Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fathers play such an important role!

I'm entering the teething stage now with my almost 5 month old daughter and I can't believe how hard it is dealing with this alone.  It reminds me back to the early weeks with my daughter and the constant crying and waking during the night and day.  Thankfully, back then my husband was off work and I had him to lean on.  Now that he's away for work, I am realising just what an important role he played during those hard times (and of course every minute he is home).  During the early "sleep deprivation insanity" stage of my daughters life, I leaned on my husband so much to hold us all together.  I remember feeling like I was being subjected to the Chinease water torture, where every time I would set my baby in her bassinet and I would begin to drift off to sleep, she would start crying again, just like another cold drop of water on my forehead.  The only time she would sleep was when my husband or I were holding her.  So my husband volunteered to hold her while he played video games during the night.  It was awesome, when I could hear him playing his game, I knew it was safe for me to allow myself to go into a deep sleep.  It was my safe time.  He did this all night sometimes for me, only waking me for feedings.  Come morning, I would take over and allow him to sleep.

I know the sleep deprivation was just as hard on him as it was on me, but my husband Scott was able to fake it so much better then me.  He would talk in a calm voice and assure me everything was OK and she was just doing her "baby thing".  I am not nearly as talented as him at faking my emotions.  I appreciated his fake good mood so much, it kept me sane and gave me the strength to hold myself together.  He knew just how to act and behave to keep everything running smooth and I think he deserved father and husband of the year award for his actions!!!  He was always able to get me to laugh, when I wanted to cry or bite someones head off during my lack of sleep mood.  One of his VERY important roles at the beginning was helping me breastfeed.  Most dads feel left out during this process but I needed his help with latching desperately every time.  The nurse at the hospital told me to compress my boob as soon as my baby latched on so she would get lots of milk and it would encourage her to latch on properly and stay that way.  Since it took both of my hands to hold the baby and myself properly, I needed him to do the compressions.  You should have seen Scott's big silly grin knowing his new job was squeezing my boob....LOL  Enough to make me laugh when I really didn't feel like laughing at all!!

Now that I am going through another difficult stage, this time without my valuable partner, I am reminded just how important dads are.  He writes me funny emails to keep my spirits up when he is on the road and one in particular, I feel has a special message at the end, so with his permission, I am adding it to the end of this blog.  I hope it makes you laugh as it did me, and I hope my blog makes you go hug your hubby and tell him just what an important role he has in all this.

The following "blog" is about my husband's trip on an Air Canada flight as a passenger, where he was being flown to Newark to position for his week of flying.
The following is written by Scott, my husband: 

I get on board the airplane, it's nearly a full flight. I have one of the few, if perhaps the only empty, seat beside me. Up a few rows is a couple with twin girls screaming their heads off. The APU was broken, and the ground air conditioner was unserviceable as well. The airplane was well over 100 degrees inside (that's 4096 degrees in the "wendy" scale). The crew opens the door at either end of the airplane to get some airflow. I guess hot blowing air is better than hot air that is not blowing. Then, they decide to get the lav. serviced! So now not only it is stinking hot, it's now hot and stinking! I'm so glad though, because I have a row to myself. The twins upfront are still screaming. Wendy, your fallopian tubes would have been sucking up against your spine!
Finally, the nice A/C flight attendant comes up to the couple and says to the Mom, if the girls would be happier separated, there's an empty row near the back, mine. The distraught mom, god bless her, takes the F/A's advice, and parks herself next to me with one of the screaming two. My earplugs were in the overhead bin, and I was too nice to ask her to get up.

Then, "Captain Scott", turns back into a dad. I helped the little girl, play with the safety card and the barf bag, and she couldn't have been happier. I put the Wiggles on the TV for her too. The mom was so grateful. The little angel fell asleep right after take-off, and slept throughout the short flight.
So, sometimes when I'm away not being a Dad, I still end up being a Dad.
God I love him, bless him for helping that mom in need.  That's an example right there of a good man!

Friday, May 25, 2012

"I'm Just a Stay at Home Mom"....Losing Your Identity

How many times have I heard myself or someone else say this, almost in a apologetic, embarrassed manner?  I think the reason why SAHM (Stay At Home Moms) feel this way, is that we have seemed to have lost ourselves in the chaotic mess of parenting.  I use to be a cave diver and work in aviation before I became a mother.  Now, I'm "just a mom."  I postulate, this also probably affects working moms as well, however at least they still have their jobs to divide their life up and identity.  Being a parent is all about someone else.  It's all about raising that child and taking care of him or her, making the child (or children) happy, supporting the bread winner of the family, running the household, but what about "mom" (or quite possibly dad)?

