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breastfeeding

Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding, Parenting

The day my booby monster baby went on strike

11 December, 2011

We are at Singapore airport, killing 12 hours before the next leg of our flight to New Zealand. I have been dreading this flight- Ramona’s first, and what an epic one to begin with- thinking it would probably be fine, but if it was bad it would be INSANELY AWFUL. So far, it hasn’t been that. Phew. She has mostly slept.

We are immensely excited about this trip to Tim’s homeland; Ramona’s first meeting of many family members, including her Grandad and newly minted cousins. We also get to escape the bleak midwinter to bask in glorious sunshine and swim in cooling lakes.

However there is something a little bittersweet about it, as it marks the end of my maternity leave. The week we return to England in January is the week I return part time to work, and where Tim steps in for Daddy Daycare half the week. Splitting the parenting exactly in half is ideal, don’t you think? But I still feel quite heartbroken thinking about it.

This last week has already heralded a  transitional period for Ramona, since turning one she is becoming much more a child and much less a baby. She is speaking words and less dependant on me for things like sleep – which everyone always told me was the reason I shouldn’t breastfeed to sleep. In fact right now she is not nursing at all. I am pretty sure we have entered a full blown nursing strike.

Before I began breastfeeding I always assumed I’d just do “the norm” – be that a few months or whatever. If you had told me back then that I’d be upset when at 12 months old Ramona would stop nursing I would have found that massively odd.  “Nursing a baby over one year is just a bit too keen” I would have said.

But it has now been 24 hours since her last nurse in the dead of night and 36 since her last concious nurse and it is really quite devastating. She is completely uninterested. It is an abrubt, unexpected rejection of breastfeeding that is leaving me with painful lead boobs the size of the packed parachutes under our seats. And I am totally gutted. I miss her. And she is right here with me. My brain is on overdrive wondering what could be happening and my heart aching with the prospect that she might never nurse again.

I should get off this lovely free computer for another session in the loo hand expressing into her Tomee Tipee cup.

So sad.

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So. I hit SAVE DRAFT instead of PUBLISH and am now on the other side of the world  and joyously on the other side of the strike. About 4 hours after I wrote this post she just accepted one of the millions of offers and calmly nursed as if “yeah, actually, I could do with a dash of milk right now, thanks!” I almost cried with relief. And now she is nursing just the same, in fact today she is on a bender. What was the story? Her bunged up nose and cough?  Her upset at me leaving her for an hour while I went to the dentist? I’ll never know. But I now see our breastfeeding relationship as so deeply precious. Thank God I have met people along the way who have encouraged me past those “norms” I mentioned earlier.

New Zealand is being good to us. Ramona absolutely LOVING her new cuzzies, the warmth, being outside, her Grandma’s baking. The second half of the flight was INSANELY AWFUL!! We had powerchucks, crying, no sleeping. We had that baby. I am not the one to write the book “How to survive 35 hour journeys with a one year old and your sanity intact”, that’s for shizzle.

Photos coming soon hopefully!

Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding

Dear Doctor : Don’t make stuff up about breastfeeding

8 November, 2011

Dear Doc,

I really appreciate you squeezing us in this afternoon. Ramona has been running a temperature for a couple of days and has been sleeping like a newborn. She didn’t even want to wake up to show off her new walking / talking on the phone/ finding her belly button skills so I felt best to check with you that it wasn’t bird flu. She has been chasing pigeons a lot recently.

I also appreciated the fact that you were a bit like a very stern Harry Hill, perhaps his angry dad. I really like Harry Hill, so that was cool. *

But I was really surprised at your disapproval of me still breastfeeding my one year old daughter! Gobsmacked, actually. You asked me when I was going to finish this “burdensome activity” and warned me that a child will never give up when I responded that she could breastfeed until she chose not to. You finished the conversation with a grave warning about tooth decay.

I must implore you to catch up on breastfeeding information as your current point of reference is dated. I feel nervous for the mothers you will advise with your, to be blunt, archaic knowledge.

There is literally no evidence that links breastfeeding leads to tooth decay, in fact the reverse may be true due to breastmilk’s anti bacterial properties. Plus, truly, breastmilk is the least fearsome of Ramona’s teeth enemies; the girl LOOOOVES ice cream. And chocolate.

