Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Baby Marriage

When Dashing Boy and I became engaged 5 years ago (today!) a thought came into my mind "Sure, I'm excited about the wedding but mostly I am excited about being married." And so in the months leading up to our wedding I spent more time daydreaming about life as a wife and less time dreaming about all the little details that accompany a wedding. In the end, the wedding itself was beautiful and indeed fulfilled my dreams, but it was driving away from the temple with Dashing Boy- a marriage begun- that was the most poignant part of everything.

When I became pregnant with our baby, daydreams did fill my heart and days as I thought about what it would be like to have a baby in our home. But also, it was something that seemed so abstract. And before the baby would be in our home, I would have to bring him here. And so I focused my efforts on the birth. I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth highlighting helpful passages the whole way through, then re-reading those passages (absolutely most helpful thing I did). Dashing Boy and I attended six weeks of hypnobabies classes and practiced scripts and such with each other.

And then the birth day arrived. And it was wonderful! I loved it in fact. I had prepared myself going into it. I think I might tell more of our birth story another day, but it was everything I had hoped for. A beautiful experience and entrance to the world and our family.

In a way, it was kind of like the wedding part of the whole experience. Surreal. Wonderful. Powerful love emotions everywhere.

Our baby was here. The birth wedding was over and now it was time for the marriage part- the new family life. While I had prepared for the birth so well, it seemed like this part would come so naturally-- and a lot of it has. But somehow in all my preparations, my daydreams of this new time did not include one very vital detail.

When I first nursed our baby and in the first two days everything seemed to be going as expected. My nipples hurt, but I had heard that would most likely be the case. But then they hurt so much that I made an emergency phone call to a friend who just had her third baby. She rushed over to my house, took one look at me, gave me some vital tips and kindly asked if she could help me correctly latch my baby. (Yes! Please do!) Goodness was I ever doing it wrong. My daydreamed, not-ever-having-closely-watched-someone-breastfeed image of nursing was enabling me to breastfeed my baby by letting him suck on my nipples and not breasts! Oy! No good. Who knew?!

With my newfound latching knowledge we were off to a much better start. But then about a week in, our little boy started throwing up. It seemed as though he was throwing up entire meals (this hasn't happened since). We of course were very concerned. So we called the pediatrician and went in to weigh our baby the next day so we could have some peace of mind that everything was fine.

It wasn't fine. One week after his initial weight loss and our boy hadn't gained back any of his birth weight.

And so, out came Mama Bear. I sprung into action. I went to a lactation store. I rented a hospital grade pump so I could increase my milk supply. We fed him a little formula. Bought bottles supposed to be like breasts (they aren't). Used the SNS system with my pumped milk. Kind friends came over and gave me helpful advice and encouragement.

Let's just say this last week has been operation feed baby.

I have never shown so many people my breasts in my whole life. And I think I am getting resigned to just going shirtless at home now. It is just so much easier. I feel like the African women in Babies- what is the point of covering up?

This process has been extremely emotional for all of us here. Actually mostly me and Dashing Boy. On the cusp of a huge breakdown on Friday a wonderful lactation consultant came over. Our calm little guy is just very sleepy and instead of letting us know when he is hungry he just resigns himself to sleep (his active alert times slide away to sleeping time when he eats despite our best efforts, go figure). Keeping him awake through an entire feeding is like a circus act I tell you. She showed us all kinds of tricks.

She also rented us a milk intake scale so we can monitor his progress from home- a huge help. Between all the things we've been doing, I'm exhausted and all I can think about is milk. That's pretty much all I'm doing right now- and it is hard. I now understand why breastfeeding support groups exist.

But seeing that he got a full meal, and holding a milk-drunk baby with a milky white tongue and a satisfied expression on his face-- well that makes all this hard work worth it.

Indeed, those moments have been some of the most poignant we've had with our baby to date.


ACH said...

Jenny, Thank you for sharing this adventure with us (both the wonderful and the difficult). I just know that one day you will be the friend rushing over to help with latching and feeding, offering support and advice. Best of luck with everything going on right now! You can do it, Mama Bear!

Natalie | The Bobby Pin said...

Oh Jenny! You are a momma! How amazing.... you are very becoming of the role, most certainly. Thank you for sharing the story. Too often we feel inadequate because we don't hear about how hard some things can be.

Jenna said...

Anyone who uses the SNS system is a hero in my book. You're a wonderful mom, and so dedicated to your role. I sincerely hope it works out better for you than it did for me. Either way, don't let the mommy guilt get to you like I often let it do to me. It doesn't do any good anyway. :)

*Amy Leigh* said...

Kudos on sticking with breastfeeding! It can be challanging and even discouraging, but it is a decision that you will never, EVER regret. This too shall pass and you and bebe will be nursing like old pros before you know it!
I remember thinking in the early weeks that I would never be someone that can nurse in public because it just seems so clumsy, well, we can nurse anywhere now (discretely too!!) and it definitely is a process, but oh so worth it.

Heidi said...

That is one DANG cute little boy!! I remember being all prepared with the whole "the baby should suck on the entire areola and not just the nipple" knowledge, and it STILL killed!! Even if you know what you're supposed to do, good luck convincing Baby to latch correctly!! Brielle never did learn, so I was shocked when Hyrum just automatically knew what to do. It depends so much on the kid. Hang in there! You're an awesome Mom!!

Cami Jo said...

When I first had Tristan, I felt like I was the only one out there that had problems. I felt like an open milk bar 24/7. Your doing great and already are ahead of the game!!!

Jen said...

Haha...oh many memories came flooding back reading that. I've already forgotten some of those painful parts! Part of the mommy dimension I guess. Sounds like you're doing great! You're little guy is adorable!