Seasons In The Sun

Wiping down the toy tonight, I got caught up in the enjoyment of a baby riding it. Momentarily horrified as it occured to me i may not have video footage of either child riding it :/ but still felt joy at the remembering. That rollercoaster of emotions led me back to the happy duty of making it nice for the next little one. 🙂

Hoping the mom who thinks she is buying it from me will spend that money on herself after I give it to her instead, maybe in a store that does great things for its community. #closetcoutureboutique

My family has been so blessed by the generosity of others, and I believe moms who help other moms are among the most beautiful creatures on the planet! Encouragement and a bit of a break every now and again are all any of us are asking for, so I get a lot of enjoyment out of being that person to somebody every once in a while. It’s humbling when total strangers open their hearts and tell you their story or offer a hand up. #mommiessupportingmommies

Next phase at home: storytelling and dramatic play! Sooooo excited to be making a puppet/dress up theatre…and the fact that it is my original design is pleasing to me 🙂 I am glad I didn’t rush this project, and so thankful for almost an hour alonnnnne in the dollar store this weekend! Which enabled me to find the funky facade. I will post a quick tutorial but am still allowing the process to unfold organically!

Watching my eldest as she chooses her spots, works hard at post-secondary, and has a sweet boy by her side.  Trying to focus on it being about her…because it is. My happiness for her far outweighs any negativity I may associate with her upbringing, mom guilt, feelings of inadequacy,  or simply the yearning to relive so many precious moments with her. I always relied on her more than she did me, in ways. She saved me. 

Image

Goodbye to you my little one, you gave me love and helped me find the sun.

So bizarre, to be at both intense stages at once: goodbye sweet baby, goodbye sweet child. Please promise me you will love you,  as I do you. Amen.

Advertisements

Friggin’ Sugar…

So, I failed my glucose test. For those of you who don’t know what that means, essentially all women when pregnant are at risk of Gestational Diabetes and a screen test is typically ordered between 24-28 weeks. I failed because mine showed my blood sugars were high, and I had to do a more involved test today to determine better whether it was a one-off situation. If I “fail” today’s, then either I will be diagnosed with GD or undergo a third test.

I find it ironic, considering that long-held belief by many (myself included) that poor diet can bring on Diabetes – because when pregnant with Bryce, I literally ate a Rolo ice cream bar almost every single night for the first 6 months! And guess what – I passed my first sugar test. This pregnancy, I have been more careful about sweets (don’t get me wrong, I still crave and indulge) and here I am. Sigh…

For those wanting more info about GD, here is a link to an article from a source I trust: http://www.babycenter.com/0_gestational-diabetes_2058.bc

I have had a long love/hate relationship with sugar. My body craves it (more so when I am pregnant or otherwise hormonal), and yet I am sensitive to it in the way that I can literally feel when I have been taking in too much. And then I will go on a bit of a “cleanse”, meaning I become more mindful of everything I eat and cut out as much refined sugar as I can. There is refined sugar in almost everything we eat, if it has been processed in any way. I was shocked recently to find out there was 12 grams of sugar per serving in the 12-grain bagels I buy! Is it any wonder I love these things, or is it any wonder my kid does? Why is 12 grams of sugar necessary in that product?

To further complicate my relationship with sugar, the fact that I have been anorexic most of my life has added a rather crummy element to things. My self-starvation has caused me to become prone to bouts of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Nowadays, if I don’t eat when my body tells me I am hungry I am at risk of crashing fast. And by “nowadays” I am not talking about when I am pregnant – I just mean within the last few years. So I can no longer “afford” to partake in my old shenanigans of putting off eating, because I will end up shaky, sweaty, dizzy, confused and irritable. This is not a good state to be in at any time, but for it to happen when driving, or carrying a baby upstairs for a bum change can make those situations dangerous for me and others! To learn more about hypoglycemia, here is a link to an article by a trusted source: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/hypoglycemia/

Sugar – especially refined sugar is really something most of us should pay WAY more attention to in our daily lives. It can really wreak havoc from a health and wellbeing standpoint. Obviously there are the issues it can cause with weight – but what about your insomnia? Your moodiness or depression? The mind-fog you find yourself in mid-afternoon, when you just can’t seem to focus or feel motivated to do your job? Any ladies out there prone to yeast infections? If you keep a sugar journal for even a few days, I think you will be shocked by how much you consume – some of it coming from places you never would have expected it to be! And the worse thing that can happen as a result of this exercise is that you become a more MINDFUL eater – which is something we can all improve upon. Remember, even though a package says “whole grain” or “organic” or “healthy choice” doesn’t necessarily mean that it IS a healthy choice for you.

