Our breastfeeding journey.. 

Breastfeeding was something I felt really strongly about. I was adamant it was what I was going to do and if you asked me a year ago I had strong views on why anyone would do anything differently. It’s so easy to have views on parenting choices when your not a parent!  Anyway, back to my reasons for breastfeeding, the facts speak for themselves..( read up on the benefits here).. plus it felt like the most natural thing to do. But, I now know, I was lucky with my breastfeeding journey, very lucky..

My baby latched on straight away after birth (skin to skin deffo helped). Yes the first 4-6 weeks were HARD. It was painful, I had sore, cracked and bleeding nipples. Me and my baby struggled to find the right latch, and I felt uncomfortable even feeding at home with so many people around. We had just moved house and only had one living room set up, if I wanted privacy (which I did), I had to leave the room. Which wasn’t easy initially with my stitches. In the end I gave in and fed in front of everyone, making me more anxious and uncomfortable in the early days. 

But, we had no real issues. Cracked nipples and soreness is completely normal, and because I was adamant I didn’t let this stop me. But I can easily see how this would be hard for some people to deal with. Especially with lack of knowledge and the wrong advice. And as a new mum, the advice keeps flowing, and you start to question whether the baby is getting enough milk, are they hungry, are they jaundice, is your milk sufficient? Like I said I was lucky, we had no major feeding issues so my only challenge was dealing with the pain and getting the hang of it which took around 6 weeks. Had I not been so determined and desperate to make it work, and had not done my research, I could have easily given up. And if I had given up, there would have been nothing wrong with that, a happy baby and mum is more important than anything. 

And this is where my views have changed. Prior to being a mother, and even as a new mum, I couldn’t understand why a women wouldn’t breastfeed or atleast attempt to. I was so naïve. I’ve since witnessed my cousin and best friend become mums and have totally different experiences to me. Both wanting to breastfeed, but both being separated from their babies after birth, and consequently having to face even more difficulties in their breastfeeding journeys than normal. I’ve also witnessed lack of support from health professionals in the first few days, at the detriment of establishing breastfeeding altogether. I now know, that for some people, no matter how adamant they are, the circumstances take the choice away from them. Again, I was lucky, and am thankful for how things turned out for me. 

As I said before, breastfeeding is hard. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done..I can easily see why so many people do not stick it out. Your baby relies on you 100%, which means everything you do, everything you wear, down to everywhere you go, is centred around feeding your baby. And, if like me, you have a bottle refuser (my monkey had no interest in expressed milk), you literally feel like you never get a break from being ‘mummy’. And the night wake ups and lack of sleep can really catch up on you. When your a breastfeeding mummy, you can’t just have a night off, or even a few hours off. Your always there, on call incase your baby needs you, 24 hours a day. 

As well as being a bottle refuser, what made breastfeeding harder for me, was the fact that he was not interested in food until he was 13 months old. Which meant he was exclusively fed by me until then. Finally at 13 months he started to eat a meal a day, then within days this turned into three meals! I nearly cried the first time he ate a meal as I literally thought the day would never come and it meant so much to me. 

And it couldn’t have come at a better time as I was 4 months pregnant, and was getting kicked in the tummy and breastfeeding was becoming uncomfortable. Being pregnant, my milk supply had dwindled drastically and the soreness and pain from breastfeeding in the early days came flooding back. But I persevered for two more months. I had always hoped to feed until a minimum of 2 years, as recommended by the World Health Organisation, but the realities of feeding when pregnant, the pain, the tiredness, and my monkeys frustration from getting very little milk from me, which in turn added to the soreness, had become too much. 

So at 15 months we called it a day, it took three days for my monkey to stop asking and I offered lots of snacks and lots of cuddles. I felt so sad and so bad for my monkey for refusing him of the one thing he wanted. But if he hadn’t have taken to it so well, I probably would have continued. I really think the fact I was pregnant and my supply had reduced so much, made the whole thing so much easier, for us both. He’s never asked again and the last two months have resulted in a toddler who eats so much, is less clingy and sleeps all night (an added bonus). 

I am so proud of our breastfeeding journey, and proud of us both for making it to 15 months, especially since recent research suggests that only 0.5% of people are still breastfeeding at 12 months in the U.K. (BBC article, 2016). A statistic that shocks me, but also fills me with pride. I’m proud that I could feed my baby, and give him the best start I could, and I’m also grateful as I know, it’s not so simple for everyone, and mothers do the best they can in the choices they make. I’m not going to lie, it’s been nice to have a break from feeding this last two months, but I am looking forward to hopefully doing it again..only 9 weeks to go 😍

Advertisements

When your toddler learns the dreaded ‘M’ word..

My monkey has a new favourite word.. When he first said it I thought it was so cute and clever. He was eating his morning weetabix and had finished his last spoon and asked for ‘more’. What a clever boy I thought.. 

