Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weight issues

I really wanted to say a big and heartfelt thank you to all my readers that offered support and advice when I was going through those difficult breastfeeding/weight issues. I thought I'd let you all know in this post how the story turned out. As we left off, the dreaded midwife was to to descend again the following day.

I read all your advice. I put out a plea for advice in the BMB forum, and a friend did the same on the babyled weaning forum. I was already in contact with local breastfeeding helpers, as suggested, I arranged my third home visit with them in two days time. A long time, as those who ever struggled with breastfeeding will understand. I could feed dozens and dozens of times between now and then. I called the NCT b/f helpline, another suggestion, the helpful and sympathetic volunteer reiterated much of what I'd already heard, but it gave me confidence nonetheless. She did let me know that by law, I was only obliged to have my child weighed three times in her 1st year. Quota filled then. So I was well within my rights to refuse to have her weighed. So I planned to call and put off the midwife for a day.

But the more I thought about it, the more stressed I became about not only baby's weight, I'd been here before, but the confrontation too. I tearfully convinced HID to call the unit on my behalf, first thing in the morning. A little pressure off. But as we all know, all problems and ailments seem/get worse during the night when you feel all alone, and that's just what happened. Missis miraculously "forgot" how to latch on. Plus, breastfeeding had suddenly become painful again. This was my last chance to feed her up, and she wouldn't feed! She cried and fussed. I stressed and cried. Great for the old let-down reflex eh? So Missis got more upset, as when she did manage to latch and suck, milk was not forthcoming. Becoming hysterical, I fed her all the expressed milk I had. (I'd been expressing due to a cracked nipple for those of you who asked, it was too painful to feed but I wanted to keep up supply). Missis still was not satiated. We had been torturing each other for hours, sobbing, in pain. It was not good. My relationship with my precious daughter would suffer if I carried on in this ridiculous fashion. I knew what I had to do. It didn't make the decision any easier. I couldn't say the word. The "F" word. HID was sent downstairs to make up what I could only describe as "a bottle of....milk". He heard me over the baby monitor sobbing "I'm so sorry baby, I'm so sorry", over and over as I knelt on the bed rocking my tiny daughter, who I'd failed so early on in her little life.

There did not seem much point in canceling the midwife visit, as she had gotten her way. But before she arrived, I did some soul-searching. My son had survived on formula after the first few months. But as a result of torturing myself (and him), I didn't feel I loved him, or even that he was mine, for about four months. He was nice enough, just something I had to feed. I couldn't do that again. Breast is best. But not at any cost, not at the cost of the relationship between me and Missis. So I made a quiet decision. I would attempt to get her to latch on for ten minutes. If it wasn't happening, I'd feed her a bottle of formula. But I'd always try. Since I made that decision, over a week ago, I can count on one hand the amount of bottles she has had. The decision made me relax about feeding, there was an alternative and I didn't need to feel guilty, I was doing the best I could, the pressure was off, and breastfeeding suddenly seemed a doddle.

When the midwife arrived, we found that Missis had only put on a marginal amount of weight. Not surprising really, considering how often she was being weighed. The midwife now insisted we take our perfectly healthy baby to the doctors. At this point, I was quite fed up of biting my tongue, being polite and avoiding confrontation. I demanded she check over the baby thoroughly for any signs of dehydration or otherwise ill health. None was found. I then told her how very upset and uncomfortable I'd felt bing instructed to give formula. She asked us if we'd lied about giving the formula. HID ushered her out of our home, we agreed to see the GP to be rid of her.

The GP was sadly in the midwife's camp. She also couldn't find a damn thing wrong with the child, and said we really should give formula. I was shocked, and stood up for myself this time, stating it would compromise the integrity of my milk supply to give formula milk. She was visibly surprised that a young mum like me had any real knowledge of breastfeeding. She backed down slightly, saying it was her medical opinion, and we should feel free to ignore it (which we did) for a whole week, at which point, the big guns were out. This was Thursday. The midwife was due again on Sunday. She was sure to insist on another weigh-in before Thursday. I hoped the breastfeeding volunteer, due on Friday, had some ideas for weight gain in b/f babies.

When the volunteer arrived, she listened. To our concerns after a previous slow-to-gain baby, what a bully the midwife was, how feeing was going, she let us get it all out, which was wonderful. Incidentally, it turns out the midwife we were seeing, the volunteer told us, was one of the most pro-b/f in the area, she was who I'd have been referred to, should the "big guns" be needed next Thursday. Great. I'd hate to meet a pro-formula midwife then....

