Thursday 21 March 2013

A Moment

Over the last few weeks a number of blog posts have been getting my attention. I've noticed a theme and I wanted to blog about it. It started off with a series of posts from Jasmin of Knitmore Girls fame over at Better than Yarn. Her return to herself has been lovingly documented after her first year as a mother. I nodded along, relieved at the honesty in her words.

I also love this post from Creative Mama. Why? Not because she turned chaos into creativity (although that is cool). It's because she said what I have increasingly started to feel as someone who used to blog and podcast regularly: it's all smoke and mirrors and when you're a mum, it's exhausting to keep that up.

When I found out I was expecting I had A PLAN of how to carry on. It went a bit squiffy when Playful Babe decided to try her best to come early. It was ok, I revised the plan with a NEW PLAN. I then exhausted myself upon her arrival trying to keep up with THE PLAN. I would be the all singing all dancing blogger and podcaster and a wonderful mother, fabulous partner and reliable friend. I had seen it on the interwebs, represented in perfectly shot pictures and beautifully written prose. Everyone else was apparently doing it so why couldn't I?

Around Christmas I stopped coping. I just about existed as it became increasingly clear that all was not well with Playful Baby. She didn't settle, she screamed when nursing, she never (ever, ever) wanted to be anywhere other than my arms. In moments of calm she giggled and explored but there was always a wariness as if something was about to spoil her moment.

In January she began nursing strike. For those who don't know this is when a baby refuses to feed. Not only can this have immediate dire effects for the baby but it also means the body stops producing as much milk as it no longer has the feedback to do so.

My life became a ticking clock: how long can we go on? Can I get her to feed? For how many minutes? And seconds? How long before my body just stops providing the milk she needs?

I knew a bottle wasn't the answer. She clung to me for comfort and in the small hours of morning would wake to nurse beautifully, calmly and returned to sleep with a contented snore. I'd lie with her in my arms, stroking her hair and be thankful that I didn't give up.

We have now confirmed silent reflux, a venomous product of an immature digestive system burning stomach acid back up the throat. We've done everything: positioning, careful nursing, medicines, osteo, massage. I worked hard to keep my milk supply up, myself sane and hoped against hope I wouldn't lose those beautiful calm feeds. Slowly her weight has picked up and she's feeding better about half of the time. The reason I was reluctant to switch her feeds to a bottle were confirmed: the gush of milk was hurting her which was why at night when she suckled sleepily, it hurt less. A bottle would hurt her tummy.

We have a long way to go and reading these two honest bloggers has encouraged me to say that my life is not always playful. I will dance and sing whenever I can but life is damn hard when you have a teeny baby and the seeming perfection being floated around on the inter ether is not helping women like me cut themselves some slack when things are far from perfect.

It's ok to look at tough times as well as perfect photo opportunities. It's ok to admit that while you want desperately to do it all, you can't. It is ok to say life will see me getting me back to the all singing all dancing podcaster.

Just not yet. I'm staying right in this moment with her.


P'cess said...

Lovely post dear and your priorities are in the exact right place!

Navel Gazer said...

Well said. I think we all plan how it will be with a baby but until it arrives you have no idea of the pleasure but also the worry that comes with it.

My kids are now 12 and 8 and what I always say to new parents is this; you know your baby and yourself better than anyone else. Whatever works for you both is the right thing to do. If that means all sleeping in one bed, so be it - it won't go on forever. If that means the focus is at home then real friends will understand.

There are still times when I am so frustrated with my kids that I don't like them very much - but it passes quickly and it's what makes me human. It's how we grow.

I am sure that you are doing a wonderful job. Parents who worry they are doing a good job are the best ones. Just keep doing what you're doing and everything will work out.


Rhian Drinkwater said...

Hugs. Having a baby is one of the hardest things in the world and feeding problems are a nightmare. Harry was a nightmare to feed at first – wouldn't latch until he was a week old, took months until he'd latch in less than half an hour and it stopped being agonisingly painful almost every time. People online can make it look so perfect and easy and natural, which can be lovely to read but not very helpful. All you can do is put your head down and work through it – as said above, friends will help out and understand and be waiting when you're ready to do more, and it really does get easier.

