Bottle feeding – why I’m ok with it

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I didn’t think I would bottle feed. I knew that some people struggle to breastfeed and I don’t know why I was so sure I would be able to. I thought I would exclusively breastfeed for at least six months, then do a combination to give me a bit more freedom. I didn’t know that I would have all the problems I had – or that at five weeks, I would feel I had no option but to stop. You can read about what went wrong here but I wanted to write a post about why I am ok with bottle feeding. In fact, I’m more than ok with it.

There is so much pressure on mums to breastfeed and the bad thing is that pressure is not support. It’s quite telling that by 3 weeks after the last baby of 6 in my NCT group was born, none of us were still breastfeeding. That’s pretty bad. All of us tried – none of us managed to continue.

People who do manage to feed are very lucky and I’m not sure all of them always appreciate just how lucky they are. I didn’t give up lightly – nor did anyone else I know. I hate that feeling that you have to justify why you bottle feed your baby, as if you’re doing something wrong by them. I remember sitting in floods of tears, braless and in total agony, sobbing on my GP – telling him that there were times when I dreaded my baby waking up because the pain of feeding him was too much to bear. He looked me in the eye and said ‘why are you doing this to yourself? Formula isn’t poison! He will be perfectly healthy on formula.’ It was finally the reassurance that I needed and I started exclusively formula feeding Millar.

I was so worried that I was letting him down – that I had failed and that now he would be overweight, less intelligent and less bonded to me. But surely having a mother that loves it when you’re awake and is happy and pain-free is more valuable than breast milk that comes from a tense, miserable mother?

Bottle feeding has done many things for us. It means I am no longer in pain, which is the main thing

It has helped Millar’s reflux, as the tension of feeding was making this worse.

It helps my neurotic side of liking to know how much food he is getting.

It means he has regular feed times and I can structure the day around these.

He still tells me when he’s full and won’t guzzle a bottle if he doesn’t want it – one of the main ‘problems’ with bottle feeding.

I still have a wonderful bond with Millar. I do all the other things that lots of breastfeeding mums do – I babywear, we often co-sleep (necessity usually, not choice!) and I am doing baby led weaning, which is often associated more with breastfed babies.

It was a photo from my friends’ wedding that prompted this post – the photo at the top of the post. When I looked at it and saw me feeding Millar and both of us are happy, relaxed and close, I realised that I should not be ashamed of bottle feeding Millar. I have given him the best start I possibly could and I’m proud of that. Will I try to breastfeed next time? Of course. But I refuse to feel guilty about how I feed my baby.

7 month update

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How has a whole month gone? I haven’t even managed to blog in between we’ve been so busy!

Millar is now 7 months old and it feels like things are changing daily. He isn’t sleeping very well at the moment and I’m sure it’s because his world keeps changing all the time – poor baby can hardly keep track!

But here are things as they stand now at 7 months:

Millar now weighs a whopping 19lbs! He is somewhere between the 50th and 75th percentiles and has followed that pretty much all along.

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He is eating pretty well – we are doing baby led weaning which I promise I will write properly about…I’m aware I said that last month! He is starting to swallow a bit more and so far no tummy troubles. He tries everything, but is definitely a big fan of fruit and will always choose that first. He also loves anything bready and enjoys cheese, so the cheese sandwich he had in M&S while we were christmas shopping today went down very well!

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He is sitting really reliably now and rarely topples over. He rolls everywhere and looks like he’s thinking about trying to crawl but hasn’t worked out how to get his tummy off the floor yet. It won’t be long. He also loves to stand and will stand holding the coffee table without me supporting him.

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He now has two teeth! The last was a real bugger when it was coming through, and he still has all the teething symptoms so I’m pretty sure more are on their way. It is definitely helping with the whole eating thing.

He’s pretty much totally in 6-9 month clothes now, with the exception of a few pairs of trousers and some jumpers that are still 3-6 months. We are loving leggings at the moment as they give him so much freedom to wriggle around.

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Our routine is about all over the place at the moment due to terrible sleeping over the last few weeks, but this is generally how it goes.

