My Breastfeeding Journey Week 5 – ‘Christmas, New Year & Sleep Deprivation’

Week 5 – Christmas, New Year and Sleep Deprivation!

Happy new year! Hope you’ve had a good one. This festive season has been the first I’ve not had a permanent hangover and boy do I feel better for it!
So it was Blake’s very first Christmas and even though he didn’t have a clue what wad going on it was magical for Shaun and I. Christmas and new year allowed us to reflect on just how much our lives had changed in the past 12 months; new jobs for us both, new house and now a new baby! We both kept catching each others eye and giving one another a knowing smile as if to say “I’m so happy!”. It was and is a great feeling. We spent Christmas Day at my sister Rachel’s house where she and mum cooked a feast for a king. We had arranged to eat about 2pm so I made sure I planned Blake’s feeds so that he’d be sleeping when we ate and I could enjoy my dinner. However…these things never ever go to plan! Mum slowed down in the kitchen as the mulled wine she was indulging in relaxed her a bit too much! That’s thne excuse and I’m sticking to it… By the time Mum had battled with the various meats sorted out my nut roast, it was gone 2pm and we hadn’t even started opening presents. The mountain of gifts took nearly two hours to open! Blake and his 6 month old cousin Sophia were completely spoilt and of course non the wiser.
At 4pm Mum shouted from the kitchen that it was time to dine. Blake had been asleep since his last feed and I was hoping he’d hold out a bit longer. Nope. On cue as soon as mum dished out her posh starter Blake woke up crying to be fed. Luckily I’d brought my Boppy breastfeeding pillow along so I was able to multitask and feed him at the table whilst not missing out on my Christmas dinner or the festive atmosphere. I love how the pillow means I can still use my hands – it’s great!

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Serious multitasking – eating Christmas dinner AND breastfeeding!

Boxing day was spent at Shaun’s parents. I was feeding Blake when we heard the unmistakeable mischievous tones of Uncle Mick at the front door.  Now it’s hard to describe Mick if you have never met him but it’s safe to say he’s the family idiot/comedian/loose canon and he won’t mind me saying that because it’s absolutely true and I think he’s quite proud of it. Well as Mick arrived he popped his head round the door and was practically face to face with me feeding on the sofa behind the door.

“Woaaahhh BOOBS!” shouted Mick before running away to the safety of the nipple free kitchen thus disturbing Terry who was slyly enjoying a whole box of Pringles to himself.
“What you doing you nugget?” asked Terry (Shaun’s dad and Mick’s brother).
“There’s t*ts on show in there!” Mick cried half laughing, half shocked.
“And…? She’s feeding the baby you idiot. Plus you can’t see anything.”
“Yeah I know…shame that!”
Ha ha ha! Gotta love Uncle Mick. He is like a 6 year old permanently trapped in the body of a 50 year old. That’s the first time anyone has been visibly shocked by me breastfeeding but I think it was more because he wasn’t expecting to see it.

The week between Christmas and New Year was tough. My best friend Lisa and her boyfriend Joe came to stay. They live in London and I don’t get to see her often so I had been really looking forward to it. Disrupting Blake over the Christmas period and keeping him up meant he was in a routine of just not sleeping at night at all. He did however sleep in the mornings until about 11am and I found myself doing the same. Not good when you have guests and you want to take them places. I was completely exhausted from being up all night with him and then we found because we were all out with the pram in the afternoons he’d sleep a full 6 hours in the day! My boobs were full and sore during this time but once he’d emptied them at 6pm, 9pm and midnight I found when he was waking at 3am I was so tired that my supply just wasn’t the same and he was still hungry so would then be pretty much awake from then. This continued for a couple of days after Joe and Lisa had gone home and I was starting to feel and look like a zombie. Shaun suggested we defrost some of the milk i had expressed and stored in the freezer and he would do the 3am feed allowing me to sleep through the night and hopefully get my supply back up. That was the theory anyway… So, Blake woke up on cue at 3am. Shaun didn’t stir for ages though as he was also shattered so I ended up picking him up out his basket and waking Shaun so he could warm the bottle downstairs. Now it must’ve taken a good 15 minutes for the kettle to boil and the bottle to heat to the right temperature for Shaun downstairs in the kitchen. That 15 minutes was pure hell for me. Blake was completely confused. Newborns very quickly know your smell and can smell the milk. They know exactly where their food comes from straight away. So here is poor Blake in my arms and he knows it’s me and can smell the milk. He’s nuzzling into my chest with his mouth opening and closing desperately rooting and searching for my nipple. He became frustrated immediately and i put him on my shoulder hoping he wouldnt be able to smell the milk as much. No such luck. He started screaming and screaming like ive never heard because I’ve never denied him a feed for this long before.  It was very distressing. He screamed so much at one point i thought he’d stopped breathing so i jumped up to turn the light on. He was fine, just very out of breath, but i took one look at him and saw for the first time that he was crying real tears – all streaming down his face and he looked at me with his big blue eyes and a look of helplessness that seemed to say “Why arent you feeding me Mummy?”.  Well, I immediately burst into tears myself and just rocked him as close to me as I could whilst repeating “I’m sorry, Mummy’s so sorry darling, I love you, Daddy will be here soon with your bottle”. By the time Shaun came back upstairs with the bottle Blake and I were both in a right state. I snapped at him as soon as he walked through the door “I’m not EVER doing this again, it’s absolutely ****ing pointless! I could’ve fed him in this time and he wouldn’t be in this state! So much for me sleeping through! What a truly stupid waste of time this was!!!”
“Gem, I’ve done everything as fast as I can and I’m only trying to help out and help you, I didn’t realise making the bottle would take this long” he answered back in tones that hinted he was hurt at my vicious attack. After all, it was in no way his fault. He was just trying to be a good Dad and a good supportive husband. I knew this, knew I was being a completely unreasonable hormonal and sleep deprived cow and started to cry again. “I’m sorry, I’m just so tired and I know it’s not your fault, please forgive me.”
“It’s OK, I know it’s tough now shush, give him to me and get some sleep.”
And sleep I did. Poor Shaun however was up with him for hours. Feeding from the bottle gives Blake terrible wind. On the breast he’s not so bad and will self wind well as he feeds or pretty much as soon as one of us holds him over our shoulder.  It’s common for breastfed babies to not get that much wind, some none at all. So when he’s had a bottle of expressed milk he’s in pain with wind for a while afterwards. Once Shaun had taken over I managed to sleep until 6am. Because I hadn’t fed him overnight as i normally would my breasts were swollen any my left one had leaked through the breast pad and was feeling very uncomfortable. Shaun and Blake weren’t in the room with me. I could hear Shaun pacing the hall with him so I called out to let him know I was awake “You OK?”
“Yeahhhh” came the tired response. It turned out that Blake had hardly settled at all. His wind was so bad that he’d cried for an hour after feeding and when Shaun had eventually settled him to sleep he was sick everywhere (probably from feeding so fast from the bottle). Not wanting to disturb me, he’d paced the hall with him for the last two hours the poor thing! Blake started to stir and whimper as Shaun passed him to me and this time there was no delay waiting for a bottle to warm up, I was able to get him straight on the boob before he had a chance to cry.  Blake noisily and happily chomped away as Shaun flopped onto the bed next to me and said “Thank god for that! And yeah you’re right, breastfeeding is so much quicker and easier. You’re doing a great job you know.” before looking like he’s slipped into a very noisy and slightly dribbly coma for the next few hours! As Blake finished that feed and was winded he flashed the biggest happiest and satisfied smile at me for the first time. It was a magical moment and I know breastfeeding makes him so happy.

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