Growing Together: Don’t Try to Solve Problems You Don’t Have

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growing togetherWe’re back! After sharing this space with friends weekly over the summer, I decided to shift Growing Together to happen monthly as the Fall settles in. It’s too much fun to share this space and the words of the brilliant people I meet.

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to Katie from Pick Any Two. Katie is brilliant and every time I read her words, I come away with a new perspective and new actionable steps to take to make a change in my life. This post in particular, I’m still thinking about weeks later, trying to sort out what to let go from my overfull hands. Her story today, about learning to not solve a problem before it exists, is something I can completely relate to. After you read her words, be sure to show her some love (and then go back tomorrow because Katie always makes you feel good on Friday).

~~~~~

Katie and Luke

Without hesitation his tiny mouth latched on, and he began gulping eagerly, even ravenously. But only a few moments later he ripped away, wailing in between the coughs and sputters.

I wailed right along with him.

He was only a few weeks old, and yet he already knew the paradox of wanting something desperately yet hating it at the same time.

He was a newborn torn between the call of his growling belly and the desire not to choke on his only form of sustenance.

I was a mom torn between the desperation to feed my child and the desire not to hurt him in the process.

The lactation consultant labeled it “overactive letdown,” a fancy term meaning you’ve got an overabundance of milk and it comes out faster and more forcefully than your baby can handle.

She assured me it happens to lots of women, and that it wasn’t caused by anything I did. But I knew better.

I knew that even before my son was born, I had made a list of ways to increase your milk production. Since having an undersupply is the more common problem to have, I wanted to be prepared. I was a Type-A perfectionist, determined to do everything by the book, and therefore desperately needed to be successful in breastfeeding.

As soon as my milk came in, I started tackling my list—drinking tons of water, eating oatmeal every morning, drinking Mother’s Milk tea several times a day, and even pumping once a day, despite the fact that I hadn’t gone back to work yet and didn’t really need a milk stash.

In other words, I was so worried about having too little milk that I tried to counteract the problem before I even had it—and likely gave myself an oversupply problem instead.

After that, almost every time I fed my son we both ended up in tears. Him because he just wanted to eat a meal without gagging. Me because I realized my perfectionism—my need to follow every single rule and be over prepared for every possible challenge—had already backfired and harmed my child. It was the polar opposite of my intention.

Ultimately we stuck it out because my son was still gaining weight nicely—and because I’m stubborn like that. I wanted to give him what I thought was best; moreover, I hoped that by continuing to breastfeed him, I would give him enough benefits to outweigh the struggle I’d already caused him.

A few weeks later and, thankfully, the problem was solved, maybe because my milk supply evened out or maybe because my son grew big enough to manage the fast flow. Whatever the reason, we both happily moved on, continuing our nursing relationship until he was thirteen months old.

I was left with a well-fed baby boy and a valuable lesson. Never again will I focus so earnestly on averting a problem that I end up creating one. Never again will I blindly follow a book or a website before examining my child to see if the recommendations really apply to him, to us.

In parenting and in life, there’s an important distinction between being proactive and being over prepared. When we focus too much on preparing for the worst, we risk not even realizing that we already had the best.

These days, I’m learning to trust in my ability to deal with an issue when it arises, not necessarily before. In the process, it’s become easier to focus my attention on everything that’s going right, instead of constantly worrying about what could go wrong.

~~~~~

K McLaughlin Head Shot

Katie Markey McLaughlin, M.S., is a freelance journalist and blogger, plus mama to a very energetic toddler. Her blog Pick Any Two encourages moms to do anything, but not everything. You can connect with her on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

12 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for featuring my story, and for your kind words about my blog! I’m honored to be sharing your space today!
    Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted..How My Breastfeeding Struggles Made Me a Better MomMy Profile

  2. So interesting! Sometimes I wonder how babies survived in the old days because breastfeeding, while blissfully worry-free for some, is riddled with one problem after another that you never thought existed for others (like me!).

