Sunday, December 29, 2013

When Baby Has a Cold

Jack has his first cold.

Oh, I could talk about Christmas, all the lovely things our families gave our son and the joy of watching my son grip the wrapping paper and make small tears. But on Boxing Day, it all came to a screeching halt. But I'll go ahead and briefly describe the BC (Before Cold) era.

See, we had rolled into my mother-in-law's Christmas eve before the sun set, had dinner and put Jack to bed. We woke up to a picturesque sight. The ice storm that hit the province days before had the trees glistening in the sunlight. She lives in a small town and the views from any angle are all things charming.

We did Christmas dinner at my aunt's house and spent the night. I had too much wine. Then in the afternoon we headed on out to a family friend's house on the island, and then off to the Dude's aunt and uncle's for dinner. Jack seemed to be holding up well enough, but was clearly starting to get grumpy. So, sensibly, we left. In the morning, we would see the Dude's grandmother in the nursing home and then come back home to Toronto.

That totally didn't happen.

I can't remember when it started, but Jack started waking up crying. I always take the night shift. If it's rough, I'll just sleep in from 6:00 a.m. on and the Dude will handle the morning. But the crying wouldn't stop and he felt warm. Eventually I had to wake up the Dude and we brought our baby into the bed. The Dude got maybe a few hours of sleep. I got none.

While I recuperated from a night that was hell on wheels, the Dude and his mom brought Jack to the walk-in clinic. Verdict? A cold.

Now, I didn't know this, but A. a baby often has several colds in the first year, and B. they can last TEN days. 10. One-zero. Cue misery. I mean, we had obviously gotten away with something all this time never having dealt with a BC before, but it was here now and damn it.

We did not visit grandmother, we did not go home. We stayed at my MIL's and took care of business. This was nice. Food and drink were made available, no housework need be done and we could just focus on taking care of our sick baby and otherwise resting from caring for our sick baby.

And then I had to spend all night alone with him. The Dude needed to drive home and fatigue on the highway serves no one. So, I got the queen bed to myself with the baby and he laid on me all night, effectively keeping me awake until 6:30 a.m.

He'd wake up with a hoarse cry and I'd give him some formula. Then he woke up some more and I had no more supplies in the room, so I left him crying in the travel crib while I mixed him up another bottle. He woke up a lot to sob about his impacted breathing, and pitifully snuffle and wail. I'd give him baby Tylenol every four hours to keep a fever at bay.

In the morning I was relieved of my duties and I slept for 4.5 hours. But then it was go time and I was on the clock. We got home in one piece, and I did the night shift again when Jack wouldn't sleep in his crib, even with it on an incline to promote drainage.

So today, knowing that tomorrow I would have no sleeping in with the Dude back at work for two days, I got cracking. I researched everything and then I set out. I got my nails done first to give myself a break, but then I got serious.

1. Vicks VapoSteam. The Dude bought a humidifier and we have it running now. You add a little VapoSteam and it gives a little extra sumpin' sumpin' to the steam to help clear the sinuses.

2. Hydrasense Easydose. I use the regular full power stuff on myself for allergies and this stuff does not kid around. So we tried it. They come in capsules and we squirt one into each nostril and then wipe up the contents as they make their gross exit. (Okay, this is so gross, but one time it worked so well that a giant booger shot through to the other side of the nose and when I squirt up that side next, the capsule acted like a suction and sucked it right out. Incredible in its ickiness.)

3. Shower steam room. And! For bonus effectiveness, I put some of the VapoSteam in the shower and created this medicinal box of easy breathing. I ran Jack's bath and a whole bunch of stuff came out of his nose by the time the bath was over.

4. Vick VapoRub. Classic. We use just a dab on his chest.

5. Crib is still on an incline for drainage.

And for hydration, I added an ounce of water to the formula because Jack doesn't seem keen on drinking water on its own. And of course Baby Tylenol every four hours.

No screwing around.

So far Jack has woken up once, but went back to sleep. We'll see how well this goes. The Dude got Jack sleeping a lot for naps in the car seat (Again, the recline was the key) and I'm going to use all these tips and tricks to keep things going tomorrow.

I really do think my baby is a trooper, though. Not only is he going through his first cold, but he also cut two more teeth while at my MIL's. He could have been so much worse.

Oh, parenting.

But know what's great? He's been so snuggly and cuddly with me, and he can't do without his stuffed Big Bird. Precious.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Presents for Baby

So, what do you give a baby for Christmas? Do you go ALL OUT because it's your first time having a child of your own for the holiday? Do you skip giving any presents at all because baby doesn't know Christmas from Tuesday? Do you use the day as an excuse to buy your baby a few new age-appropriate things you were going to get him anyway, and simply wrap them up for effect?

If you chose the last one, you're like me. It's tempting to spoil your baby because love. But really, you don't want to get into the hoopla of overspending. It can create a bad cycle.

So, we got him three things. One from Pa, one from Ma and one from Santa. Then there's whatever else grandparents are planning to do and I'd say it's one happy little Christmas. Although, Jack would be just as happy if I handed him my smart phone and turned on the screen. Hell, touching the remote control is a good day for him. But oh well.

So, the things we got him are a puzzle, a block set and a tambourine.

The blocks are simple painted little things:

And I don't have photos for the other two, but the tambourine was fun. I took Jack into the toy store and, as I like to do, put various toys in his hands to see what he liked. Oh, he banged that tambourine around and smiled like he'd found some kind of candy Jesus. So, that was a win.

And the puzzle looked neato. Babies don't really do those, but this one is suitable for a one-year-old because the pieces can fit into various places. It's really weird for me to imagine Jack being able to use it. He's eight months old. He can't stack blocks even. He knocks them down and bangs them together. Hell, I remember when that was a big deal.

Actually, he's crawling now, and that's the current big thing. He's romping around the apartment like an elephant. He doesn't go on his knees, he's rump in the air and on all fours. It's adorable. Tiring, but sweet. It's amazing how endlessly fascinated he is with things like lint or handles or crumbs. And how much his discoveries point out how bad I need to clean the house.

I'm wondering if he'll like ripping wrapping paper. I'm not holding out hope he'll actually open presents, but if he at least enjoys the spectacle that is opened presents amongst ribbons and tissue paper, that'll be enough.

Oh man, a child of my own at Christmas. This is it. This is the beginning of the kind of holiday joy I've been waiting for. Squee!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baby Food

I thought I would update Jack's progress with food. It's going... okay.

I meet with moms and babies every week and all I hear about is how enthusiastic the wee ones are about eating. And I see them eating plenty. And moms are swapping baby food recipes.

My little nugget? Well! I've tried making my own. He doesn't much care for the texture. Seeing as he was a late bloomer with even losing the tongue thrust and he's only go two teeth, I'm okay with him enjoying purees still. But they're from a jar. They're smoother, and he prefers this.

Yesterday I went to a Baby and Me program at an Early Years Centre and there was a baby food presentation. How convenient! I'm facing this right now. What wisdom would be in store for me? Perhaps I could learn some things that would improve matters.

*Snort* No.

I've complained about the breastfeeding lobby before, the militant lactivists who refuse to acknowledge formula as a valid food. Just in case you thought you were done with this sort of pushy nonsense, here comes the make-your-own-food people! The baby-led-weaning sorts are occasionally as annoying.

(I certainly don't think making your own baby food or doing baby-led weaning is inherently annoying. Oh no. Do exactly as you like to feed your baby. Take pleasure, you have my support and I salute you. But jesushchrist, stop telling me I should do the same thing because it's the best way. Just hush.)

So, this lady gives her presentation and proceeds to lie to the moms in the group. Oh yes. Lied. Like, flat out. I didn't call her out because she was so strong in her conviction that she planted a seed of doubt in my mind and I didn't want to risk being wrong in front of many people.

She said commercial baby food contains preservatives. This is a common misperception.

Now, there are many reasons to make your own food: cost effectiveness, using fresh food, taking pleasure in making it, creating your own flavour combinations. All very nice. But one reason is the misinformation that baby food has preservatives in it.

