Friday, December 30, 2005

Back At Work

Omigod! Back at work after a year of maternity leave and LIFE IS HARD. My mind feels all blurred and baby soft - well you have to slow down when you're having kids, it's just necessary. And the long journey to North London that once was nothing much is now a massive inconvenience! Not to speak of the viccissitudes of breastfeeding around an 8 or 12 hour shift - sometimes I think my relief will come into the station and find me splattered on the ceiling in bits of blood and milk. Then my breasts ache all the way home ... garn!

Today the other half is using up the last packet of frozen milk so from tomorrow on her ladyship will be on cow's milk. She's done very well I think; exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and she'll be 13 months old when she gets her first cup or bottle of cow's milk. Very satisfactory. Never a spot of the devil's milk either; I wouldn't even know how to mix the stuff. I am disgusted to report that the first time I ever saw the stuff was at my local baby weighing clinic. The receptionist tried to tell me Jen was crying from hunger at 4 months, when I'd tried to feed her sweet potato due to peer pressure, and I needed to buy a massive tin of formula from her (at a subsidised price, disgusting) to dump down the baby. I thought I reacted quite tactfully. Steve was with me that afternoon; he said I looked as though she'd suggested I poison Jennifer. I felt she had! Why would I spend my hard earned cash on some industrial item when my body's already laboured to make a far superior product? Why, why would anyone feed a child on cow's milk when there are lactating females of your own species everywhere? I've only heard of one woman in the modern era advertising for a wet nurse, but I'm sure if anyone did they'd find plenty of volunteers. You could even have gotten me to express milk for your baby in my mass producing days, 6 months ago.

Personally I feel that the existence of baby formula is a paternalistic design to undermine the value of a woman-produced product; if it didn't exist everyone would breastfeed, and if men routinely breastfed it would be thought insulting to try and market a competing product. In fact if one day men do choose to breastfeed as an ordinary thing, I bet formula will die back to its status in New Guinea - a prescription only item where your doctor has to explain why neither of you is able to produce milk for the baby. Or rather where you have to explain to your doctor. That's not what would bother people of course - it's the explaining to your mother and your sister and your mummy circle; getting the look on buses and in the clinic when you whip out a bottle to stick into your precious newborn's mouth; and explaining to your mother in law. That's the true hurdle. If once everyone assumes 'baby milk' means breastmilk, not some nerdy powder, then the world's babies will be set, and the environment won't have to absorb the effects of processes adulterating cows' or goats' or soya milk for human babies.


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