shark baby

so. breastfeeding update. i wrote in my last post about how it hasn’t been going well since ramona came home & it was making me feel like a shitty mom. as it turns out, it wasn’t really my fault. ramona had a tooth! when newborn babies grow teeth like this (had she gone to term, i would only be 37 weeks pregnant today), it’s called a natal tooth. it’s fairly unusual. it happens in one in about 3000 babies. ramona’s tooth was right in the middle on the bottom, so it rubbed on her tongue when she tried to latch on to the nipple. i guess the shape of the bottle nipple was more comfortable for her.

see that bump? it's a tooth!
see that bump? it’s a tooth!

jared discovered the tooth first. i had shown him how to soothe ramona by letting her suck on a finger, which is sometimes easier for her than holding on to a pacifier. (a crunchy mom friend who didn’t want her baby to use pacifiers turned me on to that trick.) he noticed a sharp bump & was like, “hey, i think she has a tooth.” i was all condescending about it: “look, i know you don’t know a lot about babies, but it’s going to be quite a bit longer before she starts growing teeth.” but we took her to the pediatrician, who confirmed that ramona had a tooth! she treated it as a major emergency, referring us to a pediatric dentist & telling us that if the tooth falls out, ramona could inhale it into her lungs. seems like kind of a long shot to me, but we took her to the dentist anyway & they extracted the tooth.

they let us keep the tooth, of course.
they let us keep the tooth, of course.

now that the tooth is gone, i guess i could probably breastfeed her. i’ve only tried once & it didn’t go so well. she has trouble latching, which makes her scream with frustration, & obviously a screaming baby is not going to be eating. it’s a million times easier to give her a bottle, & it’s less taxing on my shoulders & back (it’s easier to hold her up in a bottle position than to tuck her into a breastfeeding position). there are downsides: you have to get up to fix the bottle in the middle of the night, rather than just pulling her into bed & giving her a meal without really waking up. there are dishes to wash. you have to stay cognizant of the rotation of milk in & out of the fridge & freezer. you have to keep pumping around the clock to produce the milk, & sometimes that means you’re pumping when the baby is screaming for food, which feels counter-intuitive.

but there are benefits too. giving her breast milk in bottles means that we always know exactly how much she’s eating. it means that jared can take on half (or more) of the feeding duties. including the ones that happen in the middle of the night. there’s something about pumping that appeals to my highly-organized/OCD personality in a way that breastfeeding doesn’t. i didn’t expect to feel this way, but the idea of being constantly tethered to the baby because she will only feed from my breast really does not appeal to me on a conceptual level. i mean, i say this now. i can think of a lot of circumstances where breastfeeding would probably be a lot easier. like if we are out of the house all day–if i breastfeed, i don’t need to figure out how to have five bottles with me. but i have been reading up on moms who exclusively pump & i’m kind of wondering if that’s the route i might take.

i feel like having ramona home gets a little easier every day, as we figure out who she is as a person & how to meet her needs. it was completely overwhelming at first & i didn’t handle it that well. i cried a lot. i felt really shitty because jared would spend all day holding her, talking to her, making up songs for her, giving her silly nicknames, etc, & i wasn’t really doing any of that. i was making pediatrician appointments & doing baby laundry & washing pumping supplies & fielding phone calls. i felt like i was doing all the logistical stuff (which i enjoy doing) & he was doing all the nurturing stuff (which has never come naturally to me). & that i was therefore a bad mom. or that he was secretly resentful–that he too felt overwhelmed by the idea of holding the baby & fussing over her so much of the time, & would have preferred to do the “easier” organizational/bureaucratic stuff. but we talked about it & it turns out we were both playing to our strengths.

i feel more comfortable with her as the days go by though. we’re working out a system. jared stays up later in the evening with her, & i go to bed early. we take turns getting up with her in the night (i take the first shift, since i’ve had some sleep at that point), & then i get up with her early in the morning when i am the most calm & together. as the day wears on, i start to fade & get really out of sorts, & jared is just the opposite, so it works out pretty well. we are both learning to read her cues & ignore the normal random baby noises that babies make because they have no self-awareness.

i bought a bouncy chair in the interest of “having somewhere to put her” when i need a break. it was a very contentious purchase at first. jared claimed that ramona hated it because she made little huffy baby noises the first time i put her in it (which are actually the noises she makes every time you move her at all). he said, “it’s too bad you don’t seem to enjoy the attachment part of attachment parenting.” i cried, because my biggest insecurity right now is that i really am not wild about holding her all day long while she sleeps, but as a mom, i feel that i should love it (even though i don’t expect other moms to do that kind of thing). but after like a day, jared realized that holding the baby 24 hours a day every day is just not realistic & he came around on the bouncy chair idea. he apologized for impugning its utility.

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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