7am ish – first bottle (8oz)
8am – a nap in my bed with me. Best nap of the day!!
9 ish I get up and get dressed, while Millar watches some cartoons – it’s the only way I have the time to get ready. Bad mum, I know.
9.30 ish Breakfast. This takes forever. Hopefully, it will gradually get quicker!
10.30 we often have a group to go to or will take the dog out for a walk.
11.30/12ish – Second bottle (8oz)
12.30 Millar goes down for a nap. I still rock him to sleep with a dummy but it usually takes about 30 seconds to get him to sleep!
1.30 Lunch – again, takes FOREVER!
2.30 – We usually go out to see friends or to a group or go shopping or something.
4/4.30 – Third bottle (8oz)
Somewhere around 5ish he usually has a half hour nap. Usually in the car if we’ve been out. Sometimes if he hasn’t napped for very long at lunchtime he’ll nap again before the third bottle, then won’t want this later nap.
5.30 – I am usually out tutoring so this is Daddy and Millar playtime.
7pm – bathtime then a massage with coconut oil
7.45/8ish – last bottle (9oz with one sachet of gaviscon)
8.15/8.30ish bedtime. Again, I rock him to sleep. I know people will think this is a ‘rod for my back’, but for the moment it works for us.

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In the night – at the moment – who knows!! At its worst, he wakes every half an hour. Sometimes he sleeps through. No rhyme or reason or pattern. I’m trying not to let it get to me. Last night I didn’t hear a peep from him all night – tonight it’s now 11.30pm and I’ve been in to settle him 3 times already. It might be a looong night😦

So that’s him at 7 months! I will definitely write about baby led weaning asap as so far I am a BIG fan.

Millar is half a year old!

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My little Millarmonkey is 6 months old! (And a week or so – bad mummy/blogger!)

I now get the whole time flying thing. I am also loving this age – it’s so much more fun than a newborn baby. Obviously I loved him when he was all teeny and squishy, but now that I can actually play with him, we are having a whale of a time!

So at 6 months, this is what Millar can do and has been up to:

He has been on holiday to the Lake District.

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He has now had three colds – yes, THREE! Including one at the moment. I wish it would sod off actually, as poor baby can’t breathe at night.

He now naps really well in the day.

recently night times have been terrible but I’m blaming the cold and teething for that and hoping things go back to normal.

He weighs almost 18lbs!

He has a tooth.

He can roll over – and over and over until he gets to where he wants to be. Usually, where he shouldn’t be. I think this is how things will continue!

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He loves to make loud noises – either by hitting things, squealing or shouting REALLY LOUD!!

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He can sit up! He can sit really securely now without anything behind him – this has been a really big thing for me.

He adores his daddy. But Daddy is too fun to get him to sleep. So night time wakings are Mummy’s job.

He has started eating food! This was his first meal (pitta bread, melon and cheese!)

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He is getting much better at eating – we are doing baby led weaning, which I will write more about soon, but he likes to feed himself yoghurt and this morning he experienced porridge!

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I’ll write a proper post soon, but didn’t want 6 months to go unmarked!

Millar’s beautiful baptism

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At the end of October, most of our friends and family came together to finally properly celebrate Millar being here. I didn’t ever have a baby shower – I don’t really have any problem with the concept, but when it came to deciding whether I wanted one, it felt like jinxing things – or tempting fate. It seemed too soon to be celebrating. The plan was always to have a party for my friends soon after his arrival. But with the world-altering chaos of a newborn baby, a party was the last thing on my mind.

So a baptism seemed like the perfect time to get everyone together and take a moment to take stock and marvel at what an awesome little boy Millar is.

We had the baptism at a beautiful church in the town where we live and luckily they were happy for my dad to take the service. I know he was so honoured to be able to baptise his own grandson.

Organising it was quite tough, particularly while looking after a 5 month old baby… Pretty much every time Millar went down for a nap, I got another batch of scones made. On the morning of the day, we had two godparents on cream and jamming duties, while various other grandparents and aunts and uncles helped get the hall ready. It was a true team effort.

Millar was a star – he only cried a little when the water was poured on his head, then was happy and chirpy all afternoon through what turned out to be a very late night for him! He received the most beautiful and generous presents and is honestly the luckiest little boy in the world.

I didn’t want to dress him in a traditional christening gown, so I bought a gorgeous little dungarees set by Emile et Rose from poshtots online and he had an amazing pair of shoes that he was given when he was born, from tiny feet.

