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Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

Please Go To Sleep

I have been attempting to sleep train my children again. Most nights I spend an hour to 90 minutes laying down with them to get them to sleep. Gabby still nurses to sleep and even if she seems sound asleep, as soon as I move from her side I hear “Mommy where you going?”. It can be infuriating and I can get easily frustrated. Elijah has no problems falling asleep. If I am there he will usually fall asleep in about 5 minutes, which was also the case last night. The problem came in when I tried to get up to leave and Gabby started crying. I tried so hard to stand my ground and just let her cry it out. Then Elijah woke up and fed up with her crying, he started complaining. I was then privy to a conversation between the two of them, which I was relaying to a friend via WhatsApp while it was all happening. This is a transcript of that chat:

Both these kids are howling in bed. Snot en trane.

They are now plotting to run away together tomorrow.

They plan to take the fish with them.

Gabby is asking where my fish will be.

She doesn’t understand how the fish tank goes with them and my fish stays here.

Elijah says he will buy another tank.

Mommy is rude. Now they are talking about how they will move to Salma (a neighbour) and Salma’s mommy will make them food.

They have now realized they can’t have another mommy, that I’m their mommy no matter what.

This messes with their plans.

They are legit blowing their noses and having a mother of a snot fest.

I so much want to comfort them.

Gabby: I want boooooooobies!

Elijah: Mommy won’t come. She is rude.

Gabby: I got a plan now.

*whispering*

I can’t take much more of this.¬†

They hate me.

Elijah says I don’t care about them.

Gabby is screaming at me that I hate them. Why won’t I lay there?

Elijah: Mommy cares more about sleep than she cares about us.

Gabby is still shouting at me because I hate them. Elijah agrees, because I am doing this. They are each trying to take the blame. She hates me. No, she hates me. I wish I could record this. Gabby can’t stop crying. She needs her boobies. This is torture. Gabby says her heart is breaking for mommy right now.

Elijah tries to negotiate. Mommy, just give her 5 minute boobies please!

Gabby: No! I want INFINITY boobies!

I can’t take this. It’s killing me.

To my credit, they both feared leaving the room. They were warned not to. Every now and then I would tell them “I love you. Go to sleep!”, especially amidst all the “MOMMY YOU HATE US!”. Eventually they both mustered up the courage to shuffle slowly towards my room…very close together, in case either of them gets into trouble. Once they hit the threshold their confidence soared and Gabby climbed onto my bed. Elijah followed suit and suddenly all the tears were forgotten.

While I obviously failed at my attempt to sleep train these monkeys, I managed to redeem myself in their eyes I guess. I had to chuckle at their plans to move out and can now definitely see how parents can claim their kids gang up and plot against them. It was heart wrenching and hilarious at the same time.

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Once they finally fall asleep they are adorable though

I don’t know what I am going to do. Sleep training one at a time is hard enough, but sleep training two seems impossible. Since Elijah doesn’t actually have a problem falling asleep, he is not my challenge. Gabby wakes him up when she cries and then they are both whining for some sort of comfort. I don’t want to spend so much time putting them to sleep each night. I need a little time in the evening to myself to unwind, gather my thoughts and relax before I go to bed myself. On the one hand I think that they are only going to be little for so long and eventually I won’t be welcome to lay down with them as they drift off. On the other hand I need to maintain my sanity.

What would you do?

Thanks for reading ūüôā

 

Breastfeeding at 3.5 Years

Some moments when I’m nursing my child I take pause and realize what an absolutely amazing journey this is. Perhaps the most special journey along with pregnancy I have ever experienced. I cannot describe the bond it has created between us. The closeness that we have because of it. Touch is my most prominent love language and I can not only speak this language to her, but she speaks it back to me at the same time. The other day I was nursing her for her nap, we lay there in silence, tummy to tummy. She wasn’t wearing a shirt so our skin was touching. I exhaled as she inhaled and I inhaled as she exhaled. She gently drifted to sleep and not long after that, so did I…but not before I was able to treasure that moment.

I felt compelled to write about this. I don’t want to forget how special this time together in our lives is. I don’t want to forget the little moments.

Nursing 3.5 years old

Over the weekend this post popped up in my Facebook memories. Three years ago I was so anxious that introducing mixed feeding into our routine would cause a sudden and abrupt ending to our breastfeeding journey. I never imagined that I would find myself nursing my 3 and a half year old toddler all this time later.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I never expected to successfully nurse past six months…or to a year, never mind 3.5! Gabby still loves to nurse and I still enjoy nursing her…most of the time. It can be very frustrating at times. On Sunday she was particularly needy and she was at the breast almost all day. I have felt irritated by this in the past, only to realize later that she was getting sick or needed to nurse for another reason. I try to be patient, but when you have a lot to do it can drive you insane. On the other hand when we you feel like you need some downtime, it can be a wonderful escape into doing nothing but being close to your nursling.

