What he’s teaching me…

My little peanut is almost eight months old. I can’t believe it! He’s nearly been out in the world for longer than he was inside me growing. At times these eight months have seemed like a life sentence (sorry Jenson, but it’s true!) with sleep deprivation, inexplicable crying and endless rounds of nursery rhymes and distraction techniques to soothe him. But at times I look back and think “how can he already be two thirds of his way through his first year?!”.

One thing is for sure – he’s my biggest teacher. One I didn’t know I needed and couldn’t have planned for when he made his appearance known to me.

I was lying in bed yesterday morning, looking at my sweet boy as he slept next to me and I thought of all the things he’s teaching me…and here are the three things that spring to mind most keenly.

Patience

Oh I’ve had to be patient so often with my little one in these first eight months. When he’s up at 5:30 on most days and I want to shout to the heavens “why will my baby not sleep past daybreak?!?”. When he’s crying and I can do nothing to settle him. When I’m feeling a bit under the weather but have to bring it for him. When I cook a lovely meal for him only to have it rejected. When he wanted to be held in my arms to sleep for the first six months of his life.

Patience, he’s teaching me to have a bucketful of patience.

I’m sure there will come a day when I snap at him, yell with frustration and scream to who-knows-what about what a difficult life it is to be a parent, but for now I feel like my little guy is teaching me slowly what it means to have patience. The importance of taking a deep breath, the ability to look at the bright side of things I’m finding challenging (never have my days been so long with the early starts!), the joy of having him which makes up for all the inconveniences of parenthood.

He’s teaching me to go with the flow and let go of every notion of control I had before.

Presence

I’ve always been a planner. I’m first in line (or maybe a high second place) to plan my sister’s wedding when she meets Mr Right. I know where I’d like to be in 3 years time. I’m always looking ahead.

Too much sometimes.

And I quickly discovered that my little boy is the medicinal tonic to my future focus. He calls me to stay firmly in the present with him. Especially when I’m on my phone – how he hates it when I’m glued to the screen!

He drags me firmly into the land of now as we explore the world around us. Time speeds past as we examine our reflections in a doorknob, splash around in the bath, laugh at games we play together. When we’re together, there’s no thoughts of work or relationships or anything other than being with him.

And it’s beautiful.

Sometimes it’s frustrating too (see above for the patience he’s building in me!) as I want to gallop away to plan future stuff. But for the most part, being called to be present with him is a reprieve from how I’ve learnt to (dis)function and it’s brought so much peace to my life.

Some people pay hundreds of pounds on a retreat and in yoga or meditation classes to learn how to stay present…but I’m learning it from my baby who seems to be a natural, my own little mindfulness guru.

A different path

Becoming a mum has shown me what is truly important in life – my family, having a job that stretches me, being able to travel and explore this world. But it has also thrown so much up in the air for me as I question how I can contribute more, how I can leave this world in a better state for my boy and those who are growing up with him.

I can’t just go to work and return to be with him. It’s not my path to just do my job and return home to pour everything into my son. I feel the call to contribute more.

The weight of responsibility of being his mum has made me discover the responsibility of being a citizen of the world and has started me questioning what this means to me. Whether it’s playing a part in reforming local government and politics, the medical system, the environment or the education system, I feel something developing. A path just out of sight beyond my vision that I know I’m going to tread at some point in the future.

He has shifted my priorities and shown me a new path I never thought possible.


So here’s to my boy as he’s on the cusp of eight months old. I can’t imagine my life without him.

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Six months

I’ve been a parent for six months…bloody hell! How did that happen and how did this time pass both at a snails pace and in the blink of an eye?!

From a sleeping, crying, mewling little baby to a little being looking more and more like a toddler with each passing day. It’s incredible to see how much he has changed and how much I’ve changed during this time.

He now stands (sometimes unaided when he’s holding onto something), sits with such core strength, grabs anything in his reach, beams for us, strangers and for the camera…and yet some things don’t change. He’s still as determined as ever to sleep curled next to me, to feed or be rocked to sleep.

