Review: Bumblebee Collection- “It’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!”

Review: Bumblebee Collection- “It’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!”

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood
And whomsoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell…

I have always had strong affinity with Samhain (or Halloween to the less creepy folk!) I tend to believe that our bloodline of women have historical links to witchcraft or at the least paganism. It has always fascinated me and I was encouraged to explore a spiritual path from an young age.

Queue the angsty, teenage years when I would cast spells to bring love, wealth and happiness. I had odds and sods to use alongside simple incantations such as feathers, herbs and different coloured candles for various spell types. Really it was a belief system that allowed me to navigate the challenges of growing up because a lot of the “lifestyle” was about being close to nature (which has proven health benefits), positive mental attitude & recognising the value of people and life. Wicca was very positive and taught me a lot about myself.

Should Bea show an interest in this way of life I would certainly not discourage her. It is not dark and destructive. It is in fact a force of positive energy much like other derivatives of self improvement (eg: yoga, meditation) as it is a focus for change and allows you to affirm your positive presence in the world. Ask the Universe and you shall receive!

So there’s a random nugget about my past interests. And in the present I still carry the benefits of what I learned. This Halloween I will be my regular Witchy self and watching Practical Magic with my mini witch #MidnightMargaritas anyone?!  I feel so happy to have grown up in a time that made witchcraft feel appealing and acceptable. I was part of the Sabrina The Teenage Witch generation. (It gives me a warm feeling inside when I just think about it!)

Another of my all time favourite Witch-centric movies is Hocus Pocus. It has certainly aged! It exudes 90s charm/cringe (you decide which side of a very blurred line it traverses!) in my humble opinion I have nothing but love for it! I can’t help but to join Bette Middler in song in the “I’ll Put A Spell On You” scene.

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It is no secret that Bea and I are massive fans of a bow or two… so we were thrilled to be gifted October’s Subscription Box from Louise of the Bumblebee Collection; aptly named “Hocus Pocus”. The name itself evoked a warm glow in my very soul. I couldn’t wait to unwrap the five very different but equally beautiful bows. They looked both beautiful as a group and individually.

Each bow exceeds the quality I expected, having scrolled through a beautiful Instagram feed. The photography I have captured, I do not feel shows the bows in their full glory when you see them in person; in particularly the shine of the glitter bow and how the ombré fades seamlessly. They are very striking and I loved the attention to detail and that each bow relates to a specific dimension of Halloween.9C144919-543F-4557-A3D1-C8A9AE3A694F.jpeg

The names of the bows are as follows:

Ghouls Ombré Ribbon Bow, Wizards Tulle Bow in navy, Witches Magic Glitter Bow, Glow in the Dark Ghost Bow and Black Magic Painted Bow- #SpookTacular!

The colour scheme of the bows very much lends itself to the aesthetic of Halloween. The designs are both very overtly related to the holiday (such as the charming glow in the dark ghostie that lit itself in a phosphorescent glow much like a splodge of ectoplasm!) and bows that are more wearable all year round (Glitter is for every season!!!)

The headbands are very soft and I have found that after a long period of time have not left as obvious marks on Bea’s head as other bows. She has found them most comfortable to wear and they are easy to slip on with no fuss.

 

What I particularly appreciate is the sizing of the larger bows (Ghouls Ombré & Wizards Tulle.) I would describe these two as “oversized” bows. They occupy the largest top section of Bea’s head and are very prominent. They could also be refered to as head pieces

Personally I would then size the Witches Magic Glitter Bow as medium and the Ghost and Black Magic bows are more petite.

The materials used are of utmost quality and every effort has been employed by Louise to ensure that the comfort aspect has really been exceeded. For example glitter can be uncomfortable but the bow has been fashioned to limit the glitter rubbing the baby/child’s head directly because there is sufficient padded material on the underside of the bow.54B5049B-E63F-4A0B-9730-1920733805C5.jpeg

I couldn’t decide which bow was my favourite as each can be paired with all sorts of ensembles. I would say they are more than an “accessory”. Whilst Bea’s hair is growing back in I would say that to me personally, dressing her head is just as important as the rest of her body so it is important to me that the headbows are both unique and functional/comfortable. I must admit I “awww’ed” out loud as the tulle bow and “ooooh’ed” at the glitter bow as it’s colour changed in different lights.

