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. 

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. 

Pinch me, am I dreaming?

A small (huge!) miracle occurred last night… 

As usual, Sam went to bed at 7.40pm after the usual feed to sleep and waking after 25 minutes, before being fed to sleep again. Carl and I had a lovely evening with a glass of wine and generally put our feet up. We never learn, so it was gone midnight by the time we finally went to bed. 

At 4.45am we heard Sam wake and start fussing. Shattered, we didn’t move. After 5 minutes or so, he went back to sleep! He then slept again until 6.05am. 

10 hours and 25 minutes. 

Why didn’t we go to bed early to get a decent night’s sleep!! 

Goodness me, I never thought this would happen. As ever, I accept that it may be a while before this occurs again but, as I always say, it shows he can do it. It must be said that I was about to explode after such a long time between feeds… obviously, he had a huge feed when he woke, thank goodness! 

What a step forward. 

Nappy changing in London

Following on from yesterday’s post, a couple of baby specific experiences…

First, Starbucks.

 I thought that most coffee shops had baby change facilities or are at least baby friendly. No. Not this branch. The ONE toilet was up a narrow staircase on the first floor, with no baby change facilities. I wasn’t impressed and considered changing him on the sofa we were using, but decided against it since the woman sitting at the other end of the sofa might have objected… 

Second, Pitt Cue Co.

Not a baby friendly (or big!) restaurant by design, I wasn’t in the least surprised or bothered to see no baby change facilities. Sam was in a good mood so didn’t object to being changed on the floor (always make sure you have a change mat with you), but it’s worth bearing in mind should you visit with a baby. We left the stroller on the stairs since there was no room for it anywhere and the waitress said she would keep an eye on it, not that it would come to any harm. 

The staff were so accommodating. They originally sat us at a 2 person table in the middle of the room but quickly moved us to a 4 person table at the side. This allowed me to easily feed Sam and hold him while he slept and we ate. Lunch service was busy, so we were grateful for them allowing us to take up 2 additional seats. I felt extremely comfortable breastfeeding him at the table (as I generally do!), no one batted an eye. After feeding and waking, Sam smiled away at the waitresses and, when he did have a grizzle or a shout, the room is quite echoey – making all the conversations loud – so his noise blended in with the rest of the hubbub. 

All in all, much unimpressed with Starbucks, but a big thumbs up to everyone at Pitt Cue

The feeding dilemma

No matter how you feed your baby, people will have an opinion. No matter how comfortable you are with your choice, there is likely to be at least be instance of you feeling judged while feeding. 

Breastfeeders…ugh, you’re feeding your child naturally, in public? Put your breast away, we don’t want to see their real purpose! Put a muslin over your baby’s head or go feed elsewhere please. 

Bottle feeders…you’re feeding your child what? Put that bottle down, stop poisoning your child. You’re giving your baby expressed milk? It isn’t as effective as breastfeeding. Oh wait, hang on, don’t start breastfeeding them instead, cover your baby up!  

Ok…we’ll feed them by magic then…

It’s ridiculous. Does it really matter how you feed your baby? Is it anyone else’s business? No.

However, as Mums, we end up defending our decision or justifying our choices. Why? Because lots of people are incredibly judgemental – look up weaning on any forum and you’ll see how opinionated anonymous people can be. I’ve seen posts asking for advice that specifically state that they aren’t asking for judgement or to be told they’re doing it wrong, just a bit of help. No mum should need to say that. Who are others to push their choices as the only way? 

We are feeding our children and doing our best. Nothing else matters (unless you’re feeding your 2 month old a burger…don’t do that!). 

As you know, we have been trying to get Sam to take a bottle for weeks. Although he won’t yet take a full feed, he will happily accept a bottle or sippy cup. Progress! I’m still breastfeeding as well, since he needs both milk and formula, but that may change if his bottle feeding improves.

We’ve had a long and difficult road with breastfeeding and I’m proud that we are still going at 22 weeks (whether it’s my choice or not…!). I’m also proud that through a lot of patience and perseverance Sam is getting better with the bottle, just like he did with the breast at the start. 

