My son would love me because who, after all, wouldn’t love all of the above.
Now, two months on.
The first to go was the composure. My son wailed, he threw up, he screamed and strained. I got increasingly desperate. I went to four different doctors. My husband patronized me but did not support me. I still cannot be sure I made the right choices.
Next breastfeeding. It was not the blissful experience it is made out to be. Well, it’s blissful if the baby cooperates. If not, it’s a psychological nightmare (and often a physical one). Where once formula was the Holy Grail, now it’s breastfeeding. I have come so close to giving up on breastfeeding so often, but the cacophony of voices that say breastfeeding is the best thing for your child (thereby suggesting that if you don’t breastfeed, you’re somehow a little less than a good mother if not outright bad) kept rising in protest. I still believe that breastfeeding is the best choice… in most cases. But there are cases where a mother cannot produce enough milk, where a baby may be allergic to something in mom’s milk and it can be impossible to figure out what because doctor’s aren’t even clear on whether they believe this is possible or not, where a mother might come down with sore nipples and infection. None of the breastfeeding experts ever bring up these cases. And their voices have silenced the other voices so that now even doctors shy away from suggesting alternatives for fear of sounding anti-breast.
Then sleep. I have come to the conclusion that some people need more sleep than others. My husband can sleep six hour or less. He can wake up at four in the morning and be fine. I need nine hours of ideally continuous sleep. This is not possible with a baby, especially with a baby with a restless tummy. So I sleep less, and it shows. The alternative is to pass him on to someone else who claims they don’t need as much sleep. This is what I am currently doing. Of course, my dreams are laced with guilt.
Finally patience and composure. I don’t know whether as a mother the sight of your child screaming at your breast is particularly emotionally distressing or whether I just have a short fuse. But I have snapped so many times. Sometimes my husband eyes me like he thinks I am going to hurt the baby.
I have finally concluded that my husband is the better mother than I am. He is patient and nurturing. He can stay up with the baby because lack of sleep doesn’t faze him. He can take him from me when I, the mother, look particularly crazy. I can only watch and worry and panic. I can cling to the moments when my son is peaceful and think that maybe I’m ok at it, this motherhood. Most of the time I feel edged out, a fraud.