I’m a confident babe. I don’t often doubt myself, and I think I kick ass in my life most times. At least that’s what I’ve taught myself to believe. I’ve got that can do attitude, and it’s gotten me pretty damn far if you ask me.
So what does a confident babe who just happens to be a new mom do when it’s time for the baby’s first doctor’s appointment? She dresses up, draws her eyebrows (staying in the house all day every day is really preserving my ka-40 bob eye pencil that’s dangerously close to running out), passes on the lipstick because she’s leaving the house bare faced – visible post-partum acne flare-up and all – marvels at her weight loss and dresses her baby cute. You never know who you’ll bump into, right?
Anyway, My Lover and I walk in to the doctor’s office looking, in my head, like a couple that’s handling new parenthood very well. Our turn comes and we go to triage, where we’re asked to undress the baby for her weight to be taken. I’m looking at that scale like it’s going to give my baby the tetanus because it’s wobbly and ancient AF. From the get go, I’m not trusting it to do my baby justice. I’m doing my best side-eye sorceress impression as the babe tries to balance the scale while my baby squirms in discomfort (she’s not used to such cold metal surfaces).
It’s taking a lot not to ask that babe whether she’s sure about that scale. Especially when she tells me the baby has gained 200g. I’m looking at her like, TF you mean 200g? In three weeks? And the way she’s got me feeding her all damn day and is rapidly outgrowing her (really cute) newborn clothes? Not possible. I want to ask her to try again and read that thing properly, but I manage to shut up and look gracious about that obviously erroneous pronouncement.
A part of me is looking at my baby like; “how you gon’ gain just 200g and you feed all the time? Where is the milk going? Are you pooping it all out? OH MY GOD AM I STARVING YOU?” Another part of me is saying maybe she just has that great metabolism that she’ll come to appreciate later in life, which she probably got from her father and not me.
But the bigger part is fixated on what the doctor calls a “modest gain”. I don’t do modest. I’m an all or nothing person. And I thought my baby was just like me, going by how she goes from zero to one hundred when upset and how hungrily she lunges at my boob when she wants to feed. Now here we are. Ati 200g. I’m trying to look unfazed but on the inside I’m positively crushed. I’m dying. I’m seeing this as a failure on my part, and it’s made worse when the doctor asks to check my flow and proceeds to squeeze my nipples gently. There’s barely anything. She frowns a little and mutters: “That’s unimpressive”.
In my head I want to go all Nene Leakes on her ass. What does she mean “unimpressive”? Did she expect it to come out like a sprinkler? I tell myself to chill out a little, and say, in a very meek voice, that the baby has just been feeding, and My Lover, because he’s a wise, wise man, adds that sometimes my breasts even leak. To which she says nothing more than “Aah.” I’m getting mad at the doctor, because I feel judged. But I’m also getting really upset at the fact that I don’t have enough milk to make my baby gain more weight faster. I don’t want a skinny baby, I want her to be chubby so I can call her Chubs, and have nice rolls of skin to marvel at when I bathe her.
Let me tell you, nothing challenges your confidence like new motherhood does. Nothing prepares you for the amount of self-doubt you will feel, and how the slightest indication that something isn’t right or could be better is somehow your fault.
The doc asks me whether I’ve been eating and I say yes. And it’s the truth. I just haven’t been stuffing my face like many breastfeeding women do. Why? Because a) eating all the time is so damn tiring, I need a break, and b) because I really, really, don’t want to gain more weight – I want to lose all my pregnancy weight ASAP and I know the combination of eating all day and spending most of my time indoors will not allow me to prosper.
I catch myself whining about having to eat all the time, noting full well that it’s now 3pm and all I’ve had today is a bowl of uji (thanks Mom!) and fruits, which I had at noon as a late breakfast. I can swear I hear her sigh and mutter something under her breath, before she tells me, in what I figure must be her most patient voice, the one she reserves for annoying mothers, that I need to stop thinking about weight and just eat all the uji and njahi and soup so that I can make more milk for my baby.
This is all so confusing to me. On one hand you have the people like her and my mom, who are convinced that the only way to ensure I have enough to feed my baby is to eat dense foods all day; while on the other hand I’m told “just eat a balanced diet, and take lots and lots of fluids. You don’t need to eat for two.”
I feel like I’m being pulled in two opposite directions and there I am in the middle, confused and scared that I’m not being a good mother because my baby is not gaining weight like she has the potential to just because I can’t get the hang of this breastfeeding diet thing and it’s affecting my milk production. And I know she has potential because she is my spawn and I am weight gain potential personified.
So now I’ve given in to the eating, though I’m still trying to do it in moderation – smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, including the uji, and lots of hot fluids. Hell, even my drinking water is hot these days. I know I need to do it for my baby but man, am I struggling.
To be very, very honest, the struggle is also because I know that deep down inside, I’m a vain cow. I’m ecstatic about already losing about half the weight I put on during pregnancy (I’ve lost 10 kilos y’all!), and I’m scared that if I eat the way the older women are telling me to eat I’ll be right back to that near tenth of a tonne I weighed by the time I was having the baby. I don’t want rolls and hurricane thunder thighs and a pooch! I want to snap back and wear my tight clothes and show off my waist and hips again. I also don’t want a whole new wardrobe because I miss my pre-pregnancy clothes and I have every intention of fitting into them – and my body shaper – again.
Right now though, that’s the least of my worries because nature has given me something else to worry about. I have a hemorrhoid. Not that there’s an ideal time for it, but the timing couldn’t be worse! Now that I’ve committed to eating a bit more than I was allowing myself just so I can produce more milk for my spawn, I know it needs to go somewhere – and that shit is painful (pardon the pun). Now I’m not only not very confident in my ability to feed my child, I can’t even be confident about a trip to the bathroom. On the upside though, I’ve learned a new skill; I can now administer my own suppository. It’s been such a fun week.