I want to share some of the photos with you but first I have to just give particular credit to my amazing Aunty, Joan Warlow, who made the absolutely stunning cake. She is one hell of a talented lady.

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The Wonder Weeks

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I heard about The Wonder Weeks when I was pregnant. I remember someone recommending the app to Hannah Maggs at some point on Twitter and I made a bit of a mental note of it. During the seemingly endless days in hospital when Millar was born, I downloaded the app; at that stage, he was weeks away from the first leap, but it was good to read about what was to come.

I recently downloaded The Wonder Weeks book onto my kindle too as I wanted to know more about each leap – I’m really enjoying reading in detail about all the things Millar will be able to do after the next leap.

The Wonder Weeks is a book detailing the developmental leaps all babies go through at specific times. They may vary slightly in timing, but if you get the app and load your baby’s details including their due date (not their birth date) then it should be pretty accurate.

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The early leaps were all tied in with reflux and a generally unhappy baby, but in the last few I’ve really noticed the difference. It explains the periods where your baby may be more fussy or clingy, as the world as they knew it alters before their eyes again.

I have particularly noticed this most recent one that Millar is bang in the middle of right now. He is so cranky – he’s getting cross with everything. He throws his toy on the floor, then cries because he doesn’t have it anymore. This is all part of the developmental leap. He is currently learning about relationships – learning that something that was close is now further away and he would like it to come back! It’s fascinating to watch (if a little tiring!)

He has just learnt to roll properly too. He rolled for the first time weeks ago, but he now rolls over and over again, purposefully, to get to a toy he wants. Thinking about it, this must be mind blowing for him. Before a couple of days ago, he lay where I put him and stayed put. Now, he’s suddenly realised he can move himself where he wants to go and the world must seem like a very different place. No wonder he’s cranky! (He has a cold too, which doesn’t help!)

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Having The Wonder Weeks app doesn’t change the fact that you have a grizzly baby on your hands, sadly. But I have found that understanding a little bit more about why they are being like that, and what they will be able to do afterwards, makes me a bit more sympathetic and helps me deal with it.

So we have another couple of weeks of the current leap to go, although in my experience they aren’t grumpy for the whole period – there are usually spikes of grizzliness and then relative calm in between. Last time he was back to his sunny, chirpy self about a week before the app said the leap would finish. I’m not complaining!

Millar’s amber teething anklet

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I was never that sure about amber beads for babies. It seemed a bit more hippy than I was comfortable with and so hadn’t really thought much about using them for Millar.

But about a month ago, I was getting through sachet after sachet of Teetha and Millar still was so dribbly and chewing his hands frantically. I thought it wouldn’t hurt, so did a bit of googling and found Amber Anklets. I liked the idea of an anklet rather than a necklace as I’m a bit paranoid about him choking himself.

Amber is supposed to work by releasing a natural anti-inflammatory when warmed up against the skin.

The anklet arrived super fast and when it came I put it straight on him. He’s a chunky 5 months and it’s still a little big, but I always put it under a babygro or under a sock, so it doesn’t matter and I guess it means it will last throughout our teething journey.

It’s hard to tell what effect it’s having, as it isn’t instant. It was more a case that suddenly I realised I hadn’t given Millar any Teetha for a few days – none at all. He still gets a little bit dribbly, but isn’t soaking through all his clothes by lunchtime any more, and definitely seems less aggravated by his teeth.

And to top it all off, this week he cut his first tooth – and I didn’t even realise! It wasn’t until he gave my hand a good munch and I felt it biting me that I noticed! He hadn’t been any more grizzly or unhappy and had made no fuss at all. He’s been wearing the anklet day and night for the last few weeks and I’m sure this is why this tooth caused so few problems.

So I no longer see it as a strange hippy mother thing – it’s one very useful, very important piece of baby kit that I wouldn’t be without!

If I had to find one criticism about the anklet, it would be that the beads are a little sharp. I think next time I would go for one with smooth beads, as he sometimes gets a little upset if it slips down onto the bony bit of his ankle and he lies on it. There are smooth options, so I probably should have chosen one of these.

I wasn’t paid for or asked I write this review – I bought an anklet to see if it worked…and it did – so I thought I’d share my experience.🙂

Update: the lovely Tamara from Amber Anklets has offered to send me a smooth bead anklet for Millar to try! Excited to see how this compares🙂

5 months!

