Monday, 29 December 2014

#Microblog Monday: Her Smell

I love to smell things. Not all things, but there are some things I just can't get enough of. Like the smell of the pages in an old, softcover book. The ocean. My husband's shirts. But the best smell of all? My baby. Oh I could smell her all day long. I do, in fact. I smell her hair, her skin, her sweet milk breath, even her little feet!

I'm so obsessed with her smell that when I let someone else hold her and she comes back to me smelling like them I can't stand it. I've even taken a washcloth and tried to wipe away the other smell so she can go back to smelling like my sweet Paloma. Is that weird?

Sometimes when I'm breathing her in, I imagine her grown up enough to say "MOOOOoom stop smelling me!" And I always remember how long I waited to have a baby of my own so I could bury my face in her neck and drink her in. Those are the little things I dreamed of over the years of waiting for her...

Friday, 26 December 2014

Our First Christmas

Christmas with my own little family has been one of my biggest dreams for a long time. I grew up with 2 brothers and the holidays were always loud and exciting in our home, with toys and wrapping paper strewn everywhere. When I wasn't sure if I would ever become a mother, the thought that made me the most sad was that I would miss out on seeing the joy on my children's faces (in my daydreams I have 3 kids) on Christmas morning. I know Paloma is too young to understand what's going on, but it was still amazing to start our family traditions and to see her playing with her new toys. 

Over the past few weeks, we have been having a rough patch with Paloma sleeping. First she was waking numerous times a night because she was sick. Shortly after she got better, she had trouble sleeping because she was learning to crawl. She would wake at night and I would go into her room and find her on all fours in her crib trying to crawl. Then, we had visitors over in the evening a few nights over the past few weeks and we also visited other people so her schedule got all out of whack and she ended up being awake for way longer than she should for one reason or another. The overtiredness came to a head on Christmas morning (the past 2 days she had really been off schedule) and she was not her usual happy self. She was fussy and unsettled all morning until her afternoon nap, when Andino laid down with her for 2 hours so she could get caught up on her sleep. When she woke up, she was rested and back to her happy self.





On Christmas morning I made waffles for breakfast. Then, we opened our gifts and Andino spent the rest of the morning setting up her little activity garden we gave her for Christmas.  We are big believers in not over-consuming, so we are doing the something to wear, something to read, something you want and something you need guide to Christmas gifts. Paloma didn't really need anything (what does a baby really need other than clothes and diapers?) so we gave her 2 wants. A talking puppy dog and the activity centre. We had turkey sandwiches with stuffing and cranberry sauce for lunch, but then a stomach bug I had been battling all day really caught up with me so we didn't really have supper.

I took a ton of photos. There were too many great ones to choose just a few, so here are a bunch of my favourites:

Something to read: Green Eggs and Ham

Christmas morning

unwrapping

A talking puppy!

Baby in a box!

Helping Dad with the instructions

Playing

These are my Christmas presents!
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is enjoying the holiday season as much as we are!


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve

As I lay my baby in her crib and whisper that Santa will have found her by morning, I think of all the years I waited for this moment. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to be Paloma's Mama. I reflect on the hard days I went through in order to find myself here tonight, signing presents from Mom and Dad. I look at the ornament on the tree that says Paloma's First Christmas, 2014. It's all so emotional.

And tonight, like many other nights, I also think of all the women out there who are still fighting their battles. I am saying a prayer for all the childless mothers and the motherless children tonight.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

This and That

I much prefer writing my updates in well thought out paragraph form, but today, bullet points will have to do!

I missed doing a 6 month update for Paloma because I was in the middle of switching blogs. I won't go through the likes and dislikes (because I forget) but I will post her 6 month pic:

Looks like she is in the middle of saying something
It's cold here now. Not as cold as it gets by any means, but cold enough that I have to bundle up to go outside. I really, really hate the cold weather. One of the things that got me through last winter was knowing that this winter, I would be on maternity leave so I wouldn't have to get up and go outside while it's still dark and cold out every morning. I'm really missing being able to go for walks with Paloma. For the first 5 months of her life, I would pop her in my wrap and go for a nice long walk with her in the afternoon. Being in the fresh air is the best way for me to beat the blues or think through an issue. Now, we stay inside for days at a time. Even the dogs aren't getting the exercise they should, which makes me feel guilty because they keep us company all day everyday so they deserve to go for runs. Yesterday, we went to Winners, just to get out of the house but honestly, who wants to go shopping this time of year?

