Archive for October, 2010

Finding Time

Before I was a Mom, I don’t remember having to “find time”.  I know there were some times when I was busy, but I don’t remember ever being so busy I couldn’t find time to do things.  Like put on makeup.  Like having a shower.  Like brushing my teeth.  And using the bathroom.

My priorities these days have shifted rather drastically.  I am chasing time all over the place looking for it.

I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy regularly on Thursdays (when there were new episodes).  Now I try and squeeze in watching it online during Baby Bean (Ba-Bean)’s nap time.

I used to get my hair cut and colored quite frequently (almost every month it seemed).  Now, I am lucky if I get my hair cut once every 5 months.

I used to shower every day.  Now, I have a bath every day with Ba-Bean but the showering has to wait until Daddy is around to help out with the Bean.  It is sad.  I definitely look forward to the day she is big enough (and/or has longer and consistent naps) when I can shower regularly again.

This weekend we did a little photo shoot with Ba-Bean in her Halloween costume.  So cute.  And I showered.  And put on makeup.  And blow dried my hair.  I had on mascara, people!  And lipstick!  And blush!  Oh my!  For once, a yummy Mommy emerged (or so I imagine in my dreams).  It was kind of delightful.  Except for hubby who had to take care of Ba-Bean while I primped for an hour.  🙂

I know these days will go by too quickly and I will miss them if I focus on the things I can’t do right now.  Because some day not so soon there will be things I can’t do that I CAN do now.  Like nap with Ba-Bean.  And cuddle with her in my lap.  And lift her in the air and say “Oooopsie” and watch her giggle.  And hold her hands while she takes tentative steps.

Who knows.  Perhaps some day I will even miss changing diapers as it is time when I can kiss her little belly.  And it is the time I come closest to truly knowing what wrestling an octopus would feel like.  😉

Nap time is that rare time that I often have to myself.  But what to do with that precious time?  Some days it is email.  Or clean-up.  Or Facebook.  Or reading a book.  Surfing the web.  Making food.  Eating food.  Using the washroom.  Or blogging.  It has been awhile.  But I am here for a few minutes again today with my little update.

At last I have found a little time for this today.  Tomorrow who knows.  I have a new magazine to read, after all…


Seasons Changing

So fall is upon us here in Vancouver.  The leaves are turning colors and there is a crispness in the air that cannot be denied.  It started awhile back and is now in full swing.  We have had some days like today where the sun is shining and it makes for a glorious fall day.  Other days it is gloomy, gray, wet, cool and to be honest, a little depressing.

Fall has often been one of my favorite times of year as it signals colorful landscapes and “back to school” feelings.  The chance to “start over” with a new year of school, brand new corduroy pants, a fresh pencil case and new protractor.  🙂  As an adult, I am no longer going back to school, but it brought fresh fall fashions with gorgeous fall colors, warm cozy sweaters, tall boots and still… those great new corduroy pants!

But now with my daughter, I am realizing how much it is also about change.  For whatever reason, the other seasons bring about changes, but never so much as fall does for me.  It signals the coming winter.  And so many changes in my daughter’s life.  She’s 9.5 months old now.  She is truly crawling now on all fours and not just “army crawling”.  She is sitting up on her own (and getting there by pushing herself up off her tummy).  She is pulling on furniture and things and finding herself standing (with a little help from the furniture).  She is off exploring on her brand new adventures.  The toys that once preoccupied her well are now often left lying where they were and she would rather find a leaf on the floor that the dog tracked in.  She would like to cruise on into the kitchen and inspect the dog’s food and water dishes.  She wants to go places!

And yet she is also right smack at the beginning of separation anxiety.  It is a strange push and pull.  Let me go explore Mommy!  Look at me Mommy!  I can stand!  I can crawl!  I can go places!  No, Wait, Mommy.  Don’t leave me here in my Exersaucer while you use the bathroom.  I HATE being alone… I am going to sob great big crocodile tears until you come back even though I can still see you.  Nope, peekaboo is NOT going to cut it.  I want to be held.  NOW!  I don’t care that you have dishes to do.  Can’t you see I hate being ignored even for a minute??

Sheesh!  We Mommies know NOTHING some days!!  😉

Oh yes, so the seasons are changing and so is my daughter.  But then so is my relationship with my hubby.  Babies are truly tough on relationships.  I can understand this so much better now from the inside than from the outside just reading about it.  It is all such a balancing act.  There is limited time in the day and limited energy in Mommies and Daddies.  And so many things to do.  Chores to be done (the never ending laundry, dishes, vacuuming, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, beds to make, garbage to take out, diapers to wash, recycling to be sorted).  And never mind the time caring for a baby takes.  Bath time.  Meal time.  Cleaning up.  If only the dog would eat fruit it would make the floor clean up easier!  (insert cheeky grin here).  She’ll eat the peas and corn and carrots but heaven forbid she should scarf down that mushy banana that I will inevitably step in and make even messier – le sigh.