I couldn’t help but to join in the Halloween Fun and dressed Bea for a suitably themed shoot; showcasing the glow in the dark ghost and black magic bow. I haven’t seen a ghost design like this before so it was pleasant to own an eccentric and one of a kind piece. The black magic bow was more classic but there’s a reason why bows like this are made: they look good! All bows are handmade with love and the value is incredible in my humble opinion. The subscription boxes are only £12.50 and they feature designs that are unique to the sets that Louise creates for her themes to showcase fabrics and designs that her customers may never have purchased previously.

 

The boxes ship on the 1st of each month. I will certainly be placing my order for the next available box as October and November sold out so speedily.

Blink an eye and they have gone! I feel so privileged to have gotten my (monster) claws on these gorgeous bows. I have enjoyed matching outfits to the bows (This Momma loves CB6BEA0C-DC88-4390-9970-294C49752518a challenge!) These bows are not just for “dress up”; though I have loved incorporating them into my Halloween Photography. They are so wearable and the bows form a Go-To capsule of headpieces that I know look good, but also feel comfortable for Bea.

Bea will certainly be wearing her black magic bow with her witch costume this year (as pictured). The bows have cast a spell on us and are a “treat” this Halloween. I feel this outfit will honour our ancestry whilst Bea looks adorable (#TooCuteToCreep!)

Have a wonderful Halloween all and remember to observe safety as well as fun with your Little Monsters.

– Bea’s Mummy/Momma Witch.

 

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I was gifted this set of bows by Louise of Bumblebee Collection but all opinions are my own.

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Dear Bea…

Dear Bea…

Dear Bea,

Our bundle of energy, joy, distraction from all the shit in this world…

Today is your half birthday.

What an adventure it has been so far! I never could have imagined that you would fill up all my little cracks and help me feel alive again.684E7048-8183-479C-9754-71819C4BE675

You came along when I needed you.

Like a gift. To me. To your Father. To our family. And dare I say it; to the world.

You are destined for great things. Until then I will hold you, and love you and teach you how to make the most of this world. I wanted to teach you about the world but so far you have really taught the world about you!

You tumbled into our lives- chaotically. In true Bea fashion… you did it “Your Way!” I wasn’t ready, as you made me double over with what I thought was “just back pain!” at first… but you were announcing that you were ready to BE! I was always so connected to you from the start. Your cord was not just a biological structure, it has joined us together and bound us for the rest of my life.

I always wondered why you punished my body throughout my pregnancy. My body had never been tested to the limits as much as the seven months I carried you. Some days it was almost impossible to get out of bed. I think only other Mothers will understand this. It is exhausting incubating and cultivating a tiny life force inside you on the daily!

I was scared every…day…. 99DD2D41-AAAE-4E6C-9E93-AF82F2BBDE1BScared that I wouldn’t get to meet you. Scared that my body would fail you. I was terrified every scan appointment that I wouldn’t see that flicker of a heartbeat on screen or hear your response to my call. “Are you there little one” “Yes I am!” you would triumphantly announce. And I could breathe again… and tick off another calendar day. Counting down to “V Day” (or your viability day at 24 weeks!)

I was sick more than I care to remember. Morning….elevens’s…afternoon…evening sick! The sickness was indiscriminate and it came whenever it felt like it!

The first trimester was the hardest. The fatigue gripped my whole body. Your vessel. At your whim. Everything was controlled by you. But I lived for those times you would pummel me. I felt you roll and respond to hot drinks, changing my body position to (try and) get comfy or when I slowed down enough to make sure you were still okay if I had encountered a stressful day at work. You were there.

I loved getting in the bath and watching you wriggle. I loved calling myself a Human Submarine. It made me chuckle every time. I am sure it wore thin with Mr G. It was almost like an alien creature was inside… ready to burst out! You whirled and flipped. You were a night owl. I felt you most between The Witching  Hours… you woke me up every morning between 2&4am!

