Tag Archives: breastfeeding

And What Would Madam Like to Wear Today?

Butter Wouldn't Melt...

Butter Wouldn’t Melt…

It’s no good – I’m going to have to admit defeat.

I am no longer the most stubborn person in our household.

Who have I lost the crown to?

Mini of course. That sweet little girl, who has just turned two and a half, has a stubborn streak that is wider than she is.

It all sneaked up on me.

It started innocuously enough with a preference for wearing a certain hat or coat. I put it down to her having a thing about hats and thought it was cute.

Then it progressed and things got a little more serious, spreading to her entire outfit. Now, trying to get her to wear something she doesn’t want to is akin to trying to dress an octopus whilst blindfolded, and a belligerent, drunken octopus at that.

Consequently we have been known to venture outside with her wearing her brother’s underpants.

Over her jeans.

Or her Halloween costume for three days in a row. In December.

I have found a tactic that seems to be working. I catch her just as she’s waking up and present her with a choice of two pairs of leggings. She’ll wave a sleepy hand at one of them and I’ll move swiftly on to a top. For some reason she always takes longer choosing her socks. We could have several drawn out moments where she’ll stroke her chin and point at first one pair then the other, umming and aahing as she does so, before she finally chooses. I’m not sure if this is because she’s more awake by this time or she has a thing about socks.

(I think she might have inherited my thing about socks.)

I’m making the most of being able to direct her choice of attire, at least a little, since I don’t expect to be able to do so when she catches on, probably, oh, about the middle of next week.

She also has very clear idea about the way she wants some other things as well. She’s a bit of a neat freak (I think that must be one of those weird characteristics that skip a generation or two because she certainly didn’t get it from me or the Other Half), so she has to be the one who wipes the table down before dinner. She also has a thing about emptying her plate in the bin, normally the one in the living room. This isn’t usually a problem, since she eats an awful lot of toast, although I’m glad I managed to catch her just in time last night after she decided she didn’t want the rest of her mandarins and custard.

I’m also glad we have laminate floors.

Part of her neat-freakishness is having a clear idea of where things should be and woe betide anything, or anyone, in the wrong place. One of her first sentences was “You sit there,” delivered in a stern tone with suitably imperious gestures. She’s just as bad when I’m feeding her. I have to be in the right seat and sitting (or lying depending on her mood) in exactly the right position. She’s just as bad with her dad and brother (about where they’re sitting, not the feeding bit) and they are both remarkably patient about it all considering. Bedtime can be entertaining as she has to arrange all her toys to her satisfaction before I can tuck her in. I’ve tried to discern a pattern in how she does this but it eludes me and she’ll give me a telling off if I try to help her, mostly I think because I always get it wrong.

I know she’s growing and that developing a sense of independence is important, as is her having an opportunity to be involved in some of the decisions that affect her, even if those decisions are about clothes or food.

I am pleased she’s found her independent nature and that she’s not letting herself be overshadowed by Motormouth who is much more exuberant and dramatic, showing instead that she is determined and not to be swayed once she’s decided on her course. I will admit that sometimes I wish she was a little more compliant, especially when I’m trying to get us all out of the house in the morning, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that sometimes the only way I’m going to win is by getting her to think that my suggestions are really her ideas in the first place. Either that, or I’m going to have to grit my teeth, grin and bear it and put up with a her wearing purple trousers with a green T shirt and her brother’s yellow socks.

That and be grateful that the one thing she isn’t really fussy about is what she has to eat.

Yet.

Food, Glorious Food

Mini and her dinner

Mini and her dinner

I was wondering what to write about in this week’s post but then I looked over at Mini, systematically demolishing her Marmite on toast (yes, we are a Marmite family) and thought, yep, food is something that takes up a fair bit of our time and concentration.

Fortunately Mini is still at the stage were she’ll eat pretty much anything that’s put in front of her; and in front of her is considered to be anything within arm’s reach.

This includes her brother’s dinner, especially his cheesy mashed potato.

She also eats vast quantities. Vast by any standards. Tea the other night consisted of 4 rounds of toast and an entire tin of baked beans, minus the two spoonfuls of beans her brother had before he decided he was full.

