Reflections on motherhood...


Friday, December 31, 2010

Can I hold your baby?

The question is, does the baby want to be held by you?

Everyone wants to hold babies.  They're so snuggly, they smell delicious, and their skin is so soft.

But this motherhood caper has given me a new perspective on when, whether and how you should ask to hold someone's baby.  I've had the full range, and there are a few that stand out:
  • not being asked at all and having baby grabbed from behind off my lap (how would you like it if I grabbed you from behind, hmm?)
  • being asked when baby was obviously just about asleep on mumma's shoulder
  • while trying to comfort an overwrought baby (the Christmas carols were too much) an old work colleague asked if baby would come to her, saying that she could give me a break - it was obvious to me that he didn't want to be held by anyone EXCEPT mumma at that point - but this person persisted and then seem confused when he didn't like "flying".
There are also those people (all strangers) who think it's okay to touch baby, on the cheeks and chin, or stroke an arm or foot.  These approaches generally get a wide-eyed stare from baby.  And no wonder!  If the checkout chick reached out and stroked my cheek without asking, I'd be a bit weirded out too.

You might think that asking a baby if they'd like to be held by you is hippy claptrap, but next time you'd like to hold a baby, just ask her and wait - the answer will be fairly obvious.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Sleep.  As I've said before, it's the Holy Grail of motherhood.  The characteristics of the Holy Grail (as described by Wikipedia) and sleep during early parenthood are remarkably similar:
  • a sacred object figuring in literature and certain Christian traditions
  • said to possess miraculous powers
  • something of a myth or legend
  • those in its presence must prove themselves worthy
  • ownership has been attributed to various groups
  • has had many books written about it, and movies based on it
  • still something of a mystery even to experts, though belief in it and interest in its whereabouts have never ceased.
Whether your baby falls asleep the moment you put him down may or may not depend on:
  • all those obvious things like whether he's been recently fed, changed or burped (and is satisfied with your performance in these things)
  • his mood and state of tiredness (has he crossed that invisible line into overtiredness?) 
  • where you're putting him down
  • how you hold your mouth
  • the background music and lighting
  • the feng shui of the nursery
  • whether you put baby down on his back, front or side
  • the moon
  • the alignment of the stars.
However you finally manage it, getting your baby to sleep will probably be your greatest daily achievement.  

It is also on the top five list of things discussed at mothers' coffee mornings, and probably topping the list of conversation topics most likely to make you want to do some harm to the gloating mother sitting next to you.

A little Tui ad I put together:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is yours a contented little baby?

Ahh, "The Contented Little Baby", seemingly one of the most controversial parenting books of the last decade, and, if you've read it, it's either your bible or the devil's work.  Even if you haven't read it you've probably got an opinion on it.

Ok so I'll admit to having read it, when, after six weeks of at least 2 feeds a night, I was looking for that Holy Grail of motherhood - sleep (more on this later).  I also wanted to be able to have an informed opinion on it when the heated debates at coffee group started.

So I opened its pages with interest, and skim read to the part that related to the routines of a six week old.  In the opening paragraph of this section was a sentence which went along the lines of "If your baby is over 4kg, he should be sleeping through to 7am from his last feed at 10pm."  Umm, what if your baby was over 4kgs at birth?  I looked for the answer but found none.  My heart fell as I realised this book would not be the panacea I was looking for.

That sums up my experience of The Contented Little Baby.  It raised more questions for me than it answered, and there was no indication on what to do if your baby didn't follow the routines set out in the book.  If baby wakes after only an hour of a two-hour nap, are you supposed to try and get him back to sleep?  What if he feeds for only 10 minutes and refuses more?  And what if I'm too exhausted to give him his evening bath?  Will the baby implode?

On days when he did follow the prescribed routine, I felt like a total supermum (and just a little but haughty), and on days when he didn't (and these were more common), I felt a bit inadequate.

I'll admit, however, that the book contained some useful information, and I can see that it would be great for ideas for parents who are really lost and struggling.  Reading it helped me realise that I'm not.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The best contraception

At one of my last midwife visits, she raised the whole contraception thing, reminding me that while breastfeeding does provide some protection, it is possible to get pregnant before you get your period back.  I smiled politely at her and said I'd read the brochure.  Inside I was screaming "ARE YOU KIDDING?!!! I'M NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN!!!"  I agreed to let her prescribe me some condoms.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby on Board

I always swore I'd never have one of those ridiculous Baby on Board signs on my car.  I mean, why tell the world you're carrying such precious cargo?  And why would said world care?

But now I do.  And when I see another car with a Baby on Board sign, I give it a wide berth, since I know it means:
(a) driver is likely to be suffering from extreme fatigue
(b) driver may swerve wildly while trying to crane neck into The Exorcist position to view baby
(c) driver may do bunnyhops at traffic lights to keep the car moving so as not to wake baby
(d) all of the above.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cast of thousands

Okay, so I'm in the final stages of labour, sweating and panting just like the movies:

Suddenly it occurs to me that there is a huge crowd of people in the room: my two midwives, a student midwife, the hospital midwife, my mother, my partner, the registrar, a trainee doctor, and three people from the paediatric team.  Kind of like this:

If I'd known so many people were going to be spectators at my birth, I would have gotten a bikini wax.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Why a blog?  Unsure.  A place to share my musings and ramblings I guess, without:
(a) the awkwardness of a polite laugh I might get from one of the mums in my antenatal group
(b) boring my husband to tears
(c) the bewildered look I get from from my younger sister when describing a recent parenting challenge (eg, number threes)
(d) backchat and opinions that I must feign interest in from friends/family who have already been there/done that.

A small, deluded part of my preggy/postpartum brain is secretly hoping this blog will make me famous (a la Julie and Juliet).  Luckily I'm in control of my faculties enough to know that this is a delusion and will pass, in time.

This is my way of connecting with the world, just a little "hello, I'm here and I've got a few things to say".  Hence the title No Mum is an Island.  It is my hope that this blog may (I repeat, MAY) allow my brain to thrive while I am in a haze of baby-induced isolation from the real world.

So, here goes nothing.
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