We went to the paediatrician on Monday.? Princess Waffle is 8 very heavy kilos and 70 cms. She is, you will all be delighted to hear, the picture of health. The paediatrician asked whether I had any questions. Note this conversation was in English.
Me – She likes to eat paper, is that normal?
Him – Um, no, not really that is quite unusual, why do you give her paper to eat?
Me – Well, we don’t give her paper, she just finds it and eats it.
Him – (Looking at me a bit oddly as though having paper lying round the house is a weird thing..) Does she like salt?
Me?- (thinking, does paper taste of salt?) Well, I don’t know really, she doesn’t eat a lot of salt.
Him – Long digression on why salt is a bad thing. But yes this pepper thing, it’s really unusual…
Me – No, no, not pepper, PAPER.
Him – Ah (dawning enlightment), yes that’s completely normal, newspaper is the worst because then their faces get all black.
Well that’s alright then.
Had a friend to stay from Ireland last night.? This morning she said “Oh, the baby’s drooling on you! Quick, quick, get a cloth.” I realised that my standards have gone screaming downhill. I never bother mopping up drool, I just let it dry naturally. I have stopped wearing black though. Drool shows on black.
Picture of Doggy to follow in due course over in photo section (await moment when Princess is sleeping with him). Anyone able to tell me where I might find a duplicate Doggy may get one, or possibly two sweeties. Fab new dragon photos will also follow. I’m sure that you’re on the edges of your seats out there.
on 29 January 2004 at 15:20
Today the Waffle family decided to go to mass together. The journey was fraught with difficulty. Firstly, getting out of the house in time for 12.15 mass is, frankly, a struggle. 12.20 saw us circling the church looking for parking. Mr. Waffle noticed an ominous smell emanating from the back seat. Sure enough, the Princess had produced her statutory dirty nappy at difficult moment. Mr. Waffle nobly volunteered to drive her home and change her (this can be done in the car, but it’s quite nasty) and left me off to commune with my maker.
I realised, shortly after hopping out of the car, that I had left my wallet behind. The church is approached via a gauntlet of optimists wishing you a “bon dimanche” and holding out an array of styrofoam cups. I had no change. There was some unhappy muttering in the ranks but I reached the church unscathed. There was a special collection. It was for deprived children. The director of the charity was there to tell us about its founder (he saved Jewish children from the concentration camps during the war, was captured and tortured by the Gestapo but survived) and his legacy (children’s homes all over Belgium, good works etc.) and to ask for our support. The congregation opened their wallets. The air was full of the sound of crinkling notes (rather than the more normal clinking sounds that accompany the regular collection for church maintenance). I put my head in my handbag. There wasn’t even any change rolling round the bottom. I looked at the floor as the altar boy shoved the plate under my nose and my neighbours retrieved large denomination notes from their Gucci and Prada wallets (this is a very posh church…). All very dreadful. And I still had to face the styrofoam army on the way out.? Felt very bad.
Spent the afternoon wandering around the center trying to find a soft toy for the Princess. Not any old soft toy, you understand. As you know, our baby does not sleep through the night. However, on the plus side she goes to bed at 7.30 without a whimper. This is marvellous. We have dinner in peace, we read the papers and our books, we watch University Challenge. The reason for this bliss is the (imaginatively named) Doggy. We give her Doggy, she grabs his ear and closes her eyes. It’s a small miracle. But recently, we have begun to be haunted by the worry that she might lose Doggy (he travels with us when we go away). What would we do? You have no idea how sad you become when you have a small baby. We contacted the friends who had given us Doggy and asked where they got him. They were surprised and, I think, mildly gratified to discover that their gift had played such an important role in maintaining our sanity but, alas, had no very clear recollection of where they had bought Doggy. We followed their imprecise directions and found nothing except a large and, somewhat expensive, wooden dragon which the Princess enjoyed banging loudly on a cafe table. Not conducive to sleep then. The search for Doggy 2 continues.
on 26 January 2004 at 22:21
on 28 January 2004 at 14:42
on 28 January 2004 at 15:16
As you know, my brain has frazzled and I now only read children’s books. Slowly. Using my index finger and mouthing the words while frowning intently (actually the frowning intently bit is true – anyone for botox?).
Anyhow, I am reading “Maurice or The Fisher’s Cot” which is a recently discovered children’s story by Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame. A lot of the book is intro about the Shelleys and their friends. Poor old Mary Shelley had a miserable life. Consider the following from the introduction:
“Mary….was the child of …the philosopher and novelist William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, famous for her pioneering statement of women’s rights…the birth of the younger Mary killed her mother….When she was sixteen, Mary met…Shelley. He was only twenty-two, with a wife Harriet and a small daughter…Shelley and Mary eloped…leaving…a desperate Harriet, pregnant with her second child. [Mary’s] first child died… Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont had become part of their household….Claire involved herself briefly with Byron and became pregnant by him [more of this later], but it was always Shelley who made himself responsible for her welfare, and many people believed that Mary and Claire shared his sexual attentions..
