Posts Tagged ‘attachment parenting’

Which body parts, exactly, make milk?

August 1, 2012

The first time TMD held a crying Coconut, a drop of milk came out of her breast. That is pretty incredible, is it not?

Now, we didn’t choose to have TMD feed the babies because it was an impossible situation. I was completely crippled and she was my full time carer, as well as us being first time parents with two tiny infants we were trying to not accidentally kill in some way.

I hope this third baby speeds to us quickly, and I can’t wait for TMD to feed him/her. I also think we may invest in a pump, or rather beg people to get us one, so that Snort and Coconut can share in the milky goodness. Snort has big problems with dairy, though not technically allergic. And Coconut?

Sister is obsessed with breastfeeding. The other day we were having a quick cuddle before bed, and she latched on to me. Ah, the sweet memories of unexpected nipple stinging. I was in two minds – creeped out because, well, it is a long time since someone sucked my boob and expected nutrition to flow out, but also thinking that if breastfeeding had worked, there was no reason to think she might not still be feeding even now. And it was kind of sweet.

At playgroups and toddler clubs we went to in the past, I was by far the most out there parent. Slings, cosleeping, no crying it out, and very enthusiastically supportive of breastfeeding and cloth nappies. I was the hippy. My kids wore amber necklaces and had their various dolls in little slings. We walked everywhere, them with their own little backpacks like mine, and no pushchairs in our lives since they were around 15 months old. I did not support physical violence as a form of discipline. I was very laid back, but also very responsive to my children’s needs.

But at the home education group we go to on Thursdays? Girl, most everyone there is doing attachment parenting. Amber necklaces are not a signal to hunt for the parent of the other child in hopes of finding a like minded friend, because every fucking kid has them. And you know what else?

I am probably the most mainstream person there. I didn’t do elimination communication. One of my kids is in disposable nappies. And some of these people are exclusively into homeopathy. Or make their own probiotic food. And all the kids appear to be breastfed, including the little three year old who has a mother I love.

So Coconut is seeing a lot of boobs. A lot. They are flying and flapping free everywhere you turn. I guess it is natural she wants to do what her friends do – though it should also be said she has tried to feed from both of us, through our clothes, many times over the years. So does she remember breastfeeding? Or is it a natural impulse? I don’t know.

On a related note, we saw a magic show last November where the guy made milk come out of his elbow. Since that point she occasionally tries to suck her own elbow.

That’s my girl.

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Night (and nap!) weaning.

March 11, 2011

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This is the face of night weaning. This little boy who cuddles and kisses his doll, this little boy who went up to another boy about a year older than him at playgroup yesterday…..and gently stroked his face before giving him a big fat kiss on the cheek! This little boy is the reason why nightweaning was invented.

For those who don’t know what nightweaning is, it’s simply (ha!) the process of stopping milk feeds during the sleeping hours. We are doing (well, have done!!) nap weaning as well. It is perfectly natural and healthy and normal for a baby to continue to have milk throughout the night at 18 months, 24 months, and beyond.

We always said the minimum age we would do anything about milk at night, or sleeping in general, was 18 months. We planned to go all naturally on this one, but TMD’s sleep deprivation is unfunny. So we started weaning about a week ago – and they are 19 months today.

First, naps. I have to say – don’t shoot me, people – I think night and nap weaning is one area where formula feeding comes up trumps. It generally seems to be a bit easier than those kids who are latched on the whole time to boobie.  The babies have been used to having a bottle as they are in bed, just before naps. Snort is used to having a bottle if he wakes during nap, as well as more milk once he wakes up.

We always have had success by introducing change to naps before nighttime, so we thought, ‘Fuck it. Cold turkey.’ The first day he was a bit pissed, to put it nicely. He screamed up a blue streak before nap – and it’s worth saying we still would never do controlled crying or crying it out. Eventually he accepted a fresh muslin (his lovely) in place of milk and went to sleep. He woke once and screamed for 30 minutes while I quietly freaked out. He also woke Coconut, so it was like an Angry Baby Party. Again, once he realised the milk wasn’t coming, he went straight back to sleep. With mama singing, of course – though at this point I think I’m singing for me, cause I don’t think they need it anymore.

