Wrapping it up

Hi. It’s been awhile, eh?  I don’t know what exactly to say.  It’s been a busy year, for sure, but I haven’t had that much to say, I guess.  But what the hell, let’s do a recap.

In January, we went to Banff for the weekend with friends.

In February, we went to Dallas.

In March, I went back to work after my year long mat leave.

In April, we mostly focuses on figuring out the new balance of work and daycare and life.  It went okay.

In May, we went to Toronto to visit my sister, who was spending a year back east doing her Master’s degree.  Jess also got to make cookies for the first time at Grandma’s house – she taste tested every single ingredient and loved it.

In June I went to Northern BC for a a 4 day work trip.  David was part of the a large wedding party for a close friend and wore the worst fitting tuxedo I’ve ever seen.

In July, we went to Heritage Park and the Stampede and had play dates and set up the inflatable pool in the backyard – Jess walked up to it, peed on the side and was over it.

In August, David’s sister came to town and J loved hanging out with Tia Eeerin.  We went to two family reunions on David’s side in a single weekend.  Two very different families – one with a zillion kids and one with 2.  A fun but exhausting weekend.  I also got to do an overnight trip to Northern Alberta with my favourite coworker and my mentor.

In September, we went to Northern Europe for 23 days and it was amazing.  Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Iceland. Jess was a dream – handling jet lag like a champ, eating everything and generally being adorable.  Highlights included the medieval walled town of Tallinn, Blue Lagoon hot springs in Iceland, the playgrounds every 3 blocks in Helsinki, Stockholm’s museums and the quiet backwoods of Denmark.

In October, my sister came to town and stayed for a month and J loved her Auntie Dorney.  We went to a local art festival and J was mesmerizeingly cute in her little hot pink fleece horse suit.

In November, I got laid off as part of a 1000 person layoff at work.  Luckily my severance was good.  It wasn’t unexpected, but I’d been loving my new role at work so it was disappointing.   I had until the end of the month to use up my health benefits, so I had 6 massages in a week and that was excellent.

In December, an ultrasound showed that I am pregnant with one healthy looking fetus and am due in June.  We’re pretty pleased.  Christmas was great, too.

All in all, a good year, and the problem with good years for me is that it leaves me nothing to write about.  So, tally ho, internet. Other than my usual year end meme tomorrow, I’m not sure what more I have to say in this space.  Nothing right now, at any rate.  Life is good and I am happy.  We have a plan for the wait period between now and and when the baby’s due – play SAHM most of the time, I have a lead on a part time job offer for 6 months, keep J in daycare 2 days a week from now until both kids go to daycare full time when I go back to work in 2015, because J has done SO WELL in daycare and I’m really not sure that I’m designed to be a full time SAHM anyway.  The layoff wasn’t ideally timed, but I’ve been so sick I have loved being able to take it easy and sleep.  The travel’s been amazing this year and I feel remarkably lucky.  2013 was a good year.  Here’s to a good 2014.

Life is good and I am happy.

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…

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.

Year End Meme of 2012

Because why not keep traditions alive?

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Went to Cabo, pregnant.  Had a baby.  Collected EI.  Took baby on a road trip, took baby to Mexico.  Lots of baby related firsts.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Didn’t make any last year.  For next year, I resolve to send 5 thank you letters, and to attempt to transition back to work gracefully.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Me, of course.  A couple of cousins.  The woman in our birth and babies class who I’ve since become close to, if that counts.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Well, David’s cousin died, but I only met him once.  Hard on the family, when a teenager dies.

5. What countries did you visit?

David and I went to Cabo in January, a road trip with Jess to Montana in the summer, and to Cancun with Jess in November.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2012?

