It’s 3.30am. I should be asleep, but I find myself staring at her. She seems to love nights this one. It’s at this hour that she smiles her gummy little smile and wants to play after her diaper change, and it makes my heart sing songs (on key) that make this motherhood journey completely worth it.
It’s been seven weeks now. Seven weeks of a rollercoaster of emotions unlike anything I’ve ever had to deal with, and it’s only now that I’m beginning to feel like a normal human being again. If you can discount the fact that I also feel like a cow that’s failing to produce as much milk as its owner would like. I’m more Zebu than Friesian.
You see, I’m not one of those moms fortunate enough to produce breast milk that shoots out of their nipples like geysers. I’d say my supply is modest, and I’m struggling with that for two reasons: one, I want my little one to be more chunky than little, and two, I want to have lots of milk to express and store so that I can have a social life again, drink wine, enjoy some of the things I enjoyed before the baby came along.
Last week we had our six-week check-up. There’s nothing that challenges my confidence in motherhood, and makes me feel completely inadequate as a new mom, like those visits do. I know her doctor isn’t purposely trying to make me feel like shit during these visits. But the fact that my baby isn’t putting on weight like I want her to – or in the doctor’s words, “her weight gain is modest” – and my milk production always seems like a topic of discussion – read, you should be doing better – does make me feel like shit. In my head, the lady stares at me like Maxine Waters, over her glasses.
Never mind that the doctor seems to either be completely unaware of the existence of digital scales or has decided to fight the trappings of modernity. I was hoping we’d find the scale replaced so that I could trust the reading it gave us, but I found the clunky old one and yet again, disagreed with the reading. According to that contraption, my baby had only gained 500 grams in the six weeks since she was born. FIVE HUNDRED! This, despite the constant feeding (her suckling has literally bleached my areolas), taking of uji and dill and moringa and fennel teas, and the increasingly frequent leaking of my boobs. I mean, come on! What do I have to do to get a nicer reading? Is this normal? Shouldn’t she have gained more? The only thing I feel like she’s gaining is height. Am I being greedy?
The nurse says that Gong is within normal range, but for real you guys, I’m convinced the scale is wrong. I’m seriously considering getting her weighed elsewhere. At this point I’m sure even those guys who weigh you for 20 bob on the street will give me a better reading.
It’s something I think about every day. But it’s also something that I’m telling myself I have to accept. Maybe that’s just how her body is. My body has refused to lose any more weight in the three weeks since I was last weighed (I probably gloated too soon), and hers refuses to gain weight rapidly. Maybe she’ll be luckier than I am in the metabolism department, and I shouldn’t be mad about that because that would make me a jealous cow. I wish I could switch with her though. I also wish I had her eyebrows. But I don’t, I have three carefully tended hairs, and I’ve accepted that.
So in the spirit of acceptance, I flat out refused to be expressing milk in the middle of the night as suggested by her doctor, who proposed that I try it out so as to stimulate more production. I wasn’t trying to be stubborn or anything, but as it is, I’m not getting as much sleep as I’d like to.
To increase my supply, I’ve even started taking fenugreek tea, which is hands down the most vile thing I have ever tasted, I’ve increased my water intake, and right now I’m taking bone soup after having uji for breakfast. I’m asking my Instagram fam for tips and entertaining even the most bizarre ones (someone suggested I try chapo and sugarcane juice, bless). So you see, it’s not that I’m not willing to try. Maybe it’s time to accept that I will never be those women can express 200ml of milk in one seating.
And in that same spirit, I have accepted the stretch marks on my boobs and thighs. I’ve accepted that my boobs will never be perky again and that I’ll probably never be able to pull off the braless look.
I’ve accepted that I need to give my body time to recover (damn pooch be gone!) and that some days will be really shitty and all I’ll want to do is hide from my baby for a few minutes to regroup (I’ve done this already usually in the bathroom).
I’ve also accepted that on such days, I will doubt myself and struggle to see the little everyday wins; that I’ll want nothing more than to go back to my old life because it was much easier than motherhood, and on those days I’ll need My Lover to look at me the way he does and tell me the three little big words that change everything: Babe, you’re magic. And then I’ll smile and tell myself that yes, I really am.
Right now though, I’m thinking that maybe I should change the name of this blog from Cultured Cow. I’m definitely not producing the amount of milk that a cow of such repute (and udder size) should. I’m my own oxymoron. Wow.