That was it. The next day, maybe 10 seconds of fussing before nap. He woke up once and immediately settled again with some shushing and a hand on his back.

The third day he never woke up. NEVER WOKE UP. Neither did she. This is fucking unheard of, people. My kids are still having one 2-3 hour nap per day, and after about 2 hours sleep can get very restless.

We are now at the point – we have been for awhile, but no more bottles! – of me saying, ‘Okay, guys. Time to sleep. Everybody go to your room.’ Both kids toddle straight off to their room and get into their beds. And SLEEP.

What the fuck.

Nightweaning – now, we are following the plan of Dr Jay Gordon (it may be ‘-an’ rather than ‘-on’ if you fancy a google.). He’s an attachment parenting advocate, and his plan is aimed at breastfeeding, co-sleeping babes. Ours are obviously not on the boob, but they have some co-sleeping – namely when TMD passes out on the floor next to their beds in the night.

The idea is that they still have full range access to milk before 11 pm, and after that on the first 3 days restricted access after that. So, short feeds and then straight back to bed. This shit worked like a fucking dream. We kept reducing bottles – Snort was a bit upset when we got down to 90ml bottles, but got over it and went straight back to sleep. On the third night of this plan, he had his usual 10:30 feed and then ONLY ONE FEED FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT.

Cue ‘omg’s and ‘zomg’s.

I knew a friend (hi, you-know-who-you-are-twin-mama!) was reducing bottles, so we opted to do this and be a bit more gentle. IE, add in an extra three days of very reduced feeds before we went to Dr Jay Gordon’s next step – which is NO MILK after 11 pm. This shit scared us.

Snort might be kissing random strangers and giving hugs out to all and sundry, but when he is half-asleep and wants milk? You don’t cross the kid. It wouldn’t be unheard of for pure fire to shoot out of his mouth and scorch us with his rage.

Last night was the first night of really reduced feeds. It was shit. Shit. Shit. He had – I think – three feeds after 11 pm. It was so shit that tonight we go total milk free after 11 pm.

No problem for Coconut – she often goes the full twelve hours with no peep, or may want one tiny feed. But for Snort? Jesus. JESUS. JAY-SUS. Wish us luck, because, yo, we’re going to need it.

Still – touch wood – naptime is going so fucking swimmingly that I do have hopes for the night. And comfort in knowing that we are not taking away milk and mama/mummy comfort. He’ll have us right by him every step of the way.

(And short cute Coconut story – this morning she picked up an orange and exclaimed in joy, ‘Orange!’ She then began to squeeeeeeeze. It dripped all over the table and she was shaking from the effort of pulverizing this thing. She then smiled and calmly said, ‘Juice.’)

What about you guys? Anyone needed to nightwean? What were your experiences? Any advice?

I think the next steps are getting through this no milk stuff – Dr Gordon talks about cuddling and then putting down awake, and then moving to shushing and back patting or whatever. Snort does not want to cuddle at night when upset, so we’ll jump straight to attempting to offer comfort otherwise. As per usual.

I need to reread all the stuff, but once we’ve got post-11 pm licked, well, at some point we’ll look at dropping that 10:30 feed. I don’t want the kid to starve, though.

Okay. It’s Friday morning, and my kids are cooking up a storm at their play kitchen, so I’m going to enjoy what might be my last wide awake good morning for a few days – unless of course the universe feeds Snort through an invisible tube in his belly button throughout the night so he doesn’t bother to wake for milk and get upset when it’s not there.

Yeah. I didn’t think so.

A tale of two sleepers.

