Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just let me breastfeed in peace!

Having two "spirited" children under two is tough going, no matter which way you look at it. Evenings-through-mornings seem to be the hardest. Typically: toddler wrestled into bed around 7pm. Hubby to make tea, which I eat one-handed, whilst newborn cluster-feeds til 9-10ish. Get up to feed 4ish times, with one feed, around 2am, being very fussy (i.e. requiring me to fully wake up) and lasting over an hour. Toddler wakes for milk/cuddle around 5am. Hubby leaves for work 6.30am. One of the babies wakes up around 7, and I hope the other doesn't wake for another ten minutes! If toddler is first to wake, he is left to chatter in his cot while I race to wash and dress; teeth and hair can be done with newborn in the sling later on if needs be. If Missis is first up, it's a bit more challenging, but she can sometimes be convinced to look at her mobile for up to five minutes. Now, both babies need nappies changing before they leak and feeding before they cry (more loudly than they inevitably already are). It's basically a judgment call on which child can be made to wait. I don't like it, but I try to be fair. A wonderful peace-keeper in these newborn days is the TV. Imagine my horror when I come downstairs to find it broken, and a small boy who is convinced it's perfectly fine and Mummy is just mean. Top it off with colds for all three of us, which means toddler woke 4+ times in the night, and all newborn's feeds were fussy. Or, doing a much harder job, on less sleep, when you're not well yourself.

Nevertheless, I managed to get us all fed and dressed for 9.30am to wait for our lift to breastfeeding support group. My mum arrives to drive us there. We chat in the car. She had visited her friend the previous day who has a ("good") baby the same age as Missis. Her friend is recovering well from a natural birth. I had a c-section and am still experiencing SPD pain. Her friend is bottlefeeding, which I feel has nothing to do with anything, and certainly isn't my concern. My mum is very pro-formula, she hated breastfeeding and didn't do it for long. Here we go.

Her; she gave him a bottle and he just slept for three hours!

Me; hmmm. But Boy (formula fed) never did at that age did he? And Missis will do that if she's in the sling.

She asks about our night. I begin to tell her, then;

Her; it was your choice to breastfeed, so don't keep moaning about it!

Me; everyone has unsettled nights with new babies, even if they are bottle fed!

Her; your cousin's (three-month-old formula fed & baby-rice fed) baby slept through very early on!

Me; Boy still doesn't sleep through. It has nothing to do with feeding.

Her; but you'd have so much more time if you gave her a bottle!

Me; Boy had tummy ache & sickness after every feed, and was constipated til we gave cow's milk at 12m! He only went two hours between feeds til he was five months old!

She has conveniently forgotten how much formula disagreed with Boy, we changed brand four times. Truth is, none of them are breastmilk. She also doesn't realise how much washing and sterilizing bottlefeeding a baby that feeds every two hours yeilds. I did so much screwing on of tops, I ended up with painful repetitive strain injury and wore a splint for a year. She's forgotten this too.

Her; well I'm not having you complaining about how tired you are again, it was your choice to breastfeed, I don't want to hear about anything to do with breastfeeding from now on!

At this point, as is often the case with arguments with our parents, I reverted into teenage-mode and decided if I couldn't talk about breastfeeding (which relates to most things with a newborn) I wouldn't talk to her at all.

Apparently, bottlefeeding would fix the TV, cure the common cold, make high-need children able to function without human contact, cure cesarean scars and SPD so I could drive, babysit while I have a shower and quite possibly do all the washing and hoover too. I know breastfed newborns spend A LOT of time at the breast, but soon they get bigger and don't fall asleep while feeding as much. Yes, it's hard learning how, and tiring, and often painful at first, but that doesn't last long, and at this point, I'm not experiencing any real difficulties at all. Formula feeding would make my life easier, at least that's her thinking. Even if that were true (which it isn't, or at least wasn't for us, I've formula fed a child from 4 weeks) that's not the reason behind most of my parenting decisions. I didn't decide to have children for an easy life. My idea is to do all I can to give them the best of everything, not opt out for an easy life. A friend pointed out that it's like me describing to her a lovely, healthy homemade recipe to give Boy and her saying; "oh, just open a jar and give him that." The irony is, that's exactly what she does. She thinks raviolli from a tin is a perfectly healthy and acceptable meal to give a toddler (not a one off, over and over again.)

Her argument; you had raviolli and you're fine

Yes, if you count grossly overweight, addicted to junk food and with no idea how to cook from scratch til I had children fine, then yes, I'm fine.

Her; Boy was formula fed and he's fine.

Yes, if you think having eczema, being hospitalized with asthma and having delayed speech and countless ear infections (all symptoms of not breastfeeding) is fine.

Her; you have eczema and asthma, it's hereditary.

Yes it is. But I was formula fed too, so we'll never know.

For more on the "formula is not fine" point of view, click here. Shocking, but interesting.

