Today is Baby R’s four week birthday – our one month newborn baby 🙂 – and what a four weeks it’s been.
The ongoing breastfeeding saga
This week in particularly has been super tough. We went a few days where I decided not to give Baby R expressed milk top-ups from the Haakaa manual breast pump, following my last midwife appointment where she was back up to and beyond her birth weight. But after a few days, the same issues I’ve been experiencing started up again. She was feeding constantly – like every hour – but always seemingly hungry after each feed. That made me paranoid that she wasn’t getting enough milk, compounded by every Tom, Dick and Harry (and my mom and husband) saying ‘she’s rooting’ every time I took her off my breast and she grizzled. Which, to be fair, is what it looked like.
‘She can’t be bloody hungry,’ I’d respond. ‘I’ve literally just fed her for 45 mins on each breast!’. Then I’d end up feeding her again, 20 minutes later, with empty breasts, feeling more and more fed up. (One of my NCT friends said yesterday she feeds for five minutes on each side every two to three hours. I was like – whaaaaat? And I’ve been feeding for over an hour for most sessions more frequently than that!!!)
I called my health visitor this week and she advised me to keep her for a maximum of 20 minutes on each breast, to taking her off when she stops properly feeding (i.e. when she’s suckling) and making sure I give her ‘space’ between feeds and after burping, such as to take her for a walk or put her in a bouncy chair for five minutes. She said this would allow Baby R to become hungry between feeds, increase her efficiency on the breast and hopefully up her tolerance of being apart from me.
And limiting the time feeding would free me up and avoid my nipples getting too sore! So I’ve been doing that for a couple of days. I’ve also decided to reduce the amount I use the Haakaa as I started wondering whether that’s affecting how much milk Baby R gets overall. It’s like I’m ciphering off a load of milk during each feed, which is great as it’s building a stash but potentially at the expense of her getting enough at each session.
The new regime is going well so far. I’m not sure if it’s entirely down to the above changes, but bubs was like a different baby yesterday. She slept almost the entire day – this is unheard of, really, as the day before she must have only had an hour tops. I also noticed, which I don’t always, that she was properly gulping down the milk, so I was more confident she was getting what she needed. Plus she seemed satisfied within the 20 minutes. I was really worried she would protest when I broke the latch, but even though she was still suckling, she was pretty chilled and sleepy after. So all that time she’s been ‘feeding’ on those mammoth sessions, she’s mostly been suckling for comfort and it’s important that I recognise the difference.
I believe reducing the amount of Haakaa time is key for me to having a more contented baby. I think up till now I was basically collecting the majority of the milk on one breast, so when Baby R came to it, there wasn’t a lot left. The only slight concern I have with reducing Haakaa usage is it’s removing my comfort blanket. As I write this, I’ve only collected 3oz from two breastfeeding sessions this morning because I’ve just taken the first bit of letdown milk, whereas up to now I’ve kept the pump on for – say – 45 minutes. I’d routinely get six to eight ounces by mid-morning, which made me feel that if Baby R got grizzly later in the day, at least we could give her a bottle of expressed and she’d be OK. But I shouldn’t think like this if having a milk stash is at the expense of the baby getting a proper feed.
It’s hard to know for sure whether the new routine has resulted in a much more sleepy, placid baby, so I’ll keep going with this routine for a few days and see how we get on.
Another restructuring at work
I also discovered yesterday that my company is making a large number of redundancies across the organisation. I got a text from my boss inviting me to a series of calls that afternoon about it, and it was all over the news. It’s not a huge surprise – the coronavirus has had a huge impact on the business, which was already suffering. But I thought any redundancies would come later in the year – not so. The mood is if the organisation doesn’t take urgent action now, there won’t be a viable business left to operate. The changes won’t affect me immediately but the indication is I’ll know more about the impact on my job in August/September.
