Breastfeeding round 2: The never ending battle

So you may have read about the rather horrible start we had with AJ, but let me recap. He latched on fine his first time. He kept latching on fine but he never really fed. He was getting skinny. My heart broke. Finally day 3 when the milk came in I expressed like crazy and started feeding him with a bottle. Again midwives, health visitors and breastfeeding councillors, all pushing for breastfeeding – apparently they get points from UNICEF, something like that. I guess the ultimate result is the same – you would like more mums to be breastfeeding but what it meant was we had a kid that didn’t really eat for 3 days and at that age weight loss can lead to severe results. They will always tell you it’s your choice and you need to pay attention to your motherly instinct but its hard. You want them to breastfeed, nature delays your milk coming in for the first 3 – 5 days, meanwhile you have a starving child. Dark days.

These days we’ve almost flipped. Austin has started exclusively breastfeeding! Its really odd. Pretty much as soon as he turned 3 months he started refusing the bottle. He used to have one bottle at 7pm… just the one, and he’s stopped taking it! 2 things; my breasts started getting sore again (yes, again so bored of this. I thought we were out the other side!) as he started needing more feeding. And of course I had a mini panic because so far I have been sure that it’s that last bottle feed that has been keeping him asleep through the night! NOOOOO! So odd, you put the bottle in his mouth but it’s like he can’t get to grips with the teet. Just pushes the nipple to the side of his mouth and turns the head. But I put it near his lips just to see if there’s a desire for the bottle and he physically brings himself forward toward it or uses his hands to bring the bottle toward him, so it seems that there is a desire to eat but he’s gone off the bottle. We’ve tried for the last 2 weeks as I think its good to have the option to feed – what if something happens to me?! Or more importantly I need to go out! ;)

Anyway, we have been struggling through with bottle feeding and had no joy. We’ve had a few nights now where he has fed only from me and going to bed around 8pm. So far, he’s been ok and staying asleep til 6am. We have had a couple of scares at 2am, 1 where I fed him as he was really screaming, the other we ignored as it was more like grumbling and he fell asleep again soon after. I’m thinking the formula in the early days probably helped set the routine and now he’s just used to sleeping the longer hours. Mind you babies DO sleep through the night from an early age just on mum’s milk so it might all be ok. Of course now he’s getting to that age where he’s bigger and needs more food so he might start waking in the middle of the night anyway.

I can’t be arsed to worry. We’ll see what happens. The really good news is during the last month I’ve been getting much better at feeding whilst we’re out and about. This makes being out and about much easier and less stressful. Thank God. This really is a different child.

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13 weeks / 3 months: AJs 1st swimming lesson

Great news folks. Today AJ had his first swimming lesson. I was spurred on by a friend who is trying to cram in as much as she can with her baby before she goes back to work and by my own desire to do more with AJ than I did with Lolo. Why didn’t I do that much with Lolo? Good question. Well, firstly I think because she cried for most of the day when she was little up until about 6 months. I didn’t want to go out with her because the audio exhausted me, trying to calm her was equally as exhausting and then of course you have the parents who look at you wondering why you can’t control your bubba. Secondly I think because I can kind of manage breastfeeding out and about better than I did with Lolo feeding at any a time is not as much of an issue. Finally, looking after a baby is non-stop, most of your time is spent being reactive and working on borrowed time (whilst they’re asleep) cooking or tidying. To simply organize to do a class/club you have to be proactive and take the time to look, email, ask and of course the final step – book! But I digress.

The little man seemed to enjoy it well. The pool was warm thankfully so we slipped into the water gradually and did a full 30mins class. He wasn’t too keen being sat on the side of the pool for some of the activities as it was a little cooler and let’s be honest, he’s not ‘sitting’ anywhere yet so it was probably a little uncomfortable. Prep involved a ‘double nappy’ with a Huggies Swim nappy and a Happy Nappy on top. Admittedly the Happy Nappy was a medium and so a little big for him, I’m not sure it would have safeguarded us from much had there been a surprise! He had a feed before we went in and again when we got home. It has been fabled that it totally knackers them out so I’m hopeful he’ll have a big snooze now. It’s funny how a small 30min activity dominates your day. The morning is all about getting him up, fed and ready in time to leave. You then want to get there early enough in case you can’t find a parking space and leave enough time in case of additional feeding and accidents. Then its a rush home so they can settle in bed with a top up feed. Crazy business this motherhood!

