An Update on The Status of my Breastfeeding Antics.

You may or may not be interested to know that I have finally given up breastfeeding Izzy. In total, I fed her for 34 months. My first ever midwife once told me that breastfed children are very clever, if this is true then Izzy’s going to be a genius.

I pretended to give up in August this year but really gave up mid September. This came about after Fergus, my very pro-breastfeeding and tolerant husband, began to hint that it might be time to consider life without a baby/almost fully grown child stuck to my boobs. I knew that when Ferg began to think enough was enough that maybe enough really was enough.

By this stage we were down to just one marathon feed at bedtime. I would love to say that I was reluctant to give it up because my breasts were heavily laden with milk and the desire to nurture my last child just overwhelmed me, but there was barely any milk left in the old dears by then. No, the fact is that an hour long breast-feeding session gave me the chance to have a ruddy good read.

Oh the joy! The other two kids were downstairs silently watching telly, (they knew better than to invoke my wrath by interrupting “Izzy’s bedtime routine.”) and I was lying in bed, snuggling my very snugly Izzy and reading a good book. Does life get any better?? Any Mum knows, that a bit of quiet time where you get to do something you love, is a very precious thing. So precious in fact that I was extremely reluctant to give it up. The idea of losing my little oasis of peace and calm in an otherwise hectic and full day was quite frightening.

Anyway, one day, when Izzy said she wanted, “dudu”, as we called it, (Bit embarrassing, but at least not as bad as “bitty”) I just said no. I told her she was a big girl now and didn’t need it any more. It was awful! She looked up at me with her big, mournful baby-blues and seemed so confused and sad. My resolve obviously wavered but I stood firm. She kept asking for a few days or so and then stopped. Just like that, done. I was gutted, I’d secretly hoped she’d put up more of a fight and give me an excuse to start again. But of course she didn’t because she didn’t need it any more.

It’s usually such a joyful occasion when our kids reach their milestones, but sometimes it’s quite sad and signifies the end of an era. At least I can say with certainty that I gave this particular era all I had. Bye bye milky boobs, you’ve been super.

My little Izzy. So totally OVAH breastfeeding. Yeh, she is quite big and yeh it did look a bit weird.IMG_3061.JPG

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10 Things Mothers of young children should avoid having, wearing or using.

1. Earrings.
When you have small children, earrings go from being objects of beauty to being implements of torture. Try nursing or bottle feeding a “grabby” baby whilst wearing dangly earrings and you’ll soon come to learn how sensitive ear-lobes actually are.
2. Necklaces
In theory, necklaces can be a great diversion for babies, especially ones with big chunky beads that can be used as a toy or even a teething ring. The problem with necklaces arrises when they’re used as a tool of strangulation by an overly excited child. Urgh. I’m getting flashbacks of a particularly violent rendition of “Horsey Horsey” which didn’t end well for my neck.
3. White or cream clothing.
Any self respecting mother learns this lesson either on day one of weaning or during their child’s first “bright green” snot cold. Why is it so green anyway?
4. Black tops or jackets.
Baby vomit is white and shows up with a lumpy luminescence like nothing else. If you happen to be a working mum, then not only do you have to bear the guilt of leaving your baby with someone else, you also have to bear the shame of turning up to work with a stream of sick down your back. Not very corporate. If you happen to not be a working mum, you just look like a crusty because you’re not wearing smart clothes and you probably smell.
5. Glasses.
Unless of course you enjoy trying to see through a fog of tiny, grimy, probably snotty fingerprints.
6. A nice leather handbag.
I loved you my Bayswater. Darn you to heck you leaky water-bottle!
7. High heels.
I recently bought some high heeled boots, thinking, in a moment of sleep deprived foolishness, that I might occasionally add a little glamour to my daily school run (I know, I know). Have I worn them 3 months on? Of course I haven’t. I have to run to school every morning because I live just around the corner and therefore think I’ve got plenty of time, every morning. EVERY MORNING. Add to this the fact that my body has been so fundamentally ruined by childbearing, that I can’t really walk in high heels anymore and I think my lovely boots are destined to remain in the shoe cupboard forever. Shame.
8. Lipstick.
Let’s just say that The Joker’s lipstick looks neat compared to mine since Izzy decided that grabbing my mouth is the best way to enhance her breastfeeding experience.
9. Scarves.
Although scarves are useful when you want to breast-feed your baby discretely, they turn into poo-magnets if worn whilst changing an angry baby’s nappy. I speak from experience.
10. Dignity.
It leaves during labour and never returns. Move on.

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Stepping away from the edge.

Ha, that’s quite a dramatic title, but seriously, this weekend I was very close to feeling completely overwhelmed. Isabelle’s sleeping has been absolutely awful since the beginning of January. For some reason, all of her big, back teeth decided to come at once, so all our months of hard work with the controlled crying just went straight out the window in a few nights.

She has been waking at random times and screeching in pain, so I just gave in and decided to feed her in the night again to give her some comfort and to give me some rest. Unfortunately for me, the comfort goes on for hours. And hours. And FREAKIN HOURS! In fact she can often feed/suck for 5 hours straight, whilst sleeping next to me in bed and stretching my poor, beleaguered nipples to unnatural lengths.

