Today Kam Chu is 8 days old and here we are at the doctors office for his first visit with the pediatrician! But let me back up. I haven't been outside since Thursday afternoon of last week so it's been 8.5 days. Last night I actually got sleep in between feedings, like 45 minutes and then 2 hrs - you have to get it where you can because it's the only way to get any sleep at all. So even though I was tired eating breakfast around 8am, it was a healthy kind of sleepy like I actually slept! As I was getting dressed I started preparing in my head about nursing in public. If we take the bus will I just go for it? Or cover up? D says do what feels right, either one is fine. If someone says something to me, D will say something. And then, it's possible that no one will say anything. Of all the things I can't control.
It started at home right before we left at 9am. I'm using a temporary "butt bag" big fanny pack as a diaper bag which I now know to be a mistake. Because it was a hand-me-down, which I love, the main zipper didn't close all the way because it's rusted open, the quirks of hand-me-downs!, but whatever, we made it work. I went to strap it to my hips, because - I got this! - D says Are you sure? Yeah I'm sure! Because I was feeling good - we're going out and I might get a haircut! I strapped it on for 5 seconds, said No and took it off. Too heavy and my postpartum tummy is still recovering - Hello! It's only been 8 days! D offers to carry the bag but he has the baby in the sling. Whoever has the baby shouldn't have to carry bags (from my long list of imaginary rules and regulations of my life).
We stepped outside and the weather was nice. Not too hot, a cool breeze, full sun. And then my stomach starting killing me. Like an upset tummy. I slowly crossed the street and had to give the baby butt bag to D to carry. I said We're going to have to take a break on that bench (the one in front of that awful bakery where I would take breaks when I was full term and on my way to the bus stop or the farmer's market). I started getting a headache and feeling woozy. After bench-break time and meeting 7 month old twins that looked to be the he size of my 8 day old, we continued inching toward the bus stop. I told D, I think I'm anxious. Yeah I think so too, he said. I say, I was preparing myself for one thing in my head but my body is anxious and reacting on her own. Also, it was hard to be wearing so many clothes when at home my only fashion ever consists of a sleep nursing bra, nursing pads to absorb the milk coming out freely, mesh (eventually disposable) underwear with an overnight sized menstrual pad for The Blood (which really is starting to let up but it'll be some time).
So here I was postpartum walking like I was still full term with both hands on my hips, taking my space, taking my time - I will not be rushed. I had to sit at the bus stop and continued intentional deep breathing. It was rough! We got on the bus and sat in the handicapped seat at first - I mean I just had a baby, got my vagina stitched up (more on this some other time), still bleeding, uterus is still cramping to shrink from a watermelon to a pear and now struggling with slept deprivation. I was so dizzy, my brain hurt. Yes my body was in shock being out in the waste land, even if my mind couldn't comprehend it, my body intelligence was way ahead of me and doing her recalibration.
I was breathing deep, like I did during the labor. A deep breath in, hold it for a second and exhale slowly. I told D, Normally I'd have my mediation hematite stone to hold in my hand or my tiny, weighty elephant the kind man at the antique store gave me or the plastic lion I found in the grass that time or the metal cicada or the unusual shell. But what was helping was the breathing. It was the only thing that got me through the fiery, endless hell of labor and was going to get me through this postpartum body anxiety attack. Breathing I always have with me, I don't need to remember to bring it and put it in my pocket - it's always there and it's coming from inside of me.
We got to the park, another bench, another street, signing in at the lobby, looking like I was going to pass out in the elevator and then I collapsed, gratefully, into the couch at the doctors office. I drank my water - I had to be dehydrated. I could hear my baby crying and soon D brought Baby Vee over. As soon as I started nursing, I began to slowly feel like myself again, this new self. Here's my baby, everything is ok, breathe. And then another mom chatted me up. And then we went in for the appointment. I was still so out of it. As the doctor said goodbye to us, she joyfully shouted, "You got this!" which was awesome and much better than her small comment I ignored during the session that Kam was already a "mama's boy" because I comforted him as he lay on the stiff, white paper on the exam table. It wasn't until after we left and had some lunch that this anxiety thing began passing. And then I got my haircut! I am so grateful to be back home now breastfeeding this little person who had filled my belly over a week ago.