October 30, 2009

Don't Walk Away

If you have read a few of the posts here you would pick up on my mixed emotions about BABY growing. It is at once remarkable, exciting, fulfilling to watch her grow up before my eyes, and I feel so grateful to be able to witness it all. At the same time, I am sad that she is growing up so fast. She's my little baby!

The latest in the series of exciting, heartbreaking milestones - crawling. We already have a baby that sits up and rolls over. She loves "standing" with your help and pulling herself up. I'm waiting to see what she will do next. It seems to be changing every week.

Her journey towards crawling has been entertaining. I am left wondering if all babies like this. Is this the sequence to crawling:
- She started pushing up on her arms a while ago.
- She then started pushing up on her knees so that her butt was sticking up in the air.
- She learned how to push up on both hands and knees - table top style.
- She has been working the "take off", where she bounces on her knees and looks like she might launch herself across the room.
- She has been using her arms to pull herself in a circle.
- She uses her arms to push herself backwards.

All of these things combined with the sitting and rolling over, means that she is actually "traveling". She can help herself to that remote or cellphone or grocery list or key chain that was once a few feet away. But she hasn't yet got the momentum to really start crawling.

So I relish in small movements. I relish in each minute that she sits up on her own and looks up at me, and stays there. For all the time that she doesn't crawl, walk or run away, she is with me. That makes me a happy mommy.

~ humps

October 25, 2009

Month Six

Dear My Precious Baby,

Yesterday you turned six months old. We celebrated this special occasion at a party. No I didn't plan a 6 month birthday for you (although that would rock), it wasn't a party for you. It was a beautiful baby shower for Auntie S, who is due to have a little boy in just 5 weeks. Her baby will be born the same year as you. You will grow up together. But don't worry, I won't make you play with him if you don't want to. If he does anything mean to you, I will kick his ass. Me and Auntie S are cool like that.

And yes, I do expect you to call mommy's friends Auntie and Uncle.

As I look back, I have to say that this was the month of laughter. You have always been a very happy baby. I was convinced that I saw you smile for the first time that very first week that we brought you home from the hospital. Although they say that you were too young for that to be a "real" smile, I think it was. You see, during that time we were still getting to know each other. I was learning to hold you how you like to be held, and rock you how you like to be rocked. I would sometimes lie down with you, with my face so close to your face that our noses were touching. I would talk to you softly and we would get to know each other. The first time that I put you in your playgym, got on the floor down beside you and talked to you softly, you smiled.

Since then you have kept on smiling - when you are dreaming a nice dream, when you wake up, during playtime, after feeding, when you meet someone new, when you see a familiar face. Everyone who meets you remarks at what a happy baby you are. It is true. I'm so lucky to have you.

And now you laugh. You laugh rich, long, full belly laughs. You throw your head back and let out the best of laughs. These laughs make your eyes squint and your cheeks puff. Sometimes when I hold you so that you are looking at the world, and make funny sounds in your ear, you throw yourself against me and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. I wonder if your cheeks hurt from all of this laughing.

You can sit up all by yourself now and roll over. We debuted your new found skills to Auntie C about a month ago and she was so impressed. I couldn't help but take many a picture with you sitting all by yourself. It really hit me that you were becoming a big girl when I watched you sit with your older cousins and play with one of the toys at Grandma's house during the beginning of October. You were actually sitting and playing with the big girls, who are over five years older than you!! There was my little girl.

But although you can sit, you would much rather stand. You hold on to anyone's hands that you can and pull yourself up to standing. You like to stand on the floor, on the couch, on mommy's lap. You would stay standing all day if I would let you. You have always like to be held up, from the minute we brought you home, and take in all the world has to offer.

This week you had solid foods for the first time. I think that you like mommy's cooking. I can't wait to make more delicious baby food for you. I can't believe that you are getting so big.

