Why do we need World Breastfeeding Week?

Why World Breastfeeding Week matters.

Each year, 1-7 August is World Breastfeeding Week.

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Cue many posts over social media about ‘well, when is World Formula Feeding Week?!’ (Same as on International Women’s Week when the cry goes up for ‘where’s men’s Week? Sigh).


So why DO we need a designated week for breastfeeding?
For any mums out there that did breastfeed, or consider it, join me in a game of 🌟 BOOBY BINGO! 🌟

How many of these did you hear?! I’ll tick what I have personally heard:

* oh that’s a big baby, they’ll need a bottle, you’ll never have enough!
* A petite wee thing, you’ll need to feed them up, they’ll need a bottle
* Feeding again? They couldn’t be hungry already, they’re just using you as a dummy βœ”οΈ
* Feeding again? You just mustn’t have enough, don’t worry, not all mums can make enough milk, just give them a bottle βœ”οΈ
* But how do you know what they’re getting? HOW DO YOU KNOW??!!! βœ”οΈ
* Are you STILL Breastfeeding (at a few months)?! βœ”οΈ
* If you’re in pain, just stop, there are no medals at the end of it. There’s no point.
* Not sleeping all night? It’s not hunger, it’s just a habit. Give water and they’ll soon learn not to wake βœ”οΈ
* Not sleeping all night? Must be hungry, give a bottle βœ”οΈ
* HV/ midwife/ GP doesn’t ask if you are breast or bottle feeding and just makes an assumption ‘and how many ounces are they on a day now?’ βœ”οΈ
* You don’t need to feed them every time. You’re making a rod for your own back βœ”οΈ
* Does your husband not mind?
* Does your husband not miss out on the bonding? βœ”οΈ
* Are you STILL Breastfeeding? βœ”οΈ
* You know breastmilk had no nutritional value after *insert arbitrary amount of months here*? βœ”οΈ
* Look how big they’re getting! They’re ready for the real milk now! βœ”οΈ
* We don’t need to breastfeed here, fair enough in the Third World countries. βœ”οΈ
* I wouldn’t want saggy boobs
* Oh you can’t eat/ drink x, y, z when Breastfeeding βœ”οΈ
* You’ll not make enough milk with another child to look after, you’ll be too tired to make any βœ”οΈ
* Why bother, formula’s as good as breastmilk these days. βœ”οΈ
* Are you STILL Breastfeeding? βœ”οΈ
* Feed a child with teeth? Oh god no! βœ”οΈ
* If they can ask for it, then they are too old. (To which my reply would be- just cos they can talk, doesn’t suddenly make them a calf and more suited to cow breastmilk, ta.)

You get the picture.

Think about your own experience of breastfeeding-

when was the last time you saw a mum breastfeed?

Who in your circle do you know? (If you’re friends with me on Facebook, the amount I slabber about Breastfeeding it probably feels like you have about 20 close friends that do).

How often do you see it represented in the media without being something controversial? (Should women breastfeed in public?! *hussies! Be discreet!* Celebrity feeds human infant her human milk past a year! *bogger! Incest!* etc etc).

It’s not that us Breastfeeding mummies want a medal or martyrdom. But, for one week, it’s nice to poke our heads above the parapet and feel normal.
Now I’m off to try and avoid the inevitable BULLSHIT Fed is Best onslaught (really? Excellent. No more expensive fresh fruit & veg in this house! Pass the pastry & take always!) and to wait and see which retailer is first to hijack it so sell a perfect prep mould -I mean, milk- machine. My money’s on the one that sounds like Smothercare.

A day in the life of Mummy McMumface: The School Holidays Edition

Summer holidays.

I remember reading a blog once upon a time about ‘toddlers are assholes’ and, under a raised brow and with a ‘tut’ of judgement, thought ‘IMAGINE calling your child an asshole’.
Same with all those memes come September of parents delighted to be getting their children back to school. Why would they celebrate their little cherubs being away?! DisGRACEful.

Yeah.

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We are 4 weeks in to the summer holidays with about another 6 to go and sweet Lord am I losing. My. Shit.
While we’re on the topic of faeces, let’s discuss today.
So far, the summer holidays have been reinforcing the fact that one Mummy divided by 3 children does not go. (Single mothers… wow. How do you do it?!) What DOES go is my sanity.
Never is this mathematical equation more apparent than when there is a sick child.
Baby is going through something. Teeth? A cold? Something developmental? All of the above? Whatever- it has the same result, that she spends her day on the boob or strapped to me in a sling. But meh, that’s life with a baby.