[I]n 1816 [Mary’s] half-sister Fanny…committed suicide…Shelley’s wife Harriet drowned herself… Shelley married Mary…in the hope of winning custody of his children by Harriet, but failed to do so. He and Mary left for Italy with their two children accompanied by Claire and her daughter by Byron, Allegra…their children died and Mary fell into deep depression”.
But that’s not all, wait until you hear what happened to poor little Allegra. Claire had given Allegra up to Byron (who was in Venice) believeing this to be in the child’s best interests. Allegra was “fifteen months old and never before parted from her mother”. Byron put her into the care of the British Counsul and his wife. Claire got no news of her from Byron but the Consul’s wife “wrote coolly..about Allegra wetting her bed and losing her gaiety of spirit”. The poor little thing. Claire went to Venice in August and Byron allowed her to keep Allegra with her to the end of October when he insisted on having her back. When Byron took Allegra back, he refused to allow Claire to visit or to tell her about Allegra’s health or whereabouts. When she had not seen Allegra for 18 months, Claire wrote begging Byron to let him have her for the summer. He refused. He continued to refuse to let her see Allegra and she continued to beg for access to her daughter. Byron placed Allegra in a convent, she was the youngest child to be admitted and still her mother begged to be let visit her to no avail. Allegra never saw her mother again. She died in the convent;she was only 5. “Mad, bad and dangerous to know” indeed. Isn’t that a heart-rending story?
Today saw the arrival of my first rejection letter.? Gosh, job hunting is depressing. I fear there will be more to come. I also rang a headhunter person today. She told me to send her my CV, so I dutifully composed an email and sent it without attaching my CV. I wonder does this convey quite the impression I was hoping for.
Last night Mr. Waffle and I had the following conversation:
Mr. W: University Challenge is on in 5 minutes.
Me: I know, but we’ll be finished dinner by then.
Mr. W: Have you got your glasses for the picture round?
Me: I can’t remember where I left them…
Mr. W: Are we 70?
Indeed. Anyway, watching University Challenge with Mr. Waffle is truly depressing because he squirrels away useless information so that he can answer all the questions. As half the fun is shouting out the right answer when you know it and he knows all the answers my enjoyment is curtailed. A compromise has emerged. When I know the answer, I shout “don’t answer it” and zoom in with the answer. Mr. Waffle then says right or wrong, before Jeremy Paxman does. Hey, don’t knock it, it works for us.
In an effort to add lustre to our social life we are actually going to leave the house this weekend to go to a party. Our regular babysitter is busy so I spent the evening trying to find a substitute. You will be relieved to hear that success attended my efforts. Details of the glittering social function will doubtless be posted in due course.
on 21 January 2004 at 17:21
Before the Princess was born, I was a really dreadful cook. I could reliably burn instant microwaveable food. However, since the Princess’s birth a weird thing has happened, I have learnt to cook. There are lots of things you can’t do with an awake small baby including reading. One thing that you can do though is cook and, over the last nine months, I’ve been doing lots of it and, slowly but surely, I have been getting better. The one snag is that, so far, I haven’t managed to successfully cook anything for guests but when cooking for two, I really am pretty nifty. Or so says loyal Mr. Waffle. Larger groups are a problem, I lose my nerve and go to pieces.
Last Friday night, I attempted my most ambitious dinner (for two) to date. We had mashed potatoes (ok, so far so uninspiring, but with grated nutmeg note) with a Jamie Oliver roasted lentil thing and duck breast (with apple fried in butter and fanned around it on the plate) and a port sauce. I have to say this was ambitious, perhaps a mite too ambitious. It required lots of having everything ready at the same time, so when poor Mr. Waffle came into the kitchen to innocently inquire whether we needed more stands on the table, he found a snarling wife with a pan in one hand and a bottle of port in the other. That duck fat gets pretty hot, so when I added the port, it went everywhere, Mr. Waffle and I dived for cover in the hall (fortunately, Princess was in bed) and, you will be pleased to hear, sustained no lasting injury. Early Saturday morning, I found Mr. Waffle up a stepladder washing port stains off the kitchen ceiling. Still dinner WAS nice, although I spent the remainder of the evening recovering from the strain of making it.
