Saturday, 17 November 2012

On the end of breastfeeding

After just over a year, we're done.  Just like that, over the course of two days, she's passed me over in favour of a brightly coloured cup filled with cow juice.  I blame her brother; he's the eldest, a bad influence.  He's been weaned for more than eighteen months.

I've been so blessed; I found breast-feeding incredibly easy.  I meet women every week for whom that isn't the case and my heart goes out to them.  And to you, if breast-feeding was your desire and it didn't work out how you had hoped.  I know there are a myriad reasons why you might not breast-feed, including the reasoned and informed choice not to.  I'm privileged that I have so much contact with new mums and babies, that I've been trained in the teaching and supporting of breast-feeding, that the idea of getting your baps out in front of strangers wasn't that big a step for me, that I knew what to expect and what to do if it went wrong.  As it happened, both my children fed easily shortly after they were born.  I even called someone in to watch me feed Isaac that second day, convinced it couldn't be as easy as all that.

The best advice I've ever been given about breast-feeding (and one I pass on regularly) is that it will hurt, even if you're doing everything right.  The first ten day are the worst, if you can grit your teeth at each latch and hold on until the feed is established and the pain recedes, and you can do that eight to ten times a day for a week and a half, you'll be ok.

I had mastitis when Anna was a couple of months old.  I thought I was hungover but as the paracetamol wore off, I realised I had a fever.  I've never been so grateful to the NHS and modern antibiotics.  A day later, I was back to normal.  Though I completed the full course, naturally.
I've felt my way through this breast-feeding journey.  Letting the babies tell me when they were hungry, ignoring the clock completely after the first weeks with Isaac.  Both children grew well, quickly, losing little or no weight in their first days.  So I've never faced the challenge of being the sole source of nutrition for a baby who's failing to grow.  I can't imagine the guilt or the pain.

Each of them dropped their feeds as they wanted.  But I stopped Isaac, at the end.  I was in my first trimester with Anna, working 48 hour weeks in a busy neonatal unit.  So when evening came, I was so tired, I couldn't sit up to nurse him.  His warm little body combined with my hormone-fueled hot flushes left me overheated and woozy.  So at around ten months of age, we moved him onto a sippy cup of cow's milk before bed.  I expected to have to leave the room, to escape his fits of screaming.  I expected him to refuse, desperate for his mummy.  I expected him to hold out for the good stuff.  I should have known him better.  He tasted his beaker, did a double-take then sat happily on his daddy's lap to down the lot.  Ungrateful little sod.  Daddy always was his favourite.  (We ended our morning feeds two weeks later when a run of nights meant I wouldn't be home until 10am for three days in a row.  He didn't look back.)

But I was pregnant again so it wasn't so much stopping as an extended hiatus.  And then lady Anna arrived - and she's mine, all mine.  Only mummy will do.  Which is occasionally annoying, but mostly very very gratifying.  She loves her daddy, she'll settle with people she knows, she'll even stay somewhere unfamiliar but when it all comes down to it, she wants her mummy.

The first time she latched on, the pain was short but sharp.  I swore.  This after 5 hours of intense labour, nearly 3 of them pushing, without a single impolite word.  (Andy will tell you I bit him, it's a dreadful lie.  Sort of.)  And then we were off.  With a toddler underfoot, it's easier to go with the flow and I had a tendency to forget about Anna's feeds, only realising when she wouldn't stop crying that I'd last fed her nearly five hours before.  She took to eating quickly and easily and shortly after, dropped her daytime milk.

Unlike Isaac, she continued to feed in the night from time to time, even after she started solids.  As recently as last month, we were up a couple of times in the early hours for a feed and a snuggle before she returned to bed without complaint.

I started back to work and she took a sippy cup of milk without complaint each time I was working late or overnight.  She likes to drink from Isaac's cups; water, squash, juice, milk, whatever she finds.

The night of her first birthday, she went to sleep without any milk, having refused to settle down and feed.  To be honest, I expected her to wake up complaining but when she didn't, I gave her a dream-feed before I went to bed around 10.  She fed well in the morning, as usual, and I went off to work a long day.  Daddy gave her a beaker as usual that evening.  She settled well.  Then last night, she refused me.  Point-blank.  Giggling, smiling, playing games with me.  And I'm no fool, I know when I'm being passed over.  She drank a full beaker of cow's milk last night.  And I cried a little.

Dropping the evening feed is slightly inconvenient to be perfectly honest.  Our mornings are rushed and busy, it would be easier not to have to feed her then.  But that's the way parenting goes, very often the convenient is not the reality.

So her refusal to feed this morning knocked me off my feet.  She stole Isaac's cup actually, before I got her one of her own.  So you can see why I blame his influence, he's shown her the way the big kids do it.  And she very much wants to be like her big brother.

