Parents learning: living life not perfect

We all want what is best for our babies. Food, education, entertainment, we decide according to our background and knowledge and try our best, the closest to perfect we think we can do – even against the flow sometimes.

When my son’s grandparents tell me I should put salt in my one-year-old food or it will be tasteless, I ignore them. Easy. There is loads of research and advice on the subject.

Sometimes it’s not so easy though. And I doubt. Could they be right? Are we wrong in what we think is right for him? How are we supposed to know? If the truth of the pudding is in the eating, as some say, we might know when he’s 18 or 25. But in the meantime…

We try our best, to the best of our knowledge. Limit TV, lots of wooden games, no refined sugars, or only rarely, no chemicals, no salt, we’ll teach him to be polite, and we’ll try to get him into a great school. Because competition is hard and it’s important for his future to have a good start. True. We want what is best for him, our son, our baby.

But then how are we supposed to deal with all the things that will not be the way we would want them to be? When we will lapse, because we just can’t manage or hold onto the promises we made ourselves, or because we won’t be there or the pressure from others will be too strong? When what is perfect may not be the best? I am not perfect and we cannot be, as hard as we try. And maybe it is not so bad – who knows it might even be a bit more fun…

Food is a tough subject amongst parents, and culturally orientated. Bread, no bread. Sandwiches or warm meals. Finger foods. Eating healthily, carbs, meat/proteins, veggies, and fruits is important to us. But I also like chocolate, and crisps, and sweets. When can he try them? Should he? But he will, I know, with some moderation, because you cannot control and be there all the time, and because I eat those, and I like them, so I wouldn’t want him to miss out.

Same for TV. I like it, in certain dosage, and to me a good movie is like a good piece of chocolate. So, while we’ll make sure that he spends time outside and doesn’t watch too much TV, I know he’ll watch some, because there is so much to see and experience from it, and because I wouldn’t want him to never see an episode of Doctor Who, The Lion King (“Hakuna Matata…”), or the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings…

Politeness and manners are important in France. Please and thank you. Hi and good bye. Kiss people on the cheek, or shake hands. Smile. Do not talk or play too loud. Do not make messes. Wait and ask before getting up from the table. Help to ready the table and to clean up. Try to precede others’ needs when you’re at someone else’s house. It is something parents are told that they must teach their children to do. In French is is called being well-raised (i.e. well-mannered, I think, in English). It clearly makes life a bit easier at home and outside, in restaurants, hotels, or at friends, when you don’t have to run after your boy when it is time to eat... But I also wouldn’t want my son to be only that, polite, nice, and careful. I want him to be able to be polite, but I also want him to not care too much, to be able to let go. One of my favourite pictures of him is one where he pulls his tongue out and grins… I might not be that pleased if he were to do it in front of his great-grandparents (though I do hope that I wouldn’t care and that they’d understand that he means it as a joke), but I also want him to have fun (this short poem is also about that)!

Now take education. I went to a small village primary school, THE school of the village we lived in in France. Then I went to the connected middle school, in the suburbs, with teen pregnancies and violence. I learnt to swear, to skip classes, to makes notes with my father’s signature to avoid gym, to not look too interested in the classes as it lead to bullying on the playground. It didn’t make things easier in high school after we’d moved and I went to a higher level high school. However, it didn’t stop me from going to university and getting a master’s degree – but, to be fair, I had my parents behind me to make sure I somehow stayed in line, not everyone had that and not everyone I knew went to high school. Still, in this middle school I also learnt a lot about cultural diversity and that good grades aren’t everything.

There is really bad and there is picture perfect. There must be a balance to find between the two. Our son might not go to the best school in the country, because we cannot afford to live where you have to to get in. But we will do our best for him to get into a good school, and we will be there to help.

Book series – A review and a list

Series are great. The characters can grow over time and they can stay with you for a long time, sometimes years. Following the post on Young Adults books, I thought I could write another post on the series of books that I’ve enjoyed reading and re-reading, in English (though not all of them were initially written in English) and a few in French, over the years.

A series is defined here as a group of a minimum of 2 books with follow-up stories.

In this list, I only include the series I liked and remember well. All the books I listed in the previous post were part of series, but to avoid making this list redundant and even longer, I don’t include the ones I liked from this list.

