Betty Duffy

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This is why I have not put my face anywhere on this blog

In the weeks leading up to the birth of this baby, I had all kinds of anxiety dreams that I would forget I'd had a baby, or that my baby would be unrecognizable to me, dreams like this.

As it happened, I had nothing to fear. There is never a time in my life when I relate so completely to the animal kingdom as when I have just had a baby. I am territorial. I don't leave my house much. If someone who wears perfume holds my baby, then hands the baby back to me, and I can smell the perfume, I get weirdly angry (not so much that I would eat the baby, as I've heard some mother animals will do when a human touches their young, but it has occurred to me to rub the baby in my armpit or something to make it smell like me again--?).

I've heard it said that the most dangerous animal in the world is a mother separated from her young, and I have certainly felt that feeling. When my son had to stay in the hospital nursery for a couple extra days, I became neurotic about the thought of anyone else feeding him, or even at the thought of supplementing with milk that was not mine. So I stayed VERY close to the nursery at all times. And here's what surprised me: Other mothers do not feel how I do (as though I needed more confirmation that I'm a strange breed).

Au contraire, at all hours of the day and night, the nursery was occupied by motherless infants. Some babies had short stays while their mothers caught a couple hours of sleep. Some dropped in right after their deliveries to ensure that their vitals were stable. Some had longer stays, like the preemie in the isolette who had no sucking reflex and had to be fed intravenously. I know it is not my place to judge the mothers of these infants, and truly, I don't. I recognize that many of them were likely unable to care for their babies, either due to anesthesia or hospital policy. What I was not prepared for, was my desire to interfere with the infants, to adopt them and care for them as well as my own child. In short, I wanted to breastfeed them. Every squeak and peep from the various warmers and incubators let my milk down. Something about breastfeeding turns me into wonder woman. I honestly believe that I can save any child on earth with my powerful, plentiful breastmilk.

I’ve had that fantasy where my whole family is stranded on a desert island and I’m the only one who needs to eat. The kids bring me a running supply of fish and papaya, or peanut M&Ms, which I turn into food for the whole family. I know I could sustain them for some time on breastmilk alone. Though when I translate this fantasy to the dreaded decade when I am the mother of five teenagers (four of whom are boys), it loses some of its appeal (if it had any to begin with).

Soooo...I guess I shared this to commiserate? Anyone else want to breastfeed strange babies? Maybe I shared to warn people off: don't cry in my presence or you might find yourself with a mouthful of boob.


Kaighla said...

I can't say I have had the desire to feed other babies, but i know what you mean about superwoman. I LOVE LOVE LOVE breastfeeding! I feel like the reason my son is the size of a one year old at 5 months, and healthy as can be (except a cold currently...) is because of my wonder milk. I understand people to don't nurse, because it is HARD work, as you well know. I have never stuck to anything in my life except nursing my son. But I just....oh golly. There is just soooo much good, both physically and spiritually that comes from nursing ones child. I take pride in the fact that the only thing that has ever gone into my sons body came from mine (except some rice cereal/breastmilk mixture lately). no formula, no vaccines, no drugs. nothing. just mommy. and I LOVE it.

Jus said...

Shortly after Ilse was born last year I was laying in teh hpspital bed listening to a baby cry in the room next door. As it wore on from 30 seconds to 45 and so on I became like a caged animal pacing int he room. My eyes were filled with tears and my heart was racing with a primal almost angry desire to go get that little baby. It could not have been more than 5 minutes but it felt like an eternity and I held my newborn close, literally sobbing, stroking her wee head and almost rocking myself because the sound of that little cry was more than I could bare.

When Isabella was about a year old I babysat a friends 6 month old for a couple of hours. He cried. he cried some more. I nursed him. He stopped crying. I have felt love for him as my own ever since.

Shawna said...

I have the same desire! And the same thing with perfume. I wasn't able to make it to the nursery to see G after his birth, and I did send him back while I was sleeping because I was terrified something bad would happen if I didn't. I sent Noah back too but that's bc he wouldn't sleep, Nathan was vomiting next to me and eventually went home, and, once again, I was terrified that if I slept and no one was watching him, he would come to some terrible end. Is that weird?

Anyway, I still have the urge to go to the nursery where they monitored G's breathing, and I have a nightmare where I wander the hospital and can't find it. Also, I frequently have this terrifying fantasy (?) that someone ditches a newborn in my back yard and I find it hungry. Then I agonize over whether to breastfeed bc if I do, for religious reasons, it becomes "related" (sharing body fluids) like a sibling to my children so they can't marry. And what if they took the child away and I never found out whose it was and then my sons married their sister and so on?

So, basically, I don't think you're weird at all. Just caring.

Also, if the world could be saved with breasts, I'd nominate you for president. I mean, you seem to want the job.

jenx67 said...

i relate to all this. i had an absolute panic attack in sunday school one sunday. i handed my newborn to my husband while i went to the bathroom. when i came back, a woman in our class who was actually pregnant was holding my baby. she'd snatched her from robert. i was a wreck and set stewing in psycho soup for a few minutes until I demanded my husband fetch the baby for me b/f i made a terrible scene. really, i was kind of psychotic. but, in our culture, we don't honor the mother-baby bond. employers expect women to leave babies at the daycare center when they are six weeks old. that was one of the worst experiences of my life and i did it three tiems with three kids and now, i'm psychotic about NOT returning to that life. we had more money but i was emotionally marginalized. great post. i hope chuck will pick you as a blogger to follow, b/c i'd like to read more from you. i know your very busy with a full quiver though.

swaying mama said...

i've fed other babies (with their mothers' permission) and have had to restrain myself in stores and hospitals from rescuing crying babies. i hear your pain.

i am also of your breed and it is hard to understand the other breed. when i was visiting the nicu, i had to keep reminding myself that some of those babies are in there for weeks and even months, and their mothers may need to work or take care of other children. i think it would break my heart to leave my baby and go home, but i have the luxury of family and friends who would make that unnecessary for me. how blessed am i for that.

Word Queen said...

Yep, I want to nurse all formula fed babies, and even tried to donate milk. Having been to Africa, though, precludes that one forever. I think nursing and those early weeks of newborn motherhood especially remind me that I am dust and that the Lord has created me to have these 'primal' instincts. Weird in retrospect, but I'm 3 months away from feeling them with #2!

Kristin said...

I have this feeling often. I watched my sisters kids for 6 days over break - a 3 1/2 year old and an 8 month old. All I wanted to do was nurse that baby and she has been weaned for 4 months. I would make the best wet nurse!