1. When your toddler says things like, ‘I love you so much, mumma,’ (without being promoted, I might add.) This makes up for everything they might ever have, or will do, wrong.
2. Having a beautiful little person, or people, who give you cuddles when you wake up after a broken night of sleep or come home after a bad day at work.
3. Night time cuddles….. Need I say more.
I know that the heading of this article puts me in the firing line from the breastfeeding mafia. And even writing this article actually makes me a little bit of a fraud, as I haven’t actually made the switch from breast to formula yet. My daughter is still small, although in a few weeks, we will need to make the switch when I return to work. However, the reason we haven’t made the switch yet is simple. Guilt.
It doesn’t feel like it is my free choice to make. Every time I try to search for tips on how to make the switch, the advice starts with judgemental statements reminding me that breast milk should be the only thing my baby has until she is six months old. What about financial commitments that necessitate returning to work and make this impossible? Regardless of all the other factors I have discussed in my previous posts, it is important to remember that formula is a viable option and things aren’t always as simple as parenting websites like them to be.
Considerations such as wanting my body back at some stage make me seem like a selfish mother and are so rarely voiced by other mums that even having the thought pass through my mind makes me feel like a hideous mother and ever so alone. The only woman honest enough to voice this that I have found is the unmumsymum. How I wish I had found the post below with my first daughter. Our breast feeding journey has been infinitely simpler with my second daughter and I will sorely miss the night time feeds and closeness when we no longer have it. But things evolve. Babies grow. New stages occur. And I could certainly do without being made to feel like I am deciding to make a poor and unhealthy choice of my baby by other mums and the medical profession. Unmumsymum, I salute you.
‘But I want to do it this way.’ My toddler daughter’s way of asserting her independence. And that’s fine, a natural stage in development as far as I am led to believe. But does it have to be the reply to everything? Believe it or not, there are some times when mummy might know best and that really don’t need arguing about. And yet I haven’t found an answer that works yet.
No, you can’t put your shoes on the wrong feet because you will fall over and hurt yourself. No, you can’t put both of your legs in the same trouser leg as it simply won’t work and again, you will fall over and hurt yourself. I guess the sensible answer is to let her do it her way and learn for herself, although when the possible result means falling literally flat on her face onto a very hard floor, this seems a little harsh. Answers on a postcard please.
So I was that mother today. The one in the supermarket with a small, screaming, red-faced baby strapped to me that everyone was staring at. At first I thought it was my imagination, but then it became more obvious and harder to deny. They were definitely staring at me.
And for anyone who finds themselves in the position of the bystanders, staring isn’t helpful. Even if it was well meant or sympathetic staring, which I still can’t decide if any was, I am well aware my baby is screaming and no, she isn’t hungry or wet or being painfully tortured. All the staring does is to make me more aware of the spectacle we are causing and more eager to finish my shopping and leave. As quickly as possible.
Thankfully, a well meaning security guard stepped in to help me pack the bags as quickly as possible, (not an easy task with a baby strapped to my front and semi deafness in one ear due to aforementioned screaming.) I don’t know if this was to help me, or to move me along as quickly as possible to save the ears of the other shoppers, but however it was meant, the help was gratefully received.
And of course, as soon as we left the shop and were in the privacy of the car with no judging or curious eyes on us, what did I hear? Silence. With no witnesses to prove it. Thanks, baby girl. Impeccable timing as always. Calmness restored, at least until the next outing…….
The breast feeding process has been a whole different experience this time. My second daughter latched on immediately in the recovery room after delivery and apart from a difficult second week when I had to revert to expressing to allow some open wounds to heel, we have had a ‘successful’ experience so far until our six week ‘birthday’ today. Long may it continue.
Although finding the correct word to adequately express how I feel about Brest feeding is tricky. ‘Successful’ could have been substituted for easy/wonderful/straight forward. Except none of those words really sum up the process fairly. Easy? I am not sure if mums are allowed to share how trapped breast feeding can make them feel but here I am admitting to just that. Breast feeding inevitably means a complete lack of any time away from the baby, another thing I am not sure mums are supposed to admit to needing to or wanting. But not a single hour can be spent away from a baby when you are the sole food source.
Wonderful? The best way I can describe breast feeding is like a drug. The highs are truly wonderful, better than anything else I have ever experienced. The bonding, the sense of achievement at successfully feeding my baby, the skin to skin contact. The lows? Pain that forces mummy to scream out loud and cry every time the baby latches when the latch goes wrong. Aforementioned complete lack of time away to recharge. Guilt that if I make the ‘choice’ to stop, I will be doing my baby harm and putting her at increased risk of diseases.
Straightforward? I had been prewarned by a friend that breast feeding was the hardest thing they had ever done. I agree. It certainly ranks amongst the top five. Strange for something that everyone thinks is so natural.
My sole goal? Take each day as it comes. Do the best I can and when breast feeding becomes untenable, think again.
It’s been a long time. Almost a year, in fact. Baby girl number 2 was born on 03/03/2015 by c section. Mummy has two girls. I wonder when I will get used to uttering the phrase, ‘My girls….’ It sends warm tingles through my body but I have to admit to also feeling like a bit of a fraud. Mummy of two? Surely not. I can’t be old enough or sensible enough for that matter. That slightly harangued looking woman with baby drool on her shoulder? Me? And this brings to me to my latest thoughts on what they don’t tell you about motherhood. Other women float around looking like naturals while I walk around feeling like an actress who has taken on role that I haven’t researched properly and which I have no idea how to do. And that’s not through lack of effort. No, I have read everything possible on every baby topic around, that’s part of my slightly obsessive personality. But it still doesn’t mean I actually understand the rules of the game. I am hoping you aren’t supposed to and that all these other women are just better actresses than me. Time will tell, I guess.
And so it seems a fitting tribute as to how little spare time I have now as a full time working mum that I have only just got around to resuming this blog. The last post was when she was twelve weeks. She is now 18 months old.
So sleeping through the night, eh? Parenting books and websites led me to believe that my daughter should be sleeping through the night after six months. If not, there was a problem. She shouldn’t need a bottle after six months during the night, there is no medical reason at all. I was always fascinated by this fact. There may not be a medical reason as such, but I often wake in the night for a drink as an adult. I still find a dark room a little scary at night time sometimes when there are unexpected noises from the depths of the house. I am not sure I remember the last time I slept through the night even pre-baby and from speaking to other adults, this is not unusual. In fact, good sleepers seem to be a rarity, even in adulthood.
Bearing this in mind, why should I think I have somehow got a problem or failed if my daughter still wakes during the night even though she is not an infant anymore? She has had phases when she has slept soundly for around 9 hours, but these have been the exception rather than the norm. It is difficult to remember sometimes that a toddler is also an individual with an increasingly independent personality, so why should she conform to the specified guidelines given by the medical profession about what she supposedly needs?
Anyway, on that note, I need some sleep. Goodnight.