For they’ll move mountains – call for donations

give back to for they'll move mountains

We were recently approached by an organisation called For They’ll Move Mountains, one dedicated to the care and support of abandoned babies and children. They aim to raise awareness of child and baby abandonment in South Africa and raise the profile of other organisations doing the same, to “lend a helping hand” by getting donations to those in need, and to teach – to “understand and enlighten others” – about the reasons and truths behind child and baby abandonment.

All too often, our instinctual reaction when we hear of child or baby abandonment is one of aberration and disgust. But let’s take a moment to really think about it. As a mother, consider the sheer desperation you must be feeling to even consider abandoning your child. As a parent, think about the pain of actually walking away from that tiny human who you know to be completely dependent on you and your love. Consider what a person’s mind must go through to bring them to that point. And now, re-examine your initial, instinctual reaction.

When Annelize contacted me on Instagram to ask us to please consider helping them, my first thought was, “but what can we do?” But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that we can do a lot. We have a network in the thousands – we have followers, subscribers, friends, family, contacts at organisations with other, larger networks – of course there is something we can do. I believe that everyone needs a purpose, all organisations, forums and foundations need to support something other than (and in many cases, bigger than) themselves. Which is why, we’ve decided that For They’ll Move Mountains will be our official charity – for want of a better word. Any collections or donations we receive will be earmarked for this worthy organisation.

How you can help

For They’ll Move Mountains is doing a donation run for the end of August to donate items to four safe houses around Gauteng and in Cape Town (if possible, for more areas in South Africa as well). If you would like to get involved and support this worthy cause, here are some ways you can make a difference:

Donations

  • For the staff (Annelize has included some context about why the staff are listed)
    • Cupcakes/Treats
    • Pamper items
    • Pretty Packaging
  • For the babies/kids
    • Healthy kids’ snacks
    • Nappies – disposable/cloth
    • Formula
    • Products
    • Clothes
    • Toys
    • Blankets
    • Accessories
    • Play equipment
  • Jumble
    • Cleaning out your closet, spareroom or garage? Why not donate your unwanted jumble?
  •  Funds
    • These funds will be used to buy any of the above mentioned items which have not been donated or not enough of received
    • Money can be donated via EFT – please email hello@fortheyllmovemountains.co.za for details

Drop-off points can be arrange in any of the following areas:

  • Gauteng
    • Randpark Ridge and surrounds
    • Alberton and surrounds
    • Sandton and surrounds
    • Or you can get it to us and we’ll get in touch with Annelize to arrange a drop off
  • Cape Town
    • Brackenfell
  • Courier can be arranged to pick up in any other areas at an additional fee

If you have anything to donate, please contact Annelize by emailing hello@fortheyllmovemountains.co.za.

Please also Like their page on Facebook and follow them on Instagram to keep up to date with the latest needs and activities.

In the spirit of Mandela Day, and in remembrance of Tata Madiba, please think about how you can get involved and support this worthy cause.

… but words will never hurt me

I recently reconnected with a former high school teacher who had a profound impact on me. For whatever reason, I felt compelled to tell her of the impact she’d had on my life and the way her teachings had influenced the person I have become. I wasn’t sure at the time why I felt the need to tell her, but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became. When we’re young, everyone we interact with impacts our lives, and the people we ultimately become are defined by those interactions – good and bad. So often, when someone positively impacts your life, their presence in your life is fleeting and before you realize the impact they’ve had, they’re gone and you never get the chance to thank them. I suppose the same is true for people who negatively impact your life, before you realize the damage they’re causing, they’re gone and you never get an opportunity to confront them.

The cathartic nature of saying thank you prompted me to think a little deeper about the kind of impact I am having, and will continue to have, on Fletcher. There is so much literature at our fingertips these days, thanks to the internet, and our access to that information has made us that much more aware of how our actions are potentially impacting our children. Our parents didn’t think twice about lighting a cigarette with us in the backseat, or about the way they spoke to us and how it might affect our personalities down the line, mostly because they didn’t know to think about it. But the access we have to information compels us to think more deeply about how our actions and words could affect our children. We must think about our tone and our use of language, we must be purposeful about the words we choose to use when disciplining and praising our children.

