Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Mommy Conundrum

Truman Capote once wrote that there are more tears shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones. Truman Capote, being a sensationally egomaniacal twerp, not to mention notorious homosexual deeply entrenched in the party scene in 1960’s New York obviously never considered infertility. However, these words sprang to mind around 4.30 this morning when my daughter’s regular velociraptor noises became a full throated wail and I was forced to abandon all notion of getting back to sleep in order to bring her into the living room to rock her in the rocking chair. The blackbird in the tree in the neighbor’s garden began to sing just after I sat down. I wanted to throw something, but I didn’t have anything to hand.

I knew I’d be doing this post soon enough. It seems that most blogs, even ones dealing with life after infertility, contain at LEAST one post who’s gist is, “I know that I wanted this more than anything on the planet, BUT….” I’ll apologise up front for it; I know how ungrateful it sounds. I also know that in a few months, things will most likely be better and I’ll believe that The Prawn shits sunshine and roses, but at present, I’m spending a lot of the day wanting to hide under the bed.

Ms. Prufrock, of Barren Albion wrote once, when her newborn was in middle of the worst of her GERD, that she was sure that she LOVED her daughter, but wasn’t sure that she LIKED her all that much. I’ve seen this sentiment expressed in more and more mommy blogs, which makes me feel not quite so much like a jerk. These women’s experiences helped to prepare me to accept that I might not have that love-at-first-sight experience, so it wasn’t massively disappointing when I didn’t. In fact, due to my obscenely bad hospital experience, I felt more like I’d been ambushed by a baby rather than having given birth to one.

There are some moments when it is extremely easy to like the Prawn; when she coos and smiles (this is a new trick and it won’t be long before she realizes that she can use it as a potent weapon against us.) and naps with her tiny mouth open, but the thing that sleeps in the cot at the end of our bed is a totally different creature. I mean, if someone walked into your bedroom several times during the night and went, “AAARRGGBBBBLLLLPPFTTTAH!” for hours on end, after you’d done everything in your power to meet their needs, chances are, they wouldn’t be on the top of your favourite person list. Chances are, you’d phone the police. So, why does anyone expect you to feel differently about a baby?

To add to my feelings of mommy guilt, my breastmilk supply is really not all it should be. I can hear the rattlings of the La Leche League sabers and before any of them can tear the flesh from my bones, I will admit that I probably didn’t give breastfeeding the best shot I could have. Whether expressly expressing is the “easy option” I’m not sure, (I spend twice as long on the feeding process- first extracting the milk and THEN trying to get it down the Prawn’s gullet) but it doesn’t seem to be good in supply terms. I pump every time after we feed her, whether the feeding is a breastmilk one or a formula one. The health visitor gave me a disapproving look when I mentioned that we were supplementing with formula (by supplementing, I mean half and half, but I didn’t really want to tell her that.) and told me that it was just something that I’d have to accept since I didn’t choose to feed from the breast. Not the most helpful of statements, since, during the second week of her life, the Prawn spent a lot of time screaming because she was hungry and I was TOLD to supplement. I’ve ordered some fenugreek (which sounds like some weird continental cheese to me) online as I’ve heard that it can boost production. (So can oatmeal, apparently, but no one is going to be served if I spend the morning throwing up due to it’s absolutely vile consistency, so I’ll try the fenugreek.)

The Prawn is currently asleep in her father’s lap. Swaddled in her pink cellular blanket, gently snoring and smelling of lavender baby soap, she is easy to like. To love, even. When I can feel the same at 4.30 in the morning, I’ll know I’ve arrived.

8 comments:

MsPrufrock said...

I too got "the look" when I told the Health Visitor I was supplementing. Not "Well done for pumping 6 times a day. My, that must take a lot of dedication!", but instead I got hassle as to why I wasn't breastfeeding. Booo. I have so much of a mental block about breastfeeding it will be a wonder if I even bother at all if there is a next one.

