stopping breastfeeding

I’m thinking of giving up breastfeeding. And I know that the phrase “giving up” sounds both defeatist and perhaps a little overly-dramatic, but I do feel defeated and it does feel quite dramatic. The truth is, I’m rather at the end of my tether with everything at the moment (hence my – hopefully notable! – absence here on The Uphill) and the issues I’m having with breastfeeding are simply the last straw.

Let me lay out for you the extent of the problem. Because – as you’ll see – it’s not really a physical problem, it’s more an emotional/mental/utter exhaustion. Which is physical, I suppose, isn’t it? So yes, it’s an all-round problem. Start that again, shall we?

Let me lay out for you the extent of the problem. Because – as you’ll see – it’s very much an all-round, hit-me-from-every-angle sort of problem. And I know that so many people will read this and roll their eyes and say giving up?Well THAT’s a no-brainer! but when you’ve been breastfeeding every few hours for the past seven-odd months, it does become a big part of your life. Stopping seems like such an abstract idea. (“But what would I do with my arms? What would I do with my sort-of-spare time?!”)

My major issue is tiredness. I’m absolutely exhausted. Breaking point. Ted wakes up every two hours through the night and screeches like a baby dinosaur and because I don’t want him to wake Angelica up, I just feed him to soothe him. I know, I know – rod for my own back, etc, but I just can’t deal with having everyone awake and crying in the middle of the night. My husband has been trying to get Ted back to sleep without a feed, but it doesn’t buy much time and I don’t know how much longer I can carry on with broken sleep, night after night. I don’t have the energy to even read up about solutions anymore! But equally, I don’t have the energy to prepare a bottle in the middle of the night either – obviously the tiredness problem would then be shared, because it wouldn’t be just me feeding him, but what a faff! It’s the one thing that puts me off – sticking a baby on your boob and lying down, half asleep, still seems like the easier option.

Then there’s the work thing. So far I’ve been taking Ted with me absolutely everywhere – he’s been on more photoshoots than I can count, now, but it hasn’t been ideal. I did a radio job a few weeks ago, before we moved to Bath, and I left him at home because it was only a few hours and we were trying to get him to take a bottle of expressed milk, but he didn’t really have it, just waited on a sort of starvation protest for me to get home. I don’t mind Ted coming along with me wherever I go – I actually treasure the little moments of time we have together – but it’s hard work. Train journeys, hefting the pram into the back of black cabs, breaking up long car journeys with leg-stretching sessions and breastfeeding with my knees jammed up against the steering wheel, breastfeeding during meetings, changing poo explosions in public toilets. None of it is ideal. None of it really allows me to concentrate properly. I don’t work away often, I’d say that 80% of my work can be done from home, but it would be good to be able to get out and about without poor Ted being parcelled about like a little awkward suitcase. It’s not particularly enjoyable for him, I’m sure. And I know that some people might be horrified that I take him everywhere, on the tube, on the train (GERMS GERMS GERMS! POLLUTION!) whereas others might think that’s brilliant – I’ve never really thought about it in too much detail, I’ve just always done what I needed to do at the time.

My next issue is biting. As in, “biting of the nipples”. Ted, we’re talking about here, not anyone else… He started doing it when his teeth came through a couple of months ago (he got them early) and then stopped for a while, but now he’s back like a mini vampire. nipping away and laughing when I cry out. Angelica did it a few times when she was a baby, but stopped pretty sharpish when I screamed loudly on one particularly clampy, painful bite. Ted seems to find it hilarious when I scream or make any sort of distraction noise, and he doesn’t really appear bothered if I completely take him off. It’s at the point where I’m often a bit scared to latch him on! #hannibal

I’ve actually found breastfeeding Ted a very different experience to the time I had with Angelica. In terms of latch and positioning, we’ve had a wonderful, pain-free time. But whereas Angelica would feed for ages and ages, sometimes an hour or more if she nodded off during a feed, Ted does tiny snatches of time, perhaps one or two minutes, and a stretch of ten minutes feels like a long time. I don’t think that this has ever been a problem because he has grown fine, plenty of wet and dirty nappies, but it hasn’t felt as though he’s been as satisfied as Angelica was.

