The saying “happy mum = happy baby” was written for you
You’ve been a mother for about a week now and the baby blues have taken hold. I’ll say this quickly in case you’re too tired to bother finish reading this letter - it’ll pass. I know how unsettling this is for you, as someone who doesn’t cry this is a shocking discovery: you have tears. And rather a lot of them. Like the time yesterday when you sobbed over your cup of tea because Rich asked how you’d slept. He looked terrified and, both me and you know, that’s quite funny really. If you were feeling more “you” you might have a little fun with that... but for now go with the tears. In fact, they’re normal. Who knew?
I also know that you secretly had a little cry to Your Song last night whilst holding your tiny, new baby. You’re embarrassed that I know this, aren’t you? It wasn’t even the original... That time, they were tears of happiness as you gazed at your beautiful little boy, but they were urgent, hot, warm and shockingly unfamiliar. It’s like your tear ducts also swelled during pregnancy and they too are giving birth this week... Rest assured, although the blues are lingering more than the books say (oh the books... you should probably burn those anyway) it really is nothing more serious.
Looking back, that tough first week probably has far more to do with the Norovirus that kick-started your labour... the fatigue you’re feeling isn’t “normal”, you’re getting over a tough birth on top of 48 hours of sickness. Do you know how I know this? Because you’ll go through this two more times (I KNOW!) and the recovery is much, much easier in the future. So, be kind and don’t rush into thinking “why am I finding this harder than everyone else?”. You are being way too hard on yourself, trust me, we’ve had words about that.
Anyway, believe it or not, that’s not why I’m travelling through time to write to you. I’m writing about the breastfeeding. Oh, yes. That.
I suspect you’ve started crying again now, haven’t you? The blood, the pain, that weird electric shock feeling that shoots down to your elbow. You think that’s just part of the journey. It isn’t. You’re having a really tough time and I want you to know that it’s OK to give up. I know, I can’t believe I’ve just said that out loud either… the middle classes and the midwives may never speak to us again.
If you follow in my footsteps you’ll spend the next four months like this. Imagine that? Whilst your mum-friends email with tales of a cheeky glass of red whilst doing the night time feed, you’ll spend all those weeks attached to an industrial level turquoise milking machine. You’ll go from successful career women to something that feels rather more cow-like. You’ll spend long nights sat on your style-over-comfort sofa, with only Don Draper for company, and will actually cry onto your son’s incredible, tiny face because you feel like you’re letting him down. But you’re not. The saying “happy Mum = happy baby” was written for you. “Sobbing, frantic, bleeding Mum” doesn’t quite have the same effect. You will spend weeks scrabbling around trying to find a midwife or lactation consultant who will give you “permission” to stop. They won’t. But I will. Formula is good enough when breastfeeding doesn’t work - and before you know it your son will be eating rice cakes off a dirty floor and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is all about. You will be happier and your son will be fine. In fact, despite giving up my feeding struggle at four months, I can say that – seven years later – he’s doing rather brilliantly. And he’s never had an ear infection, despite what that leaflet you keep obsessively reading may say...
This isn’t about you doing it wrong. In fact, when your third child is born everything will just click. You’ll find feeding comfortable and, dare I say, pleasant, and will happily feed her for seven months. And you won’t have done anything differently. Each baby is different... which is why they’re all so special.
So please don’t struggle for as long as I did and instead find confidence in the knowledge that you are doing a brilliant job. Your son is happy, healthy and loved and he really wants you to be happy too.
Love Lisa x