Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Medication Would Have Been Helpful

Bear with me, as this will be quite a round-a-bout way of story-telling. Wait, what? You expect that of me? Pshhhh.

Did you know that Mia was a little bit premature?

She was, by about 4 weeks, and the only harm it caused was that she had to stay in the hospital on a bili-light for 6 days. 6 days of me descending into a pit of post-partum depression, which I didn't come out of for months. The hospital was filled with people -- nurses, visitors, patients milling around -- yet I was lonely. I was not myself. I was sad and weepy and terrified. I couldn't hold my baby because she was all strapped into the bili-bed, but I wasn't even sure I really wanted to, anyway. I felt no connection with her yet other than knowing that I had to take care of her, which I threw myself into with all the gusto of a depressed new mom: uncertainly and with much paranoia.

Each time we took Mia off the bili-light, we had instructions to turn the power off. In order for the machine to correctly record the number of hours per day she'd spent lit up with the warm, blue bulbs, it had to know when she was hooked up to it. And in my weepy, morbid state of mind, I thought bad thoughts each time we turned the machine off to feed or change Mia. I dreaded flipping the switch, because the bili-bed's constant, droning hum would slowly power down into silence. To me, it sounded like a life-support machine being unplugged. It felt like I was taking my baby off life-support, and I cried every time.

When we finally got home from the hospital, my state of mind didn't improve quickly. By the time Mia was one month old, we still hadn't given her a pacifier. I was determined to let nothing stand in the way of a good breastfeeding latch, and since Mia had a bit of a rough time learning to latch on, I refused pacifiers for her. I never intended it to be a long term refusal; I always assumed we'd use one eventually. But when the day came that we finally wanted to try a pacifier, it didn't work quite like we'd planned.

After a few tries of plugging a pacifier into little Mia's mouth, she still wasn't having any of it. It made her mad -- she wanted to suck with a purpose, and the binkie just wasn't cutting it. Justin held it to her face while she continually tried to push it out, and I sat across the room, fretting. Soon, though, it worked. She seemed to be sucking on it contentedly, so Justin cautiously moved his hand away.

And that's when I lost it.

Her tiny little head -- premature, remember? -- was almost completely taken over by the plastic pacifier. It covered her mouth from nose to chin, cheek to cheek, and made her look like a robot...a machine...something unnatural. A picture flashed through my mind of the mask worn by Hannibal Lecter, and I flipped out. Tears sprang to my eyes, and I immediately put an end to the binkie. It wasn't right for us. It wasn't worth it to plunge my fragile post-partum mind into crazyville, just for Mia to have a pacifier.

I packed the few binkies we had into a box of unused baby toys, and hid them away. Mia played with them a few times as she grew up, but she never 'used' a binkie.

Lauren never even tried one. Much like she never tried a bottle. It was all mama, all the time, around Heavenly house, and it was just the way I liked it. Although I didn't have the same bluesy mood with Lauren, I felt it was better to not tempt the memory of Hannibal Lecter's mask on my child. The binkies remained in the box of baby toys, and my girls maintained an artificial-nipple-free existence.

But now. Oh, now. Everything's changed.

Lauren found the box of baby toys a few months ago, and it was like Christmas. Toys?! Bottles?! Pacifiers?! I let her keep a few baby things out, thinking she'd use them with her baby doll, which is her favorite toy, by far. She's a consummate little mother, that one, and I had no problem letting her haul off a binkie or two for her baby.

Except, she doesn't use them with her baby. She uses them for herself. And she's grown quite attached. Over the past month, she's gone from playing with the binkie for a few minutes a day, whenever she happened across it, to seeking it out at all times and pleading to sleep with it. She cries for its companionship. She quiets and calms when it's in her mouth. She loves the binkie.

And, lord help me, I can't refuse it to her. (Other than at bedtime -- I refuse it then, for sure. It's been lost behind the crib slats more than once, and that's a nightmare. No thanks.) It's like she knows I don't want her to grow out of babyhood, so she's reverting to babyish behavior. KNOWING I won't mind.

Because I'm a spineless sap.

With a mixed-up head.

But seriously. Is she adorable, or what?

Tell me I'm not the only one whose postpartum depression caused the imagining of such disturbing images. Or, if you were perfectly sane and healthy, feel free to just smile and nod at this terrifyingly strange history of mine.


  1. I had mopey spells of different lengths after all three of my boys were born. And two of them had to have bili-lights for a couple days each and it was so hard! Although I never thought of Hannibal Lecter during that time... I think that might be distinctly Sarah :)

    Lauren does look cute with the binkie, and with her hair like that, she looks a lot like Boo from Monsters, Inc.!

