Search This Blog

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Milk Chronicles

I have been breastfeeding the baby, as all the government health propaganda has been telling me to. I have also been giving one bottle a day, which I have done from the first week of the little lad's life. This is to make sure that when I do decide to stop breastfeeding, I don't run into any monkey business of bottle refusal. I like breastfeeding, and there are no problems, but I do like knowing that I could stop anytime when I decide to - the thought of being 'trapped', forced into some sort of twisted contract to be sucked on unceremoniously five times a day against my will makes me cringe. If it sounds perverted, it really sort of is. And that's for at least a whole year, *shudder*. So I've been keeping his bottle skills up every day, 10:30 pm.

I had been convinced also (advised most certainly in a well known baby care publication) that I must pump my own breastmilk at this time, to keep up my milk supply. The fruits of this labour often being enjoyed, although without their knowledge, by the older boys in their morning milk - which became a bit of a milk frankenstein containing some percentage combination of breastmilk, leftover formula feed, and regular cow's milk - delicious! Bleaaarrrggghh! But they didn't seem to mind, or even notice for that matter. I did ask my oldest boy once if he wanted to have some of 'mummy's milk' in his cup...but he gave me a stink eye like I just offered him some worms on a stick. Better left in the dark on these matters, they are. Contrast this with my sister's daughter, who is two, as when she spots the bottle of breastmilk in the fridge she knows she is in for a treat. "That's Auntie Headder's Special Milk!" and gobbles it up happily, well in the know. My sister is convinced that the milky tincture might help to cure her kids of their colds and whatnot, due to it's antibody containing superpowers. I'd also like to believe this is true, even a little bit, which is why my other folks ended up with their strange brew in the mornings.

Scratch that. About two weeks ago I decided to ditch the ballyhoo that was pumping. I am sure my husband doesn't miss the 'pssshhhht pssshhhht pssshhhht, pssshhhht pssshhhht pssshhhht' that required the volume to be cranked waaaay up on the TV, at 10 pm each night. Each and every night. Every single night. Months of nights, every night. You really can see why one might not want to continue with the pumping. Being forced to be sucked on unceremoniously five times a day is just tolerable, and even acceptable, sometimes enjoyable, when it is by a creature who you love and wish to thrive. To then add on being suctioned repeatedly pssshhhht pssshhhht pssshhhht by some kind of silicone nipple stretching torture apparatus is another concept. As my visiting childless male friend commented when he was boldly faced with my exposed pumping ritual, "Oh my GOD I can't believe HOW FAR your nipple goes out...I mean, oh my GOD!!!!!". It is grotesque, yet a thing of (un)natural wonder.

There was also the issue of dining out. Other ladies about the town might have a few essentials in their handbag: lipstick; money; maybe handcream, and their large shoulder bags were worn with a sense of fashion. On the occasion that I were to head out for the evening, my gigantic bag was gigantic for a far more functional purpose - armed with my lipstick, money, handcream and breast pump (!) I was ready for a hot night out. As 9:45 pm approached I would smile and comment to my friends that I was going to go do 'it' now, and slipped off to the wheelchair accessible bathroom. Thank goodness for those large single access toilets; I needed a bit of elbow room. Additionally I can't imagine what someone would have thought in a stall next to me: pssshhhht pssshhhht pssshhhht slosh slosh creak eee ooonnn eee onnnn creak pssshhhht pssshhhht pssshhhht shuffle shuffle. I do wonder, though, what any waiter who saw me go in thought as I was there for a good 10 minutes, making all those strange noises I am quite sure a young 20-something male would certainly not be familiar with. So there's me in my pretty silk dress in the bathroom, fluorescent light, assembling my apparatus; sitting on the toilet, and because I didn't have a muslin, stuffing toilet paper underneath my 'pumping boob', and holding wads of toilet paper with my other elbow onto my 'other boob', pumping away. This is because pumping is a drippy, spray-ey business - I always needed a boob bib under the pump, and a funny old thing it is, when you pump one breast the other one activates and starts spraying all over on it's own! The front dash of my car is a testament to this, which has a sort of milk-art splatter dried onto the stereo and air controls. Not a bad look, really. Well, I haven't wiped it off yet anyway.