Nursing 3.5 years old

I do think about weaning. Whenever Gabby has engaged a poor latch and hurt me, I think “This is it. I can’t take this anymore!”, until I am no longer in pain and thoughts of weaning are forgotten again. We have clear boundaries that she undertands. We were out with my bestie and her baby at the mall and we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. Gabby looked at me and said “Mommy, no boobies here?”. I replied, “No, no boobies here”. “Mommy, boobies only by home?”, “Yes, Gabby, boobies only by home” and she ran off to play. She demands to nurse when we are at a neighbours house, but it is a venue I have conceded at before. Sometimes we will visit there and stay quite late, so I have tried to nurse her to sleep, but mostly she doesn’t fall asleep and is content with a nursing session. Our neighbours don’t mind, so if we are there and she needs to nurse I excuse myself for a while and return once Gabby’s needs have been met.

In the past week or so she has started doing something that she has never done before, where she nurses for a short while and stops to declare “Me done!”. I am usually the one to decide when we are done. It leads me to wonder if she is on the road to self weaning, or it might just be a new game for her to play. I really think she will be a long term nurser. I have, at times, thought that I might nurse her till 4…but that milestone is rapidly approaching and I don’t know if I will have the heart to wean her if she has not self weaned at the time. Perhaps I’ll have one of my “I’m DONE!” periods after she is 4 and actually start weaning her, but I cannot commit to that.

I have started employing some weaning tactics, without the intention to wean. If she asks to nurse and I am busy with something or not in the position to nurse her for an extended period of time, I’ll tell her “Two minute boobie” or “Count to 20 boobie” and most times she will just take what she can get and agree. It works quite well and she will end her nursing session when I say two minutes is up (it isn’t always) or once I count to 20. Sometimes her brother will count for us. Sometimes she will resist unlatching, but I reinforce that it was the agreement when we started and she relents.

There are things I mean to do before our nursing journey ends. I want to have a nursing photoshoot with her and I want to have a momento in the form of a breastmilk pendant or something before she weans, but I haven’t really had the funds to do either yet. I fear time will run out before I manage to get around to it, but at least we’ll¬†always have the memories.

Nursing 3.5 years old

Broken Bone

Where does one begin to write a post about your child seriously injuring themselves? Right here I guess. My 3 year old daughter broke her collarbone. Proper broke it. She also broke my heart while she was at it.

I was booked off work on Thursday and Friday with bronchitis and feeling rather shitty. This bout had a quick onset and left me completely drained. On Saturday morning at 2 AM Rudi left for work and didn’t return again till late Sunday night. I had managed to get through most of the weekend unscathed and the children were dressed, entertained and fed.

We live in a gated community. The children run around freely and play with each other almost every day, depending on the weather and if they had escaped being grounded for whatever reason. This day was no different. There is a park right across the road from our place. The road is fairly quiet and the children know to look for cars. The park has a swing set and a basic jungle gym with a slide, some monkey bars and a tyre swing. One of the monkey bars has been missing for a while, but the distance between the platform and the other side is fairly short, so the gap doesn’t render them useless.¬†The kids were playing in the park and I was sitting on my balcony keeping an eye on them. I went inside to go to the loo and when I returned Gabby was crying and walking back home complaining about her arm. Elijah said she had been swinging on the monkey bars and he had been holding her legs (as we often do when we are near). She then slipped or let go and he didn’t have a good grip on her and she fell to the ground, landing on her shoulder. Not too long ago she had also fallen in the park and refused to use her wrist while crying bitterly. I went into a panic and we rushed to the emergency room after giving her pain meds. While waiting to see a doctor the meds kicked in and the wrist was completely forgotten. For good. Fool me once, they say. I had struggled to get Gabby to sleep the previous night so I let her skip her nap. She cried for a long time and I nursed her to comfort her (yay boobs!). She kept almost falling asleep, so I talked her into bathing so she could go to bed. She had trouble lifting her arm, but I managed to get her bathed and dressed. I had given her something for pain and she seemed better.

The next morning she still refused to use her arm and I noticed her shoulder seemed swollen. I had already been off work due to my illness and Rudi was working a later shift, so I asked him to drop me at work and take her to the doctor to make sure everything was OK. I managed to get her an early appointment and she was sent for x-rays. My worst fear was realized. She had broken a bone. Rudi muttered something about possible surgery and I got my bestie to take me to the hospital. I was met with a very brave little girl who told me “Mommy, doctor fix mine arm” with a cute sling.

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Thankfully they didn’t operate because she is still so young. I was horrified when I saw the x-rays. When you can’t actually *see* the break it’s easy to minimize the severity of it in your head, until you *have* seen it and it is all you see when you look at your baby girl in her sling, almost as if you now possess x-ray vision yourself.

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As if it wasn’t bad enough that my heart was broken because my baby was in so much pain, Rudi blamed me for the accident. I know it wasn’t my fault and even if I had been right there I might not have been able to prevent it, because shit happens. It just does. It really got my back up though and I was furious with him for not being supportive, also considering that I was ill and had been tending to the house, children and myself all weekend with no help. When she went back to the day mother I got repeated scoldings from her as well about what an irresponsible parent I am. When I told Rudi about her judgement he was more forgiving towards me than he had been the previous day. Perhaps he had sufficient time to get over the shock himself, but the words hurt and fueled my mommy guilt even further.

I have been so very impressed with how Gabby has been handling this. She doesn’t complain and insists on doing things for herself, even when we offer help. She only has use of her non dominant arm, but climbs into the car and back out by herself. She barely requests help and has even adjusted by colouring in with her left hand. The first couple of nights she woke up around the time her last administered pain meds would wear off and requested more. By the third night she slept through and was sleeping on her side, back and stomach again.

