A new flower for my garden

We recently welcomed a new flower to the family. Bluebell Hope arrived after the encouragement of an induction for health reasons (mummy’s – baby Blue is perfect!) three weeks ago. It wasn’t the easiest pregnancy – from being told it appeared we had  lost a twin just over a month after falling pregnant after checking out bleeding, anxiety on the health of the remaining baby, SPD, predictions of a 10lb baby even before being diagnosed late with gestational diabetes which can make them even bigger if not managed correctly (yikes!) and subsequently having a few scary hypos due to being overcautious with my sugar levels before finally being told it would be adviseable to deliver a week or two early – but baby Bluebell (actually born weighing a perfectly reasonable 8lbs 14oz) was worth it.

I will no doubt blog a birth story when I come to reminisce on it one day in the not too distant future as I found it very hard to find positive induction stories online before mine. Rest assured for those awaiting their own miracles – labour hurts but it is no worse when induced than if you pop on your own! Every labour is different regardless of the woman or surroundings so when people say it hurts more to be induced bear in mind they don’t know what it would have been like without the intervention. Be positive, breathe and remember every contraction brings tour miracle closer to your waiting arms :).

TTFN xxxx

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The truth about breastfeeding a toddler (according to me lol!)

Well the first thing to say about it is that it doesn’t usually hurt as much as you would expect. Feeding a toddler with most of their teeth is the same as feeding a baby with none (though I reserve the right to amend this soon as the fangs are coming through!). The only time those gnashers come into contact with flesh is when the little bugger falls asleep hehe! Poppy is now 17 months old and shows no sign of quitting the boobie feed. Daily, nightly and ever so rightly, if I am there then so is she!

I never planned nor intended to keep going for this long. I am not a mummy who feels the bond will be broken when I give up this “special time in our lives”. In fact I feel more awkward about feeding at this age out in public than I ever did when I first began breastfeeding way back when my eldest, Izzy, was born (her first public feed was in a church as my Godson was Christened). There has been so much publicity surrounding extended breastfeeding of late that I feel if I whip one out and pop Poppy on I may be hunted down with torches and pitchforks by baying villagers. Baby feeding seems to be the new witch hunt… switch to formula too early (or, God forbid, skip breastfeeding althogether) and you obviously don’t care about your baby’s health and wellbeing. Quit breastfeeding too late and you are “hanging on” to the baby days, stunting your childs emotional independence and obviously don’t care about your child’s health and wellbeing. I can’t comment too much on formula feeding partially because I don’t feel strongly about it either way – we combination fed Izzy after a few weeks so she had one bottle a day that my husband gave her for daddy bonding time and the rest of the time was breastfeeding. That’s been the extent of our experience with formula as Poppy would never touch it. Even when I was away from her at four months old, taking a few hours a week to learn dressmaking, she turned her nose up at daddy’s bottle and screamed until I returned. We tried giving it to her from a beaker. A cup. A straw. Nothing worked. Then we tried cows milk and still nothing. However if I expressed she would have a little from any of the drinking paraphernalia aforementioned (mainly because my body doesn’t seem to express well unless she is feeding off the other side simultaneously so a little was all I could ever manage). I can comment on her emotional independence though – if she is midway through a feed she has demanded and something more interesting catches her eye, she is up and off like a shot. Children, dogs, cats, adults – anyone who looks interesting can persuade her to bugger off and leave me there, boob hanging out and dripping like a coffee machine. Her independence, emotional or other, remains intact and flourishing.

My main reason for carrying on is that, quite simply, she isn’t ready to quit. If you were sat at the pub and the barstaff whipped your pint or glass of wine (or something stronger) away you wouldn’t be best pleased. If you were thirsty and hadn’t had anything to drink for a while and someone sanctimoniously said “No you can’t have what you have ordered” without satisfactory explanation you would request to speak to the manager or simply leave and go somewhere you could get the drink you wanted. And quite rightly so -we are given the opportunity to choose as adults and whether we choose what is good for us or something naughty is down to us entirely. As children we have choices thrust upon us. “You have to wear a cardigan because it’s chilly”. This is probably true uif you are a grown up sitting at a desk but if you’re three, running around a classroom crowded with other hyperactive three year olds all kicking out body heat it is probably pretty tropical. But we grown ups know best. “Eat your carrots, you can’t say you don’t like then until you have tried them 15 times” (or whatever the books are saying this year). “Um, no. I have tried them mum and I really truly DON’T like them. Feel free to try my lukewarm pureed spinach 15 times before you tell me you don’t like it though.” Well breastfeeding is no different. Young Poppy here has a choice. Milk from an animal in a field run through a process of heat treatment and cooling, bottling and transportation to a coldstore until put out on a shelf in an openfronted fridge. Or she can have powdered milk that you add boiled water to then wait patiently to cool to the correct temperature (a bit like a pot noodle for kids). Or she can have what she has known since birth – fresh milk on demand,  untouched even by fresh air, at a perfect temperature, in a variety of flavours if mummy’s had something nice for dinner. All this and it comes with a free cuddle. I was going to say the second reason was her aversion to any other kind of milk but actually having read my own breakdown of the main reason I suddenly don’t give a crap about that second reason anymore.

