Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Things I Wished I'd Known About Breastfeeding

Nearly ten months into this breastfeeding gig, I've learned a few things that I didn't know going in. Often girlfriends and I discuss the items that follow as they surprised us so I thought I'd share them here.

1. Cushion for the pushin'. After complaining to other mums about the weight I gained at three months postpartum, I learned that you need a few extra pounds to breastfeed. How much? I've heard varying amounts and I bet it varies to each individual but take comfort in that you need a little extra cushion for pushin' milk. A friend even says that she doesn't lose all her baby weight until she stops breastfeeding.

2. Eat!! My husband theorizes that I gained weight while breastfeeding because my body went into starvation mode. Sweet, right? During pregnancy, I did really well at only eating to my hunger, nothing more so I didn't gain an exorbitant amount of weight. I kept that habit up into nursing. Oops. So many extra calories being burned and not taking the time to eat proper meals may have thrown my system for a loop. I suggest always having healthy snacks on hand. Trail mix, protein bars, washed fruit are all great options and can be eaten with one hand while nursing. I also found myself quite thirsty, always keep water close by. Throw some milk into the mix, too - it is filling and offers nutrients.

3. Get Comfy. In the early months, I'm pretty sure I spent more time in the armchair with Ember on my boob than I did doing anything else. Growth spurts had me on the couch every two hours for up to 40 minutes at a time. Cluster feeding, oh cluster feeding meant Ember on my chest for three hours per evening in those early weeks. At times I found it pretty annoying to have to stop what I'm doing to sit down and find my girl. But honestly there is no sense in combating it. Invest in a good nursing pillow and learn what nursing position is most comfy for you. Download a few seasons of Entourage. Sit back and relax. In the thick of it, I had moments where I wanted to pull my hair out but looking back, it doesn't seem so rough now. I loved Ember's little face looking up at me, smiling, playing with my hair and eventually dozing off. My heart swells.

4. It's not a bad habit!! For us, the only way to get Ember to sleep is for me to nurse her down. For the first six months-ish, it took a while for her to really conk out. For a while, I just called it a night early and went to bed with her. When I saw a breast-feeding specialist I asked how I should wean Ember of this habit. Very quickly I was set straight! This is not a bad habit, I was told, this is perfectly natural and that it provides my babe with confidence, trust and security. Just relax and go with it, I was instructed, she will grow out of it. 'Watch the Animal channel if you want parenting advice,' the doctor continued, 'you never see a monkey pull their baby off their body, put it on a branch and swing away.' I laughed and nodded.

Since it would take a while for Ember to settle, i just got into my comfy chair with my pillow (see number 3) and Andrew and I would watch a movie/TV together. Ember would nurse right into la-la land and I would move her to bed. Now, Ember nurses for five minutes to settle down and I move her to bed to fall asleep. As promised, she's moved past it.

5. Papier Mache. Nursing pads a boatload of necessary. I highly recommend Lansinoh by the way. Friends have had success with cloth pads but if you have a lot of milk, a la moi, those puppies won't cut it. I'll spare you an embarrassing story of me on the sideline of the rugby pitch with cotton saucers in my bra, oh white T-shirt and the bottom half of boobs soaked. What fun to discover that on a trip to bathroom?! Anyway, I didn't have nursing pads for the few days of nursing life and I was stuffing with Kleenex. Oh the irony.

6. The best. Despite the hardships and how taxing it can sometimes feel, it's amazing to know that those little chubby cheeks, pudgy ham hocks and buddha belly are because of me. 'Tis a grand feeling.

Those are the biggies for me. Is there anything I'm missing that you weren't expecting or really surprised me? Share, share!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pass It On: Brilliant Advice

Linking through blog-land tonight, I stumbled upon a brilliant post featuring ideas and advice on 'gifts' to offer a family expecting a little one. Originally posted by Gloria Lemay on her blog, the usefulness (and timelessness) of this information is so darn fantastic that I would be remiss not to share it with you. Furthermore, I encourage you to pass it on.

After the Birth, what a family needs
posted October 28, 2008 by Gloria

“Let me know if I can help you in any way when the baby is born.” … “Just let me know if you need a hand.” … “Anything I can do, just give me a call.”

