Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Occupational Hazard

It's never been a question that I would be staying home with Ember and not returning to work. Being home with Ember is a choice that I entered into willingly and happily; I feel mum-ing is a very important and worthwhile job.

However, my future is here and I find myself conflicted; I've encountered an occupational hazard as it were. It started when Andrew, filling out tax papers at his new job, declared that he had TWO dependents. Then later, he was completing a form at the chiropractor's and he had to write his wife's profession. He looked at me, looking for the appropriate title and I had nothing to offer him. "I don't know - homemaker, housewife, stay at home mum - you choose."

It's hard to articulate this insecurity. I've been between jobs before and even unemployed, but this new job feels odd. I'm now beginning to question my worth. I'm afraid of becoming irrelevant to the world outside of our cozy condo. Maybe it's because I got a little over zealous while spring cleaning and donated my beautiful Calvin Klein and Holt Renfrew suits to charity because I won't need them for years. It could also be that I no longer have good reason to buy shoes and clothes impulsively. I wish I knew where this was all coming from. Do I really put that much value in the ability to earn a pay cheque?

What's sad is that I LOVE being Ember's mum. Everyday I put effort into nurturing and engaging Ember, all the while we have tons of fun together. Could it be that I fear that I won't be a good mum, or that I won't do the job up to my expectations? I wish I knew.

Oh, Andrew wrote down 'homemaker' as my profession. He said that I do more than just take care of Ember, I make our home. I'm a lucky girl.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

City Walk & Infant Discoveries

Sunday was a glorious day. Our family took full advantage of the shining sun and headed out on a walk through a couple of Edmonton's prominent areas. Beginning at the Legislature grounds, we ventured on, letting the footpath determine our journey. We were lead along the High Level Bridge (an enjoyable experience on a quiet Sunday morn) and down to Kinsmen Park. I couldn't resist enjoying a couple of small slides with my girl and dipping her toes in the sand. It was the first time Ember has had the joy of feeling the sand between her toes. Thankfully, this new experience elicited only giggles.

video

While taking some comfort in the shade of a tree, Ember plucked her first blade of grass. Of course, she had to discover what it tasted like.



The verdict:



Delicious!!!

It was a perfect day as a family. Despite it being Tuesday, I'm already wondering what fun we'll have this weekend.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vaccination Frustration

Ember just got her first set of immunizations. Yes, she is 6 months, 3 weeks old.

For some reason, where vaccinations were concerned, my gut said 'proceed with caution'. I'm not against vaccines. I'm not even sure where my hesitation stemmed from. Perhaps it was the debate of autism and all the speculation that surrounds its origins*. Maybe it was the fact that when I expressed my hesitation to my family doctor, I was just lectured and told to "have them done". Possibly, I just didn't know enough on the subject and it had to do with my inability in finding information from an impartial source, one that wasn't an extremity for or against. My concerns weren't anything too strange: can allergies develop; there's no trace of egg protein before 12 mos; do we really want children to not get the chicken pox?

Rather than booking an appointment at two months of age for Ember, I chose to put it off. I looked into homoeopathic remedies as an alternative but again, I couldn't find enough information and didn't feel right about it either. I expressed my uncertainty to every health care professional I encountered and was met with finger wagging. Recently, the health unit called and told me Ember was several months past due, and nicely informed me that if she not vaccinate, and an outbreak occurred while Ember was in school, she would be sent home. I was getting worn down. I didn't even know what I was questioning anymore.

Then I received a phone call from the pharmacist, Melissa at my doctor's office. Apparently my doctor had expressed my concerns to her and asked that she call me. Melissa was the first person to put aside her job title and she answered my questions like a girlfriend. She relayed her experiences and opinions when it came to vaccinating her own children. It was so refreshing to actually converse with someone on the matter!! She completely understood that I wasn't trying to be controversial or obstinate, but only trying to inform myself. Very kindly, she reminded me that it's our job as mums (parents) to ask questions and trust our gut instincts. Furthermore, where immunizations are concerned, the schedule for baby's is recommended and doesn't have to be strictly adhered to. In fact, I have a girlfriend who is immunizing her daughter every four months because she finds the reaction and recovery that much easier. I scheduled an appointment for Ember's vaccinations after speaking to Melissa.

Remember that babe is yours and you have to do what you are comfortable with.

*There has been no substantiated evidence of a tie. The doctor who alleged that autism is related to immunizations has lost his license.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oh, the Old Gray Mare, She Ain't What She Used To Be

While running on the treadmill, I peed a little. I didn't even know I had to go. In fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't.