The volunteer tweaked my positioning and attachment. The better these are, the more efficiently baby can drink. We discussed feeding even more often (sometimes, she would go 3hrs during the day), breast compression and lastly, requesting a milk supply boosting drug from the doctor. She explained the midwife and GP had suggested formula because it's a viable, easy, available-in-tescos alternative in our culture. Parents feelings and wishes are often not taken into account, but there are lots of things to try before we give formula again, if that's what we wanted. Which we did.

That night I found what I thought was an infected stitch, and the midwives I called advised me to speak to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics over the phone. (it was 5pm on a Friday, I don't blame him.). On the Saturday, a lovely, supportive, understanding friend came round to chat about the whole fiasco. I was just starting to feel good about it all again, when there came a knock at the door. The midwife. To check on my stitch. My friend quickly excused herself to the garden, lest she say something regrettable to the midwife. But when HID showed her inside, it was a different midwife, a lovely midwife, a ray of hope midwife. It turned out the stitch wasn't infected, and she asked after baby's health. I begged her not to weigh, and my voice wobbled as the whole sorry story came out. She looked at baby and was happy. She convinced me to relax. Do my best. If it didn't work, there were alternatives. She didn't use the "F" word. I practically kissed her feet in relief and gratitude.

On Sunday, the original midwife arrived to weigh again. I tolerated her presence in my home, but not much else. She weighed, and was finally satisfied. I didn't take much notice of the actual figure, just that she was on the up. She insisted she had to weigh once more before discharge, on the deadline Thursday, the same day the health visitor was due. I happily forgot all about weight, and started to really enjoy feeding my baby.

Thursday: the HV arrived and I confidently explained everything, finishing with, "so it was just me, stressing myself out really." She replied,"No, actually, it was that awful midwife." I instantly warmed to her :-) She offered to source the new b/f baby weight charts for Missis as a matter of urgency. She didn't weigh baby, and wouldn't be doing so for another two weeks.

Later, the midwife arrived, but it was water off a duck's back. I let her think that the HV was weighing in seven days, and satisfied with today's weigh-in, she discharged us. Thank God.


Monday, September 28, 2009

A held baby is a happy baby

Last week was national babywearing week.(And the title, and last line, of this post are nicked from t-shirt slogans for hard-core babywearers!) I'm a bit late, I know, but do forgive me, my little Missis takes up a lot of time. However, because I'm lucky enough to have been introduced to the joys of babywearing when my first baby was four months old, she doesn't take up quite as much time as she could.

You see, like Boy did, Missis wakes up as soon as you lay her sleeping body down. With Boy, we tried everything, from hot water bottles in the cot to warm his mattress up before we laid him in, to reading "The Hobbit" in its entirety into the wee hours. But now we have the know how with Missis, so we just let her sleep in the sling (or in our bed with us) where she is next to the comforting sounds, smells and warmth that were familiar to her in the womb.

Society tries to make us think otherwise, but babies are not supposed to be left alone. Not that long ago, if mothers had left their babies so they could cook over the fire or wash clothes in the river, her baby would have been gobbled up by wolves/a bear/a tiger....I could go on. Baby's common subconscious remembers this useful evolutionary tool, and screams like a banshee every time you put her down. But that's what she's SUPPOSED to do. If any other animal found itself waking up in a silent, dark place alone, don't you think it would attempt to find it's mother by any means necessary, including crying out?

We are essentially primates. Ever wondered why babies are born with that super-death grip that surprises you so much when they grab your finger? It's so they can cling on to your fur to be carried along with you. Yes, just the those orangutans you saw in the zoo. Since we don't have much fur anymore, the intelligent human being finds other ways to keep baby close. Either they develop major skills in one-handed chore-doing, develop a huge left-bicep, and pain all down the left side of their back, or they simply pop baby in a sling, and get on with life.

So next time some smug uber mummy goes on about her "good" baby that she "hardly knows she has", remember that your baby is the truly clever one, and hers wouldn't have gotten very far a few years ago.

Since Missis was born, she has been "slung" a lot. Now Boy is bigger, he really only rides in the sling outside the house, as a pram-substitute. But with Missis, I'm either feeding her, sleeping next to her, or carrying her in a sling. (Or someone else is). As I recover from the birth, I'm able to do a few tasks round the house, or sit down to a meal with the family, hands free. I don't need to carry those god-awful car seats around, or rush through the shopping with an unsettled baby.

