Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I think I might have caved in

I'm beginning to think seriously about partially weaning Toddler. I feel terrible about it. But I am refusing a lot during the day. I'd love to night-wean her, and if she ever does night-wean herself I think I'll say yes a lot more during the few daylight hours vouchsafed to us at this time of year, but meanwhile I've been saying "No, milk is for bedtime" a lot.

Poor Toddler. In other news, Baby had her three month growth spurt and I didn't die. Well, not quite. At least, I'm sure a competent medium can get me back part-time.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Supply creates demand

Toddler has hugely increased her milk intake. I begin to think that perhaps it's a significant portion of her protein intake again. Naturally it doesn't affect Baby - this evening Toddler had both breasts for her bedtime drink, having rejected dinner, and Baby was able to have her full evening meal less than five minutes later - but I'm pretty sure it affects me.

I think I need to eat fewer carbs and more protein and vegetables. Possibly much more. I think I ought to investigate real vegetarian cooking so that I can have huge pulse-based meals, but since we've recently had to move dinnertime back to before Daddy gets home, it has to be incredibly easy to cook. Stuff Daddy can put in the slow cooker the night before would be best.

I am very glad of the increased intake. I have, in the past two weeks, spent four days in bed ill with throat infections and a nasty, nasty cold. Neither daughter has anything worse than a sniffle. Being ill is much easier when everyone else is well.

Friday, October 20, 2006

O god make it stop

Tandem nursing is all about that blissful time in the middle of the night when I hear crying - or yelling demands, usually - and I crawl into Toddler's bed and pretend it's just the two of us again. I feed her and she rolls over and spoons into me and we snuggle up until Baby wakes me a few hours later needing a feed. It's probably the most satisfying sleep I get all the brief night (midnight to six am is night, at present).

It's also one of the few parenting issues I'm proud of at the moment. And I'm certain it has made the adjustment to a new sibling easier. If Toddler is annoyed that I'm feeding Baby, I just offer her milk too. Sorted. The rest of the time, Baby is relegated to the sling, which she gullibly believes to be a reward, and Toddler gets all my shattered, blear-eyed attention.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Oh no, not again

I have been working on my embarrassment at feeding Toddler in public. I have now fed her in front of my in-laws (definitely public, given their various attitudes) and at the doctor's, while having my postnatal appointment for Baby.

The doctor just said "You're still giving her a bit of breast then."

This blog is empty mainly because after the first few feeds, tandem nursing is just life as normal. There's not a lot to say about it. I did feel odd tandem nursing them at the local breastfeeding clinic where I go to offer peer support and advice on babywearing, because I prefer not to come on too strong in front of people who are looking for help with insurmountable problems. But I did it, and I think it was a good thing.

Now I find myself wanting to nurse Toddler less. I grow resentful. I'm tired, and I ache a bit. I'm sure a good night's sleep would do me the world of good, but I have easily two years before that's a possibility, on previous experience. Perhaps it's time to send Toddler and her father to the in-laws for a weekend again. She enjoyed it last time and didn't miss me a bit. I'd get more sleep with only Baby to wake for.

Because there's no way Toddler is ready to wean yet. She's still using the immunity (it's cold season!) and the comfort. Oh, yes, she's using the comfort...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Almost ashamed

I fed Baby today, walking along in a hurry to get the bus, pushing the buggy with my other hand. (Incidentally, Lilypadz are very easy to use - hold baby up in one arm, use that hand to push buggy, use other hand to raise shirt and adjust bra and remove Lilypad, latch baby on, adjust arms for more comfortable buggy-pushing).

I refused to feed Toddler in public, though. I am a bad lactivist. I just couldn't handle it. We had a hard day; Dad was too tired to be helpful, Mum and Toddler were hungry because the packed lunch turned out to be a bad idea, Baby was a Baby. Feeding would have helped Toddler a lot but when she asked we were on a standard width footpath/pavement/sidewalk/insert your dialect here, and there was nowhere to sit other than in the dust at the side of the road. Which is where I sat when she sat down and refused to be moved, but that wasn't for feeding purposes.

