Life Changes… and so do you

I wrote this in the first weeks after having the baby:

I am struck, at the mo, by the asymmetry in how having a child has affected K and my life. As I see it from here, his life remains much as before but with a few added bits. He takes Anya for a while when he gets home, if she is not feeding; he made me breakfast for a few weeks running; he comes home for lunch whenever he can and works from home one day a week (I know, I am lucky!!!). But basically his life seems to be much as it was: job, friends, computer time + baby.

My life, on the other hand is practically unrecogniseable. I have quit my job and my day-to-day goes: breastfeed, change diaper, play with baby, help her sleep, and repeat (every two hours on a 24 hour basis). That is not to say that my life now is worse, it is just so different and I was not fully prepared for that, somehow. I did not see it coming, at all. Funny that. Everybody tells you how hard and all consuming it is going to be. They tell you how much things change but I just couldn’t relate to that. Try as I may I couldn’t imagine how having a kid could be that much work. I heard some mums say they couldn’t even steal enough time to have a shower… I just couldn’t visualise how that could be possible. It is not that I didn’t believe them, I just thought there case was extreme and it would be fine for me. Hah!

I thought my life would be the same + baby. I would just strap the baby to me and go. I would do all the things I had always done and then some, perhaps go traveling and discover new pastures. And hey perhaps I will. Perhaps that is still to come. But hey, for now I am adapting to this new life of mine and learning to accept things as they are now (not how I thought they would be). I don’t just ‘have a baby’. I am a mum and that changes everything.

I see things slightly differently now. I see how this immensely life-changing event has opened up new parts of K. How he responds to Anya and how he is fundamentally different. I also see how much we share the work of caring for her, lovingly. This new life phase, its challenges and its joys have brought us together more than any before. There will be more to follow on this in next posts, no doubt.


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What I eat she eats

Must remember that: what I eat Anya eats. Bless her little belly. Because we are breastfeeding, our link is that close. I was reminded of that in a rather dramatic way. I got a funny tummy, nothing too nasty – she got a funny tummy. But hers lasted longer and I, being the worry-wart I can be, was concerned she was getting dehydrated (when she was hardly peeing) and that her temperature was too high (it did rise, but never too much). True to form, I treated it all naturally, mostly I took stuff to get better and hoped it would pass on to her (and of course as I recover, she gets my antibodies for whatever bug we are fighting off). I also gave her flower essences including Mulla Mulla for fever and Bottlebrush to clean out her gut.

We are better now, almost if not already 100% back to normal. I was lucky, of course. I am very grateful it did not develop into something more serious. It was also my first test of fire. Could I remain calm(ish) in the face of a health challenge to my kid. I tell you it was not easy. My parents live the other side of the Atlantic from me. I was on the phone to them everyday, sometimes twice a day. I am so thankful they are there. I also gave in and called an on call nurse at some point, but she just reinforced our feeling: keep breastfeeding as often as she’ll take it (to keep her well hydrated) and keep watching her and how she does.

Phew. Batlle over. She is laughing and smiling. Thank you God!

something to aspire to: how the way I was parented influences how I parent today

I know a lot of people who are trying to do things differently from how their parents did it. They don’t agree with how they were raised (they were hit, shouted at, ate anything they wanted… whatever it is they want to change). I however am one of the lucky ones. My parents approach is a real inspiration to me. Now that I am a mom, I look back and realise what a great start I had and that I don’t need to rebel and trailblaze now, to find my own style of parenting, ‘cos I already had such great role models to show me the way. How I was raised is pretty much the ideal model I aspire to emulating.

There are the practical things: My mom breastfed me for over two years* (which was pioneering at the time, really, and knowing what I know now I think she should get a medal). My dad carried me in a sling. I co-slept with my parents, on an adjacent futon for 5 years. I was fed a whole foods diet rich in grains and fresh veg, legumes, nuts, seeds and an occasional bit of fish. That is all the stuff the alternative and attachment parenting modern myths are made of… and I lived it. It seemed pretty ‘normal’ at the time, of course, until I went to school, at least, and then I learned to, let’s say, ‘adapt to expectations’ (read ‘try and act normal’ so I don’t stand out like a sore thumb), too.

Then the important stuff: We weren’t rich in ‘things’ but I was always surrounded by love. And yes, I did have plenty of toys, enough… just not silly amounts. The emphasis was never on material goods. Money as I notice, looking back on my childhood, was spent not on ‘things’ but on experiences: eating out in nice restaurants, going for holidays in beautiful retreats and spending time in nature. Just the same values and priorities I’d love to instill in my children.

Thank you, parents, for making my childhood such a fantastical treasure chest of beautiful memories. Thank you for being exactly the kind of parent I want to be now (with my own twist, no doubt): patient, loving, fun and with an eye on the important stuff.

Edit (Jan 2011): I found out recently from my mom that she breastfed me for three years, actually. I never knew that until now that I have my own kid and am considering how long I should/will breastfeed till (assuming Anya doesn’t wean herself before then, of course).

Mothering musts

What I find most important in raising a baby:

– love
– healthy food
– intellectual stimulation
– instilling a passion for self-directed learning
– social and emotional support
– fun!!, play, enjoyment
– building self-confidence
– care for body and appearance (does that surprise you that I add that in?)
– emotional and artistic self-expression
– family
– friends
– healthy attention
– art and beauty
– nourishing the soul and spiritual Self-descovery