Home | Posts RSS | Comments RSS | Login

It's like this, and like that....

I started this blog in an effort to track my experiences with pregnancy and beyond. Writing is therapeutic. Kind of like talking to myself without the people in WalMart thinking I'm crazy. If you find some entertainment in this along the way, then even better!

This is one woman's journey through unfathomable hunger, vivid sex dreams and a bulging belly...from conception to birth in 9 months or less...

We've moved!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
To our new secret location! Please follow us there.

If you didn't get the URL and you want it, please email me at babechilla@gmail.com and I'll be happy to send it over!!

Breastfeeding from the world of a 2 week old mother....

Saturday, April 10, 2010
Ok so here is the deal, the problem I see with breastfeeding is the complete lack of knowledge most of us have about it. Maybe not most of us, but at least me.

When I was pregnant I assumed of course, like many other women, that I would breastfeed with no issue. I never really put any thought into the pros and cons of breast over formula feeding, and admittedly even now I haven't done the research necessary to effectively comment on either method. However, I know the drill. I know the benefits of giving your baby the boobie juice, and why so many of us just blindly enter motherhood with the assumption that we'll be feeding our babes from the very body they were created and grown inside of. I attended a child birth class, which included 3 hours on breastfeeding and walked out of there thinking "obviously" and never thought any further.

And herein lies the problem. I, like many, assumed breastfeeding was a no brainer and I for one, was wrong. At least I was wrong for myself.

The thing is, I do not recall anyone at anytime ever telling me that I would need to have my child attached to my body for at LEAST 6 hours of every day, or in the case of my child closer to 9. I don't remember hearing about latching troubles, or the fact that those first few weeks would be excruciating while your nipples toughened up. I don't think anyone talked much to me about bleeding nipples, or rock hard breasts that shy away from the delicate shower spray. And I definitely know no one told me about the guilt, stress and fatigue 1 bad breastfeeding day would create.

Like I said, I went to 3 hours of breastfeeding class. I sat in a poorly lit community centre room, with photos circa 1967 spread across the walls of latched on chubby babies sucking happily from their mothers breast. Me, the hubs and 14 other sweaty soon to be families crammed into this room, to be enlightened about this thing they call breastfeeding. I listened to a hairy, crunchy woman excitedly detail every benefit of the boobie juice to us, while highlighting the bonding and loveyness that come from such an amazing time. I held a 4 ounce doll to my clothed breast, a doll who didn't move and didn't cry and didn't have a mind or insatiable hunger of her own, and practiced the different holds. I watched a video of 3 hour old babes bobbing their way over to their mothers breast and latching on like champs, just like that (I am now convinced they filmed 10,000 babies to get those 8 to do that so effortlessly, and just neglected to mention that part). I played a game in which we put a series of photos in order from start to finish, showing a successful feed. I got a pamphlet which showed me the holds again, and further reiterated why I am only a good mother if I feed from the breast.

That was all well and good. At 37 weeks pregnant, perhaps that was all I could handle, but the class was seriously misleading. What it didn't tell me was the challenge of getting a dopey newborn to open her mouth wide enough for me to shove my cantaloupe sized breast into it. It didn't talk too much about how to get a good latch, just briefly showed what one looked like...and that shit isn't easy my friends. They told me how if done properly, breastfeeding doesn't hurt, but they didn't tell me what to do when it hurt like someone was holding a hot fire poker against my nipple. They told me to buy nipple cream, in case my nipples cracked but they didn't tell me that by crack they may mean bleed so heavily it would cause my 5 day old baby to vomit green chunks (of partially digested blood, I later learned), and send us on a trip through the emergency room.

My point is this - those of us who choose and are able to feed from the breast need more than just support in the form of "it's good for your baby and your wallet", and more even than all the support we so desperately need to feed without ridicule in public. We need reality. We need lactation people at the hospital to come for a visit and show us what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong. Not just burnt out nurses who handle babies like pot roasts, latch them for you and move on. We need to hear how hard it is in the beginning, and how absolutely devastating it will feel when things aren't going the way they are "supposed to". We need to hear that breastfeeding a baby is a serious time commitment, which lasts around the clock and sometimes seems like it will never end.

