The Serial Snacker!

It’s been two days now since I have made up a bottle for Morgan. Miraculously she appears to be fully weaned and she only turns eleven months in three days time. It definitely feels like ‘miraculous’ is the right word to use, as from the start Morgan has been totally different to Sydney with feeds and eating and Sydney was a full year old before we ditched the bottles, formula and steriliser!

I breast fed Sydney until she was six months old. She was a hungry baby but got breast-feeding immediately. She was a really efficient feeder; would latch on, feed for about 10 minutes and be absolutely tanked up! From the early days she liked a pattern and routine and was feeding at regular intervals throughout the day and night. It meant that even though night feeds were tiring, at least I could pretty much set a watch to when she would want her feeds. When Sydney started eating we did Baby Led Weaning with her from six months. I felt really guilty about stopping breast-feeding so ploughed all of my emotional and physical energy into planning meals and cooking for her. I had a meal planner for her and she wouldn’t have the same thing twice in a two week period! She grasped eating quickly and before we knew it started dropping feeds. With everything she did, once she moved to the next stage, she never looked back – she was decisive and it made weaning easy. There was no guesswork involved. Once she had dropped a bottle one day, that was it, there were no feeds at that time again.

By the time Sydney reached a week before her one year birthday she was, by then, only having a bed time feed and we just replaced that with a cup of water and a story and that was that. No crying or kicking off and we sat downstairs incredulously, just wondering whether she would wake in the night for a feed or would wake up at 6am because she would be hungry. None of these things happened and that was that!

Morgan was a tricky feeder from the start. She, again, got breastfeeding immediately but was a serial “snacker”. She liked being able to have a little bit here, and a little bit there. She never seemed to have a full feed and zonk herself out like Sydney had done. She was a lot more petite that Sydney was and the health visitor had to repeatedly remind me that they were different babies and would feed in different ways. It was hard to have had a really good feeder the first time round, followed by a more challenging one the second time. I didn’t know how to cope with it as Morgan wanted to feed every few hours day and night and it felt like her tummy was never full enough for her to sleep for any length of time at night. I was absolutely exhausted.

On top of the snacking-style feeding, Morgan had reflux and would cry in pain and would vomit up most of nearly every feed. It felt like a never-ending cycle as she appeared to be snacking because she couldn’t hold more than a little amount in her tummy, that, or she knew her own limit on how much to consume to prevent herself being sick. It was that, as well as continuously being hungry as she was being sick most of what she was consuming.

Four months down the road and I was still waking up every few hours at night and I honestly felt like something had to give. I suddenly decided to stop breast-feeding, thinking it would solve all of my problems. I thought that formula would fill Morgan up more, would allow me to get more sleep and help me get her going longer than a few hours between a feed so things round the house and with Sydney would become easier to cope with.

That didn’t happen. It was awful. Instead of me just feeding her quickly in the night for a few minutes, and her going back to sleep, we had to make up bottles and then she wasn’t getting the comfort she had got from breast-feeding, so wouldn’t settle. The process was longer and it did nothing to help her sleep longer. The whole thing got immediately worse and on top of that I had engorged breasts, as I hadn’t thought through the consequences of stopping breast-feeding so abruptly. Emotionally, I couldn’t cope with Morgan crying for me and not wanting to take a bottle and only wanting me. As her mother, knowing I could satisfy her, but refusing to, was really tough. I couldn’t cope with it.

Having stopped breast-feeding for two days, I decided the only I thing I could do was to go back to breastfeeding but it really wasn’t as simple as that. I had to pump repeatedly for almost a week to get my supply back. I couldn’t believe how quickly it had gone. I even set my alarm during the night to pump to try to get my supply back. Pumping and not getting anything out was demoralising. I was absolutely determined to get my supply back again and persevered, letting Morgan feed whenever she wanted to, to help that happen and stayed in the house for a week feeding and pumping. At the time I was also potty training Sydney so really not sure now how I managed it!

Eventually I got my supply back to where it had been and I was able to feed Morgan again on my own. It felt like such an achievement!! The health visitors were amazingly supportive and visited me weekly from when Morgan was around 4 months, until she was six months. I had started to get really depressed and the tiredness was playing havoc with how I was coping. The health visitor I saw, encouraged me to just “accept” the situation and somehow, even though the feeds were still frequent, I could cope much better with it, particularly after how hard I had fought to be breastfeeding again.

My goal had been to breast feed Morgan until she was six months – as I had done with Sydney – and I made it to around five and a half months. I just wanted to do what I had done with Sydney for Morgan.

Again that wasn’t an easy transition! When I first started to use bottles with Morgan she had taken to them quickly, but the second time round having stopped and started breast feeding and then me trying to introduce bottles again, she point blank refused them. I went through every bottle and teat on the market, warmed the teats, took her upstairs away from distractions, let Jack do the feeds and not me, and it took a good few weeks for her to take a bottle from me.

Once Morgan turned six months, we started doing baby lead weaning and Morgan adapted quickly to food in the same way Sydney had. Her sickness and reflux didn’t stop straight away but weaning and a switch to comfort milk a little bit later, made an immediate difference. We did get referred to a consultant at the hospital and they suggested Morgan might have a dairy or milk protein intolerance. It was left for me to put Morgan on Soy milk but I researched this independently and didn’t feel comfortable giving that to her. I decided to try comfort milk and that really helped. I am not sure whether it was because it was thicker and stayed in her tummy longer, or whether because there is less lactose in comfort milk. I am not sure I will ever know! Morgan certainly doesn’t react to milk, cheese or yoghurt now.

Morgan hasn’t actively dropped feeds in the way Sydney did. I have had to help her drop them by replacing them with snacks and water and hoping she doesn’t notice! The easiest ones to drop were mid morning and mid afternoon ones; the hardest being the first thing in the morning and evening ones. Once we had cracked the morning one and she wasn’t waking at 6am to have a bottle, but started sleeping through until 7.30am and having breakfast straight away, it was time to try her without an evening feed.

I would have happily still let her have a bottle before bed, right up until she was one but me going into her in the week and seeing raspberry coloured sick all over her cot in the morning prompted me to move things along! She had eaten absolutely loads at dinnertime the night before, and then guzzled a six-ounce bottle and it had clearly been way too much.

So, two days ago, we did exactly the same as we did with Sydney – we gave Morgan a cup of water at bedtime as if that was the norm and then all sat down for a story. She didn’t even seem to notice there was no bottle! She laughed and chatted as we read Hairy Maclary and pointed to the dogs on each page. I couldn’t believe it!

We all said goodnight to her; she got a kiss from her sister, waved goodnight to me and Jack put her down. She then slept all the way through, didn’t wake up once and didn’t seem to miss that feed at all!!

It’s been a couple of days and it seems like she’s ok! I haven’t packed away the Perfect Prep machine or the steriliser yet as I don’t want to jinx it but think Morgan might actually be weaned before her sister – the awkward feeder and complicated snacker in the beginning has actually won with weaning in the end!

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