However.
HOWEVER.
Captain Chaos has “gastrointestinal issues”, culminating in rather frequent “MUHMMAAAAYYYYYY, COME AND CLEAN MY BUUUU-UUUMMMM”.
And today….
Gathering A Sample.
Of diarr-f*cking-hoea.

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Eventually I had the ingenious idea of putting a plastic bowl in the toilet to catch the emissions.
Retrieving same then emptying the contents into a sample pot with a 6 month old on my front in the Lillebaby was one of the least enjoyable moments of my life to date.

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I had flashbacks to poor Samwell Tarly in the new Game of Thrones episode (which was also watched in snippets due to frequent ass cleaning stoppages. I swear to god, I never envisioned that quite so much of my time would be spent looking at the bum holes of little humans).

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And this was all after Baby had kicked the day off with a nappy that had exploded up into her armpit.
The poo had literally shot up under her armpit. We were both plastered by the end.

So. Yes. Summer holidays.

I have been trying to get us out of the house as much as possible. This used to be something I would rather have gouged my eyeballs out with teaspoons than undertaken but now, when they are in their car seats they are contained, they cannot beat each other up, they cannot destroy the goddamn house.
But now they expect a fecking road trip every day.
We had some uncharacteristically hot weather earlier in the week so thought ‘to hell with safety, I’m getting a paddling pool’. They’d been asking for one.
Saw this epic looking bad boy online and thought ‘they will LOVE that. It will blow their tiny little minds! SOLD to the desperate lady hiding behind the door eating croissants!’

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It was only left in the town where my sister lives so she kindly brought it up.
Well f*ck me pink.
I had not quite anticipated how much work would go into inflating & constructing Spongebob. My sister & I trying to figure out how to put a hose together was fun. (I felt like we were living our very own ‘lightbulb’ joke- how many intelligent, educated McAleer sisters does it take to put a hose together?) In the same way as grocery shopping with 3 children is fun- not very.
Anyway. Got the bastard assembled and a bit of water in it and they spent about half an hour in it.
Next day- back to pishing rain.
And yesterday.
So today the sun broke through.
“MUMMYMUMMYMUMMYMUMMYMUMMY!!! Can we go in the paddling pool?’
‘Sorry boys, it’s not exactly warm. You’d get sick.’ Etc etc.
Repeat this debate for a couple of hours…
‘FINE. F*ck it. But don’t dare spend 5 minutes in it and then want to come back inside’.
So I put Baby in the circle of neglect, topped up the bloody inflatable bits of my now nemesis, Spongebob, filled it, wrestled with the stupidly complex bloody sprinkler bits.
Five f*cking minutes they played in it.
Five.
F*cking.
Minutes.
I had barely even cooled down from the exertion-and-rage sweat before they’d had enough.
And got back to how they usually spend their time- killing each other, complaining about being bored, wanting ham sandwiches and the bribes I pretend I don’t have and watching too much Television.

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If you haven’t seen this before, YouTube it. Honestly.

So, in conclusion.

There is nothing I can come up with that will stop them fighting, complaining and saying they are bored. And all they will want to eat are ham fecking sandwiches.
Toddlers- and beyond- ARE goddamn assholes.
And roll on bloody September.

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Happy Anniversary, Daddy McDadface

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This day 7 years ago I married the man now known as Daddy McDadface.
We had been together 10 years (bar a couple of wee blips). He was my date for my school formal.IMG_8678

I can still remember where we were standing when we first kissed and I remember thinking ‘OH MY GOD!!’ as I couldn’t believe it πŸ™‚ I had stalked him about our local club, The Fort, for weeks.

