ailbhe: (Default)
As my aching tooth, my over-thirsty four-year-old, my toddler and myself were crossing the pedestrian shopping street today, a man who was stopping passers-by waved his beer can at me.

"Young mum!" he cried, "have you ever been paintballing before?"

I said "No thank you," but thought of lots of other things I could have said if I could have been bothered, later. "I'm older than you," for a start. "I don't need to, I have children." "That beercan looks very unprofessional, aging bachelor."

Honestly, everyone else says "'Scuse me" before they start their pitch - what made him think "Young mum!" was a polite way to address anyone?

Perhaps he was drunk.

Apart from that, we enjoyed today's sunshine. Emer and I spent time in the garden before the dentist appointment, and then we all walked around searching for a pharmacy, hampered by my being slightly crazed with pain so I couldn't really think of what the most efficient thing to do was. We found a Superdrug with no pharmacy counter, and then a Boots which did have one, and then made our way by degrees to Moondogs, failing to buy Linnea a new coat or jacket in a few places in the meanwhile. It probably wasn't the best day to try, to be honest.

At Moondogs we had coffee and cake - actually, the children had purple squash, which is about as stimulating - and then we walked home, gathered our wits and the birthday gift, and went to Iz's fifth birthday party. It was lovely and low-key and we had a lovely time. Linnea's will be in a hall this year but I was pleased to see that someone other than me has low-key food-and-games ideas.

I need to print off Linnea's party invitations and post them. And see if I can't do something labour-saving about a cake.

I went out to dinner with a friend on Friday evening and left my phone at home. I must do that again.
ailbhe: (Default)
Or you know, let's not. This is a whinge post.

The day got off to a slow start, mainly due to Linnea being as cooperative as a cranky rock, so we didn't have time for lunch before we left the house AND we arrived in town too late to see the pancake race. The staff in M&S messed up checking out our sandwiches (which were at the top end of my preferred budget before the mess-up, so I made them fix it). We got to John Lewis and Linnea was incredibly annoying while we were trying to fit her for new shoes. And then she started running away inside the shop, and refusing to wash her hands, and things. She got a final warning after we went to the cafe and we went and chose things for them to eat, and the girls sat at a table to wait while I paid, and I saw someone from a nearby table go to speak to them, and looked, and Linnea was spreading salt all over the table.

And she'd had her final warning, so that was that, we left.

The woman who spoke to her (who was concerned that she'd get salt in her eyes) apologised a lot but I didn't have time or peace to handle her - I just repeated "It's not your fault, it's hers, she was warned," and chased after Linnea, who had screamed and run away crying.

I had really, really, really wanted that cup of tea. But the deliberate misbehaviour had been escalating all day.

So then we had to walk home because she was too loud and cranky to bring on a bus, and it took until we actually reached the end of her street for her to feel like apologising and asking for my apology (she apologises for being naughty, I apologise for being very cross, and then we're friends). In the interim she ran away, sat still and screamed, shouted "You're the naughty one! You hafta do what I say!" and so on.

I really, really wanted that cup of tea.

At one point she picked up a stick from a tree in the graveyard and charged at me with it. And she twice ran away around corners; I had to drop my handbag so that I could pick Emer up and chase after her. I'm luck to have arrived home with my wallet and my keys.

I really wanted that cup of tea.

She tried to persuade me that because she said sorry we could go back again. It almost worked, except that mid-argument she ran away around a corner. In a busy town centre. While I had my hands full. That's just completely not allowed.

I want that cup of tea. I think I'll have it now.

She's much nicer now.

Janey mac

Feb. 24th, 2009 09:35 am
ailbhe: (Default)
Linnea has developed a big WHINE thing. She's tired, partly - our household agreement to start eating dinner at 5 pm or 5:30 at the latest is under severe strain and so Linnea's bedtime is getting later and later; the traditional fix for this is for me to sort it out and Rob to sulk and do nothing, but we're trying to change that dynamic.

I read some old posts, from 2-3 years ago, and it's amazing how much better we're doing in re internalised sexism nowadays207.

But this whining drives me up the wall. It makes me whiny myself, and shouty to boot, and the temptation, early in the morning or late at night, to cave in and pacify is very great.

