Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Calm quiet confidence with a limp

After my little power trip in the last post, we seem to have lift off. We are no longer a family of four trying to deal with a baffling newcomer. We are now a family of five, and functioning as much as we're likely ever to function. For a couple of days, I repeated my mantra of "I the mama," making me feel powerful and like a primal mother. It was a centered, warm feeling at about the height of my womb, which makes perfect sense to me. It seems all I needed was the confidence in my own abilities. No baby likes to have an insecure mummy, I suppose.

What has also helped (and yes, I feel an idiot for even thinking this, let alone writing it down) is The Dog Wisperer. How crazy is that? I'm channeling Cesar Millan. He's been on in the very early morning here, perfect for the first feed of the day, and somehow he primes me to exude a quiet strong confidence - "I am a leader" - at least until five o'clock in the afternoon when I go to pieces anyway (but I did that before Charlie's arrival so basically I have been reset to manufacturer's settings). I know this is crazy and I know my children aren't dogs. But hey it works for me.

I have been to see the doctor about a persistent pain around my aforementioned seat of power - I'm guessing it's located rougly around my right ovary - and her advice was "not to lift anything." Very funny joke, that. She reckons it's probably a sore muscle. So now I have a limp by the afternoon. She thought there was a small posibility that I had "a break" in there. I didn't dare ask what exactly would have broken. Sometimes ignorance is the better option.

I did have a post - with pictures - about the weekend and it would have been good, but Babes is holding the photos hostage on his phone. He does not appreciate the importance of the blog. Ah well. I just thought I would check in with you all. I may wear him down and get the pictures out of him yet and then I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Who's the boss

Fuck baby-led anything! I am asserting my authority.

Who the mama?
I the mama!

I'd so had it with all this crap last night, I decided from now on I'm boss and we're imposing some structure around here. I love structure. I need structure. So do Jack and Marie. Why would Charlie be any different? From now on, I'm the woman with the plan and he will bloody well follow. He WILL sleep all night. He WILL lie in his own bed. He WILL take a dummy.

So what happened? I put him to bed. He was angry. He cried - for five minutes, while I patted him and told him everything was alright. I let him suck on my finger. I gave him a cuddle when he was irate. But I put him back down. And then he went to sleep. For ten hours, interrupted by two feeds. And we both got lots of delicious, wonderful sleep. He didn't even cry when I put him back after his feeds. We seem to have reached an understanding. And today we're both much happier than yesterday. QED.

As for the dummy, he wouldn't take it. But motherhood is the dragon of invention, or something like that, and I found that he would take it if I cuddled him with my face up against his cheek, making sucking noises. And now he happily sucks away on his dummy.

I will try to get a little more structure in the feeds as well, but I realise that's impossible right now because I'm still trying to produce more milk. I am stretching out the time between feeds a bit more, because I just couldn't keep up any more. I'm keeping all the things he likes - bath, sucking my finger, baby carrier - for when he's demanding a meal. He gets distracted quite happily and I buy me some time.

And now? Right this second? He's upstairs, in the dark of my bedroom, having a nap.

I the mama!

(Ah crap - jinxed it of course by writing that last bit - gotta go. Shouldn't have been so smug about it.)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

High maintenance baby

(This is the second in what I will call my Personal Complaint series, the first being Middle lane hogger.)


High maintenance baby! Independence is good!
  • It's okay to lie down for a minute on your own, even if you're awake.
  • There are other means of transport available to you, other than the baby carrier. You may want to give the car seat or pram another chance...
  • A dummy is a perfectly valid alternative to my little finger. No need to scream or panic when confronted with one.
  • Daddy doesn't have quite as fabulous a chest, admittedly, but he's really just as good for getting comfort when you're not hungry.
  • Lying on your tummy is possible even if you're on a mattress and not on my chest.
  • Breastfeeding is for when you're hungry. Not for when you're fed up, tired, bored, upset, ...
High maintenance baby! Give me a break!
  • Why do you insist on eating seven or more times a day still?
  • Why do you hate your baby carriage so much?
  • Why do you hate your car seat when the car is standing still?
  • Why do you sleep for two hour stretches only at night while you can do four in the early evening?
  • Why do you stay awake for hours every night when I ask you to sleep?
  • Why is it impossible for me to leave you crying for more than thirty seconds? I bet it's your gorgeous smile which goes all the way to the top of your eyes and the back of your ears. Or the way you stretch out your toes when you're angry, showing me that ALL of you is angry, fiery red head to little stretched-out toes. Or the way you will start to sneeze and misfire, going ah-ah-ah-big sigh. Not to mention the smell of your downy-haired head, or the soft feel of your round belly when I kiss it, or the way you look completely fulfilled lying across my lap after I feed you. I also know that all the trouble won't last while the loveliness will.
High maintenance baby! I love you to bits!