Speaking of maternity leave; I called the daycare where I put my name on the wait list when I was 12 weeks pregnant and they told me they won't have room for Paloma until she's about 14 months old. Finding childcare in Canada (or at least in this province) is absolutely insane. I let my work know that I will be returning on August 1st instead of June 1st and they were fine with that. I can't say that I'm disappointed about being able to spend an extra 2 months home with my girl during the summer!

Paloma is learning to crawl. She is getting into everything! She likes to stick her hands in the plants, suck on the HDMI cord... yesterday she crawled over to the dogs dish, stuck her hand in and was just about to stick some dog food in her mouth when I caught her. Everyday, she gets a bit better at crawling and everyday she finds something new in the house to explore and get into (which she probably shouldn't)




She's been trying to crawl for a few weeks now, but she kept slipping and sliding on the hardwood. Yesterday, I let her try with bare legs so she could get some grip and she did pretty well!




Paloma has always been a good sleeper. But for the past few nights, she's been waking up multiple times a night and the Le Pause just isn't helping. I go into her room and always find her on all fours attempting to crawl in her crib. I'm really hoping this is just a phase and she will go back to sleeping well. Everything I've read says that sleep disturbances are common when babies are working on a milestone so I'm going with that.



Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Words That Define Me

Mama. It's a title I've wanted for so long. I had been calling myself Gypsy Mama for years before I actually became a Mother.

I remember when I was in Mozambique, women were often referred to as mae (mother) almost like we would say ma'am or miss, but it didn't have the same formal tone as those. If you were old enough to be a mother, people would call you mae. I had been trying to get pregnant for about 6 months before I got the job in Moz. and I remember thinking to myself that it was a blessing in disguise that I hadn't gotten pregnant straight away. Working internationally was a huge dream of mine and one I wouldn't have been able to fulfill if I had gotten pregnant as soon as I started trying. Interestingly, it was being there and working so closely with moms and kids that made me want to be a mother more than ever. I'll never forget the first time someone referred to me as Mae. I had been there for about 4 months and it was a man who sold fish in the market. I would purposely go back to that man to buy fish because I loved being called Mae. Mother.

Baby love in Moz

When I was newly pregnant, all I wanted to talk about was babies. Cloth diapers, baby wearing, breastfeeding. All the things I had wanted to do for the three years I had tried to become a Mom. After a few months of researching those things online, reading a few baby books and constantly chatting with other pregnant women about all things baby, I had more or less gotten it out of my system. I was still excited to become a Mom, but the desperation was gone. For years I had researched and thought for hours and hours a day about fertility. Then when I finally got pregnant it switched to baby things. For more than 3 years it seemed like motherhood was the only thing I thought about. I was mentally exhausted from so much focus on one area in my life. Sure, it is a huge area, but there are other areas of my life too. Other things I love and am interested in and I felt like I could finally devote some mental energy to those because my long quest to motherhood was finally well underway.

After Paloma was born and we emerged from the Period of Purple Crying  when she was about 10 weeks old, I felt more confident with my title as Mama. For the first few weeks it was almost like I was playing the role of a mother, (I even remember feeling self-conscious the first time I said the words "my daughter" to the nurse.) and she cried so much that it was hard to feel confident. But by the time she was 2 1/2 months old, I was really owning it. As I emerged from the sleep-deprived state that is the first few months of motherhood, I began to think once again about the other words that define me. I call myself Gypsy Mama afterall, and the Gypsy part is equally as important to me as the Mama part. I started spending a little time each day reading books like Half The Sky and watching socio-cultural documentaries while she napped. I felt happy to be feeding the fire of my other passions. If she were the be-all and end-all of my existence, that would be a little smothering for her eventually, wouldn't it?

