The Last Time I Fed You

Dear Zoe,

You may not know it right now, but last night was the last time I fed you milk. It breaks my heart into a million pieces to think that we will never be that close, physically, again. As I sit here, tears streaming down my face, I have so many things I want to tell you about our nursing journey together.

During the first hour after you were born, you were nuzzled up to my breast and sucking away. You knew exactly what you needed to do, I don’t know how, but this is the miracle of birth, it all just comes together. I remember the nurse came to check to see how you were nursing and she had to remind me to make sure that you were able to breathe through your nose, one thing I had neglected to notice. However, I sorted ourselves out and you were able to breath and feed at the same time.

I didn’t know what I was doing at the beginning, should I feed both sides, how long should you feed, how much milk should be there, should I pump and feed you from a bottle, should my breasts have grown triple the size over night, how am I supposed to hold you, which positions to use? There were so many things that I didn’t know and all you need to know is that I did my best to figure out our “routine” and our own way of becoming master experts at breastfeeding.

The first 6 months were pretty easy, whenever you cried I would feed you and you were happy. We had no routine, I didn’t feel that it was necessary to watch the clock, like I said when you cried I fed you, no matter where we were or what we were doing. It worked out well.

The 6 month mark came around quite quickly and it was time to start introducing solids, which is when I started to panic a little, thinking about how this will affect milk supply. And it did, but apparently that was normal, I just hadn’t read that far into my book to know what happens. I was so focused on making the right food, the right consistency, the right way to use a spoon and of course the right way to save your life if you started to choke that I didn’t think so much about milk supply.

At around 8 months, I felt my milk supply was dwindling and that’s when I decided to hibernate for 4 days to get the milk flowing again. We spent 4 days in bed feeding every 2 hours and eating so many magical formulas that by the end of the 4 days I was bursting again. We did it together, without you I couldn’t have done it, and you were oh so patient with me as I made you drink and drink.

We spent the next few months continuing this back and forth from solids to milk and it worked out great. You got bigger and stronger and started to crawl and walk and before I knew it was your first birthday. Such a milestone, we made it one year together and that was always my goal and after one year I would stop feeding you and you would be free to go. However, I wasn’t ready and to be honest, neither were you. You would often come to me for some milk, so we continued.

In the last month, I have questioned myself about whether it was really necessary to keep feeding you your morning and night-time feeds. One part of me would think, “Why not, it’s so great for her immune system and if you have the milk and she still wants it just keep going”. Then there was the selfish part of me that was saying, “Just stop and let yourself be free. You can get your life and body back after two years with this baby”. And last night I decided it was the perfect time and the right time.

Weird to say the right time, as you had been fighting a virus for the past 2 days but listen to me, it was the perfect time. Unfortunately, you had missed your afternoon nap, due to our doctors appointment and I was trying to keep you awake as long as possible so that you could go to sleep around 6. But 5 pm hit and you didn’t want to wait any longer.

You stood by my legs, lifted your arms to me and whimpered so I would know you were hungry. I lifted you and tucked you under my right arm, lifted my shirt and off you suckled. I sat and watched you, looking at your perfect face and shiny hair, marvelling at the thought that I had made you. You were a part of me and I am a part of you. I also looked at how big you had grown and that you are no longer a helpless little baby anymore, and that soon you won’t need me for this. I quickly pushed this thought out of my head, because, you see, I didn’t want to accept that there will be a day that you won’t be lying in my arms and you won’t need me for milk.

I switched you to the left side. Again, I couldn’t stop looking at you. Your eyes were closed and I knew, that very soon, you were going to fall asleep in my arms. You kept nodding off and then coming back for more and eventually you were gone. You had stopped sucking but had stayed in that position. As I started adjust myself, your little mouth parted and instead of me you grabbed your thumb and in it went. We stayed like that for a little while. It was the most peaceful feeling I have ever experienced, your body curled up next to me, your cheeks were rosy red, like a painted doll, and your skin slightly glowing from the effort of feeding and from the warmth our bodies generated off each other. It was at that moment that I said that was the last time. I wanted that to be the moment I remembered from this experience. I didn’t want to give us a deadline, having an off switch would just stress me out. But this moment, at exactly 15 months old was going to be the last time I nurse you.

Now, I feel this great big shift, like the world moved a little. I feel a sense of grief, which is probably why I don’t feel great today, suffering from an achy body and temperature. It is an emptiness I am going to have to fill and with your help we are going to find new ways to bond and be together.

