Even at seven weeks of age, Louisette finds Mummy pretty boring after a while (heck, so do I). But if we have at least one outing every day (or, in a pinch, a visitor), she sleeps better. And I am a more interesting conversationalist for having done something other than housework and exercising my breasts a dozen times a day (which is still happening, and is the focus of every waking hour – right now it’s twenty minutes until the next feed).
As you’ll have noticed from yesterday’s blog entry (and I bet the parents noticed it immediately), CJ and I took Louisette to a Beethoven performance last Friday night. Breastfeeding in public is difficult enough for me, for Louisette, and for the public – but using a pump in public is far beyond that. So it was a good thing that the performance was due to start at 6pm – right on feeding time. Louisette generally feeds for 30-40 minutes (not counting up to ten minutes on the bottle) in absolute silence, and sometimes falls asleep immediately afterwards. She knows the difference between music and noise, and was unlikely to be enraged by the performance itself. Plus, the performance was free and in a public place (an acoustically terrible place, where no musical purist would bother attending). I’d practised modest breastfeeding at playgroup and my mum’s house, and both times were fine. All the fates aligned. . . and then failed.
Louisette refused to feed – something she’s honestly never done before. She was audibly grizzly, and refused the dummy (which has carried her on silent wings through grocery shopping and church services almost flawlessly). Rocking her didn’t help, and nor did wrapping her. She wasn’t hot or cold. And then she cried for real, and after another abortive attempt at feeding, CJ took her and fled.
To be fair, she didn’t make another sound for the rest of the performance. But Beethoven doesn’t mix well with sudden crying. A woman in the row in front of us turned around in her seat and glared at me pointedly for a prolonged period of time, while I carefully and desperately pretended intense focus on the performance. There were so many responses I wanted to make: To cry, to apologise, to glare back, to explain that the plan I’d made was as perfect as it gets, to point out that we were in a public foyer so if she wanted silence she should have paid for it, to tell her she was the kind of person that makes women stay locked in their homes until they get so depressed they want to kill themselves, to ask her snarkily if she’d ever had a cough while at a performance – and if so, did anyone glare at her?
But mostly I just felt like a bad, rude person.
I’m not sure how women with colicky babies survive. Do they just stay home until the kid is six months old – or more? Or do they endure the hate wherever they go?
Yes, sure, classical music is usually a place where people are more quiet than usual. I certainly wouldn’t take Louisette to a concert hall performance. But this particular outing had everything going for it – and it still failed. It happens. I just wish I didn’t feel so awful about it.
Today (I’m writing on a Tuesday) I went to playgroup for the second time. It’s brilliant stuff. I can be late, or leave early, or both – no-one is waiting for me, or needs me to do anything specific. I can breastfeed unselfconsciously, because everyone’s used to it and doesn’t care if there’s a little accidental flashing. Best of all, if Louisette happens to cry a little no-one cares – no-one even notices among the laughing and talking and playing of the other kids.There’s a whole crowd of kids under school age, and a lot of mums with a few dads mixed in.
This playgroup is a very very good one, run by my church (although about half the people don’t go to my church, and there are new people arriving all the time). There are a lot of great toys, a free morning tea, music time, and story time. The women are kind and supportive (not the “Is your kid walking yet? Mine is” competitive kind you sometimes get), and pleasantly international (I can talk in Indonesian or Chinese if I want practice, which is awesome). If you’re a parent and you live in Canberra, email me at fellissimo at hotmail dot com and I’ll give you all the details. I for one will be there every week.
I will absolutely keep taking Louisette to public events (after careful planning and thought – eg we don’t take her to movies), but it’s going to be a long time before I can be calm when she cries at the wrong moment. And I can guarantee there’ll always be one or two haters ready to lynch me for daring to leave the house with her. That will probably always hurt and terrify me.
And then there are the others: the ones who walk up to me in a mall to say how beautiful she is. And there are a lot more of them than the other kind. Can you blame them?
PS Although Louisette’s still underweight in relation to her birth weight, she seems to be doing well, so I’ve reduced her formula to four supplementary bottles of 50mL each per day. Wish us luck. . .
Speaking of luck: Last night she slept seven hours! Much squee! She’s slept six hours at a time so often it could be construed as normal for her. This is VERY good.
I haven’t lost any weight at all since week two, and I really haven’t been eating badly for the last couple of weeks. I just looked up the side effects of the domperidone I’ve been taking (which is meant to help with increasing milk production) and sure enough, weight gain is one of the side effects (that, and ravenous hunger – so eating when I’m hungry is not going to work). I will finish the pills I currently have and then stop (continueing to carefully monitor my milk production and Louisette’s weight), because looking three/four months pregnant and being ten kilos above my normal not-quite-in-the-healthy-weight-range-but-nearly weight is just too depressing. I’ve had a very similar experience when taking zoloft. It’d be nice to wear non-maternity clothes, and my wedding ring (yes, if you gain enough weight you do get significantly fatter fingers).