Then she had desert.

Then she had about 20 minutes of milk.

True, her belly was bigger than her head and was full enough I was worried she was going to pop. The Other Half was also under strict instructions not to make her laugh.

Just in case.

The thing is, she eats like this every day, yet can still fit into trousers designed for a child half her age. (I know they vary widely in sizing, but still!)

I also want her metabolism.

You can inherit things like that, right? I mean, I know you can inherit insanity from your kids, so why not something useful?

I watch her sitting there, having finished 2 slices of toast (the crusts), now attacking a couple of rich tea biscuits (don’t criticise me too much, I’m trying to keep her fairly clean before we go out later), which she’s put together like a sandwich so she can eat them at the same time. Next she’ll probably have some fruit, or some cheese.

And this is just breakfast.

I shouldn’t complain since it makes it easy when we eat out. We can order pretty much anything off the menu and she’ll systematically plough her way through it, even if she does eat the baked beans with her hands.

Motormouth is a whole other creature, in so many ways.

We know he eats cheese. And mashed potato. And sausages.

As for anything else?

It seems to be worked out on some algorithm known only to toddlers.

One day he won’t eat anything but grapes, the next they’re yuk.

He’s even refusing mince now he’s sussed that I cook it with more vegetables than mince. The next step was to make the sauce and blend it. Then he stopped eating pasta. Unless someone else cooks it.

I’m trying not to take offence at that.

Weirdly, he will eat vegetable soup, knowing it’s full of vegetables, with plenty of bread and butter, but there’s only so many loaves we can go through in one meal.

I know toddler’s taste buds are still developing and are different to ours. I know that this is only a phase but please let it be over soon.

In the meantime, the bin men will carry on assuming, based on our recycling, that we eat nothing but beans, cheese and bread in this house.

N is for Nursing

 

N is for Nursing

N is for Nursing

I think everyone realises that when you are a mother you take on the role of nurse, along with caterer, dresser, toy-fixer, taxi driver and everything else I’m too tired to think of at the moment.

It isn’t until you actually try nursing a small child that you get a reality check.

When the Other Half is ill, nursing consisted of providing soup, drinks and words of comfort. And the occasional stroking-of-brow if I’m feeling sympathetic. Which I will admit doesn’t tend to be very often.

And when I’m ill? It’s sod off out of the way and let me be miserable in peace. You may leave an occasional cup of tea or bowl of chicken noodle soup in the doorway. Then sod off and leave me in peace.

It’s a whole new experience when children are ill, especially toddlers.

When Mini’s ill, it’s a case of more feeds and cuddles, but Motormouth?

Well.

Where do I start?

If he’s in pain then he wants the magic strawberry medicine, the one we adults would know as paracetamol, preferably in the funny little syringe we’ve just discovered. (We were reduced to buying the posh stuff while we were on holiday.)

Then he doesn’t.

Then he wants to sit down.

Then he doesn’t.

Then he wants a cuddle.

Then he doesn’t.

Then he wants… well, you get the idea.

This is frustrating, but you learn to deal with it. Eventually.

It can be a bit scary at times. Not the fact that my children have hurt themselves, we’ve been lucky that neither of them touch wood, have hurt themselves badly enough to warrant a trip to the hospital so far.

It’s how hysterical they can become.

Motormouth fell over and cut his hand when we were at Riverside Country Park one day. The poor soul was cradling his hand and running in circles screaming. We almost had to herd him into a corner before we could start to talk him down.

That took some patience and typically, the offer of a cold towel from a complete stranger. (Does anyone else find it as annoying as I do? You know the times when you’re trying to deal with your child and some stranger steps in and interferes, and, most annoying of all, it works, leaving the stranger to smile at you condescendingly, as if to say, don’t worry, you’ll get it eventually?)

Then you get the opposite effect. Ten minutes after they’ve had their medicine, they’re running around doing exactly what they would be doing if they were healthy.

You know.

Getting into mischief and stuff.

So, now when I think of nursing, it’s not just making toast and tea and wiping fevered brows, I think of toddler wrangling and hysteria-reducing.