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Happy 3 Months AJ

Yesterday was AJ’s 3 month birthday. I also managed to text a friend who at that exact moment of my text was in labour. What a lovely coincidence. I also decided last night would be when I would go out to celebrate my birthday. Local pub, small group of friends. And the first time I would be leaving AJ for the evening properly. I’d already spent most of the day getting my hair done, so I did feel a little bad leaving him at night as well. The grand parents looked after him most of the day, then I returned for 2 hours to feed myself and him and then off I went again. Lolo of course was oblivious as soon as the TV was popped on – barely said goodbye. AJ on the other hand was in the arms of his grandad, his Jisan. And he was looking at me. You know, that – ‘I’m looking at you mum because I love you please don’t ever leave me’. You know, the one that makes your heart break and reconsider all the evening’s plans? I went back in for 3 kisses and finally tore myself away with my hands over my eyes, mock-running out of the door in case he insnarled me with those baby blues again. I checked in at around 10.30pm and the ‘rents had it all under control so I continued my drinking. We came home around 1am and got into bed around 2am, all in time for AJs 5.20am feed. I felt like a winner this morning. I am hardcore.

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12 weeks: Our first trip as a 4 a.k.a. the art of timings

This weekend we went to see friends near Trowbridge – near Bath. All 4 of us. It is the first time we have all travelled together. I think with Lolo we went to a wedding after the first 3 weeks. This time we waited for AJ to turn 12 weeks.

Travelling with 2 kids is a little chaotic. It was fun (when we got there) but quite tiring. Thankfully we packed all the night before. The next morning (Friday), hubby went off to work for a half day and I kept Lolo at home from the childminders. Car was gradually packed, kids were fed and then, then you try to get the timings right. I think that’s the biggest thing when you have kids – what you stress over as a mum (everyone thinks you’re a bit nuts for). Although many will think you’re a bit neurotic etc, most mums who work to the rhythm of their kids sleep/eat cycle will tell you they try to find the sweet spot to travel, especially long distances. Its a bit like waiting for Mars to be in Venus at the moment a cockerel stands on its left foot facing a Westerly direction. Otherwise you end up with a constantly crying baby for several hours that either needs constant attention or entertainment for X amount of hours – and lets not forget 1) not liking to breastfeed out and about due to discomfort (just me) and 2) traffic – because you know there wasn’t enough to think about in the first place. Genuinely it’s a wonder we ever leave the house. Part of you just says, ‘Sod this for a game of soldiers – run away, run away!’. A common phrase I use, irrespective of what state either child is in as long as the youngest is fed- leave asap! The other half of you tries to make the world a better place by aligning all the stars and having everyone happy in the car: fed, watered, ASLEEP and in the least amount of traffic. Because honestly, all you want is peace an quiet.

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2 Years & 3 months: Negotiation and Patience

I think a lot of us would agree that babies/toddlers, understand a lot more than they can verbalize articulately. Much like Lolo’s waking’s in the middle of the night (conversation: Mummy: ‘why do you get up in the middle of the night to mummy and daddy’s room?’ Lolo: ‘Because I like you; mummy, daddy and AJ’. Translation: ‘I’m lonely.’) It’s the craziest thing that she feels such a strong emotion because mummy, daddy and AJ are sleeping in the same room since AJ was born 9 weeks ago and that she feels like she’s missing out all alone in her room. So what was our plan? Negotiation and bribery.

Step 1: Understanding her situation and making her feel safe. We told her that we loved her and that we had not put her in a different room as a punishment. That we had AJ in our room because he kept waking in the middle of the night and we wanted to make sure that Lolo could get some sleep. And the reason she needed to stay in her room is to help mummy and daddy get as much sleep as possible.

Step 2: Negotiation & Bribery: She would get either Frozen stickers or Minion stickers if she could sleep through the night and not come into mummy or daddy’s room for 3 nights in a row. When she could get up was indicated by the ‘sun coming up’ on her Groclock. And IF she came in on the next night after having successfully slept 2 nights for example, we would reset and start back at zero. She needed to sleep 3 consecutive nights to get her into the habit of staying in her room again. The choice between the stickers in itself I think is a kind of prize, she gets to make a choice as up til now we have been mandating the terms.

