Friday, 29 August 2014

Don't Stay Home

How much easier would life with an infant be if you always stayed at home? You'd have everything you need within arms reach and you'd never find yourself in the back of Winners sitting on an uncomfortable bench with a baby spitting up sour milk all over herself and you, as you frantically trying to wipe it off before the smell sets in, while only accomplishing to rub the spit up deeper into the fibers of your shirt. Another bonus of not finding yourself in this scenario, is that you wouldn't have to catch a glimpse of yourself in those incredibly unforgiving mirrors under fluorescent lighting, where all your new wrinkles, your hair that you told yourself looked like a fashionable messy bun, but really just looks messy, your dark circles, your boobs that are lopsided because one is engorged and your terrible outfit that you wore because it was the only clean one you had that fit your new body shape stare back at you despite your best efforts to avoid those mirrors altogether and avert your eyes to the state you find yourself in at the end of a rough day as a new Mom.

As shitty as this day sounds, I don't think you should just stay home. Life wouldn't be easier.

You don't look as bad as you think you do. Pack some extra shirts for yourself in your diaper bag so you can change after baby inevitably spits up on you. No one can tell your boobs are lopsided. Your hair looks fine. We all have bad days, before and after baby. When you get home, you can change your clothes, crawl into bed for some extra baby cuddles, take a deep breath and be proud of yourself for everything you've accomplished as a new Mom. Your baby is happy & healthy, you're doing a great job.

We took Paloma to her first music festival when she was 3 weeks old. Andino's band was playing at a Folk Festival a few hours away. It was during that newborn fussy period when the baby cries all the time and you really feel like you want to stay locked inside your house forever. Preferably topless, so you don't have to fumble with unhooking a nursing bra with one hand as you cradle a screaming, red-in-the-face infant with the other. But I forced myself to go because I love to watch Andino play and I wanted to enjoy my first summer as a Mom and create family memories. So we packed a diaper bag and a wrap and off we went. This was during the time when I was staying at my sister's house because my house was flooded and Andino and I were both at our wits end with stress. I knew getting out and going to an outdoor music festival was just what we needed to let go of the tension. We drove up there in the pouring rain and we were running late because when you have a newborn you're always running late because you forgot to pack something or the baby took 45 minutes to nurse and you can't get a burp out. But on this particular occasion we were running late because Paloma's nose was really stuffed up and I thought that if I could just get all her boogies out she would calm down. Those bulb syringes are incredibly inefficient at getting the boogies out so we stopped at the drug store and got a nasal aspirator. (I have to say, it was one of the best purchases we made for baby). We made it to the festival just in the nick of time for Andino to take the stage. Paloma did amazing and hardly cried at all (because I had her in the wrap the whole time). We sat under the shade of a huge tree and watched the show and I was so happy. Andino told the crowd that his wife and brand new baby were in the audience and so many people gave us big smiles and congratulated me. I nursed her on a bench overlooking a river. It was a great day and a nice memory, and I would have missed out on it if I hadn't forced myself to just pack up and go.

Sometimes it's hard when you are in the thick of things at home to force yourself out the door. I remember one occasion when Paloma had been fussy all morning and it was really starting to get to me. One of my girlfriends stopped by to drop something off and I think she could feel my stress so she asked if I wanted to go for a little walk around the neighbourhood with her and her baby. She had her stroller in the car and a little free time. I couldn't get out the door fast enough. I don't think my friend got a word in edgewise that day as I spent the better part of an hour telling her all about the challenges I was having. I can't tell you how many times Paloma would be having a rough day inside the house and I'd pop her in my wrap and go for a walk and she would instantly calm down. The newborn period was made infinitely easier because of my wrap and the women in my life.