So breast it is. Not because I have an attachment issue. Not because I am bohemian or hippyish. Not even because it’s ‘best’ (the jury is still firmly out on the nutritional benefits of extended feeding in the western world with our ‘superior’ diet – coz I reckon a Macdonalds is packed with nutrients). Simply because Poppy has voted with her tastebuds and her tummy and it turns out she thinks it’s best for her. And that makes it best for me too (even if my back hurts as she grows heavier, my sleep is STILL seriously disturbed by a little gannet in the middle of the night and I warily eye the fangs poking through her little pink gums).

So am an advocate of extended breastfeeding? No, not at all. If your toddler will happily leave you to partake in your first alcoholic beverage since that pregnancy test, let you take stronger painkillers for the migraine brought on by too many high pitched voices on kids tv or wear that gorgeous but high-cut dress with absolutely no boobie access without stripping – do it! Run for the hills while patting yourself on the back for breastfeeding through the socially acceptable period and quitting before your boobs hit the deck. But if you can’t… if you feel your child isn’t in that space yet and you are ok with carrying on for the timebeing at least… then settle down for that cuddle, use the excuse to request your other half to bring you a cuppa while you sit on your bum doing what only mummy can. And if you get nipped or pulled or your back begins to ache, don’t feel guilty for thinking “God I thought we’d be done by now”. But do try to remember why you’re not done. Because to your toddler you are awesome. You’re warm, possibly a bit squishy still (damn baby weight!), you’re a perfect fit for their ever growing body and they love you more than they have ever loved anything in their whole entire busy little lives.

Love you, my beautiful chunky monkey and gorgeous little princess.

Take care

TTFN xxxx

Breastfeeding

I read an interesting article by a man on his thoughts on breastfeeding – or specifically his wife breastfeeding – tonight. It hasn’t ever occurred to me to wonder what my husband thinks as I have casually whipped one out (well not really but you get the idea!) to feed our daughters. As it turns out he was nervous in the early days in case someone came over and said something to me. I am not sure if that is because I am usually very unnerved by any sort of conflict and it may have made me too scared to continue or if it was because at the time I became a sleep deprived and mentally unstable individual who would have either burst into tears or ripped into the perpetrator at full force. I decided it was best not to check for the time being… 

Indeed my only experience of a man taking notice as I fed was actually sat I a cafe having lunch with a friend. He directed his wife and their brand new pram to the table next to us and once they were settled he began to ask questions…

First the obvious one.

“So, how old is your baby?”

Followed swiftly by the usual banter about sleepless nights and neverending nappy changing. Finally he found the courage to ask the question he had clearly planned to ask all along.

“Have you had any problems with anywhere when you have been, you know, breastfeeding out in public?”

The honest answer was that no I had not. And in fact even now after a collective 21 months of breastfeeding the only comments I have ever received have been very positive. The first time I breastfed in public (in fact one of my first trips out due to severe anaemia after Izzy’s birth) was in church at my Godson’s christening and actually I had comments congratulating me on doing what she needed without hesitating. Even the vicar sang from the same hymn sheet as he made sure I didn’t worry if I had done the right thing. Subsequent to that I have had old ladies comment loudly how wonderful it was to see and how much baby was enjoying it (this applies to both Izzy and Poppy as old ladies seem to be drawn to me when I feed!). For the most part though nobody bothers me about it. In honesty once you are used to the quick fumble to “release the beast” it is a case of “whip it out and whop it in”. I have seen more boob when women have bent over to fill in an Argos slip than I generally show when I feed. Maybe this is why I have never had to deal with the much maligned “go and feed in the toilets” routine?

Either way this gentleman’s wife finally got in on the conversation and it transpired the baby she was gearing up to bottle feed was usually breastfed and she was nervous about doing it in public – hence the bottle. I managed to convince the woman to join me so she could try her first time with company! I hope it helped her to do it on future trips out without the fear holding her back. The problem is we have all heard the tale of the restaurant workers who try to move breastfeeding mothers along, but no newspaper has ever reported on the huge number of very positive experiences breastfeeding mothers have courtesy of people who agree that breast is best. 

TTFN xxxx