Sunday, January 6, 2013

How dry I am...

My baby is sucking me dry! Well it certainly seems that way. Breastfeeding for the past several months has made my skin drier than ever. Admittedly the winter was always harsh on my skin but moisturizer used to help at least. Now I can slather on copious amounts of lotion and it's still not enough. I have elephant elbows and alligator feet, all cracked and dry. No amount of moisturizer seems to work. I try to drink more water. I don't know how much I would have to drink to be hydrated enough. I'm a walking desert! I have an unquenchable thirst. My Mom was worried I had diabetes but the blood tests proved I didn't, not even during pregnancy. No I think it's just that Michelle is feeding so often -- every two hours or less -- that it's taking everything out of me. She drinks her fill and I'm left looking like a dried up riverbed. My baby vampire draining the life out of me! (Her father and I joked about him being a vampire. Maybe there was something to it...) She's even keeping a vampire's hours most of the time now -- sleeping by day (though not very much), up at night.

Michelle is five months old now. In the beginning when she was feeding so often I was told that the feedings would become less frequent after three months or so. The opposite is true for Michelle. She used to at least go 3-4 hours sometimes during the night. Now it's every one and a half to two hours even throughout the night. Sometimes it feels like she eats non-stop. Some of her nightly feedings last an hour. She just doesn't let go. So I get no sleep, get nothing done, am basically her prisoner! My Mom thinks I'm carrying attachment parenting too far and letting the baby have her way too much. She worried that I  was feeding Michelle too often. I told her that I heard you can't overfeed a baby when you're breastfeeding. It's self-regulating. The baby knows what she needs. And it's not as though she's a heavy baby. She's pretty slim, especially by baby standards. She's just so active that she burns it all off. She's in perpetual motion. She's jumping and kicking constantly (the Jumperoo and Jolly Jumper only encourage her even more). She's never still. So she's always hungry. And I will not let her go hungry.

My hands look ancient, battered, like they've been through a war. People always guessed me to be younger than I was by at least 5-10 years, if not 15-20. That was when they looked at my face. If they looked at my poor weathered old wrinkly hands, they'd probably guess me to be 30-40 years older. My hands have it the worst because I'm slightly OCD and wash them about 1,000 times a day. I washed them pretty frequently (hundreds of times a day) even before I had a baby. Now with the baby, it's far more because I have to wash after every diaper change, every time I pick her up, every time I do anything -- cooking, eating, doing laundry, dishes. Every thing I do requires hand-washing, sometimes several times during the activity. I basically wash my hands before and after everything I do. Sometimes I accidentally wash my hands before I collect the garbage and then I think, "That was stupid! That was one time I didn't need to wash them!" They are so dry and sore and rough that my knuckles are cracked and bleeding and puffy. It's impossible to keep moisturizer on them because of all the washing. I try just to wash the palms of my hands without the backs of my hands but that rarely works.

I looked online to see if anyone else had gone through a similar "dry spell" while breastfeeding. Sure enough, many breastfeeding women suffered from dry skin. Some have the advantage of not being OCD at least and not washing their hands constantly. Some live in a warmer climate that isn't so cold and dry. Some drink a lot of water. I try to drink more water but it's just so darn bland. If only water tasted like Coca Cola! And broccoli tasted like chocolate. And men were trustworthy. And it rained money. Yeah. If only! Anyway, at least I know that it's a normal effect of having a small human draining fluid from you several times a day. I knew that breastfeeding burned an extra 500 calories (still not enough to lose my "Mommy tummy" unfortunately!) When I first brought Michelle home and she wouldn't let me eat I was losing a lot of weight quickly and having fainting spells because I was burning off more than I took in. Now I actually get to eat meals but I guess I don't drink enough to account for all the fluid I'm losing. I'm just always thirsty. I'll have a glass of milk, a glass of water and I'm still thirsty. I should probably keep a big bottle of water by the bed and drink WHILE I'm breastfeeding instead of waiting until afterward. I feed Michelle several times during the night without getting a drink myself so that probably doesn't help. By morning I'm dying of thirst.

While pregnant I was retaining so much water that my feet and legs were blown up like balloons. (If you check out posts like "My Left Foot" from last summer, I even posted photos of my freakishly huge feet.) Now I'm shriveled up like a dried flower, losing so much water I'm cracking. My knuckles are the worst. They're so sore it hurts to bend them and they're bleeding. No matter what, Michelle is worth it. Bloated feet, cracked hands, whatever. She has taken me over body and soul. I'm living for her now. As long as she's fed, healthy and happy, I'm happy. Maybe I'll just start keeping moisturizer by every sink in the house now. And a glass of water with me in every room.

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