And he’s still as spirited as the very first day when he screamed the hospital down. The loudest, most determined baby on the block.

What about me? My changes are less perceptible, more internal but life changing nevertheless. My ability to be patient has increased, I now know I am stronger than I could have ever believed (from pushing his 4 kilo heft out of me to surviving on little sleep and getting twice done what I would have before), I have less tolerance for bullshit and for getting involved in those silly games that people play in life (psychological ones, not things like buckaroo or uno 😜).

And I feel a new steeliness inside me. If I’m going to leave my little person in someone else’s care, it better be for a job I am passionate about – something that lights me up. Otherwise why would I leave my little one?

And my decisions have more weight than before. Staying binge free and dealing with what’s going on underneath the surface is not just for my own good but for him too. So he doesn’t take on the practices that have been so harmful to me in the past. Sure, he’ll have his own struggles, but as much as I’m able to, they won’t be passed on from me.

And I’ve found joy in the small things. Seeing him smile, making him laugh by singing silly songs, watching Gregg being a better father than I could have ever dreamt him becoming, seeing the love of our families for Jenson.

I’ve also learnt to reach out and ask for help, to maintain boundaries and say no. To ask for what I really want instead of just wishing people could read my mind.

All in six short months.

And I find myself asking what the next six months will bring for both myself and my little half-Birthday boy. Adding in work to the mix for me, him spending most of the time with his father who will be on shared parental leave…

What I do know is that it will go by in the blink of an eye and that I will share what is happening with you, dear friend.

Just one day

I promised myself that I would be honest on this website and so I’m going to write something that most parents will think (and many will say to their friends) but is not something I feel very comfortable sharing and putting out there on the Internet. But here we go…

I wish I could not be a parent for a day. No, that’s wrong. I wish someone would take care of Jenson and I could let go of all the responsibility of being a parent for just one day.

This wish comes from having spent 4+ hours on a coach ride with him from Da Lat to Nha Trang and, arriving at a paradise-like beach with plenty of bars and sun loungers but having my little man to jiggle around and keep happy. It also comes after a few days of him being extra clingy to me – perhaps due to a wonder week development (a wonder week is scientifically verified a period of time where a baby is leaping forward in their development – check it out!) or perhaps due to the upheaval of travelling that I’ve put him through. If Jenson isn’t attached to my breast, he’s been keen to be on me for most of the day and when he has been distracted by someone else and then sees me, he starts crying. Reminded that he wants to be with me.

I love my little baby to pieces. So much so that I feel I’m going to squish him to death sometimes with all the cuddles and kisses I give him. And I don’t regret choosing to have him one bit. As I sing to him, he is my sunshine, my greatest sunshine. But I sometimes miss being just a team of two with my husband. I miss having uninterrupted lie-ins, going for late night drinks with friends, being able to read a book on a journey, spending my time with no one to answer to but myself.

I wouldn’t change being a mother to Jenson for anything in the world. I know there will be a time where I can leave him with family or a babysitter. Heck, I know there will be a time where I’ll wish for him to want to spend time with me.

But just in this moment I wish I could pause time and have a bit of a break. And that’s ok.

We’re off!

So here we are at Gatwick airport, just over an hour away from taking off on our family adventure in Asia.

Over 33 days we’ll explore and travel through Cambodia and Vietnam and I’m feeling a mixture of joy, exhaustion (I’ve been up since 4am with a certain someone!) and nerves at how this will all go.