I hated the times I had to rush into the triage unit because you were having a “lazy moment”. We practically lived in the hospital for the last few weeks that you were in my tummy!! I knew that you would come early. You were ready to meet me. You were ready to explore the world. I don’t think I was ready for you though.

I have never known such a strong yet tiny person. You refused to stay put for your second set of steroid injections! But your body was more developed than we could have imagined. You were a medical marvel and the junior doctors would visit you on their rounds every morning. You were quite the star on the ward! They even wrote a medical case study on you!

The moment you were placed on my chest  I fell in the deepest love I have ever known. You were tiny but fierce. You were a perfectly formed human in a more condensed space. 4lbs 8.5oz! You let out your battle cry to prove that you were a little warrior and you would take on this world. I was lucky that we were able to do delayed cord clamping (which would have been on the birth plan I never got the chance to write for you) so we were connected just that little bit longer…

It was hard to let you go… metaphorically and physically.IMG_2879

You were whisked away to the NICU after twenty minutes. I was greedy and wanted MORE time with you. I was so worried that you wouldn’t love me if you couldn’t be with me straight away. It was the hardest thing to be wheeled off to the Transitional Care Ward without you.

I was a Mother with no baby in my arms. Instead you were being held by the nurses  in NICU. And you were connected to machines with wires to help your underdeveloped lA833B9D8-50B4-49AA-B686-B9C45EAFC846ungs.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

I hated seeing you in your tiny incubator. Your see through box. Like a tiny doll kept in a toy box. You were under phototherapy lights to treat your jaundice so you wore a tiny blindfold to protect your eyes. You were connected to an IV drip. They wedged a cannula in your fragile arm. It looked so painful. I winced for you. Our poorly little Bubba. And all we could do was watch you from the outside.

You surprised us all by how fast you sped out of NICU and Special Care. There was nothing wrong with the inside of your body. Luckily the X-ray didn’t come back with anything unnerving after there was a grey spot found on a scan. It was a tense time. All I thought about were all the horrible eventualities of a preterm body that was just too little to survive. But you did. You thrived!

18 days trapped in the hospital was tough… but you were tougher and you pulled me through my biggest trials and tribulations. It made me realise that I was cut out to be a Mummy and a bloody good one at that!

These 6 months have been the hardest but the best times (so far!) and I have learnt so much about myself. I had just no idea how overwhelming it would all be especially as I had never factored in such a premature birth. As well as learning to “Mum” I also had to learn how to be a NICU Mum. I had to learn how to feed you through your tube which was very daunting. So many things could have gone wrong (especially in my sleep deprived state)… but they didn’t. And we worked together to get each other home!

Your early days were not easy. No version of Motherhood is easy. It is not for the faint of heart that’s for sure! But our sense of “nornal” was particularly peculiar. We muddled through. On one hand I couldn’t enjoy the guilty pleasures of newborn time where Mummies may ordinarily have time to catch up on terrible day time TV because I was on crazy pump/feed/care schedule for YOU. Everything I did was for you. I learnt true altruism during our hospital stay. I no longer mattered.9C32A726-162C-4146-BD5E-F880C37B3E1C.jpeg

The start our my journey as a Mother didn’t go quite to plan. It was hard. I cried, and cried and cried. For nearly 3 weeks there were times I didn’t know what day it was. Was it 1,3 or 5am? It didn’t really matter because for three torturous days I was without you. I couldn’t hold you and rock you. Go cheek to cheek with you. Blow raspberries on your soft belly skin. All I could do was watch you and pump milk for you. I hoped that you knew I was sat there, up all night just looking at you and loving you into full health.

I didn’t want to put clothes on you for those early days because I was scared that I would break you. Your limbs could have easily snapped- or at least it looked that way!

