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: