Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No one said it'd be easy.

I was the most miserable pregnant person you've probably ever met. No really, I acted like I was fine but everyday felt like it was put there just to torment me. Escalators were constantly out leaving only never-ending stairways. I only wanted to eat grilled cheeses (with tomato and bacon) and Ben & Jerry's and got cranky if I didn't have them. And don't get me started on the back/sciatic/pelvic pain. Really. Don't.

But I knew it was worth it every time I felt my baby kick. Every ultrasound showed a beautiful baby-shaped blob that was all mine and everything was right with the world for a little while. This was the miracle baby I thought my body would never let me have. Part me, part hubby, all perfect.

I worked right up until a week before my estimated due date of December 1st. November 30th I went to the hospital because my water had broken and it was discolored which meant that the baby had pooped in it. Not terribly uncommon, but still enough to warrant monitoring. The baby would need to be born within 24hrs they said. I had planned to labor at home until my contractions were close together in time and length. I didn't want to be limited in movement and knew that walking would help. But as I laid there waiting for my contractions that were barely noticeable at that point I knew that I would do the best for my baby with what I had to work with.

My mother, hubby and doula were all in attendance and I couldn't have done it with each one of them. I had made it clear that I wanted as little intervention as possible and no meds. I was going to will the baby out with positive thoughts, love and a whole lot of strength and resilience. It was hard. Really hard. But I had a goal and no amount of pain was going to keep me from having a healthy, med-free, alert baby.

Amethyst Rose was born on December 1st, 2010 at 1:49AM (that's right, on her due date) after 12 hours in the hospital, 7-8 hours of labor, 3 really intense pushes and many curse words. She had the cord wrapped around her neck once so the doctor eased her out in one pull as soon as her head was out. She was (and is) perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes and a good set of lungs to boot. She was wide awake and alert  right from the start and latched on to breastfeed like a pro. Mama (and Daddy) were proud... and exhausted.

And all was well. Well, almost.

You see, when we came home things became difficult. Breastfeeding proved difficult in the hospital between the largeness of my breasts/nipples and the tiny little bow mouth my daughter was blessed with. But the nurses and lactation consultant keep showing me and reshowing me how to hold her, make her latch, etc. But when we got home feeding just became hell for both of us. Amy would clamp on for a minute, suck, and then stop and scream. Which made me cry. I had milk to give but she couldn't get it. And at her 1st & 2nd pediatrician appointments it was clear she had lost too much weight. My baby was starving. We started her on supplemental formula with the hopes of weaning her off of it as soon as she reestablished breastfeeding. I tried everything, feeding her pumped milk, holding my nipple in her mouth while she screamed hoping she'd clamp down. She wanted no part of my breasts and I felt like a failure as a mother.

I always knew I was going to breastfeed. That was that. But it wasn't. At the end of the day we were both so miserable that I decided not to  make my breast a battle zone. So I pumped and fed her. And pumped and fed her. Herbal supplements, special teas, lactation consultants, anything to keep my supply up - you name it I tried it. But it dwindled. With no baby triggering the hormonal letdown of the milk my pump just couldn't make the milk amount to much. Again I had failed. So I made a decision. I would stop hating myself and just feed my baby. The most important thing was that Amy was fed and happy, and if that meant exclusive formula, so be it.

I'm not one of those mothers that think formula is the devil. Of course breastfeeding is best, but formula serves it's purpose and is there for those that need it. And then I found Eats on Feets, an organization that matches mothers that can't breastfeed with mothers that have an overabundance. Think of wet nursing. You make a connection with a mother in your region and after being satisfied that she is healthy (up to you, not Eats) you receive donated pumped milk. Full of nutrients and antibodies and love from another mother that just wants your child to experience the benefits her child has. Truly a gift from the heart.

Amy is now three and a half moths old and thriving. She's had milk from two very generous milky mamas. Yes, she does get formula sometimes to supplement, but I no longer worry about her not getting the good stuff. Some of you may find it odd or may downright oppose milk-sharing, but I'm here to tell you once you have a child you'd do almost anything to give them the best.

I'll leave you with an anecdote about my mother. When I was 17 and I had made myself so physically sick over a breakup that I thought I was pregnant my mother bought me a pregnancy test and never breathed a word of it to my father. At 22 when I told my mother I was bisexual she didn't even flinch. When at 24 I was the best man at my good friend's lesbian commitment ceremony my mother said, "That's great! I don't understand what the big deal is. Love is love." And at 27 when I cried to my mother about not being able breastfeed and using donated milk my mother showed nothing but support and thought it was amazing of another mother to give of herself like that.

That's the kind of mother I want to be.


Left of Center said...

First, this brought a tear to my eye.

Second--you will be, and ARE, that mother. You're amazing in so many ways. Things never go as expected but your love for her will show through despite the unexpected.

Earthy Mama said...

AWESOME! Your mom sounds like mine and, since she raised you, you will be an awesome mom to your precious Little Princess!

YAY to you for doing all you could to do the best for your baby girl! Formula, breast or donated, it's awesome that you made sure your boo was happy and healthy and that you were able to not hold yourself as a failure.

ravnos said...

What a story! Love ya, Becca. A good mom does whatever it takes, and you did, and you are.