Friday, February 22, 2013

Nobody talks about Day Four

One does, as an expectant mum, hear a lot about how magical the early days with a newborn are. One also hears a lot about how challenging this time can be. (Of course, if you're an optimist you choose to hear the magical stuff louder than the challenging stuff.) 'The early days' or 'those first few weeks' are described as if they are one long contiuum of experience.

Not so. On Day Four, everything changes. There are lots of changes, some small and some significant. The pain of Day Four is that this is the day they all collide.

Even the poppers on a babygro are hard work on Day Four
Here's what happened to me:
  1. The endorphins wore off. That post-birth haze of joy had probably been receding for days. By Day Four it had been depleted altogether.
  2. Some other bad hormones come in and replaced the endorphins. Let's call them 'the crying hormones,' for lack of the scientific name.
  3. The sense of marvel reduced. Just only a tiny amount, but still. Gazing in wonder at the incredible creature we have produced was a great pastime for hours and hours at first, but that could only last so long. We still love her to a terrifying degree, but the frequency with which we say 'oh my god look at her little mouth!' or 'isn't she beautiful' did lessen. On each day before, we had taken at least a dozen photos. On Day Four, not a single photo was taken.
  4. The sleep deprivation kicked in. I can cope with two or three night's poor sleep on the trot. By Day Four my nerves were wearing rather thin.
  5. The outfits run out. We had enough sweet, co-ordinated outfits to take us through the first few days, but the laundry could not be put off forever. Although we did consider just dressing her in a towel, it's not really a good look.
  6. The friends who have been keeping their distance for a couple of days, to give us space, start a-calling and a-wanting to visit.
  7. Last but absolutely by no means least, my milk, as they say, 'came in'. On top of all these other niggles and strains, suddenly instead of breasts I had enormous boulders. And Lady P, used to sipping a little colostrum with ease, suddenly was expected to suck a rock the size of a watermelon. She was furious. Absolutely, blood-curdlingly, furious. I was, frankly, scared of her.
I survived*. Most people do, it seems. Thanks to the Breastfeeding Hotline, Aptamil (contrary to the Breastfeeding Hotline's advice, but never mind that), a good chat with some friends, and a long hot bath (enabled by the doping effect Aptamil had on Lady P). And I chatted to some friends, who had survived this so-called magical time and kept their baby alive since then too.

And that's when I realised... everyone goes hits the same massive bump in the road. Some people hit it three days in, others more like five, but everyone hits it. And hard.

And yet no-one tells you to expect it. Maybe it's like labour, and you forget the specifics - which is why I wanted to write this post. It is my legacy to any expectant mums. Preparation is key. If I'd know Day Four was coming, I'd have stocked up on chocolate and made sure I knew how that complicated breast pump worked in advance.

*In fact, Day Four now seems like a distant memory. Thanks to some good team work with TLOML, the establishment of the semblance of a routine, and a fair amount of faffing around with expressing and bottle feeding, we are now feeling a little more in control and a whole lot happier. I'm sure we'll hit some more bumps in the road ahead, but we're a lot more able to cope now. And back to taking dozens of photos every day.

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