Today is our fourth day at home with our new little treasure. Just writing ‘fourth day’ is actually quite comforting. It feels like I should know what I’m doing by now but realising it’s still mega early days is reassuring! Today and yesterday have been the complete opposites to Monday and Tuesday and I’m imagining this is how it will be for a while – that some times you crack it, some times you don’t. Tuesday was really tough but today felt much more organised and calm.
I am now fully into the stress that comes with learning how to breastfeed! The thing is with babies is that they don’t come with any instructions (I checked the box, there weren’t any in there). Advice and books can take you so far but every baby is different and every book and advice-giver will also tell you contradicting information! I think the best way to deal with a new baby (in my massive 6 days of experience, woo!) is to embrace it as a trial and error process where you have to make mistakes and do things wrong first before getting them right, and I reckon that’s a rule. Well, that’s how it’s been for us so far anyway…
Breastfeeding is actually quite an artform and a real skill. I’ve seen women sitting in public with their babies neatly tucked under a feeding sling, while munching on a sandwich and chatting to their mates – to me this is some kind of hazy aspirational vision that I can’t ever imagine being a part of! I idolise these women – how the hell did they get to that point, I mean eating whilst feeding?! I’m sure it will come…I hope!
Tuesday was tough mainly because the ‘baby blues’ kicked in. These tend to arrive with the delivery of your milk which comes around day 3/4 – wow, two presents in one day, body you are so generous! When the midwife told me about the baby blues in hospital, I just assumed that I wouldn’t get it – how can you feel so sad and down at such an exciting, happy time? But man, it really did hit me. It’s such a strange feeling, it’s like your emotions don’t really belong to you and you are being betrayed by them. For me these blues hit a real peak at pretty much the exact time the midwife turned up for her visit. How convenient. I’d just got Phoenix off to sleep and she arrived. They don’t actually tell you when they’re coming and even though you know they’re not judging you it’s quite scary wondering when they’ll show up. Turning up as the blues were kicking in and mid nap wasn’t great as she woke up Phoenix to be weighed and he went totally nuts and screamed his face off. It was the first time I’d really heard him cry to that extent and I felt like there were loads of people watching how I handled it. I felt really under pressure to sort it out. At the same time she also told us that he was slightly underweight and she got on the phone to the hospital to see if he needed to go in. This wasn’t going well…When you are soley responsible for the feeding of your baby and someone tells you he’s underweight whilst he is screaming his face off and you can’t settle him, it’s pretty stressful. Layer on top of this the timely arrival of the baby blues and you have one flustered mummy. Fortunatley he didn’t have to be referred and I was given some useful advice on getting him feeding more. Ben stepped in with some soothing singing and calmed him down (I’m not really sure that the sentiment behind ‘Under the Bridge’ is the most appropiate song for a baby but he does really like it and at least Ben knows the words even if it is about jacking up on drugs). The rest of the day was a bit hit and miss, we had a tough time getting him to sleep, but once he was down and we woke up this morning things have been a lot better. It’s good to draw a line under a bad day and move on. Plus he gets cuter every day 🙂
With the help of another midwife visit yesterday I realised that I hadn’t been allowing him to get to the creamy milk at the back of the breast (there’s two layers of milk – a more watery hydrating liquid at the front and creamy thick stuff at the back). Because he falls asleep a lot when feeding he hasn’t been getting to the good stuff and therefore not filling up and not sleeping enough. Jeeze, no one told me this was going to be so technical, I thought it would just be suck and go! So now I have lots of techniques to keep him awake and know a bit more about how long he should feed for and how many times a day. So with all that worked out we’ve had a much better coupe of days with regular feeds and naps. I think I can see the light…just. There’s so much to learn, it’s a bloody miracle that there’s so many functioning humans on this planet!
The midwife also gave us a lesson in swaddling (wrapping up the baby so he can’t thrash around in his sleep). I was a bit nervous to wrap him up too tight at first because it’s so hot, but he kept waking himself up by hitting himself in the face so the midwife showed us how swaddle effectively. Once she’d demonstrated by swaddling Phoenix she asked us to get a teddy or doll to practice on so Ben went off to find one. The closest thing we had was ‘Pinchos’ a strange lobster toy that we picked up in New York. Swaddling him up made me laugh, it kept his pincers tucked out of range.
It’s 8pm now and we’ve just had another succesfully calm feed and put down, hmmmm I could be getting the hang of this but lets not speak too soon – night is approaching!
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