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I'm a married mum who loves chocolate & music & having an opinion on just about everything! E-Mail summermama@hotmail.co.uk

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goodnight, Sweetheart

The Boy is becoming less well organised as he gets older. As a newborn, he fell into a fantastic routine immediately, and we always knew when to expect him to wake, feed, and nap throughout the full 24 hours of any given day.

As he got older, he got into the routine of having two naps each day – one from 11am-1pm, and another from 3pm-4pm, before going to bed at six and sleeping for thirteen to fourteen hours regularly. People marvelled at how good his routine was, but I fully admit it was all his doing – I did nothing to try and get him into a routine other than put him to sleep when he wanted and letting him sleep as long as he wanted, and feeding him on demand.

Even more time passed and he decided that he only needed one nap a day, and he preferred the nap, after which I’d get him dressed, he’d have lunch, and we’d go out for the afternoon. Often we didn’t have anywhere in particular to go, but I’m a huge fan of getting him in the pushchair and going for a walk, so we found our way around several new areas of town we’d not ventured to before, including a beautiful riverside walk that completes a round circuit of around four miles; we’d take stale bread with us to feed the ducks, swans and geese that hang out by the river, or I’d take him in the car to the local soft play centre, or we’d visit friends with children of similar ages.

By the time he was a year old, he’d pushed bedtime from six to eight, but was still sleeping til eight in the morning, and having one nap a day. I’d learned by then that if he didn’t nap from , he would nap from , or from , he really wasn’t as bothered anymore. Sometimes he would eat lunch at , other days it was almost four, some days he wouldn’t eat lunch at all, because he’d sleep right through.

Yesterday, I didn’t try and put him down for his nap. He’s pushed it round from to at the earliest, and my parents were expected at around . The parking in our road is ridiculous, but we have access into our garden for parking, which is where my car lives and where we can park a few other cars, too, when we have visitors, so I knew when they arrived I’d have to shut the dogs in the house and go off down the garden. When you shut the Hairy Hounds of Hell in the house and go off down the garden without them, they presume you’re going out without them, and they really don’t like that, so they tend to cry, bark, howl and generally make a lot of noise. If they know that The Boy is upstairs and I’m setting off like that without him, I don’t know whether they think I’m going to leave The Boy home alone or whether they understand it means we have visitors, but either way the noise they make is even worse. There is no person on earth who could remain asleep upstairs in our house while they were creating such a fuss, despite the fact The Boy is a good sleeper, that wakes him up without fail every time it happens. And I don’t know about your children, but The Boy is quite like me in the fact that if he is woken up before he is ready; he is grumpy and difficult for some time afterwards!

My parents arrived, the dogs went barmy, and then The Boy and his grandparents settled down to play. I made lunch, including The Boy in the round of toast I produced, but he was more interested in poking it and leaving it in various odd places in the front room (on the sofa – butter side down; on the seat of his ride on car; tucking it into the DVD cabinet) I cooked up a batch of sausage rolls to try and tempt him – he’s not been eating well for ages – and sausage rolls always seem to be a favourite. The last lot I cooked lasted three days; admittedly The Hubby is also quite partial to a sausage roll, but even so there were plenty that The Boy had eaten. So I cooked up another lot, and once they were cool he was put into the highchair and offered some food. It was just after .

Bearing in mind as well that The Boy had been awake since yesterday morning, and had three ounces of milk first thing, then refused to eat breakfast til shortly after , when he played with a bowl of cereal and actually ate about three bites of it. By my reckoning he should be fairly hungry for lunch, and he didn’t do too badly, but it wasn’t what I would have described as lunch for a growing toddler, it was a snack. Anyway, he decided he’d had enough to eat, so I got ready and we all went out for a walk around town.

The Boy was wide awake for the walk into town, though at the first shop we went into he fell asleep pretty much immediately – he’s not a keen shopper – leaving me free to peruse. We wandered about for a while before heading home again, and he woke pretty much as we walked out of the town centre itself, though my mother blames a particularly loud motorbike making him jump as it rode past us.