But how do they stay on the shelf without them? They are jarred with a vacuum seal. As someone who's made jam before, this is something I easily understand. You sterilize the jars, pour in the food, cap with a lid, and then they are boiled. The lid sucks in like a vacuum and they are now prepped for longer term storage. You can do this with any number of foods. It's not like eating things fresh, but it is healthy and non-chemical.

You can find this information on the company websites themselves, or from third parties. And all the ingredients listed on the jars.

It was very frustrating to listen to this non-fact-based ideology. I also know you can't feed your baby into a life of good digestive health. Hello! I was breastfed and my mom pureed all my baby food at home. I have irritable bowel syndrome. Shit happens. Or, you know, sometimes it doesn't. But moving on.

She showed us how to use a grinder to make our own food. And I did like that part. It took some mystery out of using a tool like that. But it was textured and lumpy. And I tried to feed it to Jack and he rejected it. And when I say "rejected", I mean he coughed dramatically and spit it out.

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be told "THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO DO IT!" only to have it not work for you, while the apparent inferior method is totally working. Awesome.

I do plan on eventually making his food, just to get the textures moving along. But he's only been eating, really, for about a month. And it was a struggle to get here, doing everything I could not to turn meal time into a tense situation or a battle. I want my baby to like food. Starting him on the less flavourful stuff (Commercial food) is not dooming him in any way. It's something I can build on. I need to start somewhere.

Yay, commercial food!

And in any case, in three months he'll be in daycare. Daycare has a way of getting you to adapt. I know because I went to one.

I just need to remind myself he's not going to go to kindergarten with me spoon feeding him purees.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mom Gets Out

Oh, I am the WORST! Yes, I kinda sorta quit blogging briefly. Why? Oh who knows. Laziness, I guess.

Or maybe I've just been kind of living it up a bit. Oh yes! I have had a slew of fun things going on around here.

I'll detail my awesome week(ish) away.

1. Paint Nite. The premise is this: you go with friends to a pub/restaurant and paint the same thing. There's a master to copy from with an instructor to guide you along the way. Everyone comes with with a different version of the same basic work.

Half done!

We all started off feeling like we were doing a terrible job and wondering what sort of crap we were going to bring home. I usually have a lot of artistic confidence that I'll be able to create something decent, but early on even I started feeling like it was all going to hell. But the beauty of Paint Nite is really in how simple it really is to make a good painting. We all wound up making something pretty nice.

With my friends!

But the best part was that everyone except me thought it would be lame, but were still up for it anyway. Turns out they all had fun and I got to feel good my pals were up for what they thought would be a crummy experience just to hang out! But seriously, though, it is a good time. And you get to bring home some art.

2. One Of A Kind Show. So, I made plans with a friend to go on a Sunday, nice and early in the schedule, and we moseyed. This friend, she's good at the moseying, and you need to be to see as much as you can. I did wind up getting some stuff that day: A stained-glass window and a new clock.

(The clock is for the living room. The Dude brought home a boring-ass IKEA clock that looks like something you'd see in a passport renewal office. So, I brought home a neato clock from the OOAKS. It now hangs in our living room looking like perfection. I had texted him a picture of it from the sales booth and received a very resigned text back. There is no fighting me if I want a cow clock.)

I really have a love for cows for some reason.

And of course I bought treats.

But I wound up going the next day too. My in-laws were in town to help my sister-in-law with the OOAKS and my father-in-law helpfully offered to babysit while I enjoyed myself at the show with my step mother-in-law (Seems like a weird title, but it's helpful to differentiate between the two mothers-in-law I have for the sake of clarity). So, why the hell not? Off I went from 9:30 to... 4:00.

4:00! I had no intention of being gone that long, but I got caught up in a whirl of obstacles. I did, however, manage to get my niece a present. I wanted to get her something special, as life has been a little up in the air and I've barely been able to see her at all. So I thought some clothes would be the thing.

I found this adorable jacket that was priced at $40 and when I came back ready to buy it, I saw there was a blouse inside that was marked $40. So I'd read the wrong tag initially. The jacket's real price? Not $40 after all. $250. I did not buy it. I was grateful to be spared the experience of taking an exorbitantly priced children's garment to the cash only to explain I thought it was $210 cheaper so I couldn't actually afford it.

Oh, and I also bought more treats.

3. My birthday party! I turned 31 this week and on Saturday we had my party. My friends all came and made merry. It was my first time playing Cards Against Humanity, which for some reason everyone thought I might be too delicate for. Apparently, I come across as something of a ladylike person, which I have no idea how. But it was a crazy game and we literally played until there were no more cards left.

How to describe this game... well, in one round the topic was Michael Jackson. Everyone picked the card from their stack of 10 to best describe him and the ones I can remember, although they were all wildly appropriate, were: Daddy issues, poor life choices, jerking off into a pool of children's tears (That one won).

Crazy thing is my birthday totally snuck up on me this year. 31 is no big deal. And I keep thinking about Jack's upcoming first birthday. My year has been measured by watching this wee guy grow and change rapidly. School used to be the marker of time. Then there was adjusting to no school. The seasons and birthdays and Christmas/New Years did that. And now there is a little person in my house showing me in a tangible way how fast time is truly passing. It's sort of upsetting. I mean, I love him and get excited about his development, but wow. Somehow I'm a mother to an eight-month-old and one day I'll be a mother to a child, and then a teenager, and then another adult. And I'll be old.

That's not really what I see or think about when I look at him. When I see my baby's face, I feel affection and warmth and pride. His little smile lights up my life. It's when I'm in bed trying to sleep that my eventual hardcore aging and demise start to creep in. That or thoughts of zombies. It's a sad fact about me that for some reason if I think about zombies, I just can't fall asleep.

But when I don't think about zombies, I think about my son, and taking him places and doing things. This will be his first Christmas. He doesn't understand a dang thing; we set up the tree today with him beside us and he gave zero fucks. He cares about the cats a lot more than he cares about our sparkly Christmas tree. But it's still exciting and sweet. It's the beginning of him learning about winter and the holidays.

And now it needs to be the beginning of bed time. For whatever reason, even after having a baby, I can't fall asleep at a decent hour. I suppose this is just the way I'm wired.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Early Years Centre

Today I went to an Early Years centre for babies. And I realized how lucky I am.

The women there had normal first-time mom concerns: social isolation, is the baby warm enough when out, getting enough time to yourself, postpartum depression.

And I don't worry about these things. I manage to get out at least once a month. I overdressed Jack once and have managed not to sweat him senseless since. The Dude is not a dick and sees to the baby weekend mornings and I usually can get out and do stuff once a week by myself. I think I was at risk for depression, but A. I'm not predisposed to mental illness, and B. I had a good support system.

It was nice to take Jack somewhere baby-centric and just let him play and touch stuff on the ground. I can't do that easily here. There's too much everything, with a pointless wall that does nothing but reduce space in the living room. I wish I had more space to play with my baby on the floor. It was a pleasure to be down low with him while he pawed at blocks.

I also realized my baby has nothing close to separation anxiety. For whatever reason. I held a friend's younger baby today while she went to the bathroom and he cried for mom. His clear desire for her company was insistent and loud. This baby is obviously attached to his mom and wasn't too cool with me standing in. This is pretty normal, from what I've seen from other babies.

Jack? He seems fine without me. Oh, he's always glad to see me. He smiles for me more than anyone. But he'll let me go and allow others to hold him. No big deal. Either he's amazing or something is wrong. I don't think anything is wrong. He's just mellow. But still. Everyone comments on it.

And so I google, google, google because when everyone is confused about why your baby is like XYZ, you want to know what other babies are like yours and whatdoesitmean?!

And apparently it means nothing. He's just easygoing, more so than the average baby. And who knows, any day at any time he could just decide he misses me terribly while I'm in the bathroom.

Being around other babies is so wild. Jack was never very small, never floppy, always a little older looking, and he acts different than other babies. Easier, mostly. I love it, but as a mother you wonder about why your child is different, if you need to be concerned. Being a mother means having worries.

