So maybe this time I’ll get to what I wanted to when I started part one earlier.
Because of my experiences, I determined as a mother to allow my children freedom to be what they wanted and do what they wanted. Now this is not altogether easy as there are some social conformities which are there for very good reasons i.e. those of health and safety and common decency and some which were thrust upon me and accepted by me due to my own oppressive beliefs that ‘we have to do things a certain way’ in life which took a little longer for me to work my own way out of.
I remember when I had my daughter and she was starving, constantly starving as a baby, as fast as I made a drop of milk she drank it and then screamed until the next drop was ready. I told the midwife that I was exhausted, having had an emergency ceasarian and this being baby number one I was feeling rough enough as it was. I’d already learned that perfect mum with perfect baby slumbering in the sun drenched crisp white sheets was a mythical picture of modern day motherhood.
I was used to babies, I’d had tons of experience with them and not just moments at a time, I’d looked after babies for whole weeks at a time within my family and beyond. I was confident but my baby was starving, she was born big and chubby and she was turning into a boney rat in front of my eyes.
I didn’t have the engorgement associated with breastfeeding, no let down reflex, one side produced nothing, the other side a drip at a time. The midwife told me to keep going and not give her anything else. I suggested that if I gave her a formula bottle that might give her time to sleep because she would be full and me time to build up a stock and maybe that would set us right.
“Oh no! You can’t do that”.
5 days later after my baby had dropped 3lbs from birth weight and I had not slept for more than 5 minutes at a time and had sat on the edge of my bed wishing for death so that I could get some sleep (irrationality had set in) I asked my husband to please get some formula. Out he went and dutifully came back with the magic elixir that represented my failure as Earth mother. I didn’t give a sh*t at this point.
I made up a bottle while my baby was suckling at nothing (I’d become adept at doing everything with her latched onto me). I made up three 4oz bottles for my 10 day old baby because my husband offered to take charge so I could sleep and he might need a supply to keep him going so I could have unbroken rest. For once in our marriage he saw I was in need of assistance and I wasn’t wonder woman after all.
40 minutes later she had drained the second bottle and was fast asleep (even though I couldn’t give a 9 day old baby that much milk of course). For the first time in her tiny life she was content and she slept for 6 hours solid. I realised as she guzzled it down and started to drift off that she had also been exhausted and she had as I suspected been starving. I handed the sleeping bundle over to my husband, with a list of instructions and as much as I wanted to sit and watch her happy and peaceful and relish the moment, the first time since she was born, I had to sleep. I awoke 12 hours later, the husband told me she had slept 6 hours had a nappy change, bath and 2 more 4oz bottles and she was still fast asleep and had been for over 5 hours.
What is more I felt an unfamiliar feeling in my breasts, my nursing bra was positively straining at the seams, my boobs felt hot and hard and when I had a look they were mighty impressive (gosh I wish they’d always looked like that). A couple of seconds before she woke up I felt a tingling sensation and started to leak milk. Yay! Eureka! I was like a Texan with an oil strike! Jumping around the room (well OK smiling a lot), I hugged my husband and kissed him and thanked him for supporting me and not insisting I carry on with the feeding and for getting the milk and for letting me sleep and for being amazing and I picked up my little girl and put her to my breast and she stuffed her face and it felt glorious, even the sharp shooting pain that hit now and then was amazing. She looked up at me with her big eyes as if to say “Way to go ma! This is more like it. You are Earth Mother after all” I swear I got a wink of approval. 😀
She never had a bottle again until she was 6 months old. When the midwife called later that day she scolded me for giving her formula. I told her to piss off (forgive my language, reality was worse I’m ashamed to say). She said “She’s not supposed to…” I said “Oh go to hell with your supposed tos, she was starving, don’t come here telling me what to do about something I knew was a problem and I knew how to solve, my baby was on the verge of malnutrition because I listened to what I was supposed to do” and I sent her packing, faith lost in her but restored in myself.