However, I am Strong and I have been Disciplinarian Of The Year and the children had to resolve their whiny whingefest by being polite, asking nicely, and making compromises.


We are only now finishing breakfast, which is part of the problem with the late dinner and bedtime. But we'll get it all under control. We must.
ailbhe: (Default)
We have an invitation to go play at someone else's house today, and I want to go, and Linnea wants to go, but Emer is asleep and Linnea won't get dressed. We're pretty much too late to go now - yes, I have called to say so - and in about twenty minutes Linnea will come downstairs, still without her shoes and socks on, and want to know why it's too late to go, and she'll cry and wake Emer up, and bah.

If Linnea was being cooperative rather than wanting to have her cake and eat it too, I could put a sleeping Emer on my back and walk us all round the corner. But she's not.

And it will, later, be All My Fault.


... that's my job.
ailbhe: (Default)
I'm furious. Some shit with more muscle than heart picked up the kids' snowman and fired it at the glass on the front door; it hit at five feet up from the inside, so about 5'4" from the outside. It was loud and frightening and they were gone by the time I'd worked out what had happened and stepped out to look for them. I am furious. I'm pleased the glass didn't break - I did think it had cracked but it hadn't - but the kids aren't thrilled and I'm really angry because *I* know it wasn't a force of nature, it was a person.
ailbhe: (Default)
While I was in hospital, I had to make sure to eat no dairy products and no soya. This is because I have an intolerance to these foods which manifests as a really upset stomach, and I'd just had gastroenteritis followed by abdominal surgery. Not upsetting my innards further seemed only sensible.

I was in recovery over the official lunch period, so I first encountered a problem when I went up to the ward and they said they'd bring me something to eat because I'd missed it. I explained; they said "Did you tell anyone?"

Yes, I told everyone before I arrived in to hospital. "No, did you tell anyone up here?"

No, I just got here. It's in my notes. "You'll have to see the dietician."


Meanwhile, they found me some cream crackers and some bourbon creams and a cup of black tea. Luckily I remembered these problems from when I was in with Linnea when she stopped breathing at 11 weeks, and from when I was in for perineal repair when Linnea was 8 months, so we had already planned for my mother to bring me food later.

The dietician arrived with the week's menus. She and I looked at them. She didn't know what was in any of the dishes. She didn't think the kitchen could produce dairy-free versions of most things, either. So, based on what I had already eaten in the hospital canteen when I was in for antenatal appointments around lunchtime, I told her which dishes did and did not make me ill.

That's right, the patient who was out of post-op recovery less than two hours told the dietician which hospital meals did and did not contain dairy.

So based on that we chose a menu. She offered to have something special and light cooked for me that evening, since I had just had surgery and most of the women would eat something light the day of surgery. She asked me for suggestions. "Pasta in a tomato-based sauce?" I couldn't see how that could be difficult.

Rob and my mother brought me fruit, biscuits, and cereal bars. And a carton of rice milk.

That night I got a miniscule portion of overcooked pasta in some kind of goo. It strongly resembled the toddler ready-meals one can buy to microwave, in fact - the ones Linnea rejected from age 16 months on, which was fine since we mainly got them for travelling when she was 15 months.

Breakfast the following morning, a nice junior midwife spent ages trying to find out what was in the cereals. They arrive on the ward decanted into unlabelled boxes, you see, and she couldn't find anyone who knew where the boxes were to read the ingredients from. She also couldn't remember the list of thigns I told her to look for - whey, casein, soya, soy flour, skim milk powder, milk, butter, yoghurt, cream, cheese, etc. She settled for bran flakes in the end, ebcause they were 100% something or other. I had my own rice milk on them. At least it was food.

Lunch was either nasty dry fish without sauce (a block of fish, some potatoes, and some kind of veg) or salty pork ghoulish. Dinner was, er, the other one of those.

Next day I still couldn't get out of bed to eat, due to a killer headache, but the nurse or midwife or whoever it was didn't believe me, so I had to wait until Rob got there to get my breakfast. He brought me muesli from home. Fab. Lunch was a baked potato so vile that Linnea refused to eat it, even though she was thrilled by the idea of eating in hospital. Dinner was more dry, nasty fish, with potatoes and veg.