Now, I’m the sort of person who needs to have time alone. As far as I’m concerned, being crawled over and pinched and pulled and sat on all day, is only bearable when I know I can get an undisturbed evening with Ferg and a decent sleep at the end of an undisturbed evening. Having a toddler who can sometimes start screeching from 9.30pm and then attach herself to my knockers all night does NOT equal a happy, well rested and patient mummy .

I don’t know how other co-sleeping mums do it but I find that it’s just not good for doing any actual sleeping. For one, there is NO room for my arms when Izzy sleeps next to me. Ladies, where do you put your arms?! Izzy hates it if my arm falls across her whilst she’s feeding, so as I’m on my side feeding, my arm can only go up, joining my other arm which has also been forced up, making it look like I’ve been tied to the bed. What with the permanent grimace, the stretched nipples and the arms, I must look like I’m being tortured and not in any sort of, Fifty Shades of Grey way.

On Saturday, my lovely father-in-law came over to see us all and in a moment alone, asked me if I was OK as I didn’t seem myself. Well, that was it, game over. I immediately burst into tears and told him I wasn’t really ok and that I was really struggling with the sleep deprivation. He suggested going to the doctors and maybe even getting a night nanny. Ferg had come in at this point and was quite alarmed to find me crying, but he was lovely and listened and was ready to find us some sort of solution.

It’s so hard to ask for help when things are difficult, but after that conversation I did. I even called a sleep consultant who I’m meeting today. My mum has been amazing and took Izzy for all of Monday afternoon and helped me with dinner for the kids and all other manner of wonderful things. I go to a group called Headspace and this Tuesday the ladies there gave me encouragement and made me laugh. Yesterday, a good friend took the girls for the afternoon so I could have a rest and Ferg decided to give me a break over Easter and booked us a little holiday with child care!  Just being supported and having a few hours alone gave me the strength to start tackling her sleep issues again and since Saturday, things have definitely improved.

Today, after my afternoon of rest, I almost felt normal again so the girls and I made some (admittedly awful) fairy cakes. They got completely filthy and ruined the icing by adding lots of flour, but we all had a lovely time because I wasn’t on the verge of a total meltdown. I feel very blessed right now to be surrounded by people who actually helped me. So, thank you Stu for asking the question, thank you Mum for taking Izzy, thank you Ferg  for giving me time alone,  thankyou Headspace ladies for listening and thank you Leila for looking after the girls. With all your help I’ve stepped away from the edge and rejoined the land of the living.

The girls spreading some floury love around the kitchen.
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Izzy icing the hob.
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Things no one ever tells you about breastfeeding..

To say I’m a big fan of breastfeeding would be a massive understatement. I LOVE IT. I find it convenient, snugly and a wonderful source of comfort for me and my little one. I also know lots of women who just didn’t get on with it. I support all women in whatever way they choose to feed their baby, breastfeeding suits some women and not others and that is just fine with me.

The reality is that most mums will give it a go but are not always supported if things get tough. Here’s a list of good and bad things about breastfeeding that I didn’t know until I started doing it. This wont be the same for everybody and although some of these sound quite bad they are fleeting. Please add your own experiences in the comments box!

1. For the first two to three weeks, it is sometimes excruciatingly painful. This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, our nipples aren’t used to such vigorous sucking. We assume that they’ll just get on with doing what they were made to do, but they do not. They put up an almighty fight and scream to be left alone. Secondly, when our milk actually comes in, the breasts can get so engorged that the nipples flatten, so hungry little baby can’t latch on without some serious and agonizing pinching.

The best bit though, is that this awful pain does pass and when it does, the elation of overcoming it is fabulous. So, if you’re reading this within the first two weeks of your baby being born and breastfeeding is painful, then hang on in there. If your nipples are cracked and bleeding though, go and see your doctor! This may be mastitis, which is something different and will need treatment.

2. If you get this pain it doesn’t just happen with the first baby you breastfeed, but all the others too. Bummer.

3. It’s quite common for bits of skin on the nipple to come off during those first few weeks. It’s a bit like when you get a blister on your toe, when the blister heals that bit of your foot gets hardened and can stand the pressure. This isn’t cracking or mastitis, it’s just a bit grim.

4. Breastfeeding seems to make nipples very stretchy. You’ll be amazed at the lengths they can go to when little one decides to have a look around whilst latched on. You’ll be pleased to know this doesn’t hurt, it just looks rather alarming.

5. It is a great way to lose weight initially and it certainly helps getting your tummy back in shape, but beware, breastfeeding also makes you HUNGRY! I don’t mean a bit peckish, I mean, Mama bear just came out of hibernation, ravenous.

6. It’s harder to lose weight when you’re breastfeeding as your body just goes in to storage mode. It wants to make sure you have enough energy to make tasty milk for your baby, so hangs on to extra fat ferociously. Marvelous.