Because this is new and scary to me in so many ways:

  • Taking a long-haul 17 hour flight with a baby
  • Caring for Jenson in the heat and humidity
  • Having time in Vietnam where we’ve got no firm plans (so we can go with the flow and plan a few days in advance instead of being stuck with plans if they don’t suit Jenson)
  • Travelling with my husband for over a month and being out of our comfort zones together
  • Having to barter when I don’t have much patience in me or fight to stand up for a fair price (at least not when I’ve been awake since 4am!)
  • Being out of a routine and far away from friends and family

And yet it’s also right for us as a family:

  • Starting our family as we mean to go on – full of adventures
  • Reconnecting with Gregg when so much of motherhood has involved a laser focus on Jenson and not much else
  • Learning and growing and exploring a part of the world that I have not yet seen
  • Making the most of our shared parental leave – a rare time when we can both be off work and still have money coming in
  • Exposing Jenson to difference at an early age
  • Learning to live with less – we’ve just taken one travel rucksack with us that weighs less than 18kg
  • Coming back with so many memories to treasure for a lifetime

And so into this adventure I leap.

Hesitant, full of anticipation but sure that this is the right step for me and my family

Perfectly proportioned

I’ve written a lot on this blog about breastfeeding, specifically my troubles producing enough milk and worrying about my baby boy’s weight which started off in the top 25% of baby weights but then sunk quickly to the bottom 9%.

I’ve spent hours expressing milk to top up what he’s getting, taken so many supplements and medication, researched at all hours how to increase my milk fat or general supply.

But no matter what I did, he stuck in the bottom 9%.

I worried that it was me – had I not eaten enough at the start to get my supply going? Were the TV shows I watched too stressful and curbed my supply? Was there something wrong with my diet? Was I to blame?

And then I got angry. At the messages that I heard about needing to breastfeed or failing as a mum. At the high standards I hold which means that if I can’t do something 100%, I view myself as failing. At my body that was not doing what it should be.

And then a few things happened –

1. I went to see a paediatric doctor, who explained that a baby’s birth weight is linked to how efficient the mother is at growing the baby and after the birth, it’s down to ow good the baby is at putting on weight/finding their natural weight.

2. I came away on such a wonderful holiday with close friends and I relaxed. Whether it’s the hearty meals or the wonderful company but I seem to be producing enough milk, more than I’ve done in ages.

3. A break away from routine and the generously helpful hands has given me a bit of space and perspective about Jenson’s weight.

My son is beautifully chubby, with little sausage links and dimples on his arms, a cute round bottom and little double chin.

He’s also petite – he’s not as broad as his little best friend – but he’s perfectly proportioned.

And over the past four months he’s kept on the 9% track. Whether he’s been fed more or less, whether I’ve expressed more or not. He’s doing his thing, growing at his pace.

And so I’m going to remind myself of this if I get home and start to worry again about how he’s doing.

He’s doing fine. He’s doing his thing. We both are doing enough.

Travels with a baby

Many people said “you’re brave!” when I mentioned that I would be travelling in Asia with my husband and my 5 month old baby. Underneath was the fear or disbelief that being in a hot country, far away from the UK and without a normal routine would be anything other than hell.

But I’m sat outside in the sun in Morocco after a blissful 5 days with close friends of ours and, after this time away, I can’t look forward to our month of travels more than I am right now.

The plane

When we were invited to Morocco, I knew that the plane journey would be a great test for the longer one to come. What extra supplies would we need? Would it be hell on Earth?

It was actually really pleasant!

After Jenson having all the bright lights and visual stimulus of the departure lounge – so much to see and experience – he was pretty pooped and ready to sleep for much of the trip. During the 3-4 hours of the flight, he spent half of it snoozing or feeding and the rest being entertained between Gregg and myself.

What we need

We’ve not needed much during our time here. A few toys and books to read him (I only brought one book and think I need some more or I’ll go mad repeating the same book over and over!), a few sets of clothes, basic wash stuff, teething meds and nappy supplies. That’s it. So we’ll scale back and travel light.

Pace

We’re staying with some of the warmest and most laidback people here in Morocco. They’ve been so kind and happy for days to be spent going at a pace that is right for Jenson and his little baby friend. We’ve been out but we’ve also just spent time enjoying the different surroundings and eating the yummiest of foods.

