Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places


letting go

Arddun’s solo playdate

The trouble with short hair is that it eventually gets long and untidy. The trouble with vanity is that it starts to bug you after 2.5 months, when your hairdo looks less carefree and vogue, and more careless and vague.

The trouble with being a SAHM of a newly-walking tot is that you can no longer hope to do your hair while she sweetly lies in her pram asleep, or thoughtfully munch on baby biscuits while watching MTV Classics for the entire duration of your revamp.

Thus started my serious look into ad hoc babysitting options.

I was initially going to foist my daughter on the Family Kirkpatrick but after an unforeseen late nap which destroyed my carefully strategised afternoon, that plan had to change in a tremendous hurry. Enter Mommy Lisa, who lives up the road from me and whose daughter has been a constant companion and friend to Arddun. Lisa, emboldened by her husband’s day off today and not having seen Arddun crack an absolute fit yet, volunteered to watch Arddun as I dashed into town for my haircut.

I was so grateful, but also apprehensive because

  • I would be cutting it real close to Arddun’s bedtime by the time of my return.
  • I’ve never left her with non-family before, and didn’t know how she would take it.
  • She hadn’t napped much the whole day, which meant she would either bounce off the walls, or sit quietly like a happy drunk.
  • I didn’t want to unwittingly hand over a baby that would unexpectedly
    • produce a lethal diaper
    • projectile-vomit, and/or
    • regress to that crazy period when she’d cry non-stop from 4pm till 1am.

Slightly irrational and over-imaginative? Perhaps. But it’s one thing to cart your baby off to childcare or the parents’ place. It’s quite something else to hand a child over to friends, only for that child to not cope when you’re gone.

But brought her over, I did. And then I scuttled away when Arddun got distracted by Charlie’s impressive toy stash. And even though I knew she was in terrific and experienced hands, and even though I knew this was a good exercise – both for me and Arddun – my heart felt rather funny.

As usual, I got stopped at every traffic light, and my hairdresser was especially chatty and artistic tonight. I’m partly convinced that he spent about 45 minutes trying to even up my hair on both sides – and quietly failing. Which meant I got out a half hour later than expected, looking like a button mushroom had landed on my shoulders.

As usual, I caught every red light on the drive back. And got stuck behind a lady driving 60 in an 80 zone. And a 4WD driving 50 in a 70 zone. And missed the turn to Lisa’s place. Which meant that by the time I pulled up their driveway, I was about ready to pole-vault their back fence, just so that I could get into their house ASAP and hug my child.

Turns out Arddun was fine. She didn’t projectile vomit. She didn’t release a stealth bomb in her pants. She finished her dinner without drama and she didn’t maim her friend. There was apparently a moment when she got over-enthusiastic and knocked Charlie over, but both girls literally kissed and made up. She also ran laps around their kitchen island, and apparently gave Lisa lots and lots of cuddles towards the end of the evening.

But then she saw me, and smiled. And lunged for me, as if to say, “I really enjoyed myself, but I missed you.” And then kissed me repeatedly on both cheeks like an Italian mobster at a wedding.

And it was a small milestone for both of us, but a necessary one. I knew we’d survive it. But it was surprisingly harder than I thought it’d be, emotionally. I guess that’s what happens when we’ve been each other’s company for a week shy of a full year, huh.

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.

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