Back at home he played until dinnertime but by then was moody and restless, rubbing his face as if he was tired. His catnap in town had lasted around about an hour, while he normally has two or even three hours at home, and I think he would have carried on sleeping for longer depending on the circumstances. For instance I know as soon as he opened his eyes mum would have been talking to him, whereas if it had been me pushing the pushchair I would have probably not spoken to see whether he’d go back to sleep again! Once you talk to him, that’s it – he’s too interested to go back to sleep!

Anyway The Hubby put him to bed and he was asleep by . My parents left while he was in the bath, and The Hubby and I sat down to watch a program together. Just after  The Boy started crying. I made a bottle and The Hubby went straight upstairs; The Boy had gotten himself in a real state, screaming and tears pouring down his face, and we couldn’t fathom it out apart from thinking maybe it was a bad dream, or night terror. I calmed him down after a while and gave him back to The Hubby to put back to bed, but five minutes later he started again and wouldn’t calm down again. I went back, there was rocking and shushing and drifting from room to room to try and distract him (He likes watching the car lights going past on the main road from the front bedroom window) Eventually I put him back in the cot and while he was still whimpering, he settled after a while. It was by the time we headed back downstairs, confused as it was not the normal run of things for The Boy to behave that way.

At , he started again, and The Hubby went up to him. While he was gone I turned off my PC, fed the dogs, loaded the dishwasher and tidied up the kitchen, made myself a drink and went upstairs – it was almost 1am by then – I got ready for bed then took over from The Hubby trying to settle The Boy. It wasn’t easy – just when you thought he’d calmed down, he’d start right up again and get upset all over again. Eventually I took him into our bedroom, shut the door, and allowed him to wander about a bit. The Hubby came up about half past one, and as soon as he saw him, The Boy burst into tears again. “Oh, no,” The Hubby panicked, “What have I done?” We couldn’t work it out. Then I went to lift The Boy and realised his sleepsuit was wet. “He’s soaking,” I said, “Did you change his nappy?” After all, I added silently, it would be the first thing to do, surely, when he wakes up crying? It turned out the nappy hadn’t been checked, or changed, because The Boy usually goes down and goes all night without a nappy change, so The Hubby didn’t think he would need one by that time. We got The Boy into his room and I unpoppered the sleepsuit – a thick towelling one he wears because it’s so cold at night – and found that sure enough his nappy was full to bursting, his vest was soaked from front to back and up to his chest, and his sleepsuit was now also wet. I nearly cried. It took a while to clean him up, dry him off, get another nappy on him and a clean vest and sleepsuit, but once it was done he looked so much happier. I sat in the rocking chair with him for half an hour while he had some milk, then laid him in his cot and tucked him in and he snuggled up with his favourite soft toy and smiled as he closed his eyes. I got into bed about .

The Hubby has a very long day today – working , then a work do tonight from . He’s getting a lift there and back, fortunately enough as I wouldn’t be able to go and collect him, and by the time he gets home we’re anticipating it to be about . He left this morning before The Boy was awake, after seeing him last night for the first time since Friday morning, and he won’t see him at all today. Fortunately he’s got some time off coming up which will be nice – hopefully he’ll get to spend some time with The Boy then! If he’s not too busy doing more DIY like he was the last time he had time off from work! It does mean that I’m flying solo with The Boy all day today, with no chance of a reprieve, but to be fair, it hasn’t been hard work. This morning, we got up at and he had milk and a nappy change and we came downstairs wrapped in our PJ’s and dressing gowns. We watched CBeebies in the cosy front room and ate scrambled eggs on toast and drank milky tea for breakfast (scrambled eggs is another good favourite of his!) I took him upstairs at for a nappy change and some milk and put him down for a nap about twelve thirty, and went back to bed myself. I thought well, it’s Sunday, why not have a nap? I slept til then came downstairs and made tea waiting for The Boy to start singing and let me know he’s awake … Except so far he isn’t! 

I do have limits to how much I will let him sleep, even though I don’t like waking him up before he’s ready! If I don’t wake him up soon he’ll be up til tonight and I’m not keen on that idea because it starts the week off badly! How mad is it though that sometimes they want to sleep for so long and other days you’re lucky if they nap for 10 minutes?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dear Santa ...

We’ve been tagged by our friend Alice at Mummy, Not Big Milk Thing, to participate in sharing our Christmas lists with other mummy bloggers.

