Monday, 22 July 2013

Ten random hints for expressing

1. Keep your flanges et al in the fridge/ cool bag between pumping sessions - no need to wash.

2. Make sure you leave a manual handle in your pump bag in case of battery failure, as well as a spare diaphram/valve. Knowing how to hand express covers all manner of emergencies, too. Like forgetting the pump.

3.Take one large cool bag to work with full lunch containers and empty milk containers. Bring it home in reverse. Simpler than two separate bags, and makes it easier to grab your lunch and pump.

4. The sick bay fridge probably has more room in it than the staff room one.

5. No expressing room? Try someone's office, and have a back up plan or two. Or just pump at the staffroom table - in Australia your right to do so with or without a cover is legally protected.

6. Need to pump while running around? If someone else is driving then pumping in the car can be a very effective option.

7. Soft ice medical ice packs are easy to wrap around a bottle. There are hard ice packs available with curves for bottles, but you can't use them on a sprained ankle so it's one more thing in the freezer.

8. If you can, shout yourself to some nice maternity bras. You're going to be seing a lot of them, and so is everyone else, so you might as well enjoy it.

9. For pumping in normal circumstance for a healthy baby, there's no need to steralise pump or bottles - washing with hot soapy water is enough.

10. Let down let down let down - if you're getting no milk after two minutes, you probably haven't got a let down, so try trouble shooting that

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

More spoken word

This one used to be my favourite spoken word, until this one.

Now they are tied for first place.

It was actually a student who first introduced me to Taylor Mali. She typed this whole poem out on a piece of paper and gave it to some of her teachers for Teacher's Day one year, along with a touching message of her own. She also performed the whole poem at a school showcase night (in from of students and parents) and as part of one of end of term assemblies (in front of every student in the school). If you've not seen a young teenager perform in front of a captive group of her peers then you probably won't understand the guts, determination and passion that this takes. Both this poem and this student hold a special place in my heart.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Hamburger in my handbag.

This is what I found in my handbag the other day, at 3am no less.
Toddler in the house, it seems.
What's the strangest thing you've had in your bag?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Monday Menu Plan

I've missed a few weeks, and didn't we notice it! It took me a while to get into the habit, but now thaI have I really miss it when I don't do it.

Monday 8 July Beef stir fry (DH). Cook bolognese for freezer
Tuesday 9 July Bolognese
Wednesday 10 July Roast parmesan chicken with roast veggies
Thursday 11 July Veal stir fry
Friday 12 July Hot chook and steamed veggies
Saturday 13 July Soup
Sunday 14 July Scavenge

Monday 15 July Beef stir fry
Tuesday 16 July Bolognese
Wednesday 17 July Chilli con carne
Thursday 18 July Crispy chicken and roast veggies
Friday 19 July Soup
Saturday 20 July scavenge
Sunday 21 July Braised chicken and rice with beans and carrot


Sunday, 7 July 2013

Embarrassed - Breastfeeding in public

This spoke word has had such a powerful affect on me. It has blown me away.

It seems I'm not the only one. Earlier today it had 63 thousand views, tonight it has 113 thousand. I thought it had been around for a while and was just getting a share snowball today, but checked just before - it was only uploaded on Thursday.

This. This is phenomenal.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Happy Birthday to my breastfeeding baby - again (Part Three)

Read Part One here
Read Part Two here

Well, The Day came. No Mummy milk allowed until bedtime. We'd prepared, discussed, and braced ourselves. I expected the tantrums to be epic, for her poor little world to be ripped from her, while we tried to support her as best we could.

What do you know - it was ok. No diasters, no tantrums, no screaming. She asked for Mummy milk in the afternoon, and I said my well rehearsed 'No darling, you're too big for Mummy milk in the day time now. Remember no Mummy milk in the day time after your party?' She was happy with a cuddle and a drink of water instead. Well, she wasn't really happy, perhaps 'reluctantly accepting' is a better description. She had a little bit of a whimper, a snuggle and her water bottle and she was ok. No screaming, no crying, no tantrums. Wow.

It seemed that I'd underestimated her ability to understand what was going on; I'd sold her short. Day weaning so far has been far less painful for everyone than we were expecting, and I'm very thankful for that.

After The Day we tried to make things as smooth as possible for Chubs. I skipped playdates and made other arrangments for meetings for a week or two where there were likely to be breastfeeding bubs. Daddy started to offer 'honey milk' (warm cows' milk in a cup with a teeny drop of honey) when 'Mummy milk pweeze' was called for. We continued to distract as needed - either with a different activity or by offering 'Daddy milk - tee hee hee' or suggesting that one of her teddies have 'Chubs milk'. Last week I was holding a newborn baby for a moment while her mother got her things ready to leave. Chubs insisted that I hold the baby up to her to pretend to have 'Chubs milk' - she even told the baby off when I handed her back to her mum saying 'other side! other side!'