I try to organize the titles according to the themes or genres, but a lot of them cross the different categories, so I hope that the descriptions will help to provide more information on the books.

Fantasy books:

  • The Royal Assassin and Liveship/Rain Wild series by Robin Hobb: The Farseer trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy and the new Fitz and the Fool trilogy (which is only starting and which I haven’t read yet, and might not because of the reviews). These books are intertwined with the Liveship trilogy (to read after the Farseer trilogy), and the Rain Wild chronicles (4 books, to read after the Tawny Man trilogy). It is an amazing series, if complex and violent at times, and I did prefer the books on the assassin compared to the other trilogies. From the same author, I also read the Forest Mage series, nice but I didn’t get into the characters as much.
  • Tamir Tríad (trilogy) by Lynn Flewelling: magic, different cultures, a prophecy, and 2 children. Wonderfully written!
  • The Cursed Kingdoms trilogy by Emily Glee: also really great! The third book is coming out this year, I cannot wait!
  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien: of course… It is magnificently written. I actually find the story quite heartbreaking. Also I feel a bit bad but I had troubles reading all the songs and descriptions, so I passed…

Science fiction:

  • The Freedom series (tetralogy) by Anne McCaffrey: set in our time but on an another world after an alien invasion. Loved it!
  • The Greatwinter trilogy by Sean McMullen: it was good, though a bit complex. I’m making an exception for this one: I realized recently that I never read the other books of the series though I liked the first book! It’s on my list…

Magic and/or fairies:

  • Alex Craft novels by Kalayna Price (3 books so far): amazingly imaginative with magic, fairies, Death (in person) and a tendency towards horror, all in the future about a hundred years from now!
  • The Caledonia Fae series by India Drummond (6 books so far): fairies in a side world to ours, druids and magic. Great read!
  • A Modern Witch series (7 books and 2 short stories) by Debora Geary, interlinked with the Witchlight trilogy, and followed by the Witch Central series (3 books and a short story), and a prequel (To Have and To Code): set in our day with a highly lovable community and family of witches, it is mostly light and fun. I had a great time reading and re-reading these books! The only sad point is that the author stopped writing the books for personal reasons, really too bad…

Historical with just a hint of magic:

  • The Outlander series and The Lord John Grey series by Diana Gabaldon: both series are mostly set in 18th century. I love these books, the characters and the stories, though it can be extremely violent. Unfortunately, in the last 2 books, the author started to mix the 2 series and it’s becoming difficult to follow and read. I actually didn’t finish the last one (Written in My Own Heart’s Blood) after one of the characters was killed (I was pregnant and the character that died was a child). The Outlander series is currently being filmed as a very nice TV series.

“Children”’s books – I don’t agree with the label, most of them can have quite dark topics. I think they could also be put under “Young Adult”:

  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: I just love these books…
  • Northern Lights/The Subtle Knife/The Amber Spyglass trilogy by Philip Pullman: not a child’s book at all, though the characters are children/young teenagers. The story is about magic and parallel worlds, but also death, loss and despair. It is an amazing read.
  • The Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke: what would happen if we could make the characters of our favourite books come to life? Amazing story and characters!

Love and more “girly” books: rarely seen as series but…

  • Love virtually and Every Seventh Wave by Daniel Glattauer: I loved them! Two people get to know each other via email…

In that section I also have a couple of follow-ups to read from Jenny Colgan. Also, I’ve never really enjoyed the shopaholic books from Sophie Kinsella, but I like most of her single books stories. I read them again and again when I was pregnant 🙂

Egalement, en Francais, parce que je les ai vraiment aimés / Also, in French, because I really liked them:

  • E=MC2 mon amour et Pythagore je t’adore de Patrick Cauvin : livres sur deux jeunes surdoués qui tombent amoureux à 11 ans. Le premier livre est mieux que le deuxième, mais ca m’a fait bien plaisir de lire la suite !
  • Le Bossu, le roman de Lagardère de Paul Féval Père et Fils : je les ai lu jeune et j’ai adoré !

I have started, or read, quite a few other series but, or I didn’t get into the stories so much, or I just haven’t finished reading them yet (which sometimes is the same)… Also, since there are most certainly titles missing from this list, I might make a follow-up article later on if I remember other, and enough, titles and find them worthy of it 😉

To conclude, I’d be really really interested in propositions for good series, especially in science fiction, fantasy, magic, or a mix of those! Thanks!