About 2 months old. She cried like a banshee this day!

In finding my passion for international development once again burning at full force and perhaps feeling stronger than ever after having succeeding in conquering my biggest dream of all - motherhood - I started my non-profit Mamas 4 Mamas at the end of September, just before Paloma turned 4 months old. I believe that it will be good for my daughter to see me pursuing my dreams and fighting for what I believe in. The best piece of parenting advice I ever received? Be the kind of woman you want your daughter to be. My biggest wish for her is that she never stop following her dreams. It is a dream come true for me to be running this initiative and to see how well it has been received by the community. I spend my free time (usually when she's asleep) working on the website, budget, researching... there's so much work that goes into running it, but when I'm working on something I love and I'm passionate about, it makes me feel excited about what may come of the work I'm doing. I like to daydream that Mamas 4 Mamas will really take off one day; that we will be able to secure great funding and running it could be my full time job. I imagine that Paloma would be proud of her Mama, just like she's proud of her Dad for being a successful musician.

It took me a few days to finish writing this post and there was one thought that kept circling my mind as I wrote and rewrote it in my mind. It's the fact that I am a woman and am incredibly fortunate to have grown up in a family, in a place, at a time when women are now more than ever, able to pursue the kind of dreams that I have. Andino and I are raising Paloma to believe that she can do anything or wear anything irregardless of her gender. Mamas 4 Mamas is a non-profit focused on women and based on the belief that strong, healthy women build strong, healthy communities. Andino and I had talked for years about starting a non-profit focused on international development, but it wasn't until we had a daughter that we decided to focus on maternal and infant health. For me, being a Mama and being a Gypsy Mama are intimately linked and I don't think I could be any other kind of Mama... My own Mom is a total hippy and is actually helping me run Mamas 4 Mamas. She raised us to be global citizens and set the example of always doing what she can for others - big and small. I want to be the same kind of role model for Paloma...

With The Original Gypsy Mama

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Our Hearts Are Walking Around The World

 believe it is possible for parents to have an energy connection with their kids that never goes away. 14 years ago, my older brother was in a terrible car accident in the middle of night. Around the same time it happened, my Mom woke up with a terrible feeling and couldn't get back to sleep. When the phone call came in that my brother had been in an accident, the person asked her a few times "Are you awake? I need you to be awake right now." My Mom was never more awake at 3am in her life. That terrible feeling she had was her baby (teenager at the time) in pain. The same night, my Dad was outback camping. He was exhausted from hiking (literally) all day long and was sound asleep in his tent, when he all of a sudden bolted upright in his sleeping bag with a terrible, sad feeling that something was wrong. He didn't have any cell phone service so my Mom wasn't able to call him and tell him the news, but he knew something had happened.

I don't think this connection only kicks in when it is something as terrible as a bad car accident. The first time my girlfriend left her daughter to be babysat, she put her to bed and left, hoping she would sleep until morning. Of course, her baby woke up and when she saw that her Mom wasn't there, she freaked out. My friend says she got a feeling when she was out that she had woken up and headed home right away. Last month while we were in Mexico, I left Paloma with Andino and my Dad while my Mom and I went to a spa for a few hours. I felt fine when we first left her, but about halfway through my massage I all of a sudden got a feeling like I knew she was crying right then. Sure enough, after we got back Andino said she was fine at first and he had taken her swimming and she was happy, but when they got back to the room and he tried to put her down for her nap she started scream-crying. Eventually my Dad took over rocking her and I think it took him about 20 minutes (or more) of rocking her before she finally gave up and passed out. Our connection to our babies is so strong that if you have a feeling like something is up, you are probably right...

