Continuing my happy posts

Following neatly on from yesterday’s post on sleep, comes the second major development. I hinted at it yesterday… The bottle. 

We have, as longer term readers will know, been battling to get Sam to accept a bottle ever since…well, ever since we stopped giving him a bottle (biggest mistake we’ve made). Once we realised that Sam would take a warm bottle, I began introducing them during the day. I haven’t really breastfed him during the day for a little while, instead giving him water, so I wondered how it would go. 

My goodness, he has been guzzling his bottles! He doesn’t have a lot really; I only put 150ml in each and he rarely finishes it, but he’s having a lot more daytime milk than he has in a while!! If I leave a bottle lying around, he will often find his way to it and continue drinking… I have to be careful to put them out of reach once it has exceeded its time limit! 

MAM bottles are the one that’s worked for us but who knows, maybe he’d take any bottle if the milk was warm… I can’t believe that took us so long. We even had a bottle warmer! 

Another huge step forward for us. As mothers can no doubt appreciate, I’ve had some tricky days as my milk supply readjusts to only giving one feed a day. 

This morning I have Sam what I think is his last ever breastfeed. We’ve bought a flask to keep the water warm overnight and will be using that as of tomorrow morning. 

I have very mixed feelings about this. 

We’ve had such a difficult journey with breastfeeding and now that’s it. It’s over. Sam wouldn’t breastfeed for a week, he never had a great latch but finally seemed to improve at around 5 months, he cluster fed until around 3 months old, he woke hourly to feed through the night from 3.5-6 months… It has not been easy! But now I’m sitting here knowing that’s probably it, I’m pretty sad. The time is right though; I firmly believe that sometimes you ‘know’. He happily takes the bottle and my milk supply reduces daily (although I have a feeling I’m in for a painful couple of days – time to buy a couple of Savoy cabbages to help speed it up!). I’ll miss my excuse to have an extra slice of cake though…

I made it to 9.5 months! 

I always wanted to breastfeed until 6 months, but at many points I wasn’t sure if I would make it to 6 weeks! I remember crying and wincing through so many feeds because they were so painful, hating it and hating myself for hating it. An early bout of mastitis did not help my love of it and the supply in my left breast never recovered. 

Breastfeeding is so natural, it’s what we’re meant to do. Except that it isn’t for everyone. For some it is a real struggle and for some it never happens or they don’t want to do it. All guilt ridden decisions or realisations.  

I consider myself lucky that I wanted and was able to breastfeed Sam and that we got there in the end. 

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Where to start?

We’ve come on in leaps and bounds over the last couple of weeks, but where to start? 

Today’s happy “we’re getting somewhere” post concerns the big S: ‘sleep’.

A couple of weeks ago, Carl found a way to give Sam a bottle he would drink. After all these months, what did magical trick did he do? 

He gave it to Sam while the water was still warm.

Of all the things we didn’t try in our bottle quest, who would have thought that a baby would prefer a nice warm bottle of milk!? D’oh. 

Sunday before last, we decided to see whether Sam would accept a warm bottle before bed and then be able to go to sleep. At this point he was still having a breastfeed and usually falling asleep while feeding. Since I was due out on the Thursday, it was important that we find a way to help him get to sleep without me there. While Sam had his bath, I prepared the bottle and had it warmed ready. As I handed him to Carl, Sam started crying; immediately sensing something was afoot. I backed out of the room and retreated downstairs to wait it out. 

Carl was downstairs 10 minutes later and greeted me with a cheeky “I don’t understand what all the fuss is about!” as he showed me the monitor so I could see a peaceful, drifting off Sam. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes! He’d taken the bottle, pushed it away when he was done, Carl stood up with him so he could burp if need be and the moment Sam leaned his head in to rest on Carl’s shoulder, he put him down in the cot bed. And Sam went to sleep on his own. 

Two things I never thought were possible happened at the same time! We’ve done that every night since and both of us have been able to put him to bed after a bottle, with him going down awake and falling asleep by himself. 

Sam is 9.5 months old now and some might say it’s late for this step, but we have never tried to teach him to fall asleep. 

