Monday, 29 September 2014

A Day In My Life...

Everyone else is writing these A Day in the Life posts, but every time I start, I stop documenting because it's too much work. I decided I really want to finish it today though, because it might be nice to look back on... What follows is an extremely detailed play by play of a day at home with my 4 month old. If that doesn't sound boring to you, read on!

6:45: Andino's alarm goes off. He gets up first. I lay in bed for a minute before I hear Paloma making sounds in her room. I ask Andino to go pick her up while I feed the dogs & grab myself a glass of water. She's been sleeping since 8:30 last night! (I Le Paused a few times through the night, but never actually got out of bed. When I Le Paused at 5:30 a.m. it took me forever to fall back asleep because I wanted to get up & pee so badly, but I knew that if I got out of bed, the dogs & the baby would hear me rustling around and think it was time for everyone to wake up.)

6:50: Andino hands the happy baby off to me so I can change her diaper & pyjamas

6:55: Nurse & burp her.

7:10: Put Paloma in her chair to play with the toys / suck on a receiving blanket. I clean up the dishes left in the sink from last night's late supper. (I hate leaving dirty dishes in the sink) then fold & put away 2 baskets of laundry

7:30: We had whole wheat waffle sandwiches for supper last night. I use the leftover batter to make myself waffles for breakfast. Prepare my morning tea. Paloma's still in her chair, watching me eat breakfast. As soon as I'm done, I pick her up for some snuggles.

7:45: She's rubbing her eyes & yawning. Time for her morning nap. I try to put her to sleep with the pacifier but she's so not having it. Nurse her to sleep.

8:00: While she's still asleep, I transfer her to her crib. I sweep the floors & then sit down to read blogs etc. while I drink my tea.

8:45: She's up. I quickly throw a load of laundry in the wash before getting her out of her crib.

9:00: Change her diaper. Consider pumping so I can work out, but decide to wait 20 minutes and then try to feed her instead. Play with her by passing her toys & watching her chew on them & giving her lots of kisses. Grey's Anatomy is on in the background but I have her facing me & not the t.v.

9:20:  Nurse & burp. Put her in her exersaucer while I change into my workout clothes

9:30 - 10:00: I work out. (Day 57 of the Bikini Body Mommy Challenge) Move Paloma to her chair halfway through the workout when she got tired of the exersaucer. She laughs at my workout moves. Jumping jacks are very entertaining for her.

10:00 - 10:10: I shower. It was a good workout today. Doesn't a shower feel so great after a good workout? I leave the curtain open a bit so I can keep an eye on her..

10:15: After getting dressed, I put her in my wrap. Run downstairs to transfer the laundry to the dryer.


See her head peaking out?
10:30: She falls asleep in the wrap. I put on a bit of makeup & walk to a vitamin store near our house. Paloma wakes up 5 minutes into the walk. Maybe the cool air woke her up? She doesn't fuss though, just looks around.

11:00:  Buy my supplements & some fair trade chocolate.

11:15: Back home. Let the dogs outside. Call Andino at work to tell him he doesn't have to come home for lunch today because I don't need the car this afternoon. (We have one vehicle, so if I have errands to run, he comes home for lunch & I drive him back to work, run my errands & then pick him up from work.)

My chocolate and a hot cup of tea in my favourite mug. I poured tea into this mug 4 times before finally being able to sit down and drink it.

11:30: Change Paloma's diaper and nurse her to sleep. Since she didn't really take her 10:30 nap I don't want her to get fussy. I hold her while she naps. Begin writing this Day In The Life post.

12:20: She's still napping. I'm still holding her at the computer. Start practising French online (verbs). Research stuff for my non-profit.

1:30: Paloma wakes up. I put her in her vibrating chair in the kitchen. I make cookies while she shoves her baby book in her face. When she gets tired of doing that, I put on my French podcast lessons and practice speaking with her. Est-ce que vous parlez francais? I also dance around like the star in a broadway musical and she loves it. I wonder if anyone has walked by my window and seen me...



1:45: Dog does any and everything she can think of to get a belly rub while laying in the middle of my kitchen floor.

2:00: Cookies are in the oven. Change her diaper. Grab the laundry from the dryer and start folding. Paloma lays on my bed and watches me. I sing to her in Spanish.

2:10: Cookies are perfect. Oatmeal chocolate chip with flax seeds. I wonder if I will get any health benefit from the flax seeds, since they weren't milled. Either way, I like the crunch they add. I only made 9 and put the rest of the dough in a tupperware in the fridge.