Just always remember that you can jump into my arms whenever you wish. Don’t think I gave up on you by stopping, see it as a new beginning to becoming a bigger and stronger person. You are the funniest, strongest most beautiful little person out there and I am so proud of you for growing up so wonderfully. You have mastered independence by going to kindergarten without a fuss. You cried for the first 10 minutes of the first day and that was it. You go to kindergarten with the biggest heart and with so much passion and love for everyone. When your teachers tell me about your day and what you did, I just explode with pride. When you cheer me on during our running or cycling trainings, my heart skips a beat, because you support me as much as we support you.

From this day on, we will both find other ways to love and cherish one another. It will give us more time to hug and kiss and tell each other how much we love each other. We can spend more time talking and more time dressing up and more time watching Spongebob Squarepants. Time hasn’t stopped and it will only get faster, however, we can enjoy more things together this way. I did it for you, like I always have and always will.

I love you, baby girl.

Mummy xxx

 

 

I am a Chameleon

I’ve been wanting to write a post about how my lifestyle has changed for awhile now. And, Boy, has it changed. I used to be the girl who would sit for hours watching back-to-back episodes of Greys Anatomy or Sex and the City. Now, I’m the mum who can never sit for hours on end.

I’ve grown from the sloth who couldn’t quite manage to get out of her university years. And at 29, I can safely say time has picked up its pace. It’s not just the fast pace of life, which has changed, it is my whole outlook on life which has changed too.

13532887_659719025993_2620072596953643211_nI’m no longer the pizza munching popcorn chomping girl. I am the woman who cooks homemade food and eats fresh fruits and vegetables on an hourly basis. I love finding new recipes, mostly vegan, due to allergies. My kitchen has become a science lab of new potions and concoctions. With a spoon, I will follow around the members of this household and very nicely force feed them my new super food.

I am the mum who enjoys spending hours on end strolling through the aisles of the supermarket looking for the dairy-free and bio food to shove down my 1 year olds throat. I enjoy the moment of choosing what we eat and finding new produce. Some days this is the only adult interaction I get, so I take my sweet time.

12400676_641950090083_3176748420707701773_nI am the wife who gets upset when her husband leaves his socks on the floor. I have stock piles of laundry to do and washing up to finish. I make sure everyone is clean and tidy and ready on time and of course pay all the bills on time.

On top of all these new changes, which have happened over the last year, I have added one more thing to my list of names. I’ve become a triathlete, yes, you heard me, I’m calling myself a triathlete. Nothing professional but as it becomes more and more a part of my life I have come to the conclusion that I am officially a triathlete. Just because, becoming a grown-14331078_666955768503_1951645111_n.jpgup, Mother and wife were not enough for me.

 

This hasn’t been easy and started off as a bit of a joke thinking that I would train for one race, dust my hands and say “Ok,  I did that”. However, as the months passed on I became more dedicated and saw so many more positive changes in myself and with my body. I have found true friends  and like minded people. I have seen my marriage and my relationship with my daughter blossom with all the support we all give each other through this sport. I will save all those wonderful details for another post or 2.

And, with all these new labels I can call myself (I’m seriously a multitasking chameleon)
I have become a stronger and more independent woman. I have gone through so many changes, physical and mental, and have evolved into a person whom I love and respect and didn’t appreciate enough until now. I’m still the little blonde girl, loving makeup and doing my hair and having strong opinions, I’m just a much better version of myself with even more to give this world and more importantly to give my family.

 

My Life: RAW

I have thought long and hard about whether I should write this post or not and it has boiled down to the point where I cannot hide back my feelings. A lot of people have a preconceived  notion of me as a person. They look at me from the outside but don’t see the facts, they see what they want to see. So with that said I wanted to share a little aspect of my world with you and for those who are interested can get a better picture of what is happening underneath and behind the scenes.

I think it’s no secret that I exercise, it’s your opinion if you think it’s too much or not enough, but yes, everyday there is some form of exercise or workout that I do. Before I got pregnant I liked to run. I partook in half marathon races and had future goals to run a full marathon and of course, I was deciding on my first triathlon race. But low and behold, Baby Zoe wanted to join this world earlier than expected and I put those goals and dreams on hold. The pause button was pushed and I tried my best to have an active and healthy pregnancy. There were a few slips and mistakes along the way and there are many changes I will make to that lifestyle when I am pregnant again but, on the whole, I was fit and healthy.

When I was given the OK to start running again, off I trotted, like a little Bambi stumbling over her first few steps but soon found her feet. It was tough to get back my strength and motivate myself to put on my trainers and run. It wasn’t pretty either with all my postpartum issues, which cannot be told on here, but I did it and I loved it. I loved to watch my mileage go up and see how much I could achieve. I loved this new challenge in my life.

