3am. I was in a deep, coma-like surrender that only sleep-deprived mothers experience when BAM! The baby was crying. And hungry. Again. Groaning with annoyance (wasn’t he fed, like, an hour ago?), I rolled over, stalling for time. I hoped against hope that he’d somehow change his mind and go back to sleep.
Pah. Wishful thinking.
A girl can dream (although clearly not this one)
No good ignoring it – that cry was enough to wake the dead (or, at the very least, my neighbours). With a blast of expletives under my breath, I swung my legs out from under the cover and padded over to the bassinet, bleary eyed and exhausted. Scooping my baby in my arms, I hurried back to bed, hoping the warm patch I’d previously been in was still kicking out some leftover body heat.
My baby was not pleased things (and, by ‘things’, I mean a fat, juicy, milk-giving nubbin being forced in his piehole) were taking so long. He was thrashing out of his swaddle, turning slightly purple with rage and screaming blue murder. I couldn’t get the norks out fast enough for this fella. Boy, was he hangry.
Finally latched on and lapping up the boobie juice, the eardrum-piercing noise came to an end, bar the occasional slurp and contented grunt. I cast a glance over to my husband, ready to share a ‘Can you believe this kid?’ eye-roll moment.
He was still asleep.
The resentment is real
Don’t get me wrong: during the daylight hours, my hubby was pretty darn great at being my own personal Jeeves while I nursed our baby. He’d make toasted sandwiches and deliver them to my mouth when I didn’t have a spare hand, or fetch my Kindle to ease my boredom during yet another cluster feed. But as soon as his head hit the pillow, that was it. Out for the count and nothing was getting in the way of his slumber. Nada. Not even a wailing newborn literally one metre away from his ear.
I hated him – full-on, ugly hate – for his ability to sleep through such noise when I was tired to the core. In my exhausted fog, I even called him out on it and accused him of faking it because his selective hearing was so superhumanly impressive. And want to know what else I resented (other than him simply drawing breath)? His teeny, tiny, useless man nipples, whereas mine leaked, were red raw and resembled Big Mac patties.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the whole breastfeeding journey with both my kids – I totally did and was mega thankful to my lady lumps by the time it was all over. But a part of me got frustrated at times that I was the one who couldn’t get more than three hours’ sleep at a time. That I was the one solely responsible for keeping our progeny alive (my second child also refused to take a bottle, so yay to that).
I guess after all my rambling, what I’m trying to say is this: dads, while you may feel a bit useless in the breastfeeding arena, there are still a lot of things you can do to support your partner and ensure she doesn’t set off an air horn in your face out of spite – or worse.
Do this… and stay breathing
The next time you’re tempted to ‘accidentally’ elbow your sleeping husband in the face when he sleeps through an off-the-Richter-scale baby-screaming sesh, waft these tips under his nose instead. Tell him: follow the advice, live another day. Or ignore at your peril…
- Bring us water. All the water. Breastfeeding tiny humans is draining – literally – and we need to replenish all the H2O. We don’t care that it’s 4am. Go fetch!
- Feed us. When we don’t have our hands free because they’re full of kid and you’re shovelling food into your flytrap… yeah, not cool. Make sustenance accessible to us, by any means necessary.
- Let us have a lie-in at the weekend so we can have an extra hour without a small person stuck to our chest.
- You know how you say ‘dads rock’? Well, in the middle of the night, when we are beyond exhausted, how about we feed the baby and you settle them back to sleep? Shush, pat and rock, Daddy-o…
- Appreciate how she feels in those early days while she’s finding her groove. The perfect latch, the easy-access nursing clothes, getting the confidence to breastfeed in public, finding nursing rooms when you’re out… it’s a complete minefield. And it’ll be so much easier with you as a solid support. Go, you!
- Be informed. Despite all the moaning about how hard it is, support her choice to keep on breastfeeding if that’s what she wants. Have her back, read up on the subject and always, ALWAYS defend her if some eejit – that includes family members – says something negative about it.
Sadly, in my household, the hubby’s selective-hearing superpowers are still going strong. The kids may be sleeping through the night and I’m back to my trusty eight hours, but when that baby monitor goes off in the morning and the endless “Mummmmmmy! Daaaaaaddy!” summons begin, he’s still blissfully unaware.
So you know what I do? I give those useless man nipples a good, hard tweak.
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