Wednesday, November 26, 2014

how disaster strikes

Today Emma went to the store with her daddy, just a normal outing.  They left like usual, and came back like usual, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until they told me that Emma choked very severely on a piece of candy and just about passed out.  Thankfully, MrH had the knowledge and presence of spirit to administer the Heimlich maneuver, but I cannot stop thinking that if this happened with the nanny, maybe things would not have been the same.  Perhaps it was not a piece of candy, perhaps it was just saliva causing her throat to close up (laryngospasm), in which case she might have recovered.  Regardless, Emma could have just as easily died in the store today.

And that is how disaster strikes, swiftly, unexpectedly.  One moment your kid goes to the store to get fruit with her daddy, the next moment she can choke on candy and drop dead. Gone from your life forever, just like that.  One moment you are pregnant and loving your round belly that is growing, the baby that is kicking, and the husband that thinks you are a miracle in transformation, and the next moment you start leaking amniotic fluid and in less than a few hours, or days, all is over and you are alone, no baby, no belly, and no miracle.

How is it that knowing this in the depth of my bones, I can still go through each day completely oblivious to this universal truth?  Is this mercy or blindness?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

clothing style

I am wrestling with my clothing style again.  I say again because it is one of my periodic areas of upheaval, at least since I have been pregnant, not pregnant, skinny because of losing Adrian and being sad, a bit overweight because of IVF with Emma, then pregnant with Emma, then post partum, then fit but not very skinny until Daniel, then pregnant with Daniel, then back to fit and not the skinniest ever but normal BMI weight again.

Are you dizzy yet?

I am.

On top of that, I have started work again after being a stay at home mom for eight months after having Daniel.  But I am only working half days, so that leaves half days of being with kids at home. My work and the kids require vastly, vastly different clothing choices.  I work in an office, and although the environment is very forgiving, I am a professional, and I feel better if I dress as such.

Lastly, I am torn between my equally strong pulls towards minimalism and order on the one hand, and creativity and choices on the other hand.  I need to respect both, as if I forget about the minimalism/order side, I feel overwhelmed, and if I go too spartan in that direction, I feel bored and drab and blah. I have been down to one pair of pants, one skirt and two sweaters on the one hand, and up to a very full walk in closet of which I pretty much wore everything, as everything fit and had a cousin to match.  I now do not have the time to sit and fold and look after so many clothes with the TLC that they deserve.  I like my clothes ironed.  I don't like stains or pills, and I spend time getting those out.  I fix small holes immediately, no kidding, I have a needle and multiple threads next to my toothbrush in the bathroom.

My actual style is forever changing as well...I am talking about my style at work.  At home, I have a simple formula of 4 jeans (or 2 lululemon crops in summer), and four nursing tops (long sleeve in winter, and short sleeve in summer).  Ugg boots in winter, and flats in summer.  All done.  Summer is short, winter is long, so I allocate proportionally more clothes to winter, and more money to that department.

At work, I mostly wear wool skirts with boots and cashmere sweaters on top.  I have just acquired (this year) two wool trousers, one dress, and two blazers.  I am branching in that direction now, so as to avoid the repetitiveness of skirt plus sweater.  However, as a wannabe minimalist, I should love the repetitiveness of my very defined tendency towards skirt/boot/sweater. See what I mean? I am pulled in the direction of variety and my minimalist side feels uncomfortable with the expansion, but my variety craving side was feeling bored and wanted to break some new ground.

I am reading style and fashion blogs, and find that even stylists don't have their own style sometimes!! Some people alternate so much from earthy/warm colours to cool/black/white, from whimsical/boho to clean/sharp lines, from patterns to solids, that I am thinking IF I WANT TO BE A MINIMALIST, I CANNOT READ FASHION/STYLE BLOGS.  I would say it is definitely a good idea that they vary things, but man, I need to see a trend, a pattern, a tendency of the wearer, not just nice outfits creatively put together.

I have no idea what any of this has to do with the topic of my blog (nothing?), except to say that, as with anything in life, we hold inside ourselves two opposing sides, and they pull us in different directions at different times.  If I were to listen to miss minimalist on the left side of my brain today, and severely cut down my wardrobe today, miss creative on the right side would be very sad tomorrow...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

comment

Hey, if you are reading, comment just to say hi.  I am curious who is still reading my blog!  At one point I thought it was becoming a journal, since I am the only one that is still showing up here, but I see I am still getting over 100 reads a day, so can I please  find out who out there is reading my journal???  HAHAHA

Saturday, November 15, 2014

failure

This is so very true!!! I felt like a failure when I could not get pregnant, then definitely felt like a failure when my cervix gave way and I lost the baby at 20 weeks, then felt like a failure some more when I could not get pregnant or had chemical pregnancies, and then when I did have the baby I felt like a huge giant failure for not producing enough breastmilk. By the time I got to having the third baby and developed a rare case of severe preeclampsia, and on top of that had a placenta accreta, I was so used to being a rare bird kind of failure at the whole reproduction thing that I no longer felt ANYTHING about it and just got on with life. I think you have inspired me to write about my feelings and how they just atrophied with repetitive injury...

I wrote this comment in response to a very good post that I read at No Kidding in NZ.  I used to feel like such a failure, that it is worth repeating the concept in my words as well, if only to help others who are at the point that I was.  

