Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Night Before

My little family is going on vacation without me tomorrow. They'll be gone all week while I take on a training session at work with later hours. This choice was made because Jack's schedule was not manageable if I couldn't pick him up before 5:00, so the Dude took his week of vacation for the summer.

And so he's taking Jack to the lake because that's where we were planning on going. No reason he should have a crummy summer, missing out, just because things changed on my end.

And this will be good for me. I've been wanting this training and now I'm going to learn new things at work. So overall, it's a good thing. It'll be good for the Dude to have this time with his parents and Jack, some freedom from work, fresh air...

But damn. Five straight days and nights without them. I'll be honest, I had a little cry this evening.

I have some visits with friends lined up, and I'm really looking forward to those. It'll be wonderful to have the ability to just go hang out without any worries in the world about my responsibilities. But it'll also be mandatory for my emotional wellbeing because it's going to be really lonely around these parts for awhile.

I predict I'll be okay for a couple days, but by the end of the week I'll be a wreck. I'm going to miss my little pumpkin.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Love at the Splash Pad

The best thing about having a baby who can finally walk and do stuff is getting out in summer time. PARKS! Splash pad! And soon... wading pool! Every day the weather is nice I take Jack to the park and he loses himself in joy and exploration.

There's donated toys all over that he runs to, other people's things I have to keep him out of, new dogs to squeal over, and the splash pad. I tried one day to get him to run through it in his diaper, but this boy of mine has no interest in being naked. He's never liked it, not even from birth. So I put him back in his clothes and he got drenched, with no spare anything to change into.

So the last time we were there I brought a swim ensemble. Basically swim trunks to go over his diaper and a rash guard. But my goodness did he look cute! Now we were ready to get drenched!

Just bein' awesome.
And once in his suit he had to go over to the metal plumbing cover and play on that. He allowed himself to be briefly sprinkled by some water, but mostly he had already found what he wanted to do. 

However, he was eventually deterred from the mysteries of the dirty metal plank by a ridable toy truck that he'd only ever before dreamed to push. But that day he rode on it. And this is the shit I never understood before having a kid of my own, just how precious something like that could be.

More and more, looking at his little handsome face and getting those spontaneous hugs and hearing his high giggle, seeing all the sweet things he does, I feel like I have the best baby in the world. And that's the best part. Every mother feels that way. That's a mother's love, feeling like you really got something special.

He's my little pumpkin <3

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Checklist

So, I don't have The MS. Whew. My doctor was very apologetic about my emotional turmoil surrounding my fear... that she gave me. I forgave her for freaking me out. And it's good, in a way. I mean, passing along my reactions helps her with her bedside manner. I started seeing her when she was a resident, so even though she's a qualified doctor now, she's still learning.

But yeah, she did some tests to determine if I was suffering any symptoms of MS and no, I have none. I have an MRI coming up, low priority, to see what this back thing is, but it's not looking neurological, so actually that's kinda all I care about. Everything else I can work with. No MS. That's the ticket.

Moving on.

I have a list of things to do, things I ought to have done already either because they're very easy or really fucking important. And yet no. What is wrong with me, you ask? Well, heck, I've been trying to figure that out for years.

1. Renew passport. It expired almost a year ago. And I've got less than two months to do this before I have to start over from scratch. Am I going anywhere? No. Do I lead an exciting life where I may be whisked away for a spontaneous adventure? Uh-uh. Do I have any plans to leave the country in the next several years. Nope.

But that ain't the damn point. I should have a valid passport because apparently I am an actual adult. And anyway, I don't have a damn driver's licence as I allowed my G1 to expire back in 2005, so I kinda need something other than my OHIP that's all official-like to indicate I am who I say I am.

This means I have to (gasp) print out a form I've already filled in, get my photo taken a few minutes from my house and then insert these things in an envelope and mail them via the mailbox a couple minutes away. I'll have to cross a street. I have an entire day off every week. I have not managed to accomplish this.

1.a. Get an Age Of Majority or LCBO card to at least be able to buy alcohol without needing a passport.

2. Have a hair appointment so I can look decent again. I found a hair stylist minutes away who is affordable and good, whose hours don't make me sob in despair. I don't remember my last colouring. I'm getting too used to seeing my grey hairs.

2a. Make sure I get photos for passport taken after hair appointment so I can look good unlike previous passports.

3. Get water tested for lead. Oh yes. In this city we appear to have a lead issue! I drank tap water throughout my pregnancy. I fed my baby formula made with tap water. Boiling doesn't destroy lead. And their suggestion is to just breastfeed any babies. A) that ship has sailed and B) if you drink the water yourself, don't you have breast milk with lead in it...?

Anyway, I know why I haven't tested it. I can't go back and not drink the water. If there's damage, it's done. And I have no power as a renter to get the pipes upgraded anyway. But I still should. I mean, if there's frigging lead, I ought to be able to tell my landlord and at least see if anything changes.

And heck, I can get this tested right by the hair salon.

4. Finish Jack's baby book. I just need to print some pictures. Which I can do where I get my passport shots. Which I'll do after a hair appointment.

And if you follow, all I need to do to be productive is make a hair appointment.

With nice hair, maybe I can be as fabulous as this kid:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The MS

I am, like, the laziest blogger. But I'll try 'n stuff. I will.

So tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment. A few months after I had Jack, I started getting this fuzzy tingling on my back. It would come and go. I have no idea what the hell it is, but since I was recovering from Mega Pregnancy, epidural and a C section, I figured my body was just sorta figuring things out.

At one of Jack's appointments, my doctor asked me how I was doing and I mentioned the back thing, not really thinking anything of it. Her first questions, or maybe just the only one I remember, was, "Does anyone in your family have MS?"