The other night, I kicked off the fundraising for my non-profit Mamas 4 Mamas. Andino and I organized an acoustic music night at a local cafe. I had originally planned to bring Paloma with me and have her in my wrap, but since she was sick I thought it was a better idea to leave her with my girlfriend and her daughter (the same friend and baby from the story above.) When we showed up at my friend's house, Paloma was fine. She was playing on the floor with my friend's baby and was happy. I was relieved that she was in a good mood, because it would make it a lot harder to leave her if she was fussy. I didn't want to just sneak out without saying goodbye (I didn't think that would be fair to Paloma) so when it was time to go, my friend picked her up and walked me to the door. When I said bye bye (which I don't even think she understands yet, but who knows! I think babies understand a lot more than we give them credit for) she started pouting her bottom lip and reaching out to me. I got so anxious when I saw her do that I turned around and fumbled out the door. I was so anxious and I couldn't focus on my event for the first 45 minutes, but finally started to calm down while I was setting up, when my girlfriend called to tell me Paloma was fine and "she hasn't been crying for 10 minutes." or in other words, she cried inconsolably for 45 minutes after I left (which I confirmed when I picked her up.)

I know I'm a bit of a hippy, earth-lover, but I really believe that when our kids (babies or older) cry out for us we can feel them. I don't think this connection comes from the genetic link we may or may not share with our kids, but rather from the intense love we feel for them. It creates an energy connection from our heart to them. I remember hearing somewhere that once you have kids, you spend the rest of your life with your heart not just on your sleeve, but walking around the world.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Baby's First Cold

It's been a stressful week or so for our family! Andino came down with a bad cold. He had been fighting it for a while, but finally decided to go to the walk-in clinic on Monday morning where he was given antibiotics as it turns out he has bronchitis. I had the same cold, feeling tired, headache congested and achy but luckily enough for me, I was able to fight it off without having to take anything for it. I have only taken antibiotics once or twice in my lifetime and I'm hoping to keep it that way for a long time! I was really hoping Paloma would escape it, but unfortunately she has gotten a cold for the first time.

On Saturday night, she woke up at 12:30 in the morning and when I went to her room, my head was pounding. I was hoping she would fall back asleep quickly. I nursed her back to sleep and as soon as she nodded off, I transferred her to the crib. Usually I hold her for a few minutes so she's really out when I lay her down, but I was dying to get back to my bed, so I rushed it and laid her down as soon as she fell asleep. Of course she woke up right away. The same thing happened for a second time and I started to get really cranky and anxious to get back to my bed because I was feeling so sick. I laid her in the crib wide awake and turned on her tranquil turtle, hoping that she'd fall asleep by herself (yeah right!) and then picked her up again. This went on for 2 hours! That is the longest I've ever been up with her in the middle of the night - even when she was a newborn! And of course it happened on the night I was feeling the worst. I don't know if she couldn't fall back asleep because I was rushing her back to her crib or if she was already feeling sick, but it was a long night.

THEN, on Monday night, she really started to get sick. She was up EVERY TWO HOURS. Even when she was a newborn, she would sleep in 3-4 hour stretches at a time at night. I finally brought her into our bed at 4 am but I have such a hard time sleeping when she's in our bed that I hardly slept at all after that. She was up for the day at 5:30 am. Needless to say, I was like a zombie on Tuesday and didn't get much done around the house at all. That night I went to bed at 8:30 because Paloma was still so stuffed up I figured I had another long night ahead of me, but go figure - she slept right through until 7:15 am! It was the first night that I let her sleep on her tummy too. For the last few weeks she's been rolling over and waking herself up by getting smooshed into the side of the crib, so I figured she was more comfortable sleeping on her stomach and I was willing to give it a try if it meant avoiding a repeat performance of the previous night.

She still only naps for half an hour at a time. She's able to be awake for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours before needing her next nap but she's happy and alert when she's awake, so that's all that matters to me. She goes to bed between 6:30 & 7:30 (depending on when her last nap of the day is) and usually sleeps 11-12 hours straight through and sometimes wakes up to nurse once or twice but goes back down without a problem, so I really shouldn't complain about a few sleepless nights here and there.

