We brought our sweet, perfect, tiny baby home from the hospital on Day Three of his life. Within an hour of being in our own bed the tears began. Henry cried nonstop that first night and turned bright red and hot with every outburst. I must have taken his temperature 5 times over the course of the night and considered calling the hospital about every two seconds. What felt like hours later, we finally figured out that he would calm down and fall asleep while nursing.
That was the day nursing became our magic pill.
Over the next 8 weeks, we learned something about our baby: he was the starvingest boy in the world. Henry wanted to nurse constantly. It was never ending and it was exhausting. Around week 3 or 4 he slowed his eating down to every 3 hours, but started cluster feeding in the evening. Each night, right when everyone was getting home from school and work, right when I was trying to monitor homework progress as well as make dinner, my newborn wanted to eat. And eat. And eat. Once everyone was tucked into bed, Henry was happy and quiet and asleep. 4pm to 9pm from about 4-8 weeks old became our daily ritual of nonstop feeding. There were many times where I said, “He can’t be hungry; he JUST ate.” There were also many tears from Mommy. One night my husband offered to go out and buy formula. I said no because “breast is best”. The very next morning, dressed in pjs and puffy, bloodshot eyes, my hungry baby and I stood in the formula aisle perusing our options.
I sat on the tiled floor of my local Target surrounded by all the different containers of formula, reading all the labels, trying to make a good decision for my baby. I knew the company well, and was delighted to find Plum Organics® Grow Well® Infant Formula. The best parts, to me, about this formula are the ingredients. This brand is organic and non-GMO, which is what we strive to eat in this house. Also, no corn syrup solids added! Plum Organics says, “lactose is the most abundant carbohydrate found in breast milk. Our carbohydrate source is from cow’s milk lactose only.”
Henry is now 5 months old. Weighing in at 20 pounds, he is healthy and happy, to say the least. That container of formula still sits on my kitchen counter today; having it available helped to ease my mind. It was like having a friend I could quickly lean on when necessary.
So how did I survive two months straight of cluster feeding?
I am more hungry now postpartum than I ever was during pregnancy. I have tons of fruit on my kitchen counter that I can quickly grab and eat. I have instant oatmeal, peanut butter pretzels, and chocolate covered cherries in my pantry. I have every brand and flavor of granola bar. I have a basket of snacks next to my bed upstairs, and a basket on my coffee table downstairs. I also have a pocket in my diaper bag dedicated to snacks. No matter where I am, when the hunger strikes, I have easy snacks to grab and devour.
TV, Books, Music
Once I learned that Henry’s cluster feeding began around 4pm, I made sure to be near my tv during that time with a basket of snacks, a giant water bottle, the remote, and a book nearby. This is a time to just hunker down and accept your fate of being couch or bed bound. Make it easier on yourself by having everything you need close at hand.
I am in several private Facebook groups that are full of women with babies. We all go in to rant, ask questions, cry, and encourage. I have found so much comfort in hearing other people’s stories. It’s nice to know you’re not alone!
Messy House = Happy Mama
Not really. I greatly dislike when my house is a mess. But during the cluster feeding time I decided to just let it go. I forced myself to not care about the mess and clutter and just focus on the sweet face of my eternally hungry infant. This is tough, but it is possible. If you can’t let it go, consider hiring a housekeeper. Even if they only come clean your house one time, that’s one time less for you to do it!
Pass The Baby
Have someone at home who can take your baby away from you between feeds so you can do your own thing. Shower, cook, clean, go for a walk alone, whatever you need to clear your head, do it.
Consider Other Options
Pump during the day so someone else can take over some of the feedings, or supplement with formula. Like I said earlier, just having the box of formula helped me emotionally. Motherhood is tough, and will be tough forever. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself so that you can be the best version of you for your baby!
How did you survive those early weeks at home with a brand new baby?!