Give us today our daily bread.

That was the sermon topic on November 11th, Fable’s first visit to Imago Dei.  I wore her snuggled in our Moby, the go-to wrap of those who had gone before us down hipster baby lane.  Folks cooed and awed over her tiny tiny tininess, her smallness only exaggerated by my six foot and postpartumswollen self.  And she was tiny – all 6lbs 9oz of her fit easily into the crook of my arm, a Christmas stocking, the most exquisitely itty newborn sleepers.  She was tiny then, which was normal, which was perfect, which was fine – until she didn’t grow.

Give us today our daily bread.

She ate round the clock, every hour when I’d let her, squirming and fussing and never quite seeming satisfied.  She was born knowing how to latch perfectly, and I remember feeling so relieved that first night in the hospital when it was easy and she was nursing and all was right with the world.  Of course, pain followed, and boy did it ever hurt, but she was always where she should be, always an eager eater and a champion sucker.  Yet still she was never satisfied.  And she didn’t grow.  For weeks, she didn’t grow.

Give us today our daily bread.

I never had any doubts or questions about how I was going to feed my child.  Here in Portland, where women casually nurse babies in parks and stores and at late night concerts in bars, whip out a canister of formula and you may as well be lighting your infant on fire for the looks you’ll receive.  Peer pressure aside, I believe the research that says breastmilk is the absolute best food for a baby.  I believe it because it’s good common sense.  I had a drug free childbirth, we spent a small fortune on cloth diapers, we co-sleep and baby wear and fourth trimester blah blah blah – obviously I was going to breastfeed.  I knew it would hurt, and be hard, but I never doubted it would ultimately work.

Give us today our daily bread.

But she didn’t grow.  So began the parade of lactation clinic appointments and herbal supplements and bad tasting tea – of round the clock rendezvous with a wildly expensive and horribly unromantic pump, endless bottles of water, weighed feedings and mountains of magic galactagogue oatmeal.  To say we tried is a bit of an understatement.  We suffered, and cried, and winced through cracks from a stressed out staving baby whose perfect latch was beginning to show signs of strain.  I spent a lot of late night hours crying to God about how badly I wanted to breastfeed, please could he fix me, please provide.  We tried.  We tried.  We tried.

Give us today our daily bread.

Finally (finally) at an unscheduled weigh in, a Wednesday and our third trip to the lactation clinic in Fable’s fifth week, one of the lactation consultants grabbed my hungry baby and fed her a bottle of formula.  And I cried.  The woman, sweet in her firmness and absolute certainty, apologized and spoke soothing words into my supposed wounds: “It isn’t your fault, these things happen, sometimes formula is the best thing and that’s why we have it, and you aren’t any less of a woman and we’ll let you stay in the city…” I smiled as I corrected her, because I didn’t feel guilty or embarrassed or as if I had failed.  I felt…victorious.  I felt light.  And my child, who had seemed so frail and temporary to me moments before, seemed saved and solid and real.  I felt joyful.  I felt grateful.  I gave thanks.

Give us today our daily bread.

Manna was tasteless, I hear, and sticky and maybe a little bit gross.  It certainly wasn’t what those desert wandering Israelites were expecting, and I guarantee it wasn’t the cool kid food on the dunes that season.  But it nourished them, it fed them, it allowed them to grow.  When I strip away the veneer of wanting only the best for my baby girl, I have to face the fact that stubbornly wanting to exclusively breastfeed was as much about my pride as it was about feeding my little one.  Because what is best for my girl is being nourished, being fed, being allowed to grow.  So I give her what milk I can and I mix the rest from a can of powder and praise God that he always provides, even when that provision doesn’t look like I wanted it to, even when it doesn’t meet my expectations, even when he doesn’t use me and my body and my determination to do it.

Give us today our daily bread.