So I am quite happy to feed Baby in public, indiscreetly (she can't latch on discreetly, she doesn't know how) and I can't bring myself to feed Toddler in public unless we have somewhere comfy to sit and can be vaguely discreet - I don't mind it being obvious that I'm feeding, but I'm more comfortable showing flesh when I feed Baby than when I feed Toddler.

Sometimes I'm glad I know nothing about psychology. I don't want to know what's under all this.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Barbie Boobs

I recently acquired a set of Lilypadz because mere absorbent breastpads cannot possibly hope to cope with my supply. The idea is that these pads actually stop the leaking, rather than merely soaking it up before it reaches the outside of my clothes.

They seem to work so far, though I haven't tried them in the morning when things are soggiest.

The freakish thing is that they work basically by pushing the nipple in and holding it there. Looking down, it looks like I'm wearing some kind of padded bra. I've been smoothed. Sculpted. My clothes look different. It's very disconcerting.

I have a vague feeling that this nippleless look is considered desirable in parts of the US, partially because of the blurb on the box, not quoted here for fear of perpetuating scary anti-nipple rhetoric.

[mildly crossposted]

Engorged. Swollen. Full. Bloated. Distended. Inflated. Tumescent.

I'd use more words but the thesaurus at doesn't even know the word "engorged" so I can't find any without standing up and finding a real thesaurus (I love me my Roget).

Anyway, this morning, freakishly, Toddler didn't ask to come in for a morning feed, and Daddy happily amused her, pleased and proud that he was enabling me to catch up on some desperately-needed rest. And he was, and I did, but when I woke...

Ow. And all I had to combat it was one bewildered newborn, far smaller than the combined mass of mammary I confronted, no pun intended, her with. She did her best, poor love, but we still ended up lying in puddles and pools, both with soaked nightclothes, on damp sheets, thankfully with a damp-absorbing towel under the sheet so the mattress is probably fine.

It took until about 11 am for the pain to go away. This is what it was like last time, when Toddler was a baby, and I had no older, larger, more-internal-volume child to deal with the excess. I'd forgotten.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tandem input: easy. Tandem output: hard.

Feeding them both together is easy. They both want to do it. They both enjoy it. It's quiet and peaceful and, ok, makes me really, really hungry... but it's not difficult.

Simultaneous nappy changes are another thing altogether. I have never in 28 months come as close to hitting Toddler as I did this morning.

I changed Baby's nappy. Fine; she squalled a bit but the change went ok, I put the pooey one aside and persuaded Toddler to lie down on the mat. With her book.

Ugh. I had become resigned to toddler-nappies, but compared to an exclusively breastfed nappy they are truly revolting. And the fabric wipes weren't absorbing the water; I think they had accidentally been laundered with fabric conditioner.

But I managed to get her mostly clean, and then she stopped cooperating. As soon as she was comfortable again, she wriggled. And held her legs rigid. And tried to put her hands into the remaining ick. And rolled over.

I got her clean. I found the clean nappy.

She rolled. She stood up and went and poked at Baby. She lay down again (ok, I sort of tripped her gently) and held onto the side-table with the laptop on it. She pulled it over. She turned on her side so I couldn't fasten the nappy. I tried pinning her down, but with my c-section incisions (the internal ones hurt most) she's stronger than I am. I shouted at her. Then I set my teeth and listened to the little voice in my head telling me "It would work, you know. She'd know you were serious. It wouldn't hurt. Once wouldn't do her any harm. It's a tool like any other."

I got a wrap loosely assembled around the nappy and brought her to her room so that we could both calm down. Yikes. That was nasty.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Breastmilk is a gateway drug; it leads on to bigger things, like cosleeping, demand-led feeding, and this weird new habit Toddler has of waking about 1-2 am miserable and needing, mainly, attention and a feed. She'd been sleeping through the night reliably for ages.

