Junior is possibly the happiest, smiliest baby you have ever met. That is when he's not whining because he's TIRED because he WON'T SLEEP. But honestly, seriously, everyone who meets him comments on just how adorable he is. And he's a lot less whiny when he's being held or entertained or allowed to be on the boob as much as he likes.
Yes, he likes the boob a lot. To the extent that until about three weeks ago he refused bottles entirely. Luckily a bit of perseverance helped with this, and he will now take a bottle, particularly if the person offering it is not me. He won't take any more than he wants to eat, though. Just a soupcon more, and he starts to chew the nipple and do whatever it takes to get it out of his mouth. Which is not what he does with a real boob. With that he just keeps on sucking and sucking until he is in a full-on slumber.
Once he is asleep I used to be able to gently remove the boob (a delicate manouevre - a little too early and he'd whine and wag his head around, opening and closing his mouth in his sleep like a tiny pterodactyl) and move him to his moses basket for a proper nap - all of 45 minutes or so on average, although a few times before Christmas he did two hours whereupon I thought he was dead. But increasingly now if I move him he wakes up and refuses to go back down again unless the magic boob is produced. And the magic boob is going back to work in about 4 weeks, so things are going to have to change. Which as far as I can see means a repeat of the miserable month I had in October where I stayed in the house for a month trying to get him to go down for naps and stay down. It worked to an extent but not completely, and in the meantime it was bloody miserable (lots of holding him while he screamed blue murder) so its filling me with not much joy to contemplate doing it again.
But, you say, he loves the boob. What happened with feeding then? Well, what happened with feeding (can't quite believe I've written so little about this since the early trauma days; guess it's been a dry spell for writing in general) is that we managed to get it to work, supplementing at most feeds with a homemade SNS (so so so much better than the soul-destroying Medela one I tried with Pob). By about week 5 of his life I was pumping enough breastmilk not only to deal with the supplementing needs but also to freeze 100mls or so a day. By the end of month 4 I could no longer freeze any, and by the end of month 5 I was out of my freezer stash - not because he was taking so much more in the SNS, in fact he was settling at - and growing like a weed at - an average of 40mls extra per feed, much much less than Pob used to get as supplement. But because I dropped pumps quite rapidly once I started getting only 20-40mls at most post-feed pumps, and so that we could all get out of the house more. I think he got really good at getting everything out of the boob, and I think I stopped being so good at letting down for the pump. I only managed to get as much pumped milk out as I did by pumping all evening once he was in bed. In fact I'm sitting here now with my pumping apparatus strapped to my boobs, waiting to turn the pump on one last time before bed.
And not only was I able to do almost all of his first 6 months entirely on breastmilk, I also was able to drop the supplementing for some feeds - both those when I had more milk and when we were out, so that it was possible to have a life again. Sure he'd want to feed again a bit sooner than ideal - every 2 hours or so - but it meant we were/are portable and I could take him along to playdates with Pob and just stick him on the boob when he got ratty, which was great. My final triumph of being the breastfeeder I always wanted to be was going up to Northumberland the week after Christmas (as far north as you can get and still be in England rather than Scotland) and being able to walk into the motorway service station and just stick him on the boob without worrying about it. I felt like I was finally doing things 'properly,' finally a member of that club I was so desperate to join.
We started Junior on solids this last week, and after an indifferent start he has taken so them well, and so far has lapped up apple, pear, butternut squash, carrot, and baby rice.
Just as we get breastfeeding working, I need to cut back so that thing work when I go back to work. I'm not ready to stop so I'm resisting dropping feeds, and it's not as easy to drop feeds as it was with Pob as I'm feeing less to a schedule and more to what works with what we are doing that day. So far, I haven't dropped any, but it's coming and it makes me sad. Such is my ambivalence that I haven't cut back on the domperidone at all, which I could presumably do a bit of without affecting supply much (and I have a huge domperidone stock so if anyone needs it - it is like magic for improving breastmilk production and it's all very safe for breastfeeding - please email me and you can have a full supply of the drug for about 3 months for free (plus postage)). It would be good to cut back on the dom as I reckon it's one of the things keeping my weight up as it keeps me hungry, but this is the last time I will ever breastfeed a baby and I want to make the most of it. I'm wondering to what extent I could keep feeding once I'm back at work. I stopped completely with Pob before going back to work but that was because I wasn't ovulating and we wanted to try to get pregnant again, not an issue this time.
I am so very torn and conflicted about going back to work. But that's another post.
And the non-feeding aspects of Junior? Well, as outlined above, he is gorgeous. He is very very smiley and interactive. He's been rolling from back to front for about a month, and just started to sit independently. He has learnt to shake his head and thinks it's very funny. He's trying to imitate clapping and waving, but really cant do it at all yet. It's fun to watch his hands start to make the movement, though, and then he just gets stuck and you can practically see the gears turning in his head, trying to figure out what to do next. He loves to have his legs squeezed and any kind of tickling elicits delicious belly laughs.
He is saying 'mamamma' but it's not directed at me, it's more his unhappy, feed-me noise. He loves Pob to distraction and spends most of his time trying to get her attention, or at least admiring her from afar. She is quite interested in him sometimes, but guards her space and her time with each parent, and Granny, quite effectively. He doesn't complain. He has developed an ear-splitting screech for when he thinks he has been ignored too long, though. He loves his bouncer, not so keen on his playmat. He seems keen to get going but is definitely behind where Pob was on the motor skills- she was on her hands and knees, rocking at his point, and he's not able to get up on his knees yet, perhaps because he is so much bigger. He weighs over 20lbs (9.25 kilos) and is in the 91st centile for both height and weight so there's a lot of him.
I adore him in a way I was not prepared for. It's just as intense as that first-child love, but without some of the anxious energy perhaps. He lights up the room, and even at 3 am I can't bring myself to be frustrated with him for long. My lovely boy.
With apologies, I know this is rambly but I've got terrible writers block and had to get something out there to try to get over it.