Areas of body that need attention:
arms
thighs
abs (!!!)
pelvic floor

The list keeps growing. Woo, motherhood!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weight for It

Pregnancy was good to me. Outside of the horrible nausea in the first four months, I felt fantastic. I gained a grand total of nine pounds. I walked all the time, several kilometres a day and stayed in great shape.

I'm pretty sure my taste buds went into hibernation. Chocolate tasted awful as did most sweets. Anything greasy triggered my gag reflex. Food was just there for survival, and I had superhero strength to maintain a healthy diet. This meant great things for me and postpartum weight loss - I was down 20 lbs lighter at Ember's two week check up. Woo hoo! Let the streamers and confetti fly!! I fit into all my clothes and felt freaking fantastic.

Pregnancy was the best diet I ever want on. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, the worst.

At three and a half months post-partum, I lost control of things. Out of nowhere came an insatiable appetite and re-awakened taste buds. Food tasted fantastic and I couldn't get enough. That coupled with the fact that daily exercise wasn't always an option equals a 20 pound head start down the drain.

Okay, I haven't gained 20 pounds but I know my clothes are beginning to look like sausage casing. I feel dreadful and my self esteem is taking a nose dive. Now that summer and reliable weather are here, I've vowed to get back in shape. We have a family reunion in August and I will be back in fighting form by then. I'm running again which isn't the most comfortable thing right now considering the life bags strapped to my chest. But it's worth it, as are the beautiful clothes hanging in my closet.

I really wasn't expecting this hormone roller coaster to go on for so long. Oh mummyhood.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Minivan or Swagger Wagon?

I am against owning a minivan. 'Grocery getter' just really isn't my style.

Then I saw this. Toyota has come out with several commercial spots with a designated youtube channel, to sell their minivan. It could be the most brilliant ad campaign ever. Total creative genius. So much so, it had me re-thinking minivans. For a moment. Very briefly.




It almost lured me to the dark side. Almost.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Six Month Old's Perk

At six months old, you're old enough to wear sunscreen, which mean you get to enjoy your very own swimming pool on a sunny Saturday afternoon in June.









Friday, June 18, 2010

(I'm so) Happy Friday!

The sun has been shining and radiating warmth for over a week now. It's just glorious! We've been trying to spend as much time outside as possible.


Ember loving the action on the pitch while watching a rugby game.

video
We moved the Jolly Jumper outside while we barbecued dinner, much to Ember's delight.

The forecast holds more of the same summer beauty for this weekend. I wonder what adventures wait for us... Have a grand weekend everyone!

#1 - Chiropractor

Here it is, one week late, my number one, must have essential since becoming a mum.

I shudder to think where we'd be without a chiropractor for Ember. Yes, for Ember. At two weeks of age, Ember started having crying spells, horrible, heart-wrenching spells, lasting up to six hours. Finally she would just pass out from exhaustion and then I wept. I asked our doctor what it could be at our 2 week check up, and she diagnosed it as 'colic'. Considering we had gone two weeks with a very pleasant baby, I had a tough time accepting this, it just didn't seem like my girl. There had to be a reason behind this. After speaking to a few girlfriends, they recommended that I start watching what I was eating since I was exclusively breast feeding. Goodbyes were said to chocolate (especially difficult at Christmastime), and caffeine. This all seemed ridiculous as every other night, Ember would still shriek in discontent. I just wasn't buying what anyone was trying to sell me. After three nights of a crying baby, and thinking that I was just going to have to give up eating, I called my midwife to seek her opinion. Immediately, she recommended a chiropractor. Her reasons were that Ember had a difficult delivery (testify!) and that could have tweaked something to create the evident discomfort she was experiencing.

Needless to say, I was torn at what to do. I myself had never been to a chiropractor. Andrew is a huge fan of chiropractors (he's seen a few due to sport ailments) and was a lot more comfortable with the idea. It was agreed that we would go and meet with the specific chiro that our midwife had recommended and go from there. The goal was to not have to buy stocks in gripe water or source it out at Costco.

During our first appointment, I learned so much that absolute sense. Ember's problems were all gas related. From the way she was positioned in the womb, her right hip was sitting higher than the left. This was causing the spine to put pressure on the intestine therein trapping gas. As babies don't have the muscles/strength to re-position to pass gas, Ember's was getting trapped causing immense discomfort and pain. Dr. Mark (as we call him) explained that this immensely common, about 95% of babies he sees have this issue. He went on to say that babies don't often have sensitivities to what we mums eat, if it's anything at all, it's a dairy problem.

