Monday, 30 March 2015

The Big 3-0

I turn 30 on April 1st. I thought I'd feel sad about leaving my 20s behind, but I'm not at all. Bring them on!

The first 5 years of my 20s I was in University. I learned and grew so much. Of course, in the beginning I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life career-wise (and otherwise). I decided to double major in Human Geography when I finished my Psychology degree and realized that a B.A. in Psych didn't do much for my career prospects. It was when I started studying Geography that I really started to mature and become more like the person I am today. It's when I started to become passionate about International Development and started to form my own opinion about the goings on in the world. Studying Human Geography really expanded my world view and I'm surprised at how often I think back on those classes.

I met Andino when I was 23 and got married when I was 24. So I did a lot of growing and maturing during the first few years of our marriage. I am in constant pursuit of personal growth and becoming a better person. Of course, I have grown more in some areas than others, but I am proud to say I can look back and see I've come a long way in terms of my maturity, patience and confidence, although I still have a lot of work to do on my habit of stressing unnecessarily and caring about what other people think, among other things. .

The last few years of my 20s were spent trying to become a Mom, being pregnant and then learning how to be a Mom. 30 is a big milestone for me because that was the date I had set in my mind to give up on trying. If I didn't have a child or one on the way through adoption or pregnancy by the time I turned 30, I was going to throw in the towel. I had started trying when I was 25 and I knew I couldn't keep on fighting past the 5 year mark. Of course it goes without saying that I am overjoyed to be celebrating my birthday with my little sweetie-pie, Paloma.

I don't think I'm exaggerating much to say that I live for new beginnings. I just love the feeling of a fresh start. The excitement and anticipation of stepping into the unknown. The feeling that anything is possible and not knowing what comes next. Some of my favourite new beginnings are: the feeling in my stomach when the plane touches down in a place I've never been before. The clean, white pages of a new notebook before it's been written in, moving to a new place, starting a new book when the first few pages are amazing and I know it's going to be a good story, making a new friend who I really hit it off with... So another reason I'm excited to turn 30 is because it feels like a new beginning and a blank slate.

I made a 30 before 30 list, but I wasn't able to accomplish everything on my list. I'm going to continue working on it throughout the year. I am really looking forward to what the new year will bring. I know there will be challenges - the biggest of which will probably be when I leave Paloma in daycare to start back at work August 1st, followed closely by when I leave her home while I go to Honduras with my non-profit, Mamas 4 Mamas. I also know there will be some exciting things happening like buying a new home and my trip to Honduras with my Mom in the Fall. The other big plan for my 30th year is to try for baby #2... hopefully a much less stressful process than bringing Paloma into the world was!

I have a habit of making resolutions for new beginnings. The usual stuff - eat healthy, exercise, study French, meal planning etc. and while I definitely still want to do all those things, the only resolution I am going to focus on is positive thinking and not worrying about the future. I hope one day, I am able to fully live in the moment without worrying about hypothetical future situations. This resolution may be the hardest to accomplish of all!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Talking About #2

Wow... I just made an appointment with our infertility Dr (she's an OBGYN not an RE) to talk about baby #2. 

Paloma was born at the end of May and I got pregnant with her September 3rd. Originally, I was planning on trying for #2 in June or July after she turns 1, because I wanted the baby to be born in February or March when the weather sucks and we aren't going outside anyway. Then when the baby is old enough to enjoy being outside, the weather would just start getting nice. I found it hard this winter with Paloma learning to crawl and wanting to explore during the long, cold winter months when we were stuck inside all the time. That plan didn't work out though, because my daycare won't have a space for her until August so I won't be returning to work until then and I didn't want to start back at work already pregnant (although I could... but still...) So we have been talking about starting to try again in September/October. Only recently, I found out about a tonne of drop-in Mom & Baby groups within walking distance of my house, so if I do have another May baby, I would definitely participate in those groups during the winter.