December 6, 2010

When the babies were very little, they often napped in their pushchair in the lounge – as MIL wouldn’t let me hold them. I know how crazy that sounds now. Since that point in time, they’ve gone through a variety of napping incarnations. Looking back, the one that now seems significant was the bouncy chair phase.

I don’t know if bouncy chairs are as important to those who have one baby at a time, but to us (and other twin peeps I know) they were invaluable. Next to ‘inventing’ tandem babywearing – and then discovering it already existed – those bouncy chairs were one of the best things ever.

We’d ‘nap’ by one baby being in a chair and being bounced and sung to, while I cuddled the other. I rotated every nap. So one nap in arms, the next nap in the chair.

Somehow this eventually morphed into Coconut being the in arms sleeper for every nap. I think it was because she just wouldn’t settle away from me, while Snort was a pro.

Months down the line, I am wondering about the impact this may have had on their sleep. Not to mention feeling a teensy bit guilty about all the extra cuddles Coconut got.

It’s very interesting, my friends. The ‘spoiled’ baby, the one who was held for every sleep? She sleeps through the night no freaking problem.

The one who ‘got himself to sleep’? He has been waking up. EVERY TWO HOURS.

Now, this is not the norm. Obviously something is going on. He sucks down milk like there’s no tomorrow when he wakes and then goes right back to sleep. We think he’s genuinely hungry, because neither baby will have more milk or solids than they want, if you get what I mean.

Still. I can’t help but wonder: is the baby who was more physically attached able to sleep through the night confidently for a reason? And was the one who was not cuddled as much needing more reassurance?

I don’t know. But it may bear thinking about.

Snort still gets himself to sleep better than Coconut. At naps – and bed – you put them both down and they’ll pass out within minutes, or even seconds. (Thank you, universe. It took a long time for us to get to this point – WITH NO CRYING – and if anyone wants us to elaborate on our ‘methods’ (ha!) leave a comment. I am happy to do so. – but we are here.)

Two kids who will happily go to sleep by themselves. It’s taken a good long while to get Coco to this point, and even now she might need a ten second hug (!) before popping off.

But lately? Snort isn’t settling very well. This last nap (they are sleeping, which is now the only time I can really get online. I found twin babies MUCH easier than toddlers!), he was all crazy and trying to eat baubles, so I pulled him onto my lap.

For the first time in what feels like years, I pulled him into a snuggly cradle hold on my lap/in my arms. He settled right in with his blankie.

Now, one of the ‘things’ we have as a sleep cue is a certain song I sing. When they hear it, they know it’s time to sleep. That is the last remaining ‘hold out’ for sleep cues, and I’m in no rush to stop singing my babies to sleep.

So I held him like I did when he was a baby, I rocked him, I sang to him. I watched his droopy eyes, I smiled internally at his Very Unfortunate Haircut #2, I remembered how I felt when the technician told us he was a boy.

(I’ve been overcome by these miracle moments lately, but again, probably best suited to another post.)

Then I popped him down, and now I have two napping kids.

But this nighttime waking….

There is truth that he is very tall, and very skinny. That he dropped down to about the 25% in weight and hasn’t come back up, so perhaps he needs the extra calories. That he has bizarre allergies and they could be contributing.

But all the guesswork in the world, and I have no answers. Both babies have been raised the same, are offered the same food, etc. The only difference is his significant allergies, and his lack of in arms sleeping for a couple of months. And, you know, that they are two different people. 😉

One twin sleeping solidly through the night, even through most of her brother’s screams. One twin waking and drinking enough milk to sustain an army.

Input?

Natural parenting = happy babies AND happy parents

November 15, 2010

We’ve always followed the babies’ schedule, never let them cry it out, and now? We have two happy, healthy individuals…..who go to sleep by themselves when you put them down. Of course, ‘by themselves’ includes a muslin to suck on for The Boy, and a Bunny to cuddle for The Girl.

Am I gloating? You bet your sweet ass.

