For Christmas this year, we got satellite radio, and what an excellent gift it was for us. There’s about a dozen channels that we listen to on a regular basis, one of them being “Lithium”, the 90’s station. Try listening to 90’s radio and see what it does to you! It’s funny how many songs I hear that cause me to think of certain people, or certain times in my life.
The first three days of this week were complete hell. Don’t get me wrong, I have an excellent baby. She is absolutely amazing–she sleeps well, most of the time and more during the day, she doesn’t cry a lot, she latches on well and she’s generally a happy baby. For the most part I’ve felt fairly rested, although the “sleep when the baby sleeps” business doesn’t really work for me. She spends her time sleeping through the day, when it’s sunny and bright and when I have lots of energy to get shit done or play some video games (I’ve made it to level 6 on Burger Time). I’ve even managed to have a shower everyday since she was born (save yesterday). I really never wanted to be “one of those people” who complained about the sleep they weren’t getting or the fact that they hadn’t showered in days.
I know now, that those people are likely complaining about not having a shower or sleeping, because it’s too taboo to discuss how fucking depressed/paranoid/freaked out/irrational/inadequate you feel as a new parent. And that’s the short list.
My biggest problem is that Marigold falls asleep when eating. Like completely crashes out. And trust me, I’ve tried everything to keep her awake. I take her clothes off, I blow on her, I stroke her feet, I yell at her, I change her diaper, I stroke her cheek, I squeeze my boob, I tickle her, and I even use the torturous cold cloth on her. NOTHING WORKS!!! I hate having to be so mean to her, but if she had her way, she wouldn’t eat at all until it was dark out, then she would be attached to me non stop until daylight.
We had another doctor’s appointment on Monday, and Marigold had only gained 80 grams in a week. Typical baby growth is between 100-200 grams a week. I knew we had had a bad week before, but it was starting to get alarming because she was falling behind. Dr. Mcgee (our family doctor) consulted with Dr. Karlinsky (our OB) on what we should do. Without much questioning, they decided that my milk production was low and suggested I take domperidone to increase my milk flow. I was adamant that it had nothing to do with my milk flow (as that was suggesting that I was inadequately providing for my child). I just felt I needed to be more diligent in waking her up, especially at night where should could sleep for more than 5 hours if I let her.
I left the doctor without a prescription but with another appointment a week later–I just wanted to wait and see. In life, much like Homer Wells, I have become an expert at waiting and seeing. However, discussing it with Martin, he had a different opinion. He felt as though we have waiting long enough and that we hadn’t seen the results that we wanted, so it was time to change our approach. Martin suggested that I start taking Fenugreek which is a natural supplement to boost milk production that typically has rapid results.
After some consideration, I thought maybe it was possible that I wasn’t producing enough milk. I never got super engorged (I mean they’re a bit bigger and harder but that’s it) and I never experienced the horrible pain that a lot of women experience (they’re sore, but I can deal) and I never felt that “Let Down” sensation that everyone is always talking about. And then it hit me….Oh my god, My BABY is STARVING to DEATH and it’s TOTALLY my fault. Cue 3 days of absolute desperation and waterworks. Oh, at around this time, Marigold has decided that she is going to act like the hungriest baby on the planet and not sleep at all between 8pm and 5am and the only thing that will comfort her is being at the breast (a breast that I’m convinced is completely void of milk). Now cue PANIC.
There’s nothing worse than not being able to enjoy your baby because you’re so distraught that you’re completely incapable of thinking about anything other than getting food in them, punctuated with the feeling of failure. Oh, and did I mention how alone you feel? None of my closest or kindred friends have children yet–of course I have friends that are new moms, but really, the desperation that you feel is so shameful that really, you can only share it with someone who knows you the very most for fear that anyone else might think you’re completely crazy.
I have read almost everything there is to read on the internet about breastfeeding. I saw a lactation consultant, I was going to the doctor regularly, but there wasn’t just ONE answer. I just wanted someone to fucking tell me what to do. All problems have solutions–and it is in my character to LEARN what to do, when something isn’t going right and that there must be an obvious answer. The truth is, when it comes to this–there really isn’t just one answer, and you’ll not get the same answer from different so called experts.
Oh sure, you’ll get lots of advice. Unsolicited advice. But really, the advice doesn’t help, unless you’ve asked for it. Plus the NEGATIVITY you get from people about this stage and that stage really doesn’t help anyone.
