The Dark Side of Love

I am sorry for the long silence, friends. Last we spoke, my little Hatchling was only 7 weeks old, and he’s now tripled in age. At 21 weeks old (almost 5 months) he’s become a curious little boy who giggles, watches everything, and gives sloppy, full-face, open-mouthed kisses. He’s basically the cutest thing ever and I absolutely love being his mom.

But I’m not going to lie, parenthood hit our family like a ton of bricks. Our feeding issues (he never latched) caused a lot of stress for me, personally, and impacted my marriage as well. I won’t recount the whole sad story here but suffice it to say that we saw endless lactation consultants and doctors and had multiple incorrect diagnoses before it was finally confirmed that Oliver had a tongue tie AND a lip tie, both of which prevented him from latching on and breastfeeding successfully. We had the ties released (with lasers!) which vastly improved his ability to suck and eat from a bottle, but by the time we had the procedures done, it was too late for our nursing relationship. The little guy was too smart, he knew his food came from a bottle and there was no way we could convince him otherwise. So I pumped as much milk for him as I could and cried oceans of tears over this. It is difficult to explain to anybody who is not a mother but breastfeeding was immensely important to me and I definitely grieved the loss.

At the same time, I was dealing with some lingering postpartum complications, including hormone-driven anxiety and depression, as well as trying to get back on the same page with my dear Fiasco. Time has healed most of the postpartum complications, and new parent couples counseling has done wonders for the communication issues that the Fiasco and I were experiencing. I’m telling all this to illustrate that a whole hell of a lot changes after you have a baby, and I think it’s important that it doesn’t get glossed over and buried under the cultural narrative of cute onesies and sweet lullabies. It’s also important (to me, politically) that parenthood remains a choice. Having a baby is an incredible responsibility and it will directly (and permanently) impact your health, your finances, your relationships, and the course of your entire life. It should not be entered into lightly or because a distant politician has ideas about the autonomy of a blob of partially-divided cells.

It’s not just a ‘transformative experience’, as I’ve heard it described. I’d call it obliterative. It takes everything you think you know, and everything you are, and shakes it all down to your foundation. Then it makes you slowly pick up the pieces, rebuilding each bit with new corners and edges where the baby fits in. And through it all, there is intense, spellbinding, all-consuming joy. And pride. And fear. And doubt. And hope. And a deep, dark, breathless love.

img_20161121_163832

So much love.

Now, finally, it’s also starting to get really fun. Around three or four months old, he started interacting more and it’s wonderful to get some feedback from him. To know that he’s ok, that we’re fulfilling his needs, that he recognizes us and wants to be with us. It’s amazing to watch little pieces of his personality developing. Our boy is a wee bit demanding but also persistent, and has a somewhat low tolerance for frustration. He’s also super smart, pays attention to everything, and he thinks being surprised is the funniest thing. We’ve even developed a couple of ‘private jokes’ of a sort. He gives me a special smile whenever I sing a certain part of his favorite lullaby, and he giggles like a fiend when I say “suck suck suck!” during his suck training exercises.

All of this is to say hello again, I’ve missed you, and here’s some of what has kept me away. It’s also to say I’m here, if you are a new parent and are maybe feeling alone or like you need help. And that it gets easier. I am now back at work again, I have even been knitting a little, and am finally feeling ready toĀ  rebuild a few more lost bits of myself. I hope you’ve all been well.

Advertisements

The Five S’s

In our birth class, we learned about the Five S’s for soothing a newborn: side-lying, shushing, sucking, swaddling, and swinging. Now that Oliver’s been here for nearly 7 weeks, it feels like life is settling into a whole new series of S’s.

There’s snuggling:

img_20160814_134333.jpg

Sleepy baby snuggles are the best.

Stretching:

img_20160814_140840.jpg

He loves his swing (thank goodness).

Sitting to pump:

img_20160814_140533.jpg

Darwin always wants attention when I do this!

Smooching:

img_20160814_140733.jpg

Gorgeous crocheted blanket courtesy of my mom.

And most adorably, smiling:

img_20160809_041218.jpg

This is a new skill he’s just starting to try out.

These past 7 weeks have been a whirlwind and I can’t believe how fast the little guy is growing. We still haven’t managed to breastfeed and I’m starting to accept that pumping milk for him is the only way he’ll get any milk from me. However, I also have an undersupply (can only produce 10-12 oz per day) so that has been frustrating. The only way to increase supply (besides some herbal supplements) is to sit and pump more frequently. I manage 6-8 times a day for 20-30 minutes a session… which means 3-4 hours a day hooked up to that machine. You’d think this would lead to a lot of knitting time but most of that time is spent doing breast compressions to produce more milk. I’m not sure how long I can keep up this effort, especially since the Fiasco will be returning to work soon. I’ll be solely responsible for the kiddo at that time and I doubt his naps will coincide with my pumping schedule.

img_20160807_181833314.jpg

I suppose ‘super cool sunglasses’ could be another S.