So many people were pushing the idea of crying it out on us. Said they’d ‘never learn’ if we cuddled them. I was like, ‘Yeah, they’ll never learn that they can’t depend on us, they’ll never learn that we won’t come when they need us.’ As for never learning to go to sleep? Pah.

Not only that, but they are on a stellar a-1 routine. Not one invented by us or any experts, but created by the babies themselves. And, oddly, it’s the ‘schedule’ that I think many parents want to get their kids on.

The nice thing is, though, because we’ve never rigidly adhered to a schedule and rather let our days be guided by their own rhythms, both Snort and Coconut are really adaptable babies.

I am happy for this.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to write my nanowrimo schtuff while they are sleeping so I don’t have to do it tonight. My SPD has been very, very bad for the past two weeks, and I think getting an early night’s sleep can’t be a bad thing. The blood is also flying, so I’m hoping my immobility and dependency on codeine to get through the day with minimal crying (on my part) will soon lessen.

Thank you, universe, for my amazing babies. And thank you for supporting me in trusting my instincts with my kids. Ironically, by making our house child-led in terms of routines, sleeping, etc we have ended up with a bizarre dream schedule that we didn’t have to fight nature to achieve.

Hippy parenting, what ho.

(No, I never knew I would be like this before I had kids. I swear.)

Thoughts on breastfeeding: the past, and the possible future.

August 23, 2010

I don’t know if we’ll have more kids naturally. I have been gung ho. A couple of months ago I was convinced it was the ‘perfect’ time to get pregnant – and now, wow am I happy I’m not. Chasing after these two with a baby cooking? Ha.

The past month has been killer. August is always a big month – lots of sad anniversaries. But it also is our anniversary, and now the birthday of Snort and Coconut. Just like life, August is good and bad.

I wonder if my ambiguity about pregnancy is why I am also lackluster about weight loss. I know I have to lose all my weight to be able to donate eggs again, and I certainly think we’d go the IVF/eggshare route again.

I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff. Breastfeeding….a lot.

How they got sunken fontanels (sp?), how they were so dehydrated, how they did not pee….except little crystals and blood. How their weight plummeted well below a loss of 15%.  How it kept dropping.   Breastfeeding was the best thing ever for me, but perhaps not for my babies. I don’t know if I would try again.

Certainly the suckling has been known to help regenerate nerves, and make breastfeeding after a reduction a possibility in second, third, fourth pregnancies. Certainly I would want to breastfeed, but it would be an act of courage as the last time it hurt me so badly when it failed.

I’m happy now. We formula fed our babies and, well, it was good. As I’ve said before, there are good things about bottle feeding – please don’t jump down my throat or criticize, because unless you have been desperate to breastfeed and medically could not, you don’t know what it’s like. I chose (finally) to forgive my body and move on. To accept things as they were, and to be grateful for how my cherished kids were developing.

The next time around I would meet with a lactation consultant before birth, to have an action plan in place. I know giving a bottle fucks with milk production in normal boobies, but with my boobies and history, I would not withhold a bottle to ‘just see,’ since my kids got pretty fucking sick from my inability to give them milk this time around.

All the buzz on Twitter lately is about milk donation. I applaud those who donate, as well as those mums who need a bit of help and have the wherewithal to get connected to resources. I don’t know that milk banks exist here, but again – I’d do some research before another baby came along, even to make some informal connections.

I think parents hold so fast, so tight, to their ideals – the way they do it is so good, feels so right, that they want to tell everyone else about it. Certainly I was like that with babywearing and baby led weaning. But sometimes that tips too far over the edge into condemnation.

The number of twitter convos I’ve had….

ie

Them: There is no reason EVERY mother cannot breastfeed her baby.

Me: Um, actually I couldn’t breastfeed. I was medically unable to.

Them: Bullshit. The only excuse is if you have some sort of disease you might pass on or something.

Me: Well, actually not. I had a breast reduction and the surgery damaged my breasts too badly to be able to feed my children.

