Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day and Night

When I was pregnant with Cookie, I remember torturing myself with my impending labor by watching one of those shows on t.v that follows a family through the birth of their child. One particular birth stood out in my mind. It made me feel comfortable with what was to come. Made me feel at peace.

The new mother described the moment her child was placed on her chest as the most beautiful, most wonderful, full of love and warmth feeling she had ever felt. It made me cry. I couldn't wait to feel this. I couldn't wait to have my baby in my arms and know that all was well. I couldn't wait to feel that all encompassing love for this new being that I had made. Maybe I set myself up for disappointment, but the moment they placed Cookie on my chest, what I felt was the complete opposite.

My labor with Cookie was intense. Fast and intense from the moment I felt the first contraction. Pushing was equally fast, just ten minutes. I'm not sure why, but when they placed Cookie on my chest, I was expecting to feel that glow of love, that feeling of rightness that the mother in that show had described, instead I felt relief, annoyance, and indifference. Here was a perfect beautiful baby and I felt, ehh. I had some tearing and it was taking forever to sew me up. As I watched my husband bath our new baby and clean her up, all I felt was relief. Relief that it was over, relief that she was okay, and relief that they were taking care of her and I didn't have to.

I tried to force myself to feel happy. To feel that all encompassing love, but it wasn't there. Then I felt inadequate, horrible, like the worst mother out there. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I feel better? I wasn't depressed. I didn't feel hopeless. I felt nothing. My emotions were everywhere. I felt confused and hazy.

Bringing home Cookie didn't go so well either. I had trouble nursing, she became jaundiced and lost weight. The lactation consultant seemed concerned. All I could do was cry. I was a failing mother. I couldn't even feed my child, the most natural thing in the world...or so I thought. No one told me nursing was work. No one had warned me that there might be issues. But, I was stubborn and determined to make it work. And my parents were on their way. Frankly this upset me more. I didn't want to show my mom what a failure I was. Hubby and I were just not up to hosting guests. It would be my parent's first time in our home, their first time visiting us since we moved, and I was a wreck.

On day five, just like our Lamaze instructor said, I broke down. It was the middle of the night, I was trying to shove my nipple into Cookie's mouth so she could eat. She was screaming, and it was not working. My Dad came in, kissed me on the head and said, "you can do it, she can do it, it will be okay." My Dad has never really known how to talk to us girls, but at that moment, it was the words I needed. He made me believe when no one else could.

Nursing was an uphill battle, but eventually Cookie and I worked it out. Really what made the difference was a call from my mid-wife. When I described how Cookie seemed to be colicky. That no amount of colic tabs, or plain chicken and rice diet seemed to help. That she cried and cried and ate and ate until she pooped, that something seemed wrong, and the nurse at the pediatrician just kept telling me she had gas and I could only give her so much mylicon, that she suggested it might be a problem with her sphincter, that it might be too small. Well, let's just say, an insisted Dr.'s visit, and exam confirmed the mid-wife's diagnosis...and within a couple weeks things quieted down.

My love for Cookie of course grew and my post pardon reduced. By month six, I felt the fog lifting, like I was being weighted down, and when I felt my hormones shift, I felt more alive, more in love with my daughter, and frankly happier. I think my relationship with Cookie will mirror my labor, will follow the aftermath of her birth. We will but heads, it will be fiery, and there will be intense feeling.

Fast forward two years and Jelly's birth was the complete opposite of her sister's. I went into labor as I was going to bed. Contractions were slow and irregular....5 minutes, 7 minutes, 3 minutes....etc. I let hubby sleep until 3 a.m. before waking him. Even after they broke my waters, labor was more painful, but soooo different. Pushing took me close to an hour. And when they placed her on my chest, I felt that glow, that love, that perfect fit. There are pictures of me after having Jelly, where I am ebullient. I felt even. I felt right. I felt myself. It was wonderful, it was fantastic, it was slightly depressing knowing that I had missed this euphoria after Cookie.

Hormones are an amazing thing. What I feel today, what I felt after Jelly was completely night and day compared to Cookie. I wish someone could have helped me understand that you don't always get that automatic feeling of "rightness" of well being, of love. But for now, I know that what I felt with Cookie was not wrong, it just was.

1 comment:

  1. Every labor, every baby, every birth are different experiences. I've done it four times myself, and they've all been so very different. Hormones can do a number on you, that's for sure. I'm just as stubborn as you though I think....nursing wasn't easy or beautiful or natural...but we figured it out.