So we have had a bit of a rough go at times.  I’m not going to lie to you.  Co-parenting and finding your footing together as Mommies and Daddies is tough work.  But luckily we have come through some rough times and are on better footing now.  I am going to make a concerted effort to get out of the house on my own at least once a week for awhile and let Daddy and baby bond together.  They need that time without me bossing them around (it is hard not to point out how I do things and therefore how I think they *should* be done, so it is just better for me to leave them to it so that I don’t interfere).  I know in my heart of hearts they will do just fine and that Daddy’s way may be different than my way, but that it is OK.  Still, it doesn’t hurt for me to disappear so that I’m not tempted and frankly I need to learn to let go a little bit of that control in any case.  I think it is good for everyone.

So I went shopping on my own this weekend!  It was amazing.  I got a new pair of jeans that actually fit (I’ve lost too much weight running after my almost 23 pound baby) and some new long-sleeved t-shirts for fall.  I felt like a brand new woman with my fresh fall clothes and a chance to just be ME again.  It was amazing.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Baby Bean slept for 1.5 hours while I was out.  Lucky Daddy!!  When I came home I was actually singing again as I cleaned and put away the dishes from lunch.  What a lovely chance for some renewal.

I really hope we can keep up this new way of being together.  I found a part of myself again this weekend.  And in doing so, I KNOW that I became a happier person in the process.  That allowed me to reconnect on a much more positive level with my hubby and that is such a blessing to me, my hubby and our child.  That alone made me want to continue with our new way of being.

Time will keep on moving on, and now I feel like we are moving ahead in a positive direction.  There is light at the end of the tunnel and we are working together as a team again.  What a relief.  I’m still not getting more sleep, but I know this too shall pass.  One day in the not so distance future she will sleep better and so will I.  Then perhaps I will miss our nighttime snuggles.  But hopefully, we’ll just make up for it with daytime snuggles and it will mean I am getting more sleep so all things will not make me as melancholy as they do now living with sleep deprivation.

So here is wishing all of you parents out there a fresh start like we have had recently.  I’m turning over a new leaf!  And it feels pretty good.  Just need to keep the momentum up now to make it through the next school year to come.

Being that it is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, it seems as good a time as any to remember to give thanks for all the blessings in my life. I like to think that I practice gratitude regularly, but sometimes it is good to have a holiday that reminds you if you’ve been slacking in the gratitude department a bit.

As a sleep-deprived new Mom, I can admit there are times I am practicing more in frustration management and patience than real gratitude.

But then there are times, even among the frustrating moments, where awesome things happen (and by awesome, I don’t mean surfer-dude awesome, but the original meaning… things that create awe, or perhaps even in some cases, in a new sense… things that create “awwww”).

Yesterday, for example, I was trying to make a lasagna. My daughter needed to let out some steam and move around so I set up some play space with lots of toys in the kitchen and tried to barricade the dangerous spots from her reach. I then set about making the lasagna. Of course I was almost done when I discovered I was short one lasagna noodle and needed to boil one more. Argh. Frustration. Plus every 2 minutes I was picking the baby up and moving her back to the middle of the room where she would quickly tire of the toys and go back to investigating various things. The dog and the cat got in on the action, driving me bananas. Then a diaper needed changing.

So I start the noodle boiling, go change a diaper, come back, get the cat off the table. Again. Then put my daughter in her Exersaucer so I could enjoy a few minutes of her being “contained” for play while I finished the lasagna up and could get it in the oven so I could give her my undivided attention. She started fussing, the cat was climbing all over the counter, the dog was lying in front of the counter and I was losing my mind. I thought to myself briefly “this is why women go back to work so they don’t have to deal with this!” and then just as quickly it occurred to me that actually, women who work have it harder as they have to go to work all day, miss spending time with their babies, and then come home and deal with making dinner and entertaining the baby, dog and cat anyway!

So amidst my moment of “bananas” I suddenly let out a sigh of exasperation only to turn around and look at my baby girl playing in her Exersaucer. And then magic. She gave me the most beautiful smile. Just grinned at me. “Look at me playing Mommy! Aren’t I a good girl?” her smile seemed to say to me. It was just what I needed at that moment and I felt my frustration melt away. “What a good girl you are!” I said “Mommy loves you very much”.

Yes, I have much to be thankful for.

