Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where does Mum stop and Baby start?

This is a reflective random post that I was thinking of whilst (still!) uploading photos of our vacation.

Every other mommy that I know (including my own!) had morning sickness whilst pregnant. I had a dream pregnancy with no symptoms. Even the yoga-as-pain-relief delivery worked pretty fine, except for that retained placenta blood loss which made me feel like roadkill for a while, but at least I was unconcious for the gruesome bits.

So when my friend Elaine asked me to give her the down and dirty details of motherhood, I couldn't really tell her any horror stories about pregnancy and childbirth. The biggest mothehood challenge for me is figuring out where Sophie starts and I end.

In the begining, I meant this quite literally, because Sophie used to think that she was one long extension of my boob. Now we are working on getting a feed/nap schedule cast in stone (after the general chaos of holiday travel), so the question morphs to one of parenting philosophy.

Having a baby is a tremendous incursion on your personal freedom. Okay, so you exercised freedom of choice to have a baby, but how much does that curtail what you subsequently do? I don't have any great insights into the matter, but I can share 3 examples of how I put into practice my own philosophy of where that balance is struck.

First I've chosen to nurse Sophie for a reasonably long period of time (at least 6 months). Her pedeatrician (*French of course!) agreed that I can drink alcohol, preferably just after the last feed of the night, because it would have gone from my system before her next feed 6 hours later. So I usually have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner after Sophie has gone to bed. The only thing is, sometimes she is still hungry after her last feed, and wants a second helping. So she gets the alcohol in the milk once in a while. Does that mean a complete ban for me? Hell, no. She's getting a taste for Pauillac really early. Check out how she grabs that champagne flute.

Second I drag a 10 week old Sophie on a last minute holidays with me, because I want to do the same kind of stuff I used to do before having her. I don't know if she enjoyed it as much as I did, because she sure won't remember any of this. But it may have delayed her development of a regular schedule. Oh well, guess we have to work on it now that we are back in Turin.

Third I realise that buying her lots of entertaining toys really means buying myself some time on the computer to keep in touch with family and friends by email, skype or this blog. My full time job is showing Sophie lots of new stuff, reading her books, and translating wookie-speak into actual mom-commands. But do you read personal email whilst you are in the office? You need breaks in any full time job, and "Mom" is 24/7 FULL time .. I will be the first to admit that Sophie's toys are for my benefit! Maybe she could be even smarter or develop even faster, if I spent more time with her and less on my laptop. But I have chosen my own pleasure and entertainment over those marginal minutes of interaction time with my kid. But hey - she doesn't seem to mind.

Do those examples make me out to be a selfish or irresponsible mommy?

I don't think so.

But it is figuring out the answers to questions like these which constitute (for me anyway) the biggest challenges of motherhood.

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