Food companies are out to make money, like any other business. And if they can get away with it, they will feed you whatever line of crap they think you will accept to get your money. These days, that means using wording that makes you think their product is healthy. They will also downplay what they don’t want you looking at. A perfect example is those bagels – here I thought I was making a healthy choice until I realized the sugar content. While writing this, I wanted to show you the nutritional information so I went to the Country Harvest website where I was *THIS CLOSE* to finding what I was looking for:
http://www.countryharvest.com/en/products/bagels/twelve-grain.html
Notice the nutritional information, how great it looks? There is even a complete ingredient listing. But the sugar content is MISSING. They don’t want to advertise it. I called them on it, because I think that is a deceptive move. Don’t you?

Another article that came across my headspace today focuses on the sugar content of baby formula, which again is something the manufacturers try to downplay. As a mild “lactivist” (breastfeeding advocate), I follow the latest news about such things. A simple query from a concerned grandmother led NBC Chicago to do an independant study analyzing the sugar content of seven popular brands of infant formula. The results naturally, are pretty startling: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/health/target-5-sugar-baby-formula-139339308.html

So I think the big picture starts to reveal itself, as to why I flunked my sugar test. I already have a few of the risk factors, and I’ve spent a good portion of my life engaging in destructive behaviour that is starting to catch up with me. I have also been “too busy living”and not being as mindful about what I put in my mouth. It’s a drag, but I will deal with the consequences as responsibly as I can with the end goal of course being an uneventful birth at full or close-to-full term, and a healthy baby.

I am a firm believer that when you need the information and are open to receiving it, it will be there for you, loud and clear. Obviously all this talk about sugar has been in my face for a reason, and I guess now it’s time for me to sit up and listen, and deal with whatever lies ahead for myself and my unborn child. I have not been vigilant enough recently. I hope this will give someone else “food for thought”…or should I say “thought for food”?

thanks to Sahver for sharing this picture on Facebook! 

Hitting Rewind

Having my tubes tied was not something I ever thought I’d do, but I had the procedure done in 2004.  At the time I was in a relationship with someone who had made it clear he did not want more kids, I was ok with that, I didn’t want to be on the pill anymore…and so it went. Unfortunately, despite my repeated attempts to get him to “get snipped” and my doctor’s actual begging to insist he do – he wouldn’t. So I drove myself to the hospital, checked in, was prepped for, and had a surgery. He couldn’t take time off work to get me there, after all. They say hindsight is 20/20, well THEY are right!!!

When I woke up I was as alone as I had been before the procedure, and felt very sad. I cried and cried, while the nurses asked if I was in pain – and I tried to explain to them that physically I felt alright, but that my heart hurt. Looking back on that now, I wonder if it wasn’t my subconscious whispering my mistake to me…

I was picked up by a family member, and taken home. I think I had tea, and barely made it to the couch. When I awoke later I was in so much pain from the gas starting to bubble up from my abdomen. They had to inflate my abdomen to see where they were going, and luckily I had been pre-warned about shoulder pain. I wasn’t myself physically for probably a week, but had no extra help at home.

Fast forward to 2009 – in a  different relationship (thankfully a much better one!) and engaged that Easter, Jeff and I had already talked about having kids and how we could go about it. I really wanted him to experience fatherhood, knowing he would be great at it and also knowing how becoming a parent had been the most positive experience for me, I wanted him to have that feeling too.  Jeff was definitely not against the idea, but had his reservations mostly based upon lack of confidence in himself  – and I think he was hesitant to put me in the position of giving birth “later in life”.  After much reassurance from me, some research and a consult with a surgeon, we decided to go ahead and plan for me to have my tubal ligation reversed.

Talk about being able to hit the rewind button!

The surgeon was very confident, but explained that although the procedure COULD be done laparoscopically, HIS method was rather like having a c-section, and would involve a 6-week recovery. He had been practicing this surgery successfully since the 1980’s, and just didn’t do it any other way. This was something I was not prepared to hear – I literally said to him, “Oh, because I thought you could just go in the way they did before, take off the clamps and give the tubes a little rub to uncrimp them.”, while making a rolling motion with the fingers of both hands! I think he may have laughed –  but said no, usually the tubes are completely severed after a time and that he had to first locate each end, cut off the dead tissue and reattach the ends. A few more questions were answered, he was still very confident – so we signed the papers. And handed over our certified cheque. Naturally we would have to not only pay out of pocket for his service, but the use of the operating room and hospital recovery room, as well as the anesthetist. Not cheap!

