It’s ok to change your mind

imageThroughout my life I have changed my mind on so many different things. It drives my husband crazy. Just as I find it equally irritating (well, more probably) when he changes his.

I went through stage of having short hair, then decided I preferred it longer, so I changed my mind (good job too as when recently watching some video footage, husband said ‘Look at Mummy’s silly hair, boys’, to which they all roared with laughter….cheers then boys).

I used to want a dog, but after changing nappies and wiping bottoms god knows how many times over the years, the last thing I want to do is pick up dog dirt. So I have changed my mind.

I used to always shop at Sainsburys, saying I would never go to Tesco because our local one was not very nice, and the trolleys ALWAYS had wonky wheels. But when I realised that some things were cheaper there, and I was now shopping for a family of 6, I changed my mind.

I WILL potty train all 3 boys at once, but when I realised it was like having a litter of puppies and we had no idea of who had done that wee over there, and they had even less of an idea, I changed my mind (very quickly).

I always said the boys could never play with their tablets in their bedrooms, so I could always have a look over their shoulder at what they were looking at, but upon realising that sometimes they (and me) just need their own space, I changed my mind.

I always think at Christmas and Easter that I won’t buy so much chocolate for my boys  but every year I think, well, they are only children once, and I change my mind.

I was a vegetarian for 11 years, after at the age of 14 seeing a documentary on how certain animals were slaughtered, but then after a few drinks at the age of 25, just gave in to a Chicken Tikka Masala.

 

So if I think it is acceptable to change my mind on those things, why do I need to beat myself up when I change my mind about other things.

 

I AM going to feed my first born until weaning. But I didn’t, I stopped earlier because I found it easier to wean whilst having a set bottle routine, so I changed my mind.

I am going to express milk for my 3 babies for 3 months, because I fed my first born for 18 weeks, so it is only fair, but actually it became too time consuming with a toddler to entertain as well, so I changed my mind.

When my boys started 2’s playgroup, I told myself they would each have a morning on their own at home with me, so we could have some time one-on-one, but then when realising that actually I wanted that time as just ‘one’, I changed my mind.

I will not let my children have the TV on at mealtimes. But when feeding meals to 4 children under 3, it takes the distractions away from hitting each other, and gives me more time to sort things in the kitchen, so I changed my mind. (Now at the age of 8 and 6 I am practically begging them to watch TV at meal times so they don’t talk to each other as it leads to teasing and fighting).

I am never going back to work, because I want to be there for my boys after school and in school holidays, but now actually, if you don’t mind boys, I have changed my mind.

I can’t imagine going on a girls holiday again, putting myself at risk on a flight when I don’t need to go, as I am a mother of 4 after all, but actually, I have changed my mind (and sometimes I even think that I can’t get on that plane fast enough).

So why is it that I beat myself up when I change my mind about some things, but don’t when I change my mind about others. Surely it is my right to change my mind about anything?

Well, because those things I beat myself up about when I change my mind is because I have set myself a rule, that at a time I thought was very important, but over time, that changes and a situation changes.  And I have to accept that, and that it is ok to change my mind.

There is always a reason behind why I have changed my mind. And that for as long as I can remember, I have never once regretted changing my mind. Ok maybe I have when it comes to a bet on a horse, or a Strictly or X-factor contestant, but when it has come to something REALLY important, I can’t think of a situation when I wish I hadn’t changed my mind. So I need to trust my judgement and that my reasoning is usually spot on.  So that is ok surely.

(Oh but I never changed my mind on those mince pies)

 

Go!… (Night time feeding)

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Now it took us a while to sort the 10pm feed, probably two weeks. We had been keeping the babies in the lounge before taking them to bed with us at night, so they were in the cot in the lounge until after the 10pm feed. We decided to do this so we could eat tea, watch television and deal with the boys next to us rather than keep running up and down the stairs. This was the most unsettled time for the boys, and often we would start milks early, say 9.15pm. It took us a while to realise that actually the boys didn’t want to be in the lounge, lights on, listening to 24 and Jack Bauer’s latest mission. At night time, SCBU generally had been quiet, relaxed and dark. So we decided that they would start the bed time routine – a bath, clean baby-gro, before going to bed in the cot in our room. We would then do the 10pm feed in our room.