Then the serious talks started happening around December when I was thinking whether I should start my training for my first triathlon. How could we make this work with our family? Do we have time? What will Zoe think? These are just some of the questions we had and we decided that a running pushchair was a good start. This was the best present I have ever been given, seriously, that day we realised I loved to run (but in a weird kind of euphoric love way) and, of course, Zoe was more than happy to bounce around in there. Then we found a way for me to go to the swim trainings and eventually I found a way to incorporate some kind of cycling training into the mix. Zoe participates in all these activities with me.

OK, so that is the basics, and then here come the negative comments, even if not meant in a negative way, but negative nonetheless. What does Zoe do when I’m doing all these things and does she enjoy it? She is with me and, of course, with the other people I do these things with. She sits in her pushchair and either sleeps (I have found a schedule of when she likes to sleep) or she sits there and we chit chat together and watch the cars and birds. We sometimes run with other mums and their babies and strollers and we chit chat with each others babies and children and now the weather is good we stop and go to the playground for 15 mins after or in the middle of our runs.

During the swimming she gets to spend some time with her Daddy in her carrier whilst her Daddy is coaching the team, me included. She loves this the most. This is a special bonding time for those two. They get to spend time together and talk to each other and I love to watch them be together. She also loves all the grandmas and grandpas, who go swimming at 6am too, as they give her lots of attention and lots of love and sometimes presents. When we cannot make the trainings they always ask her Daddy where she is and to send love and kisses to her, especially when she was sick. I even take her swimming after my sessions and give her a chance to spend some time in the water and get her comfortable swimming and also to give her some exercise too. And, oh boy, is she going to be a swimmer, she loves it.

And spinning, which I think is the hardest thing for people to believe we do, she is with me on my back in her carrier. We sit their together and sing and dance during the class. There is a playpen at the front of the room and before class a lot of the babies, Zoe included, will play whilst the mummys set up or they chit chat amongst themselves. Then to spin we go.

You see, Zoe is there, she loves it and I always make a point to do something for her in return. She never gets left out or neglected by what I do. I believe all these things and all the people we are around everyday has made her very comfortable with people, she is very social and is not afraid of new people. I don’t leave her behind and find someone to look after my baby, she comes everywhere with me. During races can be a bit of a challenge but so far it has worked and I have found that teammates and friends are more than willing to help us and watch her during that one hour or 90 mins whilst I do my thing. And I could not be more grateful and thankful for them for that. Those team members are the most supportive and generous people I have come across and really are great people.

My appearance, my weight, mainly, seem to be a hot topic for most people to discuss. Yes, I am thin and yes, I am underweight and yes, I eat and yes, I eat more than you and yes, I always think about food and yes, there is nothing I can do about it. And here is the big shocker that most people cannot seem to get their heads around is that YES I still breastfeed my daughter, and yes, I still produce enough milk for her.

In this household, we have a few dairy issues and something we battle with everyday. We battle with what we can eat, where we can eat, how expensive alternatives and dairy free products are, with making mistakes and suffering the consequences from vomitting to diarrhea to skin rashes and breathing issues.

I won’t say its all bad, we have become a lot healthier for these problems, as we have found ways to eat differently and add more fruit and vegetables into our diet. I, for one, cook much more and am starting to love it and experiment. We eat a variety of different foods now and are more willing to try new and more exotic things and find there are different ways to eat.

My skin is 100 times better than it used to be. I have endured very expensive rounds of laser treatment for my acne, I was on a very powerful and potentially dangerous medication, Roaccutane, with no change. As soon as dairy was taken out of my diet, due to Zoe’s allergy, I found my skin cleared up, I don’t even use makeup anymore to cover up my skin. I also feel my skin glows despite the blue bags under my eyes. This was a huge surprise and something I have researched so much about and finally studies are coming to the conclusion that there is a link between dairy and acne and, of course, bloated stomach and dairy intolerances, which I have also seen a positive difference in too.

We have decided to go for tests, all three of us, to see which types of intolerances and allergies (its slightly complicated) we have, and if we come back positive we are eligable for a form of benefits from the government. But even if I come back negative, the positives I get from being dairy free is too great to give up on and so when I finish breastfeeding I will continue to be dairy free.

What is happening to my body is out of my control, at the moment. Breastfeeding takes up a lot of energy and needs a lot more calories than most people are aware of. It takes time and energy to plan days and plan meals. I can imagine that people look at me and think, oh I should follow her diet and her exercise routine because I want to lose weight. Or people look at me and think, oh she doesn’t eat enough and works out too much because she is too skinny. Or people look at me and think, oh she only cares about being skinny than looking after her baby.