I carried her in the hospital (the midwives and new mums crowded round). I carry her all over the house and garden (Boy stops me to peep inside the sling and kiss the sleeping baby). I carry her round tescos (old ladies ask if I've made the sling myself) (I haven't). I carry her during my course, training to be a breastfeeding helper (babes in arms most welcome in the training room). I carry her to the corner shop. My favourite so far, what we dreamed of when I was pregnant, was me carrying Missis, and HID carrying Boy, on a family trip out. We took them to see the Blackpool Illuminations! Missis slept on me the whole time, snuggled up against the sea breeze in her sling. Boy stayed up til 11pm! We rode a tram and ate ice cream. What a treat. It would not have been so easy and enjoyable had we used prams (or had to spend a fortune on a newborn/toddler double pram!). The children were warm, we were close enough to talk and listen to one another, and no one was unsettled, it was easy to get on the tram, Boy was high enough to see everything and talk to everyone. HID and I walked along holding hands. Blissful.

I even made an attempt yesterday at breastfeeding in the sling. It's going to take a bit more practice to get it right, but HID is back at work next week, and, well, breastfeeding on demand with a toddler around just isn't going to work any other way. I've got a week to perfect it.

Many of my pro-bottle feeding family and friends dismiss breastfeeding as "very tying for you". Hopefully this will not be the case once I get going with sling feeding. And right now, I really don't mind being tied up feeding. It's forcing me to rest properly, and I've an iron-clad excuse for not doing housework! Others have said how selfish breastfeeding can be, taking away HID's opportunity to bond. But while we have the sling, I think Daddy is bonding just fine by snuggling his little princess to his chest in his sling. He's even been enthused enough to learn a new, more complex tie. After all, real men wear babies.

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Trolley dash game!

Now that I've perfected the art of breastfeeding one-handed, I'm free to waste my time on the laptop however I like! Susanna from BMB alerted me to thistrolley dash game on Tesco's new Greener Living site. It's so funny! And it teaches you about greener living. I bet all your little monsters would love to have a go! Better have a go yourself first, just to test it out ;-)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New to co-sleeping

This post is for the Sleep Deprivation Carnival over at Sleep is for the Weak. Check it out!

As a second time mum, when I was pregnant, I had LOADS of ideas about how I'd do things differently this time. Avoid mistakes. Sidestep bad advice (which I followed when I didn't know any better). Do things MY way. Listen to my instinct.

One thing that in hindsight simply screamed "why are you doing this???" was the sleep issue. Our son was (is), um, "high need", for want of a better phrase. We did as we were told and, well to be frank, forced our baby to sleep in a moses basket next to the bed, and later a cot in another room. We read to him til gone midnight sometimes. Eventually, we slept in shifts for about six weeks. Things improved. Marginally. Gradually. He woke every two hours for the first four months. Four wakes a night were not uncommon at ten months, now in his own room. At around 16 months, he started to consistently sleep through. Well, til 4.30am anyway. As you can imagine, we wanted to avoid this with our new baby. I heard about co-sleeping, bitterly regretted not doing it with our eldest. (Who, incidentally, is now always welcome in our bed, but sleeps fitfully there). I researched the concept, and fell in love. We didn't wait to find out if our daughter is high need, and co-sleeping started on our first night in hospital. Tongue-in-cheek, often hidden from the midwives.

Here are some things I LOVE about co-sleeping:

1.) This is a big one. I don't have to get up to feed or comfort Missis. I had NO IDEA I could get so much sleep with a newborn. I'm just hardly tired at all! It's really amazing.
2.) The stunningly hand-crafted bedside (dropped side) cot my husband lovingly made for our daughter. (above)
3.) Cuddling my new baby. Stroking her newborn-soft hair whenever I please. Touching her skin. Marveling at her fingers. Anytime.
4.) Breastmilk is better at night.
5.) More feeding at night means less in the day, and more time spent with my toddler during the day.
6.) I really don't mind how many times she wakes.
7.) My husband loves it. And not just because he gets more sleep. Even when I told him the average age a co-sleeping child leaves the family bed. (Which is two years, by the way. be said "ahh".)

However, there are some no so great things about co-sleeping.

