Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Because there are not enough posts on breastfeeding in this world.

Sigh. Breastfeeding. I'm still at it. We're still at it. If you had told me when Eloise was born that I would still be nursing her at 14 months I would have said you clearly don't know me that well. Turns out I don't know me that well.

My plan was to go to 6 months. The disastrous Paris trip knocked back my confidence and I just couldn't bring myself to wean her. So I said we'll nurse until her 1st birthday. Then she can have cow's milk and I can have my boobs back. Or what's left of them.

Well 2 months on from her birthday and we are no closer to being weaned. I had a one week period where I offered her cow's milk more often and was going to take it from there, but I didn't really pursue it much more than that. She still gets a couple glasses of cow's milk a day (which she never finishes) and of course she's going without breast milk when she's at nursery twice a week.

But when she's with me and those little hands are furiously making the sign for milk! milk! milk! Dear GOD woman whip one out and FEED ME! with those big blue eyes I cave in nearly every time.

I don't breastfeed her in public anymore, because I'm slightly embarrassed by it now. Partly because we're not feeding as often so I'm more aware of it. At the beginning you're feeding your baby more often then you're not feeding her and if I hadn't nursed her in public back then I would have turned into a reclusive mole person who smells faintly of mildew and cream. And partly because I remember how I felt seeing a mother nurse a baby/child Eloise's age and it kinda creeped me out. I'm vain enough to care what others think of me and I just don't have the passion for breast feeding to back myself up. If I were a militant breast feeder who had read all the facts and chose to nurse my child until, what is it age 4? as recommended by the WHO? Then I would happily nurse in public and proudly explain my pro-breastfeeding stance to any naysayers. But I am not a militant breast feeder. Sure, I believe if you are able to, in the early stages, giving your baby milk created especially for him/her with your own friggin' body is the best option. But do you know what trumps that option? Making sure your baby does not go hungry and that you as a FAMILY are happy and healthy.

No, I am still breastfeeding my 14-month old baby because I am one lazy mother. I am feeding her with my own milk because I just can't face the week it would take to train her to nap without nursing. I am nursing her because on the nights when she wakes up at 4am, popping open my nursing bra and falling back to sleep in the chair next to her crib is the easiest option IN THE MOMENT. I am nursing her because on the rare occasions when she has a total freak out and is crying hysterically I know the quickest way to calm her down is to nourish her with my own body in the best way I know how. And if I am honest with myself, I am still nursing Eloise because I am afraid that if I stop I will no longer be as important to her as I am right now.

I know it needs to stop sometime. Sometime in the not so distant future. There is a long night at the pub with my name written in beer foam all over it. I want to take drugs again - no, not the fun bad kind, just some sudafed once in a while would be nice. I want to one day not be such an integral part of her bedtime routine. I want to know what other super powers as a mother I have up my sleeve. Powers that I have yet to discover because Eloise and I still can't get over the fact that my body? PRODUCES FOOD.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Eloise takes London

A few weeks ago the three of us went down to London for a friend's wedding. We decided to go a day early to settle Eloise and get the lay of the land as well as hit up an old friend from our Paris days.

Everything went very smoothly. Well, a part from my mad panic getting Eloise and I to the train station on time, the bus not stopping to pick us up - most likely because I was an overloaded sweaty mother who clearly had somewhere important to be - so we called a taxi. When the taxi came I realized I didn't have any money bar some coins. I figured I could call the Frenchman to meet us to pay the fare. On the taxi ride over I got a text on my phone saying I had just run out of credit. Luckily the taxi driver was the same man who had driven us to Manchester for our trip to Chicago and he let me off with paying just under the fare. This is why I'm glad we always tip generously.

Eloise naps through London

AnyHOO... We went to dinner at a big american restaurant called Maxwell's that came recommended as family friendly. We got set up with a high chair and some crayons and once drinks arrived Eloise was very happy to drink her milk by dipping her hand in her glass and sucking the milk off her hand. Perhaps not the most charming of methods, but if it keeps the kid happy in a busy restaurant I'm all for it. The company was fabulous - but we had to wait a good hour for our food. Eloise for the most part handled this wait fairly well - we had to keep her toys in a steady rotation and occasionally take her our of the high chair so she could have a change of view, but there were no tears. Then the food arrived - which was insanely hot - and the poor thing after waiting patiently, had to wait even longer for Mama and Daddy to blow on her fish fingers and chips while she nibbled on the cucumber and tomato from her salad.

Near our London hotel

Being hungry she ate heartily (as did we) and proved her English roots by devouring the little cup of baked beans that came with her meal. Once she was finished eating she started turning towards the other tables and flirting, saying hi! and waving. It was here that a table not far from us got up and left, but before they did, the grandmotherly-american woman came over to us. I'm sorry she said, but I just have to tell you that she is such a good baby. Oh! Thank you, I said. No. No. She emphasized, that is a REALLY good baby.

