Friday, May 13, 2011

Last night, I had my first pregnancy anxiety dream. It involved breastfeeding, and lack of supply - somehow I hadn't nursed the baby enough in the initial days or weeks, and therefore my milk supply was crap. I woke up all disgruntled and cranky.

I'm not surprised that breastfeeding #2 is a source of anxiety, considering that I spent the first month of Carter's life in excruciating pain until his latch (Pirahna Jaws) worked itself out and he stopped gnawing my nipples off with each feeding. My problem was never low supply, but rather an overabundance of milk - I had overactive letdown, and the poor little Roo was just trying to contain the flow - but I have many Mommy friends who had trouble with supply, and I can imagine how stressful that would be.

I remember those first four weeks of Carter's life so clearly - the euphoria and adoration coupled with the pain and exhaustion. I remember frantically emailing mommy friends looking for breastfeeding advice. I remember visiting a very expensive lactation consultant, who said that our latch was fine but he was just sucking too hard, and there was nothing they could really do. I remember crying when cold air hit my sore nipples, ravaged by marathon feeding fests by my growing newborn. I remember considering quitting nursing.

What a month. I was a bundle of postpartum hormones who had changed exactly one diaper in her life before her child was born (and that was only a few months prior to his birth, when we babysat for a friend's toddler and I decided that I should get some practice). Aside from tidbits extracted from birth class or the prenatal books I had voraciously consumed for the past 40 weeks, I knew exactly nothing about babies.

And yet, breastfeeding madness notwithstanding, I don't remember being afraid. Looking back, I wonder how that's possible, and suspect that my mind is playing tricks on me. We recently saw a couple of our friends who have a boy Carter's age and a four-month-old, and I asked them for some words of wisdom about having two. They said not to worry, that it's not nearly as terrifying as it was the first time - so I got to thinking about those initial weeks and months and trying to remember what exactly transpired. And all I can remember is love, exhaustion, and pain. Perhaps the pain of breastfeeding has simply usurped any other negativity surrounding those first months. I'm sure I was scared. How could I not be? How could anyone not be? Is there anything more daunting - or more wonderful - than parenthood?

It's incredible to me that in less than four months, we'll be back in the throes of newborn craziness again, but this time with a toddler to take care of as well. A family of four. My tiny son kicks me as I write this, as if to say "That's right, Mama - here I come, get ready!" and I am overwhelmed with love, joy, and thanks.