So I’m writing this post in week three, and trying to recall how week two has been. The time has flashed by in a total blur. I’m not going to lie – it’s been really tough. The main thing that’s happened is finding out R had lost more weight beyond what was considered OK. I was so, so gutted. I’d been feeding so much for massively long periods of time – often well over an hour on each breast, round the clock – so to hear that she wasn’t getting enough from me still was soul destroying.
We had to keep going back to the community midwives for weigh-ins every couple of days, and each time she lost weight. They checked R’s latch and were happy with it (although tweaked my holding position) but said I should start supplementing her feeds with expressed milk each time. Up to this point I’d been using a Haakaa manual pump to collect the letdown from the other breast and I just chucked the milk (in hindsight I really wished I’d collected and frozen it so I had a spare supply). Now I was having to collect, sterilise bottles and store the letdown milk on a periodic basis – all new to me!
I’m hoping this new feeding regime will help her gain weight. And it did last weigh-in, but the issue I’m having is she’s so hungry that the suggested 2oz top-ups aren’t enough and I think I’m going to have to supplement with formula. She guzzles from the bottle like she’s half starving (apparently it’s easier for them to feed this way as they don’t have to work as hard), which I suppose she has been.
The first couple of days of topping up were great – she was much more content and actually slept in the day. I thought we’d cracked it! But as the week wore on, she stopped sleeping again but still rooted for food all the time. It was exhausting but of course she has a lot of weight to gain so is going to be ravenous.
Thank goodness my mom has come to stay with us and help. I’ve managed to get a little sleep while she’s looked after R, which I’ve desperately needed, and she’s stayed with her (rarely is she asleep – most often she’s awake, eyes wide open) while I’ve done odd jobs round the house. I have a bunch of black bananas that I planned on making banana bread with, which I’m going to have to chuck out today because I have hardly had five minutes to myself. And when I do, I have to prioritise sleep over baking! But like I said after week one, simply brushing my teeth some days is an achievement.
I feel generally OK in myself. Yes, I probably have a little cry once a day, but it’s not hopeless tears – it’s more needing to get my emotions out, and then I feel better. I did worry I might suffer from the baby blues, but I don’t think I have. This has definitely been helped by having a supportive husband, and my mom coming to stay.
My other half is now back at work. If I’d had to look after R on my own, I think I’d have struggled. She’s a demanding baby, and hard work. But the other good news is I’m also recovering well from the c-section and have lost a lot of my pregnancy belly. I can now see my c-section scar and it’s tiny – the surgeon did a good job! I’m looking forward to exercising again, but I’m also not in a massive rush. It’s more important to recover well and concentrate on baby R for the time being.
Things I’ve learned – week two
This too shall pass – everyone who has given me advice and support have reminded me that this early stage is tough for everyone… but it will pass. And it’s a special time you’ll never have again, so try and make the most of it. I’ve found it much more tricky than I expected. R feeds round the clock, so it seems, yet still loses weight. It has made me feel like I’m not good enough. But I know that’s not true. I’m doing my absolute best and if I need to ‘resort’ to other feeding methods, such as formula, so be it. It’s not the end of the world (even though, in floods of tears yesterday, it felt like it was)!
I’m getting more confident – I have never really held a baby before, so I felt completely incompetent with my own at first. No maternal instinct kicked in when she was born – I didn’t just ‘know’ what to do. I remember looking at her the day after my c-section, and thinking: I have no idea how to look after you. I even said this to one of the midwives, and she just looked at me like: what do you want me to do? At the end of week two, however, I feel much more confident with her. I’m able to pick her up better, change her nappy more quickly and, although the breast feeding is still not quite there, it’s improving and going in the right direction.
Get as much help as you can – I’ve thankfully had my mom and stepdad with us this week, and they’ve been a godsend in a practical way, but also it’s been a great having someone to talk to who knows what to do. I’ve found the NCT breastfeeding helpline a real help (I’ve called twice in tears), my NCT WhatsApp group, the community midwives and my health visitor (although I’ve received conflicting advice from the professionals, which can be confusing). Friends with kids have also been a huge source of wisdom, although I wish I had some local mommy friends. I’ve joined Peanut (like Tinder but for mommies) although not had much time to go on. Hopefully that’ll be another source of support!