Sometimes I feel like my swollen breasts are the only proof that I had a baby. I do take some comfort in the fact that my body knows what to do. Many women have trouble with their milk coming in. Without any nursing and despite wear 2-3 tight sports bras at a time, I seem to have no such trouble. My body seems meant for pregnancy, birth and recovery. I had little physical complaints in pregnancy. I had a fast labor. I’m recovering well- very little bleeding, no real cramping, and an apparently sufficient milk supply.
Engorgement lasts longer than I thought it would. I was preparing myself for 48 hours, which is what I tell nursing moms. I, however, am not nursing. It is an especially sad thing for me- to have been pregnant, birthed and not breastfed even once. For a non-nursing mom, engorgement lasts quite a bit longer. It’s a blessing and a curse- a reminder that there was a baby and a reminder that there is no baby. On the second day of engorgement, my breasts were very painful; I couldn’t be hugged and had to sleep only on my back. Then they got a little better- not so tender but still very full. By the fifth day I was getting concerned or maybe just anxious. I needed to hear that I’m fine, it’ll go away and it sucks that this is happening. They looked pink to me- not full blown sign of infection, but I needed some reassurance. So I made an appointment with my midwife who diagnosed me as Irish. She agreed, it did not look like mastitis, but the pinkness was probably just from blood flow, which apparently is very visible on my pale Irish skin.
I have been sleeping. In the few nights I’ve been home, I’ve had two kinds of sleep- medicated or interrupted. I’ve taken an ambien every other night- I’m afraid I’ll become reliant, so I’m trying to do without on some nights. The nights with medication I sleep through. The nights without, I have been waking up around 3am. Maybe it’s my body doing what it’s supposed to do biologically. Waking up every 4 hours to feed a baby. As one of my friends with experience commented on an earlier post “one of the oddest things about delivering a baby who does not live is that your body doesn’t really know that.” Maybe my body is again doing what it’s supposed to do. Or maybe it’s part of the grieving- those 3am wake up calls are raw with emotion. Whenever I first wake up I have a moment when everything is as it was before Mabel. I used to have these moments when I was pregnant. I’d wake up and it seemed like everything was normal, and then the realization that I was pregnant would sink in. Now it’s the realization that my baby died.
And then there are the dreams. During my unmedicated nights so far, I’ve dreamt of death. I was a very vivid dreamer pre-pregnancy, often with bad dreams. In pregnancy I dreamed less. Now, my first night home, I had two memorable dreams. I dreamt about my midwife who spoke of father who had died 30 years before (in real life her father is still alive). And worse, I had another dream about a child falling from a mountain to his death. He had just save his younger brother from falling, but lost his balance in the meantime. We watched as he fell into the depths below. A few days later I dreamt that my youngest brother died in a car crash.
This morning I woke up around 6am. I stayed awake, watching the clock until it hit 6:25. I shook Chris awake and told him, It’s 6:25. One week ago Mabel was born. And then I cried myself back to sleep in his arms.