I feed Jennifer for her last feed which is around 11pm and then put Jennifer in her cream Moses basket. I peer down at her before switching the light off in complete adoration – how did I ever live without her? I’ve already forgotten what my life used to be like pre-Jennifer and although the sleep deprivation and night feeds are by no means easy I’d never go back even if I could.
2am she wakes, 4.30am she wakes, 7am she wakes, 8.30am she wakes – seriously can I take the previous mushy gushy stuff back?! It’s a whirlwind of crying and feeding, I feel a little like a dairy cow attached by her udders to the rubber suction cups which are stealing her milk and draining her of fluid and energy. The times that she wakes up in the night aren’t the problem, it’s the amount of time she feeds for and the fear of rolling onto her if she falls asleep on the boob keeps me alert and awake. At 2am she feeds for twenty minutes and falls asleep on the boob but I know this isn’t enough so I wake her up again by changing her bottom and burping her then I put her back on the boob and she falls asleep, I don’t change her bottom every time but if she really won’t take any more I have to wake her up otherwise she would want milk every half an hour. When she’s full and in a ‘milk induced coma’ then I gently place her back in her Moses basket and just about drift off to sleep before the next set of crying and feeding. I sleep with a pint of weak cordial by my bed and make sure that by morning I have finished it and the first thing I do when I wake up is make another one.
Although it sounds tiring I am getting the hang of it, I am concerned that my nipples are red raw and instead of the tan colour they used to be they are a vivid shade of pink, very shiny and cracked so that raw flesh was being exposed and they are stinging so much that I started to dread feeds. When she was on the boob I would cry my eyes out and swear profusely. I’ve found my expensive £10 a tube lotion made by the fab people at Lansinoh which I was convinced by the sales assistant at Mothercare that “I needed this in my life” and it kind of works, it helped them repair between feeds but the next day it is even more unbearable. Luckily the midwife is coming to visit today so I’ll get my baps out and see what she thinks – from a professional point of view of course! She is due any minute and mum, Luke and I are rushing round getting ready for the visit and vacuuming, tidying and cleaning because in my mind I don’t want her to think badly of me as a mother.
She arrives and checks Jennifer’s red book, feels my tummy and makes comments on how my uterus is contracting nicely. She weighs Jennifer and checks her jaundice and says she isn’t concerned as all signs of it have now disappeared. I tell her about my breasts and she inspects them and looks like she feels sorry for me, she then checks in Jennifer’s mouth and she has a very white tongue; she says we have thrush and are passing it to and from each other via her mouth and my nipple and prescribes me a cream and Jennifer a yellow anti-biotic medication for it, hopefully no more 5am nipple torture for me! She goes through our feeding patterns and her nappies and asks how I’m doing. I suddenly want to burst into tears and tell her I can’t cope but I’m too proud and seriously I don’t know where these sudden waves of despair and helplessness come from! I compose myself and tell her like every strong and natural maternal new mother that things are fine and I’m just breezing through it; lies. We say good bye and give a sigh of relief when the door closes and she’s gone – I feel like I’m being checked up on in case I can’t cope but luckily I’m not on my own otherwise I’m sure the paranoia would be spinning round in my head for hours after. We go and pick up our prescriptions and as I guessed Jennifer HATES the yellow medication and spits it everywhere while going purple in the face and screaming so much she can’t breathe. Fantastic! And I have to do this 3 times a day. My cream however is simple and starts working within a few days so I’m happy enough.