Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Abigail Adams had it a lot harder than I did

The doctor drove the wagon to the front of their house. Lying in the back was a man dying of small pox with sores all over his body. She had her five children waiting. For each of them, the doctor cut their skin with a knife that didn't seem any cleaner than a kitchen knife. Inside this cut he placed a small bit of skin that was taken from the sores of the man lying in the wagon.

It may be a fictional account but this was what I was horrified by watching the miniseries John Adams. Abigail Adams was a brave woman to expose herself and her children to a small specimen of this live illness in the hopes that it would help to protect them. The risk was that they would die because their bodies could not fight it. How far science has come that we only have to stand in line for awhile to have a dead virus, one that can not actually cause the illness itself, injected quickly and safely into our children to protect them.

The whole process was harder on me because I was afraid that she would cry. I gave her a does of Tylenol before we left and I can honestly say that except for two short wimpers, Sweet One has been acting like her normal self. Actually, she's been easier to deal with than she was for a good part of today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tomorrow I will be taking my daughter to get the swine flu vaccine. Fortunately for me, our pediatrics clinic gives the preservative free version to all children under the age of 3. Despite the fact that thimerosal has been deemed safe, if the option is there to not take the chance, why bother? This is the stance the clinic takes.

Choosing to vaccinate is a little scary. There is so much fear with vaccines in general. We have given her all her vaccines to date and she has been just fine with them. I am hoping this one will be the same case. I have been watching as many segments on tv as I can find, reading online and listening to others talk about the challenges of making this decision. For me and my husband, we firmly believe that the risk of not vaccinating and the potential complications for a child our daughter's age is not worth the risk. From what I have learned, the vaccine has been made the same way that the seasonal flu shot has been for years.

I still get nervous about taking her to get her vaccines but it is not because I believe they are going to give her autism, it is because I know that it fucking hurts. She screams at first and then she cries. What mother wants to put her child through that? I take comfort in knowing that I do not remember my vaccines from when I was that small. And I take comfort in believing that they are doing what they are meant to do. Will I get the swine flu vaccine? As the pediatrician said, if there are enough and I can actually get your hands on one!

As I think about this more, I'm starting to believe that the panic and frenzy found in the media is moreso the reaction of the public to a new virus that is not fully understood. Choosing whether or not to vaccine gives us a sense of control. There are so many things in this world that we have absolutely no control over. When the opportunity arises, I know I will leap at the chance to feel like I have the ability to protect my daugther. Regardless of which way I choose.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pop Tarts, Take Out and Coffee

At some point in my life I heard that it is not good to talk baby talk to babies because it really doesn't help their language development. I even went as far as to tell Big Love that it is best that we always use words with Sweet One. Honestly, I had no idea where I had heard it from but I believed it to be from an excellent source and was willing to stick to my guns.

Every day, abc family airs two episodes of Gilmore Girls and 5 per week (mornings being a repeat of the previous day at 5pm) and I'm making my way through. When I need a serious break from self-flagellation and my frustrations with a little girl who won't eat I love turning one of these on. Big Love says I often giggle more during one of the episodes than any other show I watch. I just finished watching "Die, Jerk" (Season 4, Episode 8). Lorelai is visiting Suki and her new baby, makes a few cooey noises and in walks Bruce the midwife to give Lorelai shit for talking baby talk and then lectures her on how babies brains are hardwired early on. This is where I learned not to baby talk to babies in 2003 when it was originally aired!

Quite honestly, I'd love to have a relationship with Sweet One as Lorelai and Rory have (reminding myself this is fiction) and so I pretend I'm 'getting my learnin's on how to be a mom' as I giggle through these episodes. Maybe I can learn to relax a little more with Sweet One and her eating. If Rory survived on pop tarts, take out and coffee I guess it can't be all that bad!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Monkey see, Monkey Do

I wasn't handling it very well. When her mealtime would approach, my stomach clenched and my entire body reacted with such high levels of stress that I thought I was going to lose it. As Sweet One continued to turn her head to pretty much every spoonful of food I would give her, I desperately clung to any ounce of composure and patience that was hiding somewhere. I know damn well that it was the voice with the heavy chinese accent in the back of my head saying how she is too small, if she is waking up in the night it is because she is not eating enough during the day and that even children in India would be staying along the curve at this age.

For a number of days following our 9 month check up, Sweet One ate with vigor. She would scarf down everything I put in front of her face with excitement and delight. The look on her face once her desserts of fruit came out was wonderful. You'd think she was eating a Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake! But once she got sick she stopped wanting to eat. I figured this was par for the course because who really wants to eat when they're sick? My concern came when she started to get better and was eating large bowls of oatmeal and fruit for breakfast but nothing once lunch and dinner came around. I was freaking out inside! Why wasn't this little girl eating? I read about food refusal and knew I'd have to figure out another approach.

