things are better. thank you so much for all of your support, and comments. love the comments. i felt better right after posting. free therapy, i’m telling you. i am trying. enjoying some sweet moments with her. trying on the fact that she is mine. i think i want to change her blog name to Chicky. i have mnay thoughts, provoked by your many thoughtful comments, but i started work this week and have no time to blog tonight. oh, i am pumping, in the hopes that i’ll be able to relactate and she will want to nurse with me. i’m finding that holding her close and the few times she did comfort nurse were the times i felt closest to her. but it is hard and not very motivating…the pump. hate that thing. anyone had any luck inducing lactation? it hurts. and i’m getting discouraged and it has only been 3 days of earnest pumping. i think it will be worth it? more later. btw, her butt is so very small.
the ‘other’ mother May 25, 2008
WARNING: Complaining ahead. Don’t go there if you need me to be rosy and grateful.
Being the other mother thus far, is unfun, to say the least. Maybe I’m the only asshole who feels this way.
It seems that even the lesbian books who discuss the sucky parts challenges of being the “other mother” just seem to be having a different experience than me. Maybe it is just my personality, or the fact that I was a birth mom so recently. I don’t know. But it ain’t easy, I tell you that. It isn’t “challenging”. It sucks.
And I’m feeling pretty alone in this. No one in our lives, IRL, has experienced motherhood from this perspective. I have no strengths in this area (being easy going, trusting, selflessly caretaking – like my dear S). But I can’t even compare myself, really, to how she handled being the other mother because it was so different the first time around. And she’s a different person. Plus, when S was in this role she could fall back on being related to Smarty, because she was. Every way Smarty looked, everything he did, every attriblute, could have been from her gene pool (S’s brother was our donor).
Yet, S was so good in this role and that makes me feel like even more of a failure.
All the stuff I read about on this topic it discusses fairness issues, which just don’t work for me.
Chicory and I had an interesting discussion about this recently, when she was at my house. About the need lesbains have for equanimity, fairness, equality. How this isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes it simply doesn’t work int he parenthood realm. For instance, when S and I get into the fairness game about babies, we both loose. We get lost in youstayedhomefor3yearsIonlyget3months or youworkedfromhomefor1yearwhileIonlyget3weeks.
Not fair, on either front. Same with the breastfeeding. I feel this pressure from to ‘let S have her turn‘. Her turn with the birth, with the breastfeeding, with the decisions of early infancy. Because I had my turn with Smarty. The problem with this is that we are in a totally different situation now. There is no fair. There is no turn. Or maybe there is, and I am just a giant selfish bitch.
I just don’t know how to DO this. Be the other mother. Be not desperately needed by the baby. Not tied down. No relentless infant demanding my boobs. No constant skin to skin with that soft creature. I feel like I could disappear and she wouldn’t notice. Which, at this point, is true.
For me, when there were motherhood doubts, as the birth mother, there was this primal reassurance, yes, yes, this is my baby, I gave birth to this baby, this baby needs me, this baby needs my milk, I can’t run away (ever) from this baby because I am his mother. This time I have no reasurrance, internally. I have the opposite. I feel, starkly, the contrast. How unneeded I am. How little time I actually spend with her. How much she doesn’t look like me.
This role is WAY harder than even my pessimistic nature anticipated. Like WAY.
Also, we are both the moms, and I wish people in our lives would stop referring to her as the ‘new mama’. She has been a mama for 3 1/2 years. I suppose they mean she just gave birth. That is ‘new’. I don’t know. It just seems that our friends and family, even the sensitive lovely ones, often say things that sting…that highlight the differences I am already painfully aware of and defensive about. Oh, and it doesn’t help that Littleo looks exacly like S. That is constantly commented upon, by everyone. Secretly, alone in our home, I am completely thrilled that she looks like my beautiful S, and surprised and grateful that she does not look like our donor. Yet, I wish that people were a little more thoughtful about saying that so often. It hurts my feelings, as a constant reminder that she looks NOTHING like me and is not related to me in any way, and it hurts S’s feelings that it hurts my feelings. Good times.
I feel left out. Sad. Not needed. Unconnected. And, sadly, I’m going back to work next week. I am afraid that everyone thinks I am an ungrateful asshole for complaining about this at length, when we have this gorgeous little baby, but this blog has never been about all of my easy happy feelings, so why lie? Why pretend that this time with our perfect baby is blissful?
