Gynae Loh kept wishing me ‘happy parenting’ a couple of weeks ago and I was tempted to tell him “say that one more time, I’m gonna scream bloody murder!” That was during the initial days, after Alex returned from the hospital once again, when my husband and I were quite stressed out during feeding time. We were determined to feed him as much as possible so that he could regain his birth weight. In order to avoid nipple confusion, we used a feeding cup for formula milk as advised by Thomson Parentcraft, basically making Alex lapped up the milk from a cup like a kitten. But that turned out to be a messy task because there was spillage and caused Alex’s top to get wet. The feeding operation required 2 persons and when we changed him in the middle of night, he got quite cranky which in turned got us stressed out.
My husband started wondering if we could use the bottle instead of the feeding cup. I checked with Natasha, and turns out she uses the bottle for Liam, as she said, “the hospital also uses the bottle.” Baby Liam doesn’t suffer from nipple confusion. So we tried on Alex, and that was so much easier!! Again I know there’re all these literatures and even Parentcraft advocating not to use the bottle when breast feeding, but they don’t consider the pragmatic aspect for parents. Taking care of a newborn is exhausting enough in a sleep-deprived state, we need solutions that alleviate the exhaustion and stress to some extent. The bottle is easier to feed than the cup. Alex also doesn’t suffer from nipple confusion; in fact he prefers the breast to the bottle but he takes the bottle because of availability of food. I guess there’re some babies who have suffered from the problem and prefer the bottle to the breast, but exceptions don’t make the rule.
Right now, whenever possible I’ll breast feed Alex first before giving him the bottle of formula milk. But in the middle of the night, my husband and I will give him the bottle right away. This allows us slightly more sleep and less stressed out. Alex is still feeding on demand at the moment. I admit I’m hoping that he can be put on a routine and basically feed once every 3 hours and only wakes up once in the middle of the night. Right now he sometimes feed once every 3 hours, and sometimes less. But my husband doesn’t think I should be obsessed with it since every baby is different; he feels that we should give Alex time to get into a more regular feeding schedule. After all Mae didn’t start her youngest daughter on a routine until she’s a couple of months old.
The thing is even though a lot of people have warned me in advance of the lack of sleep when baby comes, and I tried to prepare myself mentally for it, but you never really know how it is like until you’ve experienced it. To be honest, there’re a couple of times when the thought of putting up a baby-for-adoption ad fleeted across my mind, like 2 days ago when I was pretty exhausted from the lack of sleep. And don’t even suggest to me about having a second kid now. I’m not sure if I wanna go through this again. Some friends think that I should have engaged a confinement nanny to help me take care of the baby so that I can rest and regain my strength during the first month. At this point, more than 2 weeks later, my husband and I have to admit that we should have engaged a trained nanny from Thomson Parentcraft, at least someone to come in during the day for 2 weeks to help out with the baby. But we were a little too gungho, especially for me who, according to my husband, went a little too churchillian on breast feeding, “we shall breast feed on the couch, we shall breast feed on the bed, we shall breast feed on the go, we shall never surrender!”
But thank God my husband has been a great help and support to me. He’s taking the first midnight feed duty (ie the first feed after midnight) so that I’ve some sleep. Currently I think I’m having about 6 hours of sleep a day. I’m so looking forward to the day when I can have 8 hours sleep again. We’re also looking forward to taking Alex out. Still my husband thinks that in the meantime it’s important both of us have some timeout. Like last Wednesday his parent came over and babysit Alex, allowing us to run errands. I got my mom to come in yesterday afternoon to babysit Alex so that we could have a break. You wouldn’t believe this but we managed to catch the movie ‘Prometheus’.
My husband and I have been reviewing how we can cope better, and admittedly I can cut a little slack on certain chores instead of being obsessed with them. So far like what my husband said to me, things are improving once we learn to get the hang of things and Alex’s quirks. We found that when he cries we should always feed him first before changing his diapers, as he will be satisfied and less likely to cry during the diaper change. Besides more often than not, he poops when he feeds. Also he’s starting to enjoy bath time, after he’s fed. The little emperor has both mommy and daddy tending to him during bath in the morning and rub-down time in the evening. Hopefully parenting will be more enjoyable going forward.