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Whenever you ask her if she is okay or if she is in pain she smiles and says “Me fine!”. The orthopedic surgeon did not tell us to come back for a check up or another x-ray, only that she would need to wear the sling for 10 days. By the looks of things she is healing quite rapidly. I was surprised they didn’t try to line the bone up, apparently this happens on its own. They did mention she might have a lump there for 6 months to a year and that it is normal.

I’m so grateful that she is doing well and seems to be better every day. It could have been worse, but I sincerely hope this is the last time we need x-rays to see if everyone’s bones are intact!

Rolling in the Deep End – Rudi’s New Job

Life has been super hectic lately. Rudi has been permanently appointed at his new job. This is absolutely great news for us! It means that we will at least have a basic salary to rely on at the end of each month as opposed to the drips and drabs we have been getting since the beginning of the year. He was supposed to be permanent from the first of June, but an administrative balls up at the office means he only signed his contract on the 16th of June. This means that all the work he did from the 1st to the 16th he was still classified as a contractor and will be paid less than he would have if his contract had been signed on time. It is so very annoying because we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel, only for the light to be switched off. Not by Eskom, mind you! So he’ll likely only get half a salary this month and since the overtime cut off is the 16th of the month, any overtime he has worked while permanent will only be paid out at the end of July. Now we’ll be wishing another month away in the hopes of having some extra cash flow. He has been working so very hard. We barely see him. From the first of June he did not have one day off until the 21st where he finally got one day off, only to return back to the grindstone the next day. I have been concerned about him not having any time off and not getting enough rest, but he insists he is fine.

I don’t know who this is harder for, me or the kids. Elijah has always been very close with his dad. Since he was a baby, really and never having him around has been really hard on him. He regularly¬†expresses sadness because his father is not home with us. Often Rudi only comes home after they have gone to bed and leaves again before they get up in the morning, sometimes days go by without them seeing him. Since Gabby is very attached to me it doesn’t seem to bother her too much, but she is still really excited when daddy does come home before bedtime.¬†As for me…while I do miss Rudi, we chat during the day via Whatsapp and phone, so we do have constant contact. Rudi used to be very hands on when he was home. He used to cook and help out bathing the kids. Now I’m doing it all alone. Do we need something from the shop? I’ll get it. Do we need to eat? I’ll cook. Kids need to bath? I’ll bath them. The day mother needs bags packed? Sure thing (this has always been my responsibility). Dishes? Here, let me. Clean the house? I’ll get it! Kids sick? I’ll get them to the doctor, get meds¬†and administer them. It is chaos. All.The.Time. I knew I had it easy with all the help I had before. I appreciated it then, but even more now. ¬†Throw loadshedding into the mix and I am totally screwed some evenings. If we have the 18:00 – 20:30 slot and I don’t get home around 17:00 like we do most days, I can forget about cooking, we have to bath/shower in the dark and the kids go to sleep super early because it is dark and they are bored. If we have the 16:00 – 18:30 slot, I have to start cooking much later and that delays everything. I can’t exactly bath the kids at 17:00 and keep them indoors. Elijah wants to play with his friends outside/at their house so I have to wait. Thanks Eskom!

Sometimes my evenings look like this:wpid-img-20150603-wa0030.jpegwpid-wp-1435296954885.jpegThese 2 photos above were taken within seconds of each other. A lot of my evenings look like this at some point.¬†Sometimes Elijah is playing with friends in the complex and they possibly look like this (if I actually have time to give them my undivided attention between the cooking/cleaning/preparing for the next day):wpid-img-20150620-wa0015.jpegRudi has migrated Elijah into our bed since he is often not there or gets home¬†too late to go and lay down with him until he falls asleep. It’s a tight squeeze. All 4 of us in one king size bed. Although, I must admit while it is winter¬†this is a warm arrangement. Heaven knows what we’ll do in summer. Before Elijah came over, I was able to turn around and cuddle Rudi if Gabby was content sleeping unlatched by herself. Now I turn around and am faced with Elijah, which means zero cuddle time for Rudi and I. I miss that. While I realize some people may cringe at the idea of having their children in their bed and will cluck their tongues and say “You’ll never get them out of there”, this arrangement is working for us right now. It means nobody feels left out and everybody gets a good night’s sleep. In fact, I listened to advice from people before Elijah was born and moved him into his own room when he was 4 months old. I also made sure he always slept in his cot before he moved out of our room. With Gabby co-sleeping was the only option for me as I successfully breastfed her and I’m all about that convenience. No getting up out of a warm bed for feeds for me thankyouverymuch. After co-sleeping with Gabby for a while I regretted not doing it with Elijah. I really felt like I had missed out on something special with him. My mornings look like this:wpid-img-20150612-wa0002.jpegI have been getting a lot of comments lately from people about still breastfeeding Gabby. Actually, the comments are usually directed at her. “When are you going to stop drinking boobs?” “Gabby, it’s time for you to get off the boob now”. Really? I just don’t understand how it affects anyone other than Gabby and myself. Breastfeeding is the most wonderful thing in her life and the most useful mothering tool for me. Another thing I missed out on with Elijah. No matter what crops up with Gabby, breastfeeding is the answer. Tired? Boob. Get hurt? Boob. Overstimulated? Boob. Thirsty? Boob. Bored? Boob. Tantrum? Boob. Best.Thing.Ever. When people ask ME when I plan to wean her, I usually just answer “Maybe when she is in high school”. This is normally followed by nervous laughter. I’m starting to wonder if people think I’m serious. Perhaps the statement makes them realize that nursing a 30 month old isn’t so ridiculous after all. I don’t know and I really don’t care. My circus, my monkeys – Mind your own tits.