I am infinitely lucky to be supported by an AMAZING group of people - men and women, on Twitter and through this blog who have been there with me, at 3am, when I'm crying and screaming and needing help, but not everyone has that. I've got friends who have chosen to formula feed for various reasons, from convenience through to a sheer and painful inability to produce enough milk, and I'm not going to lie lately, I've been a little envious. I shouldn't be I know it's not an easy choice, but I've got milk and a kid who wants to non-stop eat, so to me I have less reason to consider formula. I know I can make the switch at any time I like, and I would be lying if I said I hadn't considered it. But I'm stubborn, and poor and I truly do believe in the benefits of breast milk.

I've committed to 6 months, and I'm learning that I'll need to take that 1 day at a time. It isn't easy, and it isn't always hard but when your breasts are aching, your baby is fighting you and you have not slept more than a total of 6 hours in the last 15 days, things just seem impossible. When your baby screams at you in hunger, but refuses to latch on and looks at your with desperation, it seems like you will surely go crazy before you reach 6 weeks, let alone 6 months. When you sit lonely in the dark, trying to rationalize with a 2 week old infant that if she eats she can sleep, and if she sleeps she will feel better, makes you question if the craziness started around 6 days.

So to all of you who have fought the breastfeeding battle and won, I commend you. You are my inspiration and I thank you for your support. I think you are super women who have come through this challenge and truly done something wonderful for your children. I had no idea how hard it was, NO idea. I really thought I'd just put her on the boob and away we'd go. I want it to be easy, but right now it's still a struggle. My stubborn nature will ensure I keep on keeping on, at least a little bit longer. And I hope I am able to join you on the other side of this insanity as a successful breast feeder.

That said, to those of you who have formula fed out of necessity or sanity sake, I respect and commend you as well. Because I, like Mandy am a fan of feeding babies. And I don't think formula is evil. My niece and my BFF's daughter were both fed formula and are both two of the raddest kids EVER. I know now more than ever how hard breast feeding is, and like I said, I'm one of the lucky ones that this works for. I cannot imagine where I'd be if I had inverted nipples or a low supply or any of the other many things that plague many a breast feeding wanna be. Actually, that's not true, I know where I'd be. I'd be locked up somewhere with padded walls, crying over my inadequacy and feeling like a horrible person. And not because I should, but just because that it was happens more times than not.

So that's my piece on breastfeeding, from a 2 week veteran. Hardly as profound as what The Feminist Breeder posted, which broke the internets and was reposted, tweeted and Facebooked linked an unprecedented amount of times. Nor is it as heartfelt, candid and lets face it cute as that of Miss Mandy, who really just wants us to feed our babies and stop arguing about it. It's not even as Switzerland as Jill from Baby Rabies response to the above two ladies. But it's real, and it's coming from a new mom who is reeling and overwhelmed by all the insanity of late. And I hope it helps the rest of you mommy's to be know that it is effing HARD and you will feel like quitting, but if you want to do it, and you have your own reasons for it, you can! And if you don't want to do it or you simply cannot, then don't. And do not spend 1 minute feeling guilty about it, because it really won't get you anywhere and us new mommies? We have enough guilt about everything else without adding to it.

(As an aside, as I wrote this post this morning there was a knock on my door. And the hubs came back up the stairs with a small case, 6 cans, of Enfamil. Which the post man delivered especially for me. No pressure though, cause at 4am when the nips be burning and the babe be crying, I won't be tempted to just give it a shot).

The 3pm Mother vs. The 3am Mother

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
My darling daughter is 2 weeks today, and I feel the fog starting to lift. I know I am supposed to post a big long poetic piece about how in love I am with her. I know I'm supposed to talk about the sparkle in her eye, how warm and fuzzy she is and how totally in love I am. I know I'm supposed to be beaming with new mother pride, viewing the world through rose tinted glasses and reveling in every poop that comes rocketing out of my daughters soft little cutesy bum.

