She has her feet in the air and her head on the ground

So I thought this would be a lot easier. Well, that’s not to say that I thought it would be easy, but I just didn’t expect to feel like a complete failure every other day.

While I was in the hospital, I felt like I was stuck in jail. The ward room I was in confined me to a space surrounded by curtains that was about 7×7, and in that space was a bed, a table with a cradle type thing, a night stand, a food tray and a chair. I’m 5 foot 8 and Martin is 6 foot 3 with a combined weight of over 400 pounds, PLUS a little baby in that tiny space. Needless to say it was a bit crowded and uncomfortable. Oh, and there were three other families in close proximity with their babies as well. On the flip side, I am thankful that we live in Ontario, and my prenatal care and delivery did not cost a cent out of our pockets. I am also grateful that we live in a place where the care available to us and our child is exceptional.

Half of the nurses in the maternity ward were obviously young and childless and the other half were sortof cold and opinionated–these were the people instructing me on how to care and feed Marigold! Everyone kept telling me the “correct” way to do things when it came to breastfeeding, and the funny thing was it was all contradictory–it’s like they set out to confuse a new mom on purpose.

Marigold wasn’t eating at all–she was barely awake. Some of the nurses said this was normal, especially after an epidural. I was hand expressing my milk (colostrum) and trying to give it to her from a little medicine cup….she was doing shots in her first day of life! The breastfeeding consultant at the hospital told us that she would likely need to have her tongue clipped because of a tongue tie. A tongue tie is “an unusually short and thick membrane connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth”. It prevents the tongue from extending past the gum and lips which inhibits breastfeeding. Another nurse told us not to worry about it, that it would sort itself out.

Being new parents we just want to do anything possible for our baby to eat. I was getting so frustrated that she wouldn’t latch on and I was so worried because my poor child MUST be starving (even though her stomach at birth was the size of a chickpea).

We were anxious to get home because learning to breastfeed in the hospital was not happening–it was completely uncomfortable and foreign. Let’s be realistic–I wasn’t coming home to nurse in my Craftmatic adjustable bed, and the hospital chairs were so hard, that after sitting in one trying to nurse for 30 minutes I could barely walk. On top of that, the bathrooms were disgusting! I won’t go into detail, but if you really want to know what I mean by disgusting, I’ll give you the details personally.

Thankfully, the hospital discharged us that night and we were able to come home. The first night was almost sleepless. Martin was so helpful–he watched after her while I got a little bit of shut eye, then I was awake most of the night just watching her sleep/comforting her when she was whining.

We were originally sleeping in our bedroom downstairs, but decided it was definitely too cold for us and Marigold, so we opted to move our lives to the first floor, and sleep in the spare bedroom. We are so fortunate to have the option to sleep upstairs as it’s much more comfortable for the time being for everyone. We’ll move back down once it stops bloody snowing.

On top of all the commotion of having a baby, trying to feed my child, coming home from the hospital and getting settled, I lost my phone. Being the 21st century, we don’t have a home phone and we had just filled out all the hospital forms with MY phone number. How inconvenient! Doctor’s appointments, Public Health–I was so worried. The next morning I was pretty much a basket case. My biggest fear was that someone was going to come and take away our baby because I couldn’t feed her and I wasn’t looking after her properly and I didn’t have a phone! I know now that this was irrational, but at the time I really was worried that this was a possibility. Martin was so supportive–again, I don’t know HOW people do this on their own. Martin’s mom was in town the whole week to help as well, which was absolutely amazing. She was able to stay with his sister and give us our space when we needed it, but was always available to drive to doctor’s appointments, or come by to hang out or help with a bit of housework when needed.

I learned a lot about family from Martin, his parents and sister. They were all making sacrifices for our little family, and I will be eternally indebted to them for this.

We hired a doula/lactation educator to come in and do a breastfeeding consultation. Her name was Bianca, and she was amazing! She along with some other women started this company combining their resources and offering consulting on fertility, pregnancy and parenting. The company is called Bebo Mia. The philosophy of the company thrives on what is best for the mental health of the entire family–ie: do what is best for us as a whole rather than a black and white right way/wrong way of doing things. She spent time with us asking about our birth experience, understanding what our expectations were and observing how I was breastfeeding Marigold. She offered advice and pointers that I didn’t get in the hospital, along with hands on assistance! She helped me modify the positions I was already using (the football hold is better for larger breasted women, and also, I learned you don’t have to support your whole breast, you can just make a boob sandwich for the baby) and she introduced me to the side feed which has come to be a life saver for us. Bianca was able to easily answer all of our questions about Marigold, breastfeeding and co sleeping in such a way that was practical while considering the needs of our family first. She was open and honest and drew on her experience as a mom to advise us. We really connected with her and I felt a million percent better once our consultation was done. At the end of it all, it turns out she’s a derby girl….what a small world! It was the best $125 I have ever spent–not only for the knowledge I gained, but for the peace of mind and comfort she provided at a time when I was at the end of my rope.

