I have a confession to make! I’ve developed a fear of expressing. Of starting the process at all. It sounds silly, I know, so let me try and explain. When Caspian was born he latched on more or less immediately. He had a huge appetite from the very beginning and it hasn’t slowed down since!
When the community midwife came to visit to do his day 5 weigh-in she started off by telling us that it was completely natural for a breastfed baby to have lost 10 % of their birth weight in the first week. Especially a big boy like Caspian (he was 4640 g at birth). So imagine the look on her face when she saw he had put on 10 g! I felt proud of both of us and she praised our progress.
All was going well. I had always hoped I would be able to breastfeed and I know some women struggle – for various reasons and of no fault of their own – so I also felt grateful. Yes, admittedly it was tiring to do all the night feeds. And cluster feeding when little C wants to eat every hour upon the hour gives a whole new meaning to the word exhausted.
Everyone kept saying that it would get easier once I started expressing as Daddy Long Legs could help out with the late night feeds and I could get a break and some much needed extra sleep. This – in theory – all sounded brilliant!
I had even made sure we had all the gear ready; bottles, a steriliser, a hand pump. I was prepared! So what happened? Why have I not started here 12 weeks down the line?
When the health visitor came to visit we had a chat about expressing and when would be the best time to begin. I wanted to make sure my milk was properly established, so she said that around 6 weeks, but if possible ideally wait till around the 8th week, would be best. This became my plan. The sixth week rolled around, week seven came and went and suddenly we were through week eight as well. I kept finding excuses not to start. At the end of week ten Caspian and I were off to Denmark to visit family so I told myself that it was too much hassle having to bring pump, bottles and steriliser tabs and I would be better off waiting till we got back to begin expressing. Also, that way we could establish a proper routine.
When I meet up with the mums and one dad from my NCT group or join the ladies from our baby sensory class for a coffee afterwards, I look on with slight envy as they whip out bottles with ease and talk about the joy of their partners helping out with feeds. And this is another reason I feel bad that I haven’t started. I want Daddy Long Legs to experience this special bond too. They have a great connection already full of love and laughs, but I know there have been times when he has felt frustrated as not only would he like to of course take the load of me, but also when you have a hungry baby in your arms and you can’t provide, that can feel heart breaking.
So tonight became the night! After having written this post I decided to man up… here more than ever I suppose it should be called wo-man up, as I was about to do something no man ever could, and unpacked the hand-pump. Yes, it had been sitting nicely in the packaging on a shelf patiently waiting for this moment. It felt like hard work I must admit – must definitely get hold of an electric one if this is to be a success – and managed to express 1,5 oz. Whether this is a lot or little I genuinely don’t know as I can’t judge what Caspian takes in during a normal breastfeeding session.
Afterwards I handed the bottle and baby over and looked on. Okay, so it wasn’t an immediate success, but it definitely wasn’t a fail either. Daddy Long Legs took it in his stride like he does most things and as did his son, though he did look a little perplexed. I now can’t wait for this to become a regular thing and an established routine. For the two of them to share moments just belonging to them, and for Daddy Long Legs not to feel frustrated when Caspian kicks off due to hunger, basically the only thing that makes him see red.
But I also feel a little sad at the loss of being the one he relies on solely when it comes to food. Yes, it will still be my milk he drinks, but I have so enjoyed the precious moments when he looks up at me with such unconditional love that my heart melts completely or the noises of pure content he makes during a feed, these have been just mine until tonight. I now have to share it, firstly with Daddy Long Legs and since with other family members and baby sitters. I know it is selfish, and in the long run it will be great but it’s been such a special thing just for him and me. And I will of course continue to breastfeed, as the thought of having to drag bottles etc. around still scares me a little.
But all this is also a great reminder to remember to enjoy every moment because soon our baby giraffe will be onto solid foods and experience new tastes, which probably will be great fun to witness as well.
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