It was Jeff’s birthday, our surgery date. He drove me to the hospital, stayed with me for as long as he could, then went for a beer and wings to celebrate and wait it out. When I woke up, he was there. I was stoned beyond belief, and not sad in the least. At least not until Jeff left to get the car and I realized he had eaten my arrowroot cookies! Two nurses had to help me go to the bathroom, and as they eased me onto the toilet, one of them said to me, “Bless your little heart”. I immediately started to bawl my eyes out – because this was something my late Gramma O’Neill had always said to me and nobody had ever said it to me since! I took it as a sign.

Unfortunately in addition to his lack of ability to cut me in a smooth even curve, the surgeon also burned me very badly with the cauterizing tool, so my recovery included extra wound care. And a lot of Oxycontin! I have newfound respect for all ladies who become moms via c-section now; having your body almost cut in half is not great – and that’s what it feels like. During my follow-up appointment with the surgeon (after I had ribbed him about the mess he had made of my body by saying, “well now I know why you didn’t go into plastic surgery”) he said, “If you are not pregnant within 6 months, come back and see me.”, and sent us on our way.

That was May of 2009, and when January of 2010 rolled around I was JUST starting to wonder if we should call him or wait it out. I decided to wait it out a bit, and then TADA! We got that wonderful positive on the pregnancy test. Jeff was just coming home from the firehall when I took the test, and I got to lead him upstairs to show him. We had that teary-eyed, jumping hugging moment I had always dreamed of and then went out for dinner that night to celebrate.

Considering the fallopian tube has the same circumference as a strand of hair – this surgery is truly miraculous.

Beautiful Bryce Olivia was born Hallowe’en 2010, and just like I predicted Jeff is the most wonderful, engaged, involved, happy father. His confidence is back, but not in the way it used to be years ago (which all young men prance around with) – this is a deep satisfaction in knowing that he is raising a child in a loving home, in a loving way. He is very grateful for every moment – and always says to me, “It really is as wonderful as you said it was…I never believed it when people said this was what living is all about.” Becoming a father has helped him feel so much more connected to the world and the people in it. It is wonderful to watch!

And now, Madelyn Kathleen is due in May 2012. We knew our window of opportunity was small, so we went for it. We got a later start, but we are determined to have it all. And do it right. We deserve it, after all!

(I must also give credit to my massage therapists, whom I have seen almost every month for years and who I know helped my body heal and do what I wanted it to do)

I’m A Modern Mommy

I’m a modern mommy.

My bookmarked websites are for banking, vegan recipes and grocery coupons. Oh and naturally Facebook, iTunes, Twitter and Sesame Street!  I became a modern mommy last year; trendy for the first time in my life I gave birth 10 days after my 41st birthday.  Considering I hadn’t been pregnant in – oh, 18 years – it went rather smoothly!

“Modern Mommy” defines that demographic that corporate North America is trying to keep up with – and how fitting IS THAT , what with my desire to “stick it to the man”. I am in a second-time around marriage, with a step-parent scenario, loads of debt and emotional baggage. I am an educated, fairly well-paid parent. Or at least I USED to be well-paid! Now I am a mother working from home, and the money aspect is secondary (good thing too, because I don’t earn much).

Exercise has become a necessity, so that I can move fluidly without pain. That scares me! I still love to dance and have sex in the shower, so I gotta stay limber. I also have to be able to keep up with a now-mobile baby, who will fast become a very active little girl. It’s important to be able to join in the fun if you want your kids to know how to have fun and stay healthy at the same time. And modern mommy that I am, I believe in walking the walk and talking the talk. If I am to expect my children to make healthy decisions I can’t be a hypocrite!

Let’s get back to how being a modern mommy is going.

First of all, I don’t know what I would have done without my fellow modern mommies who also belong to a wonderful breastfeeding support page on my favourite social networking site. The ability to reach out, bleary-eyed during a 3am feeding and have someone actually be there and respond was immensely helpful and comforting. It’s so isolating at times, this mom gig. A long winter with a wee baby, countless hours sitting on a couch with boob out can get to a girl! And while I am fortunate enough to have really pleasant neighbours and good friends close at hand, I truly think a new mom can’t have too many supports.  This has also provided inspiration for me from the standpoint of “having it all”, which in my view has always been defined as being a mother working from home. Reading the mommy blogs and seeing how that endeavour has led others to exciting professional opportunities bolsters my confidence.

I can entertain my wee one with my iTunes library (visualizer on), as we bounce or sway in the dark. From a very young age (a couple of months old), BB as I will call her has been truly fascinated with the balls and streams of light that move around the screen of my laptop. I am not a big TV person – but you really can’t beat seeing your 9-month-old’s face light up when she sees Mickey Mouse or Elmo. And with the advent of new technologies, we can watch those shows whenever we want – with or without the TV. I really think it’s great that I can access a multitude of fun “edutainment” at my fingertips at any time.