No depression would be nice.  More money than EI brought in will also nice.  I don’t know – the second half of this year has been pretty great.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 6 – Jess’s birthday.  Pretty much the biggest day of my year.  (Even if the labour itself was more days than that.)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Kept a baby alive with my boobs.  Had a totally awesome child.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Well, it might not read as failure to others, but I absolutely felt like a failure because I failed to birth Jess and needed the c-section.  PPD felt pretty failurific.  My milk drying up didn’t feel great either.  Yeah.  Bodies, man.  I feel that mine failed me a bit this year, and then I blame me.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

C-section recovery sucked.  PPD also sucked.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Vacations.  Always vacations.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

David is such a great, amazing dad and partner.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

American politics.  God, I’m glad I’m Canadian.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Day to day living, mostly.  Three small vacations.  Cloth diapers.  Impulse baby clothes.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I don’t know.  So many months this year were spent in a depressive episode followed by a certain amount of flatness.  The highs were there, but they weren’t generally something I was excited about in the lead up.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

I sang this song to Jess while crying, for the first couple of months of her life.  Mumford & Sons, Little Lion Man.

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn’t I, my dear?”

But then things got better.

Other songs that capture the year include Wintersleep’s  Mirror Matter, with it’s chorus of “Happiness, it’s all around you.”

I listened to Of Monsters & Men’s Little Talks many many time.

“The stairs creak as I sleep,
it’s keeping me awake
It’s the house telling you to close your eyes

Some days I can’t even dress myself.
It’s killing me to see you this way.

‘Cause though the truth may vary
this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore.”

Japandriods’s The House that Heaven Built was also in regular rotation.

“When they love you and they will
Tell them all, they’ll love in my shadow
And if they try to slow you down
Tell them all, to go to hell”

I listened to a lot of music this year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier.  Definitely happier.
b) thinner or fatter? I’m no longer pregnant!  Much, much smaller in the waist area.
c) richer or poorer?  Pretty much a net neutral.  Spent less, made less, spreadsheets show that this year was about even.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Taking Jess to the swings in the summer.  We went on tons of walks, but rarely to the swings.   Otherwise, it’s been a pretty ‘achieving my goals’ kind of year.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Crying.  Feeling sad.  Doubting myself.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At home.  David’s parents came for a day, my mom for the afternoon.  Dinner at my aunt’s.  Then the rest of the week hanging out and watching movies and playing video games and trying to get the baby to figure out why we’re ripping open presents.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

With the baby.  It took awhile, but now I can’t imagine the world without her.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Can’t choose.  Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Modern Love, Always Sunny in Philadelphia…  We watch a lot of sitcoms and British shows, and I love them all.  I had a lot of time on the couch nursing, and watched the entire run of West Wing, and HIMYM, Gilmour Girls and Vicar of Dibley.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?

I read over a hundred books.  I couldn’t even start to pick a favourite.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? 

Japandriods.  Of Monsters and Men.  Mumford and Sons.

26. What did you want and get?

To have a healthy baby.

27. What did you want and not get?

To have a happy post partum experience, and fall instantly in love with my baby, and other such idealized ideas of motherhood.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Um.  I think we saw like, two movies in theatres?  A Bond one?  And maybe something with Jason Segel?  That one.  Sure.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 31.  Jess and I had a totally normal day, and then I got presents in the evening from David and Jess.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?


31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Yoga pants.  Tops that allowed nursing.  In a word: comfortable.

32. What kept you sane?

David.  Books.  Exercise.  Friends.  The internet.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Jason Segel.  Yum.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Abortion in America.  How is this still a debate??  I know I said that last year, and yet, here we are again.

35. Who did you miss?

My dad.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I’ve made a couple of mom-friends (or, friends I made through the fact I had a baby) and they are both pretty great.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Life is hard, but it gets better.  Eventually.

Post Partum Body

So the baby is 9.5 months old now, which is crazy.  We just had some nice family portraits done a few months ago, and I’m having a hard time making the critical self conscious voice in my head to shut up.  Because my post partum body is still not where I want it to be, and I feel bad because I feel self conscious about it.  (I feel bad about feeling bad!  Welcome to my brain.)   So, inspired by Meghan, here’s my journey with the body post baby.