And he's having night terrors. But I'm not worried about that. Apparently it's normal. Oh hell, it's pitiful. Out of nowhere, "Waah...wuh-wuh-waaaa!" And still asleep, lost to the world, unaware he's freaking out.

Every month brings something new. I'm always learning and doing new things now. I knew nothing about babies and suddenly I'm brushing up on all things infant. Separation anxieties? Night terrors? Milestones? Knew nada. It's really remarkable what you pick up.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Giving Blood After Pregnancy

I need to get out more with Jack.

Most days we spend in the house because it's easier. Getting ready while he's in a good mood or sleeping, getting him fed, changed and into something seasonably appropriate with a diaper bag packed, lugging a stroller out and setting it up while he's in the play pen and then rushing in to get him, locking all the doors with a baby in hand, hoping I didn't forget anything... ugh. It's really time-consuming to leave the house.

Back when I had no baby and I wanted to leave the house, I'd think, "I'm going to get dressed and leave the house." Then I'd linger around getting dressed, maybe have a snack and at my leisure mosey on out with my purse, which always contained all I'd need. Do-dee-doo-dee-doo.

But as cold weather approacheth and my maternity leave narrows to a close in less than four months (...what?!) I really ought to get out more and make use of the free stuff to do around the city.

And speaking of free things to do around the city, today I went to donate blood. I've done it once before and because I'm O-, I'm a prime donor candidate. Universal donor, baby! Thing is, I got pregnant right after my first donation so when they called me for my next appointment, I had to tell them I was out of commission for awhile. You can't give again until you're six months postpartum.

So, they call me six months after my due date and since I went nearly a month past that, I had to put them off again. But this time, this time, I could go back and perform a civic duty of sorts. I like giving blood. It gives me a good feeling. Plus it takes mucho calories to replace all that life juice, so you get to eat goodies.

Somehow the morning got away from me today. By the time I had to leave, the Dude had taken Jack out with his brother and niece with all our TTC tokens in his pocket, and I hadn't even eaten breakfast yet. I arrived a wee bit late and went through the intake process.

Have you eaten? No. Okay, well, you need to eat first. Okay.

Do you have AIDS? No.

Have you had sex with someone who's had AIDS? No.

Have you paid for sex? No.

Have you had a blood transfusion in Africa? No.

Have you received blood products in the past year? Well, yes. Yes, I have. I was pregnant. My Rh is negative and the Dude's is positive, therefore I needed a shot of immune globulin. (Why? Oh, just read this, I'm no doctor. I got it in my third trimester, which began last December.)

So... I couldn't give blood. There was a lot of back and forth, hemming and hawing, confusion over just when I got this injection. Ultimately, it was not deemed safe for me to donate. I was questioned about why I didn't mention this while making the appointment, but when I suggested the person who called me to set up the appointment (Who knew I'd been pregnant) should be familiar with blood products in pregnancy, I was told they're not trained in that knowledge.

Which confused and irritated me because if the Blood Services Canada people aren't expected to know and ask this simple question ("Did you receive any blood products while pregnant? If so, we'll have to wait 12 months since it happened before we can make another appointment.") then how could I as a civilian be expected to know this? I mean, they know enough that pregnancy means no donation for six months postpartum, and this Rh shot is very common. It's not like leaving your baby behind and going out is wildly easy to arrange all the time either.

I suppose the intake nurse was irritated because they need the blood, one, and, two, O- is in the highest demand. Turning me away must've been frustrating.

Well, gotta wait till the new year now. I'm still very pro giving blood. It's important and valuable public service. But I reallllly think they could fine-tune a few things. Obviously you can't delve into deeply private medical matters over the phone with everyone. But I don't think it's too much of a stretch, when odds are very high that a routine pregnancy treatment has been administered, to ask a newly non-pregnant woman if said treatment occurred. You know, to avoid wasted everyone's time and BCS resources.

At the very least, I got confirmation my iron levels are good and my blood pressure is on the low end of normal. So yay.

Tomorrow we see our newlywed friends for lunch, which should prove much more relaxing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Breastfeeding Propaganda

Formula Isn't Poison - Breastfeeding Propaganda Is

The above is a link to a blog post that says some very timely things about breastfeeding advocacy. Who hasn't heard breast is best? Everyone knows. People are so confident about this, and some so zealous to the point of turning virulent on the topic of formula, that life has changed for new mothers.

Breastfeeding is pushed. Formula is at first discouraged, but then demonized. You get breastfeeding advice at the hospital, but even if your baby is losing too much weight, formula is not brought up. Even after a C section, you are roomed with your baby, providing all the care, regardless of how little you may have slept in the many hours or even days surrounding your labour and delivery.

I know I was woken repeatedly by nurses to check on my vitals, when in fact I desperately needed rest. My milk wasn't coming in and no one told me I could supplement. All this in the name of being baby friendly. It was not mother friendly at all. And I'm inclined to think what is unfriendly to mothers is bad for babies.

In the blog post, the writer outlines how on the Ottawa breastfeeding website, it lists all the advantages of breastfeeding and all the disadvantages of formula feeding. Thus, you are left with a lopsided view and you can't help but feel like a crappy mother if breastfeeding has not worked out, or if you just don't want to do it.

I know the Toronto story as well. A public health nurse came to my house and asked me questions about how I was feeding my baby. I told her about my two-day induction, C section, delayed milk, hives, uterine infection and resulting low supply. I said I was on medication to increase my milk, was pumping after feeds and with the help of my aunt (Who was washing all the dishes, bottles and pump parts) was SNS feeding as well. But so far, my baby was still getting mostly formula.

Her response was at first a look of understanding, but then she suggested I pump around the clock every 90 minutes. Then she handed me pro-breast/anti-formula pamphlets and flyers. 

I was stunned. Every 90 minutes? I was recovering from surgery! I still needed help getting out of bed. I had just got home from the hospital where I'd been hooked up to an IV for two days, where I'd not even been allowed to bend my arm or else the machine would BEEP BEEP for a nurse to come in and rejig it. What about getting some sleep and recuperating? My aunt needed to sleep at night so she could help me all day and my husband was back at work, so after feeding my baby, or setting an alarm to wake up regardless if he needed to eat yet, I was supposed to pump and then also clean my pump, and then try to sleep in... what? 20-minute increments all night?

And somehow this exhaustion and stress would improve my milk production? And how about that precious bonding breastfeeding is supposed to promote? Increasing my risk for PPD with all that pressure to succeed while not sleeping at all, this will make me love my baby more? Huh. Because at that point I was teetering on the brink of emotional hell. The only thing keeping me afloat was my aunt, who I had another week with before I was on my own and I was hell-bent on using her help to get my ass caught up on sleep so I could be as well as I could be to handle my baby alone all day.

That was my reality. My body went hugely overdue. I gave the natural way every chance to get moving and nothing happened except growing a massive baby that got stuck in an favourable position with no signs of labour. This depleted me entirely. Aside from the swelling, my limbs grew very thin. Surgery and not being able to move wore my body out more. Getting sick and more bed rest while postpartum frazzled me.

And still, STILL! Why wasn't I trying harder to breastfeed? Why wasn't I choosing to not sleep in favour of boosting my supply for an undetermined and indefinite period of time?

The breastfeeding agenda that was pushed on me gave zero shits about my wellbeing, about helping me become more confident as a mother, or about acknowledging my feelings or situation.

The pendulum has swung too damn far in the other direction. Formula used to be de rigueur. Now breastfeeding is the sign of good mothering, anything else be damned.

There is a middle ground here. It starts with understanding not every woman will be successful at breastfeeding for a variety of reasons. Secondly, not every woman will want to do it, again for a variety of reasons. For those women who want to, they will need medical, familial and societal support to feed wherever and whenever they and their baby require, no being shamed into the bathroom. They need to know what to expect and how to problem-solve issues. For those who use formula, they need information how how to do it safely, what to expect, and what sorts of formula is out there and what the differences are, and how to choose a bottle that works.