YouTube can be wonderful for kids of all ages, with adult supervision. I am a passionate internet safety advocate, so it will be a long time before BB has access to the biggest city on earth without me holding her hand.  In that way I am decidedly NOT a modern mommy – my passion for personal safety leans toward the old-fashioned. But life is all about balance, right?

Co-Sleeping With Baby

When my first daughter was born, she slept in her crib in the next room.  I spent a lot of time checking on her, even though I had the baby monitor next to my head with the volume on full so I could hear every breath.  I remember vividly the feeling of waking up suddenly in the middle of the night, with the dread that something was wrong. Finally working up the nerve to walk in there and check to make sure she was breathing, and then falling back to sleep exhausted and relieved.  In the morning after her father left for work I would bring her into my bed so I could nurse on demand and get a few more hours of sleep.  I can’t remember why co-sleeping didn’t occur to me. It would have likely been because others told me she “needed to be in her crib”, but I preferred sleeping with her. I found that co-sleeping with baby enabled me to fully relax, her to sleep more soundly, and therefore we both felt happier upon waking.

Is Co-Sleeping With Baby Safe

Plenty of people have strong opinions on co-sleeping with baby, as they do on most parenting techniques. One of the main arguments against it is the danger that baby will be smothered by a sleeping parent or bedding, or fall off the bed.  Obviously parents who are impaired in any way (whether it be sleep aids, drugs or alcohol) should not consider co-sleeping with baby – as this would increase the smothering and falling risk. I did have a scary near-miss with my first daughter one morning, which has stayed with me as one of my most vivid memories. I was in a deep sleep, in the middle of one of those silly dreams where lots of nothing is going on – and all of a sudden a man’s voice announced very loudly as if over a PA system, “She’s about to roll off the bed”. Before even opening my eyes, I fully extended my right arm and snagged my daughter’s sleeper in my fist. When my eyes flew open, I could see that I had literally grabbed her just as she was about to go over the edge! Mother’s instinct – or divine intervention – had saved us from possible tragedy. Now I know how important proper positioning is when co-sleeping with baby, and my newest daughter always sleeps on the inside!

This time around – which is 17 years after the first – we have practiced co-sleeping since day one. Every single night, our daughter sleeps between my husband and I in the crook of my arm. In a way I feel bad, as my father was so kind and generous to present us with a gorgeous hand-made oak cradle before I even got pregnant. And she does spend time in the cradle, during daytime naps and even sometimes starts her night there. I admit I do enjoy a few hours in my bed without her. But I feel more comfortable having her next to me, she sleeps more soundly there – and well, it just feels right. In position, her head is elevated slightly and I can hear her breathing. It prevents the risk of suffocation from my pillow – and I am always careful to drape the blanket in a way that it is only covering my outside shoulder, holding the side nearest her low on her body with my other hand. My husband is a big man, and a very sound sleeper – so this position also enables me to put my hand out as a reflex when I feel him getting too close.

Co-Sleeping With Baby  And Your Partner

It has occurred to me that co-sleeping with baby might not be the best arrangement for my husband. So I am careful to check in with him every so often, and he insists it doesn’t bother him in the least.  One of the misconceptions about co-sleeping with baby is that it is disruptive, when in fact for us I find it way less of a disruption. It makes nursing on demand way easier – because it’s right there, at the right temperature! With my daughter close, I can feel her stirring and get her on my breast quickly. Both of us can stay exactly where we are and oftentimes we don’t even open our eyes. My husband rarely wakes up through the night feedings – so for all of us this works best.

I think if a parent is lucid, engaged and follows common sense rules co-sleeping with baby is not only a convenient way to go, but allows for a superior nursing on demand and bonding experience. As long as partners use their good communication skills and everyone is on board I highly recommend it!

First Baby Steps – we took them together

Just as I did, my daughter took her first baby steps well before her first birthday.  Except I wasn’t there to see them, just as my mother wasn’t there to see mine. In my case, my mom had given me up for adoption at birth, signing away her rights to those precious moments when she was a teenager with few resources. In my daughter’s case I was at work and thus missed out – instead watching it all unfold late that night on video cassette, tears streaming down my face.