And patience.

And lots of cuddles.

Put a Sock On It

I don't care if they're not mine!

I don’t care if they’re not mine!

I’ve noticed that most of the recent posts have been about Motormouth with the occasional cameo appearance from young Mini.

This week, I thought I’d put that right.

The question is what to talk about?

Her plate envy? (She has the worst plate envy of anyone I have EVER met and is quite blatant about demanding her portion of the food in front of you.)

Her obsession with cleaning her teeth? (We have to do this at least 6 times a day at the moment, more if she walks past the bathroom more often than that.)

Her lack of compunction about shoving her big brother out of the way if he’s where she wants to be? (This can be a little disconcerting, especially as a parent cuddling a small boy who suddenly finds the small boy is on the floor and she is being scaled by a tiny toddler mountaineer.)

No.

I thought I’d talk about feeding.

And socks.

Are they related you ask?

Yep. Apparently they are.

Closely related.

I’m pleased to be able to say that I’m still feeding Mini, having taken the choice to feed her until she weans herself. She’s approaching 21 months now and shows no sign of giving up.

We have settled into a little ritual for the first feed of the day though.

Her little ritual that is.

First of all she climbs onto the bed, with her aah. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this is her big, fluffy blanket. By big, I mean it’s about 3′ by 5′. And by fluffy it’s sort of a fleecy, polyester blend courtesy of Ikea.)

By the way, those Ikea blankets are brilliant – they can go through anything including washing machines, tumble dryers, muddy puddles, pushchair wheels, upset stomachs (both ends), big brothers, being used to make forts, drag toys around and whatever else Mini and Motormouth’s minds can devise, and still come out looking almost brand new. And they are cheap. (No, I’m not paid by Ikea, just in case you were wondering.)

Sorry. Back to the point and apologies for the diversion.

She climbs onto the bed with her aah and snuggles under my right arm for a bit of a lounge and a thumb suck.

Then I get the look.

The “time to get your boobs out now Mum” look.

Of course, I do. I’m nothing if not baby-led when it comes to this feeding thing.

So my boobs come out.

Both of them, since, apparently, it’s the law that they both have to be out for the entire feed.

Then she’ll settle back for a bit longer, maybe taking in a show (Motormouth is usually practicing his star jumps on the end of the bed by this point, either that or trying to persuade Mini to sit on his tummy, a request she generally ignores).

When she’s judged the time is right (a bit like a wine connoisseur who opens the bottle to let it breathe a while) she’ll make her move.

Or rather moves.

First of all, she will shove me back until I am leaning at exactly the right angle.

Then she’ll position my arms so they are in just the right place.

She’ll spend a few moments tweaking the position of my hands and fingers.

Then she’ll sit back on her haunches and regard me for a few seconds before making sure I’m looking in the right direction (by virtue of placing her hands firmly on my jaw and shoving my head round. She’d make a good chiropractor one day. I’m sure I heard my spine crack this morning.)

Finally, she’ll take a few slurps from the right side.

If I dare move my head, she’ll give me “the look” and push it back round again.

She then stretches, stands up and belly flops on top of me to take a few slurps from the left side (just to make sure it doesn’t feel left out, you understand.)

It’s at this point that I think, hopefully, that we’ve settled down and can get on with it. (Usually with one eye on the clock calculating the time left before we absolutely have to get out of the door and sadly watching my shower time dripping away.)

Then she stops.

She’ll give me a “don’t you dare move!” look and wriggle backwards off the bed, walking out of the bedroom in that drunken toddler lurch that she has.

Only to return a few minutes later with….

can you guess?

…. no, not a fluffy toy, or even another aah….

she always comes back with …..

a pair of socks.

Yep. Socks.

Mini has an obsession with socks.

So there we are, mid feed, me trying not to move out of today’s approved position too much and her waving a pair of socks and a foot in my face.

So, we have to put our socks on.

Then, finally, we can get back to the business of feeding.

And feeding.

And feeding.

As the minutes tick by I console myself with the thought of how much good this will be doing her.

And how many calories I’m using doing this.