As mothers both working and non, we are also lucky to receive almost all the blame and not nearly enough of the much deserved glory for a successful family.  When you give up your job to raise your children, the focus starts to become about the other parent and supporting their needs as well.  I feel so lucky to have had the option to stay at home.  My husband will get last minute calls to do a flight (he's a pilot), that take him away for a week at a time and I handle everything here at home on my own.  Making sure the kids are taken care of, appointments made, the house is maintained, the bills paid, the groceries bought and laundry done, birthday presents and Christmas presents bought and wrapped.  I also plan the birthday parties and celebrations for all the kids.  My husband will come home and all he needs to do is lie down and sleep after work, but usually he doesn't.  When my husband is home, he helps me get that much needed break and usually takes over, unfortunately it only happens for 2 or 3 days and he's gone again.  I really am fortunate to have such a supporting husband, because without him, I too would be lost.  Not all mothers have the support that I do.

I  remember a mother in my "moms group" from a few years ago, who's husband travelled constantly for his job, and the packing up and moving was left all to the wife to take care of.  Not only was she raising the kids mostly alone, but also selling, buying, packing and unpacking all by herself.  All her husband had to do was come home to the new house and dinner was ready and waiting on the table for him.  Do you think he fully appreciated what she did?  Did her friends and family fully realise too?  I only spoke with her a few times, so I don't know the conclusion of her story, but I think back to her often.  I'm sure there are more mothers out there then her that have similar stories to tell.  When promotions are achieved at work, all the congratulations and "good job, lets go out and celebrate" are directed to the husband.  What about the other person who in situations similar, did a lot of the real hard work to make the promotion happen as well?  What would our husbands do without our support?  Probably fall flat on their face and then direct all the praise at us when they fully realise what we actually do when they are away (LOL).  In my case my husband does know the hard work I put into our family, so we work well as a team, but like I mentioned before, not everyone is as lucky as me and my heart goes out to them.

This blog isn't suppose to come across as a man bashing session.  I fully appreciate what my husbands does for our family and I tell him this almost daily (yes daily).  Things have not always been this way in our family, and they certainly won't stay this way, but with my husbands recent promotion and schedule, it is the way it is now.  I just want to make people think about the other person in the equation too, who is almost always forgotten.  I think it's important for all mothers either working or not, to continue to do something in your life that is just for yourself.  Something you have, that gives you pride and defines you in a separate way, other then being a mother.  For myself, since the kids are so young, I have my writing and hiking.  When the kids get a little older, I would like to take up scuba diving again, although I don't think you'll catch me in a cave again...What was I thinking??? (yes that is me in those pictures).  I eventually will go back to work, our kids will grow up and my identity restored, but for now this is how I celebrate myself for being ME not "just a mom".

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Breastfeeding your preschooler and beyond...Time Magazine

If you haven't seen the new Time Magazine issue this month, please pick up a copy for the full story.
This isn't a new subject, and its been around for hundreds of years, however, it's the first time I have seen such a huge statement made in the media about it.  I've read some of the heated discussions on this topic in response to the magazine article.  I don't believe it would have created such a emotional response had they not published photos of mothers breastfeeding their preschoolers, especially on the front page.  It seems more shocking now that you have seen the act itself.

Once the emotional, knee jerk reaction of "ewww" was out of the way, and I've had some time to collect my thoughts about this, I thought I would share what my opinion was on this subject.  Lets first get the obvious issue out of the way, what these mothers are doing is not harming the health of these children, if anything it's a benefit to their health.  I have also read some responses from men and while, I do empathize with them having an opinion, they have no authority to really talk about this issue (unless its was their kid).  The reason I say this, is because you have to have breastfed and experienced the relationship that occurs personally to really know whats going on here.  Before I was a mother, I would have had no ability to empathize properly or have an educated response.

When I found out I was expecting again, and starting thinking about breastfeeding all over, I felt happy.  I also started thinking about how I wished I could give my "liquid gold" to my toddler again and protect her from all the illness that she was constantly exposed too.  We went through two winters with her constantly sick.  All mothers know what I mean, its almost impossible to avoid it.  It doesn't matter where you take them, how many times they wash their hands, they are exposed to all the germs and have to endure the sickness, sometimes lasting months!  When I was breastfeeding my first daughter, she was never sick.  The only reason I stopped was because she decided at 11 months she had enough with "moms boobs."  I was never faced with the conundrum of having to wean her because I felt it had gone on long enough.  I cursed breastfeeding the first time around weekly, threatening to quit almost daily.  Once she stopped, I was shocked at how devastated I felt!!  Finally, I was free, yet I missed so desperately the relationship we had that only a mother and child can have, breastfeeding.  I joked to my husband that I would allow our next child to breastfeed until they were 3, if need be.  Now that I have a 3 year old, I can see how uncomfortable I would be with that arrangement.