So even though we aren't planning on trying again right away, I asked my family Dr to refer us again last week when I was there because Paloma was sick. Dr. H usually has a really long wait list (last time I think it was 6-9 months) because she is renowned in our city, so I was surprised when I received a voicemail this afternoon offering me an appointment with her this Thursday! When I called back to accept the appointment, I told the receptionist we aren't in a rush and asked if it would be possible to schedule us a few months from now. She told me Dr. H was just coming back from mat leave (!) and will only be working part time during the summer. After that she's going to Vancouver for 2 years to further her education with regards to infertility. (Maybe she's becoming an RE?) so I'm glad I got an appointment with her when I did.

I thought I would have more mixed feelings about starting this roller coaster again, but surprisingly, I'm nothing but happy. That being said, we are really just going to see her to talk about trying again, not actually starting medication or anything, so maybe when the time comes I'll feel more apprehensive. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Last Time Poem

I talk to my Mom every day, throughout the day. Even though we live very far apart (6 hours flying) she always knows what's going on in my life and in my day. She knows that as much as I want to be the Free Spirit Mama I always imagined I would be during the years I tried to become a Mama, that sometimes I get sucked into the articles I read on the internet about how important it is not to nurse baby to sleep, to make sure her naps happen at a certain time, in a certain place. She knows that as much as I don't want to, sometimes I worry if she's eating enough solids or getting enough milk. (Actually, I never really worry if she's getting enough milk because Paloma is a fiend for the boob all day long! haha...) I sometimes worry if I should be night weaning her or trying to put her on a better schedule.

She sent me this poem as a reminder to stop worrying about what the internet (or anyone else for that matter) thinks I should be doing. That I should go ahead and nurse her to sleep, because someday, she won't be nursing anymore. That I should let her nap when she wants to, because eventually in August, she'll be in daycare and I won't have to worry about a schedule.

Paloma is 9 and a half months old. I'm thinking about her first birthday party. It has been an amazing and wonderful year of firsts, but also, a year of lasts. I remember when she was so small that I had to hold her against my chest and shoulder. Now, I only ever hold her on my hip. I remember when we went through a million burp cloths a day because she was spitting up after every feeding. Now, I haven't burped her in months and I'm thinking of swapping the drawer full of burp cloths in her dresser to another clothes drawer. There are so many little things that are different now that she's creeping up on her first birthday. I am more in love with her than ever and it's so cool to see her feisty little personality emerge. I find as she gets older the bond between us deepens and while I'm a little nostalgic for the days when she was a little tiny baby (and the day when I would have to go back to work was far, far away) I wouldn't go back in time if I had the chance. Well... maybe I would, just to tell myself to get off Google...

You may have read this poem before. But it's worth reading again. It's great.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A Letter From A Friend

OMG look at me posting two days in a row! Except I can't really take credit for this one. I'm just sharing a letter a girlfriend sent me a few days ago. I asked her if I could share it with all of you because I feel like her words may strike a chord with some of you as much as it did me. It meant so much to me that she took the time to write me this letter even though we haven't hung out in ages. One thing I've been noticing lately is that it's not always the people you are expecting to be there for you who show up and send you some much needed love and support when you need it most.