Our first date was to see Gladiator. It was the first time I saw him wearing his glasses. He held my hand and I remember being so happy that he liked me enough to let me know it by holding my hand. Afterwards, in the car he put on the CD player and had forgotten that he had Sisqo’s ‘Thong Song’ in it…
It’s strange to think back to that. I know it’s him, and I know it’s me but yet it doesn’t feel like it.
I think it’s because now he’s like an extension of me. We met when I was 17 and I’m 34 so he has been part of my life for half my life. I know, I know, but honestly I’m 34, not 24 like I know you were thinking πŸ˜‰
So yes, 7 years ago we finally got hitched. I remember standing outside the chapel with my daddy and feeling so nervous. I just wished Mark was there, it felt weird to me doing something so momentous without him. Then I realised I was minutes from being beside him TO MARRY HIM!! And I felt OK.
We knew we wanted children. I fully expected to have difficulty (hello years of horrendous ‘dysmenorrhea’ as my mum discretely called in in my monthly sick note to school) so we decided to, not try as such, more ‘not try not to’ after honeymoon so that when nothing had happened in a year we could go to the Doctor & get the ball rolling.
Jimnastic Fantastic was born one month before our first anniversary πŸ™‚
I don’t think it’s fair to say motherhood changed me, I think it stripped away a lot to expose the real me. But it definitely changed me from the girl Daddy McDadface had known and married.
And I think fatherhood made me see him differently too. You see different qualities in someone when you create a little human together that you need to keep alive.
Now we’re 7 years down the line and have a 6 year old, an almost 4 year old and a 6 month old.
Life is bloody stressful.
Poor McDadface thought he was marrying a Solicitor and we both thought that would pay well. Except I worked for an epic douchebag… in a way, it ended up a positive as it made leaving law an easier decision than if I had been walking away from a well paid job. As it was, despite working in that firm for 9 years I could still go get a regular job in a certain pharmacy chain for basically the same wage.
So yes. Now. We’re trying to figure out what the feck to do about me & work. We need a second income but with two school runs, to two separate schools and at different times, plus a baby that needs looked after, weekdays are out. But I don’t want to then be working evenings & weekends when they’re all home. But we need money to pay for said home… it is an utter fucking nightmare and an immense stress.IMG_8685
Sleep. Nobody is getting enough. McDadface does bedtime with the boys as I take Baby to bed. He inevitably ends up with Jimnastic in beside him like a sweaty barnacle, and I am breastfeeding Baby all night.
I am home all day. It is incessant. INCESSANT. I cannot get on top of housework. I am literally spending all day keeping them alive, fed and their asses clean. And breaking up fights. And I spend a lot of time in the car although I quite like that- they are contained.
By the time McDadface gets in in the evening, I am DONE. I have two very conflicting needs: to talk to another grown up but also to not have another human being anywhere near me for just a few goddamn minutes. When your life involves an incident where there was a crying, hungry baby sitting at your feet in the bathroom in their Mamas & Papas snug while you have violently painful, err, ‘gastrointestinal issues’ and you eventually have to give in and breastfeed baby whilst still in the throes of said excruciating issues… this may not be an everyday occurrence but it still, to me, shows why parents at home with children are fucking exhausted.Β IMG_8686
Alas, after a day at work, McDadface is also exhausted. And so we have the two favourite rows:
“You think work is a holiday camp”
Eh, no I don’t.
HOWEVER, sweetcheeks… sitting the guts of an hour on a bus twice a day may not be something you would choose for shits & giggles BUT it is time you can shut off. Read a book. Listen to music. Netflix & chill like the young folk. Or just… zone out. Oh, how I miss just zoning out. Work is probably shit, fair enough. But in the midst of this shittiness you can pee in peace. Have a hot beverage. It is a change of scenery.
For those 10 hours you are doing that, I am treading water. Dealing with the children without a second of quiet pretty much. A hamster wheel of rows, breastfeeds, ass wiping, Chaos-wrangling, food making, mess cleaning, Chaos-wrangling, TV remote finding… The constantness of it wears at the old mental health.
Which is also not then helped by our other favourite row:
HOUSEWORK
He feels like he does it all. In fairness, he pretty much does. But F**********K. Any bit I do gets undone pretty much instantly. And he lands home after dinner when the kitchen obviously looks the worst it has all day. I have been known to text him pics of the kitchen clean & tidy- ‘look! See! It IS clean but will not be in about 15 minutes, much less by the time you get home. But LOOOOOOK!!!’
(Briefly, I’ll also mention- birthing a third human out of your body, then being a leaky, hormonal milk machine does not help in certain areas. Leaving it at that.)
So. 7 years married. There are days I do not like him very much and I’m sure he feels the same.
But I do love him.
Right now, he is in the spare room. This is where he sleeps. He puts our babies first- they need to be with me for the boobing. Chaos slept with me til Baby came along, and now she is here with me for the next year at least. He accepts that Jimnastic might be 6 but isn’t ready to sleep alone, and he makes himself available to be there to sleep beside at whatever hour J stumbles in. And sometimes Chaos joins them. He doesn’t argue about me disappearing with Baby at 7pm each night because he knows she needs that quiet time with me to relax and decompress after a day of Sensory overload with her two brothers.
I love that he accepts our children as they are- Jimnastic is obsessed with skin tight clothes, so he buys him “girl’s” jeggings from H&M; he is spooked by a lot of Halloween stuff so McDadface brought home this ensemble for J’s school party, which was utterly perfect.Β IMG_8677

I love that he supports me Breastfeeding. He never bemoans “lack of bonding” or any of that twaddle. He embraces my hippy ways for the practical tools they can be, particularly for helping the Daddy of a breastfed baby.