And no, no, there is no family history of that, yeah, okay, what? MS you say? I could have that? And I don't know if the look of alarm registered on my face, but she said to let her know if it persisted.

When I got home I did what any sensible person would do and I googled the shit out of MS. I then convinced myself I had MS. Then I spooked the Dude into thinking I had MS. Then I was feeling lazy on the couch and asked him to get me a bowl of ice cream, please, because I had "the MS." And then I stopped feeling it, so I forgot about it and calmed my ass down.

Well, it's back. Back! And, you know, I'm just going to see what this is. For one, I just need to know it's not MS. Two, it's annoying. Maybe I effed my back during my pregnancy or something.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

McPal Wedding

So earlier this month my dear friends, McPal and his fiance (HUSBAND!) got married. I'm not one of those people who complain about weddings or who hates attending them. I adore weddings and this was a very special one. It's so amazing when your friends get married. They are your chosen family.

Neither of their parents attended, though. Yeah, it's the year 2014 and still there are people out there for cultural or religious reasons who allow their culture and religion to deny their children unconditional love. I've been thinking a lot about that lately.

Jack could be gay. He could marry a man one day. He's just a baby, so who he is deep down inside is a mystery. That area of his personhood is unknown. But if he's gay then it's already written into the fabric of who he'll be. And if he is, I can't imagine either A. not attending his wedding over that and B. viewing it as a negative thing in the first place.

My mom, when I was growing up, told my brother and I that if we were gay, she'd love us but also that she'd be sad because it's a harder life to live. Had she lived, she'd have been there are my wedding, no matter who I married. She'd have celebrated and shared our joy and toasted her glass. With a mother like her, being gay wouldn't have been hard for us as it is for others. There would have been no rejection from the person who's supposed to love you most.

I was the first person McPal came out to. I was not a close friend at the time and like so many before him, I was a good practice come-out. I was safe. He knew my views, and I wasn't a big part of his life. It really was an honour, though, and I think it's what really and truly kickstarted our friendship. And it means a lot to me that a meaningful friendship was ignited over an important shared experience where I could be the sort of friend that was needed.

And from that day to his wedding day, it's been wonderful to watch my friend grow into who he's supposed to be, and marry the person he's supposed to marry (Who really is quite a catch). And though nothing can really make up for the parental abandonment in this case, I hope they felt blanketed by their friends' support and good wishes. They're a very popular couple, and with good reason. Everyone loves them.

Having become a mother, myself, I don't understand their parents. I just don't get it. I wish their parents could see what they're missing. If I don't go to Jack's wedding it'll be because I'm dead or something. I can't think of another good reason to miss it.

If life gives you beautiful sons, you don't toss them aside. It goes against nature. So ultimately, it's their loss.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ontario Science Centre With Baby

Today was the sort of day you dream about having when you start a family. We're talking good naps, brunch with friends and a well-behaved baby, and a trip to the Ontario Science Centre. We were going to go to the Aquarium, but we thought Jack needed more opportunity to run around and wear himself out.

By the time we got there we only had an hour to spend at Kidspark, the kid's section at the Centre. On one hand, this was okay since he only has a waking window of three hours max, plus that has to include a meal of some kind. When you include travel, we did the best we could. But damn, he went crazy in there. We really could have used more time.

There were so many things to touch and look at. He almost didn't know what to do with his bad self. By the time we got to the toddler area, he was pretty overstimulated and acted like a racoon who fell into a dumpster of shiny objects and corn cobs. It was amazing.

I had been wondering if 13 months was too young to enjoy this place or not and I couldn't get a good answer anywhere. Eventually I figured, fuck it. We'll just go. So glad we did. We're going to get the family pass and try and make this a thing, maybe once every month or two as a special treat.

We didn't get to see everything, by a long shot, but there was lots of stuff he was still too young for, things we can look forward to him enjoying later.

When I was younger, before I was sure I wanted a child, I used to see parents watching their kids play and I thought it looked boring. I felt bad for them stuck watching kids have fun while they sat on the sidelines. I've since learned that is the whole magic of it all. Watching your little baby become a toddler bit by bit, discovering the world, learning how to navigate his tiny body through a maze of new surroundings is almost a rush.

When you see a wee kid climb a ledge, it means nothing to you. When your own does it, you know the day he learned that skill and you relive your pride when you watch him do it somewhere new, on his way to figuring out something new.

Days like this are what I've always wanted. I experienced total contentment. And there's more to come.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Full of Beans

My son is full of beans. Like, all the beans. I go to daycare to pick him up and our provider, who loves him, tells me all about his latest adventures in stealing other kids' food, pinching, getting jealous over a smaller baby, slamming doors and all kinds of other nonsense. And then she says he makes her laugh and she loves him.

My 13-month-old is a real character, basically. I'm working on extinguishing violence. We're firm about the hitting. We say no hitting, and we use a stern voice and an unimpressed face, no yelling, no antics, just a lack of rewarding reactions that might feed the behaviour. It's working, for the most part. He still does it, but doesn't repeat it, or will stop mid-hit and not make contact. He also seems very hesitant about hitting now, which is an improvement.

But damn, it's an ongoing thing. And that's just one thing. There's many things I have to be aware of. He just learned to climb stairs. Now I must follow him up and down on the playground because he has not learned to be careful around ledges. I have to have recurring dialogues about being kind to animals and not charging them or grabbing fur. I have to explain other people's belongings are not there for his benefit; sorry you can't pick them up and take them with you. I have to try and teach him about different foods and make sure enough healthy calories go into his body.  I'm trying to teach him when he throws things away, particularly out of reach, he has to do without them.

And on and on and on. Every day there are countless teaching moments about acting right and I'm only with him two hours on weekdays. I don't resent this or even get bored. Hell, like I said, it's only two hours most days. I gotta pack in the time with useful things.