Once my second daughter was born, I started breastfeeding once again, except everything looked different this time.  I wasn't going to take this time for granted, or waste it, by hating it.  My second daughter Jorja, gets the odd bottle fed to her by my husband, and usually she doesn't finish it.  If he goes back on the road for another week, I know the milk that was defrosted, that I pumped, will go to waste.  So I decided, instead of pouring my hard earned milk down the drain, I would mix it with my 3 year olds milk and put it in her sippy cup and see what happened.  One part breast milk three parts cows milk.  She didn't notice a thing, yet I felt extra special seeing her drink it.  My three year old has not gotten sick ONCE since I started doing this.  I've only done it a few times so maybe it is a coincidence, but she has been exposed to more germs this winter then the others combined.

Only my husband and mother know that story, but I share it now with you to make my point.  Unless you have been there and done that, you really have no idea what you are talking about.  I would love to see you show me a doctor that will tell you what these mothers are doing is wrong.  That said, I cannot imagine that the little boy on the cover of Time, sucking his moms boob, will not come back and haunt him when he's 15 and in high school.  I get it, you are proud of what you are doing.  However, I take offense, that the article is implying that a mom who chooses not to breastfeed this long (or is unable) is any less of a mother!! To the children pictured in the article and the mothers who exposed their child to future criticism that is out of his or her control, doesn't make them any kind of mom, that I would stride to be.  A breastfeeding relationship is so beautiful, but its a relationship just like anything and it goes both ways.  If you feel its time to stop for YOU, for whatever reason then you should not feel any guilt over that.  We can't change how others react to our decisions, so somethings are better off kept a secret, done in secret.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Domestic Engineering Manual for Mommies

This blog may sound more crude then my usual tone due to having had a rough week.  With that said, I would really like to see a simple book out there for moms that encompasses all the topics and skills you need, to run a house and raise kids.  While, I know there isn't a simple method for raising kids, I think you could sum up the first three months of a babies life with some proven methods that work for the majority of babies out there.

Becoming a mom of four kids in as many years and running a house was a drastic change for me.  I have a house to take care of and run, a garden and yard now in my possession, budgets and several bank accounts and cooking for 5 (soon 6) instead of 1.  I think someone should publish a book that has a separate chapter for each topic and have it easy to tab, so you can access the info you need in a flash.  Even some rip out reference charts, you could tape over the change table, to trouble shoot why your baby may be screaming at 3am and some proven methods that work to soothe them.  My brain doesn't work wonderful at that hour and I am certain I am not alone, maybe I forgot something!?.

I have never taken care of a garden in my life and 13 years in a row, I kill my hanging plants each summer, longest lasting mid July.  I got a bunch of books on gardening and was completely overwhelmed by the whole topic.  Acidic dirt, types of plants, foods, fungus, parasites and the list goes on.  I am for once in my life not wanting to know the hows and whys something may work, I just want to know it does.  Who cares WHY it turns into a lump of brown shit by the end of the season, I just want to know how to prevent it.  Tell me the easiest flowers to plant and survive in sun and shade, then shut up!  I want a book that can make you look like Martha Stewart, even if you are Courtney Love.  I don't have time to read the background on every damn flower and fern, or what kind of pesticide, fungicide or spermicide or whatever it is you spray on your plants.  I want to know how to get a garden that looks like my pot smoking neighbour's does, who lives a few doors down.  If someone told me, pissing on my plants made them grow, I would do it.  I could care less, why it works at this point.

A whole section on how to trick your kids into eating healthy food would be helpful too.  I have a toddler who would be happy to eat cheesies and peanut butter for every meal.  How do I make her think shes eating cheesies and peanut butter, but its really carrots and tofu.  I have tried so many recipes and she hates them all.  So she eats fruit for supper if she refuses to eat what we are eating.  Its stressful, so if anyone had some tips, that would be great.  As moms we have been doing this for a million years, why is everyone keeping all the good advice a secret?  Why do I have to buy several books or go to different websites and baby groups for each subject?  One book is all I want.  Maybe what I am asking is too much.  I would write it if I could, but I don't have all the answers.  I don't even have some of the answers, but I can tell you one thing, when I find something that works, I tell everyone I know.  Why should others have to reinvent the wheel 6 thousand 4 hundred and 36 damn times? (random number)

I am a busy mom on mat leave and moms who are working have even less time to fuss around with this shit!  We simply don't have time for all the reading and research that's involved.  I wouldn't even want it written like a book, point form only. Keep it Simple Stupid.  Even writing this blog is taking up too much of my free time.  Maybe after falling on my face a thousand times, I will in fact write the book and put an end to this madness for all the future moms after me.  Would you buy it?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sleep Training advice from a Sleep Doula

My first daughter didn't have too many issues with learning to sleep through the night.  We were blessed with her being able to go through the night at 6 weeks.  When she reached 4 months we had a few bumps in the road and by 6 months tried the CIO method for a week (ish) which worked.  I was terrified that I would damage her in some way, however with my doctors approval, I went ahead.  She had some sleep associations that I needed to break her of, in order for her to sleep on her own (feeding to sleep).