And you know what? I am. I am so much in love with Everly it almost hurts. I cannot stop kissing her little face or staring at her while she sleeps. Even when I should be sleeping in the night, I get up to make sure she's breathing, and just to stare at her in wonderment. I cannot believe that only 2 short weeks ago, she was that faceless body that shook my belly all night long and made me have to pee every 15 mins. I cannot believe that she came from me and the hubs, that I grew that person from 2 pieces of DNA to a whole human, that she is part of us. I love her and I cannot get enough out of every single moment we spend together. She changes a bit every day and I feel as though time is already moving too fast. It really does happen, this instant love and I could not be more proud of my little girl. The love I feel for this child has shown me a kind of love I did not know existed, and my heart feels bigger and my life fuller just for having known her.

All of that said, there is a dark side to the first few weeks of motherhood that I am sure everyone experiences. And maybe I've ignored the warnings, maybe I didn't think they would happen to me, maybe I thought people over exaggerated. Or maybe, most new mothers out there experience what I have just gone through and the guilt and shame of the situation keeps them from speaking out or being honest.

It sounds like I going to confess a bunch of crazy thoughts full or rage and anxiety that I need to be medicated for. And I'm not. I have not felt the least bit angry this entire time, and at no point have I worried about my mental health or the safety of my child in my care. I have however sat, alone in the dark, while the hubs sleeps soundly, the baby fights me for a piece of the boob and I sob uncontrollably over her, tears streaking down and staining her precious new little head.

It's new mommy guilt and it hurts. I am sure this is equal parts sleep deprivation and hormonal imbalance, but as you're living it, you cannot rationalize. It's amazing how different 3pm can feel versus 3am. At 3pm, I am confident, I am with it, I am changing my daughter, she is eating like a champ and we're totally in a groove. At 3pm I am happy. I am beyond delighted with my new life and I can't wait to take my daughter out to experience the world. But at 3am, it is dark. I am alone and things are infinitely harder. It is at this time that the sleep deprivation has killed my ability to be rational. It's this time of the night, where my darling is crying out of hunger, but will not WILL NOT just latch on and eat, even though she's done it 15 times (literally) before that very same day. It's around this time where the pain in my back rivals the pain in my breasts and I wonder how people do this. It's around this time I'm on Twitter, screaming profanities and thankfully being talked down from the ledge by a collection of other mommy's doing the same thing.

This new mommy routine causes my chest to fill with tension and anxiety at 3am, to feel like I could scream, to look at my daughter and BEG her to just EAT like she's done so many times before. And this kicks in the guilt, which causes the tears, which exacerbates the guilt even further. How can I honestly expect my baby to do what I want, what I need? Life is about her now, and she deserves a kind mother, a patient mother, a mother who understands that she does not understand. And at 3pm, I am so that mother. We joke, I call her silly names and tell her she's being a goof when she's so busy cramming her hands in her mouth and screaming that I cannot get the boob in there. But the 3am mother, that's the one who feels like she failed. Who wonders what is wrong with her for being frustrated with a baby who is so perfectly innocent, who cries as her child eats and her husband sleeps.

The days spent in the hospital were completely sleepless. The hubs and I traded off 2 hours at a time through the night, but between the uncomfortable beds, my surgery,  hospital staff coming in every hour to check us and tell us not to sleep with the baby in our beds, the heat in that place and the fear our daughter might just forget to breathe, we did not sleep. For 55 hours I laid trapped in that room, no window to the outside, not sleeping, not knowing what to do with this life form I was now responsible for. This does not set anyone up for having a good time when you get home.

And coming home from the hospital is the biggest shock I've ever had. Suddenly I am in my home, in a familiar place with an unfamiliar face. I'd done all the reading about the pregnancy, I was obsessive about my stats and literature. I read and studied up on labour and delivery for so long I bet I'd make a kick ass doula. I even researched enough on c-sections to be prepared to do the incision on my own, but I did not prepare myself to arrive home from the hospital. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. When we got home, I simply looked at my husband and said "now what?" And neither of us knew. And then the first night happened, where we couldn't sleep, where the baby wouldn't stop crying because she was hungry and where I could not get her to latch or eat. And so began the tears. 