Presuming that I’m not going to win the lottery pre-Christmas, my ultimate dream of a six week holiday to Australia is perhaps rather far fetched – but a girl can dream! (Plus I’d get to see my best friend, who now lives in Sydney!)

So for me, being slightly more realistic, I’d like to ask Santa for a new set of hair straighteners, since my current set is about seven years old and the on/off switch has broken, meaning you have to remember to plug and unplug them every use (which doesn’t sound like much, but actually I find it very difficult to remember!)

The Hubby has been battling for some time with an ancient set of hair clippers, so for him I’d like to ask Santa for a lovely new set of hair clippers, to prevent the stress attacks every time he tries to do his hair!

And for The Boy, well don’t tell him but I have already got this for him and it’s been safely hidden away til Christmas morning, and I think he’s really going to enjoy it as he’s very much into things that go Whoosh right now!

Our Hairy Hounds of Hell don’t get forgotten at Christmastime, and Santa always brings our boy dog some lovely new toys ...

And as our girl dog is such a pig, she’ll be more than happy with a nice big pile of biscuits!

To continue the tagging trend, I’m going to tag Charlie Monsters Fun House, Inside The Wendy House and Not Always Right.

Baby Two

Now that The Boy is 15 months old, it seems to give people the right to ask when The Hubby & I will start trying for Baby Two. It’s a very personal question, though I don’t think many people realise, given that for all they know we are already trying.

Before I got pregnant with The Boy, as regular readers of this blog will know, we were TTC (or rather, NPP) for almost two years after I stopped having the contraceptive injection Depo Provera. It is generally agreed in the medical world that it can take up to two years for your fertility to return to ‘normal’ after being on this injection, however that point was not something that was made clear to me before I started having it. As far as I was concerned, once I stopped having it I would go back to ‘normal’ within a few weeks. (After all, while you’re on it, they stress the importance of keeping it up every 3 months otherwise you could become pregnant ‘by accident’ which says to me that once you stop it everything returns to normal pretty quickly). Anyway, the whole time we were TTC we didn’t tell people on the whole (My best friend was aware, and another mutual friend guessed, but I didn’t go broadcasting it to everyone).

Anyone who has been TTC for a while, or who was TTC prior to their pregnancy will understand where I’m coming from here. I didn’t want the added pressure from people saying “Aren’t you pregnant yet?” as I felt enough of a failure every month when my period would arrive anyway, without the additional ‘sympathy’ from those who don’t really give two hoots but want to know all your personal business anyway (for example, those people you know as acquaintances in your everyday life who don’t normally say two words to you, but if you’re looking upset one day they’ll be acting like your best mate to try and get the gossip). In my family there is history of miscarriage, so I didn’t want people to know before the 12 week scan, and I’m the sort of person that if someone said “Aren’t you pregnant yet?” I would lie, obviously, and say no, but they’d see the truth written across my face and guess. So that’s another reason why I chose to keep it private.

Also, not being funny, but it is a very private thing in my opinion. I don’t want the world and his wife to know that I’m charting my ovulation dates, chewing on folic acid and giving up drinking and smoking in an effort to become pregnant. By default this means these people are aware that The Hubby and I are on a mission to become parents, which is a very personal, private thing, and not something that I’d share to many people. You don’t go into work in the morning and announce when you’ve had it off the night before, do you? So why expect me to tell you when we’ve been at it like rabbits in an attempt to introduce a sperm to an egg?