I wasn't ready for this period of dependence to end.  It's a recurring theme in my parenting journey; for me to be happy with the status quo and my child to be moving on, as children should.  I encourage their growing independence.  That is, after all, my job; to love them and guide them and help them to be all God made them to be.  To be apart from me, dependent on Him.  It starts when they cut the cord, as you lie in your hospital bed, looking at your sleeping baby, not feeling those breaths inside you as you were just hours before.  And now, uncertain if this is to be my last baby, I struggle with the loss of something intangible.  I define myself by my relationships and now one of the most important things in my life involves constant change, in the direction of away, of separate.  (I'm going to be a really annoying mother-in-law, I can tell already.)
And I've lost a part of myself.  The part that proclaims proudly, I'm still breast-feeding my daughter.  Even though I work full-time, and have a toddler, and keep a house.  (It's an annoyingly superior part - I think she needs a bit of losing, to be honest).  That period of my life is over, perhaps forever, before I was ready for it.  So I weep a little.  I remind myself that I am still needed, still loved.  I consider the positives (goodbye nursing bras, sore boobs and leakage!).  I sit in my sadness for a bit, grieving my loss, and then I get up and get on again.  I'm a busy mum, don't you know!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

On a little bit of pink

It's been a busy month but I'm starting to get a handle on working, being a full-time mummy and keeping house.  Either that or the evenings are getting longer!  So here's the pages I've made in October;
I finally scrapped the story of my rings, mostly taken from this post.  Lots of scraps and some lovely new MME tape on this page.
 Making the blind for our kitchen.  It's still not finished though!
 Anna's first cuddles with her daddy, mostly using Bella Blvd Baby Girl.
 I love these photos of Isaac brushing his teeth, especially that last one!  And yes, I like a bit of pink on my boy pages!  Using up old papers on this one with some really simple embellishments.
And using the same set of papers again, getting a different look with some of Anna's baby photos.
 And some more!  Anna's only about 4 hours old in these and she was making the sweetest noises.
This picture illustrates perfectly why my brother gets on so well with my kids, they're just on the same level!  I used some new OA Woodland Park papers, some Elle's Studio tags from last season and some really old stuff from my stash.

Monday, 12 November 2012

On the 10th of November

This time last year, I was a brand-new mummy to this little girl.  Born at 11.10pm on the 10th of November 2011, 50 minutes before her due-date.  All 8lb 4oz of her.
November 2011
Today you turned one year old.  You have such a sunny disposition, always smiling and excited with life in general.  You love to spend time with people, following us around the house.  You and Isaac are just starting to play together and you watch him so carefully sometimes.  You play a great game, offering us your toys then snatching them back again.
December 2011

January 2012
You still have two naps, morning and afternoon, and you're always pleased to see us when we come to get you up.  Isaac likes to be the one to open your door to say hi first but you cry at him and reach for me.  You sleep in the white cot in your own room, wearing a grobag and covered by a blanket.
February 2012

March 2012
You're just about fitting your 9-12 month clothes now and still wearing size 4 nappies.  You still wear your first shoes.  I bought you some wellies but you think you can't walk when you're wearing them.  You're so beautiful, with curly red-gold hair and big blue eyes.  You have such sturdy legs and a little podgy tummy.
April 2012

May 2012
You still have an amazing appetite - fish fingers are just about the only food you don't like.  You eat apricot wheats for breakfast most mornings.  You like sandwiches for lunch.  You prefer to eat your chicken nuggets cut into small pieces.  You drink from sippy cups and a valved cup with handles though you'd much rather take Isaac's drink!  You've discovered squash and you prefer that to water.  You have cow's milk when I'm working late or overnight.
June 2012

July 2012
You walk like a toddler, almost never wobbling now.  You can climb the entire flight of stairs without help, even without us noticing.  We've put the stairgate back up again.  You like to play with your shape-sorters.  You've started to play using your imagination, drinking from cups (and the tea-pot!).  You put things in and out of containers.  You are opening drawers and cupboards, if you can reach the handles!
August 2012

September 2012
You have a great time with your childminder; she treats you like her second daughter and you are so confident with her and her husband.  Her little boy chases you around, even though he's two months younger than you and only cruising.  You're starting to run away or stand your ground.  You like to go to creche at church, every so often you fall asleep on one of the helpers.
October 2012
November 2012
You babble and chat to us, you say mam-mam-mam and dadda.  You say 'mo' for more food and point at the thing that you want on the table.  You dance when you hear music, bobbing up and down or turning in circles.  You particularly like a book that plays 'The Wheels on the Bus' and press the button repeatedly.  And on your first birthday, you held up my camera and said "cheese", I'm so proud!

We love you so much Anna.  This year has gone so quickly, you are always surprising us with the new things that you are learning to do.  You're growing into a beautiful, sunny girl and we're so glad you're a part of our family.

Love you always, Mummy xxxx