When I could not conceive initially, it was a shock.  Prior to that, I thought of myself quite highly (why exactly, I don't know, and it bears examining, since being healthy, smart, tall, beautiful or any other adjectives that I might have self-attributed or heard from others actually have nothing to do with my own achievement really and have everything to do with the gifts received from God, genetics and the luck of the draw).   I still hold myself up to extremely high standards, and it will be part of me for the rest of my life to bear the burden of my perfectionism.  However, suffice it to say that I got quite the shock when things were just not working as planned, despite no obvious problems.  

I took some time to accept that not all things can be done perfectly, that conception was out of my control, and hence that I could not hold myself accountable for the outcomes.  Then, I got pregnant via IVF and lost the baby due to incompetent cervix.  The sense of guilt coming out of that "failure" is still around to this day, but I have learned to live with it.  There was guilt about all of the subsequent failed IVF's, and sense of guilt about not being able to breastfeed Emma like I thought all mothers SHOULD (ha!  good word, should...). 

By the time I got to Daniel, something interesting had shifted in me.  I simply became immune to guilt, more or less.  I just accepted that that is the way I am built, that my luck of the draw was this never-ending series of mishaps, some more monumental than others.  And I suddenly felt free of a giant burden.  Yes, occasionally the burden can be triggered again by a senseless comment that I unwittingly do not filter, usually when I am tired and run down.  But somewhere in my subconscious mind, I have accepted the futility of trying to do anything to change my reproductive "failures", and that acceptance was a huge relief.  

I don't know how this happened, I just know that it did, and it did not happen right away, but after many, many times of being hurt.  I guess I just decided that I can no longer be bothered to be hurt by these judgements, whether they came from me or from others. 

My hope is that this healing happen for everyone eventually.  Every emotional pain, including guilt, and the sense of failure, has to dull down at some point.  The initial intensity has to diminish, otherwise we would not be able to function.  I think that is what happened to me, it was just too much to feel badly about, so I just stopped feeling badly.  And when I did, I felt relief.  But it was not something I had chosen to do, it just came about (and I am glad that it did :). 


Friday, November 14, 2014

mother to a stillborn baby

I don't often post about Adrian, my stillborn little boy, but that does not mean that I don't think about him every day.  I find it hard to write about him.  He belongs more in my thoughts than in my everyday life, and the people that I hang out with don't know much about my past, and about my pregnancy with him, about losing him.  Since he came into my life and left, I have moved to a different city, got a different job, had two more children, and the hospital in which he and Emma were born was completely demolished and the ground is now bare.

I also don't allow myself to feel the pain of losing him too often.  I worry that I am suppressing that part of my life a little too well.  I touch his urn every day, and once in a while I remember his limp body, his tiny chest, his vulnerable neck that I wanted to kiss but would have had no room to do so as it was so small.  Everything about him small, fragile, lovely, sweet, and tiny baby-ish.

I am his mother, perhaps (one could argue) in a different way than I am Emma and Daniel's mother, but still there is no doubt in my mind that I am his mother.  Mothering, I feel, is a way of being, not really something that I do.  I feel protective, loving beyond belief, courageous, firm, I feel like nothing can get in the way of what I perceive as being the best path for my children, and I am fearless  regarding what would happen to me when it comes to protecting them.

I know that mothering Adrian is quite different from mothering my toddler Emma, but hey, mothering Emma is different from mothering baby Daniel too.  They all have different needs.  Adrian needs to be remembered and prayed for and held softly and gently in my heart forever.  Emma needs lots of things, but mainly attachment and security and a happy environment in which she can thrive.  Daniel needs lots of food, and warmth, and a dry clean diaper, and to touch my face and pull my hair and giggle with me. I honestly just do the best I can for every one of my children, but I do not feel any less of a mother to one than to the other two.

I am writing this because I know that some women have not had living children after their stillborn babies, and because I would have wanted to know whether I was any less of a mother than a woman who has living children.  Having been blessed with having both sides of this experience, this is my take on things.  Once you bond, you are a mother, and bond you will, whether the baby is born alive or not.  For a little stillborn boy or girl, you want to do your best to make sure there was no suffering, you tell them and show them your love, you look after their body with care and reverence and take great pains to make sure that their memory is kept alive.  You never forget them, and you don't allow those who love you to forget your son or daughter either.  There are another hundred big and little things that you do that I am leaving out now, because I know I don't need to continue.  It is the love that makes one a mother, not the presence or absence of the child on her lap.

Emma's conversations

This is kind of like microblog Mondays, which I should sign up for.

I just woke up and am struggling to put back on her pi's (why she took them off is anybody's guess)

Emma:  You look stinky!!! (giggle)
Me:  I do? (worriedly smelling own morning breath)
Emma:  Yes!! you are stinky!!
Me:  Is it my hair?
Emma:  Ooops!  you made a silly fart!

I MOST DEFINITELY DID NOT.
Conversations with a toddler are the best.  So full of wisdom and compassion and logic.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

full of pie

This was me last night:  come home from work after working for four hours at a fairly fast pace, all wired up and full of tense energy.  Yell at kids and husband because house not clean.  Apologize and resolve to be a better person in the future.  Put kids to bed and, instead of falling asleep, have a wonderful time with my husband, just chatting and relaxing.  Feel like I have gotten over my tiredness and emotional fatigue associated with work.  Wander to the kitchen, just to make sure that the fridge is still there.  (Occasionally one has to check, you never know).  Find blueberry pie in the fridge, about a third of a double crust pie leftover from the day before.  Eat a big slice (with whipped cream).  Mmmm, very good.  Hit the spot.  Eat another slice.  Mmmm, still good.  Definitely not hungry anymore.  However, continue eating because this pie is so good, it is a shame to throw it away, and it would be weird to put in the fridge just a tiny piece left, all the while realizing that none of these reasons is a good reason to eat.  In addition, I felt like my hand was moving by itself, my jaw was chewing by itself, and my actual brain was somewhere else, on a tropical island vacation.

