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!
 
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