I’ve mentioned before that my mum (and dad, but particularly my mum) does a lot for us as a family. Since I went back to work, they keep B one day a week, meaning I get paid for three days of work but only have to pay for two days of childcare. They are the only babysitters B has ever been left with, not just to let me and hubby go out for the evening but to let me get my hair cut, go to the doctor or the dentist, or even go to the supermarket in peace! In the almost three years I was back at work before going on maternity leave last year, I never once had to take a day off because B was poorly – mum and dad would always step in and look after her. Since A was born, they have helped me out with bathtime and bedtime when hubby has been out or away, they’ve popped round and taken B out for an hour when we’ve been having one of ‘those’ days. And as if all that wasn’t enough, my mum has done our ironing since I fell pregnant with A!!
I suppose as a result of all the extra help they give us, I do sometimes bite my tongue about some of the things they do with B. Nothing major, just too much “treaty” food, too many new toys/comics/colouring books etc, and especially recently when her behaviour has been very challenging, they sometimes undermine what I’m trying to do at home. But that’s what grandparents are for, right?!
However, I think me and my mum might be about to clash a little bit. A is not sleeping very well, after being brilliant as a newborn he is now up sometimes every hour between midnight and 5am, at which point he usually ends up in beside us. He only feeds once, around half past midnight or 1am – the rest of the time he tends to be awake and grumpy, but not interested in feeding. Despite this, my mum keeps saying I should be giving him a bottle of formula at bedtime so he’ll “sleep through”. Gah.
Last week, she said (and I quote), “I assume you’ll start him on formula once he’s on solids?”. Ermmm, no. Why would I? “When did you stop feeding B? Wasn’t that when you weaned her?”. Well yes it was, but she was combination fed from about 6 weeks, and by the time I stopped breastfeeding, I was only giving her the first feed in the morning. Plus I didn’t enjoy feeding her and couldn’t wait to stop! Mum knows that this time around I feel totally differently about bf-ing, and ultimately it’s working out for us – A is gaining plenty weight, ok he’s not sleeping but if it’s not hunger that’s waking him then formula ain’t going to help!!
The final straw was yesterday when they dropped B off after her ‘Nana Papa’ day. We’d spoken about weaning A before and I’d mentioned my plans to do baby led weaning, so yesterday I said that before I start him on solids I would let her read some of the stuff I’ve gathered on BLW. She looked a bit sceptical, so I explained that babies who start off on finger foods can quite often gag, and it’s important to know the difference between gagging and choking. I then also made the mistake of saying that in the first few months it doesn’t really matter if he doesn’t eat much, as he’ll still get most of the nutrition he needs from breastmilk. Cue various comments about how can I expect him to sleep through in that case, finished off by the statement “Well if I’m looking after him he’ll just be getting proper baby food”.
Now I’m not saying that A will not be fed anything off a spoon at all, but that’s my decision to make once we get started. Mum’s remark is the equivalent of her saying “Well if I’m looking after him I’ll just give him a bottle of formula instead of expressed milk”.
I’m not really too sure how to address this. In a lot of ways it’s probably not even worth bringing it up again at the moment – we’re still a few weeks away from weaning, and I don’t have any plans to leave A with my folks for any length of time in the immediate future. But at the same time, I feel like I need to make it clear that all these things are my decisions – how long I breastfeed for, how we move on to solids – and I need support, not someone questioning my choices, however well intentioned it is.
I suppose part of it comes from an increased confidence on my part – as a first time mum I constantly asked my own mum for advice and for her opinion on what we were doing with B. Maybe Mum is feeling less needed this time around. Maybe I need to make more of an effort to involve her with our day to day routine with A, and she’ll come to appreciate my point of view on the bigger decisions.
I shall keep you posted!