Reader, I had that same fish three times. For all I know it was vat-grown and as they hacked off a lump it grew back. It was served with horrible new potatoes (really, they did something to new potatoes to make them really unpleasant) and very very boiled veg.

I ate. I know that food is necessary to recover from having holes hacked in one. I ate everything that I could choke down. The only meals I didn't eat all of were the baked potato and the final lunch, which was yet more blasted fish and since I was going home in 30 minutes I decided to skip it in favour of eating almost anything else.

Next time I shall go in to hospital with a little recipe book, or possibly a camp stove.

Still, last time I was in hospital to have a baby the food was worse.
ailbhe: (Default)
Is it painful, being pregnate? I'd look it up but I can't find it in the dictionary.
ailbhe: (hospital)
I'm sure there's an appropriate community for this, but I'm not in it. Someone in my due date community asked about postnatal bleeding and the first postpartum period.

When I had my first baby, I bled afterwards. This was ok; the books said I would. No-one seemed worried.

When I had my second baby, by cesarean section, I also bled afterwards. Everyone was asking, pretty much constantly: "Is your bleeding heavy?" "Are you bleeding ok or is it too heavy?"

Well, I asked, what's heavy?

"How many pads do you get through?"

Incontinence pads or sanitary towels? Because with my first baby, I measured it in inco pads, several a day. This baby, I don't need an inco pad.

"Are the pads soaked?"

I'm not sure. They're more comfortable when I change for a fresh one, but last time, I left them in place until they were unable to absorb more fluid. Which is your definition of "soaked"?


And that's why I started asking people to look at the damn pad themselves. "Is your bleeding heavy?" I don't know. Here, look at this, is that heavy?

Turns out that this time I'm normal. Hah.
ailbhe: (playing in the grass)
A normal, health c-section is much riskier for mother and baby than a normal, healthy vaginal delivery.

Breastmilk is nutritionally superior to formula milk.

It's still not spelled "dialate".

Babies do not sleep 8 hours at a stretch at night at 3 weeks. You can't make it. It's cruel to try.

Some things are not "parental choice" issues, like feeding a newborn skim-milk from a cow because you don't want it to get too fat.

Some things really are "parental choice" issues, like which sets of mutually contradictory evidence-based advice one follows about pacifier use, cosleeping, etc.

If one child is reading quietly upstairs and the other is hiccupping contentedly in her pram, it's time to make tea and read "The Keeper of the Bees". Self-massage of sling-abused shoulders optional.
ailbhe: (mamahastwo)
I've just finished having a baby in hospital and was able to see just how breastfeeding "support" can sabotage a breastfeeding relationship at its inception.

One midwife reduced a woman to tears at 1 am because the woman had accepted a bottle from another member of staff earlier in the day.

Another told a woman she couldn't leave hospital without seeing a pediatrician as her baby was showing signs of dehydration because breastfeeding wasn't working - but didn't offer the woman ANY help with feeding, or ask to observe a feed, or anything; the woman waited over 6 hours for a pediatrician to become free, and no-one gave her any help or advice in that time.

A Staff Nurse (not a qualified breastfeeding advisor) twice grabbed my breast to help "correct my latch" when my baby was *swallowing* milk, as well as having some dribble out the sides of her mouth, and I was in no discomfort.

I can see dozens of reasons *originating from people who think that they are offering breastfeeding support* for women to go to formula full or part time. And that's before you go looking for people who are neutral or anti breastfeeding.

I can't find it in me to blame women who've just had a baby and are tired, emotional, insecure, and unhelped.

I know this doesn't include women who had genuine long-lasting problems feeding; really, I think that with brand new mothers being handed problems like this to cope with, we don't even need to look at helping women with genuine problems in order to increase the breastfeeding rates in this country and others like it. People with genuine problems rather than learning-curve issues are royally screwed in a system like this.

Rob's Job

Aug. 29th, 2006 10:08 pm
ailbhe: (Default)
Well, he asked them what they intended to do about the fact that he's been interrupted four times while on paternity leave, and they've given him an extra 7.5 hours' leave. With his annual leave and accrued TOIL, he now has 21¼ days to take before 31 December. This will be mentioned to his manager, because he also has more out of hours work to do, which will mean more TOIL.