It’s been a lovely, relaxing time with our friends too. As both of us couples have little ones, we’ve been happy to sit around chatting, understanding if the little ones just need a bit of down time and helpful with each other.

It’s made us realise that our trip abroad isn’t going to be the site-filled, jam-packed trip that we may have done in the past. It’ll be taken at a slower pace – an afternoon lounging around a pool or playing games with Jenson, a bit of sightseeing if we want to with Jenson happy in his papoose, time strolling around at a slow pace in the heat.

It won’t be like before, but it’ll be perfect for what we need.

People

Being around such a warm and caring family who have showered Jenson with cuddles, kisses and endless games has made me realise what a social butterfly my son is.

He’s happiest when he’s surrounded by different people. He needs people to be at his best.

And I realise that I’ve picked that up as his mum, spending the past 4 months walking around Brighton to see people and taking him to many groups where he can interact with other babies and adults. It’s nice to know that I’ve intuitively done what he has needed.

So I see just how much he’ll love being in Vietnam and Cambodia where children are cherished so very much. He’ll love being around so many people, in the midst of such hustle and bustle.

I can’t wait!

Four months in

I’m sat here in the dead of night (my greatest blogging time since the arrival of my son!) thinking about parenthood. The four month sleep regression has hit my household with force, coupled with potential teething, and things are pretty tough.

Not a ‘I can’t cope’ tough but a ‘this is really unpleasant’ tough. I’m tired, it sucks being up in the night so much and am feeling slightly buffeted around from the tremendous highs of love that I feel for this little guy and the deep lows of feeling stretched beyond my means and super crabby from lack of sleep.

And here are some of my mid-night thoughts about it all…sorry if it comes across as ranty, but here it is!

You do what you can do

I spend a lot of time walking around with Jenson as that’s when he seems the happiest. Able to stare at the world and take it all in, he’s pretty content this way. I think that I’m setting myself up for years of having to be constantly on the go and already feel the pavement pounding in my knees. But as a good friend recently joked, he’s not going to be 16 and still need to be walked to sleep. You do what you can do to get through the current situation and that’s ok.

Parenting books are bullshit

Well, not all of them. I’ve read a lovely one that’s called ‘the kind sleeping book’ and is really helpful in thinking about sleep in general. But the ones I read before are irrelevant and unhelpful. They peg babies into generalised groups and is about as helpful as sweeping statements like “all men are bad at X” or “all HR professionals are ‘people’ people”. Nope, babies are individual and you need to treat them as such.

Intuition is key

How I parent is as individual as how I decide to dress or what beliefs I hold. As much as all babies are different, all parents are different. So there’s no manual that can tell you what to do. You just have to use your intuition.

For example, you’ll know if you read my blog about how Jenson has struggled to put on weight. He’s in the 9th percentile (9th lowest weight grouping based on all baby weight) but is as bright as a button, feeds lots and isn’t overly sleepy or lacking in energy. I’ve been worried by his weight but I know in my gut that he’s well. I know that he’s very vocal and if he was hungry would be constantly crying as he did at the start when he had a tongue tie and couldn’t feed enough.

So I’m learning that I need to trust my intuition because there’s so much in the world, so much contradictory information, that could cause me to worry if I don’t trust myself and follow my gut.

Sleep when you can

I can’t really sleep in the day because Jenson usually naps while I’m I’m on the go, walking somewhere around town. But with sleep becoming rarer and rarer in my life I’ve started to go to bed earlier. And when my bedtime creeps to 10:30 or later I invariably regret my decision to watch one more episode of whatever it is I’m devouring.

To get through the next few months, especially the return to work with a baby who is still co-sleeping, I’ll need to put my sleep first. Even if that means I do little other than just be.

Opinions aren’t facts

A friend of mine, as I was telling her about not feeling able to be physically affectionate to Gregg as much as I used to be, indicated that I should be putting more effort in with him.

And I should.

