I found Nate’s first week incredibly hard which was mainly down to breastfeeding. After I’d had him, I’d decided to stay in hospital over night to establish breastfeeding as I was so keen to feed him – something which I’d failed to do with Alfie.
During our first night, I felt like he was up every hour either fussing or wanting a feed. I had lots of help from the midwives and support worker with latching him on and as dawn broke, I felt like I’d finally cracked it and was managing to latch him on without assistance. The following morning, he was feeding quite a lot and somewhere, it all went a bit wrong and started to hurt during every feed. I thought nothing of it though, thinking it was just my body getting used to feeding.
Once home, those first few days and especially the nights were hard. There were tears on more than one occasion and the pain was almost unbearable. By day three, I didn’t think I could continue. I remember being in the shower and looking down and my nipples were bruised and so sore, my milk had also come in so I was really engorged and was so uncomfortable and in such a lot of pain. I’d asked Michael to give him a bottle as I couldn’t bear the thought of feeding again and being in so much pain. Just as we were about to feed him, the midwife arrive to do our checks and asked me to hold off with the bottle and offered to help latch him so it didn’t hurt… and it worked. She was absolutely brilliant, really encouraging, so supportive and made no judgement that I’d been about to give him a bottle. She didn’t try to force me to breastfeed and made it clear that he was my baby and I can feed him how I wish, but she would help me if I wanted to continue trying to feed him myself. She gave me confidence that I could do it, so I got rid of the bottle and fed him myself.
However, the next day I was in agony again and it was unbearable, so he did have formula for about 24 hours. I thought our breastfeeding journey was over before it began. I was so shocked that when I tried to latch him on after having a break, he latched better than he’d ever done and had a really good feed. I felt like I’d been given a second chance with feeding and I really was determined to persevere. I’m so glad I did. There’s been many hurdles, including an evening of mastitis, which was awful, but I fed him through it and the next day I was thankfully ok. It’s not been easy and he’s still a fussy / violent latcher on occasion and he struggles with my left side, but on the whole, I’m really enjoying being able to feed him. Everyone kept telling me once you get past the first two weeks, it gets easier and lo and behold, I’ve past that two weeks and it’s getting so much easier.
During Nate’s first week, Alfie went back to nursery until lunch time and my in-law’s still picked him up for us, so Michael, Nate and I had the morning’s to ourselves, which was lovely. Much of it was spent sleeping though as it was the only time we could really catch up on sleep from being up through the night and with a boisterous four year old to entertain in the afternoon’s, we needed to rest when we could.
Surprisingly, we didn’t have that many visitors in the first week, which I actually quite liked. Our parents both came to hospital to meet him, but my sister and my sister and brother in law and niece and nephew didn’t meet him until the Sunday, when he was two days old and after that, we didn’t have anyone else visit in the first week.
As I’m breastfeeding it means I’m feeding on demand so a few days, Nate was particularly fussy so plans were cancelled and I ended up not being able to get out of the house. It was hard as I desperately didn’t want to waste Michael’s paternity leave, but at the same time because of the latching issues, I wasn’t confident enough to feed in public (I’m still not), so it meant I stayed in whilst Michael took Alfie out.
Night times have been really good. There were a couple of nights in the first week where we were up quite a lot, but for the most part he would wake, have a feed, then go back to sleep. We tried to put him back in his crib after every feed but he would wake and cry. I’ve found that he sleeps better when he’s next to me, which means Michael and I sleep better, which can only be a good thing. I’ve told the health visitor that I’m co-sleeping and she told me that whilst I’m breastfeeding, it’s fine as my hormones won’t let me fall in to a deep sleep whilst Nate is next to me. I expected her to be critical of this and ‘tell me off’ but she was actually quite supportive of it.
How am I?
I felt really great after having him. I remember after I’d had him, whilst the midwives were setting the bed up for me to have my stitches, I was sat in the chair and I felt on top of the world. Obviously it was the adrenaline. I didn’t experience this with Alfie and after having him, I actually felt pretty dreadful. Even though Nate’s birth was so much more painful, afterwards, I just felt completely amazing. I think because I felt so good after I’d had him and the first couple of days afterwards, I did too much too soon. I didn’t rest. I didn’t really give my body time to recover from what it’d just been through and I ended up suffering. When Nate was five days old, I had the most awful after pains. It was the day after I’d had a break from feeding and I know breastfeeding makes it worse and because I’d had that break, I think they were even worse that what they’d have been if I’d have carried on feeding. I was in tears with the pain and literally on all fours rocking. It was honestly like contractions had started again. Thankfully, they only lasted for that day and the days after they were still painful, but not as much. Then there’s been the sore boobs, bruised nipples, waking up engorged and leaking everywhere (nice), as well as needing to recover from my stitches, getting mastitis and spending the night in bed shivering and crying uncontrollably… I’m not going to sugar coat it and say it’s been easy, because it’s been really, really hard. Much harder than I’d imagined.
I’ve really struggled on some days as he’s in no kind of routine – with Alfie being bottle fed, I knew that he would need a feed every 2/3 hours, so we could plan things, whereas with Nate, sometimes he’ll feed for an hour, sometimes it’s 5 minutes. He could go 2 hours between feeds, or sometimes 10 minutes. So I’ve found that really tricky, but I know it won’t be forever.
All that aside, I’m absolutely LOVING having a newborn again and he’s already changed so much from when he was born. That first week was a crazy intense time but one I wouldn’t change for the world. I still can’t believe that I have two beautiful boys to call my own. I feel so full of love and I’m so excited for the next chapter of our lives with my two beautiful children. Alfie is still very apprehensive and has only held him twice. He enjoys bathing him with Daddy and if he’s crying, he’ll often say things like, ‘Oh no not again’, or ‘it’s ok Nate, don’t cry’ and give him his dummy or try to rock him if he’s in his crib. I’d hoped he’d take more of an interest, but I know it’s a huge upheaval for him, so we’re taking it day by day.
Here’s some photo’s from Nate’s first week.