  2. I have no experience with this, but I am excited to hear that it's possible to live pacifier-free! Well, at least for a little while ;)

  3. She is adorable, pacifier and all. And the picture you posted is so drastically different from the one you painted that lives in your memory.
    I've never had serious PPD. I had prolonged baby blues with my first little guy, which made me feel pretty insane during the first five months of his life. It's a rough road. I feel for you during those early days of new motherhood when everything is just so much to absorb.
    Also, I want my baby to be a baby for as long as possible. Growing up is good and right, but oh, those baby cheeks and thighs and snuggles. Sigh. Love babyness.

  4. Is it bad to say that as a mother of two binkie-loving boys I delight in the pictures of Lauren and her precious new found friend. My theory has always been that they won't go to prom with it, so what's the harm? :) And I agree with Lenae - she absolutely looks like Boo!

  5. What an image! (And weren't you just worrying about your creativity?) But to answer your question, YES!!! After Penelope was born I was plagued by horrible images. Horrible, horrible images. I won't go into detail on your blog, partly because it would be weird and partly because it would take too long, but rest assured you were definitely NOT alone.

    That said, those pictures of Lauren are entirely too adorable. (Is that still Lauren in the second shot? She looks so much like Mia there!) She's one sweet, little not-quite baby!

  6. OH, I could have written some of your words myself. I had such a vigilant ANTI BINKIE stance that I put a little post it note on his hopital bracelet. I was insane with post partum stuff. They kept threatening me with that bili blanket machine because he had such severe jaundice.
    Want to feel better? I was so crazy about the temperature that I bought a portable thermostat for his room. I would obsessively check the temp in his room to make sure it stayed at 74.5 degrees. Don't ask me why that exact number was necessary.
    After a few months they discovered that my body had stopped making hormones. Turns out they're pretty necessary for good mental health.
    And yes, she is a little doll that one! Look at those pigtails!

  7. It's funny you should post this! Lily never took a paci though we tried our darndest, so I did the same thing you did -- tossed them in a basket of baby things in her room. She has since discovered them and LOVES playing with them -- although she's not really attached, I think they just make great teething toys at the moment :) But it cracks me up that she's 18 months and walking around with a paci when she wouldn't as a newborn!

  8. Oh the images and issues I have with my PPD were so much darker! I would probably would have been calmed by my baby looking like a robot!

    My youngest had a really hard time giving up her paci, she was so attached. We traded it in for a babydoll that....yep had a paci! Sigh, at least she's not using it anymore.

  9. She does look pretty cute with that binky! Molly had to have bili lights too & trust me, I'm still haunted with images of my baby girl under those lights with those "sunglasses" on...so helpless...I can't write anymore or I'll be a sobbing mess in a few seconds. So, no, you're not alone!

  10. She is so precious. I would let her use her binky whenever she wanted for as long as she wanted.

    Life is short. Treasure the babyhood! :)

  11. Post-partum stuff is not fair at all, is what I always think. Not looking forward to it again!!

    I never thought of Hannibal, but you know those new-fangled pacifiers that are all weird and transparent? To me they always make babies look like those prehistoric sucker fish that you get to eat algae in an aquarium. Not. Cute.

  12. Our tot was premature too! And the pacifier also took up half his face (someone even commented about it in one of the pictures of his birth announcement). We ended up getting away from the pacifier really quickly because he kept "losing" it and we got tired of putting it back in for him so he moved on to his fingers and we've never looked back. As for the baby blues, doesn't everyone have those? I cried because the baby didn't nurse, I cried because the baby nursed all of the time, I cried because my husband thought I was losing my mind, etc. I am glad to hear that you didn't have that with your second baby. Maybe that's something for me to look forward to!

  13. You're not alone. When Fynn was born I felt the same way, the paci's were like the devil in my mind, for so many reasons. He had trouble nursing, and I blamed it on the few times we tried the paci... and he used it off and on until he was four months, but more off than on. Because he wouldn't keep it in, but my husband would do the same thing, hold it up to his face and I just couldn't watch it, like almost forcing my kid to have the paci... I don't know.
    Paige was a paci baby from day one, if I remember correctly. Then, all of a sudden she started chewing through them while teething (not that long ago...) and so she was done with them. But they were seriously her BFF's for a long time. Hopefully one day Lauren will just have enough with them, or the paci fairy can come and she can give them to other little babies :)


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?