Thursday, 22 January 2015

Is There Anyone Else Out There..?

The night feeds can be truly special and I sincerely hope that they are for you. The reality is, however, that they are also some of the loneliest hours I've spent: you tiptoe around trying not to wake anyone else at such an un-Godly hour while trying to stave off exhaustion.
So, as I'm sitting here with Charlie balanced on one thigh, right hand under his chin, left wrist feeling like it has the beginnings of RSI from a good 20 minutes of winding (if my hand has to do anymore clockwise circles, I swear it will snap right off), I thought it might be a good time to test out the thumb muscles I've cultivated from years of texting and (at least begin to) write this post.

Now, I love my son dearly and I'm fortunate enough to still be "on a high"(?!) postpartum (get me with my Latinate hospital jargon), but often when he begins that long drawn out build up to a feed (he's more of a grizzler that a crier so far - think motorbike if that doesn't sound familiar), I have to admit that it isn't the warm glow of love that first floods my veins, but (dare I say it?) a sinking feeling.
I go through an increasingly familiar process before I come to terms with it. I'm initially in disbelief that I have to do it again so soon. Surely it can't have been 3 hours since he last fed? I reach for my phone only to discover that, yes, three hours have passed. Or, more accurately, been stolen.
Only then can I drag my jelly-like limbs from under the duvet and begin tending to my son. My lovely, cherub-like son who doesn't know any better and is waiting, with decreasing patience, for his mother to feed him. Terrible huh?
Midwives, health visitors, doctors and experienced parents will all advise you to keep the lights low and create a quiet environment with minimal interaction (that's nigh on impossible when there are a pair of gorgeous saucer-like eyes blinking up at you) to teach your newborn the difference between day and night. Pah! Don't get me wrong, it's sound advice and, at 2am and 5am, who wants to be skipping around singing in a room that resembles Clark Griswold's house at Christmas? But keeping the lights low has near enough cost me my little toe on many occasions and our son is only a month old! Don't even get me started on the nappy change! I've a long way to go before I master that one in the dark!
I'm bottle feeding and it certainly has its merits. I mentioned in an earlier post that our son had trouble staying awake/feeding in the first few weeks and it's helped us keep track of his amounts to get his weight up (a habit we've neurotically kept). It's also meant that my husband and I can share the feeds, a luxury my breast-feeding pals are dreaming of. Although with him back at work after the Christmas holidays (I'm only on statutory pay so we couldn't afford for him to take paternity leave), I'm increasingly aware that night feeds are a Herculean effort for him and try to do as many as possible myself.
So how do you get through it before one of the feeds "drops off" and your little angel sleeps through most of the night? The truth is, we don't know.
We pass the baton between us, owning up when it's just too much and energy levels reach critical. We've both uttered the words "I can't" having gently (that's key) woken the other. We also plot the night ahead so we know which of us can afford to, guiltlessly, let sleep win when the first hunger cries begin. We try to keep our sense of humour, although it doesn't always surface until the morning when daylight restores our sanity! We aim to have everything ready before we settle our heads on the pillow and between each feed (it's no fun trying to placate a screaming baby while desperately trying to open that new bag of nappies you left at the back of the cupboard). 
The thing we have learnt is that everyone has their own way of muddling through. My midwife suggested buying ready-made formula for emergencies and my best friend set up a WhatsApp group with her NCT parents (note that your alerts need to be on silent for this not to interrupt other's sleep).
However tired I am and however long it takes to get him there, when our little one settles back to sleep and I get to hear his heavy contented breathing, I can't help but think it was worth it.


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