Best Mother’s Day Gift

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful Mothers out there!  I feel privileged to blog amongst all you amazing women!

My Mother’s Day this year will be one of the most memorable of my life.  Baby El was born quickly and without fuss early in the morning May 3. I don’t usually post pictures of my kids online, but today I will make my one and only exception. 

Happy Mother’s Day from both baby El and I!

The End is Near (or is it?)

  
 Apparently I have about a month left in this pregnancy.

 This morning I managed to squish my little water filled potato sacks (more commonly known as feet) into the biggest sandals I could find. They will not come off until the end of the day because if I unwedge them, I am guaranteed to never get them back on. 
I am trying to come up with a name for the maneuver that I’ve recently devised for getting into my vehicle without ripping my pelvis in two. Suggestions are always appreciated. 
I wait with wanting anticipation after each Braxton-hicks contraction for another to follow, preferably within 5 minutes. I am sadly disappointed when they rarely come. The most painful ones are my favourite, as they seem more promising. 
I daydream about the best places for my water to break. In my car or in my bed are my least dreamt of places – only because then I have to clean up after myself. I’m not sure where the best place would be. 
“You dropped what on the floor and you want me to pick it up?” That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day – funnier than the production titled “applying compression stockings,” which you all missed while you were still sleeping. 
I realize I make look like I’m “ready to pop.” I assure you that I do, infact, still have a month to go. Please don’t remind me of how impossibly big I look. 
No wonder the last month of pregnancy seems to go on forever!

More Than A Princess

 From the moment I found out I was having a baby girl, I have not stopped hearing the word “Princess.”

“Oh, she’s going to be such a little princess!”

“You must be so excited about finally having a princess!”

“With two big brothers, she’s going to be treated like such a princess!”

The variations of this statement are endless. What I fail to understand, however, is why having “little girl parts” automatically means that a baby is precious in a spoiled, pink and purple, frilly, and somewhat entitled way.  Maybe I have a different understanding of the meaning of “princess” as it pertains to little girls. However, I don’t think that is necessarily the case. 

I was a little girl once. I was expected to be “prim and proper.” I was expected to wear frilly dresses to special occasions.  I always had to look pretty. 

I watched a lot of princess movies. Especially those Disney classics… Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty… And these movies all propagated the idea that little girls grow up to be pretty and submissive women who wait for their handsome, rich prince to come and save them from themselves and provide a life that they would never have had otherwise. 

“Princess” comes with it’s fair share of connotations and stereotypes… For sure. 

I realize that in today’s society, girls are more empowered, even than they were when I was a kid. Women are making up their fair share of the workplace, including in professional, often male dominated, areas. It is a great change to see. Regardless, there is still some kind of stigma that surrounds  girls and women.  Somehow “empowered” in relation to women has been translated into being beautiful and proud of your body (just take one look at the nude selfies of famous, beautiful women that come up on Instagram when you search #empowered). Or even something as simple as the idea that a baby girl is expected tone raised and treated like a princess. 

After all, I’ve given birth to and raised two little boys and I never encountered even a fraction of the comments (or articles of clothing) suggesting that my cute, precious, and adorable little boy would be a “prince.” (I can’t even think of one)

I’m not against pink and purple (just as much as I’m not against blue and green, or any other colour for that matter). Fluffy tu-tus and frilly dresses are certainly very cute and belong in any little girl’s wardrobe – if they want them! I am not an advocate for complete gender neutrality when it comes to raising children. Boys and girls are different in some ways and it is perfectly acceptable to embrace these differences. It is also perfectly acceptable to breakdown stigma and stereotypes – and for that reason I let my boys play with  My Little Pony happy meal toys if they want them, and I paint their finger and toe nails when they ask me to.

I am certainly very excited to be having a little girl after having two boys. I am looking forward to the differences I will encounter in raising a different gendered child. I am also looking forward to seeing how my boys will react to, and interact with, their baby sister. I am looking forward to venturing into the other half of the children’s clothing stores, brushing and braiding hair, and bonding with a child in a different way than I have with my boys. All of this doesn’t mean, though, that this baby inherently deserves to be spoiled, or doted on, or fawned over in a different way than my boys were just because she’s a baby girl. 

I want the best of everything in the world for all of my kids. I want them to accomplish their dreams, whatever they may be. I want them to have the same opportunitiesas all other children. Most importantly, I don’t want any of my kids, especially my daughter, to be treated differently or have different expectations in their lives because of their gender. 

