Firstly. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has messaged me and commented on my previous blog posts with advice, sharing their own story and giving me words of encouragement. Hand on heart it means so much that friends - and strangers are there for help and support. Without sounding like a cheese fest - at a time when you can feel quite lonely, I don't feel so lonely anymore.
So week 4.....
You know how they say newborns sleep a lot. HAHAHAHAHAHA. It's all LIES I tell you - LIES. Well Rafe the sleep thief, milk monster doesn't. Literally the other day, he was on my boob from 8am to 9pm. I hardly got a break. And he did not sleep at all. Which was fun. If fun means exhausting. His last feed before bedtime, it’s like he knows he needs to stock up and he is like a hungry shark on my boob. Like if he comes off my nipple, he furiously tries to get it back in his mouth. He’s a milk fiend! I know everyone keeps saying he will settle and go longer between feeds but - when will that happen?
People say when you have a baby your life changes but I don't think you realise how much it does. Just being able to pop out for a coffee without it being timed around feeds, or leaving the house without fifty pillows to help breastfeed. Or simply being able to do what you want to do without a baby hanging off your boob. Don’t get me wrong – I can’t imagine life without Rafe – but I can’t quite remember my life before either.
The exhaustion is tough. When he wakes up for his night feeds, sometimes I can barely lift my head off the pillow. And it’s not just tiredness – it’s the exhaustion of spending all day and night breastfeeding. It takes it out of you. So how is the breastfeeding going? Well the breastfeeding support worker came out on Tuesday and I decided to try the rugby ball hold to feed Rafe. And surprise, surprise he latched on perfectly and fed like a dream. Thanks son. I felt embarrassed that I had called her out. I kept justifying asking her to come out. It wasn’t a wasted trip though as she did give me some advice and encouragement. However, when she left he wouldn’t latch on. To the point he really, really hurt my poor nip that I was crying. It was so, so painful. And it just really got to me. I felt like giving up. I needed to get out the house for ten minutes so I took the dog for a walk. It was Halloween so there were lots of kids and their parents out trick or treating looking at me thinking what the fuck is she dressed up as? As I was hysterically crying (or ugly crying as my husband calls it) with snots on my face, asking my dog, “why can’t I get this?”. But now, after a few days of persevering, loads of encouragement, we are getting there – I think! I don’t want to tempt it but I think the rugby ball position works well for us, he can latch on quite well, not always straight away and sometimes we struggle - but so much better than before. And I’m comfortable – although I have about fifty pillows (maybe four) to support Rafe and I – we are getting there. I’m not sure it has clicked yet – but if feels like it won’t be long. I hope! So I’d say, we have had a breakthrough with breastfeeding. And the health visitor came this week and the little chunk is now 9Ib 3oz – he was 8Ib 10oz last week. So all that feeding and persevering is paying off. I can’t explain the relief. It’s such a rollercoaster – if he doesn’t latch on or feed well, I walk the streets ugly crying – and when he does, I feel so happy. There is no medium. But I think we are getting there….
And thinking about pacing the streets, crying, it made me think about the pressure of breastfeeding. Personally, I want to keep going. I really want to breastfeed - but I don't think there is anything wrong with giving your baby formula. At the end of the day - it's about the baby being fed. Formula or boob - as long as they are healthy, then that's all that matters. Fuck anyone who judges you. But the pressure is real. Pressure from me, the midwife, the health visitor. They may not mean to but it is really rammed down your throat to breastfeed. So when I was thinking about giving up - I felt so guilty. Like a failure. And the pressure is from society too. My friend told me she was out and about breastfeeding - topped her baby up with a bottle and a man - yes A MAN came up to her and said she should persevere with breastfeeding - even if she gets sore. Excuse me - have you had your nipples bleed from trying to feed your baby? Have you cried in the night when they won't latch on? No - so fuck off. Made me so angry. So massive high five to those breastfeeding - and a massive high five to those using formula.
We had more firsts this week. We went to our first baby yoga and massage class. I was really worried as I packed my pillows – what if people judge me for not being able to breastfeed with ease? I still can’t change his nappy in rapid speed – will the other mum’s judge me? Help - I really don’t want to breastfeed in ‘public’. All irrational – but real worries. I got there and the teacher saw me with all the pillows and asked whether I was moving in…cringe. Then when I walked in – there was a man there. Ahh, more fear about getting my boobs out. We started the class and Rafe screamed the place down. So I had to feed him. I was going to go out the room and I thought sod this. I was covered up and it’s not like the other dad wanted to see my saggy ass boobs. So I got my pillows and fed – not quite in public – but in front of strangers. Hurrah to me! And after the feed we started the massage again – and then he screamed the place down. So basically, it looks like I’ve paid £50 for a class to feed Rafe in front of strangers. Winning.
Rafe is starting to become much alert now – and his farts are impressive. Take the exhaustion, the worries, the nipple pain – I am overwhelmed by my love for him. And when he cuddles into you – it makes my heart melt. Then he opens his eyes and stirs and it is time to go back on the boob….again.
We have had loads of visitors over the week which has been lovely but it can be exhausting. I've given up going upstairs to breastfeed. I can't be arsed. I'm covered up so it's not like as my husband said: "you're getting your tits out for a lap dance." Speaking of visitors - my brother is here and he just turned around and said: "I'm so tired. I've only been getting six hours sleep." SAY WHAT NOW?
Best dash, the milk monster is stirring.