I am exciting that you are growing up before my eyes and but it makes me a little sad. The time is just flying by so quickly. I want to pause the clock. I want to cuddle you until you don't want to cuddle anymore. I want to hold you until you are too big to be held. I don't want to let you go. Promise me that you will always be my little baby, even when you are too old to sit on my lap, when you are too busy to call, when you have your own friends and your own life. Promise that you will still let me love you to pieces.

I love you more than I ever knew that I could. This has been the best six months of my life and I can't wait for more.

Love, Mommy

October 23, 2009

Worst Advice? Get Married!

Last night I had a great time on a "Tweet Chat". It was for the Motherhood movie opening in select cities today, staring Uma Thurman. A number of moms and dads where discussing the ups and down, joys and triumphs of Motherhood. Some great mom bloggers were panelists (@mommadethat @sthrnfairytale @goodandcrazy @carissarogers @momdotrocks @futuremommy @MomDotRocks @mamakatslosinit @1momof5 @angiescircus) and discussions included things from favorite books, to lessons learned.

When the question "What's the worst advice that you received?" was raised, some of the responses included letting the baby cry it out, wake up the baby to feed him, having another child. Do you know what I said when that question came up. I said that the worst advice given was to GET MARRIED, and thank God that I didn't.

Too much information for an informal Tweet Chat! Yeah, maybe. I didn't have my mental
filter on. I just put it out there in the Twitterverse before I even realized that my response was drastically different from the mainstream.

But I mean it! I am so glad that I didn't get married.

I have talked about my daughter's father as Dad-To-Be on this blog and I really don't talk about him much. We were dating for about two years before I got pregnant. During that time, had long discussions about the children we would eventually have. We talked about getting married. We were happy. We never fought during those two years. We were in love.

He had moved from Toronto to Chicago (where he grew up) the summer that BABY was conceived. While in Toronto the months before, his dad was diagnotized and going through treatment for Prostate Cancer. His parents were getting a divorce after over 35 years of marriage. His siblings were picking sides. It was hard for him be in Canada while all of this was happening. We talked long and hard about him moving back. I encouraged him to. It was still heartbreaking.

I had convinced myself that I was at a point in my life and career where I could use a change of scenery. I was a few years into my career at a multinational company. I knew that US experience would help me and I was marketable. My friends and family would be sad to see me go but encouraging. I had nothing to hold me back. The plan was for him to move down and handle all of the drama that I was happening with his family. He would also pave the way for my move.

We had a five year plan.

But through all of this, I would always say that we would move back to Canada to have children - once we were married of course! I want to raise my kids in Toronto.

When I found out that I was having BABY, I was shocked. We both were. We both took it hard. But it didn't take me too long to realize that it was a gift. Luckily we found out before I left my job and before I moved. He didn't exactly see it that way.

Throughout my pregnancy, Dad-To-Be and I were going through a hard time. There were ups and downs, backs and forths - physically between the US and Canada, and emotionally. We broke up, and made up, then to break up again. People assumed that we would get married. That was the last thing on my mind - I had a lot of other things to worry about besides a wedding!!

BABY was just born when it completely fell apart. In an effort to keep all of the drama out of this blog (at least for now) I won't get into it. Basically, there were a ton of lies that uncovered itself.

Although we are still working out the role that he will play in BABY's life, I have to come to terms with what it means to be a single mom (it terrifies me even typing that), and there are lots of other issues and concerns and problems, I am happy that I didn't get married.

I wouldn't want BABY to be put in a situation that is not completely beneficial for her. I wouldn't want BABY to be in the middle of a strained relationship. I wouldn't want BABY to adjust to a changing environment when the relationship eventually broke apart.

Now that we are apart, I can provide an environment for her that is consistent, positive, loving and happy. And this love is all that she has ever known.

I know that many have happy, fulfilling marriages but it doesn't look like that is in the cards right now. For me, my life and my experience, I would pick single and happy, versus married and miserable any day. I am glad.

~ humps

October 20, 2009

What's For Dinner?

This weekend, my little girl is turning 6 months old. I am sad and excited at the same time. Sad - because she is growing up so fast. Excited - because I know that there are more wonderful milestones to come.

