Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dazed and confused

It's been an interesting few days, in the aftermath of my melodramatic post over the weekend. After I wrote it, D and I had a long talk, which improved things greatly (as did his offer to go to our favorite cheap restaurant and buy us takeout steak salads and sweet potato fries for dinner). And, yes, yesterday I made it to the moms group. As I drove, I imagined getting there to find the room empty, with me the only loser who showed up. I even went so far as to make mental contingency plans about what I'd do with my fancy sandwich and the baby when that happened.

Of course, I arrived and there were already several moms and babies; by 1 pm, there must have been ten pairs hanging out on the floor and some loveseats, just chatting and watching the babes. It was warm and friendly and totally unmoderated, which was nice. One notable moment: I met a baby one day younger than Ess. He was full-term, and the difference between him and my peanut was striking: He's quite huge, at least some of which is genetic, and developmentally of course he's way ahead of her. That was a little disappointing to me, though not unexpected; Ess is supposed to be "behind" developmentally. Still, in the privacy of our home, she is a perfect little girl who is exactly as she's supposed to be. And I need to remember that that philosophy applies in public, too.

I ran into my neighbor at the moms group; she lives a few houses up and has a daughter two weeks older than Ess. She told me about a breastfeeding support group sponsored by the lactaction consultants from the hospital on Tuesdays, so, in search of a reason to get out of the house, Ess and I made it over there this afternoon. That meeting, it was not so good. Like Anita, who said at one point (sorry, too lazy to search for the post) that she needs to process everything important over and over before letting go of it, I spent this afternoon and evening talking, talking, talking to D, to a friend of a friend and to M, the LLL leader, about what I thought was the lousy advice I got from the LC running the group. In short, she advised that I start pumping again because of concern (hers, not mine) about my supply due to my use of the nipple shield.

This is something that had come up at the moms' group yesterday, too; lots of women talked about low supply, medication, herbal remedies, etc. This was news to me: It never occurred to me to worry about my milk supply. Ess has been steadily gaining weight and producing more than her fair share of wet diapers, so I've been unconcerned. But between all those women yesterday and the LC today, I started to worry about the fact that I'm not worried.

I felt the same way today when the subject of c-sections came up. So many women talked about the guilt they feel about their child's birth, that they'd had all kinds of plans about the kind of birth they wanted and that with the c-section they deprived themselves and their baby of that. I know this guilt is not uncommon, but I just don't feel that way. Yes, I would have preferred a full-term pregnancy and a vaginal birth, but it didn't happen that way -- Ess needed to come early in order to be safe, and so that's what we did. And that is ok with me.

In any case, I left the meeting feeling like there is something wrong with me -- like I am not concerned enough about my baby, since I'm just not feeling these emotions that other women are having. I started to wonder, am I sleepwalking through this kid's life? Am I in some kind of shock from her birth still?

After yapping about it all afternoon and evening, I feel pretty strongly that the answer to those questions is a firm "No." I am fine, and Ess is fine, and we are just going to be a bit more choosy about where we spend our time. Suffice it to say, we will not be going back to the breastfeeding group. Nor, I can report with some pride, will I be pumping again until I go back to work.

So far, this motherhood thing is exhausting -- and the worst parts are the self-inflicted ones. The crying baby, the hungry baby, the baby who spits up directly down the neck of my tank top so the warm fluid runs between my newly ginormous breasts... all of that I can (usually) handle. The self doubt, the inadequacy schtick (apologies to Phantom), the mental calculation of Ways in Which I Am Doing This Wrong -- this is what needs to go.

Something tells me I will be working on ditching those habits for a looooong time to come.