Saturday, March 28, 2009
emerging from the trenches
matthew propped up a few eames cards for leon since he was looking a bit bored with his crib. i'm so happy that leon can see things now, although that means we now have to work much harder to keep him amused.
so, it's been 5 weeks now since leon was born. a lot has happened, and yet a lot hasn't happened. the first 2 weeks were great. leon rarely cried or fussed. even though i was having a hard time breast-feeding (ouch), he was gaining weight like a pro. i had lost a lot of the baby weight immediately and was feeling confident that my body would bounce back in no time once my stitches healed.
our troubles began during week 3. the day after leon and i went to a post partum support group, he was inconsolable. all day long he fussed, grunting and whining. i couldn't leave his side and went nearly mad trying to figure out how to make him happier. the next day was better, but feedings became more difficult. he would eat for shorter periods (3-5 minutes), stop, and then commence screaming at my breast. i tried not to take it personally. it got so bad that i would try to force him on, and he would scream and push me away, which obviously isn't a good tactic on my part. at one point during the night i made matthew take him away from me because i was about to lose it.
ever since then, we have good feedings, and then we have really awful ones. often he will stop eating if he has a poopy diaper. after this happens, he starts screaming until we change it. he also will stop feeding and begin writhing violently while crying at least 4 times in a 24 hour period. i suspect that he's constipated, but i don't know how to make it better, so i rub his belly, burp him, and hope for the best.
oh yes. my life revolves around leon's digestive system.
a huge part of the problem is that leon and i are having a really hard time getting to know each other. i'm terrible at reading him, and well, he's just a baby, so i can't expect him to do much in return. when he turns bright red, i know he's about to start his high-pitched wail, so i scoop him up immediately and try to soothe him with a little bouncing. this doesn't always work. i check his diaper, offer him something to eat, and then bounce him some more. sometimes there's a diaper leakage issue, so i check for that, too.
leon feeds an average of 14 times a day, which equals 12-16 diaper changes. i thought things would get better after 4 weeks, but no such luck. after a feeding, it takes him about 20 minutes to settle. 30 minutes later, he's waking up again and preparing to feed. a diaper change and feeding later, the cycle begins again.
the pregnancy was easy. yes i was tired and nauseated, my joints ached, and i was intensely uncomfortable. but i was able to get work done through sheer determination.
the labor and delivery wasn't easy, but it was manageable. i have a high tolerance for pain, and knowing it would end within a day or so helped me get through it.
the past 5 weeks haven't been easy. i won't lie and say that all this hard work is worth is because i have an adorable baby. i don't know what anything's worth right now because i'm in the thick of things...and it's been very very hard on me. it would be great if matthew were home more to relieve me of a crying leon. my mother has been a huge help, especially when i was sick for a week with a low fever, chills, body aches, etc. unfortunately, she has been sick with a persistent, nasty cold for the past week, which means i've had to take care of her, leon, and the household chores. i know i can't get much of my own work done right now, but it would be nice to read an article once in awhile, just to remind myself of who i was and who i could become.
and yet, things are slowly getting better. leon sleeps more often in the bed with us, which helps with nighttime feedings. i'm also very careful not to force him during feedings. if he stops, that means something's the matter. so i burp him, check his diaper, and try to keep him in a calm state. i've begun jogging, which makes me feel ten times better during the rest of the day. i know i still have a long way to go before i feel like my body is back to normal, but just being able to go outside makes a huge difference.
i know i'll be in a much better place mentally and physically in a month or two, but that sense of perspective doesn't help me tremendously right now. it's difficult to go from grad student writing a dissertation to full-time parent. i would say that of everything that's going on right now, breast feeding is by far the most difficult thing i've ever done. i often think of quitting, but then i see how well he's growing and gaining weight, and that makes it hard for me to stop.
it will get better. it will get better. until then, every day is a challenge, every nap a small victory....