She grew, then, pounds in weeks and right back up to where she belongs on the curve.  I am learning to welcome the dagger glares of proudly bare breasted mamas when I whip out my bottle and powder in public, because I am feeding my child.  I am feeding her even if it means letting go of a little bit of cool.  I’m out loud and proud about being in that swell 5% who simply don’t make enough milk, just incase someone else in that camp is sitting next to me hiding her bottle and powder and feeling judged about how she has to, or chooses to, feed her kid.  Chances are you know a mama who is – encourage her.  I am so very grateful to the wonderful women who surround me, mamas who have successfully breastfed and some who haven’t, who have been incredibly supportive and helpful and grand.

Give us today our daily bread.

I’m thankful for a God who provides, and for a lesson in the essence of provision – that it isn’t about me, my expectations, and my definitions.  It’s about gratitude and acceptance and humility and big, big love.  It’s about dying, fearlessly, to my plan and living into His.  Even when it’s something as basic as Gerber Good Start.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory.



  • judy/mom/grandma! January 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    All of your blogs should come with a warning to have the tissues handy. As always, my beautiful daughter, beautifully written. And as always, I am so proud. You are such a great Mom. Love you.

  • Lissa January 25, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I am nursing Josiah right now and it’s tough! I tried to switch to formula and he won’t take it. Jeremiah was bottle fed and I felt bad for a while. Now I’m jealous of those who aren’t constantly worries about their supply. Good for you! As long as baby is happy and healthy, everyone else can deal. 🙂

  • Laura Thurston January 25, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I knew you and Fable were suffering with breastfeeding but I didnt know how to reach out. I come from a family of nursing mamas, opinionated to be precise. Yet I was never so thrilled as when you handed me that sweet girl and a bottle and I could feed her! You are doing the right thing!
    She is happy and healthy and a delight to be with and you are a relaxed and content mommy. We love you!

  • Nina January 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Yay for a happy, healthy, growing baby! We love you and Fable no matter what kind of milk you drink. You drink cow milk. Fabes likes a little of mom’s a little of Gerber’s. I personally prefer soy, but almond is nice now and then. 🙂

  • Alicia (Florendo) Ashley January 29, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    I never did have enough of a supply for my O, either. We were in the NICU for a week before I relented. Like you, I knew it would be difficult and painful, but I never thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it. We spent SO MUCH TIME and money trying everything; the terrible tea, oatmeal, expensive herbal supplements, etc. I would nurse for 45 minutes, bottle feed to supplement, then pump, taking a total of 1.5 hours for every 3-hour feeding cycle. Talk about exhausted. I has heart-broken that I couldn’t “feed” my child, but my husband kept reminding me that good parents provide for their children, and by giving him a bottle, I was providing. It still took a long time to take that to heart, and I’m still sad I couldn’t nurse, but O is growing and healthy and happy! Thank you for your insight and the reminder about manna — a great analogy.

  • » Fable’s Favorite Things: Our Top 10 Baby Products for Months 0-3 Girl of Cardigan February 11, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    […] Oooo, not formula!  Get the pitchforks and tar!  Get her out of Portland!  Relax, villagers- you’ll be okay.  Should you have to use formula, this is a good one.  Spendier than some, cheaper than the hard stuff, and easy on Faby’s tiny intestines.  If you need help finding coupons for this madness, I will tell you all I know.  Formula is expensive, especially when you were planning to breastfeed.  More on that here. […]

  • Stephanie May 5, 2013 at 1:49 am

    I’m sitting pumping at 1:45am reading this so happy that I am not alone! Ours is not a production problem, nor a latch problem it’s a sucking problem! I’ve been so distraught over not being able to breast feed and having to use a pump! We too are supplementing with formula and you are so right the most important thing is our girls are nourished! Blessings friend!

    • karyn May 10, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Oh man, pumping is such work. You are amazing, mama!!! Grow baby girl grow!

  • Peyton November 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Oh what a flood of tears after reading this! I have been through this twice now (we deal with pretty severe lip and tongue ties)…I totally identified with begging God to “fix” you.

    I found you through your post about the first year of motherhood, which still resonated with a mama who is pregnant for the third time. Nice work 🙂

  • Kim November 15, 2013 at 10:00 am

    thanks for that post, I love to hear other good ‘hippy’ mom’s who suffered the guilt of formula and then LET IT GO! 😉

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