Monthly Archives: December 2016

Book 12: I made it!


I’ve got to sit down and have a good talk with my local librarian and find out why it took me two days to find a book that I had read in my collection that they had a eBook available for. Even something as common as the Scarlet Letter wasn’t in the digital collection. ANd so I ended up with The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence.

This book is so classically Canadian — there is a snow storm. There is a train ride. There is a return to the “wilderness”.  Oh, and it is rife with death. Fortunately, it’s a good read (cough cough… looking at you, Wacousta… though I don’t think that one has a train ride).It’s a rather depressing book when it comes down to it. However, it is a good read, and a fairly quick one(it took me two nights and a nap time to finish it).

I hadn’t read this book since grade 12 (you can read why we read it in Grade 12 in my review of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings), and yet, reading through it was so familiar it was like I had just read it a few years ago and that is a sign of a good book. (And for anyone wanting to know, yes, that was about 14 years ago that I read it).



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Book 11: Oh, I haven’t read it!

mmd-2016-reading-challenge-page.pngRemember how I started this book challenge with picking up an Atwood book, to check off the “Book you own but have never read” only to discover that I had actually started but abandoned it? Turns out I don’t know a lot about my bookshelf, because I picked up Forms of Devotion by Diane Schoemperlan (also a Canadian author) only to realize I had never actually read it. Good thing I still had to check off that “Book you own but have never read”!

This book felt meandering and needlessly pretentious. Schoemperlan’s goal for this book was to play with the combination of word and image, using art of various media from the 17th-19th centuries either as inspiration for stories, or chosen to complement the stories. Perhaps its because I read everything at night while I’m up with Madeline, on an eReader, but even my print edition, the images seemed too small to really justify spending the time analyzing in the context of the story.

It’s not often I pan a female Canadian author, and it surprises me that even with two “hippy dippy trippy” birth books I read on this challenge, this book is right up there on the “ya, take a hard pass on this one” list.


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Book 10: Breathing it Out

mmd-2016-reading-challenge-pageOk, this is a bit of a stretch.  I am counting: “Hypnobirthing”  (Marie Mongan) as a book I was meaning to read. I received it in September from a friend. I read it in October. I was meaning to read it WITH Scott, but that’s the closest we can get to intentionality. This book was so not worth reading (I say months later), so I want points.

I have a difficult time suspending my disbelief when it comes to taking advice from a book. I don’t necessarily believe that it’s possible to weather contractions by simply visualizing rainbow mists surrounding my body.  I also think it’s a wonderful image to “breathe the baby out” rather than pushing. But whether these tactics will work for everyone? Not likely.

But I did like the focus on breathing. In hindsight, it might have been best to hitch my wagon to the Lamaze horse. But I did use balloon breathing to get through the first 3-4 hours of labour before the epidural.

But the lasting influence of the book? I still have the rainbow mist meditation bookmarked on my phone for those nights when I’ve spent so much time trying to stay awake with a cranky baby that once she falls asleep, I struggle to as well. It’s like magic, every time!


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Book 9: A Little to Real to Laugh At

mmd-2016-reading-challenge-pageI like books that have some tongue in cheek humour, which is why I reached for Julian Barnes’ The Noise Of Time for the book published this year. Whether the current international diplomatic relations had affected Barnes or me, I’m not sure but reading about the suppression of artists (primarily musical) in the Soviet Union in a time where the Russian government is exceeding their bounds limited the humour in this book. It is quite an interesting read given that he presumes to channel the real world Russian composer Shostakovich, given little is noted about the composer in comparison to composers from other parts of the world from that time period.

Admittedly it’s been months since I started reading it and weeks since I finished so I don’t quite remember much about it, so i won’t go on much further except to say this: Barnes is a skilled writer, and it was a good read, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting to read.


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It kills me that the official medical category for Madeline’s clubfeet is “congenital defect”. As I sit here rocking my over-stimulated because big sister needed a bit more Mama time than anticipated baby, there is absolutely nothing defective about her. 