Most pregnant women get these statements from friends and family but shy away from making requests when they are up to their ears in dirty laundry, unmade beds, dust bunnies and countertops crowded with dirty dishes. The myth of “I’m fine, I’m doing great, new motherhood is wonderful, I can cope and my husband is the Rock of Gibraltar” is pervasive in postpartum land. If you’re too shy to ask for help and make straight requests of people, I suggest sending the following list out to your friends and family. These are the things I have found to be missing in every house with a new baby. It’s actually easy and fun for outsiders to remedy these problems for the new parents but there seems to be a lot of confusion about what’s wanted and needed…

1. Buy us toilet paper, milk and beautiful whole grain bread.

2. Buy us a new garbage can with a swing top lid and 6 pairs of black cotton underpants (women’s size____).

3. Make us a big supper salad with feta cheese, black Kalamata olives, toasted almonds, organic green crispy things and a nice homemade dressing on the side. Drop it off and leave right away. Or, buy us frozen lasagna, garlic bread, a bag of salad, a big jug of juice, and maybe some cookies to have for dessert. Drop it off and leave right away.

4. Come over about 2 in the afternoon, hold the baby while I have a hot shower, put me to bed with the baby and then fold all the piles of laundry that have been dumped on the couch, beds or in the room corners. If there’s no laundry to fold yet, do some.

5. Come over at l0 a.m., make me eggs, toast and a 1/2 grapefruit. Clean my fridge and throw out everything you are in doubt about. Don’t ask me about anything; just use your best judgment.

6. Put a sign on my door saying “Dear Friends and Family, Mom and baby need extra rest right now. Please come back in 7 days but phone first. All donations of casserole dinners would be most welcome. Thank you for caring about this family.”

7. Come over in your work clothes and vacuum and dust my house and then leave quietly. It’s tiring for me to chat and have tea with visitors but it will renew my soul to get some rest knowing I will wake up to clean, organized space.

8. Take my older kids for a really fun-filled afternoon to a park, zoo or Science World and feed them healthy food.

9. Come over and give my husband a two hour break so he can go to a coffee shop, pub, hockey rink or some other r & r that will delight him. Fold more laundry.

10. Make me a giant pot of vegetable soup and clean the kitchen completely afterwards. Take a big garbage bag and empty every trash basket in the house and reline with fresh bags.

These are the kindnesses that new families remember and appreciate forever. It’s easy to spend money on gifts but the things that really make a difference are the services for the body and soul described above. Most of your friends and family members don’t know what they can do that won’t be an intrusion. They also can’t devote 40 hours to supporting you but they would be thrilled to devote 4 hours. If you let 10 people help you out for 4 hours, you will have the 40 hours of rested, adult support you really need with a newborn in the house. There’s magic in the little prayer “I need help.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Screens Are Fun.

One day, she will hate me for posting this. I'm sure of it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Do You Travel?

Do you remember how you travelled as a kid?

The bulk of my family vacations took place in the backseat of a Cadillac. My brother would be back there with me and often an aunt/uncle or grandparent who was joining us on our adventure. We drove to Alaska, through the States and all of the Maritime provinces (all from different origins). Of course my parents will probably say otherwise, but I don't recall whining of boredom or declaring my dislike to them for torturing me in that manner. For as long as I can remember, I've been travelling and liking it.

Entertainment on road trips/vacations counted as sing-a-longs, I Spy (with my little eye), and actually looking at the scenery. Preparing for those trips was part of the ritual. Little brother and I would go out with Mum and we got to buy travel size boardgames, activity books and Archie comics to be packed away into our backpack that stayed with us in the backseat. Once we were older, my brother and I were allowed to play with a Game Boy but even then there were time limits about how long we were allowed to play with that glorious piece of handheld technology. Annnnd, we only had one so we had to share. Oh the humanity!

There were no TVs dropping down from the car ceiling or in the back of our parents' headrests. There were no portable DVD players resting on our laps. We weren't playing games on our parents cell phone - because there weren't any. And there was no such thing as mp3 player or iPods. Only later on, into my teenage years did I have a Discman (Can you stand it?! That thing was cutting edge.)

Airline travel was far different than it is now too. There was one movie on three screens for the entire flight; forget about personal TVs at your seat. Flights were endured by listening to at airline radio stations and the promise of going up to the cockpit. Sadly, Ember will probably never know how truly cool that experience was.

Frankly, I don't want Ember to be reliant upon technology to endure a family vacation or road trip. And I'm adamant that she won't be ... perhaps to my own detriment. (Time will tell.) When running errands around town, I see kids in the backseat of various SUVs watching Spongebob on the back of their mother's headrest. That really gets me fired up! No wonder kids of today can't focus and have an attention span of a gnat. (I'm generalizing I know.) Whenever I see those kids, I can't help but think about sitting in a backseat for 8 hours a day while travelling. Heck, running errands was a different animal in my time. We didn't have A/C - the car was sweltering - and only the promise of Lifesavers kept me sane. (Yum, Lifesavers. I still love those candies and cannot find them for the life of me.)

