What Am I Doing Wrong?


I finally got around taking Robert for his Chicken Pox immunization. The logistics got complicated by Jackie working. I had asked my friend Jenny to give me a lift there on Wednesday, but on the day I first had to wait until Jackie’s mom came with the municipality evaluator. Residential properties were re-evaluated by the Municipal Council last year, and the property taxes were calculated accordingly. Most people found that they have to pay a lot more to the Municipality as a result, and therefore opted to try and re-evaluate. Jackie’s mom is one of these people, and I can’t blame her. Jenny came right after that business was finished and we headed to Cape Town Mediclinic. Nurse B has now seen me twice without Robert’s father, and if she wondered what the story was she never said anything. Robert had his injection and was good as usual. The shocking realization for me however, was his weight.
He did not put on any weight in the last month and is now clearly below average. This trend started already last month, but the difference now is almost one whole kilogram, I was very worried for a second there.
The conclusion that the nurse drew from questioning me was that he was not drinking enough milk. A baby his age is supposed to drink 750ml of formula day and in Robert’s case I would be lucky if he finished 250ml; this excludes the one or two feeds he gets daily from the breast, which are impossible to measure. Nurse B followed with a number of suggestions like sprinkling his veggies with olive oil to add more calories, and feeding him cheese. The main thing however was to increase his intake of formula. She tried to calm my panic by pointing out that his height continues to be above average, my feelings of guilt however remain strong, and throughout the day I kept asking myself what I had been doing wrong in the past months. It is not good enough to make excuses and cite the strange living conditions and circumstances; I am the child’s mother and I am supposed to put him first. Up until now he has been a good child, but feeding him is a bit of a struggle because he is always interested in what’s going on around him, and does not sit down willingly for a longer period of time. I try tying him down on the feeding chair, but my success there is also limited. I will have to dry harder before my next visit to the nurse.

Robert’s measurements for the day : Weight 9400 g; Height 76cm; Head Circumference 45.8 cm.

It was one of those warm winter days today, and Jenny and I spent the day around her neck of the wood in Vredehoek. The area nestles up high below the flat summit of Table Mountain, and is traditionally very windy, but on the calm days like today it affords a great view over the city bowl towards Table Bay and beyond. You can see Robben Island if the sky is clear of fog or haze. We walked around negotiating hiking trails with the stroller, and then Jen took us to an abandoned quarry. We walked through an abandoned tunnel, and once we emerged out into the sunshine, the whole noise and hubbub of the city had disappeared and there was only the peace of the mountain wall and the calm pool of the abandoned quarry pit. Robert found the stones and pebbles fascinating, but Jen and I just hung out in the sunshine, we talked about work, and life in general and it was a very pleasant time.
Later we had lunch at her place, wonderful German bread with Wurst from the German bakery in town. Her quaint flat and the lovely area made me again yearn for a place of my own, where I can start building a life for myself and Robert.

When I arrived home I started what will become a quest for stuffing more and more food into my son. I kept the bottle of formula ready at all time, and tried to give it to him whenever I had a chance. I cut chunks of cheese and gave them for him to nibble on. I even sprinkled olive oil on food as the nurse suggested.

Apart from my feelings of inadequacy and guilt, I had a good day. Jen was recently in Germany and brought Robert a nice present. A soft toy, that can be also used as a sponge for the bath, I am going to call her Patty, although she is a bear ( I don’t understand why all teddies have to be male). She also bought a cuddly blanket, which will sure become a hit with the little one, he snuggled to sleep with it tonight.

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