I’ve definitely felt as though things have been harder, this time around, despite the lack of specific “nursing” problems – having a toddler to look after as well as a baby does not make for a relaxing breastfeeding experience! I don’t think that you can luxuriate so much, when it’s not the first baby – there’s always something to be done and never enough time. Perhaps that’s why Ted seems so distracted when he’s feeding – he probably is distracted! But then I do love the opportunity for long cuddles and that close time that you get with breastfeeding. Which I know you can also get when a baby is bottle-fed, obviously, but I can imagine that once a baby gets to the age when they can hold their own bottle, which Ted can now (I’ve been trying to get him to take expressed milk), it’s not likely that you’re going to sit there cuddling them each time they have a feed! Surely, the time when they take a bottle is like some gift from above – good God, you could have a cup of tea that was actually HOT if they were holding their own bottle!

Anyway, I’ve always been a believer that it doesn’t matter which way you feed your baby, so long as they are fed – my reluctance to stop breastfeeding is actually more of a silly personality flaw than anything else. Because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and (I’ll admit it, I’ve only just come to terms with this fact) a bit of a control freak, and once I set myself a task I get very upset if I can’t finish it. Whether it’s writing a chapter of a novel, or learning a new skill, or persevering with something that I find hard to do, or sticking to a deadline. Silly, really, because I’d probably drive myself into the ground before giving up on a challenge I’ve set myself, but recently I’ve decided that being mentally and physically healthy for your family is far more important than meeting all of your goals. I think I’ll always have too much on my plate, but for the moment I need to try and manage my various commitments, and if stopping breastfeeding means that I can get some sleep and function like a normal human being, then perhaps that’s the decision I’ll have to make.

But I feel sad. Really sad about it. Maybe I won’t stop just yet – keep on with the morning and evening feeds and then do a bottle for all of the five thousand other feeds that happen in a twenty-four hours period. I’ll let you know what I decide. I’ve stocked up on a few expressed bottles and tonight I will re-start my Mini Magnum habit in earnest (I’ve been trying not to eat them, since we moved to Bath!) just to get in those extra calories. Good quality milk, you know, if you eat Magnums. Scientifically proven.

My hormones are absolutely all over the place, for some reason, so I’ll leave it there before I burst into stupid, pointless tears! Just as a by-the-by: I didn’t unpack my breast pump until the other day, and so we’ve had a couple of attempts with formula. Ted wouldn’t take it – Aptimil or Cow & Gate. But then he won’t really take expressed milk either, so… To be quite honest, stopping breastfeeding but then filling my time expressing, stuck to a pump, is sort of pointless, but we shall see. At least it gives me an excuse to sit and watch telly for a bit. If I only end up dropping a couple of feeds then maybe I’ll express for a while, if I can stay awake long enough…

Thoughts in the comments please: did you feel sad when you stopped breastfeeding, if you breastfed? What made you stop, or did you just feel that it was the right time? And bottle-feeding experts: quickest way to prepare a bottle of formula? Any tips and tricks? How do you sterilise if you don’t have a microwave? Do you sterilise? Questions, questions!

I’ve just re-read my post about when I stopped breastfeeding Angelica – the actual reason I stopped was that I had found out I was pregnant with Ted and felt so, so tired and sick, I couldn’t handle feeding as well. But obviously I couldn’t write that, because the pregnancy was so new. So I sort of skirted about the issue. If you fancy reading that post, then it’s here: As Breastfeeding Comes To An End.

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7 month baby update

It has been a rather stressful month – perhaps one of the most stressful of my life, when I come to think of it. Though – thankfully – it’s more administrative stress than anything unsolvable. I always think that health is the biggest priority, and we are all of us fit and well, bar a week-long incident for me with my wisdom tooth, so everything else has to be put into perspective.