On Saturday, I have a fundraising event that I organized for my non-profit, Mamas 4 Mamas. I was originally planning to just bring her with me and have her in my wrap, but with her sick, I'm not thinking it's such a good idea. Even if she's feeling better by then, she can get fussy when it's getting close to her  bedtime, especially in loud, crowded places with lots of people trying to touch her and talk to her. So I decided the best thing to do would be to leave her with my friend for a few hours while I get my event going, then duck out and go pick her up so I can put her to bed (late) while my amazing husband Andino finishes hosting the event. I'm totally stressed out about leaving her. This while pretty much be the first time we've been apart since she's been born. I left her with my Mom when she was 6 weeks old to get my hair done and I left her with my Dad and Andino to get a massage while I was in Mexico (and she scream-cried when they tried to put her to sleep.) She has started showing signs of separation anxiety, even though she has seen my friend and her baby almost every week or every second week since she's been born, so it's not like they are strangers or anything. I worry that she's going to scream and cry for me the whole time I'm gone, which would obviously be really hard on my friend, not to mention on Paloma. This will be the first time I leave her with anyone so I know it's normal to be worried. Plus, it's only for a few hours and I'm going to try to make it so that she naps right before I drop her off so she's not tired on top of missing me.

Anyone have any tips on leaving baby for the first time?

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Welcome

I used to write over at The Gypsy Mama, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to close down in a hurry. I wasn't sure if I would continue blogging or not. My life is so busy running a household, being a full-time Mom and also running my non-profit Mamas 4 Mamas. I thought maybe losing The Gypsy Mama was a blessing in disguise because I'd have more time to focus on other things, but within a day or two of taking it down I was already composing posts in my head. It seems I have too many thoughts about my day to day life to keep to myself - I have to share them with you! So I hope most of my blogging friends have been able to find me over here in my new space. As much as I don't like to leave The Gypsy Mama and all those stories behind, there is something about new beginnings that are so exciting to me. All the possibilities!

Thank you so much to No Good Eggs and Not Pregnant and Pissed for posting on their blogs for me about my move. You girls are the best!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Paloma's First Solids

So after all that talk about how I wasn't going to give her solids before 6 months, I broke down and let her eat some food early. Over the weekend, I made a bunch of different pureed baby food for her which I froze in ice cube trays and then transferred into freezer bags. On Saturday, I was just putting some peas in the freezer, when it crossed my mind that Paloma will turn 6 months old on Thursday and I wanted to give her solids for the first time on a weekend so Andino and I could video it and take pictures and Andino wouldn't be rushed to get back to work. I quickly made the decision to let her eat some peas then and there (before I had a chance to change my mind.) I was so emotional about it I even choked up - I don't know why I'm making such a big deal about this! She ate the whole serving of peas and of course we got some cute video and pictures. We haven't brought her high chair in from the garage. We have a tiny kitchen and at this point she's eating such little portions, Andino just holds her on his knee while he feeds her. On Sunday, she ate some butternut squash which she definitely didn't like as much as the peas. The second time around, I was much less emotional about it and I was able to focus on the bright side of being able to cook for her and help her learn to enjoy healthy food.

So much of what I daydreamed about while going through infertility surrounded food. I know that sounds funny, but I imagined making family traditions of big Sunday dinners and special holiday breakfasts. Every time I'd make a dessert, Andino or I would have to bring half of it to work to share with colleagues or else we'd end up throwing it in the garbage because we couldn't polish off a whole batch of cinnamon rolls or cupcakes by ourselves. I imagined how it would be in the future when I had kids to bake for. So starting solids doesn't just symbolize a step away from me, it also marks a step towards creating new family memories.




Monday, 17 November 2014

#Microblog Monday

Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend, never had a dog.

The first few weeks after Paloma was born, our big dog Lola never left her side. She was up with me and in the nursery for every single diaper change and feeding. Now, she trusts me that I am going to take good care of the baby so she has stopped hovering so much. But even now if Paloma starts crying and Mama doesn't go to her fast enough, sure enough Lola will push the door open to her room and look at her through her crib to make sure she's okay.

Throughout my pregnancy, we were a little worried about how the dogs would react to the new addition and we are so thrilled that they love her and are not even a little bit jealous. I love being a stay at home Mom while on my maternity leave for a year, but it's even better that the dogs are here to keep us company. Especially this week, while Andino is away with his band, having the dogs here makes me feel safer and not so lonely.









Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Thinking About Solids

**I hope it goes without saying that the things I write about here are just my experience as a Mom. I totally understand that other Moms have different experiences and make different choices and I 100% support whatever makes your family happy**

Paloma is 5 months old. Now, she is sitting up on her own (although she still topples over from time to time so I have to keep a close eye on her) and she is grabbing any and every thing within her reach. Last night, after dinner I picked her up and sat her on my lap while Andino and I chatted. I still hadn't cleared the supper dishes, and in 2 seconds she pulled the placemat towards her and was grabbing at my plate! We bought a high chair but haven't set it up yet.

She is sitting up on her own, she has a high chair... the next logical step is baby food.

I feel so emotional over starting solids. I guess it's the fact that she is growing up and she needs/wants more than my body is able to give her. For 9 months my body grew and nourished her, then we had an amazing labour & delivery and then a great breastfeeding relationship for the past 5 1/2 months. (Except for the first week, when I was soaking in the bath tub and I actually peeled scabs off both of my nipples. Oh My God...) And now it's time to start thinking about adding solid foods to her diet. I had planned on exclusively breastfeeding my baby for the first 6 months since the day I found out that is what is recommended by:

I trust all of the experts above. I trust their research and reasons for making their recommendations of breast milk only (meaning no water, juice or foods) for the first 6 months. Unless I was physically unable to breastfeed my baby, I had always planned to follow those guidelines. From day one, I made it clear to anyone who asked, that Paloma wouldn't be fed any supplemental food/water for the first 6 months. I mentioned that the World Health Org. and Health Canada agrees with me, but some people still made comments which really get under my skin. I have to learn to let comments like those roll off my back because because it's not worth wasting my personal energy dwelling on them. I'm still learning how to do that.

Anyway, we've got the high chair. I've got a few baggies of squash and sweet potatoes all mashed up and frozen, all I have to do is thaw them, add breastmilk to thin them out and freeze them again in ice cube trays. Our plan has always been that on her 6 month birthday, Andino would be the one to feed her her first solids. He's never really been able to feed her before, so it will be extra special for him. We plan to feed her avocado (mixed with breastmilk), and to video the whole thing. Do I think if I were to feed her solids now, a few weeks before her 6 month birthday it would really make a difference? No. I don't think a few weeks on either side of her 6 month birthday would really make a difference, so I'm choosing to do it then because I've been planning to make it to 6 months exclusively breastfeeding and I don't want to do it before then. I know it's silly to fixate on a date on the calendar, but if it's important to me and it won't make any difference to her, then why not? 

I'm definitely going to continue breastfeeding her. Aside from the fact that it is just so easy  to not have to worry about cleaning bottles, I still very much enjoy it and the bonding time we have while she nurses. Not to mention, it's still the easiest way to put her to sleep (next to putting her in my wrap when she's sleepy and letting her nod off on her own.)


I feel like starting solids is a huge transition. Moving from infant to baby. Her first step away from Mama... I have two weeks left of exclusive breastfeeding and I am going to soak up every day of it. Babies grow so fast. Before I know it, she won't be nursing at all. Before I know it she will be sitting around my dining room table eating with the rest of us. Why not slow down and take the time to enjoy her as an infant for as long as possible?
If you have children, how did starting solids go for you? Did you feel emotional over it or is it just me?


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Some of my favourite photos from our vacation. These are the photos we had taken professionally, which were also the first photos of all 3 of us!










And these are my favourite photos that we took with our camera:



My Dad & I


Mama & Paloma

Grampy & Paloma

Smiles

Beach Baby

Nanny & Paloma

She looks like a Cabbage Patch here!

Shopping

Napping in Daddy's arms





Saturday, 1 November 2014

Travel With a Baby

We just got back from a little family getaway before the cold weather hits. Winter is long and cold in Saskatchewan, so we needed one last week of fun in the sun before packing away our sun dresses and sandals. We got home at 2:30 in the morning two nights ago, and it's been a flurry of laundry and unpacking and groceries and driving to pick up the dogs from my father-in-law who watched them while we were gone and all the other errands that need to be done before we can fall back into our home routine. I told Andino when Paloma woke up at 6:00 a.m. the morning after we got home and I'd only slept 4 hours that I don't think I was that sleep-deprived even when she was a newborn! I'm still catching up on things around the house (I didn't even manage to wash my face today!) but I've been writing this post in my head since we started our trip ten days ago and I want to get this written before too much time passes and I start to forget. I apologize in advance, because this post is going to be long...

