The advice I got the most from friends and family besides taking the epidural was to make sure you slept when the baby sleeps. The problem with that is during the first 24 hours your on a major high and you will NOT sleep. Grey was born at 2:47 AM on Saturday night/ Sunday morning. When I was taken to my new room where I’d stay for 48 hours, we had James family come in to see Grey and say hello. When they left as much as I had wanted to sleep, I couldn’t. I needed to eat, and then she needed to try and eat, and then the nurses would come in to check on us, then the lactation specialists, then we’d try and feed again, then the pediatrician, then more nurses, more food, and so on. During the nights, Grey also wouldn’t sleep unless she was in my arms snuggled up with me. As much as I loved those moments and didn’t mind in the least staying up from sun down to sun up, but Monday night I was beginning to lose my mind a bit. Everything was an emotional roller coaster while my hormones were out of wack. James and I both knew I needed sleep when I lost it over spilled [breast] milk.
Beast milk is literal liquid gold – especially those first couple weeks. It gives baby some much needed nutrients, antibodies, and antiviral help. When your milk finally starts to come in, and you pump to get your body to produce more, it’s like you are doing something right. Grey had some problems latching at first and would fall asleep during every feeding. By the first night, she was starting to realize that she needed to fill her belly…every hour. I couldn’t tell what she was getting from me because I was still producing colostrum. Colostrum, your milk in the first three days full of lots of important nutrients. is a different consistency and doesn’t come out very easily. I had to supplement with formula while I was in the hospital and had a routine going as advised by nurses and specialists. Try breast feeding. If that doesn’t work pump. If that doesn’t work supplement with formula. I was supplementing a lot (which I hated). Nothing makes you feel more like a failure when your baby is here than not being able to feed her. On Monday I finally pumped a little breast milk and was able to feed it to her. I would try and breast feed again every time but I couldn’t tell how much she was eating, so I’d always end up supplementing. On Monday; early in the morning before the sun came up. I had pumped a small amount of liquid gold and was getting ready to put it in a bottle to feed her. Well…in my delirious state with the lights off, I had gotten up to find a nipple and had heard James ask if I needed any help. As I responded, I turned my body and had knocked the milk off the counter and onto the floor. As you can imagine, I lost my sh&*. James took her that hour and let me get a little shut eye.
Luckily that night was the first of many successful pumping sessions. Although she still feeds every 2 hours on the dot, and when she’s going through a spurt it’s every 20 minutes, I’ve definitely realized the value of a power nap. I end up spending many hours awake at night and if I don’t get those couple hours of shut eye during the day, it calls for disaster. It’s easier when you’re not exclusively breast feeding since formula lets baby go a little longer between feeds. I just love breast feeding so much, and it really makes you feel like a successful mother that I can’t give it up just yet.
The other important advice I can give is to ASK FOR HELP. At this point I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on mommyhood – I’ve gotten diaper changing down to a science (except for when I change her too early and she projectile poops all over our comforter..yep that happened this morning), breast feeding has become easy, and I can sooth her just by holding her hand. However, I don’t think I would be as comfortable and sane if it wasn’t for my mom and sister helping the first night we were home as well as my mom cooking and cleaning for me the first week James went back to work. It let me get out of the house for a bit when I needed to, I didn’t have to worry about starving, and I could nap (although I didn’t much) when I needed to without worrying about feeding Grey every hour. Aside from the physical help, the Mom clan that has been so supportive through calls, texts, and social media is amazing. Every mother I know – even some that I haven’t talked to in 10 years – has been reaching out to make sure I’m getting acclimated okay and giving tons of helpful advice. It’s funny – you don’t realize how important other women’s support is until you have the baby. Ir remember congratulating some of these women, but I wish I had given more support to them when they had their babies. I didn’t realize how important it was and to be honest I’m not sure what I could’ve contributed 10 years ago with no experience. Now I know – and I love the Mom Clan that Im a part of.