True informed choice means acknowledging that formula is good for babies. A baby will thrive, grow and become indistinguishable from breastfed babies on formula. There are no antibodies and you have to pay for it, but there are lifestyle benefits which may increase quality of life for mom and thus her baby by proxy, as well as other family members. Every woman is capable of assessing these decisions herself with the input of relevant members of her household.

Most moms I've met are breastfeeders. I see them feed in public with a cover, with no cover, whatever; they're aiming for three months, six months, a year, a wait-and-see timeline; some are combo feeding, out of necessity or preference; some are exclusive pumpers.  I'm supportive of them all. 

The real moms I've met in the city are supportive of me too. If any in my regular group judges me for formula use, I haven't detected it. Things are easygoing and there's a live and let live kind of attitude. This group has grown very popular and everyone looks forward to it. It's inclusive and friendly. Public policy would be wise to take note. Inclusive attitudes towards differing choices mothers make creates a sense of community, which benefits everyone.

Breast is not best. It is marginally better when life allows for it to work out. It's not as catchy, but at least it's honest.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Baby Teeth

Jack has two teeth!

And they came in while the Dude and I were out at a wedding. Overnight. On the time change weekend. Our babysitters (My cousin and his girlfriend) are saints.

They've been threatening to come in for a couple months, what with the drool, the rosy cheeks, the fussing. And it would come and go, and only Baby Tylenol seemed to sooth him at night. And while we were getting drinks at cocktail hour  after the ceremony we got a text asking about teething rings.

We came home in the morning to little white nubs poking through and a sleeping baby who woke up happy to see us. Some people have suggested he's getting separation anxiety, but I've seen no real evidence of that yet.

Since the teeth came in, Jack has been more interested in eating, which has been a load off. For weeks the only thing he wanted was apple oatmeal cereal, a strangely specific preference. Wheat cereal was no good. Applesauce was unacceptable. Any fruit or vegetable was met with a wrinkled nose and a closed mouth.

Now he's opening his mouth excitedly for things. I've got him eating strained beef broth and the aforementioned applesauce and wheat cereal. I can't help but feel somehow that the emergence of the teeth has triggered an interest in food. Maybe it's a simple coincidence.

It's sort of funny to me, how Jack's growing enthusiasm for food feels so exciting. Taking care of a baby is full of so much minutiae, but I really love watching him grow and become a little person. Hitting small roadblocks can feel like a bigger deal than it really is. When it starts to resolve you put it so quickly behind you and dive in. I'm already thinking of all the things I can feed him. first birthday cake!

And speaking of cake, here is the wedding cake!
Cute, huh?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Used Baby Clothes

Baby clothes are adorable. They're fun! They are so effing temporary. You get maybe three months out of anything and then it's goodbye forever! I can't get too attached to any cute jammies because then when Jack outgrows them and I know they're done I get bummed. The first pair I was sad to let go of were his fuzzy duck pyjamas that said "Mommy loves me." Sob!

Well, I've reached the point where I must procure more clothes, particularly as it's winter and most of the baby clothes I have are for light weather.

The first time I snagged a great deal was a clothing swap at Baby On The Hip on College Street. I paid $7 to attend with a bag of Jack's tiny onesies and came home with 12 larger items. Score!

Lately I've been hitting up Value Village, or the Value Boutique as one of my aunts liked to say. I did a Fall run and got some adorable sweaters and jammies, but being out in the chill showed me how insufficient my baby's winter clothes were, even though in his stroller he gets carted around town in a fleece sack. And incidentally, I'm so jealous. I want to be pushed around in a fleece sack.

So, today I combed through the baby boy section at VV and found some good cold weather stuffs... and a vintage style leather jacket! Yes, a leather jacket for a baby. And it was $6.99. Holy muffins.

Thrift Store Score!
He may not be able to wear it until spring, but who cares! Actually, I bought him a teddy bear snow suit from Value Village last time that may not fit all through winter... but again it was $7, so I cared not. For that price, if he can wear it once so I can get a picture I am happy. You leave something behind in that place and you'll never see it again, so leave regret-free!

I also found a reindeer PJ set that came with a Rudolph hat. Hello, Christmas morning outfit! $4? Well, alright!

I never enjoyed thrift store shopping before. Too many aisles, too much crap, funny smells and I don't have that kind of patience. But the baby section is small and easy to navigate and also I don't feel bad about my son outgrowing something that cost a toonie. Worth it.

This brings me, though, to a hard part. Giving away all his old stuff. I keep thinking it would be good to hang on to it in case my friends have kids. Also then I don't have to part with it just yet. There is something very emotional about holding up a tiny little outfit it seems impossible your baby used to wear three months ago.

I'm super excited he's doing so well and growing. But... the clothes. If there's anything in the world that can make you want to slow everything down, it's your baby's tiny pyjamas.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Baby's Family

So, having your baby's grandparents in town is amazing. There are people (So many!) who have this incredible family resource all the time: loving people who adore your child and don't think it's a favour to babysit. Once in a while I get the joy of this experience.

The Dude's dad and stepmom came up for a week and on Thursday watched Jack while I got my hair done. La! Nice hair! So awesome. And then on Saturday they came over and watched Homeland at our house while Jack slept and we attended the McPal annual Halloween party.

Sailor Jupiter and Spock.
In the name of the moon, live long and prosper.
I got to fulfill a small teenage wish and was Sailor Jupiter! Sailor Moon is really the gold standard dream, but the cost of the wig and boots made it less than economical. Plus, what do you do with a Sailor Moon wig after you're done wearing it? I haven't gone to an anime convention in 10 years. So, I picked the Sailor Senshi with hair I wouldn't need to purchase a wig for. Logical. Spock logical.

The costume isn't the most flattering. Right around the narrowest part of the waist there is thick tubing. But whatever. Ever since I had the baby my body hasn't looked the same and increasingly I've grown less concerned about it.

The day after the party (Which was SO much fun) we went to our nephew's birthday party. There were eight grandkids there, including Jack. All the little kids got right in his face and wanted to hold him and were touching his head all over. My boy, let me tell you, is one cool customer. Took it all in stride. Nothing gets to him, really, except fatigue, hunger and gas. Yelling kids poking his cheeks? Pfft, ain't no thing.

I remember when I was the kid in these gatherings. I didn't give a thought to my mom or dad, or how much it meant to them that I was playing with my cousins. Funny, in so many instances you think your parents did things to make you happy, and it's true, sure. But really, it was to ultimately make themselves happy as they enjoyed some peace as you ran around with other kids. I'm looking forward to seeing Jack play with other kids. Right now he's only just learned to sort of play with squishy blocks.

The Dude's dad came over today as well, just before bath time, hung out with the baby and us. Jack loves his Grandpa. You know, this sort of family stuff is nice. I've gotten used to the way things are with it mostly being just the Dude and I, but extended family really makes life better.

And now to acclimatize back to normal. I may try out a nearby Early Years Centre tomorrow. I have no idea if it's something I'll like taking Jack to or not. Sadly, baby-centric things like Rainbow Songs have not proven very palatable. If I have to clap along to singing or anything, it may not become a regular outing. We'll see!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Baby Food Anxieties

Some babies have good appetites. They meet food and it's love. I've seen a few at my mom meet-up. And, oh, I'm envious. Jack so far enjoys apple oatmeal. I've tried other things, but he's not into baby food I think. No sweet potatoes, carrots, mangos and apple, apple and blueberry. 

However, at Thanksgiving he ate some potatoes and gravy. And for dinner the previous night he sampled some sauce from our lasagna. And I was eating a chicken pot pie and squashed some carrots and peas with my finger and he ate several. 

So it may just be purees he is not fond of, as I make the oatmeal thick. I really didn't want to have to make my own baby food, but it seems I don't have a choice in the matter.

I suppose the real question is: why don't I want to make baby food? It's hard to say, really. I guess I just feel sort of overwhelmed in a sense. I've got the handle on baby care and now he has new needs. You just can't get comfortable. And it just seems so lovely the idea that I can just buy something readymade and away we go.

