Pip’s Mummy: Breastfeeding Goddess!

First Bottle of Formula

First Bottle of Formula

This is Pip’s first-ever bottle of formula. Which I fed him when he was nine months and one week old. For more than nine months the only thing he drank, aside from water with his solids, was breast milk. His mummy is a breastfeeding goddess!

One learns a lot of new terms when you have a baby turn up in your life. “Let down” describes how well milk comes from a mother’s breasts, as does “flow”. Pip’s mummy has an epic letdown and a flow like a garden hose. When Pip was two days old we popped back into the hospital to get some instructions on breast feeding. While there, Mummy expressed about 30 milliliters of colostrum. This we’re told is a lot of colostrum, it was certainly the envy of every other mother we told about it.

In his first few weeks, Pip had quite a lot of gas, partly because he was being inundated with breast milk. The poor fellow was swallowing as best he could, but getting lots of air at the same time. There was lots of burping and barfing. But he thrived – in nine months he’s more than tripled his birth weight.

Early on D started expressing with the Vuvuzela, as we call our breast pump. We fed Pip this milk when he was out with people or later at child care. And… well, look what happened:

Cataloging The Milk

Cataloging The Milk

This is about half the breast milk we had in the freezer. Ten minutes on the breast pump, and D produced 120 mls of milk. Her body was just very very ready to be a mummy, very ready to supply our hungry little fellow.

And now, much to our sadness, we have to start weening him, for reasons I’d rather not go into. The taps are going to have to be slowly turned off on D’s chest. Currently he has one bottle of formula a day, soon it’ll be two, and so on till that’s the only milk that he gets. D is quite sad. Breast feeding is such an intimate thing, such a bond between a mother and child. Still, we’re doing way better than average. In this country most babies are not breastfed beyond six months. I can understand why – it can be hard work, not all mothers have an amazing supply like D, and things like work interferes with it. Which is a pity, it’s clearly very good for the baby. So D has done a marvelous job of providing for our fat little imp.

And sadly sometimes it seems that Pip prefers the formula to the breast. One night recently he pushed away and fussed until we gave him a bottle. D was non-plussed, despite my protestations that she is in fact a very good mummy.

One day soon, hopefully a couple of months from now, Pip will have his last breast feed. There may well be tears, but D has done a fantastic job. So three cheers for Pip’s mummy, Breastfeeding Goddess!

The Ongoing Mouth Feel Experiment

Babies are experimental scientists. This is the theory a friend of ours has. Let’s test this theory shall we?

One thing about being a baby – everything is new and odd and to be explored. Initially this means learning how to breathe, and slowly how to use one’s limbs and face. And then things that us adults take for granted, like gravity.

Pip’s favourite ongoing experiment is what I call the ongoing mouth feel experiment. You’ve all seen babies performing this one, the method is simple – if I can grab it, it goes in my mouth! Toys, adults fingers, rocks, grass, dust bunnies, everything. I tried it out with one of Pip’s bath toys, a small plastic purple octopus. And you know what, it was really interesting! This little toy had lots of fun lumpy surfaces which I could feel on my tongue, and I could squeeze it with my mouth in a delightful way. Try it for yourself, although I couldn’t persuade D to have a turn.

The other experiment common to Pip and all babies is the “Does Gravity Work?” experiment. This again has a very simple methodology. All you need is an object in your hand – food, toy, water bottle, anything. Then, sitting in a sufficiently high place, a high chair is ideal, drop the object and observe what happens. Repeat the experiment as often as possible, although this will be limited by the parameter called “parental patience”. And repeat it with different objects on different days – does gravity affect this cup? Does gravity work on a Tuesday? What about at Grandpa’s place? The variations are endless!

I’d like to play a little trick on Pip one day, attach a fine thread to something he likes to drop, and then have him look in wonder as it floats in mid-air! I imagine this would trigger another extensive round of experimentation.

Other experiments Pip conducts: The head shaking experiment. The protocol is simple, shake one’s head like you’re saying “no”. This makes the world look all jittery and interesting.

The “what are these things on the end of my legs?” experiment. Feet, you know, they’re strange and curious and must be studied.

And then of course there’s the “What’s this thing in my groin region that feels so good to play with?” Boys stop conducting this experiment when they’re about twenty five years old.