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I kind of failed on the whole ‘a post every day of Millar’s 4th month’ idea…in fact I failed miserably! He’s now nearly 5 months and I haven’t posted for ages. I’ve had a bit of a blogging break as I really just didn’t feel like writing at all – which is unlike me.

I don’t know what it was – I was really enjoying Millar, but feeling utterly exhausted by motherhood, suffering from a bit of anxiety and when evening came, I just couldn’t face doing anything except staring zombified at the TV! I still feel like that a bit, but I do feel a bit more up to writing now so we’ll see how it goes!

So – Millar at 5 months:

Our biggest bugbear for a long time was daytime sleep. He simply wouldn’t do it – unless he was sleeping on me. It started to drive me slowly insane, as although I loved the cuddles, I felt so trapped.

I don’t know exactly when this got better – I think when Mark went back to school and I felt like I could get into some kind of routine again. I started rocking him to sleep when I saw him rub his eyes – usually about half an hour after his second bottle of the day – and then put him down in his crib. I started putting him on his tummy and that really worked. He always wakes a little bit when I put him down but if he’s on his tummy then I can just put a hand on his back and shush him until he drops off again. I’ve found that recently a dummy really helps him get to sleep, which is weird as he’s never really been interested before! He used to just sleep for 20 minutes but gradually this nap has got a bit longer. It’s now often about 45 minutes and sometimes up to an hour and a half.

He’s in his cot in his own room now so this has also helped. He will sometimes have another half an hour nap at about 4.30 ish but doesn’t always need it. He’ll usually sleep if we are in the car at this time and sometimes he will let me rock him to sleep again and put him down.

At night, he still usually sleeps very well – with the odd night of disrupted sleep. Bedtime, however, has become really tricky. He used to let me just put him down awake and he’d drop off to sleep within minutes, cooing gently to himself. The whole bedtime routine has become a bit of a palava recently though. He still loves his baths, but as soon as I get him out he screams the house down – our lovely massage time has gone as he gets in such a state. I thought he might be too cold so this evening I took him upstairs to our very warm bedroom and got him dressed there but he still screamed. He then gets himself into such a state that he can’t drink his bottle properly – last night it was horrendous, ten he took ages to settle as when I put him in bed he screams.

It’s so bizarre – he barely cries at all at the moment, but does so every night after his bath. Tonight I fed him upstairs in my bed rather than on the sofa so he could snuggle and relax. It did work (although he fell asleep drinking) but as soon as I went to put him to bed he woke up and started crying. He did settle ok with a dummy and me shushing him but it has knocked my confidence in our bedtime routine. I feel like we need to break the screaming cycle and thought it might work doing it differently tonight but it didn’t.

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He wakes up usually between 6 and 7 and then has a bottle at about 7 in my bed as Mark gets ready for work. It’s really lazy, but we’ve started going back to sleep after this bottle at about 8am – sometimes for 2 or 3 hours! It means we keep missing all of our groups, but I am loving all the sleep!

Millar now weighs 17lbs – his weight has slightly plateaued but I think this is because he’s not eating quite as much as he was. He now only has 4 bottles a day – I couldn’t get 5 into him anymore – but he rarely drinks a full 7oz each time. I try to get him to take 8oz at night and on nights where he falls asleep drinking, he will usually do this. Big news this month is that he is no longer on medication for his reflux and he seems fine. He can get very wriggly to feed, but he was like this on the medicine too so I’m glad that I’m not pumping drugs into him for no reason.
I’m really looking forward to starting to wean him, but I want to do baby led weaning so this will be at least another month. I’m not in any hurry – he’s not particularly hungry and his poor tummy gets so affected by things that I’d rather wait until it’s a bit more robust. He’s watching me eat all the time, but then he watches me do everything – including putting on makeup so I don’t see this as a sign that he’s ready for food.

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This last month seems to have seen the biggest developmental changes in Millar. The last ‘leap’ (from the Wonder Weeks) was a big one and I can visibly see the difference in him since. He’s desperate to be sitting. I’m trying to strengthen his core muscles by doing things like ‘Row row row your boat’ with him but it’ll just take time. He is using his hands a lot – particularly to grab my face…hair…skin…!