But damn, he still wears me out somehow in that window.

On an unrelated note, you could help me win free baby food: Vote for my video here and you'll help me save money, money, money.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dawson's Creek Reviewed

One reason I've not been posting as often is I've been involved in a side blogging project. My best friend from high school and I were all about Dawson's Creek. As teenagers we just thought this show was it. Now we're revisiting it and reviewing it as adults, one a week, taking turns.

Here's the link: Up Dawson's Creek: Dawson's Creek Reviewed

If I may say so, we're awesome.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Jamie Bell Playground

How does one even cover a missed month of blogging? I think the answer is just don't bother.

So, today I took Jack to High Park playground for the first time. It wasn't our first time to High Park. We'd gone for the cherry blossoms within a month of him being born last year. I was exhausted quickly and we left after a small amount of time.

One Month old and giving zero hoots about the park.

Today was better. Actually, better is an understatement. Jamie Bell Adventure Playground is amazing and now that Jack can walk confidently he zoomed all over the place. I like that it's sectioned off into differing levels where small children to older kids are fairly separated and the toddlers and kindergarteners can mosey about at their own pace.

From a distance the playground is pretty cool looking, but when you get right into the space you can see tunnels and nooks and crannies and tubes all over the place. What an incredible play space. And I like that the little kids section is fenced off so they can't easily run off.

I tried to get to get Jack to attempt climbing, but this guy was having none of it. Babies are so funny. They seem to zero in on certain abilities and milestones and ignore the rest. With all the babbling he's doing lately, I hope the next thing he's interested in is speech.

A year later and lovin' some park.

Sometimes I miss mat leave. I wish I could have had it end after a few months of great weather rather than the polar vortex. If I was still off I'd be taking Jack out to all kinds of fun places now that the snow is gone. But I have to settle for weekends. But at least those weekends can be awesome.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A pop-in

Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging, even when what you blog about is your life.

I've let almost all of April pass without a post. And what has happened? My son's first birthday, and an Easter exodus out of Toronto to our hometown where we stopped into three different houses for three nights, all with varying degrees of childproofing, with our highly active running baby. And it was fun. Exhausting, but fun. Being around family has a way of lightening your load, physically and mentally.

But it's so late. I can't write properly now. I only pop in to mention I've not forgotten about my blog. I will be back.

Friday, April 4, 2014

2-Week-Long Cold

Jesus Murphy. It's been forever. But I've been sick. Two weeks! And I've been pushing through and chugging along because that's what you do. Back in the day I would have done my work, and then passed out on the couch. Now I have to go pick up Jack from daycare and take care of him till bath and bed. The Dude has had crazy times at work and hasn't been getting home till around 7:00, missing everything.

Then there's shopping to do for him, his laundry, and cleaning up from play time. Then I can rest. But it hasn't been enough rest to get better. I've been taking Advil and Buckley's cold pills all this time because swallowing hurts, congestion is coming and going and I've been making out okay. Jack's birthday party was on Sunday and I made sure I was full of pills to see me through.

I'll write about his birthday another time. Yesterday was his actual birthday and I had a doctor's appointment, had to stop work early and the Dude picked up Jack (late) instead of me because I had a fever. I'm now off until Tuesday on doctor's orders. I was told I should find someone else to care for my baby, but who? This is when having family around would make a big difference. I can't exactly call them up three hours away and ask them to make the journey over this. Surgery, sure. But not a virus. This is one of those things you just have to sort out on your own and it stinks.

Today I slept until 2:00 p.m. I couldn't even believe it, but I must've really needed the rest. The Dude just texted me and said he couldn't pick up Jack today. So that means I have to go out in the rain and do it myself. *Sigh* Two steps forward, one step back. And this is how your illnesses linger when you have a small child. They bring germs in and then require more work out of you, leaving little room to get better.

It was hard yesterday, not picking him up, not touching him, trying to avoid making him sick. He was so cute playing with his dad and smiling and clapping. And just like a year ago, I was too incapacitated to really enjoy him.

Nuts to this cold.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Jack was unwell when I picked him up from daycare yesterday, and he had a fever. So today he's home with me, after a grand total of six work shifts.

He's getting some much-needed sleep right now. I was thinking about how some people have their parents to rely on in times like this. My work is good about accommodating this kind of thing, but it doesn't make me feel like a good employee to need time off this soon. But he needs me, so here I am. And, honestly, I'm the best person to make sure he sleeps and drinks enough.

But thinking about not having my mom gave me one of my old dreams, the one where she's still alive.

Normally they fall along a certain pattern. I find out she's not dead yet, but she's left me anyway, to go live her life somewhere else, to die away from me after doing things on her own first. I chase what feels like a shadow, look for clues, ask others, beg for a phone number, anything. I always wake up before I find her.

This time was a little different. She did leave, but now she's better and wants to see me. I'm so excited, and I'm trying to get to her, trying to dial a phone that won't work, be where I'm supposed to be with obstacle after obstacle in my way.  I get messages and encouragement. And my son is alive in this dream. She wants to meet him. Everything is going to be better.

And then just like that, it's crushed. She faked her death, so I can't see her or the life insurance will sue. She won't see me. She goes back into hiding. I get to see a picture. She's happy. I know she loves me. And I wake up.

These dreams would haunt me more if they weren't the only opportunity I get to see her. And at least this time she wanted to see me back.

Monday, March 17, 2014

First Week Of Daycare

Jack has spent a week at daycare. He's eaten his weight in food, dropped a bottle from his daily feed and is not taking much in the way of naps.
Home after a busy day of daycare.

The eating part I'm feeling pretty great about. He's nearly a year old. Moving away from formula is a good move. The sleep part worries me. I've been so militant about it, going well out of my way to ensure he sleeps enough. But it's hard on him being somewhere new and trying to sleep there.