As the 10:30 pm bottle will likely be dropped soon, I thought it wise to start to give a bottle at another time. I was a bit nervous about this, and rightfully so. A wide awake hungry baby is a completely different creature to face with a silicone teat compared to a mostly-sleeping-not-really-bothered-either-way baby. And hungry daytime baby totally spazzed. Hungry daytime baby was like a satanic multi-snake headed monster, all of the snake heads hissing and screaming at me "Give me the BOOB what is this imposter!!! Grrrrrrrrrr BOOB!!! *slobber*scream*" But I wanted him to be able to have the bottle. But he was totally spazzing. But I had to have him have the bottle. I had to persevere - I couldn't let all those months of late night bottle feeding be ruined by this evil boob-loving monster. I had just had a conversation with friends about mums being stuck with fussy bottle-takers who required standing and rocking to have the milk from a bottle, and I didn't want to get into any of that...but there I was, reduced to standing and rocking and singing and slyly bringing the bottle up to his mouth from underneath (like he wouldn't notice, HA). So every time he started sucking with any frequency I slowly...slowly... easy does it... squatted down to the chair. I had to keep every muscle tensed in the exact same way, because the moment anything shifted in the slightest he would start to fuss and fret again, and up I would get back to standing and singing and rocking. And even against my compulsive nature, as I saw a big drip of milk go down his chin, now under his chin, approaching his shirt down his neck [*cringe* I just HAD to catch the drip with the bib I just HAD to] I left the drip to travel all the way down in torturous slow motion, drip, to be absorbed into his shirt. Absolutely still. I did it. And he did it. One bottle down, phew. The evil boob-loving monster seems to have accepted his fate now also, after a few days of my squatting muscle tensed bottle sessions. I can even dab his neck a bit when the milk dribbles, and thank god for that.

So now the older boys aren't getting any of mummy's Special Milk anymore, and the little one is taking his Unspecial Milk alright too; none seem worse for wear. Already I have breastfed this time longer than with the other kids, so really I feel like anything longer is a bit of a bonus. And I don't feel half as annoyed with it as I had before, it really is still quite OK. As long as I know I can get out of this twisted contract when I want to.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A lovely Saturday afternoon

*WHAM*. The boot then bounces back up and open. I bring my hand up to my nose as I back away from the car, a bit shocked; I can now feel my hand filling with blood.

The weather has taken a turn for the better, with a freak October heat wave that has had everyone out in flip flops again. Saturday morning was baking hot and gorgeous, but we didn't have an outing because I was tied up having to collect my unsold items from the sale at the school. A few too many unsold items for my liking, but that's the way it goes. As the kids were all sleeping for their lunch naps, my husband and I were deciding what to do - we couldn't let this last chance hot sunny weekend go to waste, it was like a little extra gift of summer before the cold wet drudgery season began. "Where can we go?" husband asks. "I don't know! Look up on the computer, see if there are any kids events or anything going on..." I say. "Look where? You should know where to go, you are the one that takes the kids places!" "I don't know...I take them to the animal shelter and wherever...let's find something else." He rummages on the computer for a while and returns with a suggestion. "You'll just say no anyway, you never want to do what I suggest...." he says, grouchily. Now, of course, I feel like no matter what, I have to say yes to whatever his suggestion is just so I don't feel like a jerk. (This is a charming glimpse of the inner workings of how 5 years of marriage decision-making is achieved). He suggests going to Paxton Pits or the country park, just down the road a few miles, to have a forest walk. Actually this is not a bad idea, and I agree, thankful that I didn't have to agree to something like going to the landfill site or taking the toddlers fly fishing.

