Motherhood moments

I’ve been having a tough time with parenting recently. The Boy’s behaviour has been trying: very aggressive and abrupt and his listening skills are nil. He keeps hurting the baby and it breaks my heart, but the hardest bit of it all is keeping control of myself. I lose my temper and shout and feel ashamed afterwards, but I’ve been working really hard on stopping that; after all, I’m supposed to be the grown up in this situation. Things had just about reached their worst and lowest point – I was crying to the Man on Monday at the thought of being left alone with both of them, when suddenly things started to turn around.

Now, I don’t fool myself, I know we’ll experience some lows again, but while we’re having a reasonably positive time of things, I want to list some of the stuff that makes my heart sing about being a mother, because there are so many moments full of sweetness and it’s not always easy to focus on those when you’re struggling.

  • The ease with which you can make a baby laugh – nibbling or kissing every little bit of them, catching hold of their toes, repeatedly lunging towards them with a silly noise: it’s so uplifting to be able to make someone giggle like that
  • Telling jokes with The Boy – how delightful that he’s finally old enough to understand knock knock jokes, even if the reason he;s laughing is possibly just because the joke has the word ‘poo’ in it. Let’s face it, to a three year old the word ‘poo’ is the joke.

    happy face baby.jpg

    Happy being-sung-to face

  • The look on The Girl’s face when I sing to her – a trusting happiness as she gazes at me that completely takes my breath away.
  • The way that, when The Boy is wretched poorly he turns back into my baby again, snuggling in, having cuddles, wanting me to smooth his hair and hold my cool hand against his hot little forehead in a way that makes my heart ache as I remember how my mother did the same for me and that vivid memory of the feel of her hand on my skin, the sweet powdery smell of her perfume and the plaited gold links of her bracelet gleaming.
  • The Girl is babbling, just nonsense consonants mostly, but every time she wants my attention it’s ‘mumumumum’ until I look at her. I’d forgotten how precious it was to hear those first utterances of your special-to-them name.
  • The Boy offered a piece of his advent calendar chocolate to his sister entirely off his own bat. Why did I not realise that watching the children you love show love to each other was one of the most moving things you can witness?
  • The way a bit of ribbon or a plastic tub can entertain a baby for an absurdly long time and the excitement they can experience doing so. Who knew a pot of Bottom Butter could incite one to bounce up and down on one’s knees and squeak with the thrill of it?
  • How you can send a three year old upstairs to get a pair of socks and half an hour later he still hasn’t returned but you can hear him conducting a complex social interaction between his wooden engines, ‘doing’ all the voices with great enthusiasm.
  • The sheer intoxicating moreishness of their smell when they’re all sleep-drunk and warm. Milky, yeasty, sweet and mine.

Sorry if this post is a bit of a mish-mash, but then I wrote more for me than you. I’d love to know what moments have made your heart melt this week though…?


6 reasons to celebrate breastfeeding

I was offered the opportunity to take part in this blog hop about Christmas and breastfeeding, but I’m not sure what I can say about breastfeeding that is Christmas-relevant. I could state that it’s a gift and a blessing, in this season of blessings and gift-giving, but that would make a mighty short post so I thought I’d take a slightly sideways approach and write about celebrating breastfeeding. So here are all the reasons I can think of to celebrate the wonderful act of breastfeeding – please let me know if I’ve forgotten anything!

1 – free
Babies cost: everybody knows that. That’s why being able to feed them for free is so great, for as long as it lasts. Before you know it they’ll be throwing a shit fit on the floor of Tesco (or the supermarket of your choice) because they want every pot of jam in the confiture aisle and you’ll be fondly remembering the days when their nutrition cost you nothing.

2 – cake
All that money you’ve saved on artificial baby milk? Now you get to spend it on cake and other goodies for you because – ta dah! Making milk burns calories. Alternatively you could do what a very disciplined fellow preschool mum told me she did and go on a diet plan whilst feeding and burn twice the weight, but if you’re like me you’re famished and exhausted and only sugar and caffeine keeps you running, so eat the damn cake and be guilt free.

3 – easy
It’s sterile. It’s the right temperature. It provides the exact amount required (except in those leaky first weeks when you’re boobs are still figuring it out). You make it with no effort (unless you count eating extra cake: see point 2). You can make it when you’re asleep and never have to get out of bed. To lazy mamas like me this has to be the biggest point to celebrate – hurray for extra time in bed!

4 – love
Yes, breastfeeding promotes bonding, you’re holding your baby in your arms, but you know bottle-feeding mamas do that too and I’m sure they’re just as bonded to their babies. What breastmilk provides that is completely unique is the hormonal oomph of oxytocin – a super-rush of liquid love that gives you and your baby a feelgood kick like no other so you can relive the moment you met every time you nurse.

