Good Enough: Words of Advice from my OB

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The day that we were discharged from the hospital, my obstetrician came in to give me one last once-over. We chit-chatted about how well my son was doing and how eager I was to be discharged. I was tired of being in the hospital and couldn’t wait to get home where we would all be more comfortable.

As she prepared to go, she said, “I just want you to remember two words. ‘Good enough.’”

I felt my eyes fill with tears. I knew that what she was telling me was important, but at the time, I think I was too tired and emotionally drained to fully comprehend it.

At home with our new baby, those words of hers quickly went out the window. My first weeks of motherhood were filled with worry, self-doubt, and anxiety. Was he nursing enough? Was he sleeping enough? Was he too cold? Why was he crying? Caring for a brand new baby is tiring, but I felt like I was managing to keep afloat. I was recovering from a C-section, nursing, pumping, and even managing to do some laundry and cook a meal every now and then. All of that combined with all the worrying I was doing completely exhausted me, but in those early weeks, I was deliriously happy. I enjoyed being plunged into the waters of parenthood; first just treading water, eventually going with the flow.

After almost four weeks, I suddenly noticed something strange about the way my son was nursing. Sometimes he’d go for only a few minutes. Other times, he’d go for almost half an hour on one side. And out of nowhere, when he would nurse, he would gasp and snort and cry. I couldn’t get him to burp, and for the first time in a month, he spit up. It was frustrating because I couldn’t tell what the problem was. Was my milk coming out too fast? Was it something I’d eaten? Was he not getting enough? Eventually, after an incredibly fussy evening, I reached into the cabinet for some formula samples a friend had given me. One of them was for gassiness and fussiness. We decided to give it a try.

The first bottle worked like a charm. He did so much better, and I was relieved. I still nursed and pumped here and there, but he seemed so much more content on the formula. I eventually came to the conclusion that maybe breastfeeding wasn’t for us. I had a tough time grappling with the fact that I was going to have to give up something that I had enjoyed doing. I was conflicted because I wanted so badly to continue nursing, but at the same time, I was kind of glad that I would have that part of my body back. Seeing how happy my son was on formula, however, greatly helped to ease the guilt I was feeling.

And then I remembered my obstetrician’s parting words: Good enough.

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