Left Right Left

Before I got to know my boobs in their new role, I had to physically keep track of which one I fed from by writing it down. My notebook became my comfort, especially if I had a hazy night and couldn’t remember what happened. I could how many dirty/ wet nappies Sadie had, which side she fed off and how long the feed was for. Up to 4 and a half months, I only fed off one boob per feed as Sadie was getting enough from me this way. I would play guessing games with myself, but the way I could find out the answer to my quiz question was to check my trusty notebook!  As my boobs were still regulating it wasn’t always so obvious at the beginning. After a couple of months, it was time to put my notebook in my memory box. I began to understand my two new sidekicks and as the phrase goes “when you know, you know”.

Mother Earth

This is a magical hormone oxytocin which makes it all happen. Oxytocin really does give send-off warm and gushy vibes. If only it was sold in bottles, the world would be a calmer place! The feeling is pretty indescribable as I capture my baby looking up at me intently whilst I fed her in my arms, knowing she felt safe and reassured in her happy place. Oxytocin, however does not stop the sore nipples and sleepless nights, but such is life!

 

The Art Of Multitasking

The art of multitasking really came into its own once I became a mother. A classic is picking up dropped muslin with my feet whilst feeding, but babies are great at multitasking too! As well as obviously hunger, it became apparent there were many more reasons why Sadie loved feeding. Breastfeeding was a time for Sadie to show off her newest tricks, waving, laughing, and clapping are just a few of her specialities. The trick that made me chuckle was when she became accustomed to pushing her finger in to my chest. Imagine the action of pressing a doorbell…ouch! it happened for the first time, and aside from the pain in my chest  I thought nothing of it. The next day I saw Sadie playing with her musical book. When I heard the music go off in the book that day, I knew she must have pressed it and said “clever girlie”. I saw the action in her finger, and unfortunately for my chest this was Sadie practising to push the button!

Chicken Korma And Popcorn

I apologise for the description and this is not intended to put you off these favourites – this is how I described “normal” before Sadie starting eating food.  The colour of korma and the smell of salted popcorn. I won’t give you the pleasure of describing Sadie’s nappies after she starting eating food at 6 months; let’s just say you are what you eat! The positive thing is that breast milk does not smell at all, so on the days when my staple wardrobe for the first three months of black leggings were decorated with milk spit up, it was at least neutral in odour.

Going For Gold

Although I set myself goals and aspirations in life, I have never been a planner. I never knew what age I wanted to get married or have children, or who I was making arrange with in two weeks time. I like to just see what happens, as it keeps me surprised along the way. Adam always told me that the best was yet to come, and he was right about our precious baby girl. When I got to 3 months breastfeeding, I thought I would just see what happens at 6 and look at introducing a bottle. At 6 months, I had played around with bottles with my expressed milk as thought maybe I should be doing this. I felt a little pressure, or maybe. put this on myself. My mum got Sadie to like a MAM one after trying 3 different kinds. I really wasn’t sure my reasoning for introducing this, other than for other people. so, without the bottle, I carried on doing what I was doing, and immediately felt happy with my decision. Like anything in life, if something doesn’t sit well with you, then you can feel it inside of you until you do something about it. At eight months in I am writing this. Apparently at one year, you get golden boobies status, so am going for gold!

Up And Away

Sadie has been lucky enough to become a globe trotter in her first year, stretching from Leeds to New York! My trusty large muslin swaddles came into good use once again. Under she went, and into the land of milk dreamland. The white noise and vibrations coming naturally from the aircraft was also a great soother! Sadie, my husband and my poor arm had gone to sleep for a couple of hours, and of course my mind was running away with me and wide awake!

Hocus Pocus

Adam has always laughed at my holistic, sometimes slightly eccentric ways of self-healing. Although medical school was never in my destiny, I will continue to embrace my homeopathic ways alongside professional medical help. Tea tree, and salt water are probably my two favourites for myself. Adam jokes with me when he says “I have twisted my ankle”, oh just put some tea tree on it. To add to my hocus pocus repertoire was my own uniquely blended breast milk vintage 2016/2017. In all seriousness, I used this on Sadie’s eyes if she had conjunctivitis, to take down inflammation from an insect bite, help freaky skin with cradle cap and chapped skin on her face.

Roulette

My mum’s words were very simple- “you are the mother”

My motherly instant was telling me that Sadie wanted to feel secure, whether it be that she was held close, half swaddled, white noise, communication, eye contact, touch, taste, smell or sound. In Sadie’s pram or day bed as I liked to call it, she loved being wrapped in with soft muslins or cellular blankets in the colder weather.

At five months Sadie started waking frequently at 9pm for no reason. My 9pm relaxation time in the bath become a more frequent time for Adam to come upstairs with the monitor, and out I came, as didn’t want her to cry! When it happened for the first time, I instinctively picked her up, and put her to my breast for a soothe. Within five minutes she was back to sleep and I couldn’t really complain, as she either slept all night after that or with one wake. When it started to become maybe three to four nights in the week when it happened, it felt like 9pm roulette, will she or wont she! For my sanity, I decided to change my bath time until later! Clearly this would not solve the issue in the long term.