The latest milestone: solid foods!! Yesterday I gave her solids for the first time. Big deal, no?

I was preparing for this moment emotionally and physically for a long time. (I am dramatic like that). At our last appointment for her 4 month immunization shots, BABY's physician gave me the go ahead to start solids. I was a little stunned. I wasn't ready to hear that. It felt counter to everything that I was reading, which advised moms to keep breastfeeding their children to 6 months. Weren't both the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF - two huge worldwide organizations - recommending just breast milk for the first 6 months and then breastfeeding with supplemental food until 2 years old and beyond?!

I'm sure that there is a certain face one creates when one knows that they are not going to take given advice. This is the same face teenagers use when they are going to immediately dismiss something that their parents say, or the face that a husband gives when he is ignoring a comment from his wife. I gave this face to my doctor. It was a blank stare with nod type of face. Luckily he doesn't know me well enough to notice. In fact, I'm fairly sure that he was just scribbling something down. Not even looking in my direction.

Over the last couple of months, our doctor was joined by a growing list of people that I was quietly ignoring on the subject of solids for baby including my grandmother, mother, a few moms that I knew who started their babies on solids around four months. Instead of these people I decided to pay attention to BABY's cues and behaviour, and listen to my own instincts.

In the meantime, I got ready physically while my emotions caught up. I picked some solid food appropriate bibs, adorable baby spoons and dishes (in BPA-free plastic since I couldn't really find non-plastic items that were in my very limited price range! Holla at me if you have any recommendations). Since I am planning on making my own baby food, I made sure that my Magic Bullet was working and that I had a few extra ice cube trays for freezing. I re-read the Starting Solids chapter of What to Expect: The First Year, and another book that I have on naturally healthy first foods. I researched homemade baby food recipes online. I talked to other moms.

Then I was ready emotionally.

On Monday, I had my first foray into the homemade baby food world. I was equipped with my recipes for homemade rice cereals, which I decided would be BABY's first food. I actually made two different versions:

Cooking Then Blending
- Cook short grain brown rice according to package directions. (I did a batch in my rice cooker for dinner and only portioned out a 1/4 cup for the baby food.)
- Place the cooked brown rice in a blender or food processor with the breast milk/water/formula.
- Puree until completely smooth.
- I poured most of it into ice trays and froze overnight, then put into a freezer bag.

Blending Then Cooking
- Blend short grain brown rice into a fine powder using a blender or food processor.
- Boil water in a saucepan. Once boiling, whisk in rice.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes, while whisking the entire time. It will get thicker and thicker.

I would have to say that solid foods was a big success. I gave BABY a little bit of both versions. She played in it and ate some. We had lots of laughing and no crying. Personally, I think that the proof is in the pictures.

~ humps

October 18, 2009

A Great Grandmother

My mom has one of those really big photo albums from the 70s with the hundreds of pages, gold accents on a pearlized hardcover, clear plastic vinyl and sticky pages, large metal binder-style rings. You had to take the plastic from the sticky pages apart and put the pictures inside. The photo albums were so heavy that I'm sure they were a hazard to have in the house. Those albums were kept stashed away.

A few of the photo albums are dedicated to pictures of me as a kid - I'm an only child so I was the subject most of the time. I used to look at the pictures in the albums a lot. It was great to relive the vacations with aunts and uncles, the holidays with cousins, the summer days with neighbors and friends. I especially like looking at pictures when I was a baby - most of which included my grandmother.

One of the most memorable pictures I had was with my grandmother giving me a bath.

My grandmother and I have always been very close. I can't put into words how much she was a part of my life since I was young. Caregiver, baby sitter, role model, teacher, therapist, confidant, accomplice, companion, nurse, best friend, chauffeur, daycare-pickuper, booboo-kisser, overall-everything. We used to spend a lot of time together. She took care of me.

About 10 years ago she moved back to the West Indies for health reasons. Her arthritis, food allergies, back problems made living in Toronto's cold winters too difficult. When her job with a bank became redundant and early retirement was offered, her physician suggested that was the perfect time to make the move. Most years, she comes up to Toronto for the summer and returns to the West Indies before it gets too cold. Sometimes she avoids the hassle and doesn't come.