Funny, I don't feel that way about diapers. I sorted out the cloth just fine. I am confused by my own feelings on this. I do one thing in a labour-intensive way to save money and I feel anxious about doing another thing of lesser involvement and labour that would also save money.

Maybe it has something to do with my short breastfeeding experience. My relationship with my baby from the start was characterized by anxieties and failures to feed him. I got used to buying the formula and in a way I just want to continue to buy the food and keep it low fuss. I don't want him to reject anything I've actually put work into making (again).

This is probably just one thing I'm going to have to face. It's not like having a child means dinner time is easy. There will be plenty of food rejection ahead. I need to get with the program.

Feed me. I dare you.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Use a Play Pen

You've probably heard teething sucks. I don't think the term generally suggests happy times ahead. I always thought, "Yeah, teething seems like it would be a bad time." Well, I was not deceived, however, I didn't know it could take weeks. I didn't know a baby could lose his appetite. That part kinda freaked me out. After his growth spurt, which had him taking in 40 ounces a day, he's suddenly drinking less than 20 due to gum sensitivity. And this means night time wakings to make up for lost calories.


But we recently bought a used playpen. I refuse to call it a play yard. Pishaw. It's a damn pen and I love it.

Nordstrom retails it for $162.77.
I got mine for $100.
Jack was rolling his arse all over the living room floor and completely not staying on the play mat. After watching him all slow motion like and hearing one too many thunks as he thumped his head on the floor, I decided to contain him somewhere safe and comfortable.

Play pens have really fallen out of favour these days. I think it has a lot to do with competitive mothering. The more you chase after your wee one or hover over your baby, the better parent you must be. Me? I'm sticking him in an enclosure where I don't have to fuss or worry, as I'm not going to earn any medals for allowing him the freedom to kill himself when my head is turned.

The Joovy is a really large pen, much larger than the Pack n Plays on the market, which are really just portable travel cribs/bassinets (We have one). This thing is huge. It takes up all the available play space in the living room, only it prevents Jack from rolling into the coffee table or having access to electrical outlets.

I've loaded it with toys and he happily plays in there for a good 30 minutes before letting me know he's over it and wants to do something else. I'm not really into directing his time. I like to let him figure out his own fun, which is a lot easier on me and seems to be working out well for him. He's not a very needy baby. I read to him a few times during the day, we cuddle over a bottle, I sing while I change him, we share countless smiles, but mostly he likes to do his own thing. The play pen is perfect, and dude is it sturdy business.

Jack in his play pen.
My Instagram is shamelessly baby-centric.

I know a lot of parents fret over "stifling creativity" or "caging" the baby. I couldn't possibly care less about these things. I'm not much for hyperbole. Parenting methods are always evolving and changing and surely the dark ages known as the '50s, '60s and '70s, where play pens were common, did not destroy humanity's capabilities for greatness or innovation. People get so frazzled over the wrong stuff, such as details that likely do nothing meaningful to shape a child.

Ultimately with a baby you do two things: Give love and keep the baby alive. Everything else will sort itself out if you're a reasonably sensible person. Anyone who wants to forgo a play pen can have at it with my support. I just ain't going down that road. I am inclined to keep things that improve my quality of life, and boy has the pen ever done that. I'm pretty sure crying around here has dropped by half since this thing entered our lives.

Maybe one day I'll meet someone else who uses one. Maybe not. Either way.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Six Month Growth Spurt

Growth spurt... I don't remember when it began, but it's here in full thrust. My happy good sleeper has become a grumpy 3:00 a.m. waker. I don't particularly enjoy these times. For one thing, he's less pleasant to be around. For another, he'll soon grow out of his current jammies, which are adorable. And even though I'm enthusiastic about him growing and aging and getting more fun and interesting, a small part of me mourns his littleness when I permanently fold away some of my favourite pyjamas or rompers.

My nightly ritual.
Growth spurts mean more feedings. He was taking about 6 bottles and drinking maybe 30 ounces. Now he's taking in 7 to 8 and today he had 40 ounces. 40! On one hand, that's a lot of expensive formula, man, and extra bottle washing. On the other hand, breastfeeding would have meant parking my ass on the couch for a few days to nurse every hour while my baby worked at upping my milk supply.

(As it turns out, I so do love my freedom of movement, and so I'm rather grateful now that I'm formula feeding. Still believe in and support breastfeeding, but it's days like today that really let me feel good about my situation.)

Growth spurts also mean more fatigue coupled with more grumping. Baby gets tired and goes down for a nap after a feed. Then baby wakes up early due to hunger and needs another feed, and then is too awake to go right back to sleep, and so is cranky for another two hours before he'll consent to another nap.

And his moodiness means he doesn't want to be anywhere, not in my lap, not in the exersaucer, not in the jumper, not on the ground. Interestingly, one of the places he did okay in was his crib. Not to sleep and give us all some peace, mind you, but to roll around in and throw his soothers out of.

These spurts last a few days, maybe a week at worst. Again, I have no idea how many days this has gone on. Two? Three? I'm not sure anymore. I just hope it's almost done.

And then I can refocus my energies on solids, which, for the record, is really slow goings.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How To Wean Baby Off A Swaddle

So, I've been in post-swaddle hell for about... a month now. Jack has been busting out of his swaddle in strongman fashion for weeks. First we had to abandon the SwaddleMe swaddles, which at first were a godsend, making our baby sleep through the night at eight weeks.

Our little burrito boy at one month old
in a SwaddleMe.

They were too thin for an older baby, though, and the velcro, while mostly effective on a three-month-old baby was laughable in the face of a five-month-old baby, who could tear the velcro apart like the Hulk. We needed the industrial strength of the Halo Sleepsack.

Baby is snug as a bug in a really tight rug.
Halo Sleepsack.

This worked for another month or so, the flaps were longer (All the better for creating a nice, tight, full-body fit) and the velcro was longer and more no-nonsense. However, as great as it worked, I think a swaddle is something of a resistance trainer. The baby fights against it, even though he relies on it to sleep, and eventually becomes strong enough to break free. Every time. Sigh.

Night time sleep has been fine. No swaddle? No problem. He'll sleep sack it up, arms all everywhere and fall asleep. I think this is due to the sleep training from a couple months ago. Nap time? Pfft, forget it. It's been the bane of my week, as it's gotten progressively awful, I think triggered by a growth spurt.

So, what do you do? Well, you can try various products to keep baby's arms immobilized, very tempting if you have a baby like mine who prefers a soother but pulls the soother out and can't get it back in, or if you have a baby (Like mine) who scratches his face. But if your baby (Like mine) is rolling, sometimes you just got to bite the bullet and go swaddle free.

I tried various methods with poor rates of success.

1. One arm swaddled, one arm out.

Usually he'd just pull the other arm out. This really didn't work well.

2. Teach baby to sleep on stomach. 

Jack was rolling onto his stomach, which kept his hands off his face and less able to pull out his soother (Oh, he could still do it, but it was harder). So I thought, time to get him to sleep that way. I'd rub his back while he sobbed until he fell asleep, and this was time-consuming and annoying. It sometimes didn't work. 

3. Use your hands to hold baby's hands down so he doesn't pull out his soother.

This effectively makes you the swaddle. It was okay when it was holding one arm, but if he'd free the other one, you were screwed. At first this method was helping, so long as the arm didn't free itself, but soon it turned into a game for Jack and my presence in the nursery kept him awake. He'd bounce his body and giggle. Then he'd twist his body around to see if he could escape. Sometimes he'd come close to falling asleep, and I'd try to leave while he was still drowsy and BAM, arm whips up, removes soother, he grins at me and then cries.

4. Controlled crying while baby is unswaddled.

I'd leave Jack to cry for a few minutes and come back in to reassure him and then leave. I'd find my baby tired out from crying and as soon as he saw me he'd perk up, and we'd start over from square one. This was too infuriating to try too many times. Ain't nobody got time for that.

5. Let him cry himself to sleep.

This was the final straw. The first time I let him cry it out took somewhere between 20 to 30 minutes. The second time took about 15. I just let him do it again and it took 5. I feel we're really getting somewhere.

