I thought I would try and put the last 4 weeks down in writing but now that I’ve come to try and articulate it, I realise how much of a blur the last month has been. This is a feeling I’m sure most parents of newborn babies can relate to – every day/night seems to run into the next, you don’t know if you did something yesterday or the day before or even today or last night. Your life is no longer about day and night or days of the week – your whole life is split into 2 or 3 hour windows (if you’re lucky) that revolve around nappies, feeds and hopefully some sleep!
As you know, Troy was born just over 2 weeks early on 10th May. I then spent 2 nights with him in hospital. Those 36 hours were spent with him attached to me, feeding constantly. When we came out of hospital Troy slept all day – waking every 3 hours for feeds. He would then ‘cluster feed’ from about 10pm until 2am where he’d then go back to 3 hourly feeds. This was exhausting as I didn’t get any sleep until 2am, and then had to wake at 5am and 8am to feed him.
This ‘routine’ carried on pretty much until a few days ago. Dave went back to work on Wednesday and Troy’s present to me was to start breastfeeding all day and not letting me put him down. I remember this from when LP was born except it’s a lot harder to have a clingy, constantly feeding baby when you have a nearly 2 year old to occupy as well.
With LP I didn’t have a clue breastfeeding was going to be so hard but I was determined to succeed – we don’t have the money for formula for a start! This time round I know that I successfully breastfed before so there’s no reason why I can’t do it again – and there is no way I will be stopping – unless there was some reason why I actually couldn’t breastfeed, then obviously it’s unavoidable.
I am finding now though, when I’ve had 2 installments of less than 2 hours sleep, and have a baby feeding constantly, that I can completely understand why some women give up breastfeeding – it is incredibly demanding, you have to completely give yourself up to the role of ‘milk provider’ at first until your supply is established and until the baby’s feeding habits have settled down. Breastfeeding at first is relentless. The first 6-8 weeks are non-stop milking. As someone that has breastfed before none of this is new to me but I had forgotten how much it takes over your life during the first weeks, how your sole purpose is to feed the baby. I am no longer Donna – wife, mother, friend. I am Donna – Milking Machine.
I feel that breastfeeding is always portrayed as the most natural thing in the world. Before you have your first baby you aren’t often told that you can have problems with the latch, that your nipples can hurt like crazy until they ‘toughen up’ and that you will do nothing but feed your baby for weeks and weeks and that during this time you need the support of everyone around you.
If you were told all this then you would also be told that breastfeeding will get better. At some point you’ll realise that the feeds are actually now 3 hours or longer apart and that breastfeeding doesn’t hurt at all, that it is the most natural thing in the world and, dare you say it, you are actually enjoying feeding your baby!
I am definitely not at that stage yet. I am tired and emotional but I have a beautiful baby boy who is completely reliant on me to feed him whenever he is hungry. On the positive side, He now weighs 7lb 14oz at 3.5 weeks (as of Wednesday)after being born at 6lb 4oz and dropping down to 5lb 15oz. He has put on a lot more weight than his Sister did in the first weeks and he has already outgrown his ‘First Size’ sleepsuits – He’ll soon be out of the ‘Up to 1 Month’ ones too! And that is down to the milk that I am providing for my Son – there is no better feeling than that!
On a different note, I have had a few days now of dealing with 2 children whilst Dave works. I have taken them both for a walk into town with the double buggy, I have driven to a retail park and had a wander round with LP in the Maclaren and LM (I’ll call him Little Man =LM from now on) in the sling. Tonight I surprised myself and even did dinner, bath and bed myself as Dave’s on night shift – I would have done it yesterday too but my good friend @Search4GoodLife came over after she finished work and gave LM cuddles whilst I bathed his Sister. Note to everyone out there – If you have a friend with a newborn who finds themselves alone in the evenings, offer to come round and keep them company. It really does mean a lot just to have a friendly face and someone to talk to, otherwise those nights can last forever and get very lonely!