Saturday, 29 September 2012

It's for the breast

I've now been breastfeeding Millie for 2 days short of 6 weeks. This is such an achievement for me. I managed 4 solid weeks with Callum then slowly weaned off until 6 weeks and my aim was to do longer this time and I have accomplished that so pat on the back for me. 

But I am at a cross-roads. My right nipple still hasn't healed. I've been treating the infection I have in it for a week and it is still there! To top it all off my left nipple is now staring to hurt when I feed (though no obvious cause for this). I'm told my latch is fine & have taken any advice I've been given but nothing is changing. I started to feel things were starting to improve & felt the pain was getting less but I had also started taking paracetamol for the pain. It was after I forgot to take it for a day that I found myself crying out in pain and in tears in the middle of the night again.


I am gutted. I had hoped that I would get to the point that feeding became easy and I could start to enjoy the convenience & both me and Millie would enjoy the benefits. I had expected that stage to have got here by now. I'll be honest, if I had experienced that but still came to the point now at 6 weeks that I wanted to stop I'd have been happy. But I am gutted, so disappointed! It's making me miserable! I've spent too much time in tears this past couple of days that I figure if it is making me so unhappy I have to stop! If someone else had gone through the same experience as me and was as miserable as I am with it then I'd be advising them to stop, it's spoiling the good times they should be having with their baby. Happy mummy means happy baby! So I know I should heed my own advice.


So many people on twitter have been amazingly supportive and sharing their own experiences and passing on advice. It's really helped and meant so much. It's an amazing support network.


I am actually feeling a bit better about it this evening but put it down to another day on the painkillers! However, both this and the support on twitter (and of course from Stuart) I think I've come to a decision. I am seeing the HV for Millie's 6 week check on Monday and am going to tell her of the trouble I've had and tell her my plan and see what she says or if she has any other advice that might help.


The plan?


From that evening, I will make the 7/7.30 feed formula (this is the only routine feed so makes sense to start with this one!). I'll leave it at this for a week then, if no improvement, I will start to replace another feed every 2 days. I hope that by the time I am down to 2 feeds which are breast feeds, that my nipple will have healed or be showing a clear improvement in which case I will combination feed keeping just these 2 breastfeeds.


There are so many advanages to bottle feeding too.


  • Stuart can help meaning he can feel included but, most importantly to me, he can do the odd nighttime feed at the weekend.
  • I won't be worrying about whether I'll be in a bf friendly place, especially when it comes to the right side!
  • I have to do a driver awareness course soon and I'm currently worrying about how this is going to work and whether I can express enough in time that someone else can feed Millie with expressed milk.
  • I can start to enjoy some detachment again. This sounds incredibly selfish but sometimes being so tied to Millie and her being so dependent on only me and no one else can feel incredibly exhausting. Again, this is the advantage of others being able to feed Millie for me.
These all sound like incredibly selfish reasons! The reasons I would like to continue with breastfeeding:

  • I've lost very nearly all my pregnancy weight with very little (no) effort - now I've got another stone to lose which I'd really like some help with!
  • You can't take away the fact that in the middle of the night it is much better being able to whip out a boob rather than prepare a bottle while the baby screams for food
  • There's no sterilising of bottles and the advance preparation of bottles to worry about
  • The reason I mention above - to experience what it's like to be pain free and enjoy the convenience
  • There is a whooping cough epidemic at the moment and this really worries me. Babies can't be vaccinated until 8 weeks and I'm not sure how long it is before they have a resistance against the illness. While I am breastfeeding I hope that I am offering some protection to Millie until she is protected following the vaccination.
But, I have already achieved what I set out to (bf for longer and get to feed off right side), given Millie the best start and enjoyed the convenience without having to express all the time. I should be proud, and I am!

The Six Week Myth

I remember, when pregnant with Callum, everyone warned that the first few weeks with a newborn are hard but it all starts to get easier from 6 weeks. When I had Callum at first I wondered what all the stress was about, I found it relatively easy (well easier than I expected) but by the time 6 weeks came along I was falling apart, regularly breaking down into tears & it all got incredibly hard.

When my NCT mummy friends confirmed that for them things started getting easier at about 6 weeks, I assumed it was different for me because Callum was born nearly 4 weeks early. He slept more in the first couple of weeks so by the time 6 weeks came I assumed this was the equivalent to 2 weeks for most people.