This weekend he stumbled around like a drunk, exhausted even after naps. He slept in. And today he had a leaky eye, runny nose and I got a call that he started running a mild temperature. He'd napped only an hour all day. He barely wanted dinner, so I did his bath routine 45 minutes early. And he's been waking up every 30 to 90 minutes with a cough or cry. Poor pumpkin.

And poor me.

You know, what's hard about being a parent isn't necessarily the extra labour. It's often the unknown variables you deal with. It's the lack of a support system when you're living away from most of your family. It's wondering how you balance your work obligations with your baby's needs. It's all the mental and emotional space your baby takes up in your mind and your heart.

Like right now, what do I do? He's wetting one fewer diapers than normal. Is it because he's sick? I don't want to wake him, but is his temperature staying steady? Was it the right thing to put him to bed early, or does that have anything to do with his restless sleep? These little choices feel so large.

I'm liking being back at work, but when Jack isn't feeling well, I don't want him away from me. I think he'll get better faster in my care. And I don't want to take time off work my second week back. He went till nine months without so much as a sniffle, and he's had three colds since, which actually lines up nicely with the increase in trips to the Early Years Centres and daycare. Sigh.

I wouldn't go back, but that doesn't mean there isn't a part of me that wistfully recalls my simpler life, which I didn't even appreciate as being simple. I can admit I struggle with certain aspects of domesticity, and throwing another person's needs into the mix at times feels daunting.

With him feeling under the weather, I feel no sense of predictability about tomorrow. At least this whole night has not been spent with him crying. Some sleep is happening. Maybe the morning will be okay. Maybe.

God, I'm lucky he's an easy baby. Jack is not the baby I deserve, but he is the baby I need.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

End of Maternity Leave

I'm at the end of my mat leave. My last day was February 23, 2013. I took a little vacay, mat leave began on March 1, and bolstered by a little more vacay, I'm due back at work on Tuesday. Jack starts daycare on Monday.

Friday was the last real day, where I had my baby all to myself while the Dude was at work. And it was a really great day. In fact, I had a really good week. Jack had been kind of sick for two weeks, so we didn't do much for awhile. But last week was really lovely.

Monday the Dude took the day off and we went to the subsidy office.

Tuesday I took Jack to an Early Years Centre in the morning.

Wednesday I took Jack to an Early Years Centre in the afternoon.

Thursday a mom friend came over with her little boy in the afternoon for a nice visit.

Friday I took Jack for a long walk after a day of him eating plenty and taking great naps.

So, it's ending on a high note. The notes haven't all been high, but now that my leave is ending I realize just how much I'll miss it. It's an era of my life that's over. I watched my baby grow and it's been a sweet time.

Deep down, I guess I used to feel like parents had some sort of protocol or idea of what they're doing... but we're all really just flying kind of blind. I made everything up as I went, Googling, asking my doctor and other moms for information, and now I feel like I've got some sort of handle on it all. And just in time to go back to work and do things I'm completely rusty at.

I was rocking Jack in the glider yesterday evening as I fed him his last bottle of the day and I had a little cry. Very soon that time of the day is going to really matter more to me than ever before. At the end of a day of work, I'm going to have to get as much out of our time together as I can, all two hours of it.

The Dude and Jack have a great relationship, and sometimes the Dude doesn't even get to see Jack at the end of the day, though when he does he says it's amazing quality time. So I can't be afraid of our connection going anywhere. I was raised with daycare and was very attached to my mother.

It's just I don't think I'm fully ready for it to be over. That's all. If I could just have one more month, maybe, or two. There's so much I'm going to miss.

You know, it took me some time to adjust to being a mother, to truly fall in love with my baby and to get into a groove where I wasn't feeling inadequate. And now I'm there. But at least maternity leave did that for me. It gave me the time I needed to become confident and competent and to create a relationship with my son. I can't imagine what American mothers go through, leaving their babies at 6 weeks, 12 weeks... I had over 11 months and that still doesn't feel like enough.

But here we are. I'm lucky. I just have to remember that. Jack will be just fine, and soon so will I.

We'll still have Sundays.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Toronto's Daycare Subsidy

So, the Dude and I were approved for daycare subsidy. We were fortunate enough to find inexpensive home care at $45 a day, and it's been reduced to a little over $39, and only Tuesday through Friday because I don't work on Monday. But it's still a savings of around $80 a month, which is nothing to sneeze at.

And I intend to move Jack to the actual daycare centre when he's 18 months and there's space in the toddler room. Care then will cost over $70 a day and with the subsidy in place I should still only pay $39. I think. Either way, it'll be cheap enough to be affordable with the subsidy and all the leg work has now been done.

And what leg work there was.

We had to provide our Child Tax Credit statement, where our household income was assessed from our taxes. We had to provide our own tax assessments. I needed to provide a letter of employment, plus pay stubs and the Dude had to fill out forms for being self-employed. Then we needed our lease to prove we lived in Toronto. And we needed Jack's birth registration. And we both needed to go, so the Dude had to get the day off work.

So, we were lucky enough that my in-laws were in town and they took care of Jack. My goodness, he loves his grandpa. They visit on the iPad all the time and looks like it really has been enough to forge a relationship. The little guy was in grandparent heaven.

We got to the subsidy office later than intended because it's located in the worst part of the city: Islington. My god, what a hell hole. No, it's not riddled with crime and gangs. It's just car-centric, boring and horribly laid out, plagued with heavy traffic and nothing interesting to do or see. We missed one turn and it took us 20 minutes to get back to where we needed to be.

Screen shot from Google Street View
because it's too boring to take a real picture of.
In the office we gave our paperwork and at one point we were called over to verify some things. The lady cheerfully informed us we were missing things and was on the verge of telling us sorry, go home, suckers. Luckily it was she who missed something and so that didn't happen, although we saw it happen to someone else, a single mother who was there with a sick child. This place was all-business.

