Six Months...

Friday, November 20, 2015

As of yesterday, it's been six whole months since little Oscar-bug was born, 11 days early and after a somewhat long labour.

I do still find it a bit surreal sometimes to think that David and I are this little person's parents. That he looks to us always if he's upset, sad, uncomfortable and hungry, and just as much when he's happy and smiling. Sometimes we've only left the room for a minute, and as soon as we walk back in, his little face lights up like he hasn't seen us in days. It doesn't take much for those happy little faces to appear, along with a burst of giggles, and it's in those little moments that we realise how lucky we are. All he needs right now is us, our time and attention, and we will give him as much of that as we possibly can.

Yesterday, we gave him his first bit of solid food - a chunk of cooked pumpkin. I have to say, it was a little bit more uneventful than I thought it would be. He put it to his lips, gagged, screwed up his face, squished it twice and then dropped it down the side of his chair before completely losing all interest.

I've read enough about baby-led weaning to know that the first few (or many...) attempts at offering food are more of a time to play and explore for babies of Oscar's age and that for the next few months he'll still be getting the bulk of his nutrition from me, but I was still expecting... a little bit more?

Maybe I've just watched too many videos on YouTube of babies eating for the first time (so that I can make sure I know what the difference between a baby gagging and a baby choking looks like) and seeing those little fingers grab their food and shove it in made me think that Oscar might be the same. But all babies are different, and while we'll keep offering him food, I know that he'll take it when he's ready (which, you know, is kinda the whole point of baby-led weaning).

The last six months has been a rollercoaster ride though - it's definitely not been all pinterest-worthy photos and bunches of roses. There have been amazing moments and there have really really hard moments. 

Our breastfeeding journey was not (and still isn't) the idyllic zen-mother-earth-goddess journey it's all so often made out to be. Instead, I got stuck with low supply, blocked ducts, milk blisters and a regular date with a milking machine (that's the best name I could come up with to describe it, that's basically what it is.)

There are so many images floating around of blissed out mothers feeding their babies, and not a lot of talk about how darn hard it is, that I really just thought it would happen like they say it's supposed to. Instead, I think I had more tears than Oscar did - there was an awful lot of me crying over the top of the whirr of the pump asking David and my midwife why it wasn't working? Because it's supposed to work!

From about 2 weeks old and every day since, I've hooked myself up to a pump roughly every 3-4 hours, and yes, I can definitely think of much more glamorous things I could be doing with that time. But while it's been a time-consuming process, we've made it to six months on exclusive breastmilk and I have to be honest, I'm just a little bit proud of that. Oscar is turning into a cute, chubby and happy little boy and putting on weight like a champ.

So, to all the Mums and Moms out there, if you're struggling, breastfeeding or otherwise, just know that you're not alone. For as many people that I know who have had an easy breastfeeding journey, I know just as many (if not more!) who have had a tough time of it, myself included.

And as a very good friend said to me, something that I've repeated a lot to myself throughout these past months is that 'it doesn't matter how you feed your baby, as long as you feed your baby'. It's so true and has taken the pressure off me during many a difficult moment. And out of all the very well-meaning (but sometimes very unhelpful) advice, this has been what has stuck with me the most.

If you need a friendly ear to talk to, please feel free to email me, I'm more than happy to talk or just listen to you - jenniferlauren.is@gmail.com

Phew! That turned into a much longer post than I had initially planned, and it's our 5 year wedding anniversary today to boot. Talk about compounding major life events, huh?

xx
J

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36 comments on "Six Months..."
  1. You have had a hard journey but of course he is worth it! I hardly know anyone who found breastfeeding easy and natural - in fact the only person that did gave up a couple of months in when she got mastitis! I wonder if the inage of it being easy, while maybe it encourages a few people to try it who wouldnt otherwise, actually make it worse for everyone else who feels like they are doing it wrong!

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    1. Thanks Joanne, yes, I definitely think there are more women that struggle than not, but hopefully it does encourage others to try it who potentially wouldn't. That's such a good point that I hadn't really thought about!

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  2. Congratulations on making it this far. I'm really impressed. I struggle with both my boys. Thrush, mastitis, cRacked nipples, countless blocked ducts and milk blisters... It really isn't a pretty picture. Your friend is very wise, and absolutely correct, but like you, I got pretty stubborn about it. But as long as you are OK with what you are doing, you are doing the right thing. I think all the positive propaganda is because "they" are scared that if they tell the truth that even fewer people will try it in the first place, and I do get that. But then again I had a midwife tell me that if it was sore, then he wasn't attached properly, which got me totally stressed out, and I don't believe was true.

    Anyway, sorry for the mega comment. And don't stress about the BLW either. They drop most of it for months anyway!!!

