At this point I need to admit that, for me, every day is a roller-coaster of lost forms, forgotten birthday invites, and general lurching from near disaster-to-disaster trying to keep on top of three children, two dogs, work commitments and feeding us too. After a few teething (gumming?) problems with my first, breastfeeding came easily with my second and third children. To be honest, life was so busy by the time my third was born, that I don’t think I noticed that I had another mouth to feed until she was already three months old. I breastfed in cafes, parents-evenings, work meetings, dog walking….you name it, I was probably feeding.
When I came to writing my ‘day in the life’ I had no idea of where I’d start. The only record that I have to go on are cheek-squishingly, gorgeously happy, healthy babies (if I say so myself). Somewhere between the milk feeds, weaning and fish fingers we are obviously doing A-O-Adequately (not A-O-Organised)! So, here’s a run-down of how extended breastfeeding fitted in around family life for me.
- 5:30am: The pitter patter of tiny feet along the landing. A small toddler would appear by the side of the bed, expectantly. I’d let her in and we’d feed side-lying until a more respectable hour.
- 7am: I had to now get three children and two dogs ready and out of the door. First step was a pot of tea (mainly for me – ever optimist that I might get one whole hot cup). On an instagrammable day I’d make porridge with toppings of plum and chia seeds (they love the crunch!) most days it was actually cereal and a perhaps even a croissant. Obviously, the children threw most of this onto the floor – that’s why we have dogs – but breakfast was done.
- 9am: After the school run, we’d sit and have a cup of tea (me) and breastfeed (not me). This feed was a moment of a post-chaos rest but usually short-lived because, I don’t know how this happens and I hope I’m not alone, the school run appears to wreak absolute chaos on the house. It’s an all-out professional clean-up job to fix.
- 12midday: NAP TIME! After lunch we’d head upstairs and I’d settle the baby (Ok, toddler, but my baby) with a breastfeed and cuddle. All going well, once I left the room she’d sing to herself for a few moments then fall asleep for a good nap. These hours were silent, blissful and the time I used to work from home…until the 2:30pm school run again!
- 4:00pm: Post school-run and after about an hour of fielding requests for snacks, insisting that homework was probably necessary, and working out what I could make for dinner, we’d settle down and have a nice long and relaxing breastfeed. This was my favourite feed of the day. All the children were around, the afternoon sun was beautiful in the sitting room, and it was a few moments of calm before backup arrived and the whirlwind of dinner/bath/bed began.
- 8:00pm: Bedtime was reading to my middle daughter while breastfeeding the youngest, often by the time I finished the youngest was asleep. I’d carefully put her into her cot, tuck the middle one in, lights out and occasionally – sleep.
As time went on we gradually replaced the night time, pre-bed story feed with a bottle of full-fat cows’ milk. There came a time where I wanted to go out some evenings or my husband wanted to read to the children while I had a child-break downstairs. This was a really gradual process as my youngest (and middle one too) were absolute bottle refusers. It was just a case of gentle persistence over a long period of time. Gradually the daytime feeds trailed off as the toddler days progressed to pre-schooler days. The end came when my parents took the children for a holiday with them, there was no momentous last feed, it all just felt very natural.
I’m so grateful for the time that I was able to enjoy feeding my babies, in total, it amounts to around seven years across the three of them! But really and truly, for me it wasn’t so much the feeding method as revelling in the absolute chaos, snatched moment and all-around joy that young children bring, some of it warmer (and funnier) in hindsight.