I have mixed emotions about it. Before I went on mat leave, I was working crazy hours, even while heavily pregnant. I was absolutely exhausted as a result, and couldn’t see how I’d be able to sustain it when I returned with a baby in our lives. Plus I am set on starting up my L4 counselling course in September, which will be full-on too. So if the worst happened, I’m not devastated. Having said that, my job is local, I work with good people and the pay and benefits are decent. Plus it’ll be a nightmare trying to get another job next year if more companies follow suit and lay off their staff. The ideal would be to work part-time, but I’m not sure how realistic that’ll be with the job market on its knees. Anyway, let’s see what happens. But, having survived several rounds of redundancy at my work in recent years, I’m not feeling that lucky about sticking around this time.
Making new mommy friends
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to join Peanut, the ‘Tinder for mommies’ app. Well, I was being a little optimistic, it turns out, to have the time to text potential new friends that way in the first few days of motherhood! Having said that, one mom did text me, and we’ve been messaging back and forth ever since. Turns out she lives five minutes away and works at my company (and also facing redundancy)! She already has a toddler and is pregnant with her second, and did IVF because of male factor, too – we have a lot in common. Who knows if we’ll click in person – that’s the acid test – but it’s given me a little spring in my step and hope that I might be able to make some new friends after all .
I’m also chuffed that our NCT WhatsApp group has got going a bit more now, and the girls are really lovely. Someone suggested yesterday meeting in the local park for walks, and I was excited because next week I’m totally on my own (my husband is now back in the office and my mom, who’s been helping out, has gone home). There’s a big part of me that has the FEAR that I won’t click with any of them in person, though. But actually, my Peanut friend said this is pretty common as many of the ‘friendships’ you make tend not to progress because you rarely get beyond the surface of talking about your kids. It was heartening to hear this, actually, as I felt like I was missing out a lot on the potential to meet new people due to coronavirus putting to an end to mother and baby classes. But I now realise they’re not an automatic ticket to a bunch of pals for life.
‘She looks just like her dad’ (:-/)
And finally, one thing that’s been really winding me up this week (one of the many things, it seems!) is how many people say Baby R looks ‘just like her dad’. Now really, I should be delighted by this. Our infertility journey may well have ended up differently if we had listened to our clinic and gone with donor due to my husband’s dire sperm situation. But we trusted our instinct (and urologist Jonathan Ramsey’s advice) and kept going until it worked. I kind of assumed though that, because we were having a girl, she’d look like me. Maybe not 100%, but at least a bit. Turns out she looks just like my other half. Everyone says it, even though I don’t see it completely myself.
My mother-in-law in particular is pressing all my buttons, which I feel ashamed to say as she means absolutely nothing by it. But she is obsessed with playing the game of ‘which family member’ from her side ‘does R take after’. She is OBSESSED, I tell you. When I dared suggest she had my hands and feet, she said ‘I’m afraid to say she actually has my hands’ and I was like ‘errrrrrr, really?’ Then, that same week, she listed in order who our baby reminded her of. First, my mom. Second, my husband. And third, the ‘generic look’ of my husband’s dad’s side of the family. There was no ‘fourth’ going to mommy i.e. me. I wasn’t even bloody mentioned!
I know it sounds pathetic, but it actually really bothers me. (Like I say, everything bothers me at the moment, but this one is in particular). I personally see more of me in her than my husband. I think she has my eyes, which are blue at the moment, although perhaps they’ll change. She seems to have my pale skin tone, but if she goes freckly then she will take after my husband. The hair is my other half’s, as mine was blonde when I was little….But I really thought her hands and feet were ‘mine’, although I’m questioning whether that’s even the case.
I’m now super paranoid that GENNET have mixed up my eggs, and there’s none of me in her. Is this a normal thought???! I don’t think I’d even be thinking about it if it wasn’t for everyone banging on about it. It just makes me sad, even though I know babies often look like their dads, because I had hoped for a mini-me. I never expected her to look the spitting image of her dad!!! Although, ultimately, this way of thinking of beyond ridiculous. Baby R is a baby. She is her own person and will look the way she looks!!! Next time the mother-in-law starts going on about it again, I just need to take a deep breath and let it wash over me. This too shall pass.