Them: *backtracking wildly* Oh, yeah, well, I mean that’s different. That’s medical.

Me: *sigh*

I am the sort of person who will always speak up. Hell, if I was breastfeeding I’d do it outloud, so proud, in public. I’d get a couple of those boobie beanies and tandem nurse any old place. But I think it’s ridiculous how shamed and horrible I felt about offering bottles in public.

It’s interesting how the internet has skewed my perceptions. My online connections are usually all AP (attachment parenting) people. You know, people more likely to be into natural parenting, babywearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding, anti-CIO, etc. Most cloth diaper and some are anti-vax.

These people are so accepting of me and my non-boobie milk, but only once I’ve gone through and explained why I’m not breastfeeding. It’s like being gay – I come out again and again as a formula feeder. I used to sort of keep my mouth shut, which goes against my personality. But now I can say, well, you know know? I forumla feed. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone. I had a surgery when I was 19; I could beat myself up about that for eternity, but what is the point?

It’s so possible to be AP when bottle feeding. Not all formula feeders are propping bottles up into the mouths of babes strapped into carseats and ignored. I held my babies every feed – despite having one of me and two of them. They cuddled into me, and still do, to eat. My respect for breastfeeding and all the benefits is deep, and I emulated them as much as possible – we only fed on demand (they choose when and how much milk to eat, we do not encourage them to have more or discourage them from eating), and now we do baby led weaning and will led them decide when is the right time to transition away from milk feeds.

We do it as naturally as possible, as gently as possible, as respectfully as possible.

If only all parents offered other parents the same treatment.

I know it’s hard. Hell, I judge people. When the babies were first born, someone I went to school with sent me a link via facebook for this feeding thing (the assumption being there would be no breastfeeding, which is NOT a good thing!). It was like a pacifier connected to a tube that dipped into a bottle. She attached a picture of her three week old infant left alone on the side of a swimming pool while she and her hubby frolicked in the water.

Yes, I judge. Yes, I am horrified.

But what is my judgment going to do to her? Nothing. Offering shame and condemnation is not helpful; education is, but only in the right circumstances. I’ve had lectures (again, via my pal twitter) about formula being poison, about bottle feeding moms not giving a damn about their kids’ health, etc. And then always, always, the backtracking when they learn about my situation. Always the embarassed, ‘Oh, I don’t judge people who can’t feed because, like, they can’t.’

Well, you do. You do judge when you presume to talk about how formula is akin to the coming of the anti-christ.

Did I love breastfeeding? Yes. Did it work for us? No. It (well, not breastfeeding, but the failure of breastfeeding) made my children sick.

I’m sorry. I don’t know how this got so long or so rambling, or what was my original point. I think somewhere in here I meant to say that if I get pregnant again, I’m going to be a lot more gentle and forgiving of myself this time around.

Advice for parents-to-be of twins.

September 25, 2009

Six weeks in, and all I can say is: relax.

While you may have imagined two babies screaming non-stop, or two little angels gurgling away – or probably something in between, you didn’t imagine it correctly. How could you? Don’t blame yourself. There you were, mammoth and pregnant, and all the cute little socks and fancy prams were gorgeous – but was it really possible to imagine two little people would be in those socks?

We were very anti-pacifier. We didn’t know about the glory of vibrating bouncers (buy two now). We were hardcore about breastfeeding.

Six weeks in, and our babies aren’t very into pacifiers…but the thing is, sometimes they are. And it helps. You’ve got one baby on your lap, feeding it and possibly holding the bottle in place with your mouth while your other hand tries helplessly to mop up the rivers of milk flowing down the side of a little face and pooling into the crevices of the neck. And let me tell you, formula does not smell nice when it has been allowed to fester in fat folds.

