Every time I've sat down to write over the past few weeks, my mind has suddenly gone blank. I'll have all these thoughts on what to share and how to express the things I've felt these past weeks while I'm nursing Orion in the middle of the night, shoveling food in my face or having a long hot shower. But I've so missed writing that I'm going to sit here and try to get the thoughts out, even if they come out jumbled. I'm running on pure exhaustion currently. For those who don't dig mommy blog entries, that's fine. Skip this one. :) I won't always be writing about mom stuff from here on out, but let's be honest, this is all new for me and with a newborn it's not like there's much else going on with me right now. ;)
It's been harder, yet better than I imagined. Being someone who has lived my entire life with depression, I was so worried I would have issues with it right after the baby was born. I was scared that I wouldn't feel a bond with the baby easily, because I wasn't one of those pregnant women who cooed at, read to or generally was enamored with my swollen belly. I didn't feel any crazy strong bond with my unborn child. To be honest, until I held Orion in my arms for the very first time, the whole thing felt sort of surreal to me. Luckily, all of those fears of mine were completely unfounded. I have loved this little boy with ferocity and a sort of love I didn't even know I was capable of since he was first placed, goopy and screaming, on my chest. When they did his tests in the hospital and he was crying, it was all I could do not to strangle the nurse doing the dastardly deed of pricking his heal. It strikes me that I may be the momma grizzly bear type. Woe be unto those who give him shots and make him cry!
The first night home from the hospital was by far the worst. My self esteem was somewhere deep, deep , in the shitter as I tried desperately to get Orion to latch on my breast properly. Every time we'd try, I'd have sharp excruciating pain and my nipple would come out misshapen. I'd elected to stay in the hospital for an extra day so I could meet with the lactation consultant to help us out, because this natural process wasn't coming so naturally to us, so I was beating the shit out of myself for having such an issue with it now that we were home. I shot an SOS off to my really, truly, fabulously amazing doula and she said she'd not only be by the next day to try to help me but was going to give my info to a lactation consultant who is going for her IBCLC certification and needed volunteer hours so she could make a housecall and help me out. By the time the two of them got to me, I was scabby and just the thought of nursing my child made me cry. When he started rooting, I'd feal myself grow anxious and when he latched on I'd yell out and spend our 40 minute nursing session crying, because it hurt. Worse than the entire 80+ hours of unmedicated birth. No lie.
They both watched our technique and both complimented me on how well we were doing in that department. The consultant said that if I hadn't told her I've never seen anyone breastfeed and have never done it before, she wouldn't have had a clue. So it wasn't error on either of our parts in that department, so we checked his mouth. I was kind of surprised they didn't do this in the hospital, since I was having so many issue and am tongue and lip tied - something that can interfere with breastfeeding and other awesome things like speech. (Ask me how much fun it was to overcome speech impediments sometime) Turns out my baby inherited my severe tongue and lip tie, which were keeping him from being able to flare his lips or move his tongue properly. Since he couldn't make the proper wave motion with his tongue to get the milk, he was chomping on me with his gums. No wonder I hurt! Joe and I did some research in to practitioners in our area that correct the issue. Mine was never revised, my mom didn't even know I had it until I told her about Orion's, and so I'm well aware of some of the issues that can arise from it later in life. We opted to make an appointment for revision, not just so we could continue nursing with reduced pain for me, but to hopefully prevent the issues I have had in him.
The doctor couldn't get us in for a week, so I had to keep on keeping on. I ended up with not one, but TWO plugged ducts! But kept reminding myself why I chose to breastfeed and also reminded myself that soon we'd have surgery and things should improve. When Orion was a mere 10 days old, we drove an hour and a half to Charlotte to let the dentist shoot lasers in to his mouth. We weren't allowed in the room, but were allowed to stand outside the door and watch. Joe stayed, I hid in the bathroom and cried for the 2 minutes it took for them to do it. I nursed him immediately afterwards and it didn't hurt! Unfortunately, I developed a fever and was diagnosed with mastitis that afternoon. This snotty little medical student at my doctor's office (who had been at my birth - there's more story there that I'll tell with the birth story at some point) invited herself in while I waited for the nurse practitioner to see me and proceeded to tell me about abscesses that can form from mastitis and strongly hinted that I should switch to formula. I told her that I didn't think 10 days was giving breastfeeding a fair shot in a way that left no more room for discussion. I don't judge any one for their feeding choices, but dammit, this is mine. Let me give it a fair shot.
Things have gotten better in that department. I'm still sore, but now it's because he pulls off without breaking suction. We're working on that, because OUCH!
Joe wasn't able to take his full leave that we had planned on, which was a massive bummer for both of us. The week and a half he was home was wonderful though. For the first week, he tried very hard not to let me get out of bed and wouldn't let me clean or do anything except nurse Orion, sleep, eat, shower, or take Luna out in the yard. That was the compromise to keep me from going completely stir crazy - I've never been much of a sitter or layer, so that took a good bit of adjustment for me. He made me fresh ground Jamaican coffee and breakfast every morning, ran the errands that needed to happen, called the doctors and made appointments, fed the zoo and spent as much time cuddled up with us as he could. After I made a print of my placenta (oh yea, I brought it home and made art with it), my ridiculously amazing husband boiled, dehydrated, ground and encapsulated it for me. At one point, I was having a baby blues crying jag and he looked up at me while filling up capsules and said "You know I love you right? Because I wouldn't be playing in placenta dust for just anyone." Ha ha. Really, I loved every minute of our family time and wouldn't have made it through those first 10 days with my sanity in tact without him.
When he first went back to work, I was really overwhelmed by how very much time I suddenly didn't have and how very hard it was to perform every day tasks with a newborn who nursed every 2 hours for 40 minutes, hated being in his swing, decided napping was something other kids did and was only happy being held. Being as how I've never held a newborn before I was handed my own, I wasn't very comfortable holding him in one hand while I did anything. Truth be told, I wasn't super comfortable holding him - period. He was so little and floppy! As the weeks have passed though, I've gotten my sea legs under me a bit better and am significantly less overwhelmed. We still have some bad days with no naps, lots of fussiness and nursing around the clock (damn you, growth spurts!) but most of them don't bother me as much since I've realized and accepted that things just aren't going to get done the way they used to for a while and that's OK because Orion will only be this little and need me this much for a little while. And, he'll never be this little or need me this much ever again. Right now, I'm his everything; his source of food, drink, comfort, protection and love. I'm all he knew for 9 months and he's still transitioning to life in this great big world outside of me.
And that's what's important right now. That's what's keeping me going through pain, sleep deprivation, nap free days, screaming fits and all the other bad shit no one really likes to talk about. The knowledge that his tiny little head is only going to seek the comfort of my shoulder for so long, that he will only fit on my chest for a little while longer (he's already over 10 lbs - he's gained 3+ lbs since birth), that he will only nurse for a small portion of his long life and that before I know it, he'll be an independent, somewhat self sufficient little person and we can never, ever come back to these moments... and I'm soaking them all up. Even the ones like last night, when he finished nursing at 4am and decided he wanted to be awake, to gently kick and punch the air and coo at me and the ceiling fan for an hour. I was cranky this morning, because I'm always cranky when I haven't slept well, but at 4am, I was smiling at my mighty hunter as his little legs hit my hip and his little fingers grabbed mine.
It's all about perspective. And while I still stumble and fall and have bad days or moments, he is slowly, but surely changing mine just as surely as he's changed my life.