I was once told that a baby will learn to sleep via one of two methods: time or tears. One will teach the baby quickly but can be stressful for all involved, the other is more peaceful but can take – as in our case – months. I was also told that babies have to be taught to fall asleep, they can’t learn on their own…which is clearly rubbish. I’m not starting any sleep training debates here, I know many people who have happily used various training techniques and they and babies are all very happy. We simply knew it wasn’t right for us. 

So here we are nearly two weeks on and Sam takes a bottle before bed and falls asleep on his own!! He can lie there awake for up to 15 minutes, but he just looks around and rolls from side to side before drifting off. 

Who knew we would ever get here! 

Being brave, or stupid

Recently, we have started trying to give Sam the bottle during the day, so I’m only feeding him first and last thing (although I often have to feed him to sleep before his morning nap, if we’re at home). 

With a busy December coming up, I’m not always going to be home for bedtime, so we need him used to taking a bottle and then going to bed without a breastfeed. On Sunday night, he was fussing and wouldn’t be rocked or fed to sleep…so I put him down and went downstairs. He cried for maybe 2-3 minutes and then rolled onto his side. Unbelievably, he then went to sleep. 

On Friday, despite being at a friend’s house he had also managed to fall asleep on his own, after lying staring at the camera for 15-20 minutes without a sound. He’d refused to fall asleep feeding and cried continually when Carl rocked him. 

So the upshot is that we know he is perfectly capable of falling asleep unaided, if all the stars are aligned and he feels like it. Monday night was the worst in months (thank you top teeth) so it’s not something we can rely on yet. However, we know it can be done and have a few weeks to work on it. 

Now that I’m rarely breastfeeding while out and about, today I’ve taken a brave step. I’m heading out without nursing bra or an easy feed top. Monkey Music and then lunch with Carl, so there’s no reason why I would need to feed him but it still feels a bit daring. How nice to be in ‘normal’ clothes during the day! (Obviously I have done this when I’m out in the evening). 

I might dig out a pair of nice boots to celebrate. 

That’s how I roll. 

Blame it on the boogie 

On Friday night I went out with a three of my girl friends. We popped into the local wine bar and I had a lovely glass of bubbles. Much deserved and savoured! Over tapas and more wine (for them) we laughed and talked and laughed and gradually got louder and louder, as only a group of women can do. Luckily the bar held the sound pretty well so we weren’t echoing off the walls…too much! 

After dinner, the cry was to go a couple of doors down for a dance. Carl had text letting me know that Sam was still sleeping (with a photo of the monitor screen to prove it!) and told me to relax and have fun. Although I resisted the girls telling me to get a taxi home rather than drive, I did have pretty shoes on and pretty shoes need a dance floor!! 

Off we went, to find we were the only people in there. Who cares!? 4 girls and 1 dancefloor; we were happy. As we boogied away, I realised that it had been a long time since I last had a night like this. Even though I had a good dance at our Christmas party, I was 7 months pregnant and unable to bust out some of my best (worst) moved. I needed Friday. I didn’t even realise it until I was out and laughing and dancing with the girls.

To go out with people who knew me before I was pregnant, who I used to see all day every day and laugh with all the time…well, it made me feel wonderful. It was up there with Kate’s burlesque birthday party in the summer. 

Sometimes, as much as you adore your children, you need a couple of hours ‘off’ and to be ‘you’. Not so-and-so’s mum (or dad!). 

I wrapped up my night at about 11.30pm and set off home. 

Sam was fast asleep, but Carl’s evening had been tricky. He’d woken 15 minutes after I left and it was 2 hours before he settled again. Luckily, with Carl’s perseverance, patience, rocking, trying to put him down, hugs, offering the bottle, Sam had ‘eventually’ fallen asleep on his own. When he woke an hour later, he cried for a few minutes and fell asleep on his own again. 

This is very new. It happened for the first time on Thursday night when we’d left him for a couple of minutes before Carl went up to settle him…but Sam fell asleep before he opened the door. Maybe he is beginning to learn to fall asleep on his own, without us doing any ‘sleep training’, leaving him to cry or anything else. He’s 8 months old now and maybe he is simply starting to get it. 

Roll on December, when Carl and I have our Christmas party and a night out together…watch out dancefloor!!