I'm not going to lie - despite the fact that Eloise happened to be in a good mood during a longer than anticipated meal which I can take no credit for as a parent - this was music to my ears. And I will replay her voice telling me what a good baby I have on days like today - when Eloise decides to spend most of her time screaming in my face because I am clearly not meeting her demands.

Eloise and I at the wedding.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Quartorzieme mois avec Mademoiselle Eloise

Eloise -

You took your first steps the other week. After months of aided walking and bum shuffling and stopping dead in your tracks the second any one let go of your hand you finally took a leap of faith and toddled between your father and me. I cried. I know, what an emotional boob am I?We spent three days gleefully practicing this 4 step dance between us, and now suddenly, walking upright is so last season and you are back on that cute bottom of yours, getting around in the way you know best. And that's just fine. As fun and exciting as it was to see you take your first steps, I do not want to rush you, because with those tears of joy also came a bunch of holy cripes my life is about to change. So thanks for the preview but your father and I are happy to wait for the main event when you feel good and ready.

You've been showing a cautious interest in animals. Cats in particular, which will please quite a few people in your family as you come from a long line of crazy cat ladies. A big friendly black cat has started hanging out in our back yard and from watching your father and me you have figured out how to call the cat close to you, reaching your little hand out and making kissy noises. However once the cat gets too close you retract your hand and back away saying no. Then when the cat moves further away, you call him back, frustrated that he's out of arms reach again. It's a rather hilarious display of woman being afraid of what she wants.

You have become more and more social. While you often still take a little while to get used to new surroundings or people, you're coming out of your shell a bit quicker each day. When I take you out in the pushchair people smile and wave at you, and not just because you're adorable, but because you're the one who initiated the wave. You say hi all the time now - starting conversations with strangers that you cannot finish. Most people of course give a jolly Hi! right back at you and often the two of you will say Hi back and forth for quite sometime. Not everyone likes babies though, or maybe some people are just having a bad day, or think you'll drag them into some long boring conversation about your favorite diaper brand, but whatever the reason, occasionally when you give a happy little Hi! to a stranger they don't respond. I can completely understand that not everyone wants to engage with a very young child and do not push you on them, but inside it just breaks my heart to see your greeting go ignored. Here you are pleased as punch that you can talk and make yourself understood and interact with the world around you and the person cannot even muster a quick Hi! back. It takes a lot of self control for me not to scoop you in my arms and say, nevermind, that person is just a heartless ass.

We are transitioning from two naps a day to one. You've been fighting your morning nap more and more and then when I would get you down it would be past 11 and you'd sleep through lunch and be totally off schedule. (well, whatever mild semblance of a schedule we try and keep). So not only would you be out of whack but instead of doing something fun together we would spend a good chunk of the morning fighting each other in your darkened bedroom. I remember when you were a lot younger and reading about how at some point between 1 and 2 years of age most babies will drop the morning nap and I thought, ugh how dreadful. I do not know what I'm going to do when there's only 1 nap. Turns out - I LOVE IT. I love having more time with you, being able to have little outings in the morning together. And don't get me wrong, I enjoy your nap time - I get to tackle some of the house work and then make myself a cup of coffee and read what's left of the weekend paper. But you know what kid? You are a lot of fun to hang out with.

The other day your father was downstairs working while you and I were in your room, after awhile your father came upstairs and said "What are you two laughing so hard about?". The two of us can get a serious case of the giggles - usually caused by you blowing raspberries on my stomach or me chasing you on all fours. See what I mean? Fun to hang out with.

I loved you, was in love with the mere idea of you, years before you were born. I started falling deeply in love you from the moment you were placed on my chest and I have kept on falling. And while I think it is important to remember that I am the parent and you are the child, this past month I have been so excited to see that we have become such good friends. And while I am not in the habit of wiping my friend's bottoms, for you my dear Eloise I will make an exception.

Je t'aime


P.S. Hi!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

In hindsight

I wish I could go back to that new mother over a year ago and give her a glimpse of what is to come. I wish I could wipe away her tears. Not the tears of overwhelmed love, those were full and beautiful and worthy. But the tears of bewilderment. The tears because she couldn't see past this precious needy creature she had just brought forth in the world. Because she couldn't see that one day this mewling milk vomiting helpless little being who demanded so much of her would turn into a ray of light on toddling feet. That one day this being would wrap her arms around my neck every day and hug me. Hard. That one day she would wake up every morning and say Hi! That one day she would trust herself enough to let go of my hands and take her first steps. That so much sooner than I could have imagined she would love me back. Almost almost as much as I love her.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

I'm a what now?

The carpets have been deep cleaned, the laundry hung out to dry. The dishes have been washed and the kitchen floor vacuumed. A pot of ratatouille is simmering on the stove and the vase is now full with fresh flowers cut from the garden. The shelves have been dusted and my daughter's toys have been put away.

I didn't ask for this, but here I am. Unmarried housewife extraordinaire!