My grandmother bought a ticket back to Toronto in time for BABY's birth. She wanted to be here. I wanted her here. There was no else that I wanted to share this summer with more than her. She was at the hospital when I had BABY - at times walking the halls with me, rubbing my back to relieve my contractions, holding my hand when I needed it. At 2:00 am she was holding my little girl in her arms. I cried. My daughter is her 10th Great Grandchild.

This summer we spent a lot of time together. When I brought BABY home from the hospital, my grandmother was looking over my shoulder as I gave her first bath. Just like the picture that I remember looking at in my mother's albums.

Her flight left on Friday. I brought BABY to say goodbye. My grandmother kissed her forehead, called her Princess and hugged her. BABY smiled. When my Grandmother comes back next year - God willing - my daughter will a year old. She will be older, different. She will be waddling instead of just reaching.

Over the last few months I have begun my own extra large photo album. It might not be like the 70s version that my mom had. There are no sticky pages or plastic, or metal rings or hard covers. But there are lots of pictures of my grandmother.

~ humps

October 13, 2009

No-Kid Friends

Some of my friends are married - happily and otherwise. Some have children - young and old. Some are single - and either loving or hating that. I have friends that are in all stages of life. And not too long ago, I was one of their single friends. Dating but loving the "single life". And faster than you can say, Tequila!!, I was waddling down the baby path.

Now I am a mother.

As much as it is an adjustment for me, it seems to be a bigger adjustment to some of my friends. And I understand. Before I had a child of my own, it was hard for me to really "get it"; that unique situation that the parents around me were going through.

Now that I sit on this side of the bassinet, as a service to those of us who recently became parents, here is my quick list of the things that I have learned:

- No-Kid Friends don't understand if you can't meet up for lunch with just twenty minutes notice. Leaving the house needs to be carefully coordinated. There are nap times to consider. The process of taking a shower comes with it's own complications. Diapers must be changed and babies put in endless layers of clothing. People with babies need to pack bags with lots of extra items. It's not that we don't want to see you No-Kid Friend. We just need lots of notice. Lots. Of. Notice.

- No-Kid Friends think that you let yourself go if your hair isn't combed when you finally see them. Whereas your With-Kid Friends are much more observant. They see that you are wearing clean clothes, a belt and Chapstick! They are happy that you were able to take a shower and leave the house. They overlook little things like bad hair and spit-up on your shirt. They understand.

- No-Kid Friends will ask you things that could potentially cause a breakdown - like "Is BABY sleeping through the night?" when BABY is still only two weeks old and you haven't slept in over two weeks. They don't know any better. And trust me, losing it on them is not gonna help. They will learn in due time.

- On the other hand, No-Kid Friends don't want to hear about diapers. They don't want you to tell them the poo-explosion story, as funny as it may be to you in your current state of delirium. They will smile at you as you tell the story, but they won't laugh. They may even turn in the other direction as they try to suppress disgust. Your With-Kid Friend will share his / her own poo story.

- No-Kid Friends don't spend extended periods of time looking at your baby, holding and rocking the baby and making faces at the baby. They are more easily bored by this no walking - no talking being. Those No-Kid Friends have very short attention spans.

- No-Kid Friends still plan those great events, nights out and get-togethers, even after you have a baby. Events that require weeks of breast pumping to have sufficient supply to leave the new baby, hours of painful engorgement while trying to make small talk with people that you don't know, and too long lingering over the pictures of your baby in your digital camera.

Your No-Kid Friends don't mean any harm. I know, I was one of them. They just don't get it. They are innocent of the complex dealings of the new parents. And frankly, they don't want to know. Soon enough, maybe as a result of some tequila, they too will walk down the baby path. And then it will hit them.

New With-Kid Friend,

October 6, 2009

Revelations About Baby Clothes

When your poor baby girl cannot move her little feet, raise her arms or touch her toes, you may want to "retire" that too tight sleeper. (The latest revelation and the kind of expert mom advice that you are going to get by reading my blog.)

