Written at 10pm…10 days home
Little man has been making so much progress with breast feeding. It’s insane that two days feel like two years…but when two days include 20+ feeds I guess that makes sense.
He “rage feeds” for anywhere from 5-30 minutes before he can actually calm down enough to latch. After the NICU, being separated, bottle feeding with formula to get him released, and a tongue tie… learning to breast feed has been a challenge.
But he’s trying. And he tried tonight…frantically rooting around and head butting me and screaming.
We try everything. Different positions, calm breathing, syringing pumped breast milk into his mouth when he’s near my nipple to get him to latch (a brilliant technique from my doula). He will latch, and immediately fall asleep and detach, or he won’t latch and rage in frustration. He was so frustrated tonight, and I was so tired. My husband stood over us, syringing breast milk to bribe him, and holding his hand so he doesn’t use it to shove my boob out of his mouth. My incision is screaming from sitting upright all day during feeds. I’m allergic to most painkillers so even the hardest stuff I can take doesn’t really cut it. My nipples are raw and exhausted from evening hourly cluster feeds.
And then I hear a pop, and my neck goes out. Shooting pain down my back. Nothing I’m not used to. But it’s the icing on the cake. Trying not to cry, I lie down in bed at the urging of my mom and we try to feed side-lying. He latches. My neck screams in pain. My uterus contracts intensely. Incision site burns. Nipples throb. But he’s eating.
I silently cry.
In pain, but mostly in frustration.
Why doesn’t he just latch right away?
Is it something I’m doing wrong?
It must be…I’m holding him wrong…or squeezing him too tight or at the wrong angle or there’s too much milk or too little or we didn’t get him to the boob fast enough…or something.
Through tears I whisper to my husband
“I just hate it so much…the idea that he’s trying and I can’t help him.”
I’m watching him try so hard. Little hands flailing, legs tense and pushing, head and neck straining to find food…and I feel so helpless. Like there’s nothing I can do.
I just want to HELP him.
I felt the same way when he was inside me and I couldn’t help him flip, or get the cord around his neck to unwrap, or stop my contractions two months early.
My husband… insightful butthead…
“That’s going to be his whole life…you can’t always help him…
You’re doing everything you possibly can for him…like your did when you were pregnant. You’re eating healthy and drinking water and making sure he gets enough food. You’re resting so you can produce milk, you’re keeping him safe and warm and we are changing and burping and soothing and literally doing everything for him. Except this. He has to learn to latch. That’s on him. And he’s come so far in the last two days, you have to remember that.”
I listen. And cry, and try to take it in. It’s so hard to give yourself that love. To be grateful to yourself.
And we flip over on the bed, and he latches immediately. Which sends new searing pain through my nipple which he just devoured for 25 minutes less than an hour ago. I just can’t take him off once he latches…he’s so desperate to get there…I can’t take it away.
My husband gets a heating pad for my neck and strokes my hair and leans in and kisses my head and our sons head.
And says “I get it. I know what it feels like to watch someone you love hurt and feel like you can’t help them.”
I know the fear… and the strength it took to cover it when I was writhing and moaning in pain at the hospital after a nurse had me stand up 14 hours after surgery when the pain medication wasn’t working at all. I see the hidden looks of concern and the tears in his eyes when I’m trying to breath through every step. I watch him running around making me food and taking care of the baby constantly all day because I can’t really stand.
And he doesn’t complain.
He would never tell me he’s scared.
He doesn’t blame me.
He tells me all day, everyday, what an amazing job I’m doing and how proud he is and how proud I should be of myself.
And I see my mom.
The other center of my universe.
I feel her hands on my head while he nurses and I cry.
I remember her crying when she watched me meet him in the NICU for the first time.
She’s spent every waking second taking care of me at the hospital and now at home.
And I feel her in pain…watching me…
They leave to get me food…and I turn, and stare at my son.
He is asleep, nestled into my chest, breathing hard from the effort of the last hour.
And I get it.
The unconditional, all consuming love.
That would make me get on that operating table in a second if it would help him.
That would make me endure any pain you could possibly throw at me if it meant that he would be happy and healthy and ok.
I would do anything.
To help him.
Like my mom would for me.
Like my husband does every day.
Thank you, mom. For making me know that I can do this, because you are the most selfless, giving, and understanding person I know, and if I can be a quarter of the mom you are, this kid will be just fine.
I will spend my whole life giving it back to you,
To my family and friends who are checking in constantly,
And to this tiny perfect creature in my arms.
I will love.
I will love hard.
Who makes you feel safe and loved? And what would you say to thank them?