Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Used Baby Clothes

Baby clothes are adorable. They're fun! They are so effing temporary. You get maybe three months out of anything and then it's goodbye forever! I can't get too attached to any cute jammies because then when Jack outgrows them and I know they're done I get bummed. The first pair I was sad to let go of were his fuzzy duck pyjamas that said "Mommy loves me." Sob!

Well, I've reached the point where I must procure more clothes, particularly as it's winter and most of the baby clothes I have are for light weather.

The first time I snagged a great deal was a clothing swap at Baby On The Hip on College Street. I paid $7 to attend with a bag of Jack's tiny onesies and came home with 12 larger items. Score!

Lately I've been hitting up Value Village, or the Value Boutique as one of my aunts liked to say. I did a Fall run and got some adorable sweaters and jammies, but being out in the chill showed me how insufficient my baby's winter clothes were, even though in his stroller he gets carted around town in a fleece sack. And incidentally, I'm so jealous. I want to be pushed around in a fleece sack.

So, today I combed through the baby boy section at VV and found some good cold weather stuffs... and a vintage style leather jacket! Yes, a leather jacket for a baby. And it was $6.99. Holy muffins.

Thrift Store Score!
He may not be able to wear it until spring, but who cares! Actually, I bought him a teddy bear snow suit from Value Village last time that may not fit all through winter... but again it was $7, so I cared not. For that price, if he can wear it once so I can get a picture I am happy. You leave something behind in that place and you'll never see it again, so leave regret-free!

I also found a reindeer PJ set that came with a Rudolph hat. Hello, Christmas morning outfit! $4? Well, alright!

I never enjoyed thrift store shopping before. Too many aisles, too much crap, funny smells and I don't have that kind of patience. But the baby section is small and easy to navigate and also I don't feel bad about my son outgrowing something that cost a toonie. Worth it.

This brings me, though, to a hard part. Giving away all his old stuff. I keep thinking it would be good to hang on to it in case my friends have kids. Also then I don't have to part with it just yet. There is something very emotional about holding up a tiny little outfit it seems impossible your baby used to wear three months ago.

I'm super excited he's doing so well and growing. But... the clothes. If there's anything in the world that can make you want to slow everything down, it's your baby's tiny pyjamas.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Baby's Family

So, having your baby's grandparents in town is amazing. There are people (So many!) who have this incredible family resource all the time: loving people who adore your child and don't think it's a favour to babysit. Once in a while I get the joy of this experience.

The Dude's dad and stepmom came up for a week and on Thursday watched Jack while I got my hair done. La! Nice hair! So awesome. And then on Saturday they came over and watched Homeland at our house while Jack slept and we attended the McPal annual Halloween party.

Sailor Jupiter and Spock.
In the name of the moon, live long and prosper.
I got to fulfill a small teenage wish and was Sailor Jupiter! Sailor Moon is really the gold standard dream, but the cost of the wig and boots made it less than economical. Plus, what do you do with a Sailor Moon wig after you're done wearing it? I haven't gone to an anime convention in 10 years. So, I picked the Sailor Senshi with hair I wouldn't need to purchase a wig for. Logical. Spock logical.

The costume isn't the most flattering. Right around the narrowest part of the waist there is thick tubing. But whatever. Ever since I had the baby my body hasn't looked the same and increasingly I've grown less concerned about it.

The day after the party (Which was SO much fun) we went to our nephew's birthday party. There were eight grandkids there, including Jack. All the little kids got right in his face and wanted to hold him and were touching his head all over. My boy, let me tell you, is one cool customer. Took it all in stride. Nothing gets to him, really, except fatigue, hunger and gas. Yelling kids poking his cheeks? Pfft, ain't no thing.

I remember when I was the kid in these gatherings. I didn't give a thought to my mom or dad, or how much it meant to them that I was playing with my cousins. Funny, in so many instances you think your parents did things to make you happy, and it's true, sure. But really, it was to ultimately make themselves happy as they enjoyed some peace as you ran around with other kids. I'm looking forward to seeing Jack play with other kids. Right now he's only just learned to sort of play with squishy blocks.

The Dude's dad came over today as well, just before bath time, hung out with the baby and us. Jack loves his Grandpa. You know, this sort of family stuff is nice. I've gotten used to the way things are with it mostly being just the Dude and I, but extended family really makes life better.