7. When breasts produce a lot of milk, they get a bit leaky, which is why breast-pads were invented. What happens with breast-pads though is that you always forget to put them in on the day your boobs decide to leak. I’ve lost count of the times my boobs have leaked in public, but it has been often and it has obvious. However on the bright side, breast milk doesn’t seem to stain, woo hoo! If it did then all my tops would look like they had headlights.

8. Boobs are VERY clever. They adjust the amount of milk they produce according to how much milk your baby needs. Say you went away from your baby for a few days and your milk levels went down during that time, it would only take just over a day for your boobs to get the message that they need to start producing milk again. Breasts don’t stop producing milk overnight, you’d probably find that you could have 3 months off and still have some milk!

9. Breastfeeding is great for lazy people. I know this because I am one. The idea of sterilizing bottles and making up formula seems like a lot of hard work to me, but then I didn’t sweep the kitchen floor for over a month once so I’m hardly an expert on hard-work in the home.

10. It’s possible to be very discrete when breastfeeding in public. You don’t have to wap out your entire boob if you’re out and about, you can use a scarf or just utilize the fact that you now have super stretchy nipples and feed the baby under the table.

11. Some babies can feed for ages and they’re not necessarily feeding for food, it may just be for comfort. Sam did this, and it was fabulous. We spent hours cuddling on the sofa watching rubbish telly. They were such lovely snug times and I’ll always remember them.

12. Although people may tell you that breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, nobody can prepare you for the wonder of looking down on your suckling babe, catching their eye and giggling with them whilst they ping your nipple in great hilarity. Now, that is precious. 😉

Please note, this is neither my boob, nor my baby. It is however a very cute picture.
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Ten Things I love about NOT being pregnant…

I’ve been either pregnant or breastfeeding for the last seven years and as we are SO not having any more children, I feel the time has come to reflect on all the things I love about not being pregnant.

I love…

1. Not constantly having indigestion.
2. Being able to sleep on my tummy.
3. Being able to stay awake beyond 8.30pm.
4. Not having piles. Well, not having such massive piles.
5. Not having to get up in the middle of the night for a trip to the smallest room in the house.
6. Being able to drink booze, especially after having one of those days.
7. Not having to rub Bio Oil onto my stomach and boobs every morning and every night in the vain hope of avoiding stretch marks.
8. Not feeling sick.
9. Not having to wear a bra to bed to harness my massive, sore and very hard, pregnant boobs.
10. Not having to think about giving birth, ever, ever again! Woo hoo!

On that note, I’m going to bed at 10pm, after having a delicious glass of wine, without taking a Rennie, to sleep on my slightly stretch-marked tummy, whilst not wearing a bra on my now, gently deflated boobs. I also get to kiss the faces or my three sleeping little treasures. It was all DEFINITELY worth it. 🙂

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Thoughts on yodelling, a healthy alternative to screaming.

My youngest daughter Isabelle, (the one who won’t sleep or be broken by controlled crying), has the mother and father of all screams. To look at her you’d expect perhaps a gentle gurgle or a cutesy little giggle, but NO, she’s a total yob. When we’re out in public and she starts screaming, I NEVER get a sympathetic shrug or tolerant smile from passers by, I get curled lips or grotesque snarls. On really bad days people have been known to simply run away from us, shrieking because their ears are bleeding.

At the moment she seems to be a bit poorly. I don’t know what’s wrong with her, it may be teething, a virus, permanent emotional scarring from the failed controlled crying, no idea, but she’s very cross, very clingy and very hard work. So, anyway, today she decided that the only place she wanted to be was my hip. At this point, I feel it’s important to say that I’m excellent at doing most things with one hand whilst holding or even breast-feeding the baby. Opening tins, buttering toast, going to the toilet, all easy, but I draw the line at chopping onions. Needless to say, at dinnertime, Isabelle was furious when I dared to put her down to chop said onions and screamed as though I’d just thrown her in the bin, which I have to admit was incredibly tempting.

By the time bed-time finally arrived, I was a match short of fireworks. I don’t know about you, but I find changing a screaming child’s, nappy absolutely hideous. They squirm, they flail and when possible fling poop at areas of the body that have managed to avoid tomato sauce or beige mush. Tonight though, the final straw came in the form of baby-grow poppers. Poppers are IMPOSSIBLE to pop when a baby is kicking and screaming and tonight when none were popping I felt the need to scream. So I did. I wish I could say that Isabelle’s surprise at my vocal outburst stopped her own screams but as you’ve probably guessed it made her scream even louder but with a new element of terror mixed in for good measure. Poor little thing, there’s nothing worse than frightening a baby, so, in desperation, I started to yodel. Yes, yodel. Now that did surprise her and also brought the screams down to a confused whimper.

Now I’m no scientist, (although a double B in combined science is nothing to sniff at) but I do feel as though I’ve stumbled onto some sort of important discovery here. Who knew that yodelling could calm the nerves so dramatically? I’m not talking about the baby of course, yodelling won’t work on her twice in a row, but I found it rather wonderful. I’d even go as far as saying that for a moment it made my spirit soar.

So, if you ever find yourself on the edge of a popper-induced meltdown, just try a quick yodel. You never know, it might work for you too.

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