And when a man can look you in the eye during labour and tell you convincingly that no, you didn’t poo yourself, when you know it’s a lie, he’s a keeper.
We are not the same people that got married 7 years ago, who had never fought before having children.
It is hard now but we both know that these years are short. Already we can see Jimnastic at only 6 not wanting kisses at the school gates. Some day we’ll balance being Mummy & Daddy with being the people we were before and we’ll long for these days again.
So, Daddy McDadface. I can’t promise I won’t call you all the c*nts of the day many, many more times and possibly even tell you to f*ck away off and, in that moment, mean it, but: I love you. In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer (we’re really testing that one!) til death us do part. What Jimnastic, Chaos and Baby have joined together, let no madness tear asunder πŸ™‚
Now go make me tea, cuntyballs.

Supermum

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So, recently a couple of my posts on Facebook garnered a few responses along the lines of ‘supermum! How do you do it all?!’

Of course, these comments may just have been supportive and not really other people thinking I was some sort of supermum. But, nonetheless, it made me reeeeeeally uncomfortable to the point thatΒ I felt I wanted to write something about it.

On a daily basis, I feel like I am the shittiest mother in the world. And if you ask my husband, I bet he does do πŸ™‚

I cannot stress enough how NOT good at this mummy malarkey I am!

Let’s take a typical day:

*Get up and do the nightmare that is the getting-out-to-school rigmarole. Ask them what they want for breakfast, have them ignore me the first 2,683 times I ask. Wrestle them into brushing their teeth. Literally when it comes to el Capitain. Stop Captain Chaos getting too rough with the baby who has been dumped in the Jumperoo for the duration. She will inevitably poo. There will be a lot of poo. At least one poo will be triggered by me saying ‘right, time we got out of here, let’s go!’ Shovel some sort of bread in my beak. Somebody will breathe too close to the other, or touch something belonging to the other and a brain- melting amount of whining will follow, probably with some inter-sibling violence. I will have lost my shit multiple times. Go to car. Try and herd them like a sheepdog. At least one belt in a car seat will be twisted or refuse to clip. Get Jimnastic to school about 10 minutes late. Glimpse my reflection in rear view mirror and die a bit inside that I still have my bed ponytail and an unwashed face. Wonder how the actual fuck other people manage to be proper grown ups.

  • Get home and set Chaos in front of the telly while I feed Baby and try to get as much done as I can because I know the afternoon is a wipe out. If I get the dishwasher emptied, kitchen counter cleaned a bit and a load of washing on, I feel I am winning. (Husband disagrees). While I am in the kitchen, Chaos will upend the living room. Baby will get tired and feed to sleep at some stage so that is me on the couch with her until such times as there is an ass needing wiped, or I hear a chair screeching along the tiles signalling Chaos about to attempt some death-defying mountaineering in the search for something he shouldn’t have. Generally sweets. Go lift Jimnastic. Deliberately late to avoid the carpark scrum.
  • Get home again. Afternoon snacks/ lunch time. One wants a wammidge (sandwich) or his favourite toast and juice. The other HIS favourite toast and Β tea. I should eat something. Shovel more bread based items in my face. Baby will need fed every now & again in the midst of this. Do homework with Jimnastic til he inevitably gets bored at which point there is no point pushing it. Feel like a schmuck for not forcing it. Baby will will eventually need sleep. Without fail this is when Jimnastic will need a dump. Give up on letting the poor child sleep, go clean his ass as she cries because she was wakened up (and her cry has a direct line to my anxiety levels) and then stick Baby in the sling as I need to get dinner going anyway. A dinner I know they will not eat.
  • Dinner. Husband will land home to be met with all my cooking chaos and wonder what I have been at all day. I will be a sweaty mess trying to contort to drain a pot of potatoes away from the sleeping cherub strapped to my chest. One will want tomato sauce over his potatoes, etc and likes it mixed with gravy, the other cannot have the tomato sauce near the gravy and will want it in a very specific spot which will not be where I have put it. Even if I have just squirted it exactly where he told me.
  • Praise Jebus that Baby has some internal clock that has her go beserk if she isn’t in bed with me by 7pm which gives me an excuse to take her upstairs away from the madness.

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So. No housework is getting done. Far too many carbs being eaten. It feels like a cycle of trying to meet the needs of everyone and keep them happy but in so doing, failing all of them and making everyone miserable. I feel like I am fire-fighting. So much stuff that needs taken care of (like laundry getting put away- oh how I would love to get on top of THAT) just does not make it off the to-do list and so just accumulates, as does the anxiety (me) and resentment (husband. And so then me).

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Occasionally it will really hit me how I never spend decent time just ‘being’ with my lovely little people and I will usually attempt baking with them- one such occasion was the basis of one of the posts I mentioned at the start.

