Eat, baby, eat

I’m sure I’ll jinx this by mentioning it on the internet, but it’s too cute for me not to want to preserve it for posterity.

Baby J is a phenomenal eater.  Yes, we’re still having trouble with her weight, but it’s certainly not because she’s a picky eater. In fact, she’s less of a fussier eater than my husband, and certainly has a more advanced taste in cheese. (D: the cheap Parmesan powder my mom uses smells bad and I will therefore eat no expensive imported Italian Parmesan because transference!  J: *nom nom nom* more please!)

There are only a few things that J’s refused.  Millet was one, and I couldn’t blame her – I didn’t like it either.  She refused peach puree last summer, while still eating nectarine puree, which seemed weird.  We’ll try peaches again as soon as they’re in season, because I love them, and not liking a good juicy ripe peach just seems wrong to me.  She also doesn’t like peppers, but I don’t know if that’s because of the taste, or because she only has 4 teeth, and can’t bite through them with her gums.  She’s not much of a meat eater, again probably due to lack of chewing teeth – she’s fine if it’s really soft or minced.

And that’s it.

Oh, sure.  She went off fruit for a couple of weeks, but she’s back to scarfing down strawberries and raspberries and kiwis and plums and bananas.  On a given day, maybe she doesn’t like something.  But over all?  She’s eat fucking everything and I love it.  Notable foods: sashimi, deconstructed sushi rolls, pickles, olives, cooked spinach, lemon rinds, baba ganoush, humus, any kind of veggies + mayonnaise dip, tomato/eggplant/almond pasta sauce, caramelized onions, chili, Indian chickpea curry, green Thai chicken curry, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, very aged cheddar, and so on.  In fact, she’s so cheerfully omnivorous, my slightly insane mother has expressed fear that the kid has no taste buds.  To which I just laugh – if you’d ever seen her gleefully scarfing down an entire plate of veggies sauteed in olive oil and a lot of garlic, you’d know that’s just wrong – her thrill at the taste in her mouth is just so clear.

Yes, she's eating the rind and pith of a lemon.  On purpose.  And went back for more.

Yes, she’s eating the rind and pith of a lemon. On purpose. And went back for more.

I would like to say that I don’t take full credit here or anything silly.  I think I did good at offering a wide variety of foods, early and often.  I made my own baby food, so there was an infinitely better variety than the store-bought stuff.  (Fennel and white bean puree, orange mango coconut sauce with yogurt, roasted pork and leek and sweet potato mush, curried carrot soup…  I had fun in the kitchen.)  I make sure that my fussy husband isn’t allowed to say negative things about any food around the baby, ever.  I’ve been offering her food off my plate since early in J’s relationship with solid food.  We praise her for trying new things, and make an effort for most dinners to include fruit, veg, protein, starch and cheese.  (Not, like, always getting there by any stretch, but trying, most of the time.  And yes, cheese at basically every single meal for her, in our constant attempt to fend off weight loss.)  Her daycare is great – they serve 3 meals a day, and sometimes I’m jealous of how good it sounds.  Ricotta pancakes with blueberry coulis, lemon salmon with brown rice and mixed veg, mini turkey burgers, and chicken noodle soup are just a few things I’ve seen on her report cards lately.But really, it’s just that my kid’s an adventurous eater, all on her own, and I think that’s neat, so will do my best to continue to encourage her.

Fancy baby "coffee".

Fancy baby “coffee”

Although, I will grant you that it’s likely she’s growing up to be a food snob like her mother.  (Okay, snob’s the wrong word, but I hate the term foodie.  I just, you know, like to eat food, and think about food, and talk about food, and try new food wherever we go.)  J didn’t take quickly or easily to cow’s milk, which makes sense.  I was still nursing 3 times a day, and she’d never taken to either bottles or formula.  I finally figured out the (pretentious) serving method guaranteed to make her scarf down milk: heat it in a coffee cup, froth it up nice and stiff, and serve it with a spoon.  Yeah, “baby coffee, just like mommy”.  You know, minus the espresso that keeps me going.   Actually, I think that’s one of the keys for her right now – she’d prefer to eat what I’m eating – we’re in that fun mimic age.  Also, frothed warm milk is delightful.

I’m sure that as she becomes more firmly a toddler, her tastes will narrow.  Neophobia will rear it’s annoying head, and we’ll deal with that as it comes.  I just hope that by having a 15 month old who eats hundreds of things helps when the narrowing of acceptable food stage happens.  If she refuses half what she eats these days, that still leaves us with a hundred things to feed her.  Much easier than if she only ate dozen of things, and it narrowes to a handful.  At least, that’s my hope.  I am more than aware I have very limited control over it!  Which means, I guess, I should probably serve her some of my childhood favourite pickled herring while I still can…

Weaning, redux

So, I was on domperidone for like, a million months.  Okay, about 9 months.  About 750 little white pills. That’s a lot of time, and a lot of little white pills.  That’s, particularly, a lot of time on an anti nausea drug that interferes with your dopamine receptors.