I have not been in a mind space like this in a very long time, and it shows that I am overtired.  I have decided today that any measure designed to help me do less work, or be more efficient at cleaning the house (or at work, if possible) is worth investigating.  Hence, I have ordered a dictation software for work, instead of typing, and also I have thinned out a bit the toys that are lying all over the place (particularly the ones with many small pieces, you know what I mean).  Anything that can help me streamline the process of tidying up a bit is worth the effort and sacrifice.  And a bounty of toys plus cranky mother is not as good as a scarcity of toys plus happy mother.  (Still aiming for the medium though :).


Thursday, November 6, 2014

it went ok

The first day back was actually pretty uneventful.  Nothing bad happened, really, my password got sorted out, the kids got along with the nanny ok, and all was well.  When I came back, Daniel took one look at me and started screaming upset sounds (meant to tell me that I must never dare leave him again).  Emma was very hyperactive and tired this evening, likely because of the change as well, as I am certain that being with the nanny required more attention and energy than simply chilling with me in the afternoons.  The nanny seemed ok too.  Everyone survived. The only glitch in the whole day is that I forgot to put mascara over the mascara primer, which is white, and so I went to the office with white eyelashes.  Luckily nobody said anything.

There won't be a long blog post tonight as I am tired and I have a sore throat.  In addition, my car is still at the repair shop and I need to go get it, it is 9 pm already and I have to be back by 10 pm in order to sleep.  If I don't get to sleep by 10 pm, I am incredibly tired the next day, mostly because I wake up around 6 every morning to exercise.  That being said, tomorrow morning I plan on sleeping in, since I don't feel so well and I need rest.

Have a good night everyone!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

back to work tomorrow

I am going back to work tomorrow, and I am having anxiety in all colours of the rainbow.  Anxiety about leaving my kids, first of all, but also anxiety about the work itself.  I hope I did not forget too much of what I know, because if I did, I might screw up and hurt somebody (I have the kind of job where I might easily do that).  I hope also that my computer password finally starts to work at some point in the next few days, because so far it has been a hard road trying to log in, despite IT trying to fix it during several attempts on the phone (IT is remote).  I am anxious about being anxious about my computer password, because HELLO, what crazy person has that kind of anxiety?...I also hope that the booking secretaries don't kill me in my first few days with too much on my plate.  Finally, I hope that I still fit into my office clothes, because I have lived in lululemons (you know what those are) for the past year.

I am also undergoing a sudden shift in identity the moment I start to work again.  I am no longer a mom that is looking after her kids, I become my professional persona to everybody other than my husband, my kids, my parents, my brother, and my oldest friends, who have known me as just me, not me-the-professional.  It is a bit like carrying an invisible aura that weighs uncomfortably heavy after a while and I would like to be able to put down, but I get reminded to pick it up the moment I see any person in this town other than my nuclear family.  I don't necessarily mind it after a while, but it is definitely a change, and it is worth mentioning.  Lastly, I will never be able to shut off my phone, which was one of the most blissful parts of my recent existence.  Yes, I missed numerous calls from people including my mom who gets worried, but the peace and quiet that I got to just exist and not have to pick up if I don't feel like it was exceptional.

I think that the kids will be OK with the nanny.  She seems nice, a little to soft and indulgent, but rather that than a scary meanie.  I let her spend individual time with both Emma and Daniel today, and I have started to relax a lot about my role not being changed in any way by her presence.  Plus, she did the dishes when we cooked, and that is quite a treat, because I baked a huge pumpkin, two different kinds of cookies, and a sugar free pumpkin cheesecake, plus made two soups today, pumpkin and beet borscht, so the cleanup was no small feat for me or for her (I have a dishwasher, but it does not wash well, so we have to wash everything first by hand and use the dishwasher as a final touch/drying rack mostly).

It will help me to think about what work does for me and why I chose to go back, and why I will always choose to go back under just about any circumstances:
- fulfilment of what I believe God wants me to be in life
- fulfilment of what I have always wanted to do with my life before I knew how nice it is to raise kids and stay at home with them (grin)
- the opportunity to use my extravagantly expensive and rather long education
-I might actually help someone
-I am probably good at what I do, or at the very least decent, so I might as well do it
-it inspires my kids, particularly Emma, to aim for a career, a calling, and not just settle for a random job
-oh, did I mention that I get paid?  And man, after many months of no income, that is a welcome bonus.

OK, I have convinced myself, tomorrow I am getting dressed and I am walking out that door like I mean business.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

intimacy

It is hard to believe how much Emma, baby, MrH and I have become our own little tribe.  We are very close.  Particularly since I am at home all day long with the kids, and take them with me everywhere I go, as I was writing before, I am very attached to them, and to the feeling of having them WITH ME, just like during a pregnancy.  (I suspect this is at least partly due to my being a control freak who needs to know all the time what the kids are doing).  This is just our way of life.

