T'was two days after Christmas
And all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
except baby Alexander,
and, by extension, his mother,
whose nipples have had more of a workout these past five weeks
than they ever did in college.
They don't tell you about breastfeeding when you're pregnant. Well, they tell you how to do it, and that you should do it for at least a year, and that it “doesn't hurt,” and all that, but they don't tell you that where doggy and kitty mommies have successfully been offering the teat for thousands of years, human mommies sometimes have issues, wherein they must consult “lactation consultants,” which would be a great job for someone with a bit o' the letch to 'em, as it requires looking at boobies and the aforementioned nipples all day.
Beyond breastfeeding (sounds like a support group, no?), motherhood is pretty OK. Alexander was sleeping five hours at a clip at night, but that's been supplanted by two/three hours at a clip. I think he's growing, which is a good thing. His first two weeks he did a lot of screaming, basically because he wasn't getting enough to eat. Irony alert (OK, more like strange coincidence alert): Massachusetts is outlawing the distriubution of formula-company diaper bags to new mothers checking out of the hospital. They think it hinders the breastfeeding process. But the formula-company diaper bag I received contained the most helpful breastfeeding information I'd found anywhere (including La Leche League). Wish I'd read it the first two weeks, so that I could learn that “mothers who recieve an excess of IV fluids during labor often experience a delay in having their milk come in.” Sure could have used THAT information back then. Oh well. Now Alexander is gobbling boob and soy formula every few hours, in grossly exaggerated quantities, and his weight gain, which was slim to none his first few weeks, is skyrocketing. He was up to 10 pounds, 11.2 ounces at his one-month checkup, up from an all-time low of 8 pounds, four ounces (he dropped a pound after birth).
Here's how it played out:
Day(s) of labor and birth: Nope, can't tell you that, because pregnant women read this blog. Suffice it to say that nothing on my birth plan happened the way I'd hoped, and Spiritual Midwifery has been refiled to “fiction” in our home library. What a load of crap.
Week One: Home from the hospital on Nov. 20, after Katie comes by and grants him three wishes (we settle on: a keen wit with a gentle side, the ability to see the humor in everything, and a capacity for great joy). Dad and his fiancee arrive Nov. 22. My birthday Nov. 23. Thanksgiving Nov. 24 (Dad springs for the pre-cooked dinner from Whole Foods Market and it's great!).
Week Two: My mom leaves (having extended her visit by two weeks — what a Godsend). Baby is screaming — turns out for more food, though we think it's gas so I cut dairy from my diet, quelle horror! Baby isn't gaining weight. Baby goes to Bible Study and has his first BM in 10 days. We figure he was just moved by the spirit.
Week Three: Supplmenting with soy formula, after getting over the idea that I'm failing him as a mother. Left nipple is bleeding after bad advice from my postpartum nurse (you are NOT supposed to hold down the top of your breast so baby can breathe. This will screw up the baby's latch and make your nipples bleed. Trust me on this.). Clogged milk duct in left breast as a result, try pumping but it's like getting blood from a stone, so instead I nurse with him and it hurts so much I cry. Go to the herbalist for fenugreek, to stimulate my milk supply. It works. Use warm, moist heat to clear the clogged duct and it works! Take Alexander to see Santa in the mall — we arrive just as he's gone on break, so I nurse baby in the food court, which causes him to sleep through the entire Santa experience. The coordinator of my hospital's birth center calls me to tell me that she's filed a complaint on my behalf, having heard of my experience with the dumb-ass anesthesiologist. NOTE TO BIRTH PARTNERS: Before allowing the mommy-to-be to have an epidural, find out which doctor on call has the most experience, and DO NOT SETTLE FOR ANYONE LESS.
Week Four: Nipple is starting to heal, baby has finally started to gain weight, and is no longer screaming with hunger. I go back on dairy and enjoy copious quantities of eggnog. Monstro's folks arrive for Christmas and talk our ears off the first few days, but then settle down and are fabulous. Baby is smiling for real now, and cooing up a storm. He seems to know when to interject comments into conversation. Great fun.
Week Five: Starting to get into a routine — it's less about survival mode at this point. Still haven't written all my thank-you notes for baby gifts. Am considering waiting until Alexander is old enough to write them himself. Still having epidural flashbacks and am considering seeing a mental health professional to deal with it.
Fortunately, baby is completely adorable (a bit of acne aside), and we are very very glad he's here. And I can hardly remember what I used to do when I had free time. Oh yeah: update my blog. 🙂