When I managed a department of 8 people plus me, I kept a close eye on their leave, because it was important to ensure that they all *took* it, and that they didn't all take it at *once*. It wasn't hard once I'd developed a system. Perhaps I should explain the system to someone.

I'm still simmering.
ailbhe: (Default)
Rob's going in to work again. Today was supposed to be TOIL of interrupted paternity leave when he worked last week; they called and he's going in again now.

I'm livid.

I'm much angrier than that, in fact.

This is the fourth time they have interrupted his paternity leave. Twice the day he went in. Once on Sunday - on a Bank Holiday Sunday when he was on paternity leave - and then today. Why? Because they need his help on some technical documentation they've been working on for months. I have never encountered more pathetic time-management. It seems like nothing at all is ever planned for accurately in this place. When he took the job, he asked at the interview about things like daily working hours being adhered to, not being on call, not being routinely required to do out of hours work, all the usual things that enable one to have a life outside work. And he got satisfactory responses. They are completely not living up to this. I'm furious.
ailbhe: (Default)
Emer is nine days old today. Rob did four hours of work, two and a half of them in his actual office. I'd love to know what they'd have done had he refused outright to interrupt his paternity leave. As things stand he's going to go back to work a day late, which we somehow feel to be a remarkable concession on their part.

Other than that, things are fabulous. Today I left the house. I walked to the community garden, which is easily twice as far as Elle's Baguettes, and we were over halfway there when I realised that it was two whole hours past the time I should have taken my pain medication. Once in the garden, I sat around for a while until Rob came with my meds, and after I took them I was able to walk around with my mother and look at the garden. We fed and changed Emer, and then got the call from Rob's work so had to leave earlier than we wanted to.

But it wasn't until Linnea was 14 days old that I was able to walk to Elle's Baguettes, leaning on the buggy all the way, and it took me an hour of sitting outside to recover from the walk enough to walk home. I was medicated to the max before we left, too.

This is so different an experience that I am baffled by it. I can't believe how much I can do - and I have to stop myself doing too much to prove to myself that I am not sick, am not incapacitated, am not disabled like I was last time.

And the SPD is almost all gone; I have a little ache in the middle bone now but that's about it. No more sharp pains, no more feeling almost weak enough to collapse outright. I haven't tried climbing into the bath, mind you :)
ailbhe: (Default)
The first was when I asked a woman in staff clothes - I think she was a Maternity Assistant, not a nurse or a midwife - to help me by giving me a cushion to keep the baby off my wound, and hand me the baby. She wanted me to try the "rugby hold", and I said "It never worked with my other daughter." She argued with me, saying that feeding the baby held in front of me wouldn't work and would cause pain to the wound. When it became clear I was going to try it my way, she walked away. Had I needed further assistance, I would have had to buzz again - as it was I had to position the cushion with one hand while holding the baby with the other, less than twelve hours after abdominal surgery. The good news is that the cushion supported my arm, which supported the baby, and we had a comfortable feed.

The next I don't really remember, but feeding lying down a Staff Nurse reached out and touched my breast to help position it. I don't remember whether I said anything, or what she was trying to do.

After that, my mother and I heard the woman in the bed next to mine having a long argument with a midwife because she and her baby had been just about discharged, gone to change the baby's nappy before leaving, and found crystals in it. This can be a sign of dehydration so they were asked to wait to see a paediatrician before leaving. There was a delay of more than six hours to see the paediatrician, during which time the woman was given no help at all with latching, positioning, determining whether the baby was sucking effectively (you can often tell by looking). She wasn't told that there was a breastfeeding clinic downstairs she could drop in to without an appointment. She wasn't offered a meeting with a lactation consultant. She was just told that the baby could be dehydrated, that this was "because feeding wasn't going well," and that she "had to" wait to see a paediatrician before she could go home. (Eventually, her mother, who is a doctor, came in and got them released somehow, after both parents and the grandmother spoke to the paediatrician - luckily the paediatrician spoke German, because the baby's mother was German and though her English was excellent she was too upset to have to cope with new-baby-panic in a second language. The grandmother's English wasn't as good as the mother's, either).

