Monday was a good day. Our first full day at home. We were visited, as is standard, by the midwife. I felt together enough to be charging around the house to make sure it looked as though I was really on top of everything before she arrived. Thomas fed like a dream whilst she was here. Later, I managed to get two loads of laundry done, we went out for our first short walk – to buy more cotton wool – ate proper meals and Ian and I even took turns to take a short nap in the afternoon. I know – and knew even on Monday – that it won’t last. But it felt good to have started with a “good day” to know that it’s possible.
Tuesday felt more difficult. We had a tough night which included a three hour scream-a-thon. But I still felt in control. The midwife visited again to weigh Thomas and carry out his heel prick test. He weighed in at 3.32kg, well within the acceptable weight-loss percentage, and he fed well again whilst she was here. She arranged to return next Monday, when all being well, we’ll be discharged from midwife care.
Yesterday was where it all went a bit wrong. He was up for what felt like the majority of the night (although I appreciate my perception may be distorted) with what we thought might be wind. He wouldn’t settle or lie still, and kept pulling his knees up to his chest. No amount of winding seemed to get the wind up though. Nothing we tried would settle him, even the boob. In fact, he didn’t feed properly from 11pm on Tuesday right through until the morning, despite all the awake time. He kept pulling away, fussing and crying. Hormones, sleep deprivation, new mum anxiety… all got the better of me and I found myself in uncontrollable tears. I was worried that I couldn’t soothe my own baby, but more worried that he hadn’t fed for so long. Since breast feeding hasn’t exactly come “naturally” to me, I was in a bit of a panic that I was doing something drastically wrong. I felt completely out of my depth, with a baby that needed me to do something that I didn’t seem able to even identify, never mind do.
Obviously there wasn’t very much that Ian could do to reassure me, being just as clueless (and tired) himself, but he did urge me to call the midwife liaison number and ask for a visit, reminding me that this was exactly what they were there for. Of course, in my fragile state, even needing to contemplate doing it made me feel even more like a failure. For a few irrational minutes I agonised about how they would think I was useless, and not at all in control. Fortunately, Ian talked me round.
I got myself together before calling the number, but the moment someone answered, I felt myself crumble in to tears. “My baby’s six days old and I can’t feed him, he won’t stop crying” I stuttered, through sobs.
I have to give credit where it’s due. The lady I spoke to was totally un-phased and very empathetic. She reassured me that a midwife would be round as soon as possible and, sure enough, within an hour, the doorbell rang.
Typically, in that time he settled right down. I eventually managed to calm him by stripping us both off and lying skin to skin flat on the bed in a so-called “biological nursing” position. The midwife pointed out that far from thinking I couldn’t cope, she could see that actually I had the resources to figure it out. She made me realise that I do have instincts, I just need to remember to listen to them. Which was the confidence boost I desperately needed.