And now to acclimatize back to normal. I may try out a nearby Early Years Centre tomorrow. I have no idea if it's something I'll like taking Jack to or not. Sadly, baby-centric things like Rainbow Songs have not proven very palatable. If I have to clap along to singing or anything, it may not become a regular outing. We'll see!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Baby Food Anxieties

Some babies have good appetites. They meet food and it's love. I've seen a few at my mom meet-up. And, oh, I'm envious. Jack so far enjoys apple oatmeal. I've tried other things, but he's not into baby food I think. No sweet potatoes, carrots, mangos and apple, apple and blueberry. 

However, at Thanksgiving he ate some potatoes and gravy. And for dinner the previous night he sampled some sauce from our lasagna. And I was eating a chicken pot pie and squashed some carrots and peas with my finger and he ate several. 

So it may just be purees he is not fond of, as I make the oatmeal thick. I really didn't want to have to make my own baby food, but it seems I don't have a choice in the matter.

I suppose the real question is: why don't I want to make baby food? It's hard to say, really. I guess I just feel sort of overwhelmed in a sense. I've got the handle on baby care and now he has new needs. You just can't get comfortable. And it just seems so lovely the idea that I can just buy something readymade and away we go.

Funny, I don't feel that way about diapers. I sorted out the cloth just fine. I am confused by my own feelings on this. I do one thing in a labour-intensive way to save money and I feel anxious about doing another thing of lesser involvement and labour that would also save money.

Maybe it has something to do with my short breastfeeding experience. My relationship with my baby from the start was characterized by anxieties and failures to feed him. I got used to buying the formula and in a way I just want to continue to buy the food and keep it low fuss. I don't want him to reject anything I've actually put work into making (again).

This is probably just one thing I'm going to have to face. It's not like having a child means dinner time is easy. There will be plenty of food rejection ahead. I need to get with the program.

Feed me. I dare you.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Use a Play Pen

You've probably heard teething sucks. I don't think the term generally suggests happy times ahead. I always thought, "Yeah, teething seems like it would be a bad time." Well, I was not deceived, however, I didn't know it could take weeks. I didn't know a baby could lose his appetite. That part kinda freaked me out. After his growth spurt, which had him taking in 40 ounces a day, he's suddenly drinking less than 20 due to gum sensitivity. And this means night time wakings to make up for lost calories.


But we recently bought a used playpen. I refuse to call it a play yard. Pishaw. It's a damn pen and I love it.

Nordstrom retails it for $162.77.
I got mine for $100.
Jack was rolling his arse all over the living room floor and completely not staying on the play mat. After watching him all slow motion like and hearing one too many thunks as he thumped his head on the floor, I decided to contain him somewhere safe and comfortable.

Play pens have really fallen out of favour these days. I think it has a lot to do with competitive mothering. The more you chase after your wee one or hover over your baby, the better parent you must be. Me? I'm sticking him in an enclosure where I don't have to fuss or worry, as I'm not going to earn any medals for allowing him the freedom to kill himself when my head is turned.

The Joovy is a really large pen, much larger than the Pack n Plays on the market, which are really just portable travel cribs/bassinets (We have one). This thing is huge. It takes up all the available play space in the living room, only it prevents Jack from rolling into the coffee table or having access to electrical outlets.

I've loaded it with toys and he happily plays in there for a good 30 minutes before letting me know he's over it and wants to do something else. I'm not really into directing his time. I like to let him figure out his own fun, which is a lot easier on me and seems to be working out well for him. He's not a very needy baby. I read to him a few times during the day, we cuddle over a bottle, I sing while I change him, we share countless smiles, but mostly he likes to do his own thing. The play pen is perfect, and dude is it sturdy business.

Jack in his play pen.
My Instagram is shamelessly baby-centric.

I know a lot of parents fret over "stifling creativity" or "caging" the baby. I couldn't possibly care less about these things. I'm not much for hyperbole. Parenting methods are always evolving and changing and surely the dark ages known as the '50s, '60s and '70s, where play pens were common, did not destroy humanity's capabilities for greatness or innovation. People get so frazzled over the wrong stuff, such as details that likely do nothing meaningful to shape a child.

Ultimately with a baby you do two things: Give love and keep the baby alive. Everything else will sort itself out if you're a reasonably sensible person. Anyone who wants to forgo a play pen can have at it with my support. I just ain't going down that road. I am inclined to keep things that improve my quality of life, and boy has the pen ever done that. I'm pretty sure crying around here has dropped by half since this thing entered our lives.