So the next time your kid flings something on the floor, or chews mown grass or stares at his toes, think of the little baby as a budding researcher, studying the world.

Pip At Six Months

Has it really been six months? My goodness, it’s only been six months!


Pip at 1 day

Pip at 6 months

Pip at 6 months

Our “little” baby is already half a year old. He’s on track to be triple his birth weight soon, and is 15 centimetres longer than when he was born. And yet this is apparently typical of babies – he’s bang on the fiftieth percentile for growth and weight. There must be some really big babies out there if he’s average!

It amazes me because he plays on the floor in the exact spot where D was kneeling whilst in labour with him. He was inside just six months ago, now he’s a little person holding things with his hands, eating solid food and growing.

If you looked at two pictures of me taken six months apart, there’s be no difference. I’d probably be wearing the same tshirt, might have gotten some new glasses. But I haven’t done any actual growing since about 1990. Whereas Pip… Well, the pictures don’t do it justice, although you can see how his little face has filled out.

Here’s another shot:

Pip with his first outfit

Pip with his first outfit

He fitted into that outfit in his first few weeks.

I’m still amazed that he exists. Almost every day I exclaim “Look, we made a person!” to D, who has taken to just rolling her eyes when I do. We did make him, although it was D that did most of the work, there in her belly. And now we get to bring him up, which I’m looking forward to.

Songs I Sing to my Son

This is something of a follow up to my earlier post on the same subject.

Babies love to hear singing. Even if the singing is not that good. They love music too – we have a CD player in Pip’s room which is usually playing something decent. Currently it’s playing Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” album. Jazz from that era is great if a baby is trying to sleep. Hopefully all the music I play him will give him some musical taste, but I’ve also caught D playing him Kylie!

I’ve printed out lyrics for some of my favourite songs, picking those which have lots of words and a pleasant enough tune. My taste tends toward industrial music, dubstep, underground industrial hip-hop, rivethead and indeed 80’s American punk. Which makes finding songs to sing to Pip a challenge. It’s not so easy to sing Ministry songs for example, they have few words, they’re always weird and distorted, and Alien Jourgensen (yes that’s really his name) has a voice like a band saw. And… he tends to sing a lot about his heroin habit!

Choosing a song is complicated. As well as lots of words, it’s got to have some kind of tune that I can at least attempt to sing. The song “Pets” by Porno for Pyro sounded like fun, but when I went looking at the lyrics, there’s not really that many of them. Contrast that with “Grand Ol’ Party Crash” by Cage, which has a lot of lyrics delivered at a frenetic pace. Tried to sing that one, ran out of breath.

Thankfully Pip is too young to understand the content of the songs I sing him. I have found some which are to both our likings, such as “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Aeroplane, “Tomorrow Wendy” by Andy Prieboy and “Restin’ Bones” by Primus. Although… you notice all of these tracks are about drugs or death or both! I’ll have to learn some new stuff before he’s too old.

Now for an embarrassing confession. The only song I sing him that I know all the words to is… “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple. I learned the whole song after I heard the story behind the track. Short version: the band was in Montreux in Switzerland, on the shore of lake Geneva, to record an album. During a Frank Zappa concert a fan set the main venue in the town, the casino, on fire – hence “smoke on the water”. This was also where they were trying to record their album, so they had to find another place to record. I’ve been to Montreux, so for some reason this song stuck!

It’s the best thing in the whole world when I can sing him to sleep. He has to be on his way there already, but still in need of some help to fall asleep. The other night I sang him to sleep in my arms, he had a cute half smile on his face, which made me feel like I was really succeeding at this daddy thing.

Here then are some of the songs I sing to him now:

(Yay an Australian track.)

(Yay another Australian track.)

My Sponsor Child turns Ten today



This is Jannatun, my tiny sponsor child in Bangladesh. Today is her tenth birthday. I’ve been sponsoring her since March of 2011, after reading a particularly sad story about young girls in developing nations. This picture of her, and the other photos I have, always make me sad. She has such a look in her eyes, which might just be because she’s not used to being photographed. It also makes me sad because she is just one of millions, nay, billions of sad little children in the world.

One of my cousin’s has a little girl who is almost the same age as Jannatun, almost to the day. She’s so full of life, she’s always jumping up and down with excitement about everything. I hope that at least sometimes Jannatun feels that way. At least I know that she’s going to school and is being looked after.

