5 Days Postpartum
My father killed himself, via a massive drug overdose (after a previous attempt about 2 weeks earlier), 5 days after S was born. In the past two years, I have learned to forgive him for a lot and empathize with the illness. Robbing me of my euphoria over S’s birth, however, I will never be able to forgive. I will always hate him for it. It makes me angry that in my mind S’s earliest days are clouded by this event, as much as try to avoid doing so.
With E, somehow I feel like I am getting to do everything over again. They are almost exactly 2 years apart (2y/6 days, to be exact). Both were born early. My labor started with both of them at 36 weeks: S stayed put for a few days longer while E was born just hours later. Both times my water broke announcing that this was “real labor” after Mr.MC was told to go home and get some sleep. To me, at least, they bear a striking resemblance, especially with E in her older brother’s hand-me-down clothes.
Five days after her birth, instead of processing my father’s suicide, I spent the day with my husband, my son, my daughter, and my mom. We sat for hours in the new nursery while S entertained us with his 2-year-oldness. It was perfect.
Instead of breastfeeding woes (poor latch, poor sucking reflex, mastitis, blocked ducts, previous duct damage in my left breast, etc…) I have a preemie baby who nurses like a champ. What my father’s death didn’t undo, hormones and the stress of breastfeeding finished off. I was told I had to feed every 2-3 hours. I had to pump to try and get the left breast working. S wasn’t gaining weight and he wasn’t sucking long or hard enough to bring in more milk. I hated pumping. I was physically exhausted and sleep deprived. My baby was not gaining weight and I had to supplement with formula for a few days. It was crushing.
This time I have a preemie who figured out breastfeeding the first time she nursed. She latches and sucks like a champion (I have to break the seal of her latch to get her off, even when she falls asleep, because she sucks so well). She came even earlier than S but nurses, according to the lactation consultant at the hospital, like a skilled full-term baby. My milk came in without incident. She is already starting to gain her weight back. Even with a clogged tear duct, eye drops, and antibiotics, she rarely cries (only when I don’t get her on the boob fast enough) and is very mellow. I am not pumping; I am nursing completely “on-demand,” even if she goes 4-5 hours between a feeding and, contrary to the warnings of the lactation-nazis out there, she is just fine. She poops and pees the requisite amounts. Her pediatrician proclaimed her, save for the tear duct infection, “perfectly healthy.” Instead of worrying about when I should feed her, I feed her when she is hungry, which means no more setting timers and constantly worrying that she has gone too long between feedings.
This is how it is supposed to be. I am exhausted and still recovering from the c-section but this is one of the happiest times of my life. My son is happy, healthy, and hilarious. My beautiful daughter is here, albeit a little early, but she is healthy. My heart feels like it is going to explode with love for the both of them. My husband is has taken time off of work and we get to be all together as a family.
And my dad is already dead, so he can’t ruin anything anymore.