Monday, 24 November 2008

This is a bit of a rant more than anything else about my experience of breastfeeding....

When I was pregnant I was determined to breastfeed my baby exclusively for 6 months. It wasn't that I had done hours of research or had a huge spiritual conviction, I just wanted to and felt it was the best thing to do. As anyone who knows me knows, I am stubborn and if I set my mind to do something I won't give up until it's done.

I had Sam and he was briefly put to my breast to feed. Briefly, because I was rushed to theatre to have a manual removal of my placenta which stubbornly refused to come out! (How rude!) I don't remember much about that first feed as I was so overwhelmed to have my beautiful son in my arms and at the same time frightened that I could hemorrhage if my placenta wasn't out quickly.

In recovery I tried to feed him again but he wasn't too keen so we both slept a bit. Later on the ward with help I fed him again but getting him latched on was hard. We followed the same pattern for the next week where he struggled at first but eventually he latched on and fed well. All this time I stubbornly persevered even though I was in increasing amounts of pain which I put down to me not doing it right because some feeds were better and worse than others. I had the most amazing support from the midwives and support staff at St Mary's, they were encouraging and gave great advice as well as hands on help! By the time I was discharged feeds were at best uncomfortable but at worst I was experiencing worse pain than anything I had felt in 37 hours of labour and childbirth. I was utterly convinced it would come in time, it was my fault and I was failing my baby after all breastfeeding's supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, most people have no problems etc etc...

When my midwife visited the following Monday I was exhausted and miserable. I was in agony and weeping my way through every feed. This was despite taking advice from the Internet, good friends, midwives and breastfeeding helplines! The midwife came into my living room and looked at Sam and said... "He has tongue-tie." This diagnosis of my 10 day old son changed everything and explained everything all at once. The solution? A 3 second procedure carried out at a local hospital. It corrects the skin under the tongue to make it the right size to breastfeed effectively. I was so excited to get it done - the plan was coming together for me!

In the meantime before the op I expressed breast milk and gave it to Sam via bottle. It was an amazing first feed. I was smiling down at my beautiful son. He was drinking breast milk and doing so happily, not getting frustrated or upset. I talked to him rather than crying over him. In the space of 20 minutes my experience of motherhood changed and I loved it.

10 days later we went to the hospital with Sam and his tongue-tie was treated... kind of. His tongue tie is very severe and it could only be partially corrected. To such an extent it made very little difference to our experience of breastfeeding. That and the fact Sam enjoys his bottle feed - it is quicker and easier for him to get his milk - he is a boy and didn't take kindly to being made to work for his food again.

I decided at this point to mix-feed. By this I mean express milk regularly and supplement with formula. I simply couldn't keep up with exclusive expressing when Pete went back to work - practically it didn't work - I only have one pair of hands and you need two pairs if the baby needs you while you are expressing!!

I kept this up for 8 weeks. I am proud that I kept it up for 8 weeks, it is exhausting. I just expressed tonight for the last time I think. (I might do it again if I feel I need to and can.)

Over these 8 weeks I have been surprised at the attitudes I have come across when it comes to feeding your baby. When I say surprised I mean pleasantly...

Everyone knows what they think that's for sure. But no one has told me what I should think. Maybe it's me and people know better...

My determination to breastfeed never changed. I just refined it, picked out the important bits, my priorities for my son within what was actually physically possible:

1. The whole bonding thing... When I or Pete feed Sam, we look at him, we talk to him and tell him how much we love him. He doesn't have to be attached to my nipple to get that. Plus he gets the added benefit of a feed from his daddy. Oh and I get more sleep while Pete feeds...

2. Happiness and comfort - for both of us. Why should such a crucial part of Sam's existence be a source of stress? He doesn't need his view of his mummy to be one where she is in floods of tears and battling not to resent having to feed him. Why should I be in agony? That's not healthy self-sacrifice, it's masochism and who does that benefit? Neither of us.

3. His health. Sam gets the best of both worlds. (Oooh controversial...!) He got colostrum (antibodies etc) and breast milk ('nature's best'). Plus he got formula. And let's remember it's formula, not poison!!

Breast may technically be best but guess what, it's not always possible for everyone - even people like me who were determined to do it. I tried. I did everything I could - within the boundaries of my heath, personal sanity and common sense. (Plus the advice from healthcare professionals.)

I refuse to feel guilty as so many women end up feeling. I have done what is right by my son who I would die for. Have I short-changed him? No.

My son is happy, healthy and thriving. That is all that counts for me.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

My nanan... another story about my hero.