Sunday night, I decided that we would have roast chicken, so far so easy you may say, but I have a problem with roast chicken, I can’t make gravy. I always just end up with lumps of flour on the whisk. So I followed a recipe I found in Nigella Lawson for gravy without flour. More a jus, apparently. Alas for the jus, I put the chicken on the bottom of the oven. Guess what, you’re not supposed to do that, that’s why they put in all those shelves in. Although the chicken itself was fine, even the addition of white wine and stock didn’t make the juices from the pan taste anything other than pretty unpleasant. No, I am certainly not above instant gravy, but the Belgians are. Bisto and the like are unobtainable in this jurisdiction.
I was reading Nigella Lawson’s thing about chicken and she said that she was a product of her generation and always got fresh organic etc. etc. but for her mother the emphasis was on making indifferent ingredients taste fantastic, mostly by the addition of lots of butter, as I understand it. This struck me as kind of strange, because my mother and I are just the opposite. Not that I look for indifferent ingredients, or that I can necessarily make them taste fantastic but I am not hung up on fresh organic, I mean, I will buy organic if I can, but, if not, then not (except for chicken, battery chickens are too terrifying). My mother on the other hand is a zealot (she is also an excellent cook and perhaps part of the reason I never bothered to learn, competition was just too fierce).
When I was growing up, we had a fishmonger who delivered fresh fish to the door, or sometimes we went into the market to pick up something. The fishmonger knew my mother well and they would have long chats about what fish we should have and what their respective children were doing, driving other waiting customers to the edge of reason. We had a chicken lady for fresh free range chickens. A couple of times a year, my mother would drive to Limerick (about an hour away from our house) and pack the boot of the car with a frozen cow, pig or lamb, cut into pieces (and bagged, and bagged) by the butcher she knew from Bruree near where she grew up. He was a farmer on the side and due to my mother’s local contacts, I suppose, he felt obliged to hand over his best animals. When the Limerick meat ran out, there was always Ashley, her butcher in the market. Ashley, knew a good customer when he saw one and always saluted her cheerily. She began to feel obliged to buy from him every time she passed. To avoid our house overflowing with dead animals, she used to send one of us children in first to check whether Ashley was at his stall and, if not, she would scurry in to make her other purchases. And then there’s the vegetable lady. She supplies organic vegetables and free range eggs. I suppose, when I first heard that there was a vegetable lady, I had certain expectations of what kind of person she might be. I mean, picture to yourself a vegetable lady. Anyhow, she turned up at our front door one day when I was at home, and in this terribly superior English accent said “I’m the vegetable woman, is your mother in?” Bizarre. Still I suppose, fair enough, why shouldn’t she grow organic vegetables in Cork? I was at home one weekend when I was about six months pregnant and she said to me “Oh you’re pregnant, jolly well done.” Very odd.
In other news, Princess has recovered from recent mystery stomach bug but has developed nasty cough. We discovered this last night when we let her cry for an hour between 10.30 and 11.30. One of us went to comfort her every five minutes but it still felt pretty grim leaving a sobbing inconsolable baby behind. Everytime we went in to her, she would wind her chubby little hands around our necks or grab on to hair, nose or ears. It was heartrending, and occasionally painful, disentangling her. Eventually at 11.30 she developed an alarming cough so, we abandoned our attempt and brought her into our bed for the night. Even I can see that we are sending out mixed messages. I am sure that Gina would not approve. There was an article in yesterday’s English Independent about her. Some unfortunate journalist had a two and a half year old who woke up to play every morning between 4.00 and 8.00. To summarise the article, not now post Gina he doesn’t. Gina said a revealing thing as reported in the article: “Mothers don’t like to apply my methods because it interferes with their lunches at Cafe Rouge”. I think that this is perhaps a little unfair. Firstly, because, I feel, most mothers are motivated by their child’s best interests and, if that means no Cafe Rouge lunches, then, I suspect, most mothers would say fine. Secondly, I think that the real reason mothers don’t like Gina’s methods is because they sound heartless (though I would concede that they may be short term heartless, but long term better for baby etc.). Finally, food in Cafe Rouge is kind of mediocre anyway, so why would you bother. Do you think Gina is a little disapproving of mothers?
Finally, went wild at sales and bought baby clothes that Princess does not need. Must stop buying baby clothes before I beggar us.
on 21 February 2004 at 18:19
I feel compelled to share my breast feeding experience with the world. Ok, with the three of you who are reading.
Before the Princess was born, like all good aspiring parents we did an ante-natal course. Part of this involved a session with a breast-feeding counsellor. The whole thing was organised by the BCT which is related to the UK childbirth trust. They are very right on in the BCT. They do not believe in infant formula or pain relief. But that was fine then because I was ignorant (forced to admit that I was NEVER going to do the natural birth thing) and didn’t believe that there would be any difficulty.