The first few days totally off the pills sucked.  I didn’t throw up during my pregnancy* but 36  hours after my last pill I found myself puking up the pain pills I’d taken for the splitting headache I had again woken with.  So nauseous.  And headachy.  And ragey!  Yikes.  It took days to feel better.  I read somewhere on the internet that the drug’s halflife is 70 hours, and it takes 6 halflives to be out of the system.  It’s been a little over a week, so I’m halfway through the detox and really am feeling better.

I am still nursing in the morning though – for increasinly short times, as my milk dries up.  I’m surprised that it didn’t just vanish overnight without the pills, as I was expecting.  I’ve decided that J’s month-a-birthday next week is the last time I’ll nurse the baby – “I nursed for 15 months” has a nice even ring to it, as opposed to a more wordy “I nursed for 14 months and some extra weeks” that the pedantic in me would probably use.  (Er, provided that there’s still milk there in a week.)  It’s funny the way we tell stories to ourselves.

I didn’t intend to nurse for so long.  The year of mat leave and a month of transition was as long as I’d planned, once I was in to the thick of it.  But before I had a kid?  I was very much pro breastfeeding, but when they fed the baby formula while I was still knocked out cold from the c-section, I wasn’t overly concerned.  When I had to supliment with formula for a week after J was born until the “too complicated for the hospital to fix” tongue tie was resolve, I just did it.  The whole routine just about killed me: every three hours I had to feed the baby a bottle of breast milk, then nurse, then feed the baby formula, and then pump.  8 times a day.  But the formula part just … was, emotionally, not a big deal.  I was happy when she weaned off the formula herself – it smelled really gross – but I was never truly opposed to using it.  I mean, after the birth plan fails pretty catastrophically, supplementing with formula for a few days was no big thing in comparison.

But was that birth failure WHY I put myself through 9 months of brain-chemistry-altering pills?  I mean, I did it without a thought, really.  “Kid’s starving, take drugs, skim over 10 page warning pamphlet, feed kid, sleep through the night again.”  The logic was so clearly there, but why the extra time?  How much of my willingness to fuck with my body chemistry was because I wasn’t going to fail at breastfeeding too, goddammit?

I mean.  For a long time I felt like I had failed at birth.  The PPD certainly made me feel like I failed in the first months as a mother.  I felt like I failed when my milk dried up, despite exclusive breastfeeding on demand – something I didn’t even know was physically possible.  Going back to work (as generally pro-me-not-staying-home as I am) and enjoying it makes me feel a bit like I’m a failure compared to the “naturally great at it SAHMs” who surround me  and are able to actively engage their toddlers every day, instead of like, taking J to the mall on my Fridays off as I do.  I felt like I failed at bonding with the baby for quite a while.  I certainly felt I failed, and flailed, during the various weight crashes.

But, dammit, I could NURSE THIS CHILD.  There was something.  Medically assisted or not, I could offer the baby a nipple and she would eat and I would know, KNOW, that I wasn’t failing her at this one thing.

And I guess, as I work this out on my computer screen, that’s not nothing, if that’s the route of why I have nursed for so long.  That in the rough seas of early motherhood, I found myself a touchstone that I could say, with confidence, that Yes I Can Do This.

It’s funny.  I also cloth diaper and made like 98% of the baby’s food, but that doesn’t feel the same to me, despite how the three are often grouped together in  “parenting philosophy”.  I CD because it’s cheap, and cute, and since the introduction of flushable wipes, surprisingly not messy.  I made all her baby food because it was cheap, and easy, and I could make 3 weeks worth of food in an afternoon, and my kitchen produced infinitely more interesting varieties of food than the store, and I like cooking.  I have no ego tied up in them – it’s just, you know, what I did, because I could, and wanted to.

But breastfeeding?  I have ego involved in that, which I’m only realizing now in the final days of my nursing relationship with J.  That’s interesting to me.  I wonder what other choices I’ll look back on later and see more complex reasoning for, tucked behind the stories I tell myself?

*except for that one night of stomach flu, but that wasn’t pregnancy related, so it doesn’t count.

Active little peanut

All children develop at their own speed – we all know this intellectually, yes?  But it’s pretty fascinating to watch it play out in real time.

Baby J is all about physical activity.  (Everyone who told me it’s easier to have girls because they are calmer and aren’t as physical can fuck off, because what a lie.)  She’s bold and fearless and yes, sometimes covered in bruises.  She’s a squirmy little monkey who at 14 months can walk forwards, backwards and sideways, can pull up, stand up, climb up and now down a flight of stairs, connect mega blocks, walk while carrying the half-her-size duplo box, dismount properly off the couch, rock chairs (even non rocking chairs – yikes), climb through tunnels, use a bumbo seat as an obstacle course, climb in to the dishwasher (just that one time when my back was turned, I swear), turn almost anything in to a walking push toy, pull up on a handle and get her feet off the ground, scale the back of the couch on to the desk, self feed, help undress, flip through books, takes apart duplo, pat herself on the chest when she coughs, and so on.  She’s so, so physical.