  

Remembering E’s Birthday

IMG_6961This week my not-so-little E celebrated his 4th birthday.  This little boy is now a bundle of rambunctious, over-the-top, hard to control, 100% boy.  Most times I feel like I was never quite equipped to be this little man’s mommy.  To celebrate his birthday, he requested a Paw Patrol party, complete with a Paw Patrol cake.  Mommy did her best to deliver.

From the very beginning, little E has kept me challenged – including his entrance into the world.  I love this boy dearly and with all my heart (remind me of this when I want to smack him across the head for never listening), yet sometimes I forget how much he has effected change in my life.  When little E came into this world, he was whisked away after about 12 hours to be taken to the NICU.  After he was there for 4 days, I wrote him a letter.  I thought, in “honour” of E’s birthday this week, I would share that letter with all of you here.

Dear E,
Today you are 4 days old.  When I think about how your life should be when you are 4 days old, it is very different from what you are living.  You should be at home, warm and safe with the people who love you.  You should be in my arms and sleeping next to me; be nourished by me and comforted by me.  Instead you tied up in tubes and wires and you spend all day in the bright lights and noisy sounds of the NICU.  I know this is what you need right now but it makes me cry every time I think about how unnatural it is for you to be there.  I hope you know how many hours I spend sitting with you and holding your hand, caressing your beautiful, tiny face.  I only wish I could be with you all the time, to hold you and comfort you when you are in pain.  I try to hard to cherish the one night that I got to hold you and feel your skin next to mine, but it already feels like a distant memory that is slipping away from me – further with every second that passes.  My body misses feeling you inside of me and when I look at my shrinking belly, I see the place you used to live and I wish you could still be there – because it’s better than where you are.
I know there is nothing I could have done to keep you from the pain you are feeling, but I find a way to blame myself for not making someone really listen to my concern for you in the hours after you were born – maybe you would be home right now if I was more persistent, if I didn’t let other people try to convince me that what you were going through was a normal part of a newborn’s adjustment period.  I thought they were wrong, and I was right.  For all of that, I am very sorry.
Before you were born I worried that I would not have enough lough to share with a second child.  I was nervous about bringing you into this world with the thought that I wouldn’t be able to love you and cherish you in the same way I do your brother.  I have learned, however, that it is impossible for me to not love you.  In 4 days I have spent more time longing for you to be in my arms, crying for your pain, and wondering how my life was ever complete without you.  I know it was only 4 days ago that you were not here, but that is already another lifetime ago.  When I look at you, I recognize your face – as if I have known you forever.  When I touch you, I know you were always meant to be my child.   Until I can hold you and care for you like I mother should, I will do my best to be strong for you and I will be by your side, loving you from a short distance, and counting down the minutes until you are healthy and ready to come home and finally join our family.

With lots of love and tears,
Mommy

(March 25, 2012)

Baby Junk

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Aden and Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets – My Splurge

I had a moment of weakness yesterday while at the bookstore with my littlest boy.  He was playing with the train set in the kids/baby section of the store while I browsed at the baby items.  I saw these beautiful (Beautiful!) muslin swaddling blankets that I wanted very badly.  They were expensive.  But they were also the perfect baby girl swaddling blankets.  I do have plenty of worn-in, mostly boyish flannel swaddling blankets sitting in my basement.  I knew I didn’t need to buy the blankets, but I just wanted something frivolous, luxurious, and girly for my baby girl.  So I bought them.

My husband would be outraged if he knew how much I spent on baby blankets.  The thought of lying about having bought them or even how much I paid for them also made me feel bad.  So even though I took them out of the box and unfolded them and held them up to my cheek, and imagined the joy I would experience while using them with my baby, I eventually folded them back as best as I could, stuffed them back into the box and put them into the trunk of my car.  I plan to return them today.

I know why I had this moment of weakness.  I often feel that I work so very hard in my life that it would be nice to have it pay off a little now instead of all later.  We live paycheck to paycheck paying for the necessities like food, mortgage, car payments, childcare, energy bills, and the biggest monthly expense: loan interest.  My husband is very strict about how much I am “allowed” to spend on this new baby and if it was up to him she would be wearing all our boy’s hand-me-downs.  So I just thought that if I could have these beautiful, trendy, bright, and much desired blankets, they could be the thing that I splurged on for my baby.