That said, I’m also beginning to accept that whatever I can do is good enough. I’ve read about women with an oversupply who can pump 60 oz in a day in just 4 sittings, or women who manage to get their infants to accept the breast after several months of bottle feeding. Hearing that, it’s difficult for me to be ok with only providing 1/3 of Oliver’s needs with breastmilk, since my brain weasels immediately chime in with “if they can do it, you should be able to do it, too” and boy, are they persistent. But if I’ve learned anything from my pregnancy and labor and very beginning of motherhood, it’s that I am not actually in charge here. I don’t get to choose how all of this goes. I can try my hardest for what I think is best, but it may or may not work out that way, and as long as we’re all happy and thriving in the end, that’s ok.

In other news, I have managed a wee bit of knitting here and there. I’m re-knitting the feet of some awesome socks my Verdant Gryphon friends made for Oliver, since he’s already outgrown them! These socks match an adorable hat and cardi set, so they obviously must live on. And I’ve finally sorted out my Sky Blanket dilemmas. I had debated several ways of knitting this project, including everything from an individual stripe to represent the sky for each day of the first year of Oliver’s life, to a patchwork of month-long stripey squares. In the end, I realized the stripey squares were going to be a pain in the butt (too much untangling of multiple yarn balls to contend with) and I went with tiny mitered squares instead (as many of you suggested). These squares are a mere two inches wide so about 360 of them (15 across, 24 tall) should make a decently sized baby blanket. There will be a trillion ends to weave in, but I’m not planning to leave it all for the end. After much debate, I’ve decided on the following color combinations for different weather:

  • yellow with light blue edge = sunny, cloudless sky
  • dark grey solid = overcast sky
  • dark blue with light grey edge = thunderstorm
  • dark blue and light grey stripes = drizzle
  • white and light blue stripes = blue skies with white clouds
  • white solid = snow (not yet knit)
  • light grey solid = fog (not yet knit)

That should cover the majority of a year’s weather in New England, we’ll see if anything else pops up. I’m knitting individual diamonds as pictured above for the first row, then will join them together by picking up stitches between two of the diamonds to knit a third, following the Sock Yarn Blanket method. Just 5 more to go before I can begin joining them together! I’m hoping I can catch up on all the days I’ve missed sooner than later and get into a rhythm of kitting one square per day as this project grows.

Oliver Hatched!

I have been attempting to find time to sit at my computer and write a blog post for 3 weeks. This has not happened, so I’ve given in and am doing my best to post from my phone. The reason for my blogging delay is currently asleep on my chest, making adorable infant snuffling noises. Oliver Sam (formerly known as the Hatchling) was born at 5 am on June 28 after 30 hours of not-so-fun labor. But he’s here, he’s healthy, and he’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made.

We’ve been struggling with breastfeeding, in that we haven’t actually managed it. Oliver refuses to latch (that’s a nice way of saying he screams bloody murder) even though we’ve spoken to every doctor and lactation consultant out there. We’re still working on it but in the meantime he’s growing well on formula and the breastmilk I’ve been able to pump. The whole feeding thing has been a lot harder than I’d expected but I’m trying to keep in mind that of all the problems we could have, this is a manageable one.

We’re a tad tired but the Fiasco and I are really making a pretty great team and are enjoying learning the ropes as new parents. We had lots of visitors in the beginning and are gearing up for lots more in the near future. Routines and all sense of time have pretty much gone out the window!

I have knit just one thing in the past 3 weeks: the crown of the green gradient hat for Oliver. I started his Sky Blanket also but didn’t love my color combination for certain weather so I’m starting over. I’ve been writing down the sky every day and I’ll probably end up just knitting my square all at once. Don’t worry, Oliver isn’t hurting for knitwear. My spinning friend Christine knit him/us a gorgeous bamboo and cotton lace blanket/shawl and generous members of the Verdant Gryphon group on Ravelry made a Newborn Vertebrae cardi and coordinating hat, socks, and mitts that fit him perfectly (blue set). Unlike my knits, where the hat and socks are way too big and the cardi is nearly already too small. I’ll have to get cracking on some more knits now that I have an actual baby to measure!


Guys, I can’t believe I’m somebody’s mom. I could just stare at his perfect little face all day (and basically do).