summer days

Firstly a big thank you to all who commented and sent me messages after my post the other day. You have all given me a renewed sense of hope that it is possible to introduce formula to supplement breastfeeding and still go on to have a happy and healthy breastfeeding experience. I can’t say how much that means to me, thank you!

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We move slowly through our summer days.

With our pixie on her new routine of being topped up in the evening with some formula, she is all of a sudden sleeping in the day time in her bassinet for up to TWO HOURS. This is unheard of for us, and just confirms for me that the poor little pet was needing some more in her tummy before she could drift off into a comfortable sleep. Lovely Sue, my lactation consultant, is hopeful that with a bit more sleep she will have some more energy to tackle mastering breastfeeding. One can only hope that this is the case. We will persevere!

Our summer days at home are mostly filled with the day to day stuff that comes from having a little person and a small baby in the house. Washing, drying and folding clothes. Changing sheets and replacing them with crisp ones, cool to crawl into on hot summer nights. Stacking and unstacking the dishwasher. Taking breaks to read books to a little person, always eager for company and attention. Sweeping the floor and rocking the baby. Watching her big eyes show interest in a waving leaf, a jumping big sister, a new toy. Continuously boiling the kettle and never getting around to that cup of tea. I think the other day I boiled it eight times before I got my cuppa. True story.

I write lists, many lists, and each night I sit down at our bench with a cold grapefruit and a cup of herbal tea (odd combination?) and review the day. I write a list for the following day and add things to my dairy and the calendar. Because, of course, 2013 is the year we Get Organised!

Prince Charming is heading back to work next week. After over five weeks with him at home I am both nervous and excited about what the next chapter holds.

 

 

 

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time to give in

Note: give in, not give up.

The pixie is now three and a half months old. For three and a half months now we have battled together. Perhaps an apt name for this saga in our lives would be The Breastfeeding Wars: Starring Mama and The Pixie.

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You probably remember a while back me talking about our breastfeeding dramas. Well, I haven’t talked about them of late, mainly due to plain exhaustion, but things have not improved. You can read more about the background to our story here and here. I have been given all manner of advice over the last few months and have slowly been filtering through it all in my mind.

The first time I realised in my heart that something was not right was when she was just a few days old. I remember thinking, she doesn’t seem to stay on for very long, I don’t think she is getting enough milk.

If only then I had trusted my instincts.

With that in mind I asked to breastfeed in front of our [hopeless] maternal child health nurse when she was one week old. The nurse looked at me and said, “Well yes, I can hear her swallowing.” Ok then, I guess all is well…

If only then I had trusted my instincts.

 Since then I have had email counselling with a lactation consultant, I’ve sat with a lady from the ABA for three hours, I have seen the doctor, I have complained to my health nurse, I have googled and read all manner of mummy forums. I have read endless books and called the health nurse hotline. I have cried. I have thought many times about giving up.
The main suggestions from the crew above have been:
:: She has colic.
:: She has reflux.
:: She is fussy.
:: They are all different (love that one).
All the while my instincts have been telling me one thing, one niggling, nagging, titter-tattering thing: she is hungry, she is hungry, she is hungry.
When you are in a situation, it is so hard to see what is right in front of you. It’s also, in this culture, difficult to allow yourself to trust your instincts, particularly as a parent.
Over the past three weeks, with some advice from my mum and sis, I have been expressing after every feed and topping up our lady with a bottle. She guzzles it. My heart flitters and flutters seeing her drink. When she finishes, she wants more. She cries. She doesn’t sleep much. She is hungryI am exhausted.
Today I took Miss Pixie for a weigh in. It wasn’t great. I am not one to take much notice of The Rules, but this time it just confirmed what I have been thinking, feeling, knowing: she is hungry.
This afternoon I saw a lactation consultant. She is convinced the pixie isn’t getting enough because she isn’t latching on properly. Why oh why this hasn’t already been picked up, I do not know. Why oh why I didn’t know this, as a second time mama, I do not know. I am trying not to blame myself.
Because she doesn’t feed for long, my supply has been drastically affected. The constant expressing helped in the beginning, but the pressure to produce the milk and feed her more and more is taking its toll. I am very stressed and under the pump, literally.
So you are asking, what now?
Now, I’ve decided, it’s time to give in. Note, like I said earlier: give in, not give up.
I am going to start supplementing one or two of her feeds with formula. I had to pause to type those words.
With the pressure off the hope is that I will be more relaxed and able to produce milk, and the pixie won’t be so hungry so will be happier and the whole situation will be easier for us all to work with. In the meantime the consultant, Sue, lovely Sue, has shown me how to try to re-teach her to latch on and get more of the breast in her mouth.
I really hope it works.
I have to also add in here a public apology to my Prince Charming. When my lovely fellow mentioned the word formula to me a few days ago, I responded with the vigour and outrage that one would expect had he said let’s feed our baby toxic waste. I’m sorry darling. It was not your suggestion that upset me, just my own high-achiever expectations that I, as mother, should be able to do that which is most basic: feed my hungry baby myself. Thank you for being patient with me and giving me the time and space to realise admit that you were right.  