One of the ladies in the office where I work is about the same age as my MIL – mid-50’s – and has two grown up sons, one of which has been married for about 3 years now. Her husband has a teenage daughter from his first marriage, who has been with her boyfriend for a year or so. The married grown up son and his wife announced at the beginning of this year that they were TTC and my colleague got so excited about becoming a grandma – she’s already saved and brought the travel system for them, as well as collecting an array of neutral colour baby clothes, blankets, has considered getting a cot bed for her house for when the baby sleeps over, and pores over ideas on how to decorate your nursery. Unfortunately, they’re still TTC with no sign of a pregnancy so far, and naturally now her daughter in law feels under intense pressure due to the attitude of her husband’s mother. On the flip side, the teenage daughter of her husbands decided to try and get pregnant so that she and her boyfriend could get a council property together as they can’t afford to rent or buy themselves (they both live at home with their respective mothers still). She is now five months pregnant, already signed off work due to exhaustion, is on the council waiting list but has been told it probably won’t be for another six to eight months that she gets a place, and she talks about nothing but the pregnancy to everyone she sees. This obviously adds more pressure to the TTC couple, who don’t see her that often, but often enough that she should know to be slightly more sensitive – unfortunately while she may be 19 years old technically, emotionally speaking she is a bit like a spoiled 13 year old who can only see her own world and not other peoples views, so she doesn’t tend to take their feelings into account at all. When The Hubby and I were TTC, so were The Hubby’s sister and her husband. While we were keeping quiet about it, my SIL was talking regularly to her mum about it all, and when I announced our pregnancy the first thing MIL said was “Oh dear, SIL will be so upset”. Quite frankly that pissed me right off, and I gave her a look but didn’t respond. She said some time later that she remembers when she told her MIL she was pregnant with The Hubby and her MIL made a similar comment and it upset her so much she swore she’d never do it, and apologised for how that must have made me feel, but to be honest the words were said, the damage done, and I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever forget. SIL did become pregnant about halfway through my pregnancy, but sadly lost the pregnancy at 10 weeks – by then they’d told everyone, as everyone already knew they were TTC, so then to add to the heartbreak of going through the MC itself she then had the added stress of having to explain to everyone that she was no longer pregnant. They continued TTC once she was given the all-clear, but didn’t talk to anyone about it except her mum – when she became pregnant again, they held off telling anyone til after the 12 week scan and even then she only told family and close friends originally, holding off telling everyone else until she was almost 20 weeks (she’s a larger lady, so hiding the pregnancy wasn’t an issue, though she did suffer bad sickness which is how most of her colleagues guessed).

So back to my original point, if I didn’t make a big thing about announcing we were TTC in the first instance, why do people think I’d do it second time around? I suppose most people think once you’ve had one baby you know you can get pregnant and it happens as quickly as you deciding you’re ready for Baby Two – but I know from experience this is not always the case. There’s an age gap of eight years between myself and my younger brother. It wasn’t intentional that there was such a large gap, but after TTC for four years before becoming pregnant with me, my parents then were TTC for those eight years, and suffered two miscarriages in that time. When my mum did become pregnant with my brother she was 35 and was considered a ‘high risk’ pregnancy due to her age, and her weight and the history of MC, so she was on bed rest practically the whole pregnancy. It worries me that the same thing could happen to me and The Hubby – what if we decide we want another and it takes us eight years to achieve that? On that basis, I should be coming off the Pill now, as in eight years time I’ll be coming up to my 39th birthday, and The Boy will be nine and a half, but on the other hand I’m not ready for Baby Two yet, so if I was to get pregnant straight away it would be hard. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t, right? As The Hubby says, you can’t live your life by ‘what if’ so we’ll wait til we’re ready then we’ll start TTC again.

To add to my situation there is the fact that despite The Boy now being 15 months old, I’m still not back to ‘normal’ as far as my lady bits go. Speaking anonymously I feel I can be more honest about this than if you all knew who I am, but basically the delivery was not straightforward and I was badly damaged, requiring a lot of stitches following delivery, which now I’m not convinced were either done properly or have healed properly. I still have a lot of pain during intercourse, so that only happens once in a blue moon and usually after I’ve consumed a fair amount of vodka; Going to the toilet is still painful and afterwards it can take up to two hours for that pain to subside again. (Yes, I will be speaking to my GP about it shortly as I realise this is not normal!) So on the face of it while TTC should be easy, actually it won’t be – not just because the sex itself is so painful, but because I really don’t want to risk another delivery like that and having another couple of years of pain like the last 15 months have been. I’ve spoken to my GP already and told him I want an elective C-section next time – he said “It would mean you’re off your feet and unable to drive for 6 weeks”: That happened last time, anyway. He said, “There’s no way of knowing whether the next delivery would be problematic”: But you can’t guarantee it won’t be. After The Boy’s delivery, initially my biggest concern was him – there was meconium in my waters, he’d gotten stuck and distressed, his heart rate went from sky high to dropping through the floor low, and when he was first out he didn’t cry. Oblivious to the team of medical staff fussing around me, and the blood loss I was experiencing, my only concern was for him, and whether he was OK. Thankfully despite our initial trauma, he was absolutely fine. It was only afterwards when I read my medical notes did I realise how close a call it was for both of us, not just him. My poor OH could have literally been left holding the baby, or worst case scenario he could have left the hospital that night without a wife or a baby, but thanks to the attention of the maternity team at a hospital which has been knocked a lot for it’s maternity department, we were both still around the next day. It isn’t that I expect a second delivery to be so traumatic, or that I expect there to be problems, but I would rather have an elective C-section and have baby safely delivered in a calm, organised environment and also so that I’m in total control and have made the decision, it happens, all is good. I lost control in my first labour, things happened that were unplanned and hadn’t even been thought of as my pregnancy had been so textbook straightforward, and until the point of The Boy getting stuck the labour was going brilliantly too.

