Breastfeeding

While pregnant I had read a lot about breastfeeding and how it’s not as easy as it seems. Well, I still thought, how hard can it really be? and I also thought, once you’ve got it down there’s no problem. and also, that they baby at least knew how it works. Ha ha ha.

We’ve struggled a bit. First of all, who knew it takes a few days for milk to actually come through? Well I didn’t. Those first days were horrible, she didn’t sleep as well, some of the staff in the hospital made me feel super stressed, and the baby was crying more because she didn’t get enough food.

Then there’s the whole latch thing. With what you’ve seen you would think that you just put the baby close to your breast and they’ll do the rest. Oh oh no. They need the exact right everything for it to work, you need to latch them on in the right position, in the right angle, at the right time. If not, you’re nipple will be destroyed, and your breasts too. I had heard that it could hurt, but I had no idea. My nipples were all scared up, even bleeding and don’t even get me started on the pain in my breasts. I ended up using nipple shields, and I got help from our doula to find the right position.

The one that really works for us is the koala position, using nipple shields, and holding her lower lip down to make sure her mouth is really open when latching. Finally it worked, and didn’t hurt. Until I tried different nipple shields and it started hurting again. Yes it’s a whole science.

The koala position looks like this

So at least after all of this it’s all good, you would think ha haaa. Oh no. So we thought we got it all down and it was working full well. She hadn’t gained weight properly with the struggles, but then she did, she gained what she was supposed to one week and we thought it was all good. Until we went back five days later and she’d only gained 5 grams… oh my god, what now. And let me tell you the doctors and nurses here are not super supportive about it, especially if you want to keep trying with breastfeeding, they want to shove formula down your throat using scare tactics. Good thing we’ve had the help of our doula and a friend of my mothers who is a breastfeeding specialist, otherwise we would have given up.

So with the weight problem I got really worried that something was wrong with my milk. What didn’t make sense was that she seemed completely content and full, so it couldn’t be my supply, but maybe it could be the milk in itself that wasn’t good enough.

I would breastfeed her for about 30 minutes every 3 hours, and she would fall asleep over and over while eating, I had to keep her up while eating and sometimes wake her up to eat. So logically one would think she was done. Well turns out babies can be really lazy.

I spend the last days making sure she was done, using all the tricks in the book to keep her up, a wet cold washcloth on her back or her forehead, undressing her, changing her in the middle of feeding. And even when she let go, I would offer her twice on each side and have her let go by herself each time. I also fed her every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours during the night, for an hour at a time, which means I’ve basically only been nursing these last days. I also pumped in the morning and supplemented with that milk twice a day to really make sure she got enough.

And WOHO she gained weight!! So it turns out, nothing it wrong with me, the milk or the baby, she’s just lazy. So now we’re hoping this will continue, and that she will start eating more efficiently.

We’re doing pretty good

Things are getting better. I’m feeling better. My parents left a few days ago and it felt a bit scary when they were leaving. I do already miss them, but we’re doing pretty good so far. Of course it was easier to have someone help with the baby when she didn’t want to sleep so that we could rest, but you also get kind of used to not sleeping through the night and even though it’s tough it’s getting better.

We’re getting better at working as a team and we’re getting more and more used to the situation. My hormones have also calmed down a bit, at least for now, so I feel fine. I’m also trying to enjoy it as much as possible.

It’s extremely frustrating when you manage to get the baby to sleep and as soon as you put her down she wakes up and start screaming, and you can barely keep your eyes open anymore. But it’s also so phenomenal when you’ve gotten a few hours of sleep and you wake up to see her cute little face. Of course it’s hard. But of course it’s worth it.

So since a few days, I feel fine, I feel good even. And even though there are more ups and downs to come, I’m enjoying this moment. Those moments that you easily take for granted, like laying on the couch with the love of my life, watching TV with a sleeping adorable baby in my arms.

First post-baby date

Earlier this week we decided to go out just the two of us for the first time since baby arrived. It’s been really hard leaving her, but since it probably will only get harder and harder the longer we wait and my parents being here to help out we thought we might as well give it a try.

So we went out for a drink this weekend, just a couple of hours and nothing super special but it was one of the best dates we’ve had in quite some time. I needed it more than I thought and it went a lot better than I thought it would. Probably also because the end of my pregnancy was so tough I couldn’t really do much but stay in and while breastfeeding feeling like a walking boob, I hadn’t felt like an actual person in a while haha.

We went to rooftop close by and we sat in the shade, it was so warm but up there was some wind and air and it felt so good. We had decided to keep the baby talk to a minimum and just focus on us and each other and even though we didn’t really do anything special it felt so amazing. It has been really tough, and probably is in most relationship with a newborn, you’re both tired and insecure and wondering if you’re doing anything right, everything changed suddenly and you did too, all of a sudden you’re parents and it’s like you need to find a way to be together in this new situation. So it hasn’t been easy. There has been some discussions and a lot of snapping at each other. So just going away for a couple of hours, feeling like ourselves again and just focusing on each other was exactly what we needed.

Postpartum hormones kicking my ass

In all honesty the last few days have been a huge struggle. The postpartum hormones have hit me hard. I’ve been in a bad cycle of feeling guilty, crying my eyes out and not taking care of myself. The stress and exhaustion of course effecting the baby so she haven’t slept very well, the breastfeeding has been a bit tough and then on top of everything it turns out she’s not gaining weight.

