|Sweet baby Val with a belly full of |
But the biggest difference, for me at least, is that for the last four weeks I have been exclusively breast feeding Val. I had severe anxiety about attempting to breast feed her before she was born, but just minutes after she was born she was latched and ready to roll. And she has been eating like a champ ever since. She is packing on the pounds, I haven't had any pain and my milk supply could feed a small village.
So what is there to complain about you might ask...
Well it is a strange thing being the sole food source for another human being, and because I am only pumping once every other day (at most) it is all boobs all the time. If Val was my first born it would be different, but on top of her I have a toddler to take care of as well, making life even more exhausting. And in the last ten days she has been cluster feeding like it is her job. Schedule? What is a schedule? Sometimes she eats every three hours, sometimes it is every 45 minutes. Sometimes it is nonstop for an hour.
Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying the bonding time with her when I feed her. That is, when it is quiet, and I am not in a rush to go anywhere, and I am not stressed about what I have to do next. I love looking down at her little tiny self and rubbing her back and knowing how much she relies on me right now to survive.
But try breast feeding a newborn while trying to make dinner for a whiney toddler with one hand, and having your dog bark at you incessantly because you forgot to put her food out for dinner. Or breast feeding standing up, holding your baby in one arm, while trying to fix your daughters curly mess of a head of hair before school with one hand.
See, even after she is fed Val does not like to be put down. She likes to be held in your arms, preferably over your shoulder. She has a bit of reflux (apparently I breed children with reflux - I am waiting for a study to show that eating a excessive amount of American cheese sandwiches while pregnant causes reflux in babies) so we have to do the holding her upright for twenty minutes after feeding thing now, but even after that 20 she is irritable when I put her down. 90% of her life she has spent in my or someone else's arms, the Ergo or Moby Wrap.
Because of this, things have definitely fallen by the wayside. I shower every other day if I am lucky...and forget shaving my legs. M has been watching a lot more television than she used to, and I am fine with it. I hardly ever cook dinner anymore. I have a laundry basket full of clean clothes in my bedroom that has been there for two weeks and I now use it as a remote closet.
A few nights ago I was ready to throw in the towel. It is hard to go from sleeping 8-9 hours at night to sleeping 45 minutes here, an hour there, and most times with a baby on my shoulder. And then to look over and see my husband sleeping so soundly next to me, while my blurry eyes are trying to focus on the latest round of Scramble With Friends on my iPhone so that I stay awake instead of smothering my tiny baby with my giant breast...after having done the same routine just an hour before. I was driven to tears. I longed for the days when M was a baby and my husband and I took turns feeding her at night, instead of me taking sole responsibility for the 3-4 a night feedings. Mama does not function well on no sleep!
During the next feeding that early morning I got out my iPad and did some research on cluster feedings and it turned out that what Val was doing was fairly common in babies at her young age. Everything I read said that there will be some life come the three month mark...though I don't know if I can handle two more months of this insanity.
But then I came across the most touching article, that brought more tears to my eyes. It is a letter "written" from a newborn to her breast feeding mommy that was featured on theleakyboob.com website last year. It is heartfelt and touching, and kind of gave me a slap in the face. What I am doing is so important for her health and well-being right now, that I just need to put my needs to the side and tough it out for a few more months, maybe more.
My husband asked me the other day "so how long are you planning to keep solely breast feeding Val?" and I didn't really have an answer. I had never set a goal for myself (and Val) but I couldn't be happier that I made it to four weeks already. Hopefully the nights will get easier in the next few weeks as she gets bigger and bigger, and hopefully some day in the near future we will actually be able to go more than 45 minutes without being attached, as Mama's back needs a break peanut!!
I would love to hear from other nursing mothers out there about cluster feeding in the first few weeks, as well as if there is any hope for feedings to get shorter and more spread apart any time in the future!!
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