Just a short story about my nanan who died in May this year. She was someone with a simple and strong faith, not based on deep theological knowledge but on a love of Jesus, a Saviour who has proved himself true to her.

Nanan had Alzheimer's disease - something that robbed her of so much. It made me so angry to see her deteriorate and I hated seeing her suffer. However, something my grandad told me gave me hope and showed me that her faith was her strength and backbone...

Nanan had to have regular assessments by a psychiatrist and one day when she went she was having one of her 'bad days'. These were days when she couldn't remember the most basic of things -a the day, names of relatives, the prime minister etc. When she got like this she would get very agitated and angry and my grandad would often bear the brunt. The doctor asked her to go over to the desk in the office and just write down the first thing that came into her head. She went over to the desk and sat down. A couple of minutes later she looked up at my grandad and the doctor and said "I've done it." When the doctor went and picked up the paper, he read what she had written. On the paper it simply said "God is love."

How amazing but what a hope.

Even when my nanan couldn't remember the name of the man she had been married to for 60 years, God and his love never left her. When she was in hospital she loved to sing hymns - the words or at least the tunes ingrained in her heart. Her faith and her love of God were her priority - everything else, the stuff that 'passes away' came second. That is not to take anything away from how much she loved my grandad, it's just that everything she was came out of her relationship and walk with Jesus. Because of her love of Jesus, she was the best wife, mother, daughter, sister and nanan and we miss her.

Friday, 14 November 2008

It has been a crazy week of dirty nappies, sleepless nights and lovely mornings and afternoons with good friends and their kids!

I have sat down to blog a couple of times but my brain has either failed to function due to sleep deprivation or I have had so many things I want to get down I don't know where to start...

I guess one of the things I want to blog about is my faith. My faith in Jesus has made me who I am. I believe what the Bible says about Him is true and I try and live by the standards he lays out and lived himself. A huge thing for me is also that when I pray, things happen. I can look back over the years and see how good God has been and how the Bible has proved itself to be true with the promises found within it fulfilled.

I'm no theologian with huge understanding of the Greek, Hebrew translations etc, I'm just an ordinary girl from Manchester who has found that it works. When I stay close to Jesus by praying, caring for my community, loving others, reading my Bible and just trying to be the best person I can be - ie, the best wife, mother, friend and human being I can be, my life feels 'in control' and I am at peace, even when the going gets tougher than is comfortable. The bottom line for me was that I had to make a decision about who Jesus is. Is he merely a historical figure or is he the Son of God? I decided the latter - he died for me, rose again and through grace I am going to be in heaven with him one day. Because he forgives me, I am not bound up by guilt and know a peace about the future I don't understand. I have never had cause to think I made the wrong decision about faith. He has proved himself true time and time again... The perfect timing of my pregnancy after 4 and a half years of trying, being healed of a hereditary condition when doctors had told me it could only be 'managed' and not cured, numerous time where things have been miraculously provided - £50 on the doormat when we had run out of money when we were first married... There are many more stories where they come from and they will feature in future posts. (I will also expand on the stories briefly mentioned...!)

If faith is something you've always wondered about, I challenge you to explore it... ask questions, pray (just talk to God) - ask him to show you who he is. Feel free to ask me anything - I don't know all the answers but I will be honest about my own experiences.

There are many people who are my heroes when it comes to faith and I want to honour them in future posts. Many of them are significant people who were came into my life at very particular times and had a real impact on who I am - they spoke truth and supported me. They are also people who continue to do this for so many others and often do so without knowing what their impact has been.

Monday, 10 November 2008

I am tired. My beautiful son spent much of the night bringing back anything we gave him to drink then laughing about it... Much as it was precious to share his first giggles, I never imagined it would be whilst in bed covered in sick. These are the joys of parenting that no one told me about!

I love my son in a way I never thought possible and I am excited about what the future holds for him. I want to be a mother that strives to bring out his potential and do all in my power to see him happy and fulfilled. That's what my mum did and continues to do for me.

The other consequence of having Sam I didn't fully appreciate is how much more I would fall in love with my husband Pete. Watching him love Sam brings out a new part of him that is beautiful and adds a new strength to our marriage - we make a good team!

Our marriage is important. One of the reasons we were confident about getting married young (I was 21 and Pete 22) was that the examples set by our parents was so good and the way in which we were raised nurtured us and gave us all we needed emotionally and spiritually to lay good foundations in our own life together. Our marriage and how we treat one another will shape so much of what Sam becomes - how he speaks to others, how he shows love, how he relates to people of the opposite sex, how he deals with conflict even - we are his first point of reference. What a responsibility! But what a priviledge that God would trust us with something so precious.

