In four weeks I’m going back to work. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. It seriously feels like yesterday that I was finishing my last day of school and getting beautiful gifts off the children, parents and teachers. I was lucky enough to finish school at the end of last year (2011), and so it really felt as though I was just going on another set of summer holidays. It wasn’t really until school went back this year, that I found it really bizarre. Since then, time has flown. The first three months are a bit of shell shock, and it takes a while to find your feet and then you get to really enjoy everything that being a Mum has to offer.
I’ve discovered that being a Mum means getting used to change. Nothing ever stays the same for very long. You need to get used to being flexible and rolling with the punches. It’s funny because in the beginning, I found breast feeding overwhelming and challenging. Like most new Mums who decide to breast feed, getting used to a new function for these two things that have been a part of your body for 33 years is a little bizarre. It takes a lot of patience, persistence and sometimes, a lot of pain. I was lucky enough to work through my battles pretty quickly and came to love breast feeding after a few weeks. Although breast feeding means that you really are under the pump (excuse the pun) 24/7, breast feeding has its benefits: its free, its portable, its convenient, no sterilising needed, nor warming of any bottles. Before I had Ella, I was completely open minded about feeding. I thought I would give it a go, and if it worked…great. If not, then I new there were other options. So many mums feel such pressure to persist with breast feeding, even when they are going through hell with mastitis, blocked ducts (this was my vice), lack of supply, poor attachment etc. etc. It is so hard and can be made worse by the constant pressure by society. I personally believe that every mum just does their best. What ever they choose, it should be up to them. For me, I was lucky enough to achieve the ability to breast feed relatively quickly and whilst I found it exhausting, through the months I have developed a love of this time with my beautiful girl.
Like all things though as soon as you get used to it, something changes. I had been thinking about my transition back to work and what we would do when I went back. It’s funny, before Ella was born I thought that she would be exclusively bottle fed by then, but now that I am six months in, things have changed. In the past few months I have been going into work to help out from time to time. Ella has had several bottles since she was born, for various reasons: medical appointments, hair appointments :-), date night etc. Most of these times Ella has taken to the bottle pretty well. However there was one day things changed. My Mum had been minding Ella and she would not take the bottle. Simply refused. After an hour of persisting, my Mum called me to come home. Let’s just say that for my Mum (a nurse) to call me, this was saying something. I arrived to find a sad little baby, slumped over my Mum’s shoulder and an equally distressed Nanna. It was heart breaking. She had almost passed out from crying so much. I felt like the worst Mother in the world. I didn’t want to give up breast feeding, but this just wasn’t helping Ella.
It was after this day that I committed to weaning Ella towards co-feeding. After speaking with my Mum and friends, my husband and I decided that it was kinder to Ella to gradually get her used to bottle feeding, so that when I returned to work, she would be fine. I guess my problem was that I knew I was never very good at expressing and the thought of trying to do this whilst working in a Primary School was not a very practical option. I knew that bottles for Ella meant formula and this was fine. I did lots of reading (probably too much) about the advantages of co-feeding for working mothers. I didn’t want to give up breast feeding both for Ella and myself and to be honest, I hand’t realise that this process was possible. I found a great schedule to help me work towards breast feeding in the morning and evening, with bottles during the day. This schedule (BabyLove) was gradual and something that I thought I could do over a number of weeks, to get us both used to it. Currently I’m in the middle of starting two bottles a day, and Ella is doing fine. So am I.
It’s funny that the transition from breast feeding, to bottle feeding, or in our case both has been something that I have found really hard. Not so much from the physical side, but the emotional one. I know that at heart I am a very emotional person, but whilst my obstacles have not been greatly physical in terms of soreness etc. , the challenge of taking the step towards moving my baby away from something that I now love has been really hard. I know there are so many Mums who struggle with so many different facets of feeding, its endless. I know in the end that I am doing the right thing for my baby. Whilst I would love to stay with her each day, I’m also looking forward to working part time and returning to a job I love. She will be better for it and so will I. Include her Dad in that equation too. I’m sure that there are so many Mums and Dads in the same position. We all just need to stick together and do what’s best for our babies and our own sanity.
Wish us luck xxx