Enter nanny, and the option today of leaving the kids with her while I go buy lightbulbs and toilet paper and odd grocery items like cream of tartar (don't ask).  I went without them, mainly because I wanted to see what it would be like.  On the plus side, I went to three different stores and to the post office in the span of less than one hour.  I got to tick off a list of items that had been running on over the past two weeks, I was just strategically trying to do it without having to put the kids through the stress of being in and out of their car seats so many times.  On the minus side, by the time I reached the hardware store (my last stop), I was so lonely and sad that I was jealous of the mothers coming in with three kids in tow.  I mean c'mon, we all know that having to do shopping with kids is universally the stuff of parental nightmares, and yet, I found myself missing my little wingman and my little wing lady.  (Never mind the fact that the woman with the multiple kids is actually working, and she probably had just picked up her kids from school/daycare after being away from them for the whole day).

This is going to take some getting used to.  Having the nanny in the house feels intrusive to both Emma and me.  Today, as I was putting Daniel to sleep with a boob in his mouth, Emma climbed into bed with me, shut the door (the nanny was in the kitchen, putting the groceries away), and she said "mommy, I want to go home".  I wanted to say "so do I". My feelings exactly, little girl.  We don't like change, and this is Big Change to all three of us.  Luckily for Daniel, he is mellow and little and just goes along for the ride.  I am big and anxious, and feel like opposing the change with all four hoofs digging in the dirt.

Anybody remind me where the carrot is?  It is supposedly dangling in front of my nose, but I just cannot see it, tears clouding the view and all... (One would be completely unable to tell that it is I who chose to have a nanny instead of dropping off the kids at daycare, because of the daily grind of having to be in time both for my work start and for the daycare closing time).  Yep, people, it was my choice.

On the plus side, my house has never been cleaner.

Here are some pictures of what my kids look like in the snow.  It was -5C today (23 F), and we had fun while I shovelled the driveway and the patios.  Emma likes to help with her own shovel, and baby likes to sleep on my back (preferably) in the Ergo carrier, or in the stroller if the going gets rough and I have to do a lot of shovelling fast.




Monday, November 3, 2014

mixed feelings

I am feeling quite mixed up at the moment about having household help.  On the one hand, it is nice to have someone else do the sweep/vacuum/mop routine, and to have somebody look after the kids while I am doing the grocery shopping or going to my piano lesson, for instance.  But on the other hand, I am very very VERY used to having Emma and Daniel accompany me everywhere I go, and having them around when I do the cleaning.  Emma even helps out by now.  It is hard, exceptionally hard sometimes to have to carry four piano books, a super-bundled up baby (the clothes have more volume than the baby at this point of winter), and a toddler that is dressed in head to toe snow gear to the point that she needs help getting in and out of the car.  I definitely stress out about not having enough hands.  So that madness can end now...

On the other hand...how sweet to have my two children with me everywhere.  They are part of my life just like the air I breathe.  The post office lady knows them, and is used to me shuffling boxes and baby while struggling to find my VISA, all at the same time as unwrapping the compulsory lollipop that Emma gets whenever we go there (she has learned to expect it, and now she asks the post office lady for it shamelessly!).  The piano teacher is used to holding my baby on her lap, while Emma is sitting on her couch looking at books.  The baby is used to being on the kitchen floor while Emma and I empty the dishwasher.  It is not always love all around, but it mostly is, and we are incredibly close.  Now this bond is about to change somehow, because of the presence of the nanny, and because of the shortened amount of time that I will be spending with the kids.  I feel that we are always going to be quite attached at the hip, if the kids allow it, because that is my natural tendency, but the truth is that we will probably never be quite as close as we have been during this past year.  So much has happened, so much trauma, so many miracles, so much drama, so much love, and while it was hard, it created this intimacy that envelops us at this point, and that I am scared of losing.

As an aside, I am suddenly aware that ever since I have emigrated to Canada in my late teens, it has been just my nuclear family around me and no other relatives or help of any kind.  It was difficult, but  it created a type of enmeshment which I have felt comfortable recreating within my own family.  I love having just MrH, Emma and Daniel around, and nobody else. I feel a bit protective towards this small and dear family of mine, and do not want to share this space and this love with anybody else.  I am pretty sure that somewhere in the past few sentences I have lost all logic and am thinking with my primitive brain, the one that is trying to protect the tribe from intruders.  Even when the intruders are helping me clean the house and make it possible for me to work, earn money and practice the profession that I love.  Sounds terrible, doesn't it?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

the nanny begins

Tomorrow the nanny is coming to our house for the first time.  She will be looking after the kids for five hours a day or so, and helping to clean the house for the other three hours.  I am very apprehensive, because I have never had a nanny, nor do I know really what they do.  I have been looked after by my grandparents when I was little, and so were all my friends.  When that was not possible, I went to kindergarden (a big daycare really).  My daughter Emma has been going to a person's in house daycare, and then to a bigger daycare when she reached the age of 2.  She enjoyed it, but I am fairly certain that she has enjoyed being with me a whole lot more.

Daniel is only six months adjusted, and I am apprehensive to leave him, and Emma is very much attached to me, so I am not too thrilled about leaving her either.  However, it is time for me to go back to my work.  I have invested lots of time and effort into my training, and the other day a nice lady I swim with said that I am very good at what I do and it would be a shame not to go back.  I was not even debating the possibility of not going back, but she certainly made me feel better.

Anyway, today, as I was making the beds, I was thinking that this might well be the last time in the next year or two that I am changing the sheets, since I sincerely think I am going to delegate this particular task to the nanny (insert big grin).  Sheets get changed every two days on our bed, because we all sleep in it and if I don't it takes on a nest-like aroma.

