Monthly Archives: February 2017

Casting Mountain

I’ve been struggling to come up with something to write about dealing with Maddy’s cast portion of her CTEV treatment. Of her 15ish weeks on this planet, 11ish have been spent in casts, so in her reality, casts are no big deal.

In my reality, this last cast has been just as hard as the first.  A friend once told me “it doesn’t get easier but you get used to it.” She meant it in regards to going back to work but I’ve found it, like my personal mantra at the time: “it’s going to be fine because it has to be fine” applies to so much of motherhood and it applies here as well.

Everything I thought would happen did. I never figured out a safe and convenient method of doing day to day activities like errands and grocery shopping. But we never went hungry. She pooped on her casts, peed on her casts and even had one cast slip, but there was no lasting damage. People looked. Fewer stared. Even fewer questioned her casts. Only one person reacted in horror and accusation.

I wish I could have some great inspirational story of overcoming personal shame and finding an inner strength to become an advocate for CTEV awareness. I don’t. I still inwardly cringe when someone might see the casts. I still take each week one hour at a time, lose sleep the night before every appointment, and hold back tears every cast that gets wrapped.

And that tenotomy? She recovered long before I did.

There were a few moments where it broke me up inside thinking of all the things she missed out on because of the treatment. But there was nothing significant or life changing. What were harder were the moments when I realized what her life would be like if we hadn’t done the treatment when we did (thus requiring multiple reconstructive surgeries typically leading to lifelong pain) or not ever seeking any treatment (possibly never walking).

Technically, once these last casts come off, she will be “cured”. We should be rejoicing both at the fact that we are done with the casts and the fact that she will be able to lead a normal, active life. But with three months of full-time brace wear and then 3-5 years of part-time brace wear, with daily concerns with proper daily application, pressure sores and blisters, and the all to real chance that even with perfect compliance she could relapse, it feels like we’ve only made it partway up this mountain.

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Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

7 Quick Takes: Potty Training Edition

If I could go back in time a whole week, this is what I would tell myself before starting to potty train C (at 2 years 5 months). Joining up again this week with This Ain’t the Lyceum’s Seven Quick Takes

1. Use treats. For yourself. Your kid may be thrilled with stickers but get something good to either quickly consume in the pantry or to binge on at night. 

2. There will be melt downs. You expect the ones from your kid but not the ones for you 

3. Remember potty training is LIFE CHANGING for your kid. Expect the same drama you had when you brought home a new baby. 

4. You can teach them to pull down their pants, climb onto the potty, wipe, flush and wash. But you can’t teach them how to actually release the pee. 

5. If you don’t want to go into the bathroom at Walmart, don’t ask if they need to pee. While they may say “no” 90% of the time at home, they will say “yes” 100% of the times you don’t want them to. 

6. Don’t do laundry the day before you start. No matter how many pairs of underwear they own, you’ll still need to do laundry every.single.day. Even if they don’t have many accidents. I don’t get it. But unless you want to just wash 12 little tiny pairs of panties by themselves, save up some laundry. 

7. For the love of all things merciful, don’t choose to potty train mere days before a major change in any of your other kids lives. There’s nothing like spending a night soothing a screaming baby whose legs are sensitive after 11 weeks in casts and then are suddenly jammed into a torture inducing orthotic device and then spending your days in a tiny cramped bathroom with a toddler. 

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

2017 Book #1: A Large Harmonium

There is something creepily voyeuristic about reading a novel written by someone who attended the same university as you, writes about the city you live in, and even acknowledges people you know.

My first book of 2017 was A Large Harmonium by Sue Sorensen, post-modern novel following a university prof as she navigates day-to-day life raising a toddler and advancing her career. The chapters provide a monthly snapshot of life over the course of one year, dealing with difficult coworkers, trying in-laws, baffling toddlers, and the ineffable nature of the self.

While some plot elements carry over from chapter to chapter – the romantic meandering of a friend, Jam; the seemingly ideal and yet seemingly broken relationship between the protagonist and her husband — many ideas are addressed, developed and then left to float into the ether without resolution. While there is an underlying fear of the futility of the day to day life, there is also a wonderful sense of humour about it all. 

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SQT – Food Edition

Look at me, remembering there’s a link up all the cool kids are doing and joining in! The last few weeks, I’ve been seeing bloggy -friends linking up for Seven Quick Takes hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum, and while I’ve been lurking, I have never remembered in enough time to pull a post together. I like structure so I decided to post a cravings based SQT. 

