Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"This Breastfeeding Business is Bloody Boring!"

So, give La Leche League my phone number to organise a public lynching. I suppose I still have to get the hang of it. I was looking SOOOO forward to nursing Matilda, and now it's boring half of the time, and plain painful the rest of it. Don't get me wrong, I love gazing in my newborn's eyes as much as the next person. But, let me see now. My newborn nurses every two hours, for approximately one hour. That's a total of... oh... 8 hours a day (or not, I stink at Math.) And I can't NOT gaze at her when she's being quietly attentive, she's ADORABLE then, and makes sweet faces, and responds to me. So add a couple more hours there. Oh, and I gaze at her when she's sleeping quite a lot too. (Is she about to wake up? DEAR LORD, is she stirring?!) I'm sorry Friends and Neighbours, but aproximately 13 hours a day of gazing in my newborns eyes is a tad too much. I'd go for gazing at the page of a book, or my email, every now and then. I have to get organized and learn how to nurse one-handed (not to mention, NOT NECESSARILY sitting on the sofa, with 4 pillows, and preferably on the left side, please.)

Disclaimer: I do NOT intend to give up on breastfeeding. I hugely looked forward to it, and have been lucky enough that it seems to be going relatively smoothly, and I KNOW I'll enjoy it more as we get the hang of it. Thank you. *sits down*

I'm being funny, of course. In fact, Peter keeps trying to get me to go take a nap, and I can't seem to keep my eyes closed if I can be looking at her (invariably, suggested nap times are when she's quiet or sleeping -her most lovely times.) But it's amazing how unprepared I was for this mummy business. I wanted many children. I still do, I refuse to reconsider anything when I'm sleep-deprived, confused, and possibly a bit depressed. At some point I'll have figured this out, and then we can talk numbers. When I was pregnant, I read everything that crossed my path. I was prepared for everything, or rather, I was aware of everything. As it turned out, I knew nothing.

Book: Most newborns will want to breastfeed every couple of hours, and you might find that taxing.
Delusional Anna Voice: But I'll be gazing in her eyes! How could I find that boring!

(See above.)

Book: A lot of mothers feel very depressed a few days after the birth. This stage can last several days. Be careful so it doesn't turn to PPD.
Delusional Anna Voice: But I'll hopefully have a great birth experience, and be blissfuly happy with my baby and my wonderful, supportive husband. How could I feel depressed? I know, maybe I'll cry a bit on the day my milk comes in.
Once again, HA! I did have my great birth (I must be the only person I know who watches her birth video to cheer herself up. During the week I was feeling especially bad, I must have watched the thing six times.) The endorphine high was so strong that when the hormones started clearing up, I crashed like a ton of bricks. I'm talking a week of almost non-stop crying, punctuated by fits of uncontrolable sobbing and wailing (yes, I can joke about it -now.) Even when Matilda was being easy (asleep) I was crying, because she would wake up soon, and what would I do with her then? I felt like a terrible parent. I still feel like a terrible parent some of the time. (I'm enjoying her -but am I enjoying her ENOUGH? Does Peter like her ENOUGH? I love her about 2/3 of the time, but the remaining 1/3 I secretly hope someone would take her away for a while. How terrible does that make me? It's amazing how culturally conditioned I was that I would/should love her instantly, passionately, and unconditionally, that even though I was aware that it comes slower for some people, I still feel like a failure. And I spent my baby's 1st week birthday crying because she would eventually wake up and fuss, and now I have to live with that memory.)

Which brings me to my next point:
Book: Babies fuss and cry. Parents do things to try and help, like put them in the pram or car and go for a walk, or wear earplugs.
Delusional Anna Voice: Oh, you poor ignorant people! Don't you know, all you have to do is cuddle your baby, and feed her if she asks for it, and spend as much time as possible with her, and she'll be so content and feel so loved, she won't need to cry?
Ok, so I want to be AP when I grow up (and before Matilda does.) I don't judge other people (I was being funny before) but I do think that the fact that we carry her a lot, cuddle her a lot, feed her on demand and let her sleep with us at night has helped her sleep for 5-6 hours during the night already, and only cry when we change her nappy or in the evening. But BOY does she cry in the evening! Down the drain goes my theory about just having to follow my instincts and pick her up when she cries. At this stage, I have no interest in putting her on my, or anyone's schedule, and I'm very happy to just give her what she wants to be content. But from about 6 to about 9 in the evening, what she wants seems to be either to cry, or to chew on my nipple, occasionaly shaking her head around like a shark during a feeding frenzy. While crying, some times. Now I have a new theory: Babies are designed by nature to cry in the evenings, to scare away any prowling predators. Trust me, she can sound much bigger and meaner than she actually is.
Oh, and that thing about earplugs is actually Peter's idea. I'm tempted.

My cousin Katerina and her husband had their first baby girl, Maria Lorna, this Monday. She is only 2 weeks younger than Matilda. I can't wait to see photos!

What Matilda can do now:
She can stay awake and happy for quite a long time, watching us and listening to us.
She watches the head-lights on our wall as cars drive past, and the cat when he's around her (Black spots on white fur -purrfect!) She always turns to the light.
I swear she smiles, at least in her sleep, and can get quite a cheerful expression on her face when the occasion arises.
She can poop unassisted most of the time (YAY!)
She startles at noises, so we know she can hear fine.
She can squirm around more, and can hold her head up quite well for short periods of time.
She's developing recognisable cries to communicate different things. (Our particular favorite is one annoyed cry Peter calls "The Barking Duck" -WACK! WACK! WACK!)
I suspect she's starting to recognise the Infacol bottle ("Oooh, boobie time is coming up!") -Should I be feeling guilty about that?

And my answer to those of you who said Matilda looks like me:

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Sarah said...

Oh, Anna, she looks so gorgeous! You'll get the hang of combining other stuff with breastfeeding sooner than you think. Just think of all these hours as a chance to practice. ;-) And if it's still painful, do get someone to check the latch and make sure there aren't any problems such as tongue tie. Have you tried Harvey Karp's book for calming her down in the evenings? I'll keep reading and seeing how it's all going!

Danielle said...

Those pictures are so adorable! I see your tray table in the background with your lansinoh and water...I remember those days well. My son nursed every two hours or 1 hr 45minutes and it took an hour to feed him so I know exactly what you are going through. The nursing got better when he turned six weeks or so. That is kinda the turning point. It is so easy to nurse now about a year later and beats heating up bottles anyday. Good job!!!

Lisa said...

Hello Anna, I've just been reading through your archives and enjoying your blog so I thought I should leave a comment and say hello. Else I feel like some sort of stalker weirdo. Perhaps I am a stalker weirdo given that I don't know you at all yet I cried when I read about your rabbit dying...(call it sleep deprivation; I know I am a weirdo). Found you via NQM-UK, where I mostly lurk.
Matilda is beautiful and I promise those endless nursing days will pass in a flash. Before you know it you'll be running about after a manic toddler, like me. (I'm running about, I'm not a toddler. Obviously.)