You grew and you continued to develop your hilarious personality. It has not been easy but it has been worth it. You have been difficult. Those developmental leaps have knocked me flying on several occasions. On those cluster feeds I literally thought my body could give you no more. But we started to get comfortable in a routine of no-routine. I wanted to spend as much time with you in the way you chose to do so because there are years to enforce an adult regime. I am not disciplined enough to stick to a routine nor would I expect you to be a little robot. You are my sassy, switched-on, funny and loving little girl. I respect you as your own person, and what a person you are becoming.

6 months in and I am exhausted yet overjoyed. Overwhelmed but not just in a negative way…. overwhelmed with feelings of bliss and love. Some days are good, some days are great, some days are bad and some are normal, but ordinary days are little blessings and times to take stock of all I now have as a Mummy.

You make me proud every day. You keep me on my toes. You drive me crazy. I want to spend every minute of the day with you but sometimes I want to run away, but then I feel so guilty because you flash me your gummy smile and it turns me to mush. Your laughs fill up my soul and I realise that I was meant for this life and we will navigate this journey together. You are mine and I am yours!

You are certainly my daughter. You are stubborn, you are wild and you love life. It wasn’t the easiest start kid but I wouldn’t have changed anything (well maybe I would kept you in a bit longer to cook if my body would allow it!) it would have meant you wouldn’t have had to experience the discomfort of a NICU start. I hope you don’t remember the beginning and the trauma hasn’t lasted. It doesn’t seem like this is the case.

I feel so lucky because your default setting is “smiles”!

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Other Mums have said their little ones do not smile like you. You were a smiler from the start. (I knew it wasn’t just gas!!!)

I can’t wait to see what the next six months bring. More love. More laughter. More milestones. I will support you and make each day a happy one as best I can. You are the centre of my universe. I revolve around you. I hope you know. I hope one day you will look back and appreciate what I have done for you or at least just know I loved you with my whole being.

You made me a Mummy again, and you made me a better person. Thank you for the memories so far.

Happy half birthday Darling. My pocket rocket! My reason to get up and attack every day with gusto and love in my heart.

I love you to the moon and back.

Your Momma Bear x

ZippyUp!: Review

ZippyUp!: Review

This piece has been written in collaboration with ZippyUp and also contains affiliate links. This means that if you love these ZippyUp’s as much as I do and you purchase through my links below I get a commission from the sale with no extra cost to you! So you can help support the blog further as I will invest in items that you want to see reviewed!

It’s all very well having quaint, fussy and buttoned clothing for your mini (heck! I have a whole section dedicated to babywear come doll like creations in Bea’s wardrobe!) but 44061636_559599001142330_5058356058796326912_nafter the Newborn stage you very swiftly come to the realisation that you actually have a little person on your hands who is just that… a little person! And they don’t appreciate being fussed; and very much, like us, find aspects of their day to be quite the annoyance ie: getting dressed in the morning and getting dressed after a relaxing bath to name but a few situations. This means that the highly aesthetic pieces that you like to play dress up with are pretty much obsolete and hang in the wardrobe for situations where you feel that you can muster enough fight to battle these garments on to your child!

What can I say?! We are coming up to Bea’s half Birthday now and I started to sacrifice high style for function and clothes that can be put on and removed with as little fuss as possible. This had me wondering if there are pieces that make it super easy for Mummy to put Miss Fussy Pants in, whilst still looking like I do care about how I present Bea. Can she still look adorable and feel less vexed after the “trauma” of being pulled through tight fitting lacy numbers, kicking her way through pulling up tights then wriggling as she attempts to escape the fumbled attempts of a frustrated mummy and a thousand buttons?!!

(Why do so many baby clothes have buttons? I mean, even huge quantities of poppers are still less than desirable when we reach the point of no return. A red faced baby. A Mum on edge questioning every single choice she has made selecting outfits in the past! I curse my past self!)

One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to always go for ease of the dressing process over how adorable your child looks. Your highly stylised outfits will still end up covered in bodily fluids, bottled milk, random patches of “what-even-is-that?” on a daily basis and when it comes to Poo’splotions the best combination of clothing has to be the classic combo of short sleeve/long sleeve body suit as I am somewhat of an expert now at peeling the short sleeved number down the body to minimise the damage from excrement that shoots triumphantly in all directions of the compass! I am always amazed how it manages to travel up Bea’s back.