  1. Salted coffee – I love the smell of coffee. And apparently the only time my body handles it well is when I’m pregnant/breastfeeding. But I’m never crazy about the taste. But I’ve been watching a lot of Bones lately and one of the characters is picky about his coffee: a pinch of salt and a dash of cinnamon in with the grounds. We are apparently out of cinnamon, but the pinch of salt cuts the bitterness so now my coffee tastes the way it smells. 
  2. My mom used to make delicious Italian sub sandwiches that we got to eat in front of the tv while we watched the Grey Cup. Over the years, I’ve become more and more lazy when making them but both pregnancies I craved them so badly, especially during the first trimester using whatever we had on hand. Sometimes, they would just be butter, mozzarella cheese, dill relish and pickles on white bread. I ate so many when I was pregnant that when I eat them now, Scott gets worried that another kid is on it’s way. Nope, just love me some salt and empty carbs!
  3. A friend and I created a water cooler club at work to help keep each other hydrated. We set alarms on our Fitbit to fill up our water bottles  at two intervals a day, and we had to drink them before the next alarm went off. If we drank our allotted water for so many days, we would reward ourselves. Our last “level” before I went on mat leave was to go for Mac and cheese. Of course, I went off work two weeks early and we had to raincheck. We are finally going on Monday to a restaurant in a fancy hotel which serves their Mac and cheese with blue cheese and I believe pancetta. 
  4. We have a picky-ish eater on our hands. She eats like crazy. You give her fruit or vegetables and she will eat until you stop her. But meals? They can be tough. Some days  she loves spice. Some days she hates it. Some days she wants everything mixed together. Other days they can’t touch. While there are only a handful of days that come to mind where she flat out refused to eat what was on hand, I’ve had to get creative with our cooking and serving, often trying to guess how much meat she’ll want to eat and leave it unseasoned or just sacrificing flavour for the rest of us and serving the world’s most bland burritos.  
  5. We are going to try potty training this weekend. Based on the reading I’ve done, if it’s going to be successful in one weekend, you have to be successful the first day. So to stack the deck in our favour, we bought pretzels and apple juice. She normally doesn’t get much of either so I’m hoping loading her up with thirst-inducing food and letting her drink her weight in (watered down) juice will give her lots of opportunities to go. 
  6. Last week my sister was prepping beef stroganoff while we were over for a play date and we started talking about meals our mom used to make. While my sister could remember my mom making beef stroganoff, I could only remember her making the much more time and budget friendly version we called “flub gub”: essentially ground beef in mushroom soup. I’ve avoided mushroom soup for about a decade now because of the MSG content in it, but searching for meals when making up a grocery list this week, I decided to take a walk down memory lane. Of course, it fails the Charlotte test: it has a sauce and has all the ingredients mixed together so it doesn’t matter what her “deal” is today, it’s destined to be a failure. 
  7. I had my sister and nephews over after swimming lessons this morning. That meant making peanut butter sandwiches for 3 kids under the age of 5. Somehow they managed to devour an entire loaf of bread. And all of the sliced veggies I had on hand. And then C insisted on a snack less than an hour later. 
Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Baby Steps: Romance after having a baby

Romance is kind of lacking around this house. I’d blame the kids but I also know that iPhones, iPads and Netflix are also to blame. Oh, and my ability to fall asleep before our toddler on any given night. I feel extra guilty writing about it on Valentine’s Day and the only kid-free time I have planned is a lunch date next weekend…with a friend. 

But sometimes baby steps are needed rather than one-time grand gestures. Particularly when date nights often mean having a tighter grip on the phone in case the grandparents text to say something is wrong with the kids (despite knowing that my parents would never text, preferring to muddle through using their decades of experience). 

Saturday night we took a baby step. With the toddler asleep in her bed and the baby asleep on the couch beside me, Scott and I had a mini-date. The TV was off. Our iPad and MacBook stashed away. Our phones only permitted as dictionaries. And we played Scrabble. 

I know, can you stand the excitement?

We both enjoy board games but we both enjoy very DIFFERENT board games. I love anything involving words or trivia with each person left to fend for themselves. Scott prefers role-playing, strategic games where everyone cooperates to achieve a shared goal. We both lose patience playing the other type. 