But I didn’t need to hear those words from her or feel judged during a really trying period of life. As my good friend Charlie said to me yesterday, it’s still so early on, I am allowed to feel ‘touched out’ after a day of carrying, cuddling and holding Jenson close to me in a sling.

This time will pass and we’ll get back to where we were in time. Yes, I should make more effort with Gregg, but I know he understands the pressure I’m feeling and it’s ok if I can’t be the perfect wife at this time in my life.

Selfishness is ok

I’ve dragged myself out of the house sometimes when I’ve felt I would have preferred a day snuggled up or when Jenson was napping. And when I’ve been around friends and family who have taken Jenson off my hands for a bit, I’ve been on edge, hoping they’re ok and coping with my little diva prince.

I also probably let people visit far too soon when Jenson was born. Time when I was trying to get my balance as a new mum and was still feeling vulnerable and unsteady and needed to just cocoon.

During these first few months, my one regret is that I haven’t been selfish enough. I haven’t said ‘no’ enough or put my needs and those of Jenson first.

It’s strange got me to think “I wish I had been more selfish” but is also really telling of how hard it is to be a new mum.

Even at 2am, one smile from Jenson makes the world right

Being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The simplest thing – play, feed, burp, change a nappy, sing to, kiss and cuddle, sleep, repeat – but also the hardest.

It’s all made worthwhile though when I see his cheeky grin at 5am, when I hear him coo or take a new step in the world.

I’m head over heels for him and no sleeplessness or challenging times can take that away from me.

Love is…

As I’m lying here awake next to my sleeping son, Jenson, curled around him at the most awkward angle so he can sleep soundly I’ve been thinking about love.

Pre-Jenson, loves was so simple. Well, not simple, but less complicated, less selfless, less of a daily choice. With hours of free time at my disposal and having so much more sleep, it was also more resourced. My capacity to give and show my love to others was greater. But things are different now and my love for others and myself looks different.

When I started to write about my new relationship with love, listing the attributes it holds, I noticed that it started out sounding like part of the bible that I remember from my childhood:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I suppose this is describing a perfect love. One which, being an imperfect human, I do not reach. Because I can be so easily angered these days and my patience is quite often threadbare-thin when I’ve been up since 4am with a wide-awake baby.

But it does describe the love I call upon as a parent more than the love I needed before. I have more patience, I let go of the times Jenson screams for no apparent reason, I keep on going with rocking him and singing to him even when he keeps crying, I beam at him when he wakes me up at 4:30am, I put him first.

But what about my love for Gregg, my husband? With this all encompassing motherly love, I’ve felt my love for him and for other people be squeezed out. Not enough love left to give when it’s supposed to (or at least that’s what I thought) be a never ending source. It’s not that I don’t love him, but I have less love to give.

What’s going on with that?! I mean, I know I love him and I love other people but I feel so drained and empty from all the love I give Jenson. As I’ve shared before, sometimes even reaching out to give my husband a cuddle or a kiss seems too much because I’m so worn down from pouring all my love onto a little human who doesn’t like to be put down by himself, doesn’t want to sleep away from my arms and loves to be sung to, treasured and interacted with for a large proportion of the day…

The old Amy would have said that I just needed time to replenish myself. Space to blog instead of snatching moments when my husband has him at the weekend or he’s asleep in my arms. Time to process and be kind to myself. A nice long bath by myself with a good book. But that’s not practical at the moment.

And if we lived closer to our families or close friends, it would be possible to get some time just as a couple. It’s the price we pay for living in a city we love, far away from family.

We could ask friends in Brighton but Jenson is so demanding (sorry Jenson if you read this when you’re older – it’s true! You are a demanding little pickle!) that it doesn’t seem easy to ask that of others. An hour looking after Jenson is an hour of actively bouncing him, singing, stopping him cry…although it could be an hour of him playing calmly under his activity gym – it’s so unpredictable.

