We had successfully completed stage one of parenthood, i.e. birthing the child, now what? To co-sleep or no? Do we even sleep at all? Breast or bottle? Cloth or disposable? Paper or plastic? So many questions that we thought we had answered were suddenly looming over us. My plan before birth, a lovely baby who sleeps from 7:30 pm until 8 am in cloth diapers, only gently waking for a breastfeeding session. My plans after the birth, um, what plans were those again? Once again I found myself having come to terms with the fact that reality had taken over and I was just going to have to roll with it!
There were latching issues which required the use of a shield because I apparently have flat nipples. I found myself pumping to ensure my milk came in, and boy did it come in! There were 64 ounces of pumped milk in the fridge, I hadn’t realized I didn’t need to keep pumping once my supply was there, so I wearily pumped away for twenty to thirty minutes after he ate, until I was making enough milk for twins! It seemed almost every container we could find we filled with milk until I finally asked someone when would I know if I could stop.
Try as I might, we could not get the latching issue solved. Three days into this new life, I am sitting on the couch in the living room at 3 am bawling because I was still stuck using a shield. I should note that my hormones peaked right about at that time, so there we were, me crying because I am obviously a terrible mother with flat nipples who can’t feed her baby, while my husband holds the little guy up to me so he can feed. Did I mention that he ate a lot? Almost every hour and a half it seemed. We tried everything to get rid of the shield but to no avail. I was warned by the midwives, the first two weeks or so of breastfeeding will be one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it will be worth it if you are able to stick it out. Well, I was warned, but, it was more than just difficult for me, it was that kind of gnarly difficult where you are so frustrated you want to cry. Oh wait, I did cry. Especially when I was told well you might just have to give him formula.
He also didn’t sleep longer than maybe a couple of hours at a time. Once he napped for four hours, and there was much rejoicing. This went on for almost six months. He wasn’t fussy or cranky, just awake, taking in his surroundings. I thought newborns slept all the time. The human body was not designed for this, though somehow I survived. I was sometimes up for 24 hours a time. After about three weeks of this I told my husband, I think I need coffee again. “Don’t worry” I was assured. “This just means his brain is active!” Yes, well mommy’s brain is rapidly becoming inactive. How did we solve our sleep conundrum? We didn’t. Plain and simple. I held him and he slept and I watched all ten seasons of Stargate SG-1, in three weeks.
The days and nights blurred into a flurry of spit up and diaper blowouts and pots of coffee. Somewhere in between I may have showered once or twice. Don’t quote me on that, it may have only been one quick shower, I really don’t remember. This journey is not for the squeamish. You really haven’ t lived until you feel something warm spreading over your lap and you realize your sweet newborn has just pooed all over you and the couch. While you are addressing that issue, your boobs start leaking all over yourself (because genius is still producing double milk) and now your shirt is sticking to you. It is 100 degrees outside so you now smell of poo and milk and sweat. That may have been the one time I took a shower. Maybe.
Don’t let me scare you though. We did survive, and before we knew it, he was 6 months old and smiling and sitting up. What about all of our issues? While breastfeeding at four months, the dude, as we sometimes call him, stopped eating, reached up, grabbed the shield and pulled it off. He then proceeded to throw the shield on the floor and latch on all by himself and continue with his meal. He has not looked back since. I still make lots of milk, it is apparently my superpower. I just pump when I can, and since I have had to go back to work, the little guy gets to pack his lunch when he goes to daycare.
I have accepted the fact that I will probably not have a good nights sleep for at least the next twenty years. Every few months his sleep pattern shifts. As long as I just roll with it, we are okay. I am sure I am in for more misadventures. He isn’t walking yet so the real fun has not yet begun!
…But, I would not have it any other way. I am glad he is active! We have so much fun with the little dude. He is the sun in our sunny side up kind of life!