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A study in contrast

Scene: A dim-ish hospital room. A wall clock shows 11 pm. I’m lying in a hospital bed, clutching a tiny pink and blue striped hat, sobbing. My day-old daughter has been taken to the nursery because I wept all over her while trying to feed her, and the (useless, horrible) nurse has suggested we let them take her until her next feeding. I am unable to agree, but my husband sees the wisdom of the suggestion and says the awful words. I am feeling like a worthless failure, and like a monster, and like her absence will actually kill me.

Scene: A bedroom filled with sunlight filtered through curtains. A My Neighbor Totoro clock* shows 4 pm. I’m sitting in bed with my daughter snuggled against my chest. She’s limp with contentment, and I’m euphoric, having achieved a virtually pain free latch after only five or six tries, having had twenty glorious minutes of listening to her satisfied little swallows. My husband is sleeping on the other side of the ginooooormous bed, ready to change her diaper as soon as she has a shitsplosion (which she has–she appears to be a reliable eat-then-shit baby), but I’m enjoying the moment too much to wake him.

I want to describe Bun Bun’s birth in technicolor detail (um, not because I think you care, but because the more times I record it, the better I’ll recall it), but these contrasting moments are pretty representative, I think, of what the past week has been like. My wee Bun is a week old today, the day after her official due date. (See her page for a last belly shot. Maybe. Who knows, perhaps I’ll record the shrinking of the belly, too…)  Things are going pretty well, I think. Feeding is the hardest part, as I feared. Despite all my reading and preparation, despite the many so-called experts on hand at the hospital, I am a sad member of the Sisterhood of the Completely Tore Up Nipples. But after a meeting with the lactation consultant at my pediatrician’s on Tuesday, I think I am no longer doing new damage every time I feed, and someday I might even get good at this, and who knows, even recover. In the meantime, old right tit gets pumped until her enormous fissure heals, and we make many sacrifices to the PLEASE LET ME NOT GET THRUSH Gods. I am so grateful to those of you who have detailed your tales of breastfeeding woe, as I was so fucking glad to have my pump ready to go when I got home, and to have a stash of hydrogel pads on hand. I am so grateful for the things that are going well. I have milk, I have a baby who loves to latch and suck, I am getting several two-hour increments of sleep each day, I have a husband who can take off work for multiple weeks and who has leapt into fatherhood like a…thing that leaps into another thing enthusiastically. I am intensely, overwhelmingly, indescribably grateful to have this child.

*Because how could you possibly visualize the scene properly if you don’t know what the clock looks like?

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. heehee, if you hadn't posted the link to the clock, i would have googled it myself :o) sooo glad that everything is going well. hope those sore nipples recover very quickly, mommabear. big hugs! xoxoxo.

    May 12, 2011
  2. cgd #

    Just saw the last "belly" shot. what a little peanut she is, I think I am in love…. much love and luck to you both…oh and to Mr. Bunny too.

    May 12, 2011
  3. I can't decide whether to be impressed or horrified that you wore exactly the same outfit for your entire pregnancy…see now, that was supposed to be a joke, but it didn't come out very funny. Dammit. She's a doll, Bunny, and I'm so glad the happy portion of the contrast is the one that is going to happen over and over and over again. May the nips heal, may the anti-thrush deities be pacified, and all that good stuff. Enjoy.

    May 12, 2011
  4. JB #

    The breastfeeding pain does last off and on for a few weeks (in my experience) but it also gets exponentially better after that. Hang in there, because when it gets better, you won't believe how EASY it can be then. And prepare thyself for emotional meltdowns from time to time, over anything and everything. Those hormones are raging through you and can catch you off guard without any warning. That, too, passes. These are the less-than-joys of motherhood rarely spoken of, but they are all part of the awesome package that none of us would trade for anything. Gotta take the good and the bad. Good thing that sweet little bunnette is worth every bit of it and then some. 🙂

    May 12, 2011
  5. Wow – could those two scenes be any different? I'm so glad that you're now home and things are going well. So happy for you!!! Yes, it is nice to hear all the not-so great breastfeeding and other stories from the blogging folks – it makes us smarter!