A month on and she still sometimes asks for 'Mummy milk' during the day but again is generally happy with 'No Mummy milk in the daytime, remember?' I'm not going to jinx it and actually call her day weaned just yet, but things are certainly going well. She generally feeds to sleep at night, and I still give her a feed if she asks after daycare (probably about two thirds of the time). She feeds in the morning if we don't have anywhere to be before 10am and can have a lazier start, but on my work days it's up and go go go so there's no time for milky snuggles and no one seems to mind - it's been this way for at least six months. I had expected an increase in night feeds to compensate for the day time drought, but it never really happened. She often sleeps through (about five times a week) and when she does wake it's generally towards the end of the night and one quick feed is enough to get us both back to sleep quickly (although it is a pain to get out of bed now she's in her own room - now I remember why I liked cosleeping in the first place!)

I've noticed a difference in my attitude to breastfeeding. I'm resenting it less and enjoying it more, which is just how it should be. I am missing feeding during the day - just a little. What I'm missing a lot more was having breastfeeding in my 'parenting toolbox' - Chubs gave up feeding out and about to reconnect/ destress a long time ago (too much going on) but I could still use it to get her to sit still for five minutes. I do miss that now when I try to stall for time and finish an urgent conversation! Since we're only feeding at night I'm not feeding in public anymore, and I do miss the smiling nods to other mothers with a baby at the breast (it looks a bit funny if I do 'the nod' without a child at the breast!) Overall the changes have been for the best, and all three of us are happier now.

I now post the same question that I did a year ago - so, where to from here? My answer this year is the also same as last year - simply, on. As with any good relationship, our breastfeeding one has faced change and our whole family responded with love, support, respect and flexibility. Our breastfeeding relationship changed a great deal in it's first year, and just as much in it's second year. What Chubs' third year will bring, breastfeeding or otherwise, I'm sure will be just the same - full of colour, excitement, unpredictibility, hope, tears, laughter, craziness, gusto and love.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Happy Birthday to my breastfeeding baby - again (Part Two)

Read Part One here

When Chubs was about 18 or 19 months old, it got too much for me. All of the gentle rules I had put in place weren't enough. I was resenting feeds, and was frequently but inconsistently refusing. It was hard for Chubs to understand that the rule had become 'you can feed whenever you feel like it, if you ask nicely and sit properly as long as I'm not doing something else and I'm not in a cranky mood and I'm happy to feed, but feeding is driving me nuts so I don't want to feed you right now but I definately don't want to wean and even if I did I can't just cut you off straight away because I'm in a bad mood, so you can have a feed now because I know this is normal toddler behaviour but I'm not really happy about it, so I'll try to stall for a bit but then I know that's confusing so ok you can have a feed but don't expect me to be happy about it.' Not exactly simple or consistent or fair. We had lots of rules, but they weren't working.

As I had done many times before, I sought help. I emailed a breastfeeding counsellor, and received the reply of 'do we have the same child?!' With more advice and discussion with Dear Husband, we decided to wait until the disruption and chaos of the kitchen renovations were finished and then we would really cut Chubs' feeding back (but didn't have a plan about how to do so yet). It still didn't feel like time to wean, but breastfeeding wasn't working the way it was.

After we finished the renovations, things were ok again. She wasn't feeding for fifteen minutes, every twenty minutes. To share with you the clarity that hindsight gave me... No wonder she was feeding so much during the renos. For much of the time, my job was to keep Chubs away from the construction. Since most of the kitchen was stored in her bedroom, that pretty much left the high chair and my lap. We would go out as much as we could, but you can wander around the shops from wake up til bedtime. At least, not everyday. Plus, you can't do baths there. What does she like doing when she's sitting on my lap? Breastfeed. Not always, but a lot of the time, so when she's there all day, breastfeeds it was. I was offering too - breastfeeding can help to convince a toddler to sit still (heck, never mind the nutrition and immune and comfort reasons - this alone is reason enough to keep going!) Obviously, it was also a time of great change - every day she got home there was more stuff missing and/ or more stuff in. The home she's always knows was literally being torn up around her - no wonder she was seeking comfort and reassurance.

As the renovations finished up (over-time and over-budget, of course) she had room to run and play. Much more room, since we knocked out a wall and improved the storage. To quote Mayim Bialik - the world beyond my breast was calling. She certainly didn't wean as Bialik's son did, but she did cut down her feeds. Things were managable again.

