Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Pics

He's starting to look like such a little boy to me. Its so weird to think I have a little boy. I mean, what do I know of boy stuff? Then again, what he needs from me is mother stuff, not guy stuff, so I think I'm off the hook there.

Today I looked down at him and said "Jonah, I love being your mother". He gurgled in response. I think he was agreeing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It Could Always Be Worse

The LFM Hanging at the Coffee Shop

The LFM is a closet Nose Eater


The Little Astronaut Awaiting Lift Off In His Car Seat

Being Read to by his Tiatielle from France

When I was little, I had this book called It Could Always Be Worse. This man goes to the rabbi and says "Rabbi, my house is so so small. My wife is always nagging and the children are crying and I'm miserable, please help!" So the rabbi says "Take all the chickens from your yard and put them in your house." The man does this and comes back the next week saying how much worse this new arrangement is, so the rabbi advises him to take all the goats from his yard and put them in the house and so on and so forth every week until the man's yard is empty and his house is overflowing. The man is virtually at the point of cracking and the rabbi finally counsels him to take all of the animals back out into the yard. The man, who is left with exactly what he had to begin with, is overjoyed at how spacious and wonderful his house has become and believes the rabbi somehow increased the size of his house. The moral of the story, of course, being it could always be worse.

This has been my postpartum experience so far.

I finally think some of the chickens are going back into the yard though, and I am just now starting to really get to enjoy the spaciousness of my new motherhood.

The LFM is now smiling up a storm- these big gorgeous goofy smiles. They're hard to capture on film (I have one from my Dad's camera that I'm just waiting to get a copy of) but boy, i now understand what they mean when they say a smile can light up a room! His eyes totally sparkle when he cliche as it is, they do! Our monkey has also begun to coo and gurgle and grunt in his first efforts at communication. He does this in response to what we say, so it becomes this very surreal conversation of sorts. Like when I was a kid and talked in a make believe language with my friends and really believed we knew what each other was saying. Its really cool to watch him so intently watch what we say and how it all works and then put in his two cents worth however he can. I'm sure he's saying only brilliant things, nothing mundane like how gassy he is at any given moment. Its all brilliant philosophical discourse that we're just far too pedestrian to understand at this point. Perhaps one day we'll be evolved enough...

The most recent development though, is that the LFM has suddenly and inexplicably become a Mama's Boy over the last week. While I am truly flattered by all the attention , it certainly makes getting anything done an impossibility. Whereas I used to be able to do things, like bathe for example, he now has decided that I am solely at his mercy and that no, thank you, but the guy with the beard we call Daddy just won't cut it these days. In fact he has decided to save any and all crying bouts for that Daddy character, just to make him feel that much more special. Luckily, that Daddy character happens to be the best father around, and is taking it all in stride. In fact he's braving the threat of a meltdown right now to give me a little time to type with 2 hands. And I have to admit that he really is such a mellow baby (clearly gets that one from Daddy) that his crying is nothing compared to many other babies I've heard. So I'm not complaining.

You hear that, universe? I'm Not Complaining! I get it, It Could Always Be Worse!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Latest and Not So Greatest

The LFM at his first bath, about 2.5 weeks old
After his first bath, tasting the towel to make sure it was still fresh

This has been a hard week with much grieving...grieving over milk, grieving over Mimi's death, and yesterday was the 9 year anniversary of my brother's suicide. 9 years? Really? Where did they go? And why has my family done more shrinking than growing in that time?

Last week I had my 6 week checkup (even though it was technically 7 weeks) with our amazing midwife, whom I love and respect so dearly I cannot even write about her in any way that does her justice. And more significant than the fact that I got the okay to start having sex again (not that exhaustion creates all that much desire mind you) was the discussion about milk that ensued. This amazing woman, whose opinion I trust more than just about anyone else's, told me that I'm never going to be able to solely breastfeed. She said that if the milk production was going to turn around, it would have already. She said that we tried absolutely everything and we tried valiantly and for longer than most, but that now it was time to move forward. She said it all far more gently and poetically though. The lactation consultant agreed, and said she was thinking the same things.

And I broke. Just a little bit. I broke.

So what does moving forward mean exactly?

On the one hand, it means gradual liberation form my jailer, the evil pump. This is the positive side of the coin. It means that in a few weeks I'll only be pumping once or twice a day, simply to give Jonah the teensiest bit more breastmilk. It means not freaking out about missing a pumping and feeling eternally guilty when I do. It means no more obsessing every single second of the day and night about my milk supply and how to increase it, because I have to let go of the control there and accept that it just may not increase, even with all the pumping in the world.

