Mamma Me

I love my life – and not just because the thrill of not being pregnant is still fresh. Like I said from the very beginning of the pregnancy, I desperately needed a meaningful challenge in my life – and becoming a mother is everything I could have hoped for. I really am happier than I’ve ever been, and I’m still overwhelmed with joy that the last seven years of existential pain have finally lost their grip on me.

Louisette is one gorgeous baby, which certainly helps.

Also, her facial expressions are endlessly fascinating (it seems the wall of her stroller is making threats).

She is seriously adding facial expressions to her repertoire daily. When her life began, she had two: asleep and crying. Then she added gazing – still a favourite. Now she has suspicion, surprise, shock, interest (different with familiar and unfamiliar objects), mischief, delight, smiling, grinning, sleepiness (rather than going straight to crying), pouting (ditto), and more. She doesn’t know how to use them all correctly, but who cares?

Feeding continues to be the major drama. After wildly differing weight reports (from different scales), I now weigh Louisette every Monday at a baby clinic. After two weigh-ins, it became perfectly clear that I wasn’t feeding Louisette enough (I’ll not delve into how THAT makes me feel*), so from last Monday afternoon I drastically increased the amount of formula with which I’m supplementing her feeds. She’s now having 75mls of formula about five times a day (out of seven or eight feeds). She’s also peeing up to twice an hour, and spitting up so much that it was difficult to find a dry patch in her cot last night (I certainly won’t be changing the sheets six times a day – and she doesn’t just spit up immediately after a feed, but at any time of day or night).

All is not lost on the breastfeeding front: she breastfeeds every feed (before any bottles are offered) and is still certainly getting some of her nutrition that way (maybe half or so – if it was just formula, she’d need 100 to 150 mls every feed).

In order to build up my milk supply, I’m sticking to three-hourly feeds (at this age, she’d normally start feeding as little as five times a day), and in between every daytime feed I’m on the pump (aka milking machine) sending the message to my breasts that they’re not meeting demand (and the supply does seem to be increasing by about 10mls a day).

This effectively means I’m breastfeeding twelve times a day (and carefully coordinating the pumping into that half-hour window that is one hour after the actual feed and one hour before the next feed – giving the breasts time to refill). It’s physically and mentally exhausting, and it still hurts every time (at this stage, mainly just because twelve times a day is so ridiculous), so I’m eating a horrifying amount of chocolate and lollies to keep myself physically and (more importantly) mentally up to the task. (I’m pretty depressed about my weight and pregnant shape, but at least it’s not getting significantly WORSE. . .) This means that my maximum amount of free time is now one hour and fifteen minutes – so daytime napping is pretty unlikely (Louisette doesn’t sleep on cue, either) – and I’m sometimes left staring helplessly at a crying baby that I can’t hold because I have to hold the pump in place.

BUT she is noticeably more content since getting more formula (again, proof I was causing her pain, but oh well*) – she would be sleeping well, except the nappies and spitting up tends to wake her. Night time is still mostly good. Last night and the night before she slept for five hours in one go, and both nights I actually woke her for a feed (she’s almost six weeks, so from next week I’ll start letting her sleep longer, since her digestive system will be able to handle it). That bodes VERY well.

Also, we’ve introduced that sweet sweet saviour of parents everywhere: the dummy.

The dummy is most useful as an artificial tool for sending babies to sleep (as they learn how to settle, they need a series of predictable steps). Two weeks ago I wrote that we’d moved Louisette from needing a feed to get to sleep, to needing to be held. Now she doesn’t need to be held – she just needs to be wrapped and given a dummy.

But.

Like all babies, she lacks the ability to hold onto the dummy. In a ten minute period she can easily drop it six times, and awaken and cry each time. A couple of weeks ago, her going to sleep process was to cry for around half an hour in my arms, then drop off, and after fifteen minutes of sleep she was deeply enough asleep to be put down without waking up. Now, I put her down with the dummy and supervise for about an hour and a half, constantly replacing the dummy, and then she falls asleep (and after about fifteen minutes is deeply enough asleep to lose the dummy without waking up). So it takes a LOT longer – but everyone’s happier (and I can use the pump when she’s be-dummied – just pausing to replace the dummy however many times it’s needed – which is extremely important). So overall we’re very lucky with the whole sleep process. Plus, when she has the dummy she’s wide-eyed and wondering for about an hour, which is still very beautiful.

On Sunday CJ and I took a one-and-a-quarter hour outing to a secondhand bookshop. It was fun. Despite my time restrictions, I still leave the house at least once every day – I enjoy the challenge, and it is worth skipping one pumping session. Tomorrow CJ’s parents are babysitting and we’re going to re-watch “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” at the ANU film group.

*Not as bad as, say, leaving her in the pool for “just a second” while I answer the inside phone, then living with the fatal consequences for the rest of my life.

On Monday I felt. . . not good. . . but now I’ve solved the problem it’s in the past and doesn’t matter any more.

4 thoughts on “Mamma Me

  1. To increase breastmilk supply: Make sure you’re drinking lots of water. Also try Fenugreek capsules; they’re not scientifically proven to help, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence for them. Ditto red raspberry tea.

    To avoid changing sheets: Put a facewasher or folded up blanket under her head. That way you only have to change THAT item when she spits up on it, and not the whole lot.

    I love dummies. When Elspeth was born, we debated and stressed a bit about whether to use one, before finally deciding to use one when she was a few weeks old. With Evelyn, we used them immediately. haha. But somebody seriously needs to invent a way of keeping dummies in babies’ mouths. Like a big elastic strap around their heads… 😉

    • Stace: I’m drinking so much water I pee more than she does – and I’m taking both fenugreek and domperidone. But red raspberry tea is news to me. I’ll have to get some.

      There IS a device to hold dummies in mouths. . . it’s called gaffa tape.

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