Breastfeeding thoughts

Breastfeeding thoughts at 6:30am: musing on my mother’s visit…

She’s a really good houseguest. Eats what’s served, even if it’s a “funny food” (we served something which contained eggplant, and she ate it without a murmur). Doesn’t clutter up the common space more than she can avoid it (apart from the banana peel on the sofa – but she quit that when I asked). Helps with whatever needs another pair of hands, from changing the baby to vacuuming the house. Flows with it, enjoys what’s going on. She even came with a present: the most beautiful portrait of me. (click on the picture to see a bigger version)


We talked about being “junior Mom”, a role we have both held as teenaged elder sisters, vs being “senior Mom”. In a curious role reversal, she was being junior Mom to my senior Mom. This is the true Way of the Grandparent, though few practice it.

What does being junior Mom mean? It means pitching in without trying to run the show. Making the no-brainer decisions that keep the scene running (the baby needs changing, let me just get these dishes out of the way, how about the blue overalls?), but keeping out of the controlling ones (when shall we feed him? is this trip going to interrupt his nap?). You have to do this even when you think the senior Mom is getting it wrong. As Mom pointed out, this is a lot easier if the junior Mom thinks the senior Mom is doing a good job.

I am fortunate in all of my son’s grandparents, who are good at the role of junior Mom. I hope they think he is fortunate in having me as the senior Mom.

Post matrem

Written as a daylog in Everything2, my on-line community:


Feeling pretty flat right now. My mother, who has been over for a fortnight, has just left. M, B and I drove her to the airport this morning. M dropped us off – he had to get to work – but B and I lingered with her until the very last minute.

It was a great visit. Our relationship has changed since I got pregnant. At last, after 31 years, I am a real adult in her eyes. She didn’t mean to treat me as less than an equal before B came along; she didn’t even realise that a closer relationship was possible. Since her own mother died shortly after my elder brother’s birth, she had never seen how it could be.

Of course, it was also hard having someone around for two weeks while we do the baby work. She helped out, but as a guest, she had a certain claim on our time and energy. We even took her – and B – on a day trip to Amsterdam (EasyJet flies there cheaply and often). All I want to do now is stay at home and pull the drawbridge up.

Still, it was hard to see her go. We bummed around the airport for the maximum possible time, sitting in the cafe, buying presents for the family back in California, chatting to the shop assistants about B, and finally sitting down on a bench by departures and talking quietly. Then waving her off at the “Passengers Only” sign and the long bus ride back home.

A further disappointment awaited me, like a sting in the tail. I’ve been in touch with H, a woman living nearby, first to reassure her about getting a C-section, then trying to support her in breastfeeding. Scottish culture is profoundly ambivalent about breastfeeding babies – the health service promotes it, but very few new mothers make it work. H is a case in point – she was determined to breastfeed her baby. Then, deep in the baby blues, she started doubting that the baby was getting enough milk. So when I called her today to ask how things were going, she admitted she’d changed to formula feeding. I was nice – she’s made her decision, and there’s no point kicking her about it.

Even as a Californian, from a culture where breastfeeding is ingrained, I was vaguely worried in the first weeks. Bottle-feeding mothers can see how much their babies are eating. And since a newborn’s stomach is the size of a walnut, there’s very little perceptible difference between the breast before and after feeding. The contrast between even a full breast and an empty one pales in comparison to the huge engorgement that happens when the milk comes in. I got through that time on faith in the natural system, based on having seen it work. H had no such basis for confidence. She didn’t want to starve her baby out of a stubborn desire to breastfeed.

Now I’m sitting here, B fussing on my lap (he has mild colic), my mother’s forgotten hat visible on the coat rack by the door.


For the last day of

For the last day of the visit, we went to Craigmillar Castle, one of Edinburgh’s undiscovered treasures. And a good site for portraiture. (click on the picture to see a bigger version)


Are we crazy, or what?

Are we crazy, or what?

A day trip to Amsterdam with a baby
Click on the pictures below for larger versions.

One dad, one son, one airport – arriving in Holland.

Mom, Martin and B crossing a canal.

Look! a tourist!

Quick, take a photo.

Mom, Abi and B at the end of a long and Dutch day.

Thank you, Mick and Sarah, for the loan of the baby pack. I can’t picture doing this any other way…