Part of my role as a blogger is to be honest. To show the parts of my life that might not be going quite right. To show that not everything is as Instagram says it is. Nobody has a perfect life. All mother’s struggle at times. And it is OK – it is more than OK to admit it.
This week I took to social media to confess that I was struggling.
Oscar has been poorly. He is teething, has had a bit of a bunged up nose and is very tired from the sleep that has been so very disturbed. This tiredness has lead to much more regular tantrums and those tantrums have lead us to breastfeeding in the day. Something that I had worked so hard at to stop. There would be days and days where he would go without a daytime feed and then suddenly on Sunday, he ended up on the boob three times (two tantrums and a mid nap wake up).
On Monday morning the same thing happened. He had an epic tantrum, he screamed for almost half an hour and there was absolutely no sign that he would stop. I honestly believe that if I had allowed him to scream for two hours, he would have screamed for two hours. I was left with no choice but to pop him on the boob. He instantly calmed down, took lots of big breaths and started falling asleep way before nap time was supposed to happen. I knew I had to let him feed and I knew I had to let him sleep – only I absolutely did not want him sleeping on me because the constant suckling really hurts now he has so many teeth.
And so he nodded off in my arms and I carefully manoeuvred him onto the sofa where he napped for about 40 minutes. It wasn’t enough though, and he ended up having another hour on the boob.
I was in dismay with it all and I had shed a few tears and may have silently screamed in frustration.
I felt like we were going backwards. Feeding during the day, napping too early (and so requiring an afternoon nap as well). I really felt like I was weighted down by the frustration of what was happening.
And so, as I mentioned, I took to social media.
The response I got was amazing. That’s the thing about social media isn’t it? There is so much support there, so many wonderful words, some of which made me nearly cry as I read them and realised what I had to do.
For it had become clear that I needed to do what my little boy needed me to do.
Rather than let him scream for half an hour and get himself into a complete and utter state, whilst stressing me out with the force of the tantrum and the negative pull against what I really didn’t want to do; I simply needed to feed him. I am his comfort. He needed comfort. So I needed to give him that comfort.
The same with the nap. It didn’t matter that it was too early. He needed it. And therefore I needed to let him have it rather than make him unhappy because it didn’t fit in with our usual routine.
And so on Tuesday morning when we got home from the school run, and he had another meltdown because he was tired and didn’t really know whether he wanted to be indoors or outdoors; rather than allow him to cry his eyes out for a period of time, I took his coat and jumper off, laid on the sofa with him and fed him until he fell asleep.
He napped for around half an hour whilst I had my breakfast and a cup of tea, and then he woke up. We watched some tv whilst he was still a bit sleepy, before he decided it was time to play and then have lunch. I gave him what he needed and both he and I were better off for it. There were no tears from me, not many tears from him, and I didn’t spend the day feeling utterly drained from parenting. I didn’t feel like I was failing.
After we had our lunch, I took him out to feed the ducks where he had an afternoon nap, woke up on the school run and made it through nicely until bedtime.
And this is what I will continue to do. If he needs me as comfort. If he is really upset and just simply doesn’t know how to control his emotions, then I will help him. I will comfort him. As someone said on my Instagram post, one day he will only need cuddles. He won’t need breast as comfort forever. So whilst he does, make the most of it!
And I will – teeth and all!
And of course, there are the real positives to look at when it comes to this. The biggest with breastfeeding is the calories you use up during feeds…meaning there is more positive negotiation to be had before having that cake or hot chocolate! I was also going to write here that hopefully it would also mean an even lengthier time before the return of my periods but alas, they literally came back yesterday morning! Oh joy!
So my message now is, if you are a mumma out there who is struggling with something. Something that you don’t want to do but your child really might just need you to. I can guarantee that life will be easier, you will feel calmer, and your child will feel calmer, if maybe you just give them what they need. If breastfeeding is the only thing that calms your child down, then offer it. If you are trying to withhold a dummy but they are miserable without it, maybe just let them have it.
As parents, we have to pick and choose our battles to make it through the days and it feels like these are the battles that are easier to just let them win. There will always be a time when they don’t need that boob, they don’t need that dummy. Maybe they will no longer need to share a bed with you, or they are happy to be cuddled to sleep rather than fed or rocked. They always say that this too shall pass, and it always, always does. It just might not feel like it will at the time. But one day we will be missing those breastfeeds, missing those snuggles when they are busy sleeping in their own beds.
Just go with the flow mummas, for we are all just winging it!