She doesn’t talk.

Like, at all.  Well.  Okay, she says a few words: no, oh oh, oh no, hi, and a two syllable inquisitive noise that means “what’s that?” Mama and dada, but we haven’t quite figured out what she’s talking about yet – it’s certainly not us.  For a while, we were pretty sure she thought her name was dada…  She listens, she understands words and requests and is again sleeping thought the night, this time after the doctor told her that she wasn’t going to be fed at night anymore.  She’ll bring you items on request and knows that when we say NO we mean it.  (Which sometimes starts this hilarious little temper tantrum I work very hard at not laughing at.)  She babbles noises and sounds.  I’ve had her hearing tested twice, and all signs point to fulling functioning ears.  She just … doesn’t have anything to say yet, or something.

I’m not worried.  She’s an effective communicator, for a baby, and makes it very clear what she does and doesn’t want.  (Not that, obviously, she always gets her way.)  She has a sense of humour. She likes to blow raspberries on my belly and play the Squish With Love game (she crawls, I chase after her, and when I catch her, I cover her in kisses until she collapses on the floor giggling.)

When my friends post videos of their similar age kids talking I can simply marvel at their babies without feeling doubt.  My kid will get there.  My kid is fine.  No, my kid is more than fine.  My kid is an active little peanut who is too busy with all the places to go and things to see to be bothered talking about it.  She’ll get there, and it will be adorable, and until then, I’ll just focus on trying to keep her from using the toilet as a water toy and teaching her how to properly dismount furniture taller than she is.

Places to go, things to see

Places to go, things to see

Babies be stressful

It’s always something, you know?  Just this weekend J fell off the couch while cruising, and while I caught her halfway down, there was an unfortunately placed toddler chair that caught her temple, leaving her with a surprisingly-pretty purple black eye.  (And of course, the panicked call to the nurse line, and the half hour wake-up-the-baby concussion checks, and did I mention this was on the same day as her 12 months shots?)  Despite the scare, and the swelling, she’s totally fine, and I’m sure this won’t be the last injury she sustains.  The kid is physically ambitious, and fearless.  At a playdate this weekend, she went straight for the toddler sized rocking chair, climbed up on the seat, stood up, grabbed the back and started rocking it, all gleeful.  Given a chance, she’ll scale the back of the leather couch and try to climb across the computer desk.  She thinks desk chairs are the best walking toys, but that they’re even better if you put her in the seat and spin her until she’s dizzy. So I expect that she’ll be hurt again, and I’ll worry, but I also have faith in the strength of the baby skull and her resilience in bouncing back.

But other things are harder to deal with.  Things with less clear cause and effect.  (Fall = scary = bruise.  No mystery there!)  J’s weight has been an issue since birth – it’s been all over the map, and often not for clear reasons, and it’s really scary. She’s now 13 months old, and we’re just climbing out of the 3rd weight crisis of her short life.  She lost 11% of her weight post-birth, and it took two separate tongue tie snips to correct her latch and another couple of weeks to get her weight on track.  The next she was around 5 months old, where, unbeknownst to me, my milk had mostly dried up, and she was starving.  This was only discovered when she’d dropped from 75th percentile to 30th percentile in weight, and I talked to my doctor about the PPD returning due to the sleep deprivation from comforting what turned out to be a screamingly hungry baby all night long.  I was put on Domperindone (the same drug my father took for chemo side effects!) and within a week she was plumping back up and only waking once at night to feed.  Then, at a year, I went back to work (thanks, Canada!) and she started daycare and her first teeth actually arrived and she became totally mobile, all at the same time.  She dropped to the 5st percentile in weight, and then went on an illness caused hunger-strike, and dropped down to the 1st percentile.  She adjusted to daycare and got over that round of colds, and is back up to 15th percentile, but she’s still a tiny peanut.  In a year, she’s gone from the 90th percentile (incorrectly) to the 1st (scarily).

And I want to wean SO BADLY that it’s making me weepy.  But I can’t, the doctor says, at least until she gets back on a healthy growth curve.  I’ve been breastfeeding for 13.5 months, quasi on demand, quasi on schedule, because she’s never hunger cued very well.  I’ve been on the pills for 8 months.  I’m tired of them.  I’m tired of them decimating my libido, and making my hair fall out.  I’m tired being too cheap to buy the 36H cup bra I need, because I keep thinking I’ll be able to wean soon, and of none of my work clothes fitting my chest.  I’m tired of waking every night to feed her, after months of her sleeping through the night.  I’m so very tired, and then stay up all night worrying about her.  But I can’t not feed the baby, and I don’t know if I want to try feeding her like, muffins or fruit packs at 3 am.  So nursing it is.

