Mixed Feelings

Regular readers of this blog may have picked up on the fact (as it’s been continually Bang! Bang! Bang! between your eyes) that I am an acutely over-anxious parent. I don’t mind admitting to it. In fact, I’ll put my hand straight up to it, even when I am being gently rebuked for it. The rebuker generally tends not to have had 1) as many fertility treatments as I have, 2) as many miscarriages as I have, or 3) baby photos looking anything like ours.

harry-ventilator-small

I’m more relaxed about Harry these days. It’s been… well, let’s call it gradual, shall we? Because it sounds that much better than absurdly delayed. I only moved him into his own room – monitored to the max – at the tender age of 12 months. I stopped using the apnoea monitor when he was 14 months or so – you know, the thing that was deemed medically superfluous after his first, ummm… 20 days of life – solely because we were getting 3+ false alarms per night.

The last 6 months I have taken his health pretty much for granted, aside from my continuing worries over his speech and balance problems. I no longer check him for fever every night when I come to bed. I cheerfully leave him with his grandmothers as frequently as I can get away with. I have left him in my gym creche for an hour to be cared for by strangers, and when he first complained vocally about being abandoned, I mentally shrugged, figuring that he was now old enough to lump it with no major ill-effects.

Harry rolls in plenty of dirt – eats some of it, too.

But I’ve never been apart from my son for more than 6 hours.

And then Helen Shannon emailed and said… wanna come? Eat? Drink? Bring the boys!  And I did want to go. Really wanted to go. But I didn’t want the stress of taking a child who is still regularly screaming for hours on end during the night (and OMG-my-brain-is-beginning-to-dribble-lumpily-out-of-my-sodding-ears-over-this) into a household where I knew that there were beauteous twins who sleep from 5.30pm to 7am without stirring a bloody peep. NOT ONE PEEP, I TELL YOU! My heart sank at the prospect. Harry does not Travel Well. But I had a big incentive to go, so… I eventually decided to leave him with John and go alone. We weren’t worried about the evening: bath, story and sleepytime have long been an entirely Hubby-led operation. It was Harry’s morning boob that was troubling us.

I have been muttering about weaning Harry for a while, but I am heavily conflicted. He is nearly 21 months, and I have long felt that the only women in the entire British Isles still stoically breastfeeding were Barren Mare and I. I’ve held off on weaning for a number of reasons, both practical and emotional – essentially, I never really anticipated that breastfeeding and I would have such a long and happy relationship.

Firstly: he’s only on one feed a day and it’s not exactly a problem to provide: John has no issues with my breastfeeding, and fetches him whilst I stay in bed, 90% comatose, before Harry hurls himself upon me, jaws gaping like a Great White in anticipation.

Secondly, he obviously enjoys his first breakfast. I have castigated myself with the thought that I’m contemplating removing something he revels in, something beneficial to his health, too. I’ve worried about his calcium intake if we stopped, as although he devours yoghurt and cheese, he won’t touch cows milk except a small dash on his morning cereal.

Thirdly, when he’s been poorly and extremely wound up, breastfeeding has always conferred instant calm and comfort when cuddling and rocking has failed. Having a magic baby-soothing device up one’s sleeve t-shirt is not to be sneezed on at.

Fourthly, having any decision of mine swayed by peer pressure and public perception sits awfully badly with me. My instinct is to raise a finger or two to the ‘really?‘s and the ‘still?‘s and the you are?‘s and carry right on with what suits us. However, my tongue has been disregarding my instinct’s instructions lately and telling porky-pies to non-intimates. I have been disappointed with myself about it. I’ve talked about the trouble I had getting my boobs to work properly on the radio, FFS.

Lastly, and this is the biggy, it’s the last tie I have to his babyhood. I went through the usual stages of acute breastpump hell that breastfeeding mothers of premature children undergo, in order to acquire an – eventual – effortless supply and demand situation. I cannot count the hours we have spent in quiet blissful communion; at first by the exhausting-hour-on-end, and – more lately – often the only oasis of peace and closeness I achieve with him all day. Perhaps my feelings can ‘seldom withstand the melancholy influence of the word “last”‘, but I sat and cried like a heartbroken child a year ago when I read the first paragraph of this post of Thalia’s – and her words to Pob have been in my head ever since. How can I make the decision to dissolve such an elemental, visceral bond?

So… I simply haven’t. But I’ve worried a fair bit about when and how we were ever going to stop. I’ve also worried that his early waking and night screaming are being sustained by the alluring dawn prospect of cosying into bed with Mummy for a nice warm milky drink and (often) a bit of an extra snooze if I’m sleepy enough myself to let him get away with it.

The prospect of Harry thundering boisterously down the corridor, wheelspinning around the corner into our room, and taking a flying scramble towards… an empty bed… was concerning. But I’ve felt lately as if I was ready to test the weaning water, at least. John was game – although not enthusiastic – to face Harry’s emotional fallout. I was very appreciative of the big hug and kiss Harry had bestowed as I left Saturday afternoon – running late and flustered – but I was guiltily (A-ha! Finally, the G-word is spoken!) anticipating a rough Sunday morning for the little lad.

I suppose I might theoretically have missed Harry during that evening and the small hours, had I not been in fabulous company and exceedingly… relaxed. Yes, that’s the word. Not drunk. Relaxed. So, actually… it was fine. 

