I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since the little dude’s birth. It’s been longer than a month actually, but this is the first time I’ve had two hands and enough time to sit down and write a blog post.
The first week I more or less didn’t move from the bed, under strict instructions of the midwife. I think I probably went out to the lounge two or three times in total. It was great though, being waited on during that time! Husband of course ran himself ragged, forgot to eat or look after himself in any way. My mum stayed for the first three days, then headed home to give us a few days just the three of us before husband had to go back to work. It’s funny, that first week is something of a blur now. It was nice knowing the midwife would come every day and I could chat to her about the baby and the birth and everything in between. There was so much to learn! In fact the whole thing is a massive learning curve.
I don’t really remember which day I finally went out of the house, but it was really only out the front door to give the little guy some sun as he had a fair bit of physiological jaundice. The milk came in about day 3 – I was sitting on the bed chatting to a couple of friends who I’d planned to meet up with that night but obviously couldn’t head to the city, so they came to me. And as I fed him, suddenly I began to leak milk from the other breast! It was quite a surprise but pretty cool, nice to know things were happening as they should. That night things really ramped up! I got a fever, and my boobs swelled and were so hot and tender, it was crazy. I took a really hot shower before bed and then crawled in shivering, which is really unlike me as usually I’m too hot. But I wasn’t too concerned, as I knew this was what happens when the milk arrives. That night was pretty uncomfortable and sweaty and fussy, and the baby was the same, just sticky and feeding furiously but feverishly. I think we still had the heater on in those early days, so the room was warm and the air was dry, not a great combination. It had settled down by the next day, and although I was still full, I was no longer painfully engorged and I only had sore nipples to deal with.
Speaking of breastfeeding, it hasn’t been the biggest challenge of all. It’s been painful and confusing and a little difficult at times, definitely time-consuming, but overall I’ve managed pretty well I think. I realise I’ve learnt a fair bit about breastfeeding. I must admit it still pisses me off to read all this shit about how breastfeeding is an art, how you have to learn it, bla bla bla, it doesn’t come naturally. WTF?! It’s natural! Why are we perpetuating this ridiculous myth about how much of a challenge breastfeeding is just because so many women are so out of touch with their bodies and nature that they need to feel validated about finding breastfeeding hard? Seriously, get over it, nature is a bitch but that’s because we’re stuck in our heads, our intellect rules us, and we’re taught that pain and physical ordeal is unnecessary, unnatural and to be avoided or dulled. It’s bullshit. Yeah okay, my nipples were so freaking sore there for a couple of weeks, and they got better and then went tender again, but I’ve dealt with it. Coconut oil saved me in the first couple of weeks, then my mum bought me this nipple cream by Weleda which is great. And both that and the oil are odourless and tasteless and non-toxic, so don’t have to be washed off before feeding.
I’ve already dealt with some up-chucking, initially as a result of some reflux I think, mainly because, well, he’s a baby and babies have immature digestive systems, but I also realised I wasn’t burping him after feeds really. I felt bad disturbing him as he’d always drift off so peacefully after a feed! But then one day he really vomited, a huge amount of milk, and it was semi digested too, all curdled and a bit sour-smelling. So I knew it would be like reflux, and I realised I had to be more disciplined about burping him, which is not such a logistical nightmare and doesn’t require special moves or equipment or fuss, it’s just a matter of making sure he’s upright after feeding and perhaps giving his back a little rub or pat to help the air bubbles make their way out.
I began feeding him in a more upright position and soon the reflux wasn’t really an issue, only lasted a couple of days. But then the wind began, and that’s been quite hard, or was initially. I did end up googling to look up what it meant when baby writhed and wriggled while still attached at the end of a feed and pretty much tried to rip my nipple off. He also started crying a little while feeding, which I didn’t get at first. Through some surfing, I discovered he probably had wind and there wasn’t a lot to be done really. I just tried to be more vigilant about burping him more often and properly, so the air had less chance of getting down, which has worked somewhat.
At the end of the first week, baby I weighed his birth weight of 4kg, and by the end of the second he was 4.5kg. The midwife and I were both very pleased. He began to get longer and every day he’d change. His jaundice went eventually by the end of the first week, and he started pooing and weeing quite nicely. We were rather intrigued to note that his hair has remained reddish blond – must be the Irish in my family! I suspect his hair will change colour shortly anyway.
So last Monday it was four weeks and a couple of days ago it was one calendar month since the birth. I took him for a couple of walks, the first with husband, who carried him in the Ergo carrier, which has been a real godsend. If I ever want him to sleep I just put him in it, and he is alseep in a few minutes, provided I’m moving about. He’s awfully long and getting longer by the day, so I don’t know how long the newborn insert is going to suit, but we’ll see. His first ever outing was to the bench near the lighthouse where we had walked the last time, while I was in labour, the day before he was born. Then we went up the coffee shop a couple of times, which was good, nice to get out. Then the other week I took him for his first trip in the car – to Double Bay to get some money out of the ATM and to the supermarket. He slept all the way there, slept in the Ergo as I did what I needed to do, then cried all the way home. I feel so bad hearing him cry and not rushing straight to his aid, but I know he makes it sound worse than it is. I was very proud of myself for making it there and back without any real dramas! I next took him to Bondi Junction to get his birth registered with Medicare and drop off some dry cleaning. He was again good as gold on the way and during, but on the way back he cried all the way home again.
I discovered just the other week that I apparently have an ‘oversupply’ of breastmilk. Pfft, whatever. I don’t think there is any such thing, not in the long term, and I’ll explain why. I’m demand feeding the little man because I know he will feed when he needs it and will in turn regulate my milk. So if too much is coming out and choking him or causing him to make that clicky sounding suck, it’s because it’s not bloody established yet! I read all this shit about women having too much or not enough milk, and worrying about baby getting foremilk or hindmilk or whatever, and I just think, FFS, why worry about this crap before the milk has even regulated itself and before baby has settled in and sorted out what’s what. Baby knows, the body knows, chill the fuck out already people! Okay okay, I know this is probably the ideal and women do have serious issues breastfeeding and I’m bloody lucky because my body is working so well with my baby etc etc… yeah, true I guess, but I do believe that just relaxing, not getting pent up about things, trusting in nature, and taking care of yourself can really go a long way to sorting stuff out. I know the little dude’s latch isn’t fantastic, yeah, but he’s still fairly new at this, and he’ll get it. I know he’s often not latching well because too much milk is flooding out and choking him, so he regulates it by attaching cautiously just to the nipple where he can control the flow. My nipples are alright anyway, and I figure he’ll get it by 6 weeks or so and things will settle. I must admit, I was heartened by reading The Feminist Breeder’s six week update on her daughter (I guess she’s a couple of weeks older than my I man) all about how the baby has just switched into this other ‘happy’ mode after having some issues not dissimilar to what I has gone through. That’s where I worked out about oversupply actually. I’m not expecting miracles, don’t get me wrong, but I know this will pass and dude will have more moments of lucidity and unbroken sleep (and in turn we will too!)