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SONY DSC

We would spread the boys out on our bed, lying on pillows, and give them their bottles two at a time, rotating depending on who is the hungriest. We would never leave the babies unattended on our bed.

(The babies are more like 10 weeks old in the above photo, but I don’t seem to have one from the earlier days, but it still gives an idea of the feeding set up).

The 2am feed involved both of us getting whoever woke first and another, even if sleeping. As soon as the first baby stirred, my husband would head off to the kitchen to prepare milks (and set up the steriliser again for the 6am feed).

We would change nappies at this time, either before milk, if we wanted the baby to wake, or after if the baby had woken hungry. Changing the nappy before milk will wake a baby who was happy sleeping so he will be alert for his milk, however, often another nappy change was required post-feed. The other approach of changing the baby after milk meant usually only one nappy change, but more often than not a new outfit as the baby would be sick a little. We often had the scenario where one baby would need a post milk change but not because he had been sick, but his loving brother had deposited some on him.

We would feed all three babies at this feed, even if this meant waking one or two. We needed to keep them together in their routine. At times we would have all three howling for milk, and we would deal with the loudest first, and try a few ounces each if all were desperate. Sometimes it was a frantic feed, but it was normally a relaxed process, each with a baby, then whoever finished first went for the third. It was often a game over which baby we had first as depending on how fast they were depended on whether you got the third – at times I would pretend that my chosen baby was taking a while to get its wind up, so I would sneakily miss out on the third, thus being able to go back to sleep 20 minutes earlier. Bad wife.

We had some special moments during those feeds which I can honestly say I look back on fondly. They started taking about an hour and a half but over the weeks we managed to do these in an hour, as the boys got faster at taking milk, and we moved up the teat sizes quickly. We would record films or programmes to watch during the feeds as we had a television in our room. It just made it more pleasant and memorable.

Breast feeding a singleton can be a lonely experience. Your partner does not need to wake or may even be in another room. Feeding more than one baby is a two person job and it really was a wonderful experience that myself and my husband got to share together with our babies.

The boys would then settle again until the 6am feed, which we could usually get done and dusted before toddler boy awoke at 7am. If we had’t quite completed the feed, one of us would finish it off, and transfer the babies downstairs to their cot in the lounge, whilst the other would deal with toddler boys demands.

 

Go!… (Day time feeding)

Doing milks’

During their time in SCBU, I had been breast feeding in addition to bottle feeding the boys. I would try to take it in turns as to who would breast feed, and they would roughly feed for 20 to 40 minutes which I considered enough and acceptable (and had satisfied the nurses given the length of time they lasted until their next feed and ability to settle after this feed – each baby and breast is different though so don’t take this as a guide).

On the first morning at home, I decided to give T2 a turn breast feeding for his 10am feed. He fed for 25 minutes which I considered enough. However, two hours later he was hungry. I suspected this as he didn’t sleep. As with lots of newborns, the babies would generally feed then sleep until they were hungry in the first few weeks and not do much else. T2 wasn’t happy and I took this to mean he was hungry. Whilst I enjoyed breast feeding, I had no idea how much milk he had had. In order to follow a strict routine, I needed to know that he had had enough. So I decided there and then to stop breast feeding. That said, I still wanted my babies to benefit from my milk so I continued to express four times a day, transferring my milk to bottles and supplementing with formula milk (check latest guidelines on how to supplement breast milk with formula milk). I would get on average 500ml in morning express and on average of 260ml other times. I was happy with this approach and given that I had breast fed my first born for up to five months, I wanted my other babies to benefit from this.
With my husband at home that first week, in the day time hours, we would take it in turns to ‘do milks’ in the safety of the lounge, the other entertaining toddler boy and doing the jobs. I no longer had a hire pump from hospital which I handed back when we ‘checked out’, so purchased an additional electronic Medela swing pump, so used one on each breast. This worked very well and I was able to maintain my milk at a good level.