If children “never choose to wean” then do explain why we don’t have loads of teens still nursing? I did once see a Youtube of an eight year old tucking in. That was pretty immense. But there was a documentary produced about her, she was that rare. Evidence suggests that a “natural” weaning age (when looking across the spectrum of mammals) would be anywhere between 2.5 and 7 years.

And I haven’t even touched on the myriad of health benefits of breastfeeding beyond babyhood. I’ve got to leave something for you to google yourself. Let’s just say I would have been a lot more concerned sitting in your office this afternoon if I wasn’t nursing, as Ramona hasn’t eaten anything substantial for days. Thank God for breast milk.

If even the most conservative World Health Organisation recommends breastmilk for 2 years, surely you can loosen up about a one year old nursing?

But, to be frank, loosening up isn’t good enough.

You are an extremely influential person whom mothers will be listening to – picking up on your random misinformed comments and appalled sigh-ing. You must take a duster to your views on breastfeeding, shake the musty myths off and get in some spick and span FACTS. A succesful breastfeeding relationship can be an incredible foundation to a child’s health. It is vital that you encourage breastfeeding with your new found armoury of breastfeeding info.

In expectation,

Lucy

*This may have been the first draft. Some bits may have been left out of the sent version. Ha.
PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding

But there’s nothing in there! Breastfeeding at 11 months.

10 October, 2011

I was at the park this week and had the following conversation:

Lady: “You’re still breastfeeding?”

Me: “Yep, you know, every 2-3 hours, day and night.” (Ah, so innocent and forthcoming!)

Lady: “And she is how old?”

Me: “Nearly eleven months”

Lady: “Ummm. You know there’s nothing in there right?”

Me: Chokes on a Wotsit.  “They are full, bursting with milk!  I could actually take your eye out with a stream of this cream or clear up your conjunctivitus from the other side of this swing if you got it one day!” (Okay, not that last bit.)

Lady: “Well, nutritionally. Nothing. Nothing from 6 months.”

Me: “Actually, it is packed with protein, all the vitamins…”

Lady: “But they need IRON!”

I gave in at this point and feebly said “Well, she does eat solids too” (although no doubt she would be appalled at the little amount Ramona does consume.) I truly wish I was armed with the fact that breastmilk is high in iron too AND one of the easiest ways for babes to absorb it.

I was just completely baffled. I had heard some of the myths surrounding breastfeeding but I didn’t actually think anyone believed them- let alone professed them in the playground.

I’d have been embaressed if I wasn’t so stoked with it all. I am so happy breastfeeding Ramona at eleven months, I absoutely LOVE it. Before having Ramona I assumed I would get to 6 months then wean, but as they say that just made an ass out of Umed.

Now I am pretty sure I will keep going until she doesn’t need it anymore, nutritionally or emotionally. And that could be some time…

Here’s why I love it:

I still get a HUGE rush of endorphins from nursing, they flood through me making me feel super relaxed and happy.

It provides a lovely rest as we snuggle down together at various points through the day.

It eases her off into dreamland calmly and consistently.

If we are out and about and late for tea I can feed her something a gazillion times more nutritous than a breadstick (though God love ’em.)

Some days she just doesn’t fancy her olives, pasta and brocoli, I don’t have to fret as I know she’ll just nurse more to make it up.

And, I’m not obsessed with weight, but it is pretty cool eating anything and still losing weight.

I am sure it makes her less fractious, a quick nurse seems to fill her love cup right up and give her a contented little peaceful glow.

Plus it provides endless giggles as she nurses and claps, nurses and sings, nurses and sucks her toes, nurses and Nipple Gripples the other (this last one- not so funny.)

There are loads of benefits to breastfeeding, for mum and baby, and it is bizarre that people seem to think these just stop at 6 months. In lots of countries, like Mongolia (this article completely rocks) and Sweden (yeah, I saw the video at the NHS breastfeeding workshop with all those nakey Swedes and their big chubby, latched on toddlers) extended nursing is the norm. Now that Ramona is getting so big I am beginning to see how abnormal it is here in the UK and how different it is feeding an older one. I really better start reading up so I can bust some myths in the playground.

On a boat on green water.