Step 3: Patience. Personally I think it’s crazy to think that a child can understand the concept of sleeping 3 nights in a row otherwise everything starts from the beginning again. I also think it’s amazing that she was patient enough to wait 3 days! The first morning of course she bounded in proudly and said ‘Sun up! Please can I have my stickers’. My heart melted and I almost gave in but we repeated that this was 1 of 3 nights and she still had 2 left. There was no conviction in my words but I still said them. I even gave her the stickers to hold so she could really imagine her prize. And this morning after 3 successful nights it was such a cute thing to watch her evaluate with consideration which prize she really wanted. After a minute of holding both, she handed back the minions to daddy to put away and kept the frozen stickers. Genuinely impressed she did not run away and tear open both sets! The Minions are now set for 4 night’s time, and so we begin again.

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Happy 2 month birthday

Happy Birthday for yesterday. weighing in at 5.5kg, at last reaching the 50th percentile. 75th percentile for height. AJ seems to be hitting his stride. Well done my little monkey, pumpkin, sausage.


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The first 8 weeks of Number 2

This aims to capture a few developments and thoughts around these first 8 weeks of AJ’s life. Lolo’s been doing brilliantly with him so far. So proud of her, kissing AJ and being super gentle with him. She sat on him today by accident (all is well) but other than that no real incidents.

I have to admit the first week is like a hole – still. You go in, its dark, unexpected, daunting and you don’t know when you’ll get out. The one thing that is really helpful is, having been through this before, it’s familiar territory. You recognize the constant guessing at what your baby needs. The gut wrenching fear that if you put them down now they might wake up or if you rock them another 5 mins they’ll definitely be asleep – dear God whatever happens pls don’t let them wake up again. I decided not to be as precious about giving him a bottle of formula during the day if I was not feeling comfortable enough to breastfeed whilst we were out and about.  It’s all still a roller coaster, but this time you know there is an end to it. Things change constantly but you know what you’re end goal looks like and that this is all part of the course. This is a big comfort in the middle of the night.

I’d say day 3 AJ started showing signs of differentiating night from day, sleeping at last from about 11-3 and then again til 6. We concentrated on getting most of his calories during the day and allowing him that one crucial nap around 4-5pm. We were good at putting him in the moses basket at nap times to start with but slowly he started resisting in a big way. Once his morrow reflex woke him up, if he was in the moses basket that was it. He’d be up and he’d be cranky. Where he starved pretty much the first 3 days I feel bad and so although I have tried to let him cry it out, my heart literally bleeds and after a few 2 hour crying sessions I’m going to wait a little longer before enforcing naps. Currently his nap routine is roughly 9am, 12 and 4pm. And I hold my hands up, he sleeps on me. I’d rather a baby who is well rested than someone who screams all day because he is over tired. So I use a mix of methods, prams, car seat and I allow him to sleep on me, especially for the 4-5pm slot. I don’t intend to have any more kids, so to be honest – I’m enjoying my new born hugs. And this is the thing, again, this will all change soon. For example only 4 months til he starts solids. Genuinely crazy how fast time has flown.

At 3 weeks he started sleeping 10pm-6am but then regressed a little doing 10-4 and then through to 6/7. And these last couple of days he’s been going down around 8pm and up at 4, then through to 7am. At this age, sleeping and eating are really the main things. He poops well too. The poop, how could I forget about the poop – eating, sleeping and pooping. From about 4 weeks we’ve been having a load more smiles and semi-laughing. He held his head up from day one (I must do some more exercises with him to help strengthen it). He’s been 25 percentile so far, steady growth although having weighed him today he’s 5.3kg – a 500g increase in one week! All breast with one formula feed in the evening, personally happy with that.

We spent the first 3 weeks growing well but with a touch of baby acne (poor sausage). Weeks 4-6 Lolo lovingly gave him a stinker of a cold, and mummy too. Weeks 6-8 Lolo has been home from the childminder’s (who’s on hols) so I’ve been juggling both of them (serious high fives to all parents who have to wrangle 2 young kids). He’s been to 2 adventure playgrounds, 2 farms, several shopping trips and a castle. If its still raining tomorrow he might even get to meet a Gruffalo

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