Stuff I want to say to you about breastfeeding challenges

This is part three of a three-part series about breastfeeding with Insufficient Glandular Tissue.

IMG_2806You can read my breastfeeding story here. This post is a collection of everything I’ve wanted to get off my chest (ahem, pardon the pun ūüėČ about facing breastfeeding challenges.

  • Just because you can’t exclusively breastfeed it doesn’t mean you can’t breastfeed at all.
  • Please don’t judge bottle-feeding mums.
  • Please don‚Äôt judge women who have stopped breastfeeding after breastfeeding challenges.
  • Please don’t judge any mums!
  • The things women are told to do to increase their supply are very daunting for a first-time mother¬†still learning the ropes. It‚Äôs all very well to say to feed and pump around the clock, but when you have a baby who takes a long time to settle, naps for 40 min stretches, needs you to hold them constantly and their feeds take an hour¬†(as Leo’s did), that‚Äôs pretty much impossible.
  • Formula¬†is necessary for some women, for lots of different reasons. I felt like I was feeding him poison at first because of everything I’d heard and that’s soul destroying.

To health professionals dealing with women with breastfeeding challenges, including IGT

Please acknowledge a woman’s grief when breastfeeding doesn’t turn out as she had expected.

A new mother is as vulnerable as her tiny baby. She’s spent 9+ months nurturing this little person and she wants the absolute best for them and it’s very confronting if you can’t give them what they need.

Continue reading Stuff I want to say to you about breastfeeding challenges

We’re now on Kickstarter

KickstarterWe’ve got some exciting news! We’ve finished writing and illustrating the book and are now looking¬†to¬†get the book made as a board book.

We’ve set up a¬†Kickstarter page¬†to help us raise money to get board¬†books printed.

Between¬†now and¬†31st August, you’ll be able to visit the page to read more about the project, pledge your support, and get a reward (such as copies of the book!).

If we don’t reach $5000 in pledges by 31st¬†August, none of the pledges will be processed and we won’t be able to order the board books. So please support us!

We’re also very excited to share a special¬†preview page¬†with you!¬†You can read the whole book right now (unless you have babies or small kids with you, in which case you will be interrupted).

Thanks so much for being part of this with us.

Rewards

Rewards
All reward values are in Australian dollars and include postage within Australia.

 

 

Unhelpful things said to new parents

I had some unhelpful things said to me when I was a new Mum that have rung in my ears for five and a half years.

I may never forget them, but with time they are losing their power. In some ways a new mother is as fragile and vulnerable as their tiny baby.

The power dynamic between people makes a big difference to how a comment is taken. Comments from people in positions of power, such as health professionals and elder family members, can be particularly hurtful.

The two comments that have haunted me the most are to do with breastfeeding, and they were both said to me by people in a position of power.

You'll only ever make enough milk to

Formula lucky

I felt deep shame about not being able to breastfeed Leo exclusively due to what was eventually diagnosed as Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT). My condition made me feel like I wasn’t a proper woman and had no right to be a mother, so those comments cut me to the bone.

Often the comments that hurt the most are the ones that connect with an insecurity you already had. It’s like they agree with the critic you carry on your shoulder that tells you you’re a crappy Mum/Dad/person.

Hey peeps

Passing comments from well meaning family, friends or strangers along the lines of ‘enjoy every second’ can make you feel like an ungrateful bitch if you are not having a great time.

Often if you talk to the person telling you to enjoy every moment,¬†they will be only to happy to talk about¬†the times they themselves didn’t enjoy every moment. It is so easy to forget the power of that early time and everything going on for new parents. I am guilty of this myself – babies and little kids look so cute that you forget how intense life with them can be and how they can push any parent to their limits.

Sometimes innocent questions like “have you tried leaving them to cry/giving them a¬†dummy/hanging their cot from the ceiling from an elephant’s tail” can drive a new parent INSANE! Too. Many. People. Telling. Me. What. I. Should. Do.

What I am learning over and over again¬†is that comments like those above – that are either designed to hurt, or not designed to hurt but they do – often say more about the person saying them and their preoccupations and issues, than about the person it was said to. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Some comments people made to me about how much their baby slept or fed or ate or pooed or cooed induced pangs of guilt or fear in me. Once again, they were unhelpful without meaning to be. Those comments rang in my ears too, but not as much as comments levelled directly at how I was doing as a mum or how my baby was doing.

