’s plans our ultimate and our plans are just plans.
But for me, that reminder is nursing. Every time my baby boy eats, I cherish the moment and praying that we would both know that, ultimately, God is the one who provides for our needs. And I can trust him to do right by the both of us.