Monday, 20 September 2010

I'm so vain, I probably think this blog is about me

It's amazing what a little sleep will do for a person. Friday night, I got a whole nine hours! (Ta, Babes.) In four installments I will admit, but one of them was four hours long.

So what do you think I did? Did I
  • pay extra attention to my children? (I did, honest.)
  • catch up on the washing? (A bit.) 
  • go out to see friends? 
  • catch up on my favourite blogs? 
  • finally tidy up the garden? 
  • unpack my hospital suitcase? (It has, after all, been more than a month since I was discharged.)

I put on a pair of jeans I can hardly close, donned some high-heeled boots I had trouble walking in, strapped a baby to my chest, and went out to a shopping mall to buy a new handbag and purse. Of course, I ended up with excruciatingly sore feet, a painful back and an upset stomach.

Oh yes! Vanity, thy name is Mwa.

But ain't they pretty?

Friday, 17 September 2010

"Sinkers or floaters? Greasy and soft or hard and pellet-like?"

Warning: poo post.

I was watching our new season of House this week. (Our new season is probably three seasons ago for English speaking countries.) He was treating a blogger who put her whole life online - well, practically her whole life - which led to House proclaiming the following:
House: Do you poop? Come on. Everybody poops. I read the book in medical school.
Sinkers or floaters? Greasy and soft or hard and pellet-like?
(See, reader, those last two sentences? Is why I love House. That is classic.)
House: [..] You're a hypocrite. No lies, no secrets, but everything stops at your colon. 4,000 pages, not one word about BMs. And I bet yours don't smell at all.

[Blogger]: Nobody wants to hear about that stuff.

House: Readers don't. People who don't really care about you don't.
"Ha!" I say. I'm the opposite of that blogger. I won't in a hurry tell you about a fight with my husband or a good friend who got up my nose, but my poop? So not an issue. Granted, you may not be interested, but to me this is one of the most fascinating topics to write, hear and read about. (Seriously - you ever want to make me smile, write a post about your poo. The more detail the better. Just make sure I get to read it. I will adore you forever.)

I once went to see a dietician who promised me, literally, "floating poo, the size, shape and consistency of a banana, with nothing to wipe afterwards." I loved her instantly. It was just a shame she told me not to eat bread or cheese. No one comes between me and my cheesy bread, no matter how gorgeous the promised plop. She didn't last three weeks.

I own books about poo, I talk about it. No big deal. I realise this may lose me some readers, but hey if I don't write what I want why have a personal blog at all? Babes told me today you should all just be grateful my blog isn't "Click 'n' Sniff." Funny guy, that Babes. He thinks I'm doing too many poo-posts.

... and by the way I don't like House saying that blog readers don't care about the bloggers they follow. That is true for casual readers - sure - but I sure care about the people whose lives I've been reading about for months, in some case a couple of years already. I say "Ha!" again.

You know these days of the week when all bloggers do the same thing? Writing workshops, haikus, galleries - that kind of thing? Maybe I should start a Faecal Friday or perhaps Mwa's Motion Monday. We could all report on the week's poo-related events and compare notes. I am only partly joking. Of course I wouldn't seriously suggest such a thing or institute it, but if it existed, it would probably be my favourite day of the week. Now why would that be? Maybe it's there in House's wise (as always) words:
Everybody poops.
And I bet yours don't smell at all.
Maybe I find it reassuring that in the end we are all the same on the toilet. Except you may find yourself producing some floating, greasy and soft specimens, while I ... am breastfeeding right now, which seems to require all the moisture my body takes in.


Thursday, 16 September 2010

Blasphemy, lactation, meanness, sloth

  • In an amusing twist of fate, Marie has been hit hard by the terrible twos. That'll teach me to use the expression "oh my fucking god" all the time. God does not dick around with punishments for blasphemy, you know.
  • I seem to have mislaid my milk. No, hunger days are fun. Really.
  • On the bright side, I have convinced my two elder children that staying at school to have lunch is much more fun than coming home. It is, actually, so I'm surprised they hadn't worked that one out by themselves.
  • My Reader now has 400+ posts in it. The "Mark all as read" button keeps smiling at me seductively. I will visit you, my dearest people, as soon as I get some sleep or this beautiful baby lets me put him down for more than thirty seconds without screaming. So maybe in six months' time or so. Sigh.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Note to self: do not touch family doctor's breasts

Now that was a "funny" doctor's visit I just experienced. After about three (non-consecutive) hours of sleep last night, I had to take my two youngest for their check-ups this morning. The appointment was for ten, which worked out perfectly because we could be home for Charlie's eleven o'clock feed. Ha!