Our strategy has been to give Paloma the benefit of the doubt. There were many occasions in the beginning when I was nervous to take her to a public place because I was sure she'd cry the whole time and she never did. As long as I had my wrap, a full boob and a pacifier, Paloma could do anything. At 13 weeks old, we took our first plane trip as a family of 3 to visit my family in Nova Scotia. Paloma did amazing. Not one cry-fest in more than 7 hours of travelling. The only problem we had was when I overfed her and she spit up everywhere. I felt bad for whoever had to sit in my seat next.

So if you ever find yourself on the fence between whether or not to go out and do something or stay home, I hope you choose to go out. Maybe your baby will surprise you and be on her best behaviour!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

3 months

Happy 3 months Baby Girl!!

  • Shaking her rattle (keys)
  • Practising standing up (with help of course)
  • Story Time
  • Sudden noises
  • Car seat
  • Being away from Mama
  • Plane trip
  • Trip to the beach/ocean
  • rolling over

Friday, 22 August 2014

My Like-Hate Relationship With The Soother

Before I had Paloma, I went out and bought a wubbanub, it's a soother with a little stuffed animal attached to it. I thought they were cute and gave it to her in the first couple days home from the hospital. She would only take it for a minute or so at a time and then spit it out. It was just enough to calm her down enough to stop her from crying. My midwife saw it in my house when she was here for a home visit and told me it's not a great idea to give soothers to brand new babies. She said sucking takes a lot of energy for them and she shouldn't waste her energy sucking on a soother instead of the breast. Especially because she had jaundice so we had to feed her all the time to clear that.
Day 3 of being a Mom. Tired.
Her jaundice cleared after a week, thanks to round the clock feedings. She surpassed her birth weight in 4 days and was obviously strong and healthy, but I decided that I didn't want to give her the soother anymore because offering the breast was more natural. While babies may be born with a strong need to suck, they don't need to suck on a man-made soother. I wanted to be the ultimate hippy Mom and every time I saw her with the soother in her mouth, that blue piece of plastic was screaming at me "What kind of hippy are you?!" My midwife told me to nurse her for comfort even if I had just fed her. I read about how African babies don't cry  and agreed with everything the article said. I spent 6 months working with kids & babies in Mozambique and not only did they not cry, but they didn't use soothers either! So I told Andino & my Mom "I don't want to use it anymore, please don't give it to her". I was determined to drop the soother before it became a habit.

While I admit that popping a soother in her mouth is easier than nursing her, it wasn't about that for me because I had no problem nursing her on the go in my wrap. The problem was my overabundant milk supply. She would be drowsy and need a bit of help to fall asleep and I wanted to peacefully nurse her off into dream land, but because of my overabundant milk supply and forceful letdown, it was like a torrential downpour of milk every time she sucked. She would cough, choke and lose her breath and get frustrated. Hardly conducive to sleep. Our experience nursing is definitely not the peaceful picture of mother and baby that I imagined it would be. It's actually quite loud and messy for us. So after attempting countless times over many weeks to nurse her to sleep, I would almost always have to give in and let her have the soother. She would suck on it for a minute or two and then fall asleep and I would remove it.

As she got older and bigger (she's so big!) I continued to try to take her soother away in favour of comfort nursing. I thought maybe my milk supply would even out (and it has definitely improved although there is still too much) and that she would be able to handle the flow better as she grew. I was as determined as ever to be the all-natural hippy Mom I had imagined I would be, and that image I had of myself did not include toting around a baby with a plastic soother sticking out of her mouth. But 3 months into my life as a Gypsy Mama, and somehow Paloma didn't get the memo that soothers are not for Gypsy babies. She still gets mad when I try to nurse her to sleep and she still chokes on my milk daily (but definitely not as often as in the first 2 months). There are times when she just wants to suck and she doesn't want milk. It's so obvious because she will be fine for the first few seconds and as soon as I feel my milk let down she starts to cry and pull off the breast. If I give in and let her have the soother she calms right down. 

