Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

Well, Sort Of


Bunny asked to hear more about how breastfeeding was going well, but sadly, I guess it only sort of is.

From the perspective of my little world at home, it is going well. The Bean has gotten better at latching, my right nipple no longer feels (and looks) sandpapered, I have gotten well enough myself that I can nurse sitting up without passing out (the nurse at the hospital told me this was because the oxytocin — which, paging Dr. Freud, I continually write as oxycontin — was filling me with “feelings of well-being.” I thought it was my crappy hematocrit and low blood pressure, but I do not have a medical degree.) and we’ve figured out a lying down method that works for all participants. The Bean nurses on a somewhat intense schedule but takes long-ish breaks at night, so we’re even getting far more sleep than we have any right to. Now that my nips are no longer so scabby, I’m even enjoying it at times.

…and then we go to the pediatrician. The Bean, you see, is rather wee. Not compared to pre-termers, by any means, but still a bit small. He was born at 6 lbs 1.5 oz, having decided that he had met the terms of my “over 6, under 9” chanting and, at exactly 38 weeks, my full-term request. By the time we were at the pediatrician on day 3, his weight had dropped to 5 lbs 5 oz. Perfectly normal, which didn’t stop me from bawling uncontrollably in the exam room. My milk wasn’t in, and while colostrum is said to be just chock full of magical stuff, that stuff ain’t calories. The pediatrician, for whom we will have to find a nickname shortly, mentioned something vague about supplementation and lactation consultants, but wasn’t too worried, as long as we agreed to come into the office every day until he regained his birth weight. Stay in bed, she said, and nurse him every hour or two. He refused to eat that often, but my milk came booming in that afternoon, and the next day, he weighed 5lbs 7 oz. Success! Keep doing what you’re doing, she said. The following day, 5 lbs 8 oz. Come in on Monday, she said. I bet he’ll be back at birth weight already.

Or not. After a weekend of furious nursing, better latching, more diapers, and so forth, he had held steady at 5 lbs 8 oz. Come back Wednesday, she said, and why don’t we time the appointment so you can go to the lactation consultant group session afterwards? Two more days of furious nursing; 5/8 again. I cried all over the LC, who was not at all dippy and who, despite her wig and frum dress, later laughed when I said that given my choice of partner, I wasn’t worried about using breastfeeding as birth control. She evaluated his latch and showed Sugar exercises to improve it. I nearly passed out in the group session, in a combined assault of low blood pressure and what proved to be the violent chills of a fever that lasted the rest of the day. I also nearly died of my jealousy of the other woman there, so hale and hearty with her 8lb baby, especially once I found out she had given birth after me. Why was I shaking so hard I was afraid I’d drop the Bean while she was sitting there looking only a little tired?

Back home, we practiced those exercises and nursed even more. Surely, there was a little more of a double-chin, a bit more flesh under those arm creases. Nope: 5/8 again today. And so the Bean came to have his first mouthful of formula and I came to call the doctor’s preferred LC and subsequently to break out the pump rather earlier than I had hoped. And I hate it already, for the record.

Part of what’s so frustrating is that when we’re all at home, everything seems fine. He eats what seems like a zillion times a day, he pees and poops enough to keep the diaper companies happy, and so on. And then, every two days, we go in for what feels a very aptly named exam and find that we still aren’t passing. We go home, study some more, work still harder, and think this time we might pass, but we don’t. And we don’t even know we’re not going to pass until we’re there. (I know some of you are seeing the parallel to follicle checks, right? And conception in general — only this time I’m responsible for two bodies that, between them, aren’t doing it right.)

Speaking of my body, that’s another thing that’s well, sort of. I’m doing better than I was — I’m sitting up to type this, for instance, and today’s attempt to take the subway to the pediatrician was successful (Wednesday I had to take a car home) — but walking up the ramp to our subway station still left me light-headed. The OB nurse says I just need to drink gatorade. I’m a little tired of the OB nurse, frankly. Luckily, Sugar has been feeding me plenty of beef, which is, I think, a bit more to the point.

