Monday, 28 September 2009

Eloise learns the blues

Eloise and her mother have a bad case of the Mondays:

I let Mama take a shower, but then I decided she was taking too long so I cried because I missed her. And then when she picked me up after getting dressed in her pretty black dress that she was going to wear to our play group that afternoon I got really sick all down her back and onto the floor of my nursery. So Mama had to change me again, which I wasn't too happy about so I cried the whole time. Then she had to put me in her crib to change herself and I cried some more.

Then we went downstairs to watch t.v. and eat (Mama watched Gilmore Girls, I ate boob). But not even eating calmed me down and I cried and spit up and cried some more. Though sometimes I smiled at Mama just to remind her that I'm pretty and I love her. Soon it was time to go out to our play group, so Mama put me down in the pushchair which I did not like and let her know in no uncertain terms while she rushed around in the house getting us ready to go, popping her head into the room and making funny noises to try to calm me down, which I could barely hear over my wailing. Then when we were all ready, Mama picked me up to give me a quick cuddle before leaving the house but I was so worked up from all the crying I did a big poop. So Mama took me upstairs to change me and when she was done I threw up on her again. All over her shoulder and back. So Mama had to change outfits again. Then we went downstairs for our second attempt to leave the house, and just as she was turning off the computer with me in her arms, I got sick yet again. On Mama's third outfit. Then I cried. And Mama cried. And so we decided it was better if we didn't go to play group. Instead Mama put me in the sling and we went for a walk just the two of us and it was so nice I fell fast asleep and didn't wake up till Daddy came home.

Mama says sometimes there are days like these. And that even when I throw up in her hair and poop on her hand, she still loves me. A whole lot.

Then we got to tell Daddy all about the day we had and show him our upset faces. And Daddy said we're beautiful even when we cry.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Because you're mine

As is the case with most babies, getting them to bed is a nerve wracking time. We're pretty lucky as she sleeps through the night, but we never know when she'll sleep or how long it will take her to go to sleep. There are nights where she falls asleep in my lap, I put her in her bed, she gives me a drowsy look, flings her arms above her head and passes out. There are many more nights where it takes me 2 or 3 hours to get her to bed. Nursing, rocking, putting her down, crying, picking her up, vomiting, nursing, rocking, putting her down, crying.... you get the idea.

Obviously on those difficult nights I get a little frustrated. I've spent the entire day with this adorable yet demanding creature and I am craving some adult time to regenerate before I have to go through it all again. A glass of wine maybe. Time to write. A bath. Some canoodling with the Frenchman. Any one of these to make sure that I get enough me time so that when she cries in the morning I am greeting her with a huge smile, excited to spend the day with her.

Last night was a difficult night, preceded by a difficult day. She would not got to sleep. She'd fall asleep in my arms then wake up as soon as I gently laid her in her bassinet. For the third time she was asleep in my arms and I thought, this is it. This one will stick. And I cautiously moved to lay her down. The hot water bottle was in her crib and in order to put her down gracefully I needed the Frenchman to come give me a hand. I very quietly called his name near the baby monitor. Nothing. I called again. Nothing. I stood there for five minutes in the dark, hovering over her crib, willing her not to wake. Finally I awkwardly cradled her in one arm and flung the water bottle on our bed. She woke. Once down in her crib she screamed. The Frenchman came upstairs and I marched him out of the bedroom and hissed at him for not listening to my cries for help through the baby monitor. I told him how important it is for me to have even just a 30 minute break before putting her to bed and putting myself to bed and he'd shortened my window of freedom. Oh precious freedom from the sweet little baby.

I went back into the room and picked up my crying baby and calmed her down. She was soon asleep in my arms. The Frenchman came back into the room a few minutes later and went to sit down next to me on the bed, a look of remorse and solidarity on his face. As he sat down 3 coins fell out of his pocket onto the hardwood floor and rolled around, thunderously loud in the dark bedroom. A murderous shot of anger flashed through me as my baby's eyes flashed open and her arms flailed. I then looked at the Frenchman, ready to kill and instead we both exploded with laughter.