I also volunteer with NCT and run a local Bumps & Babies group. This was the basis of another comment. But I do this for me. OK, so the morning of the group I’m like a weasel trying to get my stuff together and out on time but I love it- that wee hour and a half chatting to other mummies is like a lifeline. I love being involved with NCT as it is all about the stuff that I am passionate about- supporting parents through the adjustment to parenthood and providing evidence based information to help them make informed choices. I know some absolutely incredible women through this group- women that I look at and think are truly superwomen. It makes being nominated for a regional Star award feel a bit strange- being in their company is flattering, but I feel totally unworthy and also it feels a bit unpleasant being ‘up against’ colleagues you really like and admire! (Unpleasant as it is, feel free to fire me a wee vote here, ha ha)Β https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RegionNorthernIreland

So anyway. Supermum. If you do read my posts and ever think that of me, don’t! I am just about keeping everybody alive which, although a good result surely, is not exactly a stellar achievement, and nowhere near the standard I would like to be providing for my little people. At a point, I compared myself so much to other people on social media that my mental health genuinely started to suffer. It’s part of the reason I do this blog, to try and counter- balance the ‘perfection’ (although there are many other women out there doing it much better than I do!) And this is why I really felt I needed to say all this.

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I *do* know that I am doing the best I can. Do I wish my best was better? Yes. Much, much better. But I hope that they always know I love them more than life and I hope they are happy. And that I’m not fucking them up too much (I think a little bit is to be expected, in a way! How we raise them has an effect, but we are human ourselves and will inevitably make mistakes). And I always remind myself that, no matter how the other mums I admire as appearing to have their shit together seem, they have days when they cryΒ in the toilet after their three year old dumps handfuls of sand in the house after urinating on the back step too…

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Ok, not the back step here, but you get the idea…

Dangerously tired?

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One of my favourite memes.

So, recently I had an epically shitty day where Captain Chaos decided to get hold of one of my vitamins. Thankfully he just sucked it and found it ‘too yucky’ but it involved a call to the OOH GP (#VoteNHS) to be on the safe side.
How did I let this happen?!! I felt like such a terrible, useless lump. Stuff like this shouldn’t happen! But happen it did and I’ll tell you how-
Tiredness.
When I eventually calmed myself down and thought about it I realised that I’m not reckless, I realised that the tiredness is really doing a number on me.
Because I am so bloody tired I am not joking when I say my focus & concentration are shot to shit. I struggle to read bloody Heat magazine. I used to be a Solicitor yet now I really can not concentrate on anything remotely complex.

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Honestly, I try and it’s like my brain just blows a raspberry and has a nap.

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The inability to focus is not helped by the fact that my attention is pulled in 20 directions at once- I’ll be in the middle of doing something and getting called to wipe a butt, or a crying baby needing lifted, or suddenly thinking ‘f*ck, school tomorrow, uniforms need washed’ and away off I go on a tangeant. Getting to focus on one task at a time is just a luxury I don’t have!
Tiredness is part & parcel of parenting. It’s a daily battle in this house as to who is more tired.
McDadface gets pissed off as he thinks I think that his work is a holiday and so he shouldn’t be tired.
To quote Vicky Pollard: yerrr, but no, but yerrr…

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No, it’s not easy- but it is a CHANGE. And you can take a break. You can PEE ALONE. Sweet Lord. The amount of times I have been just about to literally have my arse touch the seat than some cry of ‘MUHMEEEEEEEEEE’ goes up… Works the pelvic floor I suppose.
It may look at the end of the day that I have created more mess than I tidied but that does not mean I was sitting on my arse drinking tea. The mess in the house is generally a fairly accurate physical representation of what the inside of my head has been all day.
Being on constant alert for noises to know what they are all at, while doing at least one other task at the same time, wears you down mentally.
Add in a serious lack of shut eye…
It’s bloody dangerous.
A politician in the South, Danny Healy-Rae said in the last few days how driving after a big meal is dangerous as you are sleepy and it could affect your ability to drive safely.

There is even a ‘driver fatigue’ campaign by the RSA down South.

It’s a fair point, we’ve all felt the Carb Coma. But, if that’s the case, that tiredness is that risky, should any parent be on the road?! I know there are days where I have felt that I would rather not have been. And most definitely times McDadface would rather not have been in the car!! (I have to drive due to shitty travel sickness so the poor man gets to perch like a fecking pixie in between the two boys in the back seat).
Please don’t call Social Services…
But in all seriousness, it dawned on me after the vitamin incident that I am tasked, day in, day out with looking after the three most invaluably precious things in the world to McDadface and I. Maybe we should be more worried about the state I am in? If we were paying someone to look after them, damn sure I wouldn’t let that person drive them about on 4 hours broken sleep.

