Reflections on motherhood...


Monday, March 7, 2011

Separation anxiety

Every night for the last week I've been having what I'm calling 'separation anxiety' dreams.  I dream, vividly, that Milkbaby is asleep in bed with me (even though we've only ever really been daytime co-nappers), but then as I come to the surface of the dream I can't find him, frantically searching the bed and patting down the duvet.  Last night when I couldn't find him, in some kind of daze, I went to his room to check he was in his cot.  Of course he was there, sleeping happily until I burst in.

The night before I must have been feeling a bit more blasé about not finding him.  I recall conducting my routine duvet-patting, but then instead of getting up, I assumed that he would be in the bed somewhere, and wanting a feed.  So I assumed the normal position for a lying down feed, boob out ready.  My husband, coming to bed a little while later, said, shaking me gently awake, "dear, why are your boobs hanging out?"  I mumbled something about Milkbaby being in bed but not, then did a few more duvet pats before getting out of bed to check that he was in his cot.

Even after seeing him in his cot I still had to do a few duvet pats upon returning to bed, just to be sure.  It's like obsessive-compulsive sleepwalking.

And if I’m not duvet-patting and sleepwalking, I’m dreaming that I’ve left Milkbaby in the car or somewhere else, happily asleep while I run a few errands – but the dreams all go awry when I am prevented from getting back to the car – a giant motorway springs up between me and the parked car, or, even more strangely, a crowded swimming pool and swimming carnival conspire to prevent me from getting back to him.

I am pretty sure that our old friend Sigmund Freud would have something to say about these dreams.  By strange coincidence I am currently reading The White Hotel, by D.M. Thomas, a novel based on a fictional patient of Freud’s – and a veritable cornucopia of weird dream imagery.

Since Freud is no longer around to provide an interpretation of my missing and neglected baby dreams, I’ve consulted Google and come up with the following possible explanations: 
·        Aunty Flo says: To dream of neglecting your baby (or a baby which is neglected) then this dream indicates that you need to pay yourself more attention. On the other hand, this dream can also signify that you need to protect your children much better.
·        The Dream Doctor says: Common dream among young mothers, reflecting literal anxieties about the responsibilities of motherhood. In more experienced mothers dreams of neglected babies may symbolize neglect of relationship with one's partner, (the fruit of the relationship). Also can symbolize neglect of oneself: Dreamer is not caring for one's inner child.
·        Dream Moods says: forgetting about a baby represents an aspect of yourself that you have abandoned or put aside due to life's changing circumstances. The dream may serve as a reminder that it is time for you to pick up that old interest, hobby, or project again. 

This has led me to the conclusion that consulting the internet for interpretations of your dreams is probably not a good idea.  I did find, however, that if a Beanie Baby appears in your dream this suggests “that you are able to adapt to most situations. Consider the animal or the name of the beanie baby. The dream may have an underlying message or a pun.”

I’m thinking that the underlying message might be “you need to get out more and spend less time with your collection of Beanie Babies”.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The humble rusk

Ah, the humble rusk... useful for:
  • quieting a fussy baby on a car ride
  • picking up cat fluff from the carpet (and then tasting and ingesting said cat fluff)
  • target practice when strapped in a highchair or carseat
  • infuriating the washerwoman with the concrete-like bits stuck to clothing
  • investigating and sticking into all parts of the face, including eyes, ears and hair

Last week, in the process of handing one to the back seat driver, I also found myself gesticulating with a rusk to a driver who failed to use their indicator.

Today I tried my hand at making some, using a recipe roughly based on a recipe on Wholesome Baby Foods.  Here's my recipe.

Milkbaby's Rusks
1/2 c white flour
1/2 c wholemeal flour
1/2 c plain brown rice flakes
1/2 c pear and banana flavoured rice cereal
1 T olive oil
1/3 c iced water

Preheat oven to 180C.  Mix all the dry ingredients, throw in the olive oil, then SLOWLY add the water, a little at a time, until you've got something that resembles dough in the bowl.  Get your fingers in there and let your imagination run wild creating all sorts of fun shapes for your little one.  I went crazy and made a whole family of seaslugs.

Lay them all out on a greased tray and bake for around 10-15 minutes until they look like sunbaked cat turds.

Luckily Milkbaby hasn't seen cat turds.  He thinks these are the best thing since breastmilk served in a sippy cup.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Baby brain - myth or truth?

A typical evening conversation in our house:

Me: "hey I was thinking... this weekend we need to..."
(30 seconds elapse)
DH: "we need to what?"
Me: "what?"
DH: "you were saying we needed to do something this weekend"
Me: "was I?  Umm, nope it's gone, sorry."

Baby brain.  That universal phrase useful for excusing almost all forgetful/vacant behaviour both during and after pregnancy.  Some say myth, some say unfortunate reality.

As demonstrated, I continue to suffer from its common symptoms, namely:

(a)   returning items to places where they're not commonly found (muesli in fridge, yoghurt in the cupboard)

(b)  continually losing my keys
(c)   buying, but forgetting to display, a parking coupon (that was a $40 ticket!)
(d)  not keeping appointments and coffee dates
(e)   repeating the same boring story, to the same people
(f)    saying “did I tell you this already?” (this prevents (e) above)
(g)   using words and phrases like "you know", "um", "that thing over there" instead of common words
(h)  trailing off mid-sentence, with no recollection that I was even saying anything upon prompting
(i)     and saying “what were we talking about again?”

Two recent studies have looked at this so-called phenomenon.  A 2008 review concluded that pregnant women are "significantly impaired on some, but not all, measures of memory" and that these effects are also observed post-partum.  But apparently it's a modest deficit, kind of like comparing 20-year-olds with 60-year-olds.  So baby brain is just one of the little insights we get into what it's like to be old, along with a long list of other ailments that we won't go into here.

Another study, carried out in 2010, noted that the literature on animal-model studies had shown pregnancy and motherhood to have the opposite effect - with rats showing better spatial learning and memory during pregnancy and beyond, and rat mothers performing better than their baby-less counterparts at navigating mazes.  Strangely, no-one's reported seeing rat mothers cursing into their handbags looking for their car keys.

This study found that pregnancy had no effect on cognitive ability, concluding that the "results challenge the view that mothers are anything other than the intellectual peers of their contemporaries."  Phew.  

So perhaps I was this forgetful before.

What were we talking about again?

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