stretch marks on my heart

The day is a blur, am in a sleepless haze. Pretty sure the hormones have dropped too, like the floor dropping out of those centrifugal force rides at the carnival, or a bouncy swing being unplugged. (Not that we’ve set up the swing yet, but Scott did get it out of the basement today.)

There have been lots of tears.

This morning I nursed Jonah at 3, at 6, at 8, at 9, at 10, at 11… at noon, he started crying again and I just stood there and cried too.

Later, Scott noted that perhaps the novelty of being a pair of milk-distributing boobs with a person attached has worn thin.

It seems like the baby is never NOT hungry. Sometimes we think maybe he’s really had enough and we try the techniques we learned in the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD to get him to stop crying. Sometimes that works. Sometimes the wailing makes me feel like my skin is peeling off and I have to try to feed him again. Something. Anything. Please make it stop.

Right now, Scott has the baby strapped into the Moby Wrap. To give me a few moments to myself. Sometimes the Moby works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Am also reading the Baby Whisperer and am subject to no small amount of fear and guilt that I am probably letting the baby “use me as a pacifier” and that we aren’t following a schedule yet. According to her we’re supposed to have 45 minutes of activity after nursing… and what kind of activity would that be for a newborn? The only suggestion I’ve seen her make so far is diaper changing. That doesn’t take 45 minutes.

But I’m crying even when I’m not frustrated.

…We’re in the nursery, I’m in the fancy glider chair. His latch doesn’t hurt. The house is warm. Scott puts the lullaby CD in the stereo. A song about angels. The music is beautiful. And I just weep.

I figure that my heart has grown so big so fast in the last 10 days to love this little person that it has stretch marks.

* * *

The whole day passed. I barely had a second to myself.

Afraid I was going too far the other direction with “He can’t be hungry AGAIN, let’s try to soothe him,” I decided to throw in the towel, stop fighting, and just nurse him nonstop. Literally. Nonstop from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. Switching boobs every 20 minutes or so, and pausing occasionally for a for a brief nap or a diaper change.

You know, everyone says you can’t spoil a newborn. Feed him when he’s hungry, pick him up when he cries.

(My friend who dropped by tonight to bring us dinner said it, and I wanted to punch her in the face.)

I fed him and fed him and held him and still, he cried, gnashed his jaw, tried to swallow his fist.

Maybe I’m not making enough milk???

Finally I called my doulas (birth, and post-partum). PP answered first. She mentioned the mom-as-pacifier thing. I decided maybe by now she was right. Removed boob, inserted substitute.

She also reminded me that however un-PC it is to say this, even drug-addicted mothers on the street manage to raise babies, and maybe mine is not starving. Touché.

And that I’m no good to him if I don’t get some sleep.

Then birth doula called back. Suggested that perhaps we could substitute formula for the next feeding — so I could get some sleep.

I handed the baby to Scott with the instructions to finger-feed 1/2 to 1 ounce if needed and please swaddle him tightly and I headed to bed.

When I laid myself down on my back, I realized that I actually hadn’t been in that position for more than 24 hours. My body felt like a sack of wet sand.

I slept for one hour, woke to baby’s cries, went back to sleep for five glorious more. Woke at 4 a.m. just as he was smacking his lips and started the boobs up again. 1-1/2 hours of nursing. Now he’s in the Moby, pacifier in mouth, resting on my chest, while Scott sleeps and I type.

19 comments for “stretch marks on my heart

  1. December 7, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Yes. I wish someone had mentioned to me that he would be on the boob round the clock before I started my breastfeeding journey. Trust me. It gets better. SLOWLY, but it does. By about six weeks -I am not sure what miraculous thing happens – but they start to be on the boob for less time. They may still want to go on every hour, but at least it’s only for 10-20 minutes instead of 1 1/2 hrs.

    (If your up to it and the weather isn’t too ugly)As an activity, try strapping him in the moby wrap or stroller and walking over to a coffee shop or just going for a short walk. I found the walks relaxing. The bouncing would always rock him to sleep, I was out in the world, and I could relax and talk to my hubby without listening to screams. If you make it to the shop and your not holding the little one, then you can also treat yourself to a hot drink and maybe dessert. This activity really helped my mood because I felt like things were more like the normal I was used to.

  2. December 7, 2007 at 10:55 am

    I am not sure how I found your blog, but I love it! I have been where you are and it is glorious on the other side. But this period lasts for such a short time. Go with your gut, you know more than you think. Congratulations to you ALL!!

  3. December 7, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    It is hard to read that and not want to help. But no-one can.

    I used to walk a lot. When you have a second child you cannot do what you are doing – you have to make them fit a schedule to some degree. So yeah, I used to feed regularly (every 3 hours maybe) and then I would take the baby and toddler out and walk or do things. Babies love noise and action – and of course having a toddler you have that on constant tap. But try some constant noise – music or just the hoover or outside things if the weather allows.

    And yes, whatever you do, it does get better and easier. And nothing you do or don’t do will ever be the WRONG thing.

    But you need a life too – babies are tough and hardy, much more so than us. Make sure you do get some time to yourself and some proper rest – and yes, I know absolutely how hard that it is.

  4. December 7, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Thank you Betsy, NMN, and TRB!

    Today was easier than yesterday, and I am looking forward to those walks — have to take it slow as our house has 36 stairs to street — making going down and up the entire day’s activity for now. But soon, I’ll be mobile. Love that moby wrap!