I remember an incident, about 10 years ago, where a friend asked us to stop commenting on how beautiful her young toddler was because she didn’t want her daughter to only identify as a ‘beautiful girl’. “There is so much more to her,” she explained to us, “and I want her to think of herself as more than just a ‘beautiful girl’, I want her to think of herself as smart and kind, as gentle and loving.” At the time, I was young and didn’t give the conversation much more thought, but as I look back on it now, with the benefit of hindsight and having become a parent myself, those words ring so true. We have to be careful not to pigeon-hole our children as ‘beautiful’ or as ‘such a clever boy’. We have a duty to make sure they are conscious of all the facets of themselves and aware of all of their potential. We can look back at our parents’ generation and say, “yes, but they didn’t think about these things, and look at me, I turned out fine.” But if someone had taken the time to make you fully aware of your potential, do you not think you might have done some things a little differently. If your childhood had been built on “you’re beautiful” and “you’re kind, smart and brave”, would you still have made exactly the same decisions? Would you still do the same thing for a living, or might you have pursued your childhood dream to be a fireman, or a fighter pilot?

Yes, our parents didn’t do it, and we all turned out fine. But our parents didn’t know any better. We do.

Actually, I can wait

Actually, I can wait

Over the years, I’ve heard so many moms and dads throw out the phrase, “I can’t wait for…” or “I can’t wait until he/she can…” I’ve done it, too. I remember saying how I couldn’t wait until he could smile, or until he could go down for a nap without having to be winded. And of course, those milestones are so special when you reach them. I can clearly remember the first time Fletch smiled at us, and how glad I was that we were together for it. He was on his changing mat and at first we both thought it was gas, but we smiled and cooed at him nonetheless, and were pleasantly surprised when he returned our smiles with another dashing, gummy smile of his own. Instant. Melted. Hearts. Everywhere. Needless to say, we were over the moon about him reaching the milestone, but I wouldn’t trade the five or six smile-free weeks leading up to it for anything in the world.

Since then, I’ve been purposeful about not wishing his precious little life away with “can’t waits” because actually, I can wait! He’s only little for such a short time and that time is so precious. Every day when I get home from work, I swear he’s changed. Every morning when I peer over the edge of his cot at him and his little face bursts into a gummy smile with arms and legs flailing frantically to be picked up, I swear he’s grown. I look back at photos and videos on my phone and think, “ah remember that outfit” and “look how big it was on him.” Then I remember that we’ve already handed that outfit down to friends, or packed it away incase baby number 2 is a boy, and I marvel at how time has flown.

I know, I know, it’s such a cliché, but time really does fly! We get so caught up in the day-to-day. We focus on getting through the week and cramming the weekends with as many activities as possible, seeing as many people as we can, that we forget to stop and enjoy the moment we’re in – right now. When I get home from work, the afternoons and evenings are a whirlwind of cuddles, suppertime, tummy time (which Fletcher hates more than anything), bath time and the bedtime routine. I’m often so focused on what the clock says that I miss the moments happening all around me. I miss the fact that Fletcher has started recognizing our cat, and has completely fallen in love with him (much to Toothless’s disgust). I miss that he is suddenly interested in everything and anything – from your teacup, to the spice rack and curtains blowing in the wind. I miss the fact that he’s pretty much sitting unsupported (albeit a bit unsteadily sometimes). I miss the fact that he has now mastered rolling from his tummy to his back in both directions. I miss things – we all do – every single day because we’re so focused on the next thing we have to do, that we overlook the beauty of the thing we’re doing right now. 

