All You Need Is Love…?

555256_2849334050676_1240367663_nI love my daughter. From the moment that little yapper (yep, she came out going ‘bahh bahh bahh’) landed on my chest, slick with vernix, I have loved her. I have loved her so intensely it has made me cry with how overwhelming it feels to love something so small and so in need of you. I don’t want you to read this post and think I don’t love her, or that I resent her existence. It’s actually the complete opposite.images (7)

Babies need you. 24/7 for the rest of their lives, they need their parents. The needs change obviously – you’re not likely to be breastfeeding at 12 years old…well, hopefully not! But all the same, they need you. Babies also need a lot more than love. I know – there’s a saying (that even I said pre-baby!) that all a baby needs is a lot of love and the rest will come. Horse shit. Utter horse shit. And not the kind they serve at Ikea.

It turns out, babies need more than love. They need feeding, nappies, winding, bathing, dressing, playing with, rocking, bouncing, patting, shushing, clapping to, chatting to. They need a never ending mountain of attention and entertainment and food. Napping, feeding, changing, playing. When all that is done, the cycle starts all over again. The frustrating, scary and wonderful cycle that is a baby. As adults, we are not prepared to wake up six or so times a night. Especially when we settle into a deep sleep and get interrupted. Lack of sleep does awful things to the human body and mind. For example, after a 2am feeding when Sophie was 3 weeks old, I was convinced I had brought her into bed with me so I could sleep. I woke with a jolt at about 3.30am terrified and funny-pictures-little-kittens-are-exhaustedlooking for Sophie. I swore blind that I couldn’t find her and I must have squashed her or rolled her off the bed. I panicked – then checked the pram at the foot of the bed where she slept at the beginning. Of course, she was tucked up in her blankets fast asleep, dummy going a mile a minute.

The utter exhaustion had played with my brain and panicked me. At the time I was a new mother, completely overwhelmed by the new little person in my life that I had to keep alive and I cried my eyes out at the thought of her being squashed because I was so tired. This was the point we introduced shift patterns in the night. At the moment, Husband does 2am – wake up, I do 6pm-2am. Sophie now sleeps through the night, but previously she was up four times a night on average and I couldn’t manage that alone, I needed to rest or I couldn’t function properly.

Standing in your pyjamas/knickers or whatever it is you sleep in at 3am and singing nursery rhyme tunes to my own lyrics (yes, really) is tiring. You can only sing so many verses of The Incy Wincy Fucking Spider before you want to cry. Don’t get me wrong, holding my daughter in my arms while she finds a cushion on my shoulder is all well and good, but when you put her down and she is immediately sleep-couple-baby-mother-nickelodeon-moms-ecards-someecardswide awake…yeah that’s the kicker. You end up crying yourself. I will always tell my friends who have never had children, how difficult the first few months are. Not to put them off – never to put them off, but to prepare. You can’t fully appreciate how hard it is being a parent until you are the one who has been puked on right before bedtime, and you won’t dare change your clothes until the baby is down for the night in case you wake them up. It doesn’t matter if your sofa has been puked and peed on (my poor couch cringes whenever I come near with the bleach. Damn near waves a white flag!) as long as the baby is down for the night everything else can bloody well wait.

Giving a baby love is all well and good, but there have been times I have had to put Sophie down somewhere safe and just walk away. Sophie has tested me further than anything else but a deep breath, scream into a pillow and a mental reminder that she isn’t deliberately trying to wind me up is what it takes sometimes.

Babies_cry_forever_5x7-85-ppi

I know so many of my friends who will read this blog post and nod, agreeing heartily with me. We ALL said that we would be the ones who couldn’t understand those who snap at the baby, or walk away and cry. We ALL said how tolerant and patient we are – because who can be annoyed and even angry with a tiny, defenceless child. And we ALL ate our words when 2 months into parenthood we didn’t even know what day of the week it was and why our knickers were inside out. Babies. They are tough cookies.

Love won’t stop your baby crying. Love won’t stop you feeling frustrated at lack of sleep sometimes. Love won’t make waking up 6 times a night any easier on your body. Love won’t feed, clothe or bathe a baby. Love can’t stop your hormones from working overdrive and scaring you every day.

Of course, babies need love and care and attention. Loving a baby is freaking easy. Raising one? That is the hard bit.

The Other Great Debate

Truth
Truth

Crunchy Mothers. This is a new phrase to me, but apparently, it means

Mother who supports homebirth, breastfeeding, baby wearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, gentle discipline, etc. One who questions established medical authority; tends to be vegetarian and/or prepare all-organic foodscrunchymama

There are extremes – where the ladies don’t shave, use deodorant or ever go to the doctor for medicine if they have an herbal remedy. There are also the mild versions, where mums cloth-bum and breastfeed but won’t give up their pram.

Then there are Creamy Mothers

Mother who practices crib sleeping, pro vaxing, pram pushing, disposable diapering, formula feeding etc.