a rotten couple of days

We’ve all had a case of the sads here the last few days. It’s a terrible cycle really, when you are a tight knit family and things aren’t going so well. Negativity feeds negativity and as soon as one person is a little off, you can be sure others will follow.

Pixie and I have been having the battle of the breast every few hours, which has become steadily worse. Suffice it to say it is me who set our little family into the downward spiral since the weekend, that much I will admit!

It got to the point where Pix was wanting to feed, crying as I began to lean her towards the breast, screaming by the time she got there, and latching on and off and on and off for about three to five minutes before we both called it quits. I would keep trying to offer her more but it only upset us both more. Then she would cry for an hour or so and generally be unsettled before it was time to try the whole thing again.

The last two days have been the worst, with both of us ending up in tears numerous times.

After spending the weekend emailing back and forth with a breastfeeding counsellor from the Australian Breastfeeding Association, I took their advice and today went to the ABA centre in Dandenong, Melbourne. When I looked them up last night I saw they have an open session every Wednesday where you can turn up and get support from a lactation consultant.

The drive to get there really put me off, even though I had my sister volunteer to come along and entertain the biggest, plus provide support to any criers along the journey! I wasn’t sure if they would be able to help us as I had convinced myself she had reflux and what could they do to help me then? I felt hopeless and helpless and annoyed at myself. I’m a second time mum and have done all this before, why couldn’t I get it right? Why couldn’t I do the most basic thing a mother is meant to do for her baby and feed her? I just haven’t been able to figure it out and honestly didn’t know what to do next. But I knew I had to do something. Although Pixie still had wet nappies, I was beginning to feel a real sense of urgency that this get sorted out ASAP.

After reviewing a few options, I am just so glad I bit the bullet and went. I spent two hours sitting with a lactation consultant who listened to my story and before long had me and my baby topless and skin to skin. I was really sceptical, thinking that my kid hated breastfeeding and that this wasn’t going to work for us, other people – maybe – but not us… Within moments of me placing Pixie on my chest, she rooted around, moved herself straight for the breast (this was really amazing to watch) and latched on. Feeding! No crying, no on and off and on and off.

Apparently, she just wasn’t into my style! Apparently, my style is ‘mother led attachment’, where I was guiding her head onto the breast. She wasn’t too keen on this. The lactation consultant taught me ‘baby lead attachment’ which is just like what you are encouraged to do after your baby is born. Basically, we went right back to basics and tried to start fresh. We are going to hang out at home and do it this way for a whole week to establish a new pattern.

Three feeds later I still feel shocked. My baby, who at her worst was feeding for three to five minutes, ten-ish if we were having an awesome time, has fed for up to an hour at each sitting today. Turns out she is super excited about breastfeeding! We just weren’t working too well together as a team. A result of all her crying she was gulping lots of air, and then drinking milk on top was creating a lot of wind, resulting in an upset tummy and a really cranky kid. I was then thinking she’d had enough and would pace around with her to no avail, because she was still hungry and really just wanted to be fed! I feel awful that I didn’t figure this out myself but also thrilled that I went out and got the help we really needed.

We spoke about how our lives are so busy, so instead of really focussing on her I had been thinking, ok well you’re done, what do I have to do next? And on our day would go juggling baby and toddler. I was trying to feed her really sporadically and just all the time basically, when I thought she must be hungry, rather than following her cues. We just got ourselves into a real tangle and I needed the support of someone external to give me more ideas and get us back on track.

We are lying on my bed now as I type this, skin to skin, and she is sound asleep. She’s been asleep on my chest for a few hours and words can’t describe what I am getting out of having this time with her.

Calm and soft and full bellied and warm and happy.