However, here I am again and once more I feel like I'm falling apart. The sleep deprivation is taking its toll, I'm questioning myself with every action as I try to master the day time sleeping patterns (or lack of pattern), Millie is becoming more demanding and I regularly find myself in tears and days fly by in a blink. I find myself hating the newborn stage again! Believe it or not, even though Stuart was I'll in the first couple of weeks, Millie was fairly straight forward then. She slept. I could put her in her Moses basket after a feed & she would happily sleep. Now I am constantly looking for the sleep signals then can spend hours soothing, stroking, rocking her to sleep before giving in and either cuddling her to sleep or placing her in the sling.

I don't want to wish this time away. I love Millie being so small and I want to savour every day with her but it's so hard not to will it to be a month or so on when ones are starting to fall into a routine.

My problems with breastfeeding haven't helped my emotional state but that's another post which I will write after this one.

I know that the less you stress about stuff the quicker things fall into place & stressing about things makes everything seem much worse than it actually is. But when all you want to do is grab yourself a sandwich at lunch or hang the latest mountain of baby clothes on the line to dry but every time you approach such an activity the baby starts to cry & refuses to settle into sleep again unless they are attached to you, it all gets a bit draining.

I have a sling kindly borrowed from a friend and that helps (except when you a busting for a wee). I also know that getting out helps your sanity & usually guarantees one good sleep for the baby but when you are feeling down with the situation and it's raining yet again it's hard to motivate yourself. Again, this isn't helped by the breastfeeding issues as if it's 'problem boob's' turn which is not the most easiest feed to do in public (rugby ball hold) then I can often put off an outing! This time I also have the added guilt of the more time I spend with Millie the more I am neglecting Callum - and vice versa!

But, I do know it's not for ever and before I know it I'll be looking back on these weeks like a distant memory both grateful I won't have to go through it again but sad that my baby has changed so much already & I can't get that time back.

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Gruffalo Trail, Moors Valley

A couple of weeks ago was Callum's birthday & we had intended to go to a local nature park nearby called Moors Valley as they have a Gruffalo trail for kids during the summer months that is due to finish at the end of September. I had read a review of the activity on fellow blogger, Kara Guppy's Chelsea Mamma blog and it sounded perfect for callum.

Unfortunately, in true British weather style, we had to change our plans as, despite weather being good leading up to his birthday and was sunny again the next day, it chucked it down all morning in the actual day!

However, I was still keen to take Callum there so, with a nice day forecast for Saturday 15 September and nothing already planned we decided to go check it out and we took my 6 year old niece, Sofia, along too.

It was £2 for a card containing answer spaces for 20 questions (well 19, the last one was an instruction to return to the visitor centre to check your answers). The trail was about a mile long through the Moors Valley woods and along the way were logs containing questions or activities. Some referenced the book directly, some were questions relating to the animal characters from the book (I.e. which of the animals hibernate?) and others required you to complete an activity such as look for pine cones eaten by a particular animal or move like one of the characters in a follow my leader game. The questions were engaging and inclusive enough for both Callum at 4 years old and my niece at 6. The questions were spaced at a good distance where you could usually see the next question from the last. This provided enough excitement and continuity for little ones to remain engaged pulling them forward to the next question without getting bored. I imagine if they were too far apart they would have lost interest.

 Hmmm, tricky one!

 I think the Gruffalo went that way!

Follow the leader: Flying like Owl

The questions themselves were aimed at probably my niece's age though im sure some children Callum's age would be able to answer some of the questions and there were a couple that even Stuart and I had to think about! I had forgotten to read up on the book before going as was advised by Chelseamamma, but thankfully, although it would have helped for a couple of questions, it wasn't necessary for them all.

It did help that it was a gorgeous sunny day, not too hot and not too cold but even if it had been a bit overcast, the path it took through the Forrest would have still been enjoyable. Callum and Sofia had great fun running to find the next question and Stuart and I found it a pleasurable walk in the September sun. Millie slept through the majority of it but was rather fascinated by the trees when she did wake up. It was a pushchair friendly path too. We have a maclaren and, although bumpy over a few tree roots, it was easy enough to navigate round.

All this walking is hard work!

We didn't do too bad either with the quiz, considering we didn't cheat by looking up the answers on our phone. Just the one question wrong! Well done us.

The walk itself took us just under 2 hours which included a stop near the end so I could feed Millie.

We finished our day with a run around in the park - well Millie & I sat and watched the others run around - before we headed home. A good day had by all.

 In the park!