I am thinking that I might feel intruded on by the nanny, that my privacy with my kids in the mornings will be decreased, but on the other hand, not having to do all the housework will also be quite nice.  We will have to see how it goes.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween has come and gone

Ohhhh, I have time to sit down and write!  What a luxurious five minutes this is going to be...
I cannot remember when time spent sitting at the computer to blog has become akin to a massage and pedicure at a high end spa, but I guess it must have been around the time I had a baby on top of the toddler to look after, and probably somewhere in the neighbourhood of when our TV fell down from a great big height on top of MrH and broke (the TV, not MrH, he is thankfully ok).

I am a happy happy clam.  Next week I am going back to work, part time in the afternoons, and I doubt that I will be as happy then as I am now, but, staying in the moment, for now all is well.  Winter has come for real here, but the cold is still not too bad.  -6C this morning (21 F), and I went for a run that lasted well over one hour, because some of it was slippery and I had to walk.  I got a pair of shoes with spikes, but they have not arrived yet, and so far I might as well be skating on portions of the forested path.

I am finding that in winter my energy level is not as high.  Waking up at 5:30 am to go swimming, or at 6 am for a run, is quite the chore.  Once I am done, however, my body feels better, more alive and full of energy, until about noon when the BIG SLEEPY hits me.  We used to nap, all three of us, but I am going back to work in the afternoons, so I won't be able to anymore, and Emma has outgrown the need to nap, so she hangs out with me while baby is sleeping.  As a consequence, we now put the kids to sleep at 8 pm and have a whole 1-2 hours to ourselves (!!!!).  This is such a change, that I felt in a state of shock the first couple of evenings that it happened.  I cannot describe how much my kids have become part of my right hip, to such and extent that I am never without them, except for the morning exercise, when they are with MrH.  Now, to have them sleep soundly without us in bed while we can cuddle and talk, it feels like an unexpected gift.  I am slowly getting my husband back!  Yay!  ('cause I like him ;).  Also, as a bonus, I now have time to practice piano, so I have started taking lessons again, and I will have some more time to blog I guess, so I probably will start to post more regularly and to update the background, etc.

Halloween has been a great big party from morning until night.  I have allowed Emma to have enough candy until she did not want anymore (that wasn't even a lot), so that she can share with the kids coming trick or treating.  Here are some cute costume pictures:

Emma as a lion in the evening (a nice costume for layering lots of clothes underneath to keep her warm.  I much prefer this type to the Elsa dresses that made other girls freeze out there).

Oops, this is about half of the amount of candy that I ate.  Double this and you get the idea...and add a few cookies too...

This is little man dressed in the cutest costume ever.  I wish I had the tripod installed to be able to take a good picture of him (he was in my arms the whole time, as this costume made it hard for him to sit).  I at least wish I had bothered to take out the proper camera instead of the iPhone.  But I cannot complain, the iPhone has provided me with many opportunities to take pictures where before I would not have, at all...

 Emma as a princess for the morning Strong Start party (Strong Start is a place parents and kids hang out and do activities for a few hours).


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Are there spirits in the forest?

Winter has come by in my neck of the woods.  It is cold, just below freezing, and also it has started to snow daily for the past few days.  The wind makes the temperatures feel like -10C easily, especially when I go running early in the morning.  I usually go at 6:30 am, and it is quite dark at that time.  My trail is not lit, and it does go through the forest for about 3 km or so, which is scary.  Some of the other girls who run say it is all a mind game, as the only thing to be afraid around here is wild life, and I believe that the bears started hibernating already.  It is only moose that we should fear, and perhaps the occasional wolf, although I have not seen or heard of any in town or around here.

A few nights ago I ran straight into a huge deer with gigantic antlers.  I have a flashlight, and by the ghostly white light of my pencil flashlight, the deer looked imposing.  I backed out respectfully and returned home.  To be honest, I am more afraid of the bad spirits that might be lurking in the woods (you know, like the supernatural kind, as in Twin Peaks), than of the real animals.  Those I know how to deal with by now.  Back up slowly and they will usually ignore humans.  The bad spirits on the other hand looked scary on the big screen and I don't want to see them in real life.  Oh, there's also the Blair Witch sort as well.  Good thing I don't watch TV anymore, as my imagination is the wildest beast of all, and I can't slowly back out of its way either.

As for the family, Daniel is growing, Emma is growing.  Daniel likes to smile at everyone, and he is such a social human being, that everybody loves to hold him.  Only occasionally he gets offended, and when he does, he cries for a long time and is upset with me for a bit.  He seems to remember that he is angry with me and gives me the long lip for quite a few minutes.  He is grabbing his toes, and started to roll from the back to the front.  He also loves to listen to me reading to both him and Emma for long stretches of time.  His attention span is actually very impressive.  The funniest thing is when he bangs on the piano with joyful glee, looking like a mini-pianist giving a concert.  Again the look of concentration on his face is really funny.

Emma is saying all sorts of funny things.  This morning she was playing with her toy German Shepherd that looks like a wolf.  She was pretending that the dog/wolf is saying "I'm gonna get you, big bad Red Riding Hood!".  I laughed to myself at the confusion and made a note to re-tell the story, as to get the characters straight.

