If it’s in your arsenal…

… is it ok to use the boobs as a comforter?

IMG_0097

Aifric woke up at 1am a couple of days ago and instead of the usual rigmarole of swaying her, rocking her, sitting on her chair, singing 10 green bottles, singing hello to the sun, singing 10 sizzling sausages, lying on the floor with my hand in the cot and ninja-ing my way out of the room only for her to notice I had disappeared and cry again, I just decided to stick her straight on the boob and she was back asleep in less time than a Ewan the Dream Sheep circuit (15 minutes FYI).

But for some reason, in my head, it’s not something I had wanted to do. If she wasn’t hungry then surely I should and I would be able to get her back to sleep another way. Even if that way took an hour and a half. EVEN IF after an hour and a half of the swaying and the rocking and the singing and the lying on the floor I’d just end up putting her back on the boob anyway and EVEN IF I know that always works, AT LEAST I HAD TRIED ANOTHER WAY.

Forget the fact we’d both be shattered the next day. And a little irritable. With matching bags under our eyes, that you could, if you kinda squinted a little, call ‘cute’.

I guess in my head I am worried that Aifric will get used to needing the boob to go back to sleep and that I’ll get used to it… it’ll be an ‘easy way out’. HA, AN EASY WAY OUT. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for in parenthood anyway?!

My other concern – linked to the above concern – is that the boob isn’t going to be around forever for Aifric. I have already cut a couple down and moved onto the bottle. One day… pretty soon… I’ll have them back. And then what? We really will need to find another way to comfort her and get her back to sleep.

I actually had a conversation about this with a woman I bumped into at the park on the weekend. She was in the same boat – her little boy not sleeping at all (I thanked all of my lucky stars that it is only once in a while with A) – and she said she does it too, it’s easier, and she needs to sleep and he needs to sleep so WHAT ARE YA GONNA DO? She actually used the phrase ‘don’t worry, you’re not alone’. Which has to be the most comforting phrase you’ll ever hear as a parent.

Simon is super chill about it – if we can use them, why not use them? The rational voice of a person who does not want to be up for two hours in the middle of the night. Who wants to be bright and breezy the next day. Who enjoys sleeping. And enjoys their baby sleeping.

So I am in this limbo-land. I am in two minds. As I mentioned – I did ‘crack’ the other day. And it did work. And we both did get back to sleep within 15 minutes. And I didn’t count the number of times I had pressed Ewan’s paw (do sheep have paws? Hoof. It’s a hoof. Typing out loud here. Hooooves) to try to work out how many lots of 15 minutes I had been in her room… willing and praying her to go back to sleep. And I didn’t have to ninja my way out of the room, pretending I have a black belt in karate (that’d be cool). And you know what? I have done it again since.

I suppose there is no ending to this blog piece… like many things in parenthood, I am not sure what is right. What did you do? What would you do? What are you doing? Do you bottle feed and do this with a bottle?

Comments on a postcard. Please and thank you.

*PHOTO: the little munchkin not sleeping – and there I am – me, not sleeping either, lying on the floor next to the cot, willing Aifric to sleep

Let me just take off my wrist splints…

… oh, talk dirty to me.

IMG_2293

Lots of things happened to my body when I had Aifric… but one thing I didn’t expect or prepare for was the possibility of getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome¬†(CTS) from holding and breastfeeding her.

It totally took me by surprise in January. In the same week that I discovered it would take me a lot longer to recover from our labour that I had initially thought, I started getting pins and needles in my thumb, index and middle fingers on both my hands with shooting pains in my forearms. I found it increasingly difficult to hold Aifric each day and feed her – sometimes my fingers were so numb that it felt like they were rubber. I was completely thrown… it was not our best week by any stretch of the imagination. There were a lot of tears. From me.

