I can hardly believe it but Gabriel (or Gabe as we have taken to calling him) has been here a whole week. I know everyone says this but on the one hand it hardly seems a minute since he was born but on the other it feels like he’s been part of our family forever.
There have been lots of lovely moments this week, but it has been very hard at times too. A couple of weeks ago Barry and I were lying in bed and we were trying to remember how difficult we found the first few weeks with Toby. We were thinking if we tried to remember we would be more prepared and able to cope this time round. And I kind of think we are. It’s certainly not quite as much as a shock as having a baby for the first time and some things, like changing nappies, bathing and dressing are a lot easier this time round. But there are lots of things that are just as hard.The lack of sleep doesn’t get any easier, and this time we’ve got the worry that Toby will wake up in the night too and then we have him to deal with too. He’s only woken up on two nights since Gabe arrived but both times he was up for almost two hours. I was feeding Gabe so couldn’t go to him but when Barry went to him he was just sobbing ‘mummy, mummy, mummy’ over and over. I was trying to feed Gabe, which I had been doing pretty much constantly for the previous nine or ten hours. He was fussing and wouldn’t latch on, Toby was crying, I was crying… Listening to both my babies crying for me at the same time and not being able to help either of them was I think the single hardest thing I have ever done. Eventually we decided that Barry would give Gabe a little bit of formula so I could go to Toby and get him settled and back asleep. Not the ideal solution but it was the best we could do at the time.
Generally though Toby has been an absolute superstar with his new brother this week. He was a little shy around him the first few days and I think he was quite confused about how he got here, and that he didn’t go away. But he has been so gentle with him, giving him kisses and bringing him toys. It’s just adorable. His language has come on even more this week too. He’s being very helpful, taking cups back to the kitchen and putting things in the bin, all accompanied by his new phrase and the cutest thing I’ve heard – ‘I will do it’. This weekend, for the first time ever, Toby just fell asleep next to me on the sofa. He has only ever napped in his cot or in the car or buggy, and hasn’t been napping at all for the last month or so. Maybe he got the idea from his brother that a nap on mummy’s knee would be a good idea!
Anyway, this is supposed to be a post about Gabe, not Toby! On the whole Gabe seems to be a pretty contented, settled baby so far. He won’t sleep anywhere except lying on my breastfeeding pillow, either on someone’s knee or on the sofa. We’ve tried putting him like that in his crib (which I know is not a great solution either) but he just seems to wake up straight away. This means that since he was born either Barry or I have been awake the whole time, with the exception of a couple of hours when Gabe has managed to sleep in our bed and we have both slept too. I know that not wanting to be put down is all part and parcel of being a newborn and I’m trying not to get too stressed about it for now but I do hope we can find some way for us all to get some sleep at the same time before Barry has to go back to work in a few weeks.
I’m really pleased with how breastfeeding is going so far with Gabe. I didn’t have a great time of breastfeeding Toby (you can read about it here if you’re interested) so I was hoping we would have more success this time. I’ve still had difficulty getting him to latch, just like I did with Toby – I think it’s just a combination of small babies and my anatomy. I started using nipple shields on the first day this time though, which has helped enormously. Gabe can feed without too much trouble and I have avoided my nipples being shredded. I saw one of the NHS breastfeeding support workers last week and even she, after watching and trying help me get Gabe to latch just said ‘you know what, if it means that you carry on breastfeeding then just use the shields for now’. We also supplemented with formula a few times before my milk came in. Again, from experience with Toby I didn’t want Gabe to lose too much weight and I could tell he was struggling to be satisfied just from my colostrum and my milk didn’t come in properly until about day 5. So feeding itself is going well but we have been having epic cluster feeds every night which are quite hard to cope with. On Friday night I started feeding Gabe at about half four in the afternoon and I don’t think I had more than half an hour between feeds until 12 hours later! We’ve settled into a bit of a routine now in that I feed breastfeed as much as Gabe wants through the evening, usually manage a couple of hours sleep between about 9 and 11pm then feed again until about 2am. At this point Gabe has been getting really fussy and hard to latch on and I’ve reached my limit of being able to stay awake so we give him a little bit of formula and that seems to settle him enough to sleep until the morning. Hopefully as he gets a bit bigger we might be able to stop these top ups, or I am also going to trying to express a bit so we can give him expressed milk instead of formula. For now though I’m just happy that I am managing to breastfeed at all, and for the most part without any real problems.
I’m going to leave it there for now – it’s been a difficult first week at times but it’s also been amazing to see this little boy who I have been carrying for the last nine months and I’m very happy that our family is now a happy family of four. I’ll leave you with this picture of my boys in their matching nappies – I’m so pleased that we got Gabe in cloth nappies from the first week – and they’re so cute!