But enough of the Poo Talk (which becomes the every day staple of conversation!) I wanted to find a solution for a happy baby and ultimately happy Mummy and to find a clothing compromise. It turns out that you do not have to sacrifice fashion for function! Just take a look at the gorgeous offerings from ZippyUp!

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Buy Your: ZIP BABYGROW ROMPER BODYSUIT NEWBORN – 24M (0-3M, AQUA & WHITE 2 PACK) NOW!!!

ZippyUp came into existence when another lovely Mummy (with two under 2) asked herself the same questions during those 2am nappy changes, whilst looking for that Magic Bullet that could make the bleary-eyed struggle a little kinder. Angela decided that the UK needed affordable zip fronted babygrows. They were very much exclusive to the USA/Australian market and not easy to access here, so Angela set about creating the Original ZippyUp with her background knowledge in design. Angela was the lady to bring us Mummies this much needed solution as she knows the fashion industry and has high standards so rest assured each ZippyUp has been made in her trusted factory with the best materials available.

I was gifted both the original babygrow in aqua/white and the plum/white sweater one piece and I can’t decide which I love more! The first property I noticed of both garments was the stunning quality. Durable yet super soft.

Original Baby Grow- The design ensures a good fit for your baby. There is such discrepancy in sizing in the UK clothing industry; as I have mentioned previously, but the way in which the Original Babygrow has been crafted (it is a 1×1 rib construction and weighs 320gsm) means that there is stretch in the fabric without adding elastane. Elastane can make your little wriggler hotter and the fabric less breathable so the absence of this means a happier baby and more room to grow. It is 100% cotton which I have found is so much better for Bea’s overall well being. We have made a really noticeable move towards totally organic clothing (brands such as Little Green Radicals and Lil Cubs) with similar properties and it has been a resounding success!

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Buy Your: ZIPPYUP Head To Toe Zip Babygrow Romper Onesie Pink Stripe (18-24M) NOW!

We used the Original ZippyUp babygrow as our go-to night wear for a whole week for the testing process. The zips are nylon and cleverly concealed so they never make contact with your babies skin. I just loved the neck tab that protects chubby chin skin making contact with the zip! It looks stylish but there is purpose to every element of design and it is as if Angela has turned every single Mum Worry into the perfect solution. The Original ZippyUp could truly be pulled straight from the dreams of Mummies going GaGa over buttons and poppers!

We attempt a nightly routine (in all honestly it has slipped to every other night due to Bea’s distaste of being undressed/re dressed) of Bath – Book – Bottle or Boob – then Bed, but recently found that we started having to remove the “book” element (which to me is super important) because after the bath there were tantrums! There has not been the intensity of protest to getting dressed after the bath following the introduction of the Original ZippyUp. It has not all together solved the issue, but I would not expect that from one product but it has certainly gone a long way to making changing for bedtime a much more agreeable experience. As the week went on our stress levels at bedtime have certainly reduced and now Bea only exhibits a mild annoyance rather than explosive rage at the inconvenience.

I just love the head to toe zip. It is one swift and solid movement rather than a series of late night changing fails.

Plum/White Sweater One piece- Truly my photography does not do the colour justice! It is the perfect shade for looking dressed up on more “dressed down” kind of days. I can see this romper taking us through Autumn/Winter & into Spring again as it keeps Bea suitably warm but I could imagine it still being wearable as temperatures increase again because it is breathable and I like that it it not full footed like the Original ZippyUp so we utilised it as more of day piece as it looks cute paired with white frilly socks too!

Whats great about both these pieces is that they are machine washable and can be chucked in the tumble dryer! The original also comes in a two pack and there is also a variant of the striped version in charcoal/white. If you would like to see even more colour combinations (I am now eyeing up the rose pink/white bodysuits!) check out their website.

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Angela truly has a gift for design and appreciation of what Mummies are looking for in the products they buy. Maternity pay will stretch that little bit further because the original ZippyUp is only £9.99 (in all colour combinations) and just £15 you get your paws on a 2 pack! The gorgeous striped sweater one piece is £18. Affordable, functional and rather pretty to look at!