This has all taken place on the heels of the small baby shower that my mom and sister held for me this past weekend.  I knew it would be small and limited to family.  It was being held in the city where I grew up and where my family lives, but where I haven’t lived for 10 years – so I no longer have any friends there.  I never had a baby shower before and so I went to one of our local baby store chains and set up a registry.  Aside from the expensive car seat that I want, mostly for its safety profile, everything else was the “usual” stuff that I liked and wanted for this baby: Bottles that I know are most compatible with breastfeeding, pacifiers that are used in NICUs across the country and that I used with both my other boys, breast milk freezer bags, muslin swaddling blankets, a baby carrier, bouncy chair, girly items… despite my efforts at selecting the stuff that I really wanted or needed for this baby, only one person actually made use of this registry.

Instead, people either bought clothes (which were much appreciated) or Baby Junk.  It might sound ungrateful, but “baby junk” is the term I have coined for the stuff that looks cute, seems useful to the non-mother, is cheap (in quality and in price), unnecessary, and will likely never be used.

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Most of the “stuff” I got from my baby shower

I have a cousin who runs a business making gift baskets and her, her mother (my aunt), and her sister-in-law all pitched in to make me a basket.  Rather than containing many of the thoughtfully chosen items on my baby registry, this basket was filled with cheap infant/toddler toys, baby layette kits (with poorly made bibs, hats, booties, gloves etc), various brands of pacifiers, tiny baby washcloths that are too small to wash anything, and other miscellaneous “stuff” that was found at a local discount department store.  I don’t doubt that it cost them a fair amount of money to assemble such a wide variety of un-needed baby items.  However, at someone else’s mention of my baby registry, my cousin said something along the lines of: “Oh yeah, I looked at it and it just had the usual things on it.”

Just the usual things?  You mean the things that I actually want/need for this baby… Those aren’t important…

This basket was only one example of numerous gifts I received at my shower that will likely not ever get used by me for my baby:piggy banks, trinkets, a minion nightlight that sings an annoying minion lullabye (I already want to crush it with a hammer since the boys found it).  While I did receive a few nice surprises and some good clothing, I get sad thinking about the things I actually wanted and that I likely will not get – instead of a good haul of Baby Junk.  I know it sounds whiney, ungrateful, and is really a first-world-problem, but it did get me down.  I know I wouldn’t care so much if I had the freedom to go out and get the stuff I want without the worry of justifying the expense to my husband.  It would also feel better to know that I work as hard as I do so that I can enjoy these little luxuries in life.

Anyhow, that is the end of my little rant.  I am sure I will feel better in a few days, and maybe next time I go to the book store, the blankets will be on sale.

I’ll end this rather greedy sounding post by saying that my mom and sister put on a lovely shower that I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated.  I also realize that the stuff I refer to as “Baby Junk” would  be greatly used and desired by those less fortunate than me.  I do plan to donate any of the stuff that I don’t use to a local shelter.

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Naked

“Mommy, why are your boobies SO BIG!?!”

We’re pretty open about nudity in our house. The boys have seen me naked their whole life and they don’t think twice about it.  Just recently we’ve been drawing the line on the boys coming in the women’s washroom with me when their dad is around, mostly so they learn that there is a reason we have “men’s” and “women’s.”

If I’m being honest, I’ve only started to be more self-conscious about being naked around the boys because of my growing belly and the amount of weight I’ve gained in pregnancy.

This morning, on my day off, I was showering the boys and I got that wonderful question.  I guess it was better than another comment on how HUGE my belly is….

“My boobies are getting ready to make milk for the baby.”

“Oh.” He said. And he walked away.

I thought I was in the clear…

“But Mommy, why is that middle part of your boobies so much more brown and red than the rest of them?”

“…Um… They just are.”

Oh, kids…

Solo Date

To finish off a week of “staycation” this past week, I decided to treat myself to a Solo Date today.  It was nothing extravagant, but it was relaxing and enjoyable, nonetheless.  I had initially planned to get various tasks done over my week off work. Instead, I dealt with a feverish 3-year-old for the whole week (including a visit to urgent care), interspersed with the Mommy Duties I don’t usually get to do: walk to the bus stop, lunch at McDonald’s, cooking dinner, watching Paw Patrol…

I fantasized about going for a pedicure all week.  Each glace down at my feet revealed the almost-grown-out orange nail polish from my last pedicure back in October.  The guilt of not spending all my time off with the kids, as well as the feverish toddler, and more “responsible” tasks (like renewing my vehicle registration and taking my sick kid in for assessment) managed to almost completely obliterate the opportunity for my favourite guilty pleasure.  Today, however, I decided to go for it!