Friday, 21 September 2012

At 4 weeks new

Millie is now 4 weeks and 5 days old. Where has the time gone. In a blur! (from tired eyes as well as going so fast!)

I'm torn at the moment between wanting to savour each day while she is so small to hoping for this relentless newborn stage to be over so we can have some kind of routine established!

If I compare Millie's progress to Callum's, much of the challenges I'm going through are the same as what I went through with Callum...the unsettled evenings taking ages to soothe to sleep! The put down game where just as you get them asleep, if you try to put them down, they are awake again in seconds or, if you manage for any length of time it will be 20 mins, just long enough to fool you that you've cracked it this time so you focus on a menial task like emptying the dishwasher or more commonly you take an opportunity to try to to fix a meal when you hear those familiar cries and you have to start all over again.

But there are also elements that are better this time round like she will usually only wake the once in the night for a feed and has even managed a couple of 6 or 7 hour stretches which we didn't get with Callum so I should be grateful for getting more sleep however I appear to be struggling more with sleep deprivation this time and guess I have to put it down to age! Things only get harder as you get older.

The breastfeeding isn't really improving yet, in fact it's getting worse as now my nipple has an infection. I'm not surprised, in fact, I am surprised it's taken this long as an open wound being exposed for that length of time is at a high risk of being infected. The breastfeeding advisor has checked my latch and it all looks well except perhaps I wasn't pushing Mille onto my breast forcefully enough so maybe the latch wasn't deep enough. I'm now trying hard to shove her onto my boob and willing this to be the solution and that along with the antibacterial cream, fucidin, that I've been prescribed, my nipple will finally heal. I'm desperate to experience pain free feeding so I can get to the point that feeding is actually an enjoyable experience to some extent or at least to be able to enjoy the convenience of it without dreading a feed! Friends have also advised to try expressing that side for a coupe of days or to go back to nipple shields to let it heal, based on their own experiences, so I may try one or both of those approaches too.

Despite all this it's all made better by the fact I'm getting lovely smiles now. It's true what they say that they learn these skills with perfect timing to make all the crappy stuff seem worthwhile. Three weeks is early for smiling but I know this isn't wind, it's a very different smile. It lights up her eyes and her whole face.

Bring on the next feed and/or sleepless night!


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

It's only natural!

Breast feeding - such a natural thing, providing for your baby the way nature intended! After all, that's what your boobs are there for. It shouldn't hurt! If it does, the latch is wrong!


Excuse my language but if this is the case why on earth didn't Mother Nature make the first week after your baby is born 'easy', foolproof in fact, and PAINLESS! It's not meant to hurt they say! You're telling me a mini Hoover clamped on to your nipple isn't meant to hurt? If you are a man, or a woman who hasn't had children or not breast fed for whatever reason, next time you are near a newborn (one you know, I'm not saying a random baby you happen to walk past in the street - that could get you in to a world of trouble) stick your (clean) little finger in their mouth and imagine that your finger was your nipple then tell me that wouldn't hurt!

There is some truth though in that fable - that if it hurts the latch isn't right. After the initial first week, your nipples should acclimatise to the mini blood sucker (& I mean that literally) and shouldnt hurt but by this stage your lovely little leech has had a week's practice of latching incorrectly so the damage has already been done! Your nipple is cracked, red raw, contains open sores! Plus, they say if you know a latch is bad or it hurts, put your little finger in the corner of their mouth and break the latch. Yeah, right! No easy feat in itself! And when they do come away, shouting at your boob in complaint, they pull on your poor tender nipple! OUCH! Then, as if to punish you more they claw at your poor unfortunate nipple with their tiny weeny yet razor sharp nails.

So, "how is the feeding going?" you ask...

I've a nipple with a smiley mouth that shouldn't be there - and believe me it isn't a happy nipple. I've squeezed, sorry 'compressed' my boob until it feels bruised, I've had my nipples pulled & tugged this way and that, every time Millie latches on my right, used to be flat, nipple I have to endure toe curling pain (even once you fix the latch the damage done to your nipple takes time to repair and this still hurts until it does), I'm on my second tube of lansinoh (a little tube of magic) and at £10 a pop I've hardly been using it generously!

