A pain in the boob that is. The left one. Like it’s being sliced open and gouged out with a melon baller followed by a good rubbing in chilli. My mastitis is back and it’s a bastard. I am struggling to keep up with feeding, pumping and living in general now that the feeding schedule has ramped up to a mere three a day for her and two for him. Feeling like I’ve been run over and left with a lump of road kill attached to the place where my left breast once sat doesn’t help. I know this is the last leg of a a difficult journey (and yet only the beginning). I know that things will possibly get harder once we get home. But it’s really hard to stay rational when you are knackered and frustrated.
I never anticipated that establishing breastfeeding would be so challenging. As someone who, quite frankly, had an easy time of it last time I now have more sympathy for all the mothers I know who found it hard or weren’t able to breastfeed. There’s nothing more frustrating than willing your body or a tiny baby to do something with no control over the outcome. In my case the body is willing, with plenty of milk but with the double jeopardy of mastitis threatening to ruin all my hard work after 6 weeks of pumping to keep my supply high. The babies are alternately perfect, brilliant feeders and sleepy, tired, fussy, forgetful or simply too inconsistent to feel like we are making any progress. It’s not their fault. It’s easy to forget they still shouldn’t have been born for another 6 weeks so they’re not doing badly. In spite of all my meticulous schedules, my battles to stay fit and well and my efforts to give Lucas some time and attention and deal with the logistics of having the childminder on holiday (has she really only been away ten days? It feels like a month), I have to accept I have almost no control over what happens when there’s a baby on my breast. Sometimes they latch on immediately and then stop and look at me as if to say “oh what next? I was doing something wasn’t I? Now where was I?”.
I had some personality assessment once as part of a training course which established that I have a strong ‘locus of control’, which is actually a polite way of saying that I have a pathological tendency to stamp my feet and get frustrated if the power to make decisions regarding my own fate is taken out of my hands. As such I think I have done pretty well at staying calm and relatively patient throughout the last few months. However, with the finish line in site, this counter-intuitive act of staying calm and letting go of my feelings of urgency, stress and desperation to do any-darn-thing to get these babies home is almost impossible. I am in a hurry and it does me and he babies no good at all. I’m all out of sync. It’s a bit like trying to dance to two tunes at once.
I remember once being at a Tomorrow’s World live roadshow and watching George Entwistle, the new DG of the BBC and my mentor and editor at the time, playing Greg Dyke (the boss back in 1998) at a game called Brain Ball. Both were wired up to small electrodes on their heads and the game was to move a blow football into the opponent’s goal but you only won by relaxing your brain waves. It required a Zen like calm and a competitive spirit. For two ambitious men it was almost impossible and hilarious to watch. Both desperate to win and failing the harder they tried. This feels like Brain Ball! (The new DG won by the way – definitely the more Zen of the two).
I narrowly averted a very un-Brain Ball footstamping incident in the hospital today as I attempted to commandeer a prescription for my mastitis without going to the GP. Charm and emotional manipulation was getting me further so after I had had a quick blub on the nurse I persuaded the lactation specialist to chat up a doctor who faxed my GP, who wrote a prescription for me to pick up. All so I could avoid sitting in the surgery and waiting an hour to be diagnosed for something I know I’ve got. I missed a feed just talking to the doctor and faxing my request but now at least, after a lunchtime dash to Chiswick, I have my medication and feel much happier.
On the plus side me and the babies did just do our first double breast feed with each in the charmingly named ‘rugby hold’ under either arm. It sort of worked and gave me hope for the future. They looked so sweet both sitting their on my lap.
Tonight we are booked to go out to a very nice Chiswick restaurant called Annie’s for my mother in law’s birthday. I am really looking forward to going but contemplating coming back to do a feed at 11pm. Is it expected? No idea.
The title of my post involved two plums. Without wishing to turn mystical I wish to report that our newly planted Victoria plum tree, planted in honour of number three twin who didn’t make it, has yielded two plums. One nearly ripe and one with a little way to go. Coincidence huh?
Alexander. Aka The Hooded Claw.
One plum with a bit of ripening yet to do.
(1.48kg to his sister’s 1.8kg. Come on Little Plum! Send fat thoughts to Alex please everyone so he can come home sooner).