I have no idea where this phrase comes from, but it came up today that those that label themselves as ‘crunchy’ or practice ‘attachment parenting’ view those of us who are more creamy than crunchy as ‘detached’ from our kids…

Crock. Of. Shit

Everyone parents differently. There are women who cross both borders and booby feed but use a pram. There are women who babywear, breastfeed but have sposie bum babies. Grouping people into categories is harsh and unnecessary. Some women I (used) to know, were brilliant when they were pregnant but then turned into bitches who feel they have superiority over you because they do things naturally. Well…exCUSE me if I don’t mind my baby getting a little grimy every now and then, I personally believe it’s the best way to get her acclimatised to the world if I actually let her live in a non sterile environment.

Whether I wear Sophie or not doesn’t mean I’m less attached to her. The fact I don’t want her taking over my bed doesn’t mean I’m less attached to her. Just because I don’t have her latched doesn’t mean she feels detached from me either. I hate the idea that I am not close to my baby just because I don’t do those things. Sophie and I have an incredible bond. She knows who I am, laughs and smiles with me, heck she’s even trying to eat my hair most of the time!

So the eff what if I choose to use a pram than a baby carrier? So the eff what if I choose to use sposie nappies and not a cloth one? I’ve said it before a million times, but who is anyone to judge? Of course everyone has their opinions. I know people who disagree with how I use formula or how I don’t baby wear…but they don’t judge me for it. There’s a difference between thinking ‘that’s not for me’ and saying ‘YOU’RE DAMAGING YOUR CHILD WITH POISONOUS, POISONOUS CHOICES!’.

Are the babies going to remember whether you breastfed? No. Co-slept? No. Used a pram? No. All babies care about is that they are fed, warm, clean and loved. How anyone chooses to go about that is no one else’s God damn business.

I am a firm believer in doing what works for Sophie. I also believe that as she gets older, I will not be letting her set her own Time-Cover-Illustrates-Attachment-Parenting-Featuring-Mother-Breastfeeding-3-Year-Old-Son-01boundaries. As the adult, I won’t be allowing her to run my house and dictate what happens when via a tantrum. I also won’t be pandering to tantrums (as mentioned in previous posts). I plan to be strict. I plan to let her be as free and as creative as possible within reason.

There was a magazine cover not long ago titled ‘Are You Mom Enough?’ and this was to underline extended breastfeeding, one of the ideas of attachment parenting. Whatever works for this mother is fine by me…but this seems to be something that screams in peoples faces, daring them to argue with her and if they do then they are in the wrong and HOW DARE THEY! I support every woman in breastfeeding in public however I’m not a fan of extended breastfeeding. This is my opinion but it’ not something I would practice. I also believe that when a child is using cutlery and holding their own cups, at school etc then breastfeeding has run its course. HOWEVER if this is what is right for her and for other mothers then kudos to her for not giving a shit what anyone thinks.

I am not a ‘crunchy’ mother. I am not even a ‘creamy’ mother. I parent the Sophie Way. 

The Great Debate…Part Deux

Apparently not!
Apparently not!

 

Earlier in my lovely blog here I wrote about the big debate between booby feeding and bottle feeding. Something I have come to notice lately are TV adverts about this issue.

Do you ever wonder why you don’t see adverts about infant first milk? Only ever follow on milk? The World Health Organization has done intensive investigation into the advertising practices of formula companies, the health risks of the use of breast milk substitutes, the associations between advertising practices and breastfeeding rates across a multitude of cultures, and the impact of advertising on consumption and cultural beliefs. After several years of research analyses and committees and publications, they produced the

International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.

Yep you read that correctly. It sounds like a covert mission doesn’t it? Here are some of the things that the ICOBMS says:

There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public

of products within the scope of this Code.

So – they actually are not allowed to advertise infant formula.

 

Manufacturers and distributors should not distribute to pregnant women or

mothers or infants and young children any gifts of articles or utensils which may

promote the use of breast-milk substitutes or bottle-feeding.

This basically tells us formula is wrong and breast should be the only milk

The World Health organization recommends that an infant be fed its mothers own breastmilk from the breast. If that is not possible, expressed breast milk from that infant’s mother is the next choice. After that, breast milk from a wet nurse or donor milk. After that, banked, pasturized breast milk. Finally, if all of the above options are not possible, a breast milk substitute (such as infant formula) is recommended. Wow – Cow and Gate is apparently the very last option for  choice.

I also heard another line this week by that idiot I spoke about earlier. She says “If you don’t choose to breastfeed, don’t open your legs”. Ridiculous! Some people believe teenagers shouldn’t open their legs either but no one was judging her…another topic this one!

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has banned the advertising of infant formula but allows follow on formula to be advertised as it’s post breastfeeding or when you choose to move on from it. The original guidelines were written down in 1981 and get reviewed every year as research change but it still stands that we don’t see anything advertised for first milk for babies. I have never ever seen a formula tub that states formula is the best option – which is correct – breastmilk is the best option of course but it is important to realise it is not the only option out there and I really don’t think that the WHO should be stopping the advertising of formula.

People are not stupid. TV does not dictate to us what we should or shouldn’t do and if it does that for you go and get yourself checked over. Fast.