It does seem to me that she really needs proof that she can still get all her needs met by us, that she hasn't been replaced, that Baby isn't more important than she is, and that she hasn't lost anything she used to have.

She does go back to her own bed for the rest of the night, voluntarily, which is a relief. But it's a bit weird, just the same.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Tandem feeding works well for us, though it's difficult to position both of them to feed together on my actual lap; in bed, Toddler snuggles up beside me and I hold Baby, and in an armchair Toddler stands on the floor and I hold Baby, but Toddler would like to be on my lap.

Engorgement, however, is much easier to deal with with a toddler. I'm leaking far less this time around. It's wonderful.

(I am starving to death. I can't eat enough.)

Breastfeeding "help" in hospital

The first was when I asked a woman in staff clothes - I think she was a Maternity Assistant, not a nurse or a midwife - to help me by giving me a cushion to keep the baby off my wound, and hand me the baby. She wanted me to try the "rugby hold", and I said "It never worked with my other daughter." She argued with me, saying that feeding the baby held in front of me wouldn't work and would cause pain to the wound. When it became clear I was going to try it my way, she walked away. Had I needed further assistance, I would have had to buzz again - as it was I had to position the cushion with one hand while holding the baby with the other, less than twelve hours after abdominal surgery. The good news is that the cushion supported my arm, which supported the baby, and we had a comfortable feed.

The next I don't really remember, but feeding lying down a Staff Nurse reached out and touched my breast to help position it. I don't remember whether I said anything, or what she was trying to do.

After that, my mother and I heard the woman in the bed next to mine having a long argument with a midwife because she and her baby had been just about discharged, gone to change the baby's nappy before leaving, and found crystals in it. This can be a sign of dehydration so they were asked to wait to see a paediatrician before leaving. There was a delay of more than six hours to see the paediatrician, during which time the woman was given no help at all with latching, positioning, determining whether the baby was sucking effectively (you can often tell by looking). She wasn't told that there was a breastfeeding clinic downstairs she could drop in to without an appointment. She wasn't offered a meeting with a lactation consultant. She was just told that the baby could be dehydrated, that this was "because feeding wasn't going well," and that she "had to" wait to see a paediatrician before she could go home. (Eventually, her mother, who is a doctor, came in and got them released somehow, after both parents and the grandmother spoke to the paediatrician - luckily the paediatrician spoke German, because the baby's mother was German and though her English was excellent she was too upset to have to cope with new-baby-panic in a second language. The grandmother's English wasn't as good as the mother's, either).

Later that evening the Staff Nurse dropped by my bed to ask how things were going and I said "Fine," and she asked how feeding was going and I said "Great, she's been on most of the day, really," and I was in the process of latching her on again as I said that. The Staff Nurse reached out and sort of squeezed my breast above the nipple to try to push more if it into Baby's mouth. I said "Please don't," and she explained that she was trying to make sure the latch was ok. I assured her it was fine. She said it couldn't be because the baby shouldn't be hungry enough to suck all day, the colostrum should be enough, and if she was sucking all day it was because the latch was bad. I ended up repeating over and over that I thought the baby just liked to suck. She'd only been born that morning, after all - and that was early. (Latch fine, baby fine, c-section babies are often very clingy and needy the first day because it's a very sudden way to come into the world).

At some point that night someone told me I shouldn't feed her when she started mouthing, I should wait until she "really wanted it" so that she'd "have a really good feed". Er, yeah. Ever tried to latch on a really, really hungry and frustrated newborn? No joke.

And the final straw was at about 1 am. Around 8 pm Baby was declared a bit cold, and they put her on a heat pad under a plastic dome in the bedside bassinet (a whole nother post about the skin to skin thing follows, I promise). At 11 pm I couldn't bear it any more and I buzzed for someone. A midwife arrived, told me to turn on the light - I had no idea how and it took a while to get her to tell me how, turns out there's a button on the buzz-for-a-nurse thing - and asked me impatiently, in a daytime voice, what I wanted. I said "I want to touch my baby." She said:

"What for?"

