A lot has changed in 4 weeks. A lot has happened in 4 weeks. I will try to recall it all but I barely can remember breakfast these days ( because it can happen at 1pm ).
To say you go through a rollercoaster of emotions when you have a baby is a serious understatement. Not only are you happy your baby is here and anticipate all that is to come, your mind and body are recovering and your hormones are changing. Oh boy, are those hormones changing. The first few days we had her home were some of the toughest and challenging days. My mom was here to lend us a hand, and we really used her to our advantage.
I left the hospital still not knowing how to breastfeed. I was sure Sloan wasn't getting anything from me as we had never had a good feed in the hospital. The last night we stayed there she just screamed all night, each time with the nurse running in and shoving my boob in this poor kids mouth while she just wailed on it. My milk didn't come in till nearly 6 days after she was born. This little lady was serious starving. When we left, her little 6lb 10oz body was down a serious amount and the pressure in my mind to have her gain weight, "weighed" heavily on me.
I tried all the things. Oatmeal, the milk tea, even a beer (just one!) to get the milk to flow. I tried all the positions, holds & nipple shields. Sloan and I weren't connecting and making it happen. If she did get on, she would never get enough to keep her satiated. The feeding could last up to 2 hours leaving us both tired, frustrated, and some pretty sore nips to say the least. I kept thinking "I know it's supposed to be hard- this is what I have been told/read". I never felt the natural feeling I knew you were supposed to have when it came to breastfeeding. I really didn't feel the bond, think it was beautiful, or enjoy it. This was all a vicious cycle in milk production. I started to pump to give her whatever I had and to increase the supply. We had to supplement with formula to stop the agonizing cries of this hungry little baby. My heart as a new mom was so, so heavy with feeling inadequate, disappointment and resentment towards myself. This is what I was supposed to do- and I couldn't.
After 2.5 weeks of formula and pumping all the time it just became too much to feed her, settle, change and pump afterwards. I was having to cart this pump everywhere just to keep up. Then if we were out and about, I would go 4 hours without doing it and feel upset because I messed up.
I have cried a lot. The most I have ever in my life cried over something. Like baby screaming in the crib, I am in the shower crying my eyes out- crying. Real deal.
I had to let it all go and just go full formula. This was easier or me, Sloan and has let Mike bond with her in sharing the feedings. It does give you a warm, fuzzy little feeling to watch your partner cuddle up and feed the baby. Give you all the feels!
We basically the first two weeks had a routine. She would eat, sleep for up to 3 hours, need to be changed and settled, then back to sleep. Sloan has never been super content to be awake. She squirms and winces and cries. I imagine it's hard to be awake when you can't see anything and it's all new. Nearly overnight as we were approaching 2.5-3 weeks she just changed. This little baby is now not crying, but screaming, for hours on end. She is awake longer, very irritated, gassy and fussy and little episodes of hours of screaming. When she like this, there is nothing we can do. We can bounce, rock, sway, pat that baby and until she's done or the gas passes or gets too exhausted, she will not quit. This was so exhausting for me as it was happening when mike had to do a few day shifts. I was up all night (so he could sleep) and all the next day with this unhappy, screaming baby. When he came home, I was sitting there crying with her and just handed her over. I felt so guilty because I had to feeling of "I hate this". I wasn't feeling the mom thing and just hated this little human who screamed at me all day. You give everything to this little person and they can't tell you what they want. I think I want to stress if this happens, it's okay to feel that way. You have to put that crying baby down in a safe spot, walk away, have the 10 minute shower or take the dog around the block and collect yourself. We have been trying gripe water, gas drops, new formula and now probiotics. Hopefully a combo of time & these things with gas relief methods will make her more comfortable very soon.
I started to panic and get into this weird state of "I will never leave my house and be stuck inside with this screaming baby 24/7". I don't know if she is colic or it's her immature digestive system going into spasm and she's really uncomfortable or what. It can be easy to get to a place of thinking the world will pass me by, summer will be gone and I will be alone here with this baby. But as per the advice of a family member, you have to live your life. I was alone so I let her cry as I showered and got dressed. I loaded her up in the car seat and drove around for an hour. I let the sunny air come in the car, played music, ordered an iced coffee and just drove around. She eventually slept and I felt a sense of freedom. You just gotta do what you gotta do.
Sounds cliche and cheesy but if Mike wasn't so supportive and involved- I would have honestly had a mental breakdown by now. Everytime I tried to breastfeed, he sat up with me, holding down her little thrashing arms, encouraging me and keeping me calm. He has done everything I asked, brought me anything and been my whole support system. I could not, could not, have done it without him. I have been the shitty partner- all I do is cry lol. But he says his job is to make sure I am okay, happy & fed (this surprisingly is important, because you forget to eat). So if you see mike, give him a giant pat on the back, high-five or a beer. Seriously.
If any new mom is reading this I want to send you here:
Coffee & Crumbs blog: When love feels heavy.
You can't get it until you go through it. It was sent to me and I feel I should pass it on. It also says much more than what I will write here. There is a lot of relatable, interesting blog posts under the "new mom" section.
I have had sleepless nights, felt extreme exhaustion in all senses, been pooped at, spit up & peed on. I have gone without showering or bushing my teeth, and very long periods without eating or going to the bathroom. It's a wild challenging yet rewarding time. I already know it will go by so fast, as my pregnancy did and I will sounds like my parents/grandparents soon- "I remember when you were this little/used to cuddle" before I know it.
Nothing will make you ready to be a new parent. You can listen to all the advice, read the books, but until you go through it, you never know how it really feels. And I am gonna say it, but when that little person smiles at you and cuddles into your chest- you forget the previous night where she only slept 2 hours at a time and screamed all night. It's totally worth it.
If I can leave one last piece of advice- learn to let the guilt/heaviness go & ask for help. Let the help in. Someday, you will return the favour for someone else.