Five children. I've unlocked a new level: Grand Multipara.
I thought I might feel overwhelmed. I don't. There are challenges ahead. It feels... Exhiliarating. Bracing. All in a good way.
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I'm working on the birth story. It is not flowing out very easily this time. I'm trying to write about the week before the birth. I can't seem to find the words for it.
I wept a great deal that week, and worried, and kept it away from most people except a very few. I was so afraid, and yet in retrospect it seems almost as if it was inevitable that everything would all turn out right in the end, so that I should not have been afraid at all, and so that when I try to write honestly about my fears they seem very silly. And so none of it seems to be coming out in a way that really tells the story.
The short of it: my water broke just before I reached 36 weeks, and then labor didn't start for a week after that. It scared me. I didn't know how long I should let it go on, the leaking, before the responsible thing to do would be to go into the hospital and do the medical thing; and I didn't want to go in too early, either, not knowing whether the baby would be ready. I worried for a week. And then I did go into labor spontaneously at home and gave birth pretty darn fast, not quite two hours after we called the midwives. And then everything was okay so why was I so scared and worried?
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I don't understand why I'm quite so tired.
I mean, I do get it: One is supposed to be tired when one has a brand new baby. But somehow the math doesn't seem to be working out quite right. I'm getting enough sleep now, now that he has learned how to nurse in the side-lying position and I'm not having to sit up with a pile of pillows and the football hold every two hours. I'm eating plenty of good food. I'm spending a lot of time sitting in a chair or lying in a bed. I'm not teaching right now or even planning. I'm doing very little housework. And yet, I'm yawning all day long, and dozing off in the chair.
Maybe it's residual, from being scared and worried.
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So: Nursing. We are doing so much better in the last couple of days.
I've been nursing nearly continuously for more than thirteen years. (My current three-year-old is the only one of my children to wean while I was pregnant with the next sibling.) And I still needed considerable help and advice with this guy, as I mentioned before.
Just now it is starting not to hurt when he latches on, and just now I'm starting to have a real MER (aka letdown). I can tell he's been getting plenty of milk all along, from the diapers and such, and also I think I can see some fat on him now. We'll see the pediatrician this week and find out if I'm imagining it.
When my milk went away during the pregnancy and my three-year-old first missed it, I told him that the new baby would bring more milk and he could have some then. I didn't expect him to wean entirely, because none of the other kids had; two lasted past their fourth birthday, and one I had to wean a few months after the sibling was born. But this little guy did wean, and it's been several months since he tried to nurse.
Still, he remembered that I had promised him milk when the baby came, so about a week after the baby was born, when I was finishing up nursing the baby, he came up to me and asked: "Can I have some breast time now, mama?"
I said, "Sure, you can give it a try... if you remember how. Do you think you remember how?"
"Yes," he said confidently. I opened my arms to him and he snuggled up against me and put his face to my breast. Then he sat back and asked shyly: "How do I do it?"
"You forgot how, didn't you?"
He nodded, with big eyes.
"Well... I guess you sort of... push with your jaw?" I tried.
He put his face to my breast again and... blew a big raspberry. PBLTTTTT! Then he sat back and we both laughed. His eyes were a little sad. I suppose mine were too.
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A few hours later when I found myself somewhat engorged, I really wished he had remembered. But it all has to come to an end sometime, of course, and now is as good a time as any, when I have another little one to hold in my arms.
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This baby has a funny quirk: He will not latch on until after the milk lets down. He can be rooting like crazy, sucking on his fingers, bobbing his head and searching with a little-bird-open-mouth against my chin and chest. I put him to the breast and... he starts to talk to it. Very earnestly. Snuffles and grunts and growls and chuckles, all while sort of nibbling and almost latching on. I keep trying to stuff my nipple in his mouth and it doesn't help. Sometimes he lets out little cries as if he is starting to get angry, and I'm saying to him, "Here it is! It's right here! What are you talking about?!? What's your problem?!?"
Eventually the snuffling and rooting and crying gets through to my autonomic system, or whatever is in charge of this sort of thing, and the deep familiar twinge clenches tightly, and I start to drip milk all over the place, and as soon as that happens and my shirt starts to get all wet, then he latches on. Clearly this is just the way he likes to do it. Not going to waste a minute actually suckling if he can use a voice command.
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The other thing this kid does is make little tiny poops and little tiny pees all day long, so that we blow through almost our entire collection of newborn cloth diapers (3 dozen or so) by the end of every single day. At least it won't take long to teach him to pee on cue, when I get around to leaving the diapers off and paying attention to him. We had too much trouble nursing for me to bother with that in the very beginning.
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Today I filled two laundry baskets and two cardboard boxes with clothes that currently do not fit me, and I hung a much reduced collection in the closet.
I hope I get to dip back into the laundry baskets eventually, but it's going to have to wait about thirty pounds.
Deep sigh. We all know it's normal, but it feels daunting anyway.
I cheered myself up with some new nursing tops from Japanese Weekend. My old ones are looking a bit dowdy and dated.
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I'm living on one-handed food: clementine sections, string cheese, bits of deli meat. The first time Mark went to the grocery store after the baby was born, he brought back a feast of snacks: aged gouda, mixed olives, runny Brie, fancy crackers, lox, proscuitto, sopressata. We had it for dinner one night, with good IPA for Mark and me and sparkling juice for the kids, and pretended it was New Year's Eve (which had passed without a party since we had a three-day-old baby at the time). Then the rest of it went into the fridge, to emerge as tidbits on the plates of snacks at my elbow next to my nursing chair.
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What to give a nursing mother to drink so she won't crave Gatorade and fountain Coke all day:
In one quart glass jar, put the juice of half a lemon or half a lime; one tablespoon honey; and one-half to one teaspoon sea salt. Fill with cold filtered water and add a little ice. Stir well. Replenish when empty.
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Or you could pour me a Guinness, from the widget can. That works too. Someone told me once it was a galactagogue, and I'd rather not stop believing that, so I haven't googled it. If you know better, please keep it to yourself.