Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

The return of words

There’s poetry in my head again, and the hum of a lullaby looping.
The sun peeks out at me through these snowy days, flirting, whispering “soon, soon“.
Melancholy shifts over me, a loose cloak, never quite settling, never quite lifting. But the hum, incessant, pulls me along to its rhythm. Relentlessly warm and comforting.
Hibou eats, and sleeps, and peers at me in wonder. I do the same. She finds peace in my heartbeat, I in her breath. We orbit each other, learning, and relearnng, this dance.
I rediscover the sound of quiet. The shape of the middle of the night. The hope of a newly opened blind, calling out to the day to begin, inviting light.
The poetry comes in fragments, still, single phrases flitting briefly by. But I hear their passing, I feel their wings brush my cheek.
Soon.

Bittersweet

I’m both looking forward to, and dreading, my first glass of wine.

It will taste bitter. It will taste of tears, of guilt, of regret.

It will taste of defeat.

That first glass was supposed to be raised in a toast, to accomplishing birthing my perfect, and last, child. It was to be had in celebration.

Today, we decided to stop breastfeeding. Hibou isn’t built for it, and neither am I. She has a tied tongue, and we’ve decided not to have it fixed surgically. And me, I’ve got unusually slow letdown, due to my brain chemistry. The two combined mean that nursing would require continued superhuman efforts to sustain, not just for myself, but for Hibou too – and we would still have to supplement about two thirds of her diet. And it would guarantee that my current precarious mental state during this time of hormonal recalibration would be at serious risk.

I don’t know if we’re at the point where we’ve tried hard enough, or long enough. I will never know, and I will likely always wonder. What I do know is that we’re at the point where the costs of breastfeeding far outweigh the benefits, and we’re not just risking doing harm to mom or baby – we actually are, to both.

I’m devastated.

It’s not just that breastfeeding seems like this beautiful, sacred thing that has been stolen from me – it’s that it’s my disease’s fault. And therefore, in my heart of hearts, mine.

Would I change my brain chemistry if I could? If it meant not being an artist anymore? Not being the kind of creative parent that can just barely stay one step ahead of Bonhomme?

I soothed both my children to sleep tonight, using my brain, my body, my love, my words, my breath – but not my breasts.

I have a few days of pumping to face, to help alleviate the engorgement as I wean. For me, in this situation, it turns this beautiful, warm, nurturing, sacred act into factory farming. It reminds me only of what I can’t do, what I can’t have. Along with this, I will have another hormone crash to survive, on top of the post-birth load that I am still processing. It will mean some more days of tears and torture.

I know Hibou is just fine with this bottlefeeding plan – it will allow me to give her more of myself, not less. It’s my complicated, guilt-ridden, ridiculously illogical feelings about my mental health that aren’t so fine.

Switching from breast to bottle gives us the gift of time. Hibou will need my cuddles even more, but I will be able to give them while sitting in the sun reading, while holding her in a sling while doing chores or playing with Bonhomme, while doing a puzzle and allowing my body to recover from surgery. It will let us both sleep more at night. Soon, it will give me the freedom to go out with Hibou, to walk and regain my strength, to do all the things my non-medication approach to my mental health requires. It will allow me to enjoy life, to enjoy Hibou, to have the fullest experience of motherhood that is available to me.

I will try to find some sweetness in that glass of wine. Some earthiness, some complexity, some body and weight, some subtle nuances. I will look for a balanced bouquet, flavour, length, feel.

It will taste of acceptance.

Talking Sense

“How’s it going?” Friend asks, checking in on me.
“Today’s a hard day,” I reply.
She murmurs sympathetically.
“Well, there’s going to be hard days,” she says.

There were always going to be hard days. Even the most angelic baby is hell when establishing breastfeeding. They don’t mean to be, but repeated and prolonged suctioning of two of your most sensitive body parts on almost no sleep while rebalancing nine months worth of hormones and coming off of pain medication while healing from major abdominal trauma will bring anyone to their knees.

Dearest helps me get through a good cry.
“Tomorrow will be better,” he reminds me.
“Don’t underestimate the effects of morphine withdrawal,” he wisely comments when I start sobbing over my inability to relax and sleep every time I get the precious chance. “It’s not necessarily your anxiety disorder.”

I kiss five tiny toes.
I’d tell you that I don’t know what we did to deserve this miracle child, sleeping, eating, snuggling so peacefully, except that I think that I do. We got here.
We’ll get through.

My cup runneth over

Bonhomme is a big brother: enter Hibou.

She is a delight. And other than his eyes and shoulders, she is nothing at all like her brother.

She sleeps. She eats. She settles. None of which Bonhomme did. Now, he did have the monopoly on movie star looks, I’ll give him that. Not that Hibou doesn’t hold her own, but to me, it is her demeanor that is stunning.

I finally understand how people can have siblings that are close in age, by choice. “Every baby’s different,” they kept telling me. I just thought they were lying, or forgetting, or conspiring. And even if they weren’t, what if they were wrong? Based on my experience with Bonhomme, I knew I needed my stamina and fortitude well renewed. What a wonder to have all that worry be unnecessary.

I’m sure there are many new and unexpected challenges ahead. But even today, in the midst of hormones doing their tectonic post-birth shift, Hibou gives me hope and gratitude overflowing.

We’re not out of the woods yet, I know – there’s a ways to go recovery-wise, and while there are moments of bliss, there are moments of a whole lot of other things too. But this child is a miracle through and through, no matter how long or hard the road has been to get here, or from here it wends.

Bienvenue, Hibou.