Sunday, 21 October 2012

Found this unpublished post - Breastfeeding in Public

Oh my God I can't believe this was really me. I've just found this unpublished post, I was sure high on happy hormones when I wrote this, I can remember smiling. Smiling - big in the noughties, it'll come back... This was before all the trouble started with Belle Mere, before we found out Erbie had an allergy, before we had to move, beofre anyone got ill. Life sure is cyclical. As for Erbie, he is still a little smiling cherub and in his 3rd week of big school, age 4.

Saturday 07 February 2009
5months, one week old.

Erbie woke at 7am. I though it was 5am again and had changed his nappy silently, barely smiling or making eye contact, which was difficult as he was being so adorable, I checked my mobile and realised it was 7am, he quickly got praise and smiles from a ‘silly mummy look at the time’. We heard the Guardian reader stir on the sofa, (Friday boys night out in Carnaby Street) and daddy whistled ‘hello’ emerging in the door way to a full cheeked smile from Erbie and a morning grin from me. Second nappy, yellow poo.

We went through to the living room and Erbie was propped up on the sofa chewing various baby toys. Everything goes in his mouth now. His appetite is back to normal, thank God, he must have been having a growth spurt over the past few days, feeding almost every 2 to 2 and half hours, aswell as through the night. I pulled my leopardskin wellies on over my pjs and popped out to Tesco for croissants, the Guardian and milk. Hardly anyone was about yet, and the streets were still full of the previous nights detrius, a discarded Leffe glass on the step of Nicolas, and a black crocheted hat, dewy with cold on the pavement outside the Charlotte Street Hotel.

Back to cosy flat and ‘top and tail’ time for smally. He seems to enjoy having a hot flannel on his face, I just do one side at a time, so he can always see out of one eye and he doesn’t mind at all. He has scratched his left cheek in the night, almost a gash, it’s deep and scabbed, also the top of his head. I file his nails down for the third time this week! His cradle cap has almost gone, but still smells a little like wet dog. His head is SO dry. I’ve been using the Oliatum prescribed by the doctor after his wash, and will just have to wait and see if it is any better than Vaseline, which did help his hats stay on in the cold, if not much else. I rub some rather lovely lavender scented Molton Brown baby oil on for good measure – a gift.

Under his neck, not so easy, and still a bit red, I’m a bad mother thoughts, hands, feet, belly and tail. I rub him in Oilatum, while chanting, ‘mmmmmmmmmmmmm whose a lovely baby’ and am rewarded with lots of smiles and a giggle. A tiny bit of Sudacrem on the baby exzema behind his ears, knees and a touch on his belly button for good measure. A lovely clean, lotioned baby. New nappy, he’s onto size 3 now, the size 2’s suddenly look comically small, navy tights (hand me downs), marvelous for snuggness, Rolling Stones onesie (daddy couldn’t resist), then off to the bedroom for a feed and nap. He’s started to grink a little and it’s 8.45am. Into his baby sleeping bag, which he always makes a fuss about, then I prop myself up in bed, and after about 10 minutes of feeding he’s fast asleep. I know I should wake him, and I’m making a rod for my back if I believe everything I read, but I can’t bare to. Daddy comes back to bed, Erbie goes in his cot with Pip the bunny, and we all have a family nap.

Erbie wakes at 10, and so do I, he smiles quietly in his bed and then more broadly when I reach in for him. We go back to the sofa for more chewing, Daddy gets up, I have a shower. I dress him in new jeans (gift from the States) size ‘from 6months’ for the first time, they come down to his feet, I didn’t realise quite how much he’d grown, and last weeks cords look dinky, a lovely black IdaT top with toothy babies, (handmedown) and his new size 2 One Star Converse (ebay). Smart boy. His outfit is finished off with a lovely grey H&M cardi, and a blue bandana to mop dribble. He’s starting to fidget and grink and I think he’s bored, so a quick snack feed, then out comes the Baby Bjorn to smiles. He tries to grab the straps as I put it on, and is a happy as Larry to be strapped on to my front. It’s quite cold so the flying hat, which is still too big gets tied in place with the bandana. His gloves are still at a friends so I’ll hold his hands when we’re outside.