So why do I say we took our first baby steps together? Because as my daughter was learning to walk, I was learning to truly live, for the first time in many years. Being a parent saved me from many things – a dark previous decade, anorexia nervosa, and a deep-rooted dislike of myself.  But it was a long process, with many baby steps. The darkness of my life in the decade before her continued to haunt me for many years, but was not nearly as present when I was busy being a new mom to a beautiful little baby. The anorexia went away with the pregnancy, only to return with a flourish afterwards, even as I was breastfeeding. The deep-rooted dislike of myself  was probably the first thing to start to dissipate, as I quickly realized that I could do something wonderful and miraculous – nourish this most vulnerable of creatures!

Watching my beautiful child learn to walk was as fascinating and as terrifying as anything I’d ever encountered. Seeing the look of utter amazement and joy on her face as she discovered her environment as a mobile unit was awe-inspiring. Hearing her endless giggles as her confidence grew, learning she could run towards or away from something or someone is a memory branded upon my heart. There is no greater joy than rediscovering the world through your child’s eyes, and there is no better sound than those squeals and giggles.

As the years went on and life continued to throw me curve ball after curve ball, I found that those first baby steps served me better than trying to take giant leaps. And this is something I try to teach; that it doesn’t always take big changes to make big changes. First baby steps are the perfect life lesson.

 

Adopting A Baby – advice from your newest family member

You have started to toy with the idea of adopting a baby – or perhaps you’ve already made up your mind. Years of trying to conceive have left you exhausted and ready to move past the dream of a biological child –  or maybe you are one of those special people who wish to expand on the love of your already-established family with a “less fortunate” child. Whatever stage you are at in your decision-making process, and whatever your reasons for adopting a baby, there are special things you need to consider. Considerations over and above the practicalities, logistics, and obvious questions you will ask yourself throughout this journey. I am here to speak as your new baby, to give you some food for thought that may not have already occurred to you. I was once a baby up for adoption.

Like any other infant, I was completely helpless – at the mercy of those entrusted with my care. In my particular case my birth mom chose to not hold me at all; for her it would have been more painful that way, and who can blame her? Any and all cuddling was left up to the nurses in the hospital, the foster parents whom I stayed with for my first two months of life, and then my adoptive parents.  Many studies have been done about the correlation between lack of early bonding and attachment disorders. Your infant may have missed a precious early bonding experience – so as an adoptive parent, you’d be wise to do some reading on this topic. Also make a commitment to give extra cuddles, pay more attention and spend more time connecting with your new baby.  It is highly likely that he or she will need it.

One thing I urge you to decide before adopting a baby is *if* and then *how* you intend to tell your child the story of their birth and adoption. In my opinion honesty is the best policy, when the time is right. Again, doing some research on what information, how to give it and at what stage of the child’s life will help you help your child as they learn about themselves. Having a game plan will help you be prepared.

Adopting a baby has a romantic feel to it – and it really takes a loving heart to raise a child that is not “your own”.  However, that baby will grow into a child and then an adult – with questions about their family tree, who they take after, etc.  Conversations that take place in families every day all over the world take on new meaning, and carry more weight for an adopted person. If they are not given answers that can satisfy their natural curiosity, they will likely make up their own answers. The questions “who am I” and “where did I come from” can become looming obsessive thoughts. The child may create a number of different scenarios to answer them and actively live in that fantasy world. These fantasies could include the theme of not being good enough, which is very damaging.

This brings me to the subject of the “language” of adoption, and the role it plays. Many terms our society uses when talking about adoption may seem harmless, but to a sensitive child or parent they can be devastating.  The process of adoption is a highly emotional one, so most people involved are pretty sensitive.  Some of the examples:  An infant or child is “given up” for adoption. Biological parents are referred to as “real parents”. Biological children of the adoptive parents are called “children of their own”.  All of these terms that are widely used really downplay the importance of the family bond that has been formed by the adoption, and the worth of the individuals. For instance, a child who hears their mother “gave them up” will automatically feel like it was somehow their fault, because they weren’t worth having. An adoptive parent who has been there for all the night feedings, school trips and tough teenage years would likely be very insulted to hear a biological parent called the “real mom”.  A young boy starts to feel his brother is somehow better than him, because he is not their dad’s “own son”.  I can almost guarantee that as an adoptive parent, you will hear these terms used – but please don’t fall into the trap of using them yourself. And make a habit of politely educating those who do.

Make a point of knowing your own family history, so you can share it with your adopted child. If a child is not given information about their new family that makes them feel a part of something bigger, then they may start to feel disconnected. The more they know about their family, the more secure they will feel.  As much as possible, include the extended family in the child’s life. Surround them with the love and comfort of their “people”. Just like any other baby born into any other home, the wider the circle of love, the more secure that child will feel in who they are and what importance they hold.

Wishing you joy on your adoption journey!