So why am I continuing? Bloody mindedness! Last time I managed 4 weeks and was just getting into swing of things as I stopped so I wanted to make it further to the point where it did feel second nature and I could really experience the benefits of breast feeding. Especially since this time I had conquered the first challenge, with the help of nipple shields (meleda), of getting Millie to feed off both sides, unlike Callum, and, yes, I can see myself getting there finally at 3 weeks. My left side is now comfortable with feeding and I think my right side is at last starting to heal! I hope so, I could just be getting used to the pain now (which is still toe curling & often makes me cry out) that it doesn't feel so bad!

One things for sure, I'm pleased this is our last baby as I doubt I would go through it again.

I'm not even the type of person to look down at my feeding baby and feel warmed by the sight and enjoy the bonding and closeness it provides. Sorry, that's not just me.

But rather than focus on the negatives, I need to look at how far I've come!

  • I've survived over 3 weeks now already
  • I'm no longer 'scared' to use my left side and no longer need lansinoh on that nipple
  • I am no longer using the nipple shields at all and haven't been doing so for a week now
  • I've only used formula top ups twice (60ml & 60ml respectively)
I do admit though that I am pleased that I've been able to pass on my antibodies and I am certainly enjoying my weight and waistline decreasing at a steady rate not to mention the cost benefits, not having to sterilise and not having to go down and warm a bottle in the early hours, trying to get the temperature right while your baby screams for food.

I'm sorry for anyone who reads this that hasn't breast fed before and is hoping to, it's not said to put you off and it is just my experience. Yours may be very different and I truly hope you are one of the lucky ones that takes to it like duck to water.

But here's my advice:

  • Have lansinoh at the ready. It is expensive but it will be your saviour! You can buy it cheaper from amazon than on the high street. In the event that you don't need it or you don't use it all, it is fantastic on sore bottoms too (as in nappy rash). Warm between fingers to make more spreadable then put on bottom before bed. By morning the redness will have reduced! My poor boy's bottom was red raw & bleeding once & this along with drapoline succeeded where all others (there had been many) had failed!
  • Do use nipple shields if you have flat or inverted nipples and/or really sore cracked nipples, they really made a difference to me at the start. They say that you shouldn't use them in the first 6 weeks but the lovely breast advisor lady said they had their place & shouldn't affect your supply if you use them correctly. She also advised ensuring you compressed your breast towards the end to make sure your boob was drained to avoid getting mastitis.
  • To follow on from the last tip, don't rely on the nipple shields. If you don't 'need' to use them then don't and try to get off them as soon as you can as babies often use a different suck/latch for the shields to your nipple - more similar to that of a bottle teat - so this could affect the latch when you go without the shield and cause you unnecessary damage (as what happened to me).
  • Contact your breast feeding support person straight away, even if you think you are doing ok as it is great just to get the reassurance that you are doing well plus they can still give you good tips (stuff I wouldn't have known if I didn't contact mine). You've also made contact which means, if later you do experience difficulty, it won't be so scary asking for help.
Please do share your own advice if you have anything to add.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Stepping Up to His New Role of Big Brother

It is natural for any mum to worry about how their first child(ren) will adapt to a new sibling. Its not just your life that changes, their life will change beyond all recognition, life wont only be just about them now there will be a new attention stealer in town! It was one of the reasons we wanted to wait until Callum was 4 before introducing a new family member. At 4 a sibling is less likely to get jealous and they can understand more, help and get involved.

I was still expecting some kind of rebellion, and I still am. I feel myself saying “no because of Millie” in relation to a number of different scenarios and so I feel its only a matter of time when Callum has enough of this noisy, dull infiltrator taking up so much of his Mummy’s time!

There was a time in the first week Callum was being whingey and clingy to Stuart and I was worried but he was feeling under the weather so I can put it down to that.

Mostly, so far, he has just taken it all in his stride and is adapting wonderfully. Not only is he accepting of his new little sister, he has taken on the ‘Big Boy’ mantle. He is becoming more and more independent, wanting to do little tasks on his own. He is cleaning his own teeth, feeding himself, often getting his own breakfast, being helpful to me around the house such as helping me with the dishwasher and fetching dirty washing for me. He is being a little star and his reward chart is rapidly filling up – we had best start thinking of a reward as it wont be long before he gets to a full sheet at this rate.

These are all things we were struggling with getting him to do up until really recently so it is a real relief that he is keen to please at the moment. I say at the moment as these things often go in phases and he occasionally drops back to being a monkey after a exceptionally good spell so I’m sure there will be a moment in the future when he is testing my patience again but right now, when I really need him to be, he is being the best Big Brother and Son I could ask for.


Two Weeks of Two

I wont lie to you the past two weeks have been hard!