So why, when I bottle feed in public, do I feel the need (if someone speaks to me) to point out that I also breastfeed.

Because it feels like people are looking. Judging. 

News flash to myself….they probably aren’t. 

In fact, if I looked around, I would likely see that most mums are bottle feeding, especially if their babies are a few months old. This also makes me sad. It’s all very conflicted in my head!

I am entirely comfortable with breastfeeding while out – more so than I ever thought I would be – I will feed Sam pretty much anywhere, but I’m sure other mums lack the confidence or feel they ‘ought’ to cover up. There has been so much in the media recently, perhaps too much. It’s the way women have always fed their babies, I fail to understand what the fuss is about. 

There is no right or wrong, just women feeding their babies however they can. 

When milk isn’t enough 

It seems that my milk supply is beginning to fall…so it’s helpful that Sam has begun accepting the bottle! I’ve noticed over the last week or so that he has started crying during some feeds and gets incredibly frustrated. If I offer him the bottle after this, he grabs it to feed…although he generally doesn’t take that much before he gets distracted! It’s not at every feed, but it’s certainly getting more common. He has become the definition of a combination feeder…he will happily go from one to the other during a feed, but isn’t generally satisfied with bottle or breast alone. Ever the tricky one! 

It was on Saturday that we seemed to find proof that Sam’s terrible sleep is related to hunger. He has been waking every 1-2 hours for about 6 weeks and I blamed it on 4 month sleep regression and his inability to fall asleep on his own. While it is true that he seems to sleep better when he falls asleep to white noise rather than while feeding, we no longer think this is the only factor. On Saturday, we managed to feed him 120ml from a bottle on top of his his usual breastfeeds…

He slept for nearly 7 hours.

When I woke at 2.45am, I had to count the amount of hours on my fingers because I could not believe that he had slept for so long. I fed him and lay him on the bed still awake since he didn’t fall asleep feeding for once. He looked around for a few minutes…and then went to sleep until 6.45am. 

Who was this baby!?

Sunday night was business as usual; he fell asleep feeding and woke regularly all night. Monday night he took about 80ml off a bottle as well as breastfeeding and he slept for just under 4 hours…then woke hourly from 11.30pm-4.30am, when he finally granted me a whole 2 hours of shut eye.  

Of course, as I write this (Monday night), he has just woken after 2 hours – having only lasted 30 minutes before that – despite taking 130ml from a bottle alongside breastfeeding before falling asleep. However, I don’t fancy deleting this whole post so I’m going to assume something woke him up or he’s woken because he fed to sleep rather than falling asleep on his own. 

I’m hoping things will start to improve once we begin giving him solids next month. For every person who says they make no difference (“food before 1 is just for fun”, “their main source of food is still milk”), there is someone else who says the introduction of solids helped their child – my mum and Carl’s dad included (we were both weaned early – by today’s standards – and given food at 3 months). 

Sometimes milk just isn’t enough. 

Failing that, maybe when he learns to crawl or walk he’ll burn off some of the energy he has and that will tire him out! 

* I feel I should state that, prior to the crying during feeds, Sam was only taking 30-40ml off a bottle once every day or two; this would have had no impact on my milk supply. 

The brilliance of white noise 

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for nearly a week, but I had to be sure it wasn’t a one off first…

Sam never used to be interested in or calmed by white noise. I’ve dismissed it when people have mentioned it to me. Sam plays with our loaned Ewan the Dream Sheep but the noise didn’t do much for him. 

Last week was a long week. Every evening we battled (as usual) to get Sam to sleep. As I’ve already mentioned in a previous post, on Friday I was at my wits end and tried white noise…which worked. 

I am extremely happy to say that it has continued to work. We had a blip on Tuesday due to his discomfort but that has now passed. For the last 2 nights he has gone to sleep to white noise again. The key is not starting before he’s ready to fall asleep (obvious I know). Although he is always tired by the time Carl arrives home, he isn’t actually ready to sleep until around 8pm. So we do bath-story-feed…and then I read to him some more, until he’s ready. 