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He likes to stick his thumb in my mouth and his fingers up my nose. It’s delightful! But I love how dextrous he is now – you hand him a toy and he takes it. It amazed me how long it takes babies to be able to do this – I sort of assumed all babies can take a toy. He also loves his jumperoo and spends a long time carefully spinning the little dials and moving little bits of plastic from one side to the other. It’s very cute!

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Other progress is that he now loves his bouncer, which he used to hate and scream if he was in for more than a few minutes. It’s so strange how they change their minds so drastically! He will play happily in it for quite a while and if I’m baking or something I can put it on the table and chat to him as I get on with things – he loves to be involved!

He’s also started swimming lessons and loves splashing his hands wildly in the water and soaking everyone around him. We do have the same problems after swimming as after the bath and he tends to deafen everyone in the changing rooms. We couldn’t go this week as we’ve both had colds but it’s so much fun and the teacher is fab. I can’t wait to see him grow in confidence with it all.

Vocally, Millar is very loud and varied! He has learnt to blow raspberries and does this a LOT. Particularly when he’s tired. He also makes little sing song noises all the time and giggles when you surprise him or tickle him. Grandpa is particularly good at making him laugh!

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I have started private tutoring again this month and am really enjoying using my brain again, not to mention warning some money and giving Mark some time with Millar on his own. Sometimes he goes to Mark’s parents’ house, but mostly Mark has him and it’s been really good for them. I can be a bit of a control freak so with me out of the picture they can just get on with it.

The next month will be a busy one – Millar is being baptised in a couple of weeks time, then we’re off to the Lake District on holiday for a few days. I’m so excited to take Millar there as it’s our favourite place in the world and we even went there last October just before my 12 week scan, so it’ll be great to take him back as a real person!

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I will try to be better at updating my blog – it’s tough fitting everything in, but it’s a great record to have of everything we’ve been through so I will keep at it.

Confidence

I was pretty confident about birth – I have Lazy Daisy to thank for that and even though it was nothing like I expected and was more traumatic than I thought, being confident leading up to it really helped me relax in the weeks before.

I was also pretty confident that I could do the whole parenting thing – I’d had much younger siblings so remembered about nappy changes and cradle cap and colic. I just sort of assumed it would fall into place easily and I wasn’t worried about not being able to do it.

But those first few weeks totally and utterly knocked my confidence. I had a baby who screamed no matter what I did. One day I would put him on my chest to soothe him and it would work, so the next day I would confidently do the same and it wouldn’t. Some days I could take him out and he’d sleep, so I’d get confident about venturing out and then next time he’d scream.

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But slowly, I feel like I’m getting the hang of this. I know a little bit more about what this little creature wants – and I have finally accepted that it doesn’t matter that much if I don’t. I feel a bit more sure that I can cheer him up if he cries when we’re out and the world won’t end if I can’t. I suddenly realised today that the confidence that was so shaken early on has slowly been creeping back and I really am getting the hang of this. I’m pretty sure that once it has returned more securely, then I will feel like me a bit more again. At least, this new version of me that I’m becoming.

I ha no idea just how important confidence is when being a mother and just how fragile a little sucker it is. But I’ve got it within my grasp now and I’m not letting it get away!!

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Millar had a play date!

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He’s just started to take an interest in other babies and is really enjoying our Lazy Daisy baby classes particularly. This was at Millar’s grandma’s house this afternoon – his grandma is holding her friend’s baby. He seems to get lots out of time with other babies which is lovely to see. The most amazing thing is that there is almost exactly 4 weeks between them and the difference seems huge at the moment. It makes you realise how quickly things change!

How I get through the day(time naps)

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I can’t remember where I found this picture but I keep looking at it. When I get close to losing patience with the fact that Millar will ONLY nap on me, I look at it and remind myself that one day probably not too far away, I will miss him sleeping on me, miss the cuddles and the peacefulness of it.

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Millar has been a bit under the weather the last couple if days, as have I, hence why yesterday’s post was written yesterday but only finished and posted today. Today he has slept on my chest pretty much all morning. We’re also struggling to get him to eat – our greedy baby has become a snacker!!

I’m taking him to the doctors today as I’m suspicious that the thrush might have come back. He suddenly started refusing to drink – I’ve changed up to the next size teats, but it was weird that he suddenly didn’t want to suck. He’s teething a bit but I just wonder if more is going on. Will let you know how we get on…

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