Monday, February 26, 2007

Here Comes the Sun. (Please, Please, Please)

Today as I was writhing around on the bed, crying and whinging, Partner asked me what might make me feel better.

The answers are almost boundless: sleeping for longer than a two hour stretch? Sleeping in the bed? Sleeping next to her? Cricket to smile at me, really really smile at me? Selling our damn house? Selling the new damn house we're stupidly building? Finding out I don't really have to take Organic Biochem in the spring? Being able to eat anything and not feel guilty about the kid screaming for hours because I ate a really delightful garbanzo bean salad? A manhattan? (Jesus, remember those?) Hydrated skin that isn't flaking off? A haircut? My eyebrows waxed? Clothes that aren't stained by sour milk? New shoes? A new jacket? A new kitchen table? A used-new kitchen table? A makeover? Winning the lotto? No guilt? (Ha!)

But really I knew the answer instant she asked-- I could see the forecast on the weather channel for the rest of the week: clouds, clouds, clouds which pretty much equal grey grey grey. So what do I want to feel better?

I want the sun. I want the freaking sun.

If that damn groundhog is wrong, we might be taking a road trip to wring his little neck.


Saturday, February 17, 2007


Someone tell me it was sleep deprivation, but did I really see a Cadillac ad with a Pogues song?

The Pogues ≠ Cadillac.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Birthing Guilt

Every once in awhile Partner will look at me and say with wonder and love, “You birthed this baby!”

What might an ideal reaction to such a statement be? I imagine more wonder and love, like “Why, yes, I did!” or perhaps pride and joy? Neither reaction is mine: instead I often grunt and look away. When she presses the point I usually grumble “Well, okay, if you say so.” This annoys her, and I wish she would have never said anything.

Because, you know, I don’t feel I really birthed anything.

I think back to those Bradley classes we were doing—I really enjoyed them. We had a great little group—only four couples total. Even though we took the classes deep within Republican territory, everyone was so welcoming. One man, who I pegged as the most conservative, ended up bringing me a website address dedicated to gay and lesbian families. I loved practicing my meditation techniques. I was sure I was going to get through the birth in the most natural of ways: laboring at home until my contractions were two minutes apart, getting in the bath when we reached the hospital, playing my mix cd (which I made for everyone in my class) of relaxing labor music... We both had a vision of what the birth was going to be. We had a birth plan that never even made it to the hospital. And I just re-read that birth plan. How naïve. How blithely unaware. It’s my one beef with Bradley now: there’s all those classes on how to do it right and then a small little blip about what might happen if things go awry. Retrospectively I could have used more advice in that arena, specifically about how robbed I’d feel if things didn’t go the way I had planned.

In some ways I felt like a fraud—I was a post-op patient on the mother-baby recovery wing. I didn’t even have the baby with me. After I left recovery and was wheeled to my new home for the next four days, I remember apologizing to the nurse on duty when she came in and found me crying. (Partner was still in the NICU.) “It’s hard to be here without a baby,” I said to her. But that was the tip of the iceberg.

In reality I felt very betrayed by my body, and still do. I don’t feel like I gave birth, but that someone instead plucked my baby out. I never really went into labor. When the pit drip was stopped, all my contractions stopped too. Birthing the baby vaginally and naturally was representing something to me about my own womanhood, and then it never happened. I had a scary scar with staples that Partner wouldn’t even let me look at. I could barely walk and my child was in the intensive care.

The day that Cricket had to get into the isolette because of his jaundice was the first day I was in the NICU without Partner. She had to go to class and I was there alone. The minute I saw the isolette round the corner and come into Cricket’s little area, I lost it. Tears, tears, tears. Every NICU nurse there was fantastic, but thank God my midwife was also present. She held me while I just cried and then looked at me and said, “You have to stop blaming yourself for all of this. None of it is your fault.”

She hit the nail on the head. I did blame myself. Intensively. Every moment I saw our Cricket in the NICU, heard an alarm ding, saw him paw at his NG tube. It must have been my fault. When we came to the hospital, I asked what might cause the water to break, and someone honestly told me that often it’s infection that causes the water to break early. Infection. See? Something I caused—talk about Catholic guilt (think sex) rearing its ugly head. To top it off, I did indeed have an infection around Thanksgiving. I took the requisite dose of metronidizole and it cleared up. And then it didn’t help that my mom, well meaning of course, kept asking me if they had figured out if I had an infection, if that’s what made the water break.

(Later the midwife told me she didn’t think that was it at all since the only time I ran a temperature in the whole thing was right after surgery, which is fairly common. Of course I have written off these assurances as a mere salve to try and make me feel better.)

At a brunch this past Sunday with eight fantasticly smart women, I remarked that motherhood seemed like a vast conspiracy to foster guilt, and for me it started with birth. Not only do I feel like I didn’t really give birth, but I feel that somehow it was my fault.

Don’t tell me it’s crazy, or that yes, I really did give birth. On some intellectual level I know that, but emotionally this was very hard on me. I know I’m not alone either. Recently Suz blogged about this very eloquently.

I do think the c-section rates in this country are ridiculously high and that many sections don’t need to be performed. I don’t think that my birth was one of them, but I wish I had read or talked to more people who were less dogmatic about it before I went into the hospital. I want to be a natural mother, but somehow felt like a fraud for wanting that after having a baby via surgery. I still feel that way to some degree, as if my scar marks me as weaker in someway.

