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so i’ve been doping up on the fenugreek, and i finally started smelling the lovely odor of maple syrup wafting off my body, the “sure sign” that i’m taking the right amount. li’l boo is chubbing up –although not, i fear, as fast the doctor will want (he’ll let me know on monday). most strangely and unexpectedly, boo’s  diapers have been, let’s just say, off.

anyone with fenugreek experience? is it true what i read, that i can quit taking it now that my supply is increased — or is that just courting disaster?  is it normal for boo’s bottom to be. . .not quite normal?

the domperidone still has not arrived. at this point i have only one bottle of pumped milk in the fridge, with no more in the freezer. i go back to work (in the office) on 12/1, and our turkey-day trips next week will keep me from building up a stash. (what am i supposed to do? ship it home on dry ice?)

lucky for us, i guess, that similac and enfamil have predicted my failure as a mother stash-building drama and have seen fit to send me loads of free samples. at least somebody will manage to feed my child.

**edited to add:

mere minutes after posting this the domperidone arrived via certified mail. i stared at it all afternoon and most of the evening, sweating maply-syrupy-bullets. finally did some research about the pharmaceutical company. found out that, contrary to my expectation that they are some freak-zone kids shipping pills on a lark, they are a reputable subsidiary of a reputable u.s. company.  i thought they might not be, given that i’ve seen their name spelled two different ways and had assumed that they way it was spelled on my invoice was some hide-me-from-the-feds typo. not so.

and now: let the milk flow forth.

one of my least favorite people in my social circle is a woman who is overly-empathic. at least i have been encouraged by others to think that’s what’s going on. for me, though, the effect of her constant insistence that she knows what you’re going through, that she’s been there too (and so, by implication, before you), that she understands just what you mean…is belittling (not to mention just plain old annoying) rather than comforting or unifying. but perhaps i myself am not sympathetic enough.

at any rate, i have long assumed her words are intentional — that she knows what she’s doing when she’s being condescending trying to make people feel comfortable. mac, as usual, has a softer take: that she is insecure and has no idea that her actions have any kind of negative effects. now i, too, am developing a softer take on this phenomenon, since i encounter it so often as a dbm.

in this regard, the toughest person for me to cope with is my mil. she is a good-hearted woman, and i am lucky that, for example, she is a much easier person to manage than is my own mother. more than anything, i believe my mil wants things to look right, and underneath that, to actually be right. and bless her heart, part of the way she tries to create that appearance of rightness is by telling others that she knows exactly what they’re going through.

it is probably not surprising to hear that the hair on the back of my neck raises each time she does this. (you know those dogs you see who, when they see another dog who threatens them, raise their ruff and get all stiff-legged and let out tough-sounding-but-maybe-a-little-bit-scared yelps? that’s me.) recently mac tried to explain to her some of the ways he is struggling as a parent of living children while trying to grieve his dead children. i (stupidly) chimed in: “i think it’s harder for us in some ways because we’re trying to cope with so much, so much that a lot of other people don’t have to cope with.” “well,” she answered, “parenting young kids is so hard. it’s hard for everyone.”  mac and i sat in silence. the football game droned on. bitsy ran around asking everyone to put a little something in her bag. eventually  the awkwardness passed and conversation shifted. and then later, out of the blue, she said “you know, scribblette, all new parents find this difficult.”

“yes,” i said, ruff up. “but we’re also trying to grieve dead babies. and not all parents have to do that.”

later mac and i discussed this exchange, and his tendency to shut down when his mother gets this way, and my tendency to yelp retort. not my best moments, to be sure. then again, surely not my worst.

this exchange has taken me back to that terrible place i lived after we lost effie: facing the daily realization that relatively few parents were parents like me — parents to only a dead child, facing the real possibility of never being parents to a living child — and getting absolutely livid (not to mention unbearably sad) when women would say to me “oh, i know what you’re going through. i had a miscarriage too.” parents who have not held a dead child in their arms simply do not know what we have experienced. hell, i don’t even know, exactly, what other deadbabymommas have experienced. i just know my own version of raw grief. and i know something of mac’s. and that’s it.

which brings me to a terrible place where i live today.  i have a number of friends in the computer to whom i want to send sympathetic words. and yet because i am still stinging from my mil’s attempts to empathize, i am afraid to empathize with my friends. what can i say, really, that will matter? what can i say that will help? what can i say, i ask myself, that i would have wanted to hear?

i remember the feeling that nothing anybody did or said helped. how much i needed to find my own way, and how i needed the space to get there, and how i also needed support while i headed out alone into my own little gray world of sadness. i hate knowing that people i care about are there in their own gray places and that i can’t help. and i hate worrying that i’ll say the wrong thing, when in fact there is no right thing to say.


thank you, someone, somewhere, for this nomination.

i remember the first time that mac & i noticed bitsy “waking up” — mac calls it “clicks” — that way that infants suddenly seem more themselves, more alert and personlike, less limpet-y. i loved it with bitsy, but i am swept away by it with boo.

there is some way that his “clicks” — his coming into his self — are cementing for me his boyness. i fought and fought the gender wars with bitsy when she was really young — NO PINK! NO FRILLS! — and the truth is that those things did not become her then and they do not become her now. and while i am perfectly willing to fight those same wars, in substantial ways, with boo, he is really, somehow, more boy than she was girl, and i find myself enjoying it. oh sure, he looks like a cute little baby in the gender-neutral clothes he inherited from his big sister. but he looks like a kid — a little, smiling, boy child — in the clothes he inherited from his older male cousin. i walk around holding him thinking about how much he is a boy. how different it is to have a son. how different, i mean, i am with a son.