Anyway, my drama aside, I know how you feel. A statement of the obvious I know since you refer to my blog posts about it. As for fenugreek, I think I have some spare if you want it. I see you have already ordered it, so if it works for you and you want a bit more, send me an email. It's what every hip new Mum wants to get in the post!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I read your blog from time to time. Congrats on the prawn as you call her ;) I have 2 kids myself and breastfed both. My advice to you would be warm showers and warm compresses, massages of the breast tissue and relaxing while you feed. If you have to, massage the breasts while you feed. You could have blockages. Do your breasts hurt? I know a lot of moms say they just aren't making it and while I can't prove them wrong, I know that I have no problems with amount. I just stuck to it and didn't use formula hardly at all. When I pumped I was able to get about 4 oz. Sometimes on one side. I had small breasts even. So I wish you the best. Try not to give up. Soon you will look back on all this and wonder where the time went. And you may even wish you could repeat this all. I know I often do.

Mommy in ca

rockmama said...

pru- yeah, it's not like pumping is a huge picnic or anything. 6 or more pumps a days is about what I'm managing and I'm getting about 3 to 4 feeds from it. i'm also seriously sure that I'm getting RSI. i hate when other people try to inflict mommy guilt on me- i do it well enough on my own.

mommy in CA- Hiya! Nice to know where my readers are. :)

I spend a lot of time while pumping with breast massage. It's weird how you can sort of find a hidden "pocket" of milk somewhere after it seems like your boob is totally empty. I'm not ready to give up on trying to give the Prawn breastmilk. At first, I was getting about 4 ounces per breast too, but it's kind of tailed off. The health visitor said it's just one of those things that happens to women who pump because pumps aren't as efficient as babies. (She obviously never met my daughter who considered two sucks to be plenty and then dropped off to sleep EVERY TIME.)

Other than the hassle, I'm not hugely eager to get back to drinking or anything, so we'll see how I get on with the fenugreek. If it doesn't really do much, I'll keep on pumping for as long as I can!

alisa said...

I'd just like to say that is a disgustingly cute picture of the velociraptor prawn.

lisalou said...

first of all, I can't wait for my own what the hack was I thinking post! And two, good for you for posting your feelings. Don't feel bad -your human...The prawn is the creature from a different planet. She just doesn't know our custums,like sleep not screaming at night, yet. As for the nipple nazis...tune 'em out.

Brooke said...

Oh man, don't get me started on the breast/bottle situation. I'm also Ms. Half and Half myself as it's all I can do to get an ounce from each pumping. My baby SCREAMS when she's done breastfeeding since she's still so hungry.

Do whatever you can.

Anonymous said...

It's me again, mommyinca ;) (Heidi) So I hope things are improving. I forgot to mention about the known fact that mommy will make what baby needs. Supply and demand. And damn, she looks pretty damn healthy if I do say so myself. I know she gets some bottle, but if you can, do the breast as first choice. It's such a great experience for you two. But I don't mean to inflict ANY guilt on you because girl just reading this and seeing you learn and grow with her and share with us, you are a true beauty and I know you are doing far more than enough to be the mommy that could if you understand what I mean. I don't mean to drag on and on about your boob (hee hee) but it's something I am really proud of that I did so if there is anyway I can help a fellow mom... (trust me at the beginning I was discouraged, I had to get thru a hump, someone helped me and I made it thru- for 6 months!) By the time baby #2, I was a pro and did for 7 months. ANYWAYS - formulas are great too, just pricey. It's all good. I think everyone else (besides my mom) in my family went formula. (After trying breast and it not working out) Well, hang in there either way, keep on writing when you need to share (we love it) The pictures (if indeed her) are like seeing the unbelievable. I want another baby, so it's really touching for me to "go thru this" with you. I have a blog, if you want to read, let me know. Ok, I said plenty! Love & respect, mommyinca

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