Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Milk for the Babylost

I have been ravenously reading other 'Babylost Mama' blogs and postings these past few days. It makes me feel not so alone. And as you can see, I'm even starting to learn the lingo. As my husband and I quickly came to realize, there is no word for people who have lost a child. People who have lost spouses are widows or widowers, children who have lost parents are orphans, but the English language does not have a word for people who have lost children. Perhaps because the experience is so awful...no one could think of a word fitting enough to call it. Writing this makes me wonder if any other language has a word for what I am now? 'Bereaved mother' doesn't seem to cut it.

However, no matter, English speaking bloggers have had to come up with a word for it. So I am now 'officially' a Babylost Mama. I wish I could figure out how to return my badge. Unlike in Girl Guides, I feel I did nothing to deserve it.

On these blogs or postings from others who are Babylost, there is often a common practical element. What does one do with baby things that have been bought? Does one return shower gifts? How do you send a notice to people to cancel the baby shower? How does one go about shutting down the popular 'pregnancy ticker' one has posted on facebook or other Internet sites? However, the most commonality of all, is what does a Babylost Mama do when her milk comes in? You can probably read HUNDREDS of postings from women who are devastated when their milk comes it. To them it is a slap in the face. It is a horrific reminder that you no longer have a baby. It also hurts like hell, in the very real physical sense...that part kinda sucks too.

I realize I may be in the minority on this one...but I LOVE my milk. I LOVE that my boobs got all hot and bothered two days after Aidan was born. It did hurt, don't get me wrong. My breasts were ginormous (and they aren't small to begin with), and felt like bowling balls. But I loved seeing my body work right. My pregnancy, really almost from day one, did not go off as planned. In fact it kind of went off the rails, and ended in a bit of a train wreck (although Aidan was perfect and adorable). So for me, seeing my milk come in, seeing my body respond the way it was supposed to, was almost a relief.

In my earlier posting today I wrote a letter to my heart, really trying to make peace with my perceptions of its inherent shortcomings. I am working on this...probably always will be. I was afraid for years before getting pregnant that something bad would happen, because I was afraid to trust my body with something so important and physically challenging. I feared that I would die, or that my heart would fail and it would be a choice between me or the baby, or that I would have a baby, but my heart would be forever damaged. I imagined miscarriages due to my body's inability to adapt to pregnancy. These were my initial fears. With my job in the NICU, I learned to fear so many other things. Genetic defects, congenital defects, prematurity. I personally didn't consider these things quite as likely for me though. I thought anything that went wrong with my pregnancy would statistically likely originate with my heart. That this is not what happened, is in turns making me furious (How the HELL could I have SOMETHING ELSE go WRONG??), but also helping me cope (It was NOT my heart's fault...it was not something I could have foreseen or avoided. I did not knowingly place my baby in danger).

So seeing that milk come in, right on schedule, and with a vengeance, made me happy. As I said to a few people (jokingly...but really deadly serious), "My placenta and my uterus get a failing grade...but by golly wow, my boobs are going to do their damn job!". So if I could add a side thank you to my earlier posting regarding my heart..."Thank you boobs"...you did great. Hopefully (please, please, please), we will be in need of your services again.

I'm actually enjoying my milk so much, I'm having a hard time letting it go. My breasts no longer hurt on a regular basis. I could easily stop poking and prodding them, and then my milk would dry up completely and be no more. But this, in my heart, is sort of like letting go another part of Aidan. If my body stops producing milk for him, then my body has forgotten him. It's funny I feel no attachment to my baby weight this way. I look forward to fitting comfortably into my old jeans again. My milk however is a different story. Perhaps it is because it's ONLY tied to him, I would not be producing milk if it wasn't for him. I could however, pile on weight all on my own.

Maybe letting go of my milk would be easier if I had one stretch mark to show from this pregnancy. I know this is a typically un-postpartum thing to say. Most women complain "oh my God I HATE my stretch marks...they are so hideous/ugly/unsightly" etc. In my previous life, I would have agreed. But now I know different. Stretch marks are proof you made it far enough in pregnancy to have hopes of a living child afterwards. They are proof your child grew inside you. They are badges of honour (okay, okay, ugly, unsightly badges of honour...but still...). Therefore I wish I had at least one stretch mark (I'd taken a million if it meant I could have Aidan back). If I could have just one however, I would name it "Aidan's mark". So because I have no stretch marks to show for my pregnancy, I cling to my milk. It's all I have left.

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