First 30 Days Blog

27 mar

First 30 Days of Having a Baby

The expectations of having a baby are so huge. I expected thunderbolts of overwhelming emotion to fill me the moment I gave birth and saw my baby for the first time. It wasn’t like that at all…

After 19 hours of hard, but completely natural, labour, I was so emotionally and physically wrecked that I handed our child over to my husband a few moments after the umbilical cord had been cut. I was in pain, I needed a shower, I needed a moment…

I had my ten minutes and then I was ready to see him, hold him, love him. It was incredible – a total miracle. I couldn’t believe that this little human being (who was only 6lbs 9oz, so tiny) had come out of me. I had actually created a human being. It’s a thing too big to fathom, apart from it’s undeniable because he is there right in front of your eyes. Amazing.

Due to having a total natural birth and because my baby was so tiny, my recovery was very quick. We were in a restaurant the next morning having brunch with friends! It was the most stunning day and we just felt blessed.

19 hours of labour had created a lot of adrenaline in my body. So I found the first 4 or 5 days so easy. We had visitors constantly coming to the house and we were loving it. Then the tiredness started to set in…

My yoga teacher had warned me that I must sleep a lot in the early weeks, otherwise I would suddenly fall flat on my face. Well, by the end of the first week I could feel it already. I forced myself to try and knap during the day, but I found it so hard because the days were so glorious I didn’t want to sleep through them! But you must, or it will catch up with you. It’s only a matter of time before the sleepless nights take their toll. And so I listened to everyone’s advice and just surrendered to it, sleeping when my baby slept. It is worth it, you enjoy the whole experience so much more.

The argument about whether you should be in a strict routine or not, is one which is talked about almost more than anything else. It seems to me that 90% of mothers in the UK and US follow a strict routine taught by the likes of Gina Ford. I knew early on that I was not going to fall into that bracket and very soon I realised how hard it was going to be. Because your baby was a nightmare, you ask me? Not at all. It was hard because everyone has their opinion and when so many people are in a routine and have either had difficult children or have tried without a routine and the result has been an unruly child, they presume a lack of routine will result in the same for you. Not only that, I get this distinct feeling that because I want my baby to fit into my life rather than the other way round, somehow I’m either perceived as either lazy or just not a good enough mother. No one would ever say that, of course, but because I am having such a wonderful time with my child, and am not set in any strict structure, many mothers think there must be a problem and if there isn’t one yet, there will be soon!

Due to popular advice I did try the routine at the beginning and was proud of the fact. I thought I was doing so well. By day 4 we were in a routine already! But after a while I thought this couldn’t be right: my baby was taking 1.5 hours to 2 hours to feed every time. So I was pretty much feeding for 2 hours, off for 2 hours, feeding again for 2 hours and so the day would go on. I knew I could not continue like this. In addition, the long feeds during the night were starting to become unbearable. I didn’t know why my baby was taking so long to feed. I had friends who took 20 – 40 minutes to feed, not hours! And those nights… They seemed endless. I felt like the naughty school girl being sent out of the room while my husband slept soundly, and I had to sit up for hours feeding. I past the time by reading magazines, calling friends in the States, but by the end of the second week the novelty was wearing thinner than thin and the tiredness was becoming painful.

You see, I initially dropped the routine because I physically couldn’t enjoy my baby being that tired. I had to make it work for me. So something had to give. I wasn’t going to start introducing formula, just to keep in a routine, so I started feeding on demand and researching…

By expressing my milk I realised that my milk flow was exceptionally slow. In the morning it would take me anything between an hour or two to express a feed, which was 2 – 3 onzes initially and is then became 4 – 5 onzes of milk. In the afternoon/evening it would take 4 or 5 hours to express the same amount.

As the weeks continued, from about 4pm I was feeding pretty much non-stop and now I knew why. For my baby to get the amount he needed to grow healthily he needed to feed that much because my milk flow was so slow. People suggested formula. I refused. I didn’t want to give my baby something that wasn’t natural, especially when breast milk gives them an immune system, not to mention potentially increasing their IQ, reducing the chances of obesity, increasing the mother-child bond and generally setting your child up for life. I was dead-set on breastfeeding for 6 months and if I had to feed 24/7 so be it. I also started taking the herb Fenugreek which has increased my milk flow. It’s an amazing herb and is brilliant for you in general, whether you are breastfeeding or not, so it was no hardship to start taking it. I have heard since that a pint of Guiness a day is also very good and highly nutricious, although I never tried that. The main thing is, though, we’re both happy and my baby is thriving and growing perfectly. He’s with me all the time, which I love and if he’s on my boob for half of that time, I don’t care – and luckily neither does my husband! Although he does insist I am decent when I feed. Luckily you can now buy amazing breastfeeding tops which pretty much cover you up completely as you feed. So people often don’t even know you are feeding.

