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Do what you love…Right, Okay

Posted on 29 January, 2017

Follow your dreams, do what you love, don’t settle, don’t wake up one day with regret, dream big, do the impossible.

Right, that makes sense. Okay let’s do this. I’m going to grab life like a lioness whose just bagged an antelope. Yes. Right. Great. Okay.

I’ll just put the kettle on.

Do what you love. Do what you love. Okay. What do I love doing? I have always enjoyed eating. Yep. Sleeping, that’s nice. Tea.. oh, I know. I do really love a warm cupcake. Right, I’ll start there. No idea too small. Cupcakes are very fancy these days though.God that sounds old. Are they buns or cupcakes? Or queen cakes? I might have some branding issues. I’m shocking at icing but I’m also not a fan of icing. Right, I’ll open a cupcake shop selling only vanilla cupcakes with no icing.Like deconstructed cupcakes. “oh have you had Ann Marie’s cupcakes, they are so … plain.” Okay, this might not be the right track. I know I’ll invent a cupcake warmer to keep your cupcake at optimum “just out of the oven” temperature. Oh, this is getting good. Right, it’s a cupcake warmer that’s also portable. With a retro design. Maybe navy with a red stripe. Maybe a little white stripe going through the red stripe. It will be waterproof yet dishwasher safe. God, I’m on a roll here. I could sell them and the actual cupcake. Ready and waiting for maximum enjoyment.  Jesus I’d be the vanilla cupcake/bun/queen cake Queen of Cork, or even all of Ireland! Wow, this is getting pretty real.  I could travel for miles in a cupcake shaped van to offices everywhere (well in a close enough radius to be able to do the preschool collection. And my cupcake vehicle will have to have room for a car seat so I can bring baby and someway of warming her bottle.Or I could sell the cupcakes with the retro design warmer between 9:15am and about 11:20am then I wouldn’t need a bottle warmer and I’d be on time for the end of preschool.God this is turning into a bit of a logistical nightmare..

I need to think bigger but with flexible working hours. Maybe drug dealing. Nah. I’d feel so uncool. What would I wear? I don’t even know the lingo. I bet drug dealers would never say lingo. No, the whole thing would be too awkward.

Right I’ll just have a quick look on Instagram then I’ll get back to planning my life.

Hmm nobody has posted since a few minutes ago. Maybe I should follow more people. Right I should really clean the house while baby is napping. Maybe I’ll start dinner although it’s half ten in the morning. What do other people love doing? Maybe I could love that. I need somebody to  say you’d love “insert something fullfilling and  attainable” then I’d just do that. That would be excellent. Maybe I could go to a life coach. Maybe I could be a life coach. You’d have to wonder what dream a life coach is following. ” I want to help people realise their full potential”. Oh God I could never say things like that. No. Not for me.

Right, I’m still really determined to find my passion during this particular nap time but I do want the house to be just a little bit tidier. Although I reckon she’ll sleep for another while so I might just try and watch an episode of Corrie on the Tv3 player, or is it UTV. I wonder why they swapped? Feck, my tea has gone cold. Right, I’ll just put the kettle on again and then get set up with the laptop. I’m sure I’ll think of my passion when I’m not so focused on it. It’ll probably just come to me, like a vision. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Was that a cry I heard? She’s awake isn’t she?

 

Me looking fondly at a gnome

Me looking fondly at a gnome!

 

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Adventures in moving to formula

Posted on 17 January, 2017

In the middle of November our adventures in weaning began. With determination I set about to wean Freya from breastfeeding to bottle feeding and to introduce solids. I decided to do this all at once, I’m still not sure why. I decided to set a deadline of Christmas, again I’m not sure why!

Breastfeeding had gone well. It  was mainly rhythmical and generally she was waking only once in the night (which is still the case but we’re working on it!). It was convenient and manageable. Despite this I knew my time with breastfeeding was done. Mainly I wanted my body back and I wanted Steve to be able to feed her with having to pump for days. Between trying to conceive, an early miscarriage, trying again to conceive, pregnancy and breastfeeding my body had been connected to growing a baby for nearly two years. While I’m forever grateful to my body I wanted it back. I  was happy to be able to breastfeed for six months but I am also happy for Freya to have formula. I am more than satisfied that Freya’s nutritional needs are met by formula . But that’s not to say that I didn’t consider whether this is what I wanted to do at six months or whether it would be better for Freya to keep breast feeding for longer.

Before I embarked on weaning I did what any sensible person embarking on something new does, I Googled it. Yet again I failed to remember that the internet is a dodgy place!

What I found when I went in search of camaraderie was a general opinion that breast feeding is the sanctimonious high ground on which mothers must lay their bodies until their child says otherwise, unless of course you are a selfish witch.  I also found plenty of comments from mothers saying that after all the effort they took to pump breastmilk they wanted a label for their bottles stating that their bottles contain “Pure Breastmilk”  or “100% Breastmilk Inside”because the last thing the would want was to be mistaken for a “lazy mom” using formula.

