Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Boobs are Magic!

Back in the days when a ‘let-down’ was a disappointing meal and a ‘dodgy latch’ was something one encountered in a public toilet, I was really rather proud of my boobs. At least half the clothes in my wardrobe could be described as ‘low cut’ and I was completely at ease going topless on the beach. In fact, such was my boob-fidence that I even accepted a dare to model for a life painting class. I had no issue getting my kit off for art, in fact I’d go as far as to say I enjoyed it. Oh yes, I thought my boobs were great, but I didn’t realise… they were magic.

And they really are magic! They have nurtured my children; given food, comfort and more anti-bodies than you can shake a rattle at. They provide baby C with delicious nutritious milk whenever she needs it; they calm her down when she’s unsettled, they soothe her back to sleep if she wakes in the night. I could go on… it wouldn’t be the first time.

I breastfed G until her first birthday; it was a wonderful journey and apart from some worry over green poo and some ‘fun’ with biting it was a bump free road. So when baby C was born I didn’t think twice about breastfeeding. My only concern was what on earth I would do with G while I was immobilised with my newborn, but thanks to a few new toys, some colouring books and a bit of telly we all survived.

G was fascinated. She pulled at baby C to have a closer look and poked and prodded at my boobs. “Mummy's boobies!!” she exclaimed. “Baby's milk!!” She often pretends to have a feed herself and I regularly see her “breastfeeding” her dolly, her teddy and on one occasion… a feather duster.

Everything went well, until out of the blue, baby C went through a phase of ‘breast refusal’. It was a really stressful time. I would bring C to my breast and she would latch for a moment and then pull away howling, her back arched, her face red with anger (or pain, or frustration…). Sometimes she would feed for a few minutes but at other times refused altogether.

The crying was horrendous; a high-pitched screech that reverberated through my body and sent my blood pressure soaring. G was unsettled by the crying, but not sympathetic and would run up and down the corridor shouting and demanding; which was understandable, but not helpful. The only way I could get C to accept a feed was to rock her to sleep in my arms and then feed her while she dozed. Getting a distressed baby to sleep with a manic toddler charging about was somewhat challenging, as you can probably imagine.

Then one night C woke for a feed and after a few seconds at the breast pulled away screaming louder than ever before. It was 2am. G was fast asleep in the next room so I jumped up with my crying baby and went to hide in the bathroom at the other end of the house. I tried to comfort C, but nothing worked. It was obvious that she was hungry, but for whatever reason she would not latch. My magic boobs were useless, my powers evaded me. C cried. I cried.

I needed support and that support came from far away, all the way from the Blue Mountains in fact. The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) runs a 24 hour helpline staffed by volunteers – I dialled the number and waited… The woman that took my call was a mum like me, she’d breastfed her own children and felt so passionate about supporting other mums that she trained to become a breastfeeding councillor. She took my call in the middle of the night and listened to my problem (and probably a fair amount of crying as my husband rocked the baby in the background). She gave advice, she gave encouragement and most of all she gave me hope... This is just a phase... It will pass. 

This short phone call gave me the strength to persevere. And the ABA councillor was right, it was just a phase and it did pass. It was a tough time, but we muddled through. Now the only reason baby C pulls away from the breast is to flash me a milky smile - her chubby face testament to the power of the boobie. 

C is eight months now and we're still going strong. She loves it, and I love it too ... Notwithstanding the numerous benefits; it's the only chance I get to sit down... And that really is magic!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Goodbye Belmont Street.

I was 5 or 6 weeks pregnant when we moved into our little house on Belmont Street. Wracked with chronic morning sickness (or all bloody day and night sickness as I preferred to call it) I was completely useless and left all the hard work to my Husband (although, now I think about it, at the time he was my ‘Boyfriend’). I issued commands from the comfort of the freshly installed sofa, whinging dramatically about how dreadful I felt. I realise that I’m not coming off well in this story but I really was very, very sick… And my husband really is a very, very good man.

Alexandria and nearby Newtown was a great place for a young family. As a stay at home mum I found the offerings of our local playgroup invaluable, G made many good friends there, as did I. I felt like I was part of the community. Rain or shine my girls and I would be out and about. I know which pavements are too narrow for my buggy; I know the short cuts; I know every inch of every park.

So the decision to move away, out to the suburbs, was a tough one. Giving up all that was familiar to us; the great parks, the great kids facilities, er… the great coffee shops. However, we desperately needed more space and although it was a painful one, it was the right decision for our family.

I will miss the faces that passed us by in the street. I’ll miss the bloke that looks just like my friend Barnes, who I always smile at, because even though he is not my friend Barnes, seeing him still brightens my day. I’ll miss the local ‘characters’ like the ‘Good onya darl’ lady who affectionately punches any passing mums on the arm, declaring… yes, you’ve got it… “Good onya darl!” (I won’t do the accent). Although, if I’m honest, I wont miss the punches. I’ll miss all the other mothers, who I know, but don’t know; the ladies with whom I have exchanged a knowing smile that says “Yes! I understand!”.

We had many special moments in our little house, things I will never forget; my husband’s marriage proposal, my family visiting from the UK for our wedding, bringing G home from the hospital, G taking her first tentative steps, bringing C home from the hospital and introducing G to her baby sister. All those sleepless nights! All those early mornings!   

I had tears in my eyes when we moved out of our little house on Belmont Street. We arrived as a couple and now we’re a family. We’ll make our new house our home and I know we’ll be happy, but I will always have a special place in my heart for Alexandria and Belmont Street.