As I had been doing for the past 8 weeks of Aifric’s life, I turned to Dr Google for advice (I did also go to my GP, don’t worry)… and turns out there is actually not a huge amount of information about getting CTS from breastfeeding on the internet. I found this article which was helpful but apart from that, not a lot.

So I came up with various ways to cope with it and keep feeding Aifric myself. Some days are good, some days are more tricky. But I thought it might help others if I write down the things I have been doing to make life a little easier.

So for anyone else who is suffering from CTS since having a baby, and finding it hard to manage, here are the things I have done to try to navigate through it:

  • Wear wrist splints at night: when you are sleeping your wrists fall into unusual positions – I found the more I bent my wrists – and kept them bent – the worse the pins and needles, the numbness, and pain – so wearing these every night help keep my arms straight when sleeping and let my wrists rest. They are from Amazon, are great and cost ¬£8.99 each. I got medium. When you’re sleep deprived and miserable, you’ll throw money at anything that makes your life better and these are WELL WORTH it… plus compared to the price of everything else you pay for when you have a baby, these cost pennies
  • If you have a partner, ask them to do the first lift of the day: Simon picks Aifric up in the morning whilst I take off my splints and move my wrists to get them going again. Picking Aifric up first thing was hard initially and I was worried I was going to drop her, but this way it means I can feel confident that I will be able to hold her and also Simon gets the lovely first smiles of the day – and the first nappy!
  • Don’t worry if you are on your own solo-parenting: the times that Simon was away or had to go to work early (before the two of us got up) I just set my alarm 10 minutes or so before I knew Aifric was going to wake so that I could take the splints off and move my wrists. This is if you know when your baby is going to wake up… it’s a total lottery so the times that she woke before my alarm… well, she just had to lie there for a couple of minutes… much better that she’s a bit (!) grizzly than I try to pick her up when I could drop her. Going to the toilet is a good thing to do as you are away from your crying baby for a couple of minutes and warming up your arms!
  • Pile up the cushions! I use a load of cushions to breastfeed Aifric – then use this one from John Lewis on top of the cushions and Aifric on top – so she is literally elevated, lying across me and I don’t have to use my arms at all… she’s just lounging and feeding – like a Queen – it’s incredibly decadent
  • Bring a blanket with you when you go out: keep one in your baby bag so when you’re feeding out and about you can put that on your lap and pile it up with your coat/jumper and create your own makeshift cushions to continue the decadent feeding in public
  • Limit writing long messages on WhatsApp or iMessage: the more I used my thumbs to write messages, the more uncomfortable my hands and arms felt. If you have a computer, use web WhatsApp then you can use your fingers to type your long messages to your pals (when you get a spare moment to write all those long messages… I roll my eyes at this)
  • Use your fingers to scroll through Instagram and Facebook rather than your thumbs: same as point above – seems obvious but when you’re breastfeeding, I bet you’re on your phone…!
  • Manage the way you carry your baby: I used to carry Aifric around the place in one arm – using my hand as a seat… this exacerbated the whole thing. I loved carrying her like this as she could sit there watching the world and watching what we were doing but no, carry your baby in the most comfortable way that isn’t going to have your wrist bent for a long period of time

That’s what I have been doing so far… if you have any tips or can think of any other things that would help then comment below as I would be super keen to know them!

One final thing is that it will get better: it took about a week to two weeks for the initial pain to go and now it’s just tingly and sometimes achy so I am going to continue doing the things that make it easier, and continue trying to feed Aifric myself. It’s working for now, but if it gets too much then we’ll look into other options… happy mum, happy baby and all that.

xF

*PHOTO: my sexy wrist splints

Starbucks is SO basic…

… unless you’re a new mum juggling a wriggling baby, a breastfeeding apron, something to rest said baby on, nipple shields, your coffee, your phone, your buggy, your coat, your gloves, your headphones… everything you own… and then it’s bloody brilliant!