Winter is keeping us in the house a lot more, although we get out twice a day at least.  We get bundled up, and will continue to add layers as the temperatures drop.  I remember that it was weird to me that the people around here bring their babies out in winter, bundled up to the point of being hard to hold.  I have become accustomed to the bundling up process to the point that I am finally not stressed out about it anymore.  It takes a lot of coordination to dress two kids with hats, mittens, socks, boots, and snowsuits, not to mention dressing myself as well.  As it is getting colder and colder, we will be adding balaclavas to cover up the faces, and also I will probably add a second coat over the first one, as well as a second hat, and gloves plus mittens.  (When we get back into the house, we fill up an entire couch with the clothes that we are removing).  I do think it is important to keep on getting out, just to feel free and not develop cabin fever.  Winter is a 8 month affair around here, so the sooner we adapt to it, the better.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The way of the mother

I suppose that it is a fact of life that I should just accept: the more there is to write about, the less time there is to write. I struggle to find the time for a blogpost that I compose in my head, tweaking it until it reaches a cursive flow of words that will never reach an actual page. I realize that I absolutely must write to my friend in Holland to tell her about my son, and about his baptism, and never get to sit down and do it until the moment has passed. I yearn for a fresh, smooth page in a notebook to analyze, summarize or maybe just record by hand in ink some of my days, but man, finding a half hour somewhere for actual handwriting sounds decadent and unnecessarily old fashioned even to me, who makes bread and cheese from scratch.

I wrote all this on my cellphone with my thumb while skipping a nap, while everyone else is sleeping. Perhaps this is the way of the busy mother. I know that once my kids are all grown up, and Emma's knees will no longed dig into my back, squishing me against Daniel's tummy, I will write at my desk and feel a lot more freedom but a lot more emptiness too. This is the way of the bound woman, with very little time but bursting at the seams with love and fulfillment.

The way of the mother

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

She-bear

I woke up this morning at 6 am to go for my run.  Daniel woke up too, I think he might have been a bit hungry, and even after I fed him he was still awake and chatty, so I decided to take him with me in the jogging stroller.  After bundling him up (it is getting colder in the mornings around here), I took off for my run, and he looked very interestedly at the trees, listening to the birds, and wondering why in the world I am running.  The entire time he was smiling and flirting with me shamelessly.  (That is why I don't mind taking him along, he is such a good sport, and great company).

Once we got into the forest, where there is a paved path of about 2.5 km each way, we enjoyed the dark tall trees, and the new sounds, but all the while I was scanning for bears, because there are lots at the moment.  About midway, after crossing a small bridge, I saw a momma bear pushing one of her cubs with her nose, and the cub running happily onto the path about 20 meters in front of us.  I smiled for a moment, thinking of us mothers awake so early and busy mothering already, and turned around ('cause I'm not crazy:).

I only looked back once, and seeing that she is not following me, I did not worry.  Bears are usually peaceful, if you don't bother them, they return the favour.  And I must say, it was fun seeing her this morning.  I feel like we had a bond of some sort.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Parenting up close and personal

Hey, maybe I get to write an ENTIRE post before Emma and Daniel wake up and jump on me...

My kiddies are very well attached, indeed, and love to be cuddled.  Emma pretty much demands to be held every morning upon waking, and she loves the closeness.  Since having Daniel, poor girl has had to do with reduced cuddle time, since baby has to be fed, changed, etc.  She is actually pretty lucky that Daniel is a very low-demands boy, and is content enough to sit in his swing watching Emma jumping on me.




 In the mornings, our routine is something like this:  I wake up and exercise until about 7:30, then I come home, and usually find Emma just awake.  I cuddle her, take off her diaper, give her a bath, brush her teeth, brush her hair, breakfast, etc, and we sit in our rocking chair and read a book (lately Clifford or Llama Llama).  Then Daniel wakes up, and he gets changed, a bath, fed, and then I hold them one on each knee and we read some more, or we do crafts.  At 11 we leave the house, as lately she has had a daily "camp" activity like soccer, gymnastics, pool, etc (gymnastics around here comes for only one week, but it is daily for one hour and they call it gymnastics camp).  If the camp is done, then we go to the park and are just as wise.




Emma is growing into a confident, beautiful girl.  I love spending time with her.  I have decided that I am not putting her in preschool, because she is already going to daycare for five hours daily when I work, and I simply don't want her away from me for a further two hours.  I don't care what the learning opportunities that she is missing out on might be, it is way too much for this momma and child dyad.  And, honestly, if I were not working, I would for sure homeschool for a few years as well.

I have had the opportunity to observe mother-child interactions at all these summer camps that we went to.   Some of the mothers were more involved than others (and I don't mean helicopter style at all times, but watching the kid, encouraging, talking them through difficult times, etc), and those were the kids that I found were thriving.  They stood out as more confident, just for knowing that their mothers were there and had their backs. Something good happens when the mother or father are close by, and get involved.  I want that so much for my kids.

I have read a wonderful book,  Hold on to your kids, and the book has actually reinforced for me this concept that the kid needs me more than she needs friends or peers at this stage.  Emma plays a lot with other children, especially now that it is summertime, and she does very well with them, but I try not to let her hang out all day long without supervision, and both her and the neighbour's kids do better when one of the mothers is there to remind them to be gentle, be kind, share, etc.  It takes a long time to teach a kid how to be civilized, and the more time I spend with her, the better our chances :).

I would love to hear from any mothers out there who plan on homeschooling, and in particular if working part time and home schooling.  Is it working?  What are the drawbacks (and the high points too)?

Here are some pictures from her third b-day party, and from our recent day trip to Summit Lake in the mountains.




