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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

Month

February 2012

Cold turkey

Yesterday, Arddun broke up with me.

Or at least it felt like it. Mind you, I think she’s been hinting at it for a while. Each breastfeed was getting shorter, each bottle with a little more left over. I knew that babies her age start to cut down on their milk as their interest in solids starts to ramp up.

But what I didn’t expect was complete and utter rejection.

Yesterday, she woke up as per normal, had a very efficient feed before breakfast, had some milk before her afternoon nap… and then refused another drop for the rest of the day.

But the night feed. I was hanging out for the night feed. She feeds particularly well when she first wakes and when she’s about to go to sleep. She starts and almost ends her day with me. Tony follows up with a bottle after her feed with me, before tucking her into bed. But I love that we top and tail the day together. Just us girls, in the semi-darkness. Quiet. Peaceful. It’s very easy to be grateful to God and our lives in moments like these.

But then she wouldn’t have me.

We waited five minutes. Outright refusal.

We waited another five minutes and tried again. This time, there were tears and loud, tired protests. I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times… I don’t want breast milk! Get me away from the breast milk!

Except it sounded a lot more like Get me away from you.

There are two main definitions of weaning, depending where you live. One defines weaning as moving on from breast to bottle. The other defines it as moving from milk to solids. And I was not prepared for either.

Out came the mommy books.

And then I read it.

Self-weaning babies

“Self-weaning can happen as early as 8 or 9 months, although it’s most common at about 1 year…”

“I was devastated when my baby self-weaned very abruptly at 11 and a half months. I wasn’t prepared for it at all.”

~ Kidwrangling by Kaz Cooke, page 96.

The calm broke. Suddenly, I felt hot, desperate, panicky. And then Tony came out and asked what I found in the books and before I could finish my sentence, I was on the dining room chair sobbing my heart out. Like, huge howls and gulping.

I had thought… I don’t know what I’d thought. That we had months. At least four more months. I was fully prepared to breastfeed her for at least a year. And yes, there’s the ol’ breast-is-best factor. And yes, she’s not a year old yet, so she needs to get most of her nutrition from milk yada yada… I know all that.

But mostly, I was howling because my baby girl didn’t need me anymore.

These books and nurses and society and other mothers… they keep harping on about getting babies started on the breast. How to get them latched, how to build a good supply, how often you should feed, demand vs scheduled feeds… whatever. All of that.

But no one ever mentioned that babies could suddenly sit up one afternoon and go cold turkey.

I expected only to have to deal with this later this year. Next year even. Mentally prepared for this separation to happen then. I was going to try and let her decide when she had enough… but like all mothers, I was only prepared to let her choose on my terms. Not hers.

Spent the rest of last evening reading up on self-weaning, and getting discouraged by mothers who either

  • are smug that their perfect baby has never done this to them because they were breastfed-only
  • are convinced self-weaning can never happen this early and women who claim that’s what’s happened are delusional
  • think this happens as a result of poor diet control and bad parenting.

The last thought I had before I dropped off to sleep was how much I hate the internet and mommy forums. Then I dreamt that my boss at Big Fat got mad at me and wouldn’t throw me a farewell party. Because I didn’t tell him I was planning to quit my job, as I was having problems getting Arddun to drink any milk.

You know you’re worried when you start dreaming about work.

———————————————

This morning, we tried again. Arddun drank for 7 minutes, during which I felt like she was draining my life source or something equally dramatic and rama-rama-ding-dong. And then she refused for the rest of the day. And yes, even the night feed. I took to hiding my milk in her semi-solid meals.

But this morning, I started out with a clearer head.

One nugget of information I clung onto last night in the mountain of garbage that the internet offers was the fact that babies sometimes do this – it’s called a Nursing Strike – but they can eventually go back to breastfeeding. One mother persevered for two straight weeks and her boy finally went back to nurse until he self-weaned for good at 17 months.

We went to the maternal and child health clinic today, and the MACH nurse basically concurred the same. She also pointed out some other reassuring facts, such as

  • Arddun’s weight (still 75th percentile) and her height (still 90th percentile).
  • The fact that babies her age are very efficient eaters, so 7 minutes’ worth will actually fill her.
  • The fact that she’s constantly moving and would therefore be an easily distracted baby.
  • The fact that she has a cold, which means her sense of taste might have altered.
  • The fact that she could be teething again, which might mean some discomfort for her mouth.
  • The fact that this is perfectly normal behaviour for an 8+ month old.
  • The fact that they usually grow out of this and come back to breastfeeding.

And so I’m counting. Tonight marks the end of Day 1, and even though I still feel my heart sink when she refuses me point blank, I’m keeping the bigger picture in mind.

Babies, eh? Just when you think you’ve got the gig sorted out, they go and throw another 9 curve balls at you. It’s been an educational 24 hours, the biggest revelation for me being how much I’ve come to adore and cherish my time nursing my daughter. All this time when I’ve been checking emails on my phone, or gazing at her quiet perfection as we sit in nursing silence… a gloriously long, thin golden thread has been winding delicately over my heart and I’m finding it ever so hard to let go. Already.

Hiding in plain sight

The moment: a full half minute, trying to figure out where her toast disappeared to.

She tried, mind you. She looked over her chair on the right. She looked over her chair on the left. She even looked behind her. And then she looked right into my laughing eyes, her face all quizzical.

Arddun's toast under her chin
"Alright. This isn't funny anymore. Where did you hide it?"

Someone’s been in the kitchen

And left a mini trail of destruction in her wake.

I got home from grocery shopping this evening, only to find half the magnetic contents of my fridge strewn across the kitchen floor, and the remains of what clearly had been a battle with the kitchen rug.

Apparently right after the tussle, she crawled back to the living room where Daddy’s watching the cricket, and got his attention by gurgling adorably while pulling herself up to standing using Daddy’s leg hair.

