Monthly Archives: April 2017

Rough Night Rant

We put M into her high chair for the first meal the other day. Her boot laces were a touch looser than usual, and where the strap of her boots lie was a bright angry red as a result. It’s not the first time it had happened so we knew what to do (brace tight and brace on), but it was the first time in many many weeks and it threw me into a tailspin.

When she had trouble going to bed that night, I didn’t remind myself she had a weird nap schedule that day and we tried pushing her a little longer to skip a nap that would have landed dangerously close to bedtime. No, instead I kept watch on her feet to see if she was kicking because she was upset or whether kicking her feet made her upset.

And that’s typical for how the last two months of the BNB phase has gone. My browser search history is always a weird combination of “BNB + learning to rolling” or “Clubfoot and Athlete’s foot”. While I know idiopathic congenital tallipes equinovarus treatment, following the Ponsetti Method, should not contribute to developmental delays, I still regularly assess her abilities using the ASQ-3 criteria for her age, and find myself blaming the boots when she isn’t hitting the benchmarks when I think she should be.

I still hold my breath when I take off her socks, afraid to find pressure sores, blisters or even another round of athlete’s foot. I spend hours and an obscene amount of money searching for the “right” socks, and the safest crib bumper alternatives.

I get irrationally mad when someone looks at her feet (booted or not) and says “poor girl, it must be so rough on her” because, dammit, this kid is brave, strong and resilient. She doesn’t need your pity. And I get irrationally angry when someone looks at her feet and says “she is so brave/strong/resilient” because, dammit, why can’t she be cute, or beautiful or adorable like every other baby? And while those are amazing words to describe her, I just want her to grow into those traits rather than have to develop them even before she can crawl.

Not every day is hard. Sometimes, I get to deal with regular baby issues, like when she decides to scream in the car, drop her soother in the dirtiest places, or spit up all over my sweater as we’re walking out the door already behind schedule. But there is a constant monologue in my head worrying about the 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles and ligaments that need to all play nicely together for the next 4 and a half years. It’s no wonder I sometimes get a little neurotic and watch her feet through the now-padded bars of her crib to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible so we can get this over without having to repeat any of the steps.

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

Five Things Friday

I am a big planner. I’m not always a doer. But here is what I want to accomplish this summer in our backyard:

  1. Build two 3’x5′ raised beds for a square foot gardens, rather than buying a CSA (community supported agriculture) share this year 
  2. Remove one garden and one random area of wood chips and put in grass
  3. Replace the hose facet in the back so we don’t have to go inside to turn it on and off (or have crazy expensive water bills from its leak at the tap outside)
  4. Turn the crappy sandbox under our play structure into a play house
  5. Come up with a plan for the area behind our garage. There is a utility box and a very dilapidated fence so those need to be reworked so we can use the space without worrying about the kids getting into anything. 

I love that I can be planning summer projects, outside, without a jacket! It’s going to be cold and rainy all weekend so I’m soaking up the sun while I can!

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

Tears and Milk

It’s not often that I’m reduced to tears these days. Especially not unexpectedly. I assume it’s a combination of some of the hormones in my body levelling off and the fact that half of M’s nights are “good” nights so I’m feeling rested at times.

But the other day I was sitting on the  couch breastfeeding M and browsing Facebook when I realized if Scott looked over from the other end of the couch, I’d have to explain the tears running down my face.

I will admit that I click on the occasional sponsored link on social media when nursing because I can’t gaze adoringly at my baby 8-10 times a day for 5-20 minutes at a time. That’s upwards of three hours of just staring at a face. Every day. She’s beautiful and captivating but I have my limits. This time I was reading an article titled “Why This Lactation Consultant Told a New Mom to Stop Breastfeeding.

Ok, it sounds like click bait at it’s finest but it was a clusterfeeding kind of day. It started as an easy read since I could generally agree with her points. The central anecdote met the expected plot points. I glossed over the references to a mother who took her own life in the midst of her breastfeeding related postpartum depression because I wasn’t in the mood for sadness. Perhaps that’s why the tears caught me off guard. They came where I least expected it.