Then I had a flash of a really good idea. "OH, I have a really good idea!" I say to my husband. The now-smug-feeling me suggests going to the miniature railway at Audley End. It is about an hours drive away, and would be a load more effort, but with such nice weather the day deserved it, really. The boys have been once before, and loved it - what little boy doesn't love to ride a mini railway through the forest, and then have a picnic after jumping on a giant bouncy giraffe? We would have to get ready quick though - with the more grand outing planned we had to make sandwiches and trimmings for a picnic supper, make sure the nappy bag was really well stocked, get the buggy in the car, wake the kids up and feed the baby early so we could get going in time, get cooler bags from the garage - I even packed for the kids their camping chairs - we were set for a really awesome afternoon out. Rush rush rush to get ready. The car was loaded up, and I gave a great big haul on the boot hatch, as one does, to shut it all in.

That's when the fateful *WHAM* happened.

Holding my nose, not quite sure what exactly has happened, I come into the house still in a bit of a shocked state. "Injured! Injury....injury....! Come please!!!!" I yell upstairs as I gingerly make my way to the front hall bathroom, dreading what I will find in the mirror. Both the impact and the downward force of the boot onto my face had sort of smashed down a flap of tissue spanning across the bridge of my nose, right between the eyes. I also wondered if I had broken my nose...but I would have to wait a little while to see if everything puffed black and blue to find that out. I grabbed a wad of paper towel and held it with some pressure to hold the flap into place, and catch the blood. At that point also I couldn't help but start crying like a bit of a sissy, it was really starting to hurt! Then I hear "Mummy...mummy....I've done a pooooooooooooo!" the familiar call of my oldest son; he needs his bum wiped. 'Where is my husband??' I am thinking...I go upstairs, and the poor child sees me all teary and bloody, with a big wad of bloody paper on my face. I can see his eyes start welling up, and he looks really sad, and sort of worried. "Mummy, what happened? Are you alright?" "Yes! [overly smiley] mummy's fine! I just had a little accident! Mummy is just bleeding a little bit - don't worry, daddy will fix it." Mummy, really, was not fine.

He then tells me he would like a new shirt, as this one was 'really wet'. Oh no, I think. I sink a little bit - that means he has weed on the bed in his sleep, all the bed things will need changing. One handed, (the other holding my bloody face together) I manage to wipe his bum, and struggly-wiggle his wet shirt off of him. I go to investigate his bed, still crying, bloody and holding my face husband is now with me and we strip his sodden sheets off. My husband has some things ready to fix up my face. Luckily in our household, when these types of things happen, we have all the equipment and expertise handy as my husband is a surgeon. Unluckily, it seems these types of things happen quite often. I guess I married the right guy then, considering my proneness to personal injury.

I get laid down right there on the stripped bed, weepy me, husband tending, and an audience of one three year old. I keep saying to my husband "Hurry...hurry...I need to feed the baby. I need to get the baby up." but still feeling very eerie and teary. I for some reason felt like I had to get all this fixed and get going. I for some reason felt like, 'Dammit! We're going to be late! How annoying!' In retrospect, how ridiculous of me! I do cling to my routine with the kids though, apparently 'til the death....

And what a sweetie my little boy is, while he is watching me get 'fixed'. "It's alright mummy, you'll be okay...", and as my husband is applying the skin glue and the steri-strips "That's it, almost done now mummy, you're doing really well!", and as the last bandage is going on "Last one now mummy, that's ok now, all done." I realize he is repeating all the things we have said to him when he has been injured or needed tending to. It really did make me feel better though...there is something about lying there knowing you are injured but not knowing quite how badly, but in pain and bleeding, and someone else doing something to you but you don't really know what is going on - it made me feel really teary, and I had a bit of a panicky feeling. My little boy, who is so little, saying all those reassuring things - how cute, how sweet, how... mature. He really helped.

Patched up, I wake the baby (Late!Arrrgh!) and sit to feed him. Looking around I see bloody paper towels, a groggy grouchy woken-up middle son, a still weepy-worried oldest son, and a great big pile of wet sheets for washing. I feel a bit weary and sheepish. I look at my husband.

"Can we just go to the country park now instead?" *wimper*