Her Bad Mother

Friday, June 6, 2008

When You Get To The End Of Your Rope...

I'm still overwhelmed, but I'm hanging on. I don't know how to begin to thank you all for your supportive comments and offers of help and words of advice and all. that. love. It's been keeping me sane. Thank you. So much.

The boobs are still mind-bogglingly sore, but much improved. The nethers, ditto. The mind and psyche are still a little on the snappish side, but I am, as I said above, hanging on. The heart? Is full to bursting. But that's good.

Soon I'll have something happy to say about new motherhood, round two. Because the happy is there, it really is - it's just been hard to hold on to what with all the crashing waves of holy hell this shit is hard. But it's there. It is. And I'll find words for it soon.

(I'm very sorry that I've been terrible in responding to e-mails recently - I promise you that I've read them, I just haven't been up for responding with the attention that they deserve. I will respond, though, I promise.)

(Also, much belated thanks to Diapers and Wine and PunditMom for awarding this post a Perfect Post Award. It means a lot to me that that post resonated, it really does.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Last night, I snapped.

Yesterday was my first day totally on my own - husband gone from early 'til late, me alone with a boob-chomping infant and, for the latter part of the day, after daycare, a spirited toddler - and I just couldn't do it. I made it until dinnertime and then - nips and nethers aching badly, infant squalling endlessly for more booby more booby more booby, toddler chucking her pizza to the floor, stripping off her clothes and embarking upon her own, unsuccessful, toilet-training regimen (a story that might be funny in another lifetime but cannot even be recounted here in barest outline because I will start crying again) - I snapped. Snapped.

Which means, only, that I ended up immobilized in the corner with infant fastened like a vise to my ravaged boobies, sobbing helplessly and uncontrollably while my beautiful and entirely naked daughter laid waste to our living and dining rooms. I stayed there and sobbed until HBF walked in the door and took charge. Then I went to bed - infant still clinging to tit with his gummy iron grip - and wept until I couldn't breathe. I didn't fling myself under a bus, I didn't have quote-unquote intrusive thoughts - I just collapsed under the weight of the feeling, however misguided, that I cannot do this, not on my own. That however much a blessing is the birth of this most-beloved boy - and it is, truly, the greatest blessing - it is overwhelming. That however capable and sane I think I am, that capability and that sanity crumble under the weight of pain and stress and the awful, terrible feeling of maternal helplessness.

I know that these are extreme circumstances - I'm recovering from a physically traumatic childbirth, I'm struggling with breastfeeding, my husband is away from home for long hours, and I have a history of PPD - and that I'm doing the best that I can. I know that this is different from the first time, when I just got anxious and sad and huddled in the dark feeling lost and alone. I know that I'm not lost, that I'm not alone. But the painful difference, this time, is precisely this: I am not alone. As I huddle in the corner, infant clutched to breast, sobbing uncontrollably, I have a companion, and a witness: my daughter. Who understands that tears mean pain and fear and sadness. Who worries for her Mommy. Who, last night, in the fray, shushed her brother loudly, saying don't hurt Mommy. Who asked, do I hurt you Mommy?

Oh, sweetie, it's not you, you haven't hurt Mommy; Jasper hasn't hurt Mommy; neither of you hurt Mommy, not ever. It's just... a special kind of Mommy-hurt... but it's okay. Mommy's okay.

Truth, and lies.


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Monday, June 2, 2008

The Boobityville Horror

It's been two weeks since my little big boy blasted his way into our lives, and I'd had every intention, this weekend, of crafting some wonderfully mushy letter to him, welcoming him to the world and rhapsodizing over his wonderfulness: his beauty, his sweetness, his calm, his impossibly tiny little bum. But I can't. My boobs hurt too much.

It's not that I write or think with my boobs - although this might be a more interesting blog if either of those things were true - but it's impossible for me right now to write or think about anything but my boobs. They're that sore. I've gotten through the circle of hell that is Early Engorgement, only to find myself in the deeper circle that is Chomped Off Nips (chomped off nips that aren't healing efficiently, such that - TMI alert - one of them has a nasty tendency - TMI TMI - to ooze blood into the breast pump that I employ, sometimes, to give that particular boob a break from the tenderizing effect of Mr. Chompsalot's sturdy gums during his more enthusiastic boob frenzies.)

So it is that when I think about writing a touching letter to my infant son at this particular moment in time, the draft sounds something like this:

Dear Jasper,

Welcome to the world. I adore you. Please stop chomping* off my nipples.



(*Chomping is a bit misleading. Mr. Chompsalot isn't chomping so much as sucking voraciously, such that the scabbing from week one isn't fully healing and, um - TMI TMI TMI - pulling right off. But it feels like the boobies have been well and fully chomped to bits - not mention dragged over pavement - so I'm going with 'chomp' as my descriptive verb of choice.)

I've spoken with a lactation consultant. I will speak with her again tomorrow. I know that his latch was problematic in the first week because of the engorgement; we've rectified that, for the most part (it's still hard to get a good latch when either boob is so sore that I continually recoil from his hungry little mouth.) I resort to the pump and bottle only when the pain is intolerable, and I need to give one or the other nip a break. I'm doing, so far as I can tell - based upon my previous breastfeeding experience (which went spectacularly badly for the first few weeks and then turned around) and my consultation with lactation specialists - everything more or less correctly. So why is it all so difficult? And why does every single freaking breastfeeding resource in the world, everywhere, insist that breastfeeding doesn't hurt and that if it does you're doing it wrong so you really shouldn't have chewed off nips but if you do oh well you'll just have to get past that by, say, taking a Tylenol and biting down on a damp rag to muffle your screaming? ("Do not stop nursing! If your nipples are exquisitely tender try numbing them with an ice cube beforehand." Thank you, Dr. Sears! You forgot to mention putting tiny earmuffs on my infant's head so that he isn't deafened by my shrieks of pain, and, also, that I'll need four fingers of straight single malt to go with that ice if there's to be any kind of useful numbing. But whatever.)

I mean, am I missing something? Is breastfeeding really just blissfully straightforward for everybody but me? In which case, I'd like to have a word with the gods, because putting me through three weeks of labor, a terrifying delivery and shredded nethers only to condemn me, on top of all that, to severe boob pain seems perverse and unjust in the extreme. I feel like a fallen brood cow that somebody forgot to euthanize. I don't like it.

Anyone got any magic remedies for ravaged nipples and general boob-related malaise? Other than multiple shots of single malt scotch, that is, which I'm already considering.

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