Monday, May 30, 2011

Little Old Ladies

Last week, as we sat in the doctor's surgery (for northerners, read "office".  We weren't camped out in a theatre watching him work), I was feeding our son.  I did not do this for kicks or because I am an exhibitionist, merely because his feeding schedule didn't line up well with the appointment time.

Because I am not a nudist, I had myself covered with a blanket.

A little old lady entered the surgery and smiled at us.  You could see her eyes light up as she saw the baby shape at my front.  She crept over to us and peeked at him, from the legs up. "Oh," said she in surprise, "he's feeding!".  Indeed.  I do not just cover his head for fun with a blanket.  Modesty only works when people don't look that hard.

A different day in the same surgery a little old lady smiled at me as I rocked and tried to soothe my dear son, but he would have none of that.  He wanted the foods and he wanted them now.  Her smile faded away and turned to a slight scowl as I nursed my little boy.

As I went to go routine blood work later in the afternoon (of the first lady who, chronologically is the second lady, but let's not get confused), I walked past another little old lady who fussed and cooed over the little boy and commended me on his name.  After all, it's her boy's middle name, so a very good choice.  I replied that I quite liked the name myself.

Just a short time after that as I sat waiting, another little old lady passed me by.  "Isn't this the perfect stage?" she asked.  "Don't you just wish he'd stay like this forever?"

 "I don't know," I replied.  "Isn't it fun to watch them grow and learn to do different things? All stages are wonderful."

"How many other children do you have?" she queried.


"Ah," she nodded knowingly deciding she had won the point. "Isn't this the perfect stage? Don't you just wish he'd stay like this forever?"

I don't know about that.  I love watching our boy grow, practically in front of our eyes.  Everyday is an adventure and wonderful albeit difficult in their own was.

But then, who am I to say? I'm not a little old lady.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Some Helpful Advice

It's pretty common knowledge that you shouldn't use your driver's license as a bookmark.  Especially not if the book happens to belong to the library or your next door neighbour.  You could forget about it and lose it.  Open yourself up to identity fraud right there in the classics section (who are we kidding, you were in sci-fi weren't you?)

You don't need me to tell you not to do it.  That's not helpful advice.

Some advice is great to receive, some isn't.  Some could be, but you just heard it on the wrong day.

Being new parents we get a lot of advice.  Sometimes I'm okay with it, but other times it just drives me crazy.  It's not so much that we're getting advice, or that people are so confident in their decisions that they are encouraging others to do the same.  It's more the fact that it's often contradictory - even if it comes from worthwhile sources.

For example:
You should always/never pick up your baby when they first cry.

They need you to know that you will always be there for them, so pick them up the moment they cry/You need to learn their different cries.

Sometimes babies need to just cry it out/Never let a baby cry it out.  They will feel alone and neglected./ Babies never cry.

Feed until your baby is finished on one side/ Feed until you are empty on one side/ Your baby only gets food for the first 10 minutes - the first four for most of their feed, so break the seal at 10 minutes.

Cloth diapers cause nappy rash/Disposable diapers cause nappy rash/Bad fairies cause nappy rash.

Burp a baby by patting his back, pressed up against your shoulder/ Never burp a baby by patting their back.  Rock them gently./ Don't burp a baby, just lay them down after a feed and if he cries out, pick him up and he will burp naturally.

Sleep is more important than housework./ It's a good idea to do chores as they come and not let them build up./ Convince passing strangers to do the housework by giving them candy.

Your routine should be in place from week 2./ You can't expect to have a routine before three months./ Routines change often, adapt and survive./ The baby will have you trained before he's one./ You should have a routine firmly in hand before the child goes to university.

Always rock or comfort your baby to sleep./ Let your child learn to put himself to sleep, laying him in his cot when he looks tired./ Always wear your child so they continue the womb experience.

Co-sleeping is a good way to bond with your child/ Children should always sleep in their own cot and never anywhere else/ Let sleeping babies lie wherever they're already lying.

Baby poop smells like sunshine/ popcorn/ sweet bread/ a torchlit sewer when baby is healthy.

And then there's the whole shebang about how long to play with baby for, when overtired happens and what to do with an overtired baby.  I went to the library yesterday to get a book to get a better feel for all that's happening.  Not all the answers, just milestones.  I probably have a pamphlet on them, but gah! to the pamphlets.  This, of course, was a silly thing to do.  These books are full of contradictory information as well.  Handily, as I entered the library, my son woke up and would not settle, so my harried two  minutes in the parenting section (in front of a group of toddlers and moms who were all playing nicely and - I'm sure- judging/pitying/thinking those were the days at me) basically consisted of grabbing two books that were brightly coloured.  Not just the tots that get swung by neon.  Or maybe that's just the 80s baby coming out in me.

