Wednesday, April 04, 2007

6 degrees of separation

It's very odd the first time one packs ones baby off to the nursery with a childminder. There are all the obvious things like worry and concern and (dare I say it) relief but, when he comes home, one realises that for the first time, one doesn't know every little thing about him and that he is beginning the first steps towards his own independence.

He came back from nursery with a collage that he had patently had nothing to do with - but then it turns out that they were giving babies all sorts of textures to feel and anything they really liked got stuck down. Apparently he was really interested in everything that they did and suddenly my Bad Mother Guilt stepped in an wondered if, despite the yoga and bouncing games and singing games and crawling games and toys and texture beads and trips to meet other babies, I have been depriving my son of the right sort of stimulation.

Independence is the name of the game at the moment. Apart from the two days a week he will now be spending with a childminder, he's spending more time alone with his Dad, including recently an entire night camping together in D's studio so I could be blind-sided by a good night's sleep. He came back beaming like the sun. He's more vocal, his gestures are more expansive, he's obviously been exploring the world and enjoying it. He's even shaken his rattle along in perfect time to music his Dad has been mixing - and apparently done it twice to prove it wasn't just chance the first time.

Clearly, being away from me has done him some good and I don't think he missed me a bit. To prove this point, after two days in which he had barely seen me, he greeted my boobs with a big happy grin and all I got was the top of his head as he rooted around trying to work out how to get underneath my jumper. I am a diner on legs.

I'm trying to get him onto bottles during the day and taking boobs off the menu until the evening. This is the equivalent of trying to get a fish to give up water. Charlie has never lived a day of his life without boobs. He had a boob in his mouth his first moments in the world, all day every day since then and on tap whenever he needs at night. Boobs, for Charlie, are a simple fact of existance. Not to have boob... well that's just silly. Never-the-less, I am spending boring amounts of time sterilising a small army of bottles, mixing up formula and then failing to get him to open his mouth to accept the bottle. Forbidding him boob doesn't work either, he just refused to drink - or even eat - anything until he is starving, hysterical and nakedly grabbing, eyeing up and mouthing at my boobs until they start leaking of their own accord, at which point shoving one in his mouth seems the obvious thing to do. You have not experienced failure until you have found yourself covered in a mix of vegetables and formula, sitting half naked in front of your son's high-chair with a boob in his mouth while he suckles contentedly, eyes closed, happily patting you with puree-covered fingers.

I know I will win this. There are, as someone pointed out to me, no eighteen-year-olds still on Mum's boob and so at some point between now and then he will have to give in. He has no compunction about taking bottles from other people and so perhaps this is the best solution. Two days a week he heads off into the blue to live his own life and drink from bottles in a preview of university life and then hopefully, on his days at home he won't see bottles as The Enemy of The Boob. Boobs will then slowly become things of the past and I will get to wear bras that don't clip together and tops that don't have Access All Areas necklines. Of course at some point boobs may once again be objects of desire for Charlie however, crucially not MY boobs. By that point of course I will be too old to care and my boobs will be safely tucked into my waistline.

In between then and now however there is a long journey away from the boob, into childhood, out of childhood and always, every step, away from me. Which is why I'm the one contorted over that high chair, holding on perhaps to what I realise now are a very scant few moments of Charlie's babyhood.



BOSSY said...

Bossy would have loved to linger over her son's high chair a little longer, but as it is he's only a few years away from a bar stool.

Lindystar said...

I REALLY want to breast feed my children (someday when they happen) you know cuz it's better for them and the closeness thing and all that, but can I ask a question? It's a little private (that's why I put it on the internet) and if it freaks you out just delete my comment. Ok here we go.

My . . . boobs don't really liked to be touched, and I'm always chasing my husband away from them and reminding him that they don't LIKE to be mouthed on. It's just uncomforatable.

So what happens when the baby comes? Do people just get used to it? Does something magical happen and it won't hurt or is this something you just sort of have to grin and bear?

?????? I can't ask my mom I was bottle fed (and I'll be damned if I could ask my mom) and I don't even really know anybody in real life to ask that I could without making me squirm uncontrolably.

Arban said...

If you get desperate and serious enough about weening C to do this: Cayenne Pepper. I cannot remember which Native American tribe does this, apparently, a little on the nipple can put them off for good.
I didn't have this problem, I only breastfed for aprox. 3 months, so the transition from boob to bottle was smooth and unremarkable.

Sparx said...

Arban, I'll remember the cayenne once I want him off the boob permanently... the trouble is getting him off it during the day when he knows he'll get him at night!! Did he come off on his own or did you wean him off?

Lindystar - Don't worry, I'm un-freak-outable! Having a baby on the breast is completely different than having someone else touch you. The feeling is more internal than external, sort of as though you are completing a circuit between you and your baby, slightly electric and comforting. You may have a lingering twitchiness the first coupld of times but that will disappear right away. If you want to breastfeed, you will - good luck when the time comes!

InTheFastLane said...

This cracked me up! I found your blog on "the best of" feed and I will have to bookmark it. I often thought my oldest might have been attached to my boob forever. But now she is twelve and doesn't ask for it at all :)

Anonymous said...

Ah, you made my day! I laughed so hard I had tears running down my cheeks! My daughter and I are also there, so I appreciate your predicament!

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Merry said...

I completely related to your story, I thought my son would be going off to college and still nursing.......but alas, I tried everything, depriving him of food, all of it, until I gave him a sippy cup. Slowly, I mean slowly, little by little, he took the cup he never took bottles, I tried for months....but the cup, that was the answer for me...good luck

Painter said...

Loved your story,my children are all grown and unfortuneately I could only nurse my second child for a few weeks.
My sisters did very well with it and their children eventually weaned themselves away from the breast as they saw all the neat big kid cups they could use without having mom in tow.
Sadly though part of you will miss the closeness and you might feel alittle hurt when he takes that independant move away from you for good. Good luck

R2K said...

You were added to the blogs of note list!

Tracey said...

Your blog put a ridiculously large grin on my face and it is incredibly funny. You have such a wonderful sense of humour about it all. And your son, Charlie, seems like a completely amazing (yet stubborn, LOL) angel. Good luck with getting him off the boob. X

fashionat said...


B said...

Love your blog, I will follow it often. Charlie, what a lucky young man he is. I am adding you to my list of must reads. Good luck with the Little Prince.

les_mason_curt said...

I really love your blog and all of you little interesting ventures. I am a new mother. My son Mason is 9.5 months old. Life is so intersting when a baby is the center of your world. I think you should write a book. I read Yummy Mummy and found it extreemly interesting and was constantly finding myself comparing my life to the book.
Just wanted to say I like your blog- It is nice to know that other mothers around the world have the same issues as I do.