N is also for, No Sleep.
And also, No Matter How Many Times You Watch One Born Every Minute, You Will Never Be Prepared For Labour. But we’ll save that one for Milly’s birth story, which I’ll post up soon.
As I write this at 6am my 5 week old is comatosed next to me on the sofa following a mammoth early morning feed which started only a mere 3 hours beforehand. This was then proceeded by 40 minutes of HAND EXPRESSING (!!??? when will I learn to invest in an electric pump!) and despite only catching 2 1/2 hours of nap-time for myself in the past 24 hours, I’m feeling considerably okay. Every 20 or so seconds the baby gives a reassuringly happy full sigh, followed by some weird arm flailing and I can’t help but draw comparison to the Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man from Family Guy. She’s also doing the creepiest exorcist-esque movement with her eyes mid sleep and I do have to wonder whether this child is ever so slightly possessed. Unwell or not Emilia, you are terrifying me with those zombie eyelid flutters.
Getting to know your newborn is a daunting yet thrilling experience and one which I never wish to stop doing. However, getting to know your poorly newborn does throw a slight spanner in the works, more specifically into my inner hormonal factory. Not being able to soothe my daughter when she’s uncomfortable is one of the most exerting emotions I’ve ever felt and not being able to attempt to do so with my own breast, which she has been firmly glued to for the past month and a bit, has been even harder. There’s no greater feeling of failure as a mother than when you’re told to stop breastfeeding for even a day to rule out an anomaly caused by medication you’re on for an underlying condition. Crohn’s and I haven’t been seeing eye to eye recently and my God, we’re heading up sh*t’s creak now. Throughout my pregnancy with Emilia I was constantly sick. My medication was increased, steroids were distributed like sweeties and the fear of affecting our baby was on high alert. I had two fantastic Obstetric Consultants, an IBD Nurse and a Gastroenterologist on standby, bloods were taken twice monthly, scans were frequent and the amount of trips to the DAU and Triage may as well have been in the record books but miraculously, this little dormouse popped out overdue and at an extremely healthy weight of 7lbs 12oz. Just like the disease had grown in severity during pregnancy, it seemed to calm almost immediately post-birth. Or so we thought. 5 weeks on and my longest flare to date is still active, forcing me onto an immune suppressant which has a high chance of causing us both discomfort and long term side effects. I shouldn’t feel such heartbreak at feeding my newborn a combination of Dioralyte and formula as I know it is currently for the best, but knowing my own magic milk being stored in the fridge may not be able to be used again is deflating and tear worthy. I made her, her lifeline for 9 months and a specific juice bank which she never ever has to share, ever – and it may have only been useful for 5 weeks. This is not a post on Breast vs Formula in any way and in my opinion if a baby is being fed the nourishment he needs then it really shouldn’t be debated. But for me, the way we’ve learnt to bond with each other has been taken away and I feel a slight emptiness at not being able to soothe my poorly baby in the one way I know how. I don’t have a big nose like her Daddy does which she uses to suckle when she wants comfort, or a soft beard to nuzzle into. Instead, I have two unused breasts that aren’t filling to capacity or even creating the best food for her. And it’s all thanks to Crohn’s. Cheers pal.