Go with the flow

We’ve had a difficult couple of nights. This week, we’ve started putting Sam into his cot at the start of the night but, surprisingly, this hasn’t bothered him. He seems quite content in his cot (provided we put him in it when he’s fast asleep…!!) and while he wakes up sooner than he does in our bed, he still sleeps up to 1.5 hours in it. Definitely a start…

What has caused disruption is my lack of ability to sleep well with him in the cot – that surely can’t be the right way round!? In our bed, I seemed to be able to sleep through his little noises and gurgles, only waking when he needed feeding. In the cot, every noise wakes me, just in case he has woken up and needs food. Sam is a noisy, fidgety sleeper (much like his parents!) so this is fairly frequent/constant. Night before last night, I was awake from 3-4.30am when I put him in his cot after a night feed, until he needed feeding again. Not quite what I’d intended! 

Last night. What can I say about last night. It felt like hell. Awake nearly all night feeding Sam until the early hours, then he was crying and seemed to be inconsolable. What was wrong? He was clean, fed, winded…what did we miss? Thinking he might be hungry, I fed him again…he ate…and then threw it all up, all over me. Not that then. 

After 1.5 hours of us alternating trying to settle him, I went to sleep – on the edge of a breakdown – and Carl figured it out. Sam was cold. He wrapped a blanket round him while walking round and he fell asleep straight away. He must have fed just for the comfort and maybe to be warmer in our bed, making himself feel better about being chilly. 

We’ve always kept him wrapped in a blanket, but this week we’ve become a bit remiss. Thinking it’s getting warmer, we haven’t been quite so vigilant and after a window being open for 2 days (although the room door was shut) while we had work done, he must have become pretty chilled. Poor little man. I felt awful when I realised that was the reason for him being so sad. 

Today, he started the morning off by crying again, with my thinking a nervous breakdown was just round the corner. Fortunately, he was just hungry. So, I cancelled my plans and we spent the whole morning in bed with him feeding and us both catching up on sleep. Much needed. 

We became best friends again when he smiled and gurgled through his nappy change; melted my heart. 

I’m pretty dead on my feet, but I count it as an accomplishment that we made it downstairs at all today, both freshly dressed and he has fed and napped as he usually does. 

I’ve noticed he struggles more at night when he doesn’t cluster feed in the evenings – he hasn’t done this for the last 2 nights…coincidence!? – so hopefully we’ll return to this tonight. 

While I look forward to him out growing cluster feeding, it helps him at night so I will embrace it for now! 

Sometimes plans need cancelling, sometimes a morning will be spent in bed. Sometimes you will feel like a terrible mother and like you can’t handle it anymore. You can. You just need someone to remind you of that, like Carl did for me today. Thank goodness for him. 

Here’s to a better night tonight. 

Cluster feeds

Disheartening, hard work, tiring, frustrating…just a few words to describe the dreaded (but almost inevitable) cluster feeds.

Samuel enjoys feeding all evening and, as of this week, for most of the morning too. It may not sound hard; all you’re doing is sitting while your baby feeds, right? Well, yes…but in reality it’s thirsty work that all but prevents you from getting anything done. In the short gap between feeds, Samuel fusses or cries, making even hopping in the shower an all but impossible task. 

In the mornings, I’ve started setting up Sky Go on the iPad to watch tv series. In the evenings, at least I have Carl for company! 

The advantage of these feeds is that Samuel ‘tends’ to sleep fairly well at night and in the afternoon. So at least there’s some silver lining! Just need to make sure I have snacks and drinks nearby at all times… 

Hormones 

To say your hormones go crazy after giving birth is an understatement! My first real experience of this was the ‘day 3 hormones‘. This is the day that most women’s milk starts to kick in and consequently your hormones go wild. From feeling fairly rational and like I was handling motherhood, I suddenly spent the best part of 24 hours crying and feeling (and looking) like I was in a mental institution. Being in hospital in a bed surrounded by curtains didn’t help this feeling as I sat huddled on the bed, tears rolling down my face…for no apparent reason. 

Fortunately, the midwives and nurses are well used to this and, when seeing me, calmly stated that these hormones hit nearly everyone at some point between day 3 and 5 and it was totally normal. It didn’t make it any easier for me or for Carl, who went to get lunch one day and returned to find me silently crying into my lunch, but it made it ok to cry. You’re specifically told not to try and keep it in…which is helpful because I really did need to cry it out, even though I didn’t really know what I was crying about, other than feeling overwhelmed.  

