Saturday, January 23, 2010

G is for Germany

So last Sunday we began the 2010 Alphabet Dining Challenge.
We're eating around the world this year, in no particular order, but we must have an International meal for each letter of the alphabet.

I didn't tell the others where we were going, we all piled into our car and went for a little drive. The surprise was well worth it, and I think the German Club will be a tough act to follow! Everything was so much fun, from all the lovely oldies dancing to the band, the completely kitsch decor, the crazy waitress, sexy old busty bar wench, and the amazing food.

The Menu:

Shared Entree of Deep Fried Camembert, Kransky with brown bread and mustard, Cheesy Bread Sticks.

The Wookie: Bauernschmaus. Possibly German for "Pig plate of Pig". You can see a pic of his meal above. Pork, Bacon, Sausages, fried potato and Sauerkraut.
Me: I went for one of the Specials, Hungarian Goulash with Dumplings. Delicious!
The Wah: Bavarian Meatloaf with Sauerkraut (actually, Sauerkraut was with everything!)
The Gregus: Jaeger Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce.
The Munchkin: A bit of everything. Loved the vegies, the dumplings & the bread sticks.

She loved all of it. The music, the dancing, the food, the Grandparents pinching her cheeks (even if they thought she was a boy because I dressed her in a blue t-shirt).

We're doing A for Australia on Tuesday (Australia Day). Then The Gregus is up next with the letter S.......

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Yes, I'm still Breastfeeding (and why I go on about it)

I never gave much thought to Breastfeeding. I guess in the back of my mind I always just assumed I would do it. As far as I was concerned that's the logical way to feed a baby. It's the way evolution intended. There it is, the perfect substance on tap, free and easy to access (or so I thought). Even during ante-natal classes, when they suggested everyone attend a Breastfeeding class before giving birth, I thought "how bizarre, what could you possibly learn without the baby in your arms". Besides, the only class on offer was on my birthday. I dismissed the idea, knowing I had read the breastfeeding chapter in my baby book, and I would be fine. Bub would be born, I'd put her to my breast, and all would be well for the 6 or so months I planned to feed her.
Oh, how wrong I was......

Breastfeeding wasn't easy. To spare you too many details, it was many sleepless nights, many tears, cracked and bleeding nipples, two visits to the emergency room when the munchkin was swallowing blood from my nipples and causing her nappies to look very black and sticky (we suspected she was swallowing blood and had to rule out that it was coming from her. As soon as they realised it was me, they said go home, take a panadol, you'll both be fine).
The wookie used to have to push my shoulders down when feeding to make me relax. It was an affair that involved numerous pillows, curled toes, an inability to move my arms or body once feeding. We could never get attachment right, I couldn't work out the right hold, I once spent 48 hours exclusively expressing milk to give my nipples a break. I sat alone in a room for hours at a time trying to get milk for my baby, who was in the other room crying and wanting to just be with me.

A few things got me through those awful first six weeks. One was an innate stubbornness. This thing would not beat me. I was born to me a mother, and that meant, to me, breastfeeding. I'd be damned if a lot of pain and discomfort would stop me doing what I thought I should be doing. I read and re-read all the information I had about breastfeeding, much of it provided by my home visit midwife. The more I read, the more I was amazed. My body was creating this perfect substance for my child. Not only was human milk intended for human babies, but MY milk was made for MY baby. It changed according to her age, the time of day, the antibodies she needed at certain times. Human milk is so amazing they still have no idea what is in it.
Every night, tired and exhausted, getting up to feed my newborn anywhere between 2 and 7 times a night, I would decide that tomorrow I was giving up. I would sit alone, in the dark, for up to an hour and a half feeding her, unable to fall asleep in the chair as she was so tiny and fragile, wondering why I was putting myself through this. We could be bottle feeding. I could be sharing these tired nights with my partner and my Mum.

I decided I would make it to one month. One month came, and I set my goal at three. Many times it seemed unattainable. It was too exhausting. I was always thirsty. I was cranky. I was lonely. I needed a break.