When you become a parent, you are totally inundated with (mostly unsolicited) advice, but if you only take one piece of advice from me, please let it be this: stop wishing away your journey with “can’t waits” and “I wishes”. Enjoy the moments you’re in when you’re in them, because I promise you one thing, you will never be in those moments again – they are so fleeting. Take all the midnight wakings and chalk them up to a few extra precious moments with your tiny human. Force yourself to actively participate in every activity. Put your phone down, that text can wait, and put yourself in that moment! And enjoy it.

Has it been 6 months already?!

It’s hard to believe, but our little man is six months old already. Six months ago on Friday, Fletcher was born. As we went through our busy weekend routine this past weekend, thoughts kept popping to my head, like: six months ago, we were sitting in the NICU counting the hours until Christmas, hoping against hope that our little boy would be home for his first Christmas. And six months ago we were going home, leaving Fletcher in the NICU.

Six months ago today, Fletcher came home, so we have officially been full-time parents for six months today. It’s one of those paradoxes of time – “has it only been six months?” but at the same time, “woah, it’s been six months already?!” In that time, so many things have happened. Our little boy has grown and changed in unimaginable ways. When we look back at the photos of that time in the NICU and those first few days at home, it’s hard to believe it’s the same little guy. He’s grown into this absolute thug of a human – way above average in height and weight and strong and sturdy! A real rugby forward in the making (or ballerina, or scientist, or whatever he wants to be!).

Over the last six months, Becs and I have come along in leaps and bounds too. Six months and five days ago, I’d never changed a poo nappy, and now I’ve changed two just this morning! Six months ago, I thought I’d still be breastfeeding him when he was six months old, and we all know how that worked out. Six months ago, we were floundering along, with little-to-no clue what we were doing, and now we’re bounding along with a moderate clue that maybe we’re doing OK. Motherhood is a tricky thing, you never know at the time if what you’re doing is right – I mean we thought we were doing the right thing in swaddling him, and that worked out dismally. But, when you do get something right (and we must be getting something right, because Fletcher is a rockstar of a human), it is so gratifying, so rewarding, to know that you are (at least in part) responsible for shaping the awesome little being in front of you.

Six months down the line, I’d hardly call myself an expert. I still question every decision we make a thousand different ways. I still look to Becs and ask, “do you think I should…” instead of confidently saying, “I’m going to…” almost every time because I want the reassurance that her agreeing with me brings. We both lean on each other through difficult times and we both fall down some times, but at the end of the day, it’s all been such an incredible experience and one I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

SA Mom Blogs Guest Post

amateur mommies on sa moms blog

Between training for an ultramarathon, a full-time job and being a mom to a rambunctious 6-month old, my days are pretty full. Most days start at 04:30, either because I need to be at running at 05:00 or because our little bundle of joy has decided that’s a good time to wake up (often for the 5th time). My wife and I are both keen runners (although she’s a lot more sane than I am and has no desire to run further than 21kms – yet), so we take turns, running on alternate mornings and on our early mornings “off”, we’re on mom-duty. We’re blessed to have a wonderful nanny who looks after our son while we’re keeping the economy ticking over. When I get home it’s a whirlwind of playtime, suppertime, bath time, bedtime and getting dinner ready for us. Once our little man is down for the night, my wife and I are purposeful about connecting as a couple – talking through our day, chatting about ideas we’ve had to grow our “empire-in-the-making” and sitting down to a meal together. Read the full post here.

Sleep? Ja, we still don’t know what that is

About two months ago I started seeing all these posts online from friends with kids around Fletcher’s age about a “four month sleep regression”. I joked that Fletcher had never progressed to sleeping in stretches longer than 4 hours, so how much could he realistically regress? The answer was a lot. After two weeks of him waking every one to two hours, we introduced solids, hoping that would help. It didn’t.

When we felt we couldn’t take it anymore, I reached out to friends who had successfully parented their little ones into (and in some cases, beyond) toddler-hood for advice. The advice was varied. One mom suggested sleep training. Another suggested bringing him back into our room, or even our bed, until he was more settled. Yet another said she didn’t have a clue, her four year old still wasn’t sleeping through. She did however suggest shifts – one night on, one night off – so at least you’re getting a less disturbed sleep every second night, meaning (in most cases) you can continue to function and (in some cases) make a valued contribution to society.