Much of our family's travel in the future will be undoubtedly by done by vehicle. I want Ember to see and appreciate our country and adventures from her backseat vantage point. I want her to know the simple joy of I Spy and singing along to the soundtrack of the latest Disney movie. I want her to get excited about family pictures taken car side at various landmarks and tourist spots. And if those experiences are peppered with short stints with an iPod or Nintendo DS (or whatever the latest handheld game system is), then won't travel feel all the richer?

Obligatory stop at Tim Hortons while driving to Dawson Creek.

How do you survive travel with your kids? Are you passionate/obstinate about it, like me?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Power of a Latte

There are oodles of songs outside my choice music genre about the power of love and they're swell. But today, I've been thinking about the power of the a latte. Vanilla bean, hazelnut, pumpkin spice: they're all good and equally powerful.

Yesterday was a trying day with my ball of energy. Despite being really tired, she wouldn't settle for a nap. I have a cold coming on, I can feel it in my throat, so I really wanted those few hours this afternoon to nap myself. For hours I tried to get Ember to snooze but she wasn't having any of it. At 3:30, I aborted the mission and hoped for an earlier bedtime.

After a few errands this evening, Ember began her tell tale 'eye wipes' at 6:30. Hurrah! I pounced and began the bedtime routine. Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. The girl was overtired, feisty and took a lot of rocking to settle down. After a day like yesterday, this very well could have been the proverbial straw, but you know I was calm, cool, collected and patient.

Wanna know why? There was a latte waiting for me on the kitchen island.

That's all. It was that simple.

A latte. One glorious latte.

That hot beverage can completely alter the landscape of my day. I'm thankful for its power and I bow before it. Someone should totally write a song about the latte; I'd buy that album.

What do you think someone should write an ode to? What helps you maintain sanity on the harder days?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ember Went to The Beach

I can't believe how quickly summer has wrapped up in these parts. Snow is predicted for Sunday. SNOW!!! Um, what about Fall??

This morning, I am pouring over photos from our adventures in a warmer time as I work at item number 22 on my 28 in 28 list.

A highlight of our summer is our day in Cold Lake, AB. Andrew's brother was at survival camp at the Base there and we took a Sunday to go visit.

Can you believe this is the best photo of all of us? Yeesh.

In addition to seeing Jay, this trip allowed for Ember to dunk her toes in a lake for the first time. Oh my. It was such fun to watch Ember wade in the water and giggle while the waves lapped against her chest.

I smile remembering Ember examining the sand.



And, taste, of course.

This is one of my favourites.

Isn't she cute?

Summer days of sunny, family fun will help keep me warm on the gloomiest winter days.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

APB: I Need A Good Concealer

Okay ladies, I need you.

I'm tired, sleep deprived and it shows. Annnd, it's not going to change anytime soon. I'm ever the optimist, huh?

Please let me know what your favourite concealer is. The goal is to have people assume that Ember is a great sleeper because I look so effortlessly rested and radiant, okay? A lot of pressure and expectation, yes. But I believe the product is out there.

Hmph, maybe I am an optimist after all. Or maybe I'm delusional.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adapting on the Pitch

Weekends are very exciting though stressful for us right now. Andrew's rugby team is currently in the playoffs striving for the provincials. Last Saturday marked the semi-finals and we pulled it out over the Clansmen. The second half of the game, momentum really swayed our way and we won 29-10. Being that I'm a little (okay, a lot) competitive, I get pretty riled up on the sidelines and my voice was definitely hurting Saturday evening.

Andrew (in white) jumping on a lineout. He won possession.

Outside of the game, maintaining Ember's schedule is always tricky on game day; nap time usually falls while we're standing on the side of the pitch. Thankfully, as long as Ember gets a snack (my boob) then she usually dozes off. Fussiness cues snack time and then she is happiest being tucked into the stroller. The challenge then becomes keeping her asleep with all the raging and loud rugby fans standing nearby. Me being one of them.

Happily napping while the game rages on.

As Andrew and I'd hoped, Ember does well adapting through the day and grabbing naps while we move about. We find as long as we adhere to her bedtime, she does splendidly and maintains her charm. Of course, we don't push our limits and don't practice this routine, or lack thereof, outside of weekends.

Ember cruising up and down the sidelines.