I haven’t really gone into this on A Model Recommends, mainly because I haven’t had a moment to stop and write about it, but we are on the move. Not just a small move, either – a total relocation. We were supposed to be moving into Epping Forest, just a few miles away, to start on a new house project, but it fell through at the last minute. We decided (crazily, perhaps!) to still go through with our house sale, and so we find ourselves cast adrift, unable to find a short-term let and so moving to Somerset to rent a house from a friend.

7 month baby update

It’s all a bit emotional, because I have no idea where we will end up, and we have made great friends where we live now and have an amazing nanny, who has become part of the family, even if it is just for a couple of days a week. But I’m also quite excited. New chapters, and all that – perhaps living further from London will be absolute heaven. We might stumble across our idea of a rural idyll, we might go stir-crazy, we might hot-foot it back to the smoke as fast as you can say Relocation Relocation. But for now we are embracing the adventure. The fact that we are somewhat tied to London for work does keep crossing our minds, but in a pesky way that is easy to brush under the carpet. Ha! Commute? What commute? It’ll be easy!

But never mind the house stuff – what’s been going on with the little cherubs?

7 month baby update

Toddler

Angelica’s main news, now that she is two-and-two-months, is that she has almost conquered the potty training. I know I’ll jinx it by writing this, but she has started to go on her potty (or on the big toilet with her potty seat) in the morning when she wakes up and at night before bed. She’s not so keen to do it during the day – she knows when she should be on the potty and instead hides behind a chair and does it in her nappy. Always the same dining room chair – the poo poo chair, I’m going to name it. We’ve been using this potty from Bumbo* – it’s brilliant. A three-in-one affair, you can use it as a potty but also take the comfy rubber seat and pop that on the adult toilet (which Angelica prefers) and then, when all of the potty stuff is done and dusted, you can change the potty into a step so that they can stand at the sink and brush their teeth and so on. Shave. Pluck their ear hairs. Put their rollers in.

Angelica’s favourite game: hiding. She’s obsessed with it! “Play,” she says, “hide.” “Mummy hide. Daddy hide. Ready? Two…four…six…TEN!” I’ve never seen anyone play hide-and-seek so badly, but enjoy it so thoroughly. I mean, she doesn’t even close her eyes when we hide, so she knows exactly where we are, but the glee when she “finds” us! (My favourite thing to do is actually hide properly, behind the door or whatever, and do a big BOO when she comes in. Her feet leave the floor she jumps so high. “More, more!”)

7 month baby update

And we have sentences, now. Not particularly complex ones, but we can have conversations and make ourselves understood. There’s a lot of talk about animals, especially whole families of animals – “Daddy Giraffe? Mummy Giraffe? Babby Giraffe?” – and they are always going home, or going to sleep, or going on trains. Some of our chats are really quite bizarre! And sometimes, Angelica really surprises me by coming out with little phrases and ideas that she’s picked up from goodness knows where – I told her, the other night, that Daddy was already asleep in bed and she asked if we could go and wake him up by beep-beeping his nose! “Beep beep Daddy’s nose? Daddy awake?”

7 month baby update

God, sorry – it’s very boring listening to people bang on about their kids and which words they’re saying. Sometimes I put Angelica on the phone to “say hello” to Granny – my Mum must want to kill me! I’m there saying “tell Granny about the tractor!” and Angelica just hold the phone and says “tractor” and then stays silent until the next instruction. My Mum must be biting on her fists by the end of the call. Especially the ones that last for over half an hour. (Joke.)

Sidenote: I know every single episode of Peppa Pig. Test me. I reckon I could write out each episode word for word. I often finish people’s sentences with a sentence from Peppa Pig. It’s like an illness. Same with nursery rhymes – someone was telling me a tale of health-woe about their friend, and they said “he went to the doctor and the doctor said -“, and I jumped in with “no more monkeys jumping on the bed!” I swear I will have NO friends left by the time Angelica starts school.

