Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ten things I wish they’d told me about breastfeeding

Firstly, and for the record, I really don't like those articles or blogs that begin 'As the proud mother of a baby boy,' so I won't go there. Suffice to say that going through breastfeeding as a complete L-plated newbie, I'd read every manual, book and pamphlet there was to read and I attended as many 'breast is best' classes a reasonably sane girl can handle.

Following is what I didn't find in any of those forums or media, but rather discovered in real time, feeding my boy, usually at some objectionable hour of the night, when I used to be stumbling home from a trendy wine bar – back in the day. Anyway, I digress...

For all of you gals out there who can stand some home truths and insights into breastfeeding, or if you are simply right into reading about your boobies at the moment, here's what I now know:

Number One. Breastfeeding is a game of snakes and ladders – get used to it

One day they're perky and bolt upright and, the next, they're sideways with gallons of milk dispensing with abandon. These are the artists formerly known as your erogenous zones! Now because of these constantly shapeshifting conditions, each and every time you feed your baby may be different. So, here's an important safety tip: try not to take it personally if your bub rejects your boobs or gives you blisters. Just remember, these little cherubs grow fast, and for now, you are their lifeline!

Number Two. Embrace your inner milkmaid

In the very first weeks of your baby's life, you will spend more time with your bangers out than all your wild nights out with the girls put together. Now, your significant other will most likely not mind this one little bit – mine certainly didn't. You, however, will feel like the local milkmaid.

Number Three. From boobies to... well...

Now, apparently, after years of breastfeeding your once beautiful, sexy nipples will likely look like elongated teats. This, told to me by my sister-in-law with three kids! Sigh. I might as well put this early on the list so there are no surprises after you've breastfed five children. Look, on the upside you won't have to buy many scarves during winter.

Number Four. Is breast really best?

Well, of course it is but breastfeeding is not always possible for every new mum. So, beware: breastfeeding zealots do exist. You'll normally find them in the form of your local, friendly lactation consultant. Obviously, most lactation consultants espouse the adage that 'Breast is Best'. Why wouldn't they? That's their job. However, if you happen to find a consultant or nurse who can actually acknowledge that there are other ways to work it, dip them in platinum and place them in a luxuriously appointed, gilded cage – oh yeah, not before milking them for every single bit of advice and information you can. And yes, I wrote 'milk' deliberately.

Number Five. Top her up, love! Have you got the bottle for it?

You may find this hard to believe but there exists among us a scurrilous subculture of breastfeeding mums who (OMG) top their kids up with – I struggle to even say the word – formula! I mean, these women actually breastfeed and then supplement their baby's diet with the bottle! The culprits only admit to this scandalous behaviour in hushed tones and with guilt oozing from every pore. And yes, absolutely right, I'm one of them. Trust me , there's no need to feel bad at all, it's perfectly fine. Just like it's fine to feed exclusively from formula if that's your situation. It's your body and it's your baby. So, do what's right for you.

Number Six. Hitting the bottle (Mark I – Baby)

Following on from number five: formula is pretty amazing these days. It's got absolutely everything that your bub needs. My husband was brought up on it decades ago and only occasionally shows signs of well, we don't like to call them problems so much but... :)

Number Seven. Did I ask for your advice?

As you wander through the murky waters of the breastfeeding academy, I guarantee that the advice you receive from friends, family, and complete strangers will conflict with every other piece of superfluous information you've ever heard. Try what you will, but remember to use that nifty thing you got when baby was born, your motherly instinct!

Number Eight. When the going gets tough

Yes, it is possible to endure Olympic-level bouts of mastitis, cracked, blistered and bleeding nipples, under and over-supply, problems latching on etc etc etc ... and still come out at the other end breastfeeding your bambino. But it's no crime or shame if you eventually throw your hands in the air and scream 'enough is enough'! After all, a distressed mummy does not make a happy baby.

Number Nine. Hitting the bottle (Mark II - Mummy)

After a day of baby joy, you are entitled to a bucket glass of your favourite wine. Enjoy... you deserve it. Most of my new mum friends say it's an indispensible part of their routine. And don't I know it!

Number Ten. Take the pressure down

A warm shower or bath is a marvellous tear buster when the going gets tough - and combines well with or immediately preceding point number nine!