The breastfeeding counsellor was a Canadian who also teaches yoga. She refuses to use Nestle products because of their general vileness in promoting formula consumption in the third world. I don’t want to sound prejudiced here, but I think this tells you a lot about the type of person she was. I mean, it’s not that I’m in favour of Nestle’s policies or against yoga. I also have nothing against Canadians. No truly, Mr. Waffle was born in Canada and due to their generous citizenship policy has a Canadian passport of which he is very proud. I digress. Anyhow, we all sat around wondering whether we would have to bare our breasts (this was before our first babies were born and we still had a sense of natural modesty). No, but we did have to talk about our breastfeeding history. Was I breastfed? In fact, yes. Mr. Waffle was not breastfed but his siblings were. Ms. BF Counsellor was fascinated “really and is there any difference between how you and your siblings have turned out?” Mr. Waffle, thoughtfully “well, they’re both shorter than me”. Ms. BFC, hissing, “well, I’m sure that that has nothing to do with breastfeeding”. She kind of left us alone after that except to make a number of comments on the famous Irish love of alcohol, which was a little odd and didn’t exactly endear her further to us.
Anyhow, I intended to breastfeed and really didn’t expect to have any problems. And, if I had, hey, I could always give the baby a bottle. The Princess was born and, as you will have noticed, she is the most perfect baby ever created etc. And she was tiny (I know, they’re all tiny) and she was so indignant and kind of miserable to be out in the world where people made her wear scratch mittens. And I was desperate to breastfeed her and comfort her. But we just could not get the hang of it (note how I share the blame here). And she kept losing weight. They wouldn’t let me leave the hospital until she started putting on weight. After 6 days, I was getting desperate. All of the nurses were really supportive and helpful. Except one. She was horrible.? Even her colleagues thought she was horrible. So imagine my horror when I came back to my room after a quick trip out to find this awful nurse feeding my Princess from a bottle. I was gutted. Princess, was loving it though. Let’s remember she was starving. Rotten nurse was very smug. Princess started to put on weight and we were allowed to go home.
I was in a dilemma then. Would I continue feeding my baby from the evil bottle or would I try breast? Fabulous as breast milk was etc., I didn’t want the child to starve. I rang my mother who dispensed lots of advice. She came to Brussels to dispense advice in person. But I just couldn’t get the hang of it. And it was sore? Man, it was sore. This is where the internet becomes a nightmare, it is full of smug sites advising “breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt, if it hurts, you are doing it incorrectly and your child is not being properly fed”. So I was in agony and she was starving. We continued on a mostly bottle regime with occasional breast agony. Cabbage leaves are recommended for sore breasts. I tried this out one evening. We went round to the Glam Potter’s for dinner. She has a baby six weeks older than the Princess, so is also in baby mode. Halfway through dinner, her husband said, “where is that awful smell of boiled cabbage coming from?” It was me, the cabbage had cooked on my poor, sore, inflamed breasts. You’d think I’d be mortified, but no, I said “Oh that must be me”, hauled out the cabbage leaves and left them on a side plate. In extenuation, I would point out that GP was having difficulty breast feeding also and, like me, liable to haul our her breasts and baby at the slightest provocation and ask strangers where she was going wrong. If you might take my advice on this, hold off doing that because there are people out there to whom I now regret showing my breasts (this must be what it’s like to be a minor starlet).
So desperate was I that I rang the breast feeding counsellor. She said, “oh it’s too late now – this was about a month in – you’ll never get her to take breast. Why did you give her a bottle in the first place?” I explained about her losing weight, the hospital, the paediatrician’s concerns. She said “you must change your paediatrician to one who supports breast feeding”. This wasn’t really the advice I was looking for. It just made me feel bad. Mr. Waffle suggested I invite her over for a cup of Nestle instant coffee and a kitkat as revenge.