Maybe one day I'll meet someone else who uses one. Maybe not. Either way.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Six Month Growth Spurt

Growth spurt... I don't remember when it began, but it's here in full thrust. My happy good sleeper has become a grumpy 3:00 a.m. waker. I don't particularly enjoy these times. For one thing, he's less pleasant to be around. For another, he'll soon grow out of his current jammies, which are adorable. And even though I'm enthusiastic about him growing and aging and getting more fun and interesting, a small part of me mourns his littleness when I permanently fold away some of my favourite pyjamas or rompers.

My nightly ritual.
Growth spurts mean more feedings. He was taking about 6 bottles and drinking maybe 30 ounces. Now he's taking in 7 to 8 and today he had 40 ounces. 40! On one hand, that's a lot of expensive formula, man, and extra bottle washing. On the other hand, breastfeeding would have meant parking my ass on the couch for a few days to nurse every hour while my baby worked at upping my milk supply.

(As it turns out, I so do love my freedom of movement, and so I'm rather grateful now that I'm formula feeding. Still believe in and support breastfeeding, but it's days like today that really let me feel good about my situation.)

Growth spurts also mean more fatigue coupled with more grumping. Baby gets tired and goes down for a nap after a feed. Then baby wakes up early due to hunger and needs another feed, and then is too awake to go right back to sleep, and so is cranky for another two hours before he'll consent to another nap.

And his moodiness means he doesn't want to be anywhere, not in my lap, not in the exersaucer, not in the jumper, not on the ground. Interestingly, one of the places he did okay in was his crib. Not to sleep and give us all some peace, mind you, but to roll around in and throw his soothers out of.

These spurts last a few days, maybe a week at worst. Again, I have no idea how many days this has gone on. Two? Three? I'm not sure anymore. I just hope it's almost done.

And then I can refocus my energies on solids, which, for the record, is really slow goings.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How To Wean Baby Off A Swaddle

So, I've been in post-swaddle hell for about... a month now. Jack has been busting out of his swaddle in strongman fashion for weeks. First we had to abandon the SwaddleMe swaddles, which at first were a godsend, making our baby sleep through the night at eight weeks.

Our little burrito boy at one month old
in a SwaddleMe.

They were too thin for an older baby, though, and the velcro, while mostly effective on a three-month-old baby was laughable in the face of a five-month-old baby, who could tear the velcro apart like the Hulk. We needed the industrial strength of the Halo Sleepsack.

Baby is snug as a bug in a really tight rug.
Halo Sleepsack.

This worked for another month or so, the flaps were longer (All the better for creating a nice, tight, full-body fit) and the velcro was longer and more no-nonsense. However, as great as it worked, I think a swaddle is something of a resistance trainer. The baby fights against it, even though he relies on it to sleep, and eventually becomes strong enough to break free. Every time. Sigh.

Night time sleep has been fine. No swaddle? No problem. He'll sleep sack it up, arms all everywhere and fall asleep. I think this is due to the sleep training from a couple months ago. Nap time? Pfft, forget it. It's been the bane of my week, as it's gotten progressively awful, I think triggered by a growth spurt.

So, what do you do? Well, you can try various products to keep baby's arms immobilized, very tempting if you have a baby like mine who prefers a soother but pulls the soother out and can't get it back in, or if you have a baby (Like mine) who scratches his face. But if your baby (Like mine) is rolling, sometimes you just got to bite the bullet and go swaddle free.

I tried various methods with poor rates of success.

1. One arm swaddled, one arm out.

Usually he'd just pull the other arm out. This really didn't work well.

2. Teach baby to sleep on stomach. 

Jack was rolling onto his stomach, which kept his hands off his face and less able to pull out his soother (Oh, he could still do it, but it was harder). So I thought, time to get him to sleep that way. I'd rub his back while he sobbed until he fell asleep, and this was time-consuming and annoying. It sometimes didn't work. 

3. Use your hands to hold baby's hands down so he doesn't pull out his soother.

This effectively makes you the swaddle. It was okay when it was holding one arm, but if he'd free the other one, you were screwed. At first this method was helping, so long as the arm didn't free itself, but soon it turned into a game for Jack and my presence in the nursery kept him awake. He'd bounce his body and giggle. Then he'd twist his body around to see if he could escape. Sometimes he'd come close to falling asleep, and I'd try to leave while he was still drowsy and BAM, arm whips up, removes soother, he grins at me and then cries.

4. Controlled crying while baby is unswaddled.

I'd leave Jack to cry for a few minutes and come back in to reassure him and then leave. I'd find my baby tired out from crying and as soon as he saw me he'd perk up, and we'd start over from square one. This was too infuriating to try too many times. Ain't nobody got time for that.

5. Let him cry himself to sleep.

This was the final straw. The first time I let him cry it out took somewhere between 20 to 30 minutes. The second time took about 15. I just let him do it again and it took 5. I feel we're really getting somewhere.