I am thankful for (in no particular order)…

  • my husband who supports me even when he disagrees with me, and who is such a good listener
  • my precious baby girl, who is big and healthy and happy
  • her beautiful smile and contagious giggles
  • the opportunity to stay at home with her and watch her grow and develop
  • my parents who are such inspiration and support to me still and who I can REALLY talk to
  • my extended family – I have a sister-in-law who has done so much for us in terms of bringing us baby clothes, toys and gear from her brother and his wife.  Invaluable to us!  I also have terrific nieces and nephews who are so much fun to be around and such a joy in my life.  My older brother and his wife have also agreed to be our guardian for baby girl heaven forbid something should happen to hubby and me.  That gives me so much comfort.  I have a little brother who has such a great sense of humor and always puts his fun and unique twist on things in life.  I have a new niece and nephew through my hubby and this new niece is such a neat person.  She loves music and to reflect on life and I am enjoying getting to know her.  I have a cousin who is like a sister to me and she has a baby girl too who is just 7 weeks ahead of ours.  It is such a pleasure knowing they are growing up “together” even though we live in different cities.  She also shares a lot of my philosophies on life and parenting and it is great to share ideas and thoughts and emotions along the way with her.
  • my friends – both new and long-term for their support, tips, wisdom and laughter
  • my Belly Buddy who helped me through my pregnancy and has been an ear when I needed to talk (especially when no one else would likely want to hear THAT much detail about all the steps along the way)
  • breastfeeding and that we are still going strong, especially knowing how good it is for her (and me)
  • co-sleeping allowing me to get more sleep than I think I would otherwise and allowing me more bonding time with her
  • our pets (they drive me crazy for sure, but I also have many reasons to love them too – furry cuddles and protection)
  • the fact that my fear of spiders is getting a bit better (I still HATE them, but I have the inner strength to kill them and breathe a sigh of relief every time I do so)
  • that we live in the age of the internet so I can research all things baby, and have been able to meet other like-minded new Moms (both on the net, and some in person – I LOVE Internetworking)
  • cloth diapers (cute AND good for the environment)
  • books (I love continuous learning and have read some fantastic books that feed my mind)
  • fresh sheets and towels
  • music (and especially lyrics)
  • cuddles
  • inspiration
  • creativity
  • empathy
  • Grey’s Anatomy (a girl needs a little escape once in awhile)
  • fashion
  • hot water
  • my financial savvy (thanks Mom & Dad and the Wealthy Barber)
  • Baby Centre (and to the Moms there who have shared their stories with me and each other)
  • Facebook (much as it sometimes annoys me, I also love keeping up with friends and hearing how people are doing, sharing photos and videos, etc.)
  • Skype – for allowing me to converse and see video for free with family and friends far away
  • Excel (God I love my spreadsheets – I have kept a personal budget tracking my spending for 10 + years now on one!)
  • Turkey dinners complete with all the fixings (gravy! mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes! that yam dish with the marshmallows and brown sugar on top!)
  • Roast beef dinners complete with all the fixings (gravy! yorkshire puddings! mashed potatoes!)
  • Pasta (every kind from ravioli to spaghetti to lasagne to KD)
  • Lobster and other seafood (gosh, you’d think I was hungry, but I just ate, I swear!)
  • Sunshine-y days
  • Sunbeams
  • Rainbows (no, I am not going to say “unicorns too”)
  • Showers (the kind where I can wash my hair, not rain showers – although I like rain showers in specific circumstances like when lying in bed at night and listening to the soothing rain sounds outside)

I could go on, but I won’t.  I’m tired, baby will likely wake again soon, and I am going to go and climb into bed and be thankful for my bed, for sleep, and for the cuddles and the smell of my daughter’s skin that come with nursing when I’m not sleeping at night.

So I was reading some Attachment Parenting (AP) articles today on Mothering Magazine and came across one discussing “Cry It Out” (CIO) and how it likely came to be popular in parenting circles.  It then, given the AP nature of the article, goes on to talk about how CIO is not exactly terrific for babies (at least for babies who cry alone) as they exhibit an increase in cortisol which is a known stress hormone.  This after just 5 minutes of crying alone.  I recalled as I read this that I had also seen some research elsewhere that high cortisol levels in adults may also be linked to heart attacks.  Yikes!

Well I must admit I have considered from time to time whether I should use “CIO” to help my daughter to sleep better for longer at night.  Sleep deprivation means you will consider all kinds of things to get more sleep.  But I haven’t been willing or able to listen to her cry yet.  So I have been using more “gentle” methods to get her to sleep and have found that AP really fits with most of my thinking on this and many other things.

But one thing I hadn’t read about or considered before was the potential power of crying for babies.

Now I am not talking about just letting a baby cry for hours on their own.  But the article talks about allowing a baby to cry “in arms”.   It was a new thought to me that babies might have experienced trauma at birth, and may be stressed out or frustrated by things in their life such that they may just need a good cry now and then.

I’m not sure why this thought never occurred to me before, but it hadn’t.  It is strange, really, considering that for many years I have known the power of a good cry for myself.  In fact, I am not ashamed to admit it, but I used to watch “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” every Sunday night just so that I could have a good cry to release any pent up stress and or frustrations in my life.  I knew that they would showcase some poor family who had fostered 20 kids, many disabled, were living in a run-down house that was unsafe, and would build them a terrific new home that would thrill everyone to pieces.  Always a great tear-jerker moment for me to see these families rewarded for all the love and support they have given to these kids and their communities over the years.

In any case, I have had a very demanding career for the last 15 years.  Somehow I always seemed to end up working in a job where lots of unpaid overtime was required to get the job done.  It took a toll on my stress levels.  I would wake up at night with a thought about something I needed to do work-wise or a change to an Excel spreadsheet that I should make based on something I dreamt.  I would pick up my cell phone and call my office and leave myself a voicemail.  Yup.  That was what it was like for many years.

But those Sunday nights I could count on Ty Pennington and crew to make me sob like a baby.  And feel immense relief at the physical release of a good cry.  I always felt so much better, and like the world was a more manageable and friendly place after that cry.