Hey! I know you likely have many people in your life to confide in and receive advice from, so I don't want you to think that I'm sitting here on my soap box trying to tell you anything. That's not my intention. Instead, I just want to express an outsiders perspective. I love reading your blogs. Reading is equally as therapeutic as writing for me. Plus, I love watching your little one grow. She is such a beauty. In the second picture from your most recent blog, you both have the same head tilt - it's absolutely adorable. I've noticed somewhat of a trend in your writing lately. As a fellow writer, I know that most of what we write is our true feelings. You're painting a picture of your life from your perspective for the reader. Having also the privilege of knowing you in person gives me the advantage of knowing that you're all the things you mention you wish you could 'be more like' than you give yourself credit for. I'm not trying to be critical with this, I want to more-so to be encouraging, so please keep that frame of mind when reading this. Striving to be the best version of yourself is something I try and do daily. It's tiring. Sometimes I feel like I'm reaching for a goal that I'll never achieve. Sometimes, from your writing, I notice that you are striving to be the best Mama you can and provide the best parenting for your little sweetie. Without actually being a Mom, I still know very well that the role of Mom is one of the hardest things to be. You only want what's best but so much is completely out of your control. You sometimes seem too hard on yourself in your writing. I think I get it though. You're expressing these uncertainties in writing just to get them out. I do the exact same thing. Sometimes just getting our fears and frustrations out on paper (or page) is enough to keep going. I just want you to know that despite those uncertainties, you're an incredible Mom! I know for a fact that you're going to raise an amazing little human. She's going to have such a great perspective on the world and an open heart. Her sleeping patterns and eating habits may go back and forth from desirable to outright painstaking, but who she is as a person will never falter because she has you and Andino as parents. The love and light that I send to you during those sleepless nights or moments where you feel your patience is running on empty is also filled with a hope for you to be kind to yourself. To allow yourself to just be - without fitting into a mold or filling an expectation. I have no doubt that parenting is filled with doubt and fear. There's always that concern whether what you're doing will end up being a good or bad thing for Paloma's future. I don't think any Mom has it figured out or does what's best all the time - it's simply impossible. Sometimes you have to do what's best for you to do what's best for her too. You provide her with the things she needs for basic human survival and some days, that's enough! Give yourself a big hug for every 10 you give to her because you're doing great Mama!!!!

Monday, 9 March 2015

#MicroblogMonday Family Outings

I am so ready for Winter to be over. I've been cooped up inside for months. Getting fresh air and being in nature really is a must for my sanity and well-being. Thankfully, we discovered a floral conservatory where we can go and enjoy sitting among beautiful flowers in a warm greenhouse, even when it's cold outside. Next time, we'll bring snacks to enjoy while we're there.  


Friday, 6 March 2015

Reluctant Bed Sharing

On Christmas Eve, Paloma started waking up every few hours during the night. We joked that she was excited because she knew Santa was coming. Then she woke frequently the next night. And the next night. And a week went by and then a month. She was teething and learning new things and we decided to just wait it out. She had always slept through the night (thanks to my BFF in early parenthood - Le Pause) so surely she would sleep through the night again. Except she didn't. We continued to Le Pause her, but her mild complaints in the middle of the night turned into full on crying instead of tapering off into silence as they always did before. We tried many things to get her back to sleep. When Le Pause didn't work anymore, we tried running into her room and putting a hand on her belly as soon as we heard a peep before she really woke up. That worked for a few nights. In the beginning, she let Andino soothe her, so he took the early night shift and put her back to sleep the first time she woke up so I could have some consecutive hours of sleep. But now she only wants Mom.

Once she stopped letting Andino soothe her back to sleep, I was on 100% night time duty. I was getting up pretty much every 2 hours and stumbling red-eyed into her room. I usually nursed her back to sleep, because that was fastest and easiest way. If I rocked her back to sleep, I had to stand up to do it (she wouldn't fall asleep from rocking in the rocking chair of course) and I was so tired, I didn't want to stand. Plus she's over 20 pounds and when she resists being rocked because she wants to nurse, it's not easy or fun wrangling a crying, heavy baby at 2 in the morning. Plus, I always worried that she may actually be hungry since she often refuses solids, especially when teething. So I'd sit in my rocking chair and nurse her back to sleep while I read your blogs on my phone...but since a lot of my blogging friends are busy Moms now, there aren't as many updates to read as there used to be, so sometimes I played solitaire. She'd fall back asleep in 10-15 minutes, I'd lay her in her crib and go back to my bed. Sometimes I'd put her down too soon and she'd cry 2 minutes after I laid down. Sometimes she'd stay asleep, but then I was wide awake and it would take me a while to drift back to sleep again. I often felt like I'd only been asleep for an hour when she'd wake up again and the whole routine would be repeated. Night. After. Night.