An additional factor is that I think my milk production is beginning to fall, despite eating and drinking lots – I know this does happen. If I give him what seems to be a full feed, he will (on the evenings I’ve tried) then take another 60-100ml from a bottle. I did this last night and instead of waking after 1-2 hours as usual, he slept for 3.5 – sadly, this is good in our house. I’m glad he will take the bottle to fill himself up and my hope is that he’ll come to realise the bottle fills him and we can switch him across to sole bottle feeding, especially since he can start on solids in a month. 

Daytime naps aren’t quite there yet but we have made some headway; he will now sleep on our bed during the day (albeit for varying anoints of time!). He enjoyed 35 minutes at midday today, perfect! 

Another few days and we are hoping to move him back into his room so we can all sleep a little better. 

One step at a time…

If it doesn’t work, it’s time to adjust 

Sam has now been in his cot bed for nearly 2 weeks and we’re still working on the evening routine. 

For the first week he was overtired… every day. We were missing his early tiredness cues… every day.

After a week of trying to settle an overtired screaming Sam, we decided it was time for a change. 

If it’s not working, try something else. 

We had been starting the bed time routine at 6pm with a bath, feed, then get him to sleep in his new bed – which would take forever. How much/when he napped and fed during the day seemed to be irrelevant. Finally, we realised that he was always asleep in bed by approx 8.30pm. This is evidently his chosen bedtime. 

Now we have a new plan… I try to get him napping whenever he needs it during the day (by whatever means necessary – feeding/pram/rocking). Alongside his normal feeds I attempt a bottle in the morning and give him some porridge in the afternoon (he loves it so much!). Irrespective of when he last. ate, I feed him at 5ish to keep him going until after the bath. He is always grizzly by this time (no matter when he napped) so Carl takes him for a walk when he gets in, meaning he has a 20 minute nap at around 6 – before you ask, no it doesn’t work if we put him to bed instead!! 

Bath follows – before he gets tired – where he has a lovely, vigorous (!) splash around…getting the whole bathroom soaking wet. Then into the nursery to get him changed and fed. I stay in the room feeding him until he’s asleep and in bed – always between 8.15 and 8.40pm, no matter what time we start! 

We’ll deal with him falling asleep on his own another time…

One small step…

Obviously this isn’t an ‘actual’ step…as keen as Sam is to stand and walk before he can sit or crawl! 

We did make a small amount of progress yesterday though…he accepted a bottle!! 

After arriving home from another brilliant Monkey Music session, I thought I would give it a go. Fortunately, I had already boiled the water and put it in a bottle (I had always intended to try yesterday), so there was no delay. 

I popped him in his bumbo, put the music channel on, grabbed some handbells to also distract him and gave him the bottle. It took ages for him to have 10ml; he was pushing it around his mouth and only occasionally sucking. Then, suddenly he took another 40ml in one go! It’s not a lot, but it’s a great start!! He got bored at this point and I didn’t want to push it, so I took him upstairs for a feed. 

In the evening, we gave him a small amount of baby porridge before his bath to tide him over. He really loves it! It’s so funny to see. He opens his mouth, leans for the spoon and really guzzles it down! He was pretty disappointed when there was none left. I’m quite looking forward to starting him on purées in just over a week. 

The reason for getting going with the bottle again is because of an awful Tuesday night (after bad Sunday and Monday nights). It took 3 hours of crying-feeding-winding/rocking to get him to sleep…and he only lasted 2 hours. Fed and resettled in his bed but he woke 10 minutes later so I moved him in with us. He then proceeded to wake crying for food every 20 or 40 minutes until 4.18am, when he finally slept for 2 hours. 

Our hungry man is growing and is big for his age, so it’s back on with the plan we decided upon a couple of weeks back – the bottle. At least we can add purées next week and hopefully he’ll be keen for real food at 6 months. We’re giving him tiny amounts of baby porridge (flavoured, he loves it) and baby rice (plain, not so keen) to get us to next Friday and see how his body handles different food. All has gone well so far after 3 days of porridge and a week of rice. 

So, the sleep has gone to pot but at least he’ll take a spoon and will hopefully continue accepting a bottle so we can start sharing feeds! 

Small steps…!