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    1. Helen, not a pretty sight at all, hehe!! Yes, I totally see what you mean about people perhaps not telling it like it might be because they want to encourage it. We had initial latching issues that were solved but then I just wasn't producing enough so he would stay on for 5-10mins max then start crying when I tried to put him on again because it wasn't coming out fast enough or with as much as he wanted. Gosh, it's so hard right?!? I wish they could tell us what the issue was.

      We tried again with the food today and it was more screwed up faces, it was so funny, the poor little guy didn't know what to make of it.

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  3. Breast feeding is still a touchy subject for me 8 yrs on! I never produced any milk at all! pumping like a cow for hours a days and I would get 10 mls of colostrum (spelling?) that's less than 2 teaspoons a day! then the midwife would tell me off for overworking my boobs! so my lovely girl was bottle fed! to my continued regret but she's happy and healthy so hey ho!

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    1. Jenni, I wouldn't feel regretful at all! As you said, she's happy and healthy and that's the ultimate goal at the end of the day. I think sometimes you need to take a mental health check of your own as well, that's what I had to do, and realise that if it's stressing you both out, why would you continue?

      I decided to stop even trying to latch Oscar at about 4 months old and exclusively pump because he would just bawl, which would make me bawl and it just got too exhausting. I'm much happier now as is he and we're making it work for us that way. Everyone is different and our journey's are our own.

      xx

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    2. Thank you for your supportive words ☺ and I am very glad that you found a path that works for your family. I will say that fromy my conversations with other mums breath fed seem to wean later onto solids than formula fed x

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  4. Congratulations on six months! It's quite a ride. I'm so sorry you had such a rough time with breastfeeding. You are amazing for pumping so much! Good luck with the solids. My kids were pretty good but I grew up to stories about how I could wad the mashed banana up in my cheek and hit the far wall of the kitchen... ;)

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    1. Haha Taran!! That's amazing, oh my goodness I hope Oscar doesn't do that... Lucky summer is just around the corner here, we'll be outside for most of the initial 'trying to eat' mess I think!!

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  5. Well done - I started pumping at work at about 4 months and there was just never enough (hated pumping at work!)

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    1. I know what you mean - it's so heart breaking when you can't even fill a whole bottle huh?? I've managed to get there after A LOT of pumping, but I can't imagine what it must be like to have to pump at work. I hope it all worked out for you in the end though!

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  6. I think ladies who say they only had wonderful experiences are either very, very lucky, or have forgotten or are maybe fibbing! There are definitely more new mums out there who have a really tough time than not. I was one of them - my milk didn't come in as expected so I felt like a failure as I had to combination feed instead of exclusive breastfeeding, my little one cried all the time and just wouldn't sleep for the first 2 months and I think I cried more than she did! I was told that "the baby will know what to do" when it comes to breastfeeding - but mine didn't and I didn't!! But you do get thru it and come out the other side and it's fabulous to watch the littl'un grow and develop a personality and bond with this amazing little human being that you've created. And one has to remember that there is help out there, you just need to ask (which is something I wasn't great at) Plus don't feel guilty if things don't go according to plan with BF'ing. It's bloody hard!

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    1. I think it sounds like exactly what happened to me! You do get through it, and at the end of the day, as long as everyone is fed and healthy and happy, it doesn't really matter. There is so much pressure to breastfeed though that it's so easy to feel like a failure, even though there's nothing you can do (or you're doing absolutely everything and it's still not working!), but stressing definitely makes it worse huh?

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    2. I breastfed four kids, and I remember how hard it was with the first one. By the fourth, it did get easy and wonderful, but it took nursing three other kids to get that far. By the last one, I was too darned tired and busy to deal with bottles and formula. But I work for years as a neonatal and pediatric nurse, and saw tons of kids who were raised on formula, and for the most part, they did just fine. It's so unfair when people are militant and hurtful if you make the choice or have the necessity to use formula.

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  7. Thanks for sharing some unvarnished reality here, Jen! It's important that moms not feel, on top of everything else, pressure to be a "blissed out dyad" of neverending loveliness, right? With a clean house and pretty clothing to boot, right? Ha.

    I had challenges breastfeeding both of my babies, and I've been doing mom-to-mom breastfeeding support since Joe was born was six years. You are doing an AMAZING job!!! Pumping around the clock is no joke, but like most good things in life, breastfeeding is hard work, and I can say, having nursed two kids to past three years old (Maggie is weaning now, finally), you will look back on this as a major accomplishment! Good for you!