2:15: Since the oven is hot from the cookies, I decide to put the spaghetti squash in for tonight's supper. As I am cutting it in half, I wish my Mom or Andino were here to cut it for me. I am known for knife slips resulting in bloody fingers. Half way through slicing the squash, my dogs go insane outside, barking at another dog walking by our fence. I run outside to bring them in.

2:30: Nurse & burp Paloma. Play with her while Grey's Anatomy is on in the background.

3:00: Change her very poopy diaper. I accidentally get poop on her shirt while removing her diaper, so I change her outfit too.

3:10: She spits up all over me and her clean shirt.

3:35: She's tired so I try to put her to sleep with the pacifier. This is what she thinks of that:

How mean of me was it to snap this picture instead of comforting her?!
3:37: Nurse her to sleep
This is what I wanted Mom!
3:40: Transfer her to the crib

4:10: Awake already? I think I woke her up when I flushed the toilet... I hope that the bathroom doesn't share a wall with a baby's room in our next house...

4:15: Put her in the wrap so I can get supper going.


4:15 - 4:45: While cooking supper, I talk to Paloma about what I'm doing. "Now, I'm going to add the collard greens..." I think about how different this Day in the Life post would have been 10 weeks ago, when Paloma was 7 weeks old... 

4:50 -5:00: Read to Paloma

5:05: Daddy's home!! Everyone is happy to see him...

5:10 Change Diaper. Book Hotel in Toronto for upcoming vacation.
5:15 - 5:30:  Eat supper

5:45 - 6:30: Andino has to go downstairs to paint the basement so I decide to take the dogs for a walk. Paloma tries out her BOB stroller for the second time. She seems to like it even though she fell asleep in her car seat and I woke her up when I moved her to the stroller...

6:30 - 6:45: Paloma cries the whole way home. I tried to give her the pacifier but she didn't want it. I was heartbroken for her by the time I pulled into the garage. I don't know if she's crying because she's hungry, tired, hates the car seat or all three!
6:45: Nurse & burp. Play with her toys and read to her for a little while. I have some milk & cookies.
7:15: Bathtime
7:30: Nurse to sleep. Swaddle her and lay her down in her crib. She wakes up a bit but falls back asleep on her own.
8:00: Finish this blog post! Now, I'm going to go downstairs and hang out with Andino while he finishes painting for the day. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The End of the Third Trimester & 4 month Update

Our girl is 4 months old today. I just feel incredibly blessed every single day that I wake up in the morning. Even on mornings like today when she woke up at 5:30 am and decided it was party time and not sleepy time...I still feel blessed to have a family life with Andino and the dogs and the baby - it's what I wanted for so long. At first I was a little sad that she's growing up so fast. She's not an infant or newborn anymore, she's a baby now.  Infants are basically only awake long enough to eat, burp, look at you for a little bit, diaper change, hold your finger for a few minutes, cry a bit (or a lot) and fall back to sleep. As a parent, as long as you are feeding them every 2-3 hours, burping them after they eat and changing their diaper regularly, you can't really do anything more for them. In the beginning, Paloma couldn't care less who was holding her, she didn't seem to even recognize me until she was a month old. I didn't have to worry if I was doing enough to keep her entertained and stimulate her brain... just watching the dogs walk around was stimulating enough for her. (Actually, she still finds that quite entertaining.) But now? Girlfriend is so strong (physically) and has her own little personality. Andino and I always find ourselves saying things like "Oh she's a morning person like Daddy!" or "She's go-go-go like Mommy!"

As cool as it is to see her personality really developing and to interact with her in new ways, I kind of miss the days when she was so tiny and fragile. If I could go back to those days, knowing what I know now, I feel like I could prevent a lot of the crying spells she had that were caused by gas from not burping her enough. I would pump before I fed her in the morning so she didn't suffer from my overabundant milk supply. I've heard it said that you learn so much from your first baby that makes it easier the next time around. (Except in my Mom's case because my older brother was an easy baby and I had colic) but I totally get what my midwife meant when I went to her with my milk spraying everywhere and Paloma burping and farting and crying and choking and she said "don't worry, the first baby is like your practice baby. It won't be like this again."