The author ends with a one-year-later update on the family from her initial anecdote. They were thriving. The mother recounted that she felt a shift in her attitude when someone finally gave her permission to stop trying to breastfeed: “The tears stopped. She started enjoying the little moments with her boy and their bond grew.”

C is and always has been a daddy’s Girl. Since Day One. It’s likely just her personality and I can’t begrudge them their relationship. But a large part of me wonders what our bond would have been like if I could have looked beyond what society told me was right and actually figured out what was right for us. The first two weeks of C’s life were a nightmare. We had issues latching, so we would try breastfeeding, then I would pump, and then fingerfeed C, supplementing with formula. The whole process took long enough that I would barely get 1/2 hour rest before it would start over. Heaven forbid we give her a bottle, even of pumped breastmilk — the nurses scared that idea out of our heads. The nurses also would review our file, nod and sigh: “this happens sometimes with babies whose moms have epidurals” as though it was my fault (a year later we found out that she had an undiagnosed upper lip tie).  Without a doubt, the exhaustion, guilt and fear did impact those early days of bonding.

C eventually figured it out, lip tie and all, and the following 14ish months of breastfeeding went well. Of course, our fear of bottle led to a very late introduction, and she never really took to one so I was never apart from her for long. Even though there were many a time I felt a little trapped, I’m glad I persevered, but I will always wonder what our relationship would have looked like if someone had given me permission to see breastfeeding as a choice I could make, rather than the only “right” option.

M has been a good eater since the mere minutes after her birth. And while  casts and braces can make it more difficult to get comfortable in the beginning, there no directly related medical complications. But part of the reason we’ve had a more successful start with M was a phone call I made the morning she was born to her orthopaedic surgeon’s office. We would have to introduce bottles at 4 weeks old for her casting appointments. “Doctor’s orders” I remember telling Scott with a smile. Whether it was the idea of flouting the “as late as possible, if ever, to avoid nipple confusion” rule, or the presentation of the obvious excuse if  breastfeeding failed, I don’t know, but that call finally made me feel as though I had permission to relax. And from then on, breastfeeding finally felt like my choice. 

To be honest, I’m not sure what about the quote from the article elicited tears from me. It might have been the memory of the stressful weeks with C. It may have been the relief of not feeling that stress with M. It could have been those residual breastfeeding hormones. But as it turns out, just like how I feed my child, I don’t have to explain my tears to anyone. 

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Five Things Friday

There are five stages you go through when your baby mysteriously goes from waking up multiple times a night to magically sleeping for 7+ hours

  1. I feel oddly rested. Wait. I have to pee. Why didn’t I pee the last time I was up with the baby? Wait… when was the last time I was up with the baby?
  2. Oh man, something happened to the baby. I’m too scared to check. Better wake Scott. There is no way I’m brave enough. Ok good. She’s fine. 
  3. Time to snuggle in to rest. Think of all the sleep I could get! Oh man it’s going to feel so great. Let’s just pull up the blankets. Damn it, now it’s too hot. Let’s flip over the pillow. Now it’s not in the right spot. Has there always been a lump on this mattress here? Great. Now Scott is snoring. I’m never going to get to sleep. 
  4. I miss that kid. I miss the quiet middle of the night snuggles. While sleep is nice I don’t get a lot of time to focus just on her with C being so demanding these days. And she’s not going to be a baby forever. She’s already so big. When did she start growing so fast? And by the time she wakes up, she’ll have grown again. I know I find the days so long being home with her so why do I miss her so much?
  5. Damn it, is that her fussing? 
Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Broken nights and broken hearts

Perhaps it’s the sleepless nights talking but we can’t remember when M slept consistently well. We know she did all right after getting her boots, so close enough to know she’s capable of being a “good sleeper” but long enough ago to know that we have to do something. 