I have never been thin, and my stomach has always been large and jiggly, even when I was a teenager swimming 6-8 times a week.  It’s just what my body looks like.

Here I am at 4 weeks pregnant, or, more accurately: just peed on a stick, went for a walk to celebrate.  I was at my heaviest weight in my entire life at this point – the summer had already involved a miscarriage and a flooded basement, and that had resulted in a summer of crappy eating and a lot of rum.  I weighed, shall we say, X pounds.

4 weeks pregnant

I got pretty big during my pregnancy, but I put on very little weight at all. I actually lost 5 pounds in the first trimester – stepped on the scale to see that the very day I popped my first stretch mark.  I take no real credit for what my body did during the pregnancy – I had terrible heartburn that meant even eating a muffin was a set up for 18 hours of unrelenting burning pain.  The only foods that I could really eat in the second trimester were Lucky Charms and ice cream.  (Being pregnant meant I suddenly became lactose tolerant, which was awesome.)  So I didn’t eat much, but what I ate was really calorie rich.  I got big in the belly, and fast, but I didn’t get big all over.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the rest of me lost some fat.  (I had some to spare.)  I also lost muscle mass when I had to stop working out around 28 weeks pregnant, because of some pelvic floor issues I was having.  Okay, yes, I still walked and did yoga, but that’s totally not the same as 4 day a week fitness classes with weights.

28 weeks pregnant

After I discovered Zantac, I could eat again, but still didn’t gain much weight.  During the whole pregnancy, I put on 12 pounds, or, X+12.  I’m short, and carried it all out front, so I looked like I gained a lot more.

38 week pregnant, after my water broke

I gained 12 pounds (X+12), gave birth to an an 8 pound baby (X+4), and a week after she was born was down to X-7 pounds.

1 week post partum

I bounced up to X-3 pretty quickly, as my body tried to adjust to the baby and the Breastfeeding Hunger, and all the rest.

2 weeks post partum

I fit back in to my jeans by the time Jess was a month old. Which was nice, but I again can’t take any credit.  The c-section recovery was really, really hard on me, and at a month post partum, I still couldn’t lift her in the car seat, let alone exercise.

At 12 weeks, I took a lame mommies and babies yoga class.  (I don’t like singing much.  I like yoga.  This class was way too much of  the former and far too little of the latter.)  At that point, I couldn’t even lay down from a sitting position because of the internal adhesions and resulting pain.

4 months post partum

Around the 4 month mark, I started taking more intensive fitness classes – starting with strollercize twice a week.  By the end of November (9 months post partum) I was up to 4 classes a week – a deep water running class, two areobics/weight classes and a pilates class.  My weight has been pretty stable for a couple of months at X-5, and while ideally I’d like to hit X-8 and stay there, I’m not unhappy about my weight.

7 months after Jess was born

7 months post partum

I finally bought new jeans, in time for our family photos, and found that I’d dropped a pant size from my pre-pregnancy jeans.  (My chest size, however, is still a few sizes up.  Breastfeeding!)  My hips, ass and thighs are the same size or smaller than they were pre-baby.  Thanks to all the fitness classes and squats, I had not developed mom-butt and I still like my ass.  (I first learned to love my butt when I took pole dancing classes.  I liked the way I looked in short-shorts!)

Baby's first ocean, at 8 months old

Baby’s first ocean, at 8 months old

But I am unhappy about my stomach, and it shames me that my belly is the first thing I see when I look at the family portraits.  I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to be the woman hiding from the camera, or the one who looks at herself with shame.  Because life is too short to fixate, or so I keep telling myself. The conflicting messages in my brain (be happy!  you’re too big!) are annoying, but I’m feeling them, so here we are.

