“We get so many women in here who have trouble getting their babies to latch,” said one of the assistants in Born on the Gloucester Road, “but I’ve not seen a baby refuse to do the opposite.” Well, at least we’re broadening some horizons.
Remember when I talked about how much I love breastfeeding my tiny daughter despite our issues of oversupply? That appeared to be the difficulty when Talitha would wake up every 20 minutes, sucking everything and everyone in sight, sticking her fists in her mouth, rooting around and screaming for the boob.
But as soon as I came off the antibiotics I’d been taking, her nappies became plentiful and mustardy (you actually get interested in this as a mother). So, that seemed a potential link. Also, the wind was dependent on positioning.
Then last Monday, we woke up, got started with breakfast and twelve hours later she was still on the boob, having been removed for nappying only. She could not be comforted by anything else and all the signs of wanting to feed were there.
I thought what a breastfeeding novice would: has my milk stopped? But no, I could see it in her mouth, she didn’t seem unhappy generally and the nappies were there.
So we continued all week (apart from car rides, which she loves). If she was awake, she wanted the boob. If she fell asleep there and fell off, she’d soon awaken and fling her head around wildly in search of it.
Actually, it freaks me out when she does this. She literally looks vampiric and if it’s night time, I turn the lamp on because she slightly scares me.
I knew a wide range of odd behaviours fall under the category of “normal” when it comes to newborns so I wasn’t surprised when the GP, the breastfeeding peer supporter and a more senior staff member of Born assured me that this was, indeed, normal.
All well and good but d’ya mean I have to have this girl on my breast every waking (and often, sleeping) hour? I love her, I enjoy her but if I can’t do the laundry or fix myself something to eat, I’ll go a little mad.
In fact, I did go a bit mental and walked up and down the Gloucester Road for hours, shopping with my mother and brother and nursing Talitha the entire time. Finally, I broke down and called Laurence five times to ask if I could buy a sling (we’ve agreed not to spend a certain amount without consulting the other person). He rang me back in a flurry thinking it must be an emergency. As far as I was concerned it jolly well was.
My thought was that I didn’t mind my baby comfort nursing or whatever she was doing for whole days and nights if I could occasionally have the use of both my hands. I looked up videos of hands-free nursing on Youtube, practised with the new Moby wrap and nearly tore my hair out in frustration. My large breasts didn’t seem conducive to this solution.
Then the boobless parent donned the wrap, stuck the baby in and walked for it. The kid zonked out. Turns out what she wants is closeness and security. And while my nipples seem the fastest way to get this for her, she will often settle for a hug in a sling.
Since at less than four weeks, it’s difficult for me to differentiate between when she’s genuinely hungry and when she wants the closeness, I offer the breast first and sling her if I really need the use of both hands.
I oscillate between loving that I’ve got an inbuilt way to soothe my child (usually around noon) and feeling guilty that I’m really not enjoying this special time with her (more likely at 4am). Sometimes I feel like a human dummy. At others, I proudly think that I am “liquid love” to her – a phrase from Kellymom.com.
But in the last two days she’s given me a few minutes here and there of lying beside me instead of on me. In those times, she’s looked up at me so intently I wonder if she knows that I’m her mother and not just one big boob.