This morning, when I dropped Michael off at DCL’s, he snuggled right up against her. I think he even smiled a little.
And my heart broke a little bit.
Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy that my son is in good hands, and is content to be with DCL. It makes leaving for work a little easier (not much, but a little). Michael is pretty simple to please right now: make sure his belly is full, his bottom is dry and clean, and he has someone to snuggle with, and he’s content. He also seems to like interaction with people already at his tender age. He tends to fuss and cry more if no one is paying any attention to him. As long as a pair of eyes is looking into his (whether kid or adult, at home or away), he is at ease, and even, often, smiling.
But since Michael has been born, I have been having some complicated feelings. Not about him, per se, but about him as relates to my first son.
Michael is not Gabriel, and Michael is not a replacement for Gabriel (none of my children are a replacement for Gabriel). But there is this low level of grieving about my relationship with Michael — my fears for my relationship with my second son, to be more precise.
First there was not being able to breastfeed him.
Aside: It’s always dicey talking online, on a mommy blog, about breastfeeding and going back to work, because there’s a lot of Judgey McJudgersons out there, and you never know who’s going to stop by and flame you. (Not any of *you*, my six faithful readers. You are awesome, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.)
I am working hard not to beat myself up about not breast feeding, trying not to second guess myself. Could I have tried harder for longer? Probably, yes. Would others have suffered? Again — “suffer” being a strong word here — probably yes. Is Michael, 100 percent formula fed at this point, healthy and happy? Yes, yes he is.
But I am grieving about our lack of breast feeding mojo. I don’t know why he didn’t latch well enough for us to keep going. I worked pretty darn hard to make some corrections to our situation, and it stressed us both out pretty well. Additionally, my daughters were suffering from my utter lack of attention during Michael’s first two months. (There is still not enough of me to go around at home, but 1. there will never be enough of me to go around, and 2. we are working through this.)
And then, I had to return to work. I haven’t talked much about that here because I have something else on the burner to talk about work/life issues. I just haven’t hit publish on that puppy yet. Stay tuned.
Obviously, I didn’t get to breastfeed Gabriel, and it certainly wouldn’t have mattered if I had a full-time job to which to return. (As it was, I was freelancing and working part time at a salon downtown — don’t ask — and I didn’t go back to the salon after Gabriel died. I couldn’t face all those well-meaning customers and tell them my baby died. Couldn’t do it.)
Again, clearly, Michael is not Gabriel. He — Michael — is the son I got to meet and keep and raise.
He is the son I got to breastfeed, although not for long enough. He is the son I got to bring home with me, but I didn’t get to stay there past 12 weeks with him.
I’m not sure I’m articulating this well. I know it makes sense to miss Gabriel. I didn’t have to miss my girls as babies. Of course I miss spending time with them now (okay, maybe not so much with Kate at this very moment.)
Maybe it doesn’t make sense to miss Michael, to have grief, but I do. I’m ecstatic it is not the same grief as I had with Gabriel. But that pang to my heart this morning… ouch. Grief, definitely. I wonder if this is how I’m going to feel about my baby boy. Overwhelming joy tinged with … something sad. Grief. Regret.
People are right. Having a boy *is* different.