Mother’s Milk

davWhen I had my first child I planned on breastfeeding. It wasn’t as easy as I expected. I heard a lot of myths from many people, including health professionals, and as a somewhat naive first time parent I believed them. I stuck with it, I didn’t really enjoy it for a long time and I chalked it up to parenting being a bit of a boring, hard slog most of the time.

Second time around it was easier and harder. My second child refused any attempt at bottle feeding and after a stressful few tries I gave up trying and just fed him myself. I never, ever expected to feed him until he was four and a half and if you’d told me that when he was four weeks old I probably would have thrown something at you and told you to get out of the house.

This time it’s been easy and hard. Easy because I know what I’m doing and because I know what feeding a newborn is like. I’ve surrendered to the hours spent cluster feeding and feeling a bit annoyed that baby is hungry yet again. I know more about how my body works and how babies work. I know everything is a phase and that this stage won’t last forever.

When pregnant I looked into breast pumps and decided to take a chance on a very basic silicon one which wasn’t very expensive. Pumping didn’t work for me the first time or the second time around, but this pump has been a revelation. There’s no bits which can break and it’s very easy to use. I don’t use it every day, just when I feel a bit touched out and that a break would be nice.

I bought one baby bottle because I know better than to buy things which don’t end up being using. One glass bottle with a rubber nipple seems to be doing the job I need it to do.

There’s a lot of politics around breastfeeding. Ireland produces vast quantities of infant formula and there’s no laws on marketing infant formula for babies aged six months, hence the odious follow on milk adverts which never fail to irk me. I’ve never, ever had a bad experience breastfeeding in public, and I’ve feed my children everywhere from a church funeral to a rugby match.

I’m not quite sure what prompted me to write this today, but it’s a good day for me and baby and breastfeeding feels easy right now. I can leave the house with a minimal amount of baby stuff and food which is ready to go at any time.

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Mother’s Milk

Not Quite There Yet

rhdrThis isn’t from when we voted to repeal the eighth amendment, rather it’s a photo of the most recent presidential election and referendum vote. I think every time I pass this polling station, which is on my way to the DART station I use to get to work, I’ll think of the 25th of May 2018.

While the eighth amendment is gone, the proposed legislation is still wending its way through the Oireachtas and will be debated this week. Pro and anti choice amendments have been tabled and we need to let our elected representative know that we haven’t gone away and we still want access to free, safe and legal abortion for pregnant people in Ireland.

I’ve been meaning to get around to using Who Is My TD again to follow up on previous contacts with my TDs. I have a sleeping baby right now so I’m putting this precious time to good use. Please do the same, if you can.

Not Quite There Yet

Nesting

davI had a huge urge to nest during pregnancy, but not the physical ability to do so. Thanks to having what I’m tentatively calling A Good Baby, I’ve been able to find some moments nearly every day to do a little pruning of nooks and crannies in our house. While I’m trying my best not to bring too much stuff into the house and instead cut back on what we already have, this corner has been in need of a lamp since we took down our Christmas tree last year and didn’t put back the bookshelf that used to be here. I spotted this lamp in IKEA yesterday and loved it. It works really well for this space and was an absolute bargain, not to mention energy efficient.

Nesting

Tiny Sparks of Joy

davFinding some perfect stocking fillers, like Frida Kahlo in felt form, in the National Gallery shop.

Leaving Holles Street for the last time after having a baby. I’m putting this into the joy part of my head even though I’ve been feeling a bit down knowing I’ll never go through pregnancy again.

Seeing relatives I haven’t seen for far too long, even though it was for the tiniest amount of time.

New to me cups from my mum. I’m looking forward to using them during the festive season.

Ticking some jobs off our to-do list. Not quite there but getting started is half the battle.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Six Years

norThis day six years ago I went on my very first march ever. I had been shocked to my  very core by what happened to Savita. I remember exactly where I was when I heard that she had died following a miscarriage, having been refused an abortion. I had given birth a few months earlier that year and I hadn’t really understood how the eighth amendment affected me. I had associated it with not being able to get an abortion here in Ireland and people having to travel but it seemed to be a somewhat ephemeral concept, affecting Other People.