But Scott managed to mostly keep his rage in check (still pulling off a win despite me ruining a 30 point word he could make with just one letter), and I managed to stay awake. It turns out it takes very little for us to consider it a successful date night!

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

I Just Need Five Minutes

I am much less harried as a mother of two than I expected. I am an old hat at changing diapers. I can feed a baby while checking my email and eating breakfast. I know that some time outside does everyone — myself included –a world of good. But that doesn’t make me immune to the occasional day where I count down the minutes until Scott is home, sometimes even starting before he sets foot out the door. And the minute he steps back in?

“Here you go,” I say thrusting a baby at him and trying not to trip over the toddler already wrapped around his legs, “I just need five minutes”. 

Five minutes is a magical time period in this house. When C, a notoriously bad sleeper, kept me up many a night, I eventually read Pamela Druckerman’s book on parenting the French way, “Bringing Up Bébé.”  In it, she claims the solution to all of your nighttime sleep problems is “The Pause.” Once a child is a few weeks old, the French, apparently unbeknownst to themselves, will passively observe their baby when it starts to cry. If they discover an urgent issue, they step in, but typically they wait to see if the child settles themselves. They find typically the child does and soon learns to sleep through the night. 

While I have serious doubts and reservations as to whether this would work on every child, my already too independent baby actually does much better if you leave her to fuss for a few minutes, and often will fall asleep better on her own than in my arms. It’s been hard to re-wire my brain after having a child who was so dependent on me for sleep, so I often find myself placing her in the crib and saying “Just five minutes.” Now she doesn’t reach a good deep sleep in those five minutes, so often I have to remind myself “just 5 more” if I see her eyes flutter open or her voice whinge, but on a good day, she settles relatively peacefully as I watch, admittedly a little heartbroken, from my chair. 

The “just five minutes” also works well on her still-sleep-fighting big sister. Naps are a struggle and with the news that C’s teeth are already shifting because of her soother use and her all-too-dainty jaw, they won’t be getting any better as we try to rid the soother cold turkey. After trying to see if she’ll sleep after a naptime routine of two books and a song, I usually wait 30-45 minutes before I start to “parent” her to sleep. If I am feeling sentimental, especially on a day when Madeline rejects my attempts to rock her to sleep, I’ll snuggle in with C until she falls asleep. But most days, I go in, straighten her blankets and say “eyes closed, mouth closed for just 5 minutes and then naptime will be over. Just five minutes.”  If she buys into it, when I go back in five minutes later, she will be asleep. 

Five minutes can also work well when not sleeping. A dishwasher can be unloaded in 5 minutes. A salad can be made in 5 minutes. A room tidied in 5 minutes (not well, but quickly). But most importantly, sanity can be restored — or at least improved — in just five minutes. 

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Currently: In February

Oh yes, we have finally made it. February is the last month of true winter. March, in my books, is “almost spring,” April is “practically spring” and May is “officially spring” (I know the equinox is in April, but let’s face it; it’s not unheard of for us to be getting snow in May, even if it is an anomaly). But back to chilly February, here is what I am currently up to, thanks to Anne and Erin:

Packing: up stuff we don’t need. And there is a lot we don’t need. I would love to be marathoning this purge but as much as my girls are fiercely independent for their age, it’s rare when I get any amount of time to focus on more than one drawer at a time.

Jonesing: for McDonald’s. We are limiting our eating out for health and financial reasons. But mostly for my pride. C kept telling people that McDonalds was my favourite restaurant. I didn’t think we went there that much but I don’t need the world think we do. In fact I didn’t think I liked it that much until suddenly I wasn’t letting us go there any more.

Texting: my work friends. My job is adequate, but the people I work with are great and I do miss them a lot when I’m off on Mat leave (especially that first time when I came back and they were all off on mat leave).

Wearing: tights. Leggings. Whatever you want to call them. I’ve hit a baby-weight-loss-plateau and while I know it’s normal, I’m still right between the two size groups of jeans. It’s just better for my sanity to stay in stretchy things than have the debate as to whether to spend the day pulling up my pants or squishing out of them.

Hearting: my little girl. Not long after this goes live, I’ll be taking my daughter to the hospital to have a surgery to lengthen the Achilles’ tendon on both legs. I keep wanting to yell “but she’s only 12 weeks old” but I know that her youth is in our favour since it only requires local anesthetic and no stitches at this age.

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