Later that evening the Staff Nurse dropped by my bed to ask how things were going and I said "Fine," and she asked how feeding was going and I said "Great, she's been on most of the day, really," and I was in the process of latching her on again as I said that. The Staff Nurse reached out and sort of squeezed my breast above the nipple to try to push more if it into Emer's mouth. I said "Please don't," and she explained that she was trying to make sure the latch was ok. I assured her it was fine. She said it couldn't be because the baby shouldn't be hungry enough to suck all day, the colostrum should be enough, and if she was sucking all day it was because the latch was bad. I ended up repeating over and over that I thought the baby just liked to suck. She'd only been born that morning, after all - and that was early. (Latch fine, baby fine, c-section babies are often very clingy and needy the first day because it's a very sudden way to come into the world).

At some point that night someone told me I shouldn't feed her when she started mouthing, I should wait until she "really wanted it" so that she'd "have a really good feed". Er, yeah. Ever tried to latch on a really, really hungry and frustrated newborn? No joke.

And the final straw was at about 1 am. Around 8 pm Emer was declared a bit cold, and they put her on a heat pad under a plastic dome in the bedside bassinet (a whole nother post about the skin to skin thing follows, I promise). At 11 pm I couldn't bear it any more and I buzzed for someone. A midwife arrived, told me to turn on the light - I had no idea how and it took a while to get her to tell me how, turns out there's a button on the buzz-for-a-nurse thing - and asked me impatiently, in a daytime voice, what I wanted. I said "I want to touch my baby." She said:

"What for?"

I said "Because she's my baby," and we had a little argument. She insisted that the baby should not be disturbed, I said I didn't want to disturb her, just touch her, she said that I ought to leave the baby alone and rest... it went on and on. Eventually I said "But how can I rest if I can't touch my baby?" and she gave in. She did a full check of blood pressure, temperature, and pulse, and then tucked Emer in beside me for skin to skin, and I fed her. The midwife asked if I'd fed my other daughter and I said "I still do," and immediately her attitude changed: now I was a Good Mother, a Good Patient, and she was going to be nice to me. She even said she'd make sure I was checked a couple of hours early to get the catheter out before breakfast time.

And a while later the woman in the bed opposite buzzed for her, for help breastfeeding. I don't remember the whole conversation, but the gist of it was that the woman had had trouble feeding earlier in the day and asked for and been given a bottle of formula. The night midwife harangued her about it - strongly implying that she was stupid, repeating and repeating that she was sure to fail if she had given a bottle, that bottles are very harmful to breastfeeding, that she needed to never give a bottle, that she shouldn't have given the bottle... she didn't stop until the woman was crying. And nowhere in the "conversation" did I hear helpful advice, or a question about what precise problem the mother had with feeding, or anything useful or supportive like that.

I was furious, but far too ill and tired to buzz for the midwife to tell her what I thought of her. I wanted to. I almost shouted across the bloody room, but I was too ill for a confrontation at 1 am - I was too ill to hear other people's confrontations, for heavens' sake. And I was sick of being given breastfeeding advice by unqualified people myself, so dishing it out wasn't really a good idea.

Next day I moved to a private room, and we found out that there's a patient-midwives meetings scheme thing to improve midwifery services. I intend to get involved. Hooboy do I intend to get involved.
ailbhe: (working)

I was recently made aware of the acronym MILF, which, according to a reliable and outraged source, means "Mother I'd Like to Fuck."

Well, isn't that nice?

One of the nicest things about it, I find, is that it assumes that such mothers are in the minority. Otherwise it wouldn't need an acronym; there'd be M for Mothers, and MIKOOB for Mothers I'd Kick Out Of Bed, or similar. And, of course, there's the implied corollary that women who are not mothers mostly fall into the Women I'd Like To Fuck category, because, well, WILF is just catchy.