Does he walk yet?

We hear that question about once a week (already three times this week), from some family members, colleagues, sometimes friends, and now even strangers at the playground.

There is (almost) nothing negative in the question, it is pure curiosity. And maybe a bit of condescension, unless it’s just that they don’t know what to talk about? The stranger in the park actually asked because her own daughter who is the same age as our Duck is also not really walking yet. Crawling, standing up, walking holding onto things and hands, and letting go sometimes, but not walking on her own. The mum looked happy when I said that our Duck was at the same stage, and I was a bit relieved too.

So… not much negative in the question, and yet… He is 15 months old. We know that some babies of his age walk alone, some have already been for a few months – but not all. My husband walked at 12 months while I did at 18 months (happy on my bum apparently), but I walked. So we are not worrying yet, but waiting, and not too impatiently at that. Will it be this week? Next week? Later?

One week it’s “Ooh look he’s let go and made a few steps on his own!!” “Oooh again!!” Then he doesn’t do it at all for a whole week.

Most times we don’t even think about it. Who cares? He’s healthy, playing, laughing, eating and all. He crawls if the distance is big, stands up when he wants. He looks a bit cautious maybe when he walks (there I wonder if it’s my imagination that his left foot seems to stand a bit inward? Probably just my imagination), but he walks when he wants to, and doesn’t seem to think much of it the rest of the time. Crawling is much faster and surer!

So we’re not really worried yet, just a little – usually after someone asks us about it – sometimes (is the apartment too small? Is it not giving him enough incentive to try?). And we wait. And get annoyed at the family for asking EVERY time on the phone if he’s walking yet.

No. No, he’s standing and holding onto things, and now he walks more and more with his walker and with our hands (or even just one!).

And he laughs, and talks baby talk in front of his books turning the pages on his own 😀 He just started to pile his cubes all by himself! He manages to open cupboards that we had blocked! He climbs on the couch, on the bed, in the stairs! He eats lots of fruits and non-mashed foods all by himself! He touches animals at the petting zoo! He plays with sand! Laughs and smiles at other children! We’re proud!

Focusing on that part of his development just doesn’t feel right or fair. And it’s stealing his thunder (and ours). That somehow, if he’d walked at 12 months it would have been great. But now, or later, it would not be so interesting “Oh right. Not too early is he?”

We manage, still, to keep our cool and not reply angrily “Have you thought that the day (the minute!) he’ll walk, you’ll probably be flooded with pictures and videos??? Though now we know you’ll probably not be impressed even though you’ve been asking about it for months! And who cares WHEN he’ll walk as long as he walks?!”

So, please, stop asking. When he’ll walk we’ll tell you and we’ll be so happy (and then, of course, we’ll start worrying about him falling or going absolutely everywhere, out of control). In the meantime, if we don’t say anything about that, just let us enjoy what he does. Thanks.

On accepting change

I seem to be on a roll of writing lately, and reading this article (A strange kind of homesickness) got me into thinking mode.

What changes us? Do we really change, deep down? Or is it only our reactions and points of view that change? What is the difference between ourselves and our reactions? Is change reversible? Is change a positive or a negative thing?

The woman from this article went back to a place (Paris) where she went before change happened, a place where she remembers herself as happy and free. But it turns out the place is not making her become what she was again. She changed.

I also have a few of these places that I love, the before places I could call them. I haven’t been back to any of them yet, and it scares me a little, that I might find that I cannot enjoy them anymore. And that going back might damage my memories.

For me, change wasn’t as dramatic, I think, as it was for her. It involved 4 years of fertility troubles, 2 years of inseminations in a foreign country (though we’d been living there for a few years, the language is still a barrier), the family far and getting older, a work which gave me some sort of PTSD – I’d have to develop on that but this poem already gives some info, though it wasn’t that bad, but I did go to three natural disasters sites from 9 months to up to 15 years after the events, which took up to 50 lives, took place. Not Nepal, but enough for me… Then a pregnancy which went well physically but not-so on the psy front with high levels of anxiety, which cumulated into panic attacks and isolation. And then birth 🙂 I now apparently have a higher probability than average for postnatal depression (which could still happen, with peaks 4 years after the birth).