People told me to wait until the first six weeks passed. This magical six week mark kept coming up in conversation and in books, as well as many times online in articles and on forums.

Six weeks came. Same thing.

At seven weeks, a few things happened at once.

The munchkin got more head control, and I figured out the cradle hold (traditional style hold if you think of breastfeeding). All of a sudden I had a free hand for magazines, books, remote controls. Breastfeeding, especially at night, was far less lonely.
She started to sleep longer than two hours at a time. Sometimes five or six. Gradually eight. At 8 weeks she was sleeping about 10 hours. Without the torture that was sleep deprivation, I felt much better and was less depressed (oh yes, I realise now that I had a bad case of the baby blues, although I wouldn't admit it at the time).

I decided to abandon mother's rooms and just feed wherever I was. Not having to extricate myself from a group of friends or family at a restaurant, or party or out shopping, meant I didn't feel any anger about breastfeeding. I fed in Cafes at first, and eventually moved onto park benches, book shops, trains, furniture displays in Ikea, at the dinner table. (Last week I fed the munchkin in the back of the car at 110ks an hour on the highway. She was in her carseat, I had my seatbelt on next to her. A hungry baby makes all kinds of things possible.) Apart from a few male friends who found it weird (their problem, not mine), everyone was supportive. Other mums got me glasses of water. The older generation frequently smiled at me. Once, at a Japanese restaurant, 3 or 4 waitresses cooed over the 3 month old munchkin as she fed, stroking her hair, playing with her hands and feet. I realised a lot of my perceived breastfeeding prejudice came from two places. One was shyness. I thought everyone would stare at me - they don't. Sometimes you get a disapproving glance, but not very often. Most people think you are holding a sleeping baby. One male friend once admitted he tried to see a flash of boob as I got the munchkin attached, but he saw nothing. We both laughed so hard the baby stopped feeding to see what the fuss was about.

The other thing was a reluctance to offend my bottle feeding friends. Like most parenting choices, breastfeeding is an issue I have to skirt around gently at times. It's hard to feel pride and joy at my own breastfeeding journey without inadvertently offending some people. I have friends who chose to never breastfeed. I respect these women for their decision and their lack of guilt. I certainly do not judge them. Parenting is a bloody hard job. You have to do what's best for you. I have other friends who stopped breastfeeding for one reason or another, some at 2 days, some at 2 weeks, some at 2 months. Nearly every one of these ladies feels guilt, or believes she "gave up". I'm sad for them that they beat themselves up. All of them are wonderful mothers and have happy, healthy children. It's hard to get the message across sometimes that just because I am pro-breastfeeding, I am not anti bottle feeding. There are many ways to be an excellent parent, and breastfeeding your baby is just one of them.

So now, here we are at 13 months, still breastfeeding. The munchkin feeds at about 6pm, 9pm, 12am and 4am. All day she drinks cows milk, eats everything she can lay her hands on, drinks lots of water and sometimes juice. She also feeds if she is feeling sick, bumps her head, sees me after being babysat for a few hours, or is getting tired but doesn't want to go to sleep. I feel like a magician sometimes, the way that breastfeeding can instantly calm and soothe her, send her to sleep when she is overtired, make any bumps and bruises forgotten straight away. I enjoy those quiet moments together in a busy day; the look she gives me when feeding. The way she rubs her head with joy, plays with her feet, sticks her hands in my mouth or plays with my hair. It's a connection, and a fairly amazing one at that.

Weaning is in the back of my mind. I wanted to feed until 12 months, but when we got there, like all my other goals (1 month, 3 months, 6 months), I realised I didn't mind going longer. We might meet the WHO (world Health Organisation) recommendation that babies be breastfed for at least 2 years "Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond." She might self-wean before then. I might fall pregnant, or wake up one day and decide I've had enough.

