Archives: baby

Life with Pollyanna

It’s been one of those weeks, where you arrive on Friday sweating and shaking and gripping onto the side of the week with ragged fingernails and white knuckles, just hoping to slide into the weekend intact.

The toddler’s teething. Which means if he lets you sleep for more than say two hours in a stretch, you’re laughing. Or at least able to form coherent sentences, or something like that. Up every hour, most nights.

So this morning, after battling peak traffic both-ways across town to drop my hot car to the air-conditioning magicians, and then into the city, baby sleeping in the back,* Daddyo says to me, “Look on the bright side” as I’m sitting there, exhausted, wondering if I’ll risk another coffee or if it will just make me super anxious. If it will make me nervy-shaky, not just tired-shaky.

Stuck in the enough-not-quite-enough caffeine limbo …

… with tired eyes, sore eyes that make me feel as if there’s someone pinning my lids back, Clockwork Orange style, but with pure chlorine being dripped in.

And Pollyanna says, “Well he slept from 1:30 and 4:30 this morning, that’s about three hours straight sleep last night, that’s good, isn’t it?” all sparkly and fresh-like.

And I say,

“No, it fucking isn’t.”


*Baby-sleep in car! Wasted sleep opportunity!

Baked butternut for baby

photo 2-25

Don’t think I’m going all Maggie Beer on y’all, but here’s a recipe. I know, I know. But we’re back living in the land of spoon-fed solids* and I remembered a good one from the dark ages of earlier parenting. It goes a little something like this:


Baked half butternut.

Take half a butternut pumpkin, and scoop out the seeds. Chop half a smallish tomato, about a quarter of a zucchini, and a quarter of a small onion. Mix these with a tablespoon of orange juice (you can skip the juice, no worries – you could also skip the zucchini I guess). Place this mixture in the butternut’s seed cavity and cover with foil. Bake at around 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until it’s soft when you prick it with a fork. Actually, you could do that before you put it in the oven, too – prick it with a fork. I never remember to.

Then, scoop out the flesh – and the filling – into a bowl and blitz with mama’s omnipresent hand-held kitchen power tool.

This is so scrummy, next time I’m baking a couple of pumpkins and keeping half of the puree, adding smoked paprika (pimenton) and cream or sour cream to make soup for the grownups.

So there’s a recipe, of sorts. I wouldn’t get used to reading recipes here.

photo 1*and, like nappy contents, we use the term loosely

The 11* commandments of mothers’ groups**

  1. Thou shalt not block the aisles with a pramslide.

  2. Thou shalt not take thine’s own baked goods to the café. (This is somone’s business, dammit. Brandish your baked goods elsewhere.)

  3. Thou shalt never change a nappy in view, or smell, of other patrons. No, not even a wet one.

  4. Thou shalt keep thine offspring close. The other diners don’t really want to play with your kids; they’re being polite.

  5. Thou shalt pay for damages, or at least offer.

  6. Thou shalt resist the temptation to bite the child that bit yours.

  7. Thou shalt seek approval before uploading to social media.

  8. Thou shalt help thine toddler pick up scattered toys, books, or furniture, unless they’re having a tantrum meltdown, in which case thou shalt leave in haste.

  9. Thou shalt not be boastful about a full night’s sleep, an active sex life, developmental milestones, or fitting pre-pregnancy jeans.

  10. Thou shalt not let thine dog lick another’s baby’s face. They do not find it cute.

  11. Actually, thou shalt leave thine dog at home. Six toddlers is enough animal madness for anyone’s sanity.

*because someone always has to go one better, don’t they?

**yes, ok, “parents’ groups”

Birth and beyond: breastfeeding after a reduction

Such a long time between posts, these days. Truncated posts die on my laptop from neglect. I’m sure I planned to write this one 10 weeks ago. It’s about boobs.

Breast and bottle feedingI love to breastfeed, and I’m embarrassed occasionally when I bottle feed in public as I’d much rather be displaying just how comfortable I am breastfeeding my baby anywhere. But you do what is necessary. And often, for me, a bottle is necessary.

Bosom bits

With the momentous cliffhanger that was the reveal of this baby’s gender well past, the next mystery on the list was whether these truncated breasts could do their milky thing. If you’ve visited this blog before, you may remember that, confident my family was complete, I enjoyed a breast reduction about 6 years ago and donated much of my milk-manufacturing tissues to medical research*.

My immediate post-partum doubt lay in whether there was anything left in the soon-to not-be-so-pert lumps that would be of any satisfaction for the little fellow. (I did, after all, tell the surgeon to “take as much as you bloody can”.)

I’d spent hesitant pre-birth months wondering: will they work? Or are they now mere decorative objects?

The short answer is: yes, they work. Kind of. The manufacturing part still happens. However, the storage facility doesn’t seem to be up to premium capacity. So we’re doing both, breast and bottle. Effectively it means I’m feeding double (twice?). I started the first month or so feeding breast first (twice and sometimes thrice each side), then a bottle of formula a little later. Manic pumping, I tried daily, in between actual feeds, to stimulate these remaining milk ducts and store a little of my own milk. My arse was permanently attached to that bloody couch, boob or bottle or pump in hand. I managed a mere ounce each pump, and gave the process up, leaving a handful of sad little milk bags in the freezer.