So, at 12 weeks I am finally giving up my battle with the soother. I let her have it in the car seat because she hates it and also to help her drift off to sleep during nap times. I've never given it to her at night before bed and I've never let her actually sleep with the soother in her mouth. I just let her have it to drift off. She doesn't seem to need it while she's awake because she's a pretty happy baby (now that the period of purple crying has passed, but that's for another blog post). I have to admit that there are some benefits to the soother. It's easy to comfort nurse her at home, but it's a little different when we are out in public. And don't get me wrong, I am all for nursing in public if your baby needs it and I do it on a weekly basis myself, but it's just easier to giver her a soother while we are out in very public places and I know that she just wants a little suck, than to always whip my boob out. For example, just last week I was standing in line waiting to pay for my groceries and she started to fuss a little. I reached into my diaper bag and gave her the soother to prevent her from crying until I could get to the car to nurse her. It is so stressful to hear your baby cry and I can say without a doubt that allowing her to have the soother has prevented her from crying on many, many occasions when I wouldn't have been able to whip my boob out immediately or when I couldn't get to her because she's in the car seat.

I knew this would happen before I had her, but so much of what I was sure I was going to be like as a Mom has gone out the window after she arrived. And so much of what I thought I would be like has comes true. Like for me, I really wanted to wear my baby in gorgeous gypsy wraps and every time I do, I just love it so much. I need to start focusing on all the ways my dream of being a hippy, Gypsy Mama has come true instead of focusing on the one way it hasn't. As it turns out, maybe Gypsy Babies like soothers afterall :)

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Things I Wasn't Expecting

I think I was pretty prepared for motherhood. When Paloma arrived, I had a solid understanding of how to latch her properly on the breast, how often to feed her and change her diaper, how I hoped my parenting style would be etc. There is a tonne of information out there about babies and I devoured so much of it during my pregnancy that by the time she arrived I was as ready as anyone could possibly be. Overall I'd say things are going more or less how I expected. I'm loving cloth diapering her and wearing her in my wrap and I'm not too hung up on schedules or following prescribed sleep routines. Andino and I had decided before I even got pregnant that we weren't going to follow strict guidelines to parent our children in favour of a more go-with-the-flow approach and so far we are all happy.  There are a few things about being a Mom that I wasn't expecting, despite how prepared I was:

The Love - Of course I knew I would love my baby, but the love a mother feels for her child is different than the love she feels for anyone else. I couldn't know what that felt like until I experienced it first hand. I loved Paloma right away, but my love for her definitely grew with each passing week and especially once she recognized me. In one sense I loved her at first sight and in another sense I fell in love with her as our bond formed and strengthened. It was such an amazing experience - the process of settling into our mother-daughter bond.

The Attachment - I don't want to be away from her. I know as she gets older she will become independent and this infancy stage is so fleeting, I don't want to miss one hour. I hold her all.the.time. (side note: despite holding her or having her in my carrier all day long, she's a great sleeper at night. So all those people who say I'm going to spoil her by holding her too much are wrong!)

The Nightmares - For the first month and a half, I would wake up almost every night and sometimes more than once a night, frantically feeling around the bed for her. I dreamed that I nursed her in bed and then fell asleep and her body was trapped under the blankets or between my body and my husband's.I don't know why I had this particular nightmare because I never nursed her in bed. I never even slept with her in my arms once because I was too nervous that I'd accidentally smother her in my sleep. There were a few times when my little cockapoo got some serious snuggles with me because in my dreamy state I thought I was snuggling with her in the bed! I actually woke up a few times confused as to why she felt so furry before my brain clued in that it was actually my dog that I was snuggling!

Her Cry - breaks my heart. I've heard lots of babies crying before and it never bothered me. I'm not annoyed by crying babies but I was also never very concerned about them either. Babies cry, that's what they do. But when my baby cries, I feel the most urgent need to help her. If she is crying while someone else is holding her (even my husband) I get so anxious because I want to  comfort and console her. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes for my heart to stop racing and to feel normal again once I have calmed her down.