I was up half the night with her having stomach ache, and of course I want to make it on my own so it took too long for me to ask my mom for help, and helping is literally the reason why she’s here, yet it makes me feel so awful leaving her cause there’s this voice in my head telling me that it means I can’t do it on my own. eventually I let my mom take her so I got a few hours of sleep. But when I woke up the feelings of not being good enough and not being able to do this was just overwhelming and I spent most of the morning crying. My parents and Odi were all there trying to tell me that I’m doing great and that I will be able to do this but nothing really helped, I just felt so worthless. And of course being completely exhausted didn’t really help. Eventually I managed to calm down and we went to the baby nurse, cause they wanted to see her again to make sure she’d start gaining weight, and it turned out she hadn’t. It’s not the end of the world and they recommended us to supplement with some formula. But with all these feelings already bubbling around in me, I cried all the way home. It was like that voice in my head found yet another thing to bet me down with and it just wouldn’t stop.

I’ve had a lot of talks with my parents and my mom especially who is trying to tell me how great I’m doing and that it’s completely normal to feel this way. That maybe we don’t talk about it too much but most of us spend a lot of days and nights in tears in this situation, wondering what the hell we’ve gotten ourselves into and how the hell we’re gonna survive this. And no matter how much you tell yourself that it is just that, completely normal, it’s so overwhelming and so hard to deal with. What makes it even harder is that everything really goes hand in hand. If you’re stressed your breastfeeding will suffer and the baby won’t get enough to eat, and she’ll feel your stress so she’ll cry and won’t sleep and you’ll be exhausted and even more stressed, so you don’t sleep enough, or eat enough, and that makes everything worse all over again.

This is so real. And to be honest, you sit here and wonder if it’s ever gonna get better or it this is just your life now. And then, you wake up the next day, maybe having had an okay night, gotten some sleep, had some breakfast, and sitting here typing in your computer with a seriously adorable baby sleeping next to you, and just for a moment it feels like it’s all gonna be okay.

Mom guilt

Oh how wrong I have been all these years thinking that people are just being ridiculous. These mommy hormones are completely mental. This has probably been the biggest chock to me out of all the chocking things regarding pregnancy and having a baby. She is like a drug to me. I cannot be away from her because I feel like I’m in physical pain. Even if she’s in the next room, if I don’t hold her for too long I just start crying for no reason. It’s completely insane.

And then there’s the guilt. I touched the subject a little bit in the post meeting my daughter for the first time cause literally a moment after giving birth to her I felt it for the first time. But since then it has happened a few more times. Like yesterday. Emma had a bad night, so I had a bad day since I hadn’t been sleeping much at all. I was completely exhausted and all the emotions was just too much. She also seemed to have a bit of a stomach ache and I couldn’t do anything about it. Odi came to hug me and out came the waterworks, I just cried and cried. So my mom told me to fed her and then she would take her for part of the night so I could sleep, at least until she needed to eat the next time. And I felt so bad. I realized that I needed to do it, and so I went into my bed and cried for a while before falling asleep.

It’s so completely messed up. Even though you know intellectually that it’s completely normal and reasonable to need a few hours of sleep, and that it doesn’t make you a bad mom or a bad person, the guilt is just there, it just shows up. I am working on leaving her for short moments and during my parents stay we will give it a try to leave the house without her for a little bit, but it’s so hard, and it’s completely shocking to me, how strong these feelings are.

So I apologize for ever thinking that people were just being ridiculous, not that I ever said to anyone, but still, I feel bad. I am now in my bedroom and going to take a nap while Emma is in the livingroom with Odi, patting myself on the shoulder, baby steps!

Meeting the grandparents

My parents came to visit the other day. It was a good time, cause we got about a week with her alone to find our own way and then my parents arrived to help out at the exact right time. It was really weird for us though. Most people are in a baby bubble for a while but they have people coming to visit probably from the first or at least second day. We have really been in a bubble and it kind of made the whole situation even more unreal since we were alone with her here all that time and nobody actually met her.

It was really emotional for all of us, seeing my mum with her, and I guess for my mum to see me with her. It feels amazing to have them here but it also makes me a little sad since it makes me think of all the people who are not here to see her and won’t see her for another 2 months. It’s hard to be away from family and friend at a time like this. Not that I would want to live anywhere else, but I would just want them all here right now.

When they’re here we’re also gonna take some time to be just us, which will be hard, since I can barely be away from her at all. But it’s good to practice to go out and do stuff on your own. It’s also good to have them here to suggest going out for lunch and stuff like that so we’re not completely stuck in the house but slowly and surely taking baby steps out of our bubble and comfort zone.

One week with our little girl

It’s been a week with our little girl and we are doing good. I has been a huge transformation and we’re still getting used to it and getting to know her and ourselves in this new situation. It is completely overwhelming and feels completely natural at the same time.

What has surprised me the most are all the emotions I’m dealing with and it’s completely normal I guess, with the hormones, but oh god how strong they are. Being away from her for too long literally hurts me. I always kind of thought that people were just being a little ridiculous but it’s so real and so strong.

We’re slowly finding somewhat of a routine together, except for when she decides to change it up and keep us up all night. And I am working on incorporating my own routine into that too. Even if we need to rest and just be it’s also important for me to find my way back to my self care routine, or at least a new one, to take care of my mind. We’re taking our time and finding our way and we’re doing great, I think.