Today Ella is 25 days old. I have landed in a role I feel very confident in, But it has been hard for me to get here. Let me tell you why: People have a lot of opinions. And there is this stereotype image of the perfect pregnancy/childbirth/baby-joy-bubble/motherhood-bliss/breastfeeding etc. that, if you are a perfectionist like I am, you feel you need to live up to.
As if its not terrifying enough to get full responsibility for this little mini-me, that strangely enough comes without (!) a manual. People express a lot of opinions about what you should do and what you shouldn't do in addition to these already mentioned stereotypes. I am usually a very strong minded individual who can make up my own mind, but you know, pregnancy and becoming a mother for the first time is terrifying and a completely new area. Blended in is this hormon-coctail your body keep producing and you are all of a sudden quite a sensitive woman.
Let me tell you about my first 11 days as a new mother.
My labour was very lucky, but even here I had ideas (other peoples ideas) about how things should go down. Enough about that.
Ella came home with us from the hospital after just 24 hours as everything was working fine, and we were feeling quite confident with the situation. She was latching perfectly for the breastfeeding, and we could show the midwifes we managed nappie changes, feeding, burping and top n tail bathing etc fine.
First days at home were scary, sleepless and amazing all the same time. My husband Richard was home with me the first two weeks.
But then together with sleep deprivation the anxiety kicked in. As all babies Ella lost weight initially. What worried me though was that she didn't do number two. She was still latching on good, and seemed to be eating with a good appetite. After some days she had a couple of bowel movements, but then she again stopped. I was determined to breastfeed, as this is what you do! Its the best for your baby! Perfect set-up of nutrition! Necessary for the baby and mother bond! Natural! Works for anyone who wants to breastfeed! Formula is bad for you!!! (According to everyone and everything you read)
When you meet new people this is what happens: "Awwww she is sooo cute!!! What is her name? Are you breast feeding?" Every single time! From people I barely know I need to answer to such a private question! Cause just as pregnancy is public property for some reason, so is newborns and their mothers.
Back to my first days with Ella. By day 10 babies should preferably be back or close to birth weight. Not only should they be back to birth weight, they should also be doing several stools a day. Even though I, for stretches of the day, was breastfeeding every 30 minutes, this was not the case for Ella. Her weight had not turned to start gaining, and by day 11 she started loosing even more.
I was a complete wreck by this stage. I so badly wanted the breastfeeding to work. It was this dream I had and I felt it slipping away from me. I was anxious, felt like a terrible mother and I was terribly worried for Ella's wellbeing. We were at the level where Richard (and my midwife as well as myself) started worrying about my mental health.
I sat at home crying, and could barely look at Ella without tears breaking out.
Remember, still having to answer to everyones "You are breastfeeding right?"
Me and Richard sat down and decided this is not good for anyone. The breastfeeding is not working, we are switching to formula.
And a boulder was lifted from my shoulders. I was, and still am, devastated I didn't get to experience this, but so relieved to get rid of this terrible pressure. Now I can answer with "No, she is on formula". I have landed in it and even though its still painfull, its getting easier to deal with. And you know what, Ella is doing just as good, and she is getting all nutrition that she need. She is now growing just as well as she should do, and is sleeping well! Several hours!
I have posted articles before about peoples need to ask questions that are not only very private, but can be incredibly sensitive and painful for some individuals. Well, breastfeeding is one of them.
I don't go around asking people how their sex life is going, and if they can get a hard on or not. Cause its non of my business. I also don't ask people if they're not going to try to have a baby soon, cause I have nooo idea about their situation.
Yes I know people are just trying to care, but that is why I am sharing this. To enlighten people that these questions can be incredibly painful to some guys. Please think before you speak.