The newborn, our glorious daughter Despina, is now two months old and getting bigger and stronger each day. Sunshine, however, is getting frustrated with the fact that Despina is breastfeeding (exclusively) around the clock. As previously mentioned, this makes Sunshine unable to perform routine daily tasks. Which brings us to the minefield that is the discussion on breastfeeding.
Let me give some context. The paediatrician of our children is a brilliant lactation expert who is very vocal about the many benefits of breastfeeding, while also taking into consideration the mum’s preferences and mental health. As mentioned in the previous entry, Sunshine had a really hard time breastfeeding Johnny who simply couldn’t latch well and as a result could not get as much milk as he needed, necessitating the constant use of a breast pump, which had at the time taken a toll on her. In response, and in consultation with the paediatrician, we also started using formula milk.
During this pregnancy, and taking into consideration the previous bad experience with Johnny, Sunshine considered not breastfeeding at all, and sort of asked for my opinion, though in truth what she wanted was my agreement and reinforcement of her preliminary decision. I replied saying that this is a decision that is 100% her own – her body, her decision – noting that what I thought shouldn’t be factored in her decision. Unfortunately for me, she insistently continued asking for my view on the matter. This is what is called a “lose-lose” situation.
I was not in agreement with Sunshine’s preliminary decision to not breastfeed the baby. I knew that in absence of a choice of absolute silence, I should try to express as mild of an opinion as I could with as little lying as possible. I thus adopted a “modified honesty” approach. I said that research-wise the evidence was clear in that there are verifiable and distinguishable benefits to breastfeeding, noting however that it makes absolutely no sense for her to go through the mental angst that she went through with Johnny. My suggestion was to give breastfeeding a go and if there was no chemistry after a week or two, to then give up and feed the baby with formula milk.
Sunshine agreed and continues to breastfeed the baby to this day. Unfortunately, the baby is not able to eat big meals and thus Sunshine is not able to get enough rest in-between meals. The doctor advised that this is normal; some babies apparently eat little and often – our daughter is one of these babies, which is not particularly helpful for Sunshine.
In light of the above, my initial proposition, as recently re-articulated, remains the same: this is Sunshine’s call and I’m on board whatever she decides. She gave it a go; if she does not want to continue, I’m game.
As with most things, there is also a silver lining. The bonding of the two ladies is something to admire. Their non-verbal communication is inspiring; Sunshine can immediately identify and accommodate the baby’s needs, while the baby is growling in satisfaction every time her mum sorts her out. Sunshine is so obviously and wholeheartedly in-love with her; so much that her attachment with the newborn is a source of banter for our family and close friends.
The baby turns two months old on March 19th. She is the best. I can’t believe that I was initially reluctant to have a second child. It’s been a few days now that she started following us with her eyes and, dare I say, started to also crack a smile. Biology and evolution at work: we are feeling elated by the reflexes of someone with the intellectual abilities of a kitten. Such is life for the moment and we are enjoying every minute of it.
In another diary entry, I should document how the arrival of the baby affected our daily routines.
This is part of a series of entries titled Fatherhood Diaries where I record thoughts on life as a new dad. Click here for all the Fatherhood Diaries.