I soon realized that part of the problem was that the bright light from my phone was causing me to fully wake up. I turned down the brightness as low as it would go but that didn't help. I didn't want to use my phone at night anymore, but I also didn't want to sit in the rocking chair in her room for 15 minutes or more staring out into the darkness. So, I started bringing her into my bed. Problem solved right? I could nurse her back to sleep the minute she woke up and keep my eyes closed while doing it. Except (of course) this didn't work either. Paloma loves to play with her Dad. As soon as she sees him come home from work, she kicks her legs and waves her arms in excitement. The same thing was happening all through the night when she'd wake in my bed and see him. She'd get excited and start smacking his face, trying to wake him up so he could play with her. I was not amused. I was still not sleeping.

I didn't know what to do. I was so tired and cranky I started picking fights with Andino every day. I was so tired during playdates in the afternoon I couldn't even keep the conversation going with my friends. I started drinking an extra couple cups of tea during the day, just to make it through. I considered night weaning. I considered sleep training. I researched and researched and researched. Then I went home to visit my family on the east coast for 10 days. I was so excited for a break from the routine and to have help from my parents with Paloma. I imagined being able to take long hot baths while Paloma spent quality time with her grandparents. That didn't happen. She was totally freaked out in my parents house and by the change in her routine, she didn't let me out of her sight at all. Not even to use the bathroom. When I took a shower, she scream-cried the whole time.  This was the first appearance of major separation anxiety. (Side note: 8 months is not the ideal time to travel with baby. The actual travel part was easier than when we flew at 10 weeks and 5 months, but the being away was a lot harder.) She wouldn't nap in the playpen my parents had set up for her, so she slept in my bed. I was always worried she'd fall off the bed, so I sat there while she slept for every nap. She slept beside me all night. Without her Dad there to distract her, she slept. I slept. She still woke up through the night, but only briefly. I caught up on my sleep and felt like myself again.

Then we came home and I don't know if I couldn't get her back in her crib, or if I was so happy with the sleep I was getting while bed sharing that I didn't want to fight to get her to sleep alone anymore. So we continued to bed share. But Andino couldn't join us because then she wouldn't sleep. So he's on the couch. And I hate that, because I really love cuddling with him at night. I never thought I'd be a bed sharing Mama, even for all my hippy parenting ways. I don't know why, but it's just not my cup of tea. But we chose these sleeping arrangements for the time-being because we are all (more or less) sleeping through the night this way. And a well-rested family is a good thing,

It's been a couple weeks of reluctant bed sharing and I'm starting to transition her back to her crib. I make sure that she takes at least 1 nap in her crib every day and I encourage her to sleep there for at least the beginning part of the night so she doesn't lose the ability to sleep there entirely. We've decided to do whatever it takes for another few months until she's talking and/or old enough to understand when we communicate to her why she should sleep in her crib and that we'll be right down the hall etc. That's what my sister-in-law did with my niece and it worked well for her, even though there were tears involved sometimes, at least she knew her daughter understood what was going on. Paloma is so young and going through separation anxiety big time right now, so we don't feel like now is the right time to force her to sleep alone.

One thing that has worked for us to get her sleeping better, which seems really counter-intuitive, but I decided to try it anyway after my Mom suggested it because at this point I'm willing to try anything, is when she wakes up in the middle of the night, I really get up with her. I take her out of her room and let her blow off some steam sitting on the living room with her toys. I don't make it exciting and enthusiastic, I don't turn the lights on. I actually don't even say anything. After 10 minutes or so, I put her to sleep again and she sleeps for a longer stretch than when I put her back to sleep the minute she wakes up. I don't always do this, but whenever I have, it's worked. Who knows why...

I'm hopeful that I will be able to blog more regularly, now that I'm not so sleep deprived. I thought I could make a point to write on Thursdays. I even made up a name for my Thursday posts - I was going to call them Thursday Thoughts. I don't know how well that will go though, seeing as how today is Friday and I'm just now getting this post up. This post turned out to be really long. Sorry about that! Hopefully next time I write I will be more concise. And because you read to the end of this post, I will reward you with  photos of my little sweetie:

Gypsy Baby

Kisses for Lola
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