Saturday: Pediatrician. First brush with fear. Mom goes home. I wonder why I was ever ambivalent about parenthood.

Standard

Breast feeding: it wasn’t going well. And I’m more than happy to give it time, but I was also worried and didn’t want to wait for Monday’s pediatric appointment so I Googled “Saturday” “pediatricians” “New York City.”

And let me tell you: if you’re a doc and you want to make some quick, easy cash, just set yourself up with a weekend practice in NYC… because you won’t have much competition.

Anyhow I got an appointment and it was off to the Upper East Side, where we learned Mariel had lost a full pound since being born. The pediatrician said I’m probably not producing enough colostrum and it was important to get her weight back up as quickly as possible; he recommended introducing formula alongside breast feeding, at least until her first official appointment on Monday. It was disappointing news–Similac and Infamil weren’t really in our vocabulary or our plan–but this first brush with fear about just how fragile a tiny human being is and how much that fear is amplified when you’re responsible for that tiny human being mitigated the disappointment. At this point, who knows what the outcome will be in the formula vs. breast feeding debacle, but there’s one thing I’m sure about: we have to do everything possible to make the decisions that are best for Mariel’s health, even when they’re not the ones we’d prefer.

From the doctor’s to Midtown, where Mariel and I said goodbye to Mom at Penn Station…and cried most of the way home. That always happens when we see each other and then we part, but the emotion was from a much deeper, previously unknown place. I have quickly learned that it’s only when you become a parent that you begin to conceive of what true attachment and loss and total heartbreak are. I’ve heard people say that before and felt like they were negating other types of love; they’re not. A receptionist at the doctor’s office said something like “This time [newborn-hood] should last a lot longer. You give yourself over completely to this person, investing everything you have in her. It’s so sweet, so precious. And then your kids grow up and leave you.” And in a brand new way I felt that sadness and guilt of leaving because I could look out 17 years from now and imagine being left.

I went home and cried some more, with Mariel on the bed next to me. Francisco came in and I explained how this lesson or awareness or whatever you want to call it, had totally swept me away because I wasn’t prepared for it. I wondered aloud why I’d ever felt ambivalent about parenthood–it’s just profound beyond words–and we both laid next to Mariel for a good long while before doing or saying anything else.

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14 responses »

  1. Thanks so much for this Julie. Being just behind you on that road I appreciate all the honest, open feedback. I’m sure there’ll be lots to read about. Good luck and again, thank you for sharing. Sylvie

  2. You’re doing everything right. She’s going to grow up fabulous with the two of you right by her side. Am not a mom but have been up close with friends and family during this time, and am sending you strength. Lots and lots of it.

  3. Congrats Julie! Mariel is beautiful and I know yall are thrilled! If you haven’t done so already, find a lactation consultant!!! Put her number in your speed dial. At almost 17 months I’m still nursing Mackenzie and bottle-feeding was never an option since she simply would NOT take it. A lactation consultant is a lifesaver on this path of breastfeeding. Also, there is a wonderful book, called “the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”–maybe for later as I’m sure you’re up to your eyeballs in newborn bliss!!! Enjoy it, it goes by soooo fast!
    Hugs!!!!
    -Kelly

  4. Julie! Have you contacted La Legue League? They can help you a lot, and immediately. I have a closed friend, Alejandra, she has been the president of LLL Argentina, and she’ll be happy to talk to you right now, by e-mail or Skype, and answer any questions you may have. I’ll send you her e-mail via FB.
    You can also call me at any time!
    Don’t give up Julie!! Just keep nursing. The most Mariel sucks the most milk you’ll produce. Es la ley de la oferta y la demanda!! That’s how it works!
    Things to help increase your milk’s production: nutritional yeast, fennel (tea, raw, any way helps, it’s the best thing!), Welleda also has a wonderul tea. And lots of water, love and relax!

    Todo mi apoyo a los tres,
    muchos besos!
    Lau

  5. Gracias por compartir Julie.

    Feeling emotional right now.

    Becoming a parent is so goddamn scary.

    You realize you’ve never loved anything or anyone even close to the love you feel for your child and if anything . . .

    But euphoric waves too.

    Pediatricians can be scary. They’re always quick to whip out charts, pamphlets. If we work on Saturday, you wonder why they wouldn’t too.

    It’s early and my Mom is crutching around the house, already worrying about trying to find the missing pillow or polish the countertop. It’s so annoying.

    And then, like you said, when it’s time to go it will hurt. Always does.

    that ‘deeper, previously unknown place.’

    • Gracias a ti, David. You know, I knew this already, but writing this all out, putting it out there, helps so much because it brings out other stories– yours, Lau’s, and others who call or email to say, “Me too,” “I know,” “This is how I got through.”

      And the other feeling about leaving- that sadness is always, always shot through with guilt because you find yourself thinking, “How could I have made this time better?” All of this is full-time, heavy work.

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