I don’t go out and buy a Moben kitchen just because it pops up on the screen. Nor do I go and buy Freederm….because I don’t need it. Mothers who see formula on the telly will buy it if they need it not because TV says so

 

Jeez I wish people would stop treating us like morons and allow us to think for ourselves. This banning of adverts is pathetic!

tv-addict

The Great Debate

And no, I’m not talking politics. I’m talking BOOBYMILK and FORMULA. There is always a huge argument about whether breast is really best or is formula the best. Every mother has breastfeeding advice given to them by hospitals now and sometimes formula feeding is put second by midwives. I am not talking about every midwife or every hospital, this is just a generalisation. 

Sophie being formula fed

This wikipedia page has all the info you will ever require about breastfeeding, and this wikipedia page is all about formula feeding. Do you see the significant difference in the amount of information about breastfeeding and the benefits and the lack of the benefits of formula feeding? Now, there are so many benefits of both boobymilk and formula milk, and my opinion is what is expressed in this blog. *Disclaimer* – MY OPINION IS NOT LAW, IT WORKS FOR ME AND FOR MY DAUGHTER AND DOESN’T HAVE TO GET UP YOUR NOSE. Moving on…

I admire every woman out there who has the guts to breastfeed. However, it just wasn’t for me and yes it was for a very selfish reason. Are you ready for it? No, really, are you ready??

I did not WANT to.

Ooo let’s all give that a moment to sink in. Has it done so? Good. Now, let’s take a moment to judge me as a terrible mother who blah blah blah blah… Zzzz… oops sorry were you busy judging me? I took a nap instead of choosing to listen.

My daughter is guzzling up to 24 ounces of Chateau Cow & Gate 2012. It has a light and creamy nose, disgusting to an adult but the way she holds her bottle when she’s chowing down makes me happy. She is just over 12lbs in weight, is laughing, chattering, holding her head up when on her front. In short, all the milestones she should have hit already, she has hit.

I think ladies who get up the guts to breastfeed through the utter pain of the hot, cement filled bombs that used to be boobs after birth are flipping amazing! When I was done having Sophie, I for the first few days wondered WHY people always complained about sore boobs after. Then Oh…My…God. The PAIN. My boobs swelled up like balloons and leaked milk night and day. Of course, Husband thought this was a great adjustment in our lives, but the rule was most definitely to look but not touch! My nipples were sore, huge and throbbing with heat. Having seen how hard my daughter would suck on a bottle teat, I was thanking the BoobyGods that I hadn’t allowed her to latch. I could barely lift my arms above my head.

My midwife (ah the wonderful, patient Lorna) at the hospital saw us at 34 weeks and asked outright whether we would be breastfeeding or not. I was expecting a fight or disapproval at my choice but when I said ‘bottle’ she actually accepted my decision with a smile. All too often friends and family have told me that they have had to argue with midwives or other staff because their decision to bottle feed and honestly, I find this ridiculous! Hospital staff are in a position of care and should support the hormonal ticking timebombs that are most pregnant women.

Boobyfeeding

Yes, breastmilk is the best thing a baby can have – the nutrients and the room temperature and the ease of access are all good reasons. Live bacteria, it’s completely natural. Kinda like Yakult in a tit. But what about the babies who refuse to latch? Or the mothers who suffer from cracked and bleeding nipples to the point the pain of it makes them cry, then the baby gets agitated and screams the place down? Or the thrush/mastitis? What about the babies who are allergic to breastmilk no matter how many times you change your diet? What about the feeling of utter desperation and failure when your baby is screaming with starvation because you don’t actually produce enough milk?

See, all these reasons can be fought through after the first couple months/weeks, but sleep deprivation, insane hormones and the shock of just pushing a person out of your body can really make all the above reasons a right turn off. I know that babies can be allergic to formula, which is why you can switch formulas. But you can only change your diet so many times before you have nothing left to change if a baby is allergic to your milk.

Then we get onto the bonding. I kind of take offence at the idea that bottle fed babies don’t bond as much with their parents. Yeah ok, breastfeeding allows a different kind of physical skin to skin, but I’ve fed Sophie while topless. Sophie rests her hands on my hands while I feed her and we maintain eye contact throughout most of a feed. The only difference is that she doesn’t feed from my body. She and her Daddy also have a fantastic bond. And to be honest the utter relief of having Husband taking over and assisting with bottles in the night (and day!) was one of the biggest reasons I didn’t succumb to postnatal depression. That’s not to say that Daddies of boobyfed babies don’t bond at all.

Then there’s the issue of babies that ‘are prone to allergies and sickness’ when formula fed. Well, I don’t know about that. Husband was boobyfed, I was bottle fed. He’s sickly, I get sick maybe once every two years. SHRUG

Unfortunately as a new mother, I have been ganged up on by ‘lactivists’ who believe breast is the ONLY way to go. Balls to that I say! The way to go is what is both best for mother, for baby and for family, whether that be booby, bottle or straight up sticking the baby on a cow (no, not really)

Too effing right!

As long as every baby is fed, warm & happy, then you Mother’s out there are doing a FANTASTIC job.