Fast forward a month and ‘more’ his deffo his fave word. He wants ‘more’ snacks before he’s even finished what he’s eating, he wants ‘more’ stories before we’ve read the first page of the current one, more songs, more water, more bubbles, more time in the bath, everything is more, more, MORE! 

Last night he went to sleep asking for ‘more’ not sure what he wanted exactly but I’m guessing it was more awake time, but it was so so cute he’d get sleepier every time he said it. It wasn’t so cute this morning when we were trying to get in the car to get to nursery and he was asking for ‘more’ weetabix followed by a tantrum (yes we have tantrums already). 

So anyway, the moral of the story is.. don’t intentionally teach your toddler to say ‘more’ until your ready for the consequences 😂😂 

Sami’s going to be a big brother.. 

I’ve been super duper busy with our summer holiday, then starting back to work and my little monkey starting nursery, that I forgot to tell you all.. Sami is going to be a big brother 🙂 

Baby number two is due February 2017, which makes me 24 weeks pregnant. And OMG I cannot believe how big my bump is this time compared to last. I’m humongous. I got asked if I needed help carrying my shopping to my car yesterday, something that never happened at all in my last pregnancy.. I look like I’m ready to pop. 

My pregnancy has been relatively smooth like last time and to be honest you don’t have time to even think about being pregnant second time.. except for the huge bump which is keeping me up at night already. 

They’ll be a 20 month gap between Sami and his little brother or sister and we’re so excited to meet our new addition.. 

Travelling long haul with a little monkey.. 

We did it. We travelled half way round the world (literally) with our 13 month old monkey and survived to tell the tale! When people warn you that holidays post baby are ‘just not the same’ they sure aren’t lying.. So pre warned and feeling anxious I held my expectations low and packed our bags (all five of them), our Pram, our baby Bjorn, crap loads of mosquito repellent and enough kiddie snacks to feed a small army, and we (reluctantly) set of for our month long adventure.. Oh and we also packed two aunties for good luck (and babysitting services). 

We travelled to Bali, the Gili islands and Dubai and were fortunate enough to stay in some amazing places, in pure pure luxury. I have a months worth of antectodes to share, but I won’t bore you with allll the detail but I do want to share my family travel do’s and don’ts.. so here are my top travel tips:

  • Travel light! I thought I had but it’s so hard to travel light with a baby when your away for a month.. luckily as the nappies and snacks were consumed our bags became lighter and lighter. But we still couldn’t avoid having 2 large cases, a small trolley and two bags and a baby bag to lug around with us. We moved around every 3-4 days so this was the biggest nuisance and biggest learning for me, I will ALWAYS travel lighter in future. The icing on the cake was arriving on the small island of gili trawangan after a horrendous two and a half hour rocky boat journey watching everyone else embark into the sea to get to the shore with their backpacks.. followed by our gang and our collective haul that had to be carried on the poor crew’s shoulder to the shore! To say we were embarrassed was an understatement.. we then sat on the beach for over an hour with our large pile of luggage waiting for a gili taxi to get us to our hotel (also known as a horse and carriage). The ‘drivers’ would take one look at us and our excessive luggage and quote the most ridiculous price. In the end we caved in and paid over the odds and had to get an additional taxi just for our luggage.. I just felt sorry for the poor horse! So anyway it’s safe to say we learnt the hard way, so trust me on this.. travel light! 
  • Include a stopover. I usually advise against stopovers, I usually prefer to pay more and fly direct. But when flying long haul having to stop anyway and with a little one in tow, I was so thankful for our stopovers. We stopped in Dubai both ways, three nights on the way out, and four nights on the return journey. It does add time on to your vacation but when travelling long distances with babies or children it’s a must. We were able to freshen up and relax before our 9+ hour flight from Bali to Dubai and felt like we had a mini holiday.. same on the return journey and your not returning home completely exhausted. It was a win win for us. My sister and cousin joined us at Dubai airport having come straight off their UK to Dubai flight, joining us for our flight to bali.. and let me tell you a few hours in they were like zombies! 
  • Take a night flight. This was a god send for us.. we took two night flights, UK- Dubai (approx 7 hours)  and also Denpasar (Bali) to Dubai (approx 9 hours) and my little monkey slept the majority of both flights which meant I could too. You do arrive at your destination having not had a comfortable full nights sleep but we found Sami was still sleepy enough to have a long nap and it was better then the alternative which is to keep a baby entertained for the best part of 9 hours with limited space and limited resources. We purposefully didn’t take a night flight on our return home so that we arrived at Samis bedtime and could get back into a routine as quickly as possible. 
  • Don’t stick to a rigid routine. At home Sami goes to bed and has naps following a strict routine. But with a huge time difference, we decided that he would be adjusting to the new times anyway so we may as well mix up his routine slightly so he could go to bed when I did. This did meant we had a grumpy baby some evenings but the trade off was we got to have evenings out and about instead of me having to sit in the dark and silence at 7pm every night. Sami quickly adjusted and napped on the go or would have a late nap before going out for dinner, but i won’t lie to you and say it was all a breeze. We had a grumpy overtired baby on many occasions as sleeping on the go is not easier for a little one when it’s so hot and everything’s so new and exciting. 
  • Go to a laundromat. I had taken travel wash and optimistically planned to wash clothes (mainly my little boys), but I should have known this would never happen. Especially when travelling for a longer holiday, take less clothes and get them washed so that you CAN travel lighter (see point on travelling light). Don’t use the hotel’s laundry service as we made this mistake once before and paid a small fortune, find a local laundrette and have a nice meal with the money you’ll save. In all honestly my baby mainly wore nappies and nothing else so I really didn’t need to pack so many clothes for him!
  • Take a solid travel system. We opted to take a cheap stroller as I was worried about my beautiful bugaboo getting ruined on the plane.. big mistake. Not only was it not comfy for my monkey to nap in (which he ended up doing loads), it was hard to assemble and dissemble which resulted in some embarrassing moments in the first few days. On one occasion we had the stroller fully assembled on the front seat of the taxi 😂😂. 
  • Hire a car.. and a car seat. The whole time we were in Indonesia we hired a driver and a people carrier, but there was no option for a car seat. And let me tell you car journeys were HARD. My little monkey was agitated, upset, inconsolable and uncomfortable for nearly every journey, and he would only remain in my arms which meant car journeys were not fun for me either. When we got to Dubai we hired a car and seat and the rest is history. Car journeys became a chance for me to put my feet up and we had a happy (and sleeping) baby. 
  • Pack a plane bag. With all your essentials for baby including snacks, nappies, spare clothes, and lots of little toys. We used the same packed bag for all our outings and it made life so much easier. Don’t forget it’s always cooler on planes so take blankets and layers for your little one. 
  • Take your gro-bag/ usual blankets. Even if travelling to a hot climate, remember due to air conditioning it’s cool at night, so don’t forget to take your usual gro bag or blankets. 
  • Feed baby on take off/landing. I was lucky enough to still be breastfeeding my 13 month old, so I fed on take off and landing to help with his poor little ears. A bottle would have the same affect. Breastfeeding also helped with my little one not getting ill by the local food, as he was still not fully established onto solids until 14 months old! 
  • Don’t over do it. Although we fit a lot into our holiday we had lots of time to play with so didn’t have too many plans for any one day. This is essential for not getting stressed and feeling like you’ve had some relaxation time. We did however move around every 3-4 days and this involved long car, boat or plane journeys. This is something I would not recommend. In hindsight I would stay put in one location or maybe have picked 2 or 3 max. We managed 8 different locations! Hectic was not the word! 
  • Don’t expect too much. Lower your expectations, holidaying with children is not going to be the same and as long as you are prepared for this and set your expectations right, you will enjoy yourself. I had set my expectations low, but travelling with other young people, and in a large group for many parts of the trip, I was the only one with a baby or child so it did suck a lot of the time. Especially as my monkey was super clingy and wanted mummy only, so daddy and his aunties could only do so much. If you are travelling in a group, I would strongly advise to travel with other families so you can all plan like minded activities and you don’t feel like the odd one out. 

We had a lovely time, saw some beautiful sites, stayed in some lush places and have some great memories but I won’t pretend it was all fabulous. It was HARD. It does come down to your babies personality, and my baby loves routine, is easily irritated and is very dependant and clingy to his mummy (mainly down to breastfeeding). Some babies would adapt a lot easier and cope with the changes more smoothly, but I guess you don’t really know how they’ll cope until you get there. For me, coming home was like a holiday and I was so happy to be home, but I will cherish the memories, I just don’t think I’ll be travelling long haul again. A 17 hour journey is perhaps a little much for a baby, but there are plenty of destinations MUCH closer to home for future trips.. I’ll leave you with some snaps.. 

    How did we get to September 

    It’s been ages and ages since I’ve updated my blog. And before I’ve had enough time to properly enjoy my last summer off with my monkey.. It’s September! Boo hoo. September arriving has always seemed way off for me and I’ve been dreading it arriving.. 

    September is when I return to work after 16 lovely and long months off. This also means my little monkey will be starting nursery. Something I’m excited and nervous about. But also, this September I turn 30! Eeek! 

    I’ve been living in a little bubble all summer (hence my lack of updates), hoping it would last forever.. And here we are a few days away from starting work.. We’ve had a lovely summer celebrating my babies first birthday, my sister in laws wedding, and our first family holiday! We’ve also welcomed two baby cousins for Sami which has been amazing. I’m just not ready for it to end! But we do have some exciting things ahead for our little family (more on this another time). 

    I’m just going to soak up these precious moments for one last week..and by that I mean the sun as I am loving this Indian summer.. Speak to you on the other side..