I rang home when I surfaced properly at 9am with a sinking heart, wondering if I would still hear his inevitable 6am BOOB FURY! ROAWR! continuing. All I heard was a cheerful husband, CBeebies and a happily babbling child.

Apparently, he leapt into bed, gave the bedroom a cursory sweeping glance before catching sight of a televised Teletubby, and settled back against the pillows next to Daddy, seemingly highly appreciative of the extra space available in bed. After a minute or two he deigned to look at some of his books, and then they went and had breakfast. End of. After some brief internal conflict, I settled for Half Delighted, Half Astounded, with a tiny soupcon of Hurt.

By Monday morning my boobs were ouchy and I fed him as normal, but this morning I scuttled off into the spare room before John fetched him into bed: exact re-run.

This is obviously going to be easier than I thought in one sense: Harry’s not going to give me a hard time over weaning. It’s evidently a habit, not a need. All I have to deal with now is my own sadness – and I’m pretty damn wistful about it – that this time is coming to an end, and may never happen for me again. I’m not quite ready to go cold-turkey, but I’ll work him down gradually now to a gentle stop. God knows, there’s a lot more to motherhood than this, but it’s been… emotional. 

I was also emotional when I saw the incontrovertible evidence on my scales this morning that I’d had a really bloody good weekend amongst two delightful people I hadn’t met before and two very wonderful people that I had, with witty, hospitable, clever, charming and perfect hosts, and paid for it in pounds. Alastair cooks. Shannon cooks. They cook spectacularly well. I eat spectacularly well. Divine harmony…

Not wishing to arouse too much envy among the rest of the bloggy populace, but we did enjoy ourselves. I really had the most fabulous time. Shannon does not exaggerate: the seven of us managed 14 bottles of wine with extras. We also managed an awful lot of good nattering, a bit of soul-sharing, some highly inappropriate googling, and a 3.30am bedtime. I was also privileged enough to have me some serious twin-munching time the next morning.

Now, I am reasonably immune to cute. I get cute on a daily basis:

cute

These two? Beyond cute.

Cheeky babies by everyday_stranger.

This one is my new favorite photo of them. by everyday_stranger.

Cute is a line to this pair…

Crotch Care

My word! I had no idea that my undercarriage had such exciting bloggy potential; it seems that the UK ladies are in the minority with their tweezing prowess. Just so the rest of the world don’t think us utterly provincial, let us take a quick spin through the alternatives, just to prove we know about them.

Hair removing cream

Nice in principal, but HFF wifey is deadly allergic in practice.

Epilators

Epilators Smepilators. They’re just a big bunch of tweezers on a stick.

Electrolysis

Hmmmm. Yeah, I have one of these thingies. For the first 4 hours after I bought it, I electrolysed fervently. At which point I read the information manual, and realised that even when I’d killed the active follicles, they had hundreds of little buddies per square inch, all waiting dormant, ready to spring up in sprightly fashion. At which point I decided life was simply too short.

Razors

The disposables are my weapon of choice for leg hair, but the thing with my follicles à la upper bikini area is that they seem prone to getting excited at the least little thing (in marked opposition to the ones produced by my ovaries) and can turn a nasty bright red if provoked. I then look as if I’ve tried slash and burn agriculture, which is not such a good look on a groin. The blasted sprouting things are back again in a couple of days or so, ruining your smooth finish, noticeably so if you are blessed with lustrous thick dark hair.

Also, blades wielded in haste around one’s lower bits can produce unhappy results. When I suddenly (and correctly) decided that my Delhi belly was premature labour, I was attempting to relax the pain away in the bath. Realising that even another false alarm would necessitate a baring-of-bits at the hospital, I swiftly snatched the razor and made a couple of rapid swipes around the target zone. You can see where this is going, yes? A fumbling combination of insufficient reach, rising panic and my blind-summit belly resulted in a painful and rather embarrassing small gash. But not to worry, because the bloody big tear I incurred a few hours later in front of a roomful of intently watching people put it all nicely into perspective.

Waxing

Ahhh, waxing. Happy memories. Psyching yourself for the big pull.

When the hospital kindly lent me their oldest battleship of a breast pump, it became apparent that it had only one setting: violent. For several weeks I sat on the edge of my bed at 3.30am, holding the suction cup hovering over my breast and taking deep breaths whilst repeating the holy mantra in a fervent undertone: Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck. Final deep breath, apply suction cup. Suppress scream of agony as tortured nipple shoots 2 inches down the tube the moment an air seal is achieved.

I’m shuddering with the memory. My nipples have crawled away and hid under my armpits in terror. The pain-parallels between waxing and the malevolent Medela Lactina were startling. And since my pumping agony (Hire a Symphony, girls. Or an Ameda Elite. Trust me on this: they’re worth the money.) ended, my wax strips have resided in the cupboard undisturbed. Can’t seem to get excited about them, somehow.

I have to confess that since I have discontinued use of the wax, my lower areas have become a little more… festooned than they used to be. Tweezers can only take you so far, I agree. But hey, I’ve been married 4 years and have a 10 month old baby. It’s normal to not find your arse with an atlas at this point, surely?

NO?

Bugger.

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