in the delivery room i held him next to my face whispering “don’t cry, mama’s here.” i knew i loved him, but he was just a baby. that same feeling continued for most of his first two months: he’s my child and i can’t help but think he’s the bee’s knees, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s just a mewling, suckling baby who can barely see me. but now that those clicks have kicked in, now that i can catch glimpses of who he is and will be — what a grin! what eyes! — i pick him up and breathe him in and hold his cheek against mine and i love him for being the boy that he is.

i never doubted i would love him. i just never knew i had it in me to love a boy like this.

not an inappropriate sobriquet for my breasts. nor a happy one.

i seem to birth lean kiddos, kiddos who then proceed to suckle like mad but somehow stay lean. bitsy would barely leave my breast for the first three months of her scrawny little life, clinging to my nipples with a desperation that was easy to mistake for a strong need to snuggle. (and perhaps it was that, and only that. i would like to believe so.) boo has been not unlike his sister in this regard — a real snugglepuss. so what that he’s long and skinny? he’s cheerful and bright-eyed and sleeps well, and fills the requisite number of diapers in the requisite ways. so what’s to worry?

a near-failure to gain any weight, that’s what. he nurses away, and i leak, and still: he has regained his lost birth weight (no mean feat itself, given that we were both pumped full of fluids for surgery) but he has yet to gain even a full pound past that. and he’s two months old.

this isn’t a full surprise. on halloween he and i visited his peed: all four of us had had head-colds, and the little mister had to choose, while on my breast, between suckling and breathing. smart boy that he is, he chose breathing. and since i still heard swallows, i wasn’t too worried — milk was obviously dripping down his throat and he was gulping it down. but after two days of near-dry diapers i knew it was time to have him checked. turns out it was a good thing: he was barely above his birth weight. and so i was told to supplement.

i came home and cried.

feeding bitsy for the first five months of her life was almost as difficult as getting her here in the first place. she cried off my breast, meaning she cried almost non-stop once i went back to work. between her two- and four-month check-ups her growth curve charted a flat line, leading the docs to run tests for life-threatening diseases, and mac and me to near-record levels of fear and self-recrimination. as it turned out, she just needed to eat more. as a nursing mother i felt like a complete and utter failure, and hated myself for having to admit that she needed more than i could give her. but she did, and we gave it to her. she started getting some formula while i was away, and then she started solids at five months, and soon she was as roly-poly and cheerful as could be. and i suppressed my frustration and anger and hurt and counted among my blessings the fact that she was even alive.

with a history like that, i was thrilled during my pregnancy with boo when my breasts ballooned, and then afterward when the milk came in fast and furious, leaving buttermilk-y spots on our sheets at night and the legs of boo’s outfits from being cradled against me. sure, he was long and lean, but his head was getting bigger and he was growing out of clothes and the diaper-count was right where it should be. there were times he would pull off my breast and the milk would flow over his face and down his cheek. obviously everything was okay. right? when it wasn’t i just about fell apart.

panicked and near tears, i spent the rest of the day after our doctor visit feeding boo for 10 minutes per side, pumping when we finished, and then supplementing, up to one oz. per doctor’s instructions, either milk or formula, after every nursing. one full round of this drove me into a fit of despair; after a full afternoon i was nearly suicidal. i figured i had to fix the problem (which somehow would not include the clock-watching supplementing program prescribed by the peed) or make the problem go away by stopping nursing him.

i reviewed all the materials i had devoured two years ago during my bout with bitsy: kellymom.com, breastfeedingonline.com, jack newman’s handouts, videos from LLL…i watched and read and memorized and practiced. boo and i worked on his latch. i quit nursing and drowsing and snuggling through the night, opting instead to wake up to nurse him for a full feeding so i could listen to his swallows and check for that cute little lip flange. and i decided to supplement. not just boo, but me.

i’ve started with fenugreek, because it is cheap and readily available. i still don’t smell like maple syrup so i don’t think i’m taking enough, but combined with all the extra pumping and latch-work &c. my suppply has definitely increased. this was verified for me when i took boo back to the doctor 10 days after halloween to find that he had gained a beautiful 8 oz. (never mind that that is exactly the amount of weight he gained over the full previous month. no, never mind that at all.) i can tell things are working because i’m bigger and fuller, and he can eat his fill and i can still pump. when he sleeps for 7 hours at night i wake up sore and engorged. and even though i didn’t think this was possible, his mood is even better: he is awake and alert and cheerful more, and for longer periods of time. he sleeps better during the day. he cries and fusses less. so things are working.

and yet i worry that we’re still at risk — that my sad little breasts will return to their milquetoasty ways and the boy will go hungry again. especialy since we need to stay on this track — gaining about an ounce a day — for a good while.  so i’ve ordered some domperidone. i asked my ob about it, but he’d never heard it, and told me that the best, most tried-and-true way to increase my supply is to stay hydrated and nurse more. so of course i’m doing that. but i’m also going to give this my all before calling it quits, and i don’t think some water and a few extra sessions with pumpy mcpumpster will do the trick. and yet…the domperidone worries me. i’m nervous about the source, especially after the chinese heparin scare.  will it work? will i even be getting the right drug? (how i wish about now that i knew some hot csi-type who could crush a pill and test its chemical makeup!) and once i go back to work and trade in my li’l boo for my friend the pump, will i be able to make this work at all?

we’ll see. the pills are due in  10-21 days. in the meantime i’ll be working up my nut to take them.

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