Comparison of yourself to others is probably worthy of a whole post of its own. By the way, please let me know if you want to write something about comparison (or anything) for the blog! Would love to have some guest posts. :)

Did¬†you have¬†something really unhelpful said to you when your baby was small (or at any stage in parenthood) that you’d like to get out of your mind?

People say great stuff too! I’ve also written about the helpful things people say¬†to new parents.

One thing we were sure of when writing You’re Doing Great, Baby was that we didn’t want to be giving advice on how to feed, settle or take care of your baby. We hope this gives people room to see themselves in the characters and¬†that no-one is made to feel guilty by our book.

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Things I see differently post-kid

We are loving this project a lot. It is like our third child. Both Jeff and I have been working on it full-time (with many, many breaks to look after our actual children and Jeff doing paid work) for five months and counting.

If this¬†book¬†is successful I dream of also doing You’re Doing Great, Kid and You’re Doing Great, Toddler.¬† Jeff wisely tells me to take one thing at a time.

But just say that I was thinking a little bit about¬†You’re Doing Great, Kid. I might think of a list of things I see differently¬†after¬†having a kid, for example…

  1. Hiding vegetables – gives a great sense of satisfaction
  2. Bribery – happens. Also called ‘negotiations’
  3. Hummus – makes vegies palatable
  4. Buying in bulk – it’s like I am permanently getting ready for the apocalypse
  5. Kids eating in the car – I used to think ‘why would you do that?!’
  6. Messy, gross cars – see above
  7. Mini vacs – self explanatory
  8. Toys I didn’t play with as a kid because they were ‘boys’ toys’:¬†Lego, paper planes, trains, cars – are actually super fun
  9. Sushi train – food as soon as you walk in the door and it’s like an outing (bonus!)
  10. Community
  11. My parents – I used to love them and now I love them even more
  12. Having a bath before bed – is actually really nice. I used to be a shower in the morning gal
  13. Choc chips, sprinkles, smarties and hundreds and thousands Рadd to snacks so kid will eat them
  14. Bubble bath Рmakes reluctant kid want to bathe
  15. Going to bed early – ROCKS!
  16. Absolutely scoffing your food – Jeff and I call it the ‘parental inhale’
  17. Chest freezers and big-batch cooking
  18. Ordering EVERYTHING online
  19. Drive thrus – don’t need to get out of car
  20. Young men – I used to be a bit scared of young men and now I look at them fondly because I imagine Leo and Clem being that age
  21. Paying a cleaner.

What didn’t you understand until after having a kid? Leave a comment below.

Loneliness in early parenthood

There are many levels of loneliness. The loneliness where you’re alone and wish you weren’t. Then there’s loneliness in the presence of others – where you don’t have much in common with someone or can’t communicate with them. Finally there is a kind of loneliness of the soul. A feeling you are a stranger from yourself. I think that is the worst kind of loneliness.

00000011 - Version 2Early parenthood is ripe with potential for any or all of these types of loneliness.

I remember being shocked by how lonely I could feel¬†in my precious baby’s company.

I have a distinct memory of sitting down and telling Leo (my first child)¬†about myself much in the way you’d introduce yourself to a stranger in a bar. “My name is Beth and I was born in New Zealand…” I had no idea how to talk to my beautiful boy.

Of course this got better with time. I honed my non-verbal communication, and baby Leo learnt to talk with body language and later with words.

Another source of loneliness was that I wasn’t working for the first time in my adult life. You don’t realise how social work is until you’re not there anymore. No incidental chats in the hallway or catch ups at lunchtime. I found it hard to get out to socialise with friends (especially those without kids). It was easier to stay home that fitting in around sleeping and feeding times, plus I felt so exhausted I wasn’t a great conversationalist and didn’t feel like I had any news when asked what I had been up to. What on Earth did I do all day anyway?!