Breastfeeding selfie…can you even tell?wpid-img-20150622-wa0026.jpegRudi’s work schedule is still completely unpredictable, so we cannot plan our lives at all. He is always at work, so if we are invited somewhere or try to make plans, I usually have to exclude him from the equation. If he is able to come along, it’s a bonus. It isn’t like we had a roaring social life before, but it is rather limiting. We cannot, for example, plan to take the kids somewhere over the weekend, or commit to popping around somewhere for a braai. I can’t even plan something for myself as we do not have anyone at our disposal that can watch the children if Rudi isn’t there to look after them if I go out. It just isn’t logistically possible. While this part is sucky, I’m sure we will adapt. It is the kind of sacrifices we’ll have to make to have more money and to progress.

Rudi has big dreams. He dreams of buying a house of our own. I have learnt to have faith in his dreams. At the beginning of this year he said “2015 is my year. I can feel it.” I didn’t believe him. He was relentless and worked extremely hard and here we are. His first goal achieved, his first dream realized. Onwards and upwards!

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My Bestie Welcomes Her Baby Into the World

Hi everyone! I have something a little different for you today. On the 17th of June my bestie finally gave birth to her little boy! I was so excited all day long waiting for him to arrive. At one point I was freaked out worrying something had gone wrong after not hearing from her or her husband for hours and hours. Eventually I phoned the hospital as I had arranged to leave early from work to go and meet the little man myself. They put me through to her room directly and I was relieved and overjoyed to hear that she had given birth just a little while earlier.

This baby really is a blessing for them. My bestie’s husband wasn’t ready to have kids for the longest time. They were married the same year as Rudi and I. She patiently waited. Her biological clock started ticking very loudly and became a drone she couldn’t block out anymore. Her husband gave her the green light and after almost 2 years of trying to get pregnant, they sought professional help. My friend suffers from PCOS and wasn’t ovulating on her own. When we were together at work and it was time for her injections I shot her up with some good hormones which allowed her to pop some eggs. Lots of money and a couple of cycles later she received the amazing news that the treatment had been successful and she was pregnant!

Her pregnancy flew by at the speed of light. It really felt like 3 months to me…zooooooom and she was in hospital to have her baby! Unfortunately she couldn’t have the¬†natural birth she wanted because her stubborn boy refused to turn around. She has high blood pressure and our gynae decided that it would be best for her to have a c section. We share the same gynae and he is amazing. He is very pro natural birth and won’t do a c section unless it is medically necessary, so no questions asked. In fact, he was so busy catching unscheduled babies, my bestie was only seen to after 13:00, despite being booked into hospital from 5:30 AM. She was huuuuuuuuuungry!

Here they are!

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HUGE CONGRATULATIONS MY FRIEND! 

My heart is so full I could explode! All the best with your breastfeeding journey <3 I am so glad I am a part of your life and get to experience this joy with you.

8 Months with No Antibiotics – Almost Foiled!

Hi everyone! Poor Gabby has been sick since Sunday. She started off with a horrible dry cough that sounded like a bark. I suspected she might have croup. She started spiking fevers of over 39¬į and we medicated her accordingly. I sent her to the day mother on Monday where her fever persisted and I figured out that I often ran to the doctor because the day mother is a bit alarmist. On Tuesday she had said Gabby was laying around and not herself. Rudi was home from work and went over to find her playing with the other kids. I understand she may be concerned something happens to the kids while they are there, but it was suddenly clear to me that I often took the kids to the doctor based on her feedback without seeing myself. Gabby didn’t stay home with Rudi because we were unsure if he would be called away to work unexpectedly.

On Tuesday night her fevers carried on coming back and I decided to try and get her to a doctor. I stayed home with her, but the doctors were all fully booked at the practice where we normally take them. There are at least 6 doctors there, so clearly I am not alone. I made an appointment for Thursday. She went over 39¬į on Wednesday night and again at 3 AM on Thursday morning and I decided to keep the appointment. She had also opened up a snot factory in her head that was new and I was truly afraid she was going to cough so hard she would vomit in our bed. She has also not been eating well, but she has been nursing almost non stop so I am not really worried about her nutrient intake.

I changed doctors for this appointment. I chose a doctor I *know* doesn’t push antibiotics if it isn’t necessary. My grandmother often goes to him and friends of ours use him too. I just knew if I took her back to our regular doctor that we would leave with an antibiotic script in hand.