But her condition (though treatable, and for that I’m enternally grateful) breaks my heart. I can remember at 5 weeks old fighting back my own tears as the doctor kept telling me “we need to get her to calm down before we can keep casting her” as she wailed on the cold examining table. I barely knew who she was yet, let alone how to calm her (for the record, the doctor was very sympathetic and understanding, even if my brain refused to realize that at the time). And daily there is some kind of reminder of what is missing from our relationship because of her ongoing treatment. And there are days that it breaks me and I wallow in misplaced guilt (there is no way in which I caused or could have prevented it) and pity (for Madeline and myself). And on those days, I need to remind myself to shift the focus to shift the attitude. 

  • Missing newborn cuddles: she is still able to snuggle in like a kitten even if it’s not as small. But her ability to snuggle in close with two casts on her legs shows how much she loves and needs me. And already she’s given me more cuddles than C ever did. 
  • No footie pajamas: I loved buying pajamas for C. To this day, I consider it a victory when I convince her to wear footie pajamas over her preferred two pieces. And twice as happy when they have cute animal faces on the feet. But between casts and braces, footie pajamas will only become an option at age 5, well past the age that she should be wearing footies. But you know what’s damn adorable? Onesies and leg warmers (and way easier at diaper change time). 
  • Watching her scream through casting: I know it doesn’t hurt, it is just frustration that someone is holding her leg and OMG kicking is fun! But casting is quick and I know there are no serious side effects. But the alternative? Sitting in waiting room as your child undergoes multiple surgeries. Yes, I will take the screaming. 
  • Difficulty babywearing: swelling can happen in casts, and the bar attached to the boots limit which carriers work, making running errands and household chores a little more difficult. But that gives me all the more reason to put chores aside until naptime and just enjoy the time with my girls when they are awake. Plus, it’s nice to be able to just take C out grocery shopping on Saturdays when Scott can look after M, so we get some one on one time 
  • Fighting with M to put on the boots and bars every night for 5 years: there will always be fights at bedtime. The black bear pajamas will have jam on them. The lotion will be too cold after bath. The one book that you HAVE to read will be missing. It’s just all part of being a parent and I wouldn’t want to parent anyone else. 

And I wouldn’t want her to be any different because she’s perfect. 

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When Support Groups aren’t Supportive

When the anesthesiologist was running through the risks of an epidural, he accidentally said there was a 1 in 1000 risk of paralysis. He quickly corrected himself and said it was 1 in 100,000 (I think, it was many sleepless nights ago) and I said that was good — we weren’t doing too well with the 1 in 1000 odds. After all, I was being induced for the rare pregnancy complication, intrahepatic cholestasis, which happens in 1 in 1000 pregnancies. And my daughter was born with clubfeet, a common congenital issue happening in 1 in 1000 kids. 

Yup. Same stat. Very different semantic descriptors. 

Ah yes, it’s all about context. A woman who is pregnant is more likely to have gestational diabetes (3-20 of 100), pre-eclampsia (7 of 100), placenta previa (1 in 200) or many other issues than ICP. 

Considering you are building a whole human body from scratch, there are countless things that could go wrong, so conditions like clubfoot, Down syndrome (1 in 800), cleft lip and cleft palate (1 in 700) are “common.” 

It’s all about looking at stats in context. 

Now I pulled these stats from various different internet sites, with great disparity between some stats for certain conditions. But that comes as no surprise. I hope. A little bit of critical thinking goes a long way when looking at internet sources. 

But let’s face it, between the need for fact checking sites, the recent discussions of the influence of fake news on social media and, well, the recent US election, critical thinking is lacking.

It’s for that reason that I tend to stay away from Facebook groups who seek to provide a community rather than a service (BST groups keep my middle of the night feeding sessions interesting). But I also recognize there is a purpose. 

For example, while clubfoot may be “common” I know no one other than my brother-in-law who underwent treatment for clubfoot. In our case, we knew our daughter had bilateral clubfoot about halfway through the pregnancy, but were only told the course of treatment by a medical professional when she was 4 weeks old, the day the treatment started, the internet was our best friend. And so I did that thing I had shuddered at doing before. I joined a facebook support group for Canadian parents of children with clubfoot. And I turned off push notifications, and I unfollowed it. 