Today was overcast and so with Big Love on his day off we decided to go out to lunch. Prior to leaving we attempted to feed Sweet One beets, which she actually ate the night before, and some noodles and parsnip. No luck. As a last minute thought, I put them in her diaper bag as we left the house with her booster seat in tow. Once we were sitting at the restaurant and eating our own food, Sweet One started to take interest in what we were doing and actually ate her beets up! She also ate the parsnip I brought. With this newfound interest in eating I was desperate to find anything for her to eat and so gave her a little bit of haddock meat from my plate. Success! She she seemed to like it.

Suppertime came around and once again Sweet One had no interest in her food. I was in the kitchen trying to get the roasted butternut squash separated from its peel but it was taking much longer than I had anticipated. With more stress in my voice, Big Love decided to take over and I went into the dining room with a bowl of greens for myself. I'm not kidding when I say that as soon as I started eating, Sweet One did too. She even ate the chicken pureed with butternut squash which she wouldn't touch for the past few days! Following that, she seemed to want a neverending supply of homemade pearsauce! Who knew that the simple act of eating with her, rather than after her, would get her to eat.

The relief over this simple concept of getting my daughter to eat is amazing. I was beating myself up for not finding a way to get her to eat and I felt like, once again, I was fucking up. An added bonus is that I will eat more regularly and possibly not find myself starving in the middle of the afternoon! Lets just hope that this will continue to encourage Sweet One to eat.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Proof my husband is full of shit

It is absolutely gorgeous outside. Close to 70F/20C with the sun brilliantly shining. It has also been a better day for Sweet One with two 1.5 hour naps and her fever coming down gradually. I do wish she'd eat more solid foods but I'm just giving her as much as she will eat and that's the best we can do.

Big Love had been putting in extra hours at work for the past week because of a concert he had last night and so decided to come home for a few hours this afternoon. I took the opportunity to mow the lawn and rake some leaves while he played outside with Sweet One. Near the end of our time, Sweet One's soother (yes, if she's sick we let her have it whenever she wants) fell onto the lawn. A minute or two later this conversation happened.

Big Love: "Your soother fell out again. Where did it go?"
mamabird: "You didn't put the soother back in her mouth after it fell on the ground, did you?"

"Are you saying that so I won't get mad and you actually did?"

"Do you lick the ground?"
"I worship the ground you walk on."

"But would you lick it? The ground."
"If you walked on it I would."

"But would you suck it?"
"If you walked on it I would."
"You're so full of shit."

Honestly, I am not embellishing whatsoever, folks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How Sweet One affects my dreams

Most of my dreams happen in the morning after Big Love has taken Sweet One downstairs to help me catch a few extra zzz's. This morning my dream found me walking around pregnant with part of the baby pushing and protruding just underneath the right side of my ribcage. It felt as real as I could imagine. I did have minor contractions when I was pregnant but I didn't even know they were contractions until I had some more while hooked up to the monitors shortly before I went into the OR.

Sweet One had another rough night. She didn't really sleep until almost 10:00. Big Love and I were wiped (me especially, many tears were shed that evening) and so we crawled into our bed with her around 9:15 thinking that if we fell asleep first and she followed suit then it would all be ok. She fell asleep first and I put her in her crib. She woke again at 1:45, 3:00 and then 5:45. Often the last one ends up her wake up time and I was pleading with her to sleep. I fed her in our bed and then hoped she would fall asleep. Well, she did. Lying on her back, with her head just below the right side of my rib cage, perpendicular to me so that her butt ended up on the bed to the left of me. We made a bit of a T. I wasn't worried about her comfort because I know that type of position feels great in yoga. But it did answer the question as to why I felt like I was having contractions in my sleep!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sweet One's first fever

This morning I had an idea for another post and it didn't have anything to do with Sweet One. Crazy! I know. But then the morning happened and she is all I can think of.

Yesterday Sweet One hardly ate. This was weird because ever since we went to her 9 month appointment she's been downing more food than I could believe! So I was worried that she wouldn't sleep through the night asking for food constantly. She went right to sleep at 6:30 and woke up many times. At 9:00 I was giving her sweet potato, peas and pears and she gobbled it up between yawns. At some point I gave her teething tablets because it is possible that the two in the front could be coming in and then around 10:00/10:30 I gave her Tylenol because I suspected something was going on. Big Love thought her head felt normal so I didn't take her temperature. (Minor relief that I would not have to put the thermometer up her butt.) 11:30 she woke up for food and again at 2:15. Finally, she slept until 6:00.

