Posts Tagged "baby"

To The New Parents

Posted on May 12, 2013 in Featured, Parenting | 9 comments

To The New Parents

There’s something that no one will tell you. They don’t want to scare you, or be a downer, or maybe they don’t remember, really truly, what it was like. They will wait for you to bungle through it, and hopefully figure it out yourself at some point, though I think a lot of us never do. I’ve been through the new parent thing three times now and no one ever told me, that’s for sure. It’s hard. Wait a minute. Wait. That’s not the secret thing that no one will tell you. Sure, not many people honestly talk to a couple expecting their first child about how hard it is. It’s all congratulations and calling every day asking, “Any News?” Nevertheless, there are probably a few people in your life who tell you that it was hard for them, or maybe you witnessed some friends or family go through it and you were surprised and appalled by their transformation from happy and excited (even glowing) parent-to-be into weeping zombie. I’m sure you sort of expect that it isn’t going to be a cake walk. But part of you just doesn’t get how hard it can be, and part of you doesn’t even care because you’re all hopped up on the delicious anticipation that is pregnancy. Not to mention a little self-absorbed with the idea that pregnancy is really hard and you can’t wait for it to be over. I’ll tell you the secret now. The secret is that there is no solution, no fix for the hardness of new parenthood. (I’d almost go so far as to say that it is supposed to be hard, though it’s possible that wasn’t as true in the old days when we lived more communally.) After the marathon, whirlwind, ordeal, or ecstasy of birth (whatever combo of those you are blessed with), and the initial nights of parenting while you wait for your milk to come in, already exhausted from not sleeping through labour, and then not sleeping because you’re staring dewy-eyed at the new piece of your heart cradled in your arms, and the back-to-back visits from family and friends, and the meconium, and the euphoria of 9 months of waiting has finally worn off, you may find yourself staring into the eyes of a bunch of new challenges. Challenges like: poor latch, mastititis, postpartum depression, failure to thrive, GERD, mother-in-laws, sleep deprivation, growth spurts, pumping, isolation, child care, identity crisis, colic, returning to work, car rides, diaper rash, marital strife, and never having a single moment to pee or shower without bouncing the baby on the damn exercise ball. You’ll call the midwife, the lactation consultant, your mother, your BFF and the nurse hotline. You’ll ask for help, and you’ll receive it (with meals). And you’ll cry alone in your room (and no one will know to help). You’ll read books, and ask google and chat rooms. You’ll fight with your partner. You’ll beg your partner to just tell you what to do, or to stop telling you what to do, or to just take the baby for five freaking minutes even if she’s screaming. You’ll wonder why it’s so hard, and what to do to fix it. Here’s the thing. We’ll listen to you. We’ll help when we can. We’ll offer solutions from our own experience (when we can). We’ll bring you meals. We’ll tell you “Yes. It was this hard for us too.” We’ll loan you our books, and suggest calling the midwife. We’ll share websites that helped us. We’ll tell you to call any time, even though we know you probably won’t know how to ask for help when you really really need it. But we can’t fix it. For the better part of the next year (or two), it will stay hard. You will solve some problems and gain more confidence. And then there will be new challenges. New arguments with your partner. New surprises with the baby. You’ll sort those out. You’ll figure out how to eat a meal while holding a baby. You’ll get used...

Read More

Six Things I Have Learned About Baby Sleep

Posted on Jan 30, 2013 in Featured, Sleeping | 3 comments

Six Things I Have Learned About Baby Sleep

Eight years ago, I was pregnant with my first child and I knew that I would probably have some sleepless nights in my future. It turns out that I didn’t even know the half of it. No one tells you ahead of time how bad it can be or how to cope, but three kids later, I’ve learned a couple of things: 6. Babies Get Tired Every Two Hours Little babies can only be up for about two hours before they are tired again. Knowing this can make all the difference in how your days unfold. Knowing this can soften sleep struggles. Take note of when they get up and watch them after about two hours. It’s easier to put a sleepy baby to bed than to fight a baby who is either over-tired or not tired at all. 5. Babies Have ~45 Minute Sleep Cycles Thanks to Elizabeth Pantley for teaching me this one. We all sleep in cycles of deep sleep and light sleep, and we all wake up at various times during the night before returning back to sleep. The problems for parents and babies are: Our sleep cycles are different lengths (baby cycles being quite a bit shorter than ours). Babies wake more frequently than we do and often wake when we are in a deeper part of our sleep cycle making it more painful for us to wake up (though breastfeeding and co-sleeping both help to sync mother and baby sleep cycles). Babies don’t always know how to go back to sleep when they wake up during a lighter stage of their sleep cycle. This is why a baby who has a particular sleep association (like say, nursing to sleep as all my children have had) will wake hourly all night long and want to use that same method to go back to sleep. I happen to think that nursing to sleep is normal based on the biological systems that support it. However, it did help to know what was going on when my babies started waking hourly, or why a baby will only take 50 minute naps. 4. Put Down The Sleep Books I’ve said this before, but this one is pretty big for me so I will say it again: the more I read the sleep books, the more likely I was not in a good head space about our sleep situation. I’m not saying that you should never ever pick up a book on baby sleep. Many of them are super helpful. Some of them are not. Also, as I indicated with the two points above, it IS worth knowing a bit about the mechanics and biology of baby sleep and naps. Absolutely. But when you are obsessively reading more than one sleep book at a time, keeping sleep logs, counting wake ups, comparing last week to this week, plotting, strategizing, and reaching for another sleep book, there’s a pretty good chance that you need: support a break to clear your life of commitments to accept that this what is happening for you now, but it won’t last forever I’m glad I read some of the books when I had my first baby. But I’m also glad that I eventually realized that I never needed to read them ever again. (This also goes for googling: how to get my baby to sleep or why is my baby waking up so much). 3. It Sucks When People Tell You That The Baby Years Go Fast, But It’s True You know above where I said that you have to accept that this is what is happening now but it won’t last forever? You might have sworn at me under your breath. I hated, HATED, it when people said variations of “all this will one day be a memory” and I could have punched them in the throat when they even hinted that I would miss it. When I was in the depths of psychotic sleep deprivation, this is about the least helpful thing you could say to me. For someone who is struggling...