So why would it be foreign that a baby might also get release and return to homeostasis from a good cry?  In fact, I kind of love this idea.  That perhaps my baby girl might sometimes have all her immediate needs met (food, breastfeeding, clean diaper, shelter, not too warm or cold, etc) but still need a good cry?  What must it be like when trying to master a new milestone?  Learning how to stand and being frustrated at times that your own limbs do not always cooperate when you want to do something new?  It might just be a little annoying to my baby girl.  So if she needs a good cry, and her needs are met, I am going to do my best to remember to honor her in the way this article suggests.

I will hold her, look into her eyes, tell her I love her.  And I will let her cry.  In my arms.  She will come to know that all her emotions are safe with me.  That my love for her will not change.  And she can “tell” me anything whether it is good or bad.

Sometimes you just need a good cry.

So I am a big fanatic of the “To Do List”. Again, it most likely has to do with the fact that I love writing. Even something as simple as writing down things I need to get done (and know that I will forget what they are if I don’t write them down). But I have found, over the years, that the To Do List is a never-ending process. Just when you think you are getting ahead and whittling some good ones off the list, more crop up and the list grows yet again.

I suppose part of the problem is that life goes on. It doesn’t stop for me to finish the list. So every day there are chores to be done that I can’t just do once and strike them off and be done with it. The most simple and mundane things (hello – making dinner? buying groceries?) will always be on the list. Yet I still write them down. Groceries because I won’t remember 10 minutes from now that I used the last piece of bread. But also because I like the satisfaction of crossing it off the list when I do it later.

I know it may seem kind of pathetic, but if I don’t write down the mundane stuff, I sometimes wonder just how often I will ever get to cross off the other stuff?

This week has been good for the To Do List though. In the last 2 days I took my daughter out and got her weight and height measured so that I’ll have a record of where she was at at 9 months of age. Hooray! I was so pleased. Then today I went to Service Canada and got my name changed for my SIN card. Now I will officially have my husband’s last name as far as the Government of Canada is concerned.

I must say that the whole name change process is a never-ending task in and of itself it seems. I started with my Driver’s License. No biggie. Then my bank. The teller did it incorrectly but luckily I have a “financial guy” (he’s so awesome) and he sent me all the required forms to fix it. I thought it seemed a little too easy the first time I tried!! 🙂 Anyway, then I had to change my VISA as my ID wouldn’t match the name on my VISA (different bank). These were the big ticket items. Oddly enough, did you know you can simply phone Revenue Canada to get your name changed there? Weird! But it got done too. Then came the BC MSP health care card. The home insurance. Hotmail account. Facebook account. Paypal account. Utilities. Car loan. The list goes on and I find new things each day lately.

I changed my name at work, but not for my professional designation. Not sure what to do about the latter one. Also, in the future for job hunting I am not sure what I will do as everyone I have worked with has known me by my prior surname from birth. It is a bit of a quandary. I suppose people who get married (and stay married – LOL) young and change their names may not encounter this issue, but for me, changing my name for business purposes is a bit tricky. I even read an article that said that women who take their husband’s last name are viewed as being more empathetic and caring, but less dedicated to their careers. Not sure what is up with THAT.

However, I am changing my name so that my daughter and my husband and I all have the same last name. That is how it has been in my family growing up, and I like the idea of us being a family through name.

It was not easy giving up my prior last name however. It was mine from birth to 39 years of age. I’m kind of attached to it. I’m pretty sure my Dad liked me having it too. But I have my own new family and it is time for us to bond. Luckily, my hubby’s last name starts with the same letter (no change to my initials!) and is simple enough that a new signature came quickly.

Now on to make dinner so I can cross something else off the list…

So I’ve been talking a lot lately with friends who are parents about sleep deprivation.  I don’t think I really understood how bad it would be until I had a baby.  I also mistakenly thought it would only last for a short while at that beginning newborn stage and then would get better.

Simply put, I was wrong.

There are days I get a blissful 3 or even 4 hour stretch of sleep in a row.  These days are far and few between.  Some people have babies who “sleep through the night” from an early age (it should be noted that this is defined as 5 hours in a row, normally from midnight to 5am or so for babies).  Not mine.

We are in a bit of a catch-22 situation now.  We co-sleep because we breastfeed and it is the quickest way to get her back to sleep in the middle of the night.  She wakes up, puts up a fuss, I roll over and offer the breast and it is a quick nursing and back to sleep for both of us.  No getting up (most nights).  No trying to put a baby back into a crib and not wake them after you’ve gotten them back to sleep.

However, because we co-sleep, my presence in the bed with her is most likely ALSO the source of her frequent waking.  I mean really… why sleep through when you can wake up and have a snack at the all night diner?  It is warm, ready and waiting 24/7 and your most favorite and delicious treat.  Plus it makes you happily sleepy again and you can drift off to sleep in comfort?  So, yup, I am in a bit of a difficult situation now.  I also have thought about letting her “CIO” (Cry It Out for the non-parents among you who are reading this).  The idea of getting her to fall asleep on her own, in her beautiful currently unused crib, and then sleep for many hours straight is extremely appealing.  I’m not going to lie about that.  But the few times I’ve let her cry, even for a short while, it tore me apart.  So even knowing full well that some short-term crying could mean long-term salvation for my sleep deprived brain, I just can’t bear to do it.  Yet.