Feeding is one of those things that, really, where there is a will there is a way. I know someone who had a cesarian section and didn’t produce any milk for a week. But she refused to leave hospital until she was breastfeeding and so they attached her to a kind of express machine for a week, almost 24/7, until her body produced milk. She had the will and found the way. It’s about what you want for your child and if you want to do it the natural way, there are ways to increase your milk flow or treat hurting nipples or whatever your issue might be. Just don’t give up if you know in your heart you want your baby to benefit from your milk, even if there are a lot of people encouraging you to take the easy route of introducing formula. Being in a routine isn’t the most important thing. What you soon realise is that your baby will create his or her own routine in time, anyway. You don’t have to force anything on your child if it doesn’t work for you.

Similarly, if you want to introduce formula because breastfeeding doesn’t work for you, you must do it. A routine might be the perfect way to run your life, as well, I know plenty of people who are very, very happy in a routine and it works for them. The most important thing to remember is: A happy mother makes a happy baby. If it works for you, it’ll work for him. A lot of people do tell you this, but even so you feel like you have to justify your actions to others who might disagree. And because you are new at this and you want to do the best that you possibly can, every now and again you do doubt yourself. After all these people, full of so much ‘advise’, have done it one or many times before, and so surely know more than you. Right? Wrong! You know more than anyone else about your child. Sure, there are a million tips you can pick up – which I have found invaluable because I haven’t picked up a book – but there are ways of telling you everything and ways of receiving the information. Take on board what you think works and ignore the rest. You must not be swayed by the masses if, in your heart, the way you are doing things feels right.

The other big contentious issue I’ve had to justify is my baby sleeping in the bed with me. My baby is still in the bed with us and will stay there until he no longer needs feeding in the middle of the night. It works a treat. Getting up in the middle of the night, every night, often twice, was killing me. Now he lies next to me and when he wakes I’m right there, put him on the boob and doze off again. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Anyone who says that you might crush the baby, well, that’s them, not you necessarily. I knew, from the beginning, that my baby and I were so in tune that I would never crush him. If you are at all frightened of that, then you should have him next to you in a Moses basket, but I knew that I wanted my baby’s head next to mine. We’ve never looked back. And during the day he goes down in his cot when he’s tired, no problem.

As I have mentioned I have not picked up a book to seek advice. Out of interest I did read two chapters of Gina Ford, but her routine didn’t work for me and so we went our own way. And that really is the point and what makes this time so amazing: It is your journey. Yours and your baby’s, not anyone else’s. So do what works for you and let it be magical. The bond you have is the most incredible of any relationship because you are so connected. But it is an on-going processes. You get to know each other better each and every day, which makes the next day easier. The frustration comes when you don’t understand why the baby is unhappy or does not want to do what you think he or she should enjoy. As you get to know your child better you’ll get to know most, if not all, of the answers. It’s so rewarding.

A lot of people tried to encourage me to get a maternity nurse or help of some kind when I had the child. I adamantly did not. And the more people filled my head with the impending horrors and said I really should, I was determined to do it on my own. It has worked out amazingly doing it alone with my husband in the side lines when he’s not at work.

Many people do have help and it works perfectly for them. But that is what I am drilling in here, that what works for me, may not work for you or anyone else, but it’s important to find your way. What works for you, I don’t think, for example, that I need help because I don’t have any other responsibilities at the moment, so I can just be with baby. I must also add that relative to many other mothers, I’ve had an easy run. Sure we’ve had our ups and downs, but I openly admit that I had a good birth so I didn’t need anyone to look after me back at home and I have a happy, pretty easy baby. So I am very lucky. I’m so, so glad that the birth did work out that way so I didn’t need anyone to help because I hate the idea that someone else might be getting to know my child better than me. The reason why my baby and I are so in-tune is because we are always together (apart from when he’s sleeping, with my husband, family or close friend or on his play mat). I know what he needs and why he is unhappy – always. We have our own language and I can see his confidence building daily because, I believe, he trusts me and feels comfortable exploring, knowing that he’s ok when I’m there. When I was deciding whether to have baby in the bed with us or not, I read a little bit about the subject. There is a school of thought that says that a child who sleeps with their parents grows up to be more confident because such a closeness with the parents at night gives a child an inbuilt confidence. Who knows if this is true, but I like to think that it is all adding to the confidence of my child, which I can see building in him daily.

Never say never to anything, but at least try to start off by following your own intuition and try and work it out as much as you can on your own, so that it works for you and your own baby. I have had a bit of a battle, but every day I look at my child, and so far (he is 12 weeks as I write this) I am so thankful that I stuck to my guns and did it my way. I continue to have such fun with my son, every day.

Shared by Havana.

Posted by First 30 Days on March 27th, 2009 in Personal Stories | 0 comments

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