Night times were great too, especially with Chubs in her own bed. Unlike many other mothers, feeding to sleep and feeding during the night don't really bother me. I mean, I'm a sucker for an uninterrupted night's sleep as anyone else, but total sleep time has always meant more to me than the number of times I've woken. Generally when Chubs 'sleeps through' she's up for the day at 5:30am -ugh. I much prefer a weekend sleep in until 7am. (Sigh - I remember when 11am was a Saturday sleep in. At least I think I do - perhaps it's an exhaustion induced hallucination.) Anyway, many mothers night wean first, but I figure we'll night wean when the effort of feeding is greater than the effort of night weaning, and we're not there yet. That said, Chubs sleeps through probably five nights a week, and most of her night feeds are 5am PleaseForTheLoveOfGodGoBackToSleepIt'sWayTooBloodyEarly feeds. So to all of those people who said that cosleeping and feeding to sleep was a bad idea - our two year old generally sleeps through in her own bed, mostly without overnight feeds, using gentle sleeping techniques and almost no night weaning techniques. Works for us!

Day time feeds were another issue. After the renovations things settled down again and continued on for a few months, but before long the all familiar situation returned. The constant feeding, my inconsistent responses, the stress and frustration for all. At about 21/ 22 months, Dear Husband and I made a decision that after her birthday we would day wean. We felt that we had reached the point where, on the balance of everything, it was better to (day) wean than to continue breastfeeding. I was using all the rules that I could think of or had heard of which worked, and it still wasn't enough. (There are many 'nursing manners' suggestions which I haven't mentioned, but some are better for older children, or children with different personalities and so on.) To restore sanity, I wanted to deal with the feeds that were stressing me out the most, and keep the feeds which we enjoyed. As I mentioned, many women want night feeds to go earlier so they night wean first, but it was the day time ones which were on the chopping block for us.

Once we had made the decision TO day wean, then next thing was to decide HOW to wean. I did have a bit of a chuckle when someone mentioned 'don't offer don't refuse' as a weaning technique - if that was going to work we would have weaned months ago! Some people suggested a special chair (wouldn't really work for us), or cutting down the length of feeds rather than the frequency (we already used counting for going back ON the breast when she was messing about, not getting off and I'd tried a song with no success). Others suggested cards (but I didn't think she was old enough to understand, nevermind the logistics of keeping track of them) or reading weaning stories (no good, she just wanted more Mummy Milk whenever she saw a breast!) All of the suggestions are great toddler weaning ones (and there were many more) but they just weren't going to cut it. Sadly, if gentle was going to work, we wouldn't have been in this position.

The more we thought about it, the more we talked about it, cold turkey (day) weaning was going to be the best way. Not particularly gentle on the face of it, but ultimately what we felt would be best, like ripping off a bandaid. More inconsistency and fuss wasn't going to meet Chubs' needs, so in many ways cold turkey was the most gentle as it would be quickand consistent, not drag it out and changing the plan all the time. Here is another crucial point - it's not just about what Chubs needs. Contrary to what she (and all other toddlers) might think, she is not the only person in the world who matters. She matters a great, great deal, but me and my needs matter too. As she gets older, I get to call some of the shots. A newborn pretty much gets her needs met whenever, however and by whoever she wants - a toddler is learning patience, respect and consideration. I don't want Chubs to learn that she can get whatever she wants all the time with no boundaries at the expense of someone else's wants and needs. This was also about teaching her that breastfeeding is a relationship, and in a relationship both people matter.

After we decided that cold turkey day weaning would be better in this situation than stretching it out, we wanted to make it as gentle as we could. We were the ones changing the rules on her. We were the ones who were deciding that what was preciously and acceptable and even encouraged behaviour for her whole entire life was now suddenly not allowed. So we did what we did for all changes. We picked a date (her birthday party, not her actual birthday as to me it was more significant for her) and we talked about it. 'Chubs, after you're party you'll be a big girl and you won't need Mummy milk in the daytime any more.' We pointed out friends of hers who were 'big kids' who didn't have Mummy milk in the daytime - mind you, we know lots of families who feed for many months/ years, so we had to look closely at who it was before pointing this out! Since breastfeeding has been a big part of her life we encouraged her to feed her toys and other breastfeeding play that she was already doing. She's a very funny kid and often jokes about having 'Daddy milk' or 'Nanny milk' or 'Auntie milk' so it's very much a part of her world.

We prepared ourselves, Dear Husband and I decided what we would do. Only Mummy Milk at night, and at daycare pick up. (In the end I added in day time nap feeds too, although naps are few and far between now.) We prepared our neighbours across the street, across town and across the country for the screaming. This was not going to be pretty.