I am not completely opposed to the idea, but I do admit that every time I read another article or story on how babies crying is not good for them, I cling to that article and notion as a way to justify my reluctance to do CIO.  So although it would appear I AM a sissy when it comes to CIO, I can truly say that I am a trooper when it comes to dealing with sleep deprivation.

I must say that I now realize also why they use sleep deprivation tactics to wear down prisoners of war.  I am starting to believe my Mommy brain may never fully recover from the ongoing lack of sleep.  My language skills are languishing sadly.  I am very forgetful.  I babble.  I am clumsy.  More clumsy than ever before as my battered and bruised body can attest.  At least the upside of this is that my daughter has recently taken to finding my pain hilarious.  She giggled hysterically when I banged my knee on the table and was gasping for breath.  Then every time I said “ouch” she giggled even harder til I thought for sure she would pee her diaper (thank God for cloth diapers!).  At least there are upsides to everything it would seem.  🙂

The toughest part of all, however, would be trying to share in the “go to sleep” duties with my husband.  My hubby, bless his heart, tries to help out when he can hear on the monitor that the baby isn’t sleeping.  However, sometimes his timing is just the worst!  I’ll be letting her roll around babbling, hoping she’ll tire herself out and go back to sleep without requiring the assistance of my breasts.  Then sure enough, just as she has finally rolled onto her stomach and laid down her head to rest… he will appear in the bedroom, ready to save the day in any way he can help.  Up pops her head, excited and ready to play.  Daddy’s here!  Hooray!  I silently curse in my head and plead with him to sneak back out of the room silently so she’ll go back to sleep.  Then in comes the dog.  Click, click, click go her toenails on the floor.  Another excited gasp from the baby and she tries desperately to crawl toward the sound while still trapped in her baby sleep sack.  I bury my head in the pillow and groan at this point.  I will apparently be starting again at ground zero trying to get her back to sleep.

Le sigh.

I love my husband SO much for wanting to help.  I know, too, that this too shall pass.  It is my current catch phrase and I am sure it will remain as such for a long time to come.  In any case, we will figure it out.  I feel terrible, too, for being so frustrated when he has bad timing like that.  It isn’t his fault.  It really isn’t anyone’s fault.  And she does, in time, go back to sleep.  She can’t stay awake forever.  I am also sure that if I got more sleep on a regular basis I wouldn’t be so frustrated by such things.

Thankfully my hubby is a patient man when it comes to me and his family.  It is a big adjustment becoming parents later in life.  I am so happy we met, though, and sleep deprivation and frustrations aside, at the end of the day, I am glad he is my husband and partner and that we have this pretty terrific baby to love.

Now if only we could get some sleep.  🙂

As my Belly Buddy would say… the time she finally sleeps through the night (STTN), we will have to have a party.  But it will be a slumber party!  LOL.  Well said little mama g, well said!

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OK.  Profit is an exaggeration, and being an accountant, I must add that you really can’t breastfeed “for profit” (unless I suppose you got paid for selling your breast milk, which kind of creeps me out to even consider).  And in order for there to be profit, there must be revenue (income).  As such, I will say that realistically, you can’t profit from breastfeeding.

However, you CAN save a LOT of money breastfeeding.  Especially if you do it over a long period of time, and if, like me, you don’t even buy or own a pump.  That’s right.  I don’t have a pump (and really good pumps will run you around $300 these days).  Which also means I don’t have to buy bottles, storage bags, sterilizer, etc.  Since I AM, however, breastfeeding, I also don’t have to buy formula.

I’m telling you, people, breastfeeding is a HUGE money saver!  Even if you discount the savings with the spending.  In my case, my breastfeeding costs were nursing pads, a few nursing tops and PJ’s I bought before I realized I could just throw a tank top underneath any normal top and voila – nursing top.  That’s pretty much it.

Now if you want to be able to go out and have someone else give a bottle of expressed milk, then yes, you probably should invest in a pump.  But, if like me, you waited too long to introduce a bottle, this probably won’t help anyway as my daughter would not take one.  Why buy the bottle when you can drink from the cow for free?  Isn’t that the saying?  No?  Well in my daughter’s mind it should be.  🙂

Now I know that the government wants more women to breastfeed (both in Canada and the US), and for those who do to breastfeed for longer.  My hubby loves to tell me that I’m only doing this to save the government billions in health care dollars (the accountant in me who understands WHY we pay taxes, even though I don’t necessarily LIKE them).  The funny part, for me though, is that the way I look at it is this:  If I DO save the government health care costs, that is terrific because it means that my baby isn’t sick or hospitalized, and that maybe, just maybe, my breastmilk had something to do with that.  That is worth celebrating.  Plus it means that our tax dollars can go to help out someone else’s sick child perhaps.  It may be a stretch to think that way, but definitely something interesting to consider, non?