Round two with my second daughter has not been as smooth.  I had an opportunity to see a Sleep Doula this week that was provided for free through the Early Years Center.  Apparently, my timing was perfect as she suggested 4 months was the perfect age to start.  She pointed out any training you did before age 4 months, is great, however you may find yourself having to start over.  At 4 months there is a huge developmental stage they go through and babies like to change it up completely at this time (that explains what happened with my first daughter).  I didn't bring a pen or paper to the session, so as soon as I got home I wrote everything I could remember down.  I thought today's blog would be more informative and a cheat sheet for myself and anyone else who reads my blogs (I'm sure its only my parents lol...Hi mom).  Her method isn't quite "cry it out," however she said there will be some crying involved.  I prefer this method as I found CIO was really hard on ME emotionally and would like to avoid it if I can this time.

The easiest time to sleep train your baby is before the age of 9 months, it gets harder by 12 months and almost impossible by 18 months.  The key to having a baby sleep through the night is to make sure the baby is getting enough rest throughout the day and calories.  Keeping a keen eye out for the earliest warning signs that your baby is ready for a nap is also important.  If you wait until your baby is displaying signs of being over tired, such as rubbing eyes, yawning, or pulling at their ears etc.. the body is already excreting a hormone called cortisol.  Once this happens there is a more likely chance for sleep disruption during the night.  Same thing happens to adults when we excrete cortisol, we are also more likely to wake during the night and have a disruptive sleep.

My daughter is in a category, what she termed as an "alert baby".  The best method for a baby like Jorja (who is easily awakened,) is to put her in a room that is dark, have a sound machine on for white noise and no stimulation (no toys in the crib).  This also includes the baby NOT being able to see you.  The baby is more likely to sooth him or herself if he or she cannot see the parent.  If you want to be in the room while the baby is adjusting to the training, its best to lie on the floor or somewhere out of her range of sight.  I have already noticed this many times, if I just leave the room she will stop fussing.

Jorja still is feeding through the night.  Doctors will say by 6 months, a baby should be able to go 12 hours without feeding.  No one is going to tell you however, not to feed your baby, and she certainly did not recommend this either.  Instead try "dream feeds".  This involves taking the sleeping baby out of the crib, feeding and putting them back in the crib.  If you put your baby down at 7pm for bedtime and know they will need a feed during the night, try a dream feed before you are ready to go to bed (maybe 11pm for example).  I haven't tried this yet, as I can't seem to get the nerve up to disturb her while she is sleeping (lol). So instead she wakes me up at 2 and also sometimes 4 :(  I will try this new dream feed approach tonight.

Sleep associations are a big thing that need to eliminated if you can.  Jorja, for example uses the soother, so she recommends that at age 4 months, try to go "cold turkey".  The baby will quickly forget about ever having the soother at this age, compared to trying to do this at age 12 months.  The sooner the better.  If the baby is old enough to handle the soother on his or her own, then hand the soother to the baby, and allow them to put it in their mouth if they are old enough and you wish to continue using it.  Don't put the soother in her mouth yourself, let the baby do it (teaching them how to self sooth).  She recommend a bunch of products that I listed below, for adjusting your baby out of the swaddle habit; such as the Magic sleep suit.  Swaddling is great for newborns, but not safe once the baby is old enough to roll themselves onto their tummy.  Byllee use to feed to sleep, so she recommended for mothers with this association to keep the baby awake until you put them in the crib.  It's OK if they are drowsy, as long as they aren't asleep.  Taking away the sleep association is where you will experience the crying.  She said any crying longer then 45 minutes wasn't something she was comfortable with, however there isn't a set rule with this.  She suggests staying in the room so the baby can see you, but don't pick them up.  If you have an alert baby and this just makes the situation worse, lie on the floor as mentioned and every 15 minutes to let the baby know you are still there and haven't abandoned them (let them see you, rub tummy and lie back down).  She says with young babies, if you are consistent you should have success by night 3, or night 5 for older babies.  They key is being consistent.  If your baby cries for 45 minutes and you come in and hold them and feed them, you have now just taught your baby to cry for 45 minutes. 

She also recommended having a night time routine and a morning routine.  The routine does not need to be half an hour long, it only needs to be 5 minutes or less.  Whatever it is you do for bedtime routine, your baby will expect you to repeat it if he or she wakes up during the night (this is how parents get into that terrible cycle).  She actually doesn't recommend including the bath in the routine, for the simple fact that if you start the bath when you notice your baby is tired, by the time you have them dressed and put them in bed, they will most likely have entered the "over tired" stage.  Now you will have the cortisol issue to keep them up during the night.  Having a morning routine she suggested was important too.  Normal time for a baby to wake up at 4months is between 6-8am.  If its before that, try and put them back to sleep with the least amount of stimulation as possible (no talking, no lights).  Once its time to wake up (they start fussing) turn on all the lights, open the curtains and do a "Good Morning".  They will start to associate when its OK to be awake too.