Once we made this decision, it was actually quite strange. I didn't mind feeding any more. Once I knew there was an end point, it was tolerable. It was quite the Catch 22. I even considered not day weaning because feeding wasn't bugging me anymore, but that would be like bringing Schrodinger's cat back to life before you killed it, so we continued with the plan.

Her birthday came and I posted this on my Facebook
To my unintentional WHO baby, thank you for the privilege of breastfeeding you for the last two years. I never planned to feed you as long as this, but it hasn't felt like time to stop for either of us yet. Despite biting issues, lipase/ scalding issues, gymnurstics and small amounts of cracked nipples, thrush and reflux, this has been an amazing gift, both from me to you and from you to me. I will always remember what it's like both to be a working/ pumping mother, and to nurse a wonderfully wild toddler - both are their own unique kind of crazy. To those who supported us even if it 'wasn't your thing', to those who taught me so much, to those who listened and offered support; thank you. To my darling husband - thank you for your unwavering love and support.
This has been a wonderful journey for our little family, and I will be forever grateful x
It was actually quite emotional that night. Yes it was my precious girl's birthday, but actually feeding her until her birthday - putting a tick in that 'two years' box was strange. I'd never set out to feed for two years. I never had any timeframe in mind actually. I had a vague plan of day weaning at twelve months, but I also had the plan that we wouldn't watch TV all day long, too. Nothing had really changed since the day before, or the week before, but that actual day was strange. It was a very similiar feeling to how I felt after Dear Husband and I got married. We still loved each other as much, and but for a date on the calendar and some traditions it was only 24 hours later, but it still felt weird. Good weird, but weird none the less.
We had her party that weekend (photos of cake to come soon, I promise). I had prepared myself for a last feed during the day, but as it was the beyond-breast world was too exciting, and she didn't ask all day long. Oh the irony - this was exactly what I wanted, and tomorrow it would be oh so different.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Happy Birthday to my breastfeeding baby - again (Part One)

Our little princess is two. She's a raging ball of excitement, enthusiasm and energy. She loves singing nursery rhymes, dancing and drawing. She plays with her Duplo and Little People and play food. Some of her favourite games are playing dolls, playing cars, jumping in muddy puddles and going out to watch the garbage truck. She's also a WHO baby - but more on that later.

When I blogged about breastfeeding her for a year I said this about what would happen next
So, where to from here? Well, simply - on. Breastfeeding is beneficial and enjoyable for everyone in our family, so we will continue. Perhaps Chubs will wean soon on her own, perhaps I will encourage weaning. Perhaps something will happen which will force weaning; I don't know. There are two people in this breastfeeding relationship and we will continue while everyone is happy.
Well, it's yes and no to pretty much each of those points. Yes, she's still breastfeeding. No, I'm no longer pumping (except for one time when a friend needed some milk). Yes, it's still beneficial and enjoyable - at times, in some ways; it's also downright disasterous, stressful and upsetting at times, too. She certainly hasn't weaned, but is moving towards it - as she has been from when she first started eating solid food. Weaning - well, it's complicated. The three people in this family are happy - now.

When I left off at one year, Chubs was 'feeding on ask-nicely' (not feeding on demand-and-whinge), kinda. I would delay a feed if I was cooking dinner, or I was busy. Once I stopped pumping at for daycare, things were much more managable. As with all things with Chubs, we kept going along in a gentle, loving way, until something changes.

I while ago - I think when Chubs was a newborn - I came across this post at The Leaky Boob which I strongly, strongly recommend. It explains so much about the realities of nursing a toddler. If you've not read it, please go and read it now.

To paraphrase - if a toddler is frustrated and throws her broccoli on the floor, most people don't say 'well, time to stop eating vegetables'. If a toddler becomes 'overly attached' and decides that she MUST HAVE eight different stuffed toys in bed with her at night, most people just chalk it up as a 'phase' - they don't declare the child's bed a toy-free zone for fear that she will never become independent. If a toddler is scared or overwhelmed and wants a cuddle or to hide behind Mummy's leg, then most people 'indulge' the toddler, knowing that she is seeking help with meeting a need, and that she will come out at play when she feel happy, comfortable and safe. When a toddler asks for 'drinky' or 'teddy' or 'Daddy' we celebrate and encourage her language development and her ability to ask for what she wants/ need - and we give her what she has asked for (if appropriate, of course).

However, when any of these things involve breastfeeding, it seems that often breastfeeding is to blame for the 'problem'. These things generally aren't problems, they are normal toddler stages of development. In our case, Chubs developed her language skills, her need for comfort and reassurance, her ability to soothe and relax herself to sleep in the context of her little world, which includes breastfeeding.