So it was a quiet journey home from breastfeeding support group. Well, I'm banned from the topic. And mum was shocked into silence by the image of a woman feeding a three year old. No matter how many times I tell her that the World Health Organization recommends we breastfeed a child for at least two years.

I'm not anti-formula. Hell, it saved my Boy from hospitalization when he was tiny. And however pro-breastfeeding I am now,I can't turn back time for him. But, difficult as breastfeeding was last time, this time it's going really well. In fact, I'm loving it. So why is she so hell-bent on ramming formula down my throat?

P.S. in the photo above I'm wearing my new Mama Feels Good nursing t-shirt. It's fab!

P.P.S. Please click here and vote for my friends Faye & Liam to win their dream wedding. Please!



At 9:16 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a similar problem with my first son needing to go onto formula and being determined to feed Ciaran myself. I promised my Mum when I was pregnant I wouldn't be a martyr to the breast is best cause and in the first few weeks he fed constantly and I had mastitis and she reminded me of my promise.

I asked her if she could guarentee that going onto formula would mean that he wanted to feed less frequently as when Ben came out of hospital he was on a two hourly feeding schedule which was pretty close to what we did (more feeds daytime than night thank God).

When I gave up exclusively feeding Ciaran it was because I felt I wanted more time to spend with Ben and that Ciaran had been given over 4 months of exclusive milk and could now afford to spend a little less time attached to me.

I know how annoying those comments can be, but I guess your Mum is just worried about you and trying to make sure you aren't breastfeeding out of guilt rather than a positive choice.

IMO - Happy Mum= Happy Baby so you do whatever makes you happiest (or at this stage the least desperate to throw yourself out the window). x

At 9:24 pm , Blogger cartside said...

You know what works for you. Maybe your mum sees your breast feeding as a criticism of her own parenting choices and is in a way defending herself. But that doesn't make it any easier. My own dad was like a broken record asking at every phone conversation "are you still breast feeding? Don't you think it's time to stop" which annoyed me endlessly. I just stated my views and left it at that. My choice, don't care about other people's opinions. And when I see now how hard formula feeding can be with a niece who throws up after every feed - well, I know I had it easier. In spite of the 17 months of broken nights. which of course may have nothing to do with breast feeding.

At 9:31 pm , Blogger Kat said...

Some people find other people's choices to be a judgement of their own, you deciding to do something different it makes them somehow wrong. Maybe she is keen for you to FF for that reason. I hope she stops making it such an issue between you. My own mother made lots of comments about extended feeders when I was growing up which I remember *very* clearly. I always smirk to myself when she pretends she is totally cool with me feeding both toddler and baby.

At 2:05 am , Blogger allgrownup said...

WorldofaMummy; my mum and I had a similar agreement, I made myself (and baby) ill trying with my first. This time, yes baby fed a lot at first, but she's going longer and longer between feeds every day now, and I honestly have no other problems! My other post-natal health issues mean I'd struggle to play with/take out my toddler anyway, so at least this way, one child is getting something good from me having to rest. Thanks for sharing your story.

cartside; it's 20 months and counting broken sleep for us, and he's the formula fed one....I've told her outright I'm not taking her advice cos it's going well, but still she goes on and on! Think she has some serious issues with her own b/f experiences. Not something I need to deal with on top of recovering from a birth with newborn & toddler!

Kat; yes, she's obviously feeling as if I'm rubbing her b/f failure in her face by being sucessful at it, she clearly found my misery and failure last time easier to deal with, arrgghh! If she can't manage to be happy for me, the least she could do is keep her negativity to herself. I do hope to become an extended feeder myself....assume it will go down like a lead balloon....

At 11:59 am , Blogger Laura C said...

I can relate to how you are feeling. I had to bottlefeed my first as he simply would not take to breastfeeding and to be honest I think I was a little naive as to how hard it is in the intial b/f stages. He was fine with the first formula we gave him, aptimal, and he has been fine health wise although he did have a bit of baby eczema. I'm fully b/f baby girl just now and she is now 4 and half months. I have started weaning yet. She still doesn't sleep through the night and is up for about 2 feeds during the night. As your lil girl gets bigger you'll find you get into a routine easier and her feeding will get better and quicker! It's a shame your mum isn't as supportive of the b/f! My hubby has mentioned a cpl of time about putting baby girl on to a night time bottle so she sleeps but she won't necessarily sleep from that either. Most babies need a night time feed until they are 6 months. She'll sleep through when she's ready! Good luck and keep doing what your doing, you're obviously doing a great job!

At 2:43 pm , Blogger Cave Mother said...

You're doing so well. I know it's hard, but you just have to rise above your mum's comments and do what is right for you and the little baby. I'm convinced sleeping patterns are much more to do with the temperament of the individual child than the feeding method. You are doing the NORMAL thing in breastfeeding.

Anyway, I reckon mums always find something to be funny about. Mone breastfed me so that's not an issue, but she gets all funny about the modern advice to sleep babies on their backs because in her day they were told to put them on their tummies. She refuses to believe that this was responsible for thousands of SIDS deaths.


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