We went to see the doctor and he assured me that we were not at a point where antibiotics were needed. He advised that the flu was extremely persistent this year and it was not uncommon for him to see kids with fevers for much longer than normal. He advised which symptoms to look for when antibiotics would be called in. He said the clear runny nose was a sign of a viral bug and if really thick coloured sticky snot was present we were likely dealing with a bacterial infection. He gave us one or two extra meds for her symptoms and some peace of mind. She was such a star at the doctor and he said it was a pleasure to examine her. He also mentioned that she had a very sunny disposition for someone who was sick. I said I think the boobs had something to do with it and he said that breastfed children are often more calm and happy. The man knows how to score brownie points with me! (I am not saying bottle fed babies are unhappy/not calm at all. I am sure he was not either. I have a bottle fed child too.)

I was elated that he didn’t prescribe antibiotics. We are now 8 months antibiotic free and hopefully Gabby will get over this without them. The doctor said they are seeing flu that used to last 3 to 4 days drag on for 2 weeks now. I guess the bugs are getting much stronger…what with all the over prescription of antibiotics. 

Other than that Gabby is fully potty trained.  She has blown me away. At 3 AM when she woke up with a fever, she also asked to go pee. We have taken her off nappies altogether. Potty training is one of my least favourite parenting experiences. I did have quite a few unpleasant messes to clean up with her, but she has completely surpassed my expectations with the speed she has taken herself off night nappies in particular. After about 2 months of her waking up with a dry nappy every day I decided we are wasting our money on nappies.  Yay for her! (and us!)

Here’s hoping she is on the mend and that her immunity goes from strength to strength as we try to stick to this antibiotic free lifestyle ūüôā

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Breastfeeding a toddler, Gabby is 2!

Here we are. 2 years later. Wow. Just over 2 years ago I was sitting at my first La Leche League meeting wringing my hands over my 7 months pregnant belly. I was nervous, very naive about breastfeeding and scared of failure. I am also not great at public speaking and even in this very small group of people I didn’t know, my voice was shaky and I was on the brink of tears. Sanita was with me for moral support. The mothers in the group were so nice, friendly, informative and helpful. One of the mothers let me view her baby’s latch up close. This was my first and second last meeting before Gabby’s arrival. Sanita attended many more meetings with me.

For the first two weeks after birth I was on cloud 9. I was on a hormonal high and not even the jaundice threw me. I admit, I had a small cry when Gabby had to be readmitted to hospital in order to be treated for jaundice and the sticking of the needles into her for daily blood tests certainly got my mommy claws out. The beginning of our breastfeeding journey was fraught with difficulty, uncertainty and tears. They wanted to give her formula for the jaundice. I stuck to my guns. Gabby’s weight gain was slower than the doctors and nurses would have liked, even for a breastfed baby. I hashed it out with my La Leche League leader, Kim (as I did everything else – she was my ROCK!), and we pressed on. For 12 weeks I was practically permanently attached to my baby. Even if she unlatched and fell asleep, I could not move from her side without her waking and crying for me. This is typical behaviour for the first 6 weeks or so, I did not expect it for 12. We soldiered on. I tried expressing for her for when she would go to the day mother and I sucked at it. I kept on trying. Eventually when Gabby went to the day mother at 5 1/2 months old we had to supplement with formula as my body just would not respond to a pump the way it did to my baby. I was devastated. I felt like a failure despite exclusively breastfeeding for 5 1/2 months. Still, I kept breastfeeding whenever we were together. I fought with the day mother on a daily basis. I was so afraid of nipple confusion and Gabby getting used to the flow of a bottle and rejecting the breast.

We started co-sleeping from the day she came home and it turns out it was the best decision ever. The entire family gets more sleep now that nobody is getting up for a crying baby. In fact, there is no crying baby. As soon as she starts getting restless, I’ll nurse her and she’ll instantly calm back down and go back to sleep. What an absolute pleasure. While Gabby still gets sick fairly often during winter (something I didn’t expect, I thought breastfed babies never get sick!) she always gets off lightly. If we all have a tummy bug she might have one or two bad nappies and a vomit and it will all be over, whereas Elijah (and the rest of us) will suffer for a full 24 hours.

Breastfeeding is still the most amazing mothering tool. It doesn’t matter what happens, nursing her immediately fixes the problem. It has also meant that I get to have more naps since I lay down with Gabby to put her to sleep and sometimes I fall asleep with her. Is this not reason enough to continue?! ūüėČ

I never could have imagined I would still be breastfeeding 2 years later. Not in my wildest dreams. I also could never have imagined the bond it created between me and my daughter. I never knew how much easier it would make things. I also never anticipated how difficult it would be to deal with all the unwelcome comments and uninformed bullshit that spews from people’s mouths. I digress.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed, even when I was pregnant with Elijah and I really regret not reaching out to La Leche League when I was trying to get through the rough patch with him. To be completely honest, I thought breastfeeding would help me lose weight and that was almost my sole reason for wanting to do it. I was completely oblivious to how amazing it is nutritionally and emotionally for both mother and baby. I used to avert my eyes when I saw a mother breastfeed in public. I thought people that breastfeed for longer that 6 months are strange. WHY? I actually asked colleagues when they would stop breastfeeding their toddlers (as if it was any of my business – oops). Here I am, a changed woman. A toddler nursing mother. An avid breastfeeding supporter. A treasurer of breastfeeding moments.

Here we are. Two wonderful, happy and beautiful years with our little girl. Two years of holding her close and nurturing her. Two years of love and worry. It doesn’t get any better than this. Happiest of birthdays to my precious daughter!