5 – multipurpose
Squirt it in gummy eyes, wipe it on sore bottoms , dab on cuts – milk is seemingly magic and so gentle you can inhale it without damaging the lining of your lungs. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this mind.

6 – perfect
Finally let’s celebrate how this milk is perfectly designed just for your baby – no-one else’s. You make the stem cell loaded, microbiome-rich, probiotic, immuno-boosting milk that your baby needs depending on their exact needs at that exact time. Easily digestible, full of fat, magic milk.


The code word for the Celebrating Breastfeeding Christmas Extravaganza is candle. 
With special thanks to our sponsors for providing the amazing prizes: ARDO, LoveyUsh, Milk & Mummy, Lorna Drew, Mummy Makes Milk,Thrupenny Bits, breastvest, Mothers’ Love Cookies and More4Mums.
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Dear new first time mum, an open letter

dearnewmumDear new first-time mum, or not so new mum… Dear mum who’s finding it tough right now.
I know.
It’s fucking hard. It is. It’s not just you. Let me tell you something from the vantage point of a second time mum – this too shall pass. The only reason I can even vaguely cope this time is because I’ve done it before and I am confident it will come to an end.  Of course then a new and different really annoying thing will start, but hey, a change is as good as a rest.

That first time it is just so fucking hard and you must do whatever you can to get through. Eat chocolate, go on Facebook, watch crappy, Hallmark made-for-TV movies that have you somewhere between weeping and laughing because they’re so schmaltzy, but so bad.

I’m currently typing to you from the darkness of my bedroom, sitting up in bed because if I move The Girl to the baby jail (aka, her cot) after I feed her to sleep she wakes up again and I really really need to just get on with writing or I will lose my mind and my sense of self. Do whatever it takes to hang onto that sense of self, even if it means you end up dancing with the baby strapped to you in a sling, or reading your book bundled up against the cold as you one-handedly push the buggy containing your sleeping toddler round and round the park. I type blog posts in the dark while I eat cake and fantasise about having enough spare time that I don’t have to choose between a clean house and clean hair.

If you’re feeling low, I mean really low, then please go see your Health visitor or GP, because they do put extra resources into post natal mental health and you are not wasting anybody’s time, but please don’t feel bad or ‘less than’ because you’re struggling.

Everyone can see that you’re doing an ace job, but you’ll just discount it, thinking that they don’t know what you’re really like when you’re on your own with the baby, crying into your cold tea, still wearing a vomit-stained dressing gown whilst your baby cries for you to pick her up 30 seconds after you put her down and you’re ignoring her for just 30 seconds more because you’re so touched out it feels like your skin is about to peel off. Oh no, they’re just seeing the bits that you want them to see, the ones that portray you in a flattering light and blah blah blah – but she smiles, right?  However bloody infuriating it is, she just wants you, yes? – that’s good! She’s happy. She’s attached to you. That means you’re doing a really. Good. Job.

Doesn’t mean it’s not fucking hard to be you right now. It is so. Fucking. Hard. Grit your teeth and hang on. We’re all doing the same thing. It’s what mothers have done for years, decades, centuries. Generation after generation has gone through this. Thirty years from now you’ll be accosting snot-encrusted, hollow-eyed young women being mauled by a baby and telling them to enjoy every minute, that it goes so fast, that time is precious… Or perhaps you won’t, but you’ll probably be thinking it, because these days will fly by before you know it. But right now it’s just hard, and it’s OK to feel that way.

And time goes by so slowly…

The Girl, my little girl, is rising six months old already. How did that happen? I remember how long the first six months of babyhood took with The Boy and how much easier things seemed to get when we reached that milestone. The reverse seems to have happened here – the time has flown by and now she’s mobile, into everything, nosy, wanting to be entertained!

At first I thought I was just engaging in a little light hyperbole when I made the supposition that the time actually had gone more slowly with my first baby. Perhaps because it was all new, or because it was so stressful to have a baby who needed a 45 minute feed every 90 minutes throughout the whole 24 hours of the day, but then I got to thinking – The Girl cosleeps with us (more on that here), something I stupidly didn’t catch onto until rather late in the game with The Boy, which means she sleeps longer and better and it’s easier to resettle her. I have definitely been getting more sleep. The reason that it felt like six months with The Boy took longer than it has with The Girl is because it actually was longer… in awake hours, anyway. I was probably awake for about 19 or 20 of the 24 hours, as opposed to the  15 or 16 I’m awake with The Girl.

time goes by so slowly3660 hours awake with The Boy
2745 hours awake with The Girl

That equals 915 more hours awake.

