Toby goes to the library

We’re lucky that our local library is only a 10 minute walk away (although I must confess I hadn’t been there until Toby was born). There is a great children’s area in the library and the first time I went they said ‘don’t worry, we don’t shush here!’. They also run a weekly Bookbug Baby Rhymetime session which is half an hour of songs with 5 minutes in the middle to look at a book. Bookbug is a scheme run by the Scottish Book Trust which includes sessions in libraries, a library challenge (Toby has already got his first sticker for taking out some books!) and free books for all children in Scotland. There are four Bookbug packs which are given out and Toby should be getting his first one soon.

I think the library sessions are a great idea – and evidently so do lots of other people as there was a waiting list to get in the group! We went to our second session today; I think Toby was probably the youngest baby out of the 15 or so that were there but they all really seemed to be enjoying themselves. We do quite a lot of different activities during the week with Toby but only because we are lucky enough to be able to pay for them, so it’s good that there is something available locally for babies (and mums and dads) which is completely free. Added to which getting kids interested in reading as early as possible can only be a good thing.

Toby might have been the youngest baby at the session this morning but he’s getting so big now. At the weekend I cleared out all the 0-3 month clothes and got out all his 3-6 month ones. Everything was a bit on the small side but also I was just getting a bit bored of the same clothes so now we’ve got a whole new wardrobe of clothes to choose from every morning! So here’s Toby today – looking particularly autumnal I think…

Toby goes to the library

A breast feeding story

I’d like to start with a little bit of history. I was breastfed as a baby. So was my brother. I always assumed if I ever had kids that I would breast feed my babies too. That said I’ve not always had a very good relationship with my breasts. When I was about 13 they sprung out of nowhere to be big, very quickly. This led to a lot of comments at school, mostly from boys but sometimes from the girls too. Around this time I started having issues with my weight too. I wasn’t really overweight but I thought I was and I thought if I lost weight then maybe my boobs would shrink too. Which eventually led to me, at the age of 17, on the verge of anorexia, weighing just over 8st with 32FF boobs. I looked ridiculous. I couldn’t find clothes to fit me properly and was very self-conscious.

So eventually I went to see my GP and just before my 19th birthday I had a breast reduction on the NHS. At the time it was explained to me that the surgeon would do his best to preserve the nerves and milk ducts but that it was possible I would never be able to breast feed. Although I took this risk seriously, I was 19 and kids were a long way in the future for me. For a while I was really happy – my boobs were reduced to a C cup and I felt normal (whatever that means!). But after 3 years of university I had put on quite a lot of weight and my boobs were already starting to grow back.

A breast feeding story

 

Anyway, fast forward 13 years and after a pre-wedding diet I was happy with my body. My boobs had settled at an acceptable (to me) 32F and for once I felt comfortable in my own skin. But after just 6 months of marriage we were thinking of starting a family. Two months later I was pregnant with our first baby and amongst all the other pregnancy worries and joys breast feeding was a the forefront of my mind. I didn’t know if I would be able to breast feed at all and no-one could tell me – it was simply a case of wait and see. I was determined though that if there was any possibility then I was going to try.

Toby was born in July after a swift and fairly easy labour. He was immediately given to me for skin to skin contact and I put him to my breast. He seemed to latch on quite well initially and certainly seemed to know what he was supposed to be doing. Toby was born at 1pm and we stayed in hospital until about 5pm the next day (my waters had broken two days earlier so he had to be monitored in case of infection). During that time I struggled to get Toby into a comfortable position for feeding. He was so small (6lb 10oz) and my boobs were so big that I just found it really tricky. He would latch on but then pop off again. Because there was so much boob in the way I couldn’t see if he was latched on properly.

A succession of well intentioned midwives tried to help us but every one told us something different; at times even contradicting each other. They suggested we stay in hospital another night to get breast feeding properly established but by this point we had had a couple of fairly successful feeds on our own and I just wanted to go home.

