Sunday, 27 November 2011

Frank about motherhood: The expressway

Frank about motherhood: The expressway: What exactly, may I ask, is so 'express' about expressing milk? When I take the express lane on a motor way, I arrive at my destination m...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The expressway

What exactly, may I ask, is so 'express' about expressing milk?

When I take the express lane on a motor way, I arrive at my destination more quickly.

When I go to the express line in the supermarket, I'm back in the carpark sooner, unloading all of my groceries.

So, if one follows this line of thinking, then one would expect that expressing milk would be a quicker and more convenient way to give my bub some grub.

But here, logic fails us. I am writing this blog with the steady hum of the Medela Swing Pump rythmically churning away in the background. It breaks my heart to see one measly drop following another measly drop without any sense of urgency or purpose. Desparingly, I read the measurements on the bottle. Its been 20minutes already and I've collected a sorry 5ml of milk. And how much does a baby need per feed?  100-150ml you say? Dear God, give me strength. And more importantly, give me patience.

Even if we ignore the amount of time it takes to actually withdraw the milk and concentrate on the time it takes to set up the whole process, it is still a lengthy ordeal. I have to wash and sterilise the bottles. I have to plug in all the cords and make sure the contraption is functioning. And I must ensure that I position myself just so in order to get the optimal flow out of my boobs.

If I had countless hours in the day, I wouldn't be fretting but it's not as though I can happily squeeze this milky goodness from myself at any old time. In order to punch in at the milk production factory I must sacrifice my sleep, or the housework, or (gross, but true) having a shower.  As a result, I now look forward to expressing my breastmilk about as much as I look forward to Big Brother making a return to prime time TV.

So it turns out I have neither the time, the energy nor the patience to express my breastmilk. There is one lonely bag of milk sitting in my freezer, eagerly awaiting the day that my baby might actually stop refusing to take a bottle so that it can see the light of day again. But bottle refusal is another story, for another time........

All I ask is that we change the descriptor of "expressing" milk when it is so far from actuality.

Instead, I propose we call it: "Slowly-and-laboriously-withdrawing-milk-from-a-Mother's-aching-breast". Far more appropriate, no?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ahhh, shudduppayourface

When I was pregnant I swore I would punch the very next parent who advised me to catch up on sleep, "while you can".

They'd look at me and shake their heads from side to side, muttering that I had no idea what was in store for me, making it sound as though my life was suddenly about to turn into a Stanley Kubric film. I used to hate their smug know-it-allness.

Then today, as I walked up to my local shopping centre, I ran into an old friend who I haven't seen in years. Upon learning that he was expecting his first bub, I heard those dreaded pearls of wisdom escape my lips: Make sure you get your sleep in NOW. He politely nodded and somehow managed not to flick me on the forehead in annoyance, replying simply: "Yeah - so I've been told". (And probably a million times at that).

Upon reflection, I realise my mate Jeff had caught me on a bad day. Frankie had been up all night in pain, and I'd managed about 2hours rest sporadically throughout the evening. When I went for my walk to the shops I had baby spew on my T-shirt. I couldn't be bothered to brush my hair and I can't even recall whether I'd managed to shower this morning. I wasn't even wearing a bra because I've come to the conclusion that they're far too bothersome to worry about nowadays. Somewhere along the line I seem to have forgotten that people should make an effort when they go out in public! And that is what led to the excuses.... and the "make sure you sleep NOW" advice.

The truth is, I've seen enough films and had enough friends and aquaintances with children to know that sleep was always going to be sacrificed in the early years. Therefore, the lack of shut-eye wasn't ever a surprise to me. What was a surprise, however, was the sheer exhaustion that comes with week upon week (and dear god, I presume I have months of this to look forward to?) of interrupted slumber.