There’s also the fact that I don’t want another baby yet. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love Baby Two to join our family one day, but just not yet. I’m still enjoying my relatively new status as ‘Mummy’ to The Boy: Never again will I have this chance to enjoy him at this age, and I don’t want it hampered by morning sickness, me becoming distracted by ‘The Baby’ and him missing out on special time with me. I understand some ladies choose to have their babies very close in age – one of my high school friends has two boys just under a year apart, as she was pregnant within three months of the first baby being born – but that isn’t for me. The Boy is a whirling dervish of excitement and curiosity and I don’t know that I’d be able to keep up with him at the moment if I was heavily pregnant. I’d rather wait a while, maybe til he’s two or three, before I start TTC again, and that way at least I’d get a few hours every so often during the week where he attends nursery and I can have a nap, or go baby shopping, or decorate the nursery, or just put my swollen ankles in a cool footbath for an hour or so!

The Hubby is, as always, understanding of my point of view – after all, as he said, it’s me that’s at home with The Boy and not him, he gets to escape out to work every day – though we have had the chat about Baby Two and he has said that he is ready when I am. I know he’d dearly love for Baby Two to be a girl, and neither of us want a massive gap between The Boy and his younger sibling, so it isn’t something I’m putting off forever, just for now.

So next time you’re chatting to a family member, or friend, or even a work colleague, and that question pops into your mind, I recommend you don’t ask – for all you know she’s already in the process and it could be the sort of conversation she really doesn’t want to have. If you’re close, chances are she’ll speak to you about it sooner or later anyway: But please don’t pressure her. She’s already got enough on her mind.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cyber Bullies

I’ve been reading lots of articles recently with interest on the internet, where people are verbally attacking others because of their beliefs in how to bring up their children. Excuse me? Racial hate isn’t tolerated; Sexual hate isn’t tolerated – what’s this, then? It can’t be named ‘children hate’ as it’s the complete opposite – its women tearing chunks out of one another on a social internet page or forum because they both believe that they are a better mother than the other. Can’t they just agree to disagree? Apparently not!

Among the list of topics that seem to get everyone hot under the collar, we have:

The Eating In The Carseat or Pushchair Debate: Yes, well, those of you that have seen my comments will know my view. In the carseat no, never, absolutely not. The Boy is allowed a drink when we are stationary and not otherwise. In a 30mph accident, objects weigh five times their normal weight as they fly through the air. Imagine a hard plastic container filled with water (the beaker in his hand) being thrown through the car in an impact where you’re travelling at 30mph and so is the person you hit – A combined speed of 60mph will do a lot of damage to whatever that beaker hits. As far as food is concerned, why would I risk it? My son is rear facing in his carseat, so if I’ve gone out on my own with him what do I do if he starts choking on a piece of food? Some clever clogs wrote a comment on a page “Simply pull over and stop to assist him” well that’s all very good if it’s possible, sweetheart, but on narrow country lanes that go for miles without anywhere safe and suitable to pull over what do you expect me to do? Tell him to wait on his choking until I can find somewhere suitable? Or drive my car into a farmer’s fence like a madwoman to administer emergency first aid while the hazardous positioning of my vehicle causes an RTC in the road? Added to that the fact that I can’t see him if he is choking makes me nervous about doing this. Then there’s the weight factor, too – though I doubt a single Bella’s Kitchen cookie would do that much damage even at five times its normal weight, you never can tell!