Of course we were still waiting by ten forty-five, and Charlie was PISSED OFF, so I fed him in the nurse's office while the nurse asked me twenty questions. (Yes, everything is just fine, thank you - we didn't actually need this check-up. And yes, he is a giant.)

Then into the doctor's office with two children, one of whom (Marie) was getting an inoculation. I evilly hadn't told her about it in advance because I wasn't entirely sure if she was getting another one. (I really wasn't sure - and in my defence she hardly had time to be shocked before the whole thing was over.)

So there was Charlie, lying on the examination table, while I was hugging Marie who was understandably a little shocked at the whole concept of someone sticking a needle in her thigh and poking around a little bit. Of course this is the time Charlie chooses to start crying, at which point our delightful and friendly family doctor picks him up and gets vomited on profusely. Profusely, I tell you. It went from her neck all the way down into her cleavage, underneath her top, and into her trousers. Yes. THAT profusely.

I may have grabbed my burp cloth and wiped her breasts. I was TIRED and STRESSED, I tell you. I'm just glad we know this doctor really well and she is very cool so she didn't even blink when I went for her chest. Sadly, this was just one more item on the list of embarrassing things I've put her through. It's been a long time since I had hopes we could be friends...


Okay, after twenty minutes' sleep and an overflowing nappy (Charlie's, not mine), I have some perspective. Instead of embarrassing, I now see this event as a lucky escape. It could have been a shower of yellow poo, as he was only wearing his nappy.

Yes, lucky escape. Much better.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Breastfeeding - yes, but not if it kills me

I fear I may have to give up breastfeeding next week, and I have identified the problem: I don't live in a commune. There are just so many IFs. IF my life was just a little bit better organised, I would not even be considering giving up. (My father would say "IF aunt Irma had bollocks, she would be my uncle.") Communal living would be the answer - if only for a few weeks. After that, the constant presence of other people would probably annoy me too much, and don't even get me started on the free love.

My other children got six months of breastfeeding each, and I would SO love to give Charlie the same. I probably will, but I fear I may break down soon because of it. And the culprit is modern living and its extreme individuality. It's just not providing any of the support I - temporarily, badly - need. Right now, I'm hanging on because Babes is still at home, but as of Monday I'm on my own with it all for twelve hours a day. And if I don't get more than two consecutive hours of sleep and stop coughing up snot by then, I don't think I can do it and breastfeed as well. Which would make me very sad.
  • If I lived in a commune, I would have some other people around who could help look after my other two children so I could sometimes get a nap. They could even take the baby for an hour or two if necessary.
  • If I lived in a commune, the two older children could go to school with the other children of the commune and I would not have to go through the madness of getting them both dressed and fed before eight in the morning - on my own - to walk them to school - on my own - while also looking after a baby. In fact, I think that would be enough for me to keep my sanity. The logistics baffle me. The time constraints stress me out beyond belief.
  • If I lived in a commune, there would not be the need to organise trips to the supermarket with a baby, and possibly two more children, in tow. I'm sure they would give me another couple of weeks off, or look after the children while I went shopping.
  • If I lived in a commune, I could take up my normal life and contribute properly again as soon as Charlie sleeps through at least part of the night, but until then I could temporarily rely on the support of the tribe.
Of course no commune would be that idyllic. There would probably be bickering and resentment if I didn't do my part soon enough. There would be pressure to get back into the free love before I was ready. Also, in a modern commune all the adults would probably be out at work all day, so I wouldn't get any naps anyway. But a girl can dream, right?

Another solution would be to become meteorically rich in the next few days. A nice staff would sort my problems just as much. The chauffeur could take the children to school, while the maid would sort the day's meals. I could even hire a nanny temporarily for the four hours of wakefulness at night and the morning routine of the children. Sorted. Of course a truly rich lady wouldn't be breastfeeding at all. It's just not the ladylike thing to do, is it?

Ah bugger it - I just need this wretched cold to go away and for Charlie to sleep through a couple of nights, and all will be fine. I just hope both will happen before I quit breastfeeding.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The point - of me

Ever since my last post, I have been mulling over a post I didn't particularly want to write. The problem is, as long as it's in the pipeline, my inspiration seems to be completely plugged up and no other topics are coming through. My objection to this particular subject is that it's not funny and kind of navel-gazingly serious - precisely the type of post I love to read but am shy to write myself. I will write it, though - to flush the inspiration pipeline. (Do you get that as well?) Right - here goes.