I don’t think I slept very well the night the news was reported, via the Irish Times, on Vincent Browne’s late night TV show. The next morning I donated to an abortion rights campaign and cried my eyes out listening to various radio shows discussing what had happened. It shouldn’t be the case that you only start understanding what this type of law means when you think it can affect you, but that’s how I processed the story. I remember RTE having a panel discussion before the Dáil session was to start, and one of the political correspondents wryly commenting that there were three men discussing abortion in 2012 in Ireland.

On this day six years ago we met a friend and marched with our baby from O’Connell Street to Merrion Square. I remember it raining a bit and being a very gloomy afternoon. I remember walking as it got darker and darker, and the candles being lit, and seeing banners with Savita’s face and thinking with horror that this could be anyone, including me, who is pregnant in Ireland right now.

We didn’t stay for all the speeches but that day was a turning point. The next march we went on was with two children and a greater sense of purpose. The abortion rights movement was shifting gear following the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. On yet another march we wore our REPEAL sweatshirts and were joined by more and more people we knew.

I have been pregnant twice since the death of Savita and the eighth amendment was on my mind throughout both pregnancies. I didn’t want to be the next catalyst for social change and I regret that it took a name and a story like hers to push me and others forward. It’s so bloody unfair that, as a prochoice doctor said, if she had been able to have an abortion we wouldn’t even know her name.

Six years is a long time and yet no time at all. Thousands of people have had to travel for health care since that march. Thousands of people changed their minds and decided that yes, they trusted people and while they might make different choices we needed to change the way we treat pregnant people in Ireland. There has been a lot of hurt and I know many felt excluded by the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment. I know the proposed legislation isn’t perfect and that implementation of same is going to be another painful process. I know we could have done more and we should have known what affect this law has had on the generations before us.

In September last year I sat with friends after a march and drank wine and was convinced that we had a lot more convincing to do if we were going to get a yes vote on repealing the eighth amendment. I’m very, very glad I was wrong and that one moment I will always remember is just after 10pm on the 25th May 2018 when I saw the Irish Times exit poll predicting a landslide victory for repeal.

In six years’ time I hope I’m still thinking of Savita and the debt I owe her and the changes that have happened since that march. And I hope her parents know how many people think of her still and worked to change the law so that we won’t need to know the names of other people because they’ve been able to access the care they need rather than dying needlessly.

Thank you, Savita.

Six Years

Tiny Sparks of Joy

nfdFinally figuring out how to add photos to the blog. By which I mean finally deciding that a few photos would probably spruce things up a bit.

Making something junky into something pretty and useful (see above). We vaguely followed this method which worked fine but next time I’d fill the paper cupcake cases we used right to the top.

Two slower days at the start of the week thanks to school being cancelled. It was all the fun of snow days with none of the hassle.

Tackling the myriad small DIY jobs that have been hanging over us. We’re on a mission this weekend.

Eating my first mince pie of the season and having strangers make the day a little brighter with their compliments.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

100 Years

Armistice day isn’t something I remember growing up but I do remember the first time I read about the Great War. It was in the book Rilla of Ingleside and I was quite confused by it the first time around. It wasn’t my favourite of the Green Gables series so I didn’t reread it as much as the others and I’m fairly certain I read it out of sequence to add to the puzzlement.

It’s not a typical book about war because it’s about the home front, even more so becasue it concentrates on the Canadian home front and the women left behind while their sons, brothers, husbands and sweethearts headed off to war in Europe. I’ve reread it a lot as an adult and it has been on my mind in recent days.

On my mind too is a book of war poetry my father gave me. I’m not a huge poetry lover but these are poems I return to, because the older I get the more I get from them.

I watched the memorial services on CNN and the BBC this morning. Two minutes silence isn’t very long really, considering what the silence is meant to stand for.

100 Years