The 10am feed would be performed by one of us and would take place in the lounge. In the first few days, we would hold each baby individually and feed them one at a time, rotating depending on how quick they were with their bottle. It would generally take between an hour to an hour and half to feed all three babies. The 2pm feed would be in the lounge, sometimes with both of us as toddler would be having his afternoon nap which I had been so keen to maintain. The 6pm feed again would be in the lounge, solo, whilst the other took toddler boy through his bedtime routine.

People have always asked if it is possible to feed three babies at the same time. There are ways and I will tell you some of the ways I managed this. You may not find similar ideas in reference books or recommended by health visitors, quite frankly because there are risks involved. However you decide to feed your babies must be in a way that you are completely in control of and observant of all babies at all times. The first key thing to remember is that the baby is crying because it is hungry. You are preparing the milk, and it will get its milk. If the baby has to wait a few more minutes because the temperature isn’t right, you incorrectly measured out the powder and had to start again, it will be fine.  It will get its milk. Stay calm.

If you have three crying, you will have one crying the loudest. Deal with this one first. Quite often, a baby is happy with a few ounces to take the edge off their hunger, and then you can move on to give another a few ounces. Or maybe not. T2 was always hungry and the loudest significantly and still is. He would always go first, and would not be fended off by a few ounces. But at times he would have to wait whilst T1 or T3 had a go.

You can keep track of bottles by simply just keeping that babies bottle next to the baby. You can buy different colour rims, pink and blue, which wouldn’t have been enough for us anyway. Just try to keep them separate for obvious hygiene reasons, and so that you know who has had how much. In a few months time they will be swapping dummies (although we did always make the effort to keep them to their own allocated colours), chewing toys at baby classes and eating mud off the pushchair wheels in the hall (yes, we did have that, and still have the brown stain on the carpet where the particular child was sick after), and you will wonder what all the fuss was for. But babies are small and their immune systems need to build up, so best to try to keep things separate.

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As for winding, siblings would not allow time for me to have a baby on my knee and rub its back for a significant amount of time. There are other ways again, take note of my comment above and never leave a baby unattended and ensure you are observant of all babies at all times. At times when doing milks in the lounge, to wind them all, I would sit on the floor with my legs spread out in front of me, and have a baby over each knee (with head facing sideways for breathing and possett access) and hold the other over my shoulder. You will notice that some babies are windier than others, and some will burp with ease. My babies all burped with ease which was great. For those having trouble with wind, Infacol  (available from supermarkets and chemists) is a great solution which a baby has before a bottle, and this can help with wind. Although I never needed to use this on a frequent basis, I had friends who swore by it.

Now the boys coming home in a good routine was a great outcome from being in SCBU. Another great thing was that they did not need cuddling or rocking to go to sleep. In SCBU, the nurses had just fed them and put them back. No fuss. That was great and over the months and years, if they have ever woke in the night, they would not appreciate being rocked or cuddled back to sleep and could generally settle themselves. I can remember the hours I had spent rocking my first born to sleep, place him down only to wake him again by a squeaky floorboard whilst sneaking out of the room and starting the whole thing again. Painful. There was no time to do this with three, and they didn’t expect it. That said, during the afternoon 2pm feed, if the boys took it in turns to wake over a short time, I would have a lovely cuddle with them. As the weeks progressed, sometimes it was just a manic feeding frenzy. These, whilst made my knees shake getting all the milks ready as they all kicked off in the other room, could be over in 20 minutes. Some feeds were slow, long and relaxed with a few episodes of Emmerdale and cuddles. Others were quick, frantic and more stressful. Nice to have a variety.