It got me thinking further.
We read about ‘self care’. How we need to look after ourselves to look after everyone else (it was the aeroplane analogy that made me see it wasn’t selfish- how you put on your own oxygen mask on a plane before helping anyone else).
But…
is that not just making it one more job to add to our already rather lengthy, ever growing to-do list? And one that, let’s face it, mums are going to leave at the very bottom of the pile.
We hear talk of ‘me time’. To me, that makes it sound selfish (even though it is not at all). What I mean is, it carries the connotation of ‘me’ as a separate entity, rather than an important cog in the family wheel, or putting me ahead of all else, which mums are loathe to do.
And as recent events have made me consider, the rest time is not just for me- it is imperative to enable me to do my job. A job that is full time in the most literal meaning of the phrase and involves securing the safety & wellbeing of my precious babies.
I feel like this is sort of saying ‘so dammit, husband, give me lie ins and to hell with your tiredness!!’ which is not what I am trying to say at all.
Ok, Ok, not *just* what I am trying to say 😏
Really, the crux is that we are doing an incredibly demanding job with a lot at stake. Yet we do it in such conditions that, if it were another activity, would be deemed sub-optimal to the point of being dangerous.
I don’t have a solution. Just thought it was an interesting discussion… I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Wedding

I wrote recently about the trials and tribulations of preparing for a wedding now I’m a mum of three.

Well, said wedding has now been & gone. Here’s how it went down…

The day started much too early, about 6am, by Captain Chaos waking up and declaring “IT MORNING TIME!”
Feck.

Yet, we were still late for the wedding.
Yes, late.
For my brother’s wedding.
I will live with the shame forever. I am really sad about it too 😦 We missed him arriving in the lorries, all the build up… gutted.

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Hair & makeup took waaay longer than expected. I am so out of the loop I thought an hour would do it. Eh, not so much.
Landed home, sat to feed Baby. Captain Chaos ambles over- “mummy, why you skin so orange?” Then “you look like a pumpkin”. (Later in the day, Jimnastic also asked what was wrong with my skin…)
I had the awkward situation of debating going with slightly stubbly legs or risking shaving off my tan.
Stubble it is.
Good man Daddy McDadface had all three sprogs bathed by the time I got home. We actually did a pretty good job of getting out, if only I had been home a good half hour earlier!

Now, for weeks, Captain Chaos has been looking forward to cake. He was most anxious that the other people would eat all the cake before he got any. I explained it was kept safe in the kitchen at the wedding just for Uncle P.
So we’re in the chapel (after swanning in late) and Chaos pipes up ‘where’s the kitchen? I want cake’.
Cue a bit more explaining.
Baby got cranky and I took her out around communion time. My sister told me after that he thought the communion was the cake and was getting most aggrieved that he wasn’t getting any πŸ˜‚
The ceremony also brought lots of interesting questions about who God is and why he has so many houses.
Pass.

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So then it was about 1.5hour of a drive to the reception and, thanks to having babies, I now have shitty travel sickness that means I have to drive.
Popcorn, sandwiches & jelly babies weren’t enough to soothe the savage beasts.
Their fancy new Punc bottles didn’t even help.
Chaos fell asleep- which meant he refused to get in any photos when we did arrive.

So we headed on to the hotel.
Into the room and much excitement.
Unpacking- Chaos pulls out a sieve.
Yes, a sieve.
A. Sieve.
To help his Auntie Neese make the cake apparently.
His dedication to the cake is impressively unwavering.

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We surveyed the bed situation and realised hotel family rooms are not co-sleeping-family-of-5 friendly. We had taken our Bednest but, given Baby has not slept in it once at home in her 18 weeks of life, we admitted there was zero fecking chance of her doing so in a strange place. So Chaos had one (worryingly high) single bed to himself while poor McDadface squeezed in beside his little barnacle, Jimnastic, in the other single. Leaving Baby & I the double bed, a situation about which I couldn’t really complain! (Though I did feel a bit guilty…)

In quite shocking news, I actually had managed to do something vaguely Pinteresty that worked, and that they liked. A Tupperware tub with a Lego base plate stuck inside the lid and Lego inside the tub. Jimnastic in particular loved this.

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Speaking of Jimnastic… he was looking mighty suave in his cheetah Vans. We didn’t do suits- we knew Jimnastic wouldn’t wear one so just let him wear his regulation jeggings. They both had flamingo print shirts and nice soft jackets from H&M. God bless him, Chaos loved being all dressed up and refused point blank to take the jacket off, even as his face turned tomato from the heat.