I know these details are probably 'been there done that' for many moms but honestly, up until a few weeks ago this kid was sleeping from 10:00 or so until at least 6:00. It was wonderful and I knew I was fortunate. With the past few weeks finding me waking up at least twice to feed her and her wanting to start he day any time from 5am on, I was starting to wonder what to do.

Big Love took her for the first few hours of the day and then she had another fit-full nap. When I was getting her ready for her second nap her forehead felt a little warm and I had to check her temperature. With an under-the-arm reading of 100.2 I decided that it was time for my first rectal reading. Quite honestly, I was scared that it was going to be uncomfortable for Sweet One but she didn't seem to react well. (I guess a little vaseline can make the experience a little more comfortable.) Thank goodness the digital ones work quickly and told me her temperature was up to 102/103 degrees.

Why I am typing all this about her first fever I'm not quite sure. What I do know for sure is that I was afraid of this happening. For the first two months she was alive I was scared she'd get a fever and have to have a spinal. Then I was simply afraid of her burning up, screaming and us having to have a steamy shower like all those moments I've seen on tv. But the truth of the matter is that it isn't too bad. She's not napping very well but when she does wake up she's still quite cheerful. She gets tired and a little fussy but it isn't that bad. Tylenol has been taken and the Motrin is on its way in case we want to alternate. It's just another bit of mamastuff that I was afraid would be huge but in the end we're taking it a little bit at a time and figuring it out together. Just me and my girl.

She has just woken up from a productive 10 minute nap! I thought babies sleep like crazy when they're not feeling well. Not mine.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Falling off the curve

In the end I don't care if I don't do what the books say. If my daughter is happy and healthy then I'm doing a good job. If she is confident and courageous in who she is then I can't ask for more. I want to be a good mom and I want to provide her with what she needs. I believe in my mother's intuition to guide me in many things and what it does not show me then I'll figure them out.

For the past few days I've been wondering if Sweet One needs to be eating more solids. She has stopped sleeping through the night and I've thought that perhaps giving her more in the day would be necessary. I had this on my list for our 9 month checkup that was today. Unfortunately, I didn't even have to refer to the list about this because the doctor was quickly in my face trying to figure out if Sweet One was eating enough solids. I felt like I was on trial. (A slight cultural/language barrier made him sound like he was attacking me more than perhaps he meant to which didn't help me feel completely comfortable.) I admitted I had been conservative out of fear that she would stop breastfeeding. In my defense I was waiting for this appointment to confirm my instinct that she should be getting more solids now. For the past week I was thinking about it constantly. I honestly had no idea at what point solids are supposed to take over as the main caloric source and had been making sure she was not so full as to not want the boob.

The problem here is that when I took her in for her 6 month appointment Sweet One weighed 14lbs8oz. Today she weighed 15lbs4oz. In 3 months she didn't even gain a full pound! Prior to this her weight gain had sat within the 5th to 10th percentile and now she's hanging below the curve altogether. I feel bad. Luckily this is an easy problem to solve and already I have given her much more to eat since the appointment than I regularly would have. Ever since I started Sweet One on solids I have spent a lot of time trying to find out at what point solids should become the main source of calories and I honestly kept coming up with nothing. I'm not an idiot! But I feel like I fucked up.

I know we're going to be ok. As my sister said, "at least you're not trying to feed her and she's refusing. You just need to give her more." It is a simple solution. She will continue to grow and I will continue to learn (and hopefully stop the self-flagellation).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Because I'm not yet pulling my hair out..

...I thought I'd get a post out. There's been a few things lately that I have thought of mentioning here but by the time I am able to start typing, it is "that time" again and my hair starts to tingle. So I decided that I will get them out there now before "that time" arrives!

I told a story this story at my wedding reception: Big Love moved into my apartment with me two weeks before our wedding and in this time the carpets in the hallway had been cleaned leaving behind a nasty odor. We opened the windows in the apartment, despite the cool temperature outside, to try and get rid of the smell. When it was time to go to bed I was dreading getting into a cold bed. After spending some time washing my face I walk into our room to find Big Love on "my side" of the bed. I thought he was be
ing a dork because he was new to the idea that there were "sides" to the bed. He had a bit of a mischievous smile on his face and so I asked why he was being a dork and on my side of the bed. His answer was, "I was warming up your side for you."

A few days ago Big Love went to bed to read a few minutes before I was done watching tv and I crawled into my cold side of the bed, complaining that the romance had died because he no longer warmed my side of the bed for me. (To be honest, if the bed is a little chilly at first it can take me quite awhile to warm up and actually fall asleep.) The next night I came into the room to find Big Love on my side and I looked at him, teasingly asked what he was doing there, and then smiled as he told me he was warming it up for me.

Big Love is not a man of grand romantic gestures, but he is always trying to make my day a little brighter.

