So, here you are, newly sprogged up and from what I can remember feeling unbelievably happy yet overwhelmed and a bit sore and teary. I mean wow what a shock right… the baby is ACTUALLY REAL! All that careful planning in advance… the nursery that was decorated by the time you were 20 weeks pregnant, the full drawers of baby gro’s all neatly folded and ‘ironed’ (you really didn’t need to do that – seriously)… all the shiny new things (didn’t really need all that either)… the ante-natal classes, the app you followed to see what type of vegetable you had in your tummy that minute… didn’t actually prepare you THIS at all right?
And now you are likely sitting there, holding the baby with the beautiful blue eyes, who looks like her daddy, who is likely crying… thinking ok…’groundhog moment’ why are you crying now… I got the ‘change, eat, wind, sleep, repeat memo’ and now we are crying… and I really don’t want to feed you again because it hurts… and I need a wee… and I don’t know if I can just leave you for a minute while I go and make a drink, I mean something might happen when I am not watching…
So former self… here’s what I found out in the past 3 years;
Babies cry – period. The best advice we got was to follow, change, eat, wind, sleep and repeat – but in all that ‘process’ they forgot to tell you that it is absolutely ok to sit there and hold your baby, cuddle your baby, let them sleep on you a bit (it really doesn’t do any harm at all), and that you can leave then for five minutes while you take a pee or make yourself a snack….
So if in doubt take a deep breath and give them a big cuddle. Though winding is a total bitch… but you can actually do both together
Feeding – I remember there was an enormous amount of pressure to breast feed. I felt it from the ante natal classes, the other mums (who did so well at it), the midwives in the hospital (who thought nothing of manhandling your boobs to ‘get them going’), the baby crying on your lap, your husband repositioning bubba because you got the latch wrong (I mean seriously!!)…
Both times I tried. The first time, I tried for much longer until we got the hang of it (took about 2 months – which is a long time when your baby insists on feeding for 15 times in 24 hours). Of course that meant we never really went anywhere because my baby would feed for an hour – rather than 5 minutes like other children – so you always felt the wally round the table with the cold cup of tea you couldn’t reach and people leaving because they needed to get back and you are still stuck there with a baby under your shawl (scarred for life… nooooo)
That said, I did start to enjoy it eventually but switched to formula at 5 months because I was going back to work. The second time round was probably about the same level of stress, but I only put myself through the pain and effort for two weeks – I just couldn’t. And I had more confidence the second time round to tell midwives that yes, we were fine, we were combination feeding… and that was it they left us to it. Of course when you hear a new mum in the cubicle next to you whose baby is screaming for milk, the mother crying and trying her darnest to squeeze milk on to a plastic spoon and just can’t because with C-section babies it takes a little longer for our milk to come in. Seriously, I don’t understand why the decision isn’t just made to feed the baby with a bottle short term to limit the levels of distress in the baby and the mother… but that’s another rant for another time.
So in short – you are not letting ANYONE down if you chose bottle or breast. Do what’s right for you and your baby. As long as you feed the baby milk you are winning!
Loneliness – again this is totally normal – and if you were at work surrounded by people one day and then the next it’s just you, a baby, the odd visitor and daytime telly I am not surprised you had moments where you felt lonely. One thing you shouldn’t be afraid of is reaching out to people. Yes, they are at work or even some are in the same boat as you (so busy themselves) but for the most part if you have just had a little person, most people do tend to leave you to it – thinking you need time alone to sleep, bond, sleep… etc. Telephones, mobiles, whatsapp groups and forums on places like Mumsnet, Babycenter, Mush are all ways to help you get you through.
So don’t be a martyr ring someone or better still get out– babies are surprisingly resilient when you leave the house…
Sleep – Ha well this is one we still haven’t mastered- sorry love its true! With the first we diligently watched her sleep (instead of sleeping when she did), and just left her to fall asleep when she had screamed enough. Of course, I hadn’t twigged then you actually had to put the baby ‘down’ for a nap as opposed to exhaust her to sleep. For the first 6 months of life her coping mechanism for being in strange situations was to actually crash out. But then the ‘baby whisperer’ book came in handy and we then followed that to the letter around the 6 months mark because I was freaking out about returning to work. After leaving bubba thrashing about in the cot for ‘nap’ time we handed over the dummy… 2 hours later of peace and quiet and not really knowing what to do – whether to sleep, eat digestives or watch Game of Thrones on catch up she finally stirred. And that was that… 3 years on we are down to one dummy and can we shake it? Upside is she sleeps through 7 till 7… not so with number two and when I find out the answer to that I’ll let you know. She started off well, we put her down for naps at the very beginning, she self-soothed and we thought we had cracked it at about 4 months… then it went wrong. Teeth, moving about, solids all have a part to play and now we are sometimes down to one wake up in the night for milk…. I guess we have to ride this one out as we are still learning!
Every child is different – clearly! So what might work with one, may not work with another. Comfort blankets and dummy’s have their place too.
PS: whatever you do, go with your instincts – you are mummy, you know what’s best as they are part of you and you can’t go wrong.
Also do pick up the phone and talk to people if it gets too much… People can’t help if you don’t ask
Remember you are great – you are Mummy!