The thing is, I’m DOING THE WORK, and it’s not making the kind of difference I wish it would.  I work out a lot, I eat mostly sensibly, and I have a big belly and my core strength just is not back yet, 9 months after the c-section.  When I started doing the fitness classes at 4 months, I couldn’t even get in to a plank position, because something internally caused screaming pain if I tried.  Hell, the first time I tried to do a crunch, 3 months after the birth, I couldn’t lift my head more than a half inch of the ground, and 5 of those made me hurt for 3 days afterwards.  (C-SECTIONS ARE NOT THE EASY BIRTH ANSWER.)  Things are better – because I’ve worked very, very hard – but still not great.  I still can’t, for example “access my transverse abdominals” at pilates, or hold a plank for 60 seconds.  I’m getting closer, but I don’t have the strength that I’m used to, or the sensations I remember.

I guess, really, that it upsets me on both fronts – the loss of tone and the loss of strength.  I’m trying hard to be kind to myself, and to keep going to the classes and to generally not think about it to much, but it’s hard. I’m mostly happy with my body – as much as I ever am – but this one thing upsets me, and then I’m upset that I’m upset.  Blerg.

Being a woman in the 21st century: self-esteem is a minefield.


At a family wedding, one of David’s infinite number of cousins asked me about how we’re liking cloth diapers, and brands I recommend.  I had a lot of thoughts about this, and figured I’d put them here too in case they are useful to anyone else.

First of all, I am happy we’re using cloth diapers – they’ve worked really well for us.  And don’t want you to read anything else about my parenting style in to the decision to use cloth.  I like them because they are cute and cheap over the long run and I don’t mind an extra load of laundry every 3 days and in 6 months Jess has only had two bits of really mild diaper rash and they don’t seem to have blowouts.  No poop up the back, no poop in the hair, no ruined clothing!  Really, it’s almost as easy as using disposables, but thousands of dollars cheaper in the long run, and that’s important to me.  The side benefits about cuteness and the environment and the lack of blowouts and all the rest are great, but for me, the $800 ish I spent up front is good value over several years with probably a couple of kids.  Also, we have not found a noticeable increase in our water bill.

Amalah is my personal guru of cloth diapers.  Her posts on Alphamom and her own site were very helpful, if somewhat overwhelming.  I ended up buying a bunch of different diapers, mostly from her suggestions and some from sales, and have loved some and hated others.

Generally, I have liked the sized ones more than the one size fits all sizes, but you quickly come up against cost, as having to buy a few sets of different size diapers adds up.  We have a combo of sized and one sized fits all diapers, although now that she’s bigger (16 pounds) the OS diapers fit pretty well, so it’s less of an issue, compared to putting a 9 pound baby in the same diaper.  I mean, the snaps meant it fit, but it was so jumbo she looked like a beached turtle.  Because of that, we didn’t really start using cloth until she was over 11 pounds.

We mainly use all in one / pocket style diapers, as opposed to old school prefolds/fitted diapers and a plastic cover, although we have a few of the later and they are really handy to have around.  Especially when you’re behind on washing diapers – one cover can last all day as you just switch out the prefolds.  And prefolds are super cheap, so that’s a bonus.  All In Ones are the easiest, what with it being a shell with a sewn in cotton/fleece/minky layer and often place to stuff an absorbent pad.  (Some of them have attached pads, some separate.  I don’t notice any real difference in the time it takes to put them together or in the way they work.)  They fasten with snaps or velcro and work like the ease of a disposable. No diaper cover required.  Our daycare is fine with using them, too.

I have two favourite diapers (and god, does it feel weird to have that statement be true.  I guess I really am a parent now.).  The first is FuzziBunz Perfect Size diapers.  Jess wore the smalls until ~15 pounds, and then her chubby thighs dictated a move to the mediums.  They fit really well, and because they are sized, they don’t have the bulk issue.  They absorb well, the liner falls out in the washer so you don’t have to touch it when it’s dirty,  the colours are cute and they fit well under clothes.