And I wave a sad mental goodbye to a nice hot shower.

And Motormouth (it’s his turn for a cameo), well, he’s still bouncing on the bed.

And me.

Just in case you thought mornings might be peaceful in our house.

 

D is for Determined

 

D is for determined.

D is for determined.

Before I had children I used to think I was fairly determined, when it suited me at least.

Sometimes, I could stick with a work problem beyond all reason. I was the same at home (except when it came to the housework unfortunately).

Then I had Motormouth and I had to relearn what determination really meant, especially when it came to feeding time.

Those of you know me (or have read some of my past posts) know that though I breastfed Motormouth until just before his second birthday the first couple of months were hell. Why hell? It took us that long to suss out the technique together, and, to be honest, throughout the time I was feeding him there weren’t many times when it wasn’t uncomfortable at the very least. (Motormouth tended to channel his inner piranha when he was feeding.)

Still, we stuck with it.

I had problems with Mini as well (she had an habit of rolling her tongue up so it was in the way) and it took a breastfeeding consultant at the local hospital to help us through it.

She is much gentler than Motormouth, at least with the extraction part. I’m not sure I remember him practising his pincer grip whilst feeding, or trying to pull my eye lashes out. Even if I give her something to play with as a distraction she usually ends up trying to poke it in my ear or up my nose. (And no, falling asleep with Mini on the boob is not a safe option – not for me at least.)

So yes, determination helped with getting us through that.

Then I found out that is all just practise for what comes later.

Why do we need to be determined as mothers?

Because children are determined themselves. Or maybe that should read stubborn.

From the barely walking toddler’s quest to wedge themselves under the dining room table to the vocal child who really, really wants that chocolate bar just before bedtime.

This is of course via nappy changing (are all babies quadruple jointed?), teeth cleaning (further proof that that jaw muscles are amongst the strongest in the body) and getting them dressed.

Ah, dressing them.

This can be an ordeal all of its own and, in our household at least, is the most common occasion for reaching the final three in the Count of Doom. (Fortunately the chance of losing a bedtime story motivates Motormouth to come out from under the bed or uncurl from his foetal ball just before you say three. Most of the time.)

What is it about getting dressed? It’s not as if we don’t give them a choice about what to wear, but every day it’s like doing the hokey cokey with tiny limbo dancers.

You put her left leg in.

She takes her left leg out and shakes it all about (usually somewhere up by her ears).

You put her left leg in…

And so it goes on until you find the best position to pin her down. For that occasion.

You promise yourself next time it will be different. And it is.

You put her left leg in…

You have to be determined. You have to believe that you will prevail.

You are, after all, the adult.

You are however-many times her size.

You are so much stronger than she is.

You are so much smarter than she is.

She takes her left leg out…

You will win.

You are more determined (or should that read stubborn again?).

And then there’s food.

Or more precisely vegetables.

You know the stage when they don’t want to eat them. In fact they would be quite happy living on baked beans and cheesy toast (in which case we don’t feel too bad about it because baked beans count as vegetables don’t they?) or cheerios and chocolate chip brioche.

You can tell we’ve been there can’t you? Motormouth is becoming quite adept at picking the vegetables out of his mince and, once a lover of home-made soup, now stops eating it as soon as the bread has run out.

He’s become quite resistant to blackmail and will forego yoghurt if it means having to put something green into his mouth. We even tried to the dice game, you know the one where he rolls the dice to see how many spoonfuls of vegetables he’s going to eat at that meal? He fell for that precisely once when we wouldn’t let him roll the dice until he got a one rather than the five or six it kept landing on.

There is that temptation to give up and let them win. You rationalise it as “picking your battles” and giving them “some control over their lives to encourage responsibility and enhance their decision making skills” and to “prevent tantrums caused by frustration”.

That’s why we have pyjama days and cake for breakfast isn’t it?

It’s not just that, just for once, we want a little peace and quiet, to achieve a basic goal without the hassle of fighting the Battle of Before Breakfast yet again.

Or is that just me?

 

Baby’s Guide to… Breastfeeding

 

Aah, full tummy now.

Aah, full tummy now.

