Some more, please: All by myself

2011-02-10 09:35

The toddler turned two and the paediatric nurse who helped me keep my child alive and myself sane cut me off.

The final vaccination until she’s six has been administered, her final official weigh-in and her final official height measurement are done. It was a defining moment for a paranoid mother such as myself.

I greatly envy my friend whose child is six weeks younger – she still has one more visit to go. One more chance to ask all the questions I forgot to ask, the things I forgot to tell the nurse.

The relationship between a mother and the nurse who jabs needles into her child and gives advice about everything from when to start feeding, what to start with, how to get a full night’s sleep and myriad other life-and-death issues can make the difference between early motherhood being just manageable and completely terrifying.

I know. I started with a nurse who didn’t much bother to find out anything about me and pooh-poohed my concerns – then, collectively, my group of mothers came upon the wonderful Leigh-Anne.

Sensible, practical and brutally honest – she laughed off most things, but was deadly serious about others.

When my five-month-old went hoarse, it was Leigh-Anne who worked out the reason.

My fear of cot death was so great I kept the temperature in her room at 13 degrees Celcius – perhaps a chill more familiar to Inuit children than South African babies born in summer.

While I wailed about being a bad mother for trying to turn the baby into an ice lolly, Leigh-Anne laughed heartily and said no harm done.

The stressful transition to solid food – pumpkin or banana, avocado or marrow? These food choices kept me up nights.
I’d frantically steam and mash and freeze way into the night in a frenzy of do-right anxiety. One conversation with Leigh-Anne and I managed to calm myself to one cooking day a week.

So now I face having to make all my own decisions – although that’s not strictly true. After all, the function Leigh-Anne really fulfilled, that of a friend who helps you reach the answer you know already, has been taken over by the other mothers I know.

We have in turn been transformed from a group of jibbering, indecisive wrecks into women who know best. We know our children’s characters and our own a little better so that we can decide, with little hesitation, what will work in almost any situation.

This entry is just a big thank you to a woman who made motherhood manageable and no, I won’t be accepting her invitation to have another child in order to keep up the friendship.

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