She’s a great eater.  J’ll eat almost anything off my plate, from chickpea curry to broccoli to sashimi.  I worked diligently to introduce her to fruits and veg, but may have neglected to give her enough fats or whole grains in the 10-12 month period, and therefore kind of blame myself for the weight issues.  But I didn’t know!  I was so smug about my green bean and aged cheese devouring baby that maybe I wasn’t pushing enough rich food on her?  Or my anti-refined sugar stance?  I was kind of relying on breastfeeding to fill any nutritional gaps?  And it didn’t work, and here I have this amazing eater with no detectible medical problems (we’ve done blood tests, which was awful) who, during the day, does not give off any real hunger or satiety cues.

She doesn’t like drinking milk (cow or goat) or juice.  She eats the highest fat yogurt I can find, and cheese, and the occasional ice cream, now that I’ve broken my no-refined-sugar stance.  We’ve never had any real food issues, other than that one week of illness, and the few foods she rejects (peaches, millet, berries about half the time) are done politely, and don’t interfere with her eating the rest of the meal. I read a pretty helpful book that was highly recommend, and it was great for hopefully setting up healthy boundaries about food, but didn’t quite answer what to do if your kid is failing to thrive despite enjoying all the food.  Because of the illness, we’ve fallen out of my previous 4 meals and 2-4 breastfeeding sessions a day routine, and now feed her from basically dinner time to bedtime in the hope that she’ll sleep through the night.  (It never works.)  I don’t know if I should be cutting off snacking, or allow her to keep eating dried berries in the hour between dinner and bedtime, or what.  I just don’t know.

I know, like all the other mini crisises, that this will pass and I’ll look back with relief that we got through another one, but it doesn’t make it any less stressful to live through.  There are no right answers, or at least, none than anyone can give me.We just keep muddling through, and offering the baby green Thai coconut curry with chicken and peas, and marveling that she’ll eat it, while hoping that it’s enough.  While hoping that I can wean soon.  That she’ll start sleeping through the night again.  That sleeping through the night again will happen before I need a caffeine IV to get through the work day…

Feeling the fever

So everyone is pregnant, as far as I can tell.  Everyone!  But, uh, not me.  Not trying, even.  Due to the pills I’m on, probably couldn’t be even if I tried.  I just, like, have eyes and can’t help but notice that everyone is pregnant.

I’m sure it’s hyperbole, but today, for example, I went through the +15 to the next building to grab some lunch, and saw, I swear, 7 very pregnant ladies.  Two were standing in front of me in line.  Walking from my office to J’s daycare?  It’s a 10 minute walk though the +15s, and I have never seen less than 4 pregnant women.  (Okay, sure, they could be the same ones everyday, but I still see them.)  I work in a group of 30 people, 13 of whom are female (not bad for a STEM field), and 2 of them are pregnant.  I’m back downtown, working in a very corporate world, and I’m surrounded by lush, fertile women who are gloriously, roundly pregnant.

And I’m so jealous I’m practically salivating.

I’ve said it before, I was never really baby hungry before I  had Baby J.  It was a cerebral decision, more than anything.  I never had baby fever, or heard a ticking clock, or whatever other cliche that can be used to describe the longing for a baby.  But now?  Holy fuck, you guys.  WANT.  NEEEED.  It’s the strangest feeling.  It feels like a walking cliche, to be so eager, but here we are.

And while we are totally planning a second, not yet.  I’d rather have them +2 years instead of -2 years apart .  I *just* got back to work, and I owe it to myself to give this a serious go.  I’m still on the domperidone, and that’s done insane things to my cycle.  It’s not fair to J to do anything until we figure out what’s wrong with her.  (She’s down to 17 pounds – 1 pound over her 5 month weight.)  I refuse to wean until she stops losing weight or at the very least starts drinking any form of calorie, and I want to have my body to myself for a few months before I get pregnant again.  I’m simply not ready to try again yet, and neither is David.  Mentally, I get it.  In fact, mentally, I have no desire to start trying right now.

But viscerally?  WANT SO MUCH.

At the end of the day, we’re all just animals, right?  It’s stuff like this – this crazy longing – that really brings that home to me.

34 weeks along, looking like I ate the world.  Why do I miss this so much?

34 weeks along, looking like I ate the world. Why do I miss this so much?

Weighty Issues, Redux

Hey, so remember like 10 months ago when I was all aflutter because my baby was charted as being off the chart overweight for her height?  Yeah, I barely do either.  I was thinking about it today, though.  At J’s 12 month check up, the doctor charted an actual drop in weight – about a pound the month prior.  So on Friday I took her to the public health nurse office to weigh and measure her.  And she’s lost another half pound.  Which puts her somewhere between the 3rd and 15th percentile in weight.  She did grow an inch, so she’s now up to the same for height, which is something, I guess.  She’s a tiny peanut.  A tiny peanut who now weighs the same as she did 5 months ago.

Yeah.    That probably isn’t good.

The doctor, at the last appointment, told me I had two months to fatten up the baby.  Two weeks of macaroni and 5-cheeses and cream cheese spread and a couple of pieces of bread a day (daycare) and everything else I can think of to fatten her up, minus feeding her straight up butter?  She loses weight.