They hated waiting for dinner. Then when it came, they barely touched it. We ended up having dessert in our room as, when I took Baby up to feed her, they wanted to go too, back to their Lego!
(In the end, I just got a dress I liked and had it altered so I could breastfeed. They put concealed zips down the side but, alas, it didn’t really work- not least as it meant rummaging about in my sweaty armpit to get the zip…)

They didn’t last much longer. The heat, the long day & all the excitement was just too much and they were conked out before even getting cake! Although not before hitting the pick’n’mix, which induced a lovely vomit from Captain Chaos, which I attempted to catch in a muslin… the glamour. And just as the first dance was about to start!
I tried to stay down and mingle but Baby needed her mama & the boobies.
I feel that I missed so much of my only brother’s wedding day! But the new Mr & Mrs McPaddyface seemed to be having a ball so I hope they forgive me!

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The next morning, I woke up and realised why I had been so long in hair & makeup. Oh the backcombing! And that powder shit! I looked in the mirror and saw the wee bride shrew from Zootropolis.

The photo really doesn’t portray the pure towering, Brillo-pad horror of my mane. And of course I had managed to forget my hairbrush. It was going to take a goddamn exorcism to sort that shit out.

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Cue more impatience. They want breakfast. I get everyone their food. They have nigh on finished by the time I sit down with mine. They want to go… you get the picture.

In summary: a wedding with children with you is a wholly different experience! Not one I’m entirely sure I’d like to repeat… And the exclusively breastfed baby was the least bother!!

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The Mummy McMumface Guide to… Supporting a Breastfeeding Mother

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This isn’t a post about why women should breastfeed.
It’s about the mums who have decided that they do want to breastfeed their babies and what we can do to help them do that.
According to the last infant feeding survey (all the way back in 2010, as the government pulled funding πŸ™„), 64% of mothers initiated Breastfeeding in NI. By 6 weeks, 13% were exclusively breastfeeding.
That is some drop.
Although we have the lowest rates in the U.K. (and, indeed, amongst the lowest in the world), the fact that there is such a massive drop in the first 6 weeks says to me that there are a lot of mothers out there who want to breastfeed but something is happening that means they are either stopping, or moving to partial breastfeeding.
What is it?
The first 6 weeks are definitely challenging- it’s a new experience (no matter how many babies you have had, you haven’t had- or fed- this baby before!), you’re tired, your supply is establishing… so what can make a difference?
I think it’s support.
The obvious support is that which mums will get from healthcare professionals (HCP’s) that they encounter during pregnancy and the postnatal period. We’ll leave that can of worms closed til another time…
The support that I wanted to touch on here is the support of family and friends. This is invaluable generally when we become mothers but I think sometimes the society we live in makes it difficult for people to know how to really support their daughter, sister, friend, partner who is breastfeeding.
Often, well-intentioned efforts at support actually end up sabotaging the mother’s breastfeeding journey.
Why?
Bottle feeding has become the norm. Anyone being able to feed the baby, the feeding and sleeping patterns of formula fed infants are what people are used to. This leads to ‘get them on a bottle’ being touted as the answer to perceived difficulties, as breastfed babies behave differently.
Yes, mummy is tired.
Yes, her nipples probably hurt in ways she had never contemplated (note- I don’t want to be off-putting but look, your boobs haven’t done this before. If you start going to the gym, your muscles will hurt! So some discomfort is to be expected. However, if entire feeds are spent with you gritting your teeth, you need help adjusting your latch. This *isn’t* normal. It *is* fixable!!)
When we see someone in this situation, I understand it is a natural reaction to want to help, but giving a bottle is not the answer.
This mum has decided to breastfeed her baby.
Feeding formula is one less feed at the breast and milk production works on supply and demand- the more milk that is removed, the more milk the boobaloobs will make. The first 6 weeks are crucial for establishing mum’s supply. So babies will want the breast a lot too- day and night. This is normal and important normal newborn behaviour, but is often seen as ‘a problem’ in a society where more babies are fed with artificial milk and follow a different pattern.
There is also the risk that the baby may get used to the easier, different suck at a bottle and struggle to feed at the breast again, or even downright refuse it.
But there ARE ways to help, you just need to think beyond the obvious…
– Bring her food. Lots of food.