I bought the Zipadee-zip awhile ago, in hopes it would help the swaddle transition:

Fresh from the mail.
It helps, I think. He's still enclosed in something, although nothing that truly restricts movement. He's sleeping in it right now. I'd take a picture, but, you know. Sleep. It's happening. I'm taking zero chances with bothering him.

So there you have it. How to get baby to go without a swaddle when nothing is working? Dude, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you probably gotta go cold turkey, suffer through it and let your baby work it out for him or herself. And they will, because that's what babies do. They work things out. The hard part is letting them.

Sometimes you have to accept that your baby's cries don't mean, "I need you!" They sometimes mean, "I don't like this!" And that's okay.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll reap the benefits of all this agony. If it's anything like that last bout of sleep training I did, life should get a whole lot better around here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bad Mother Days

Every mother goes through one of those days. You know those days, the ones where you feel like you've failed in the general sense and you need the day to end so you can have a do-over. Every person has those days, but being at home with a baby generally means that those days have left you feeling like an ass parent and your baby doesn't love you anymore.

I mean, it wasn't even that bad, exactly. Jack was a little off schedule and that meant he was unpredictable. When would he be hungry? Tired? I'd have to watch and wait and see. His naps were 40 minutes, throwing him even more off and making his diaper changes less easy. See, I'd throw him in a new one before a nap and after, roughly 90- to 120- minute intervals.

But I wasn't going to do it at 40-minute intervals. And those short-ass naps left me frazzled. It's just not enough time to relax and actually do something or take a nap, yourself.

Kiddo takes three naps a day, usually. But his third nap ended shortly after 2:00. His bath is at 6:30. Asleep by 7:00. Five hours awake for him ruins all our lives. Do babies get super tired after being up a long time? Oh no. Well, yes. But no. They express this aching fatigue with freaking out indefinitely. Then they pass out, and wake throughout the night to freak out some more.

Anyone who tells you a baby doesn't need regular naps is ridiculous. Just an FYI. A strict schedule may not be necessary, or even possible, but you gotta make room in your life for your baby to sleep at sensible intervals, otherwise you're all doomed.

So what did I do? Well, I tried to stretch out the nap past 2:00. I tried for an hour to get him back to sleep. He was rubbing his eyes and crying. And crying. And crying. This means he was tired. But he did not sleep. I'd give him his soother, which he'd suck on gratefully for 5 seconds before he'd pull it out and howl. I'd hold his arms down, mimicking a swaddle, which sometimes works. But no, it made him bounce his body against the mattress and chortle.

So I took him back to the living room for another hour, determined to put him down for a fourth nap, to break up the five-hour stretch of impossible foolishness. He was cranky, so I put on the TV to distract him from how much he hated everything. Yeah, six-month-old and TV. Shut up, I don't care.

Then back to nap time. No dice. He was even more tired, but probably over tired by now, so what did I do when nothing was working again and time was running out for this nap to even happen and thus spare us all a nightmare?

I let him cry himself to sleep. I went in to calm him down a couple times, only to realize this would wake him up and renew the sobbing. So I laid down on my bed and listened to my normally sweet baby wail for 30 minutes total. Then silence for 35 minutes as he took a forced and likely unsatisfying nap.

He woke up in less than good humour, but not as cranky. His eyes were a little puffy and I felt like an asshole. I regretted nothing, but still.

And so around 6:00 I tried to feed him apple oatmeal mash. He took three bites and cried. Screw it.

It wasn't till I got him ready for his bath (Alone, when normally the Dude handles this. He had to stay late at work unexpectedly) that I realized I forgot his last diaper change. Not only was he unpredictable, but my normal routines were thrown off and he had soaked his clothes. Awesome. Mom of the year.

I think Jack prefers his dad to do the bath time routine. Not only is the Dude more energetic after a day spent not doing child care, but he's had time to miss him and is bubbly and fun. I was probably pretty perfunctory.

Jack normally falls asleep on the Dude as he's fed his final bottle before bed. He didn't do that for me, and he didn't fall right to sleep either like he usually does. By the time I collapsed on the couch I was so done.

My entire list of accomplishments for today include: Kept baby alive.

And tomorrow the Dude is seeing the David Bowie exhibition and won't be here for bath time. Christ kittens, I'm tired just thinking about it.

But I'll end this on a high note: A few days ago I took Jack to a store and showed him some toys and he lit up at one of them, and so I just had to get it.

And now Big Bird is his favourite.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Night Out As a Mom

Last night I went to a bachelorette party. I am so fucking old. Buddy B is getting married in just over a month and his fiancée's party (Buddy K) was yesterday.

I'd been looking forward to this event for some time. I never get out of the house at night, and though I never really did that before the baby anyway, the novelty of a nightlife experience was thrilling. Anything you can do without the baby with you is very exciting.

The first thing, though, that made me feel like a tired old mom was finding pants. See, I wear dresses almost exclusively. I didn't even own jeans. And good thing too because they probably wouldn't even fit my postpartum ass anymore.

So, because we were all going to wear Tshirts for the bachelorette, I had to get a pair of pants.

This is where things got sad. I thought to myself, "H&M has inexpensive clothes. They have pants. They carry jeans. This will be easy." Pfft. I don't know why I thought this. Denial maybe.

Turns out the only jeans for sale are skinny jeans. Tapered ankles. Or jeggings, which are skinnier than skinny jeans, only without the practicality of a pocket or easy ability to remove your pants to pee. I stuffed myself into both in different varieties and watched as the denim encased my thighs and pushed all fat upwards. This is not a good look.

I looked in other stores and tried on pair after pair of skinny, skinny jeans because that is all there is. And low waists to boot. So, they push all my flesh up and then gives said flesh an immediate opportunity to cascade over the top in glorious muffiny fashion.

I did find a pair of jeans, however, regular waist, bootcut and undamaging to the self-esteem. I now own pants, pants I can wear with shirts. Very exciting. I don't own much in the way of shirts, though, 'cause, you know, dresses.

At the bachelorette, I was given a top that said "Hot Mom", which was fun. Also fun was people at the bar reading our tops and being flabbergasted I was a mother. I like being a mom, but I am exceedingly happy I don't look like one. Though one pair of drunk 40-year-olds thought I was 12 (and in a bar?) and that my motherhood was shocking. They crossed themselves Catholic style, as though they just encountered a bad omen (And I guess I would be the bad omen in this scenario).

The party was a great time, with all the usual penile items, games and food. I didn't get drunk. Buzzed, yes, but I let it wear off. Why? Well, the Dude is at his brother's today helping him paint a basement. I'm alone with Jack now. That's why. Oh yes, no matter how much fun you're having, you can't forget what the next day has in store for you (It's not going to be sleeping in bed all day and waking up at noon for greasy breakfast).

I got home a little after 2:00 and heard Jack gooing and babbling. He's almost 6 months and going through a growth spurt. His sleep has devolved accordingly. I cannot wait for this to be done. I truly do not enjoy these spurts. He needed to be fed at 2:30, which I did, and again at 6:00, which the Dude did. So, really, it was good I was sober by the time I got home. And no hangover today, which I lost the ability to handle with any kind of stamina a long time ago. Some people may think I look 12, but I definitely feel 30.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Baby Spend and Splurge

Maternity leave is a recipe for crappy finances. As soon as you add a massive expense in your life, you are reduced to 55% of your income, which is effing taxable. I have no idea what I'm going to get slammed with come tax season, but I be scared.

Since I worked from home, it's not like I'm saving money on food in any way. There's no, "Well, at least you won't be buying your lunch." Buying lunch? Pfft, I've been scrounging for crumbs in the cupboards since 2008. When I started working from home, I stopped planning for lunch altogether for some reason. Even now when we have left overs it's like a revelation, "Hey, I can have lunch tomorrow!" As opposed to, you know, not having lunch.

I once ate baking supplies because the Dude polished off the last of the bread due to gluttony and pecans and chocolate chips were all that I could find to eat. I really should plan better. Hey, there's ice cream in the freezer! I think I may have a bowl. After this, of course. 