There is a very thin line between utter despair and pure joy when living with an infant. If it weren't for the Frenchman I would struggle to walk that line. Because if you don't laugh you'll cry.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Nothing makes me feel more a part of something greater than watching him watching her.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Cry me a river

It is amazing how closely linked your body is to your emotional state. Breastfeeding is proof. We are struggling to get Eloise to take the bottle. The idea behind expressing milk and giving her a bottle every once in awhile is to give me a break and to let the Frenchman have some bonding time with his daughter. If all went well we even thought we could dream big and hand her over to a trusting friend for an evening while we attempt to have a meal where I don't have one boob sticking out of my top and a sleeping baby in my lap.

They said not to try giving her a bottle until around 4 weeks and breastfeeding was well established. So at 4 weeks on the dot, I expressed some milk into a bottle, waited for the little beast to let me know she was hungry and popped the bottle in her mouth. She took it right away, sucking with gusto, content in my arms. She's a genius I thought! A perfect baby! Every new mother's dream!

She hasn't done it since. The devious little darling has cried, spat out, coughed up every bottle we have tried to give her after that first time. We have tried warming the bottle, we have tried me leaving the room while the Frenchman takes over, we have tried the Frenchman wearing my sweater while feeding (unfortunately he didn't take my suggestion of wearing my dress and lip gloss). We have tried different bottles. Nothing works. And I think back to that first time, where she took the bottle without hesitation. Eloise wants me to know the problem isn't that she can't eat from a bottle, the problem is that she won't eat from a bottle.

After getting some advice from other mothers, I was made to understand that this bottle feeding business isn't always easy, and we need to persevere. So for the next 2 weeks we are sacrificing our morning sleep to train our baby to give up the boob for one feed a day. The Frenchman will wake up at the first sounds of Eloise sucking on her hand stumble downstairs and set the bottle sterilizer in motion and warm up the bottle which I will have prepared yesterday. I will then stumble downstairs leaving him to go back up and feed Eloise while I put together the pump and suck out tomorrow morning's feed.

Now here's the tricky part. If Eloise doesn't take the feed from her father she will have to wait until her next feed to eat. Which means we will have to endure a hungry crying baby at 6am until she twigs that if she wants to break the fast she will need to suck on that faux nipple because sweetheart? : There is nothing else on the menu.

For the start of this mutual torture, we woke up this morning to create tomorrow's feed. I fed her from one boob first while the Frenchman sterilized the pump. I then put her to bed and went downstairs to express the other boob. If only it were that easy. The stress of what we are about to embark on. The stress that if it doesn't work I might have a child attached to my breast until she goes to university. The stress and guilt of what we are putting not just ourselves through, but out daughter through just so I can have a few hours break from being someone's food dispenser. All this stress means that my milk won't budge. Half asleep with the BBC on in the background I pump and pump and nothing comes out. I turn up the baby monitor so I can hear her little murmurs in hopes that will help. Nothing. The ability to pump; to make this work means my freedom, and that pressure is too much. I keep pumping. My hand is hurting. It looks like I might be awhile so I start watching the BBC news in earnest. And then something happens. Prince William is on the BBC. He's talking about how he wants to devote more time to charity. He says that even if he helps one person it will be worth it. He is hugging a young girl. And my milk is flowing like tears.

Monday, 21 September 2009

My Heart

I rest my hand against her chest and can feel her heart beat fast and hard. It amazes me that less than 10 weeks ago, that beating heart was inside me.

I remember the first time I heard her heart, beating in a sea of black at the ultra-sound, the confirmation that there was life inside me. She was all heart then.

And the first time I heard her heart beat after my operation, anxiously waiting for the midwife to find it, my own heart had stopped until I was sure she had survived.

And then when she was placed on my chest, purple and warm, her heart beating against mine.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow

Breastfeeding for the most part has gone really well. The first two weeks of course were hell. I imagine those first weeks are only fun to women who live in latex and nipple clamps with a list of favorite safety words. There's a lot of crying in the early days, and it's not just the raging hormones, it's having a small snorting newbie chomp on your nipples like her life depended on it, because, oh that's right, her life depends on it. But then the pain slowly goes away, and you don't dread the feedings as much. And now at two months of this feeding another human with liquid from your body, I can say that the sensation is not all together unpleasant. It even tickles at times. And oh the sophomoric joy at seeing how far I can squirt milk out of my boob. I figure if Eloise is going to spit up so much of it, I can waste some too. So when the pamphlets and the midwives and the doctors and the magazines and the websites all tell you that breastfeeding should not be painful, they are right. But they don't tell you that it takes weeks to get there.

