New motherhood is as difficult as everyone says it is. Through all the newborn baby cuddles and tiny little onesies, there's so much to learn and so little sleep to help your brain learn it... Every midwife and health visitor you see asks about your mood; they are angling to see if you have the signs of post-natal depression, and rightly so, but, as I have said to every one of them: I am overwhelmed, but not disproportionately to a rather overwhelming situation. I have cried over my (in)ability to breastfeed, I have worried about leaving the house and stepping into the outside world, and I have panicked about all of the difficulties to come. But I am okay. We are okay. Survival is key right now, and, inspired by Modern Mrs Darcy, here's what's saving my life right now...
Whatsapp at 3am
A lot of what we learnt at our NCT classes has already been thrown out of the window just two weeks in, but there has been one part of them that has been invaluable to me - the other people that we met. Our babies have all been born now, so we are sharing late night wisdom and reassurances between us. Everyone needs a cheerleader every now and again, and having a group of people who are going through exactly the same thing at exactly the same time is very encouraging! Especially when you feel like the only person awake in the middle of the night, it's nice to know that you're not alone.
I haven't taken to breastfeeding with quite the enthusiasm that I thought I would. It is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done. It's emotional, for sure, but it also bloody hurts and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Even if you do everything right, it's a sensitive part of the body to be putting to work so soreness is inevitable. I've been drowning in Lansinoh nipple cream as a way to get through the first couple of weeks and the pain is already lessening. Let's hope it continues that way...
Kindle iPhone App
In theory, you should spend every precious moment soaking up time with your newborn. In reality, trying to stay awake in the middle of the night whilst a baby sleeps on top of you is a little tricky without distraction. A friend recommended I download the Kindle app to my phone for those late night feeds, so I've been keeping myself occupied with a bit of Jilly Cooper when I need something to help me stay alert.
Delightfully, I woke up on the second day after giving birth with a dry skin rash situation all over my chin and neck. Apparently due to hormonal changes (of course) this isn't uncommon, as my frantic Googling revealed. Through many scary forum threads from people who'd suffered for months, I found the suggestion of aqueous cream to treat the problem and promptly sent Paul out to buy some for me. It's since mostly cleared up, which could be due to natural changes in hormones or the cream doing its work - but either way, slathering it on helped relieve some of the 'tight' feeling of the dry skin and helped me feel a bit more in control!
Yes, I know, I know. There have been some problems with these machines but as far as I'm concerned right now, this thing is a lifesaver. I want to breastfeed as much as possible but I've had some real problems so when he just really needs feeding there's really no other option than a bit of formula. It's not the end of the world - but the fact that this machine means you can have a bottle in hand in 2 minutes makes all the difference when you feel like it might be.
Waitrose Daily Sushi Counter
Okay, I realise this is the most middle class thing I've ever said - but fresh sushi from Waitrose is making life worth living right now. They opened the counter at our local Waitrose the end of my pregnancy (it's like they knew!) and at least 25% of my meals have come from there in the last two weeks. Salmon nigri is my crack, and I'm not ashamed that it makes me feel a hundred times better when I'm exhausted and hungry.
For the first few nights, Benjamin wouldn't sleep if he wasn't being held by one of us, which meant sleeping in shifts and trying not to nod off at god-awful-o-clock in the morning whilst a sleeping baby used us as a giant pillow. We figured out that he was waking himself up by thrashing his arms about, but were a bit wary of swaddling him properly with a blanket or muslin as all the advice suggests this can affect hip development. A bit of frantic Googling brought up the GroSnug - a little baby sleeping bag that swaddles the arms but leaves the hips and legs free, this assuaging some of my fears. The difference was immediate - he sleeps for a few hours at a time in this, which has already been a game changer. All three of us being asleep at the same time is a real luxury!
Last, but certainly not least, I have to include the soppy one. These past two weeks haven't been easy but they have been infinitely less difficult because of Paul. He has encouraged me endlessly when I am in floods of tears, picked up all the housework and kept me fed & watered when I am stuck underneath a cluster-feeding baby. I'm a bit worried about how we'll cope now that he's gone back to work, but luckily he doesn't have a long commute so we only have to be without him for the shortest amount of time possible!