One last remark about naps.  She suggests for babies 4-6 months of age should only be awake for 2.2 hours at a time, then put them down for a nap.

So 5 days and us moms should have our babies sleeping through the night...We'll see and I will let you know how it works out for me.  I also heard an expert say 1 week for potty training and I am going on 6 months with my toddler.  I wonder if there is a "Potty Training Doula?".....

Some of the products she recommended were:

Wombie blanket - Keep in mind, when your baby can roll onto their tummy, don't wrap the arms.

Baby Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit - Its a compression suit from what I understand and can give the baby that "snuggled" affect without swaddling

Book: Good Night/Sleep Tight

Sleep Sack

Sound Machine - for white noise

P.S.  There maybe stuff I missed or forgot, or didn't convey properly so when you read this blog take it as it  is (with a grain of salt) and I encourage you to do your own research.  I think like everything else, a variation of what the experts advise to suit your own unique baby, is going to be what works the best.  A little tweak here and there and hopefully you will have success...and me too!

Monday, May 7, 2012

So What Alicia Silverstone Feeds her Child like a Bird!

I was watching a show on TV last night and yet again another segment about Alicia Silverstone came up about her feeding her child like a bird (chewing up food and giving it to her baby with her mouth).  Alright, so my first reaction when I heard this story and saw the pictures was..."OK that's different".  Would I do it? No, that what my food processor is for.  Who knows what her reasons are but it certainly does not mean she is somehow abusing her child or harming him in anyway.   Anyone who has recently visited the Zoo or African lion Safari has seen Apes, Chimps or Orangutans do this for their young.  What do you think humans use to do before we had tools and lived in a cave?  It wasn't so long ago that people thought breastfeeding was taboo and actually discourage against it, in favour for formula feeding. 

The proper term for this is Premastication or "Kiss-feeding" and it actually goes on in many cultures.  There are a long list of advantages and disadvantages, much like anything else.  It is much more prevelent in non western societies than you think.  In one study that was performed in China, they found that 63% of Chinese university students received permastication food as infants.  The practice is used today in Latin America and countries in Africa such as Zimbabwe.  The main health concern being the transmission of HIV to the infant.

Whatever the reasons are, Alicia, or other moms in western society have for continuing this practice to present day, people need to get over it.  I'm sure its mostly non parents that found this story appalling.  I personally find stories such as these interesting, because its always informative to read how other mothers mother their children.  We have the Kangaroo moms who carry their babies everywhere, parents who practice "the family bed" and now we have the bird feeders, whatever works, who cares as long as they aren't putting the baby in any danger or depriving them in some way.

I'm glad I'm not a celebrity and having someone take my picture at every opportunity to show the world and judge me.  I blog and get to edit what I share and what I do not share.  I have a 3 year old who isn't potty trained yet and I'm pretty sure I'll be changing her diapers until she goes to university, she watches "Tree House" in the mornings (Gasp!) and I even allow the odd donut.  But the best one yet, when she was 1, I used a Winnie the Pooh leash when we walked near busy streets because she liked to run all over the place.  How many times have I heard "leashes are for dogs" least I had peace of mind, knowing she wouldn't dart out infront of a car.  She's my child and I will raise her how I see fit! Every mother is allowed the gumption to say exactly that!


Pelto GH, Zhang Y, Habicht JP.
Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

3 years since becoming a mother...

My first daughter is turning 3 in a couple weeks and I am reflecting back on the amazing ride I have been on since it all started.  I remember what my life was like before she came into this world and I also remember my life the second she did.  It felt like someone picked me up by my ankles, turned me upside down and said "right, now try this out for a while."  I'd never even held a baby before Byllee, I was terrified of them.  Always scared I would break them somehow.  During my pregnancy, I figured that would all change since it would be my own baby.  It didn't.  I was scared of her when they handed her to me, and my husband had to teach me how to hold her.  During my stay in the hospital, my husband had to leave us for a few hours to go to the doctor, and the entire time he was gone I was holding my breath, praying she wouldn't wake up.  I was scared to dress her, change her diaper and most of all I was scared I would be unable to calm her down if she cried.

That fear slowly subsided over the first month as I gained confidence.  However with every new stage she entered the fear would come back.  I lacked confidence in myself that I would be able to handle the situation on my own.  I sadly spent a lot of that first year in fear, especially with the SIDS fear always hanging around in the background.