These fabulous bodysuits are a must have addition to any babies wardrobe. Bea is looking and feeling good and we are forever Pro Zippy! #BanishTheButtons!

Have you included a fully top to toe zippy bodysuit in your baby wardrobe aresnal? Would you be keen to replace your buttoned and poppers items with zip only items? What other colour combinations would you be keen to see in the ZippyUp Range?

#StaySweet

-Bea’s Mummy x

I am Part of the Amazon Affiliate scheme and have included links that may earn me commission. As always all opinions are my own.

Ain’t no Shame in my Combi Feeding Game!

Ain’t no Shame in my Combi Feeding Game!

I was adamant that I would embark on the breastfeeding journey & nourish our little lady with my golden elixir of life. I thought it would be easy… I thought it would be idyllic and beautiful, and I thought I would enjoy it…

There is so much misinformation out there and more agendas than you can shake a stick at in a hospital environment (which is where I ended up being held hostage very much against my own will for eighteen long days) and mine and Bea’s start was very rocky with a punishing routine, very little support for breastfeeding (staff were pro breastfeeding in their discourse but not in action) and my extreme exhaustion.

The circumstances of Bea’s arrival into the world meant that my body was not yet ready to produce its own brand milk and in all honesty, in the whirlwind and shock of coming into hospital to deliver my child seven weeks early I had not even considered the possibility that I would not be ready to breastfeed!

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Amazingly my milk did come in the day following Bea’s birth. She was being looked after in the NICU and was being fed through an IV. This meant that there wasn’t the opportunity for the medical staff to attempt to enforce a formula policy on me because I was able to provide for my child as soon as she fought herself off the drip and blipping machines.

It was gruelling though and so soul destroying on Day 0 (Bea’s Birth day), as I hand expressed to no avail. I questioned why my body continues to let me down (I had now not gone to full term in two out of two pregnancies!) and because of the very early arrival I may have had to wait up to five days for my milk to come in!! After every unsuccessful hand expressing session I wondered if I was even cut out to be a Mum (crazy thoughts whizz through your mind when you have so much time to kill without your baby in your arms!)

I was advised on Day 1 (the day following Bea’s Birth) that I could use the industrial Madela pump to encourage my milk to come in. It certainly was an odd experience as it tugged roughly at my mamories, set to initiate status. The pump almost moo’ed in sympathy with me as I felt like a prize milker! It was so depressing and hilarious all at once as I sat eating my breakfast; toast in one hand and pump in the other.

Truly when you have a child any shred of dignity disappears, and eventually it came to pass that I would just sit there in my room (no shroud, not hiding away) with breasts fully exposed at various points of the day! One poor Midwife didn’t meet me fully clothed and without a breast out until the end of the first week of our stay & he joked upon that meeting “well it’s nice to meet you and not just your boobs!”

The expressing was a great success and by Day 1 I had collected colostrum (that precious liquid gold) to feed my child. It was only 2ml per session (I pumped every 2-4 hours in between the 4 hourly feeds) but I could not have been more proud of myself! I would run into the NICU and deliver my premium commodity to the nurse on duty! I would squeal in excitement “Special Delivery!” (I am sure this probably wore thin after a few days but each time the lovely lady on duty would humor me!)

By Day 2 Bea was being topped up with my milk and amazingly was out of NICU Care by the third day! This was when I was first allowed to feed her through her tube and felt on top of the world as the liquid disappeared inside our beautiful baby! I knew it was my milk that fortified her body and made her strong.

It was amazing to see the increase in milk supply over the first week and its change in consistency and colour to ensure it was delivering all my babies needs. To this day I find it incredible that our milk provides exactly what our babies solicit and changes to meet these requirements! There is a reason that “breast is best” scientifically- there is no use in denying that as “fed” is the minimum standard, but there is already such a body of work on this topic that for this post I do not aim to get into debate. The purpose of this post is to highlight the positives of combination feeding as there seems to be far less conversation about it!

