Saturday, November 27, 2010

Can't we all just get along?

I am still alive, I just don't have much to say or much time to say it in. But I read this article just now and it made me laugh - actually laugh out loud, not just one of those times where you write 'lol' but actually aren't - and I wanted to share it with you.

How to feed your baby is one of the most contentious parenting issues around. There are hundreds of pages on the internet where you can share an opinion and get slated for it. Not all pro-breastfeeders are breastfeeding nazis, by a long way. Not all formula feeders are... well, whatever they get accused of being. But there's a lot of shouting and unpleasantness going on.

I had a lot of trouble getting going with breastfeeding. Actually, I was fine. I did everything right. Phoebe had a lot of trouble breastfeeding. She struggled to latch on, got a bit upset at some of the very vigorous help we received, and then screamed every time I tried to feed her. We ended up cup-feeding her formula. After 6 days, I got help from an excellent Infant Feeding Co-ordinator and we had a reasonably happy feeding relationship. I didn't love breastfeeding - I felt tied to my baby and stuck to the sofa - the baby decides when she'll start feeding and when she'll finish feeding and you lose any sense of control you might have once had. But I felt it was worth persevering with as I knew it was good for Phoebe - and I'd worked damn hard to be able to do it...

Until we got to 10 months. I went back to work, Phoebe grew top teeth, Phoebe started biting me. Every feed we had, she bit me. It wasn't the most painful thing that had ever happened to me (that would be labour, I think) but it made me nervous about feeding, which made things worse. And I just feel there are some places that you shouldn't have to be bitten. I did try to keep going for a while, but eventually I decided that I didn't want to be bitten any more and I didn't want breastfeeding to become a massively unpleasant experience. I really really wanted to keep going until Phoebe was at least one and probably beyond that and I think that would have been better for her. But she got 10 months of good milk out of me and I am very proud of that.

So... I've seen both sides of the debate - the "I can't breastfeed" part, the breastfeeding part, the switching to formula part. I believe that breastmilk is significantly better for babies than formula is. I believe that nearly all women can physically breastfeed. I think all women should receive much more support to breastfeed, and that breastfeeding should be normalised in the UK as the baby feeding choice. But I also think that the costs of succeeding at breastfeeding (for me it was a week of a nightmare three-hourly expressing and feeding schedule which left me with almost no sleep) shouldn't be underestimated and each family should be allowed to choose when they have reached the limits of their ability to pay that price.

Essentially, I think we should all be a little nicer to each other. And stop taking meth.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Phoebe's first festival

Longstanding readers of this blog may remember that each August Bank Holiday I go to Greenbelt, possibly my favourite place in the world, and I steward. Last year I didn't go as I was pregnant and too fat and tired to move.

Well, tomorrow is Greenbelt again. This year Phoebe and I are going with Sanctus1, our church community. Matt isn't coming but is on hand to come and pick us up if it's too terrible. I'm a combination of excited and nervous. Camping with an 8-month-old is a little frightening, particularly as she's teething and sleeping badly (maybe it's the rest of Sanctus1 who should be frightened). However, I grew up going on camping holidays in a trailer tent with my parents and four siblings - my brother even went in reusable nappies as disposables didn't agree with him. So I know it can be done.

I'm looking forward to seeing lots of my friends, showing off my beautiful baby, and getting lots of fresh air (hopefully not too fresh). I might even get to see a few bands and talks and take Phoebe to the children's festival (messy play on Sunday!). It's not going to be like my normal Greenbelt, though I expect I'll still be up at 3 am, but hopefully it will be a good one.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Over the past eight months (yes, really!) I've been asked many times variations on "how are you getting used to motherhood?"

Motherhood is shit. Literally. Dirty nappies. 3am wakings for feeds. Constant tiredness. No time for myself. Not much idea what I'm doing. Endless repetitive drudgery. Forgive me if I'm not really selling it. I read somewhere that 'motherhood is not a job that pays in cheques but in hugs and kisses' - but if it were a job I'd expect a pretty good salary and certainly wouldn't be fobbed off with kisses.

But let me tell you about Phoebe. She's just got the hang of crawling. She can sit herself up. And she is pulling herself up onto furniture so I expect she'll be walking soon-ish. She loves exploring and climbing on things - mainly me - and she loves being rolled around. Inexplicably she also loves being carried down the stairs by me while her daddy walks down behind us. She smiles when she sees me and cries when I go away. And I miss her if I'm away from her for more than a few hours - I relish the freedom too, but I miss her. It's not a job, it's a relationship.

However, I'm not prepared to be one of those people who say "when she smiles at me it's all worth it". I'm not sure it's an equation that can be balanced like that - one smile=3 dirty nappies? I don't really do it because I choose to or because it all balances out - here is just where I find myself, looking after my beautiful baby girl, enjoying the fun bits and just too tired to object to the rest.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Baby on board?

I have always hated baby on board signs in cars. They suggest either that parents think you need to know they have a baby so you make a special effort not to crash into them (because it's ok to maim or kill the childfree in a car accident) or to warn you that they are going to drive badly due to being distracted.

Now I understand. It means 'expect exceptionally early braking when approaching stationary traffic or red traffic lights; I will do everything in my power to keep this car moving, however slowly, as otherwise my baby will wake up and cry all the way home'.

I still don't plan on having one.

Monday, February 08, 2010

I did not know...

... that babies take up so much time.
... just how tired I would be.
... how confusing it is to love someone so much when they stop me sleeping so often.
... how little there is worth watching at 5am.
... that my life would change so completely.