This time around with my second daughter, the fear hasn't been there.  I know what I am doing and I know I can handle it because I did before.  Sometimes it makes me sad how much time I wasted worrying instead of enjoying my first year as a mother, but its all ancient history now.  I am making up for it now anyway, and enjoying my second time around with my baby to the fullest.  The SIDs fear will always be there, but I do everything I can to reduce the risk and really just try and force it out of my mind.  Having two children that need me at the same time has been my newest challenge.  When I am on my own and trying to put one to bed and the other starts crying, I have really found myself in unfamiliar waters.  I found myself running back and forth like a mad woman to tend to each child.  Then slowly I rearranged my schedule so that Jorja was sleeping by the time I put Byllee to bed.  There are still times they need me all at once, especially in the morning.  Mornings are hard, because Jorja needs to be fed, Byllee wants a drink and breakfast and both my cats have gotten into the fight with wanting me too lol.  God forbid I need to use the bathroom or tend to my own needs, then all hell breaks loose and I have 2 crying kids and two cats meowing their heads off.  I've learn to do a sort of "kid triage system" same with house work.  If I feel like I'm living in a toilet or my house is starting to resemble a crack house as one of my friends described it, then I will start to triage that as well.  I'll figure it out, I did before and at least I now have confidence in myself this time.

Byllee has turned into such a well adjusted, smart, funny little girl, so I am clearly doing a good job.  I am so happy with my life as a mother, I feel as though this is what I was born to do.  I was a mother in my own way before they came, to my cats and its just grown from there.  Attitude is really the key to happiness.  Attitude of gratitude is probably the healthiest state of mind, and filling your life with love, whatever that may look like for others.  I look forward to all the surprises and challenges that lay ahead for me, because I know as long as I hold on to this attitude, I will turn out just fine and so will my kids.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mothers Come in All Forms and Species!

I thought I would write a blog about mothers, in recognition of Mother's Day coming up.  I recently purchased a book that I have given to my mom early for Mothers Day.  Its called "Mothers Love - Inspiring True Stories from the Animal Kingdom"  an absolutely beautiful book filled with true stories of great mothers in the wild.  This got me thinking, what is the definition of a mother?  Is a duck that adopts an abandoned squirrel as her own any less of a mother then the one that gave birth?  Absolutely not!  In fact, I think it qualifies her more of a mother.  I think its easy to conclude that giving birth does not define being a mother.  I would like to share one particular story from the book that really touched me deeply:

 A marine mammal specialist came upon a baby dolphin who had become entangled in a nylon fishing net.  He watched with horror as the dolphins mother and two other females stopped at nothing to save him.  They tried everything they could to push that baby out - at risk of tangling up their own fins!  The marine specialist dove into the water himself to cut the net.  The mother then guided her weakened, gasping calf up to the waters surface and supported him so he could breath.  Exhausted by the ordeal, she, too struggled to float, and the other females supported both mother and child, helping them regain their strength.  For the next few hours, all three adults took turns keeping the baby afloat until finally, the entire extended family swam away (Bellows 64).

This story reminds me of my own mother and father.  During struggles in my life, they are there to help me breath, taking turns until I am back on my feet again.  Is there anything else in life to be more grateful for?  I have had others, in different times of my life, step in and do the same thing for me and my family and I will never forget the unselfish acts they extended me.

Mothers come is all forms and all should be celebrated equally.  Maybe its a mother of 4 dogs, or one who has adopted a baby and given that child a chance they may not have had otherwise.  Or a stay at home mom, who has five kids and barely keeping her head above the water most of the time.  One thing is always the same: the unconditional, all encompassing love we feel for our children.  I would like to think of myself as one of those female dolphins and if I were to see another mother and child in need, I too would stop and help them breath.  Mothers of all kinds should think of ourselves as a force, one that cannot be challenged and an army of love that will come to defend our children at all cost.

This mothers day, don't just celebrate your own mother, but yourself and ALL mothers, whatever kind they maybe, because we are the keystone of society that is raising the next generation.  That is no small feat and even the strongest ones need help breathing every now and then.

Favourite quotes:

"Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws" Barbara Kingsolver

"A Mothers love for her child is like nothing else in the world.  It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path" Agatha Christie

"A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary" Dorothy Fisher

"A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child" Sophia Loren


Bellows, Melina Gerosa.  Mothers Love - Inspiring True Stories from the Animal Kingdom. Washington, D.C. National Geographic Society. 2012

Link to book mentioned:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Serenity NOW!