    Now you may have heard this and I don't want to insert myself if I'm not needed or wanted, but what you describe sounds like it might be on HIS end, rather than yours. If you've grown such a beautiful and chubby baby on solely breastmilk, you are obviously making enough milk! But the fact that you've had to pump - to me that suggests that his latch and milk transfer isn't that great, and your other problems make me wonder about tongue-tie. Now, at this point, you're making it work, and maybe it's not that critical that you try to "fix" something that is working. But maybe it will help YOU to feel that, hey, maybe your body did not betray you here? Maybe there's a physiological issue with his mouth? It's more common than you might think. My daughter had a bad tongue tie, and if she hadn't had been my second child, I might never have realized that there was something really wrong with her latch - because I wouldn't have known any better! Just a thought. In the meantime, he's absolutely beautiful.

    I can only speak for myself, but kids are so much fun. They are certainly challenging at times, but mine bring me so much joy! And I love watching them grow and talk and learn new things. I think it generally just gets better and better! You look gorgeous in these photos, and thanks for keeping real! Rock on, mama!

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    1. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment :)

      We saw 2 different lactation consultants as well as our midwife. He was diagnosed as maybe having a very small tongue tie that was nothing to worry about unless he just wasn't getting the latch right. We did end up fixing the latch, but what was happening was that I wasn't producing enough and so he wasn't staying latched on long enough to help build my supply. After the first 5-10minutes, once the flow had started to slow, he would unlatch and just cry and cry. I'd keep trying to put him back on but he'd get so worked up that it just wasn't worth continuing until a few hours later, and I'd have to pump in between.

      It got to the point where him crying was just making me cry, which didn't help with the milk flow issue and so the cycle would continue. So, I just had to make the call to make my mental health a priority (it was so hard having him cry at me, when I knew that he just needed to keep latched - but try explaining that to a baby!) and now we're both just happier with me expressing and then bottle feeding him that milk. I stopped trying to latch him at about 4 months old.

      It was such a hard decision, and I felt so guilty - I have no idea why though! But everyone is happy and healthy and that's all I can ask for :)

      And they do bring such joy don't they? Those little smiles kill me every time!

      xx

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    2. Exclusively pumping is SO MUCH WORK, and far from feeling guilty, you should be patting yourself on the back. That is dedication! Sorry you've had such a rough time of it, that sounds really challenging and frustrating! Look at what a beautiful child you have grown with nourishment from your body, though! Isn't it incredible? You done good. <3

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  8. Darling, you're doing the BEST with your boy and your family... I was wondering how you have been ... especially with the feeding because it's something you just can never plan or know until you're going through it all ... Congratulations on keeping this little guy so healthy and just LOOK at that milky chub he's sporting xoxoxo What a darling heart!

    Well done Mama xoxoxo

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    1. Thanks so much Veronica!! You can't plan for it at all, I guess that's part of the fun though right? Hehe :)

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  9. What a cutie! I'm sorry you've had such a difficult time breastfeeding. Has your son been checked for lip or tongue ties? Sometimes that can be part of the problem.

    Dee

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    1. Hello Dee - We did see 2 different lactation consultants as well as our midwife and he was diagnosed as maybe having a very small tongue tie that was nothing to worry about unless he just wasn't getting the latch right.

      We did end up fixing the latch, but I wasn't producing enough, so he wasn't staying latched on long enough to help build my supply. After the first 5-10minutes, once the flow had started to slow, he would unlatch and just cry and cry. I'd keep trying to put him back on but he'd get so worked up that it just wasn't worth continuing until a few hours later, and I'd have to pump in between.

      I think we've reached a medium ground in which he's being fed and I'm not getting really upset because he's so upset. So, we'll just stick with what we're doing until he weans. As time consuming as it is, hehe :)

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  10. Well done for getting this far! Six months of breastmilk is awesome.
    My daughter couldn't breastfeed due to a cleft lip. It was so frustrating trying to get her to feed! After about four weeks I gave up and resigned myself to expressing, so I know how draining it is to hook yourself up to the automated milking machine every few hours!
    We made it to 13 months of exclusive expressing. It got easier after the first 9 months

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    1. Thanks Noelle, as annoying as pumping is, I'm so glad I'm not alone!! Wow, 13months of expressing is impressive, amazing job lady!! Your daughter is one lucky little girl :)

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  11. Ahhhh he's such a gorgeous little dumpling! Sounds like you are doing a great job, Jen. Lots of love x

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    1. Thanks for the support Tilly, I really appreciate it :) He is a gorgeous little dumpling isn't he? :p

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  12. You guys look wonderful! Those chubby little Oscar cheeks are the best!

    My first baby breastfed like a champ. A nursing strike here and there, but not a lot of drama otherwise. So I was pretty smug with the second. Who turned out to be a lazy nurser who had me seeking help from midwives, lactation consultants and baby nurses. While battling PPD. It was not a good time, and made the decision to stop at two babies solid. Thanks to my over eager milk makers, my pump and I were BFF for those first few months.

    Thankfully, everything got better as she got a bit stronger and less lazy. I was able to feed the two of them for 2 years and (finally!) a year after weaning the youngest my breasts shrunk a cup size! May they go down another.

