A lot of people warned me that three or four days after birth, I’d experience a hormonal crash and might end up being very teary and sad.
This didn’t happen to me – not the sad part, anyway. I have been a bit weepy since Lola came along, but all happy tears.
Today was the first time I really felt upset, when I was diagnosed with shingles.
I felt such a bolt of fear when the dermatologist told me the angry red patch of blisters on my hip was shingles – the reactivation of the chicken pox virus – because I instantly thought I might have unwittingly passed on something to Lola.
Apparently it’s ok. My dermatologist spoke to Lola’s pediatrician – who we visited for the first time about an hour before the dermatologist appointment – and said I can continue breastfeeding while taking Valtrex but I must be ultra careful handling her to ensure no cross infection. The terror! Thank God I had already been slathering myself in alcohol every five minutes anyway.
I wanted to know how I ended up with this, now of all times. And there doesn’t seem to be an answer – doctors don’t know why the old chicken pox virus from childhood rears its head again, although it has been linked with weakened immune systems and pregnancy has that effect.
I’m bummed. Really. I was feeling so on top of things, in a hazy sleep-deprived kind of way.
The pediatrician’s appointment had gone so well, with Dr P (a kindly German-Peruvian doctor recommended by a friend) giving her her first check-up and pronouncing that all was well. Not only well, but great – she has actually managed to put on weight, the little glutton, which is apparently unusual in an 11-day-old baby. And Dr P has such a great philosophy – he stressed to Rufus that everything must turn around supporting breastfeeding now, and that men must support their partners no matter what kind of day they’ve had in the office because whatever they have been through just cannot compare. Go Dr P! (Got to say Rufus doesn’t need this speech, he’s just so patient and great, but I bet a lot of men do)
Anyway, it was so fabulous to be able to ply Dr P with all the questions that have been building up in my head ever since we brought her home and I realised I don’t know what the hell I am doing.
He was very patient. He didn’t even flinch when I fired up my iPhone to consult my list of questions.
Yes, her funny little bow legs would straighten out.
No, the dry skin is not a problem, perfectly normal.
Yes, we can give her a real bath now her little umbilical stump has dropped off.
Yes, her immune system is pretty weak for at least the first three months.
No, no point in trying to force a real routine on her right now.
But yes, it’s a good idea to offer her both breasts at each feeding and only give her 20 mins or so on each. (This is quite difficult with Lola who is tiny but has a mouth like a steel trap)
So I was on this little Lola-induced high until I got into the dermatologist’s office. Rufus saw me do my strangely quiet, controlled thing when I heard the news and wisely steered me to the nearest cake shop where he applied strawberry tart as soon as possible. That helped, and a few cups of hot tea, but then just now I found myself moping a little, thinking about my train track of episiotomy stitches, my hemarroid (yuk, another first), my sore back, my sodding Bartholin’s saga and now the shingles. All of which is completely, totally, worth it when I look at Lola and she smiles up at me (ok, she’s not smiling, it’s gas, I know it is, but it looks just like a grin). I think these things and the whole IVF/IF journey have just fundamentally shaken the faith I always had in my own body.
PS I wrote this yesterday in a sookie moment… much more chipper today altho i may pickle myself in alcohol hand gel before this is over