Friday, April 06, 2007

4 weeks old

I can't believe that Toby has been with us for 4 weeks already! New parenthood has been proving all-consuming/ overwhelming, but we seem to have turned a corner in the last week, so normal blogging service (and some more recent pictures!) should resume soon.
I truly had no idea how hard work this was all going to be, or how utterly relentless the breast-feeding in particular would be. I thought that I/we had a pretty good understanding of the level of difficulty, having seen family and friends with new babies, but you just can't fully comprehend the exhaustion and constant demands until you go through it yourself. No-one can prepare you for it. And it doesn't help that you've gone through such an exhausting/draining experience as labour and birth first! I also had hideous back pain (and ghastly numbness in the base of my spine following the epidural/C-section), which meant that I couldn't stay in any one position for very long, especially sitting/holding the boy, which was tricky for feeding. The exhaustion, constant demands and emotional upheaval can result in some pretty dark times, and I've even wanted to give Toby back on one particularly awful night (not sure who I would be giving him back to - I really just wanted a break from it all).
Breast-feeding was bloody hard work in the first couple of weeks; I was prepared for it to be painful initially, but not for the level of difficulty in getting it established. Nor for the amount of time it would take up each day. Most of the time in the early days, it just felt like there was never any let up, as once you'd finished one feed and maybe had a short sleep or something to eat/gone to the loo, it was practically time to start over. Plus the pain from sore nipples was simply excruciating. And when my milk came in, it was almost impossible for Toby to latch on to my full boobs, as I have pretty flat nipples. So we started using nipple shields, which has made life generally rather easier, although I want to wean him off them soon. There was so much I didn't understand about breastfeeding and how it works in terms of the let-down reflex, demand & supply, how the baby's sucking pattern changes etc. I had previously been recommended a book called Breast is Best, which I so wish I had made time to read beforehand, as I wouldn't have struggled quite so much. But when I did get around to reading it, 2 weeks in, it really helped with various problem areas, and in simplyl understanding the mechanics of it all much better. For instance, I thought that if I couldn't hear Toby swallowing, then he wasn't actually getting any milk, and that the sucking he was doing was just comfort-sucking. Not so - he's still getting some milk, but just waiting for the next let-down. But it meant that I thought he was just a bit of a lazy feeder and had been taking him off the breast too early!
He was rather slow to regain his birthweight (probably because I wasn't letting him stay on long enough for all the reasons above), but once I'd read the book, I upped his feeding schedule to every 2 1/2hrs or so (every 3-4hrs overnight), and was expressing between feeds to increase my milk supply. It's all paid off, and he put on 8oz in the last week, so he's now up to 8lb 4oz (2oz above his birthweight). Still on a lower centile, but now gaining well.
We've moved from cup-feeding to bottle-feeding in the evening, as we didn't want him to refuse to go from breast to bottle at a later stage. We're using Playtex bottles/teats, which are supposed to be one of the closest to imitate breastfeeding. He loves his bottle, and Karen loves to be able to share in the feeding (she does the late-evening feed before we all go to bed). Sadly for my sleep pattern, he's now moved from one night feed to needing two, so I'm generally up with him at about 1.30am, and again around 5ish, feeding each time for about 45 mins or so, on and off. Quite often he wants morning to start once the second feed is over, which is pretty tough. It's amazing how you can adapt to so much less sleep overall, and broken sleep at that. Most nights he settles back to sleep after feeds reasonably easily, but some nights are pretty dreadful with us all just dozing for 30 min stretches at a time before he wakes again. I know that we have it fairly easy compared to many new parents though, going by the experience of the other mothers in my antenatal group. My antenatal group has quite literally felt like a lifesaver; I don't know how I would have managed without the other girls to share all our experiences with. Talk about instant bonding! We generally meet up a couple of times a week, and it keeps us all going through the tough times, although we are all beginning to find life a bit easier to cope with now.
Karen has finally found a parenting name that she likes - hooray! She didn't want a mothering-type name, as she sees herself as an equal parent to Toby, but not a mother to him. But equally, neither of us wanted her just to be Karen; we wanted a special name for him to use for her. We've been searching for something appropriate since before we started trying to conceive, without any luck (she's very particular!). I'm Toby's Mummy/Mama, and she is his Mimzy (she got the name from a childrens' film trailer, The Last Mimzy, and we both really like it). We also think it will be a good name as he gets older too, as it can be shortened to Mimz, which sounds quite cool.

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Anonymous Lo said...

I love Mimsy! (You probably know this but it's from a poem in Alice in Wonderland which makes it all that much cooler.)

7:28 pm  
Blogger Co said...

Glad things are well... albeit exhausting. A friend of ours said that one of her biggest mistakes before the birth of her first child was reading nothing but labor and delivery books before her baby's birth and not picking up her breastfeeding book until after. She cautioned me that after delivery and when you have a needy infant is *not* the time to *start* reading the breastfeeding book. I will try to keep that in mind. But she didn't figure that out until after she made that mistake. I never would've thought of that honestly. I will try to learn from others' mistakes and make other mistakes instead.

Mimzy is a great name for Karen. Take care, you three.

12:49 pm  
Blogger M. said...

I hear you on all of it! (One handed typing wth a babe on my lap at 2:10am)

10:10 am  
Blogger hd said...

Love Mimsy--great name!

And just so you know, soon things will even out even more and things will get even easier. I was desperately tired and whacked out and wondering what the heck I'd gotten myself into, but now I'm having the time of my life. Hang tough!

3:17 pm  
Anonymous bri said...

Will you write me an email or comment on my blog and let me know more about your experience with the hugabub? We are in search of the best possible carrier and want something that will allow baby to face out on the chest but not be bad for his hips. Oh, and do you know what you paid for it? Thanks!

3:44 pm  
Blogger Sacha said...

Howdy! I know what you mean 'bout breast feeding. It's 100% overwhelming and tiring, and never seems to stop. I'm glad there's some hope out there...can't wait for four weeks. In the AM Finn seriously feeds from around 7 or 8 until 1 or 2. It's crazy.

Finn is such a boob boy...on it all the time, and I get not enough sleep.

I'm glad to hear about the breaks to let the milk come down. I usually just tickle the little guy and make him suck more, so I'm glad to hear there's an explanation.

We introduce a bottle starting this Monday and I am SO EXCITED. M. can take a night feeding and give me a break.

11:06 am  
Blogger Erin, Maria and Mateo said...

I feel your pain with the breastfeeding issue. My family are breastfeeding nazis. My mom breastfed all 8 of us for a few years each. I have 28 nieces and nephews and they all breastfed, so I was so over-confident about it. I thought, hey, how hard can it be? I was so unprepared. I also read the Nursing Your Baby book AFTER I delivered. Big mistake. It took forever for my milk to come in and I had so much conflicting advice in my head, I was addled. Our son is 7 weeks old now and I think we both have the hang of it, but I will never act that over-confident about something I've never done again.

7:19 pm  

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