As a parent you can feel inadequate, selfish and even neglectful without anyone else adding to that. Add a chorus of online voices and  you can end up feeling barbaric for even considering your own needs. But before becoming a parent I was a rational person capable of making reasoned decisions for myself. Other peoples opinions have always had the ability to make me question myself and I’ll admit that nothing feels more personal than a question put over my capability or commitment to raise my children. Even if the people writing online have no idea I exist. But I’ve still got those qualities that I had before becoming a mum. I’m still a rational person capable of reading emotive and sometimes visceral comments on the internet and still making a reasoned decision as to what was best for me. With the same certainty that I knew I wanted another child I also knew that my time with breastfeeding had come to an end and I trusted that feeling completely.

While I was resolute in the decision the process wasn’t exactly planned or smooth. I took on the following thought process.

” Looking online hasn’t helped, let’s just try a bottle here and there and see how we get on. Why isn’t she taking the bottle? This is suddenly really important to me because it’s not working. Great, she’s taking the bottle. Why isn’t she settling? I shouldn’t breastfeed her, she’s not hungry. Okay I’ll just feed her for a few minutes just to calm her but I won’t do it after the next bottle. God my boobs hurt. Why won’t she take the bottle from anyone other than me? The internet said babies generally don’t take a bottle from their mothers so why is she only taking it from me? I hate the internet. My boobs are so sore. Why is she now waking in the night? My boobs are really incredibly sore. She’s awake again but I just breastfed her, that’s not the deal, she’s meant to be soothed for at least a few hours. I wonder what time it is? It’s so dark. At least I can sleep when I breastfeed her. Oh my god I just fell asleep. Where is she? Is she alright?  Have I rolled over her?  Oh yeah I put her in the cot an hour ago. Great I’ll get some sleep before Ewan comes in. Feck it, she’s awake again. She used to sleep at night. I definitely remember her sleeping in the night. What the fuck have I done!!”

You can expect my weaning guide to be published any day now! Transitioning to formula bottles took about 6 weeks with only an occasional breast feed towards the end but for those weeks I was an absolute wreck. The house was filled with half finished bottles, I was breastfeeding for peace and quiet and I seemed to have blown the glory days of waking once a night out of the water. I was now breast feeding her multiple times in the night because I was too tired to try and convince her that she really did like bottles.  I was trying to feed her bottles in the day when I had the most energy for perseverance. Simultaneously I was hauling trough loads of food to my toddler who seemed to be experiencing a bout of hunger that only those who have been directly affected by famine could truly understand!

The word relentless kept spinning in my head. Despite the logical part of my brain knowing that this is a phase. that this won’t go on forever and she was in fact taking the bottle little by little. My exhausted brain took the helm and nothing seemed right.  I huffed every time my toddler proclaimed he was hunnnngggrrryyy not only because it wasn’t humanly possible but because I had no energy to do anything else but feed him. I huffed at Freya refusing her bottle from anyone but me. I sighed at myself for feeding her to settle her and for generally not managing it all better. “Why couldn’t there be just one feed I didn’t have to do?” was my cry to the bottle Gods.

I had made the decision because I wanted my body back but now my body ached. Heavy with milk, it urged me to feed her. I resisted and the pain got worse. When she cried my body would swell further yearning to feed her. I felt like I was going against nature and so sometimes I would feed her when we were scheduled to try her with another bottle. Steve would arrive ready to try a bottle as I had started to feed her. I’d look at him apologetically and wonder what how this was ever going to even out. Or I would feed her after a bottle knowing that she wasn’t hungry but knowing that being breast feed would soothe her instantly. Other times I was so determined not to breast feed straight after her refusing a bottle I would wrap her up and take her for a walk. Being outside would calm her and I felt like we both could reset ready for our next feeding encounter. I was in weaning ground zero and no one was winning.  It was a disaster. When she cried I felt guilt, is this all because I want some me time. How much do I really like myself? Maybe hanging out with me isn’t worth this!

Food wasn’t going much better either. I have since moved to buying food for her for the few weeks it takes for her to eat our meals. She only ever ate two meals that I cooked for her and that was with significant protest. In her defense the meals I made were genuinely awful. Despite various experiments I was so determined it would be a safe consistency that everything tasted of dirty water. So for the moment I buy Ellas Kitchen food pouches mainly because they use the word organic with sufficient frequency as to ease any guilt I have about not cooking for her. Plus when I taste them I actually like the taste, which is more than can be said for the wasteland carrot mixtures I was producing. She’s learning to eat and try new flavours with enthusiasm now.

As for my body. It is all mine again. It needs strength and that’s what I want to give myself this year. My body owes me nothing now but I owe it a bit of TLC, it’s had a busy few years!

As for us we are out of the weaning fog. There was no break through moment but little by little she learned to soothe herself without being breastfed, little by little she took more ounces and little by little I stopped producing milk. At this moment in time a pattern of three has emerged and I’ve never been so relieved to have a structure. I know enough to know that a pattern only lasts so long before teething, a cold a clock going forward or an inexplicable turn of events turns everything on it’s head again. But for the moment all is well. She eats three meals a day. She sleeps for a total of three hours in the day. She drinks three bottles in the day and she wakes at 3:30 in the night. There was no magic answer for how we got her, trail mixed with plenty of errors, patience and frustration. It took longer than I had excepted but a rhythm has appeared and it has quietened the din.

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