The friend who suggested sleep training shared the book she’d used to sleep train her little boy and I immediately immersed myself in it. Having read the pertinent sections, one Sunday evening after an exhausting weekend of very little sleep we decided to bite the bullet. We’d always been pretty good with Fletcher’s bath time / bed time routine, so that was fairly well established, but the biggest thing we were doing wrong was rocking him to sleep, meaning he was reliant on being rocked to fall asleep. This was a two-fold problem: 1) it meant we had to get up and settle him every time he woke during the night and 2) he was now so big that it was uncomfortable for him (and bloody difficult for us) to rock him.

That night we gave him his bath, his massage and his nighttime bottle as normal, but this time instead of rocking him to sleep, we put him into his cot, swaddled him (yes, we were still doing that), switched off the light and left. He was not happy. He cried with varying degrees of fervor for what seem like an age. We regularly went back into his room, as the book said to do, to reassure him that everything was fine, to soothe him a bit and repeat the catch-phrase, “it’s night-night time.” Eventually he did fall asleep and we rejoiced! It was, however, short-lived. When he woke a few hours later, we made sure he was comfortable, swaddled with his dummy in and duly repeated the process of letting him “learn to settle himself”.

It’s now about a month-to-six-weeks later and things are (mostly) going better. We’ve finally managed to ditch the swaddle, and that happened entirely organically and literally over night. One night he was fine being swaddled, the next night when we tried to swaddle him, he resisted, vehemently. So we left him unswaddled and he slept. Some nights are better than others. On Monday night he slept from 6pm until 3am and only really niggled once, early in the evening. Last night he woke at 10pm, 11pm, 1am, 4am and 5am, and at 5:45 he was awake for real.

Every night is different and I suppose that’s the challenge. As soon as you think you’ve got it waxed, life throws you a curve ball and you have to reset your entire process. I can however tell you that the addition of solids did sweet FA for his sleeping, so anyone who tells you that giving them solids will help them sleep better is filling you with false hope. Fletcher eats his body weight every day in vegetables, fruits, yoghurt, Kiri Cheese and lentils and still does whatever he feels like at night. The only thing solids has done is increased our nappy requirements because he’s gone from being a one-a-day poo’er to three, and sometimes even four times a day.

Honestly, the best advice I can you is this: when you’re bouncing through parenthood’s uncertainties, rely on your support network – whether it’s your partner, your parents or siblings, your friends or a bunch of strangers on a Facebook group. Use those people for advice, tap into their knowledge, vent your frustrations to them and lean on them when you need it, because – trust me – you’ll need it.

Sleep, what’s that?

To the person who told us to swaddle our baby: please high-five yourself. In the face. Now I know what you’re thinking, everyone swaddles their babies, it’s totally normal so why are you ticked off at the person who advised you to swaddle your baby? The answer is simple: because now we’re screwed.

Fletcher is at the age when it’s advised that you stop swaddling, but we can’t stop swaddling him, because he doesn’t know how to self-soothe. It also doesn’t help that I gave birth to a miniature Houdini! What this means in the real world is that, if he manages to wriggle one or (gods help us) both arms free, he will wake up at least every 45 minutes to an hour wearing his swaddle blankie like a scarf and need to be helped back to lala land. This comes in a range of forms from giving him back his dummy (which he inevitably spits out ±30 seconds after falling asleep) to giving him a bottle, or taking him out of the cot and rocking him back to sleep. Ok, so we keep swaddling him a bit longer and try to slowly ween him off the swaddle. Cool.

Enter the second part of this compound problem. Lately, he wakes up pretty much every hour, at best every two hours whether he’s swaddled or not. Initially, we thought he was waking because he was hungry. So this weekend we took the decision to introduce solids to his daily meal plan. At his last check-up Sr Liesel gave us the talk about introducing solids, explaining that rice cereal is now taboo – empty calories and all – and that one should start with veggies. Cool, no problem.

