The days are blissfuI and the nights are hard. Star is home again now, and all three of us are like things were when she first arrived – stringed instruments over tightened and quivering with tension. How are we going to do this? I don’t know how we are going to do this. Back at the start of her stay I called helplines daily to cry, I was so overwhelmed. I’ve returned to that place. I have no buffers, no cushioning emotionally, no reserves. I call and cry about how hard this is and how afraid I am it is too much for us. And then I do it anyway.
Rose recalls a foster family who liked her until the new baby came, then decided a baby and teen was simply too hard and sent her back. It is too hard. Everything is too hard. Terror and inadequacy sit beneath everything else. Others around us see strength and hope and resilience that we cannot. They reflect us back to ourselves and we hold onto that like a lifeline. We are a strong family. We can do this.
The nights last a thousand years and I try not to count every microsecond anyone any sleeps for longer than me and hate them for it. I do try. We will make it work. I don’t know how. Day by day. Through tears and fear and conversations that stick or hurt or flow and heal we will make a way.
Today is the last day of my antibiotics. I am in the hell of healing wounds with thrush and tinea (‘jock itch’). I am allergic to tinea and my skin is sloughing into raw patches. Trying to breastfeed sitting up for hours at a time is a profoundly miserable experience. Pain levels creep up during the day and peak with sleep deprivation in the small hours of the morning. One more day.
I hate the sensations of let-down, like lightning and ants under my skin. I writhe and Rose sits by me, rubbing my legs to give me other sensations to focus on.
We are getting better at the latch. I am able to breastfeed in the bed, the bath, and my armchair. I can do football hold, side lying sometimes, and very occasionally a cross carry. Being able to feed outside the house remains my Everest; the goal I’m in training for.
It will get easier. It will get better. It won’t always be this hard. Love is the balm that eases the pain, cools the resentment, soothes the fear. There is so much love here. Our tribe is so full of love and pouring it into our home. We will get through this.