Saturday, February 9, 2008

With a little help from my friends

I am in an unusual position in that most of my good friends in HK don't have children yet, or have children that are a fair bit older than Eve. Most of those I consider to be my close girlfriends don't have children. I must admit this worried me when I was pregnant, as lots of people - not to mention those dreaded baby books - say that your friendship circles change as people with no babies make way for those with new shared interests (colic, screaming nappies, nursery schools). I rather like my friends and hope to make new ones through Eve rather than jettison the old ones.

I have become a lot harder to be friends with as a result of Eve, so I can see why friendships may falter after a formerly childless group of friends changes. My life at the moment revolves around where I can feed every 3 hours. As I am breastfeeding and don't like Eve to have more than one bottle of expressed a day, she usually comes wherever I do. This rules out lots of restaurants, nightclubs and most bars (Eve was actually thrown out of a bar at the weekend - impressive at 5 weeks old). It also means that until the morning when we know what time Eve wakes up because we are encouraging her to sleep as long as she wants to at night, we don't really know whether she will be on a 7 - 10 - 1 - 4 routine or 9 - 12 - 3 - 6. This ensures that any arrangements are made late and because Eve inevitably takes longer to feed just before we are due to leave the house I am usually late for everything. I used to pride myself in my punctuality, my daughter is not the same.

We are also having variable nights at the moment, so some days all I want to do is sleep as much as I can, meaning late cancellations.

Although I take Eve out a lot, working out timings and places to feed mean that I find it is easier to spend time with my couple of friends with small babies too because they are happy to sit around the house, chat and feed all day whereas, quite understandably, childless friends tend to want to go out and do things.

All of this would test the patience of even the strongest friendships.

Which is why I am so happy at what has actually happened. Perhaps it is something about Hong Kong, where most people are away from their families so our friends become our proxy families and are much more supportive and tolerant as a result. Perhaps it is testimony to my friends, who are a bunch of very lovely people. Perhaps it is because I have made an effort to get out and see people. Whatever the reason, the girls and guys have rallied around and my friendships are as strong, if somewhat changed, as before.

Last week, when C had a day off, she invited me around to chat and watch videos - a truly generous offer considering how precious days off are. When Eve did a good impression of the child from the Exorcist mid-afternoon (green goo and screaming), C insisted on accompanying me to the doctor to check Eve out. This did lead to a very amusing incident at the reception when the nurse addressed all the instructions to C, as if we were some sort of glamourous lesbian couple.

I have fixed a time to row or catch up with, and bailed, on LottieP three times this weekend. But still she is happy to be flexible and understanding and drag me out in a boat later today.

I have probably had 10 messages from A since Eve was born asking to meet up. When I accidentally saw him at the supermarket at the weekend, he was fine about the unreturned calls, very understanding, and offered to bring round a bottle of red whenever I called.

And R not only bought be support pants back from the UK but is happy to come all the way from her Central pad to the suburbs to do nothing more than sit and chat - and she has offered me her flat to feed in whenever I am stuck in Central with nowhere to feed.

A even offered to come and sit with Eve while I slept.

It seems that, Hong Kong being a village, the village is rallying around me and Eve to ensure that she and I are fully supported by our HK family. She is very much a baby for us all and it is testimony to my friends that this has happened so naturally.


LottieP said...

Sorry we didn't get there... I think I bailed on you too at least once!


Anonymous said...

Hello - I'm a friend of Claire's - who recommended I read your blog. With 2 small children of my own I can fully empathise with your blog. Thought I would recommend a book for you though which I think, from what I have read, you would appreciate: What Mothers Do: Especially When It Looks Like Nothing by Naomi Stadlen. One of the only books that isn't a how to do it, but reflections by mothers on what they are going through. I found it to be a total lifesaver and it was about the only book that didn't make me want to run screaming for the nearest bucket of pigs swill to stick my head into (before bursting into tears and having a brief moment doubting all mothering abilities that I may have thought that I had).

Enjoy Eve, good luck with it all.
Emily V.

Mummy said...

Thanks Emily, and I am glad you like the blog. I will hunt down the book you mentioned. I have found that the best help is talking to other mothers because you realise that nobody has a perfect baby, other people have it tougher than you, and that nobody is the perfect mother.

Mean as it sounds, it is great to listen to another mother whose baby won't eat/sleep/be quiet and realise that you aren't doing so badly yourself.

Good luck with your two!