Reading over my birth plan just makes me depressed. I talk about wanting the baby immediately placed on my stomach, waiting for the cord to stop pulsing, breastfeeding immediately, not wanting to send the child to the nursery at all-- *Sigh*

I want to try and put the guilt to rest—I think it will be a lifelong battle, but today I’m going to start by deleting that birth plan. We got a beautiful kid—who cares how? He’s tucked in on my chest now (in the sling!) and perhaps instead of focusing on the birth plan gone awry, I could look down at his beautifully shaped head, thanks to the c-section...

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Chocolate Winter Storms

There's a winter storm rolling in, so Cricket and I were wondering if we should venture out to the store, get some food and stuff so we can hole up when it hits.

Then I realized there's a half a chocolate cake on the counter.

We don't need to go anywhere.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Only Time for Two Snaps

Here's our boy looking totally adorable. This is my favorite outfit on him-- too bad it doesn't have feet and socks seem to fly off his feet. And it's light-weight, so he doesn't wear it much since it's been so frigid. It's warm today-- probably be near 28F, but it's snowing, snowing, snowing.

Our cricket, posing as a frog here, loves bath time. Well, he almost loves it. I think he's cold when he gets in, so we've figured out how to cover him with a blanket and washcloths, which add to his general enjoyment. I'm already looking for where to take him for swim lessons-- he can start at six months, which takes us to June, so that will be perfect. You've never seen anything like it: he can be totally kvetchy and then we wash his hair. When the water gets poured over his head, he gets totally quiet and peaceful. We're anticipating that will make a peaceful baptism.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Intro to Breastfeeding: I'm Getting a C

... and we all know how I like to get all As. I don't like my C.

Tomorrow evening we go to our first La Leche meeting. It can't come too soon.

This afternoon I threw the Maya wrap all around the house, kicked the Dr. Sears book, and then promptly broke down and cried. (I can't get the Maya wrap to "work" right.)

Yes, having a baby will cause you to regress to age two. I better grow up quickly, because Cricket is ready to over take me in maturity terms.

It's like this: When we came home from the hospital, the "orders" were to breastfeed up to three times a day. That meant bottles all other times. We opted to try breastfeeding during the day, leaving bottles for night when Partner could get up and do some of the shifts. Not like this really gave me much rest, since I had to get up and pump and do all the rigamarole involved with pumping, but still... And not that bottles at night were easy. There was all the warming up of the bottle involved, transferring to a "better" bottle, since the hospital nipples-- well, what was the point? The milk came pouring out of them. There was no way we were ever going to get Cricket on the boob if he didn't have to start sucking, even a little. And then he'd eat and eat and eat and we'd have to keep warming up more bottles since the tiny bottles I pumped into only held 60 ml. And of course the guilt we'd both feel if we warmed up more milk than he'd eat. There was all the pumping time down the tubes.

After Cricket's one week check up determined he was gaining weight, I decided I was going all boob, all the time. I dreaded being totally responsible, but we had to do it.

And guess what? It worked. He totally complied with the new regimen.

He's a breast man now, my friends.

But man, he's a breast man now, my friends... *Sigh*

First of all, since he was small to start and one of my breasts weighs more than him, he opted to feed with the clutch hold. And I naively thought that we'd only be doing that for a short while. After all, the football hold doesn't exactly lend itself to public feeding, mainly because I need a pillow to prop him up. I tried doing a cross cradle yesterday. Yeah. Not really. So basically at this point, I feel that I will never ever be able to feed him anywhere else by in the two "nursing"chairs in the house: one upstairs, and one downstairs.

The second issue we're having is that he's slow. I read all these books (I should stop) and they talk about a baby being on each breast for ten minutes. Is that for real? Ten minutes? That's a dream. In "fast" feedings, Cricket is on each breast for at least twenty, but usually a "fast" feeding takes at least an hour. And that's a rare thing, mostly he's in for the long haul.

For example, last night he woke at 3:44. Partner changed him and handed him to me soon after that. From 4:00 to 5:00 am, Cricket ate and I watched Cosby. At 5:00 am, I started watching the local news. Around 5:45 he decided he was done and would sleep. That's a long feeding. One hour. Forty-five minutes. He does this also in the early evening.

I am feeling particularly tethered. I am watching scads of bad tv (think MTV programs like Maui Fever, The Hills and Juvies among my "favorites" and then there's always the "Real" Housewives.). It's hard to read and hold his head and my breast. My ass is going flat, and my lower back, uhg.

And this only part of my issue: We have a champion spitter-upper. Out the nose, out the mouth. I've cut out milk and that seems to have eliminated the "frothy" spit up, but we still have loads. He squirms and grunts and I am racked with guilt-- what did I eat to cause him pain? He pulls at the nipple. Once I thought I had lost it and Cricket had his first solid.

I also am not totally sure we're always latched correctly.

We're at the six week marker here, exactly when it was supposed to get easier, and for some reason it only seems to be getting harder.

So the La Leche meeting is just in time. I'm going to get a lactation consultant in too. He does all the requisite eliminations, so I know he's getting food, and on Friday at the pediatrician (which we keep calling the vet; what's that about?) he weighed 8 lbs 4.5 oz. So he's gaining weight... Just tell me he's going to get big enough soon so we can breastfeed in public. And please tell me he will get more effective and won't feed for two hours at a time (which we did this afternoon while watching Love Story).

I love breastfeeding; I want to do this for at least a year. I love looking down at his little head, and I feel a certain amount of pride at his pudgy fingers. It's not an option to go back to that pumping bottle madness. Hopefully we get some answers tomorrow.

I can't stand how shoddily this post was written, and how disjointed. But I'm leaning back in the office chair with Cricket sleeping on me, so I guess this is where blogging is for now...