babies don't keep

We all think we'll have the baby who sleeps through the night and eats every 3 hours. For me, it was not the case. Violet is a spirited child. For the first 3 or 4 months she nursed constantly. I am not exaggerating by "constantly." I do not recall a single meal, including Thanksgiving dinner that I ate without nursing. It didn't help that I was so insistent on doing things the right way (read the hard way) than any hint of failure on my part sent me spiraling into despair. When we were in the hospital, Violet got simply overheated and ran a slight fever. The neonatologist lied to and coerced me into putting her in the NICU, and gave her a spinal tap without my permission. What I had planned as a trauma-free, beautiful entry into the world for my flower child, had turned into a painful and frightening one. Since she was in the NICU for 48 hours, and perfectly healthy the whole time, I was allowed to go to her every 2 hours to nurse her. My hazy happy first days of nursing were not to be had. Surrounded by sick babies, I held my tiny girl, with an IV in her little foot, and nursed and nursed as neonatologists and nurses offered differing and confusing directions. They eventually convinced me to supplement with formula. My heart was aching like I never knew it could. Finally they released us from the hospital, but since we had been supplementing with formula, my milk wasn't coming in. I was desperate to nurse, and I pumped like a blue ribbon dairy cow. Every time I gave her a bottle of formula I had a meltdown, but I kept at it until she was off the formula, and making the boobie milk is heaven face all the time. But now I couldn't sleep, I was so angry that I had let her first days be violated. Somehow I was convinced that I could have saved her from the spinal tap, the IVs, the nursing trouble. When I gave up on cloth diapers to get her through the marathon feedings in under 2 hours, I had failed again. When I bought a crib, I had failed again. I loved having my little bundle sleep in the crook of my arm, but she just wasn't sleeping anymore. I compromised, and used the crib with one side off as a sidecar to the bed. That didn't work either. Lavender, hops, chamomile, lullabies, rocking, walking, sling riding, refusing to let her cry it out. I was spiraling into a severe depression, resenting her for needing so much while the baby down the street slept all night, drank cold formula, and sat in a swing without crying. Conor was calling my mother, his mother, anyone to try and get me help. I expected to be the perfect mother out of the gate and I had done nothing right as far as I was concerned. I had begun to scare myself, and in a moment of clarity I realized I had to do something. I started taking herbs. I started to put her down. I started to realize that I was losing out on my chance to enjoy my baby while she's little. As I began to slow down and enjoy her, she seemed to become a happier, calmer girl. She's in a very clingy stage now (part of the teething) and I'm enjoying it immensely. She is laying her little warm head on my shoulder and burying her nose in my neck, and nothing else will make her happy. And nothing has ever made me so happy.
Song for a Fifth Child
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
pat-a-cake darling, and peek, peekaboo.
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

6 rubber neckers:

SheeniSaunders said...

That was beautiful, Sarah. You are a wonderful and perfect mother which is so completely obvious through your pure and honest love for your daughter.

gone said...

The best you can is alway better than some ideal of "perfection."

That's it!

sweetviolet said...

historically, if i know i won't be the best at something, i just don't try it. its something i hope i don't pass on, and its something i hope i get over. admitting to myself and everyone else that i do anything but caress her downy head and count my blessings is crappy. (for lack of a better term) what did i expect motherhood to be like, anyway?

Ayn Marie said...

Oh my goodness, just reading this my heart was breaking for you. I am so emotional anyway, but I am practically in tears! We sound soooo similar! I was planning on having a home birth in the water. I took 12 weeks of classes learning "The Bradley Method" so that I could try everything possible to avoid a c-section. I made a birth plan just in case we did end up in the hospital. Unfortunately, None of my plans panned out. After almost 60 hours of being in labor we finally went to the hospital where I was treated like a complete moron for even having planned a home birth. The nurse made sure to let me know that they would be testing me for drugs because I, "didn't have proper pre natal care". I made a point to telling them I didn't want any drugs and I was hoping for a natural childbirth. I was put on pitocin, and after 6 hours of hard labor, they told me I was only dilated to a 3 and I would have to have a c-section. by that time, I was ready...I couldn't imagine going through any more misery and not having any progression! Afterwards, I was put in recovery...by myself, while my daughter was taken away to the nursery to be taken care of by who knows who!! I was devastated. I didn't even get to touch my precious child before they whisked me away for over 2 hours. Nursing, thank God, was still able to take place, but it was hard. My recovery was horribly painful, and after 6 months I still can't feel my stomach at all. My daughter sleeps with me now, because I just feel like those few hours that we missed out on bonding after her birth will never be given back to me or her. People judge, they think that I should let her cry it out, and sleep in the crib...but, I don't really care what people think. Wow, I should probably just post this on my blog and tell you to go read it....oh well. My rant is over :)

sweetviolet said...

mothers are the toughest, most tenacious people on the planet. you're carving out your spot in motherdom early. its great that you don't care what people think, because other people don't have the resposiblity of shepherding your baby to womanhood. there is nothing better than instinctive parenting. it is my instinct to nurse, to cosleep (we just put the side on the crib, as she had become a hazard and could escape any erected barrier. besides it is also my instinct not to let her crack her head.) it is my instinct to comfort her when she cries. don't ever let anyone else tell you how to parent. no one knows your baby better than you. and avoid the baby-training bullies at all costs, they're poison. as far as making friends,(a few discussions back) perhaps you could find your local la leche league. Sure, you'll find some mothers nursing 6 year olds, but you'll also be able to find some like-minded people. hey, maybe i should take my own advice, hmm?

WunEyedDog said...

Sweetheart, that was beautiful.


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