Renee Anne said...

Something I've learned over the last three years (basically since I found out I was pregnant with Little Man): Babies will do what they want, when they want; there's no use trying to have "a plan" because something will always change, get in the way, or have to be scrapped entirely.

Life with a baby is hard. It will get better, you'll figure each other out, and I promise it will get better (let me say it again: it will get better).

Tini said...

We (DH and I) celebrated the first birthday of the twins, just because we were so happy, that that first hard year was over. It was so so hard. The twins just wouldn't eat (due to breast cancer I couldn't nurse), no matter what. They did not want any solid food either. We had to go to the doc every week to weigh them.... Hang in there!

Catchloops said...

Good luck, you're doing great - it's damn hard work, i don't understand why it's so hard from an evolutionary standpoint - surely having a baby should be the easiest, most natural thing in the world? Gets easier though. x

Grammy Braxton said...

What a beautiful post. You are right, caring for a baby is hard, no matter what the interwebs say. My daughter is struggling trying to breast feed her son and she's not producing enough milk. He had to go on formula and it's about to break her heart. She's pumping and trying other things to increase her production along with encouraging him to nurse as often as he wants. I know it's frustrating and your poor baby having to deal with reflux is awful. It will get better as she grows.


Unknown said...

Hugs and thoughts from me. Thank you for a lovely and very honest blog post.
Children are wonderful and a blessing but they are also a lot of hard work and they take all the me-time away from the mum... However, it will get better and there will be loads of opportunities to sing and dance and cook and pick flowers and be playful with your beautiful little girl :-)

penelope10 said...

I think you are a wonderful Mom and I love your honesty. ♥♥

timothyandreas28 said...

Hugs and hugs and more hugs.
I kept nodding while reading your post, because I was there myself. My son turned 2 yo last month, and everybody complimented on How easy he is! What a good sleeper he is! He eats SO well! . I smiled and nodded and said to myself, "Yeah, you weren't there the first few months when I struggled to nurse because my milk supply was awfully low (lack of breastfeeding counseling and support). You didn't hear him screaming and screaming because he's hungry and overtired but couldn't latch on, and you didn't see me desperately trying to call somebody, anybody for help but discovering that his screams were louder than my voice. You didn't know how hard it was to nurse in any position when your hipbone was dislocated. You didn't know how happy I was to get 10 spoons of cereal into him when he was on a food strike."
But those experience taught me that there is no Plan or Control in parenting, and I learn to accept, live with it, and actually be creative in my approaches.
Hugs again, hope everything settles soon! It is over too fast, those moments of babyhood.

Ellen said...

I'm just getting to read this now, almost a week after you posted so you see that even though I have two teenagers, life does not always go as planned! Thank you so much for your honesty. I really appreciate how difficult it is to be honest in this internet world where everything is supposed to be sunshine and lollipops at all times. I could have used some honesty when my kids were babies. Although they were both thankfully healthy, I had rough starts with both for different reasons. Almost gave up nursing with my oldest (glad I stuck with it, but it was really difficult for awhile) and I was not in the best physical shape due to some issues with pregnancy and delivery. With my second, I felt great but he had colic. I would not wish that on my worst enemy. For five months, he cried and cried with no underlying medical reasons. Difficult enough for the parents, but watching my daughter walk around the house with her fingers in her ears was heartbreaking. Well, fast forward and he is now a very cheerful 14 year old - not something to be taken for granted! And my kids are good friends. So, it all works out, but when you're in the trenches and only see and hear images of perfectly content mothers and babies...well, it is hard. So I'm sending all my best wishes to you, my dear. I really believe it will get easier - and it's all worth it. Sorry for rambling on!

Karen said...

I too am a little behind on my reading and just read this post. Sometimes it is hard to believe but you will get through this. My son was colicky and always wanted to be held or driven around in the car. He turned out to be a wonderful man. Your priorities are straight - baby first - podcasters and blog readers can wait. You are worth it and I will wait.