I know this is a phase in early parenthood which will pass. Too soon I’ll be thinking back to and missing the moments when Jenson would sleep in my arms. And along with the tiredness and strain, it is true that I’ve found a very new and beautiful love that I never knew I had inside me.

It’s just more complicated, that’s all.

The witching hour

I have to say, I was a bit smug about my son. Sure, he’s a baby who expresses what he wants and is fairly quick to protest if we don’t respond to him. But if we made sure he was fed, clean and loved, he was fine.

Until yesterday. When I got to experience what the witching hour really means. A time where, no matter what I did, Jenson was inconsolable. Crying louder and louder and unable to be comforted by song, feeding, rocking or any sort of soothing activity Gregg or I could think of.

It went on for about 30 minutes until he fell, exhausted, to sleep but it felt like 2 hours of endless crying. And tonight has brought about the same witchy madness, sending him over the edge and causing him to scream louder and louder with each passing minute.

Gregg took him for a walk, something that always manages to send him to sleep but I’m left a bit shellshocked at my inability to calm my son. I know it’s not my fault but it sort of feels that way.

I think it must be overstimulation, but what triggered the transformation from peaceful sleeping babe one moment to screaming wild-thing the next? Responding to him a second too late perhaps – he wanted to feed and I took a moment to try to attach a pump to express from the other breast? Or would he have just screamed, regardless?

I suppose I’m writing this for no real reason really. To get out my feeling of hopelessness. To not stew in my feelings of inadequacy and to remind myself that it’s not my fault.

Babies sometimes cry and it’s ok for me to find it tough.

It’s also ok for Gregg take Jenson for a walk to soothe him (although sat here I feel helpless and like I’ve done something wrong by not being the one to calm my son down).

Geez, parenthood.

The most beautiful, complicated, challenging, dizzying, joyful, destroying, uplifting experience I’ve ever known. Where I have to let go of control and go with just what is in this moment. Where I’m unable to steer the journey much of the time. Where I have to rely on the help and support of others more than I ever have done in my life.

It helps having this safe space to write down my thoughts and express what’s going on for me. To not keep all this stress, anxiety and worry inside myself. So thanks for being here for me, dear friend.

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My supply

So before I start getting into this properly, I want to put a big caveat on this post – I’m talking about breast milk and all the things I’ve done to increase my supply so if it’s not your thing, please feel free to stop here.

I also want to caveat that I don’t think that breastfeeding is the be all and end all. Some mums make their choice to bottle feed and if that’s your choice, good for you! I just knew that I wanted to breastfeed from the moment I got pregnant and have continued to want to do so despite being faced with some challenges. Especially because Jenson will rely on breastfeeding to have immunity from disease when we’re travelling in Cambodia and Vietnam in June. Yes, breastfeeding has some great benefits – supporting your baby to get over sickness quickly, the beauty of relaxing while your baby is slowly feeding, not having to faff with sterilisation, supporting your body to return to its pre-baby state. But it’s a personal choice and I support anyone to do what is best for them whether it’s the bottle or boob.

I’m hoping to write this to partly come to terms with what has been a really hard journey and also to put my experience out into the ether to hopefully help other new mums who want to persevere and keep on feeding their babies if things get tough.

And for a lot of people it does get tough. I think I heard that less than 10% of mums are breastfeeding when their babies are 3 months old. It is challenging – a skill you and your baby are having to co-learn when you’re at your most vulnerable and exhausted. And it takes the perfect cocktail of hormones for the milk let-down reflex to be triggered and for your baby to latch on properly.

I wasn’t told that it could get tough before I had Jenson but I wish I had been.

Why was it hard?

Breastfeeding didn’t get off to the best start for me. Jenson was tongue-tied (as I’ve shared before with you, dear friend) and while he was able to latch on, he didn’t feed effectively. This meant he was either feeding, sleeping or crying for the first three weeks and didn’t put on much weight. He didn’t drop into a danger zone but went from being in the top 75% of babies, weight-wise, to being in the bottom 9%.