We spent the week at Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya with our 5 month old daughter. This was the first time Andino and I have stayed at an all-inclusive resort, as we are much more inclined to the adventure/budget type travel, but we thought it would be easier with the baby to do an all-inclusive. This was the second time we flew with Paloma. The first time she was 13 weeks old. (Now she is 22 weeks.) Let me tell you, flying with a teething 5 month old is a lot different than flying with a 3 month old! When she was 13 weeks old, she still took a pacifier and she was still a sleepy little newborn. All we did was keep giving her the pacifier during the flights and she basically slept through the plane rides and was awake during connections and boarding. It was easy. I fed her right before boarding and as soon as we got off the plane. I also brought a bottle, which she took with no complaints. Other passengers complimented us on what a good little traveller she was and I regretted all the time I spent worrying about how it would go.

Fast forward to travelling with a 5 month old teething baby who rejects the pacifier & bottle. Flying with her was a lot different the second time around. What follows are my tips for keeping your sanity and enjoying your family vacation with a baby. I hope you can learn from our experience.

Boarding

Take advantage of priority boarding. It's not going to be easy because you are new parents and if you are anything like us, you are perpetually running late. I remember when I was a single traveller and I saw the other passengers anxious to get on the plane as soon as possible and I wondered why they were in such a hurry to sit down for hours in a cramped space. I always waited to board last so I could stretch my legs until the last minute. This strategy doesn't work as a parent, because you need that time to get your baby situated. For the first flight, we missed priority boarding because I was changing Paloma's diaper when they announced it. I was in the bathroom and I heard them calling it over the PA system and I rushed out, with the baby in one arm, backpack slung over one shoulder and wrap trailing behind me all in a fluster. It's not a good way to start a long trip.

Tip # 1 is: Get there early and allow yourself the time to change the diaper and feed the baby and still have time to make priority boarding.

Nap Schedule vs. Flight Schedule

An overtired baby is a cranky baby. We all know this, but for some reason I thought it was a wise idea to board a flight with an overtired baby. What was I thinking?? For the first flight, I held Paloma off from her nap. I thought if she was tired when we boarded, she would sleep for a good portion of the flight. Ha! What actually happened was, I boarded the plane with an overtired baby who just got more tired as the plane filled up with passengers and by the time we took off, she was scream-crying. Not because the cabin pressure bothered her ears (because she didn't react to that at all for other flights) but because she was overtired. I'm sure if you are a parent, you know how challenging it is to deal with an overtired baby in your quiet nursery at home, let alone in a plane full of people. To be fair, I felt like the other passengers around us were understanding and kind towards our situation. (At least the ones who gave us sympathetic smiles) But still, it's really not easy being the person holding a baby who is scream-crying at the top of her lungs in a confined space jammed with people.

Tip # 2 is: Don't board the plane with an overtired baby. Let her sleep when she wants to sleep as you normally would. 

Comfort & Clothes

We dressed Paloma in pyjamas during the flights so she would be as comfortable as possible and we wouldn't have to worry about socks falling off, pants being too tight or sweaters falling off the shoulders. I dressed in a v-neck t-shirt so I could have quick and easy access to the breast as I had to nurse her often during the flights. I used my wrap (baby carrier) while flying as well as in the airports and at the resort! I tied the wrap before boarding using the basic X carry. so I could just pop her in while we were already up in the air (because Air Canada required me to take her out of the wrap and hold her  during take off and landing.)