We had our interview with another woman who was even more walled-off than the first. She too said without a hint of concern we were missing things. There was no reassuring conversation that things could still be processed or that everything could move forward, so we were left feeling jittery and agitated. Apparently because I was on maternity leave, I needed a letter stating that and indicating when I'd return. And of course this was never mentioned until that moment.

I had very disturbing stomach rumbles during this time. When you have one crack at gaining a subsidy that will allow your finances to align for the next year and ensure quality care for your baby, you experience quite a bit of stress when it appears like it's not going to work out.

But thankfully, shitting my pants was not in the cards because I was informed that mat leave letter could wait and be sent in later. And just like that, we were approved. It seemed sudden, after all the mulling over our papers and very serious tone in the room. Immediately the mood lightened and the woman started conversing more naturally, answering questions and even nearly smiling.

It's definitely a weight off my shoulders. It's good to know what to budget for. All this time it's been an X factor. That's one of the crazy things about having a baby in this city. Finding a daycare is crazy, finding one you can afford is crazier still, and securing the subsidy can be tricky (And that's if you find care that'll accept it). So you can't make a sensible financial plan. I was quoted $1,400 a month from one place, which I could not afford. I'll pay about $820, which is a steal.

I'm so grateful I don't want more children. What you have to go through to get through life with one is more than enough. He's worth it, but cripes.

Friday, February 28, 2014

End Of Maternity Leave Musings

10 days and no post?!

Well, Jack has had a runny nose and in the cold with its leakiness, I haven't much left the house with him. I took him for a doctor's appointment yesterday in the freeeeezing cold. During nap time. So I left early and walked there so he could nap in the stroller. That's love, man. But what was it all for? Nothing, really. He has a virus, non-contagious and even though it's last TWO WEEKS, it just has to run its course.

And I have one week left of maternity leave and this is how it gets spent.

I find myself really realizing what makes parenthood so challenging. It's not the loss of time, although that is an adjustment. It's not the new daily tasks you must perform, even though they're time sucks.

It's the not knowing how to do things.

It's wondering how to handle a baby when you've never cared for one and he's crying at night, even though he always sleeps through, and you don't know what his damage is this evening and maybe he needs Tylenol for teething (Is he teething?) or a bottle (Why is he hungry at 11 pm AND 5 am?)

It's wondering if he really should be eating purees still, and how are you going to manage dinner when mat leave is over because you never know what time your husband will get off work but your baby starts his bath routine at 6:30 and you won't even have him home till 5:00 after not seeing him all day, so make dinner?!

Should my baby be pointing? He's clapping and waving, but pointing is not happening. What do you mean 11-month-old babies can speak words? Does bababababa or dadadada count? He's walking everywhere! That's early? Why did he have to be advanced in the one area that makes life harder?! No, he's not using a spoon. He's gagging and vomiting if he doesn't care for the texture of what he's eating.

It's an endless sea of questions you don't have the answers to. You're enclosed in a dome of shoulds.

And now with barely no time at all left in my leave, I find myself almost mentally throwing in the towel. The daycare will help him now. I've done all I can, all I know how to do. I need to outsource some of this.

And of course it'll lead to other concerns: Is he getting enough attention? Is he eating enough at daycare? Sleeping enough? What's he doing now?

Sigh. Ambivalence.

It takes up a lot of mental space. It's the largest emotional investment I've ever made. I'm never done; there's always more issues and development and cleaning and mobility ahead.

I'm starting to forget life before Jack. Not intellectually. I recall lazy Sundays and brunch, going out for a movie in the evening, dinner invites on a whim, my friend's houses, quick travel. What I only vaguely recall is the lack of responsibility. I've acclimatized to being truly needed, physically depended on for life and survival. It's a part of my daily mentality. There's no going back.

And with that comes the sense all the shit I do now really matters. And it kind of does. Think about going home and eating dinner and talking to someone. Now what's for dinner plays into a child's growth and nutrition. The way I speak models language and behaviour. The way I interact with my husband around my baby teaches about relationships and communication. The toys I provide and the places I take him are opportunities for learning through play.

And these are everyday considerations.

Motherhood is not coal mining hard. It's not air traffic control hard. It's not being an astronaut hard. It's just... hard, in an unending sort of way.

And the really messed up part of it is how if you asked me if I'd take any of it away I'd look at you like you were crazy. This hardness, it's all mine. And the Dude's. Relinquishing it is horrifying.

And yet that's what mat leave ending is kind of about on a small scale. It's going to be a dizzying amount of personal freedom, coupled by sadness, along with worry and excitement at the end of the day. It's exhausting to think about.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Countdown to Daycare

So, last time I wrote, Jack was not walking. Well, now he is.

And this started, like, last week. He can walk the length of the living room now. My boy, he's up and at 'em. He's really proud of himself, too. I say, "Come to Mommy!" when he's on his feet and he toddles right over with a happy little expression on his face.

And he's only 10 months, which is earlier than the norm to hit this milestone. And that's really awesome. It's also the scariest one, the walking. It's just so many more opportunities for my baby to hurt himself, and oh, he has already. He's taken nosedives into his activity cube, his play pen, the jumperoo, ironically all baby-friendly things.

And his little face, he looks so much like the Dude now. He used to be a replica of me, and now I'm seeing my husband more and more, which is kind of great. I was feeling bad for the Dude for awhile, only because everyone was telling him they could only see me.

Five months, all me.

10 months, looking Dude-like.

Every mom thinks her baby is adorable, so obviously I'm stupidly biased, but look at that face! He's just so handsome. I hope this trend of looking like his dad continues. I'm not bad looking, but although my baby face looks great on an actual baby, I don't know how well it'll translate on a young man.

