Sleep (for the love of god, sleep)- Part 1

One of our first attempts at breastfeeding

One of our first attempts at breastfeeding in NICU

Yes, random person on the street, I do indeed have a baby. Yes, he does look very comfy snuggled up against me in his soft baby carrier (and because I’m a type of mother he is of course in an nice ergonomically-designed, organic cotton carrier not one of those awful ones that the majority of people use with the baby facing out, good lord, don’t you know that those things will cause devastating hip damage as soon as your child’s crotch gets up close to that nasty bit of synthetic fibre). ‘Oh,’ random person exclaims as they reel back in horror as they realise that nice snuggled up baby is not sleeping, or in some zoned out baby state of zen but is actually slurping on my nipple like a famished suckling pig. ‘Ah…’ their horrified brain scrambles quickly for default question which must be asked of all parents of small children, ‘…does he sleep?’

I’d love to reply ‘Of course, he sleeps, you knob. Everybody sleeps. People die if they don’t sleep.’ But, sadly, I don’t. Instead I make a tight, little wincing face or do a pantomime grimace because of course what they are referring to has become the Holy Grail of parenting an infant. The ….oh…and let’s assume a wonderfully reverential tone here we place inverted commas around …the one…the only “sleeping through the night”.

No, the little fucker does not sleep through the night.

On a good night he’ll wake up just two or three times over a twelve hour period on a not so good (read, an absolutely fuck bollocking awful) night when I start to understand those poor women who get so desperate that they abandon their child or do (much, much) worse, he’ll wake up every half an hour or so, particularly if  I try to put him down in his cot. And when I say put him down in his cot, what I mean is shift him a couple of inches over to the left because his cot is basically just an extension of the parental bed (cheap Ikea cot, with the side taken off- I got the idea from here- ) .

So, this is now where random person on the street (oh and my husband, and all of my husband’s family and my mother in a slightly more roundabout way) gets to tell me exactly where I’m going wrong. Apparently, these are things I’m fucking up big time:

1) I’m breastfeeding.

2) I’m breastfeeding him to sleep

3) I’m not giving him a bottle of formula before bed

Now, can anyone see a pattern here? Anyone?

Breastfeeding T is one of the few things that I actually feel pretty damn proud of. T arrived 10 weeks early by emergency c-section, weighing just 1.4kg and spent 7 weeks in NICU and I hooked myself up to the breast pump every three hours, all through the day and night, because the only thing that I could do for him which his doctors and nurses couldn’t was to provide him with breastmilk. At first he was fed through a tube, then bottle fed my milk and when he came home he was on 7 bottles and one breastfeed a day. I was told that I could only make the transition to 100% breastfeeding when he weighed 4.5kg. And we managed to make the transition pretty seamlessly (though it is only seamless in retrospect, at the time I was crippled with self doubt) – T spent hours at a time doing nothing but sucking and I spent hours at a time doing nothing but watching T feed and reading forums and blogs about breastfeeding. I read up on cluster feeding and given that T was gaining weight well, I saw no reason to supplement his feeds with formula. Let’s just say that when someone suggests the idea of introducing a bottle feed because there’s the chance that,  because formula takes longer to digest, it might make him sleep longer, I look at them like they’ve suggested I purée up a McDonald’s Happy Meal with coke and give it to him as a first food. I don’t mean to upset or offend anyone who doesn’t breastfeed, particularly other preemie/NICU mums, but having had the chance to try both bottlefeeding and breastfeeding then I can, hand on heart, say that the two are very, very different and I feel genuinely blessed (if that’s not too awfully gushing a word) to have been able to create such a bond with T.

So I’m not going to give him a sodding bottle, alright?