    I had so many problems that the debate is still out 11 years later if it made me a better mom!
    Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom recently posted..5 Things I Love about OctoberMy Profile

    • One account I have of my great great great grandmother is of her trying to keep her newborn 2 pound premature baby alive by dipping a cloth in milk and keeping the baby in a box next to the oven. She did this while living alone, and with the complications of “milk leg”-a blood clot that blocks the vein to a leg usually after birth, making it painful and swollen-and can be a serious condition. A week or two after the birth her mother came to see how she was doing and immediately made her come to her home and stay there. Luckily both she and the baby were ok, I’m descended from this baby daughter. It makes my breastfeeding problems seem miniscule.

  3. That actually happened to me with Des! And it hadn’t with Scarlet. It really did even out after a few weeks, but in having a newborn time, a few weeks feels like eons sometimes. At least to me.
    So happy to see you here today! Two of my BlogU friends!
    Tamara recently posted..A Bit of a Once Upon a Time Story.My Profile

  4. I get this Katie! I do. I was SO terrified of taking care of my sick baby- trusting countless Doctor’s opinions that fed my fears and desperately searching for answers, help to be the perfect caretaker and HEAL my baby! A literal mess about why and what and how?

    Looking back- I met her needs, I loved her- and stayed with her in every moment and cared for her as a mama should. I relentlessly pursued treatments and made the best decisions I knew how- and that was enough.
    Chris Carter recently posted..House Rules For Our Family… What Are Your House Rules?My Profile

  5. Katie,

    This last paragraph is brilliant, “These days, I’m learning to trust in my ability to deal with an issue when it arises, not necessarily before. In the process, it’s become easier to focus my attention on everything that’s going right, instead of constantly worrying about what could go wrong.”

    It reflects one of our home mottos, derived from my husband’s service in the SF, of “the situation dictates the action.”

    We pair that with being prepared for anything and everything, yet, being prepared if often a matter of merely trusting one’s own ability to handle any situation.

    Life is far simpler for us and more enjoyable. Trusting that the resources and teachers will be there when we need them is comforting too.

    All the best to you and your family.
    Wendy recently posted..Top 10 Uses of Driftwood with KidsMy Profile

  6. I feel like people have only recently started talking about oversupply as a problem…and it IS a problem, just like underproduction! And it’s probably nothing you did. You could have eaten the oatmeal in the world or none at all, and you may have had a rough start at it. You can’t know why.

    It’s a delicate balance to wait for a problem to tackle it, and being proactive. Motherhood is so messy and wonderful!
    Courtney recently posted..Why I Want My Kids to See Me DrinkMy Profile

  7. Since I’m leaning towards being a Type A person myself, I realize how important it was for you to plan everything. It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting everything to be perfect and then Murphy’s law decides to intervene and make it less perfect. I love your last quote about it.
    Ana Lynn recently posted..Ask Away Friday With BrittneiMy Profile

  8. Gah! So true and totally guilty of being a type A mom. I’m all scheduled and crazy, and I’m sure people are sometimes wondering what kind of crazy assembly line I’m running around here! Breastfeeding is really hard. And I’ve confessed that recently in my writing–blood, sweat and tears and all to the whole world. Sharing these stories is so important though. It makes these struggles normal, and yes, they all make us better moms.
    Lauren Tamm recently posted..Feeling the Intense Pressure of Parenting (and How to Fix It!)My Profile

  9. Great advice! I tend to anticipate problems as well and make efforts to avoid them. Sometimes, my efforts are probably unnecessary. This is something I will have to remember.
    Lisa @ The Golden Spoons recently posted..8 Ways to Keep Your Blog Content FreshMy Profile

  10. I’m such a Type A person and always trying to think of the solution before the problem even occurs. And yes, I often make more trouble for myself than I need to! But that last paragraph is perfect.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..High Five Friday – Fall EditionMy Profile

  11. Oh Katie – what a great perspective – as always. I love how you view things and it’s so true – especially with parenting. We worry – and then we worry some more! We form opinions even before we know how our kids will turn out… You and I are so much alike – I stressed over things before our first was born… and things all worked out in the end – as they have a way of doing!
    Tove Stakkestad recently posted..When Mom Gets Sick – Caring for the Caregiver!My Profile

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