 

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Breastfeeding – 18 months

Well, here we are. 18 months into our breastfeeding relationship. How on earth did that happen?! When Gabby was still a tiny baby my La Leche League Leader would say in meetings ‘You don’t plan to breastfeed a toddler. It just kind of happens’. That right there is the truth. Think about how quickly your children grow up. You blink and they’re crawling/walking/talking/in school. So while you’re making plans for the first birthday party, it doesn’t occur to you that, quite suddenly, you are breastfeeding a toddler.

 

I know this is weird for some of you. I know I seem strange. I once thought the same thing. I could in no way understand why some of the women who work with me breastfed their children beyond “6 months”. They breastfed children with teeth. They breastfed children that could speak. I could not wrap my head around it. I thought they were weird. Now I am weird and luckily I am at an age and stage in my life where peer pressure and what other people think of me do not matter that much. Thanks to the wonderful support I’ve received during my breastfeeding journey I am confident in my decision not only to breastfeed, but to breastfeed for an extended period of time.

 

Are there still things that frustrate me about breastfeeding? Sure. Specifically breastfeeding and sleeping. From a very tender age I tried to master the side lying breastfeeding position. I knew this would stand us in good stead for night feeds, but as my baby grows it has become increasingly difficult to stay comfortable while feeding her in our bed. Or falling asleep in a comfortable position while she is still latched on. Sometimes this means I wake up with a stiff neck or a sore back, however, it means that I haven’t been awake half the night getting up for feeds and putting her back to sleep. To me, the pay off is worth it. Of course, there are times when she wakes up at 2 in the morning and wants to play silly buggers for an hour or two. That is draining, but is no different from what Elijah used to do.

 

Gabby is suffering from separation anxiety at the moment, specifically from me. I don’t think this is breastfeeding related. I think it has more to do with a child’s personality than whether or not they are breastfed. Elijah never had it quite as bad and has always favoured his father. While it is nice to be the favoured parent, it is sometimes difficult when I need to do something or be somewhere. As an example, if Gabby is awake when I get up in the morning she cries for me to come back to bed (oh and how I wish I could comply) and unless I pick her up and carry her around while I am trying to get ready for work she will continue to cry until she upsets herself to the point of throwing up. Even if Rudi gets up and holds her at that point it is not enough. It is not all about the boobs though. She doesn’t ask to feed (usually by groping my shirt) , she is perfectly happy to sit in my arms while I try to go about whatever I need to do. Eventually she will find something else to do, or be okay with being put down and she’ll toddle off to do something more interesting than sitting in my lap.

 

The other day we were all laying in bed, settling down for the night and Gabby insisted on having a sippy cup with her with milk in it. Cow’s milk, mind you. ¬†I had given her the sippy cup in an attempt to keep her busy till bedtime and to use the tiny bit of milk we had left. When the little bit of milk was finished, she gestured that she wanted more. In the sippy cup. Even after we climbed into bed, she kept the sippy cup and wouldn’t let me take it away. I lay down next to her, she continued to drink from the cup. I offered her the breast, she kept drinking from the cup. I felt rejected. It was the first time that she had chosen a plastic teat over my warm, comforting breast. Then, she bit that teat and pulled at the sippy cup with the teat firmly between her teeth and I was really grateful that she had just rejected me not long before. Sheesh! When she does bite, it hurts!

 

She is too young to wean and I am dreading the when she does. I am saddened by the thought. I can’t imagine myself breastfeeding a child of Elijah’s age and maybe she will wean before then. Maybe she won’t. Will I want to wean her before then? It is hard for me to say. Right now I am enjoying our special time together, the way she looks up into my face with those big blue eyes when we reunite with a feed at the end of a long day apart. It is also amazing to me how quickly she is comforted after getting hurt/upset by just latching on. I never had such a convenient and effective tool with Elijah. It really has been so much easier.

 

I am eternally grateful for this journey and the close bond it has created between me and my daughter. I will forever be a breastfeeding advocate and encourage my friends and eventually my daughter to breastfeed their babies for as long as they can. Having been on both sides of the feeding fence, I know that there are challenges and that it is hard, but I am living proof that there is hope. My La Leche League Leader wrote an article about helping us in the early days for Breastfeeding Today, an online magazine. If you would like to read it, click here. The article is on page 14.

 

Here’s to many more special moments!
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Breastfeeding – 1 year

Just like Gabby’s first birthday sneaked up on me, so did our 1 year breastfeeding anniversary.

 

I was one of those people who didn’t know where to look when faced with a breastfeeding mother. I was one of those people who thought people who breastfed their babies beyond 6 months are weird. I was one of those people who tried to breastfeed and gave up after 3 weeks. I was one of those people who thought breastfeeding hurt. I was one of those people who wanted to breastfeed purely for the possible weight loss benefits. I have walked through the looking glass and now I’m on the other side.

 

Going to La Leche League and finding a strong support structure got us to where we are today. I was too scared/shy to go to a meeting alone, so I roped a friend into going with me. I started attending meetings once a month, 3 months before I was due. I only fit in two meetings before my baby was born, but at that point I had already bonded with my La Leche League leader, Kim, and had her on speed dial.