To make matters worse, it was actually my mother who insisted that BABY's sleepers were too tight to keep wearing. I didn't want to believe it. I ignore her. I didn't want to acknowledge that she was right. I turned the other way. I washed that sleeper and put in the drawer. I put BABY in it a few days later. This is commonly known as denial.

Don't fault me - it is hard to look at the situation objectively when you are in love with an outfit. It's hard to say goodbye to baby outfits before their time. Ok, ok before my time.

I have attachment issues. I get attached. I fall in love with these little baby clothes. I find myself in the baby clothing section of stores - including my grocery store (hello Joe Fresh!) - holding a new little girl outfit in the air and picturing BABY in it. Seeing her cub cub legs and rolly polly arms filling out the clothes to perfection.

Adult clothing is very different. If they were my clothes I would wear them. I would love them as I was wearing them. I would find more ways to wear them more often - layered over things, under things. I would accessorize. I would dress it up and dress it down. If I wasn't completely fulfilled by wearing it for the initial term (however many months that would be), I would still keep it. I would stow it away in big plastic Tupperware containers in my storage room, or in tiny little white cardboard boxes from Ikea, or under my bed. Maybe I would hang it in the back of my closet. I would come back to it next year when the weather changes. I would wear it year after year. Maybe I would give it away - to a friend or family member. The clothes would have a long life span - at least as long as I liked them.

Baby clothes are a whole new experience. It is an experience that I am still getting used to.

You see with baby clothes, I buy them. They are super cute in many different ways. A touch like smaller versions of adult clothes with their tiny belt hoops, polished hems, collars, and little pockets. These childrenwear designers know that a 2 month old doesn't need a belt or to put anything in their pocket. It's all to provoke a sense of familiarity. We're hooked. Then they sprinkle on the little details - baby only details - that make us ohhh and aahhh.

The cuteness of the design is not even the whole problem. I could probably live with design cuteness. In fact, I EXPECT a high level of cuteness for the entire baby fashion industry. The real problem is what happens when these clothes are brought home. We take them out of the bags, and we wash them. We put them on our cub cub, rolly polly children and they look so damn cute. Our children sit there, big smiles and sporadic movements, while we ohh and ahh. We take the children out where others swoon over them. These clothes become our favorite outfits. We find occasions to showcase these outfits because our children look so damn cute in them. We are attached.

In three washes our children start to grow out of the outfits that we love - our favorite outfits. The buttons pull apart slightly. The arms and legs become just that much shorter. Our children out grow them before we are really finished loving these outfits.

And that's how it all began for BABY's too tight sleeper that I am attached to. Now it's... well it's too tight.

~ humps

October 3, 2009

If you haven't seen my boobs yet...

As you may know, I'm pro breastfeeding. Remember my song? Well, today I took BABY to the Toronto Breastfeeding Challenge. It's actually an event that takes place in a bunch of cities across Canada and the United States. Each city competes to set the record for the most babies breastfeeding at one time. Last year Toronto placed sixth out of 362 participating sites.

The event was put on by Toronto Public Health with the participation and support of other companies and organizations - including the La Leache League and Chinese / Vietnamese Breastfeeding Network. There were a number of companies that showed their support through sponsorship and giveaways.

BABY and I had a good time meeting the other mommies and daddies at the event. It was a great sense of community being with all of those pro-breastfeeding families. We watched the evymama fashion show, won a little gift certificate as a door prize, and stayed for a seminar on infant massage. (There were also other seminars on baby food, baby signing, baby wearing, but I couldn't do it all).

And, I was interviewed for a local newstalk radio station CFRB 1010. For some reason I couldn't load the audio clip that was on their website, so have no idea was I in the report or editted out of it. Click here, and maybe you will have better luck. Since my pictures didn't turn out too well, a better bet would be to check out the Toronto Sun pictures.

A fun day and definitely worth going. Hopefully we'll be there year.

~ humps
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