On Friday night I steamed about half a metric ton of butternut, mashed it up, divvied it into an empty ice tray, ready to be thawed in perfect little portion-sized batches. On Saturday morning we excitedly heated a teaspoon of butternut, put Fletcher into the appropriate protective clothing and began introducing him to the wonders of tepid, unseasoned butternut. He loved it. I mean he didn’t have a clue how to eat it – pushing most of it out of his mouth with his tongue – but he seemed to enjoy the bits that stayed in his mouth. That evening we repeated the process, hoping this would solve our sleep problems. Boy were we wrong.

Saturday night saw us rising every one to two hours throughout the night with the ritual culminating in a 30 minute screaming match at 5am. Becs eventually managed to settle him again, but his new-found allergy to sleeping meant that by 07:00 he was now ready to face the day. Bleary-eyed, we stumbled from bed to heat round two of the butternut extravaganza. Part of me – ok, all of me – hoped that the second day would reinforce everything and that Sunday night he’d really sleep well. Negative Ghost Rider.

Sunday night was even worse. During the day on Sunday, Fletcher had been a terrorist, getting in about three or four 30-minute cat-naps but otherwise not sleeping. Consequently, he was exhausted by 5pm. While I prepared supper, Becs gave Fletcher a bath and put him down nice and early. He settled pretty well, so we were cautiously optimistic. He niggled a few times over the next two hours and we settled him with bottles, meaning that by 7pm he’d smashed another 180ml and would (theoretically) be down for anywhere between four and six hours. Exhausted from our sleepless weekend and two weeks of having a sick baby (that’s a story for another day), we crashed at 9pm. One hour later, the monitor crackled. Drat.

I got up, gave him a bottle and he settled pretty quickly. One hour later, the monitor crackled. Ugh. I got up, put his dummy back in and he settled again. One hour later, the monitor crackled… and so it went, every hour from 10pm until 3am, when I eventually pulled him into our bed and we managed to sleep from 03:20 to 05:25 – five minutes before my alarm was due to go off.

I don’t know if it’s this “four month sleep regression” thing everyone keeps talking about or if he’s just being otherwise, but I really hope he gets over his sudden aversion to sleep soon, because damn son, we are tired! Just a side note on this four month sleep regression thing: I didn’t even know that such a thing existed until a few of our friends who have kids around Fletcher’s age started commenting that their little whipper-snappers were regressing. I joked, saying that Fletcher had never progressed beyond four-hour stretches so there was no progress to regress on. Incorrect. Just because he hadn’t progressed, didn’t mean he couldn’t go backwards. You know how they say there’s rock bottom? Well we weren’t there yet it seems.

Pray for us. That is all.

The tipping point

Weight gain during pregnancy is totally normal and expected. If you’re one of the really lucky ones, you might only gain a few extra kilos. If you’re one of the normal ones, you’ll likely gain somewhere between 5 and 7 extra kilos (that’s over and above baby, etc.). But if you’re anything like me, you’ll pack those extra pounds on.

I was really good in the beginning, through my first and second trimester I was pretty much bang-on with how much weight I should’ve gained, but something went terribly wrong between month six and month nine. All of a sudden I was gaining way too much weight (in my opinion) each week. My midwife was pretty unconcerned, citing the fact that every mom and each pregnancy is different, which of course it is, but that didn’t comfort me.

All in all, I gained around 19 or 20kgs (it’s all a bit of a rough guess because I don’t actually know what I weighed when I fell pregnant). Three days before Fletcher was born I tipped the scales at 88.8kgs. I was moderately comforted by the fact that ±3kgs were Fletcher, another 1kg for the placenta, ±1kg for the extra blood and at least another one for the amniotic fluid, a few hundred grams at least in water weight… So I expected that, after all those things were out of my body (i.e. moments after giving birth) I could expect to be about 7 or 8kgs down, right? Wrong!