1.) She heats me up so much, I wake up sweaty.
2.) I never knew it was possible, but she actually scoots towards me as we sleep, so that we have less & less room as the night goes on. We only have a double bed!
3.) She has never slept in the aforementioned cot for longer than 15mins. It is being used as a glorified bedside table. My drink, lansinoh, lamp etc.
4.) I refuse to use a duvet due to safety, but we only have an old scratchy blanket & sheet until we can get to ikea & it's not very warm or cosey.
5.) Just when my horribly cracked nipple was on the mend, I wake to find her sucking on it however she pleases. It's not "nipple feeding" Missis!
6.) She has razor blades for finger nails on my over-full, sensitive boobs.
7.) Baby sick, milk & leaky nappies on my sheets.
8.) Sex has to be quicker and quieter. But it's not impossible! And the gentle motion sooths a stirring baby at the other side of the bed.

I recommend it. It's really works for us.


Friday, September 25, 2009

C-section: the pros

I could go on about how great my birth was, but I'll save that for another post. What I will tell you today is what has been my favourite thing so far about having a surgical over a natural birth. With my last baby, I suffered such trauma physically that sex was the last thing on my mind for the best part of six months. Well, actually, it wasn't, but however much I wanted to, it wasn't worth the pain. And it's not very romantic to say; "hold that thought honey, I'll just get the local anesthetic gel." even after a whole tube, it was still time to grit my teeth, at least for the first few minutes.
Today, our daughter is three weeks old. And guess what we got up to last night?! It has helped that she is a much more settled baby than our son was.
I hadn't realised, after a physically demanding pregnancy that literally dictated how far I could open my legs for the past six months, how much I'd missed my husband. And sex! The physical closeness it brings. And it's still as fantastic as it always was :-)
Just slightly quicker and quieter than usual. But after six months and with a sleeping newborn in a bedside cot next to us, can you blame us?!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Learner Breastfeeder

I thought I'd share with you some of the public places that I've so far bared my boobs, since, as a learner, I'm not shy as such but worried about fluffing it up in public, and having a screaming newborn on-off-on-off the boob. Neither fun nor sociable.

1.) An emergency feed in a newsagent's car park on the way to a special bra shop for nursing mums. At half past three. That is, school chuck out time. Yes, the shop was filled with pre-pubescent boys. I furtively glanced up from under my eyelashes, daring one of them to shout something about tits. Not one of them gave me a second look.

2.) Mothercare breastfeeding facilities. Which was the ladies loos with a sofa/bench in it. Which meant HID had to stay outside. The changing facilities were in the ladies too. Useful. It wasn't comfortable, but better than the car, and the music was good!

3.) My mum's. My step-dad quickly excused himself to his office.

4.) A country pub at lunchtime. My mum had the Boy, and we went out. We chose a booth in the corner, next to some retired ladies lunching, who were most pleased to be in Missis' company. She struggled to latch on and fussed and cried. Our food came. I decided to continue....

5.) In the car in the car park outside the pub, opposite a carfull of collage-age youths. (male). She fed well. My food went cold.

6.) Starbucks, in a comfy chair. Had to hobble upstairs, as students had nicked all the comfy chairs downstairs. Good music, and getting better at latching on in public and not showing too much nipple.

7.) At my house, but with friends, a couple and their 23m old. Who now thinks I provide milk for the whole world. And openly observed how I put my baby to my breast in that wonderfully curious and innocent way only children can.

Tomorrow, I will be feeding at a training course for b/f helper volunteers that I'm taking. I'm sure they will be a supportive audience.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Breastfeeding HELP!!

My daughter is 11 days old and has yet to gain weight, though she's no longer losing. Midwife has been "strongly suggesting" a daily formula fed for days now, and insisted today it is the "final straw" and "Must" be given today. She's back tomorrow to weigh!!! Don't want to give formula if can be avoided. Did with son & he self-weaned from breast within 2 months. Baba well, not dehydrated, normal poos, wees, feeding well, and often, good latch, milk in. Does anyone know anything about weight gain in bf babies? Or any suggestions at all? Expressing & topping up with at least 1oz via a cup daily. She hates it! HELP!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's a girl!

The little lady, who has already procured the nickname "Missis", arrived as planned via CS just over a week ago, weighing 6lbs13, giving a little cry to abate our worries then proceeding to be calm for the rest of the time I was in surgery and recovery. It was magical.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New baby

Thanks to all who read my "Missing my Bbaby" post. On a happy note, this time tomorrow (in theory) I will be mummy to two under two's! I'm arriving at hospital at 7.45 tomorrow, and I'm the very first on the list, so unless there are countless emergencies, in around 24 hours, I'll be holding my much-anticipated newborn in my arms, rather than my poor pelvis :-)
Wish me luck! I cannot wait!!