What you’re not seeing in the photo: paper and other junk, stuffed under the fridge. Why, I ask. Because I’m cute and because I can.

Stuck on you

So I’ve decided to bite the bullet and stick with a 3-column layout, even though it’s a tad squishy and it’s not your fave. (For the dozen of you who actually bothered to tell me what you think! xx)

As with all things, I got used to the format and then when I switched back to 2 columns, each blog post stretched too far across for my liking. Once you feel your eyes darting to and fro like an old typewriter head, you know the column widths are just a leeetle too fat.

Still hunting for another template, but this will do for now.

More parking poopers

Canberra drivers are a scary breed. I think it’s got a lot to do with all that space we have, and the expectation that our roads are near deserted about 85% of the day. We are a glorified country town with big city ambitions, so we’re torn between manically weaving in and out of traffic with our soccer mum cars… and parking like the world is our paddock.

These are just 2 examples of I-couldn’t-give-a-rat’s-tushie-about-anyone-else parking, taken 7 days apart.

Specimen 1: “Lines? What lines?”

Pick a lot. Any lot.

Specimen 2: “Your driving is getting in the way of my perfect park.”

Subject: dark blue car in background
The beauty of driving big cars: the world - and all its curbs - can be your very personal parking lot.
Benefit of doubt: maybe the driver REALLY had to pee.

BTW, the only reason I noticed specimen 2 was the backed-up traffic about 10 cars deep, gingerly trying to negotiate around that car in that narrow lane while avoiding oncoming traffic. Nice.

Peas, Corn, Pork, Risoni

Otherwise known around this house as The Yummy Green Gloop

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups (310ml) homemade chicken broth or water
  • 1 cup (160g) fresh or frozen peas and corn
  • 100g thawed pork mince
  • 1 tablespoon risoni (“Big rice” pasta)
  • Smattering of dried onion flakes (not fried)
  • Dash of pure garlic powder
  • A crack of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Chuck everything into a small saucepan.
  2. Bring water or broth to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Process mixture to consistency you’re after.
  4. Serve.
Total time taken: 20 minutes. Serves: Approximately 2.
———————————————————–
Variations

It may not look very appetising, but Arddun would snort all of it through her cute button nose if I let her. And she’s developing quite the discerning palate nowadays.

I used to add carrots to the mix, but Arddun gets red and blotchy around the mouth when she goes all Bugs Bunny during mealtimes. So this one is the green and yellow version.

Also, you can use 100g of chicken breast fillet if you prefer. Or any other meat, really. I like to mix it up so Arddun gets exposed to more than just chicken and fish. I also prefer using lean mince, because it thaws so easily. Usually freezer bag them in 100g stashes so I can chuck them all in the freezer and grab a portion when needed.

Enjoy!

The closet mommy

So yes, I’ve grown a pair of hips, multiple curves, and cannot wear most of my clothes anymore. Especially the tops. Anything NOT resembling a sack – take it away, please. The women whose bodies bounce back? Another breed altogether. My body hasn’t bounced back so much as reluctantly re-grouped. And some members are slower than others in joining the pack. Like my distended mid-section.

But I digress.

SHOPPING. Now that I’ve got a wedding to attend but will be taking Arddun along for the ceremony, this much is clear.

  • I cannot wear a dress if I’m planning to feed Arddun.
    Not unless I want to hoike it up in the middle of some faraway bible classroom, and potentially scare other God-fearing, church-going children playing hide-and-seek.
  • I cannot wear anything fancy that I currently own.
    Not unless I wear one of those torturous body socks that really just redistribute your muffin top, so it pops up somewhere further up north and suddenly, you have a back cleavage. Or an extra chin.
  • I haven’t stepped into a really beautiful garment in ages.
    Because almost everything I buy recreationally nowadays comes in sizes 6-12 months. 

And because I’m running off to Brisbane soonish, I’m running out of days to try stuff. So off to the shops we went today. The mission: to find something feminine yet structured, practical yet pretty. Blouse and Bottom, was what I was thinking.

And I timed it all perfectly. Feed Arddun at noon. Drive to town. Scoff down sushi at 1pm. Meet friend for afternoon tea at 1:30pm. Get Arddun down for a nap at 2:00pm till 3:00pm while I shopped.

Arddun did not get the memo. Because she slept from 2:45pm… till THREE O’CLOCK.

Fifteen miserable minutes.

As soon as she woke up, she was agitating to get down from her pram. That’s her new thing. She’s oh-so-mobile now, so of COURSE she can just crawl along beside me while I browse shop to shop. Is what I think she was hoping.

Nothing would console her while she bayed in her pram. Not rice crackers, not stern words, not rocking one-handed while I contorted into blouses with the other, not playing peek-a-boo in between skirt changes.

In desperation, I got her out of the pram – if only to turn down the volume in a confined space. And then spent the next few minutes almost dribbling her like a soccer ball so she wouldn’t crawl out the dressing room at the speed of light. You try doing that while putting on pants.

But then… a moment’s lapsed attention, a quick turn of the head – and she was out! She popped out of the changing room like soda from a shaken bottle, all effervescent and giddy with success. The little monkey was gleefully out of reach, and I was stuck in my change room in a state of undress debating which was more embarrassing – my baby running amok in a chi-chi boutique, or a half-nekkid thirty-something lumbering after her.

Thankfully, the sales assistant was only too glad to play babysitter. It became obvious that she’s almost used to this. And then it dawned on me that it’s 3pm, and there’s hardly anyone else in the mall except mommies with prams trying their darndest to have a good time with a restless baby.

I wised up after that. Went straight to Review, and bought the first outfit there. Moral of the story: always stick to brands you know. And shop online if you can.

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