On your 3 month birthday and on the eve of beginning medical school again, I spent some time going through photos of the past few weeks. Oh, how much you have grown!
Some highlights: You have mastered so many different faces while still surprising and delighting us with new ones. You have been to Kentucky twice (the first time unexpectedly at two weeks for your great grandfather’s funeral), have moved across town to a house with a yard, and met so many people who love you.
You and I managed on our “own” (with the help of your grandmothers and many Wisconsin friends who love you) while Matt travelled (for work and one wedding) to New Orleans, Chicago, Minnesota and then to California. When Sarah arrived from Vermont, you threw your head back and laughed (twice!) and we’ve been waiting for you to do it again.
This past weekend we tried to stimulate what the next few days (and weeks and months) will be like with me back in school. Yesterday, we made it two hours with me at a coffee shop while Matt and your Michigan grandmother (who made a special trip for this purpose) tried to get you to take a bottle. Today, I stayed out 3 hours with Yanzi at a BBQ by the lake and then the Willy St. Fair before returning to you.
We have spent the past few weeks and months treating our thrush and then my oversupply issues and your silent GERD. Our midwives and lactation consultants urged us to meet with the one doctor in the area who specializes in lactation issues, but she was booked out for weeks. We were able to see her in August.
Never before have I so looked forward to an appointment. I knew we couldn’t keep going with me in pain for much longer. One Saturday your dad and I spent 12 hours working on a painful clogged duct that woke me up in the middle of the night. Your Michigan grandparents were visiting so were able to hold you while we manually tried to massage, soften and push and suck it out, but if something like that happens once school is going… well there just isn’t time!
It made me realize that someday I may be the doctor who a patient has waited desperately to see with so, so much hope. Whether it be for a foot injury that’s making it difficult to walk, or a cough that wakes them up at night… whatever it is… I am committed to listening to them and giving my all to helping them feel better, as this doctor did with us.
Matt was in Chicago for work the day of the appointment so I brought you on my own. You cried so hard and loud in the open atrium that strangers approached us with recommendations “maybe she’s hungry?” and “have you tried feeding her?” to which I internally rolled my eyes and wanted to retort “this baby is in the 87th percentile for weight… DOES SHE LOOK HUNGRY?!” which of course doesn’t really make sense, but hey.
One woman came over and stroked your face before I could stop her and asked, “does she need a grandmother’s loving touch?” with arms outstretched.
The only thing more exhausting than bouncing you in your favorite position while singing and shushing you is trying to be polite and answer other people’s questions at the same time.
PSA: Smile encouragingly or say “you’re doing a great job” or “I had 6 babies and am a neonatal nurse and if you need a break, I can hold them while they cry” or whatever, but don’t make us engage more than that, please, and please don’t touch anyone’s baby unless you are given permission!
Anyway, we went outside and you cried under a tree while I sang to you until you fell asleep.
The doctor asked me so many questions that I struggled to answer (only sleeping in 2-3 hour chunks for weeks on end will make just about everything feel like a struggle). For example, “does she hate being on her back?” to which I responded “I’m not sure.” Upon going home, I realized I didn’t know the answer because we literally never put you down… why? because you would shriek.
We are still working on regulating my supply, and you are taking medication for GERD which means I can put you down, and you are a much happier baby. We have been experimenting with different bottles and nipples (with different shapes and flow rates) and I am so worried because you have yet to really take one. I hear that some babies will take just enough milk to get by, and then wait for mama to get home. That’s okay with me because I hate pumping, but I do worry for whoever will be here with you trying to help you get by. Hopefully you’ll learn that I will always, always return.
When I tell people you haven’t taken a bottle yet (it’s kind of a huge part of our life right now), I get so many different responses. My least favorite is “well she’ll take it eventually when she gets hungry enough” as if taking a bottle is a choice you are making. I find myself rushing to defend you and your current inability to suck milk out of a bottle. I describe how much you giggle when your dad squirts milk drops into your mouth from artificial nipples. I think you are happy to get the milk, but haven’t quite figured out the sucking part yet. And I don’t blame you if you prefer me to the bottle!
Yanzi has been helping soothe my anxiety when away from you and when I hear your cries, but wow, how hard it has been to resist the urge to run to you. The other night she held me while I tried to get some sleep and you cried downstairs. I know you are in good hands (the very best hands), but the urge is so deep. Still, I cannot get through medical school on 2-3 hour chunks of sleep, can I?
To that end, I have no idea how we will get through the next few days, weeks, and months but we will take it moment by moment and by accepting help when it is offered (which is easier said than done).
Angela, Athena, and Kristin cooked meals for me so that I’ll have lunch for the next few weeks at school. Julia and Liv brought a pancake breakfast to me in bed while I nursed you and pumped this morning. And Yanzi had my bike and helmet waiting for me when I walked out the door and then rode with me to school this morning and walked me to class.
Your Michigan grandmother helped Matt get to the doctor’s office for more shots. Matt was able to calm you after your shots (he’s truly amazing), and so I was bummed when I got out of my hour small group meeting and saw a text that said “here!”
I had been hoping that we would make it longer than two hours apart. But when I walked into the lobby, you looked fine and I asked what was wrong and it turns out I did SUCH a good job locking the house that I locked all the doors, and you all were locked out.
You are absolutely the most incredible thing.
Your papa said to me the other day, “I think she’s my favorite person in the whole world, is that okay?” to which I said “yes, yes I wouldn’t want it any other way.”2