It’s so hard to tell if you’re doing the right thing with kids.  I worked really hard to introduce J to fruits and vegetables and proteins and all types of dairy and she eats so well!  I really had thought we’d had it all figured out.  I mean, the kid eats more interesting cheeses than David does.  He likes… marble cheese and plain babybels.  J eats aged white cheddar and Parmesan and cranberry goat cheese.  She happily eats almost anything and everything.  She doesn’t like peaches, and we both had a similar blurg reaction to the millet I experimented with, but otherwise?  She has a preference for citrus fruit (including lemons!) and kiwis, but will also eat bananas and purred apples and pears.  She still has no teeth, so has had no luck with chunks of apples.  She hasn’t turned her nose up at any veggie that I’ve made for her, and shows a particular love for carrots and parsnips.  On the rare occasions we eat steak, she gleefully sucks the meat dry.  (She still has no teeth.)  She eats pork and chicken and shrimp and beef and even raw fish, although her preference is for fruits and veggies over meat.  We don’t eat a ton of grains at home – I rarely keep bread in the house because it goes moldy long before we’d have finished it.  I’m not on Atkins or anything – I just don’t, you know, eat a lot of starches, other than rice.  Which she is indifferent too, but I still offer and she always eats a bit.

I thought I was doing good, you know?  Having this kid who turns down chicken to eat another segment of a sweet blood orange.  Who cheerfully eats broccoli and green beans and parsnip soup.  Who loves yogurt with berries and flavourful cheeses.   Who devoured homemade salmon cakes.  Who still nurses twice a day.  And yet, somehow, something has gone wrong, and I feel guilty.  Should I have been pushing higher fat food the whole time instead of fruits and veg?  Is there something more seriously wrong, or is this just a blip brought on by the combo of daycare, a sleep regression, a cold, teeth finally emerging and gradual weaning all happening at once?  How much olive oil can I pour on her food before she stops being willing to eat it?  What’s the line between enough cheese for the calcium (she doesn’t like milk much, though she’s offered it 3-4 times a day) and total constipation?  How much of my reaction is overreaction, penduluming too far the other direction from last time?  I thought I was doing so good, feeding her veggies instead of like, processed sweetened puffs or whatever.  Should I go out and buy more frankenfood?  God knows I love me a bag of chips, so it’s not like I’m totally against it.  It’s just… I thought I should keep her foods pure-ish for as long as I could, you know?  I’m sure it’s not hard to learn to love goldfish crackers (NOM) but much harder to introduce broccoli later, so why not offer it now, when her tastes are so influence-able?

And how can someone with cheeks this round be so slim?

And how can someone with cheeks this round be too slim?

I just don’t know anything any more.

Babies, man.

Five Things

When I was pregnant, I read a million and one lists of What You Must Have and What You Totally Don’t Need.  I cribbed together a fairly detailed spreadsheet, delicately titled “Shit We Need”.  We were gifted/handed down the vast majority of what we needed, plus a bunch extra, so as we received things, I’d colour code the cells and add the information to the thank you card tab.  (Yeah, I’m that person.)  The list was fairly comprehensive, from the big ticket items like the car seat and crib, to small things like washable breast pads and baby socks.  I won’t go in to all the details, because, as I said, there are a million and one resources for that kind of thing on the net.  But I will list the 5 things that Baby J needed/loved the most.  It will be interesting to see if the list is the same for hypothetical future second child.

1) Baby Log.  The best $5 I spent in the last year, no question.  After the first month of so, when J’s habits started to become apparent, I downloaded every free baby tracking app that would work on my old iTouch.  I picked the one that I liked best, imaginatively called Baby Log, bought the full version, and tracked that baby every single day until she was 11.5 months old.  Which, on paper, is crazy OCD, but in reality was wonderful.  J lives by a clock in her head, and as soon as I figured out what her preferred schedule was, especially in terms of napping, my life became so much easier.  I knew she would want a nap 2 hours after she woke up, and the app kept count so I didn’t have to remember.  As she got older, the waking times changed slightly, but with the app, it was easy to see and adjust and not have to think too much.  It also tracked what side I started nursing on, so I didn’t have to remember that either, and during the 1-poop-a-week phase, we could easily track that too.  I know, I know, but with this baby, who lives by her own clock it was the most wonderful thing to have.  I’m not that OCD or clock following myself, but she is, and this was worth it’s weight in gold coins.

2) Swaddling/Sleep Sacks.  J enjoyed being swaddled from the beginning, albeit with one arm free for finger sucking.  When she was too strong for swaddling, we switched over to sleep sacks.  We keep our house on the cool side, and she’s now a very mobile sleeper, and this keeps her warm and cosy and makes it slightly tougher for her to cruise around the crib.

11 month old imp in a sleep sack

11 month old imp in a sleep sack

3) Stuffed animals.  This was a surprise to me, and points to other people for providing them.  J LOVES stuffed animals.  Like, open-mouthed-making-out-with-them love.  It’s adorable.  There’s now something cuddly in every toy bin in the house.  If she’s upset, just hand her a stuffed penguin and watch her cuddle him to happiness.

