Ten weeks of tears… Still got your ear plugs? #Part two
As you may already know, Little P has had a rather unsettled start to life (read: screamed non-stop for ten weeks).
Before psycho o’clock, I really looked forward to the one whole day I’d have Little P to myself while M was at nursery. By week 4 I dreaded it, as actually being alone with her felt far harder and more intense without the distraction or grounding demands of a 3 year old. I felt cheated that my one day of Mummy/daughter time turned out to be an endurance challenge that I just had to get through with gritted teeth.
I don’t know what was worse. The crying, or the not knowing why she’s crying. Actually I do… It was the crying. Supersonic. Every waking hour.
My lowest point was a morning I felt I just had to get out, and I jumped in the car to a local town half an hour away in the hope she’d sleep in the car (she didn’t), or in the buggy (she didn’t) or I could at least feed her in a different setting without the four walls closing in on me (she just screamed in Costa instead). I remember pacing up and down the high street over and again in secret tears with this ball of fury in the buggy, unable to take one more probably-well-meaning-but-actually-just-meddling-person in a shop going “oh dear poor thing!”, or “I think maybe she’s hungry”, or “she looks so tired, bless her”, in case I punched them in the face with the stress of it. I tried to have a coffee but had to walk out and leave it to go cold because she wouldn’t feed and just wailed so loudly I was disturbing everyone. I felt trapped and I didn’t even know what I was doing there. Literally nothing would calm her down or make her sleep so I felt sick and just packed us both back into the car, swallowing down the golf-ball sized lump in my throat.
That night when the husband got home I burst into tears on him, said I wished I could swap maternity leave for work, and handed them both over for half an hour’s peace upstairs. Not my favourite moment as a parent.
Lovely Mother Nature also then decided to crank up the pressure and breastfeeding suddenly got harder. It had been going ok up to this point, although I could never just ‘pop her on’ easily like other Mums, and I used a concoction of Infacol, Gripe Water and strange YouTube-d winding techniques throughout the feed to keep her comfortable. But she started to struggle to latch at all, or if she managed it, she’d slip off and cry within seconds. I was also getting incredibly sore. Such fun times!
I went to a breastfeeding drop-in clinic, and Little P was by far the ‘oldest’ at 8 weeks. I guess I’d been managing ok (or perhaps persevering?) up until now but I felt something wasn’t right. The Health Visitor hadn’t picked anything up at her 6 week check even though I told her I was struggling a bit, but as she was putting on weight just fine, no one was worried.
Turns out she had a posterior tongue tie. Basically her tongue didn’t have enough freedom of movement to get a good latch and pump the boob for milk, so she might not have been getting enough each feed, hence never really settling or sleeping properly. She would almost certainly have been taking in lots of air in her failed attempts to get milk.
But as she was also taking a bottle, was already 8 weeks old and I said I was on the verge of giving up breastfeeding with the stress of it all, getting her tongue tie cut was a mission. The midwives were helping Mums with far worse feeding problems, no one seemed to know how to refer me, and I kept hearing “you can pay to do it privately”. But it’s not cheap, and out of principle I got all TV Producer on the NHS’s ass.
Phone bashing. Making things happen. Directing people to your important email sitting at the bottom of their over-subscribed inbox. Asking them very nicely to speak to the other department to get the ball rolling. Just like trying to get permission to film someone or somewhere that cameras aren’t normally allowed… only with two hours’ sleep, a lot more sick on my clothes and plenty of wailing in the background of my phone calls. Along with small emotional issue of not being able to feed my daughter properly of course.
After nearly two weeks of chasing, X talked to Y talked to Z, signed a bit of paper and her tongue tie was cut – hurrah! Bit traumatic, but I was beyond worrying about that. Sadly though, I had all but stopped feeding her myself with the pain and stress of it. We carried on a little longer, but her bad habits had formed and actually, she seemed far happier with the bottle. We could chuck some baby Gaviscon into her Formula too, as it’s possible she also had silent reflux…
Perhaps she’d had tummy pains or even been hungry the whole time. Or colic. Who knows? She won’t ever be able to tell me. But from 10 weeks she turned a corner, as did I. And now she’s making up for lost time with smiles, giggles and heart aching cuteness… She’s honestly one of the most chilled out babies you’ll meet and absolutely adores her older brother – who thankfully doesn’t seem mentally scarred by all the crying. Phew.
I felt compelled to share our tough patch, as I consider myself a relatively tough cookie – but it pushed me to breaking point. I’m just so glad she’s settled down into the happy little person she is now, and no one would ever know she was any different. Next time you see a Mum or Dad gritting their teeth in public with a screaming baby, my advice is to give them a supportive “I’ve been there too” smile. Maybe an empathetic remark. Best to avoid dishing out baby advice, unless you’re prepared for a right hook or a stranger’s nervous breakdown in the supermarket.