And since he wasn’t latched on properly, my milk didn’t come in properly.

It wasn’t that the tongue-tie was undetected. It was picked up straight away but the protocol at the hospital where I had him was to not treat it unless it proved to be problematic. But the pity is that when it was apparent that this was the problem, the damage had already been done. To my milk supply and to Jenson’s weight which is only just starting to pick up 13 weeks into his life.

I don’t know for sure this was the problem. But I do know that it might have been the problem and I wish that I had spoken up more to the doctor who brushed off my concern and didn’t give me the option to treat it when I asked about the condition.

There were other issues at play too which impacted my milk supply – severe blood loss in labour, being treated with lots of IV fluid, anaemia, perhaps not resting enough when he was born…

So I don’t know why it was hard, all I know is that it was and has continued to be hard.

What I do

Since it became apparent that breastfeeding was an issue, I’ve done a number of things to increase my supply including:

Supplements

I take brewers yeast, blessed thistle, goat’s rue, fenugreek and marshmallow root supplements three times a day with food. I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot, both in volume and in cost. I probably spend £30 a month in supplements but think I’d spend even more on formula if I was using it so I’ve come to terms with this.

Medication

I’ve been prescribed medication by the GP which is used to treat nausea/vomiting but has the side effect of increasing lactation. If you’re struggling, speak to your GP to see what help they can give you.

Food

I eat oats every day – porridge for breakfast and a flapjack whenever I can for a snack. I also sprinkle savoury meals with nutritional yeast which is meant to be good for milk supply.

I don’t drink alcohol (it can decrease milk production by 30% for the few hours following drinking alcohol) and have boosted my water intake as much as I can. I can’t wait to have a G&T but it’s not worth it at the moment for me.

Peppermint and sage can decrease milk so I also try to avoid these. Instead of peppermint tea, I have a new Mother’s tea that my friend bought me.

I’m also not trying to get back to my pre-baby body, although I personally feel pretty damn great in myself. The most important thing is to eat well so I’m having plenty of good fats, not skipping meals and have also started to eat locally sourced, free range eggs to get more easily absorbable omega fats. It was a hard choice to make with my veganism but I feel like this choice to re-introduce eggs is not at odds with my principle of being vegan to opt out of the large-scale and (often) damaging meat and dairy industry.

Skin-to-skin

I was told how powerful skin-to-skin is in increasing milk supply. Jenson doesn’t like snuggling close to my chest during the day as he’s a nosey little man who likes to look out to see what’s going on in the world. So instead we both sleep topless while co-sleeping to get the skin-to-skin benefit during the night.

Expressing

I have tried to express milk to increase my supply but find it a difficult experience. Having to make sure everything is sterile, finding time to sit alone to express and timing it with Jenson’s frequent feeds has proved difficult and I’ve not done this as much as I should. But I have done this where possible.

Seeking help

The best thing I’ve done is sought help from people. I’ve called the La Leche League hotline to get their invaluable help and advice. I’ve been to breastfeeding drop-in clinics. I’ve gone to my parents house to get some rest and a chance to express while they look after Jenson. I’ve spoken to my GP who has referred Jenson for further tests to make sure his slow weight gain isn’t the cause of an underlying health issue. I’ve stayed under the care of my health visitor to get support. I’ve asked friends for help and advice to support me.

I’m getting there

I’m happy to report that Jenson has started to put on weight at a more rapid pace. And I’ve taken steps to help myself feel more in control – I’ve written to the NHS trust to ask them to improve how they treat tongue-tie and have implemented the things above that fit into my life. So I’m not expressing as much as I could, but I’m keeping my sanity and hopefully making gains with lots of skin-to-skin and supplements.

It feels good to write all this to you and share my story a bit. It’s been a long road to get to where we are, but I’m glad I persevered and hope I can help people in the future.

I suppose the biggest advice is give you is that if you’re going through difficulty with breastfeeding, reach out. Get help. And know that things can get better.