Now to the business of 'adjustment' and how babies are treated in the chiropractic world. Press on your eye, that's apparently the same amount of pressure that's applied. Ember at three weeks old, slept through her first appointment, while Dr. Mark adjusted her hips.

We immediately saw results. Within in six sessions over the course of a month, Ember was "healed". We had no more crying fits AT ALL! During that time, Ember also began suffering from acid reflux so we had that treated. Again, all cleared up! I went back to chocolate, caffeine, strawberries, and Indian food with no issues. Indian food people!!!! Andrew and I are so grateful for the recommendation even today. Lying in bed and catching up on our day while our gal is sound asleep ... ah, one of my favourite things. A small part of that is courteous of Dr. Mark.

*Not all chiropractors are qualified to work on babies, please seek out one who has has previous experience doing so. Ask for references and speak to other parents who have used his/her services.

Friday, June 11, 2010

#4 - Support

Day to day life with an infant can wear on you. It could be what I was most concerned about when pregnant - a baby arriving in the dead of winter, trapping me inside, not too much family around to help out and alone for the bulk of the day while Andrew was at work. I started to feel like motherhood could be a lonely place. I was afraid that it alone would take its toll on me and lead to postpartum depression.

Well folks, I've learned that support comes in all shapes and forms. Of course, there's my hubby coming through the door every night aching to hold his daughter which gives me a break. Many phone conversations with a good girlfriend going the same road (who lives in BC) have saved me. My mum, oh mama, are there words? CBC radio - it's counts as an adult conversation, I swear it does. And, blogs.

What? Blogs!?! Not bloggING, reading other blogs.

The women of my daily reading have been a great comfort to me. When I sit down with my cup of tea at my laptop, it's like going to hang out with girlfriends. These women write with such honesty; it's inspiring, hopeful and hilarious. It may be considered odd to find such calm in the words of people I've never met, however motherhood is a tie that binds. Finding mums that approach their job with such conviction and humility helps me do my job better. Just knowing I'm not alone and that Ember isn't completely unlike other babies, helps immensely. I'm grateful to these yummy mummys! They have been my Mum support group - there for me everyday- they're such good friends.

*Okay, I'm not trying to be weird. I know these people don't know me and that we're not really friends.
* I am not a stalker.
* I encourage you to visit their blogs, see the links on the right.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

#3 - Nursing Cover

When I was pregnant, I compiled the large list of items we'd need to buy. On that list were 'necessities' and 'wants'. A nursing cover was on the 'want' list. It seemed a bit indulgent to purchase a glorified apron when a receiving blanket would do the trick. However the more I read, the more I was convinced that it needed to cross over from the 'want' list and become and a necessity. Andrew's mom made the decision a moot point by buying one for me. It is easily one of best baby related gifts I received.

I love my nursing cover!! It is worth its weight in gold as far as I'm concerned. Looking back, it has made nursing so easy. Silly as it may sound, I feel my nursing cover has helped ease me into motherhood. While I was still figuring nursing out, the apron style kept me covered while juggling my newborn. It allows me to comfortably nurse in public and in front of family. It acts as a block from the wind and sun when nursing outside. And, now that Ember is older and the world is such a fascinating place to look at, the cover blocks distractions and helps her focus on the task at hand.



Andrew and I still manage to do everything we did before having a baby. That means enjoying meals out, taking in a rugby game at the club and taking day trips. For me, the nursing cover makes me more comfortable and therein all of the aforementioned easier. It's not necessary all the time but I feel a lot better knowing I have it with me at all times.

*I know a lot of women out there feel a cover is unnecessary. I'm not trying suggest that you NEED to cover up. Breastfeeding is nothing you should feel ashamed of or the need to hide - it's a beautiful thing.
*My nursing cover is a Peanut Shell in Park Avenue.
*A huge bonus of the apron, it acts as a giant bib when nursing during meals.

#2 - Phil & Teds

Ember was born on December 2nd, right in the middle of an Alberta winter. From the moment I learned that I was going to be having a winter baby, I knew I had to prepare myself to battle feeling cooped up once baby arrived. Minus 40 wasn't going to allow for a daily walk to get me out of the house.

Of course none of this detoured us from buying a stroller that could handle half a foot of snow and outdoor terrain. Enter the Phil&Teds Dash stroller! On the infrequent (really, very infrequent) mild days, Ember was quickly bundled up and we headed out regardless of how much snow was on the ground. It was liberating to know that I had a stroller to allow me this. More often than I would have guessed, Ember and I went for walks during the winter. With the seat fully reclined, Ember rode along, bundled right up in a bunting bag, winter coat and pants, along with a few blankets piled on top.