Welcome to the second in a series of survival guides. Today we are talking about breastfeeding, in honour of World Breastfeeding month.

Latching On – Hmm. Let’s start with what can be the trickiest part of the operation. It seems simple enough, open your mouth and suck, but it is more subtle than that. Here are a few tips to improve your enjoyment of the experience. Don’t stick your tongue in the way. Not much happens then. Get a good seal. Loud sucking sounds are embarrassing when you produce them (they are funny, however, when it is a sibling creating them). Practice will make you better. Your mother might accidentally making it harder for you. Please don’t be hard on her. She has to learn how to do it too.

Targetting – This part is deceptively difficult. Yes, you have quite a big target and you need to get as much of it in your mouth as you can. There are technical terms to describe it but all you need to know is you need to cram it in. This will stand you in good stead for eating solids later.

Positions – Your mother may have set ideas about what position you should be in when you are feeding. Don’t forget it is your choice. You don’t have to settle for the traditional ‘laid across the lap’ look. You can pretend to be a rugby ball and refuse to feed until you are settled on the hip. You can play Tarzan and climb across your mother until you are clinging on to her front before you start feeding (this is only for the more advanced feeders). You can take the lady or lad of leisure approach and recline alongside your mother in bed. The options are there. Make the most of it. The standard tears will encourage your mother to offer all options to you.
Teasing – Who says feeding has to be boring? This is a good opportunity to tease your mother. Do you want some? Don’t you want some? Do you want left or right? Do you want to feed for 4 seconds or 6? Do want to be held across the lap or on the hip? Have some fun with this.

Occupying Yourself – This is a little different to playing. Once you are getting your milk there isn’t really an awful lot to do since since your tongue is doing most of the work. So, how do you pass the time? How about practising your pincer grip? How about the fun game of ‘pinch the mole or tattoo’? Or you could see how far things will stretch? The latter will give you additional enjoyment from the expression on your mother’s face. She won’t want to pull away quickly for fear of hurting you, so it will all show in her face.

Then you have the value of toys. This word is used in the loosest sense and can be something your mother is holding (mobile phones are good) or, well, anything you can reach. Once you have lost interest in it, all you need to do is drop it. Ensure you drop it at arms length. This will increase your chances of a direct hit on your mother’s foot and give you some more interesting expressions to experience.

Milk-play – The fun you can have here. You don’t really need to know the mechanics of it, just that once the milk starts coming, if your mother’s boobs are full enough and there is enough momentum, there isn’t much effort involved. The side benefit of this can be seen when you unlatch without warning. If you time it just right you can get multiple streams shooting out in different directions. Legitimate targets include the family cat (particularly entertaining if they thought they were out of range on the other side of the room); the dog (less entertaining since they are not as sensitive to this type of attack); siblings or the Other Parent. Inanimate objects are also good but you don’t get as much of a show, so only aim for them if you are really bored.

Timing – So, we’ve been through most of what you need to know. The next question is when to do it. You choose when you ask for it, not just the length of any feed, but the commencement times. Good times to choose are when your mother is about to take you out of the house; before any important event that involves your mother; just as your mother’s bladder has informed her that it has reached full capacity; just before your mother realises she is actually very thirsty; in the middle of something important and quiet; or twenty minutes after your mother has finally fallen asleep. The options are endless.

So, there is your guide to breastfeeding. I hope you find it useful.

 

Boob Bonanza

 

Not boobs for dinner again!

Not boobs for dinner again!

We’re heading towards the middle of World Breastfeeding Week, which for some unknown reason started on a Thursday.

It sort of sneaked up on me as well, since I didn’t really know it was happening, then, when I found out, it was like buying a new car, suddenly, you see the same model everywhere. (Hence the extra post this week).

Not that I’m seeing boobs everywhere, well, I suppose I am, but you know what I mean.

It’s just that there are these serious discussions about boob versus bottle, should you feed in public and so on and, for once, it is not because someone, somewhere has organised a feed in.

So, what is it really like, being a breastfeeding mother?

It’s different for everyone, in fact, it has been different for both mine. So this is just my take on it.