So now on to the “fun” part of this post.  How can breastfeeding be fun?  Well, it can be funny at the very least.  Especially if you continue to breastfeed past that infant stage.  When babies get older, breastfeeding becomes a different task than when they are infants.  An infant purely nurses for food and comfort and there isn’t much more interaction than that.  It can be pretty magical when they are content and finish nursing and pop off and fall asleep in that “drunken sailor” fashion.  So adorable.

But when they get older, it gets funnier at times.  Now that my daughter is starting to understand more at 9 months of age, she knows where her milk source hides and will sometimes come up and pull at my shirt.  If she gets her way (as we are still feeding “on demand” right now), she might sit in my lap and use her hands to hold me in place so that she can get down to the serious business of feeding.  It is really quite amusing to see her rather earnest expression.  And in the mornings, she might climb on top of me, lay her head down on my chest, and then have a little morning snack from her favorite “breastaurant” and I get a nice relaxing cuddle from her to boot.

Now breastfeeding isn’t ALWAYS fun.  In fact sometimes it is downright painful and exhausting.  Try feeding a distracted baby with teeth who is pulling away to look around while still clenched onto you.  Those first 2 weeks after birth are also the most painful experience as most mothers who breastfed can attest.  I remember quite clearly still how she would latch on and I would gasp in a breath and hold it for a minute or two until the pain subsided before I could relax while she fed.  Lanolin cream became my best friend.  It took 5 days for my milk to come in and my daughter lost a full pound from her birth weight and was a little jaundiced because of it.  I was so nervous and worried about her getting enough and I understood fully at that moment why some mothers desperately reach for that formula thinking it would be easier and baby would not go hungry.  Then the milk came.  Holy torpedoes batman!  So then I had to go and use hot compresses and massage my breasts before each feed.  I had been told to feed often to bring up her weight so this was a non-stop production and I was completely exhausted from lack of sleep and worry.

Thankfully that experience didn’t last long, and once my milk settled down a bit and the extreme sensitivity lessened, it became more of a joy to feed her and see how satisfied it made her.  That is why I love to talk to mothers before they give birth about whether they want to breastfeed or not.  If they do, I like to warn them about that beginning piece.  Because I was warned and it made all the difference to know what to expect.  I had a time frame in mind of those 2 weeks that were my hurdle to make it through.  I knew that once I did, it WOULD get better and so I hung on to that thought and it worked to keep me going when the going got tough.  I am SO glad I did.  Now I am so enthusiastic about breastfeeding that I love to share what I have learned if it means helping other women reach their breastfeeding goals.  I have become, in a way, a lactivist.  I want to support women who want to breastfeed in any way that I can.  It also makes me grieve for those women out there who really wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t for any variety of reasons.  To me that is utterly heartbreaking.  My heart goes out to you if that was your situation.  Know that you did all you could do and that you are still a fabulous Mom for even trying!

I know that breastfeeding isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.  As my Belly Buddy and I were discussing just yesterday, there are things we definitely miss since we continue to breastfeed now at 9 months.  So, what follows is my list of pros and cons.

Breastfeeding Pros

  • It’s free!
  • It’s portable
  • You never have to worry about running out of formula in the middle of the night
  • No heating required – always the perfect temperature
  • No need to clean and sterilize bottles or boil and cool water to mix with formula
  • No need to pack bottles and formula and water when you go out with baby
  • Quality bonding and cuddling time
  • It is the one thing you can give your baby that no one else can
  • It confers immunity benefits to your baby (less infections, colds, etc.)
  • It may even boost baby’s IQ
  • Your body makes the milk just the right consistency for each stage of your baby’s growth (rich colostrum at birth, thinner milk as baby gets older)
  • When your baby goes through a growth spurt, they will cluster feed to bump up your production (no need to buy and make more formula)
  • It’s convenient (if you are like me, you can co-sleep and breastfeed lying down and barely have to wake up when baby is hungry or just needs comfort to go back to sleep)
  • Breastmilk is easily digestible and is very unlikely to result in diarrhea or constipation compared to formula
  • Breastfeeding helps Moms to lose the extra baby weight (I have no butt left to speak of!  LOL)
  • Stops babies from crying (works whether they are hungry, need comfort, or bumped their heads)
  • Women who breastfeed have a lower incidence of breast cancer
  • I eat better for the most part as I know that my nutrition affects my milk supply (always trying to get enough vegetables, meat for iron, and so on)
  • It helps babies to sleep
  • I love doing this special thing for my daughter and for how it makes her feel safe and secure

Breastfeeding Cons

  • Oddly enough, some of the pros are also cons.  By this, I mean things like “convenience”.  It is a pro of breastfeeding because it CAN be rather convenient not having to bring bottles, heat formula, etc.  However, it is also an inconvenience for the mother as she needs to be nearby to feed her baby, especially in the beginning when feeds are so close together.  And let’s not even get into growth spurts where babies cluster feed.  It is an amazing thing, but it does restrict the amount a mother can get out of the house on her own for sure.
  • It can be physically and mentally exhausting having your baby rely on you for breast milk
  • It is harder to get away for extended periods on your own (unless you pump milk for someone else to give the baby)
  • You need to limit your caffeine intake if baby is having problems sleeping as the caffeine goes into the breast milk
  • You need to limit your alcoholic intake as it will enter your breast milk as well (if you are lucky enough that your baby sleeps well for a long period at night, you can likely have a drink without worrying, but I have not been so lucky)
  • You have to watch what medicines you take (so if you have a headache, you can have Tylenol, but not that lovely Advil you are really craving).  I just hope I don’t get sick as not being able to take cold medicines is horrible as I found out during pregnancy – ugh!

