On babies

I just had one. A baby, that is. Six weeks and three days ago, to be precise. This is the reason for not blogging for an age … That and procrastination of course.

And can I just say that one of the very first, clear things I have learned about human development and evolution from having a bay is this: the way we do it here in the west is all wrong, wrong, wrong.

What I mean is, after the first week of sleep deprivation and issues with milk supply, it became rapidly obvious that this is not a system which evolved in the type of social isolation that women in Australia are expected to raise their children.

Women have incredible variation with their milk. Two women I know in the same family are opposites – one with oversupply issues giving her bub reflux, the other with undersupply, which any woman can attest is incredibly traumatic in an age where breastfeeding has become culturally (and cultishly) synonymous with good parenting, to the point of ignoring the mother’s wellbeing.

But that is the topic for another post.

Back to the example of milk. Does any other human organ so vital to survival have such variation? Is thr incidence of defective hearts, say, or kidneys, or livers, as high as the variation in milk supply? Besides which, is the sleep deprivation which is the norm for breastfeeding mums really the way it was meant to be? After becoming so sleep deprived that I became a little crazy, I really don’t think so.

Which makes me think that the way humans have and raise babies must have evolved in a social setup. Otherwise, the race would never have come up with such a risky model. There would have been a group of women to help out. There would have been other lactating women to assist if one woman’s supply was low, or if that woman died in birth – another incredibly risky strategy for evolution, if not for the social setting of child rearing.

But nowadays, we do it like this : one woman and a baby, alone for hours a day and then solely responsible for the long, night marches as their partners (if they have partners) go to bed for the work day tomorrow.

It is a feat worthy of long odes. It is requiring endurance beyond that required to scale Mt Everest, to do this, day after day with little sleep and very little payoff but the hope that the baby will grow. And it is simply expected of ordnary women to just get on with it.

As one woman I know put it, “there’s been a mistake. surely it can’t be like this?”

I am six weeks and three days in. I love my little baby (that too, cannot be takem for granted – another topic for another post). But I am absolutely convinced that this is not the way it was meant to be. No number of midwife visits, early childhood centres and other institutional attempts to replace the tribe can actually replace the tribe. And so I wait for my baby to wake for her next feed, alone in my apartment like the woman in the next building over, and the next building over, and the next building over…..

If no one else will write the ode, then here it is from me: all you mothers, I salute you. We have great blessings from our individualistic culture – it is in the act of child raising that we come undone.