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?