And because there are, as we all know, Maidens, Mothers and Whores. And Mothers are the safe ones, who do not come with a load of desirability baggage. This goes back about a zillion years to the dawn of the anti-feminist backlash or whatever, depending on whether you believe certain Golden Age fantasties (when women ruled the world and lived in peace and harmony and never died of STDs or childbirth and celebrated their menses and revelled in their menopause and so on). It's sitting pretty at the back of the general subconscious; people react a lot more badly to "young mother (21) raped in park" than to "young woman (21) raped in park" because mothers are suppsed to be inviolate, asexual, aloof - and that's crazy.

Mothers are sexual creatures, just like they were when they started trying to conceive, and for much the same reasons. There hasn't been an immaculate conception for at least 2,000 years; getting around the sex-makes-babies equation takes quite a lot of science and time and effort (usually, ho hum, effort on the part of women, messing around with thermometers and pills and placebo pills and the indignity of infertility treatment).

So it stands to reason that most women with at least one child have had sex at least once. I'm sure you'll agree.

And women with two children of different ages, that is to say, not twins, have had sex atleast twice. Yes?


And what proportion of the adult (as in, of childbearing age) female population of the planet, until now, has been women who had at least one child?

I don't know, but I bet it's more than half. That's a lot of mothers having sex. Wahey!

But nonetheless we have this big blanket over the whole thing, like the discretion blanket people drape over their babies heads when they breastfeed in public, so that everyone can tell at a glance what they're doing but can't see anything.

(Breastfeeding is not a sexual act. Breasts are not primary sex characteristics. Someday the world will earn to cope with them. There will be no more breastfeeding in this thinking-aloud.)

And the discretion blanket shows everyone that there's sex there, but that it's at the very least extremely private, and posssibly shameful and secret, too.

So when I toddle off to the doctor and say "Hello Mister Doctor Person I had a baby and now I can't have sex," the doctor just isn't programmed to think "Oh goodness, that's appalling, we must try and fix it." No, the doctor is programmed to think "Oh well, sex isn't all that important to people like you, so we'll just send you on your way."

I get a little more sympathy when I say "But I want to have another baby!" - and I admit, that is the truly devestating part of the whole affair, but it's not the ONLY part - because mothers are supposed to want more babies. I get a bit of understanding when I say "And that means that my husband can't have sex," and the Health Visitors all ask me "Oh, dear, how is Rob coping?" - and they mean "Is he being nice to you or does he hate not having sex so much it's ruining your relationship?"

But almost no-one (the most recent Health Visitor is a counterexample) thinks that it's a terrible thing that I, a healthy 26-year-old married woman with no hormonal problems or disease problems or anything like that just cna't have sex.

Even when I want to.

Possibly ever again.

Because I'm a mother, and because I'm a woman, and I'm not sure which of these is the primary reason.

ailbhe: (red shoes)

What the hell is a Yummy Mummy? Is it like a Breeder? Or a Moo? Am I one? Some days I look very smart, well, maybe not smart, but funky as hell, with excellent jeans and orange tshirt and tie-dye headscarf and a daughter in orange and tie-dye looking very coordinated and slightly piratical, and her buggy has a funky coloured polyester cosytoes and we swan around the shops buying organic this and fairtrade that and recycled the other, looking at amusing socks and stopping for lunch in the park or maybe in Pret if I have Luncheon Vouchers and I generally feel top of the world and leisurely and very, very trendy and young. And rich, on those days, because I never actually want to buy anything I can't afford, on those days.

And some days - today is one of them - my hair is greasy and my clothes have poo-stains and my eyes are sunken and I have circles around them from crying so much. But my daughter still has a homecooked organic produce banana muffin for her snack. And I hosted the NCT toddler coffee and no-one realised how truly manky I am. And the house is hoovered and I have plans for dinner and I'm still knitting this winter coat for the baby, I think it's 38 rows now but I'm not sure. I look like hell and I've been picking a spot on my chin until it bleeds and I am beginning to fear for the stability of my marriage and I probably have PMS as well.

So what's a yummy mummy? Does anyone ever say anything including the phrase "yummy mummy" without being massively patronising? Ever? And how can you tell when you've seen one? How can you tell it's not just me on a good day? And how the hell else can I keep some sense of identity, if I can't even try to look mildly fabulous without being lumped in with idle ladies who lunch?

Oh, yes, sorry, I forgot, I don't work. I forgot.

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