My adventures into Motherhood
Anybody who knows me, knows that I DO NOT CRY – EVER.
Airport farewells, lame kittens, The Notebook movie, cute babies, really really good marketing. Nothing makes me shed a tear normally. I am a rational, logical, pragmatic problem solver who never panics in the face of insurmountable obstacles because I will find a way around it. I am that self-reliant and steely.
Post-Sofia however, it’s a whole new ballgame. Right after she was born the emotions came flooding in. Excitement, exhaustion, achievement, relief, overwhelming love. And I was completely unprepared for how emotional I would be about breastfeeding. I really really wanted to breastfeed and I was advised by the midwives to put her to the breast whenever she cried as that would help stimulate my milk supply to start.
Three days after Sofia’s birth we were excitedly looking forward to taking Sofia home and starting our new life as the Anderson family. The pediatrician came in and weighed her and did some other tests. She then disappeared and we enquired about our discharge papers. Then the pediatrician came back with reinforcements in an older pediatrician who told us that Sofia had lost 12% of her birth weight in her first 3 days and the hospital policy was 10%, so she recommended a formula plan to get Sofia’s weight back up and said we should think about staying in hospital another day to implement this feeding regime.
As soon as she had left after delivering that crushing news, I burst into tears. Not dignified moviestar sobs, great big heaving incomprehensible waterworks. Picture me with tears, snot, red puffy eyes and loss of speech because of hyperventilation. Not pretty. Poor Nath didn’t know what’d hit him. I was crying in frustration and anger that the midwives hadn’t told us what we needed to know about feeding a premature baby. We made the decision to remain in hospital and we finally got a good midwife who explained to us how we needed to feed her regularly, which meant waking her to feed if necessary. Learning this just made me feel stupid, because here we were thinking that she was such a good baby sleeping for hours at a time, and then I felt guilty, because I’d been depriving her of essential nutrition, and then I felt like a failure for not producing enough milk for her to get decent feeds off me and now she was going to have to have formula! I was so desperate to breastfeed successfully that I didn’t want formula and an artificial teat to roadblock our bonding, and so I cried some more.
We were put on a 2 hourly feed plan where I had to express each boob for 20 minutes to see how much I was producing and then top the volume up to 30ml each feed with formula. It is so demoralising sitting on a breastpump with practically nothing coming out. I was averaging 10ml from both boobs out of 40mins. Out of my face tho’ I was averaging buckets of tears and snot every 40mins on the pump, and the whole time I was crying I kept thinking “Stop crying! You’re wasting valuable bodily fluids!”
After expressing, we would wake Sofia and give her the bottle with the 10ml of breastmilk in it, and then the bottle with the 20ml of formula in it. In the middle of the night – when I was worn out from my cycle of expressing for 40 mins, feeding and burping for 15 mins, and finally sleeping for an hour before waking up and starting all over again – Sofia gave me a little twitchy smile that indicated she was contented after her formula feed. That gorgeous little happy face cut right through my heart like the deepest betrayal because I wanted her to be that happy with her Mummy’s boob, and instead her Mummy was a failure who didn’t have enough milk to make her pull that happy face. But I also knew that I was doing everything I could to give her the nutrition she needed, so I cried some more for my overwhelming sense of love for her and for my disappointment at my shortcomings.
Nath was amazing on my baby blues day. He googled it, reassured me that it would pass, and that it was completely normal. He let me cry all over him while he held me. He hounded the midwives for the breastpump, and the formula and bottles every 2 hours. He is an amazing husband!
Writing, re-reading and editing this post makes me misty-eyed just reliving it in my head, so to end this post on a lighter note, here’s the Baby Blues comic strip from the day of Sofia’s birth – enjoy!