So it was with great chagrin, when I got home, that I realized that the one book was not prose, but a compilation of contradictory anecodatal moments, complete with alwayses, nevers, shoulds and imbedded with stern looks/sighs of disbelief/contented glances/encouraging statements.

Take it from me, sorting out the "crap"/"expert" advice is almost the hardest part of childrearing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Potty Mouth


Being a parent has brought many changes into life.  Less sleep, more musing, more worries and fears, more tears, more joys and especially more laughter.  It's also changed the timbre of conversation.  I find myself opening talking about things (even on the internets land!) that I previously didn't. Pooping and tooting has become a great topic of conversation around the house, for example.

Did he poop yet? How many times? What colour? Texture? Smell?

Poop is like the easiest way to know how a baby is doing.  Crying? Maybe a dirty diaper.  The stuff in it looks funny? Doctor time! Looks normal? Probably just gas/overtired/hungry.

Because poop is such an important thing for parents to care about, breastfeeding or formula, it has been on my mind.  And on my tongue (the subject, not the actual matter.  Yuck.).  I sing songs about poop to my young son.  One was a song I made up, stating the importance of pooping.  It hurts babies a little bit to go.  Their systems are still figuring it all out, so I was assuring him that pooping is indeed a good thing.  He agreed with me.  At least, I think he did as he pooped three times in the chorus.

Another pooping song is one that is sung when he seems to need to go.  It's to the tune of Beyonce's "Work it out".  It's a highly appropriate choice, given the flatulent sounding saxophones in the original.  "Come on baby, work it out!"  Or the ever popular (and appropriate), "Everything comes down to poo" from Scrubs.

And when he pooped on me, that was something.  It wasn't something good, but it sure was something.

It's strange as a parent that we compliment and commend tooting and burping, knowing full well that he'll be told off for not saying excuse me in a few years.  Talk about mixed signals.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Standing in the Doorway

You know how in every movie where there is a child, there's that obligatory scene where the parent leans on the doorframe and watches their child sleep?

It's because that's what parents do.  This sense of contentment steals over you as you watch your sleeping babe, knowing that they are content.  You watch dreams steal across their face and try to see their future in the shape of their chin.  Most of all, you stand immersed in blessings with a dreamy half smile.

All the middle of the night screams are forgiven.  All the scary moments gone.  Tiredness drifts off to sleep and all that's left is the love that you started with, but now the clouds are gone and it can shine.

I'm sure it's a timeless thing; parents stand at the doorway and look into their child's life.  Not limited to one place, but all cultures do it.  Many that's why the films employ it.  That moment resonates in everyone's soul, whether they stand and stare in awe, gaze happily, or worriedly hold them in prayer.  You treasure every little sound they make and memorize the way they look today as you know tomorrow they'll have grown again.

On this mother's day (my first!), I'm experiencing all the joys and stresses of motherhood for the first time.  This doorway thing is one of the good ones.  Gazing at my son is one of my happy things.  The night he was born, I barely slept.  I couldn't keep my eyes off of him!

The time in the doorway makes me thankful for the wonderful people that my parents are.  I wonder how many times they stood and stared at me and me and my siblings.  They did so many other splendid things.  Being a parent really makes you appreciate all that your parents did.  Thank you, Mom and Dad!

My mom has said to me that some of these thoughts I've posted are thoughts she's had (probably she means the sane ones).  Perhaps motherhood is a constant?  I'm so glad for my mom and the help she's been as we get to know our little man!  Very glad for my mother-in-law too, as she's been a great help as well.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have someone I need to go stare at.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Engorgement Charms

It's hard to see out of my glasses right now as there is milk on the left lens.  It was snorted at me just a few minutes ago.  My son has this interesting skill of shooting milk, now with some accuracy.  It's not a problem, just a feature of motherhood.

There are many interesting features to motherhood.  Awhile back, I said I'd continue posting on the pains of motherhood and today I'm fulfilling my promise by talking of the pain of full filling (as well as a few other things).

I'm not sure if I just never thought it through or what I expected the human body was made of (not plasticine evidently), but the pain of childbirth doesn't actually end with the birth of the child.  I'm not just talking about the birth of the placenta - which I actually barely felt.  Would you believe that everywhere feels like a bruise after you push a giant (and yes, after you've had a child you realize that that wee little newborn is actually massive) baby into the world?  I'm not talking about just the places you'd expect either.  My arms ached for a couple days after birth.  What exactly were my arms up to in labour?  Did they leave the room and go weight training when I wasn't looking?  My legs felt tired.  I didn't give birth by running or standing, so I'm sure what they were thinking about.  Then there's that whole hurts-to-sit deal.  Experienced mothers and midwives have all sorts of remedies for that.  If you're interested, I'll tell you sometime.

The fact that I was sore was a shock to me.  If you've not had a baby, be aware that you will be sore after the baby comes.  It's not overwhelming or terrible, it just caught me by surprise.