The ERF carseat debate. Do your own research, work it out, well done, now do some more research and buy a rear facing carseat. Now ask a million retailers why they don’t sell rear facing carseats and find out it’s because the ignorant masses of the UK don’t want it, on the whole, they’re not interested. It’s easier for them to get their child in a forward facing carseat so as quickly as possible they will do so, regardless of how many times you try to explain that it is safer not to travel this way for a child so young. There is a lady who I regularly see commenting on this subject and one of her comments was along the lines of “If I had to drive wearing a red clown nose, a silly wig and pulling a funny face to make my kids safer, then I would.” I think it’s very commendable, and I take my hat off to her, but she doesn’t seem to realise that unfortunately she is in the minority when she makes that comment. Most people wouldn’t do something so silly for an extra bit of safety, they want something that looks good and offers the latest gadgets and is a label they can boast about a bit and that is simple and easy to use. Don’t confuse the British public – it’s terribly easy to do, on the whole. I’ve worked since I was fourteen and in every job I’ve had an interactive role with the people who would be viewed as ‘customers’ and believe me when I say that as individuals they can have degrees and know all kinds of clever things, but as a mass, a group, they are completely ignorant and will simply follow the herd and if you don’t tell them what they want to hear they will ignore you and talk a bit louder (then ask to speak to your supervisor). As a company you need to give customers what they want if you want them to buy your product, which is why you’ll find not many major companies shout about products they produce, but which are less popular.

The Breastfeeding Debate: OK now this one I saved til last because it really touches a nerve with me. A range of products – including baby t-shirts – has just been launched showing an image of a bottle with a red line through it and a negative comment about not breastfeeding. It is meant to imply that mothers who don’t breastfeed are somehow lacking in being perfect mothers, and that by the act of breastfeeding those who do are somehow better and more perfect.

I am pro-breastfeeding. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to do, to provide your baby nourishment and comfort from your own body in such a way. Technically speaking baby needs nothing for the first few weeks apart from mummy – these times are for mummy to treasure forever, and a time for bonding and getting more used to one another. Throughout my pregnancy I was asked by various other mums to be, midwives, consultants, doctors and other medical bods whether I intended to breastfeed and every time I answered truthfully, “Yes, I do.”

The Boy’s delivery wasn’t easy and it was a good hour or two after delivery that I had an opportunity to try feeding him. He wasn’t interested at all, and after the midwife tried assisting me and found he wasn’t having it, she suggested I kept trying for a while and left me to it. Two hours later he still hadn’t fed, though I’d managed to rub some of the colostrum around his lips and he’d licked them, he wouldn’t latch on for a good feed. The midwife complained that if he didn’t by I couldn’t be discharged onto the ward from the recovery room, and I had to be discharged from the recovery room by (I didn’t think to ask if the room turned into a pumpkin at , because thinking back on it now, why should it matter?) Anyway was in an hours time, the midwife tried assisting again and he wouldn’t latch on, so she got another midwife to help and that didn’t work either. In the end some more colostrum was rubbed around his lips which he licked and they counted that as a ‘feed’ and discharged me to the maternity ward just after .