But his wonderful appearance aside, what's really on my mind is daycare. I go back to work on March 11. What the hell. I don't understand how that is even possible. I remember when my mat leave stretched ahead of me like an unending and confusing sea of time I had no idea how to navigate. 

I spent the first chunk attached to a pump and feeling mixtures of failure, frustration and denial over my inability to exclusively breastfeed. Then another few months was spent getting emotionally comfortable with bottle feeding, trying to get out and meet people, and learning to understand my baby's daily rhythms. 

The last chunk has been spent really getting to know my baby. His personality is blooming and I love it. I love who he is. He's so charming and friendly. Stranger anxiety? He never developed it. He's very confident. He seems to even have a little sense of humour. Babies aren't supposed to have that yet, but he's laughed at his own farts and when I make funny noises. He's a brave kid too. He doesn't wait until he's sure he can do stuff. He just tries things out and keeps at it, injuries and all, until he's got it figured out. He's relaxed and easily distracted. He loves books.

And now someone else will be looking after him all day. But, I think he'll be fine. He's got a little sense of adventure and he'll have fun. He'll have new toys to play with and other people to talk to. And at daycare he'll learn new things, stuff that as a first-time mom with no baby experience I don't know anything about.

He'll eat new food, learn to nap in less idyllic conditions, and hopefully later learn to drink from a sippy cup and use utensils. There's just stuff that I guess you could say I'll be outsourcing. It'll no longer be just me teaching him things. And that's okay. The whole "it takes a village thing" is true. 

I believe in daycare. I think it's positive for children. I think it'll be good to have some separation. But... yeah. It'll be a change. It's an end to an era. How could I not feel conflicted?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Harder, But Better

Just a tad snowy out.
The snow. Oh gods, the snow! If Jack were older, we could go tobogganing. But since he's a baby and I need a stroller, I be stuck at home because many people do not shovel in front of their homes like they are supposed to. In the interest of buying a compact stroller that does not annoy people on the bus, I did not get an off-road type of contraption. Pushing it through stomped snow and ice is too much damn work.

These are the little things that can make your day feel harder than it really was. I remember when I first had Jack and the weather was a little wet, and then it was summer and I felt it was too hard to get out and do things. Ohohohoho! I was naive.

No outer clothing for me or the baby. I had to pack bottles, no solids. Baby poop was not offensive yet. Jack was not mobile and could be plopped down and left quietly in the car seat while I took care of business setting up outside. The sidewalks were clear. His naps were ongoing and he could be swaddled anywhere and doze off.

Having a 10-month-old in winter, who is mobile and alert and more on a schedule and eating real stuff, well, that's another ball of wax. Also, no more coffee shop dates with moms. I gots to go to baby-centric stuff now because Jack gets antsy and wants to see what the world is made of.

And all the Early Years Centres have narrow time windows that always coincide with nap times. And I ain't missing no naps! Not worth it. You try dealing with Crank Master J when that happens.

I don't even think I've hit the crux of difficulty yet. Jack doesn't protest when we leave a place where he's having fun. He can't walk, which means he cannot run away from me. He cannot say "no." And he will do all these things at a time that overlaps with still being in diapers.


But I will not end this post on such a weary note. My boy, he's been doing spiffy stuff. Standing independently is increasingly steadier. He's finding his centre of gravity. He lowers himself with surprising grace as he attempts to balance.

Also, he's started saying "Mmm" after every bite of food. And he claps now. Sometimes he claps while we're feeding him, which is amazing. He likes to listen to the Dude play the guitar and he plucks the strings. He knows Cookie Monster and Big Bird (He has the dolls) and when we ask him where they are, he finds them and brings them to us.

In closing, my son is super adorable. Life's a little harder, but fuck it.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Small Story

Today Jack clapped for the first time and it was so very sweet. He was so proud of himself, and he kept doing it off and on all day. My heart is glowing, it was just so precious.

I decided at dinner I would feed him some minced beef spaghetti sauce. I gave him a couple tastes. He took some bites. Then promptly vomited all over himself. The gag reflex always wins.

And then he was all gross and he was crying. And then he started clapping. It was the cutest, most disgusting thing I'd seen in a long time. Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stir Crazy With Baby

I need to leave the house today. I just have to. So, I mean, yes, right now it's -14C out with windchill that feels like -26. But! In the afternoon it'll feel like -19, which is downright balmy in comparison.

And I haven't gotten out of here since Saturday. It's Wednesday. Jack is not showing signs of going stir-crazy, but I can't help but think he must be getting bored too. And even if he isn't, who cares?! The fresh air and a change of scenery are in order.

God, and this is coming from someone who used to be able to go four days without leaving the house pre-baby. But those days are gone. Staying in used to mean doing my full-time job and then settling into an evening of video games and TV.

Now I'm taking care of a baby, keeping track of his poops (Lots of those these days, for those who are desperately interested) and feeding him what I hope is a varied enough diet and trying to make the sleep happen.

I love the little guy. He's my Angel Puff. I've been calling him that, especially when he's wearing a sleep sack. But it gets tedious as we sit day after day in the living room and he plays with his toys. I stack blocks, he knocks them down. I read a book, he wants it read again. And then again. I put things in a container, he takes them out and puts them back in. This is fun for about 15 minutes before I need a break.

But taking him to, say, an Early Years Centre where there's tons of new toys he can touch, where he couldn't care less if I'm playing with him because they're super exciting on their own? Boom! My goal is to hit one up this afternoon, when that balmy -19 chill comes around. You know, if he naps for me.