If you are one those people you should remember that this is out of my control and not something I am deliberately doing to my body. Like I said I eat more than you and am always planning our meals and am always shopping. I also don’t train when I am too weak because there are days when I am too weak or tired and I don’t train if when it’s raining and I will always put my baby first. You see, I didn’t stop feeding my baby because I couldn’t eat cheese or drink milk, I found a way to give up those things for the sake of my baby and during that process I found how much better I am for it.

I train for triathlons because I truly love it and love the challenge, not to lose weight or to be this thin. I do it because I love the people I am doing it with, I love the atmosphere and I love the adrenalin. I also do it because I believe I am stronger and healthier than I was before and this can only be a positive because I am a stronger, healthier and HAPPIER mother to my daughter.

 

 

I Hide at Night.

Yes, I hide from my baby at night. It started off slow and now I have taken it to the extreme. Let me give you a bit of a description of my tiny house and our night time battle. First off, our apartment is small, I’m talking 36m2 small. That’s a kitchen/living room, a bedroom and a bathroom. It’s been big enough until now, which is why we have sold my little bachorlorette pad and upgrading ourselves to a big grown up apartment.

I’m sure that the majority of new mums out there have their newborn baby sleep right next to them in their crib or even, like me for the first 6 weeks, actually in bed with them. Naughty of me, I know, but I don’t care, it worked really well for us. After 6 weeks, Zoe was put into her cot and she slept there, all night, no feedings what so ever, until exactly 8 months old. And then she started to wake up for feedings and general fussiness. Those teeth are killers and everyones worst nightmare.

When she started to wake up, I didn’t think I would have a problem with waking in the night and feeding her. I felt fresh and energetic, due to the fact, that I had been sleeping great for the last 7 months. However, that all changed after a few weeks of constantly waking up to a teething baby and battling with the idea that the only reason she was waking up was because it had become routine.

I started to notice that when she woke up, she wasn’t crying so much, she was merely making these annoying, pathetic groans and moans and I would just wait and see if she would fall asleep on her own but once Daddy or I moved she would just get louder and louder and scream the house down. I would always say to myself, just wait it out and she will go back to sleep. But once she knew we were awake there was no stopping those cries. I knew the one thing that would help all of us was to feed her. So, once I had found the energy to drag my fatigued body off the bed I would feed her and peace would be restored in our house for the next 3 hours.

I soon realised that this was not working for us. She had got used to this and we were suffering. So, we would discuss every night, that neither one of us would move when she wakes up, we were to play dead. And actually it worked to a point. But it is so hard not to move in bed once you wake up. There’s this need to move and more often than not I would have a dead arm or leg that I would need to shake to get the blood flowing again, or the groans and moans would just continue until eventually we caved.

My hiding started in the middle of this “game”. I would take my phone and hide under the covers. Anything to distract me from those strange noises coming out of my sweet little girl. I couldn’t just lie there in the dead of night listening and have my ears would bang and ring until she stopped. But don’t be fooled by Zoe’s sugary innocent smile, she is smart and soon caught on and knew I was there listening so she would get ever so loud and even violent by shaking the bars on the cot.

For Daddy, he often hid and said he needed to have a good nights sleep and would sleep on the couch some nights. He never looked refreshed and recharged in the morning, which is why I never joined him. However, this Sunday, we were watching a movie in the living room, and it was the perfect time for a movie night, you know what I mean, pillows, duvets and tea in bed. So, I brought all the bed linen into the lounge and we set up camp and eventually we fell asleep there. This was the first time in about 10 weeks that I actually slept 7 straight hours.

When the alarm sounded in the morning I was genuinely in a shock of disblief. I jumped off the couch and just could not work out where I was, what was I doing and whether it was me going to work or who knows. But no, we had actually slept through the night and not heard a sound. Thats’s not to say the baby didn’t wake in the night but did prove my theory that she was not waking due to hunger but for comfort. I felt so good on Monday morning that it didn’t bother me it was 4:50am and we were getting up to get ready for swimming at 6am.

Sadly, after much thinking done over of the matter, I realised I had been running on an empty tank for a few too many weeks and needed this time to fuel up. After 2 straight nights (yes we slept on the couch again last night) I don’t know how I survived those sleepless and restless nights and continued on with life. And I can see now those days were far from perfect and my stress and energy levels were at boiling point. And even though I am now officially hiding from my baby girl at night, I am doing it with the best intentions of being a better Mummy to her.