ramona & her mother, part nine

(this is essentially ramona’s birth story, but because her birth was so crazy, there’s a lot going into it. this is part nine of ten, & all are tagged “birth story,” in order to help you the reader navigate from one part of the story to the next.)

& when we got home, we were overpowered by the stench of cat pee. jared had been at the hospital with me non-stop since the day after i delivered (he went home that morning to pack himself a bag & then came straight back). stefanie was looking in on charlotte for us & keeping her fed, but i guess charlotte had a little bit of a “lord of the flies” thing going on. she had somehow managed to track cat litter & muddy cat paw prints ALL OVER THE HOUSE. i don’t know if she peed on her feet & then stood around in her litter or what, but the situation was gnarly. she had even tracked litter into our bed, which we immediately stripped. jared washed everything in the bedroom, gave the litterbox a thorough scrubbing, & then swept & mopped the entire house while i slowly unpacked all the forms & various baby accoutrements we had accumulated at the hospital (slowly because i was still moving pretty gingerly).

i had my first meltdown that night when i got up to pump. i can do it alone, but it’s tough to navigate the pump pieces & my boobs & everything else with only two hands. i don’t even remember why i freaked out now, but i wound up slamming the bedroom door & breaking into hysterical sobs. jared got up & hugged me until i calmed down, & he got up with me for the next pumping session in order to help me. i haven’t needed his help in the middle of the night since then…i speculate that i was really crying about being apart from ramona. i kept saying, “it’s not fair that i have to do this, she should be here with us.” plus i was still having a lot of pain from the surgery.

since ramona has been on the lights, we have made the effort to make sure we are there for at least two feedings every day. we get to change her diaper, take her temperature, & do a half-hour hold a piece. we have been doing lots of kangaroo care. jared did one swaddle hold & didn’t really like it. he said it made his arms tired & he prefers to have her laying on his chest. i like both–i like the swaddle hold because i can see her little face better. but i’ve been doing more kangaroo care because she really benefits from that a lot at this age. it helps keep her temperature up & i want her to get used to touching my skin to help facilitate breastfeeding when she’s ready.

i stuffed a baby down my shirt & got the hell out of there.
i stuffed a baby down my shirt & got the hell out of there.

we had a great visit with her last night. she had been taken off of humid oxygen, although she was still wearing her cannula (which she liked to pull out & jam in her mouth). she had learned how to suck her thumb & was using a pacifier to soothe herself, rather than just kind of gumming it because it happened to be in her mouth. her central line had been removed, which is a HUGE step forward, & she was down to just one jaundice light. she had also regained all the weight she had lost since her birth. best of all, she was making sucking motions/noises with her mouth during feeds. she spent the whole feed with jared nuzzling his chest, looking for a boob. she was a lot sleepier during my hold & just kind of conked out, but still! i was super-encouraged by that. it’s called “cuing” & it’s an important milestone that indicates a premature baby might be ready to go to the breast. she can’t be released until she’s taking all her feeds by mouth (breast or bottle) with no choking incidents, so it’s a big deal.

i mentioned to the lactation consultant that ramona is off preemie formula & is being fed exclusively breast milk. she actually started crying because she was so happy to hear this. my supply is AWESOME. i read a pamphlet about breastfeeding & supply issues & i have pretty much every risk factor for a compromised supply. premature baby? check. mom sick immediately before or after birth? check. cesarean? check. lots of post-birth stress & anxiety? check. & yet, i am already producing enough milk to feed a full-term infant & ramona is only a week old. the pamphlet said that a good supply is at least 600ml daily by ten to fourteen days post-partum. at seven days, i am already making over 800ml a day. & this is with nothing more than a pump, which simply isn’t as efficient as a baby’s mouth! people keep telling us, “don’t be afraid of the bottle, so many women have supply issues, it’s fine to give them formula, it’s so much easier that way.” obviously pumping makes me a little sleep-deprived, & it’s more work than just sitting around doing nothing except stocking up on formula until baby comes home, but my supply is great. & more importantly, i feel like this is something concrete i can do for ramona. right now, someone else is changing her diapers & soothing her when she cries. i can at least make milk for her.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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