     I wake up this morning early before the kids are awake and decide to make some fresh coffee and enjoy a little alone time before the chaos begins.  I love sitting on our screened in porch in the morning watching the sun rise, listen to the birds singing, trees swaying in the breeze and the beautiful smell of cedar and forest.  Except this morning as I sit down, take a deep breath and take it all in, I am struck by a horrible smell.   "What smells like Sh&t????"  I turn around and sure enough there's a big pile of turds in the corner.  Twinkle our cat, for some unknown reason, has decided to take a gigantic dump on our porch.  My special ME time has now been replaced by cleaning up poop!  Then cruelly followed by having to unclog our toilet from trying to flush it all down.  I swear that cat sh&ts as much as a toddler!! 
       How do some mothers make it look so easy?  You know, the one's you encounter at the park or Early Years Center, who have 4 kids, one in a sling breastfeeding, another on her hip and two in tow, wearing designer clothes and makeup all while making it look effortless?  What about the ones on my facebook account?  Every picture of their child has perfect hair, no stains on his or her shirt or food on their face?  I'll find myself sitting down for a moment to look at friends pictures, then looking over at the mirror and my hair is a mess, no makeup, puke on my over sized t-shirt from high school while my toddler runs around with peanut butter on her face.  I admit it, it's not easy, my husband is away 3 or 4 days a week for work and I am mostly on my own and I do struggle a lot some days.  I even post pictures of my daughter with a face full of peanut butter.  How else am I going to capture those beautiful moments that seem to happen when you least expect it?

     However, I do try not to judge others, and I hope not too many judge me.  Maybe that perfect mom from the park goes home everyday and drinks a bottle of wine, or yells at her kids whenever they aren't in public.  I'm the type of person who puts myself out there as real as I am sometimes, but even I fall victim to putting on makeup to go for a hike, knowing we will be posting the pictures.  I want to share my life with my family overseas and those that don't get to visit often because I am proud of my family.  Maybe some even look at my pictures and think I have my act together all the time.  If it wasn't for me verbally throwing up my feelings through my blogs, how else would anyone know?

    This blog seems to be all over the place today (not unlike my daily life) so I think I will stop there.   Stop yourself next time you feel like judging someone and think hard.  You have no idea what is going on behind closed doors and you yourself aren't perfect, no one is.  All us mothers out there are in this together, we should offer our support to one another not just our sometimes cruel opinion or judgement. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Most Natural Act...Yeah Right!

The first time I was introduced to breastfeeding was in my prenatal class prior to the birth of our first daughter Byllee. They showed us a video in the class, of a beautiful new born baby lying on her mothers chest, slowly descending down and instinctually latching on to her nipple. How beautiful, I thought and how natural is that? This should be a piece of cake I thought. I even prepared myself further, getting library books out on the topic, checking out Jack Newman's website and videos and also going to a few La Leache League meetings. I was confident I was ready for this responsibility.

With the image of the baby naturally latching on to her mother still in my head, I attempted my first time, minutes after birth and this is not what I experienced at all. God bless the mothers that do experience this, however from my experience and speaking to other mothers in the groups I've attended, the majority have a complete opposite experience in fact. The video they should have shown in my prenatal class was me with my second daughter screaming her head off as I forcefully tried to shove my boob into her mouth, all while crying myself...over and over and over again. This was reality! You would think after breastfeeding my first daughter for 11 months I should be some sort of an expert at it. Every baby is different and my second daughter was not nearly as "easy" to teach as my first. I found neither experience easy or natural in fact.

The first few days after my first daughter is really a complete blur, so I will talk about my second daughter, which was only 3 months ago and counting. I believe prenatal classes should have a complete segment on the first 48 hours after birth and breastfeeding (or however long it takes for your milk to come in). This has to be the most challenging time of all. Thankfully my second daughter, Jorja slept most of the first 24 hours. However once she "woke up" from birth, boy was she hungry and I felt I had nothing to offer her. The nurse that was coming off her shift that evening kept trying to offer me formula to fix the situation. If there is ever a wrong time to give formula, my guess would be this time. Unless there's a medical reason, the so called "nothing" you have to offer is probably the most important thing you could give the baby. Colostrum is full of antibodies, and nutrients that the baby needs at this critical time in his or her life. With this in mind, I politely declined her offer, however she left it on my bedside table and I just stared at it while my baby screamed for more. Once the my regular night nurse came on duty and it was 2am, I was at the end of my rope. I'll never forget how she came in after I rang the bell yet again for help with latching, and told me all the mothers she sees as patients look like me on night two. It's a necessary evil to endure, and she encouraged me not to give up. Simply pointing out that fact to me was enough to give me the strength to keep on going. Why didn't they mention this in birthing class I thought?