Sweet One has started holding he head against mine when I pick her up after she has been sleeping. I love her hugs!

Despite their simplicity these two things have been beams of sunshine in my days.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! Growing up we always had the dinner on Sundays and so tonight we will be having Turkey thighs, garden carrots and the Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake I baked last night.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The witching hour

I've heard it said that the witching hour/hour from hell (whatever you call it) landed at about 4-5. I'm sure you've experienced it if you have kids ... for some reason during that time everything gets more difficult. I will admit that it was never that big of a deal for me because Sweet One would usually be just waking up from her third nap of the day and therefore be in a very good mood. But for the last three days 3:00 comes and I want to pull my hair out. What used to be the time for a third nap has now become the time when she is exhausted but won't sleep no matter what happens.

It doesn't matter that from 2:00 on she's been rubbing her eyes and yawning, she doesn't seem to want to nap. I miss her third nap! It was the only time in the day where I grabbed my Diet Coke, sans caffeine, and did nothing and worried about even less.

Today I thought she'd take a third nap. We got home just before 3, I gave her a little boob, read a few books and then started trying to get her to nap. The writhing started immediately and after awhile I put her in her crib. I am now leaving her in there wondering if she will put herself to sleep. I have to admit that the laughing, panting (not quite the right word but don't have another one) and chatter is cute. (After 15 minutes in her crib it has turned into crying.) If she doesn't nap she'll have an earlier bed time which means we'll probably be waking up before 6 again and I hate that.

I feel so frustrated that I can not figure out her sleeping. Her naps are spaced out STUPIDLY with an average day being:
  • out of bed anywhere between 6/6:30
  • napping again at 8 for 1.5 hrs if I'm lucky
  • napping again sometimes by 11:30 and rarely does it go longer than 1.5 hrs
  • sleeping by 6:30/7
This leaves that last 5.5 hrs of her day for her to be very tired and I'm not sure what to do other than just trying to remain calm. I think the fact that it is Saturday with Big Love not back from work yet (he works 6 days a week and for some reason Saturday is by the far the hardest day for me emotionally but I'll post about that another time).

Big Love got home and as soon as he opened the door he was given two options: a) peel and cut up butternut squash or b) take his daughter for a walk. He opted for b) and now the only thing I can do is have a mini-meltdown and I don't know where the hell it is coming from.

Cheers to motherhood and the days our children can wear us down in a mere 45 minutes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cafe et chocolat dans la ville

Despite all of my fears, and the fact that I had an anxiety cry as we drove away from our house, the trip to Montreal will go down in the memory books. I've never been good at staying present in the moment. The Power of Now was fleeting even though I knew how important it would be for me and the way my mind works. Never did I imagine that my daughter would be my guru. Yes she cried herself to sleep for an hour when we got to the hotel (unheard of in her world!) but after that she was amazing. Once in the thick of it, everything went as smoothly as it could. She was incredibly sleep deprived but never once had a fit or became fussy for more than a few minutes. I do not know what I did to deserve such a wonderful child but I am thankful every day. (One woman on the train told me not to expect the next one to be so good natured and I dislike the logic of these comments so much that I simply said - I had a scary third trimester and my friend told me that is why I have such a wonderful baby.)

Spending time with my friend in Montreal sustains me. Conversations with her help me figure out what it means to be a woman and I always feel like a better person for knowing her. It was wonderful to watch her and her husband enjoying time with Sweet One - I am happy that Sweet One has them in her life. It is almost insane that both of us moved so far away from 'home' but ended up being a reasonable distance from each other to see each other twice a year.

Highlights of our time were:
  • walking around the neighborhood Sunday morning when the streets were almost empty and it seemed we had the city to ourselves
  • coffee shops here and coffee shops there! No lack of (decaf) coffee to drink!
  • a wonderful "Girl's Dinner Out" where we had good conversation and Sweet One didn't rush us - a brilliant Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake. Seriously. Best cheesecake. Ever.
  • coffee and Tornade de chocolat for me, coffee and chocolatine for my friend (if you're reading I need a name for you, you can even choose it) Sunday morning in a small French bakery where the nearby church bells serenaded us.
I guess it doesn't look like much because we often don't do anything fancy but it means the world to me.

After a long day on the train (11:45-7:15), Sweet One had a huge smile of relief on her face when I put her into the car at 7:20 last night. Rarely has she ever slept in the car for more than 30 mins but she did this time. Within 5 minutes she was sleeping and did so all the way home. This morning she woke up and it is clear that she is happy to be back in familiar surroundings. I'm a little sad as I sit here typing while Sweet One and Big Love nap. I usually go through withdrawal after spending time with 'my people' because being back here reminds me of how far away they seem. But for now, my cup has been filled up and I will sip from it when I start to feel all alone.