Breastfeeding - I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I wasn't expecting to love it. Especially that first week or two when scabs formed on my nipples and everytime I fed her (which was every 2 hours) I would cringe in pain, squeeze my eyes shut, curl my toes and hold my breath for 10-15 seconds because it hurt so much. But after my body got used to it, I began to love nursing my daughter. I love that my body is able to provide everything she needs to thrive and I love that I am the only one who can nurse her. I love that nursing forces you to stop what you are doing and sit down and bond with your baby. Sure, there are times where I will nurse her on the go, but more often than not I'll stop what I'm doing and sit down with her. I think it's Mother Nature's way of forcing Moms to relax.

My Husband-  I was nervous before Paloma arrived that my relationship with my husband would suffer. I would read scary articles like Sleepless Nights with Screaming Babies Can Ruin Your Marriage and Your Health  and worry that the baby would drive us further apart than together. I am happy to report that while having a baby has definitely changed things for us (that's another post entirely) we are not ruining our marriage and fighting with each other all the time. I love seeing him as a Dad, but more so than that, I love being a family with him. I love being the Matriarch of my own little family. I feel so powerful and womanly and confident. Going from being a Wife to being a Wife and Mother has been wonderful.

I think the best thing I did before becoming a Mom is not having expectations. I had dreams of best case scenarios, but I was fully aware that there's no telling what kind of labour and delivery I would have or what kind of personality my baby would have. I knew I would face challenges but I didn't worry too much about them and took the "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it" approach. Hopefully I can remember to do the same thing if there is ever a second time around!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Apple Cheeks vs. Bum Genius

I've been meaning to do this post for a while, but there were always other things I wanted to write about instead. I'm finally getting around to writing this now because I spent HOURS researching cloth diapering before I had my baby, so I hope this might help someone trying to decide between Applecheeks & Bumgenius 4.0 It's so hard to decide which diapers to buy before you have your baby but if you know what you are looking for in your cloth diapering system, it will be easier to make your choice.

I was looking for a cloth diaper that was easy to put on the baby and the least bulky as possible. I was also looking for a diaper preferably made in Canada, but definitely made under fair-trade/ethical conditions. I used disposables for the first few weeks until her umbilical cord fell off and healed. After that, she had filled out enough in the legs to fit her cloth diapers nicely. In total, we purchased 2 bags of disposable diapers. So far, we've only had 1 poopy blow-out with our cloth diapers and she is 10 weeks old. It happened when I had her in my baby carrier, so I think the pressure of being wrapped up so snug had something to do with it. I'm really pleased with how well the diapers hold in her poo. I may be doing an extra load of laundry every few days because of cloth diapers, but I'm sure I'm doing less clothes laundry since her poos are always contained in the diaper.

From all the research I did while I was pregnant, I decided Applecheeks was the perfect cloth diaper for me. I loved that it was made in Canada and I really liked that it is a 2 size system (as compared to a one-size like the Bumgenius) because they are less bulky on small babies. I also liked that the Applecheeks has an envelope style pocket so if you stuff the insert inside the diaper (rather than laying it on top) you don't have to unstuff it before washing as it agitates out in the wash. I don't stuff them though, I just lay the insert on top of the cover because I find it easier to change her. With Bumgenius, you have to stuff the diaper, so that's another reason I prefer Applecheeks.

I purchased 4 Bumgenius 4.0 diapers before purchasing my Applecheeks. I got them during a Boxing Day sale and since they seemed to be really popular, I thought I'd have some in my cloth diaper stash. I use them, but I always reach for my Applecheeks first. I purchased the Applecheeks second hand from a woman who hardly used them at all. We got a great deal on them! In my experience, there are always second hand cloth diapers available on your local classifieds online and if you check regularly, you can find great diapers for less than half the price, further increasing the savings from cloth diapering & of course... Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

I took some pics so you can compare the look of them. Applecheeks is pink and the Bumgenius in turquoise.

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