Off to meet Joojoo at Waterstones on Piccadilly. A bright crisp day, and Erbie loves being up front, several ‘oh how cute’ looks from passersby. There is an amazing café on the top floor with views of London, a little pricey but darn good. I know That Erbie will be hungry and tired, I’d hoped he’d fall asleep on the walk here, so am a little anxious but decide to go with the flow. We are lucky to be seated on a sofa, and Joojoo gets smiles and cuddles while I de-strap myself. I have worn my big stripey pashmina as a scarf, and put it round my neck in anticipation. Sure enough after 10 minutes, Erbie wants to let me know he is tired and hungry and starts to fuss in Joojoo’s arms.

I take him and try to subtley whip out a tit whilst whooshing Erbie underneath the scarf. No connectiion, my jumper has pinged back up over my boob and he is snuffling and wriggling in frustration. Second attempt, we have connection. I hold him close and manage to straighten out the scarf avoiding any exposure. All becomes quiet and calm, and the food arrives. Joojoo very kindly balances my plate on my knee where I can reach. Erbie feeds unoticed and falls into his midday slumber, an hour late, on my lap. Joojoo and I catch up and I order a coffee, decaf of course. Erbie wakes to a ‘hello darling’ and manages a sleepy smile and an eye rub, to much praise from Joojoo, who tells me most babies wake up crying. Its just gone three already, we decide to skip the walk in Green Park and both head off home.

It’s colder now so I hold Erbie’s hands in mine, and mop any cold dribble chin with the bandana corners. Daddy meets us in Soho and the three of us walk back together with Erbie being happily vocal. I think he’s telling his dad about his day. It’s too late for an afternoon nap before bedtime so I decide to get the baby bath out. The flat’s warm so we have nappy off time half wrapped in a towel on the sofa. Daddy gets up close and personal for an examination and exclaims in horror, ‘Oh my god, what this on his winkie?’ Just underneath his willie he has what looks like a burst blister, raw and red, ouch. Daddy feels sick and mummy feels bad. We pop him in the bath and discuss doctors, Sudacrem, negligence. Daddy says he will top himself if he has anything wrong with his willie through any fault of ours, I say it’s probably just a little sore, and I never really look just under his willy. All the information I’ve read says not to attempt to move anything around down there too much. We decide it’s just nappy rash and to be more careful.

Erbie is oblivious and managing to splash and eat the rubber duck at the same time. I never let go of him. I get the fluff out from between his toes and wash all his creases, just with the Oilatum bath water. His head gets a tiny bit of Neal's Yard baby shampoo. He has a whimper when I take him out of the bath, but then the towel is rough and it’s a bit chilly. A quick rub a dub dub, and smiles again, lotion, Sudacrem on blister – carefully, Vaseline behind his knees and ears, white vest and white babygrow. A clean, rosy cheeked, warm baby – lovely. Daddy is propped on his elbows looking out of the window at the street, I stand next to him and put Erbie on his shoulders, his tiny legs around his neck, he starts to pull at daddy’s hair and dribbles on his head.

Bedtime, into the sleepbag – not happy, up onto lap for a quick ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, for my sister Christa. Bedtime feed, his eyes are wide open, and I worry that he may be over tired, from missing his afternoon nap, but soon his eyes close and he finishes feeding, full and almost asleep. Into the cot with Pip the bunny to cuddle and kiss goodnight. It’s 5.45pm. I don’t think he’s had enough to eat today and expect him to wake around 8 for a top up, which he does.

He starts to make a noise at 9.45pm, I go in quietly, his eyes are closed but he’s searching for breast. I put Pip back in his arms and watch over quietly as he trys to put himself back to sleep. His eyes don’t open but his arm starts to flail and he hits it on the cot, grabbing on to a rung with his strong little fist. He wriggles his head in frustration and makes muted throaty little mew grunts. I watch, feeling heartless and aching to pick him up. He falls asleep, it can’t have been more than 4 minutes. I’m very glad I didn’t pick him up, and proud of him. I expect him to wake around 11.30/midnight for a feed, and then we shall see how the night is. I think it was about 6 times last night. Where has my little dot who nearly got to sleeping through gone? It’s day three of our getting back to a daytime napping routine, I hope the café sleep hasn’t set us back.

It’s 11pm now and I’m off to bed. The Guardian reader is still out at a party in Jerusalem, I think I’ll put the spare duvet on the sofa for him again.

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‘They tuck you up your mum and dad...’
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Anais Nin

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Eliza Doolittle