Through breastfeeding, she has learned how to be respectful of someone else's body, time and feelings. She's learned to follow structures, and rules. She's learned how to ask nicely, how to say please and thank you. She's learned boundries, and that there are two people in this nursing relationship, and three people in this family. She's learned about a bedtime routine, and about Saturday morning snuggles. She's learned about love, family, togetherness and support.

Would she have learned all these things if she'd weaned at one day, one week, one month or one year? Of course she would have. Any toddler in a loving home learns about these things in the context of her environment, and breastfeeding is part of Chubs'.

Soon after her first birthday, I had some medical issues which made weaning (through drastically cutting my supply) a very real possibility. Whilst the frustrations that I had with many doctors who continued to blame breastfeeding for my issues (um, I wasn't breastfeeding when this was a problem when I was fifteen!) are the topic for another post, suffice it to say that what I needed wasn't just a breastfeeding friendly doctor, but a breastfeeding knowledgable one. At last I found her, and I had two options - one which would drastically cut my supply, and the other which had issues and complications of its own. After further investigation, discussion with Dear Husband, considering the benefits and risks of each option (including the benefits and risks to both Chubs and me of continuing to breastfeed and of weaning) I decided to try the non-supply cutting option. Thankfully, our predictions were correct and it has been a great treatment choice. I will never forget however, the panic that I felt at forced weaning. Even at an age when many children have already weaned or are almost there, it didn't feel right for us - actually, it felt very very wrong. Had the circumstances been different, then of course the outcome might have been different. I'm very thankful that we were able to navigate the issue and find a workable plan. Many women face breastfeeding issues which may force weaning at all stages; thankfully, on the balance of everything, we were able to find a way through.

Don't get me wrong, it hasn't all been happiness and joy and unicorns farting rainbows (to borrow a phrase - I told you to read the Leaky Boob post above). Sure enough, before I knew it, breastfeeding a toddler was. driving. me. fucking. insane. The gymnurstics were giving me sore breasts, and sometimes the frequency drove me bonkers. The same child who would happily go all day at daycare without a feed would feed con-stant-ly when she was with me. One morning I was out with a friend who had a daughter weeks older than Chubs and a newborn, and Chubs had more feeds than the newborn did.

At first we tried gentle rules. I canvassed lots of friends who had fed toddlers (a few IRL but mostly online) about what strategies they used. (The same way that I ask for ideas about what to put in lunchboxes, or to make outings less stressful, or how to manage bedtime - you know, pretty much like every other aspect of parenting.) At first some gentle guidelines were enough to keep me sane.

- I rarely offered feeds, and fairly frequently refused (or delayed). Chubs was so keen that this wasn't a biggie. I've heard of other kids who self wean much earlier - Chubs certainly wasn't  one of those.

- "When x then y" became a big thing. "When I've finished paying for the groceries, then you can have Mummy Milk." After only two or three times, Chubs learned that she could trust me to offer when we actually got the the 'when' bit, so this worked really well for us for a while. In my mind, it's acceptable for a newborn to scream and carry on asking for a feed while shopping, and either to cut the shopping trip short or to feed at the checkout. That's reasonable to expect of a newborn. It's also a reasonable expectation for a toddler to wait ten seconds or ten minutes for a feed - especially when she's munching on a biscuit while she's waiting and Mummy's doing something else.

- No gymnurstics. With a newborn, it's all very important to have correct positioning, so that you can get correct attachment and the baby can drain the breast effectively without damaging the nipples - and so on. With a toddler, it's certainly been my experience that just waving a breast in the general direction of the child is enough to be called 'positioning'. However, once the novelty wore off, all I was left with was sore breasts. Just because you can feed while watching TV and dancing to The Wiggles, doesn't mean I'm going to let you. We tried a few different positions and rules - like everything, it's an ongoing process of what works and what needs to change. All that really works now is sitting sideways on my lap or lying down. I've vetoed sitting next to me, moving while feeding, watching TV while feeding, switching sides more than three times and feeding from the 'top' breast when lying down.

- I continued the rules that we already had like asking nicely, no pinching, no hitting, no squirming.

So over the past year, we developed these rules, and continued our happy, exciting, crazy life of drawing, playdough, daycare, playgrounds, groceries and play time. Breastfeeding was just part of what we did - free of the fuss of pumping or needing EBM or formula, we continued on, making adjustments as required. However, as I said above, the time came when all of the rules we had developed weren't enough and I was going absolutely. fucking. insane over breastfeeding, and drastic action was called for.

to be continued in Part Two and Part Three
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