    May 13, 2011
  6. Ugh sorry to hear about the crappy nurse and painful nipples. When I gave birth the nurse came into the room at 3:30 am and woke all 3 of us up so that she could teach us how to give the baby a bath—WTF?!!? So glad you are enjoying your little bunny, it just keeps getting better.

    May 13, 2011
  7. I am so so incredibly happy for you and wanted to tell you how unbelievably lovely your daughter is.And yeah breastfeeding is hard (I am still conflicted over bing a pumping only mom, but so it goes) and the crying is normal and ok. On the brush part, I recommend adding a little white vinegar to the water when yui wash bras and boiling the crap out of thie breast pump parts every day or so — it will kill anything yeasty. But I am so happy that it is going better and that you are doing well.

    May 13, 2011
  8. JB #

    Blogger ate my original comment. Boo.The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be quite challenging…something not made clear to me by the nurses, consultants, course instructors, or other moms who all insisted it was easy, beautiful, and Good In Every Way. Bitches, all of them. But once you get past these early weeks it gets exponentially better and you'll marvel at the simplicity of it. (I had the same experience on Day 2, when the nurse took Jackson away and brought him back for feedings during the night but failed to stick around to help with the latch. I hated it, but I did get a little sleep, badly needed.)For now, you need lots of lanolin, and boil or steam your pump parts (if you're pumping right now, which is not a bad idea so you can freeze some milk for those mornings when you JUST NEED ONE MORE HOUR OF SLEEP, and Mr. Bunny can give a bottle). I was on antibiotics forty eleventy gazillion times with mastitis and fucked up nipples (medical term) and never got thrush, so hopefully you will be spared.

    May 13, 2011
  9. Breastfeeding was the hardest dang work I ever did. HARD work. Good for you Bunny. I was not nearly as cleanly as I should have been (pumping at work and merely rinsing the parts between sessions) but I avoided the thrush.Did get me some shingles though, so if you have to bust out a bottle of formula, I swear that Bun Bun will survive.Much love to you. Darling imagery.

    May 14, 2011
  10. Congrats!

    May 14, 2011
  11. I'm just catching up – CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I am so happy for you – a girl!!! this is amazing! I feel our experiences have been so close together to date and this post is no different. They didn't take baby wannabe to the nursery in the hospital but it probably would have been best if they did. I was a sobbing mess more than a few times trying to feed him and the nursing staff was shit – especially the night time nurses. And now at home, while we still have our challenges, I just put a limp, milk drugged baby down for a nap because he's getting SO much milk! I am a milking producing machine.Life is good, Bunny. I'm so happy for you!

    May 14, 2011
  12. I meant thrush, not brush. New iPad and mediocre typing skills.

    May 14, 2011
  13. N #

    Glad it is going better. latch is hard.

    May 14, 2011
  14. This place you're in sounds good. Great even. I'm so pleased Bun is latching and sucking and doing all the important things (including shitsplosions). I love the new pic you posted and I say yes, let us see your belly shrink!Much love mummy bunny.x

    May 15, 2011
  15. I'm glad the breast feeding is going better. Yeah, it is reeeeeeally hard! I met with a LC at 9 weeks and got some additional tips that helped, so if it doesn't get better I would encourage you to continue to talk to an LC! Also, if you're not already, stick the hydrogel pads in the fridge – feels SO good on sore nips. Hang in there!

    May 16, 2011
  16. Ay yi yi, very different scenes indeed. BFing can be super frustrating. I actually do a lot of pumping, just b/c I'd have a baby on my boob 24-7 if they only ate that way. But I did notice that after about a month, their latching and sucking abilities improved big-time. I think I also became more relaxed about it because I knew they were going to get enough to eat from whatever I pumped. Hang in there, Mama!!! xoxo

    May 16, 2011
  17. I'm so glad the BFing is going better. I cried and cried for all sorts of reasons the first two weeks post-partum; the big hormone nosedive, I guess.I'm so damned happy for you!!

    May 16, 2011

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