Moving on–the doctor called Wednesday morning to tell me that they felt it was best if I start supplementing the baby with formula. As if I wasn’t feeling shitty enough, now I had to poison my baby with formula that was going to cause digestion problems and colic and then she wasn’t going to take breast milk and again I was a failure. How could I NOT be able to do this??? When I was working I was managing more than 10 projects at a time, conducting training sessions, managing a support department and basically doing everything successfully, but I couldn’t fucking get my baby to eat or gain weight. What is WRONG with me??
Well, nothing, exactly. She isn’t starving to death in the least. All of these problems I’m experiencing are my own bullshit. My own guilt, and my own fears. Yes, it stems from my little Miss Marigold not eating and gaining weight, but she’s still happy. Martin isn’t freaking out, the doctors aren’t freaking out, and most importantly Marigold isn’t freaking out. It’s all me.
When I was pregnant, Martin and I were both very easy going about breastfeeding. While we wanted to do it, we weren’t dead set on doing it if it didn’t work out. Somehow that changed once I had her and I really felt that I absolutely didn’t want to give her anything but breast milk. When the doctor told me that it was time to supplement with formula, it was like it was all over. I had failed and she wasn’t going to need me anymore, because once I started with formula, she wouldn’t want the breast anymore, or me anymore.
It was a hard decision…Which to me is pretty ridiculous now, because, in total, it’s four ounces a day. I was agonizing over four ounces a day. We breastfeed, we supplement two times. Big deal. It was Martin who helped me move forward with this. And though we had agreed it was the right thing to do, it was still the most painful thing in the world to watch him try to give her her first bottle. (For the record, we’re using a bottle and cup to feed her formula–she doesn’t really like it). I was the sole person responsible for her nourishment for the last 10 months and all of a sudden, someone else was taking on that responsibility.
We’re not too concerned about nipple confusion–she latches really well on the breast, and the reality is that I’m going back to work in a couple of months, so she’ll have to deal with the bottle anyways, as I can’t imagine Martin cup feeding her 5 times a day.
So we did it. We started supplementing and I started taking the domperidone in conjunction with the fenugreek.
The overwhelming support that came to me via the internets was absolutely amazing. Like I said, unsolicited advice is the absolute worst, but hearing other mom’s stories of their irrational emotional breakdowns was a lifesaver. Everything always looks perfect from the outside, I guess, so you don’t really know what people are going through. I heard stories similar to mine, and I heard some waaaaay worse. Friends that were screaming in agony on top of all the shit I had to deal with, or colicky babies that cried non stop WHILE you were trying to sort your shit out. To those that reached out with their stories–you are all TOPS! Keep doing what you are doing and rewards will be reaped.
After all this, we went to the doctor’s again yesterday and Marigold had gained 50 grams in 3 days, so we’re back on track. And I’ve regained my sanity temporarily. I’m learning what works for her–feed her for ten minutes, put her in her bassinet, she cries, feed her again…set my alarm in the night to wake up to feed her…learn to adapt. Be flexible. Oh god, I hope I remember this in about a week when I start to lose my mind again.
So in all this, what I’m trying to say is that like the 90’s, this will come and go. Like the last five years of my life has come and gone. Times change, and people change and certainly your lot in life will change. There’s a line in the movie “Dazed and Confused” that says something like “If I start referring to my high school years as the best years of my life just kill me”. Well, 10 years ago, my high school years were the best years of my life. Then my years working at Scizzions were the best years of my life. Right now 2007-2010 are the best years of my life, but really the best is yet to come. You can’t get too Stuck in a Moment (yes, I’m quoting U2) because in a moment it will all change.
One of my goals in life is to celebrate each moment, each era, and make the most of it so I can reflect on it fondly. Because I don’t want to forget any of this and I want to spend the rest of my life remembering with pictures and words and musical memories. I know in ten years I’ll hear songs that remind me of now and make me feel nostalgic the same way I can hear Treble Charger and think of driving in Cindy’s car, the same way I can hear the National and think of the end of 2008.
A week before my due date I went to see Gord and Meher play at the Press Club. Gord sang my favourite song of his, “You Never Know”, and of course I cried while he sang it. The song says:
“You never know, never know, never know until the moment’s gone. Then you have to live with what you’ve done. You’re not alone, not alone, not alone in your blindfold in the dark….firing at the dartboard of your love”
Of course there’s moments of my life that are gone that I’ll miss, and I didn’t know how much I would miss them at the time. I’m not sure how much I’m going to miss the agony of now, but I’m sure I will look back fondly on my little tiny baby bird, Marigold and forget the despair….because I’m not alone in any of this. Millions of women have gone before and millions more will in the future. Each of them choosing to do what’s best for them and their family, and living to tell about it.