We were in hospital for three days altogether. Each time I tried to feed him he’d take a mouthful or two but never much at a time. The best time I got him to latch on was the day we were discharged, when he was on for almost an hour, but he wasn’t taking a lot, it was just as if he wanted the closeness. I was still worried; they were still convinced everything was fine, we were discharged. The following day at home my midwife was horrified by what I told her, and the fact that since our return from the hospital The Boy had been asleep. We expressed some milk and fed it to him with a little sippy cup, which he took hungrily. “Darling, he’s not asleep, he’s unconscious,” She whispered, “He’s hungry, very hungry, and we need to get food in him or he needs to go back to hospital.” So we expressed even more into a bottle and fed him. From that point on, I tried to get him to breastfeed from me, but he simply wouldn’t, he refused, he would absolutely not to it to the point where he would scream his lungs out as soon as he realised what I was about to do! I had all kinds of advice and help from my midwife and a nursery nurse assistant to the health visitor (the health visitor is as much use as a chocolate teapot, but more on that later!) My son would drink breastmilk until his tummy went pop if it was out of a bottle, but direct from the source he absolutely refused. It was soul destroying, heartbreaking and made me feel so rejected by my beautiful, perfect baby that I cannot even begin to say how much it hurt every time I tried and every time he refused. While The Hubby was off work it was easy for me to pop off every couple of hours to express, and he would look after The Boy or wash and sterilise the bottles while I did so, but when he went back to work it became harder and harder to do. I’d slip from every two hours to every two and a half, to every three hours, as I struggled to juggle everything on my own, and of course as I was expressing less often I was getting less when I did. I must point out that at no point did I ever produce enough to satisfy The Boy – throughout the whole six weeks I was expressing milk I couldn’t keep up with him, even when expressing every time he fed, so the whole time he was being combination fed with SMA formula. And before that sparks off a whole other debate, there was no particular reason for us choosing SMA other than the fact that it was a brand we both recognised and was available in most shops locally so we knew it would be easy to buy when it was needed. Gradually the amount of milk I expressed off was less than the amount The Boy consumed of formula milk in any 24 hour period and one evening when he was six weeks old and I was exhausted I burst into tears about the fact that I couldn’t breastfeed and I couldn’t supply his demand and I was a useless mother in front of The Hubby.

He was horrified to find that I’d been feeling like that, and assured me that it was clearly The Boy’s choice not to breastfeed and we’d tried our best but he wasn’t into it, so how about we allow the formula feeds to take over so I could stop expressing and stressing about it. We agreed that was the way forward. I tried very hard to breastfeed, but for us it didn’t happen, and in lieu of breastfeeding directly I think I did alright to express for six weeks. It’s longer than some women breastfeed after all!

Now, bearing this in mind, I don’t take kindly to people presuming to know that I couldn’t be bothered to breastfeed my baby, or that I took an easier option or that my child is somehow less healthy because he didn’t breastfeed. Technically he did breastfeed as he had my milk for six weeks as well as formula – he’s had fewer illnesses so far in his life than other children of the same age and he’s taller and broader than the same group. He’s happy, sociable, inquisitive and thoughtful. I see no problems in his development physically or emotionally because I didn’t breastfeed him directly.

So then, how dare some other woman, who doesn’t know me, or my son, or our story or history, presume to know my reasons for not breastfeeding, and start having a go at me for my own, personal, honest opinion? Surely that’s unacceptable – I was asked for my opinion and provided it, and somehow this entitles you to have a go at me? To rant at me for some imaginary lifestyle story you have dreamed up for me? You don’t know me, why are you being so judgemental? Yet these women are doing it on an almost constant basis, to other mums who are presumably working just as hard as everyone else simply to do their best by their children? I hate this about society today – so quick to make judgements, to rip someone’s throat out (figuratively speaking) and scream abuse, vent your rage and start all the name calling under the sun. Have we actually moved on from the playground mentality at all? The whole idea of opinion, and debate, is each to their own – not that we will try and bully others into agreeing with our opinion!

Someone gleefully pointed out, on a debate on one page today, “Ooo, it’s just like MN in here!” and at that point I had to log out. I stopped using MN because of the awful conduct of the hideous women that frequent its pages and I hope that this is not the way that other pages will be going. I am all for debate, conversation, opinions – but not when people start getting bullied for speaking their mind.

At school, kids got bullied by me and I got bullied by other kids. I made a conscious effort to stop behaving that way when I was fifteen or sixteen and since then if I have an opinion I would like to give it without the risk of bullies shouting at me and threatening me verbally if I share my opinion. I am not here to judge you, why should you judge me? Each to their own – if we were all the same, life would be boring. It’s the same opinion that makes us decorate our houses differently, buy different cars, wear different clothes, all these are individual choices and you should not be ridiculed for sharing your choice when an opinion is asked.

So please, before you write a nasty comment to someone you don’t even know about the choices they’ve made in their life or their child’s life, stop and think about it. You don’t know the whole story, and a comment you say may be a very hurtful thing. You’re not going to agree with everything you read, but nor do you have to take such an aggressive stance on what you don’t agree with – if you don’t like it, stop reading it and move on – life goes on.