Thursday, May 08, 2008



Baby black and white cat is doing well. She is now officially called Babu after the name black people call whites in Africa and it reminds of my very first trip to that continent. It was at the height of apartheid. There were benches, loos, shops and caf├ęs everywhere Reserved for Whites. My father was kidnapped for having a show of his artwork through which the slogan in Afrikaans ran 'Slegs vir Almal'. Reserved For Everybody. Babu is, I think, the Reserved For Everybody cat.

Meanwhile, the news from the local gynecologist is not encouraging on the prospect of having the necessary drugs prescribed for breast feeding an adopted child. 'It is not natural' she says. 'Of course men can become women these days and vice versa. One can do anything but that doesn't mean it is natural' ; 'There are other ways of becoming close to your child.'; 'The cancer risks are very high' (Apparently they are no higher than taking the contraceptive pill, which I never did). Blah Blah Blah. 'IVF isn't natural' I say. 'but unfortunately we are unable to have children naturally.' My girlfriend tells me that women in hospitals here, after they have given birth, are given the choice of chocolate or vanilla flavoured formula. Breasts don't come into it. I am getting very tired of this aspect of French Life. No you can't teach (Even though I have a doctorate degree from the State University of New York I am not qualified to teach in France). No you can't breast feed. No you can't put in an environmentally sound waste water purification system and water your garden with it. No No No.

Because I may need her on my side in the future, I did not ask the gynecologist: Do you have children? Did you give birth to them naturally? How did it feel? Did you breast feed them? How did that feel?

Of course it is something about which we have to take an informed decision. It is a choice whose consequences, if we make it, we cannot know and will have to accept. "No" is disempowering and it does not help.


Blogger Mouse said...

I remember watching a TV prog a few years back about an American woman who adopted a little girl and breastfed her. As far as I can recall she used a pump for a while before to get her milk flowing in readiness for the baby's arrival from China. No drugs were involved (except maybe champagne)

As for the big Non, Lord do I sympathise with you! What IS it with these French folk???

5:48 PM  
Blogger Lesley said...

Why don't you get in touch with the Leche League (I see that there's a branch near Montpellier) and ask them if they know of any gynaecologists who might be more sympathetic. By the way, I only had encouragement and support from midwives, my gynaecologist and paediatrician when I was breastfeeding in France and there's certainly no such thing as chocolate or vanilla formula for newborns!

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it enough that you might have a lovely little baby after all that heartache you've been through. Why wind yourself up about the breastfeeding - lots of natural mothers don't manage it anyway, and will your baby have had it at all in its short life? I don't think this "no" is as unreasonable as the other two, but bless you for having the courage to share it with us.

5:56 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

hello mouse!

lesley thank you for la leche. I have already been in touch with them and they seem delightful. I am so glad you had a good experience. Maybe my friend was a bit pissed when she told me that! We were drinking rather alot of champagne!

anonymous, i don't know what to say. Of course it is enough. If I do go ahead it will be a well informed decision and certainly one that must not be attached to an outcome, but an offering of sorts to both myself and the child. We will not know if it has been breastfed. IT may very well reject the breast as many babies do. I have talked to women for whom it has been a marvellous experience. What can I say other than I think it is an amazing thing and I would really love to do it!

Hmmm, I had an instinct recently not to write anything more about our adoption process because suddenly, now it is underway, it seems so very much more private, and therefore sensitive. Perhaps that was a good instinct.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Dale said...

Oh, Ruth, probably a good instinct, though I and I'm sure lots of other people would love to hear about all of it. But what you get with prospective parenthood is advice, lots of advice, learned and ignorant, good and bad. Everybody knows exactly what how you ought to do everything about child-rearing, and they feel empowered to tell you all about it, at length, and with absolute conviction. Generally the less experience they have the more urgent and positive they are.

(La Leche League here in the States is great, but they also tend toward the fanatical. Take the support, but don't expect them to support you if it *doesn't* work out and you have to go to the bottle anyway.)

I'm a stubborn cuss and I don't care much what people think, but my wife's feelings were wounded often and deeply by officious people when our kids were little. And when you *want* advice, it's always a bit like trying to drink from a firehose.


9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you checked out the above site?
Hope it is helpful.

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Jenna said...

PLEASE don't stop writing about the adoption. I'm completely involved now. I think what anonymous was trying to get at is that some new moms seem to torture themselves with guilt when they have trouble breast feeding, and it's awful to watch those precious new few months be so painful for the mother. That being said, I hope you are able to keep writing, and still find your path without being overloaded with the opinions of your audience. I'll try and keep mine to myself!

2:05 AM  
Blogger Me said...

Hi, I second the La Leche League advise. Individual "animatrices" vary in the degree of their "fanatical" ways -- I personally got great advice from them. Here in Paris they were also able to point out the "right" doctors to give competent advice on breastfeeding doctors (most gynecologists, generalists and pediatricians here in France are completely incompetent in that matter).
I gave birth naturally here, breastfed my son for three years. LLL advisors I met were always very respectful of choices mothers (and fathers) made.
I hope you find a more willing doctor, so you have a real choice.
All the best,

2:44 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

sorry if i came accross a little prickly anonymous. it's very sensitive stuff, this!

lara and lesley, i just wanted to say i have just spoken to the local representative of le leche and she was brilliant. she has quite lot of experience with adopted babies, she was informative, warm and ready to help us choose and, if we do choose to go the way of breast feeding, to follow our decision through with support. she also works closely with a pediatricion in our local town so i feel much relieved! we will go and meet her in june.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Antipodeesse said...

I too had fantastic help from La Leche in France, and Fontainebleau hospital had a midwife specialising in breastfeeding.

I remember reading in the LL book about the "dispositif" for adoptive mums (a thin, supple tube you can tape to your nipple so the baby sucking formula also stimulates the mother's milk glands at the same time, enabling the gradual replacement of the formula). I'm sure it's not easy, but I'm also sure that you can do it!

Good luck Ruth!

5:31 PM  
Blogger Natasha said...

Jenna is right. There are so many new things to prepare for and come to terms with about having a new baby, for all parents, natural and adopted. Breastfeeding often presents difficult problems even for natural mothers. I didn't mean to sound opinionated but really, don't let this cloud your joy.

6:07 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

thank you antipodesse. and natasha thank you too, and in particular for identifying yourself! anonymous comments can be disconcerting! i don't intend to stress about it, and am looking forward to the journey its ups and its downs.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Mouse said...

I so understand your reluctance to talk about the adoption process, it feels too close to home and a little like you might jinx it perhaps? But, there's a whole community of complete strangers out here who care and who are praying for you, if that helps

Meanwhile my only input re feeding and babies and All The Advice In The World, is to do what feels right for you two as parents (and a couple)and for the little one and to enjoy! There are far too many people out there with baby under one arm and a book by The Experts under the other...

10:02 AM  
Blogger Rosie said...

hello again Ruth, for some reason you fell off my feeds. I am happy to have stumbled back onto your blog. I know what you mean about teaching qualifications here. Frustrating isnt it.There is something called validation of skills VAE where you can obtain a DE professeur of musique. I think it is organised by CEFEDEM. I am going to try and apply for next year. Just to change the subject slightly, they are very sniffy about breast feeding in France and I really had to fight to do it...but perhaps things have changed a little in the last 16 years...

10:06 PM  

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