Over the weekend, that Lo had his first ear infection. I am so thankful Jerry had a holiday Monday and was thus more available to provide support through the nights preceding. The antibiotics appear to be doing their job, and last night went a lot better than the previous few. We probably should have gone to the doctor sooner, but I've had too many instances of them just saying either "nope, he is fine," or "well it is just a viral thing, so we can't do anything," that's what I half expected them to say this time around I guess.
Anyway, seeing Lo so miserable gave me flashbacks to when he was born. He was diagnosed with some type of infection (they never did conclude exactly what was wrong) and we all ended up staying in the NICU for his first week of life. Since I was rather overwhelmed at the time, I didn't journal much. I'd like to take the opportunity now to record a memory or two from that week that has resurfaced with the health issues of the past few days.
I remember in the NICU: one day I sat in our little hospital storage unit/bedroom breastfeeding that Lo. A nurse came in busily organizing some supplies, or cleaning or something. We chatted. In the course of our conversation, the nurse told me, "He's been breastfeeding really long on that side; he is just using you for comfort now." In my sleep deprived state of mind I heard this advice. The nurse stood before me in her uniform, a symbol of medical authority. And I sat hunched before her in my pathetic, unshowered, sweatpants-wearing state. I nodded and said "thanks." And continued to breastfeed. At the moment, I acted purely on instinct, having no presence of mind to think rationally about what might be "correct." Since then, I have evaluated my actions.
Here are my thoughts: My newborn had an IV line in his head. He had to give several vials of blood for some [unnecessary, I now realize] thyroid tests. He had been woken from naps by the malfunctioning beepings of hypersensitive monitoring machines. If he was "just using me for comfort," he was more than welcome to it! What else is a mother for, at her child's most difficult times, than to give comfort? It reminds me of something I heard once about a pacifier (binky) doing the mother's job rather than the other way around. Not that I'm anti-binkies, btw. I just think it is an interesting concept to ponder.
As we were at the doctor's office yesterday, I was a bit saddened to see that Lo is not as able to use breastfeeding for comfort now that he is growing older. He wailed when the nurse held his hand in the pulse oximeter, and even though I tried to distract him with a breast in his face, his toddler-levels of awareness just couldn't get past the fact that he was frightened of his surroundings, and what the strangers might do to him. He still received comfort in my arms, and in Jerry's soothing voice and hugs as well. But the breastfeeding comfort just wasn't as powerful as it used to be. Even though weaning is likely months away, I can tell we are transitioning to new stages in the breastfeeding journey.
Another memory from the NICU: A nurse was shuffling some supplies underneath that Lo's bassinet. I lay on the cot next to them. The nurse turned to me and said, "He is a bright little boy!" I asked her what she meant, and she described how his black shining newborn eyes had watched her. "They normally aren't that aware of people at this age, but he moved his eyes to see me." I glowed with that irrational pride that only a new parent knows. Yes, he is a bright, wonderful child. We love our little Lo. It was such a relief last night to see him getting back to normal. We have missed his energy and antics.