7 months old, with her namesake Skipper penguin

7 months old, with her namesake Skipper penguin

4) Bumbo seat.  J wanted to sit up from a young age and watch the world.  The Bumbo made that possible.  We still use it every day, when we eat dinner in the basement, on the couch, watching tv.  (Yeah, yeah, I know, but at least we’re eating homemade food together as a family.  And she tends to ignore the tv except to dance to the music.)  Sure, she can flip her way out of it now, and we only use it with one of us sitting with her at all times, but it helps corral her during dinner, and it’s easier to use in the basement than the high chair in the dining room where we eat breakfast and lunch.

2 months old

2 months old. already watching and judging

5) Bassinet.  Our bedroom is on the main floor, and the nursery is upstairs.  She slept in a bassinet in our room until she was 7 months old.  Co-sleeping didn’t work for us, going upstairs 5 times a night wasn’t going to work for us.  The bassinet was perfect.  It was on a stand, so I didn’t have to bend much, which would have been impossible after the c-section anyway.  Even after she moved upstairs to her crib, she’d still occasionally have naps in it.  I know a lot of people say not to bother with them, but it was perfect for J, for a very long time.

A few weeks old, swaddled in the basinet

A few weeks old, swaddled in the bassinet

Sure, we needed a bunch of other things: strollers, diapers, clothing, a baby bath tub (oddly essential for a very short period, especially for shaky new parents), a swing, bouncy seat, high chair, baby fingernail clipper, etc.   But those are mostly generic needs (though swing vs seat is pretty baby specific.  J liked both…).  I’d say that the 5 above were pretty key.

As for what we didn’t need?  J hated carriers and wraps from almost the beginning, so the 3 different kinds I bought got very little use.  J rarely spit up so all the nice homemade burp clothes people made for me barely got used.  We barely used the 3 bottles I bought – even when we’d go out, she’d basically just wait for me to return before eating much.  There are a dozen unused sippy cups of various styles in my kitchen, purchased before I tried a cup with a straw, which she handles like a champ.  (Yes.  Can’t use a sippy cup, has no problems with straws.  I was surprised too.)   We have been given a lot of toys, and some of them have not been played with at all.  (Unlike the duplo, which she is still officially too young for, but she adores taking blocks apart and using the blocks to make noises.)

Babies.  They have funny personality quirks and opinions just like real people!

Someone gave us a play tunnel.  It's a ridiculous thing to have in your living room, but the baby loves it, so...

Someone gave us a play tunnel. It’s a ridiculous thing to have in your living room, but the baby loves it, so…

Sureal

That’s the only word to describe the first day back in the office after a year of mat leave.  Totally, completely surreal.  It was a bizarre mix of “what the fuck am I doing here?  where’s the baby?” and “what do you mean I ever left?”

And it’s not like things haven’t changed.  The company moved in to a brand spanking new office tower, I’m officially a tech and not an admin, there are 13 new people in our group of 25 people.  We’re on a new operating system, and my monitors are even bigger, so even the view of my screen is different.  (And by big?  I mean huge.  A pair of 24 inch monitors.  It’s a good thing it’s a big desk.)  I currently don’t know what, exactly, the new role will require me to like, DO every day.

But other things haven’t changed.  My three favourite people are still in the group.  My boss is still my boss.  There’s a constant struggle with budget and personalities.  (The stock price is still junk.) 

I have lunch dates and new shoes and a pair of monitors (I know I go on, but man, they make work so much easier).  I have a paycheque coming and options that just vested and coworkers and software and a brand new electric desk.  I felt… normal.

I also spent the whole damn day trying to get the daycare camera to work, so I could watch my little baby play.

Yeah.  One foot in a pretty black heel, the other in barefoot.  I’m not the first, and I’m not the last.  The main feeling for today was, oddly, how fucking NORMAL it felt.  I thought it would take a little bit more time than that, you know?

But we shall see.  I can revoke all this tomorrow and go back to being a hysterical mess, keening in the car in the parking lot of the daycare.

Ugh

So we’ve started the transition to daycare.  Without getting in to the details, let me just say that IT SUCKS MORE THAN EVERYTHING HAS EVER SUCKED BEFORE, at least since the last thing that was completely terrible.  So many tears.  The daycare hasn’t been great at communicating what I am supposed to do, which hasn’t helped anything, but that’s only a side stress of BEING IN THE SAME ROOM AS MY SCREAMING BABY AND NOT BEING ABLE TO GO AND COMFORT HER.

We’ve both been doing a lot of crying.

On Monday, I *think* I’m to drop her off in the afternoon and then leave, so I’ve booked a massage.  And on Tuesday a hair cut.  And on Wednesday I go find my new office in the new shiny office tower.  And the next phase of our lives begins.

I know it will be fine.  Eventually.  I just hate hate hate how many tears are being shed in the transition.

 

Being a grown up sucks.

 

Report Card

Nell did an interesting post, whose format I’m going to steal.    She and her husband had decided on the 10 commandments of parenting that they were going to try to operate under, and after their adorable little girl turned 1, they looked back and see how they’d done.  Well, I wasn’t organized on the front end, but we did have some very clear ideas of how we wanted to try and be.  Let’s see, shall we?