In any case, even with its drawbacks, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Breast truly is best!

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This is shamelessly pilfered from a friend who just sent it to me, but too funny not to share.  Apologies for the language (some swearing – please do not read on if you are easily offended).

If Facebook existed years ago…

So I got to thinking last night. Yes, it happens every once in awhile, even with my very foggy sleep-deprived brain.  And for whatever reason, it almost always happens when I am in the bathroom.  I’m not sure why that is, but for whatever reason, being trapped in a room full of porcelain seems to lead to most of my moments of pensive inspiration.  So what occurred to me anyway?

Well,  I started to wonder:  does starting a blog to write about myself and my musings and passions mean I am a narcissist? That I love myself so much I think things should be “all about me”? Eeeeep! I really hate to think so, but part of me got very nervous at the prospect.

Truth be told, I love typing. I love words and writing. But I also just plain love typing. I love the click click click. I love when I get typing so fast that my husband says to me “slow down or I’ll have to get out the fire extinguisher”. 🙂 I love seeing the words appear on the page and then taking the time to rearrange them if they don’t seem to make sense to me after I’ve written them.

I’m a talker. I can admit it. Lucky for me, my hubby is a good listener. I used to be a good listener. I think I sometimes still am, but I also know that sometimes I just get so excited to share something I’ve learned or that I think is so interesting that I just need to blab all about it.

Enter the world of blogging. Now I can blab all about it, and then I’ve said it. Whether anyone reads it or not is really not all that important. But if someone stumbles upon it while searching for information about something (God, what did we ever do before Google?) and gets a little nugget of inspiration or learns something that will help them, that would just be icing on the cake.  I suppose I could just keep a diary.  But that wouldn’t be sharing.  And there is something about the thought of sharing, and of connecting with other people that is what made me want to blog instead of writing in a diary.

The web is more than just a hobby for me.  It has changed our ways of connecting.  Sometimes that is a negative thing.  People post comments on news stories that are obscene or rude and don’t think anything of it, simply because they are anonymous.  People stay at home and don’t go out and talk “IRL” (in real life) because it is easier to stay on the chesterfield in PJ’s and type.  Yes, I said chesterfield.  I am Canadian.  Hear me chesterfield.

In any case, as a new Mom the web has been amazing.  I used it while pregnant to research foods I should and shouldn’t be eating, medicines to avoid, what to expect (when I was… yes… expecting).  I read books too, but the web was so quick and convenient that I was drawn to it time and again.  I signed up for Baby Centre newsletters telling me all about what was going on inside the wondrous cavern of my growing belly.  Then I started to read threads in my Birth Club – the January 2010 babies.  That is when the magic started.  I “met” other Moms and Moms-to-be (some already had other kids).  We could commiserate through nausea and exhaustion and whatever other symptoms we were all sharing.  It was such a relief not to feel so alone at such a vulnerable time.

I met a Belly Buddy who I now call a close friend, even though we haven’t had the chance to meet in real life yet.  We’ve had the best conversations and so much fun along the way.  I also met other Moms who live near me and we’ve met up for poutine and baby conversation.  What a terrific bunch of ladies and a great time getting out of the house and seeing how everyone is doing and getting tips and feeling connected to a real community.

So even though I know that  I can spend hours on the web following on down the rabbit hole with one juicy link leading to another thing I want to read, and then another, I also know the web isn’t just some dumb inanimate object.  For me, it has been a source of networking, or dare I say, internetworking.  But even when it isn’t, at least after reading page after page on all areas of interest from breastfeeding to fashion to sailing to cloth diapers to recipes to pet care, and having bookmarked a whole bunch of new websites along the way – I know I have been enriched, entertained, irritated or engaged. Sometimes all of the above. But it has been time well spent wasted.  🙂  At least in my mind.

Hopefully my blog will leave you with a feeling of time well wasted as well.  If not, I’m sorry but that’s just time you’ll never get back again!  😉

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So you think you can blog

So I imagine most people think they can write.  If they can put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and get the spelling close enough that spell checker corrects it, then writing happens.  I suppose I am one of those people.  But I don’t have any illusions of grandeur.  I don’t suppose that my meandering thoughts or observations are going to change the world nor lead to a stunning novel or anything of the sort.

