Thursday, August 20, 2009

new love

Today I held a three day old beautiful baby girl named Anna. Sweet Anna. Such tiny perfection cradled in my arms. She is the daughter of my friend's daughter. First child, first grandchild. New love in heaps and heaps......

I offered to stop in to help the brand new Mom, stressed and exhausted from the whole birthing process, but mostly from how she was treated in the hospital. Her immediate concern was her perceived inability to nurse Anna. She had no reservoir of confidence left. Everything is new and everything feels uncomfortable.....physically and emotionally. After being bullied by the breastfeeding Nurse Nazis, with their holier than thou attitudes about nursing versus bottle feeding and their abrupt dismissive behaviour, this new Mom didn't think she could do it. She didn't believe she had the "goods" to keep her daughter fed properly. It leaves me wondering, not for the first time, if they have FORGOTTEN just how strange and new it feels right after you've had your first baby. Shame on them!

Tired and sore, she was ready to give up and most of this was due to how these nursing Nazis treated her. How sad, when she is so keen to make it work. Her milk only just came in today. This is new......... and yet she was feeling like a failure because she was left with confusion, and many many questions that we all have when babies take over our lives. All normal stuff and worries, exacerbated by a health system that is pathetically understaffed and overworked and cranky!!!!!

Certainly there is a strong sense of maternal intuition that kicks in after you give birth. I felt it myself the first night the nurses brought Martha to me, all swaddled with her little lips pursed, ready to be fed. As much as I was terrified of the daunting responsibility ahead of me, I fell in love that night which kicked in my desire to interact with my new baby. A washing softening bathed me in this feeling. I asked Anna's Mom how she felt, and she described a similar feeling.

Most of what we do, however and how we approach our role as a parent is, in my opinion learned through our own connections. Luckily this Mom and babe have a many loving people in their lives who will support her as they learn together. They are surrounded by healthy connections and interactions. We are social beings.... and we need to recognize that we all need help. Life's events, life's lessons are overwhelming if we feel inadequate starting out!

In my arms, Anna turned her head and began rooting as she sought out sustenance. I showed the new Mom how to best to hold Anna in order to have her latch on properly. It took two tries and they were off to the races. Relief came instantly for both of them. While Anna was nursing....the questions tumbled out in a hurry...... and I did my best to answer them, while emphasizing how the whole bonding thing is really learn how to "dance" with a new being in our lives. I watched the loveliness of the scene with a lump in my throat. It was so beautiful. They were so beautiful together....

I reassured her (I think) by dismissing all of the silly breastfeeding myths.... (ie.... If you give your baby a bottle, they won't feed from the breast! OR you can't give your baby formula and breastfeed at the same time! OR make sure you put the baby on a feeding routine right away and don't feed them in between feeding times!) Why these puritans put the fear of God into new mothers is beyond me except they have become blinded by their chosen passion. The amount of judgement dished out by these people and the impatient nurses is beyond my comprehension. Every new mother is nervous. Every new mother wants to provide, protect, try their best.

The connection between a mother and a baby is unique to the two human beings intimately involved. And like any new relationship, it needs time to grow. Tonight, I think of the two of them learning how to figure it out together........ There will be frustrations and even tears from both of them. But, they will figure it out..... a new dance has begun.... bless them both.

Today, I held a three day old baby. A tiny perfect little miracle in my arms. You can't say that everyday. Wish I could...... wish I could.


Romany Angel said...

I am shocked to see no comments here Dana as this was a very touching post about the purest love there is.

My daughters took to feeding like ducks to water so I was lucky but I know what you're saying about those Nazi nurses. You'd think they would be a bit more educated on what it's like to be a new mother. It would be so easy to intimidate someone in that position too which makes their behaviour even more shameful.

Awareness said...

Gypsy...It boggles my mind how judgemental they are. But, I think anyone who is blindly passionate about one thing is more often than not judgemental.... strange phenom really.

I also think people who feel like they have no power in a system that they work in seek out power by bullying others who are in a more vulnerable position.

Jen aka Pinky said...

This is so beautiful.
My youngest is three, but I breast fed all 3 of mine for a long time.
At times, I was scared, angry, resentful, and exhausted.

But beyond all of that was a strong undercurrent of love that overwhelmed me in the most beautiful way.