Doctors and midwives counsel against expecting weight loss to happen too quickly, reminding us that “it took nine months to gain the weight, give yourself nine months to lose it.” But I – like so many other women – thought that at least some of the weight would magically disappear after the birth. You hear stories of women leaving the hospital in their pre-pregnancy jeans and you think that’s the norm, well I’m here to tell you, it isn’t.

Look, don’t get me wrong, every mom and each pregnancy is different and I’m absolutely not telling you to diet during pregnancy if you feel you’re gaining too quickly. Most people say they’ll worry about the extra weight when baby is out and that really is the best approach. You can’t put your child’s life at risk because you’re worried about how your body will look when you leave the hospital. All I’m saying is that it takes time, it’s not as instant as you might think. Just because a good percentage of those kilos were removed from your body with baby, doesn’t mean they’re gone when you step on the scale (don’t ask me how – water weight maybe – but through some evil sorcery they’re still there).

For about the first two months of Fletcher’s life, the only pants that fitted me, fitted when I was nine months pregnant. I’d look longingly at my other (neglected) clothes, desperately willing the weight to leave me so I could wear something other than maternity pants! Slowly but surely the pile of things that I can squeeze into (with varying degrees of wriggling and squirming) is growing, but it’s a long, slow road and I’m still miles from my destination.

The big thing to remember is that it takes time, but discipline and dedication will get you there. When Fletcher was about a month old, I signed up at the gym. I started out nice and slow, knowing that my fitness was somewhere left of the u-bend in the toilet. Cycling for 20 minutes damn near killed me, my muscles were weak and my lungs felt like they’d been swapped with a 90+ year-old chain smoker’s. But by week two, that 20 minute cycle wasn’t as taxing as it had been and so I started running on the treadmill. That first day I ran 4kms and was beyond dead when I stumbled off the treadmill 31 minutes later. The next day, in the same amount of time, I ran 4.5kms and already I could feel the difference – my muscles were remembering. The following week I ran 4.7kms, then 4.9kms and by the end of the month 7,7kms. Slowly I was building up my fitness again.

Currently, I alternate my running with either cycling, swimming, indoor rowing, or circuit or strength training and I’m getting there. I still weigh a lot more than I did when I fell pregnant and more still than I want to, but through a combination of good eating and balanced cardio and strength training, I’m starting to see results. Because I’ve never been one to listen to medical professionals, I’ve given myself six months to lose the baby weight – half way in and I’m half way there, so I think I’m well-placed.

The biggest lesson for me was that gaining the weight was a hell of a lot easier than losing it has been, but don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t get your body back, or that “only young moms get their bodies back”. It’s total BS – anyone can do it, you just have to give it time, and you have to want it badly enough.

Who’s your daddy?

Since Fletcher was born, many of our friends and family have asked us questions like “was the dad tall?” or “what colour were the dad’s eyes?” Harmless questions asked with nothing but good intentions. Cognisant of the fact that no-one has ever meant any harm by any of these questions, we’ve always responded as diplomatically as possible – “the donor had blue eyes” or “the donor was over 6 foot,” but the fact remains that Fletcher doesn’t have a dad. For better or worse, he has two mommies.

Some people might think that statement is completely ludicrous – how can he not have a dad? Surely, it takes a mom and a dad to make a baby? Yes and no. Yes, it takes genetic material from both a man and a woman to make a baby. But no, you don’t need a “mom” and a “dad”. “Moms” and “dads” raise children. They kiss boo-boos and patch up skinned knees. They do school runs and plan pirate-princess themed birthday parties. They lie awake at night agonising over which school to enrol their kids at, or how they’re going to pay for college. They beam like Cheshire cats at graduation day and snap a thousand photos a minute. Moms and dads raise children.