On a couple of occasions I felt brave and tried to do something else aside from feeding, but when I was up for an hour and a half and lost out on my evening, it just didn’t seem worth it. When my mum came over to babysit, Adam and I went out for a late date after I had soothed her at 9pm! I knew this was a phase that would come and go, but at the time it is very difficult to see past this. I googled and researched, and tried something farfetched called “Wake to sleep”. This is where I would twitch her 15 minutes before the wake-up time to try to move her into the next sleep cycle. As crazy as it sounds after a few days this seemed to work. Whether it was down to the twitching or not, I habitually continued doing this at 8.45pm each night. To be honest if I had read somewhere that skipping round the room 10 times would stop the wake up, I probably would have done that too! Grandparents were under strict instructions to do the twitching if babysitting!

One night after we thought we had escaped the 9pm wakeup- Sadie woke again. I decided I needed to break the habit, and I wasn’t going to feed her. I wanted Adam to settle her if she woke up before midnight, as couldn’t keep feeding her two hours after she went to sleep, even if this was only for 5 minutes. It was a habit I needed to break. In life It is as easy to break a habit then to make a habit, but obviously daunting putting into practise.

Putting this into practise Sadie was inconsolable for ten minutes. I had never ever seen here react like this. If I am being honest at the time it felt like an hour. I was sobbing on the phone to my mum downstairs, but Adam was right with her to reassure her.  Adam created his own method that Sadie began to recognise. Daddy’s little girl was soothed by the hum of his voice from outside her door if she woke. That night daddy had two babies to look after. The good news was thankfully I was able to resume my bath time to 9pm!

 

 

Being Mindful

I used my maternity leave to dedicate my full attention to Sadie and was never in a rush to get to the next stage with her. I actively chose to live life at a slower pace, as the business so life can blur your mind in so many ways.

In life, where daily tasks are repetitive it is easy to fall into the trap of doing something with no thought and going through the motions. This of course may be unintentional but when I started practising yoga it really changed my mind-set, and I started to actively apply this to my daily life. When I practise a simple posture such as my raising arms above my head and releasing, you can get to the end of the posture and can’t remember the journey. This is described as “doing for the sake of doing”. When doing something with thought, especially small things, you can get so much more out of them.  I am not saying when I change Sadie’s nappy I am entered a world of serenity with floating unicorns, but I make sure she laughs a little or we share a moment.

Each time I feed Sadie I am mindful. When I changed my mind-set I instantly felt the benefits. It is always going to be hard at 4am to always be mindful, but just one thought really helps. Feeding is never just something I need to get done in the day, but quite the opposite. I look forward to sitting down, with a snack of course for some one on one skin to skin time with Sadie. Practising mindfulness, gratitude and patience has completely changed the way I approach my life.

As Sadie develops I notice lots of different things when feeding

  • Waving her hands up
  • Kissing
  • Reaching for my nose
  • Getting uncontrollably giggles and losing her latch
  • Blowing raspberries
  • Singing or practising talking
  • Listening to mummy’s stories about the day
  • A smile peeking out whilst she is gulping
  • A gaze into my eyes with dilated pupils
  • Pinching my elbow
  • Pushing the button!!!

If I could bottle up all of these things aside from the pinching my elbow and pushing the button I would. Thankfully these two tricks were just a phase! I always gave her something soft to cuddle when she was feeding at night, most often it was Ewan the trusty dream sheep, whose ears she would stroke.

 

 

I Did It My Way

I wanted to be led by Sadie within reason of her needs. I never wanted to have to fight with her about anything such as sleeping, eating or playing. Sadie is a great teacher, and I am an aspiring student who will continue to further her studies for a lifetime! I have watched Sadie’s breastfeeding habits change over the months from always falling asleep whilst feeding; to being able to gently take her off, so she would fall asleep on my skin before I transferred her into her cot. Once Sadie started eating food, she would roll away when she had enough. I wanted her to feel safe and reassured, so feeding to sleep was the way that worked for me. Successfully transferring from feeding to sleep is a risky business, and some say an art, as you hold your breath for a second! Sadie weaned herself from feeding to sleep altogether as she got older. In the day time  until Sadie was around 10 months old, I mostly fed Sadie to sleep in the morning, late afternoon and evening, whilst I walked her to sleep in the day.

Although I never taught Sadie to self-settle if she woke up in the night, she did this herself from an early age, unless she was really unhappy, and needed something. Sadie didn’t have a dummy and found her own way of settling. I had chosen to wait ten months for Sadie to stop feeding to sleep at bedtime however. As adults we all wind down and relax before going to bed each night, and feeding to sleep, or near enough was the way that worked for Sadie and I.

The first time I said goodnight to Sadie when she was fully awake, she cried for ten minutes which felt like an hour and the following two nights was five minutes. By night three she was calm and ready to sleep. When I knew the time was right, I kissed her goodnight, laid her down in her cot awake, giving eye contact and reassurance. I then gave myself a bit breath of confidence whilst singing a lullaby walking out the room.

Once Sadie started having three meals per day, I noticed she was spending less time feeding at night, and spent ten minutes or so finding her comfy position before settling down for the night.