I said "Because she's my baby," and we had a little argument. She insisted that the baby should not be disturbed, I said I didn't want to disturb her, just touch her, she said that I ought to leave the baby alone and rest... it went on and on. Eventually I said "But how can I rest if I can't touch my baby?" and she gave in. She did a full check of blood pressure, temperature, and pulse, and then tucked Baby in beside me for skin to skin, and I fed her. The midwife asked if I'd fed my other daughter and I said "I still do," and immediately her attitude changed: now I was a Good Mother, a Good Patient, and she was going to be nice to me. She even said she'd make sure I was checked a couple of hours early to get the catheter out before breakfast time.

And a while later the woman in the bed opposite buzzed for her, for help breastfeeding. I don't remember the whole conversation, but the gist of it was that the woman had had trouble feeding earlier in the day and asked for and been given a bottle of formula. The night midwife harangued her about it - strongly implying that she was stupid, repeating and repeating that she was sure to fail if she had given a bottle, that bottles are very harmful to breastfeeding, that she needed to never give a bottle, that she shouldn't have given the bottle... she didn't stop until the woman was crying. And nowhere in the "conversation" did I hear helpful advice, or a question about what precise problem the mother had with feeding, or anything useful or supportive like that.

I was furious, but far too ill and tired to buzz for the midwife to tell her what I thought of her. I wanted to. I almost shouted across the bloody room, but I was too ill for a confrontation at 1 am - I was too ill to hear other people's confrontations, for heavens' sake. And I was sick of being given breastfeeding advice by unqualified people myself, so dishing it out wasn't really a good idea.

Next day I moved to a private room, and we found out that there's a patient-midwives meetings scheme thing to improve midwifery services. I intend to get involved. Hooboy do I intend to get involved.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

No pain, no gain!

I never had a letdown pain with the new baby. I think it's because letdown pains are caused by the unused milk ducts dilating, like pins and needles are caused by blood returning to parts of the body you've been leaning on.

This baby's latch corrected the lipstick nipple I had from Toddler's poor latch mid-pregnancy when my supply vanished.

There are two places hereabouts where I will soon be in a position to help improve breastfeeding services. First, the midwifery department at the local hospital has invited mothers to provide constructive criticism at a series of meetings; I have emailed the head of midwifery to express interest.

Second, the health visitors, in association with The Breastfeeding Network, are starting a breastfeeding support group / antenatal class. The idea is to let pregnant women and new mothers meet experienced breastfeeders - just ordinary mothers - so that they can see a feed in progress, chat about what breastfeeding is really like, etc. Both are good fora for me to warn women about the anti-breastfeeding attitude in hospitals (breastfeeding "help" in hospital is often actually damaging to the breastfeeding relationship, and even more often murder to a mother's confidence).

Starting to tandem nurse

It started while I was in hospital recovering from my c-section; a Staff Nurse asked me if I'd breastfed my other daughter, and I said "I still do." She was amazed. She asked whether that meant my new baby would be deprived of colostrum. I explained carefully that when pregnant, the new baby took hormonal priority, and the poor toddler had had to make do with dribbles of colostrum for months. So the Staff Nurse grabbed my boob and tried to "improve my latch." Meh.

My toddler came in to see me that afternoon, fewer than six hours after the operation, and I wasn't well enough to feed her, which she seemed not to mind, but it made me sad. Apparently she asked for me that night, too. But the following day she came in and I was able to feed her with her new baby sister; Toddler was propped up beside me on pillows, to keep her off the section wound, and Baby was resting on my arm across my front, while my arm was resting on a pillow, to keep it off the wound. Toddler watched Baby intently and found it fascinating; at one point she even reached an arm over and cuddled her. We took plenty of photos.

After that, we nursed in hospital several times. It was easy, with a limitless supply of pillows, a very firm mattress so that no-one accidentally sagged onto anyone else, and no distractions. It was also invaluable in terms of keeping me in touch with Toddler while we were seperated for the longest times we'd ever been so. I think that hurt me more than her. Her security and self-confidence far outweigh mine.