Do you want to know what takes two hours?
• the baby wakes up
• change his nappy
• boil the kettle
• get the expressed milk out of the fridge and stand it in a mug of boiling water to heat up
• test the temperature - too cool - put it back in
• test the temperature - too warm - take the teat off, swirl it around and blow gently on it
• test the temperature - just right
• feed the milk to the baby and hope for no vomits - if so, change his clothes
• burp the baby
• wrap the baby and put him down to sleep
• listen to the baby cry his poor little self to sleep while you get on the breast pump
• express enough milk for the next feed while squinting myopically at some mother & baby magazine article on blissful breastfeeding
• label and store the expressed milk
• fill a sink with warm soapy water and wash up the expressing equipment and the bottles
• crank up the microwave steriliser and sterilise the above
• take everything out of the steriliser and sit it on paper towel to dry off
• go back to bed.
Do you want to know what else takes two hours?
• sleep until the baby wakes again.
Four years ago, I did all this with Nat FOR A FORTNIGHT. If he fed any more frequently than four-hourly, I was going to die of exhaustion. This time, I can't keep up with all that. And I don't have to, because the Elba Plague is ensuring my milk production is so low that I'm only expressing when I can, and feeding Joseph formula whenever I have to. No use flogging a dead horse (the dead horse being me.)
Why do all this instead of whacking a baby on the breast and letting nature take its course?
Because most (my) breasts (which heretofore have not been mentioned on my blog, suffice to say I do have them) do not work that way. Even a good attachment between baby and Milk Distribution Setup hurts like crazy, and causes untold damage. This is not because I can't tell a good latch from a bad latch (I could pretty much write a textbook on lactation by now,) it's because in general, women's nipples are forced to stretch to about 2.5 times their normal length when a baby sucks on them.
Call me crazy, but I would suspect that if you took any part of the anatomy that was composed entirely of soft tissue (on the female body or the male body) and stretched it to 2.5 times its original length, it would hurt. It might even tear a little bit, bleed, and form scabs.
I was thinking of the earlobes. Feel free to imagine any part of your own soft tissue.
So yes, Joseph did know instinctively how to feed. This does not mean that it was all smooth sailing in the first week. In fact, it meant he was a little more rough with The Milk Distribution Setup than he would have been if he'd had no clue what to do with it.
So by Saturday morning, things were pretty damaged.
* * *
Now some of my readers will find the following information distressing. Those who identify as "male" might want to skip the next bit, as might those who identify as "female." Not wanting to get too graphic, but just to say that the heparin-induced clotting problems made healing of these abrasions tricky. A pea-sized clot that had formed internally for healing purposes was, if you can believe this, sucked out so it became, as it were, external, along with copious amounts of thin blood on my hands and Joseph's shirt. That was the freakiest breastfeeding experience I have ever had in my entire life. Apparently the midwives were shocked and amazed when they heard of this at handover.
* * *
Add to this low milk production because of the virus, a caesarean scar that is more than just a little ouchy, helpless coughing fits, constant nose-blowing and an ongoing headache from sleeping on my neck weird, and things are more than a little tricky right now.
Mr de Elba is helping me with Nat and Anna-Lucia so much - he has been wonderful. The Grandmas are joining forces to provide childcare and housework that is much-needed at this point.
The families from Nat's kindy have banded together to provide meals for us for a little while, the first of which came tonight. A tray of honey-mustard chicken drumsticks. I whacked them in the oven and proceded to burn them all to a crisp.
I was getting frustrated with the dirty dishes on the sink so I filled the already-half-full dishwasher and was about to start the cycle when Mr de Elba informed me that the existing dishes in the dishwasher were, in fact, clean.
Breastfeeding turns me into a zombie.
I cannot WAIT until I am the Queen Of My Own Kitchen again. When that happens, the place will be a pigsty not because of Incapacity, but because of Laziness. And that feels like the way it should be.
Until then, you know where I'll be. Putting Baby and Milk Distribution Setup together, expressing, or sterilising bottles, expressing equipment and nipple shields. Maybe I'll even be asleep. But I can reassure you that wherever you find me, I won't be wearing a cocktail dress or high heels. More likely Granny Undies and trackpants.
I would like to add that reading http://icanhascheezburger.com/ after a c-section is not wise.
30 July 2009
Do you want to know what takes two hours?