Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bamboozled off the boob

Very little about parenthood has been as I expected, and my baby is a constant source of surprise to me. I didn't realise babies pooed quite so very much. I had no idea how useful that rocking cradle would be. I could never have imagined how precious the extra ten minutes sleep I buy each day by throwing a toy into the cot would be. And I totally underestimated the value of sock harnesses.

I was wrong about feeding too. I expected that I'd breastfeed exclusively for six months imagining it would be fairly straightforward once I got going. How naive. For something so natural it is surprisingly difficult. I'll spare you the details and just say I did not have an easy ride. Still, I persevered.

But from the day Lady P started turning her nose up at my lacklustre 6pm offering, and we gave her a bottle of that strange and mysterious substance called formula, we were on a path. That path lead, far more rapidly than I would have expected, to her living on formula. Unless you count the tiny breastfeed I give her for breakfast, a sort of token gesture to my former, idealistic self.

What's more, we've weaned her early too. At the point at which she was off the scale of milk consumption for babies her age, we figured she may need a little more to eat. But I had read enough about weaning to be prepared for a few failures at first.

'She might not like it,' I told TLOML. 'And her tongue might instinctively push the food out of her mouth. Even if she doesn't do that, she'll probably just move it around her mouth and spit it out. We'll be lucky if she swallows any.'
'Stop taking my photo and put the damn food in my mouth'
Again, how wrong I was. She wolfed it down, with comic enthusiasm. Couldn't get that rice in her fast enough. A couple of weeks into the weaning programme and she is now grabbing at the spoon, taking down significant amounts of carrot, parsnip and rice, and as happy as a clam. To assuage my discomfort about how early this is all happening, I'm assiduously steaming and pureeing organic vegetables. So I suppose at least she's moving onto less processed food than her all-Aptamil diet.

Personally I feel a bit cheated out of my amazing, bonding, healthgiving and life affirming six months of exclusive breastfeeding. In theory, I'm in charge of this process. I made the choices that have lead us here: a formula fed baby who's weaned at 20 weeks. And yet, I see the hand of Lady P behind all of this. She has bamboozled me into it, I swear.

Given how much TLOML and I love our food, I suppose none of this should be so surprising. She'll be on steak and sushi before long I'll warrant.

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