More than just allowing us outside, it made trips to the mall (where we had to go when it was 40 below) super easy with the car seat adaptor. All I had to was pop on the car seat roll on! That's also how we handled our trip to Vancouver since Ember was in the midst of the 3 month growth spurt and slept away much of our outings.


Ember posing with a statue in Stanley Park.

Being perfectly honest about it, I grump sometimes about the size of this small rig but I really do love it! It's so nice to push this stroller around on our daily walks now. And I love how versatile the Phil&Teds products are. We purchased the Dash in the midst of a promotion which got us a the second seat (or doubles kit) for free basically. Of course we didn't need a second seat on the stroller, but we were going to need a bouncy chair. Phil and Ted turn out to be pretty clever gents; they created a way to convert the second seat into a bouncer. Meet Lazyted. It's a snap together frame that the seat slides onto; it is so easy to travel with! Ember has had daily romps in the Lazyted since she was three days old. Even today, as I type this, that is where she is having her morning nap. She bounced herself to sleep. The five point harness keeps babe strapped in no matter how much they struggle to get themselves out. (Ember can now pop herself out of a Bumbo seat.)


While visiting friends in Vancouver, Ember hung out in the Lazyted, allowing us to enjoy our meal.

It may seem obvious to include a stroller and bouncer on a list of baby essentials. But friends, you need one that accommodates your life and allows you to maintain the one you had pre-baby. Shop around. Splurge if necessary. You won't regret it.

*I really love this stroller - no one paid me for praising P&T.
*I'm not saying you need a Phil&Teds stroller. I just want you to have one that you love and makes life better for you.

Monday, June 7, 2010

#1 - Good Night Moon & the bedtime gang

I wouldn't say that I've adhered too strictly to what books or parenting manuals have proffered as Parenting 101. Mostly because Ember has had plans of her of own. When those books suggested that my baby should be finding a rhythm in her nap schedule at 3 months and Ember was still all over the place, I waited with baited breath for something that has just now begun to happen. It was books that lead me to believe that babies begin sleeping through the night at 6 months of age. Hmm well, I'm still waiting. The key to maintaining sanity on this journey has been to throw out the books that preach the generalized rules and go it our way, with a rhythm that Ember dictated.

That being said, I did subscribe to two things early on - keeping the room dark and not talking during nighttime feedings AND a bedtime routine. I've not tried to dissuade Ember's midnight snacks (or the ones at 3 am, 4:30 am, 5 am etc) but I was adamant that she learn the difference between night and day. And for us, it worked! She stirs and grumps to indicate that she's hungry but she's always half asleep - eyes closed, no babbling - she goes about her business and quickly falls back asleep.

The bedtime routine always seemed harmless to me. Ember quickly learned that the nursing pillow meant snack time so I figured that if we implemented a bedtime routine, she would learn the cues to settle down for the night. Andrew and I discussed what would be feasible for us to achieve every night and agreed that it needed to be portable for us to maintain the routine while travelling. Without too much discussion we settled on reading 'Goodnight Moon' by Margaret Wise Brown after she'd been diapered and dressed in fresh pyjamas for bed. The book, a gift from Ember's Grandma Michelle, makes a great nighttime read since the words have calming sounds and the pages get darker as the story goes on. And I think it's just lovely to say goodnight to everything in your bedroom, it's almost like a blessing. This book has magical powers. If we've pushed the limits of bedtime a little (not getting home quickly enough from a dinner out with friends or family), Goodnight Moon brings Ember down and calms her. She most definitely associates this with bedtime now.



At six weeks of age, we started reading to her and playing by the same rules when Ember signalled bedtime. Nothing has changed since the, we've just added two things.

While visiting her great-grandparents on Galiano Island, Ember was given a Warm Buddy Cozy Kitten. Cozy Kitten has an inner removable heat pack that you can microwave for 30 seconds to make super cozy. We warm up Kitty Cat and hand it to Ember just before reading, and she gets to hang on to it while nursing to sleep. More recently I learned about Badger's Night Night Balm and thought it was worth a shot. If it didn't work for Ember, I decided that I could reap the benefits of it. Each night before she gets to snuggle Kitten, I dot a little on the end of her nose. (I've also been known to smear a little on my chest for extra strength sleeping aid ... for both of us). Since we've been using it, Ember dozes off quicker and sleeps a little more soundly.