Finally, I found something on the internet. Corky, a very appropriate name in the circumstances, has a free on-line latch on video. And it’s brilliant, it saved my bacon and I finally got the hang of breastfeeding. And despite the fact that my baby had lots and lots of bottles over a two month period, from month 3 on she became an exclusively breastfed baby and I stopped having sore breasts. So, for what it’s worth, these people who say that your baby will never go back to breast after getting a bottle are wrong. So, don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t work out at first. And even if it doesn’t work out at all, I don’t think it really matters that much (although I defy anyone to think that when they are holding their precious new born infant). After all Mr. Waffle was bottle fed and he turned out very tall…
So given my triumph in breastfeeding my baby, I am somewhat reluctant to give up. The WHO guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months and complementary breastfeeding up to age two or beyond. I am not going to go on until age 2 which I think is a little weird (though, as time goes on, I find it increasingly less weird, which is a bit worrying), but I think I might continue until 1. In my heart of hearts, I suspect that the breast feeding is part of the reason our baby refuses to sleep (bottle fed babies sleep way better than breast fed babies – hey, telling it like it is). Breastmilk being the most fantastically, wonderful food for babies, it’s very easily digestible (unlike evil formula) and so the baby’s stomach feels emptier faster. But hey, lack of sleep isn’t so bad. Of course, there is also the social aspect. My little brother is very down on breastfeeding. It makes him zoom out of the room. He came to visit recently and asked whether I could at least not do it in public (no, that wasn’t actually the reason for his visit). I think it was for that reason that I chose to breastfeed my baby in the trendy Bodega when I was at home in Cork. He nearly collapsed when I told him. As I explained to him, obviously, I had a sign round my neck identifying myself as his sister. He said in anguished tones “My friend’s baby is only two weeks old and he’s getting a bottle, why do you have to do this?” Ah, if only he’d been around earlier, he could have enjoyed the bottle phase. I pointed out to him that he was breastfed himself. His face on hearing this indicated two things: 1. he did not know that and 2. had he been in a position to choose at the time, he would not have hesitated to go for bottle.
And, if any of you expectant mothers are reading this, the birth was fine. It was the easiest part. Honest. Congratulations to Belgium the home of the epidural – not to be confused with the Netherlands where almost everyone has a natural home birth. And can I recommend a funny book?Vicky Iovinehas written a guide to pregnancy and a guide to motherhood. They’re not bad and something of a relief given all the other stuff about. Jojo, I fear that they may be stealing your thunder a bit..
And finally, my own mother feels that, perhaps, my last entry reflected negatively on her. Was I indicating that becoming my mother was a bad thing. No, clearly not, just a surprising thing – ah, the wicked flee where no man pursueth…now that I am a mother myself, I am much, more appreciative of my own mother who is proving her ongoing dedication by being a guaranteed audience of 1 for my blog.
Ah, is that a baby’s cry I hear in the background? Must go.
on 15 January 2004 at 11:20
on 15 January 2004 at 15:36
on 17 January 2004 at 16:06
on 19 January 2004 at 14:17
on 20 January 2004 at 02:49
on 21 January 2004 at 00:07
on 10 May 2005 at 18:01
Belgianwaffle – I had to comment about your breastfeeding saga! I was determined to breastfeed as well when my oldest was born 14 years ago.
It ended up being an emergency C-Section. When I was in the recovery room, the nurse did a quick blood test on him before she was going to hand him over for me to nurse. Just before she could, she saw the results of the blood test and whisked my sick little boy away to ICU. He had dangerously low blood sugar and had to be put on an IV.
I didn’t get to hold him for 9 hours! I was devastated! My husband kept giving me updates on him tho. When I finally got a chance to hold and nurse him, he wouldn’t. Apparently the nurses didn’t get my memo that he was to be exclusively breastfed and gave him a bottle of formula. I was livid… quietly of course…
I had such trouble nursing, SOOO SORE!! I had a couple relatives recommend just bottle feeding him, but I didn’t care what they said. The nurses all helped me try to get him to latch on. I had 3 nurses helping him get his mouth on at one point. Why did I need a robe?!?! I had lost all modesty at that point and whipped my gown open for the air conditioner guy once.
The best advice I got was from the male ICU nurse! He explained my own anatomy of my breast to me and told me to relax. It wasn’t immediate help, but it was very comforting! The clearest advice I’d gotten.
After 3 days I went home with our bundle of boy. It took him about 3 months to learn how to latch on correctly. I used bag balm (made him barf!), all types of creams to make the soreness go away. I even used nipple guards for nursing. How the heck do you use those things!?! What a waste of money!
I nursed him until he was about 9 months old. Saved a TON on formula!
My 2nd and 3rd kids I nursed until they were each one. Working fulltime, I might add! I used a breastpump and kept the milk in the freezer in sandwich baggies. My babysitters would thaw it in a bowl of warm water and stick it in a bottle. Worked great! Only had a male co-worker walk into my office once when I was doing this. He didn’t look me in the eye again for a few years!
To this day, when my husband is trying to get out of our kids what secret present we’re keeping from him is, they say a breastpump. My youngest has no idea what it is, but knows it makes Dad laugh!
What a nice blog site, BTW!
on 12 May 2005 at 19:30