So we got home and I kept feeding Toby as best I could. Whenever he woke up I would feed him and he seemed to be doing OK. My nipples were in shreds however – I’d managed to get a blister on one which then scabbed over and every feed was agony. I sat around with no bra on and my nipples covered in Lansinoh ointment. But that didn’t matter – I was breast feeding my baby! Despite my surgery I was definitely producing something… The tricky part was that it was impossible to tell how much Toby was getting from me. There was a chance that although I was managing to produce some milk that I might not be producing enough.

So then the midwife came to visit on the first day at home and when she weighed Toby he had lost 10% of his birth weight. She wanted to see me feed and after some more manhandling (apparently the midwives aren’t supposed to touch you but several of them did – trying to get enough of my nipple and surrounding tissue into Toby’s mouth. One suggested getting my husband to do it as I didn’t have enough hands to hold Toby, keep my boob out of the way and get my nipple in his mouth!) he seemed to be feeding again. However, I was still finding that he wouldn’t stay latched on, or he would fall asleep after 5 minutes.

My memories of the first few days are a bit hazy but at some point shortly after we came home one of the midwives heard Toby crying, said ‘that’s a hungry baby’ and suggested that I top up the breast feeds with formula. Looking back I wish I had said no and we had just persevered with the breastfeeding but as a first time mum I just wanted what was best for my baby and I assumed the midwives knew what that was.

Around this time another one of the midwives visited and she said she thought I had small nipples and using nipple shields might help so we tried that and it did make things a bit easier. From when he was about 3 days old then I would feed Toby on both breasts and then between us, my husband and I would feed him formula from a syringe as I wanted to avoid using a bottle. We carried on with that for I think a week or so but it was so time consuming, every feed was taking an hour and a half and then Toby would want feeding again an hour later. So we carried on breast feeding but gave formula in a bottle as well.

That lasted until Toby was about 4 weeks old but at that point I was just so fed up. I was upset that I couldn’t provide enough milk for my baby. I knew it was good that he was getting some breast milk from me but I just couldn’t see how feeding the way we were was sustainable. I felt like I’d never be able to leave the house! So slowly I started reducing the amount I was breastfeeding, sometimes only giving Toby a bottle, sometimes still doing both until when he was just under 6 weeks old I stopped breastfeeding all together.

And now? Now every time I see a mum breastfeeding her baby I wish we had carried on. I wish I had resisted the midwife’s suggestion of topping up with formula and instead got an electric pump and done more to try and increase my own supply. I wish I had contacted one of the many helplines available and got some more support. Because I don’t feel like I did get a lot of support. I feel like because the midwives and health visitor knew about my surgery they almost wrote me off and just assumed that I wouldn’t have enough milk to feed my son.

The suggestion of the nipple shields really helped but why did it take almost a week and about 5 different health care professionals watching me struggle to feed my baby for someone to suggest them? A week or so after I stopped breastfeeding, and only because I did some research online and then went to the GP, Toby was diagnosed with silent reflux. That’s another story really but I do think it affected his early feeding and it wasn’t picked up by any of the midwives or the health visitor. Maybe with an earlier diagnosis we might have been able to work out a way to continue with breastfeeding.

In my more rational moments I know, in the circumstances, at the time, I did the best I could for my baby. I’m happy that I was able to feed him at all and that he got that vital colostrum and breastmilk in his first few weeks of life. And in the darker moments I feel like I failed him. That the only reason he isn’t still being breastfed now is because it was too inconvenient for me. But what’s done is done and there’s nothing I can do to change it. My boy is healthy and happy and for that I am grateful. And if I have another baby one day I’ll try again and hopefully next time I’ll manage to exclusively breastfeed for as long as my baby needs me to.

breast feeding a newborn baby

Here I am all set up for one of our long haul feeding sessions. It was during the hot summer hence the lack of clothes on both of us!