So that's fine.  A bit of tiredness and tenderness.  On child's fourth day, I was sitting at the table when I got a shock.  Or a tingle.  At least that's what the books call it.  I call it fire in my nerves.  Engorgement.  That was a shocker.  All of those years thinking it'd be nice to be a couple sizes bigger, and that day it was true.  I tried to get dressed to go out, and none of my dresses fit.  Too tight.  I was impressed; Adrian told me they looked fake.  Quite a strange couple of days those were.  Nothing like a pair of rocks strapped to your chest.  They're heavy, hard and difficult to deal with.  Poor kid looked at me like "what am I supposed to do with these?"

But really, that was it for pain.  So don't worry.  It's all survivable and none of it lasts that long.  One little smile from my little man and everything fades into happiness, pain melts and the past is unrememberable.  One little coo or happy sound and I'm blissing out.  Sure, I need to clean my glasses and quite possibly my shirt before I get groceries, but that's the charm of it I guess - it's all to make a happy baby.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Birthday to you...

Yesterday I called my brother to wish him a happy birthday.  He said it wasn't his birthday yet.

This north/south divide thing gets to me sometimes.

So in the hopes that this is now Pete's birthday and I haven't missed it via the magic wormhole of time (which makes no sense when you think about it.  Time, I mean, not wormholes.  Star Trek obviously shows that there are wormholes.  As do worms, when they make holes and live in them, but probably they aren't the wormholes of which we deliberate.  Unless of course, the worm is called "Time", but then it was a grammatically incorrect sentence earlier and who needs that?)

To my brother: I wish you well.  Seriously.  Get better. ;)  No, really, I'm highly glad to have been blessed with siblings who are friends as well.  You are a splendid brother, Pete, and I'm proud of you.  We pray that your birthday, whenever it is, goes well and is filled with splashes of happiness, bursts of joy, and some delicious cake.  Everything is better with delicious cake.

Happy Birthday also to my second eldest niece.  Happy Anniversary to my parents.  Happy Birthday soon to a nephew.  May sure is busy!

Birthdays are a good time to reflect on God's blessings.  Birthdays are a good time to stop and cherish them.  Don't get hung up on those things that people think about on birthdays.  Age is a silly gauge of time.  It means nothing after awhile.  A birthday is kind of a new start; I wonder where this year will take you, Pete.  Hopefully to my place! I'll bake a cake.  And dinner.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Proudest Moment of My Life

It's a special day for us.  It's our anniversary.  Three years ago today, I met my husband.  On that day I was confused, bemused and a little sad that I wouldn't get to know this genuinely interesting man any better.

But I did.

On the day Adrian said he loved me for the first time, I got a thrill which shot through my soul and sung in my heart.  I floated around on a cloud for a long time, while sorting out my life.

On the day he proposed I felt like my face would crack in half from the intensity and hugeness of my smile.  I would randomly break out in laughter - joy burst out of me at the seams and filled the air.

On the day we were married, I felt my life change and our life truly begin.  "I" became "we".  A feeling of contentment and elation filled my heart.  All those little frustrations couldn't get to me in my cocoon of happiness, but melted away.

On the day we knew we were pregnant, we danced and cried and laughed in the bathroom.  Quietly, of course.  We had company and our news was a secret of our own to cherish and ponder.

On the day our son was born, pain like I've never known racked my body, but the end result was worth every moment of it.  Jesus was right (John 16:21).   As he lay on my chest, all wet and new, I beamed.  This new life in the world is ours to grow and love and mould.

All of these days were full of happiness, excitement, surprises, joys, completely covered in blessings and swamped in changes.  Steeped in hope, as it were.

This last Sunday was special and incredible in its own way.  On that day, our son was brought to the waters of baptism and given new life.  He was adopted into God's family.  He was refreshed and restored (to a place he'd never been).  I knew going into it that it was going to be something different, but I wasn't prepared for the tears that welled in my eyes as he was baptized.  I wasn't to know that joy would well out of my soul and ring in my heart and shine out my eyes.  I didn't realize that I would be prouder in that moment of what God had done and was doing than I'd ever been of any minor thing I could do.

I almost spoiled it, you know.  I almost let frustrations from the week cloud my mind and change my focus from what was happening.  The broken toaster, the busted oven, the lack of sleep and other things that just weren't going to plan.  Thankfully, the Spirit pulled me into line and I truly focused on what God was doing and let go of the other stuff.  It's just stuff after all.

On this day, I look over at my husband and think on our years, apart and then together.  They've been hard.  They've been full.  They've had challenges and looked impossible sometimes.  They've been covered in blessings, filled with love - from family, friends and my new family of husband and son.

Any of these days the bad little things can come in and wreck the moment, spoil the joy, sour the happiness.  I've let them do it sometimes.  None of these days were perfect, but I thank God for all of them and pray to remain steeped in hope; focused on Him and humbly grateful for all that He has given.

I hope you are, too.