On the other hand it means letting go of that dream that I've been clinging so tightly to. It means there's a mean voice in my head that needs to be banished calling me inadequate and a failure. It means this is just one more painful thing that I have no control over and just have to swallow and accept, even despite my constant hard work and vigilance. It means a lot of pain and tears on top of a preexisting mountain of grief from Mimi's death. It means great jealousy of other Mama's who can nurse no problem and great bitterness towards those who can but chose not to. It means bitterness towards the universe. It means the straw that may not be breaking this camel's back, but its certainly injuring it.

And now the plan. The plan is first and foremost that I have a therapy appointment Monday morning with a therapist of my wonderful midwife's reccomendation, because the LFM does not need a depressed and constantly crying Mama on top of everything else. Feeding wise, the plan is that every feeding I nurse him on each breast so he can get as much as they can offer (which was about an ounce and a half total between both breasts at 2:45pm Friday at the lactation consultant's) and then he gets his supplement of pumped breastmilk and/or formula on the breast with a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS).

So we're still breastfeeding, just not entirely, and that's what I'm clinging to for dear life. My new mantra that I repeat about every other second of the day is I AM A BREASTFEEDING MAMA. The midwife says that I need to be able to stand on the hill near our apartment which overlooks the city and scream that I am a breastfeeding Mama, and that this is just how my particular body breastfeeds and I need to find a way to embrace that. I need to find a way to get to a place of peace and acceptance and I need to be able to appreciate my breasts for what they can produce. And I'm trying I really am.

Yesterday, at a friend's baby shower, someone turned to me and asked the dreaded question of whether or not I was breastfeeding. To my credit I answered yes, but then launched into the whole explanation about the low supply and having to supplement and at one point she said something along the lines of "So you're not entirely brastfeeding" and internets, it killed me to hear that, it really did. When I explained abot all the work we were doing she then said something about how I've worked hard for every drop I can give, so she did finally get it, but it still stings a little, you know?

And now I must go nurse my baby, because he's hungry and I AM A BREASTFEEDING MAMA.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What I Have Not Been Writing About

My Happy Smiley Treasure

Must. Type. at Speed of Light. [while the LFM is (miracle of miracles) not in my arms...a rare occurrence indeed]

Okay, so what I have not been writing about, because it has been devastatingly heartbreaking to me, but what has been occupying my every waking moment and my every waking and sleeping moment, is milk. Specifically the lack thereof. I should preface this for those who may not be in the know, that breastfeeding has always been something that is so incredibly important to me, even before the LFM was an itch in his Daddy's pants. Its something I looked forward to, not only for the superior nutrition I believe it gives, but also for the bonding factor. And I love that bonding factor, I truly do. I adore nursing, even in the middle of the night, and Jonah loves it too. I love that when he wants comfort he asks for and looks for it in my breast- that he knows that is always a safe place for him. I love nourishing him with my body.

And that last one is where the heartbreak begins.

The LFM hasn't been getting as much nourishment from these breasts as he needs since the get go. We've been having to supplement with formula since we discovered at about 2 weeks old that he wasn't getting enough to eat. Since that time I've also been busting my proverbial balls to increase my milk supply through a prescription med, every herbal remedy known to woman, and a rigorous and demanding schedule of incessant pumping so that each feeding takes about an hour to an hour and a half with nursing then giving the bottle then pumping. And make no mistake about it, the pumping sucks. It sucks beyond belief. I feel like a moo cow imprisoned by this machine- I can't go anywhere without either bringing it along or racing to be back in tgime to pump. Its been my jailor but I was hoping it was also to be my savior, so I dutifully stick to it for the last month, charting my way through the whole endeavor to log every single ounce and cc I got. I went to the Lactation Consultant every week, the pediatrician every 5 days, suffered through thrush in the LFM's mouth and on my nipples (ie stabbing pain in my breasts every time I nursed and pumped) and cried endless buckets of tears, but I was certain that in the end it would be worth it. That all the hard work would yield a bountiful harvest of milk in the end, because doesn't hard work pay off? Don't I deserve a little slack from the universe after everything?

It seems like the universe is slapping me in the face here. Or getting quite a laugh at my expense. Or both.

Because when I went to the Lactation Consultant's last Friday, the cruelest of the cruel was supply now seems to be decreasing.

I'm sure its hard for most of you to understand why this is even a big deal...if you have enough milk you can't understand, if you chose to bottle feed you can't understand, and if you're a guy or have no kids, fuck you if you even think you can try to understand. Basically I feel like the world's most inadequate mother. I feel like my body has betrayed me. I feel like I'm missing out on something everyone else gets to have. And I feel like this is just one more thing that cancer has stolen from me.

And the grief, she is immense.

And I want my Mama.

We're not giving up yet, but its not looking good at all.

When do I get a little break here in the sadness and grief dept?