Ouchie

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.

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9 thoughts on “Ouchie

  1. I feel compelled to comment here, even though I think these posts are mostly rhetorical in nature (which is totally fine and what blogs are for, after all). First off, re breastfeeding: I wasn’t breastfed. I doubt many people of my (our? I’m 34) generation were, and we’re fine. Totally, completely fine. Would it have been nice if you could have done it? Well YES, since you obviously wanted to. But listen, you tried your best, you worked at it, and for reasons unknown, it didn’t work out. Be happy we live in a time when we have OPTIONS that can keep our children happy and healthy. (and for the record? I breastfed both my kids. Those Judgey McJudgersons can suck it.)

    As to the second (more delicate) issue: your sadness/grief/regret with Michael. I think it’s completely understandable to have these complex reactions. No, Michael is most definitely NOT Gabriel, but it’s only natural to think of these things you’re going through (or, in your case, NOT going through (breastfeeding, being a stay-at-home mom)) with Michael and have those feelings of regret and sadness be compounded by your continuing grief over Gabriel. By your grief over the loss of the promise that was Gabriel.

    Sorry to be so long-winded. I just wanted to let you know that today’s post (I always read, I almost never comment) really resonated with me. Hang in there.

  2. Tara: thank you. First, it’s always nice to have a comment, regardless of a post’s subject. It lets me know I’m not writing in a vacuum. Second, I appreciate what you said in the second paragraph. It makes me feel like I got my point across, and makes me feel more understood. I needed that.

    I always liked BF’ing (I breastfed my girls with no trouble), and I was looking forward to doing it with Michael. I’m still sad it didn’t work out, that’s all. I look into his alert little eyes or his sweet sleeping face, and I know that he is fine. 🙂

  3. I’m sitting here trying to think of something profound or helpful to say and the fact is, I just don’t have it. I can understand where you’re coming from, intellectually, and it makes sense that you feel the way you do. But, I haven’t been through the loss that you have and that makes me ill-equipped with words of comfort.

    So, instead, I offer *hugs.* I believe you’ll work through it – even if it seems confusing and messy while you do. If you need a margarita, give me a shout and we’ll go drink. 🙂

    • Ah, but see your ability to know that you have nothing to say and say THAT is perfect. Trust me, when confronted with a babylost parent, the best thing you can say is, “I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry.” (I think I mention that elsewhere on this blog…)

      Anyhoo, the fact that what I wrote makes sense to you helps. Thank you for telling me that. And I’m up for a drink (or four). Although I need things to settle down around here. March is too busy! Four days in, and I’m exhausted.

  4. Just wait until he starts breaking stuff and doing inexplicable “boy” things. :o)

    And never let the Judgers get you down! Every story is different and no one else has any right to tell you how to approach yours. Your blog friends have your back. (And I’m sure there are more than 6 of us, too!)

  5. Okay, 7, if you count my dad, but he’s been in Florida for a couple of weeks.

    And, seriously, if he is more active than Kate (although she didn’t break a lot of stuff, she’s just a mover), I am doomed.

    And: Thanks.

  6. First of all, *hugs* to you. I can understand your disappointment/grief not being able to breastfeed Michael. I stopped sooner than I wanted with Addie because of my mom’s illness/funeral. Just couldn’t keep going. And that made me sad on top of the grief I was feeling for my mom. Not at all like Gabriel, I am sure, but I can appreciate feeling all those feelings and trying to sort them out…you are doing an excellent job, btw.

    It’s SO hard to leave them when they are so little. Aidan was 8 weeks. I didn’t cry the first day, but I remember SOBBING after trying to pump at work months later and nothing was coming. I ended up leaving work and picking him up. I think it is hard because you really just want to be home with them, and give them everything they could possibly want…but this, as we all know, is impossible.

    Then there is the fact that you have two others demanding your time and attention. But we learn so much by having to figure things out on our own…helps us be good problem solvers and critical thinkers. And teaches persistence and patience. Even if it is persistence about getting mommy’ss attention:)

    There is not enough of you to go around…and that is okay. It will take some time, and may be painful, but you will all get it figured out!

    And if you’re in town, I am good for a margarita too!

  7. Ok…so…I am a lurker…have been for some time. I knew you once….a million years and experiences ago…stumbled across your name, on Facebook maybe? Found this link to your blog and have been reading ever since. I promise I am not creepy..at least I don’t THINK I am. Anyhow, I really just felt you should know that maybe you THINK you only have 6 faithful readers, but I’m pretty sure there are at least 7. 🙂 And….probably more.
    Keep doing what you do.

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