I just want to have a forum to discuss things of interest to me, and things that I hope might sometimes strike a chord with others.  Being a new Mom, I am learning so much all the time and I know that what other Moms have shared with me has had such a positive impact on me.  They have provided me with ideas for sleep, feeding, where to buy things, and how to handle different and new situations.  Most importantly, they have provided immeasurable support, and I just want to pass some of that along to others if I can.  To that end, I am going to share a little bit of myself with the world (and lucky for you, there is no one who is going to force you to read this if you don’t want to – certainly not me!).

Breastfeeding is one of those things I have learned quite a bit about over the past 9 months.  I have been SO lucky to have a daughter who latched on that first day and although we went through that rough first 2 weeks together (hello painfully sore nipples!), we came out the other side with a strong breastfeeding relationship.  The more I read about how good it is for our babies, I can’t help but want to share what I know and the things that helped me.  If more Moms who may want to breastfeed can be encouraged to do so, and provided with ideas that may help them, I’d be thrilled.  Sometimes all it takes is just plain inspiration and a goal to get over “the hump” that is the beginning of breastfeeding.  I was blessed to have a friend with a baby 7 months older than mine and she gave me the straight goods.  Knowing what to expect I had a goal in mind that kept me focused.  It ain’t easy, and certainly is no place for sissies.  But oh it is worth it!

I have also gotten in touch with my inner granola.  Being a professional accountant for the last 15 years has not exactly prepared me for motherhood.  The budgeting aspect, perhaps.  But the rest of it?  Not so much.  My previous desk job was not nearly as physically demanding as what I am doing now, and at 39 years old I am not exactly a spring chicken any more.  Luckily for me, somewhere deep inside lurked the heart of a “natural Mom”.  I have started making dinners “from scratch” (and they are shockingly healthy for the most part).  It surprised both me and my husband that I could actually do this!

When I was a single working girl living by myself with my cat, take-out was a staple of my diet.  My life was filled with working (and lots of overtime), shopping, sailing, changing my hairstyle and color practically every month, riding my cruiser bike along the seawall, more shopping, TV watching, reading fashion magazines, eating out, and going for drinks.  That was not so long ago (September 2008).

Now, just 2 years later I have grown my hair out to its natural color, I might have a tiny bit of wine every 2 weeks or so, I haven’t been on my bicycle nor a sailboat since I became pregnant in April of 2009, and suddenly I am a co-sleeping, baby-wearing, breastfeeding, baby-led-weaning, cloth-diapering Mama and wife (with a dog and a cat to boot).

Now don’t go getting the wrong idea about me.  I won’t wear socks and Birkenstocks.  If I could get away with wearing my prettier clothes without fear of spit up and other disasters, I know I would be a much more fashionable Mom today.  It does sadden me a bit when I think of all that time and money spent shopping and now my nicer clothes hang lonely in the closet.  Alas, I have been relegated to mostly jeans and t-shirts, but at least I still have my cool shoes (hello Fluevogs!).

What is more granola about me, however, is my desire to improve the world in whatever way I can, starting with myself:

  • Eating healthier (did you know cauliflower is delicious when sharp cheddar is grated on top?  It also makes for great finger food for my little baby-led-weaning eater.)
  • Breastfeeding (so that’s what they’re for!  I am SO becoming a lactivist, albeit I don’t want to be a pushy one)
  • Co-sleeping (ok, so it may not initially sound like it would make the world a better place, but if I get more sleep it means I will be less grumpy and a less grumpy Mom is… well… you get the idea)
  • Responding quickly to my baby’s cries (I know the people in the grocery store don’t like hearing it… neither do I)
  • Reducing my consumerism (although that one is tough… have you seen the adorable baby shoes and hats?)
  • Reading more and watching TV less (it is all relative – I still can’t give up Grey’s Anatomy, I’m sorry I’m a lesser person for this)
  • Reducing, reusing and recycling more (hello re-usable grocery bags, Tupperware, and blue boxes)
  • Cloth diapering to reduce the disposables and their nasty chemicals going into landfills (plus fluffy bums are so stinkin’ cute – have you seen today’s cloth diapers?  If not, you really must.)
  • Baby Wearing (a weird term, I know, but you will often find me with baby on my hip in her sling while I pathetically try and push the empty stroller which has become the world’s largest rolling purse instead)
  • Cleaning up my language 🙂  (I’m trying to remember that I need to set a good example in all I do)

That is quite a lot of change in 2 short years.  But I am used to change.  In fact, I embrace change.  I always have, especially when I feel the change is for the better.

I am THAT person who has moved 10 times in 15 years (one was to move from Calgary to Vancouver, somewhat on a whim that I “needed to live by the ocean”).  I have changed jobs 8 times in 15 years.  Within that time I have also been married and divorced quickly, followed by 6 different boyfriends, and then finally met the man of my dreams who is now my husband.  Since that point on, we have been on what we refer to as “The Fast Forward Plan”.  Moved in together within 3 months.  Started trying to have a baby.  Got pregnant.  Got married.  Had our baby.

It has been a bit of a blur, but a ride I have very much enjoyed with all of its ups and downs.  As Bryan Adams would say, however, I still believe “The best is yet to come” and look forward to whatever the future holds.

I also look forward to hearing whatever you may wish to share with me… your comments, questions and debates.  I still have much to learn!

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