For my almost 3 weeks in hospital I had to solely express as Bea was unable to latch due to a myriad of issues and circumstances from her own biology to the nurture (or lack there of) aspect. I have so much respect for those Mothers who express/pump to feed because I was shattered from this lifestyle by a month and a half in. I continued expressing until Bea finally took to the boob in June but still had my expressed breast milk as “back up” in the fridge and found time to express here and there, where possible.

Due to my utter exhaustion I had to battle through low supply not once, not twice but THREE times in hospital. Each time I pumped and could not seem to exceed 50ml it felt like a punch to my gut and I nearly gave up. The one thing that kept me going was Bea and her recovery. It was unlikely that I would be getting out of the hospital with her fully breastfeeding but I was going stir crazy after week 2 and just wanted to get our family home and back to some sort of normality.

The caviat for escaping was Bea to be drinking at least 50% of her bottle 50% of the daily feed schedule. An “easy way out” was to leave hospital with her feeding tube in which was NO option for me. She may not have been breastfeeding but I was determined she would be feeding well enough that she could sustain herself and would not need any further hospital care.

Essentially a bottle was the first experience Bea had of eating food in a normal capacity ie: not straight into her tummy. In one respect bottle feeding was so much easier in the hospital setting than ‘real life’ because all the equipment was ready to use- no sterilising bottles or waiting for formula to cool. I would just express into a sterile bottle but then I had the added dimension of tube feeding (which I had to get medically signed off on). It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. On minimal sleep I had to ensure our baby was fed safely.

Tube feeding also involves an element where you have to extract your own child’s stomach contents to test the ph levels and ensure it is safe to feed. Before every feed I would have to syringe Bea’s feeding tube and test it on litmus papers. It would have to present itself the correct colouration before I could proceed with her feed and sometimes where the milk was absorbed from the last feed it could take two to four attempts.

Bea’s condition was improving after a mystery viral infection (which was never actually solved as to what it was, having had the medical staff mention possible herpes or sepsis!) She had finally had a chest X-ray after badgering the medical staff to get it booked in. This took over five days to complete, and in that time I was beside myself, trying to convince myself that she didn’t have a clot on her lung after a preliminary X-Ray had shown a dark spot clinging on somewhere between her vital organs (heart and lungs).

Oddly my sense of “normality” became tied up with my Express/Feed routine which I had altered to a more on demand basis (keen to move toward some kind of routine that would be more breastfeeding compatible.) As previously mentioned Express Feeding is difficult. I barely had time in the day to look after myself, I had however been put off bathing after the clot that joined me in the tub the day after giving birth! (People tell you that you will bleed but not the full extent…) I was starting to feel like a dairy cow more and more as they days passed in a blur.

I had soon realised that the staff were not going to come to me when I wanted to attempt breastfeeding Bea so my mum came to look after us for a week, taking the time to help me get Bea latching. Bea was defying all odds and the usual conventions of a premmie baby (medical marvel. The trainee doctors even used her as a medical case study and would come and visit us every morning as part of the doctors rounds to note her progress!) I was thrilled when we both managed a five minute feed. It felt like such a breakthrough and made me feel like I was capable of feeding her how I wanted to! I would tell the Outreach Team that I would still be breastfeeding Bea and not having to rely on expressing.

With sheer determination Bea was feeding without her nose tube around the 27th April and I reckon I was getting on the last nerve of a few of the ladies on the Ward, who I think found me difficult with my constant questions and stubbornness about how I wanted to feed. I was almost militant that Bea would not be fed formula unless completely necessary to her survival. It crushed my the first time I had to top her up with SMA milk when my supply had dwindled.

When we were finally released on 5th May, the light at the end of our long hospital tunnel otherwise known as our Outreach Team fully supported my Boob Mission! On their weekly visits they would support my breastfeeding endeavours and helped me formulate Bea and I’s best practice for feeding! (We did not get on with the regular feeding positions.)