Equivalent to 38 days and 3 hours.

Thirty-eight DAYS!  That’s right. I was awake for over a whole extra month the first time round. No wonder time seems to have flown this time. No wonder I spent that first experience of motherhood constantly singing the Righteous Brothers…”And time goes by so slowly….” But wow – can’t time do so much? That little baby is at preschool now and, thank heavens, did learn to sleep eventually (although he still likes an early start) and now I look up and nearly four years has passed.

Extended breastfeeding – or just breastfeeding?

Thanks for hopping over from Renegade Feminist and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Day 5 Extended Breastfeeding we have over £700 worth of breastfeeding and baby goodies up for grabs including prizes from More4Mums providing a set of ‘Hot Milk’ Lingerie, a signed hardback limited edition copy of Milky Moments and a £30 voucher from Milk Chic  Full details of the Grand Prize can be found here and all entries to be completed via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

I dislike the term extended breastfeeding.  I, and many of my lentil-weaving hippyish friends, prefer to call it natural term breastfeeding, but only other lentil-weaving, hippyish people know what that means so I’m forced to use extended breastfeeding, because, in our modern-day 6-months-of-boob culture, anything past six months is seen as extended.  Just in case you’re still in the dark, though, allow me to enlighten you: extended breastfeeding is feeding your baby from the milk in your breast until an age where your family (either blood-related or in-laws) start openly asking you when you’re going to stop.  Naturally this is different for every family.extended breastfeeding

Yes, that’s right. In this age of tits on every billboard, buy a daily newspeper to admire some cleavage, décolletage being the selling point of every brand imaginable – whether relevant or not – it’s the sight of a mother feeding a child who (to quote a relative who should know better) “is old enough to ask for it” that really gets everybody clutching their pearls in abject horror.

I never set out to shock and dismay. I knew for sure that I wanted to breastfeed and, like many other mothers, had six months in my head as the goal I was aiming for. At the time I think I just believed this was how long you were ‘supposed’ to do it for. After three years of in-depth peer supporter training, I now know better.

Six months is just how old a child should roughly be before introducing anything other than breastmilk. Formula companies are banned from advertising in this country for babies under that age, so all their advertising (behind which there is much money) is aimed at ‘follow-on’ milks and so on for babies older than six months. I, like most others, mentally converted this into a maximum age limit for breastfeeding and honestly thought anything beyond that was unnecessary and, perhaps, a little odd.

And then I had my baby. My precious Boy. I held him in my arms, watched him stroke his cheek, my breast, his cheek, saw his wonder that he and I were the same person and two different people all at once. I fought to feed him despite birth trauma, bad advice, pain and post-natal depression and then, at about eight weeks it began to get easier, by 12 weeks it was easy (except for the sleep deprivation – oh God, was I deprived!) and by six months, when he started to mess around with bits of mango and fingers of toast I was laughing.

“Why would I give up now?!” I laughed to myself as I sailed out of the house with no paraphernalia other than nappies when he was five months old.
“Well I’m not giving up now!” I declared to myself, and others, when his molars started coming through aged one and feeding in the night was the best, easiest, quickest and most natural way to resettle him.
“Thank God I hadn’t given up!” I exclaimed through several stomach bugs at all ages where the only nutrition and fluids he took was endless, comforting suckles at my breasts.
“I don’t want him to give up now…” I murmured as I held my big two year old on my lap and stroked his hair and cuddled him in the only time he stayed still for more than a minute in his busy day.

By about two and half he was only having milk every couple of days and when I got pregnant and suffered horrendous pregnancy sickness for the first four months it was game over and the last of my milk went. He stopped wanting to suckle, even for the comfort.

If you’re wondering about feeding until your child weans themselves then I can honestly tell you it’s wonderful. It’s special. You can have time away from them (my son stayed away from me for five nights on two separate occasions and both times we managed to pick back up where we left off), but you don’t need to set yourself a goal now.  One of the very best things about breastfeeding is that (once you’re over the initial hump) it’s intuitive. You do it as and when. You know when it’s necessary and when it’s not and you can change your mind as you go.

For the family who wonder why you still do it, well, it’s none of their business really, but I always found “There’s a reason they keep their milk teeth until they’re five or six you know!” was a very effective deterrant. If nothing else the look of horror on their faces as they picture you still feeding a six year old is totally worth it!

For more extended breastfeeding experiences please hop on over to My Moo and Woo where you can gain further entries into the grand prize draw. Full terms and conditions can be found on the Keeping Britain Breastfeeding website. UK residents only.

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