… Technically 5 weeks, but Arlo was a week late and hit his 3 week growth spurt a week early. I hope it’s like a few weeks ago, when we had a couple of exceedingly difficult days, highlights of which included taking Arlo for a chiropractic adjustment only to have him scream at the top of his lungs the entire time we were in the office and me trying to breastfeed him but succeeding only to completely overwhelm him with my let-down and consequently spray milk all over Dr. Lisa’s desk and chair. Phew. But afterwards, peace. I was full of optimism and energy. Another hurdle passed.
Most of the time, it is easier. Arlo doesn’t have reflux like Henry. He can nurse and fall right back to sleep—even if it is every two hours. He doesn’t require 30 minutes of elevation after each feed. He goes along with Henry’s schedule. But these growth spurt days he wakes *at least* every hour to nurse or be held. He screams and arches his back. He spits up in his sleep. He burps constantly. I have a laundry list of things to soothe him and by the time I get to the end I’m exhausted and can’t sleep myself. I feel my mood lowering and then like clockwork I have a plugged duct and can barely get out of bed.
I thought so far we were fine. The minute they wheeled me from the recovery room to my real room in the hospital I had 2 midwives and 2 doulas on my couch. Nobody left my side. Friends brought—are still bringing—meals each day and it made all the difference. The support I’ve had this time has been amazing, and I really thought it would keep me from losing my mind. But today I can’t sleep even though I’m exhausted. My entire back is in knots. My eyes are bloodshot and swollen. I plug the iPod into the speaker while I shower and the African drum music that I selected for the pushing phase comes on and I burst into tears. These reminders here and there, all over our house, of the homebirth, on these days, are too much. The poster that says “Open.” The prayer flags in a pile in the office. The candles everywhere. I’m trying to just sit with it. To feel happy my son is alive and at the same time mourn that I didn’t get what I wanted, be sad that my birthing days are over. There will be no third chances. Acknowledge it all and move on.
I was recovering so quickly and did too much too fast. I tried to walk and hike, to keep up with Henry. This week my incision started bleeding and pussing. I had to put my belly binder back on and try to stay in bed as much as possible. I’m trying to figure out how to be present for Henry and Arlo like this. I’m mad that this recovery takes so much longer than the birth I had planned and daydreamed of for months. I’m a competitive runner and an Ashtanga maniac; sitting still like this is torture.
And yet, this is what GB told me to do at the beginning of the pregnancy: Ask myself why I was always running? What would happen if I sat still, floated in a pool for an hour? What if I learned to walk really, really slow? Today as I lay in bed, tears streaming down my face in agony at nursing with a plugged duct, angry that I got about 3 hours of broken sleep total last night, I thought about what this was like last time around, how by this time I was already on medication and deep, deep into postpartum anxiety. And then I heard Henry talking in the kitchen about bulldozers and Biscuit Brothers, about butts and toilets and smoking and all the wonderful things he picks up from the boys at school. I heard Matt, his voice weary and defeated from taking care of the three of us all day. I was reminded that I have a choice. I can escape my head or I can breathe. I’m pulling from Arlo’s birth tonight. I will not get around this; I will only get through it.