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It wasn’t easy. It was hard. Our journey got off to a rocky start facing jaundice and pediatricians who wanted to pump her full of sugar water and formula to get rid of the jaundice. She also stopped pooing for days at a time (up to 10 days sometimes!) in those early weeks. Kim came to see me at home after Gabby was born. She checked our latch and said everything seemed fine. I needed the reassurance (not all leaders do home visits, but some do and they don’t charge).¬†When Gabby was 3 weeks old I faced exactly the same scenario as I had almost 3 years prior and was on the brink of quitting. I was literally sitting breastfeeding Gabby and sobbing at the same time. My husband said ‘Just put her on a bottle then!’ – never one to deal well with a crying woman. I reached out to Kim and she uttered words of wisdom that I will never forget: ‘Never quit on your worst day’. Repeating that mantra to myself over and over got me through that day and you know what? The next day was so much better! If I had quit on that particular day, I would not be telling the same story today. At 3 weeks we were battling with Gabby’s weight gain and she just wasn’t picking up enough. I didn’t want to supplement. I didn’t want to take that route, for fear of it ending our breastfeeding journey abruptly. I was going to a very pro breastfeeding clinic for weigh ins all the way in Panorama. The nurses there were kind and gentle with me, which didn’t help for the tears. They showed me different positions, they weighed her before and after feeding. They were dubious about her weight gain, but supportive at the same time. I went to a different clinic for vaccinations and the nurse there also commented on her weight gain. The exact same clinic I took Elijah to. The exact same scenario. They weren’t 100% happy with the weight gain. All of them squinted at the charts, supportive or not. This was the point where my confidence was at its lowest and where it was easy for me to doubt myself and the path I had chosen for me and my baby. I solicited the help of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) through La Leche League who also came to check our latch at home and to see if Gabby was transferring milk well, which she was. I pushed through. ¬†At our 6 week pediatrician check up I was sent home with a prescription for Eglynol which I gladly accepted, just to make myself feel like I was doing everything I could. That meant the end of my rapid weight loss dream, but I was willing to let go of that in favour of my breastfeeding goals.

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For weeks after that I agonized and worried about Gabby’s weight gain. I continued to doubt myself, because doubting yourself is much easier than believing you can achieve your heart’s desires. I kept on breastfeeding and doing everything I could to keep us going. I attended La Leche League meetings every month and kept in contact with Kim about any questions I had (and there were many!). She really was an amazing cheerleader. Always ready with answers and a kind word. Just what I needed. For 12 weeks I had a baby permanently at my breast. It was frustrating at times. I couldn’t do things, but luckily I realized that nothing was more important at the time. So we lay in bed and fed. I watched series while feeding and napped when she did. Bliss! At our 4 month pediatrician check up I held my breath and waited for the pediatrician to tell me he thinks we should top up with formula. It never came. I walked out of that appointment on cloud 9. I finally felt comfortable and decided not to agonize over it anymore. I also found support from other mothers at La Leche League who had small babies and worried about weight gain.

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At 5 and a half months I had to go back to work and discovered that I am a terrible pumper. My body just doesn’t let down for the pump like it does for my baby. I expressed twice a day at work and managed to get out about 100 ml. This meant I wasn’t able to produce enough milk for Gabby’s feeds for the next day. I was forced to resort to mixed feeding. I cringed at the thought and didn’t want to ‘contaminate’ my baby with formula. Obviously at this point I had been completely transformed into a pro breastfeeding type person. Duh. I raised my son on formula from the age of 3 weeks and he is totally fine! I was forced to make peace with it. I was only two weeks shy of my 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding goal, but the first rule is feed the baby. I gave the day mother all her days with instructions on paced bottle feeding and not feeding the baby too much. We even had a fight about it. Both the day mother and I are non confrontational to the extreme and us having a tiff about this was actually a big deal. In all the time she had Elijah we never had such a disagreement. I was so worried that my milk would no longer satisfy Gabby if she was being overfed with formula or that she would start preferring the flow of the bottle to my breast. Still I persevered.

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She gained a lot of weight on the formula and suddenly I started getting comments (from family) about her being too fat. ¬†Clearly nothing I did was going to make everyone happy. It took a lot of restraint to keep my mouth shut. I was told to give her rooibos tea instead of milk at night so she didn’t gain too much weight. This was when she was 9 months old. Effectively this ill informed family member was telling me to reduce my baby’s calorie intake. Put my baby on a DIET. Was she KIDDING ME? Ok. Clearly I’m still a little angry about that. *deep breath*.

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I’m still a terrible pumper. In fact, now Gabby is refusing my expressed milk (which is normal for babies from a certain age) and the time has finally come for me to wean myself from the breast pump so that I can stop expressing during the day. I must say expressing has always been a chore for me, especially since she isn’t drinking my milk and it feels like a waste of time. I’ll be sending my freezer stash to the day mother for her to attempt as she generally has better luck getting Gabby to drink milk than Rudi does. I built up the freezer stash freezing the fruits of my labour when she was drinking formula at the day mother. I would send some frozen milk with her if she was sick to help her get better, so I don’t have much as she would deplete whatever I sent in a day or two. Sometimes 2/3 weeks worth of expressed milk. Poof. Gone.