Read More

Things I Have Learned From Having More Than One Child

Posted on Nov 7, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 8 comments

Things I Have Learned From Having More Than One Child

It seems to me that 90% of parenting you have to learn from experience, as you go. You can read books, have friends tell you all the dirty details, consult the experts, but until you find yourself discussing the consistency of poop at dinner with the neighbours you probably didn’t know what you were going to do, or what you’d have to do, to raise an infant to adulthood. In light of that, there are some things about parenting that I did not get as a parent of only one child. It was the experience of parenting multiple kids that taught me these little truths. **Here I must insert my disclaimer to say that I don’t mean this to be condescending to parents of a single child, whether it be by choice, by accident, or because they just haven’t had their future kids yet. I am only speaking to my experience of having learned these things through the act of parenting two or more kids. This isn’t an attack on parents of one, especially given the fact that even if parents of one never learn these things, they have other strengths and positives in their situation that I will never have the chance to experience.** Here’s what I know now, that I didn’t know when I only had Rain: It wasn’t all my parenting. It was mostly the kid. Sure, I’ve had some positive effects on my kids…but all that smugness, thinking that I’d done all these things right (or for that matter, even the guilt about the things I thought were my fault)? So much of it is just the personality of the child or the circumstances at the time. My son was toilet trained in 6 weeks. My daughter took 6 months. I don’t get points for any of it, except maybe being willing to go with the flow. Every kid has the potential to be an asshole. And an angel. Yes, even mine. And yours. You know that mama bear reaction you have when a bigger kid on the playground is being mean, aggressive, or bossy to your kid? When they throw sand in your baby’s face, or snatch a toy, or kick your sweet darling in the back because they went down the slide before your kid got off? You know that feeling when you look at the other child, thinking that he’s totally rude and aggressive, downright nasty, maybe even a brat (and you haven’t even gotten started on all the ways it’s the mother’s fault). Your kiddo seems so little still next to the other kids and you are biologically programmed to want to protect them from all harm. How about this? Your three year old is throwing a tantrum and has accidentally punched your three day old baby in the stomach. Your first reaction is to protect your baby, and you feel yourself going mama bear on your precious first born. But then you see how he’s hurting and confused and still little too. You realize that it could be your kid on the playground being mean, aggressive or bossy to someone younger and you love him anyway. You realize that all the kids out there are sometimes the rough ones, the selfish ones, the rude ones, and sometimes, the sweet ones, the funny ones, the little ones. When your kid is going through a difficult phase, you recognize it as a developmental stage or the full moon or a long day or a bad mood and worry less about what that means in the long term. You finally understand that they aren’t defined by a snapshot of their behaviour on any given day – they are all of that and more. After that, it’s a lot easier to be charitable to other people’s kids, and to your own, when they don’t play nice. A little crying isn’t the end of the world. With my firstborn, every time he cried it was earth shatteringly upsetting to me. I jumped to soothe and fix it every time. Once you have two kids that...

Read More

Weaning, Fertility and Moving On

Posted on Feb 21, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 8 comments