So your upper body is busy. You have also, of course, wedged one foot into the frame of a bouncy chair holding the non-feeding baby – because while the vibrations are great, when a baby is really hungry you might as well have placed them on a bed of spikes. You are trying to get a good, strong rhythm of bouncing going ….while not disturbing the delicate balance of bottle-in-your-mouth. Your other foot is probably sockless, while you use your toes to grip a muslin, soft book, or other toy and lift it carefully. Your aim is to somehow fling the book up at your own face, so that you can stop wiping the milk river for a minute and hold the book in front of Baby Two, who is still merrily howling away, in increasing levels of high pitched agony.

You may decide to stop feeding the first baby and give the second a nibble. You may keep switching back and forth. One thing you can be sure of, while you are engaged in this mental dance of Who Shall I Feed And How Should I Do It, you will not wind the babies enough. They will spit up. All over their fresh outfits. (For this reason, ALWAYS have a muslin draped over those expensive vibrating bouncy chairs, because otherwise you need to sponge clean and it leave it empty while it dries. This is not good. An empty chair is a wasted chair). If you do manage to get the worst of the burps out, and somehow also manage to fully feed both babies (who will be inclined to pass out once they have eaten a certain amount, what with you ignoring them to feed their twin), there is no doubt one or both will get the hiccups.

Hiccups make the least burpy baby on earth dribble. And sometimes you just sit there and watch the spit-up cake their cheeks, necks, clothes – because you are locked into some crazy ass feeding position with the other twin.

All of this is trial and error. Most of the time your babies will be really, really happy. They are possibly at their happiest on completely opposite schedules, as they get all one-on-one time….and you, of course, literally never get a second of time to yourself. Being pregnant with twins is excellent training, because that constant feeling of needing to pee? It gets you used to it, which is a good thing because you will have to have a bladder of steel if you want to keep the baby cycle going.

Of course, you are free to leave the babies both screaming while you take the time to pee, with an added luxury of wiping.

Put handwash by every sink. Invest in a thick, non-smelly lotion for every sink, too. While your hands will be cleaned and sterilised to within an inch of their lives, your knuckles start looking like you are an eighty-year-old woman who has made her living by taking in other people’s washing.

Relax. If the chairs work, they work. If the pacifiers do – and you are against them, ease up on the guilt. Life with two newborns is about flexibility, love, a sense of humour, and being honest with yourself. Because you will be tired, you will be snappy, you will feel a guilty relief when you shut the door to the bathroom and excuse yourself from motherhood for an hour – shoving the baby duties onto your equally tired partner. Every baby is different, every adult is different, and every family is different.

Be creative. Try new things and don’t be afraid to mess up. You learn a lot from getting vomited on and peed on at the same time, believe me. (Want to know how to stop your baby boy from peeing everywhere? Let me know. I AM THE MASTER.)

People (and the endless books) will tell you that everything is definite. You must form a routine for twins immediately. You must use black out curtains. You must do this, you musn’t do that. I’ve found that if you just use a bit of common sense and match things to fit your lifestyle and personality, you’ll probably be just fine.

I have spent the first six weeks quite happily, and messily, mucking along. Feeding on demand, completely following each baby’s lead, etc. While no book advises this and says it causes mothers huge amounts of stress, things have been okay. Really okay.

But in the spirit of flexibility and longer stretches of sleep at night, things may be changing soon. In the meantime, we are sleeping them in the same cot (you win a prize of honour or horror, depending on who you listen to), feeding on demand, having playtimes whenever it can be assumed they won’t vomit, talking loads to them, having them sleep on us during the day when we feel like it, etc. We even have them sleep in rooms that are not pitch black…shudder, horror. Things are fine.

This is my last week with Mil here. Next week I’m completely on my own the whole week. You may see less of me in this blog, but rest assured I am probably wearing very comfortable pants, my hair pulled back into messy buns, and I am spending a lot of time kissing little cheeks.

If you are expecting twins, you can expect to be surprised a lot – by how capable you are, by how tired you are, by how special it all is. You can also expect to spend a lot of time thanking various deities that you did not have triplets.

Love to all.