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I may not have lost a radical amount of weight while breastfeeding, but it has definitely stabilized my weight and prevented me from gaining. I am a couple of kilos below my pre-pregnancy weight and didn’t even really gain over the festive season. Not all women dramatically lose weight when breastfeeding. Some lucky ones do.

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That aside, it has been so utterly rewarding. It is the most amazing relationship I have ever had with another human being. I absolutely love how she is immediately comforted when she latches on, no matter what has happened. Even after she fell off the bed and hit her face on a wooden chair on the way down, she latched and it was over. She was howling because she was overtired, she latched and it was over. She lost her balance and knocked her head on the hard tiles, she latched and it was over. She got a big fright and started crying when her brother accidentally bumped her, she latched and it was over. I used to struggle to comfort Elijah as a baby, no dummy could ever comfort him the way my breast comforts her. I have gotten so much more sleep with her than I did with him too. Co-sleeping and dreamfeeding have been a Godsend sleep wise.

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Here we are. A year later. I finally feel like I’ve done it. I finally feel like I have conquered breastfeeding (better late than never) and now I’m the weirdo who wants to let my child self wean. On this journey I have also managed to encourage and support a friend who has now been breastfeeding for two months.

 

If you are contemplating it, know this: You are not meant to be able to do it alone. You need support. You need help. The saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ didn’t come from nowhere. Reach out. Get help. YOU CAN DO IT! Also, ‘Never quit on your worst day’! La Leche League is a great group of like minded moms and it is free. They will do anything to help you breastfeed. You may even make some friends.

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We are entering a phase of breastfeeding which will have its challenges. We will face adversity, judgement and criticism as society frowns upon toddlers breastfeeding (despite the World Health Organization recommending breastfeeding up to 2 years). I will persevere! ¬†I’ve become more and more comfortable with breastfeeding with other people around and nursing a toddler is very different from nursing a newborn. Here’s to the next year!

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Breastfeeding – 9 months in

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He loves his sister

How precious is this picture? My beautiful boy and his sister <3 Melts my heart!

 

PrincessIce is 9 months old already! She seems pretty excited about it!

 

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9 months old!

 

I’m still breastfeeding PrincessIce. Never in a million years would I have imagined breastfeeding a baby for so long. I have learnt so much about breastfeeding and so many myths have been debunked for me. I had heard some of them so many times that I believed they must be true. I think that is why so many people fail at breastfeeding. Our families, friends and colleagues (although they mean well sometimes) also put pressure on breastfeeding mothers to wean/start on solids/supplement and many more. I have faced these pressures myself, but have always had a soft place to fall with La Leche League. No matter how many times I was made to feel I was doing the wrong thing, I could always go to my LLL leader (Kim) and she would calm my fears and give me evidence based information to assure me that I am, in fact, doing the right thing. Once a month I can attend a meeting where nobody looks at me like I’m an alien for breastfeeding my baby.

 

For me breastfeeding was never about me, it has always been about PrincessIce and her needs. At the moment there is no end in sight and I am okay with that. I could not imagine refusing to feed or comfort PrincessIce at my breast. It is also really convenient for me. Having bottle fed and breastfed a child I can say from experience that breastfeeding is so much easier. Yes, it is hard in the beginning, but with the right support the large majority of women can do it. Yes, I still sterilize and wash bottles (from my pumping equipment), but not nearly as many as I used to. Also, I may be able to quit pumping when PrincessIce is around a year old (my goodness! That is SOON!). That’s a total of around 7 months of pumping if you exclude the majority of my maternity leave. A lot less washing and sterilizing than with an exclusively bottle fed baby. Because we co-sleep I get a LOT more sleep than I did with Babyice. No getting up for night feeds. What a pleasure.

 

Feeds have become a lot shorter as PrincessIce feeds more efficiently and a lot less frequent too. Sometimes she will moan, literally take a few sips and be happy again, she just quenches her thirst. If she gets hurt or is upset, latching on immediately soothes her. Best mothering tool, EVER. I was told the day would come where she wasn’t permanently attached to my breast and I couldn’t believe it then, but it was true.

 

So our journey continues and we grow together. Each feed is a special time for just the two of us and I need to remind myself constantly to treasure it because it will be over one day. I hope that it won’t end too soon, I am still loving the closeness and exclusivity of our relationship and I selfishly want to keep her to myself for just a little bit longer.

 

She is sick (again) at the moment. Ear and throat infection. Of course after I bragged about how healthy she is she has made it her mission to make me a liar. At midnight she was burning up and I gave her our last suppository. She then got rid of it about 3 minutes after I administered it. I gave her oral medication. I tried to calm her by feeding her and she bit me. Hard. I cried. It really hurt. Rudi said ‘Well then you must just put her on the bottle!’. For just a moment, it became about me and I considered it, but just as quickly as the thought entered my mind it left again. She is unwell, she is in pain…her ears and her throat hurt and I’m trying to put something in her mouth that will require her to swallow. I get it. I know a lot of women draw the line at biting and will stop breastfeeding because of it, but there are ways to deal with it and I will explore those first. She has never bitten me maliciously or mischievously. Onwards and upwards!

 

I don’t know myself anymore! I have turned into a breastfeeding, baby wearing and co-sleeping mother. I never would of thought!

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