I have no idea how long a child sponsorship lasts, presumably until she’s eighteen. I can easily afford to support her for another eight years. Although I do worry that one day I’ll get a message saying she’s moved to a big city to work in a garment factory, or has been married off at to young an age. Or worse still, this being Bangladesh, that her whole village has been washed away…

I’ll show pictures of her to Pip when he’s a bit older. Just to remind the both of us that we live in paradise.

Fat baby is fat

Pip is one fat baby. He looks like a series of rolls of fat, with some hands and feet sticking out the ends. He’s been gaining about 600 grams a month. Breast milk must be pure fat – and D makes a lot of it. She also has what they call fast let down, which just means there’s a veritable gush of milk from her right from the start of a feed.

And yet the little man, who is five months old now, is apparently average. Babies must be big these days…!

Some New Phrases for you Lexicon

Rorschach Ink Blot test

Rorschach Ink Blot test

Rorschach Poo: When the contents of your baby’s nappy looks like an ink-blot.

Macbeth Poo: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
– Macbeth, scene 5.

Looking Forward to Winter

Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming

It’s approaching winter here (Melbourne, Australia) and for a change I’m looking forward to it. I’m half Dutch, and the rest is Scandinavian, Irish and goodness knows what else. European, basically, which means I really should be north of the Arctic circle herding reindeer or farming tulips in a bog somewhere in the Netherlands – and not sunning myself in the antipodes!

But winter can be grim here. Less so than it used to be, I remember it being a lot colder with a lot more ice back when I was a kid in the 70’s. It’s never snowed at this level, and it very very rarely gets below zero degrees Celsius. But it does get cold.

This year, however, I’m looking forward to breaking out my collection of warm clothes. My (very worn) long black coat, my ancient leather jacket, gloves, scarves etc. And dressing entirely in black like the born-and-bred Melbournian I am. When it’s hot there’s really not a lot you can do to stay cool, whereas the cold can be dealt with with many an extra layer of clothing. I hate the heat, so the second option is somewhat better.

But also this year I have a new and excellent reason to be at home in my warm house of an evening – a little baby called Pip! Now I have an excellent excuse to curl up on the floor in front of the heater. Now I don’t mind that it’s cold at night and it gets dark early, I can play on the rug till my little man falls asleep. Getting home from work is going to be quite different, even if the rain is pouring down. So here I am, looking forward to winter, maybe stomping in the front door with rain dripping from my coat or indeed my cycling gear, to greet my partner and my baby and get some warm cuddling going on.

Lactation Is An Excellent way to Lose Weight

I’ve just found another reason why it’d be great if men could lactate. D is losing body fat all over while she breast feeds Pip. She’s eating like a horse, but Pip just drains it out of her and adds it to his already plump body.

Now if only I could get my otherwise superfluous nipples to make some milk, I might be able to loose some of my excess body fat, and still eat way too much ice cream. Although having to milk myself every day would be inconvenient, perhaps I could get some other part of my body to lactate constantly, then catch it in a bag. Wait, no, that just sounds disgusting. Ah well, I’ll just have to learn some impulse control!

Back to work, Monkey Boy

I was lucky enough to have three weeks of paternity and annual leave from the time when Pip was born. Which meant we had three weeks to establish patterns and get used to this whole being parents thing. Pip still hasn’t quite settled into a pattern yet, although he’s getting better – he has actually slept through the night a few times, and has taken to sleeping in four hour blocks. But I did get to spend three weeks with Pip and D, sleeping when he slept, holding him at 4AM when he needed it, getting burps out.

After three weeks off, I worked part time for a couple of weeks. Now I’m back on the full time treadmill. But because Pip was born only a few weeks into the new year, and with the addition of holidays and the like, I’ve only worked four five day weeks so far this year. This week will be the fifth, so I’m girding myself for it. I fully expect to lose my shit sometime around 11AM on Thursday!

Work has also changed for me, because now I’m working for Pip, I gotta pay the rent and keep him in nappies. Concentrates one’s mind a bit more.

Being a parent really does chew up one’s spare time, which in fact I full expected. Goes with the territory. Thankfully I’m enjoying it no end, watching my baby grow and pull faces.