I knew, going into all of this, that all babies hit their first growth spurt around 3 weeks or so, and that during this time they want to nurse constantly and are more fussy than usual. I actually, logically KNEW about this before it happened; I had advised mothers about this, told women that this will happen and they need to look out for it etc. etc. Generally I would say something like this: around 3 weeks your baby will go through a growth spurt and want to nurse around the clock, and this is normal, and done to increase your milk supply, so don’t worry much about it, your baby will be fussier than usual, but after about 24 hours it will pass, and your supply will increase to meet your baby’s demands. Something like that. Good, sound advice, right?? Nevertheless, when it actually happened to our own adorable son, I was so unprepared and blown away by it that I feel like we really need to make a bigger deal about this. Babies need to come with a WARNING label that reads something like this:
Dear Parents, I am your brand new, wonderful baby. I have very simple needs, but I cannot communicate them to you, therefore, I am a mystery. I also am changing very rapidly, and every day will be different. I promise you–DIFFERENT. Make no assumptions, there are no patterns, just when you think you know who I am and what I like, I will CHANGE. Oh, and let me tell you about my first growth spurt. It will happen sometime when I am 2-3 weeks old, and it will come out of nowhere, like a bolt of lightning. Up until my growth spurt, I may have been a good nurser. You may have been banking on me sleeping at least 2 hour stretches at a time. You may have thought you had figured out what kind of bouncing or rocking or swaying or singing I enjoyed. You may have been gaining some confidence with your new parenting skills. HAH! I am here to tell you that my growth spurt will throw all of this out the window. It won’t just throw it out the window, it will toss it up, spit on it, tear it to shreds, set fire to the shreds, and then throw the ashes out the window all done while laughing maniacally. During my growth spurt, I will DEMAND food every hour, on the hour, and when you offer me your breasts, I will flail at them and spit them out because they will be EMPTY and so inadequate for my growing needs. I will not just be fussier than usual, I will be INCONSOLABLE. I will introduce you to several of my more distressing cries which I have been saving for just this occasion: the high-pitched wail, the piercing shriek, the crying-so-hard-I-choke-and-stop-breathing-for-awhile, the so-red-in-the-face-you’ll-think-you-need-to-call-911—these and other specialty cries I prepared for you. I will not let you sleep. AT ALL. EVER. You might have thought other parents were just joking when they said they literally got NO sleep, but really, TRULY, you WILL NOT SLEEP. You will spend 24 hours trying to comfort me. You will pull your hair out. You will wonder where you can return me to. You will question the decision you made to have a baby. You will question whey you ever wanted to have sex, ever, in your life, instead of joining a convent at the tender age of 13. You will be forced to watch an all-night Hugh Grant movie marathon in bleary sleep-deprivation while I gnaw and masticate your nipples to a pulp in my unending demand for milk, of which you are so unable to provide for me. And then, finally, when I pass out from exhaustion after wailing for 8 hours, I will only sleep for 2 hours before beginning the cycle all over again. THIS IS MY GROWTH SPURT! BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID!
In other words, the next time I tell other women about the growth spurt, I will try a little bit harder to prepare them for it. Not that anything can really prepare a new parent for it, but I will, indeed, make a bigger deal about it. And, for the record, we did survive. It wasn’t quite 24 hours, more like 36, but now, on the other side of it, I can vouch for the fact that your milk supply does catch up, remarkably quickly, and normal nursing does resume again, about a day later. But honestly, new parents, be on the lookout for the growth spurt—it is truly no joke!!!