Remember how I said that I’d never before thought about, talked about, or touched my boobs as much as I had in Jonathan’s first month? Well, there is another contender for my obsessive attention these days, and that, my friends, is poop. Boobs and poops. Poops and boobs. Early motherhood is a glamorous thing.
In Jonathan’s first weeks, he pooped every time he ate. Which made perfect sense. He’d start to eat, pause to clear some space, and then continue with his meal. At about a month and a half, this evolved into just two major poops a day. He’d pee up a storm, don’t get me wrong. In fact, all day, every day. But two poops a day was generally all he needed to continue down the harrowing path of a voracious appetite coupled with a rookie digestive system. However, around 8 weeks, and again, now (today – thus the impetus for this post) at 10 weeks, he has bouts of constipation which only ever last 2 days max, but during which cause him (and me) major distress. He grunts, arches his back, and flails his little bootied legs, day and night, but the VERY WORST part of all of this is: he quits eating.
Naturally, when he first did this, I took to Bing to find some answers. Just kidding, I googled it. No one uses Bing. Anyway, I found several accounts of other moms experiencing the same thing and the most popular theory is that a) the baby associates the discomfort of gas/constipation with breastfeeding and thus doesn’t want to eat, but also b) he or she is at max capacity and doesn’t have room for it. Cool cool cool cool. So, breastfeeding is a physical and emotional challenge in its own right, but now I have a baby who is actively refusing to do it. Let me paint the picture…
Jonathan and I don’t sleep because he is grunting and writhing in his bassinet all night, desperately trying to poop. The sun rises (as it does) and he is particularly fussy because he is now not only constipated, but exhausted. Amidst his exhaustion, his mouth starts to go all goldfish, as it does when he is hungry, so I grab the boppy pillow, get set up on the sofa, flanked by burp cloths and a sleeping cat, and as I start to tilt him into position, he loses his mind. I mean, red in the face, full-blown tears, echo-chamber wailing. LOSES. HIS. MIND. My reaction starts with shushing and rocking, then I try to squish my boob into a bite-size, irresistible sandwich, then I start cussing into the air, then I throw whatever is nearby (usually a burp cloth or a cat) at Ben out of frustration, and finally I cry.
Today this sequence happened in the backseat of my car on the way home from a show. Ben was on stage, I was locked out of the car and pacing the parking lot with my vibrating baby. When it was finally time to head home, I attempted to feed him in the backseat. The scene devolved (more so) very quickly. I put Jonathan in his carseat to cry around the perimeter of his pacifier, and I just clamped my hands on my eyes, feeling beyond frustrated, like a complete failure and on the brink of prayer. Before starting up the car, Ben turned around in his seat and asked, “Are you OK? What do you need?” I selfishly responded, “To run away.”
It was not one of my proudest moments. Not only could I not fulfill my maternal duty and feed my child, but I was so overcome by that helplessness, that I wanted to abandon ship. Obviously I didn’t run away. Really, I couldn’t, but my fight or flight reflex was triggered and I had lost the fight.
And unlike the tidy flow of cinema, and very much like the clunkiness of real life, Jonathan fell asleep on the car ride home, so we decided to pop into Nordstrom Rack while he was sleeping. Well, he woke up and the whole scene happened again. We are idiots.
Of course when we got home, Jonathan popped on the boob like the whole episode(s) never happened, and that was what my pediatrician said would happen when I’d called him at 8 weeks. It’s also what my sister-in-law said would happen. It’s also what my husband said would happen. Eventually, poop or no poop, he would be hungry enough to eat. And in my pre-mom brain, I would have been on Team Logic and Reason, too, but having the responsibility of nourishing your child is an unfathomable weight until you feel it. And the frustration of not being able to do so is unavoidable, even if it has happened before and even if you know it will happen again. There is a lesson in here a la I’ll want to run again, but choosing to stay means I’m more equipped to fight…blah blah. That’s all well and good and saccharine as hell, but it’s true that I’m learning and really, the nuts and bolts of it add up to more wins than losses. My husband asked the right questions. I got some cute shoes at Nordstrom Rack. I fed my kid.