  5. December 7, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    Hey! I’m finally catching up on the week’s posts–I’m sorry you’re having a rough time. It is harder in the beginning. Has he mastered nursing while you are lying down (it took W~ a lot longer to learn how than C~)? I know this isn’t an “approved” suggestion (I won’t tell the American Academy of Pediatrics if you won’t), but I sleep through a lot of nursings when my kids are little. This would be why we got rid of our crib when C~ was a few months old–all of my kids have slept with us. And it saved my sanity. I’d wake up before they were in a frenzy of hunger, pop in the appropriate boob, and go back to sleep (button up flannel shirts are perfect for this in the winter–easy access and you stay warm). Even if you choose to stay awake through the feeding, it is a lot easier to fall back asleep if you don’t have to get up to nurse.

    And TRB’s suggestion is a great one–try running the vacuum in the room he’s in. My niece screamed like a stuck pig for the first six months of her life. The only way my sister could get her to take naps was to leave the vacuum running in the room with her. It sounds crazy, but it really helps some kids.

    Good luck!

  6. December 7, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Yeah well we were in the same place with both our babies, although with #1 he had trouble sucking hard enough and so we were also fingerfeeding, nursing him w tubes pasted to my tits, AND pumping. Insane. You remember.

    I also let both guys sleep in bed with me so they could nurse while I slept. Trouble was, it made it nearly impossible to get them out of the bed before age two, and kid #2 didn’t wean until he was three and I had to have a core biopsy for what turned out to be breast cancer. (and the little guy apologized to me for nursing – he thought he was responsible! How do they get these ideas?)

    I really, really don’t know what to say. In theory I would have liked to do it the baby whisperer way. In practice I could not. So I did what I did and felt terrible about it.

    But that “baby is using you as a pacifier” comment seems full of judgment to me. Implies that the baby, an innocent being with desperate instinctual needs, is somehow “using” as in manipulating or exploiting you. He just has desperate instinctual needs. So do you. You two have to find a balance. Since you’re the grownup, you have more control over where the balance is but he has some control in that he can cry and feel terrible and let you know it. Then you get to decide based on instincts and any other tools what you’re going to do about it.

    I don’t like the implied judgment (and resentment) of that other phrase. It always made me feel terrible.

    I do wish I had found a way to restrict the boob more. And yet I don’t know how possible that is. Some babies need to nurse a lot. Some don’t. What to do?

    May you do what you do and feel at peace about it – because feeling terrible helps nobody.

  7. Nana
    December 8, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Sorry you are having so much difficulty. I know you don’t remember but you loved your pacifier till you were 6months old and then decidedly spit it out and never wanted it again. You didn’t need food as much as you needed to suck. Babies just have such a hard time getting “started”. I just know you are doing the best with him and this too shall pass.
    Love you lots. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  8. December 8, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Oh! Another thought with the need to suck–W~ and C~ bother hated pacifiers in the beginning (count your blessings if he’s into his). BUT, they were completely happy with my middle finger. I’d pop it in, nail to the tongue, flesh to the palate, and it would calm them right down. I think it was a texture thing for them. People would look at me like I was nuts, but at least I could function in public places!

  9. Elizabeth
    December 8, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    My daughter just turned one, but oh I so clearly remember the days that you are in! Everyone tells you that it will get easier (don’t you hate that? When, you wonder… When will it get easier?) And almost noone tells you that you’re doing everything right. (And you are!) The only advice I can give you is the same advice a wonderful mother gave me, and the advice I pass on to every new mother I know, so here it is:
    “Don’t listen to anyone’s advice”
    You are this boy’s mother. All the advice in the world won’t change that. If you think feeding him for 4 hours will keep him happy, bust out the boob and get going. If a pacifier and some formula will help you get some sleep and save your sanity, go for it. Do what is right for yourself and your new family, and worry about the experts in 3 months when, I promise, things will get easier.

  10. December 8, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    I clearly remember my mother saying “are you going to feed her EVERY time she cries?” when my baby was only a week or so old. YES, I said. And usually it worked. Neither of mine would take a pacifier or thumb for the first few weeks. Once they did, break time for mom!

    You are doing a great job.

  11. December 9, 2007 at 10:10 am

    First, congratulations! And second, Oh, mama! I feel your pain, too. :) I realize it’s been a few days and things sound a bit better for you all. I am glad!

    This time is such an intense time of change and there is a steep learning curve for everyone involved! I agree with other commenters… follow your gut, trust yourself and your baby, and try to remember that things will change! That is the beauty (and challenge) of young babies. They are changing constantly.

    So, keep hanging in there! And keep trying to find the balance that works for your family.

  12. December 11, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    I feel for you – my Jonah had feeding issues as well…. hang in there – it gets easier soon!

  13. December 11, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Every feeling you wrote about, I have felt. I also want you to know that you are doing a fabulous job, you are making enough milk, and it will get better and easier. Promise.

  14. her mom
    December 11, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    I seriously teared up a litte as I read this..It’s exactly what the first few months are like. Yet now, when she’s 3 and shouting insults at me such as “I don’t belong to my mother!!” I miss those days…I wish I had found your blog when she was younger, I think it would have made me feel less psychotic to realize we’re not all sitcom-mothers!

  15. December 11, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    You must be doing something right. He is growing and his cheeks are so pudgy now. I have a theory about this. God makes babies really really cute because if he didn’t they would be abandoned because of parental lack of sleep,and frustration and craziness from all the crying, not to mention the hormone swings. So they are really really cute so their parents will hang in till the first smile. Then everything changes.

  16. December 11, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    I totally remember that now and am about to start it again while chasing a 1.5 year old. What the hell am I doing? I was a pacifier for 13 months and I promise it gets easier.

  17. December 12, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Hang in there and don’t be afraid to use a pacifier. My babies were the same way and they just needed that constant comfort for the first few months. Sometimes it is just surviving when it comes to newborns. Rest and hang on…you will be rewarded for all of your efforts later. It gets better…promise.

  18. January 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Hang in there! This parenting thing is no peice of cake – but it sure does have it’s rewards 😉

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