I let her sleep with us if she wanted (the daughter not the midwife), although friends said “you’re not supposed to” I loved her snuggling up, knowing she was safe made me feel content and relaxed, I didn’t take her to mother and toddler groups even though I was “supposed to” I wanted time to spend with her doing what I wanted not point scoring with other kids and boring mothers content to sit cooped up in a stuffy hall when there was a world out there to explore, leaves to kick our way through, puddles to splash in, bark rubbings to do and nature to gather up to make a fantastic collage with later.
We’d sometimes be at the park until 9pm in the summer because she wanted to play and although we were ‘supposed to’ go home earlier and have dinner, we were content to nip to the local shop and buy a sandwich and sit on the grass and eat it, we often didn’t have a proper meal like we were supposed to. Friends remarked that they’d phoned but I wasn’t home like I was supposed to be.
I let her ride her bike fast down hills because she wanted to, even though I was ‘not supposed to’, I let her choose her own shoes when she was 1 even though I was supposed to choose sensible ones for her, I let her bunk off school so we could go to the circus or the cinema and I let her dance in the aisle in church and sit scoffing cucumber sticks during service because she was hungry by then. I let her eat plums and peaches at 4 months old by sticking her chubby fingers into the flesh and chomping until she hit the stone, people said I wasn’t supposed to because she might choke. Guess what? I learned how to revive and rescue a choking child when she was born just in case, I wasn’t worried, I was confident I could baby heimlich any stone out of her and I never had to anyway because I was vigilant.
I’d let her fall asleep on my lap sitting on a beach, our heartbeats in tune watching a glorious sun set long after everyone else had scurried off to holiday hotels and put babies to bed in unsafe cots like we were supposed to.
I let her break the rules/bend the rules, I let her climb the big kid climbing frame and slide in the park when she was just 18 months old because she was sure footed and bigger than the average kid her age even though other parents stood around tutting, she fell a couple of times and got back up and climbed again. I wanted her to have freedom, freedom with guidance not rules and restrictions.
I let her jump in the swimming pool even though she couldn’t swim and watched her splutter and doggy paddle her way out of danger, her determined little spirit shining through and those big brown wet eyes slightly stinging from the pool chemicals sparkling with pride at me saying without words “I did it mama, I swam all by my self”.
“Be yourself” I told her, “Do what you want to” I taught her, “So long as it doesn’t hurt you or anybody else, do what you want to do not what someone tells you you have to do, obey the rules but where the rules don’t make sense to you make your own”.
Then we did it all again with our beautiful little boy who loved to climb onto the bath and poo in the bathroom basin because it was more fun that way to see the reaction of whoever found it, who stored 10p pieces in his bum crack and giggled when we changed his nappy at night and they all rolled out, who loved to stand on the sprinkler and soak everyone in the summer and oftentimes extinguished the barbeque in the process, who would often take a hand full of his dinner and splat it in your face and giggle his glorious, fat, dimpled face off when you threw it back at him and engaged into a full on food fight, who was allowed to get his head stuck in the chair even though you warned him not to and had to be sawed out, patiently sitting on mummy’s knee looking up with big brown eyes saying “I was silly mummy but this is funny isn’t it mummy?”, the same boy who loved to lock himself in nana’s loo because it meant someone had to climb through the window to let him out which he found even more hilarious than pooing in the basin (which he fortunately grew out of along with the 10p stashing). The boy who had no confidence in riding his bike but mastered his balance perfectly when he was unceremoniously pushed full force on two wheels down a hill by his daredevil sister, the boy who wanted to play in the virgin waist deep snow before school and ran in an hour late soaked to the skin ruddy cheeked, bright eyed and glowing and giggled with mummy while she quickly changed him after being told off by the teacher because she shouldn’t have gone to play in the snow and should have brought him to school on time.The little boy who twice we nearly lost from our lives because doctors said “he couldn’t be ill” and I knew he was and thankfully didn’t listen to them.
Then they want to school and the world tried to tell them ‘they couldn’t and they shouldn’t’ and that’s going to be part three of Fitting In. That’s when I’ll finally get to my point, I promise.
This blogging, it’s dangerous, it just makes thoughts and memories pour out of your finger tips. Sorry about that if you’re reading, if nobody reads this I’m loving writing it, it’s making me feel happy.