A visit to the doctor told us that Marigold did NOT need to have her tongue clipped. Dr. Karlinsky explained it this way–years ago kids were all getting their tonsils out, boys were all getting circumcised–these were the “fashionable” things to do. She said in 25 years of practise, she had done two tongue clippings–in the last year, she had done 10! The human race is not evolving in a way that requires more tongue clippings, at least I don’t think so. As each day went on, Marigold’s tongue was getting stronger and pushing out between her lips–she was absolutely fine.

Breastfeeding continues to be a struggle. Mostly because this child DOES NOT want to wake up! They say the baby should “suck suck swallow”, well, Marigold “suck suck sleeps”. I am committed to waking her up every 2 to 3 hours to make sure that she eats even just a little bit. It’s getting better each day, but man do I ever have some low points.

Our family doctor is new to family practise, and last week when we went to visit her for a weight check, she told us that Marigold had not yet gained enough weight. I was obviously devastated because I had been working so hard to make sure I was feeding her enough. I felt like a terrible mom and that I was completely inadequate to look after a baby. I cried almost for the entire day, feeling like a failure who was completely incapable of caring for her child.

On the flip side, the baby had gained 150 grams since she was discharged from the hospital, she is healthy and happy, she is going to the bathroom regularly–so really there is nothing to worry about. We really feel that the doctor was overreacting (she even said she was being aggressive herself, as she used to be an emergency room doc), and we are just committed to doing what is best for us and Marigold.

It’s almost impossible to know how much the baby is eating and I’m constantly worried I’m not making enough milk, she’s not eating enough et cetera et cetera. Like I said, a lot of times I feel awful and like a complete failure. Most of the time I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone because all my energy is directed towards being successful at breastfeeding. Each day it gets easier, and sometimes it gets worse. We are committed to breastfeeding for now, but we always know there is an alternative.

It has been a big adjustment having a baby at home and moving our lives upstairs. I have come to terms (sortof) with not having a neat and tidy house. There are piles of baby clothes and blankets everywhere, baskets full of baby things and diaper changing necessities in places that were void of clutter before. Sometimes I go down to our bedroom just to see what neat and tidy looks like, since it’s so bare from us moving upstairs. Fortunately, we’re still eating a lot and we are getting a lot of rest. Marigold has a long sleeping spell at night (by long I mean about 4 hours), so that has worked out well for us.

Martin goes back to work on Monday, and though I’ll miss him, I look forward to getting into my own routine of doing things. The nicer weather is around the corner so I’ll be able to take little miss Marigold out to the park and to visit with friends. It will be another adjustment, but I’m sure we’ll manage.

I never wanted to be one of those people that had a baby and was all “baby baby baby” all the time. I still want to maintain outside interests and relationships, and have friends that are not parents. Marigold is definitely number one in our lives these days, and 90% of my time is spent with her, not leaving much for me to pursue other exciting adventures like my days past. So forgive me if you think I’m all “baby baby baby”, but that’s all the time I have for now, and I’ll only have this time with her once.

I want to make sure that I get it right.

4 thoughts on “She has her feet in the air and her head on the ground

  1. I can't think of anyone else more suited for this. You're going to be just fine. No doubt it's a crazy confusing struggle, but you'll show us all how it's done!

  2. This is a really nice story,Andrea. You are doing just fine. Marigold will sleep when she wants to and she will definitely let you know when she wants to eat. New babies always sleep a lot.Marigold will set the routine. I can see by your story that you are dedicated parents so don't worry so much.

  3. Well done Andrea, love the way you are expressing your feelings and honesty. You are remarkable and Marigold is very content because you are doing such an excellent job, she has two really perfect parents. Keep writing, I love to read

  4. If your really worried if she is eating enough one trick you can do is unbutton her sleeper so she is cooler. It seems cruel but I had to do that with Nicole. I mean who wouldn't want to sleep when it's warm and cozy?


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