Matilda has now been in the world for one whole week. She’s doing fairly well, but at our midwife appointment on Wednesday we found out she’d lost 12.5% of her birth weight and was down from 6lbs 14.5oz, to 6lbs 1.5oz. That’s quite a lot – certainly more than the midwife would have liked – so now we’re on a feeding plan. But Squids also has her own ideas about the situation. In an unconscious attempt to increase my supply, she’s been cluster feeding up to every 30 minutes, round the clock. And it has worked in that my milk has come in, but only since yesterday and only in my right breast, so I am currently more tired than I have ever been in my entire life.
Being a parent is difficult – who knew!? Everyone, apparently, except for us. I mean, I knew it would be difficult, but I hadn’t counted on having to deal with the practicalities of taking care of an infant whilst experiencing such severe sleep deprivation that I couldn’t stop myself from constantly crying. We’re changing nappies with ease, threading sticky little fists through overlong onesie sleeves without batting an eye, and have accepted that being covered in poo and / or spit up multiple times a day is our new normal. However, the emotional side of parenting has left me reeling, and on top of those feelings of sadness and regret that I already had about our unplanned birth experience, I’ve also been experiencing new and significant waves of loneliness and anxiety.
At first I wasn’t sure where these feelings were coming from, but after a few conversations with the midwives, family and friends, I think at least some of them may stem from being newly separated from Matilda. Of course we’re not actually apart – she’s never more than a few feet away from me – but I’m grieving from not having her inside me anymore, from not having those special, private experiences of feeling her move and hiccup, and from knowing that with every minute, hour and day she grows further away from me. I miss being pregnant. Even with all of the pain and sickness and difficulties, I really enjoyed carrying my daughter and feeling her grow inside me. It was such a special time, and I think we’re both struggling with not being so close to each other anymore. Matilda fusses whenever I put her down – her preference is definitely to be in my arms, next to my skin, for as many hours in the day as possible. Daddy is a close second, but she’s never so settled as when I’m holding her.
On a more positive note we have had some beautiful cards and gifts from family and friends, congratulating us on the birth of our tiny, perfect girl, and we’ve already had visits from Grandma M and Grandad M (my mum and stepdad), Grandma P and Grandad T (R’s parents), and my sister A and her partner S. My dad, Grandad G, sent gifts, as he’s not able to visit due to his health. And on Saturday we gave Squids her first bath! She hated it and pooped in the water, but it was a milestone nonetheless.
Throughout all of these trials we are being sustained by kind words and advice given by friends and family. The most important message seems to be – yes, this bit is shit, but not enjoying it doesn’t mean we love our daughter any less. Wise words that every new parent deserves to hear.