Since its inception at 6 weeks of age, Ember hasn't missed a night of Goodnight Moon. She happily hugs her Cozy Kitten while listening to her story. The routine calms her down nicely at the end of her busy days. Plus, Andrew and I love it. It affords us quiet time alone with our girl and allows us to bond before she happily dozes off for the night.


* If the success of these items is all coincidence, I don't care to acknowledge it.
* None of these items is enjoyed outside of bedtime as we don't want to confuse her.
* Cozy Kitten doesn't sleep with Ember; it is only enjoyed by Ember under our supervision.

Essentials

I certainly don't think myself an expert on parenting. Not even close. HA!, Imagine.

However, I have survived six months. Ember has honestly been a fairly easy introduction to this gig of motherhood. There have been trying moments and during those moments, I've had "tools" to get me through.

Everyday this week, I will be featuring something I would now deem essential to parenting. Something that I would sacrifice something special for ... like my daily latte. Yeah, this list means business.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Is it just me?

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one feeling this way.


Is it just me or ... are there days when you catch yourself in the mirror and you look exactly as you feel - tired and dishevelled.

Is it just me or ... are you annoyed when restaurants don't have change tables in the bathroom? Argh! Would it preferable for me to use a booth to change my daughter's bottom?! Oh, that's right, you don't want us here at all.

Is it just me or ... is baby brain a far more serious condition than you ever anticipated?

Is it just me or ... do you miss nice bras? I'm talking underwire. Maybe a little lace. Something you would never dream of lining with a nursing pad. Oh to wear a bra without a paper liner again.

Is it just me or ... now that you're a mother, you feel as if you're a mother to all children everywhere? If there is a child in plight anywhere, of any magnitude, I am ready to weep.

Is it just me or ... do romantic comedies that feature child birth and call it comedy just piss you off?

Is it just me or ... does your child have a bigger, nicer wardrobe for 6 months of their life than you do, period?

Is it just me or ... are there some days where all that stands between you and insanity is a large vanilla bean latte? With caffeine of course.

Is it just me or ... are children's television programs now open to scrutiny and you've learned that not all are created equally? Where are Dora's parents for crying out loud?

Is it just me or ... have meals taken on new forms? Sadly, a glass of milk and cookies count sometimes.

Is it just me or ... just when you are on the brink of snapping, a little smile or giggle is the only thing that reigns you back in? A glass of wine doesn't hurt either.

Is it just me or ... is it far trickier to keep in touch with friends - especially those without kids? Gone are the days of just picking up the phone.

Is it just me or ... do you think your arms should resemble Madonna's considering all the heavy lifting you do? Car seats, strollers, Ember ... I should be ripped!

What do you think? Did I miss anything?

Friday, June 4, 2010

(I'm so) Happy Friday!



Yup, here it is, another entry featuring photos of Ember. Indulge me, please. It seems I can't help myself.







Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ember's Half Birthday

Yesterday marked Ember's six month birthday. It's hard to believe that half a year has gone by already; time flies when you're having fun. And yet, I can't believe it's only been six months; it's hard to imagine life without our chubby cheeked strawberry.



Much has happened over the course of the past month: Ember has mastered sitting up on her own, said her first words, tasted pureed food and despised it, while enjoying two more travelling adventures. She weighs in at 14 lbs, 10 oz making her a lightweight, but that bubbly personality of hers has her fighting in a different class.



I continue to be impressed by her. She is confident, trusting, curious and brave. Oh and let's not forget determined. Or out going. The nature versus nurture debate rages on, as I wonder where she gets it all from.



Likes:

- babbling, dancing and singing - la la la la

- rocking back and forth on her hands and knees

- all things Eric Carle and Margaret Wise Brown

- sitting in her high chair - the world is so exciting from that vantage point

- sippy cups

- the way her feet taste



Dislikes:

- rice cereal and other pureed foods - yuck!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ember Road Trippin'

This past weekend we drove north to Dawson Creek, BC to visit Andrew's mom and step dad. It was Ember's first road trip! She proved yet again that she is one happy traveller and up for all kinds of adventures.


Leaving Grande Prairie, Ember volunteered to drive. Maybe next time big girl.


Getting properly introduced to Sam. Hmmm...


Oh, he's not so bad!


This trip was the first time she got to meet her Grandpa Dale. They quickly became friends.


Up at the Bear Mountain Wind Park - home to 34 windmills. They were quite the sight. Each one of those blades is 120 feet long!


Look Dad, I can generate energy too, if I just kick really hard.


At Radar Lake.


Smiling while snoozing. It was a good weekend.