I bought the Zipadee-zip awhile ago, in hopes it would help the swaddle transition:

Fresh from the mail.
It helps, I think. He's still enclosed in something, although nothing that truly restricts movement. He's sleeping in it right now. I'd take a picture, but, you know. Sleep. It's happening. I'm taking zero chances with bothering him.

So there you have it. How to get baby to go without a swaddle when nothing is working? Dude, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you probably gotta go cold turkey, suffer through it and let your baby work it out for him or herself. And they will, because that's what babies do. They work things out. The hard part is letting them.

Sometimes you have to accept that your baby's cries don't mean, "I need you!" They sometimes mean, "I don't like this!" And that's okay.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll reap the benefits of all this agony. If it's anything like that last bout of sleep training I did, life should get a whole lot better around here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bad Mother Days

Every mother goes through one of those days. You know those days, the ones where you feel like you've failed in the general sense and you need the day to end so you can have a do-over. Every person has those days, but being at home with a baby generally means that those days have left you feeling like an ass parent and your baby doesn't love you anymore.

I mean, it wasn't even that bad, exactly. Jack was a little off schedule and that meant he was unpredictable. When would he be hungry? Tired? I'd have to watch and wait and see. His naps were 40 minutes, throwing him even more off and making his diaper changes less easy. See, I'd throw him in a new one before a nap and after, roughly 90- to 120- minute intervals.

But I wasn't going to do it at 40-minute intervals. And those short-ass naps left me frazzled. It's just not enough time to relax and actually do something or take a nap, yourself.

Kiddo takes three naps a day, usually. But his third nap ended shortly after 2:00. His bath is at 6:30. Asleep by 7:00. Five hours awake for him ruins all our lives. Do babies get super tired after being up a long time? Oh no. Well, yes. But no. They express this aching fatigue with freaking out indefinitely. Then they pass out, and wake throughout the night to freak out some more.

Anyone who tells you a baby doesn't need regular naps is ridiculous. Just an FYI. A strict schedule may not be necessary, or even possible, but you gotta make room in your life for your baby to sleep at sensible intervals, otherwise you're all doomed.

So what did I do? Well, I tried to stretch out the nap past 2:00. I tried for an hour to get him back to sleep. He was rubbing his eyes and crying. And crying. And crying. This means he was tired. But he did not sleep. I'd give him his soother, which he'd suck on gratefully for 5 seconds before he'd pull it out and howl. I'd hold his arms down, mimicking a swaddle, which sometimes works. But no, it made him bounce his body against the mattress and chortle.

So I took him back to the living room for another hour, determined to put him down for a fourth nap, to break up the five-hour stretch of impossible foolishness. He was cranky, so I put on the TV to distract him from how much he hated everything. Yeah, six-month-old and TV. Shut up, I don't care.

Then back to nap time. No dice. He was even more tired, but probably over tired by now, so what did I do when nothing was working again and time was running out for this nap to even happen and thus spare us all a nightmare?

I let him cry himself to sleep. I went in to calm him down a couple times, only to realize this would wake him up and renew the sobbing. So I laid down on my bed and listened to my normally sweet baby wail for 30 minutes total. Then silence for 35 minutes as he took a forced and likely unsatisfying nap.

He woke up in less than good humour, but not as cranky. His eyes were a little puffy and I felt like an asshole. I regretted nothing, but still.

And so around 6:00 I tried to feed him apple oatmeal mash. He took three bites and cried. Screw it.

It wasn't till I got him ready for his bath (Alone, when normally the Dude handles this. He had to stay late at work unexpectedly) that I realized I forgot his last diaper change. Not only was he unpredictable, but my normal routines were thrown off and he had soaked his clothes. Awesome. Mom of the year.

I think Jack prefers his dad to do the bath time routine. Not only is the Dude more energetic after a day spent not doing child care, but he's had time to miss him and is bubbly and fun. I was probably pretty perfunctory.

Jack normally falls asleep on the Dude as he's fed his final bottle before bed. He didn't do that for me, and he didn't fall right to sleep either like he usually does. By the time I collapsed on the couch I was so done.

My entire list of accomplishments for today include: Kept baby alive.

And tomorrow the Dude is seeing the David Bowie exhibition and won't be here for bath time. Christ kittens, I'm tired just thinking about it.

But I'll end this on a high note: A few days ago I took Jack to a store and showed him some toys and he lit up at one of them, and so I just had to get it.

And now Big Bird is his favourite.

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