I have been averaging on 4 hours sleep a night since the 25th November 2016.In fact, the first 3 days of Roman’s life, I didn’t sleep at all. I sat up right with a boob out, Netflix on and a pot of humous, tabasco and toast next to me.
Roman wanted constant feeding from the moment he was born, fantastic in some ways as he only lost 7% of his birth weight in the first week but also pretty strenuous for me. In the first week of his life, the abdominal pains whilst feeding him were on par with contractions (they were definitely stronger than anything I had ever experienced with Noah) and I developed mastitis. I walked around our house with a homemade bra of cabbage leaves, lanolin and ice packs.
On the third day, hormones and sleep deprivation hit me pretty hard. I was a mess. I was adamant that my partner didn’t give him a bottle of formula and I found expressing very draining.
There is a lot of advice on breastfeeding but one thing I found really difficult to gather information and understanding on was a massive feeling of depression I felt within the first few seconds of a feed.
When the milk ‘let down’, I got this strange wave of sorrow. Really, really, heart wrenching sadness. But then, as if by magic, a few seconds later I felt absolutely fine. It sounds like a very small issue, but in those few seconds I felt like a complete stranger to myself and my surroundings. I mentioned it in passing to the Health Visitor, but she didn’t really know what it was it was just put down to ‘hormones’.
Roman is now nearly 6 months old, and it is only in the last 2 months that I have been relieved of this feeling. I am glad it is over but always feel a little fearful that the dreaded wave of sadness will return.
I’m conflicted by the current campaigns for breastfeeding in public. Ro is now combination fed and so I have both breast and bottle fed out in public. I have found that with both methods of feeding there is always someone willing to be an arse about it. For this reason I am pro ‘fed is best’. The choice of feeding that I choose whilst we are out very much depends on where I am and/or the company I am with. It sounds so shallow when I write that down, but it is something I have to carefully calculate for my own comfort.
Toddler groups and yummy mummy cafes I will happily breastfeed as I feel pretty empowered and unashamed of my body, but I would be very unlikely to pull out a bottle. Some can be very judgemental about bottle feeding and I do see mothers of formula fed babies getting attacked on social media a lot.
Breastfeeding I struggle to do in places such a shopping centres and restaurants. I know most people will be fine and not give it a second thought but I have received a couple of dodgy looks before. A woman on my street asked me if I was going to breastfeed, I told her I would and she screwed up her face and said ‘eurgh no one round here does that, it’s disgusting’
My grandma has always said that ‘babies love a routine’ and she is so right. I struggled juggling Noah and Roman when Roman was first born. When my partner went back to work I found the 9 hours without him pretty difficult. It seemed that every time I put Ro down to spend 1 on 1 time with Noah, we were interrupted very quickly by a tiny angry baby!
I finally tackled this problem by either wearing him in a sling around the house and putting him in a solid bedtime routine – this gives Noah and I an hour to ourselves where we could do whatever his heart desires.
Don’t get me wrong – I am still struggling sleep wise, I make silly mistakes like staying up late to watch Made In Chelsea and really regret it the following day but overall I’ve learnt to cope better. A shower and a cup of builders tea in the morning helps a great deal, and putting on some make up makes me feel a little more human and gives me a tad of confidence to face the big bad world.
There was one night where Roman slept from 11pm – 4am. When I put him to bed I lathered on some £3 Wilko fake tan that I had bought in a desperate bid to get rid of the pale blue skin I have been blessed with. I expected him to wake at midnight as he usually does and I planned to jump in the shower once he had been fed and I would quickly rinse off the tan. I don’t know what I did differently that night but as I said, he didn’t wake up until 4am. I was so bleary eyed at 4 in the morning that I completely forgot I hadn’t washed the fake tan off (you’re supposed to wash it off after 4 hours)
I looked brilliant the following day, the tan had really set in. Think Oompaloompa. Safe to say I won’t make that mistake again!