I can’t believe as I write this it is St Stephens Day. The last three months have just flown and have left us all slightly traumatized and learning how to live in this new sense of normal post Maria.
I’m sure at some point I will write a post about my home birth experience here and how it all worked out but for the moment here is our newest addition. Meet Mary Kate. 7lbs 14oz of pink that has made our family complete. We are just so in love with her.
I want to talk about the past two weeks post partum and how it has been for me. When Michael was born three years ago I didn’t attempt to even try and breastfeed him. I was 28 years old and probably a little immature. My mother was dying and I wasn’t in the mind frame for it. I had a difficult pregnancy and I felt I would need help from others so I decided a bottle was the best option. He’s a happy, healthy three year old!
This time I decided I would try it and not put myself under pressure. I bought everything you would possibly need to prepare for it and read all the stories and thought ok… I’m ready for this!
However, after giving birth without as much as a paracetamol I was exhausted and so was baby. The doula in attendance spent some time trying to latch baby on and she wouldn’t. We said we would try again the next day. Doctor arrived to check us and he tried and she kept detaching. He suggested formula supplementing with a syringe until she got the hang of it. We did that and she point black refused from there on in. I had another doctor try, another doula visit, a different lactation consultant and each time she would latch she would detach after a few seconds and scream! I was frustrated and scared that she wasn’t feeding enough. Five days in when she had lost too much weight and wasn’t doing any wet or dirty diapers we made the decision to pump breast milk and give it to her in a bottle. I didn’t realize the emotional toll that this would take on me. I cried a lot. I don’t know why… I felt like I had fallen at the first hurdle and I had failed her. I thought breast feeding was something you made the decision to do and then did it. I didn’t realize that it wouldn’t necessarily work and I felt I had done something wrong and let her down. It was a really awful feeling.
While feeling crap about this and then the lack of sleep I guess I wasn’t feeling wonderful in myself. Pumping milk round the clock and feeding every 2/3 hours is taking its toll. Mary Kate was two weeks old and I was literally beating myself up for not getting into my own jeans and for eating when hungry (producing this amount of milk has me starving!!). I have about 11lbs to lose after the pregnancy in comparison to the 40lbs + after Michael and yet I feel worse about it this time.
Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? It’s so difficult to enjoy the newborn cuddles when we have these unrealistic ideals in our minds that days after giving birth that we need to have everything together and have feeding under control while struggling on 3 or 4 hours sleep every night. I’m through the fog slightly and have stopped beating myself up. Although now after Xmas I’ll be throwing out the roses and getting back into some healthy habits and I am going to see another consultant to see if we can still breastfeed directly, I have realized that I was being way too hard on myself. Sitting crying and beating myself up wasn’t going to help any of us and it meant that I was missing out on a very important and special time where I should be enjoying every second.
Women need to start talking about the emotional toll that pregnancy, child birth and the fourth trimester have on us. So much pressure to bond with baby, to look good and be happy when really it can be a very challenging time. I’m lucky to have a very supportive husband and friends here who have helped tremendously and got me through this past few weeks but if I didn’t it could be very tramatic and a dangerous path to post partum depression. Ladies, mind one another and be supportive of a new moms decisions about how best she can look after her newborn and partners tell the moms continually what a great job they’re doing because it’s really tough.
Wonderful though. I’m so blessed.