The first week we were pretty much in newborn bliss! Not saying it was easy – the first two nights were pretty much all nighters for me but at least Stuart was able to let me catch up on sleep at times. Millie slept all day except for feeds so daytimes were manageable. Callum was feeling under the weather so was quite clingy and whingey but didn’t seem to be too concerned by the new addition to the family!

Then Saturday, Stuart noticed he was starting to feel unwell. Sunday, Stuart felt awful but his parents were arriving that day to stay for a couple of nights before they went on their holiday so he struggled to get up and even ventured out to the shops for some supplies.

However, from Monday to Thursday, Stuart was bed bound with a virus resulting in tonsilitus! Stuart’s parents were staying until the Tuesday. This meant I had a newborn and a 4 year old to care for, a sick husband to look after and parents-in-law to entertain and cater for. On top of that, the baby blues had set in. Most days I was a spilt glass of milk away from a teary breakdown with the mornings being the biggest struggle and were often spent in tears!

Stuart’s parents kindly took Callum shopping one day and bought me some supplies, and they also collected a prescription for Stuart for us which was a big help. But I still had to organise meals and play the host to a certain extent and, to be honest, they just weren’t my parents!

I admit to feeling very sorry for myself – cheated out of Stuart’s paternity leave. This was meant to be one of those rare times when I got looked after, I got to rest, sleep, recover and it wasn’t happening. I felt sad that Stuart was missing out on bonding with his new daughter and the father & son time that I felt was long overdue with Callum.

Tuesday, I called my mum, burst into tears and asked if she could come and help. As soon as she arrived she immediately made tea and told me to sit down and rest then took care of the house, Callum & my niece who she was also looking after that day. She is my hero! I’ve never loved & appreciated my mum so much as at that point! 

By this time, I had pulled myself together somewhat so I did feel bad for bursting into tears at her on the phone. As I said before – mornings were hard, I felt overwhelmed and unable to cope. The power of a shower is amazing – it is, most days, the difference between me feeling like I can cope or not. But having my mum there still meant so much.

My sister came over too, picking up some shopping for me on the way.

Both my mum and my sister have been my absolute life savers, calling and checking on me, letting me cry to them and making me feel normal for doing so!

By Friday, Stuart was still feeling rubbish but he forced himself out of bed. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Stuart tried his hardest to make it up to me, cooking me dinner, looking after Callum, putting Callum to bed, even though he was still recovering himself. We even got out on Saturday to the airshow…eventually! Our first outing as a family of 4 involved leaving the house 2 hours after we were ‘ready to go’ as Stuart grappled with attaching the buggy board to the pushchair and I realised I could no longer leave the house without taking ‘luggage’ (a holdall similar to the size of those which you see passengers squeezing into the hand-luggage guide at airports) which contained ‘just the necessities’…and the kitchen sink!

Sunday was Callum’s birthday. I had gone through lots of guilt and worry during the week about whether we would be able to celebrate Callum’s birthday, whether we would have his present ready etc! Thankfully, my sister and mum picked up a cake, card and wrapping paper for me which instantly made me feel more relaxed about it. We had decided to take Callum to the Gruffalo Trail at Moors Valley and invited my Brother and family and my Sister and family to join us. My brother has a 5 year old son and my sister a 6 year old daughter so they provide good play mates for Callum.

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t conform and it chucked it down all morning meaning we had to have a change of plan. Instead we invited them to us for a birthday lunch and then headed off to the old faithful – softplay! Thankfully, we hadn’t actually told Callum what we had planned so he knew no different and seemed to have a great time regardless!

Now Stuart has returned to work and I’m surviving solo during the days again! I have down days and up days but its still ‘early days’ and we are surviving – Every day I try to have one thing planned and other than that, my only aim is to get up and showered and I’m even managing a few ‘chores’ too. I’m torn at the moment from wanting my wee girl to stay all diddy and newborn looking and being snuggled into my shoulder while she sleeps then on the other hand wanting it to be the next stage of establishing a routine. I really don’t want to hurry her life on I want to savour every moment!

On the breastfeeding front, again, its been tough! Why does Mother Nature make something that is meant to be so ‘natural’ so bloody painful and make the first week of feeding so difficult? You’d think She would make the first week a breeze so that you at least knew what it would be like if you kept at it – its a wonder that any woman makes it through the first week! I wont bore you with it now and make this post longer than it needs to be but expect another post soon!