And I have learned so much. I don't feel like a Rookie Mom anymore. I was telling my girlfriend today that I find the more confident I become as a Mom, the more I let unsolicited "helpful advice" slide right off my back. I'm confident in the choices I make for my daughter. So you gave your child solids at 4 months and gave her water at 2 months? More power to you Mama! Andino and I have chosen to follow Health Canada's Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants Recommendations to the T. Except for the Vitamin D supplementation because I think she's allergic to something in it because she gets red marks that last for a good 10 minutes wherever the drops dribble onto her chin ... but other than that I follow everything they recommend, and plan to continue to do so. Each family makes their own decisions and that's what makes every family unique. A lot of times, I find that cultural norms and expectations come into play with how you choose to raise your children. Especially in relationships where Mom & Dad are from two different cultures (such as Andino and myself) we have to pick and choose which traditions we'll follow and which ones we'll forego and create a parenting style that is all our own. I really, truly believe that as long as parents are doing what they believe to be in the best interests of their child, they are making the right choice. That's why I honestly don't care what and when you feed your child, what time you put them to bed, how many hours of consecutive sleep they get because of the sleep training you did or didn't do, how long you breastfed for or what kind of formula you use. No matter how different your choices are to mine, I'm sure you're doing a great job.

So here we are at 4 months. The end of the fourth trimester.  Paloma's not an infant anymore & I'm not a Rookie Mom anymore... It still feels surreal to be here.


First: 
Piercing! Paloma got her ears pierced.
Walks in the stroller. She seems to like the BOB stroller. 

Likes:
Sucking on her fingers. Three at once preferably .
Shaking & chewing her keys
Sucking on her burp cloths. Not the fair-trade bunny from Nanny or the soft & cuddly toys or blankies... she loves burp cloths. (receiving blankets)
Taking naps outside
Jolly Jumping

Dislikes:
The carseat. Lord help me.
Trust me, the level of dislike she has for the carseat this month is enough...







Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Mamas 4 Mamas

This time four years ago, I was packing my bags for Mozambique. I realized while I was walking my dogs today that it was September 2010 that I was shopping at Mountain Equipment Co-Op with my Dad for outback camping gear to bring with me. I had no idea what I would need while living in in a Mozambican village for 6 months, but we surprisingly did a good job picking things out. Most useful were the water purification tablets, headlamp, wind up flashlight and lightweight dishes. With this anniversary, I thought that now would be a good time to announce that I have started my own non-profit called Mamas 4 Mamas.

But first, the back story:

4 years ago I received the phone call telling me that I had been selected to participate in a Canadian International Development Agency Youth Internship in a small village named Caia. My role was a Family Assistance Program Coordinator and I worked to set up programs for the community to promote family self sufficiency. It was such an amazing experience and I learned so much. It was a dream come true to work in international development and it sparked a life-long passion. While in Mozambique, working with so many Mamas and children sparked another dream inside me and that was the dream to become a Mama myself. Not long after returning home, Andino and I officially started trying to conceive. As you all know, that road was a lot longer than anticipated and it put my dreams of working internationally on the back burner.

Now that my baby is here, I have the time (and mental energy) to invest in international development again. I am not willing to work abroad any more though, because I don't want to leave my family for extended periods of time. In other words, I want to work in international development but I only have a couple of weeks a year that I am willing to actually spend abroad. Finding work in international development that only requires you to be away for a couple of weeks a year is basically impossible. I spent hours and hours over the past few months researching opportunities and I couldn't find any that felt like a good fit for me, so I created my own opportunity and I am really excited about it.

So the organization is called Mamas 4 Mamas and the mission is to raise funds to support maternal & infant health projects in developing countries. This year, we are raising funds to support a small project in Honduras called Dar a Luz. I'll be fundraising over the next year and travelling in the Fall of 2015 to Honduras to use the money we've raised to purchase supplies. I have always been interested in working with the really grassroots organizations because I love being on the front lines and I feel like the smaller organizations could benefit the most from financial assistance. I feel so lucky to have received quality health care over the past few years while undergoing fertility treatment  & testing as well as during my pregnancy, labour, delivery & post-partum. I've always been painfully aware that many women around the world do not have access to quality health care when they need it most, which is why I chose to focus on supporting maternal health projects.

I won't be posting here any more about Mamas 4 Mamas, because I want to keep these spaces separate, but I would be incredibly grateful to any of my readers who are able to donate to this worthy cause and/or share my page to spread the word.

The Details:

The website is www.mamas4mamas.ca

I created a new blog so that people who are interested can follow along: www.mamasformamas.blogspot.ca 

Twitter:
twitter.com/mamas4mamas

Facebook
www.facebook.com/mamas4mamas


Thank you from the bottom of my heart to anyone who is able to help out!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