IMG_1515-2

Before I had Aifric, the quest for the perfect flat white was true and real. It was life. Some were too cold (they were never too hot). Some were weak. Some were too small. Some were just right. All were drunk at wobbly tables with wooden chairs in tiny little brunch places – where the avocado is ripe and smashed, the eggs are runny, the tap water has cucumber in it and the waiting staff have rolled up trousers (DUDE, it’s WINTER. In ENGLAND. Cover up your ankles, for the love of God).

Then along came Aifric. And things changed…

  • Experience number 1. These places don’t have changing tables. And the floor of the toilets are concrete (WTF?) so we had a little change on a concrete floor. There were screams. Ah-ha! I know what will calm this screaming, naked, pint-sized dictator. The hand-dryer! Bingo! Oh, it’s one of those hand-dryers that only work if you hold your hand directly underneath it. And it’s about half a foot away from where I’m changing Aifric. Cue the little dance of back and forth: change Aifric – she screams – stretch hand under hand-dryer – silence – continue to change Aifric – she screams – stretch hand under hand-dryer – silence… you get the picture.
  • Experience number 2.¬†Ordered a delicious flat white. Sat in the window seat. Holding Aifric. Wearing my Vans. The epitome of cool, chilled out Mum. Hipster-chic. But it was feeding time. The table was wobbly. It wasn’t a normal height (what is that about?!). There wasn’t enough space between the rickety chair and the table to place a baby. Aifric was getting restless. I was getting sweaty. The breast-feeding apron was choking me. The nipple shields were welded together for no other reason than sheer disobedience. Aifric started to cry. I couldn’t blame her. I felt like doing the same. We collectively somehow slightly nudged the table. Only slightly, but remember – it’s wobbly because it’s a COOL TABLE. The flat white spilt. MY FLAT WHITE. We were now in danger zone. God knows how we managed it but Aifric fed, my shoulders fell down about a metre and a lovely waitress mopped up my poor flat white.
  • Experience number 3. ‘Hi, what can I get you today?’ ‘Oh, hello – please could we just have plain sourdough bread with butter? More than happy to pay the full amount for all the extra shizzle you want to serve it with, but we’d just like sourdough with butter. Thanks so much’. Waiter with rolled up trousers and a woollen jumper (you keep your upper half warm but let your ankles go cold? What even is this?!) scuttles to kitchen. Returns. ‘I am really sorry but we can only serve the sourdough toasted’. Mouth. Drops. Open. Let me tell you – there is nothing to tip a new sleep-deprived Mum over the edge right into crazy town than refusing to serve her simple bread and butter. I think my exact sarcastic words were ‘oh wow, how interesting – you buy your Sourdough already toasted?’ As a new mum I thought I’d win in these situations. Turns out chefs are probably the only group in society who do not bow down to new mums. (I hasten to mention that before asking for sourdough we were refused a toasted muffin… it’s on the menu but will ONLY be served with all the other shizzle. Because it’s a COOL MUFFIN).
  • Experience number 4. Stools. High-stools. Backless high-stools. Stools you have to take a running leap at to get on, and then have to hold your breath, close your eyes and jump back down to Earth to get off. Ever tried to balance a breast-feeding baby on one of those stools? I needn’t go into any more detail on that one.
  • Experience number 5. Pram can only just fit in the door, make it to the counter, sit at the first table. If it’s free. If it’s not, move on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

So now we actively seek out Starbucks – we sniff out the Pike Place Roast like a Kardashian can sniff out a reality TV show opportunity. The green and white two-tailed mermaid is a beacon of hope – our Dame in shining armour.

It’s warm. It’s big. The tables are well spaced. They are sturdy. They are flat. They are straight. The chairs – well, there is a CHOICE. Armchair, normal chair, padded bench – with a BACK. The aisles are wide. There is a changing table. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, it’s welcoming. It’s always open.

And guess what… they serve a flat white.

xF

*PHOTO: Aifric being burped at a Starbucks… LOOK HOW HAPPY SHE IS

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