7 month baby update

Baby

Baby Ted, ah, gorgeous, smiley little Baby Ted. What a mite. Or not – he eats like a horse. He’s on about three pouches a day already. And yes I measure his food in pouches, because that’s what I feed him. Ella’s Kitchen, Piccolo or Babease, at the moment. If our nanny is here, he gets lovingly steamed veg blitzed up and heated to a perfect, warm slush. If she’s not, out come the pouches. I bloody love them. All of the aforementioned brands seem to use great ingredients, and some of the flavour combinations are really unusual and exciting. (I use the term “exciting” pretty loosely, here, because it’s baby mush we’re talking about, but it’s a far cry from plain apple sauce.) Now look, before people go off on one about the pouches, the only downside I can see is that they are a pretty pricey way of feeding a baby, longterm. But I’m not planning on using them longterm – as soon as Ted can deal with chunks and hunks, he’ll be on what Angelica has, just mashed up a bit more. I just think that the pre-done mushes are so convenient – they’re well made, very smooth (my blender never seems to get anything that smooth!), completely portable and they don’t require any effort whatsoever.

7 month baby update

I’d like to use the excuse that I already have a toddler to deal with, I don’t have the time to be standing around steaming veg for ages and faffing with ice cube trays and the like, but the truth is that I did the same with Angelica. She was like an astronaut, the number of pouch-meals she used to eat! I bloody love pouches, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. All credit to the people who painstakingly home-cook every mouthful of baby purée, I’d quite like to be that sort of person, but I’m not. I’ll admit something else: I haven’t used an iron since 1997. Sue me.

clothes to breastfeed in

Me

Apart from being at my limits, stress-wise, I’m actually alright. Oh hold on, that’s not what I wrote in my notes for this post! Ha! WRITE ABOUT EFFECTS OF SEVERE SLEEP DEPRIVATION, it says.

OK, so in my state of severe sleep deprivation, I have in fact temporarily erased my state of sleep deprivation from my short-term memory. But yeah, it has been quite bad. Ted is in bed from about 7.30pm-6.30am, but on a typical night he will wake up at 10.30pm for a feed, then 1.30am, 4.30am, and up at 6.30am. It’s hardcore. Even though I feed him through a dreamy little haze, I still have to wake up and sit upright. (I’ve never really managed to get the hang of the lying-down breastfeed. It feels like trying to post a water balloon into a letterbox.)

I looked back over Angelica’s monthly updates, and it seems that she did go through a phase of waking a lot through the night, immediately before she began sleeping through. So I’m grasping onto that little shred of sleep-hope. When we move, Ted will go into his own little room, so I think that will make a difference. On the one hand, I absolutely love having him next to me, but on the other I do believe that he senses me and I probably feed him to readily. I pick him up at the first little whimper, because I’ve just become accustomed to doing that – I did the same with Angelica. It wasn’t until she was in a different room that I could block out the smaller noises and very soon the space between the feeds grew longer and longer.

7 month baby update

I very nearly stopped breastfeeding last week, by the way, because Ted kept clamping down on my nipples with his two bottom teeth. Angelica gave me a few nips (hoho) but stopped after I screamed each time – Ted seemed to be enjoying making me screech a little too much. It started to get to the point that I dreaded latching him on. But (fingers crossed) he seems to have calmed down now and hasn’t bitten me in a couple of days, so our little partnership may continue for a while longer. I did a year with Angelica and always said I wouldn’t mind doing the same for Ted, but I’m quite casual about the whole thing. I’m not going to beat myself up over it if Junior Hannibal Lecter can’t stop chomping on my flesh!

I’ve just done the before-bed feed, so must dash and get some sleep before the next one. No sense in sitting here at my computer when I could be having forty winks on my silk-encased pillow! (Got sent one of those silk slips, haven’t had a face-crease since! I will do a review on A Model Recommends.) I’m sure I’ve missed off loads of stuff, like Ted moving into a pushchair rather than a pram, and Angelica doing full-body cuddles with the cat, but I’d be here all night if I had to remember everything. Make sure you’re following my @uphillbaby account on Instagram to get little extra life snippets here and there…

 

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