It’s been such a long time since I have blogged. Since becoming a mother I feel that my time is spread paper thin, and although I wouldn’t trade my new vocation for the world, I do miss writing… and sleep.
Before I had the little Captain, I was all prepared for raising a child. My mother raised my sisters and I to know our way through homemaking, I had taught preschool, babysat, and most recently nannied a baby boy. I knew all the best baby products, could change a diaper in seconds flat, and had read every article on breastfeeding and baby wearing I could. Oh, yeah, breastfeeding? I knew I was going to do it because it was better for my baby, and because we couldn’t afford formula, but I was not looking forward to it. I have never seen it as a beautiful thing or a way to bond with your baby, rather a chore! We had everything we needed, though we purposely didn’t register for a lot of baby equipment or junk to fill up our house.
Then after 34 agonizing hours of labor, out came Captain, and lo and behold, I forgot EVERYTHING. I cried the first time he had a BM in his diaper because I was afraid it hurt him. I cried when he first spit up. I cried because I thought he was too cold. I cried because he sweat when he’d get upset. Too many new things happening along with a huge hormone rush was more than I could handle. I wondered why Milkman and I had had a baby before our first anniversary. I wanted to be alone with my husband. My body was tired. Chills, cold sweats, random crying episodes, worrying constantly I was doing something wrong, and getting the basics of breast feeding down were all killing me. I didn’t know what to do, how to cope, I felt alone and lost. So incredibly lonely and confused. Then week 4 hit, and suddenly, things started falling into place.
My sore aching body began to feel that breastfeeding was a familiar and satisfying job for me. I enjoyed bonding with the little Captain, and I began to think I would do this longer than I originally planned. I stopped worrying I was doing everything wrong, and slowly but surely, all those things I had known before Captain was born began to come back to me, as we fell into a routine. I stopped worrying about him sleeping through the night, and began to enjoy those late night/early morning cuddles after nursing. I fell more in love with my husband, watching him tend to our wee one, changing diapers, soothing him, calming my fears. I was realizing the beauty that comes along with the trials of early motherhood.
Fast forward to my first mother’s day. Milkman had surprised me and taken me and Captain to Solvang the day before Mother’s Day to enjoy a day together. Half way through the day I began feeling sick to my stomach. By the time we’d headed home, I began throwing up. We stopped halfway home so I could get some water at a gas station, and I continued throwing up. Then, the baby needed to eat. As I sat in the front seat of the car alternately nursing and vomiting, I realized that this was motherhood. I had no more sick days. I could not call in sick to work. I could not be selfish and sleep it off. My baby needed to be nourished, and I was his only means of being nourished. We got home, I ran inside to vomit again. Noah got the baby out of the car seat, while I showered and continued to be sick. The moment I was out of the shower, Captain’s little mouth was searching for food again. Though I felt completely empty, I knew that he needed to be fed. So I sat there, with a bucket next to me, feeding my baby. He did not know I was feeling the worst pain since labor. He did not know that I wanted to sleep. All he knew is that his Mama needed to feed him and hold him. At least this is what I thought. I fed him, crying from the pain, and he got a very serious and wise look in his eye. He went to sleep, and slept for his longest stretch ever. 7 hours. It was almost as if he KNEW that I needed time to be sick. I was up the whole night writhing in pain, in and out of the shower trying to find relief from illness. Unable to keep anything down, I sipped Gatorade and water, hoping that this was nothing more than food poisoning.
I got about an hour of sleep the whole night, and as the sun rose on Mother’s Day, I was sad to be spending it sick in bed. I wanted to be at church, glowing whilst holding my new baby, and seeing my own mother. Milkman gave me a beautiful card while I nursed for yet again another morning feeding. I felt I was improving and would soon be better.
Things didn’t get better, and after an extreme case of the chills and shivering, I was in an out of consciousness, and I spent my first Mother’s Day in an ambulance with an IV stuck in my arm. After several rude medical staff members, and demanding a pump so I wouldn’t lose my milk, I had emergency surgery. My appendix was swollen and perforated and I had been poisoning myself. This is when I really realized what motherhood was about. I was no longer concerned for how I felt. I was not nearly concerned for my health as I was for the health of my baby. I pumped around the clock, and Milkman was there by my side, washing pump parts, labeling and dating my milk, and making sure I had plenty of liquids going in so my milk wouldn’t stop producing. He looked up every drug and antibiotic they gave me, checking on its safety levels for a nursing mother (THANK YOU KELLYMOM.COM!). I woke up in the middle of the night crying for my baby. Milkman was my rock. My parents had a newborn sleeping in the house for the first time since I was born, and thank God they enjoyed it and Captain was (supposedly!) good for them.
I’m back home now, and unable to lift Captain just yet (He’s already 12.5 lbs and 10 weeks, where is the time going?!) He had a little difficulty getting back in the practice of nursing, since the bottle was much easier. And though he had to have 2 ozs of organic formula, I can proudly say that’s all he had to have when I was in the hospital, thanks to Noah being so wonderful and helping me keep up with pumping so we could send milk home to my parents.
I learned a very important lesson on Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is not about flowers, and special treatment. It’s not about having a day to yourself to get pampered and doted over. Those things are nice, but for a nursing mama, Mother’s Day is no different from any other day. My job remains the same: to love, care for, and feed my baby. And if that is accompanied by cards and celebrations, or by illness and emergency surgery, I am no more loving or less devoted to caring for my child.
Captain is teaching me a lot about being a mama. Sometimes with frustration and crying, and sometimes with cooing and smiles, but I would not trade any of it. I am proud to be his mama, and Milkman’s wife. I am learning that being the hand that rocks the cradle is a far more important calling than any other I have had in the past.
He’s crying now, time to feed him again.