Prize Fight

Posted Oct 11, 2012 8:47pm

Tomorrow is Oscar’s big weigh in. Matt likened it to a prize fight where everyone is waiting with baited breath. I know I am. I can’t imagine that he hasn’t gained well. He has been eating so voraciously that last week with its sleepy feeds is a distant memory. In my lazy moments I find myself saying “Oscar, enough already! 45 minutes of nursing is IT!” But he needs it so, and of course I oblige him happily. One forgets what this stage is like pretty quickly. These growth spurts where the babies never seem to do anything but eat. It seems crazy on a term baby, but even more so for Oscar. He’s making up for lost time, drinking up every minute he needed on the inside. He is demanding mid-cycle snacks too which is new for him. We usually always have to wake him to feed but that is not always the case now and he is getting rather demanding at moments. Oscar has also officially found his voice. We now know for certain that his lungs are working, if there was ever any doubt. These are good things, normal baby things, and they go a long way towards making me feel relaxed and comfortable.
This week has brought lovely visits with friends coming to admire our latest creation. It is so heartwarming for me to show him off and let others revel in his tiny perfection. It feels like a true reward after all the hard work. His not mine. Now Oscar gets to be cuddled and cooed at. He gets to be adorned with fancy new clothes in his tiniest sizes and wrapped up in the softest blankets. Such a stark contrast to his life for the first six weeks. Leelee said something to me when Oscar was four days old and I was about to hold him for the first time. It resonated so deeply with me because it was a concept I had never thought of before.
She said “the only touch he has known up to this point has been painful.”
Leelee in all her wisdom went on to educate me further. ” You have to teach him that touch can be soothing. It isn’t easy for them in the beginning.”
It made me cry. The thoughts rushing into my brain all at the same time. What had they been doing to my baby? What could I do to undo that? Would I bond with him? Could thirty minutes in my arms be enough to undo all the suffering he had endured?
It did take time. Oscar was what they call labile for the first two weeks or so. He would flinch at any touch as if you were hurting him when that was the furthest thing from my intention. It was emotional to say the least. We had to learn to use our hands to simulate the walls of my uterus, where he was of course meant to be. No light touching of any kind or he was very uncomfortable. All our intuitions were wrong.
How far we have come. Oscar snuggles in like any baby now, falling asleep in his mother’s arms as nature intended. I think that my brain is sectioning off the NICU experience as some sort of middle ground where he wasn’t quite mine yet. That’s how it felt. Like my baby was in a halfway house which I was free to visit but not exactly comfortable in. Now that he’s here each day feels closer to a normal existence. Maybe by the time he was actually due it will be as it should be. My baby, here with me. No pain, no needles. All milk and cashmere and the scent of your mother’s hair.

Leave a Reply