I met¬†other mums out and about, but our conversations¬†were fleeting and sometimes you didn’t have anything in common except that you both had a child. When I was a new mum I wanted desperately to meet my doppelg√§nger – someone who I had a lot in common with who also¬†parented like me. I burned with the desire to mother alongside other mothers (much like we would have done in earlier human history). I think that this impulse was also to¬†do with me feeling like I’d lost touch with who I was since becoming a Mum.

IMG_6598 - Version 2There¬†is an opening in You’re Doing Great, Baby¬†that shows the mum sitting on the couch holding her sleeping baby and staring out the window forlornly at passersby (I’m working on the painting in the top image). I remember doing this myself – feeling trapped inside stuck in a cycle of feed, play, sleep (repeat).

Jeff was away at work from eight in the morning until six or seven o’clock each night and I was desperate for his company and envious of his freedom.

Mothers groups and playgroups are great for meeting new people. It¬†can also be very comforting (and make you feel less alone) to talk to mothers of similar aged babies who may be going through similar phases with their sleeping, feeding etc.¬†I was lucky with my mothers’ group and have made some lasting friendships. It’s so cool to think that the kids have known each other from when they were tiny. We had moved to our area right before having Leo and I didn’t know anyone at first, so it was awesome to see familiar faces walking the streets. I’ve¬†written¬†more about this in my post on¬†community.

I didn’t have a smart phone when Leo was little, but I remember what a revelation it was when I got an Ipod and could check my Facebook or email if I was sat holding him while he napped. This simultaneously made me feel more and less lonely.

Second time around with baby Clem I found it much easier to adjust to having a friend who used crying as his main form of communication. From the start I felt like we understood one another.

Clem’s birth coincided with a golden era of podcasts: notably the three S’s: Startup, Strangers and Serial. I credit podcasts with making me feel so much less lonely in that early time.

I’ve also become a lot happier in¬†my own company in recent years and don’t feel the need to¬†leave the house for lots of social input. However I was happily telling my friend Tamie this and she laughed¬†because she pointed out that I’ve made my own company so I’m never alone – Leo is amazing company and we can happily have a day at home playing boardgames and chatting. Clem and I sing nursery rhymes (he claps along) and sit out in the garden or sort the laundry together.

What were your experiences of loneliness in parenthood? Please leave a comment below, and subscribe to our newsletter so we can keep you in the loop with the project.

We won't share your details with anyone.

 

Hello, Mum!

You’ve met Baby, now meet Mum.

Mum is doing great, and she loves Baby SO MUCH, but she’s tired and sore and has¬†spew on her clothes.

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Mum enjoys:

  • Kisses and cuddles with baby
  • Getting out and about with baby
  • Singing silly songs
  • Going to bed early

Mum doesn’t enjoy:

  • Feeling exhausted
  • Her various aches and pains
  • Feeling bored and lonely¬†sometimes
  • Not having time to shower

 

You can read more about the project here, and join our mailing list:

We won't share your details with anyone.

All hands on deck

Jeff and I have finished all the illustrations for the book, apart from the front and back cover and the dedication page. So in other words, we are getting there!

It has been all hands on deck in our house…

You can read more about our process and how we are co-writing and co-illustrating the book here.

Thank you all for signing up to our newsletter and joining our Facebook page! It is great to have you along on the journey with us.

Hello, Baby!

You’re Doing Great, Baby¬†is about a mother and her baby, so we thought it would be nice to introduce you to them.

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Baby enjoys:

  • Milk
  • Sleeping¬†snuggled up with Mum/Dad
  • Cuddles and kisses
  • Funny faces

Baby does not enjoy:

  • Hunger
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling overwhelmy

 

Next we will introduce you to Mum!

You can read more about the project here, and join our mailing list:

We won't share your details with anyone.

Cover ideas

We are playing around with cover ideas at the moment.

We need an image that sums up the book. It’s a book about a mum and a (gender neutral) baby. It’s about both the challenges and joys of having a baby/being a baby. You can read it to kids but it is for adults too. It’s got a sense of humour.

Tricky!

Here’s what we started with

image

And here’s Leo playing around with the title positioning on what we’ve got now.

image

It’s a work in progress.

The position the mum is holding the baby in is called the recovery position and both my kids have needed to be held like that when life gets overwhelmy in those early weeks.