All this over the course of a few years, plus the reactions of the family and friends, who just didn’t understand why I couldn’t get out of the house, let alone work, or have them over for a week end or even on the phone… Surely I was making this up, it couldn’t be so bad. And why now? Surely I could understand their needs to come, to phone, to see us and hear about the pregnancy?

But while I was screaming in panic rolled in a ball and held by my husband at 11 at night, then rushed by taxi, 5 months pregnant, to the nearest hospital to find solutions – proposed medications actually – the family and friends had no idea of what was happening to us and they waited, impatient to see us. For at the time we couldn’t talk about it, we couldn’t explain, so wrapped up in survival and fear for our son. Could the panic and daily anxiety hurt him (it can according to a paediatrician)? And what should we do about those bl..dy meds??

We tried talking to them about all of this, later, explaining what had happened. But most of them still don’t understand (or don’t care?) why they lost those train tickets or had to cancel our dinner plans, and not see me pregnant. Surely it wasn’t that bad, I could have made an effort. Well f..k you people. I just couldn’t breathe, get out of the house and chat, and it changed me.

I cannot avoid my fears anymore, I have to look at them and work to defeat them, make them less important. That is one of the lessons I kept from the weeks of therapy I did until the birth. I have to identify my fears and the things that make me uncomfortable, and stop avoiding them to spare others – I cannot afford to keep what I think hidden for too long. As a result, I am more straightforward about what I need and what I cannot do, though I may sound old as a result (“No you cannot come that week end. No we don’t have anything particular that week end, but we have something the week end before and the one after, and I know I will be tired and will need time to rest and clean things up”). I have had to accept and work within my limits. When it is too much I have to stop, even if it may hurt or inconvenience others. And I have less patience and acceptance for what is not part of my top priorities; i.e. my son’s and my husband’s needs…

Things have gotten easier but I probably won’t change back. A lot of things are not so important anymore and my energy cannot be wasted on such things – I have so little energy left after feeding, napping, playing, carrying, caring and worrying.

My reactions changed, but have I really changed as well? The feelings are the same but my way of handling them is not. I still like books and movies, going out a little (though less I suppose), travelling or the idea of travelling (at least I hope, it is to be tested, everything stresses me now and travelling with a little one is such work!). But my actions, reactions, decisions, and distribution of energy changed. Maybe it is what really matters in the end? Not the inside but the surface and the result? That I am not the same person I was. I might not be able to travel or go out as much or to the same places (crowds!).

Maybe a test, to see for myself how much I have changed, would be to go back to these before places. Could I still enjoy the sights? Or am I only stress and fear now?

But maybe such trips would only show me that I am older and a mum. These are changes in themselves, and though the “15 year-old-greenpeace-lover” and the “25 year-old-who-left-hopeful&free-for-another-country-and-got-married” me may still be there but unattainable, it is only normal that I am something different now, inside and out.

As a matter of fact, such changes may not only be “normal”, but “necessary” or “natural” ones. Ones with which we evolve as individuals and without which nothing would happen and we would shrivel or die – not becoming a mum per say, but making important life decisions about work or a family, becoming older (what is the alternative?), falling in love… These can be positive changes, if not easy ones.

Drawing from that, I imagine that there are at least two types of self-changes: the ones which come almost “naturally” or “easily” with age or by choice; and the ones that happen against our will, because of external pressures or because of unknown consequences to previous choices/changes.

None of these changes are really easy on us, be it by choice or not, but the last ones are probably the most difficult to accept. I wanted to get pregnant and become a mum, but I didn’t know it would take so long or that I would get sick, or even how life with a baby really is, how I would deal with it and how it would change me – I choose without knowing (but knowing that I didn’t really know, which scared me, if it makes sense).

These changes may be the most difficult to accept, but (1) do we really have a choice in the matter? It doesn’t seem like we could go back, and our life might be easier if we could just accept who we’ve become. And (2) who is to say that they cannot bring on something positive, at some point? Increased empathy, patience or self-respect?

