One of Grady's first big smiles that was just for me.
If you need a lesson in learning to be selfless, just have a baby. You don’t really realize just how much you think about yourself until you’re forced to think about someone else and put their needs before your own. It’s been a tough pill to swallow at times. I started learning this lesson when I first got married. My selfishness came to light a lot in our first year of marriage, but it got easier to manage. As Josh and I grew together in our marriage, we started to put each other’s needs first. It felt easy to give and put Josh’s needs before mine, because he was giving back and meeting my needs. It’s not so hard to be unselfish then. Not so with my Grady boy. It’s unconditional giving, expecting nothing in return. True selflessness.
The last message I heard at church before I had Grady was about paradoxes and how we are often fed lines that tell us to think of ourselves, and put 'me' first. I scribbled down the bottom line of the message that day and have been thinking about it ever since, If we choose unselfishness over selfishness, then we will always gain more than we lose.
Honestly, breastfeeding feels like the most unselfish thing I’ve ever done. I know it feels easy and convenient for a lot of women, but not for me. It often feels like a sacrifice. Giving up the freedom to places without him. Tucking away cute clothes that don’t provide easy access for feeding. Being the one who needs to get up at night to feed him. Turning down that glass of wine because it’s about time for him to eat again. Hooking up to a machine at work to maintain milk supply. Cutting out dairy because it makes him gassy (goodbye pizza and ice cream). Often, my selfish attitude will whisper, This sucks, why are you doing this?
Because it's not about you, Shelby. It's about Grady.
And just when I was feeling completely drained and I had nothing left to give, Grady smiled at me. That first smile that was just for me was enough to fill me back up. Talking to Grady one morning after feeding him, he looked right at me and smiled a huge, gummy smile. At that moment, I would have swum the deepest ocean for him…and I can’t even swim. It was the best thank you gift I’ve ever gotten. He was six weeks old.
That same week, he started sleeping 10+ hours at night. And it made those days that felt like all I did was breastfeed feel worth it.
If we choose unselfishness over selfishness, then we will always gain more than we lose.
There are many aspects of motherhood that require selflessness, this I know. And I'm sure to be learning this lesson over and over again. Breastfeeding is just a challenging one for me.
But I'm gaining a healthy, happy, well-slept baby and I'm losing pizza and the ability to go thrifting whenever I want.
I'd say I'm gaining more than I'm losing.