Lessons I learned from the milk

This has been kind of a hard post to write.

This week, Henry has stopped wanting to feed from me. He was only breastfeeding three times a day anyway. Then one day he didn’t want any in the afternoon. Then I couldn’t get him to have any at night. I’ve been using the pump to keep it going, but that seems silly: if he doesn’t want it, who will?

I am heartbroken. This morning I lay still after he’d refused his 5am half-asleep feed for the first time ever, crushed by the pressure in my chest and what it meant.

Baby-feeding is such an emotional business. It ties in to the very heart of you. Feeding Henry has been a – well, I’m reluctant to use the word ‘farce’, but there it is. It was a catalogue of bad advice and new mother and tiny vomity baby. I am full of ideas for how I can do it better next time. I stopped feeling guilty about feeding him formula quite quickly; I wanted him full, by any means, and it just became part of his routine. But I never, never stopped feeling like a failure for not getting it right the first time.

Well, all of that is nonsense, of course. And now it turns out that food and this boy don’t get on well, because we’re repeating ourselves with solids. He is a spitter and choker and grimacer extraordinaire. Tim and I love food. I don’t understand it.

(Is this the time to confess that when people said ‘my child has a mind of his own’, I used to think it just meant ‘my child runs me ragged, and I don’t control him’? Haha. HA HA HA HA HA. Oh, the humility of parenthood.)

As I listen to health visitors telling me that he shouldn’t still be eating purees and new potatoes are a good idea and why don’t you try finger food (he hates finger food), I can feel the old panic coming back to me. Am I not making him the right food? Am I indulging him too much? But this time, I’m trying to be a little wiser. I’m bearing in mind that babies have phases and stages, that not all babies are the same, and that he will get there in his own time. I’m trying to listen to the reassurance that comes when I am quiet and my mind is at rest.

It says:

he is a baby, but he is a person.

He will not always fit the baby manual, because it wasn’t written about him.

He will continue to surprise you, because he is not you. Nor is he Timothy. You are not the sum total of your parents; why should he be?

You will teach him and love him and watch him change. He will grow until he grows away from you and do all sorts of wonderful things, but he will always and ever be his own self.

He came to you entire, and your job is to help him remember it.

It also says:

he is yours. Enjoy him.

And I do, I do, I do.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Lessons I learned from the milk

  1. Dad x

    Rachel – your ‘quiet,rested’ thoughts are the most sensible I’ve read in a long while – remember them when everyone else is trying to overwhelm you with theirs x
    PS. Sarah loves MOST food – she even said yesterday, that SPROUTS are her 2nd favourite vegetable!! Who would have thought her and food would have such an affinity.

  2. How old is Henry? I stopped feeding Ethan at 4 months after some bad advice from my Health Visitor, and Sam got to be a real fusspot about it around 5 months and I remember being really sad about it. As for ‘he shouldn’t be on purees still’ – nonsense. Besides, what are you supposed to do if he won’t eat lumps yet?! Fret ye not, you are doing a wonderful job, just look at how gorgeous he is!

    • He’s eight months – so I know it’s longer than absolutely necessary, but I kind of had my heart set on going for a year.

      I’ve decided just to let him eat whatever he’ll eat for now – it’s too early for him to be hating mealtimes!

      And thanks for the reassurance :-) You are lovely, and it makes me feel better.

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