Monday, February 8


I’m on the couch, baby at the breast, Tchaikovsky playing on the stereo. Huge eyes stare up at me, searching mine, and on being met with a smile, she unlatches to return one. I know it’s better than the one I gave her. I’m swamped in a surge of such great love that I need to eat her.  I resist because of the same love. I’ve just been laughing because the drool was pouring from her chin as her eyes nearly popped from her head staring at the cushion with birds, her favourite one.

My new normal.

I’m not sick and lonely anymore, just sick.

My throat is lipstick red, with lumps. I knew well before I looked in the mirror, because I woke repeatedly from the pain of trying to swallow all night. It coincided with the first night she had slept nearly eight hours. How could I miss this first chance at real sleep after 130 broken nights? The cruelty of missing out slaps me in the face. I rage with the unfairness. I’d just been celebrating that mastitis and its aftermath was finally going to leave me in peace. The vicious scabs took far longer to heal than my doctor or lactation consultant was familiar with. I fed round the clock, biting my lip, using birth breathing, and rocking back and forth vigorously, like an overwhelmed child; ostensibly for her, but entirely for me.

Now that the pain was lesser, and there were fewer fully dizzy days, hope was peeping through the cracks. Maybe these months of extra-suffering were about to ease, and I would drive my car to walk in a beautiful spot. Or, bake a cake for the first time since having her. I felt like I was just taking a tentative step out of bliss-dark-land I’ve been in for months.

That’s why my reaction to the raging throat was more despairing that a cold should really produce. Melodramatic, to be honest. That’s why I didn’t feel refreshed when she took her longest sleep ever, because my other full time job, existence in this body, was in full flight all night.

I lie in bed, lemon tea with Manuka honey to soothe the pain. Drenching myself in facts to gently appease the powerful feelings. Truth, that I am loved, I am not forgotten, that the virus will pass, and I may still be able to go and buy my husband a birthday present this month. Fact, that these days are still ridiculously precious, they don’t need to be pain-free to be meaningful. They don’t need to be normal to be precious. This is far more meaningful and precious than driving my car, going to yoga, seeing my friend. I’m only missing out on the things I used to do with an unsatisfied pang.

I can hear a cooing dove from my bed where I’ve been conducting a little fact-based therapy. I have felt my pain, and now I go and look at the little poppet lying in her cot talking to the pom poms I made her. I get another day of full time smiling and singing, and she will do those things back to me. My day will be interspersed with moments of physical grief, sometimes despair. Followed by fact.  And then it will all be overridden by joy at unexpected moments, over and over.

My new normal. 

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