Breastfeeding is by far one of the most challenging things I've done in my life. It hurts, it's difficult to hold her properly or to get her to latch on and stay on. I don't know if she's getting enough, if she's in the right position, if she's enjoying the bonding we're supposed to be having. It makes your mind swim with thoughts of failure. Am I doing this right? They say this shouldn't hurt? Aren't I supposed to enjoy this? How much longer is she going to feed for? What kind of mother rushes her child? At no point in my childbirth class did they touch on the stress and fatigue that comes from breastfeeding, or the innumerable ways you can fail at it. At no point did they tell me that being unable to properly nourish my child would feel like a ton of bricks crushing my chest, would make me want to scream out loud, would make me feel like less of a woman. And do you want to know what's scary? I'm not even really having that hard of a time in the grand scheme of things. I mean, it SEEMS hard to me, but I've got milk, my baby can latch 98% of the time and she is gaining weight like a champ. So if I feel this way, I cannot imagine what the women with real challenges feel like. Those like my sister, whose milk refused to come in, who spent hours pumping or trying to feed with no success. I think about her often when it's late and I cannot calm the stress I have over it. And I don't envy the decision she had to make to move onto formula, though I respect it more now that I ever could before. Sometimes you've got to do what's best for you and your child, and that includes feeding them without going completely crazy in the process.

And this is not the only challenge. When my daughter cries my heart breaks. I must have cried uncontrollably in the hospital at least 3 times when they came in to check her vitals, prick her heel or otherwise harass her and she cried. It hurts so much when I know she's hurting, and my eyes leak just as much as my nipples when she cries (yes, this really DOES happen). The helplessness that I felt the first few times she really cried is beyond anything I've ever felt. I wanted to comfort her, to make it all better, to stop the crying so I knew she felt safe, but you know what? In those first few days, your baby is still a stranger. You've carried her for 9 months, but it's been on your terms and you never had to hear her cry. In all the time she was in the womb, I assumed she was a happy little girl, and never felt the pain of knowing she wasn't. Thankfully, this is getting easier. She still cries, but she does it every time I change her, or she wakes up, or she decides she is bored and I'm getting much better at scooping her up and solving the problem than I used to be. I'm learning as much about her as she is about me, and our relationship is starting to work. But this is only in the last 2 days, before that it was still so overwhelming and still had me wondering what I was going to do.

Another thing I didn't anticipate was having a super zen husband, who could keep it together when I was losing it. This is a blessing beyond blessings. Partly it's because he sleeps more than I do, so his sleep deprivation isn't causing him to go as crazy. And partly he's not fighting the breastfeeding fight so the patience he has is better saved for other things, like those DAMN sleeper snaps you just CANNOT get done up properly when your eyes are burning and your kid is screaming and squirming. I never thought I'd have a moment in my life where I sat, crying helplessly as my husband soothed the child I once carried for 9 months. And this is another mommy guilt instigator.

Over the last 2 weeks things have gotten infinitely easier. We've all started to get to know each other. My husband is no longer a husband, but a father. I am no longer a wife, but a mother and our baby is no longer an internal human but a real live person, with a personality all her own.

I am enjoying the journey, it's rewarding and now that I am getting some confidence in my skills, it's getting better. Parts of it are harder than I thought, and parts of it are so much more wonderful than I could have imagined. But this is 3pm mom speaking. When 3am mom comes out, things get difficult and sometimes the tears flow. I am getting used to it though, and trying not to be so hard on myself. My friends, both real life and online, have helped me through this time. I am slowly trying to move past the guilt feelings and realize this is normal, that everyone must go through this, and that most of all, my daughter will never remember that I cried over her sweet little head over these first few days.

So to all mothers, new or old, give yourself a break. We're truly doing the best we can, and the pressure to be a stepford wife and the guilt you feel for needing a break doesn't help. I am telling this to myself as much as anyone else.

Now back to my silly baby who is cramming her fists into her mouth with such voracity,  you'd never know she's already eaten a total of 15 times since midnight, for an astounding 4 hours and 27 minutes (thank-you iPhone app for your tracking awesomeness!)