The silver lining of my being so wiped out is that I haven’t so far experienced any of the sense of possessiveness of the baby that other bio-moms have reported. I’m so glad when Sugar can take him from me, because I need the rest and he’s with his mom. I was overwhelmed with jealousy the first time we took the subway together, I admit. He was strapped to her chest, and people kept gasping over how tiny and cute he is, while I limped along ten feet behind like some troll aunt. That was no fun. Likewise when we went to the taco place around the corner for lunch last weekend and, as they left to go on to the botanic gardens and I began to lurch homeward on my still-unhinged hips, the pair of cops who’d just cooed over the baby saw my swollen belly and said, “You’re next!” It did sting to be still so wrecked from labor and be invisible. (This interaction occurred more than once that day, and when I’d say I’d given birth to him, the follow-up was always, “You had a c-section?” Apparently vaginal birth is supposed to leave a person nimble and sprightly. I’ll note that if there’s a next time.) But none of that has made me feel possessive, per se, just ready to be healthier, so we can all three walk together.

As your reward for reading this far, here is a picture of my favorite bit of the Bean’s hair, the hurricane cowlick on his forehead. I imagine it will fall out, but I hope it will take its time:

22 thoughts on “Well, Sort Of

  1. It's so so so hard. I found feeding the mostmstressful thing.

  2. Breastfeeding can be so stressful and hard. i ended up using the Medela supplemental nursing system with my first (its a thingy to wear around the neck filled with supplement so the baby gets formula and BM at the same time) due to low supply and BM that looked like skim milk. I had no regrets, as it enabled me to nurse stress free for 18 months. I hope your journey gets easier. He's gorgeous.

  3. ” Apparently vaginal birth is supposed to leave a person nimble and sprightly. I'll note that if there's a next time.”


  4. He is such a beautiful bean.

    It sounds like there's no end to the variations on the theme of “Feeding a new baby sucks.” I hope he quickly starts plumping up enough to keep your doctor happy!

  5. Oh my goodness, he is simply adorable! I'm sorry you're struggling with the feeding and hope it all improves over night! Kisses for the new family.

  6. *Nodding with great if clueless sympathy*

    Poor you – oh! sandpapered nipples! Mind yourself, Bionic, all this will come right. You are doing a wonderful job.


  7. Oh I love that cowlick! I am so sorry about the feeding issues. I remember too well the days — days!!– that I just sat one the couch alternately weeping and bawling over feeding issues. You will work it out and your sweet boy will be fine…better than fine. He will be wonderful. How could he not with two such devoted loving moms? The details will figure themselves out.

    After my devastating undersupply issues, this morning I got up (after The Boy ate TWICE in the night) to pump 7 ounces just to alleviate the engorgement.

    OH and vaginal birth… there were a couple (few?) weeks where I just didn't even want to know what was going on down there is the wreckage of my soft tissues. I just gingerly used that little peri-cleanse bottle I took from the hospital and tried to pat everything back into place.

  8. He is getting more beautiful by the day. Sending lots of strength your way (and a recipe for spinach salad for Sugar to place next to that serving of beef: You all are going to get through this just fine.

  9. Good thing he came out so damn adorable because clearly he's such a trouble maker already, disappointing the doctor day after day. I'm sorry things have been rough-going, although I'm impressed that you seem to be keeping a pretty good attitude despite it all.

  10. I'm sorry it's been so rough so far with the tests and the failing. Hang in there. It will get better one way or another (and what I mean is that whether the path to better involves breasts, pumps, formula, or all of the above, once you get there, it will indeed feel better). As for the troll aunt thing, ugh. I hope you're back in fighting (figuratively) form soon. Or that the “feelings of well-being” pass. Whichever.

  11. Oh the breastfeeding. So far it's my least favorite part of being a new mom, and unless it becomes pain free soon (it's been 5 weeks, for chrissakes) I'm going with pump and bottle full time, although I hate the pumping, too.
    So kong way of saying you arent the only one struggling with it and whatever you end up doing for food is the right answer — don't let yourself be bullied into any choices that are not right for your family.