There is nothing more relaxing, in my opinion, than sitting in a massage chair while having my calves and feet massaged.  It was so easy for me to just sit back and take it all in – and I did it!  I splurged a little and got the gel polish to ensure my treat lasts, and I just relished the ability to sit peacefully and undisturbed for an hour and recharge myself. I am also a huge sushi lover, but I rarely go because I know very few people who eat sushi, and it is kind of expensive.  All week, however, I have been longing for the deliciously fresh indulgence of sushi.  I tried all week to convince a friend to join me for lunch, but it just never worked out… so I took myself on a post-pedicure solo sushi date.

Again, it was a wonderful feeling to sit, alone at the table, and really experience the taste of my food.  My calves were still a little tingly from the spa pedicure cream that was used for my leg massage and I sat back and sipped on my authentic Japanese green tea.   A few times I did feel myself falling prey to the guilty thoughts of my kids at home with the Nanny, waiting for me to walk through the door; especially my oldest son A, who knew that I was off work again today and assumed that I would be home when he got off the school bus.  I worked diligently, though, to remind myself that it’s okay to take a few hours for myself every once in a while to just take care of me.

My kids didn’t totally lose out, though: Before heading home I popped into Walmart to get them a little treat.  I also bought an inexpensive Chess board because I have been eager to start teaching A how to play Chess.  After watching the end of a movie with them and tucking little E away for his afternoon nap, I sat down with A and started teaching him a simplified version of Chess.  Am I ever looking forward to this kid learning the whole game!

Rampant Guilt

When my kids are sick, I am usually the one to push through the sleepless nights, make my husband mostly deal with them, and leave them home with the Nanny while I go to work.  I don’t have a lot of flexibility at my job to take days off (I get 5 sick days a year and 4 EDOs which need to be scheduled in advance).  This makes the decision when it comes to caring for my sick kids very difficult.  I almost always go to work when the kids are sick and spend the whole day worrying about them and feeling guilty for not putting them before my work.

I already have a significant amount of mommy guilt when it comes to dealing with my vomiting kids.  I have extreme emetophobia (fear or vomit/vomiting) and usually can’t be near my kids when they are vomiting or I think they will vomit.  I also fear that by being next to them, I will “catch” whatever bug they have and then I will get sock too.  I hate myself for it, but I can barely put my fear/anxiety aside to comfort my kids when they are sick.

Yesterday my son developed a horrible bout of gastroenteritis.  At least I figured it was gastro, until he could not stop vomiting (no matter what medications we tried to give him) his entire stomach contents, then bile, then just poor retching.  Even a sip of water to wet his mouth would lead to more retching.  Through this all he was complaining about a really bad stomach ache and the pain seemed to be  getting worse as the night progressed.  After already being awake all night and finally overcoming my vomit fear to lay down with him and rub his back (at this point he was barely even retching anymore), I began to worry more about his abdominal pain.  He wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t sleeping, and he was obviously dehydrated.  I felt like he needed to be seen in the urgent care centre, at least to check out his abdominal pain, and to possibly give him some stronger medication and rehydrate him.  Making the decision to do this meant that I for certain wouldn’t be able to go to work today.  So after weighting which guilt would be worse – that of not taking care of my sick son or that of calling in sick to work for the second time in the span of a week – I opted to take him in.

I put his cool little feet into his socks and piled him into the car with his blanket, giraffe, and a little puke bowl.  I drove across the city at 2:30am and listened to him moan in pain from the back seat.  I checked him in to the urgent care and waited for the nurse, then the doctor, then the medication, and finally the rehydration.  My 5:30am alarm rang and I made the call to my chief resident.  I felt horrible for that.  Eventually my son’s lips started looking less dry and his face less pale.  He was more talkative again, and we got the go ahead to leave.  We drove home and got into bed and slept most of the morning,  However, when I woke up, I felt an extreme amount of guilt for not being at work.