It may sound trivial, but if I have learned from my time at my current employer, it’s that language matters. Words define meaning and meaning defines experience. If someone describes a delicious meal to you using only bland and benign descriptors, your experience of that meal is tainted. You might go to a “hairdresser” for a boring old cut, but you’d go to “stylist” for something funky and cutting edge. You’d go to a “clothing retailer” for your everyday wear, but you’d go to a “boutique” for that drop-dead-gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, stop-you-in-your-tracks, knockout dress.

So no, Fletcher doesn’t have a “dad”, but he has two moms who love him more with each day, who will dote on him throughout his life.

To feed or not to feed

For many expectant mothers breastfeeding is a daunting prospect – will I produce enough milk to keep him satisfied? Will he be able to latch? Will he be – heaven forbid – allergic to my milk? What if I absolutely hate it? These are real fears for new moms and ones that can, ultimately, make or break your breastfeeding experience.

All through my pregnancy I was adamant that I wanted to do things as close to naturally as possible. My birth “plan” had a heavy focus on the natural – a midwife over a gynae, a vaginal over Caesarean delivery, no pain management over an epidural, etc. – but we don’t always get what we want in life, and especially in childbirth.

Similarly, I wanted to exclusively breastfeed as far as possible. Although, knowing the physical and emotional burden breastfeeding places on a new mom, we had agreed I would express as well so that Becs could help out with night feeds. But when Fletcher went straight to the NICU after birth instead of straight onto my breast, things changed and we had to roll with it.

When the NICU nurse came into our room on that first morning and told me my child was starving panic set in. One of the nurses helped me to express a whopping 1ml, at which point Becs signed the consent to give Fletcher formula. Although the nurses continued to stress the importance of breast milk, if I could get any, and praised the delivery of those “drops of gold”, it had taken something meant to be a beautiful and intimate bonding moment between me and my baby and made it something clinical.

When Fletcher came off the CPAP and I was able to try and latch him to feed, it was still a beautiful moment for me – despite the wires and tubes still attached to my two-day-old baby. But it quickly became clear it wasn’t happening fast enough for him. Having become accustomed to the delivery speed of, first the feeding tube and then the bottle, the breast simply took too long and required too much effort. Still, we persevered.

I expressed three or four times a day while he was in the NICU and when he came home we tried relentlessly to get him to feed. But as time went on, and his daily need increased, he ended up getting more bottle than breast. I simply wasn’t producing enough milk to satisfy his hunger – despite the Eglonyl.

I began to dread feeding time. He’d be what we call screaming sad mad (which is exactly what it sounds like), and I’d be desperately trying to aim his wailing mouth at my breast, hoping he’d get a good latch. He’d latch briefly, suck a few times before realizing it was going to require maximum effort on his part. Then he’d start screaming again. And this cycle would continue for up to an hour before I’d give in and ask Becs to prepare a bottle. Some days were better than others, mind you. Sometimes I’d get him onto the breast before he realized how hungry he was and so he’d be sucking before he got “screaming sad mad”, so he’d be OK with putting the extra effort in. But even on those days, he’d need a bottle afterward.

After a month of trying I decided the emotional tug-of-war I experienced every time I tried to breastfeed was just too much. He was gaining weight nicely on the formula and was anything but malnourished, so why was I torturing myself? Guilt. I felt guilty at the thought of giving up because “breast is best” and “they don’t get antibodies from formula” but I just couldn’t do it anymore. My distress at seeing him so frustrated and upset every time I tried to feed him began to outweigh my guilt.

I discussed my feelings with Becs, who was wonderfully supportive and told me all the things I needed to hear – “he gets so frustrated” and “you did your best babe” – but despite all that, it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made as a mother and I do still feel guilty about it. But every time I see him calmly have a bottle before drifting into that contented sleep that only comes from having a full belly, my guilt is somewhat assuaged.

Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it. I’ve spoken to moms who diligently breastfed and they all agree, it was the hardest, most physically and emotionally draining thing they’ve ever done. If you get it right, power to you, but if you don’t do not feel guilty. No one has ever been asked at a job interview if they were breast or bottle fed. As long as they’re getting the nutrients they need and they are loved, what more could you want?