I want us to be an example for my son. Just as I will be proud of him (embarrassingly so I imagine...) I want him to be proud of me.

Friday, 7 November 2008

It's gone quiet...

I have left my 5 week old son at my mum's for the night.... It's a strange feeling. I miss him. BUT it is all good. And I know this post could turn into me sounding like I am trying to persuade myself that it is a good thing but seriously, it is. And I know it is.
There are 2 reasons this is a good thing...
1. I need to sleep. I am tired. (Sorry Lizzie, I know you haven't had a night off for a lot longer... as is the case for many mums I know!)
2. I want my mum to have a relationship with my Sam like I had with my mum's mum, my nanan, the first of my heroes.

My close friends know this story as it is one I tell over and over...

When I was born, my mum was really ill. And I mean really ill - I was born on the 17th November and she was finally discharged from hospital on Christmas Eve after numerous ops, blood transfusions etc. During this time paternity leave didn't exist so my nanan stepped in. She just came from Barnsley, didn't think about herself, just me and mum and cared for me. She also saved my mum's life the first time she hemorrhaged - without my nanan I probably wouldn't have my mum. I could tell story after story about my nanan, we were so close and spent real quality time together until she died this year and my big prayer was answered which was I got to tell her I was pregnant before she died. And, most important to me, even with her Alzheimer's, she understood I was pregnant. She inspired me in so many ways - her marriage to my grandad - 59 years of devotion, sacrifice, faith and pure love. She was so selfless, willing to do anything to help anyone and no thought of the cost to herself. As a couple my grandparents were loved by their community - when my nanan used to wander off when her Alzheimer's was at it's worst, people on their estate were so kind - the local 'hoodies' brought her home once and another lady gave her a coat when she walked out in the rain. Her faith inspires mine - it was simple and pure. She just knew that God made a difference in every area of her life... When she prayed, things happened. When she read the Bible, it proved itself true - the things it promises never let her down.
Her death was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and will stay with me forever. God was in it and it was how she would've wanted it to be. The Bible talks about Jesus 'giving up his spirit' in death and I witnessed my nanan do the same. As she came to die, my grandad asked my uncle to pray. He did and then she looked at all her family gathered round her and then she peacefully died. One of the hymns at her funeral summed up her faith and its word have helped me grieve and cope with what was one of the hardest things I have had to deal with - that hymn is Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine. I may put it on here in all its glory one day, it is so cool.

One of my prayers for my son is that he has amazing relationships with not just my mum but all his grandparents. I did and they have blessed me so much - my grandpa gave me a love of theatre, planes and shooting (for fun, not animals!!), my grandad gave me a love of the Bible, made me laugh and laugh, gives me the best example of hard work, endurance and faith and gave me hours of his time and expertise at the allotment when I was little (fond, fond memories! My gran taught me to cook and put up with endless listens to my Jason Donovan tape when I was a kid!
To encourage these relationships I will need to sacrifice some of my own time with Sam, even when it's hard and I just want to sit and look at him all night! It's not really a sacrifice, it's just another way I can bless my son and be the best mum I can be.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


I became addicted to reading blogs recently thanks to 2 friends... Amy who writes one and El who also has a blog but also told me about the fab ones she reads. Maternity leave left me with time to kill (officially 'resting') and I began reading blogs compulsively.

Now I've decided it's my turn...

I always wanted to keep a diary and sometimes I tried but gave up/forgot to do it/lost the diary etc etc but more than record just day to day events, I want to get down some of my thoughts and stuff that inspires me. This seems the best and easiest way - afterall surely even I can't lose my laptop...

Coming up with the name for my blog has been the hardest bit but the name does sum up what you will find here:

My life: What is going on with me day to day - sometimes I may need to share - it may be an overflow of joy or even a huge rant - be warned!! (Some days it may be really dull to you but I won't have seen anyone all day and I just feel the need to share...!)

My thoughts: Sometimes I just ponder stuff or may have an idea about something that I think about then promptly forget or put to the back of my mind because I just get too caught up in the here and now. Maybe writing them down will be my way of remembering, working stuff through and being brought back to reality by you guys who I'm sure may have something to say...

My heroes: There are people in my life - past and present who are my heroes. I want to use this space as a way to say thanks, pay tribute and basically let lots of people know how cool they are and what they mean and have meant to me.