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I was exclusively breastfeeding by June, but found I had a very love/hate relationship with it. When it was going well I was on top of the world but then those leaps would change everything. Just when I thought we had cracked it we would experience a set back such as the sweltering Summer heat, cluster feeding, low supply (again) & extended fussy periods of time!

I threatened to stop breastfeeding almost every week… but didn’t because I honestly had found such a sense of pride in being able to exclusively provide everything my child needed to thrive.

My favourite feeds are the first and last of the day because they are in sync, quiet and stress free. I call them our “Sleepy Feeds” and we both pretty much doze through them and our bodies just do what they are meant to do. I started to find that my supply dipped around 3pm & 7pm feeds and we believed that Bea had “Intellectual Collic” (we had never heard of it either before wondering why she was being a Tinker every evening between 6pm-8pm). This is where I started introducing a formula bottle feed and that quickly improved our evening routine and seemed to “fix” the crying/fussy issue.

By no means was this an “easy way out” because I was wracked with guilt each time Bea had “fake milk” instead of mine. I battled with feelings of not being good enough but my husband reminded me that I had been breastfeeding three times longer than he had anticipated. I think in all honesty a lot of people either didn’t think I would end up breastfeeding at all or I would maybe do a few weeks then pack it in!

I had expressed for over a month, then exclusively breastfed for over two months. I will admit that I didn’t love breastfeeding most the time but any time I was close to quitting I would remind myself of the benefits to both Bea and I and how close it made me feel to Bea when she was feeding well.

Going into her fifth month we have a few more formula bottles in the day now. Some days I still feel such guilt that I couldn’t fully sustain her on my breastmilk… but I guess “Mum Guilt” is felt from all angles. Mums are pressured in all capacities. Everyone has their opinion on what is “the right way” but really you have to find your own best lives and live it and let other mums do the same!!! Never try to shame them for their choices when all we are all trying to do is bring up healthy and happy little people.

I am confident in the fact that Bea will never enjoy formula as much as my breast milk so it makes our feeds so much more special as I see her excitement in coming to me for comfort and her meal! There’s not that much information readily given about combination feeding so Bea and I have pretty much just worked it out for ourselves.

I believe that there isn’t such a side effect as “nipple confusion” because Bea KNOWS where the ‘Good Stuff’ comes from. She can just be somewhat lazy and prefer the convenience of a bottle at times. I feel that I continued with breastfeeding because I ended up relaxing on the “all-or-nothing” approach to it.

Instead of fighting with Bea to breastfeed her, I know that she can quite happily have a prepared bottle and I am no less of a breastfeeding Momma for it! I am sure the very militant breastfeeders would disagree with me. I feel that combi/mixed feeders are perhaps judged the most and judgement of any kind, of any Mother needs to stop now because sometimes we just need a little bit of support.

Breastfeeding is NOT easy, despite it being natural. Expressing is certainly NOT easy, exclusively bottle feeding is NOT easy. I feel that combi feeding offers Bea and I a sense of flexibility and a safety net for me knowing that in one way or another my child will be getting enough to eat over the course of the day and she is happy. As with most things now Bea dictates how she wants to be fed at the time. I just make sure I have a sterilised bottle ready to go then we make our decision there and then as the need to feed kicks in.

I enjoy the freedom to feed in the best possible way. I do feel bad to admit it but I don’t think I was fully cut out for exclusively breastfeeding (I am too impatient!) but that’s okay. Just feed your child and love your child. I know that Bea doesn’t just love me because I feed her… it’s all the other things too! Combi feeding affords you the opportunity to continue breastfeeding if you perhaps thought the intensity wasn’t for you.

I think there needs to be more infotnation about the mixed feeding method to give Mums another way. Feeding is not a “us and them” game and I traverse between the two worlds. I was a loud and proud breastfeeder for 4 months (as I count the expressing method too) and now I am a breastfeeder with some back up.

Have you ever felt singled out as a combi feeder? Is mixed feeding an option that your health visitor discussed with you? Did you have an issue with breastfeeding when you wanted to feed in this way? I look forward to your opinions on MIXED FEEDING only- no attack’s on breast of formula feeding please!

 

#StaySweet

Love Bea’s Mummy x