1. I wanted a calm, natural birth. I read every single book ever written on the subject (or at least, it felt like it).  I physically and mentally prepared myself.  We hired a doula.  The maternity clinic practice was on board with intervention free births.  And then my water broke a few weeks early and I couldn’t get in to active labour and I ended up with pictocin, and an epidural, and a c-section.  The cascade of interventions that I so totally did not want.  It took me months to feel okay about what happened.  The baby came out and was healthy and all is well, but I’m still calling this a FAIL because man did things not work out like I wanted them to.

2. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is an unqualified PASS.  Sure, there were some bumps, with the multiple tongue ties, and the dangerous weight loss in the first few days and resulting supplementation.  And then my milk dried up randomly and the fact that I’m still take 4 domperidone pills a day in order to be able to breastfeed.  But damn, overall?  Aces.  It’s cheap (the copay on my pills is like $2/month) and easy and convenient.   It helped with the bonding in the early, dark days.  I’m planning on going off the pills when I go back to work, and see how long we can keep a morning and bedtime nurse happening, for the bonding.  We’ll see – it could be like 3 days before everything dries up, but I’ll have made it for a year, and I’m pretty proud of me.  Of us.

3. The bulk of my non-labour related pre-baby research was on cloth diapers.  It took me about 6 weeks after Baby J was born to start using them – a combo of being so overwhelmed and also her being so little that even the small diapers were comically large.  But as soon as we started in earnest, it’s been great.  I’m so, so happy that we use them.  There has been exactly one poop blow out, and that was in the first week of using them, before we figured out how tight things had to be.  (I have one friend who threw out 5 outfits on a single day due to the blow out messes, using disposables.)  They’re easy and cute and cost effective over the long run.  J rarely gets diaper rash, and when she does, it’s amazing how much coconut oil helps clear it up.  But I’m not insane about it.  We’ve started using disposable liners, to deal with the much grosser poop.  When we travel, we totally use disposables.  When she has a yeast infection (more common that diaper rashes, for her), it’s a night in a disposable with this prescription cream, and it’s gone by morning.  And did I mention how much cuter they are?  So much cuter. PASS

4. Make my own baby food.  I’ve been meaning to write about that, but it’s a total PASS.  J is a champion eater – her only food dislike so far seems to be peaches – and will generally eat anything you offer her, from last night’s risotto with peas, to green bean purees, to chickpea and cauliflower stew, to the entire cheese tray at a party.  It’s been fun to feed her, and fun to make the foods.  She does get a couple of tablespoons of purchased rice cereal mixed in to her morning fruit and yogurt, and she does eat cheerios.  On vacation, we buy those little pouches of food to supplement whatever she can eat off our plates, but otherwise, she eats what I make for her.

5. However, I was totally going to go all baby led weaning.  So great on paper, right?  Until the third time J choked and had to be pulled out of the chair and back thumped until the food came out of her windpipe and we decided that purees were the way to go.  First time was scary but I thought normal, second time David was done with BLW, and the third time, even I was like, “this baby is not ready for this, we should quit”.  FAIL, but not killing the baby seemed like a much better decision.

6. It was – IS – so important to my sense of self that we continue to travel.  And an unqualified PASS for that, for sure.  We had our road trip to Montana, the trip to Cancun for my sister-in-law’s wedding, and later this month we’re going to Texas.  (Why Dallas?  Why not Dallas?  Basically.)  So in J’s first year, we’ve done a road trip, an all inclusive resort trip, and our favourite kind of trip: the random wander trip.  (That’s where we have flights, transportation and accommodation worked out, and then we just wing the rest.)  This makes me very, very happy.

7. I really wanted to not give the house over to baby stuff.  You know, those houses that look like a daycare centre, that’s how many toys there are?  We have a moderate sized house, with fairly limited storage.  We’ve done okay on this, I guess.  I use this fancier black Ikea bins to hold toys, and we’ve got one in the living room, one in her room, and two in the basement.  Every night we do a quick sweep and put things away.  But of course, not everything fits, so there’s a push-walker in the living room, the exersaucer that just got disassembled and abandoned in the garage, a friend just gave us a megablocks play table so that’s in the basement now instead, and so on.  But it’s quickly tidied at the end of the night, so it doesn’t feel as bad?  I don’t know.  PASS, ish.  Although, we haven’t babyproofed much, relying instead on teaching what is off limits, and enforcing boundaries.  We still haven’t even put up any baby gates, because they’re not yet needed.  So that’s something.

8. However, we’ve been much better about not buying all the things.  I absolutely have bought stuff, some of which is unnecessary.  (But the owl hand puppet from Ikea is so cute!  Like, she tries to eat his face while squealing with joy cute!)  But we haven’t bought a ton of things, and are still getting hand me downs.  David took a friend of his to the hockey game, and got a red wagon, the mega blocks table, a car seat and some more toys in return.  Good trade!  We will still buy more things (I’m trying to collect vintage Fisher Price Little People toys) and more cute clothes (some of the hand me downs really aren’t my thing) but we will not buy all the things, nor need only new things.  Total PASS.

