Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Muddling through



Since I've had my third child I've had lots of people say to me "I don't know how you do it".  The truth of the matter is, neither do I!  I suppose I don't really think about things too much.  Quite frankly, I don't get much time to think.  But I've just got through a really busy few weeks what with two of my children having birthdays, which obviously involved the obligatory birthday party.  As they are only two weeks apart I decided to have a joint party for them.  So I spent quite some time organising a venue, a bouncy castle and face painting, making the food, ordering cakes (I'm determined to make my own one day), sending invites and agonising over the choice of paper plates and party bags (why do I do it to myself?).  And all this doesn't include the family parties for the days of their actual birthdays.

So now it's all over and I've finally got a bit of time to sit down and think about things.  I do try not to do this much purely because the amount of time I get to think directly correlates to amount of stress I feel.  As I'm sat here eating Nutella straight from jar, I do wonder what the hell I'm doing.  I go from day to day doing school runs, going to baby groups, running the older boys around to kick-boxing / swimming / gymnastics, working, making food for the clan, cleaning, washing and ironing without any real thought about what I'm doing.

Well, I'm onto the Haribo now and still wondering where this post is going.  See, I said I do things without any real thought, and writing my blog posts are much the same.  I try to come up with a topic, but can never think of anything so I just start writing.  Sometimes I realise what I want to write about quite quickly, but others, like tonight, I just feel confused and unsure.  It doesn't help that in between writing this I've been reading posts by some great bloggers and wishing I could be as funny and write as well as them.

Anyway, I digress, or have I?  I don't know.  Ah yes, I've been thinking.  Maybe I should take more time to be aware of what is going on around me instead of floating around in a (busy) bubble trying to juggle all of my roles.  Most days I just feel too tired.  I'm woken up very early by the baby demanding milk, then I have to drag myself out of bed to get the older two ready for school.  Breakfast time is challenging and it's a fine art getting them all to eat and then get dressed in time.  Some mornings are okay, but others I get a sore throat from shouting by the time I've dropped them off.  Not that they listen......

Then depending on what day it is, it's either back home with the baby and get ready for baby group (with a bit of cleaning and ironing thrown in), or off to work.  Work is easier.  I get to sit down without feeling guilty, and I sometimes even manage to read some of my book while having lunch (in peace)!

On my non-work days, it's only a few short hours before it's back to school to pick the boys up, home for food, help with reading/school work, more cleaning/washing/ironing (delete as appropriate)  and then starts the agony of trying to get them in the bath and eventually into bed.  By the time I get to sit down I'm exhausted and sometimes just end up staring numbly at my twitter screen and thinking that I really need to blog.

Now I know I'm not unique, and that most mums do exactly the same as, if not more than me.  I just feel that I don't know what I'm doing.  Surely, I should know by now?

So, to everyone who's ever commented on me being so calm, and being a 'natural mum', I appear to be calm because I'm knackered, and I'm just muddling through, trying to do my best.  Having three children doesn't make me any more knowledgeable than my friends with one child.  I can't remember what I did with my first, and it's just a blur from when my second came along so soon after.  I manage because I've got to, because my children need me.  Just like all the other mums out there.

Monday, 10 October 2011

When is it the right time to stop?

I'm still breastfeeding Ollie, and he will be one on Wednesday.  Now, with my other two boys I always said that I would breastfeed for a year, but they both stopped themselves just before they were a year old.  So I've never done the whole weaning process.  But Ollie is still going strong.  He only has two feeds a day usually, but he loves those feeds.  In fact, he demands them.  He's showing no sign of wanting to drop them.

But this morning, he bit me. Ouch!  I'm not planning on stopping just because he bit me. But it has started me thinking about what I want to do. I just can't make my mind up.  Today has made me think about it a bit more too as (other than the biting incident) Ollie isn't very well.  He's got an upset tummy and it seems the only thing he wants is breast milk.  So that's what he's getting.  He's still so little, and still a baby.  My baby.

I recently trained as breastfeeding peer support worker so I know all the positive benefits of extended breastfeeding, and that the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of two years (http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/)  It just isn't as easy as knowing all that.  I feel pulled in different directions by other peoples opinions, and also by myself.

Am I planning on continuing to feed for myself (as suggested by a certain someone very close to me)?  Ollie could be my last baby so maybe I don't want to give up the attachment?  He is still very much my baby, and I don't think it's because I don't want to lose the attachment, more that I know he really wants to breastfeed and I don't want to deny him.  Is that so wrong?

Or is it time to wean him to...... (I'm trying to think of the reasons) ..Do you know, I can't think of a valid reason why.  I don't feel like my body is not my own because I'm breastfeeding, and I think that my reasons for stopping now would just be to suit other people.  And that's no reason.  Surely the only reason to stop now would be because either Ollie, or I, decide that we don't want to do it any more.  Shouldn't it come down to personal choice?

I wouldn't dream of telling another mum how to raise their child, so why do I feel criticised by others just because i want to breastfeed past the age of one?  Breastfeeding in itself is not very common in my area, so extended breastfeeding is practically unheard of!  Thank goodness for my breastfeeding support group, and most of my close friends and family.  Without them I may give in to peer pressure.

I think there's always an element of guilt when it comes to making decisions about the children.  I know that doesn't just apply to me either.  I've got friends who feel guilty about how they fed their baby, when they started weaning onto solids, where their baby sleeps, even that their baby fell and hurt themselves (some of these also apply to me!)  I do think that guilt is a natural part of parenting, and it helps to have friends who are going through the same things in order to rationalise and discuss concerns.  In fact, I think it's extremely important for me to have this support.   It helps me to feel happy and comfortable with my decisions.

When I started writing this post, I wasn't sure where it was going.  Part of me wanted advice, but I don't think I need it any more.  I'm happy, Ollie's happy, and that's all that matters.  Writing this has helped me to realise that.  So, we'll keep going a bit longer.  And stop when it's ready for us, and not when it suits other people.