My other favourites are the Scottish made TotBots, in part because they are so adorable.  I mean, the London ones are covered with little drawings of Tube map and little Buckingham Palace guards and blacks cabs.  Also fairy tale diapers, like Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Piggies.  Squee!  They’re sold out everywhere, but will eventually return, and I plan to buy at least 4 more.  They’re soft minky fabric instead of the stiffer fleece most other diapers use, and so they are less bulky even as an all in one diaper.  The velcro seems to be lasting well, and the fit is great.  And oh so cute.

First in the diapers I like category are Swaddlebees Simplex / Blueberry Basix All-in-One Diapers.  (Same company – name change or something.)  I like them – they fit snugly and have lasted far longer than the other sized diapers.  I bought them on sale, and they’ve held up.  There’s not fleece inside – unbleached organic cotton instead, so they often come out of the dryer still damp.  I have them in plain colours, because they were on sale, but they do come in some pretty cute patterns.

I also like (but not love) using prefolds and covers.  I started with cheap Indian unbleached prefolds, some Thirsties Duo Wrap covers and some Weehuggers.  I liked the Weehuggers but Jess outgrew them fairly quickly, compared to the the Thirsties which still fit at 16 pounds.    I’ve since bought a couple more Thirsties in the medium size (in girly prints) and a couple of Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, but at 16 pounds, Jess isn’t quite fitting them yet.  I’ve also bought a couple of fitted diapers:  Bamboozle Stretch Bamboo Fitted Diapers by Tots Bots.  They are awesome, and I plan to buy a few more.  Really easy to use, like the All in Ones, except for needing to add a  cover.  (Honestly, prefolds aren’t hard or anything.  I just fold the diaper in threes and stuff it in the cover – I haven’t figured out any of the special folds or how to best use a snappi (now used instead of pins.)  It’s just easier to use a one piece diaper with velcro.  I’ve already made this complicated enough, why add more?)

I’m not a big fan of the BumGenius Freetime diapers.  I mean, they’re fine, I guess?  I use them for nights, stuffed with a thick insert and bamboo insert, and she’s fine for 12 hours.  But the inserts don’t fall out in the wash, which means you have to pull them out before washing, and frankly, I like cloth diapers because of how rarely I have to touch gross stuff, so that takes kind of ruins it for me.  I mean, they are fine, and the Einstein print is pretty awesome, but a resounding MEH from me otherwise.

Diapers I hate?  Flips.  Hate them. The liner always moves around when you’re trying to put it on, because it’s not attached to anything.  They technically function fine, and other people seem to like them, but I’d rather use a prefold and a cover than this weird hybrid.  I will sell them to you for cheap if you want them!

Beyond the diapers, I bought a small wetbag for the diaper bag, and a large one and an Ikea pail with lid.  We use cloth wipes, because why not, at this point?  We use a combo of fancy cloth ones and cheap infant face cloths I got as a shower present.  As she’s not yet mobile, we leave her on the couch (aka the change station) while we wet the cloth in the sink, but eventually probably we’ll use a spray bottle to wet them.  Calgary has the hardest water ever, and I use Rockin Green Hard Rock detergent.  After 4 months of daily use, the diapers had built up a bit of ammonia smell, so I soaked them in Strip it by The Laundry Tarts and dried them in the sun and I haven’t had the problem again.

If you buy nothing else, buy a cloth swim diaper!  Swim diapers are basically just there to stop poop from leaking in to the water – liquids drain right through.  A 10 pack of swim diapers is like $10.  A swim diaper good for like, a year, is $15.  And they are cuter.  I bought a matching tankini top, and she doesn’t need anything else.  (Not that we didn’t buy a pink ruffled swim suit, but this gives us options!)

Of course, we still have disposables around.  No way in hell I will I deal with cloth diapers on a week long road trip.  And sometimes she starts to look a little red (especially in this transition to food / transition in poop phase) so we’ll cover her in diaper cream at bed time and use a disposable.  (Most diaper creams destroy most cloth diapers.  It’s not been worth my while to buy a cloth diaper safe diaper cream, for the one or twice a month this has happened.)

