So the little Dude is 8 weeks old today. Tonight at 7:57pm to be precise. Like many big changes in life, it’s like he’s been here all along and yet feels surreal at the same time. Sometimes I look at him and think, shit, that’s my baby! I have a baby! I am a mother! Really?!
Overall, he’s thriving. I’m producing heaps of milk, too much in fact, so that he will feed just from the one breast for ages and ages (often all night) and there’s still milk available. My midwife had said he is up to the stage of being able to drain both breasts during the one feeding, but there’s no way that’s possible. He gets to the end of the first and wants to keep sucking but more and more milk is flowing and he’s full! Poor little guy, really wants to fall asleep while feeding, which is fair enough, but some of the time it’s just not an option, as the milk is still flowing fast and he’s had enough. I think over time he’ll get bigger and be able to handle more, and my milk will settle more.
So much for not being able to feel letdowns – ouch, they are painful and intense! Recently I’ve begun to feel the milk flood in when he’s ready for a feed. So I can always tell when he’s going to wake up, even if he’s not on me in the carrier or being held. Suddenly there’s just this overwhelming twinging and tingling, pretty painful, and I know he’s going to wake in the next few minutes. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve had the thought he might wake soon, having looked at the clock and seen it’s been 2 hours or whatever. The letdowns during feeding aren’t pleasant either, really intense pressure under my arm, and often more painful in the breast he’s not feeding from. It’s really annoying sitting up in bed and feeling an odd wet sensation on my side or my leg and realising it’s my boob leaking! Urgh!
He’s been a bit spewy actually, which I guess is normal, especially for a baby like him who is so full of intense energy – kinesthetic is the word, I believe. It’s annoying because it’s nice to feed him lying down in bed in the middle of the night, but he rarely feeds and then just falls back to sleep. He usually gets worked up, sucks like crazy, swallows a whole lot of air, writhes around, keeps detaching and clearly has wind he needs to bring up, and the only way to do that is sit up and put him upright; which pisses him off because he wants to be feeding and he’s half asleep and just cranky! And on top of that I’ve got to keep him quiet because not only will he wake husband, who has to get up for work, but he’ll wake himself up more and then it takes forever to settle him down again.
I’m learning that although he doesn’t have very clear patterns or routines yet, by the same token any patterns or routines get set in stone very easily, and can happen without me realising. On the one hand, there are so many points when I just want to settle him, in any way possible, so I’ll try everything; but on the other hand, some ways of settling him can prove an issue down the track. Feeding to sleep, for example: yes, he does do it sometimes, and yes, it’s a great way to settle him, but I don’t want him to associate feeding with sleeping to closely because when he’s bigger he’ll have to feed every time he wants to sleep, and I might not want to do that.
I can’t say I really enjoy breastfeeding. The various little niggling pains, like the letdown or when he feeds from the same breast and just sucks forever and my nipple gets a bit sore, are just not pleasant. I think it would be more pleasurable if I was less touch sensitive, and if I enjoyed my breasts and nipples being touched, but I really don’t, never have. A friend who just had her first baby said she is loving breastfeeding so much (even after only two weeks!) and it makes her feel all warm and fuzzy. That’s how it’s supposed to feel; I read about this, how breastfeeding causes the release of oxytocin in both mother and baby, the love hormone. Well, I’m sure I must secrete it because I gave birth without any pain relief, but I certainly can’t feel anything. I do like that I can nourish my baby myself with my body, and I enjoy seeing him satisfied by my breast milk. But the actual act, the physical feeling of having my nipple sucked, hmm, take it or leave it really I think. It doesn’t help that his latch is pretty dodgy, he takes in lots of air while feeding, with every second suck in fact, he breaks the seal, and he often de-latches a dozen times at least during a feed, I think mainly because the milk is flowing so fast. I don’t get why he hasn’t learnt to just swallow the milk, not to suck so much or so fast and just let the milk flood in.
So because we’re pretty certain that the Dude loves to comfort suck, I have actually be considering getting him a dummy! I know, it’s something I said I’d never consider – why have some artificial thing for a kid to suck on, when they are perfectly okay as they are, without artificial pacifiers. But this baby is really full on! He wants to suck! And he’s clearly very comforted by it. I just don’t like dummies, I don’t like what they can potentially do to a kid’s bite, to the sucking reflex, to the formation of teeth, and I really don’t like seeing little kids running around with dummies in their mouths. I don’t want him becoming dependent on it and having to fight him when he’s three or so to remove it for good. I want to do things naturally, and dummies just don’t seem natural to me. Who knows, maybe he’d hate a dummy… but I’m just not sure I want to even try it, maybe I’ll just keep on trying to help him settle without.
Now it’s a waiting game. Waiting for his sleep cycles to lengthen… waiting for him to learn how to settle back down when transitioning from one sleep cycle to another… waiting to see whether he’ll sleep longer… We’ve been meaning to put up the cot for two weeks now, and I’m planning on side carting it on my side of the bed, which will be annoying because I won’t be able to easily get into my bedside drawers, but if we can get him to sleep in it, which means getting him to sleep about 30 or 40 cm away from me and being able to be pulled or roll across for feeding during the night, that will make all the difference. I was ready to get back on the horse with husband in the bedroom weeks ago, but we just haven’t had any opportunities! The little guy slept for an hour and 20 minutes alone in the bedroom during the day, which is a record, and I think it’s only because I swaddled him… but that was the maximum. And it’s so much harder work to get him to sleep like that than it is to just strap him in the Hug-a-Bub during the day for sleeps and lie down with him in the crook of my arm at night. But all that has meant I can count the number of proper cuddles I’ve had with husband during the last 8 weeks on the fingers of one hand. Not good. I feel us drifting apart on the physical side and I hate it, I really do. He occasionally makes some kind of sleepy, pointless attempt to touch me, often in the middle of the night while I’m sitting up feeding and feeling like total shit… doesn’t get him too far! Or he tries to touch my boobs when he sees one exposed after a feed, which is awful because they’re extra sensitive after the Dude has been suckling like an ant-eater for the past however long… as I said, I never liked my boobs being touched before, but now I like it even less unfortunately.
Anyway, time will tell. Next update hopefully we’ll be getting more sleep and more time together.