I believe now that Vampires have it lucky. Sure, they're awake all night, but they get a good old kip during the light of day. I'd settle for whatever time I could get right now. Bill Compton, you need to quit your "Woe is me, I don't have a heartbeat" whinging and enjoy that beauty sleep while you've got it! At the moment I feel like I'm facing an eternity of 4am Quantum Leap re-runs.

As of this day I'm going to make a solemn vow to myself to never, ever, bring up the S-word when I hear about friends' pregnancies. And I lobby my fellow parents to do the same. Let us live out our lives in a secret club, and keep the joys and difficulties to ourselves. These crazy kids who are about to embark on a voyage into the world of parenthood will discover soon enough the feelings for themselves... our advice isn't necessarily priceless to them, and I think we'd do well to remember that.

And let's face it. The sleepless nights are tough to describe until you've been through it yourself. But so too is the joy of seeing your own flesh and blood smiling up at you, loving you unconditionally and completely oblivious to the dark circles under your eyes.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Baby got Black

I would very much like to know why children's wardrobes are so monochrome. For girls, it's pink. For boys, it's orange.

Ha - got you there. As you are well aware, for boys, it's blue.

Why - when we have seemingly evolved every baby product imaginable (I mean, there are even baby monitors with video cameras nowadays!) - can we not venture past the colour-classification for genders?

I got thinking about this question when I realised that I have never, ever, seen a baby dressed in black. In fact, come to think of it, I have not seen any black outfits stocked in the children's wear department.

One might argue that black is associated with mourning. One may even go so far as to suggest that black is the colour of evil. Certainly not something that should adorn the innocent skin of a precious, God-given child, right?

WRONG! Black is fashionable. It's slimming. It's sleek. Black is - and always has been,  cool. So if I want to dress my baby daughter in skinny black leggings, what's the problem? She won't become a toddler goth. I doubt she'd go out behind my back at the ripe old age of 8 weeks and get herself inked with I HEART MUM tattoos. Almost certainly she won't break out singing Johnny Cash's greatest hits. Granted, if I deck her out in black some people might puzzle whether she's a boy or a girl - but who cares? 

I say to all those pink-preachers, RELAX! Live a little. We have limitless colourways to choose from in our own wardrobes, why subject our children to sensory deprivation with theirs?

In the not too distant future I want to hear myself uttering the words, "Black is back, baby." Who's with me?

Monday, 7 November 2011

My trucker-man child

I swear, Frankie farts so loudly she could shake a budgie from its perch.

Think of cannonfire. Think of the growl of a leopard. Think of Burns Night fireworks. You get the drift.

I am not exactly 'quick' when it comes to understanding bodily functions. This was never more evident than my 'ignorance-is-bliss' approach to pregnancy. I failed to realise there was a wee one growing inside of me like damp in a Manchester apartment for 17 weeks. This ignorance has continued into parenthood. Frankie's farts, it turns out, are no laughing matter. My gut instinct should have been more in tune with her gut activities.

We still don't know what's causing the poppet such discomfort, but I'm having a heck of a time trying to remain calm while she writhes about in pain. With every kick of distress she dents my soul as though it were flimsy metal.

Never in my life have I been so conscious of fecal matter, but I find myself examining Frankie's poo with a Dulux colour chart. Is it Yellow Ochre, or Pugin Yellow? Is it the consistency of toothpaste? Does it bubble and froth?

Lactose Intolerance was the first diagnoses handed to me by my GP. Subsequently, all chocolate, butter, milk and other such goodies have been banned from my diet (ahh, the sacrifices we make for our children). I was told to expect an improvement in roughly a week. Well, things have gone from bad to worse. She's in so much pain she's literally ripping apart her swaddles so she can try to kick out whatever is trapped inside of her.

Frankie's showing no sign of improvement and I'm left wondering whether it might just be that "catch-all" colic. Who knows? All I can say for sure is that my perfectly lovely child turns into a Tasmanian Devil every time she needs to do a #2, and that just doesn't seem normal.

For now, I'll hope for the best and let my little one go for gold in the fart-olympics she seems to be training for.