The first time I mixed formula for T, I wept. As the sweet and stale smell of the powder rose up to me from the opened canister, I cried so hard I couldn’t see to measure things out properly. My mom had to come finish it. I didn’t want to feed T formula. I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted my breasts to be so full with their own milk that they dripped all over the place. I wanted to deal with stained bras and ruined shirts and smelly nursing pillows. I wanted T to know only the food I made for her. But, my milk hadn’t come in fully. Just a trickle, about an ounce per feeding. At the time, I feared, but did not know, that I wouldn’t ever be able to exclusively breastfeed.
That first time I went to the kitchen counter, I was overcome with shame. I had failed at the most basic thing a mother needs to do — feed her baby. I had no idea if I’d ever be able to make formula for T. It seemed utterly impossible in that moment.
This morning, six and some months from that first time, I mindlessly prepped a mason jar of formula for T’s day at daycare. In a terrifying flash, the loss of not being able to exclusively breastfeed slammed into me. I breathed in deeply and let the sadness wash over me, and I watched it rush away as fast as it had come. How remarkable it is that a thing that felt so wrong, so fundamentally unfair, has become routine.
We are incredibly adaptable to circumstances we’d rather not accept, us humans. This is something that often frustrates me, about others and myself. We are outraged or saddened by many things we come to accept as normal — we eventually tune out the crazy-ass conservatives bent on taking us back a hundred years, we ignore that civilians are killed by drone warfare, and we shake our heads at all the deaths in super storms caused by climate change. I am often stymied by just how easy it is for me to accept outrageous realities. But harnessing our drive to persist toward social change is for another post.
This morning, I am grateful for the human capacity for resilience. To stare down our losses and heartaches and tackle the tasks of living anyway is a brave, wonderful thing.