Monday, February 8, 2016

Two Weeks

 Things I know now that I didn't know two weeks ago:

Breastfeeding is hard. When I was a little girl, I yearned for big boobs. What I got were big, soft, large-areola'ed breasts that are more matronly than sexy, but whatever, it's fine. But those same big soft boobs are damned difficult for this baby to get a latch on. Every time I breastfeed, it's a complicated process of getting my hands, his head, my nipple, his mouth, all exactly in alignment. Also, I have ton of milk, so the poor little dude ends up getting sprayed, or choking, or getting his teeny shoulders hunched up with stress. It breaks my heart. This is getting slightly easier, but it's definitely been a challenge, and I can anticipate it continuing on that way for a while.

Postpartum sweating is a thing. Holy mother of God, I have never been sweatier in my life. I wake up to a mattress that has been soaked through; I get hot flashes when I nurse. I don't know why (I think it has something to do with the body shedding water weight?) but it's freaky-deaky.

TV you can ignore is key. We rewatched the first two seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and then moved on to Arrested Development. Having seen them all before multiple times, there's no real imperative to not fall asleep during an episode, but having the white noise and the comedy has been a real boon.

Having great friends and family is a treasure. In the past couple weeks, we've received soup, chili, cornbread, banana bread, cookies, macaroni and cheese, chicken stew, lasagna, quinoa salad, a fruit delivery, Polish donuts, nursing apparel, a hand-knit hat for NS, baby outfits, rides to appointments, and a slew of visitors who respect the fact that all we can do right now is 30-45 minute hangout sessions, and that I probably won't be wearing a shirt (#nursinglife). FYI: not having to cook is basically the best gift you can possibly give to new parents. When in doubt, bring food.

C-section recovery sucks. Surgery + no sleep + intense fatigue from labouring + emotional whirlwind + nerve damage + pain + coping with an unexpected procedure + figuring out how to process the loss of the birth I thought I would have = THE FEELS, both physical and mental.

Milk coming in = hormonal rollercoaster. A woman's body will produce colostrum, a super-awesome early milk that only shows up for the first few days of a baby's life. After that, she starts producing actual milk, but the transition between the two is a little bit...weepy. Okay, a lot weepy. Okay, I cried pretty much non-stop for 36 hours, including all over the baby.

The baby is going to cry. Our little dude is pretty mellow, but in the last couple days, he's really upped his squalling game. Why? I have no idea. Gas, probably. Or he's upset that Trump is leading the polls in New Hampshire.

I have never loved my husband more. Watching M these last fourteen days—the 3 AM diaper changes, the little songs when he's trying to soothe him, the dishes that get done, the snack bowls that appear beside our beds, the water glasses that get refilled, the chuckles when the baby farts, the gentle petting of my stretch-marked and scarred stomach—has filled me with such love. He's such a good dad, and it's amazing to me that, just a few days ago, he wasn't a dad at all.

I have Googled everything. Every time the baby does something, I Google it. I look it up in our childcare books. I text someone. Every damn time the kid does something new, or different, or makes a sound, or doesn't make a sound, or blah blah bah into the baby-related abyss, I'm right there on the Google-machine, trying to figure out if it's normal or if he's dying. (Spoiler: he's not dying.)

My instincts are actually okay. Everything from soothing to swaddling to sleeping, I'm like 80% okay at it. My encounters with breastfeeding experts (two lactation consultations, two midwives, multiple seasoned friends) taught me that nearly everyone subscribes to a slightly different school of thought, and will follow slightly different protocols. For example, the midwives told me to breastfeed every two hours; the lactation consultants said every three hours; the books I read said twelve times in 24 hours, whatever that looks like; my mom said don't wake a sleeping baby and the kid will let me know when he's hungry. By the end of my first week, I was a mess. But slowing down, and figuring out the timing that worked for us, really made a difference. And NS ended up gaining back his birth weight in a week and a half, a benchmark and milestone that made me incredibly happy.

This is the long game. The first two weeks have been a blur of cuddles and panic, of late nights and early mornings, of naps and walks, of trying to survive and thrive. We are learning this little baby; he's learning us. It occurred to me that I'm going to know this person for his entire life—aside from my younger siblings, there isn't anyone else I can say that about. And it fills me with joy, and nerves, to know that in a month, a year, a decade, there will be milestones that seem now like they're on the moon, and those days will come to pass before I can even catch my breath.