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Milk issues again

I am thinking that my milk supply is not keeping up with Daniel's growth.  He was unsatisfied for a while now, and I don't have the same approach with him as I did with Emma, thinking that my body will keep up.  I now know better.  I tried to pump a bit each morning to have enough for the evenings, when the supply issue happens, but then I ended up not having enough in the morning either, and having to supplement twice a day, which was not good.  I started by pumping 30 ml (one oz) each morning, and weighing him to see how much he ate when he woke up.  He would eat 70ml and be hungry still, so I often would give him back the pumped milk, then he was satisfied.  I then stopped pumping and he would just eat 100 ml and be happy.  This is a lot less time consuming and much more satisfying to both of us.  My body just cannot make more than 100 ml, that's the way it is.  Pumping first, waiting a bit and feeding later does not change things either, that is the way I am built. The sooner I accepted this, the better it was.

My advice for the lactation-challenged ladies is (after much, much experience with hitting my head against the wall):  recognize the problem early.  If you think you don't have enough milk, it is likely that you are right.  Daniel was gaining 20g per day and doing fine, but with supplementation he is gaining 30 g and he is a lot happier.  He only needs 1-2 oz at night extra, but that is what he needs, and I won't argue with it.  Second piece of advice:  supplement at the breast using something like the SNS or Lactation Aid devices.  Bottles are fairly deadly in this situation, because a frustrated hungry baby will always prefer the faster milk flow that comes from the bottle.  Third piece of advice:  feed often.  Allow the baby to soothe-suck at the breast whenever he wants to, it will increase the prolactin levels.

I was lucky enough to have two ladies in town donate milk for him (just as it happened for Emma) and will probably be able to avoid formula until he is a bit older, and perhaps if we are lucky indefinitely :).

Friday, July 18, 2014

biking with the bears

Yesterday morning I had a biking date.  For anybody who has missed the recent developments, I bit the triathlon bug and am trying to learn some road bike skills on my second hand bike that is extremely temperamental (hopefully the bike technician comes back to town pretty soon to fix my large gear problem).  Anyway, so yesterday morning I was supposed to go biking with a lady in town, who has to go to work at 7 am.  Hence I got up extra early, at 5:15 am, to feed Daniel and change him and put him in the swing before I have my coffee, get dressed, try to find my helmet that has a bad habit of prancing around the house all by itself, etc.  I showed up at the meeting place at 6 am, and this lady was not there.  I waited for a bit, riding around in circles (I would have dismounted the bike, but the clip pedals make me fall each time I try to dismount, so I thought I'd better save that fun for later, at the end of the ride, or at least for some "stop" sign excitement!).

Finally, after ten minutes of small boring circles around the block, I felt the need to go do my workout and left.  It was about half an hour earlier than my usual riding time, so I ran (biked) into these ladies running on the road towards me.  They yelled at me "there's a momma bear with cubs further up the road, don't go there".

The local people are (rightfully) terrified of bears.  We carry bear spray in our purses just about everywhere, and definitely on any of the paths around here.  That being said, although we encounter them often, I have not met anybody that ever got attacked, except for this guy who decided to shoot one and the shot was not deadly (I think that he told me that bear was dangerous for some reason, whatever).  In general, I have the feeling that if you don't bother them, they don't bother you.  And it is generally wise not to walk too close to them with your camera, ahem, MrH...Yes, yes, even if it looks like the bear is smiling at you.

Well, that blocked my workout path alright.  I had to decide whether I was more afraid of riding past the lady-bear with the babies, or of riding on the highway, with its bigger, longer hills, and the less welcoming truckers with their fast semi's.  I chose the bear, and rode on.  I never saw her, she must have just dashed into the bushes.

That's the problem around here with riding too early, there's a lot of wildlife.  It is also what makes me relish my early morning rides, since some of the wild life consists of momma deer and their fawns too :).

Speaking of which, I cannot wait for my new cruiser (cruising bike) to arrive.  It will have breaks that don't screech bloody murder and 18 speeds.  More for me to climb the hills with!  My quads will soon need me to pay property tax on them.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Daniel is growing. And lots of mosquitoes in town.

Little man Daniel is growing so fast!!!  I feel like he is developing a lot faster than Emma.  At first, I felt that one of the advantages of having a preemie is that you get to spend more time with him.  I got two more months of life to get to know him (ok, one of those two months was not particularly pleasant for anybody, given that it took place in the NICU, but the second one was definitely a bonus).

Anyway, I digress.  He got some oral thrush, and he is so busy chewing on everything in sight in order to relieve his itchy mouth, that I have no idea whether he needs more milk (i.e. whether I am keeping up with his requirements for breastfeeding) or whether he simply needs to chew on my nipples.  I was quite in doubt of my boob-ability the other day, when he sucked me dry and continuously asked for more, when I realized that:
1.  He is making enough urine to water a whole garden, and I keep on changing his diapers/clothes/sheets/my clothes every five seconds.
2.  He is growing at 30.6 g per day on average (that's one ounce).  Which is fantabulous.

All in all, that realization has restored my boob-confidence.
Why doubt myself in the first place?  Well, here is a bunch of reasons:  firstly, I did not have enough milk with Emma, by far and wide, and secondly, I train every day for at least one hour, which is a lot of physical activity for somebody who was formerly confined to bed just two to three months ago.  The level of training together with the time away from him can definitely contribute to decreasing milk supply, so I have to be on guard and watch it.

I am planning on completing the local Olympic distance triathlon next summer, so I have decided that I had better get the 40 km bike ride under control this year, because the triathlon is in June and we can only start riding after defrost (which happens in May or so around here).  Therefore, I had better start with the road balance and gear shifting and clip less pedals and overall road testing this year, because although I have the winter to do some stationary biking, I won't be able to practice all of those skills before the event, and I will stress out about falling off/getting run over by a semi truck/eaten alive by bear/getting a flat and not knowing how to change it, blah blah.  The swim is completely under control, and the run is totally do-able on the treadmill, but the bike is another story.