In all this, what I find almost funny is that I already felt a bit old and damaged back then, when I was 15 or 25, a bit like I feel now – and maybe like when I was 21 and thought that I was fat, before putting on 10 more kilos over 5 years of time…

As damaged as I feel now, things could actually get worse, with what life as in storage for us. No more time to lose feeling sorry for myself then…

And maybe things will improve – I did lose those 10 kilos after all, and now that I am back at my 21 year old weight, I find myself quite pretty and thin :). Who knows? One day I could find that I prefer who I am then to who I was before.

One can hope.

My poetry

I’ve just added of few more poems that I wrote in English, in the section Poésie/Poetry, under Motherhood and Various 🙂

In the poetry section there are now a few poems that I wrote, on subjects ranging from the wait for a child, motherhood, family & home, and also some other subjects (life, words, etc…) in Various – as well as a few poems I like from well-known poets, English or French.

Among the poems I wrote, I especially like To drop or to fight, 13th Day (after the birth of our son), and I also quite like Grounded and Tamed by words… Though I suppose that, despite the fact that it’s not great poetry, if I posted my poems here it probably means that I’m globally ok with them :p

Thanks for reading!

Une “révolution” silencieuse (3)

Cet article fait partit d’une série de trois articles (Nos choix, L’allaitement étendu, Le co-dodo).

This article is part of a series of three articles, for a short summary in English, look here.

Le co-dodo

Le co-dodo est un autre sujet tabou. Peur de l’étouffement de l’enfant et en général de mort subite du nourrisson (SIDS en Anglais ou MSN en Français), il est fortement déconseillé de le pratiquer.

Suivant ces recommandations, j’ai préféré allaiter dans le canapé ou dans une chaise la nuit afin d’être sure de ne pas m’endormir dans le lit. La conséquence, évidemment, était que je m’endormais dans le canapé, mon fils dans les bras.

En Grande-Bretagne, suite à plusieurs cas de MSN dans des canapés et chaises à bascule, les recommandations sont en train d’être revues. Les nouvelles recommandations britanniques vont apparemment conseiller aux parents de garder les enfants dans leur chambre dans les premiers mois, si ce n’est dans leur lit. En effet, garder les nourrissons dans la chambre des parents au moins six mois diminue le risque de MSN.

Une étude récente a également démontré que le co-dodo avait un impact positif sur le rythme cardiaque des nourrissons, diminuant leur rythme cardiaque jusqu’à trois en comparaison des nourrissons dormant seuls (Daily Mail).

Les parents sont très fatigués dans les premiers mois, et avec l’allaitement, il est pratiquement impossible de ne pas s’endormir avec son enfant dans les bras dans un environnement potentiellement plus dangereux que le lit familial, si ce dernier est bien aménagé, et avec une mère allaitante, non-fumeuse, sobre et en bonne santé physique (lire les recommandations pour du co-dodo en sécurité; aussi : Maman pour la vie; et en Anglais : Cosleeping Safety Guide; Cosleeping Guidelines). Dormir mieux, allaiter et garder son enfant à proximité… 😉

Une solution alternative trouvée par certaines familles est de ne pas allaiter la nuit et de combiner cela avec de l’entraînement au sommeil – comme on dit, chacun voit midi à sa porte, s’il a faim, même la nuit, je préfère le nourrir 🙂

En ce qui nous concerne, nous avons tenu 5 mois avec notre fils dans notre chambre mais pas dans notre lit, à s’endormir presque toutes les nuits dans le canapé. A 5 mois j’ai commencé à le prendre dans le lit pour l’allaiter puis à le remettre dans son lit (en m’endormant ou en combattant le sommeil bien qu’extrêmement fatiguée). Nous l’avons ensuite bougé dans sa chambre, suite à quoi j’ai passé de plus en plus de temps dans la chaise à bascule pour l’allaiter, l’endormir et le rendormir. Un mois plus tard il commençait à dormir dans notre lit, seulement tôt le matin tout d’abord, puis lors du 2ème ou 3éme allaitement de la nuit, puis lors du premier.

Depuis peu il dort toutes les nuits dans notre lit, dès le début de la nuit. J’ai en effet découvert que lorsque je le mettait dans notre lit dès le début, il ne se réveillait qu’une fois de 20h à 8h du matin. Si par contre je le mettais dans son lit au démarrage de la nuit, il se réveillait au bout d’une heure, puis toutes les 3h, même si je le mettais dans notre lit en cours de nuit. Je m’étais aperçue de ce phénomène quelques mois plus tôt, mais refusant de l’avoir dans notre lit toute la nuit, avait décidé de l’ignorer – décision ridicule avec le recul, j’aurais mieux dormit depuis des mois, lui aussi, et le lit est bien assez grand !