One of the hardest parts has been Littleo deciding she doesn’t want me to comfort nurse her. It is probably necause i don’t have milk yet, but I can’t help but feel incredibly rejected – like the lesser mom – rejected by my own kid. Unable to comfort our daughter the way I did for so many years with our son. Logically, I know that I will need to work hard to breastfeed, and that I cannot take the actions of a 23 day old baby, personally.
But this is not logical. This business of motherhood is primal.
The truth is I could spend more time with my daughter. I could pick her up and rock her more. I could try harder. I could. But with Smarty I didn’t have to work hard for his attention, or to soothe him. I had magical boobs that fixed everything.
I don’t know, maybe if I was a dad this would still be hard, but there would be no comparison to the other experience, and if there was (like for a trans dad) there would be a new role to fulfill, a clear place to exsist, with its very own holiday – coming in June. But I’m not the dad.
And please, friends, do not think that I am talking shit on this caretaking role, on being the one who didn’t give birth. I have nothing but respect for all the women who accept this role with grace, and embrace the beauty of it, the realness of it, the complicatedness, and fiercely love their babies. I only lament that I am unable, yet, to do the same.
I am too scared, in recent days, to reach out to Littleo, because it hurts. The distance between us is growing and I do know that I am her mother and I am the only one to bridge the distance, to work harder, to find my place, to be brave – to love her despite how much it hurts to do so, despite the differences, despite my own pain.
Right now that feels slightly impossible, and that is the ugly truth.
how we are May 21, 2008
this is going to be a bullet post, just so you are not expecting much.
- S’s plugged duct is finally better. Finally. Although another part of the breast is now sore. Can my wife catch a break? Our lactation consultant referred us to a chiropractor who does ultrasound treatments (thank you so much to the commenters who recommended this, as it made us actually make an appointment to do the ultrasounding). It worked.
- We hung out with Klove, Sassa, and Chicory last week, which was GREAT. Our kids played well together (despite Chicory’s post!). Smarty was just tired by the end of the day. Sassa is so cute I just wanted to bite her. And pull her hair. Oh man, that hair. And her skin. She really needs to be kissed and squozen all the time. Smarty has been a giant know-it-all-bossy-pants lately with his “nice” best friend, so S and I though it was funny for him to be bossed by a girl a year younger! We hearted them. All of them. Sassa and Smarty would make some pretty kids, you know, in like 25 years. Right? And Chicory, we truly LOVED Sassa, and so did Smarty, you guys were perfectly on top of things and she was so funny. I especially loved Sassa picking her nose (and eating it), more fervently the more I said ‘eeeeeeeeeew, Sassa’. She is so freaking smart.
- I’m having some ‘how is this my kid?’ feelings. I don’t spend much time with littleo because I have to do everything around the house, and she wants to nurse all the time. She sleeps right next to S, because she wants to nurse and because I don’t sleep well next an infant, never have. So I’m feeling a little…left out – and a little tired of being the caretaker/cooker/cleaner/toddler putter to bedder/toddler entertainer/getter of water/washer of the breast pump parts. What has been wonderful for ME this week is that people have signed up to bring us meals, which started this week, and that has truly been grace giving and luxurious. Anyway, I am feeling a little bit sad and sorry for myself. Oh, and my oh so long and abundant 3 week maternity leave is over at the end of this week. More later on our lovely should we both breastfeed fight. Good times.
dammit May 17, 2008
S has a plugged duct. After a day of Lecethin, homeopathy, warm compresses, pumping, nursing all the time, showers, massaging and endless bleb searching…it is still plugged. Just when she was finally feeling better downtown (ouchy 3rd degree tear and all).
baby fights May 15, 2008
Sometimes, when one is sleep deprived and emotional, one fights with one’s partner – about things that should not be the topic of an argument. I’m just saying.
MIL, the final chapter May 13, 2008
Lets see, where did we leave off? S decided to have her there for the pushing/birth part only. This didn’t feel like much of a compromise to me, but I let it go.
I did ask S if we could wait until we were at the hotel hospital to tell her we were there (as opposed to calling her on our way and having her show up an hour later). We didn’t call her for hours, thank god. She did eventually come to the hospital, but I tried not to leave the room to minimize the opportunity for vibing. The one time I did leave the room, MIL was standing with her nose an inch from the door. Stalker anyone?