  12. Ah, breastfeeding. I still have PTSD over that. I am super anemic myself now- and it sucks the very life out of you. Lots of beef being eaten on this generally vegetarian table hereabouts.

  13. Very sorry about the breastfeeding. In my experience, breastfeeding troubles are the norm and not the exception (us included).

    How you feel now is how Nutella felt after she gave birth. Could hardly walk for a couple weeks and I carried the baby on my body while people gawped and cooed. I felt so bad for her having done all the work! It will get better. Hang in there.

  14. No assvice here, just lots of support. I hope the Bean starts putting the weight back on soon so that the doctors will leave you alone.

    Also hoping you have a speedy recovery and feel more like your old self soon.

    Love the Bean pic. He is so gorgeous.

  15. BETRAYER! I WANT NOTHING BUT HAPPY TALES! Seriously, I'm sorry the relative (OWIE) smoothness of feeding is not resulting in a sufficiently fat baby. What a shitload of work for a weakened woman! But it sure seems like you're doing everything you need to do and doing it like a champ, so I am deeply hopeful that this will resolve quickly and he'll balloon up miraculously.

  16. Breastfeeding sucked for me, and I can totally sympathize with the feeling of inferiority that comes from not being able to get it right, particularly after having had fertility treatments. Plus my baby was preemie and growth restricted in utero and is STILL tiny (to be fair, so was her donor), and I'm constantly aware of it and jealous of the moms with big bruiser babes. She's hale and hardy as they come now, but she's still tiny, so still the constant sense that I'm doing something wrong no matter how hard I try. We find so many ways to beat ourselves up, and I've found a new source of insecurities in my daughter. I hope I grow out of it before she adopts them herself. Oh look!- a new insecurity for me to dwell on.

    I also felt puny and weak for a few weeks after giving birth. It took my body a long time to adjust to my new lower blood supply, and big city dwellers have to do a hell of a lot more walking than us Midwestern moms, so don't feel bad. Its totally normal.

  17. Forgive me, I have never breastfed (natch), and may well be misremembering and/or talking out of my arse, but I was under the impression that breast-fed babies are MUCH slower at starting to put weight on and generally always gain less weight, slower. And that this is HEALTHY. And as long as baby is peeing and pooing and alert and the fontanelle isn't indenting, the baby is FINE. And NORMAL. I don't know how slow the weight-gain has to be before it's really a problem, but comparing the gain of a bottle-fed baby to a breast-fed one is unhelpful and medical professionals really shouldn't do it. In Britain it's only just dawning on health workers that they need two weight-gain charts, one for healthy bottle-fed babies and a completely different for healthy breast-fed babies (also, actually, for babies, gaining a lot of weight fast after birth puts them at a slightly increased risk of type 2 diabetes as adults, apparantly).

    Love, your friendly transAtlantic assvicer.

  18. Agh, grammar fails. So sorry. Am madly typing in tired-but-wired mode.

  19. mine totally had the same cowlick, and despite being 5 still has the ever so faintest tinge of it (in blond). And no, he doesn't look like a monkey– you have to really look for it to know it is there. But it is so sweet I do spend lots of time looking at/for it.

    BF is the hardest thing I have ever done. And I remember that bounce back to birth weight and how emotional that journey is. You are doing amazing.

    And speaking of amazing: that baby of yours! DELICIOUS! So sweet looking. What beautiful little guy.

    COngrats on his arrival and hugs from here…

  20. P.S. Your nazi baby doll comment made me laugh so hard!

  21. I didn't read through all the comments, but one of the things my OB DIDN'T tell me is anemia is a breastfeeders enemy. It's going to take you longer than the average new mom to get “up to speed” on BFing so to speak.

    I struggled intensely in the beginning due to PP hemorrhage and the resulting anemia. You'll get there. And if you have to supplement to get his weight up a little it won't kill the BF relationship. My son was in the NICU for 12 days and didn't even figure OUT nursing until he got home and was mostly formula fed with some pumped colostrum thrown in there those first days.

    Hugs. I know it's hard. xoxo

  22. Pingback: Wean-y Thoughts | Bionic Mamas

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