    The real thing about babies is that nothing can prepare you for what really happens. Even already having a baby doesn't prepare you for the second one as well as you think it should. I always come across things on Pinterest about "what no one tells you about Motherhood" and it's always touchy-feely nonsense. "You'll be so sleep deprived! But it's all worth it!" Blah. Everyone tells you that. But I'll say the two most important things I've learned after 5.5 years:

    1) When in doubt, apply food.
    2) Eliminate the phrase "Bad Mum" from your thinking. "Mum fail" is acceptable. You have not left the family cat to babysit while you run to the store, you are not a bad mum. You didn't change the diaper because you just did 5 minutes ago surely he's not crying because of that, but really he is? That's just a fail moment. They go by quickly.

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    1. Oscar was a bit of a lazy nurser too, hence why my supply just wouldn't build up! As soon as the flow lessened, he was off and crying like it was the end of the world. He'd get so worked up that I couldn't latch him on again and then I'd start crying, and well, it was just a big tearful mess. Poor David didn't know what to do most of the time!

      Haha, I love your 'fail moments', I've totally had a 'why are you still crying and not sleeping??? Oh, it's because there's poo all up your back' moment. And in that moment, I kinda thought that him crying was really very fair enough, because I wouldn't want poo all up my back either!

      I wonder if being a baby is a traumatic experience and that's why we don't remember that time period of our own lives? It must be pretty frustrating not being able to say "Hey Mum! I've got poo all up my back, please change my nappy and then I'll GLADLY sleep!".

      xx

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  13. What a great post -telling it like it really is for sooo many mums! Someone I know tried everything but just couldn't feed and has been pumping for eight months now - her little boy is wonderfully healthy, crawling and eating what he wants from the small food samples put on his tray. Luckily for me both girls just fed straight away as I didn't know then all the things that can happen. Keep up your real life posts, very interesting and informative to read - thank you :) Samie

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    1. Awww, thanks Sammie, sometimes it's just nice to know how it really can be sometimes. Not everything is a pretty picture for everyone and if all you see is pretty, and you ain't got it, it can make you feel awfully lonely and like there's something wrong with you, when in reality, there are more people like you than not.

      I'll definitely be trying to keep up with the real life stuff on a regular basis, my blog did get a bit boring there for a wee while, so it's nice to be back to share a little more :)

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  14. What an adorable little guy! I love his concerned expression. You've done so great just hanging in there, it's hard!

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    1. Thank you :) It was nearing his nap time when we whipped out the camera to take some photos. We did get a few smiling ones but they turned out blurry for some reason :(

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  15. He's so precious! And congratulations on making it 6 months when you were having to deal with so many issues!! I've been very fortunate and have had a pretty easy time of it nursing with both my boys (although I have never found it the blissful experience so many make it out to be, I was SO glad when my oldest was happy to ween), but I have so many friends who have struggled with it. You're doing a great job!

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    1. Thanks Evie :) I'm glad you had a relatively easy time of it, and I'm totally like you, I'll be glad when Oscar starts properly weaning, so I can actually spend more time with HIM rather than that darned pump!

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  16. Jen I am so impressed by your determination to put in the hard yards to feed Oscar the food you really wanted to, when I bet you must have questioned yourself a million times! I hope every little thigh roll and squishy hand chub validates your determination. I can't think of anyone else I know who has exclusively pumped and fed breastmilk like you have - stellar effort. Also, BLW is the best, and I love the photo of you looking so divine in your garden with Oscar in your stretchy wrap. With your love of fabrics I bet you could easily get swallowed up by the woven wrap world if/when you feel Oscar is not quite supported by the stretchy any more! Lots of love xx

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    1. Thanks Meggie!! His chubby little thighs are pretty cute, and it's amazing to think that just breast milk has made him grow so big and strong and squishy - it is a pretty amazing achievement, no doubt!

      I keep meaning to email you about your BLW experience - I've talked to several mums about how they did it and their baby's first foods etc. It's nice to hear about how others approached it, especially since we're navigating this for the first time.

      I'm looking forward to looking at wraps! This one is the Moby wrap (my sister gave it to us) and it's so comfy. But Oscar isn't the biggest fan of staying in it for too long. He prefers the front facing pack on David. I find the pack way too uncomfortable for me though (it hangs too low) so am sticking to this wrap until he gets too big for it.

      xx

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  17. Wow, you can be absolutely proud of yourself for sticking with your decision! I love the sentence that your friend told you. Fortunately I had no problems with my two, but a friend of mine was so hard on herself because she couldn't make it work.
    BLW is great. My daughter is 10 month old and is impressive what she manages to nibble with her 3,5 teeth.
    All the best for you and your beautiful family

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Thank you so much for stopping by to leave me a comment, like most people, I really do appreciate them all!

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XX
Jen

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