Grief and Solidarity
D.L. Mayfield writes:
We were two kids with a baby, a baby who came way too early. Sick with fever, shivering in the makeshift NICU (our hospital wasn’t equipped with one), I actually wondered what all the other older and wealthier and more prepared mothers must have thought of me.
Sigh. The things we waste our lives wondering about.
The feeding thing was the only element I felt like I had control over: I couldn’t control my blood pressure, liver, or platlete count; I couldn’t control my baby’s heart rate or oxygen counts or her ability to swallow. But man, I could pump that stuff out.
And for 3 weeks, it was all about me and the pump. No other life for me. I focused on getting well, on my baby getting well, and on pumping.
After 3 weeks we slid into the nightmare territory of mastitis, and I woke up bone dry. Long story short: no amount of herbs and massage can make up for a body that has had enough, already.
It pains me to say that I needed a professional lactation consultant to spell it out for me: “honey, this doesn’t happen very often … but you are done. Just … done”.
I grieved it, like any great dream lost. And the grief still appears, randomly, when I think we’ve forgotten all about it.
The weirdest part was the guilt; and in that way of grief and magical thinking I couldn’t stop wondering about all the other mothers in majority world nations: they couldn’t afford/didn’t have access to formula, so how could i give it to my daughter? It made me despondent, this lack of solidarity. Never mind that the very circumstances of our story (HELLP syndrome, a 32 weeker) would have meant certain death for both me and my baby in any similar situation. Grief is not very rational.
But it does abate, after a certain amount of time. We are all growing up over here, and learning to live in the grace and glory that was given to us.