A baby in a digital age

A baby of a digital age
Tiny Toby

I first published this post on my other blog We Must Be Bold on 5th September. I know copying it over here is cheating a bit but it seemed relevant to what I’m starting with Toby Goes Bananas so I decided it was allowed! I haven’t edited the post at all, so here it is… 

…So, since last time I wrote our baby boy arrived in the world and unbelievably he is already 8 weeks old! In a way it’s flown by but equally it’s hard to remember what life was like before he turned up. He’s amazing and he makes me smile every day but they weren’t kidding when they said being a parent is hard. Looking after a newborn baby is singularly the hardest, most frustrating and stressful thing I have ever done. I think I have probably cried more in the last 8 weeks than I have in the last 8 years. I might have read a dozen parenting books, gone to all the antenatal classes and listened to advice from everyone who gave it but nothing prepared me for the sleep deprivation, the worry (What’s wrong with him? Am I doing it right? Why is breastfeeding so bloody painful?) and sheer amount of effort that a newborn baby needs. The health visitor said to me the other day ‘everyone loves their baby but it can take a while before you actually like them’ and I reckon she’s right. Apart from looking at his beautiful face and wondering how we managed to create this tiny, perfect human there is very little reward in looking after a new baby. You feed them, change them, hold them, sing to them, rock them, feed them and change them some more, and in the beginning the best you can hope for is a baby that isn’t crying! But already our little one is starting to smile, starting to really look at you when you’re talking to him or feeding him and it’s starting to feel like a real relationship. I can’t wait to see him continue to grow and develop and turn into a wonderful, walking, talking little boy.

Which sort of brings me to the point of this blog. Watching a baby grow and develop is amazing – I’m so proud of my little boy when he does something new, or just looks particularly cute, and I want a record of that. So I take pictures and I post them online with little updates about today’s progress. I do this for me and for my husband but also for our baby’s grandparents who all live over 300 miles away and don’t get to see him that often. And I admit it’s also just to show off a bit to all my friends – ‘look at this tiny human that we made, isn’t he amazing!’. But I’ve seen a few different people mention recently that there is perhaps something wrong with filling the Internet with photos and information about our children – are we robbing them of the option of privacy in the future? Someone tweeted a link to this article (http://goo.gl/xIE3rb ) and it did make me think a bit about what I’m doing when I post yet another photo online…but while our little one is still a baby I don’t think I’m really doing any harm. I don’t think I would be bothered if there were baby photos of me online – photos of my dodgy perm and massive glasses when I was 13 might be a different matter and by the time my son gets to that I’d age I’d like to think I’ll give him the final say about what, if anything, I post about him on the Internet. There’s no question that this issue is something we should consider in this new digital age – it certainly isn’t something our parents had to think about. But are we creating a massive problem for the future privacy of our children? I’m not sure…

An introduction

Let’s start at the very beginning…

Introduction…A very good place to start!

Right then. A brief introduction to me and my little family…

I’m Sarah and 15 weeks ago I had a little baby boy called Toby (that’s him up top, isn’t he adorable?). Since I found out I was pregnant I’ve been reading lots of baby related blogs and articles; I really enjoy reading other people’s stories, advice, opinions and reviews so I thought I would add my own experiences to the mix.

I’ve been blogging on and off for years now – in fact looking at my other blog (you can find it here if you’re interested) I wrote the first post on 15th February 2009! Back then, I was single, working at the Bank of Scotland, I’d just joined Twitter, got into stand-up comedy (watching rather than doing) and I was pretty obsessed with Tim Minchin. How much has changed in four and a half years!! In August of 2009 I went back to university to do a teacher training course. In May of 2010 I met the man who was going to become my husband. In August of that year I started work as a Modern Languages teacher. In April 2011 I got engaged, in August 2011 we bought a house together, a year after we got engaged we got married and then 6 months after that I was pregnant with our first baby. I think it’s fair to say there have been some pretty big changes in my life. And despite a  few bumps along the way, they’ve all been changes for the better. But that other blog is about my pre-baby life and I know a lot of people who read my posts there (if I ever get round to doing them) aren’t really interested in baby stuff. Hence the new blog.

So. What am I going to write about here? I’ve got some ideas for my first few posts – they’re going to include things I wish someone had told me before Toby was born, my breastfeeding story, coping with a reflux baby, cloth nappies and reusable wipes and a few reviews of things we’ve already got that are proving useful (or useless!)

I think that’s probably enough waffle for today though. Hopefully someone out there will read this and maybe even find it interesting or even helpful.

Ta ra for now though.