He's napping now. This is great. I think I may have been putting him down too late before. He was just so jazzed over his new burgeoning mobility that I think I was missing his normal sleep cues and he was getting overtired and wired on a second wind. No more of that! Babies can be so counter-intuitive. Sometimes, against all good sense, the answer can be as simple as put them to bed earlier and let them fuss.

I already knew that because of all the reading up on this I'd done, and I still made that error. Screwing up with baby sleep is amazingly easy to do and seemingly simple to fix, except it's not because they're always changing and new developments throw wrenches into even the best sleep arrangements.

He stood, like, a hundred times yesterday. Under his own power. Just stood up briefly, and then plopped down, either on me or his little rump with a a giggle. This kept him up longer last night. Understandable, really. Probably be like if I learned how to fly today. I'd likely not be too keen on going to bed either. Hell, I have a hard enough time going to sleep under regular circumstances.

But I do think tiring out a baby is a great way to encourage sleep. I'll take him to the Early Years Centre after his afternoon nap, which please-please-please will be over by 3:00 and then I'll let him go nuts there for two hours. Hopefully that'll give him enough opportunity to use his little body and practice his spiffy new moves and will lead to sweet, sweet sleep.

That's my plan. Subject to change. Depends on the almighty nap. I had no appreciation for the militant nap scheduling some parents were all about before I had a baby of my own. Now? Kinda get it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

9 Month Old Baby Sleep

Jack's naps are killing me.

Well, no. His LACK of naps are killing me. My son was sleeping beautifully. He'd go down for two naps, after about three hours of being awake and his daytime sleep would be between two to three hours. Perfect.

Well, lately he's not interested in napping so much. I find him sitting up in his crib crying, even after yawning and rubbing his eyes. It's like his body is rewired to move, move, move right now and there's nothing he can do about it.

The Dude is home today and sorted out the nap. So Jack is sleeping (Oh my GOD, yes) but he was still up for four and a half hours before it happened, so he got overtired. It's been like this all week and it's changed his personality. Not like in a weird way, but Jack is usually very pleasant and happy-go-lucky. This week he's been clingy and dissatisfied with everything.

It's actually kinda subtle. He wasn't full-out crying and throwing fits. He was just less able to focus on playing with his toys, more needy for me to entertain him and less able to cope with getting bumps and thumps when he toppled over. Those changes combined made him seem like a different baby and I realize now just how important those naps have been. Good sleep has allowed his personality to shine through and being tired masks it with a veil of grumpiness.

And I don't like it.

I read between eight and 10 months is a developmental leap that affects sleep. Crawling, cruising, standing and even walking sometimes start occurring and crazy shit is connecting in baby's brain. And some of it is pretty darn neat.

For example, Jack is doing all those things except walking (So grateful-- not ready!) but I can see cognitive changes like understanding the word no. He knows what that means. I've started using it. Specifically, there's the TV. It's moved as far away from his reach as we can manage right now, but Jack can still reach it and there's a cord. So when he starts touching that area, I say "No!" and I give him a stern face and shake my head no.

And it works about 4 times out of 5. It took awhile for it to sink in and at first I had to physically move him away after saying no. But now he's letting go of the TV on his own, for the most part. I have to keep on him about it because he likes to see if this time he'll be allowed to do it, but I'm encouraged that saying no results in him usually listening to me. It's something I can build on.

So it's not all crankiness around here. My little baby is becoming more and more like a wee person I can truly interact with, with is quite thrilling.

He's still napping right now. Life is good.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Baby Thwarts Plans

You can begin the day thinking you're going to do certain things. Today, for example, I had a doctor's appointment for Jack. Then I was going to drop off my forms for the daycare. Then I was going to go on a walk with a friend and her baby.

I went to the doctor's.

So much hinges on the whims and rhythms of your baby. Jack opted out of a nap this morning, and snoozed for a measly 10 minutes in the stroller en route the the appointment. And somehow that sustained him (In poor humour) until 2:00. We got home, no stops to the daycare, no walk, and he went straight to bed. A lunch of solids? No time. Chug a bottle and sleep, for the love of all that is holy! Otherwise all is lost.

And sleep he did. And I laid on the couch and contemplated a nap, myself. Jack woke up very wet, hungry and teething last night at 2:00 a.m. and it took an hour to settle him. I was exhausted. But no nap for me. I don't even know why.

I've been giving Jack Tylenol for the pain. I do it for naps and night time sleep. He gets a half ml for naps and a full dose of a ml and a half for nights. I don't go out of my way to find alternatives. It works, it's safe and that's it. I give him Camilia during waking hours, just to take the edge off.

A mom I know posted a recipe for teething biscuits and I knew that unless it came with Tylenol icing, I'd not be utilizing this remedy. I'm always so impressed when a mom of a baby finds the time and motivation to make things instead of just going out and buying something to make things easier. I'm completely not that person. I come by it honestly, too.

My own mom, although she breastfed for six months, didn't go out of her way much either. She blended a portion of her dinner and fed it to me when I was a baby. No baby food recipes, no shopping for it either. I'd be willing to bet there was no homeopathy or the like either. This is the sort of thing I wish I could ask her. I'm so curious about the minutiae of how she raised me, how she managed. There's got to be some wisdom and help in those answers and I'll never really know.

For the record, Jack is 19 pounds and in the 97th percentile for height. According to my aunt's scale over Christmas, we thought he was 21 pounds. This is actually excellent news because I weighed myself too and that means I'm not as overweight as I thought.

And Jack is pulling up and cruising around.
I think he's going to walk any day now.
Serves me right for wishing he'd hold off till daycare. Dun dun dun!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Home Daycare

I have had a hard week. The Dude has been working overtime since Monday and it's Thursday. He's not even home yet. I get occasional texts from him lamenting his situation. And I've been exhausted. I used to be able to rely on the Dude handling bath time, maybe being home for Jack's dinner or some play. Not this week. I've been going it alone and it's tiring.