Attachment parenting, Babywearing, Breastfeeding

Shakeaway: breast milk to go

7 September, 2011

Once when Ramona was around 2 months I was walking along our road carrying her in the sling.  Some boys spotted me from their perch up in a block of flats and started hurling down meanness, although all I could really make out was the word “BREASTFEEDING!!!” screamed in a kind of offensive way. (The fact that this is a diss is worth a whole politics-of breastfeeding-rant in itself.) I was utterly mortified! “They must think I am breastfeeding her while I am walking along!” I put my head down and blushed to match my hair, feeling like my little freckly 9 year old self who got bullied in the playground. Then when I got to the end of the road I almost stopped in my tracks; what a bloody good idea. Of course I could breastfeed her in the sling!

The next time I was walking along and Ramona began her hungry headbutting I unhooked my bra and shuffled her around a bit;  she latched on immediately. That day a whole new sphere of stress free parenting opened up.

No more panick stations as I try and find a suitable place to feed her- with her nursing in the sling we can be wandering around the supermarket, a Parisian flea market or an  art gallery and no one is none the wiser. Well. Apart from the growling.

No more missing the train because I had to get a feed in before leaving the house. She just snacks on the walk up.

I feel it has helped build her security as she knows the instant she has a need it will be met, wherever we are – no crying involved. I love that science shows that meeting baby’s need quickly is vital to their development and nurtures things like their empathy cells. (Read more about that in my fave parenting book- it is the shizzle.)

If I ever want her to start a nap quickly (say because I have a meeting that it would be handy for her to sleep through) I just feed her off to sleep in the sling on the way. It often sends her to sleep within moments.

Around the three  month mark Ramona got way too distracted by goings on to breastfeed in public.Then she’d get all hungry and mad. However feeding in the sling helps her feel still involved somehow, avoiding what felt like miniture nursing strikes.

Perhaps best for those early days though was for the occasions when Ramona was incolsolable. They didn’t happen much but sometimes she wouldn’t feed or sleep even though I knew she was hungry and tired. As soon as I learnt to double them up she would settle really quickly. It was as if she needed movement to feed, or perhaps she wanted to feed upright.

I only wish I could have discovered it sooner.

So to those lads on the estate I will be forever indebted, for Ramona’s food on the hoof has made my life as a mother a lot easier. So much easier I would rank it in my top five mothering activities (I know, I’m a total expert after nine whole months.) I should really make those badasses some breast milk ice cream as a grateful treat.

In case your baby wants shakeaways…TIPS:

Feeding in a mei tai, ring sling or wrap is simple. Just tie it so their mouth is about level, although you may have to use your hand to hold either their head or your breast in place as they feed.

Where easy clothes, a low sccop or v-neck so you aren’t trying to yank up your top between your tummies.

Practice at home so you can get the hang of it.

Flick the end of the wrap over the top if you feel you have too much on show.

Beware of strangers coming in for a peek of your baby’s smile only to get that smile, dripping with milk, AND an eyeful of squirting nipple.

Breastfeeding, Parenting

The Ominous Silence of babies and toddlers

5 August, 2011

Ramona has already begun doing things I associate with parenting toddlers- drinking bath water? I have three more years of this? She literally bends double in the bath to slurp up that murky, soapy goodness. The other thing is going deathly quiet when doing something bad. When my sister hears that silence she is guaranteed to find little Jude having unravelled every toilet roll in the house.

Today I was busy backcombing my quiff and heard that silence (in some ways as loud as a siren – who would have thought the absence of a nine month old baby’s babbling, gurgling and shuffling could be so piercing?!) to find her having a grand old chomp on my ipod cable with her two gnarly teeth. Yesterday I busted her tearing up tissue and stuffing it in her mouth.

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What’s with this??

How could she possibly know that she shouldn’t be doing that?

But she knows, otherwise she would be carrying on with her sweet little babysong, innocently destroying all the important wires in our house. (You say it is because these things involve her mouth being industrious? But no, it it isn’t because I am telling you, when she breastfeeds she makes THE LOUDEST NOISE YOU HAVE EVER HEARD. It is the muffled growl of a clan of starving lion cubs setting upon the tender flesh of a big eyed gazelle. It increases several decibels when in peaceful, public places.)

I am on to you Ramona with your silent, sneaky ways. I’m on to you…