It feels like I can never win the battle against Guilt.  For every “good decision” that is made, there seems to be an equal and opposite “bad decision.”  I feel like I am always trying to decide which decision is actually the good one…

 

The Perils of Pregnancy – 1st Trimester Edition

*Disclaimer: I realize that pregnancy is a *beautiful* time and there are many women who struggle with infertility, so I should be grateful to be pregnant.  I AM grateful.  However, I do believe in the right to complain…*

What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Yes.  I read that book cover to cover during my first pregnancy.  It did answer quite a few of my questions and offer some sage advice on what it normal and not normal in pregnancy.  However, it seems to neglect mentioning all the atrocities of pregnancy that no one ever tells you about – even those of us who have been pregnant before neglect to mention these little, but annoying pregnancy perils.

There is no worse culprit than the first trimester: You don’t look pregnant, you don’t feel your baby moving, you feel like shit, and no one but you knows you’re pregnant.  So here they are, the perils of the first trimester:

Hair growth – Those luscious pregnancy locks that everyone brags about?  Sure, they might show up eventually… but you know what shows up first?  Thick hair where you least expect it – inner thighs, anyone?  Didn’t I just shave 3 hours ago?  What about that little “treasure trail?”  And the worst… Down There… ont he back side.  Since when does my back end look and feel like my husband’s back side?  In pregnancy… That’s when!  (Sorry to start out with TMI…)

Constipation – Another downside of all that hair?  The cleanliness factor.  Which I guess isn’t such an issue when you are only pooping every 4 days!  When I was younger I wondered why “old people” were so obsessed with their bowel habits.  Now I know why: Because when I’, used to going every day and now I’m lucky if I go once a week.  Wow.  Does it ever suck.  And where is all that poop going?  I’ll tell you later… For now, I am just feeling a need to celebrate whenever I have an urge to visit the bathroom (for this deed, though… not the other).

Softness – Swelling… water retention… relaxation… call it whatever you want.  Hormones make you soft, spongy, and ready to hold on to every ounce of water that you drink.  It’s amazing how much water you’re really able to hold on to when you’re peeing so often and hardly drinking for fear that it will come right back up again.  But, the pregnant female is resourceful and will scavenge that fluid from anywhere (including the bowels, where all that waste is just sitting… forever.  The websites will tell you that all this “softening” is your body preparing for the stretching and relaxation to make room for the baby.  Whatever.  All I know is that it makes me feel like a blimp with a soft pudgy ring of dough that could make people think I am already 6 months pregnant – except that it is completely compressible and only the result of swollen subcutaneous tissue, swollen, sluggish bowels, and incompetent (and yes, swollen) abdominal muscles.

Narcolepsy – The last time I ever felt that I could fall asleep anywhere, without warning, was probably way back on the verge of my memory – when I was a child and had the luxury of being able to do so.  Now I just walk around like The Walking Dead, hoping that I make it to the next opportunity to sit down before I let my eyes close for even 5 seconds.  This is not conducive to a functional lifestyle.  Not as a doctor… or as a mother… or even as a general human being.

Hunger-nausea Continuum – Am I hungry?  Or wait?  Am I going to puke?  Or maybe it’s just that I have to pee… Every sensation felt by my body right now is, quite literally, a feeling of nausea.  I spend a significant portion of my day wondering if I should try to eat *something* and wondering if that is going to make me feel better or worse.  The worst is when the hunger nausea continuum has reached so far that you are fooled into thinking you are hungry only to be half-way done swallowing that first bite of food only to realize that it will be a miracle if you are able to finish that swallow.  Yes.  There is no guarantees while attempting to navigate the hunger-nausea continuum.

Nippie Nips – Remember those lady bots in the Austin Powers movie?  The ones who had retractible guns as nipples?  How about having those little erect guns as nipples, All. The. Time.  And, if it’s not bad enough that the are up and hard and standing at attention every waking (and non-waking) minute, the always feel like they have just finished firing.  In other words… don’t touch!  They are sore and sensitive to even the smallest touch – such as the material from your pyjamas at night, and the excited and curious husband who mistakenly believes that these erect nipples are an invitation for him. No.  Hands off.  It is already time for the around-the-clock bra, and I’m not even nursing yet.

I’m sure there are more perils that I have forgot to mention, as my brain is already succumbing to the drain affectionately known as “pregnancy brain.”  I will resist the urge to add a second “1st Trimester Edition” to the Perils of Pregnancy series, as I might be accused of hating this beautiful process.  Let me just say that nothing is “All Beautiful.”  Nothing.

What was your least favorite part of early pregnancy?  Or were you one of those people who had a perfect-from-the start pregnancy? (I won’t hate you, I promise…)