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?

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