So those are my thoughts.  If I was to do this again, from scratch?  I would use a diaper service for the first couple of months, instead of buying newborn diapers.  I would then buy adorable covers and a small pile of prefolds and fitteds.  I would buy a bunch of one sized Totbots and sized Fuzzibunz diapers, and some Blueberries for variety and fun patterns.  A three pack of the bamboo liners for nights.  Maybe a trio of the BumGenius for nights, because they’re large enough to take lots of liners.  Yes to the cloth wipes and wet bags and detergent and swim diaper.  And then, I’d still probably buy a few news ones over the months, because damn if there are not some adorable patterns out there.

I only bought from Canadian stores, in large part to avoid paying duties, and cheaper (or free!) shipping.  The three I used and have been very happy with are Peekaboo Bottoms, GorgeousBaby and Calgary Cloth Diaper Depot, but there’s lots of others, with various deals on shipping and sales.

Anyway, that’s about the sum of my feelings.  (I can’t believe I have 1600 words to say about cloth diapers.  Motherhood is strange!)

2012 Goal

Well, I guess I should mark my intention or resolution or what ever for the year.  After all, 2012 is the End of The World As We Know It, right?  So may as well have a good last year…  *eye roll*  (Side note – I took a lot of Latin America Studies courses, and it’s not like the Mayans actually believed that the end of the Long Count Calendar equalled the end of the world.  Just the end of a major cycle.  And also?  Let’s please not forget that as a cultural empire, they collapsed around 900 AD.  They may not have, in fact, been all-knowing, if they didn’t see that coming…)

Anyway, 2012 is going to be a year of massive transitions for me.  What with, you know, giving birth and all.   And the whole not working for the vast majority of the year thing.  And it is, on the whole, rather terrifying.

I have had some form of job since I was 18, on top of years of babysitting before that.  There’s only been one 3 month period when I wasn’t working, and it was a circumstantial thing involving crushing depression.  And I think I may have picking up shifts at a couple of part time jobs during that period.  I’ve never collected Employment Insurance, I’ve never been out of work.  I worked 3 part time jobs for most of university, picking up shifts as I could.  (Catering, concerts and special events for the city.  Luckily all were occasional evenings and thus never interfered with school.  And I got to see a ton of great concerts and work a ton of weddings, which was helpful when it came time to plan my own. Once you’ve tied on a couple of hundred chair covers?  Knowing how much time it took and therefore cost?  You too would never have it done either.)  I got an interview as the week I applied for my first job out of university, and 7.5 years later, I’m still at the same company.  (If I make it to 10, I can get a 10 piece cuisinart cookware set! You need 25 before you can get the kitchen aid mix master.)   At any rate, I’ve always been a good little worker bee, and now, for the first time in my adult life, I won’t be.  Oh, I’m sure I’ll be working very hard, what with the small creature I need to keep alive and don’t think I don’t know how much work that sounds like, but it’s a hell of a lot different than going to work and sitting in my fancy chair with my wonderful view on the Rocky Mountains and creating reports and managing data and ordering pizza.

And the whole keep a small creature alive thing is pretty damn terrifying in it’s own rights.  I mean, David and I are responsible for Skipper for, well, the REST OF OUR LIVES.  The panic from that has finally subsided a little, but only a little.

It means that I can’t make plans for 2012, beyond to remember to breathe, and to surrender to the experience.  To enjoy the highs and lows of our tiny baby, and the blessings of having a year at home to do so.  It means that so much will change, and that hopefully we can make sure than some things don’t, too much.  That we choose to hold on to the core of US.  The travel (2 trips to Mexico already planned for 2012) and the rock solid foundation of love and the belief that the best New Year’s Eve is spent in the basement, just the two of us, with Lego and bubbles.  So instead of making any plans for this year, because I have no idea of what the hell is going to happen or how our lives will change, beyond the fact that I know they will, I herby resolve to surrender to the experience.

Hey, it’s a goal I might actually succeed at…  I hope.