I've met women who breastfed twins, women who breastfeed for months (and years) after they go back to work, expressing milk in their lunch breaks. I know women breastfeeding 3 and 4 year olds, women who have breastfed exclusively from one breast after losing the other to Cancer, women who have breastfed with implants, through pregnancy, co-nursed a newborn and a toddler. I've seen women breastfeed through mastitis, through cracked nipples, women breastfeed who have post-natal depression. I know women who express and donate their milk to friends and milk banks, women who breastfeed at age 17 and in their mid forties. Pretty much every group of women you might have heard can't breastfeed - I know them. They are all my friends and heroes.

When I was a new Mum, I wasn't sure where to turn for breastfeeding advice. I knew friends who had breastfed their babies, but I had never once initiated a conversation with them about it, not even while I was pregnant. We don't live in a society where breastfeeding is rejoiced or respected. I'd love to see that change. I believe that if more information was out there, not just for new mothers, but new Dads too, and extended families, and teenagers, and all members of society in general, then breastfeeding would be more common. I'm not saying everyone should breastfeed their babies, but if women saw their friends feeding their babies in public, at parties, barbecues, at the Christmas table, if they knew the extraordinary benefits and connection for both mother and baby, then perhaps more women wouldn't feel that they had "given up". They would have more places to turn, feel comfortable calling a friend or sister with a booby question. Feel confident in their knowledge of normal newborn behaviour, as well as confidence in their own body to feed their babies, and not doubt themselves in a sleep deprived moment. It's a fine line between shoving information down people's throats and making sure friends know they can come to you when they need help. I hope I'm walking that line well.

So yes, we're still breastfeeding. Sometimes in public, sometimes in private. I don't know how long we'll keep going, but don't expect me to shut up about how much I love it anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The 2010 Alphabet Dining Challenge

It's an idea we've had for a few years now..... 26 letters of the alphabet...... 52 weeks of the year...... more restaurants than you can count on the Coast and in Brisbane.
About a week before Christmas, the Wookie, The Wah and I were eating Yum Cha and discussing the idea, for about the tenth time.

And this is the year we actually do it. We're eating around the world!

Once a fortnight, we will dine in an International Restaurant. The three of us will always be there, and other people (including the Munchkin of course) are more than welcome. We don't have to go in Alphabetical order, but we MUST fill each letter of the Alphabet by 31st December 2010.

A - American? Australian?
B - Bavarian?
C - Chinese? Chillean?

and so forth......

The Wah is currently on holiday in Vietnam (Mmm.... V is for Vietnamese), so we must wait for her return before we begin.

Restaurant suggestions more than welcome. And of course, I will keep you update on our progress!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Twenty-Ten, Here I come.

I'm not really a resolution person as such..... they always seems to fall apart before the end of January.
This year, I'm writing a list of things I would like to achieve.
I have 12 months to do it.... some of these things are ongoing, some are just small, others can happen at any time.

I plan to revisit this a few times, see where I am up to and how it's travelling.....

Things to achieve in 2010, in no particular order:
* Make our business a success (the small business we bought that we take over the first week of February. I hope it's running at a reasonable financial success by the end of the year)
* Get rid of my tuckshop lady arms
* Be a better blogger (post more regularly, get more followers)
* Find 2 or 3 regular markets to attend with my feliciafairy goodies
* Have my work in at least 3 more B&M locations
* I'd love to be pregnant again by the end of the year
* Take the Wookie to one of the Capitals he hasn't been to for a quick holiday (Canberra, Melbourne or Adelaide)
* Plan a successful and amazing DUST conference (Etsy Down Under Street Team)
* Attend a short course in something I've been talking about for ages..... Ceramics.... or Millinery.... or Thai Cooking
* Organise a more structured week for myself....
* Get a Netball team together and start playing social netball again
* See more live Theatre. I used to go all the time! See at least 4 shows this year
* Find more time to Scrapbook the munchkin's 1st year of Photos
* Plant a Vegie Garden, a nice big one that will keep us at least in salads and carrots and broccoli
* Plant some fruit trees
* Get chooks!
* Rescue a Puppy from the RSPCA..... it's all I can do to stop myself from doing this TODAY!

I'm sure I will think of more..... and I look forward to crossing some of these off my list.

How about you? Are you a resolution type of person?
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