Lately I’ve been thinking about how different things with Reiden are now, four months later. In the days and weeks after she was born, life was joyous, yes, but also chaotic and frightening and sad. I celebrated my new life while grieving the old. I was not ready. Can you ever be?
Call it hormones or sleep deprivation or a zesty combination of both, I was overwhelmed. I felt like I was constantly chasing time, such that looking back it has all become a mustard poo-streaked blur.
So, for some masochistic reason I decided I should write things down before I forget the details. Here then, is a factual account of what I fondly think of as: The Shit Storm.
(Note: for anyone who hasn’t had a baby, and wants to, I’m not trying to scare you or get all down on breastfeeding. Nursing, and the rest of it got better at around six weeks, and now things are incredible! glorious! rainbows! kittens! much of the time. It just took a little while, and a lot of nipple cream, to get there.)
Day In the Life, 1 Week Old
Wake up to the sound of my iPhone alarm. It’s still dark outside and I’m furious: who set an alarm on my phone? Was it Pete? Why would he do that? It’s Saturday. I get to sleep in, and then we’ll go for breakfast, and we’ll stumble back here and watch movies all day. Weird though; I don’t feel at all hungover and OH HOLY CATNIP WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?
Register presence of baby.
Register single awful fact: must feed baby every two hours.
Struggle into nursing pillow. “My Brest Friend”, my ass. Curse nursing pillow and still-massive stomach. Wrestle pillow into a position where it almost doesn’t hurt also-tender stomach.
Take screaming baby from Peter. Pray that this time she’ll find the nipple. Pray it won’t feel like needles stabbing into my chest. Pray she gets enough to eat. Wrestle baby’s clawing, scratching hands away from clawed, scratched nipple.
As Reiden “nurses”, madly Google “baby can’t find nipple”; “what are symptoms of thrush”, “should breastfeeding hurt this much?”, “My Brest Friend sucks”, “new baby does it get easier?”, “breastfeeding and alcohol?”.
Repeatedly call for Peter to bring food, any food, no not cereal I can’t eat that with one hand are you kidding me? No come back I love you I’m so HUNGRY!
Wonder if it’s supposed to take this long for a baby to eat.
Finally, Reiden falls off boob. Ogle her sweet, milk-drunk face. Try to take photos without boobs getting in the way.
Hand baby to Peter. Wonder how people do this without family to help. Wonder how single moms do this. Feel bad for feeling sad. Go upstairs to cry.
Stand in front of the shower. Take bra off and cry again because the air hurts. How can air hurt? Ponder stupidity of current situation. Put bra on again (really) and get into shower. Cry because everything else hurts. You know, down there. HURTS. Think about calling the doctor.
Hold sweet little baby while Peter takes photos. Veto posting of photos because holy crap I look awful.
Ask how long I have until the next feed. Answer: zero. There is zero until the next feed. Demand to be shown the baby tracking app because there’s no way that’s right. Accuse Pete of starting timer too early. Try not to cry.
Sit on couch, stare at wall. Snap at Peter when he suggests I have a nap this afternoon.
Feel guilty about snapping at Peter, at neglecting our poor cats, at not feeling happier. Start to cry — and I am not kidding here — over the fact that I never got to see the placenta. (I forgot to ask to see it. We had named it Patrick. Am not kidding about that either.)
(Actually know what? Am still a little sad about it.)
Hold Reiden as Peter tries to convince me that her jaundice is getting better. Point out the yellow in her eyes. Pray that she’s gaining weight and that this afternoon’s doctor appointment will go well.
Stand in bedroom, stare at closet. Pull the one thing out of the closet that might fit. Try on, do happy dance. Realize there’s no way to get it off easily for breastfeeding. Stomp around bedroom. Try on Peter’s clothes. Blink at ridiculousness of outfit. Resign myself to wearing maternity clothes. Try to hide tummy with a scarf, because if anyone asks when I am due I will DIE.
Feed Reiden, terrible pain, frantic internet searching, self-flagellation, etc.
Walk from the rental car to the doctor’s office. Walk very, very slowly. Try not to grimace. Notice that, in addition to the fact that “down there” feels held together with rubber bands, uterus must also be held or it SWINGS. Wonder if this is normal.
Feed baby in doctor’s office. Raise eyebrows when told yet again that her latch looks fine.
Book another car for tomorrow’s trip to the hospital. Try not to think about how Reiden is not gaining weight. Try not to think about how yellow she looked under the lights in the doctor’s office, or that she hasn’t pooped in days. Pray for poop.
Nurse, cry, Google. Try the “football hold” for breastfeeding. Remind self to laugh about this later, because worst advice ever. Football boobs even more sore now.
Attempt to nap. Cry, then go on Facebook. Savour nice comments from people about baby. Lie there staring at the ceiling, counting the minutes until my mom arrives from BC.
Wake up to the sound of the bedroom door opening. “Sorry,” Pete says. “I think she’s hungry.” Convince myself that this is somehow his fault.
Beloved cousin (who keeps dropping off food on our doorstep, who is a SAINT) texts to ask how things are going. Begin itemized list: Reiden can’t latch, isn’t gaining weight, is jaundiced, hasn’t pooped, might have to stay in hospital, is it my nipple cream is that why she won’t latch should I try olive oil, my boobs are killing me, I have tennis elbow, the nursing pillow hurts, I look so pregnant I’m starting to wonder if there’s another baby in there, I am sad, Reiden won’t sleep on her back, is gassy, is adorable I love her so much and why did I leave that to the end am I a bad mother? Erase, write, “It’s going great! Breastfeeding is hard though!”
Try to comfort gassy, screaming baby. Fail.
What? How is it 9:00? Discuss food with Pete, decide dinner is too much effort. Discuss bathing baby; same conclusion. Commence shared staring at wall.
Realize Reiden’s swaddle sack is in the wash. Panic over lack of available options. Watch videos on how to swaddle using blankets. Tear out own hair when she busts out within three seconds.
“Go to bed.” Attempt to comfort screaming baby while avoiding direct contact with boobs.
Set alarm for 12:30, 3:30, 6:30 for baby to feed every three hours instead of two because hey, live a little.
Lie awake wondering if I will ever, ever feel normal again.
(Better than normal, in fact.)
(So, so much better than normal.)