Une critique récurrente concernant le co-dodo est que cela donne de mauvaises habitudes aux enfants, qu’ils ne pourront jamais dormir seul. Toutes les personnes ayant pratiquées le co-dodo au fil des années le confirme : les enfants apprennent tous à dormir dans leur propre lit à un moment ! Par contre cela peut ne pas être avant l’âge de 3 ou 4 ans

Une auteure de blog a récemment écrit un article très éloquent sur le sujet (en Anglais) : Hectic and Clueless. L’article démarre avec la notion que votre petit bout était dans votre ventre, au chaud à écouter le bruit de votre cœur et de votre intérieur, puis il sort, et d’un seul coup il faudrait qu’il dorme seul. Oust t’es grand maintenant, dort tout seul ! J’aime aussi particulièrement le paragraphe où elle répond à des critiques en disant (traduction) : “Occupez-vous de vos affaires. Si ça ne me pose pas de problème, pourquoi essayez-vous d’en faire votre problème ? Dormez-VOUS seul ? Non ? Vous dormez avec quelqu’un ? Vous AIMEZ ça ? Vous AIMEZ avoir quelqu’un à câliner ? C’est marrant ça, mon fils aussi.”

Enfin, un très bon conseil fournit par le LLL est de se renseigner. Même si vous ne comptez pas faire du co-dodo, renseignez-vous – au cas où vous changeriez d’avis, lors d’une nuit sans sommeil alors que votre nourrisson veut dormir avec vous, et que les seules options sont les bras et le canapé, ou le lit.

Conclusion à la série d’articles

En tant que parents, nous avons pris les décisions avec lesquelles nous étions et sommes confortables, contrairement aux alternatives avec lesquelles nous ne l’étions pas.

Cela n’est pas en soi un problème, mais cela peut le devenir face à des positions figées ou agressives…

Hors, il nous semble qu’en France un très (trop ?) grand accent est mis sur l’indépendance des mères et le rapprochement du couple, possiblement au détriment des besoins de l’enfant.

Il ne nous paraît pas nécessaire d’avoir un lit à soi pour être proches, et conjointement avec cette idée de l’enfant manipulateur (qui ne réclame pas par besoin mais par caprice, et à qui nous devons apprendre a se séparer de nous, à être seul et indépendant dès le plus jeune âge au risque qu’il ne soit jamais indépendant et au risque de ne jamais retrouver notre indépendance de femme) ces idées sont pour nous des notions datées, voir dangereuses pour le développement de notre fils et de notre relation parents-enfant.

On nous dit régulièrement qu’il est facile à vivre, peut être faut-il y voir un lien avec notre manière de nous occuper de lui ? 🙂

Pour un article plus succin sur le maternage (puisqu’apparemment c’est ce que nous pratiquons :)) : Parents.fr/Les Pratiques de maternage les plus courantes.

Une “révolution” silencieuse (2)

Cet article fait partit d’une série de trois articles (Nos choix, L’allaitement étendu, Le co-dodo).

This article is part of a series of three articles, for a short summary in English, look here.

L’allaitement étendu

Quelques minutes après la naissance de Chaton, les sages-femmes l’ont positionné à mon sein. Quel bonheur j’ai éprouvé à le voir téter, confortable et heureux d’être contre moi !

Cette émotion je l’éprouve encore lorsqu’il vient se blottir contre moi pour du lait, fatigué ou avec un besoin de contact…

Au cours des mois, l’allaitement a beaucoup évolué pour nous (maintenant il réclame ;)). Après l’apprentissage et les difficultés des premières semaines, j’ai pris confiance, et nous avons continué – car comme le disent si bien des amies allaitantes, aucune de nous n’a commencé par allaiter un enfant de 15 ou 24 mois, cela est venu avec le temps.

Ne pas retourner au travail a été une décision de couple, au bénéfice de Chaton. En effet, continuer l’allaitement après un retour au travail est très difficile – faisable mais difficile. Quelques amies ont essayé de pomper leur lait, mais après quelques semaines, ou quelques mois pour les plus motivées, la fatigue est devenue trop importante et elles ont dû arrêter. Mais ces semaines de lait maternel sont déjà ça de plus pour leur enfant !