So tell me, what has been your experience of breastfeeding your baby that you never read in a book? Leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On Autumn

I love autumn. As I tweeted recently, it’s by far my fave season. The beautiful Indian summer days, the chilled nights that call for the winter jammies and warm sockie-wockies, sunset-coloured trees and leaves that crinkle and swoosh, inviting you to stamp through the streets without a care with dramatic flair.

But this autumn has near passed me by.


Well, I am a new parent, and not savouring early sunsets over a glass of red as much as I used to. As we know (all too well these days!), with parenthood comes a whole new set of joys and priorities. I have exchanged leisurely conversations for energetic bathtimes, lazy cuddles for exploding nappies and one pot screamers for, well, one pot screamers. Fortunately, I’ve still been able to walk little Morgan in his pram enough to know that autumn is in full bloom.

The problem, though, is this:

Since baby Morgan arrived, and I became a stay-at-home-yummy-stroke-sleep-deprived-mummy-who-works-occasionally-and-also-considers-herself-a-lady-who-lunches-somewhat-sporadically ... well, I’ve become addicted to admin.

You heard me.

Admin. As in, administration.


This from a gal who used to delight in letting her parking tickets pile up until there were enough to start a small bonfire! A gal who had no trouble in waiting until the dishwasher AND the sink were full before putting an exquisitely manicured hand into the dishwater!! A gal who preferred to let the car and the poodle self clean!!!

These days I catch myself eyeing off a glass-top table not unlike a coke addict, except armed with Windex and a roll of extra-absorbent paper towel rather than a tightly rolled C-note. I take the baby and dog for a walk, only to wipe down the pram wheels and dog paws before either are allowed back inside. And I considered for a full minute yesterday whether to start asking people to take off their shoes before entering the house, before realising this was THE DEFINITIVE SIGN that I had lost the plot.

I’m no clean freak now, I mean, who has time with a small, demanding, full-time dictator who must be obeyed? But I feel this anxiety over admin. An all-consuming, OCD-like sense of anxiety.

I jokingly have become known as the ‘Temptress of Admin’ around my house. I call my husband at work to announce triumphantly that the garbage has been collected. I delight in writing letters that challenge and complain about poor service standards. My skin starts to itch when I see a coffee mug mark on a white bench top.

I’ve finally realised though, it has gone beyond a joke when autumn is in her full regalia, Morgan is babbling gorgeously in his pram, Coco is bouncing and wagging alongside as only a poodle can, and I’m too busy considering the pros and cons of vacuuming, tidying or paying bills once I get home to enjoy it all.

And thus, this blog serves a solemn purpose: to invoke the gods of the admin world, exorcise them from what used to be a reasonably educated brain, and get on with enjoying life as it happens.

Here goes...

Away, God of Obsessively Putting Away Clothes!

Begone, Floor Fluff Picking Up Demon!

Disappear, ye evil Bench Top Wiping Behemoth!

Vamoose, thine Pernicious Bathroom Tidying Strumpet!

Stop There, Naughty Goblin Rearranging the Cushions!

You know, we enjoy a golden existence and now have this beautiful baby. I’m all too aware that life is short, and as my dear dad says “it’s a one way trip”. So the last thing I want is to look back on our happiest times and remember an all-pervading sense of anxiety over... well, the everyday. And in the final analysis, does a generous covering of dust on the piano really matter?

I read recently a quote that life is about the moments that take our breath away. Personally, I feel like it’s about those little things that create happiness: a smile and chuckle, little fingers tickling my arm, a big sigh after a job well done, waking from a good night’s sleep and the first sip of a yummy bottle of wine that makes me want to bathe in the stuff.

So, please, may the Temptress of Admin take a long hike and the God of Small Things return? Allow me to take on one task at a time and leave the rest. Most importantly, pretty please, release me from the unattainable ideals of perfection and instead allow me to fully appreciate the small but perfectly formed child we call our own.

Signing off now, as I can hear that Captain Morgan has gurgled himself awake. It’s time to dance cheek-to-cheek with him to jazz tunes until his Daddy arrives home – ignoring the glass tabletops, leaving the rugs unstraightened – just enjoying a little slice of heaven in our lounge room.

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