An unlikely form of support I found during the first few days and weeks breastfeeding was my husband. I suppose from watching me go through this with our first daughter and listening to all the advice with a more clear head then me, made him some kind of expert himself! The first time I noticed, was during a particularly hard time trying to trouble shoot with the nurse, why my daughter would not latch on to my "other side". My husband, Scott suddenly spoke up and said "why don't you try the football hold, that way her head is in the same position and it kind of tricks her into thinking its the same side". The nurse and I just stared at him in amazement...What a great idea! It worked wonderfully, and soon our on going joke was he should have become a lactation consultant. Finding humour in a time like this felt wonderful, so we kept going with the jokes and decided to play a joke on the new daytime nurse that never met us before. She walked into our room and asked if the lactation consultant had come in to see us. I replied "Oh, you mean the nice man that was just here?" Her face dropped and a look of horror came over her, we burst into laughter for quite a while over that one. I still chuckle when I think of a male lactation consultant. Unless your name is "Jack Newman", I don't think males would be too popular in the birthing unit at the hospital. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I would feel strange having a male man handle my boobs like the female nurses do when they are trying to help you.

Anyway, I am 3 months into round two with my second daughter Jorja and we are still having the odd issue believe it or not. I pump my milk a lot more then I did the first time thanks to a close friend who gave me her high end breast pump! It makes all the difference, compared to using "El cheapo" version the first time, when I finally said "to hell with this". I have no problem introducing formula at this stage, however with my over supply in the freezer, I haven't found the need yet. Last time, I felt like I had something to prove as a mother and demanded myself to exclusively breastfeed her for 6 months without formula. Looking back it seems so silly, but there really is a pressure to prove yourself when you are a first time mom. It doesn't help when its 3am and you have a screaming baby you are trying to latch, enduring intense pain and the "Good Start" baby formula commercial comes on T.V. You know the one that says "Happy babies makes happy moms"? The commercial shows babies giggling and laughing. That can really play on your mind when you are sleep deprived and you have a screaming baby. I know it did for me.

I suppose my message and point of this blog is only to encourage mothers what they are going through at the beginning is normal. Its suppose to be hell, and it's usually hell for all of us. Remember, colostrum is not something you can find in a bottle so if you can only hold out for 2 days and give that to your baby, you've done your job. Even if you can't, that doesn't make you any less of a mother, there are a thousand different scenario's and medical conditions that prevent mothers from breastfeeding. The point is, there's a thousand and one different right ways to do the same job and its up to you to find the one that works for you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

So what's your plan?

One simple answer from me when I am asked this is: survival! That’s my “plan”. I am on my second baby this time and things for me have been a lot different than the first time around. I’ve read all the books: What to Expect the first year, Baby whisperer and listened to every single piece of advice from other mothers I can get. One piece of information I was told the first time around, which was very important, didn’t seem to register until my second child. For me, it’s been my guide for how I have made my game plan this time, if you could call it that. I was told, when the baby comes everything in your life changes. Now, when I heard this the first time, I thought, “yeah I know that...and??” Then the baby came, which I had been preparing for, for 9 months so no shocker there, however as soon as that first cry was made, NOTHING in my life was the same. Every aspect of my life and the way I viewed it was different in a matter of seconds. Wow, that’s a lot to handle in one day!

Not only is the new reality of your life hitting you in one moment, you get to enjoy it while you go through the monumental hormone crash of your life the first 10 days after birth. How lovely! I remember sitting in the hospital bed looking at my beautiful baby girl, who was a stranger to me really, and realizing the awesome responsibility I suddenly had. Trying to survive the first few weeks on sleep deprivation while learning to breast feed with your baby and enduring tremendous pain that goes along with it, makes any new mom what to curl into a ball and cry (thanks hormones for the extra kick in the ass when I needed it least). What happened to my wonderful relationship I was enjoying with my husband during pregnancy? Nothing pops the “babymoon balloon” phase quicker, then fighting over who is doing more or who changed the last diaper. Books and birthing classes don’t really warn you about this challenge that most couples encounter, and sadly some split up after the first year of having a baby.

So again, I think to myself, so what’s my plan? This time around I have found it to be a lot easier then the first. Here are some things I am doing differently:

  • Taking much better care of myself! Feeding and drinking water as much as possible to keep my energy going.

  • Forget my old life, wipe the slate completely clean and make it up as I go. For now, my life is about feeding and caring for my children and of course myself. It isn’t very exciting, but it’s all I can manage without overdoing it and I know in time, it will get better. 
  •  Taking shifts with my spouse. Instead of trying to do everything together, we take turns and let the other spouse sleep. I don’t get to see him and spend as much time together, however because of this change we aren’t both tired at the same time, which means no fighting and are more useful to each other then last time around. This has made us one happy couple 

We are almost at our 6 week milestone and I am so proud of how well we have done. It hasn’t been easier then the first time, but it is going smoother and we are all happier. I’ve had some dark days at the beginning (sleep deprivation is true torture, no matter who you are), but I keep telling myself on those days....”I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.....and it will get better because I have done this before and actually know it’s true.
I will leave my blog at that for today and re-evaluate my survival plan for the next 3 months in another blog as I will have a whole new set of challenges and stages to navigate....but it’s OK, because I CAN DO THIS!