Feeble Knees

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Formula for Disaster

Friday. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Not long after my last post last Friday, my mother and father arrived on the scene to take control of the situation and order me to bed. This is what happens when grandparents live less than ten minutes away from their grandchildren.

Being as wasted as I was from sleep deprivation, I was really glad to see them come up the walk. Until I saw my mother toting a case of ready-to-use formula. I stiffened.

"Now don't kill me," she started, prepared for a pitched battle if it came to that. "But for crying out loud, you have got to get some sleep and I don't see how you're going to get any so long as you're the only food source."

The problem was, I was so beaten down at that point anyway, I was almost ready to throw in the towel and let her pour the stuff into Bug with a funnel. Nearly defeated, I reluctantly left him in their care and slowly climbed the stairs to go to bed at about one in the afternoon.

But my mind kept spinning. I still hadn't reached the pediatrician office yet to tell them everything that was going on - the lack of sleeping, the screaming, spitting, etc. I also wanted to let them know that I'd had his prescription for Zantac syrup filled. I didn't really think it was gastroesophageal reflux (what did I know?) but at that point I was willing to try anything. I'd do the Macarena down Main street in my birthday suit waving a chicken if I thought that'd calm him and help him (and us) sleep. I'd tried the nurses' line that morning and got the answering machine. Alone in the bedroom I decided to try them one more time. This time I got the nurse.

After telling her that all his gassy/colicky symptoms were persisting & that I'd decided to try the Zantac, I mentioned that my mother had brought us some formula.

"Oh no!" the nurse exclaimed. "If he's having all these gas and colicky symptoms with breastmilk, don't even think of trying formula. It'll make everything WORSE."

The thought of what could possibly worse than what we'd been living through for the past two weeks just about split my already frayed nerves to the root. "Really?" I gulped.

"Oh absolutely. You do NOT want to give him formula if he's already having problems on the breastmilk."

From downstairs I could hear poor little Bug wailing in distress. I wondered how much I really did trust my mother not to sneak some formula into him "just to see how he does with it" while I was sleeping. I threw back the bedcovers, jumped out of bed and headed for the stairs.

"Ah, Mum, I ah talked to the Pediatrician's office nurse..."

Mum was not very happy, but to her credit, she took the advice from the nurse without complaint, but I could feel her frustration about to boil over. For once I understood that it really was only because she truly was worried about me and my ability to hold up under all the stress. Before becoming a mother, this sort of intervention from her always resulted in a huge blowout between the two of us. Feeling (s)mothered and controlled, I'd dig in my heels and turn down her attempts to help me in various ways. These days I'm resisting her less and appreciating her more.

It's not that I've lost my grip on reality. She is perhaps a little more overprotective than the average mother. No one who knows her would dispute that. But I've softened my stance when it comes to letting her (s)mother me. Fact is, I could use it these days. I welcome it. I need it. Because being someone's mom is so darn hard some days, and I'm still new at this job. She's been a mother of five children for thirty plus years now. How hard has that been? How hard is it to stand by and watch your child struggle with something on her own while you feel powerless to help?

The crisis was averted. Bug did not get any formula that day. When he got home from work that night, Mr. F took the stuff and brought it down to the basement, making it a little less readily accessible, just in case. I went to a local pharmacy to rent a hospital-grade breast pump in the hopes that I might be able to stockpile some milk so others (like my Mum) can feed Bug for me while I get some rest. This seemed to appease my poor worried Mum, which made both of us feel better.

And in the meanwhile we started giving Bug the Zantac. Seeing how quickly it made him feel better, I feel horrible for not having filled the prescription sooner. He doesn't seem to be holding it against me, so far.

Being a mom is tough. Tough duty indeed.
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