There Is No Pause Button In Life

Most days, when I give Paloma the benefit of the doubt  that she will be able to handle a situation without getting upset, she does great. Even when I am really nervous that things might go terribly wrong, (like I was for our first plane trip) she usually does very well. Usually, but not always. We have guests staying at our house tonight, so yesterday I had the bright idea to go to the grocery store during the 5:00 traffic jam. I knew that Paloma wasn't in the best of moods, but I'd just fed her and she'd just had a nap so I thought I would try to run out and grab the food I would need for the weekend. She hates her car seat and as soon as I pulled out of the driveway she screamed and wailed and bawled for 10 minutes straight until I finally called Andino and put it on speaker phone so he could hear her and I could get some sympathy for what I was dealing with. And then! there was a cop car next to me in traffic who put her lights on and I was so scared she was going to give me a ticket for using my phone while driving and my nerves were so shot from listening to Paloma cry in the back seat that I started to shake as I turned the car around and headed home. As soon as I was driving (instead of being stuck in traffic) Paloma stopped scream-crying and fell asleep. I don't know if it was the motion of the car or if she just tired herself out. Either way, I gave up on the groceries.

Being a Mom is so great and it's everything I thought it would be, including hard. Tonight, I am going to crawl into bed and just crash. I have no energy left to do anything else. This weekend has been long already and it's only 9:00 p.m on Saturday night. Andino and I have both been go-go-go all day today, making food and cleaning the house and taking care of the dogs and taking care of Paloma and entertaining guests and I'm not used to all the energy it takes to be a matriarch! It's not even like I'm running on no sleep here, Paloma woke up at 4 am and I Le Paused (Andino and I couldn't be more huge on Le Pause!) and she fell back asleep until 5:45 for a quick feed then we all went back to sleep until 7. I'm just tired from how much harder it is to have a busy day when you are also taking care of and loving on a tiny baby! Because even the loving on her takes energy, doesn't it? I think of all the women I know who do it all and I just want to give you so much credit because today, I am tired.

Paloma needs me all the time and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love being the one who can comfort her, I love making her smile, I love nursing, I love it all! But sometimes, I'd also like to take a long hot bath in the middle of the day and read a book for as long as I want without her waking up and needing me. And I wouldn't want to change anything about my life as a Mom, I just wish I could hit pause for a few hours. It's like when I was in Mozambique, and I wished so much that I could just pause this moment as I walked down this dirt road and teleport myself back home so I could take a hot bath, eat a home cooked meal by my Mom and sleep in a bed with a real, legit mattress. Then I could teleport myself back to the village rejuvenated and more ready to take on the challenges of living in a village with no electricity. To clean myself by dumping cups of cold water over my body and sleeping on the worst mattress ever in life under my mosquito net that kept falling on my face while I slept and to scorpions and bleached water and everything that was so hard but that I also loved because I was loving the experience of it all. I just wanted to hit pause for a day so I could collect myself. But there's no pause in life, is there? not in motherhood and not in any of the other awesome experiences that while being hard, are also so amazing.

But you know what? Going through experiences that are so hard but also so worth it make us grow. I'm glad I lived for 6 months in Mozambique without a grocery store or running water. Lots of people live their whole lifetime without running water and I always knew that, but experiencing it first hand made me appreciate (and conserve!) water even more. Going through infertility was so hard but it definitely made me grow as a person and for that part, I'm grateful. Motherhood is the same, there are going to be hard days but nothing worthwhile is easy, right?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Le Pause #MicroblogMondays

Paloma's been waking up around 3 a.m. for the past week or so. Last night, she started stirring around 3:15 so I jumped out of bed to prepare to nurse her (bathroom break & grab a large glass of water). By the time I got back to her room, I could tell she was settling back down to sleep again. I sat down in my rocking chair & used my phone to check Pinterest while I made sure she really was asleep. (I didn't want to crawl back into my warm bed only to jump back out again if she decided to wake up!) 5 minutes later, I went back to bed but I was wide awake. It took me a while to fall back asleep and when she woke up (for real) at 5:15 I felt like I'd only been sleeping for 30 minutes. I don't know whether to call this one a win for Le Pause or not...

Thursday, 11 September 2014

First Family Vacation

It's been almost 3 weeks since I last wrote. I don't remember the last time I went that long without writing - I even wrote during the first few weeks after Paloma was born. I got back from vacation a week ago and for some reason I've been struggling to get back on top of things on the home front. I have a list of to-dos but for one reason or another things just don't get done as quickly as I'd like. Every day I try to strike a balance between doing housework, spending quality time reading and talking to Paloma, getting out of the house for a coffee with a friend, taking the dogs for a walk or running an errand and doing something for myself like exercising, blogging or practising French. It seems that for the past few weeks my writing has taken a back seat to the other things. At the moment, I have a pile of clothes on my bedroom floor and also on Paloma's. I am trying to sort through what to keep and what to donate but I stopped myself mid-sorting so I could sit down and finally finish this post about my vacation. So here goes:

We just got back from our first family vacation out of the province to visit my family in Nova Scotia. I was nervous before we left because I wasn't sure how Paloma would react to all the changes in her
environment, let alone the plane ride, but she was a happy girl the whole trip. (For the most part, although she did have a bit of a meltdown at her bedtime the first night. We think she was just overwhelmed/confused from the long journey and the new environment.) As a new Mom, I find myself worrying often about keeping her happy and sometimes it tempts me to avoid certain situations because I worry things will go terribly wrong and she will be upset. So far, giving her the benefit of the doubt (and there is always doubt) that she will be able to handle new experiences and situations has been the best thing I've done for myself as a Mom, because it gives us the opportunity to create new family memories. She surprises me everyday by how much she changes. What may have made her cry 2 weeks ago is no big deal today. So we boarded the plane with our almost 3 month old in her wrap and she did fine for the duration of the flights.

There is a 3 hour time difference between my homes and I tried to keep her on her regular time schedule. My Dad thought I was crazy for having a 3 month old awake and playing at 10:00 p.m. but since she usually sleeps through the night, I was really nervous about doing anything to mess that up. By the end of the trip, we had all naturally adjusted our internal clocks by an hour or two despite my best efforts, but it didn't take us long to readjust once we got back. We tried to keep to her normal bedtime routine as much as possible (story time, bath time & nurse to sleep) and it seemed to work out well. She only slept through the night once during vacation, waking up once or twice during the night for a quick feed and then back to sleep. Since we've been back, she's slept through the night about half the time and the other half of the time she's woken up once for a feed and goes right back down. So it seems that our vacation and the time change didn't mess her up that much afterall.

We used disposable diapers because I didn't want to waste room in my luggage bringing all her cloth diapers and wipes. I intended to use Seventh Generation diapers, but I couldn't find her size at the store, so I bought President's Choice green diapers. She had a diaper blow-out in those on the second day. My Mom was able to find Seventh Generation diapers in her size, so we tried those next. Ensue more diaper blow outs. Finally, I tried Pampers, but they were no match for our little pooper. At the airport on the way home she had a blowout in Pampers and the poop reached all the way up to her shoulder blades! It's funny, when I was researching cloth diapers, I was worried that I'd have to touch poop when changing her, but I touched far more poop when she was in disposables. There's just no way not to touch it when it's all over her body and clothes instead of contained inside the diaper. It's also a lot more messy because you have to deal with not only a poopy diaper, but poopy clothes as well. Okay, enough talk about poop.

Diapers and sleep schedules aside, we had a great vacation. It was so great to see my family and to go to the ocean. I grew up spending time near the ocean year-round and I always find the best way to recharge my internal batteries is to stand facing the ocean and just look at it and think about things. I always leave feeling rejuvenated and like I have things figured out. No matter how stressed I am (even during the hardest times of trying to become a Mom) it's impossible for me to leave the ocean feeling sad. It was such a special moment for me to introduce my daughter to the ocean. This is the beach closest to my house (about 10 minutes drive) and I've never missed a summer going there.



I try to go home twice a year. Usually once in the winter after Christmas and once in the summer. Andino isn't able to make it twice a year but he always comes home with me in the summer. I love creating family memories not just where we live now, but also on the East Coast. We have a lot of happy memories of spending time with my parents, at the beach, camping etc. This trip home was extra special because this time we had our baby girl with us. Andino has been working like a dog since Paloma was born to get our house ready to put on the market. He works full time and then comes home and does a few hours of work around the house. By the time he's done, it's usually time to start Paloma's bedtime routine. During our vacation, Andino was able to spend all day everyday with her. It was the most time he was able to spend with her since he went back to work when she was 2 weeks old and he totally loved it. He was on Daddy Duty for much of the vacation, changing diapers, putting her in his carrier for walks and just spending quality time with her. I am planning on going back to work 2 months early so Andino can take a bit of paternity leave. Seeing them together during our vacation gave me even more confidence that he is going to do a great job as her primary caregiver during that time. 

Of course one of the main reasons it was such a great vacation was because I got to show off my baby to my family. Mom has already spent time with her when she came to visit us after Paloma was born, but this time my Dad, brother, sister-in-law, niece & Aunt were able to meet her. It was so nice to see my baby girl with her family and I'm looking forward to many more family vacations. It's definitely a priority for me to nurture Paloma's relationship with my side of the family, even though they live far away I very much hope that she will have a close relationship with them. 

I can't tell you how many times I daydreamed about travelling with my husband and baby. Every time I boarded a plane over the past few years, I thought to myself "one day, I'll be doing this with a baby strapped to my chest".  Our vacation really was a dream come true

 
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