Il n’est évidemment pas possible ou souhaitable à toutes de rester à la maison, que ce soit pour des raisons financières ou pour des besoins personnels de reprise professionnelle. Mais l’allaitement étant une priorité pour moi, retourner au travail n’était pas la bonne décision à prendre et nous en avons donc pris une autre – au détriment de nos revenus.

L’une des critiques que l’on entend lorsqu’on allaite aussi longtemps (et avec l’intention de le laisser se sevrer tout seul, donc probablement pas avant 2 voire 3 ans, ou plus) est que les mères ne le font pas pour l’enfant mais pour elles-mêmes… Réponse qui ne tarde pas à fuser des mères allaitantes à long terme : essayez donc de forcer un enfant qui ne veut pas allaiter à le faire ! C’est la manière dont ils se sèvrent, tout seuls, en refusant le sein lorsqu’ils sont prêts !

Et qu’en est-il de mes seins qu’il prendrait apparemment pour une tototte – une réflexion entendue plusieurs fois? Ma réponse est toujours la même : comment faisions-nous avant l’invention du biberon et de la tétine ? Ne sont-ce pas plutôt ces objets qui remplace le sein ?

De plus en plus de recherche montre également à quel point l’allaitement est important, et pas seulement dans les premières semaines :

Ainsi il est montré que cela présente de nombreux avantages pour la santé à court-terme et long-terme des enfants, ainsi que pour celle des mères. Bénéfices cardio-vasculaires pour les enfants, moins de maladies (Chaton n’est jamais malade, malgré des après-midis jeux avec d’autres enfants qui vont en crèche et qui ont souvent le nez qui coule ou une toux), moins de problème d’obésité, plus de goût pour des aliments variés. Moins de cancer de l’utérus ou du sein pour les mères, et retour des règles plus tard… A plus long terme, il y aurait aussi d’autres avantages pour les enfants : plus d’assurance de soi, QI plus élevé (les études sont en désaccord là-dessus), plus grand développement de la parole, et même d’après une grande étude brésilienne, de meilleures chances dans la vie… (The Guardian; LLLFrance).

L’OMS conseille aujourd’hui l’allaitement exclusif jusqu’à 6 mois, puis avec des solides jusqu’à 2 ans et plus (OMS), dans la mesure ou cela est possible pour la mère et pour l’enfant – aucun besoin de lait de vache, c’est prévu pour les veaux. Ce qui n’empêche pas Chaton d’adorer le fromage maintenant qu’il peut en manger, il ne boit juste pas de lait.

Cette recommandation de l’OMS est particulièrement importante pour les pays en voie de développement, où il n’est pas toujours possible d’avoir accès à du lait artificiel de bonne qualité ou à de l’eau saine. Toutefois, elle est également valide pour les pays de l’Ouest : parce que nous avons la possibilité de donner du lait artificiel ne veut pas forcément dire que c’est ce qu’il y a de mieux pour notre enfant…

Bien évidemment la priorité revient toujours au bien être de la mère et de l’enfant, et particulièrement à la croissance de l’enfant, et si le lait artificiel est préférable dans certains cas, il vaut mieux en faire usage et profiter des avantages de notre époque… Entièrement vrai !

Mais il existe aussi tellement de mauvaises informations qui circulent et diminuent les chances de celles qui souhaiteraient et pourraient allaiter; informations nourrissant des attentes irréalistes, ou absence d’aide lors de difficultés, ou encore incompréhension et jugement que ce soit lors des sorties (combien décident de ne jamais allaiter dehors, pour finir par arrêter car elles ne veulent plus rester enfermées à la maison ?) ou pour celles souhaitant allaiter jusqu’à ce que l’enfant se sèvre de lui-même. Qu’en-est-il également de la fatigue des mères, interdites de co-dodo pour des raisons de sécurité aujourd’hui remises en doute, et qui finissent par arrêter d’allaiter car épuisées de devoir se lever toutes les nuits ?

Bien des femmes qui le souhaitent et qui pourraient allaiter sont encore très mal supportées dans leur choix, aussi bien dans les premières semaines que dans les mois (et années) qui suivent…