And then I ignored the group again until the night before the first appointment when I wanted to know how long the appointment might take. And I made the mistake of posting. And I made the mistake of answering which hospital and which doctor we would be seeing. 

Suddenly, someone was telling me to go get a second opinion elsewhere because it was a bad hospital and we were seeing a bad doctor. 


It wasn’t until she tagged two people in her response that I realized the context of her comment. She was not from Winnipeg. She had never set foot in the hospital, or met the doctor. As evidenced by the screen shots she also attached, she had merely searched the group for “Winnipeg” and read two posts in isolation. 

So I read the two posts. And I did my own search of the group for the two people she had referenced and read ALL of their posts. And then read the PM that one of them sent me after getting a notification they were tagged in a comment. And with all this context, I was able to deduce that this hospital and this doctor were likely just fine. 

If clubfoot is quite common, and with there being only one hospital in the city who treats it, the fact that there are so few stories bodes well. After all, how many people voluntarily go into groups and forums to report that something went as expected? Significantly less frequently than someone who feels they have been wronged. Yes, 100% of the comments voiced doubt about the doctor. But 100% continued seeing this doctor and 100% realized their concerns were unfounded. 

Support groups often are filled with armchair doctors who know more than a trained physician. Of course they are able to offer a diagnosis and course of treatment way faster: they look at the issue in isolation. “The big toe is pointing down! It must be a complex case of clubfoot! How dare your doctor say it’s not! He’s crap, find a new one” But they don’t ask if the child is pointing the toe down, or to see the same foot from a different angle in case it’s just a perspective issue. “The cast slipped! Your doctor is crap, find a new one!” But they don’t ask whether the child was fighting the casting, or whether the cast was compromised by a large diaper leak. 

We all turn to the internet out of fear and ignorance, but sadly, without the benefit of critical thought and context, all we get is more fear and more ignorance. 

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Currently: In December

I am not going to complain that time is moving quickly. I’m all for time moving quickly right now. I love Christmas, but I hate winter/Christmas shopping/shovelling snow. I love the newborn cuddles, but I hate the lack of sleep/schedule/normalcy.  And so I very much welcome this month’s Currently, especially since it’s already a full week through this month! Thanks to Anne and Kellie for hosting!

Doing: Christmas traditions with C. Advent calendars. Letters to Santa. Hopefully even a gingerbread house, or at least some gingerbread people.

Enjoying: Christmas music. Usually, I’m the first in the family to start it up (12:00 on Nov. 11 was our family rule growing up), but without any snow, I wasn’t feeling. We still don’t have a lot of snow, but at least some makes me feel a little more festive. I’ve been streaming Sarah McLachlan’s Christmas playlist on Apple Music.

Cooking: As little as possible. With M’s early arrival, I didn’t get a weekend to make up a bunch of meals to freeze. Then I was feeling so well in the first few weeks, anytime someone would bring me food, I’d not only throw it in the freezer, but I’d also double whatever I was planning on making for supper to throw in the freezer as well. This is the week we’re going to start going to town on that stash! M starts her club feet treatment today, and while I’m optimistic we’ll all take it in stride, I’m doing whatever I can to make sure things at home go as smoothly as possible.

Wrapping: uh… presents? I feel terribly un-creative with this answer. But my rule for wrapping is that everything gets colour coded. One colour for presents from Santa. Another for presents between our little family. One colour for presents going to my side of the family. Another colour for presents going to Scott’s side. We do Christmas Eve with my family, Christmas morning at our house, and then load up and drive 2 1/2 hours for Christmas with Scott’s family, so making sure we’ve packed the right presents for the right people is key.

Playing: Polar bear. I just crawl around after C and she thinks it’s hilarious. Hey, as long as she’s stopped telling me: “I don’t like you, Mama!” (she loves her sister, she loves her daddy, but me after we brought the baby home? Not so much), I’m not going to complain. My knees on the other hand…

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