Hold baby while she eats WITH BOTH HANDS πŸ˜‚ I remember one day after Jimnastic was born, my mother in law sent me up to bed for a nap. I got a couple of hours sleep and woke to find she had cooked us dinner (pork chops- I remember it that clearly!) That was the best thing ever. Nearly as good as the post-birth hospital tea & toast!!
– Let her nap.
– Or have a shower.
– Do some housework.
– If she has older children, take them for a few hours (personal fave 😜)
– Let her cry without making her feel you’re secretly dialling the men in white coats.
– Pay for her to see a breastfeeding expert- we have a couple of excellent private IBCLC’s in NI (I’ll link at the end). A friend had a session bought for her as a new baby gift by a fab friend who knew she had struggled first time and really wanted breastfeeding to work second time around. A thoughtful gift, and one that keeps on giving- this mum is still breastfeeding at 3 months.
– Or, if you are a mother or sister who lives too far away to give much hands on help, arrange for a cleaner to come in maybe? Or get a voucher for healthy food delivery service? Meh, doesn’t even need to be healthy- a Dominoes voucher would be pretty fecking awesome.
Beyond the ‘do’s’ there are a lot of ‘don’t’s’:
– Don’t fixate on sleep- either mum’s or the baby’s! I think it’s a standard conversation piece with a mum with a new baby, but don’t ask if they are sleeping through- a baby isn’t designed to sleep through and a breastfed baby will wake frequently to feed. Mum will not need reminded! Suggesting a bottle won’t help- instead we should suggest ways to help her manage such as letting her nap, etc- that is, if she needs it! Not all mums will find night feeds a problem!
– Don’t make her feel like she needs to factor in feeding when leaving the house. Chances are she is feeling anxious about ‘feeding in public’. Just make it the non-issue that it is πŸ™‚
– Never suggest ‘sure just pump some milk to give in a bottle’. Anyone who suggests this cannot have ever tried to express milk, in my opinion. It is a gargantuan pain in the arse and at least doubles her workload. When I hear/ read people suggest this to a breastfeeding mum I mentally roundhouse them in the face.

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– Don’t ask her when she is planning on stopping. None of your business.
– Don’t ever utter the phrase ‘the baby is just using you as a dummy.’ This gives me The Rage. NO, PEOPLE!! The dummy was invented to replicate what the baby does at the breast. So actually, a baby sucking a dummy is just using it as a substitute breast for comfort. Which brings me to…
– Do not belittle a baby’s need for comfort feeding, or the mother for being responsive to her baby’s need. Just bring her a cuppa & a bun while she sits & feeds the baby and keep your trap shut. ‘You’re making a rod for your own back!’ Aye, a rod I’ll beat you with.
– Don’t put pressure on mum to separate herself from her baby. She may not feel like she wants to leave baby and, when you factor in worrying about if baby will get hungry, or take the expressed milk, it can turn whatever nice gesture you have planned into a source of anxiety. Respect her need to be with her baby. Put the mad night out on ice and instead go for a nice dinner, or find a spa you can make it to between feeds (or where someone could look after baby while mummy gets pampered). Like I say, it’s about challenging ‘the norm’ πŸ™‚ A mum recently sent me a pic of her & her hubby at the cinema to see a film she really wanted to see- with baby along for the ride πŸ™‚ That gave me the warm ‘n’ fuzzies.
– Don’t tell her daddy needs to feed baby so they can bond. My long-suffering husband, who rarely engages with all my crazy parenting stuff, surprised me one evening by going off on a rant about this. Eloquently declaring it ‘bullsh*t’, insightfully following on with how it is just another obstacle created to prevent women Breastfeeding. (He listens!! HE LISTENS!!!! Who’da thunk it??!!) Daddies have wonderfully snuggly, relaxing chests for babies to snooze on. Baby carriers are fab (is there a man alive who does not increase his hotness roughly about 500% when wearing his baby?! 😍) Here, McDadface has always been great with bathtimes, and with babies 1 & 2 helped with nocturnal nappy duties. Bringing me food without me asking was also appreciated (bonus points for having it cut up so I could eat it one handed!)

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I’m sure there are more! But I have been working on this blog for about a fortnight now. Fecking Easter fecking holidays with chocolate fuelled fecking children…


I hope I have made the point I was trying to convey- that the things you say and do around a new, Breastfeeding mummy can have a huge impact. With a wee tweak to our notions of normal, we can make this a positive impact, rather than a negative.
So, to steal the catchphrase of a great breastfeeding advocate, The Milk Meg:
Keep on boobin’! (β€’)(β€’)

The two IBCLC’s in private practice in NI are:

Carol Smyth:
https://www.facebook.com/mammae.carolsmyth/
http://www.carolsmyth.co.uk/

Rebecca Scott-Pillai
https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaScottPillaiIBCLC/
http://www.bumpsbirthbonding.co.uk/classes/

there are other IBCLC’s employed by the various Trusts and you can access them by contacting the Infant Feeding Coordinator in the hospital.