9. Fairly early on, it was clear that I had to get out of the house, like, every day.  So I made an effort, and yeah, we do leave the house basically every day, and that’s been a great help on my sanity.  In the summer, it was multiple long walks a week to the reservoir, and then it became fitness classes instead, and then play dates got added in, and, being honest, lots of trips to the mall/Ikea/shopping because, well, that’s out of the house too.  It’s to the point that a day without a trip is almost unheard off.  A few months ago it was a rare treat, but now it’s more of a punishment, because J gets tired of the house and my face.  PASS.

10.  I love to read.  Love.  Being a reader is a pretty core part of my identity.  Despite having a baby, I still read 88 books last year, and while that’s less than half my personal best, it’s still a decent number.  So I figured I’d read to my baby every day, and pass on that love.  Have I?  Hahaha, no, total FAIL.  Hey, did you know that babies have no attention span and would rather chew on the books?  At least for the first, like, 8 months?  So I’d make a half-assed try every couple of days, but generally just let her toothlessly gnaw on a pile of books.  Sure, we went to the library story time, and have piles of baby books in every bin in the house, but I didn’t push the issue.  And now?  Her happy place is sitting in a pile of books, carefully turning pages, looking at the pictures, and ‘talking’ to them.  Just starting to introduce a bedtime story to the bedtime routine, now that she’ll sit for the two minutes it takes.   So I may have failed in the daily reading task, but she still loves books, which is just excellent.

11. I bought a Boba Wrap, a Boba carrier, a Mei Tai and a cheap wrap.  I was totally going to babywear!  But my kid? After the first few weeks?  Hated all of them.  Like, the best case scenario was to get her in a carrier right before nap time, then scream herself to sleep.  Not awesome.  We’ll try our luck in Texas, with her held on my back, but my expectations are low.  It’s too bad, because it seems convenient, but can’t argue with a baby. FAIL

12. I love sleep.  I wanted to continue to get to sleep.  AND I HAVE.  J is now full on, for real sleeping through the night.  She goes down for naps easily, she sleeps well, she sleeps for a long time.  She learned how to fall back asleep herself when she was a few weeks old, and it’s wonderful.  David and I trade off sleeping in on weekends, too.  Everyone in our house loves sleep.  Yay sleep.  PASS.

13. I was totally going to teach the baby sign language.  Not like, intensively (by the time she needs to communicate what a zebra is, I hope she can say the word), but the basics.  You know: more, all done, poop, bath, tired, sad.  Enough to communicate a little.  Guess who does not give a shit about hand gestures?  My baby.  I’ve been trying to teach her all done and more for like, 2 months now?  And she just smirks at my attempts.  Crosses her arms over her chest and smiles.  Man, who knew babies got a say in these things?  :)  FAIL.

14. I wanted a baby that would fit in to our life, instead of having to rework our entire life around the baby.  I’m calling this a PASS .  I mean, sure, I’m on mat leave, my schedule is based on her naps, we take her needs in to consideration for everything we do.  But.  We still travel, go out for dinner, do weekend trips, hang out with friends, gets pedicures, throw parties, play board games, go “antiquing”, watch hockey, etc, much the same as we ever did.  Sure, things take more planning and timing, and we’re more limited to how much we can do in a single weekend afternoon, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do the things.  We just put a little more forethought in to them.  We have a very easy going baby, and that really helps, I know.  But we still get to enjoy the things that made our life good before the baby.  We now just get to share that with someone else.

15. I wanted to enjoy the year of mat leave.  To find my place as a mother.  And I don’t know how to grade that.  I mean, the first 4 months were a blur of PPD and crying.  The last month is building up to be a month of feeeeeelings and longing – both to go and to stay.  I have loved some of the phases of J’s short little life, and less loved some of the others.  I’m still very new at this motherhood thing, and I’m pretty sure the only person who can grade me on it still poops in her pants and has not yet learned English. We’ll leave this one ungraded.

So.  9ish out of 14.  And the failures were, on the whole, minor, or outside of my control.  That’s excellent.  I know that as mothers, we’re supposed to beat ourselves up over our choices, and feel guilty, and all that shit, but I don’t.  I choose to feel quite proud of living up to my plans.  And also for setting up reasonable goals!  That always helps.  So as this year of mat leave comes to an end, I can be comforted to know that I did what I set out to be, to parent the way I had hoped to, and that I rolled with at least some of the punches.

And really, these all can’t be weighed equally.  “Failing” at birth hurt terribly.  The baby refusing to sign just makes me laugh.  The reason I liked the idea of baby led weaning is because it promised to give the baby a good palate, and eat adventurously.  We achieved that with a spoon instead, and the victory of result is far more important than the failure in method, you know?

At any rate, instead of 68%, I’m giving myself an A.  Because it’s my report card.  I sure as hell can grade myself on a curve.