It’s got a lot of jargon attached to it. Extended breastfeeding, combination or mixed feeding, fore milk, hind milk, latching, tongue tie, colostrum…

Then there are the debates; how long should you do it; where you do it; how often should you do it; what should you wear; should you feel guilty if you go the bottle route instead.

Put simply; baby gets hungry or thirsty, you plug them in. They then stop crying. You hope.

Despite what they all say, it does bloody hurt sometimes. I had pain for the first eight weeks with Mini, and most of the time with Motormouth. And that was before they had teeth.

It doesn’t come naturally; both Mini and Motormouth had to learn (Mini had to learn not to put her tongue in the way, daft girl). I also had to learn two different techniques. It was a good two months before it became natural with both kids.

Just because you have experienced it all before, doesn’t mean you know it all, have the answers or feel confident. See above.

It is undignified at times, just ask Asbo who was more than slightly startled when he was hit with a stream of milk when Motormouth decided to unlatch without warning. Poor cat, he thought he was safe on the other side of the room.

It can hurt in so many ways you didn’t think; when they turn their head before they let go; when they haven’t learnt how to keep those pesky teeth uninvolved; when they are keeping themselves occupied by practising their pincer grip on whatever comes within reach (which, let’s face it, includes an awful lot of tender parts). It goes on, but I don’t want to scare you too much.

Other people’s reactions can vary from the coffee shop manager who invited me to feed Mini in their toilet (yes, we did point out that was illegal in England); to the people who tell you they support feeding in public; to the majority who don’t even realise you’re doing it.

I went to a Christmas meal once and the person sitting opposite me didn’t realise I was feeding Mini until she noticed a little hand waving between me and the table.

It can become more difficult as they get older and nosier. Mini has just started to get to the meerkat stage, where every so often she will stop and pop her head up to see what’s going on.

And of course there is the impartial sibling observer who has been known to make the odd comment. “Mummy, you need to put your booby away now!” and “Mummy, why is your boob dangling and swinging like that?” Fortunately he was satisfied with the explanation that it was because it was empty and I didn’t have to explain the effects of age, childbearing and gravity on the female body. His lucky partner can explain that to him when the time comes later. A lot later. I do wish he had a volume control though, since his questions are invariably asked in public places. Apparently we have to wait another year or so for that.

Once you have the technicalities sorted out, it is so much easier not to have to worry about sterilisation, carrying loads of stuff around or even getting out of bed to do the night feeds. Just pass her to me. I’ll lie on my side and when she’s finished she can go straight back to sleep. Sometimes I even go to sleep before she does.

There is a theory that it is a good opportunity for fathers to bond over the bottle and I know that The Other Half can’t bond over the feeding, but I tell him not to worry – he gets better eye contact and interaction with the nappy changes anyway.

Then there is not having to worry about bottles; do you have enough; are you using the right teats; are they still sterile; is there enough space in the kitchen; are you going to run out of sterilising fluid. As you have probably guessed I am slightly less than organised with a hint of ‘if it can save me work’ thrown in. I struggle enough with which day of the week it is sometimes, so one less complication is great by me. The biggest thing I have to worry about is which side I fed from last, and you can get an app for that.

Would I recommend breastfeeding to any other mother? Of course I would, warning her that she needs a good measure of persistence and stubbornness and a sense of humour but it is all worth it in the end.

It’s also pretty good for weight loss and helping everything get back to it’s previous position (you use between 200 and 500 calories per day). Unfortunately it doesn’t work so well if you eat more than that in snacks whilst you’re feeding. I learnt that lesson after Motormouth.

So, do I think less of someone who tried and couldn’t manage it for whatever reason so switched to bottle? Of course not. That sort of decision is rarely made without a lot of thought and always with the baby’s interests in mind. Sometimes it just doesn’t work for whatever reason. And the mother will be making herself feel quite guilty enough without any help from me.

Would I look down on someone who chose bottle first. Of course not. It’s her choice and who am I to judge why she made that choice? I don’t know what factors she had to take into consideration.

Do I think I’ve made the right choice for me and my children?

Yes.

Do I think that I’m the only person I can make that decision for?

Yes.