Then we get to yesterday. After a long night of 2 hourly feeds, I was exhausted and ended up having another cry about feeling overwhelmed. This is normal

In the evening, I looked at my Facebook profile picture of Samuel at 12 or so hours old and then gazed down at his sleeping face, content after a feed. It hit me that he has already changed and will never look like that 12 hour old newborn again (now he’s the grand old age of 13 days…) and this realisation made me well up and cry for the tiny baby I already miss! This is a bit mental

I’ve realised that although hospital time was hard, I did like the closeness Samuel and I had; he would sleep on me skin to skin every night and we would bond, while Carl could bond by helping with feeds and naps during the day. Since switching to breastfeeding and coming home, I feel more like a milk machine and that Carl gets the lovely nap time cuddles…but I realise that this is just my tiredness and hormones speaking. Although, after a night of almost no sleep last night since he decided to feed almost constantly, I struggled to feel rational about being a dairy cow this morning. Fortunately, we’ve had some lovely cuddles today which will hopefully keep me smiling during whatever tonight has to offer…

It will get easier, but this is a huge period of adjustment for all 3 of us. In the meantime, I need to remember that the best remedy to my occasional tears is really simple – a shower followed by a big hug from Carl. It’s amazing how much better it makes you feel. 

Sleep when the baby sleeps…

This is all very well and good, except when your baby chooses the moment you’re doing something like eating lunch to fall asleep. Then, because you’re used to him only sleeping for a little while before demanding more food, you stay awake anticipating the next marathon cluster feed session. And that’s the time he decides to sleep for 4 hours….

When he wakes, you aren’t sure whether you’re in for a quick feed or a 2-3 hour feeding session, so it’s hard to decide where to be; on the sofa, or in bed just in case he decides to go to sleep afterwards. (FYI, it’s the latter – currently 1.5 hours into a cluster feeding session). 

However, this is the choice we made when – after speaking to my aunt 2 days ago (a former breastfeeding councillor) – we dropped the formula and stopped the ‘top ups’ after feeds. Almost instantly, our fairly neat 3 hour-ish feeding pattern disappeared and cluster feeding with totally random occasional 3-4 hour naps took its place – but we are feeding on demand; this is what Samuel evidently needs, so who am I to argue? 

Admittedly, this post would be unlikely to be so matter of fact if written at 3am, after hours of solid feeding… That would be more along the lines of “Is formula feeding really so detrimental? Why doesn’t my baby ever sleep? Am I asleep right now? When did I last sleep? Why don’t men have breasts? They really should….” and so on. 

But we persevere. At least we’re off the formula and feeding in a more natural way now. I ask again…who needs sleep anyway? 

I miss my spreadsheets and neatly organised diary…routine has officially gone out of the window. 

Oh what a night

Samuel spoiled us for the first few nights; he would sleep from midnight to 3 and then again until 7…giving us a very false sense of security. Last night he decided enough with the lies. 

We headed up at around 11 as usual and put our sleeping angel in bed. He immediately woke up. He was fed, changed, winded, fed, sick on Carl, winded, changed, fed, winded, fed…until 3am when he finally settled. At least he wasn’t constantly screaming – this only happened during each nappy change, when the world came to an end and he let loose with the heartbreaking screams that make my mummy hormones go into overdrive. He also decided to latch incorrectly at every feeding attempt, leaving me in pain and all but crying with frustration after yesterday’s success. Thank god for pre expressed milk and formula…and for Carl, who told me to go to sleep while he continually walked round and winded our little gas man for nearly 4 hours. 

When I awoke at 6ish, it was to see the perfect example of a sleeping cherub in the cot next to me. Then he wanted changing, feeding, winding, feeding, winding…and at least 3 naps during this time, waking each time he was returned to his cot. He slept on me for an hour before returning to his extensive ‘to do’ list. 

I risked breastfeeding again and, thankfully for my sanity, he went on ok. Unfortunately, this was the moment my body decided to give me my first nose bleed in 20 years…all over our now sleepy, happily feeding newborn. Spurred into action, Carl grabbed some tissues, held them to my nose and covered Sam with a towel to stop him becoming a human tissue, while I attempted to reattach Sam to the breast using one hand (obviously he chose that moment to unlatch!). 

He is now fast asleep and has been for hours. What an angel. Who needs sleep anyway?