When I was planning my mat leave, I had intended to breastfeed, which should have costed me zero dollars, except that I bought nursing bras, a few nursing tops and a manual pump (crap) and an electric pump. And herbs, tincture and drugs that probably did something, but not much. I bet it's calculable how much each ounce I extracted actually cost and my guess is way more than formula, and that's scary 'cause formula is hella pricey. Pricey considering baby sustenance was designed by nature to be free, but again with the useless purchases I outlined above. 

Now I'm paying $100 a month roughly for formula. I was gifted bottles that caused gas problems (I'd picked these bottles out, so I really have no one to blame but myself) and had to replace them and get bottle brushes. I think all this cost around $60 to $70. I don't remember. I blocked it out. I also bought a powder dispenser so I could actually leave the house without being on the clock 'cause formula goes bad in two hours, probably faster in the heat we had this summer. That humidity could curdle milk still in the breast.

There's sales and coupons and I take advantage of Shopper's Drug Mart's Optimum points like no one's business. I don't even buy formula now unless I can get bonus points for them. I think this habit is warping me because even though I was running very low, I felt very put out for having to buy a can without being bonus-points rewarded for it. Like, yeah, I need this product to keep my baby alive and everything, but I have to buy it without getting anything else out of it? Whaaaa?

I recently bought a high chair for Jack for $80:

Yeah, there are used items on Kijiji and Craigslist, but ain't no one got time for that. Renting a car adds to the price of a used chair or borrowing a family member's car means too much organizing with random strangers over time windows not fully in your control. And anyway, all the other chairs were over $100.

I also bought more Tots Bots diapers 'cause they're better than the BumGenius, if you ask me (I'll review them another time in full), and they're damn cute. Also very expensive, about $25, which will pay for itself over time and it's a better sort of diaper to send to daycare when the time comes. No one wants to be a pain the ass about what goes on their child's ass, not with people you want to like your son and not view him as a, well, pain in the ass.

Moo. Hehe! Love cows.

And I saw baby food on sale, so I thought, "Well! I'll stock up on rice cereal, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes..." I know I can make my own baby food, but if there's anything motherhood has taught me, it's that I am not going to get a medal for going out of my way to be perfect. And Jack will probably be fine. I value my time more than I value saving a little money on baby food. I'll probably mush some bananas and avocados because I'm not that lazy, but that's about as far as I intend to go.

I mean, I'm already using cloth diapers. Surely that's crunchy and frugal enough. 

When Jack started teething, I bought Camilia (on the recommendation of a friend and reader) and it's around a dollar a dose! Of course when it's worth it, it's worth it, and I've also used baby Tylenol. Don't understand not using that stuff. I know there are wary parents out there, but I would never try to sleep unmedicated with tooth pain, so yeah. And bought Sofie the giraffe for chewing on. 

And then there's daycare coming up. $1,500 a month, and god help me, please let us get the subsidy! If not, I don't know how we'll manage for a few years with that cost. I know we could do it, we just wouldn't have any fun. Like ever.

When people say kids are expensive, they ain't lying. And I was all frugal. But babies, they are a money suck. You can borrow things, buy on sale and used, and go crunchy, but in the end you're still bleeding cash. On mat leave pay. 

I don't even know what I'd do with all the extra money we used to have. Probably buy dresses.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Solids: Part 2

No heavy posts for me today. I've been feeling strange since writing my last entry, a little vulnerable, a bit melancholy. But also a little freer.

As a dear friend of mine likes to say, onwards and upwards.

So, I took a break from solids recently because last time I tried, Jack had a meltdown. And when I say meltdown, I mean he recoiled from the spoon and sobbed inconsolably while staring down at the bowl, rattling in his high chair and wailing. The time before that he cried and refused the spoon. So, a bit of an escalation here. I can take a hint.

I think it's been about a week and a half since I got him started and quit early, and today I got going again. He's a wee bit older, I used different spoons and I thinned out the rice cereal. He ate it happily, which is to say it dribbled all over the place and enough of it went into his mouth that I consider it a success.

He's teething right now, agonizingly slow. It's sort of off and on. He's been getting grumpy, rubbing his gums (Which are whiter than usual) and he has rosy cheeks from time to time. I kinda wish the teeth would just appear and get it over with already. And when I think there are soooo many to come and all this fuss over one dang tooth...

Rosy cheeks and a sad little face.
But look at these sweet jammies!
So between sprouting some chompers and eating for realsies, my boy has a lot going on.

Oh, and the soother business? Pfft. Caved. Folded. Gave in.

Spent some time trying to get him to sleep on his tummy, since he was rolling on to it anyway, but ultimately it was hell trying to get him to fall asleep like that. Doable, but shitty. So, I'm now doing a revised swaddle: one arm out, the arm he uses less frequently to pull out the soother.

And it's been working out much better. Thank Jebus.

Raising a baby is so much minutiae. It's all super important (To you) because it's going to make or break your day every day. But damn if you don't get dizzy wanting adult companionship.

They also mark the time in ways nothing has since being in school. I know exactly where the last five months have gone. Every day I see those five months looking at me with increasing intelligence.

But that's really a topic for another day.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Letter, An Admission

This has been hard to write. I know people who know me will read this. If you see me in person and want to let me know you read this story, that's okay. But I likely will not want to talk about it. 

Some time ago I wrote a letter to patient relations at the hospital I birthed at. My midwife had spoken to the manager of obstetrics on my behalf, but had encouraged me to actually write a letter because that would be the sort of thing that would amount to real results. My cousin, a nurse, also told me she knew that would be the only way anyone would hear my story or that any change may happen.

 It took me four months to do it. It took that long for me to get into the right head space to first be able to really remember what happened to me, but then to actually write it down. It was hard to do. I know I shook and sobbed when I typed out my story and I hesitated before hitting send. I was so scared that I'd get a reply back and hear to the effect that it was a personal problem and that I should get over it.

 I spoke to the manager of patient relations soon after. She went over my letter and got more information from me and was compassionate in her questions. She asked me if I wanted a call from specific persons on staff. I realized, no, I didn't. Again, I didn't think I could handle hearing any excuses, and if that could possibly happen then I didn't want to go through that. I asked for the manager to call me back herself and let me know any follow up.

 A couple days ago I got that phone call. And here's what happened:

The head of obstetrics went over my medical information from the birth and said that a C section was medically indicated, that I did have a good reason to have one and that I didn't need to have been put through an induction if I preferred surgery.

Staff in the department were read my letter and will be given more training in handling patients with my sort of situation.

I was given an apology.

I didn't have much to say on the phone. I was sitting on the floor, holding Jack and quietly crying. It's hard to remember that experience without becoming emotional, but I was so relieved. I felt vindicated. I'd been walking around with this wound in my heart from how I was treated and now I feel like I've been acknowledged as a person, not just as the former vessel for my baby.

I'm going to post the letter I wrote, and then I'm going to have to explain one thing I mentioned in there, which I've rarely ever discussed before. I feel like it's time.

I gave birth at *** on April 3 of this year. I'm unsure of where to start, but perhaps laying it out in point form will help give you an idea of what I'm upset about with regards to the birth of my son. It's been a long time coming, writing this, but I must. I go to a dark place when I relive my son's birth but I have to do this.

1. I was admitted on April 1. I was 43 weeks along with a midwife and was 0 cm dilated and not effaced. I had tried every natural induction technique known to woman kind with no progress. I requested a C section since I felt strongly inducing from zero would be a hellish and unsuccessful experience. I was denied this on the basis that it would be better for baby to birth vaginally. This doctor, Dr. D, seemed to give little regard to my concerns for my own wellbeing at being put through an induction, which of course carries its own risks.

2. The nursing staff treated me like an emergency because I was 43 weeks along. I told them my grandmother gave birth 10 times all at 43 weeks, and successfully. This did not alter the air of anxiety they approached me with. One nurse said she'd bet me $100 there would be meconium in my waters.