And so last night I sat in her room, watching her kick her feet and scream. I stroked her head, handed her a soother and told her I love her. And then I listed to her scream for five minutes before I started all over again. 

It’s not a popular method in this house but she is also not very popular at 2 am when it takes 90 minutes to get her to sleep and then she will only sleep 45. 

There was only one reason we went with this method. There have been countless times that I’ve been busy with C and so Madeline has had to fuss in her bouncy chair. It’s never been for long and I’ve never been far away, but I’ve watched her fuss herself to sleep. We know she can do it. 

But the variable we forgot to account for? It’s me. I can listen to her scream when I put her boots on because I know it’s best for her in the long run. I can listen to her scream when I’m wiping a poopy toddler bum because I know there is only one of me and the two kids each take a turn at coming in second. But I can’t listen to her cry when there is no immediately pressing reason to not pick her up, give her a hug and make sure she knows she is not alone. 

I made it 30 minutes of “five minute checks” last night. It’s 23 minutes longer than I made it with C. And now, at two and a half, she goes to bed easily and stays asleep all night. We tried sleep training various ways over various times and then one day, she just figured it all out on her own. But you don’t always remember that at 2 am when you know you’ve already had the bulk of your sleep for the night. Sleep training becomes oh so tempting. 

These broken nights are hard. But the broken heart of a mother? In the end, that’s even harder. 

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

New Budget

April 1st always marks the start of a new budget year for us. Every year, it’s the same thing: we make little tweaks here and there. It turns out we spend more on groceries than we thought (my little C is a hungry girl!) and less on diapers (woohoo for potty training!).  All in all, though, very little changes.

But every year in the last couple weeks of March, it feels like we’re starting all over again. Every year, we wipe our Budget app, take a look at the last three months of transactions, and set up the budget. Because every year we start out really good using our budget app and then slowly forget about it as the year goes on. Since our expenses never exceed our income, there aren’t any repercussions for ignoring the budget.

It turns out it’s easier to follow a budget when you don’t have money than when you do.

There was a time less than 5 years ago when both Scott and I were unemployed.  It wasn’t a long time period, and because my parents had instilled budgeting wisdom on me at a young age, we were able to subsist off of the savings that I had previously put aside. But it meant when we set a budget for food, we had to stick to it. I can remember one month when the grocery budget ran out before the month did, and we had some rather interesting meals towards the end, using up whatever we had left in the pantry.

It’s a far cry from where we are now, where we’ll go to the grocery store because we don’t have the “right” cheese to top our burgers, and while we’re there, we pick up a couple treats, some flowers, and a few other things that could have waited until grocery day.

And we’ve got the flexibility to do that. But that doesn’t make the budget less important. And so we’re stepping up our game. We’ve set a night each week to review our finances to make sure our budget meets our needs. We’ve switched (back) to a budget app that doesn’t just automatically record our purchases and categorizes them for us, so we have to actually be mindful of what we’re spending ourselves. And we’re putting into action the plans we have set for ourselves — paying down some of our mortgage, getting appliances, and increasing our retirement savings.

We know that we’ll have a dip income coming up (my employer only pays a portion of my wages for part of my leave), we’ll have an increase in expenses as our daycare needs shift and change, and we know piano lessons, hockey equipment and summer camp aren’t cheap. It’ll be a lot easier to weather the financial bumps that may come down the road if we are used to being accountable for each dollar now.

Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

Five Things Friday #2

I got 7 hours of sleep last night. I’m pretty sure it was a fluke but I enjoyed spending the day not relying on caffeine, hoping to sync the kids naps so I could have a nap of my own and counting down the hours until Scott came home. As a result, it was a pretty good day on all accounts. But the top 5 things today were:

  1. Having a few minutes to shift out of productive mode and into fun mode. C crawled up on the bed just as I started making it, and so I crawled in with her and we took turns playing “sleeping” which pretty much is just one of us closing our eyes and the other kissing us awake and shouting “good morning!” It’s simply, but a nice way to get snuggles from a girl who has never been big into snuggles. 
  2. Getting all the laundry washed, dried, folded and put away all on the same day. I hate laundry and we are notorious for not putting away baskets full of folded laundry. And even if your house is littered with clean laundry, it’s still a mess. 
  3. If we want to play at the park with all C’s cousins, we have to wait until what my sister referred to as “prime supper making time”.  While it’s not the 1950s and I don’t feel I have to have supper on the table when Scott walks in the door, I did take advantage of the fact I had a frying pan out for lunch to start some sausage cooking for pizza for supper. 
  4. My sweet M had what I call a “big girl nap” this morning: a nap that last longer than one sleep cycle and doesn’t need anyone to help her fall asleep or stay asleep. 
  5. C is fairly motivated to do things when she learns they are “big girl things” so we’ve been working on getting her to do some “chores”. She knows after she asks to be excused from the table, she has to take her dishes to the dishwasher. After supper, she also has to pick her toys off the floor and “help” sweep. Considering just a few days ago when we’d ask her to pick up her toys she’d say “no! It’s not my job, it’s your job!”, we are very pleased with how excited and proud she is to do her “big girl jobs”. 

I think this is the first Friday in a while I feel like I don’t need the weekend to catch up on sleep, laundry and cleaning. I think we’ll actually get to do what we want for the first time in a while!

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

Currently: In April

We made it to spring. Sure, we’re still dealing with the whole “winter jackets are too warm, spring coats are too light” situation, but these struggles are ones I can handle. Thanks to Jess and Anne for another month! Currently, in April, I am:

April

…accomplishing: absolutely nothing. We are heavy into what I’m hoping is a temporary sleep regression but it started to feel like a permanent change where Miss M wakes up every 25-45 minutes. All freaking night. I know it’s likely something to do with rolling, and dropping a nap, and probably teeth (because that’s the go to excuse all parents use), but the reason we know she’s awake isn’t the crying (though that does come too!), but the sound of her braces’ bar hitting the crib rails as she slams her feet around, is making me blame the boots and bars for her lack of sleep (despite that not actually being the reason). So yes, my goal for each day is simply to get through the day without causing too much emotional and psychological damage to my children. It doesn’t always get accomplished.

…feeling: overwhelmed. I spent some time with my work girls and hearing about what’s been happening in our office and what the plan is for when I return has made me start to question whether that path is the one I really want to go down. I did sign a contract to return for about 8 months after my mat leave, and I know I was settled and happy by the end of those  months last time. But at the same time, I keep thinking: “I have to figure out what I want to do with my life before everyone else decides it for me”.

…needing: some “me” time. The closest I’m getting this week was a doctor’s appointment on Monday and my sister’s friend’s natural cleaning product party on Thursday night. Both of those fall under “obligation” more than “me” time. It takes so much work to get bottles as a casual pumper that it is almost less stressful to stay home than worry about finding the time to pump, and then worrying about whether I’ve pumped enough.

…practicing: healthy living habits. There is an ad on The CityTV app that encourages 60 minutes of physical activity a day not just for kids but the whole family. My initial thought was that it seemed excessive to expect that of adults, but then I realized that if adults don’t do it, how can we expect our kids to mirror it? So we have started going for a walk every day. Sometimes it’s to run some errands. Sometimes it’s around the neighbourhood. Sometimes it’s to the park to play.

…pinning: all kinds of beet recipes. I’m in charge of bringing a vegetable dish to my parents’ place for Easter that will go with pierogies and ham. While beets are typically more of fall vegetable in terms of their growth pattern, their fresh taste and bright colour (not to mention traditional pairing with the aforementioned foods) seem very spring-like to me. I haven’t narrowed down whether I’m going fresh or roasted.

Categories: The new identity | 6 Comments

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