I've been thinking about the obsession with youth in the media and some of society. Becoming a mother for the third time, and seeing the amazing things my body can do, I don't understand why on earth I would long to have my girlish body back. I like my womanly body much better. It was only after I had a child that I started to appreciate my body at all. Only then did I begin to take care of it by eating well and exercising. In between pregnancies, I was probably fitter and healthier than I'd ever been before in my life.

When I was a little girl, I used to see "real women's breasts" in films and on tv, and I used to long to have breasts just like theirs. Young girls looked so awkward with their extremely round chests, I always just assumed that what we should all aspire to was the slightly softer kind. I don't understand why all these women on TV makeover shows would choose to ruin their gorgeous woman chests by having them transformed into immature girl chests. Surely, they are trading down?

And while I'm on the topic of women's vs girls' bodies, I don't get the whole nethers waxing trend either. The pedo-look disturbs me. Why this fear of looking like a real woman and opting to look like a little girl? If that's your cup of tea, by all means go for it, but perhaps you want to explain it to me in the comments? I just find it uncomfortable and unnatural - I don't get it.

So I'm happy with my womanly body - childbearing hips, stretch marks, emerging wrinkles and all. This may have something to do with the fact that I loathed being a child. I hated being told what to do all the time, not having any power over my own life. I couldn't wait to grow up and do my own thing. Strangely, when I finally moved away from home and was officially grown up, I couldn't cope with it very well. It was the sheer pointlessness of it all. Nothing I did seemed to have any meaning - what Milan Kundera calls the unbearable lightness of being. For ten years, I looked for meaning wherever I could and failed miserably. Finding love helped. Jobs and studies certainly didn't help.

And then I had a child. And all of a sudden there was a point to my life. I certainly didn't have a child so my life would have meaning (that would be quite a responsibility to put on the shoulders of one's offspring) - I had a child and then a while later I noticed that my baseline sadness had lifted, because now there was a point to being me. I can find joy in friendship, intellectual pursuits, love - but it's only as a mother that I feel like I am truly needed in this world.

I realise that what I'm writing could anger or sadden many people (especially people without children) so allow me to explain - this is just what I feel, not what I think I should feel or god forbid what anyone else should feel. In fact, I often wish I didn't feel like this, because surely there is something wrong with my self esteem if I feel so worthless that my life only acquires meaning through caring for someone else? I do see that this is problematic and quite unhealthy.

Anyway - I am still happy every day to be all grown up, and that includes having a grown up body. Which I'm happy with. Very very happy. Well, apart from the grey hair. And I do worry about the possible consequences of breastfeeding this third child. Oh, and I'm not too thrilled about ... (Okay, so I'm not 100% content. That would be unnatural. I'm allowed to pick and choose, right?)

What do you think? Do you miss your childhood or are you happy it's over? Do you miss your girl/boy body? Maybe you still have it and are afraid to lose it. I'm wondering how you see it, so do share if you like.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

History lesson, relationship lesson

  • Marie: If I saw a dinosaur, I would be really scared of it.
    Me: But dinosaurs don't exist any more, so you won't meet one.
    Marie: When dinosaurs existed, I was really scared of them.
    Jack: That's impossible because when the dinosaurs were here EVEN granny and grampa didn't exist yet.

    (They're in their early 60s, but not quite dinosaurs apparently.)

  • You know you have to work on the mystery in your relationship when you tweeze that stray beard hair while your husband is still in the room.

    (Forget I said that.)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Just a housewife - the movie

We had to register Charlie at the town hall last week, which was a great experience all around. Not only did they make us wait for ages at an empty desk with a fussy baby, but then the woman who finally decided to grace us with her presence also had a thing against stay at home mothers. She prompted me to stage the return of the home-made cartoon!

(No worries, there are only two, and they are mercifully brief. Very brief. Really. I won't keep you too long. Oh, just watch them already.)

First, the conversation as it happened:

This is when Babes cut me off and told me to let it go. Really. In front of that woman. She really kept saying "just a housewife." She didn't say "a housewife" - it was always "JUST a housewife." She fucking pissed me off. But I let it go eventually, because I was holding a not-too-happy baby and I wanted to get home. I also didn't have a hand free to punch her with.

Of course I should have just said I'm a teacher. No need to mention I was at home. None of the rest of the conversation would have happened. I am making a mental note to be more succinct in the future.

Now I get to the point of this post - here is what I should have answered:

That bitch deserved a beating.