Excuse this detail, if you’re freaked out by it (not sure why, but that’s your issue) – but this is the kind of information I couldn’t find when I was pregnant and wondering about feeding post-reduction. So here’s some more bosomy news: my milk came in a day later than the last two babies. A was born Friday morning; I decided to comp-feed (give a complementary formula bottle) on Sunday night. I had thought he was satisfied because he hadn’t cried after I’d fed him virtually nothing on day three; I now know he’s just a chilled little man and maybe I should have started the comp feed on Saturday night. He lost 10% of his birth weight in the first four days, which is on the outer reaches of acceptable. His nappies were mostly dry and he was still passing a couple of urate crystals, suggesting dehydration. He soon made up for it, though, and is a bonnie lad these days. We are fortunate that he has always taken a bottle comfortably, and readily switches between bottle and breast. (He prefers breast.) I understand there’s a battle avoided right there.

Incidentally, when my milk came in, it was never with the lumpy sprinkler-like tidal wave for the other babies, rather a fuller swelling. The breast pads in the bathroom cupboard, I fear, are superfluous. I can get uncomfortably swollen, but not to bursting, it seems.

Now, nursing a three month old with a healthy appetite who’s hovering around the 80-90th percentiles on the growth charts, I still kind of demand feed, but it’s established a rough pattern. He takes a standard formula feed every 3-4 hours during the day, with breast feeds in between on demand. Bottle before bed around 6pm, and another when he wakes in the middle of the night (often 3am-ish). Then breasts when he wakes again (and by then, we’re both really ready for that!).

So there you go. Quite a specific post, this one. Wonder how many readers we lost along the way?


*As a side note, I now live across the back fence from a scientist whose breast cancer research is quite possibly using that same tissue. Weird or cool?

Gaining a dawn perspective

4am-ish. With my other babies I remember railing against this nightly interruption, percolating anger at interrupted sleep and promised daytime exhaustion. But these nights, this time, the night feed has been special. A time that’s just ours, almost stolen from the world. It’s snuggly and intimate. We hear the beginning of the dawn chorus most mornings (and dawn is something I’m more used to seeing from the other side, as the end of the day, not the beginning), and I’m conscious it won’t last forever. So we savour these soft hours. 


Aaaaaannd….. we’re back!

babyIt’s been a while, we know. Sorry about that. Will try to be a bit more frequent with the posting. It’s just so bloody challenging to get clean writing minutes. And then, even more challenging to have a brain functioning effectively at the same time.

Sleep deprivation is quite the slapper.


A gentle surrender

Warning: this post contains an uncharacteristically high level of schmaltz

So he’s here, and it seems that I didn’t even realise this family was unfinished until this last baby completed us. The day before his birth, I couldn’t imagine a baby amongst our existence; the day after, couldn’t imagine life without his being part of it.

He’s perfect, he’s zen, he’s so comfortably present.

I wonder why it’s taken nearly a month to even post about it, but then each day I attempt to do things, am thwarted, and learn to adapt by downsizing expectations.

Domestic order, I’m delighted to let slip first. But I do have my standards. My goals for each morning are three: Wash up. Clean the kitchen’s horizontal surfaces. Make the bed. (It will never win any awards for perfect hospital corners, but on a good morning, the pillows are back in alignment and the sheets kinda taut.) Then, if I’m lucky, I score a shower during a break in feeds. Sometimes this happens before midday. In the shower, I indulge in dangerous fantasies that I’ll have time to achieve other stuff when I’m out of the shower. Sometimes I make a mental list. Sometimes I even form sentences of prose to type when I’m dry. They’re yet to make it to any page, as I’m usually greeted by a crying baby before I’ve toweled off the curling grey steristrips across the scar on my abdomen.

I feed A even more than a usual newborn; he’s taking both breast and bottle. (More on this in a later post.) Plus he has a great appetite. I probably feed him for half my waking (and sleeping, and not-sleeping) hours. Then burp him for, like, forever, particularly after formula feeds. I’ve got David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest in position next to the couch. Turns out it’s a great choice: its fragmented narrative works brilliantly with a fragmented reader.

And I am ridiculously, extremely, almost manically happy.  I was not this happy with my earlier babies: not because of the babies, because of me.

I keep using the word “surrender”, and not negatively. It may be the wrong word to use. I have surrendered to motherhood, to this evaporation of time in milk and nappies and fatigue and baby vomit. I am old enough, and maybe comfortable enough, to not resent that the only real role I can play right now is this one. Any other identity (or psychoanalytic ego-driven ideas of self) is on hold, or changed, or maybe gone. Perhaps I was affected by having my sense of self changed by an outside force (a little, baby-sized one) with the last kids, in my thirties. I know I’m still capable, but whatever those capabilities are, they’re funneled into a rather noble pursuit for now. The fact that it’s so commonly done does not diminish its nobility. Maybe that’s what I didn’t get, before.

This surrender is akin to acceptance, or mindfulness. Mindfulness. Fuck I hate that term, but it fits, despite being smashed out of shape by newage cranks and opportunistic pseudo-gurus.

The view at work

Keyboard w/- view

And I am incredibly lucky to be able to surrender to normal baby-raising things. I am lucky to have a partner who makes school lunches if I’m tied up feeding. Who pulls his weight, and sometimes some of mine. When Daddyo says he enjoys doing the vacuuming, I choose to believe him. I am lucky to be part of a community that drops off pies and offers to drive the kids to soccer. I am lucky to have parents who help with dinner when we need. So I have the luxury of being able to sit, and feed, and burp a baby, and allow myself this calm inertia that I call surrender.

We were incredibly moved by our friend Todd’s show, The Button Event, last week. Even when we know some of the story, his performance underlined the needs of managing twin babies, and then the special needs of a sick infant. This obviously resonated with me right now. We know wonderful parents of children with special needs, of children who are unwell, and their stamina and strength inspire and astound me. Constantly. My miniscule efforts in deceleration to tend to the needs of a regular newborn are nothing compared with their momentous daily, ongoing efforts.



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