In typical Adele fashion, I recently wasted a day stressed sick over something I have so little power to change: the way my daughter naps.
Good grief, when something as trivial as daytime snoozing hijacks your emotional wellbeing it shows just how much rubbish needs to get beaten out of you by motherhood. It gives you the chance to let go of the small things…or risk losing your mind.
It also pulls your tendency towards pessimism to the surface, uncomfortably demanding that you deal with it like a woman and stop being such a weakling.
Like many babies, Talitha, too interested in the world around her, has started finding it difficult to switch off in the daytime. The truth is, she’s always been a bit unskilled at napping but since she hit 16 weeks, everything’s stopped working. Even the sling fails more often than it works.
And if anything does work, it only works for 30 precious minutes before we have to fight to get to the second sleep cycle, if we can at all.
As long as something is happening around her, she’s a-buzz, which isn’t itself a problem except she really is tired and gets grumpy whenever I adopt a maybe-you-don’t-need-naps approach.
For all my determination to feed from the breast as much as possible, I’ve kicked it in with the supplemental nursing system. I’ll use it for the occasional feed but I’m mostly formula feeding* now and bottles have simply proven less stressful.
I’ll go into all the wherefore’s in another post for those interested in knowing more about life with an SNS. I still maintain it’s brilliant but have made the personal decision to mainly bottle feed.
It’s taken a long time but I’ve finally made my peace with the bottle, mostly anyway. A lot of this has come from realising that losing some of breastfeeding’s nutritional value doesn’t have to mean losing the bonding involved with it too. So, I’m taking some conscious steps to bottle feed with love.
When I bought my first baby sling the salesperson recommended it on the basis that I was planning to get into babywearing “seriously”. She neglected to tell me that the thing about slings is this: once you’ve mastered one, you want to try them all.
So, with a stretchy and a woven wrap both securely part of our lives, I was excited to give an altogether different kind of baby carrier a go. Enter theBabaSling – a hammock style carrier and the newest addition to my addiction.
When I heard that this week was International Babywearing Week, my first thought was that some people take pieces of cloth a little too seriously. A public awareness week for slings, carriers and such things? Really?
But actually, I can’t believe how passionate I’ve become about the subject myself. What began as a mode of transport has become a lifestyle for Talitha and me. She has, quite literally, attached herself to me.
Back in April I asked for a woven wrap for my birthday merely as an alternative to the pram. When it arrived, a gift from my parents, I admired its beauty then put it aside and, characteristically, forgot all about it.
Then my tiny baby arrived. And needed to be held. All. The. Time. Like, seriously.
Ten years ago I sneaked into a bar with a friend, wearing very different clothes to what my mother had seen me leave home in. With uncertainty I had my first sip of alcohol. It was all a bit of a joke. I don’t even like fizzy drinks and it was rum and Coke.
Later that year or maybe the next, a cousin took me a nightclub and plied me with screwdrivers (vodka and orange juice). She hadn’t meant to. She’d had a lot to drink herself and kept forgetting she’d got me drinks. I bet she’s forgotten this ever happened but I ended up sitting in the middle of the dance floor until one of her friends took me out to the car.
Since then – apart from one or two occasions that I won’t go into because my mum reads the blog and I feel our relationship benefits from something left to the imagination – I’ve been a one or two units kind of gal.
When I moved out, drinking pretty much lost the allure of the forbidden. I still had my weekend glass of wine. My tastes had matured and that would do me just fine.
So you can’t blame me for not expecting to miss drinking. But good grief, I have. Try being pregnant over Christmas. I still slipped a unit here or there and I know the research isn’t clear and some women drink anyway but I’m not much of a risk taker. Sue me.
My daughter hates tummy time. I know, I should probably be a good mother and push her to achieve her developmental goals.
But you know what? Life is too short for those ten minutes she’s supposed to be on her tummy.
For a start, when is this tummy time supposed to happen? She’s never awake for more than two or three hours and she spends about an hour of that feeding. See where I’m going with this? Tummy time equals baby puke. Not worth it.
I’m not sure how a joke about an unused uterus would go down at BAFTA but how else could the self-proclaimed un-broody Muireann Carey-Campbell (Bangs and a Bun) open the Mums and Dads Blog Awards?
My day started with demonstrations of nappy-changing, bottle-feeding and babywearing to reassure my brother, his girlfriend and, mostly, myself that they could babysit without the world ending. They were filling in between me leaving for London and Laurence getting home from work.
(Quick sidenote: Be ye less stupid – don’t leave your baby for 24 hours if you’re breastfeeding. I thought, “My milk supply is shot anyway so what the what.” Well, it turns out that despite pumping while away I still have enough milk to get blocked ducts. Ouch.)
So, I didn’t win but THIS tells you everything you need to know about how the night went down. To Molly from Mother’s Always Right and Jem from Photobox, karaoke – or drink – may not be for us.
And to all who voted for me for Best Pregnancy Blog, take that link as my thanks to you. Since you’ve listened to me yack on and on about my boobs I’ll drop my dignity a few points further just for you.
As promised, I lugged the big-tushed camera and took a few photos:
At almost sixteen weeks it finally seems official that Talitha is not a newborn. She’s passed the eleven-pound mark on most newborn disposable nappies and grown too long for all her 0-3 months’ clothing. Those first twelve weeks, that fourth trimester, was such brief time and yet living it took yonks.
Looking back with the sagely wisdom of one with a slightly less young baby, I’ve been thinking about what I’d change if I could have a do-over of the newborn thing. These aren’t regrets so much as a gentle interrogation of the experience for next time.
At noon on Friday, I will board a train with a dress in my bag and without a baby on my chest. She’ll be snuggled up in a sling worn by her uncle who I’m leaving armed with eco-disposables. I felt it unfair to expect him to fold cloth on top of looking after my oft-confirmed demanding baby.
I will sit on that train to London, reading The Other Boleyn Girl and hoping it’s trashy enough to distract me from what I’m leaving behind.
I made the decision to go to the MAD Blog Awards months ago. You voted my love letter to my daughter into becoming a finalist.
It’s an opportunity to meet face-to-face women I’ve got to know over the past year through their inspiring writing. Some of these are women who’ve shared in my joy on Circus Queen and have been endlessly supportive when I’ve opened up about difficulties.
It’s also a chance to drink more than one glass of wine without wondering how much booze is going into my boobs or questioning the safety of sleep sharing with a tiny person.
We call him “the water doctor”. My cousins joke that you could break yuh han’ an’ Grandpa would jus’ tell you to drink more water.
He trained in, I think, Ireland, working hard into his, I think, seventies and still going, sometimes paid in fresh produce.
He delivered me into my parents’ bedroom in that little flat we grew up in. The one with leak stains on the ceiling.
Now that I’ve got his great-gran’, I remember the stories of how he saved my infant brother’s life. And I still find myself trusting his medical opinion above all others.
This baby is just out to break the rules. Most babies are born within a week of their due date. So of course she doesn’t show up until thirteen days after and only having taken next to forever. Tongue-ties grow back only in an estimated one in ten babies. So, obviously that had to happen to her.
But, man, I thought all babies took dummies? Comforters, pacifiers, soothers – let’s not get hung up on what we call them – my baby won’t have one.
It goes like this. I pop what’s supposed to be the magic peacemaker in her mouth, tickling her top lip so she opens first to accept it. She gives a couple of sucks then twists her face (“scwinge up” as we say in Trinidad) as if it’s the most offensive thing anyone’s ever given anyone.
It’s the face I’d make if you told me you were putting chocolate in my mouth and it turned out to be licorice. Though why I’d close my eyes and let you put anything in my mouth is beyond me.