I was a little taken aback, so I didn’t say hi immediately. MIL filled the silence with “I was just listening to see if I could hear S.” Duh. I mumbled something, got what I needed and returned to the room. MIL had returned to her seat in the lobby. WTF? I don’t have anything else to say about this.
So after a lot of pushing (2 + hours – details to come later) S said, between contractions, “get my mom and my brother”.
I wish I could say she didn’t ruin anything. I can say that mostly she didn’t.
When she came in the room, at S’s request, she came right up to S, who at that point had an oxygyn mask on and was clearly in an altered state. The other women who were there for the birth were quietly standing a good distance back, and only the doula and I were right next to S. I can’t really describe how inapprpriate her approach was. It was, as always, all about her – her need to “greet” S (like this is the time to come and say “Hi, how are you?”) instead of just standing back with everyone else.
S, bless her, grumbled through the oxygyn mask, “back up”. Of course MIL did not hear her, so I had to tell her. “S wants you to back up.” But a few minutes later, our stupid nurse (the only stupid one we had during the whole 5 day stay), who didn’t witness the previous exchange, motioned for her to go to S’s sbedside. Why was she so dumb? I mean obviously if there were 3 friends with us during the whole labor, while MIL waited outside, there was some reason behind this, and one should not assume that the mother should stand right next to the laboring woman. Right?
So S had to say, AGAIN, “I need you to back up” and MIL didn’t hear her, AGAIN. This time S’s brother whispered to MIL that S wanted them to stand further back, and ushered her away. And by “away” I mean standing 5 feet back from S’s bed, straight in front of my line of sight.
I did some breathing. Breath. Breath. I did some refocusing. Eventually she moved to the other side of the bed, which was closer to me, but thankfully not in my live of sight.
As S pushed, we encouraged her. “We” being me and the doula and occasionally our friend K. But then. Then. MIL started to chime in with encouragements. She had absolutely no ability to gauge the mood in the room, to pay attention to who was doing what, to where people were standing, to pause and see what was appropriate. She just barged into a space where all of us had been in a rhythm for many many hours. I was very close to glaring at her or telling her to shutthefuckup, but I didn’t want to give her one more iota of energy. Breath. Breath.
I will save the account of the moment she was born for another post, because I really don’t want it connected to this post about MIL. The silver lining? At least she wasn’t there for any ANY any of the labor…well, except for when I caught her listening at the door.
ouch May 10, 2008
our lactation consultant said that it would be a good idea for me to do some supplementing (to give S’s poor boobs a break). so i have used S’s pumped milk to supplement littleo a few times. we put her milk in a syringe attached to a tiny tube that is placed in her mouth with my n!pple. OUCH. she’s a naughty little biter. S is thrilled to have me confirm this about our tiny daughter. she is a rascal.
i just stopped breastfeeding our son about a year ago, and we are deciding, i think, to both breastfeed littleo. we were not sure, either of us, if it would feel weird. but it doesn’t. the first time i comfort nursed her, i cried. i can’t describe how strange it felt to have a baby that i was not nursing. only because it was what i did to comfort Smarty for almost 2 1/2 years. so nursing littleo deeply confirmed for me how mine she is. S did not do this with Smarty, but i think she would have if she had nursed previously. it is lovely to have the support of our lactation consultants, and i will only be supplementing her for a week or so and then pumping for for 4-6 weeks so that S can establish a hearty supply. S is surprised by how good it feels to have me helping with the nursing. it is bonding and happy for all of us. so far. we’ll see how it goes.
S and i will each have littleo 2 days per week when S returns to work in a few months so it would be very handy to both have the boob magic…and it will put less pressure on S to pump like crazy while she is working. but nursing hurts in the beginning (hurts like a motherfucker, truly), and i don’t know that i will really have the sticktoitiveness to pump for 4 weeks to build up my supply. because, ouch.
also, i wish that there was not still a small part of me that felt strange about this…partly because we don’t know anyone else who has done it. any advice? support? thoughts?
update: goddammit, i just realized that i might (will?) have to give up my beloved wellbutr!n. nonono. this definitely gives me pause.
(birth story to come, in installments.)
oh, and have you seen “fl!ght of the concords”? funny ass show, that.
eff. these posts are getting randomer and randomer (yes i know that randomer is not a word.) jesus, look at all my crazy parentheses.