After Andrew's game, we travelled to watch another St. Albert team win their match to advance to the semi-finals. Ember was wide awake at this match and more content to walk about with Daddy's help.

She really boogies now.

I'm already looking forward to the final this Saturday. Go Albert!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Harder Stuff

Somewhere in the latter weeks of August, I snapped. Not in the way that required a padded room and a straight jacket, but rather in the way that this mumma's reserve of patience had depleted. Ember had morphed into a high needs baby, waking every hour of the night and the only thing that brought calm was our bed and my breast. Four consecutive nights of this made me a pretty sore zombie.

During the days in between, I seriously lacked ambition and energy. Crap was piling up on any and all flat surfaces; the laundry hamper overflowed of clothes waiting to be folded and put away and my little HMCS Ember left a wake of clutter everywhere she went. As she still does.

To add insult to injury, I was suffering through a painful breast infection and it felt like I was nursing a sabretooth.

Honestly, I started to feel like I was drowning. No matter how I tried, I couldn't get control and I was so tired. The worst part is that I began to take it out on Ember. During the night when she was so very demanding, I'd snap and swear at her.

I'm so ashamed to type that and I cry now thinking about my behaviour. It's my job to take care of Ember's needs and you know, I flat out lost my cool. However, I didn't feel like I had an even keel at the time. It only occurred to me on night 5 that I may be suffering from postpartum depression. The next day, I called a girlfriend to talk frankly about what I was experiencing. We discussed motherhood very honestly and I started to feel less and less like the worst mother ever.

That same day, I started on St. John's Wort and omegas to help boost my mood. (If that didn't work, I'd make an appointment with my doctor and talk about a different course of action.) Additionally, hubby and I sat down for a heart to heart and I let him know how I was feeling. I hadn't been 100% honest with myself, let alone my husband.

Between owning my feelings and the St. John Wort, I started to feel better. Even though Ember continued to be Miss Demanding, I handled it much better and comforted her rather than perpetuating the problem by stressing out.

Nowadays, I feel fantastic and much more like myself. I don't look back on my actions with any pride however I've learned from my experience. I was so busy trying to maintain this facade of an easy breezy mummy that I forgot to be authentic and fair to myself. Not to mention Ember who deserved so much better than she was getting from me. I'm learning to breathe through tough moments and say "I need five minutes".

Being on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week is trying and it's reasonable to take a few moments to yourself to just breathe and re-focus.

Did you experience something similar? Did postpartum or fatigue sneak up on you? Have you had an outer body experience when you were behaving a certain way that made you take note?

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Things Change

This morning while nursing Ember down for a nap, the smell of Fall was wafting through the air. The crispness and freshness of the air is tangible and I love these first days of this new season. I look forward to the leaves changing and eventually littering the sidewalks.

Moreover, I look forward to pounding the pavement in my boots. Ah, my boots. Brown, black, mid-calf, knee high - they're all grand. They are my favourite part of my wardrobe. Boots, a great fitting jean and a Cowichan inspired sweater? Autumnal perfection.

When I was 23, living alone in the Lower Mainland, I maintained that in the event of a fire I would save my cat and my black Miu Miu boots.

Go ahead, think it.

Shallow bitch, right?

Well, no more. My boots don't make top three (or five). With Ember and the cat in each arm, I'd attempt to get the external hard drive of photos to safety.

As Fall sets in, I relish the opportunity to wear my boots again. I love the sass that permeates my step and the extra swagger in my gait.

These would love divine below my knees and even behind a stroller or pushing a swing. Swoon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dearest Blog,

I'm sorry that you have been so neglected. It's not that I don't love covering your wall with photos and posts about my family, it's just that I lost my blogging mojo. Summer reached it's peak, I wasn't spending a lot of time on the computer and as my cousin said, "all things need a summer vacation."

In my absence I've been mentally writing posts on a variety of topics that I look forward to sharing with you in the near future. My inspiration for this space is now nine months old, bubbly than ever and I've been snapping photos like a mad thing in an effort to hang on to all nuances of her fleeting infancy. Many of those will be hanging here soon, too.

Perhaps it's the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and the little people toddling down the sidewalk with backpacks strapped on, but I'm fired up and ready to reconnect dear blog.

A happening of the past weeks:

Ember managed to crawl into the cat's tent...

it was fun while it lasted ...

but she couldn't figure out how to get out. Hmmm...

Trying a yoga pose may help.

Finally, I just had to pluck her of the tent's clutches.

I will be back again soon with more harrowing tales. ha.
All good things!!