However holding on to an ever growing bundle of joy for hours on end while she feeds is not the most comfortable. And sure, we use strategically placed pillows to ease the back ache, but sometimes mama needs to read the newspaper and sometimes she wants to read it at the kitchen table and not the giant arm chair she now spends the large slice of the pie chart in. Either way by the end of the day my arms and back are feeling the breastfeeding pain.

So after a few earlier failed attempts I decided to give breastfeeding lying down another try - look Ma! No Hands!. And it works a treat. My DreamGenii pillow underneath my shoulders and Eloise's head, we snuggle up together and she feeds. Not only do we both get to have a rest in this position, it gives Eloise a bit more freedom. I help her latch on at first, but then she comes off when she wants to, takes a moment to contemplate the meaning life and/or burp and can latch right back on again when she feels like it with no help from me. These feeds have a more of a all-you-can-eat buffet feel with no restrictions on helpings. Of course letting her fall asleep like this then sneaking her into her crib may not be the best in long run and I'm sure we'll pay for it when I have a 4 year old who can only fall asleep by spooning her mother, but we'll deal with that issue when we get to it.

My only problem with breastfeeding is doing it in public. Now I'm not uncomfortable popping my boob out in public and feeding my daughter, but I am uncomfortable with other people being uncomfortable. You hear these horror stories of evil stares or restaurant managers kicking you out on the grounds that you can't bring in your own food (WTF!!!). So when Eloise and I are out and about I get such horrible nerves when she starts crying, worrying about whether I'll have to feed her and what people's reactions will be if I do. I don't like the idea of blankets or hooter hiders to cover us up though. A) It feels like I'm ashamed of giving my child a good meal, which I am not. B) I sure as hell wouldn't want to eat a meal with a blanket over my head unless it's that sacred bird and I'm at some underground banquet with French VIPs so I don't see why my kid would.

At home I spend most of the day half topless. The ever sexy look of one tit dangling out of a milk stained low-cut T-Shirt. Ahh, motherhood is so hot. And my fear is that one day I will answer the door in this half dressed state. Hello Mr. Postman. Oh that? That's just my daughter's mid-morning snack, why - did you want some? Seriously. Motherhood. So hot.

It's a shame though that while at home I am terribly at ease with it all, I live in fear of having to whip out boob in public. Any suggestions on how to get over this fear or what to say to anyone who gives me hassle for daring to feed a hungry child in front of them? Have any of you ever had bad experiences breastfeeding in public? I mean part of me doesn't see too much of a problem staying inside for the next 6 months or so watching reruns of The Hills, but I don't think I'd like Eloise's first words to be"I hate Spiedi".

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Deuxieme mois avec Mademoiselle Eloise

Eloise -

You have survived another month with your father and me. You are smiling more and you even grace us with the occasional laugh. Though I wouldn't call you a smiley baby. You seem to put thought into your smiles and have a refined palate for what you find humorous - not one to give a goofy grin just to please those around you, we need to earn those perfectly upturned little lips. How tres French of you.

Speaking of perfect lips, you have quickly mastered the pout, and I swear these past few days you have been pouting with purpose, aware of the effect your little down turned mouth has. Here's a little tip kid, that pout is going to work a hell of a lot better on your father than me. In fact your father is physically unable to turn his lips downwards, so its no surprise that you inherited this from me. I am a master pouter. Use this pout wisely my child, for it is a powerful tool when used correctly. In fact, you wouldn't be here if it weren't for my pout.

Your repertoire of noises has trebled over the past few weeks. Little girl sighs, squeals, coos. You have also developed a new cry. While the first cries you made were instinctual and based on your needs for survival, this new cry has you actively using your vocal chords to express a want. You will cry because you need to be fed or need to be changed, but now you can also cry because you want to sleep with me and not alone or because you want to see what's going on in a different room. I was hoping for another month before this level of manipulation took place, but I'm glad to see that you're learning to let the world know what you want, not just what you need.

Your father has started repeating the noises you make and you guys are able to hold a conversation together. He apologizes if he's saying anything offensive since we were never given a French-Baby dictionary, but you seem to enjoy your little chats with him so I don't think he's saying anything too controversial.

