Monday, October 11, 2010

ET Phone Home

It occurs to me that blog entries from 2010 have a considerably different tone than those of 2007-2009. It occurs to me that this turn of events has possibly alienated our old audience. It occurs to me that world travelers may not want to hear about the exciting word of diapers and milk.

I am really sorry, guys. It's just... this is how our lives are now.

Sometimes I look back at the last five years and have to shake my head. I thought we had done a lot. I thought we'd accomplished great things. I mean, I climbed a mountain. I have a black belt -- actually, I have three. We watched the sun rise over an ancient Mayan city; we worked with orphans in Thailand, rehabilitated penguins in South Africa. We drove through the gusty deserts of Namibia and navigated the wilderness of Botswana on our own. We rode in a helicopter over Victoria Falls, walked along the Great Wall, and swam with sharks and seals in the Galapagos Islands.

And then my baby was born and he wouldn't nurse.

In the past three months I have tried: finger-feeding; bottle feeding including the purchase of at least half a dozen different kinds of bottles to "mimic breastfeeding"; two excellent lactation consultants; clipping Ben's tongue tie; herbs to increase milk supply; prescription drugs to increase milk supply; infant craniosacral therapy; hours and hours and hours hooked up to a breast pump; attempting to latch while standing and bouncing; attempting to latch while balancing on a yoga ball. I have read books. I have read websites. I have talked and thought about very little other than the natural act of nursing. I have crawled into my husband's lap and wept, telling him I couldn't do it any more. I have postulated and theorized about why my baby wouldn't latch. I have considered the option that my baby might just not like me. I definitely thought there was something wrong with me.

At first I'd feed him with the bottle even though I knew I should be trying to nurse, and I'd feel guilty. Then I would offer Ben a breast and he would scream and I would feel guilty. Gradually he came to accept nursing with a crazy supplemental feeding tube and I would feel guilty that I wasn't trying without it. I felt guilty for wanting to quit, and I felt guilty for putting him through such a torturous ordeal. I felt guilty for talking to everyone about it nonstop. I felt guilty that I wasn't doing enough. I felt guilty that I was wasting everyone's time.

I was housebound, chained to a breast pump. If I went out I had a three hour window, or less, between feeding the baby and pumping. Being at home was an ordeal too, because I'd go to pump and the baby would cry after a few minutes alone. I'd be trying to get him to sleep and all I'd be thinking about was how I'd finally be able to pump once he was down.

It was making me crazy. Finally, I gave myself a deadline -- Thanksgiving weekend. But then I felt guilty for even thinking about giving up.

I was certain we wouldn't make the deadline.

And then, the Thursday before Thanksgiving -- he just did it. He latched on the day he turned 12 weeks old. He's been a happy little nursling ever since. I have been the most relieved and happy nursing mother you ever laid eyes on.

I didn't do it alone. I couldn't have done it alone. The days where I cried, I wanted BG to tell me it was ok, that I'd done enough, to just give Ben a bottle. He never said it. There were hours that my mother and mother-in-law and sisters held the baby so I could sit in front of a breast pump. None of them ever told me that I was being crazy or obsessive. None of my friends ever told me that I was insane. Everyone listened, everyone said nice things to me, and everyone cared.

So, now I can reflect on everything we've accomplished and I can put this at the top of the list. I have a nursing baby, and getting to this point is one of the hardest things I have ever done -- maybe the hardest.

Tomorrow, we're going out for a long time... just because we can.

1 comment:

Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

I'm so happy that things worked out for you two Val. Thank you for sharing your post with me.