Sunday, February 6, 2011

At seven weeks

Willow has developed rolls of fat around her upper thighs, her neck and her wrists. This is good for her sake (she must be gaining sufficient weight, though I haven’t weighed her since she was 7 pounds 5 oz) and for mine (I must be providing enough milk, despite our difficulties).

I am full-out fighting thrush, but it is still winning. The big crack from the early days is still there. I wonder if my nipples will ever be normal again.

We are getting smiles and coos and these light up our lives. There is nothing more heartwarming than my baby looking up at me and smiling. I feel a great sense of fulfillment in ensuring her happiness and well-being.

I have yet to try pumping or giving Willow a bottle. I’ve wanted to wait until we get over all our breastfeeding problems before I add another element into the picture. I wonder if this is a mistake.

River seems to have returned to his cheerful, good-natured self. He is wonderful with Willow, telling me she needs milk when she cries, giving her kisses, and caressing her fingers. It’s beautiful to watch. Though his relationship with Mark has strengthened in the past several weeks, I still feel our bond and that is reassuring. He watched part of a movie about Lagos with me and asked me repeatedly to take him to Nigeria. I didn’t assent as willingly as I do to his requests to travel to other places (I’d be nervous about going to Lagos myself), but I do love the possibility that he may someday be interested in joining me on some adventures.

I will leave Willow for an hour or two at a time. But since I have no food to leave with whoever is caring for her, it’s a precarious situation. I do it only when it’s necessary (mainly my class – which meets three times a week) or quick (taking River to Spanish story hour or other short outings).

It seems kind of early to me, but it feels like Willow is already on something pretty close to a schedule. She sleeps from somewhere between 6 and 8 p.m. until about 7 a.m., waking up for feedings in between and then going back to sleep. She gets tired in the late morning and might sleep a bit. The best way to get a nap of any significant length is to take her on a car ride. Then I can carry the car seat into the house and if I’m lucky, I might get an hour or two.

A pedometer has been reattached to my hip and I’m slowing increasing my goal for daily movement. I’m now at the rather modest goal of 4,500 steps per day. But even that is forcing me out of the house more, even into the cold. I can’t wait for spring to arrive.

I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more on breastfeeding issues in the past seven weeks than formula would have cost. At some point, I’d like to do the math. Though breastfeeding is something I want to do, and something I want to give my baby, it bothers me when people argue that it’s easy and cheap. Some social assistance programs are now promoting breastfeeding among low-income women. Which might be great. Their babies need the benefits as much as anyone else. But it is not fair to put a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed without also offering the supports needed to do so successfully. As in sufficient time off of work, the time and space to pump at work, the equipment needed to pump, and care for older siblings to allow time to breastfeed and/or pump. I have all of those things and am still struggling enough that at times I wondered if I could continue.

It seems so obvious, but I’m often amazed at just how dependent babies are on those around them. I understand how what happens now, when they are so helpless, can shape them for the long term. Thinking of the babies who are ignored, mistreated or otherwise acquainted with the harshness of the world from their earliest days makes me very sad.

I’m so grateful for the maternity leave I have. If I had to go back now, as many American women do, I’d have to stop breastfeeding. If I had to go back after 12 weeks, I would spend the entire leave either trying to solve breastfeeding problems and/or preparing to pump for work. I wouldn’t be able to experience even a week of relaxed quality time with my baby. And since I’m doubtful I could pump enough right off the bat to cover the absence a full-time job would require, we’d probably have to start supplementing and breastfeeding would then begin its slide.

1 comment:

LazyBones said...

Sorry, I have no thrush advice for you. But I'm glad to hear your boy is back to normal. Mine is too, after a rough couple of weeks, and it makes all the difference in the world as far as our everyday happiness.

That smile is adorable! We're seeing them with our little girl and it's so much fun to act as silly as we can, just to try & get them!