Sometimes I forget that you are a baby. You seem so wise and so aware that I am sure that you will have more to teach me than I you. I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a mother. Since I was probably 12 or younger I would imagine what my children would be like, their dark hair and blue eyes. I would have make-believe conversations with them. Imagining how they would make me laugh, how I would tell them off when they were naughty, the games we would play. The kids in my mind were smart and funny and with an acute awareness of the world around them.

Eloise, in the two months that you have been living with me you have proved to be so much better than I ever could have imagined. I can never thank you enough for not only making me a mother, but making me your mother and I only hope that by the end of it all I will have lived up to your dreams too.

Eloise has moved up in the rankings since her first month

Je t'aime,


Thursday, 10 September 2009

Gee Whiz! I'm dreaming my life away.

Yesterday I laid Eloise down on our bed so that I could get some stuff done around the house. I turned on the radio to keep her company (Smooth FM - formerly Saga FM, the old people's station). The song All I Have to do is Dream by the Everly Brothers was playing. So instead of doing my chores, I did an impromptu dance for my child as she stared at me wide eyed and curious.

I used to dance to songs all the time when I was a kid - a pastime that was made all the more entertaining if I had an audience. At one of my birthday parties I once made all my friends sit in my room and watch me dance and lip-synch to the soundtrack of Stand By Me. And I cannot tell you how excited I am to have a stationary audience in Eloise. And how much more excited I am at the idea that one day she'll dance with me. And even more excited that one day I will do an impromptu dance in front of her and her surly teenage friends and make her die of embarrassment.

But I digress. The song All I Have to do is Dream reminded me of a blog post I had swirling around my head last week that I plum forgot to write. All about the pathetically literal state of my dreams.

Once I found out I was pregnant, I was pregnant in all my dreams. This was fine in the earlier stages, when I was naive and enjoying the state of being knocked up. Towards the end, when I was huge and miserable, waking up oh so many times in the night, I would have loved to have been able to close my eyes and imagine myself unburdened by the growing life inside me, long and slender (hey. It's a dream) and free. Instead my subconscious refused to give me even a mental respite from my physical state. Every dream I had I was pregnant in. Lumbering around in my dream world, just as unable to bend over and tie my shoes as in reality. Even in my sex dreams I was apologizing for my protruding belly, or if they baby accidentally kicked my lover and ruined the moment.

And then I had a baby, and I was excited that the pregnancy dreams would be over, and I could go back to normal. One would think. But no. Not little miss unimaginative subconscious. My first sex dream after having Eloise? I broke away from the passionate kissing to warn the guy to be careful of my stitches and to ignore the bleeding. Hot, huh?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

And then there was none

Wahey! I am done. Finally finally done with the horrible shedding of blood that happens after you give birth. It took 6 weeks for my body to expunge the blood. And it is as horrid as it sounds. A 6 week long period to make up for the 9 months you stopped giving money to the Tampax people. Because you know mother nature gives us woman folk such an easy time already that it would be daft for us to think that a 9 month suspension on our monthly visitor would go unpunished.

No longer do I smell of rust. Just regurgitated breast milk. Ahh, the joys of motherhood, they just keep on coming don't they?

Monday, 7 September 2009


There are many things you sacrifice when you become a mother. The ability to fart or sneeze without the fear of wetting yourself a little bit. The freedom to go out at night and get drunk with friends whenever the mood strikes you (and trust me when I say that in my previous life the mood struck hard and often). A body that can withstand the effects of gravity. When I roll over in bed, my stomach stays put like a deflated pancake sleeping next to me. A sharp mind that has the capacity to think thoughts that do not revolve around baby poo or regurgitated milk or the safety of your child.

But oh what you gain. The chance to be woken up by thin little baby noises only to have her stop and smile at you as soon as you stick your head in her bassinet, her face honestly excited at seeing yours. The sight of your child sleeping soundly on her father’s chest. To have created a family. A warm little body to pick up and hold against you whenever your heart aches for her. The hope at what she will become, a clean slate with every possibility before her. The knowledge that your life is forever linked with this tiny being who will one day grow into a woman.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

I've got something in my pocket...

La petite bĂȘte finally smiles. Or rather, her mother finally manages to break away from the love spell Eloise has her under long enough to grab the camera and capture one of her toothless grins. It's a good thing she cries sometimes, because if she made this face all day long I would have to hand her over to child protection services for fear of eating her.

Brownie points to anyone who can tell me what song the title is referring to. Pun intended.