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.