Sourdough and weaning

by Alissa

In inadvertent honour of Australia day, it’s been a celebration of local microbes around here lately. Sauerkraut. Sourdough. Both highly successful. Check out that crumb:

The last slice of the first loaf of sourdough rye

The last slice of the first loaf of sourdough rye. 100% rye flour bread is great good news for my gluten intolerant body, and something about the summer heat in our new kitchen has made for optimal fermentation this week.

What prompted the latest round of domestic craft was this: Last Friday we had appointments for our health exams, the final piece of our application for Australian permanent residency. We’re going for it, swiftly, decisively, THIS YEAR, unlike our hesitant and perhaps futile slow dance toward Canadian residency.

The health inspection requires a blood test (HIV?) a chest x-ray (TB?), an eye test (AWTMNIS?), some poking and prodding and peeing in a cup, and another $$$$ expense toward belonging here. There have been a pile of those lately. The application fee. The new appliances. The tiny hot pink wetsuit for our water baby. The $10 I spent on a pregnancy text kit on my way to the clinic so I could answer the X-ray tech with more certainty than just our sub-fertile history and O’s penchant for ‘the milks’ that I am not pregnant. We are low-risk people, for all of the conditions in question.

But infertility followed by this beautiful child has increased my openness to the possibility of being wrong. For peace of mind, I knew I would need a test, but somehow made it to the night before the x-ray without getting to the chemist. By the time I remembered, we were all in bed and I wasn’t driving to the seedy end of town for the late-night pharmacy and parallel parking alone. Ace left early–they left a message that his appointment was changed to 7:45 instead of 9:45, but neglected to mention that it was so we could all have appointments at the same time. O and I left the house around 8:15 as originally planned. We stopped at the chemist. I handed over the cash. The pharmacist called me dearie and passed me the kit with genuine warmth. I debated pulling my carefully collected jar of urine out on the sidewalk outside the shop and testing then and there, but we were in the middle of  the cafe strip. I settled for a hidden dipstick maneuver inside my bag behind the stroller in the corner of the waiting room and exposing my body fluids here on the internet instead. You are welcome, Darby Street breakfasters. For the next two blocks to the clinic, I let myself think, what if? What if all this fresh air and sunshine and good food have pushed us into fertility? I have been really tired lately.

The result was negative, of course.

What I’ve been losing sleep over leading up to the health exams: parenting beyond breastfeeding, the wide array of schooling possibilities, real estate, and making sourdough starter. Because when I begin worrying about the future, eventually I avert my gaze and turn to making our next meal instead.

In my mind these last few months, the health exam and our ensuing residency has become the hinge in the next layer of our stability: public healthcare, house shopping, time to make room for another person in our family. This last part is also the driving force behind my mostly unmade plans for weaning. Preparing O for life beyond the sweet succor of my chest is daunting territory.

How can I wean a child who tells me my milk tastes like plums?

I grew this beautiful little human from scratch, from my own flesh and milk. Physically nourishing her being still fills my days and nights, and it is hard to imagine what will come next. She is still so small and relies on me for so much. It is good to be needed as much as I need her, but it is time to expand our options for coping.

The  x-ray has served as a mental deadline. We are beyond that particular small hazard now as we proceed. In a few weeks we expect to be enrolled in public health care. And the sourdough, while immediately gratifying, is also a provision for our future here–a spoonful of flour begetting beneficial bacteria to leaven the loaves of our future. Sourdough culture can live forever if you keep feeding it. As the flour ferments and takes on the tangy flavour of this particular place–our family, whatever shape it takes, will also be warm and well fed.