Weaning, Fertility and Moving On

Last week, as I picked up Silas after his nap, I folded my arms around him, nestled my face into his neck to kiss him, and he exhaled the sweet smell of breastmilk. It was a few days before his first birthday and as I breathed in deeply, trying to save the memory of it forever, I knew it would be one of the last times I would smell that sweet odor on his breath. I would be lying if I said that it didn’t make me almost unbearably sad. I nursed my older two children both until they were just a few months shy of three years old. I assume it will be the same with Silas. However, the weaning has already begun. He eats table food and I can go out for four hours without him needing me. The frequency of his nursing will be gradually diminishing over the course of this next year, until I notice that he only nurses when he’s sad or hurt or going down for a nap. And then, another day, I will realize that he hasn’t nursed in a few days and I can’t even remember when the last time was. Newborns seem to always have that milk breath smell about them. But toddlers—and Silas certainly seems to be crossing into toddler territory these days—toddlers have their own smells. Soon enough, the milk breath will be just a memory. It seemed fitting that this moment should have come during the week of his first birthday, as I reflect on his birth, as I try to make peace with the idea of not having a baby anymore, or ever again. With all of this comes the realization that my menses should resume soon. I am still waiting, but I feel my body changing, gearing up as it were. I never was one of those moon-goddess women who celebrated having my period or who saw it as some divine female rite. To be honest, it is painful, uncomfortable, messy and pretty much a pain in the ass… However, as a woman of childbearing age, I can appreciate the idea of being connected to the rhythms of my body, and as a mother, I am grateful that fertility-wise I had little trouble conceiving, that I had knowledge and more or less the control over whether and when we had children. I never did look forward to getting my period back after each of my children were born—though I likely would have felt differently if we had been anxious to conceive again and it was nowhere in sight. Now, at this point in my childbearing path, when I consider that my fertility will be returning soon, I can’t help but feel more than a little put out. It seems pretty pointless for me to continue to endure the downsides of female fertility despite the fact that we have made the (mostly) permanent decision not to have any more children. Aaron went in for a vasectomy last summer, when Silas was  six months old. On the face of it, I’m ok with that. We have three beautiful children and that often feels like a lot. My life, and my hands, are very full. I’m tired. I look forward to a time when I’ll be able to sleep again and have time to focus on some of my personal dreams in a more focused and meaningful way than I have been able to as the constant mother of a nursling. I blogged when I was pregnant with Silas about being done having kids and mostly, I am. Nevertheless, I cried when I picked Aaron up from his appointment. As much as I am certain that three kids is enough for us given our resources (time, money, energy, support systems), it is so hard to let go of this phase in my life. I love babies and I mostly enjoyed pregnancy. I had really fulfilling complication-free homebirths and I am at ease as a nursing mother. I will miss each of these things. A lot. As much as...

Read More

Looking Back

Posted on Jan 4, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 1 comment

Looking Back

Last year at this time I was in the middle of my third trimester of a surprise pregnancy. I wanted to spend the last week of 2010 reflecting on the previous year and anticipating the next. I wanted to choose a word of the year. But I just couldn’t get past anticipating how the new baby would change our lives. All I could think about/plan for was the upcoming birth and my fears/excitement about becoming a family of five. I felt like I had just boarded a roller coaster and well, a roller coaster isn’t the best place to write in your journal or have a strategic planning session. I let the planning and reflecting go and I sat back to enjoy the ride (or hold on/white-knuckle it as it were). This year I am again in a mental space that allows me to step back and look at the bigger picture. This year I’ve chosen a word and I’ve been able to look back at the last two years to see the themes and lessons that brought us to today. 2010 began with me seeking a clear vision of my path, and consequently, faith and trust that my dreams were achievable. It was supposed to be a year of planning and moving forward, but we got thrown a curve-ball mid-way through the year, in the form of an unplanned pregnancy. Just like that everything changed: I forgot all about my intentions and plans from January and focused on the baby we would be welcoming. Yet, looking back, I see that the year was still embodied by vision, faith and trust. I had to rewrite my vision of our family and our plans and I again found myself looking for clarity of purpose as I reconsidered my dreams. I learned to trust the process and have faith in myself and my family as I fearfully wondered whether we had the energy to welcome/care for another child. I learned to relax and believe that it would all work out. 2011 ended up being a year of being, of presence. Mindfulness is a bit of a catch word in the last decade and I wish I could say that I consciously chose to be present but the reality is that it just happened. This summer, Aaron and I made the decision that our family was complete and Aaron went in for a vasectomy which meant that 2011 was the last year I will ever be pregnant, or give birth, or hold my own newborn baby against my skin. I spent 2011 reveling in the anticipation and feeling gratitude for the childbearing phase in a woman’s life. I spent 2011 watching my baby grow and trying to soak it up, knowing now, the third time around, how very fleeting it is, knowing that I can’t slow it down, knowing that I won’t experience this first hand ever again. After all the fears and uncertainty and surprise of 2010, we were delighted to welcome Silas into our lives. He has been a wonderful ray of light and sweetness in our family. He balanced us out and healed old wounds and the first 5-6 months with him were so beautiful and—I still can’t believe it—easy. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have him. The last few months have been harder as sleep became a huge challenge and as a result, 2011 echoed 2009 in being a year of family, a year of being still and getting to know each other, a year of not taking on too much. I even went so far as to broadcast on facebook that we were struggling with sleep deprivation to the point where I was focusing only keeping my kids’ fed and clothed and as such my friends would have to forgive my lack of phone calls/visits. 2011 was about living day-to-day. 2011 was about the moment. 2011 was about now. But here we are: it is January. The days have slipped by. We have a new year. We can see Silas’ first birthday there on...

Read More