Saturday, June 9, 2012

Battles with a breast pump

Despite all of the unwarranted pregnancy and parenting advice, there are things that people don't share with you concerning the first days of parenthood.  Mostly, I think, because nothing compares to the exhaustion of a new mom and most people choose to omit those tearful, fearful, tired hours from their memories of new mommy bliss.

Quickly, let me first say that Emerson Eloise is a very sweet, easy baby.  She only gets upset when she's really hungry.  She sleeps a lot and loves to snuggle on anyone that will hold her.  She smiles when she's content.  She smiles when she's pooping.  She smiles when she's passing gas.  She smiles when she's nursing.

I know that at 9 days old, those smiles don't mean anything from her end, but during the early morning hours when I'm falling asleep in the rocking chair, its those little smiles that keep me awake enough to un-swaddle, burp, re-swaddle, and switch sides.  And change the most atrocious poopy diapers.  Whoever said that the poopy diapers of infants smell sweet was lying.  Or they had lost function of their olfactory cortex.

When Matt is home and on daddy duty, he likes to call it diaper roulette.  It can knock you down.

Somehow, we ended up with a baby who rarely even cries when she's getting her diaper changed.  Strike that.  We ended up with a baby who NOW rarely cries when she's getting her diaper changed.  That's because she spends about 18 hours of her day in a milk coma.  Eyes rolled back in her head, can't wake her up, breast milk stupor.

Before the breast milk, however, we had a baby who screamed at my nipples because she was so over the non-belly-filling colostrum.  I took it personally, too.

Evolution is going to need to catch up to the mouths of hungry babies.  I think most women are unsuccessful with breast feeding because it really sucks watching your baby cry and not having what she needs.  Emerson came out of the womb pooping (literally--all over the doctor and nurses) and sucking (she had sucking blisters on both wrists from sucking in the womb).  She was hungry before she ever took her first breaths.  And so, the five days it took for my milk to come in were almost too much for her.  Almost too much for me, too.

As we prepared for Emerson's arrival for months, Matt and I established a few basic ideas on child care that we thought were unwavering.  Among the many pretenses we had, we both agreed that we did not want to introduce a pacifier or bottle until we absolutely had to and we wanted to use cloth diapers.

We didn't make it out of the hospital without a paci.

We haven't attempted to put a cloth diaper on her because of the massive amounts of poop and pee this small human produces.

And we supplemented with formula on Saturday to try and quell the screaming-at-mommy's-nipples habit she was forming.  It worked!

And so, we've scratched all of our previous plans and gone into survival mode.  Which, in reality, is nothing new to this experience as a whole.

Our c-section experience was, perhaps, just as beautiful as any birth experience.  All of my fears and feelings of disappointment quickly dissipated as soon as the doctor started laughing, saying, "she's pooping everywhere!" Matt got pictures of Emerson's great entrance, poop included.  And she was perfect and pink and screaming.  Which, from what I hear, is about as close to a perfect birth as you can get, even if its not what we originally planned.

So, I will take the paci and the occasional bottle and even the disposable diapers if it makes the experience easier and if it allows me to enjoy these rough first weeks as a new mom.  Beautiful and rewarding, but rough.

Besides all of the physical changes and atrocities that come with being a new mom (most of them not blog-appropriate--if you want to know, call me), there's also a very overwhelming sense of responsibility.  I say overwhelming and I mean it.  For the first few days, I don't think I let Emerson lay down by herself. I watched her breathe.  If she made a face, I held my breath.  How is it possible that I am responsible for every aspect of this child's life?  And how do single, poor 16 year olds do this?

I have used every resource possible to survive without losing the last of my sanity.  I appreciate my mom and sisters and brothers and dad for coming and sitting with me just so I feel like a part of the real world.  I'm thankful for all of the calls and texts and little visits.  And my very dear friend who came over before 8am one day to sit with me and put her hand on my arm and told me to take a deep breath.  All of the food that has been delivered has sustained me as I'm eating more now than I did when I was pregnant just to keep up with this hungry little mouth.

Every day is getting a little easier and I'm starting to feel like a real human again.  Especially when I get to take a shower.  A luxury I won't take for granted again.  I'm also able to laugh now about the moments that brought me to tears in the first days.  Because we survived those moments, I suppose.

Yesterday morning as Emerson was swinging, I ate my breakfast and drank some coffee (with Miralax in it, mind you--like I said, call me if you want to know physical atrocities).  She got red faced and upset so I went over to the swing and sat by it, holding her paci in her mouth for her (because, apparently, 9 day olds don't own that skill yet). I starting singing a Beatles song to her (the first time she's been serenaded) and I messed up every word in the song.  And I sang it wrong over and over and over again.  And it didn't matter.  She went to sleep because I was singing and talking to her, not because I have a good voice and know all the words to the song.

And we might survive parenthood, after all.