Sunday, October 9, 2011

How was it 35 years ago?

Victor is lying beside me, in his “doomoo”, babbling away – apparently he’s exceptionally talkative for such a young baby. And I realize that with each new thing he does, I’ll have the same thought “if only my mom could see / hear this”. Yesterday, we were at a birthday party of another baby who turned one. The whole time I had to hold back the tears, because the only thing I could think was “my mom will never be at one of V’s birthday parties”.

The other day I was at P’s mom , and the subject was “babies’ sleeping positions”. Some 30 years ago, all babies slept on their bellies. Now, the “policy” is to put them on their back. I was asked how I slept as a baby, and there you go. I have no one to ask – and I don’t know. How often did I wake up as a baby? I don’t know. Was I easy, difficult? I don’t know. My dad belongs to a generation where fathers never changed one single nappy, so he’s not a great source of information. I have my “baby book”, so at least I know when I had my first tooth – but I’ll never know how many sleepless nights for my mom that took.
P's mom is now of course talking non-stop about how P was as a baby, and showing all his baby pictures, comparing him with V. And I miss the other side - in what ways is V resembling me, when I was a baby? I'd like to know...

I know my mom didn’t breastfeed – simply because it was the Seventies, and almost no one did. But I also remember her saying she didn’t have enough milk. And voilĂ , here I am – in the same situation. So if only I could share all this with her.

The first week that I wasn’t together with my baby, the stress, the emotional shock, the fatigue…it all contributed to “failing boobs” from my side. From V’s side : we tried night after night, together with a nurse from neo-natal to learn him the trick – and the little man tried and tried. But his “sucking powers” were never really what they should be, and he got so tired from trying, that after a few minutes he always fell asleep. So feeding became synonym to waking V up every minute, and trying every single trick in the book to keep him awake.

We tried for almost 6 weeks : I breastfed, I gave bottle supplements after each feeding, and I used the breastpump several times a day (to stimulate, to produce more milk, to have more breastmilk for V). If there’s one image I didn’t have of motherhood, than it was me – sitting at this machine for several hours a day, a sucking cap on each breast squeezing every single drop of milk out of my boobs – and feeling like an utter failure if I didn’t get the required ml. of milk out. Almost every single minute of my day was spent on “feeding” – and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I talked to the pediatrician – who wondered why I'd kept this crazy routine going for so long already.

I felt a huge relief when we found a compromise : breastfeed in the morning, give a bottle the rest of the day. So starting last Tuesday, that’s what we did. Next day, V had some skin rash. Two days later, the skin rash became worse. Three days later, V started to refuse his bottles. On Friday morning, the skin rash was so severe, that I completely panicked. One phone call to the pediatrician, and apparently V’s allergic to the formula milk I’m giving him. So there goes the rest and peace we’d found in our “compromise”. Add guilty feelings too. And add more fatigue, as V now first refuses to drink, but is then hungry every two hours – day and night. P working late more than one evening this week, and coming home after the whole evening routine is over, and V and I are already in bed, was also not helping.

So, to summarize :

- every day, I miss my mother more and more.
- I feel like a failure because the feeding is not working.
- I feel guilty for making V sick (and one more day to go, we only know tomorrow what new milk to give him).

- I’m more tired than ever because I try to breastfeed him again throughout the day and night, asking my body more energy that it simply doesn’t have.
- I almost didn’t sleep (feeding every two hours, not being able to fall asleep again, trying to console little V who has painful cramps because of the damn formula milk, crying for my mom, waking up screaming from a nightmare I had in the one hour I did sleep).
- The physical damages are not gone – somehow I have to squeeze in about 4 doctor’s appointments per week.

And here comes the icing on the cake (if you’re still reading, that is, and are not completely fed up with me complaining by now) : P is going to be abroad for work the next few days.

So, feeling like a failure once again, because I don’t see myself staying all alone for four days & nights with a tiny baby who refuses to eat, I’m going to stay with P’s mom. Bottles, breastpump, diapers, baby bath, buggy, etc, etc,…are all moving from one place to the other as of tomorrow.

to be continued…