giovedì, dicembre 13, 2012


New lessons from motherhood: breastmilk is delicious. At least mine is. Tastes downright sugary, like a super-delicious creamy melon thing. No wonder the Godzilla goes nuts for it.

Thinking a lot about fatherhood recently, probably because of being a mother and having a nice father for the Godzilla. And realizing the degree to which I as a mother in a welfare state am supported, and the degree to which the F-word as a father isn't. The "parental leave" is meant to be transferrable - meaning both parents can assume the "primary" role in theory. In practice, the fucking noobs he spoke to at Centrelink didn't think it was possible and were shocked when he could point them to the literature, plain as day on their website, explaining it was. Also in practice, the paid leave needs to be taken in a block - I believe that's exceptional - in most of Europe it can be taken in the first three years of the kid's life - which is another obstacle to sharing it out as BOTH parents need it.

And as I deal with public health nurses and parenting groups - ah. Cabin fever and a degree of loneliness as my besties in Canada and Europe breed and remind me of our isolation here, I've had to stop going. It is fucking disgusting - I can't stand these great big hormonal clusterfucks of gender exclusivity, male or female. I mean there are no men at the parenting groups here. Just great flocks of women. I suppose partly because they're all during the day and the men can't get leave and so many women here don't work, but if I was a man and wandered into one of those things, I would be so miserably uncomfortable.

The first parenting group I went to, they gave me three publications: a magazine featuring a kazillion local retailers where I could buy baby crap, a soft'n'cuddly book about the first three years of life, and 'something for your husband' - a fucking,  a fucking manual about babies, done in the style of a car manual, ergo est breastmilk = "fuel", diapers being "under the hood", and lines like

"To make enough breast milk, mum needs rest, sleep and food. Your help is vital. Cooking, cleaning, answering the phone, entertaining guests, shopping, doing the laundry and dishes, along with all the things you did before, are a few small things that will keep the breast milk flowing."

Now I understand that a lot of you love truncheon monkies out there are pretty unreconstructed, but how the fuck is this sort of talking down to men like they're fundamentally useless plonkers supposed to be good for anybody? And I write this from Australia, where men do run toward the "fundamentally useless plonker" end of the range with astonishing regularity in families where they aren't relegated to the role of hands-off primary breadwinner.

Anyways, I don't have enough sleep to launch into a real rant about masculinity in Australia but I just wanted to point out that attentive fathers have suddenly become devastatingly sexy to me, possibly because the love of my life has just become one and my hormones haven't betrayed us. Consider this Baby Bjorn demonstration video, that I watched after buying one the other day to make sure I knew how to use it.

The "product developer" in it is an absolutely bog-standard looking Swedish male (alright, bog standard in Sweden is a few steps up from bog standard in many other places, but nonetheless, he's not that hot Swedish guy from that show about vampires that's got the little girl from The Piano in it.)  But because he's handling infants tenderly without breaking them, I just think he's marvellous.

Also I've taken to watching documentaries to pass the time while Godzilla is feeding, and I saw this one, which was interesting in bits.

mercoledì, dicembre 12, 2012

The politics of the bosom

Godzilla was up all night again, attacking my bosom. Another growth spurt is due, so that's fine, and I got in enough sleep early in the morning to feel reasonably human now. I keep reminding us that this period is probably the worst period it's going to be sleep-wise, until or unless we have a second child, who could possibly be colicky (Godzilla is coming up to a month with no danger signs so I think in his case I'm starting to count my chickens, and say he is not a colicky child), and whose needs as an infant will overlap with Godzilla's needs as a toddler. Another reason to move to Europe for the next one - it'll be easier to persuade some family to come out to help out.

I'm tickled pink breastfeeding is going so well and that the behemoth is thriving on the bosom, but I've decided to forever give up on being judgey about women who don't do it. The health benefits of breastfeeding are demonstrated and unignorable, and formula is pretty gross. But breastfeeding is hard. It's tiring in terms of the waking for feeding, it's tiring in terms of the milk production, it hurts until you get it right, and it's all down to the mum. If she's not well supported by her spouse, like I am - if she doesn't have good guidance in the beginning, like I did - if she doesn't have a flexible enough schedual in terms of how she makes her money, like I've got - how the fuck is she supposed to do this?

All my Chinese colleagues breastfed, despite working crazy long hours and having retardedly horrible commutes. For a full year, at that - that seems to be the magic number there. That involved a LOT of pumping. I admire their dedication but the fact that a year is so much the norm there was something helpful for them, no doubt - nobody would be giving them funny looks for stepping out for half an hour at a time to drain their ladies, or storing the milk in the communal fridge, etc.

Bottom line, this is not easy, not at all easy. It needs a lot more support than I'd understood. All women should have the opportunity to do it for at least the six months it's been conclusively demonstrated that there are huge benefits to mother and child in terms of full-time, exclusive breastfeeding, but what that means in effect is that all jurisdictions need to be providing at least six months of maternity leave at full pay and with job security, which is the case in so few countries I think I could count them on my fingers.

And the marginalization of fatherhood, both in terms of leave opportunities and in terms of the infantilization of men . . . well, that's probably a blog post for another day, as Godzilla is stirring and my bosom is preparing for the next onslaught. But Australia being the fucking cemetery of masculinity as a useful concept that it is, I've been coming across some doozies that I'm bursting to rant about.

lunedì, dicembre 10, 2012

Night of the living shithead

He's back. I knew he'd be back, by the nature of his departure. Sex and financial scandals permanently disgracing an Italian? Please. 60% of the population of that damn peninsula finds those sorts of scandals fucking aspirational. I knew he'd draw out the court cases, I knew he'd position himself as anti-German and anti-austerity. And I'm quite sure it will work. Let's see.

Call me a cockroach but I'm fiddling a bit here while Europe burns. Our schedual has moved up and I'm hoping for a euro circling the bottom of the crapper just before we move back in a couple of years, before the world realizes Australia is an unstable open pit mine and the ass falls out of the dollar. Just hoping that a decent education system will cling on in the part we're moving to, and that the part we're moving to doesn't attract too many desperate economic migrants. Lots of unknowns in this world. One of them isn't that the only way to get Berlusconi out of politics is to get him out of Italy.

Oh well. Back to staring at Godzilla. Motherhood is such a crazy emotional and intellectual experience. Today one of the many things it's taught me is that if you want to encapsulate your own placenta, it's probably one of those things that even a frugal householder should consider outsourcing for a few hundred bucks. That was easily the most disgusting experience of my life. I had a feeling it would be, so I'd been putting it off, and had to do it today when the F-word accidentally left the chest freezer unplugged overnight - couldn't let that thing go off - not when my Chinese medicine doctor told me what it'd be worth on the open market. So now it's dehydrating, preparing to be encapsulated, after having been steamed with some ginger and pepper and pureed.

And I'm not a squeamish person, but holy fuck. I've realized I'll never be able to murder anybody, no matter to what depths of moral depravity I may one day sink, because that was just so eeeeeurgh even though (or perhaps because?) it belonged to me and I don't need it anymore. Actually I think the really gross thing was reckoning it belonged to Godzilla as well as me. But it's not as though I could wait until he reached the age of reason to ask what he wanted to do with it. The worst was looking at the wee umbilical cord and realizing it was probably his first plaything in the womb - babies do play with them, apparently. But again it's not as though I could save it for a rainy day, and there aren't any cord blood banks here, which I suspect are a massive fucking scam anyways.

Anyways, that's my advice to prospective placentophages out there. Outsource, outsource, outsource.