Last week I visited a daycare. And I took it. I rather wish it had been a more thorough search, but this city is not set up for childcare options. There are wait lists a year long (some requiring big deposits), not enough infant spaces and a parent right behind you ready and waiting to take the spot you didn't want.

The lady I met was nice and she took a shine to Jack. He seemed happy with the other children and it's an easy drop-off from our house en route to the Dude's work. It was safe, clean and I was able to pop in last minute, which gave me confidence.

I did want a centre, though, not a home daycare. I grew up going to a centre and there was a lot of space and activities, with plenty of children around. But infant spaces are few and far between. There just wasn't an open spot for when I needed it in the centre so I had to look into home care instead.

But I do see advantages to home daycare. For example, Jack really likes older kids and is not interested in his fellow babies. He'll be the youngest child, so he might like that. At a centre, he'd be around only other infants.

Also, fewer kids at the home daycare means fewer chances of coming home with a bug. You can't avoid illness with daycares, but limited kids means lower chances of frequent colds.

But still... it's a little unnerving to me. Here's the thing: I was just on my way out to see a different daycare when I talked to the provider and she told me the space just got filled. Just like that. Another provider told me I'd have to wait till a week before I needed the space to tour it. What? It was sheer luck that this other space was suggested to me and I could go right then.

And there was another agency I looked into, but they don't do the daycare subsidy and frankly we need it. We'll be daycare poor without a subsidy and so daycares that offer it have to take priority over ones that don't. Such is life.

There are very pretty centres that I didn't even bother getting on the wait list for, only because they didn't have the subsidy and $1,400 to $1,500 a month for their space is more than our rent. It really sucks that no matter how much you love your baby and how bad you want the best for them, you're limited in your options by your financial situation.

But again, nice lady, safe and clean home, the menu sounded good, she was okay using our cloth diapers and she has a fenced-in backyard. The inspectors had recently come by, and ultimately I didn't get the no-feeling.

I'm planning on moving him to a centre when he becomes a toddler, though. There will be space for him then.

And don't get me started on how this makes me feel. Even after a tiring week of solo parenting, I'll still miss him and worry all day because it's new and different. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Too Cold Out For Baby

There once was a time I could put my baby down to sleep and he'd fall asleep. He'd stay asleep until about 5:00, where he'd want a bottle and then I'd give him one and then he'd fall back asleep until 6:30ish.

This evening and yesterday evening and the one before that I had a baby who screamed himself to sleep. Because reasons. Reasons I don't fully know.

Oh, I could guess.

He was sick and then had a growth spurt and got into the habit of being picked up when he woke and then rocked in a glider with a bottle. How cozy. And no more of that because health is restored and that's not going to be a regular feature of life now because that ain't how you sooth yourself to sleep. But maybe he's still adjusting to that sad reality.

I can relate, though, to be honest. I've always been a crummy sleeper and when you find a sleep crutch, you become very resistant to sleeping without. But infancy is a good time to get with the program.

Another possibility is separation anxiety. He's become noticeably more attached to us these days and at night he may just not want to let us go anymore. I have less sympathy for that. Isn't that awful? But no, seriously, I can't be soft and stay in the room with him all night, loving him to sleep. He'll just wake up, I won't be there and then WAAAAHHH!

It's hard to listen to, it really is. Took him 30 minutes to calm down tonight.

And he's waking in the night, desperately in want of a bottle. I think it's thirst. The air is dry down there, despite the humidifier. He had a nosebleed last night. He's not taking in much, and he croaks when he cries, so that's an additional culprit.

And I feel like there's little I can do to fix this. Oh, I am a believer in sleep training. I've done it before and I'll do it again. I did it tonight. But shit. It's very taxing and I feel alone. I know I'm not; parents around the globe deal with this stuff. But I still feel isolated with this problem.

Also, I haven't left the house since Saturday and it's Wednesday. Prior to that it had been five days since leaving the house. At first it was being sick with a sick baby that kept me in. Now it's the damn polar vortex or whatever they're calling it. Take a baby out in a windchill of -30 with icy sidewalks? Well, that sounds right terrible.

I'm getting stir crazy. I do know I have to tour a daycare on Friday. That's a whole different post, though. Daycare. Good grief.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

I'm sick too

It's day nine of Jack's first cold and I have succumbed so hard to the inevitable health decline you experience from seven straight nights of close interactions with someone who's sick and clinging to you. Up and down, plenty of that. And now I'm coughing and sneezing and waking up with the sensation a baby elephant is residing in my lungs.

This loss of sleep has been kicking my ass, but the Dude is on holiday until tomorrow and for the past three days he's been doing the lion's share during the day. My being up at night is to give him the battery recharge he needs to handle that. So, it's worth it. But damn.

I went to a walk-in clinic today (And thus left the house for the first time in five days) and experienced the profound boredom that waiting in a room with unwell people brings. Thank god for smart phones. It was over two hours of sitting there rubbing knees with strangers. The Kobo app and Candy Crush made it bearable.

And I was given a steroid nasal spray. I really hopes it does something because, yeah. Tomorrow is the last day I'll have my husband here to take the reins. Then it's back to me.

Jack is pulling himself up onto his feet and now cruises along the furniture. There is no stopping this kid. I'm wondering how it'll be taking him to meet-ups now. He won't be held and he's too damn heavy (21 pounds!) to do that anyway. I'll probably have to just follow him around.

I'm up and I'm doin' stuff!
It's exciting to see him do new things, which is pretty much all the time. He's waving, babbling constantly, able to lower himself back to the ground, and nothing makes him happier than destroying a block tower. Or Big Bird. He loves his stuffed Big Bird.

I'm having a hard time finishing this... I'm just really tired. Was this post cohesive? Well, I hope so.

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