I understand the stats about stillbirths and going 43 weeks. I also know that study was performed in the 50s prior to the age of ultrasounds and non-stress tests to detect pathologies in overdue pregnancies. My scans and tests (Performed every other day) were always perfect. There was no need to treat me like a ticking time bomb.

3. The Cervidil caused me to burn internally for 12 hours. I could barely walk. This garnered me 0 cm of dilation. The resident, a young redheaded woman whose name I don't recall, badgered me into allowing a cervical check. I wouldn't allow it because I was suffering so badly. Only when my husband intervened and told her to back off did she stop hounding me. I very very disregarded by this woman. She was condescending and dismissive of all of my concerns. She cared only about being textbook and had no bedside manner.

4. I have a history of sexual abuse. It was incredibly challenging to share this with my midwife, who was good enough to share this information with the staff in the hopes of getting their support. This did not sway staff from wanting to insert their fingers inside my vagina multiple times (sometimes with no real compassion for my emotional and physical pain) or reconsider the C section for my mental wellbeing.

5. I was given a foley catheter next, and morphine to sustain the pain. It was very painful, but thankfully due to the drugs I didn't care and I can't recall how it felt. This was the only part of my induction that didn't bother me.

6. They broke my water when the foley dilated me to 4 cm. I was okay with this, but was not alright with being forced into staying in bed. I wanted to walk around to try and start labour, but was not allowed to. When labour didn't begin within an hour I was bullied about being given oxytocin. 

7. I declined the oxytocin many times. I said I didn't want to have it. I would have (Obviously) been happy to have a C section at this point, but they were hellbent on forcing labour to happen against my body's will, and to use methods against my own better judgement.

8. I'd been kept awake all this time, not allowed to sleep. The nurses would wake me to check my vitals every 30 minutes. At the point I was forced to have the IV (I had lost my will to fight at this point) I'd been awake since 8:00 a.m. on April 1, and it was late into the night on April 2. It was inserted into my hand in such a way I could not put pressure on it, removing my ability to bear weight during labour. After I started crying, a nurse agreed to relocate it.

9. I couldn't sustain more than three hours on oxytocin and needed the epidural. This didn't prevent me from feeling the catheter go in. For the rest of the night I was stuck flat on my back in bed, awoken every 30 minutes and by 7:00 in the morning I had dilated to 5 cm.

10. When the nurses changed shifts, a new nurse came in and didn't check the positioning of the fetal monitors. She noticed a drop in the heart rate and everyone started rolling me around. The OB wanted to insert monitors on the baby's head. Another internal violation of my body, a body I could no longer use half of. I could have had this all over with if I'd just had surgery when I asked for it. This was when I broke and demanded the C section. Finally, mercifully, after two days I was granted my request. I think it's hypocritical to treat a woman like her baby's in imminent danger for being 43 weeks, but then not allow a C section. Which is it? 

11. My recovery was terrible. I developed hives and no one knew why. I was awoken by a nurse every hour or so to check my vitals, and this was on top of my baby waking me. I got no sleep for the two days I was in recovery. This may or may not be the reason my milk didn't come in.

12. I developed a uterine infection five days post partum. I was told I'd go back to Labour & delivery so I could take my son with me. Instead I was taken to a post-op wing with only a communal bathroom and no space or accommodations for my baby or a companion to help me care for him. My milk had trickled in and now I was removed from the one thing that would have helped build my supply: my baby. 

13. There was no support for me to pump. The sink in my room only ran luke warm water and I couldn't clean my pump, nor could I keep track of the time or get up without assistance. I had to ask for Tylenol and was treated with suspicion for wanting pain relief at all, despite being only five days post surgery. My midwife came to visit me and was very worried about me developing PPD.

The end result is I couldn't breastfeed. Perhaps had I been given the C section rather than being exhausted for two days first this wouldn't have happened. Maybe if I'd been cared for post op in a location that better suited my needs as a new mother, this wouldn't have happened. No one gives you any information about formula in the hospital, it's all about breastfeeding. But then I was set up to fail. I live with that failure every day.

From time to time I cry about what I went through. My son, who everyone was so worried about, was as healthy as his scans and tests indicated he would be (And 9lb 13 oz). I, on the other hand, who was treated like a vessel, deteriorated. I'd chosen midwifery to avoid this very sort of birth. But I wasn't so committed to a natural birth when it looked unlikely. I was willing to go 43 weeks and let it happen naturally, but it didn't. I was flexible about my plans. I was ok with a c section to avoid the complications of inductions and risky vaginal birth of a huge baby. For reasons I will never understand, I was put through the ringer against my will and put at risk of an infection I, of course, developed.

I don't feel my best interests were considered. I didn't bond with my son for two months due to this terrible birth. I was in a very dark place and through the support of my family and midwives I was able to break free. 

But thanks to the experience I had at ***, I will never have another child. I will never go through that again. 

When I was 16, my first boyfriend sexually assaulted me. It took me over 10 years to admit that is what happened. When I was a teenager, I knew about rape. I knew it meant a man forced his penis into a woman against her will. But I didn't know other types of assault were possible. I didn't know they were assaults.

This boy, who I only dated because I had very low self esteem at the time and didn't believe I could do better (I was being bullied in school and didn't think anyone would ever want me), used to penetrate me with his fingers. I'd say no, he'd do it anyway, fast, forcibly and it hurt. It happened all the time. Sometimes I bled. Sometimes I mentally went somewhere else. I didn't know what to do. I was out of my depth.

I didn't know why he was doing that. I had no experience with boys, didn't know what was normal, didn't know how to respond. My mom, who was vigilant in teaching me to leave any relationship that was abusive, didn't know. She always said if he hits you once, leave before he can hit you again. But we never discussed sexual things. I just didn't know better, and so I suffered and was confused and after a brief time of dating him, I dumped him because the abusive behaviour became verbal. I knew enough to dump him for that. And I learned I'd rather date no one ever than anyone I didn't care about or who was an obvious loser.

And for years I didn't think about what he'd done to me. I was jumpy with new boyfriends in my life when it came to sex. I had to force myself to relax and calm down, which became my normal. I experienced stinging pain from being tense and anxious about being out of control of my body when I was intimate with someone. Exams at the doctors caused me to melt down, shaking, sobbing and frequently leaving the doctor unable to perform the task at hand.

And then I got pregnant, and knew I had to see a midwife because they don't require pelvic exams. 

On the first day I saw my midwife, I asked about internal exams and got the answer I needed: They were unnecessary. And she asked me if I'd experienced any sexual trauma in my life. And I heard myself saying yes, and knew I wasn't lying. I didn't know what the trauma was, though. I hadn't admitted what I allowed to happen to me was an assault. Because that's how I remembered it: I allowed that boy to hurt me and did nothing. Therefore, it was my fault and not an assault.

But I slowly came around. I eventually was able to go there.

While I was lying in bed, hooked up to my epidural, with the oxytocin going, exhausted from lack of sleep and having been violated by all the hands that had been inserted to me in the past day and a half, I told my doula what happened to me when I was 16. 

I was scared she would think it was no big deal, that worse things had happened and women deal with that stuff all time time, and what was my problem? But she responded with distress that I'd gone through that, and acknowledged what happened to me was, in fact, an assault. 

I can't say enough about what it means to me to classify that experience as such, instead of it being a bad sexual experience I didn't fight hard enough against, something that was my fault for not stopping, for allowing to happen more than once. To have someone tell me I was wronged. It was normal for me to feel this way. I was not overreacting. 

That gave me courage to share my history in the email. Because it was a part of the problem and they needed to know. It was also part of the reason I took so long to write the damn letter, because I knew I'd have to share that part and I never fully felt ready.

My vindication from my letter was not just for knowing I should have had a C section, it was knowing they're planning on training staff better on how to treat labouring women who've been assaulted. 

My heart has been broken for so long over how broken my body has felt for half my life. I feel like I've turned a corner of some kind, like I'm ready to move forward with my eyes open. I feel so raw. Maybe now I can finally start dealing with this.

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