Tip #3 is: Dress the baby and yourself for comfort and convenience


Crying on the Plane

The most successful daytime flight during this trip was one that had two seats per aisle so once we made priority boarding, I didn't have to stand up to let someone in after I'd gotten Paloma settled. She was in the perfect state of hungry and sleepy when we boarded, so I fed her and rocked her to sleep and she napped without disturbance and woke up in a happy mood. Andino and I took turns entertaining her with the toys we brought and Andino walked up and down the aisles with her so she could look around. The people sitting across from us played with her and made her laugh so the flight went smoothly. However, with as many flights as we took during this vacation (2 flights on the way there for a total of 6 hours flying time and 3 flights on the way back for a total of 8 hours flying time) we knew she was bound to get fussy on the plane. I just tried to accept it and told myself she has just as much of a right to be there as anyone else and we were all babies at one point in time. I also nursed her very frequently during the flights although I felt a little awkward whipping my boob out with so many people so close to me (and even tried to use the nursing cover a few times but that didn't go well as Paloma's not used to it and she kept batting at the fabric.) I told myself it's either a little boob or a lot of crying. I'm not saying I was unfazed, calm, cool & collected when she cried on the plane, I'm just saying I knew it was likely going to happen when we booked our tickets months ago and I did my best to take deep breaths and accept the situation.

Tip # 4: You can do everything in your power to make your baby happy while travelling, but you must accept the fact that if you fly long enough, your baby might cry. Just accept it as an unfortunate part of travel and move on.

Travel Partners

We travelled with my parents. It was so helpful to have Paloma's Grandparents there who were eager to take her off our hands and help us out everyday. Whether they took her for a few hours while Andino and I went on a romantic date or the 4 of us took turns keeping her entertained & happy when she was fussy at a restaurant, there's no doubt it was easier having them there with us.

Tip # 5: If possible, bring help!

Sleep & Flexibility

At home, we have a routine. Obviously, on vacation that routine flies out the window. During our first vacation, Paloma had been sleeping through the night for a month but began waking 2-3 times a night while on vacation. This time, she's been able to sleep through the night without being swaddled for a month, but now needs her swaddle again. Expect some sleep disturbances, things will go back to normal in a couple days or weeks after returning home.

Paloma coped really well with all the unfamiliar surroundings, smells, sounds etc. but there were times when she seemed overwhelmed by it all and needed a break. I noticed she had a really hard time at the big, busy restaurants we went to, especially at supper. She's never really been exposed to that at home, because we always go to quiet, small places to eat. If we ever go somewhere busy with a lot of people (like a festival) she's in my wrap, snuggled close to me for comfort. By supper time she was tired from all the sightseeing and swimming and wasn't up for sitting in a high chair in a busy restaurant with so many unfamiliar sounds and smells. We usually gave her the benefit of the doubt and brought her anyway, but when she started fussing and wouldn't stop, we'd either quickly finish our food and go, or I'd take her back to my room and order room service while the rest of the family finished their meal.

Tip # 6: Listen to your baby when they tell you they've had enough.


Packing

For as often as I travel, I'm a terrible packer. For this trip, however, I did a good job only bringing what was really needed. We didn't pack a tonne of clothes that were never worn or toys that were never played with. We brought Sophie the Giraffe, her keys and a rattle. For some reason, I decided to bring a bottle on the plane even though I know she doesn't take one anymore. As expected, I never used the bottle and ended up having to dump it all down the sink - what a waste! The only way Paloma takes a bottle is if I am the one to feed it to her - what's the point in that? It sucks unpacking, so do yourself a favour and don't overpack. Babies need surprisingly few things.










Tip # 7: Don't Overpack.

So what about you, have you travelled with a baby before? Any tips you can share?

Coming up next: A post (with pictures) about our vacation

Friday, 31 October 2014

5 Month Udate

Paloma turned 5 months old in Mexico! I'm a little late getting this post up, but I have to post it so I have a reference when I create her baby book when she turns one! I'll probably have to come back and add things as I remember, but for now:



Firsts:

  • International travel
  • Swim in the ocean
  • Sitting up unassisted
  • She found a blankie she loves

Likes:
  • Her silk blankie aka Mama's head scarf
  • The water
  • Falling asleep on Mama's back in the wrap
  • Her teething keys


Dislikes:
  • Teething
  • Being bored
  • Toys that talk (I bought her a Rock n' Roll Elmo and she cries whenever I try to show it to her)


 
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