Yes, it does. Because if you’re extreme about something, you usually know enough to argue your case when necessary. And you usually are loath enough to agree to any alternative, that you stick to your decision and persevere.
[Sometimes it’s not a good thing to be an extremist. But sometimes it is.]
Here’s a case in which Yitzchak and I were – are – both extremely glad that I am as extremist as I am. (And my apologies for not posting for an entire month. For most of the month, I was slightly out of it.)
I was in the hospital, trying to sleep, with a baby who wouldn’t stop crying every time she was put on her back. From the leg movements, the reason was quite obvious: gas. But what can you do when the only place to put the baby is a bassinet, you have no gas medicine, everything is closed, and even if it wasn’t you aren’t allowed to leave the ward? Answer: Nothing. You’re stuck holding the baby.
I was so exhausted (and this was nearly entirely the hospital’s fault) that I felt like I was about to drop her. I’m not a person who cries easily, but I was crying then. I just needed another pair of hands, and Yitzchak’s (even if he had been allowed to stay overnight, which he wasn’t, strange as it may be) weren’t available; he had to be close to home to pick Shlomo up from the neighbor’s in the morning. And more than that, he needed to rest, because he had slept even less than me and had to take Shlomo to gan in the morning.
I refrained from calling Yitzchak, even though he had told me to call if I needed support, and just sent text after text, knowing that he would see them only in the morning. One of the sentences I kept saying over and over [to myself, and to Yitzchak, before he went to sleep,] was, “Dang it/sheesh, I just need another pair of hands that I can trust won’t give her formula. And I don’t know that I can trust the nurses.”
At about 3am, a nurse came in and we had the following conversation:
Nurse: Hi, is everything okay?
Me: Everything’s okay. (Except that she’s crying and I don’t know what to do, I can’t hold her for fear of dropping her or falling asleep over her; I need to sleep and there’s no one to hold her, and every time I put her down, she cries because she’s gassy.)
Nurse: She’s been crying a lot tonight.
Me: Yeah, she’s gassy. (Wow, thanks for stating the obvious. Are you offering to hold her so that I can sleep? Can I even trust you?)
Nurse: Maybe she’s hungry?
Me: No, she just ate.
Nurse: But she’s only nursing.
Me: Yes, but she’s not hungry, she just ate.
Nurse: She’s nursing, so she’s hungry. Maybe you should give her a supplement?
Me: No, she’s not hungry. (I knew I couldn’t trust you! Thanks for telling me that I made the right choice in choosing not to ask for help.*)
Nurse: You sure you don’t want to give her a supplement?
Me: Yes, I’m sure. She’s gassy, she’s not hungry. (And formula isn’t a solution to anything; it’s just bad. Plus, she only needs 5cc at the moment, and she got it.)
The nurse left. And I cried and texted Yitzchak, who, when he read the text at 5:30 in the morning, was furious at the nurse.
Yitzchak took Shlomo to gan, and then came with the carseat and a pair of hands to relieve me. He was going to bring gas medicine (Simicol) but after speaking with Mom decided not to (because it isn’t really for babies under a week old.)
But seriously, if I wasn’t so dead-set that formula is a medicine to be used only when medically necessary (baby doesn’t have a mother, baby is lactose intolerant, mother doesn’t have milk or for some reason her milk is contaminated), and is permanently damaging in every other case, then I probably would have given in.
And then there was the nurse that told me that babies don’t get gassy before the fourth day – to which the response was a prompt [huge] burp.
Well-meaning, yes. But definitely not that helpful.
And if I didn’t know better, I KNOW that I would have given in. I know, because the only thing holding me back was the knowledge of the potential dangers that even a single bottle of formula can pose.
But it worked.
And continued working despite the issues that cropped up afterwards.
Because ignorance is not always bliss, and sometimes what you don’t know can hurt you, or your kid.
*I believe, as I always have, that rooming-in is the best option, and I still believe it. I also think – or rather, know – that if the delivery room staff, and protocols, had been different, I would not have been nearly so exhausted. In other words, despite the difficulty presented here, I do not believe that it is good for the baby to be in a nursery, separated from its mother, just after being born; in fact, I believe the exact opposite.