In case anybody wants to do a newbie triathlon, come along for the ride.  Before this bug itched me, I had no idea what those funky road bikes were for, i.e. I had never ridden anything that does not allow riding in a skirt and have a basket in front.  Now I am considering installing aerobars on my new-used bike.  Go figure.  I have even gotten myself cycling shorts after the lady parts started hurting.  And I just did 30 km on the bike yesterday without blinking, after which I went for a 7 km run during which I blinked a lot.  A fair bit of the blinking was due to mosquitoes and other bugs.  Some of the blinking was due to the newly installed sign at the entrance to the forest trail "BEAR IN THE AREA".  A momma bear with her cubs lives there now.  Bye bye trail running for a while.

There are numerous bugs around here in summer, but this year they are so bad that we cannot live outside without oozing DEET from every pore.  I went with the kids to a park play group, and it was ridiculous that we all huddled up in the rain when it started to drizzle instead of hiding under the tree where it was dry, because the mosquitoes run away from the drizzle under the said tree.  Rain is infinitely preferable to mosquitoes.  The bugs are another reason why I have to train in the mornings, because in the evenings bad things happen.

I took the kids in a double stroller for a jog through the forest path, and unwisely gave Emma a cookie that I had made with dates.  Within a few minutes, the hornets started circling her menacingly. I stopped just for the second that it took to retrieve the cookie and hide it, and in that second, the mosquitoes, all 150 of them, surrounded us.  Daniel had about ten on his face, Emma had thirty bites on each leg, and I did not even care to stop and count because it was freaking terrifying to see my kids covered in mosquitoes.  So we started running even faster, to get away from them, but they followed us in a thick cloud.  I stopped again to spray DEET all over everybody again and over the back of the stroller, and that helped things for about two minutes, but the mosquitoes continued to threaten us every time that I dropped my running pace below 6 mph.  That is pretty fast for trail running pushing a double stroller, and I got tired, but could not stop until we got to safety, so I had a gruelling workout.  Now, as a mother, I had to do it, but my running partner, who did not have her kids covered in mosquitoes because she had not stopped to get rid of the hornets, had no need to run so fast, and I think I unnecessarily fatigued her on a day that was supposed to be a "easy run".  It turned out into the run from hell for both of us.  When I got to the car, and quickly threw Emma and Daniel inside, folding the stroller and launching it with both hands like it was a stroller-launching Olympic event, quickly hiding in the car myself and closing all the doors and windows, we had about forty mosquitoes with us for the free all-you-can-eat ride.   You try and concentrate on driving when your right ankle is currently attacked by the bastards.

If any of my friends want to come visit, I highly recommend winter when it is -40C.  Much better to be outside in those conditions.  (Just kidding.  I love summer.  I am just in awe at how tenacious these insects are).

Monday, June 30, 2014

busy and self absorbed

I am rediscovering my body, the one that is quasi-normal and not sick or pregnant.  What an interesting time I am having!  First off, I started by exercising.  I found out that although I had not lost as much fitness as if I had never exercised at all, I was down to about half of my usual mileage in running and swimming.  I sometimes think that I am able to do something just because I could in the past, and then I realize that it I persist with this mad form of thought I will get injured...  The second thing is that I am busy trying to lose weight, because although I look fine, it is rather hard to run with an extra 20 lb on board.

I felt a bit selfish initially, because here I am, with a brand new baby, and I am expanding energy into fitness instead of gazing lovingly into his eyes 24/7.  However, I feel that I have reached a good balance now.  My exercise time is 6:30-7:30 in the mornings.  I take full advantage of it, I enjoy it, and then I let it go.  The rest of the day is spent with the kids at the park, and yes, gazing lovingly into their eyes comes in too, when I am not busy giving Emma time out in her room for throwing sand in some poor child's face... she keeps me on my toes.  (We were at the park, and she threw some sand at a young girl-18 months or so- who was throwing sand at her too, BTW, but was just not as coordinated as Emma is.  So Emma got her straight in the eyes.  I put Emma on the time-out bench, and administered first aid (i.e. removed grains of sand from poor baby's left eye), when Emma decided that she had done enough time-out and got off the bench without permission.  I asked her if she would rather do her time out at home in her room, and she agreed (to my surprise).  I personally would have liked to linger on the grass at the park a lot longer, but I had to keep my word so we went home and she went straight to her room for about five minutes, which is the longest time out she has had so far, but she did not mind).

That is how exciting my life is!!!

Daniel is coo-ing so sweetly.  I am going to try to make a video of him making his sweet baby sounds.  He is also looking at me and smiling, sometimes giggling, in the rare moments when my boob is not in his mouth.  For some reason he has thrush, which I am trying to cure with Nystatin suspension, but so far not very successfully.  If anybody has any other remedies for thrush (not so much gentian violet, which stains clothes) then please let me know.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Emma wants to be a doctor. I want to be a shepherd.

She is gone to the hospital with daddy, which is their special thing to do every Saturday morning.  They go on rounds "to see the sick people".  She loves it.


Here is a picture of her listening to daddy's heart.  I am pretty sure she thinks that the heart is in the big toe area but never mind...


As for Daniel, I was planning on taking some fabulous pictures today, but the light is not very good (it is cloudy and drizzly outside), so will have to postpone the great photography until tomorrow.  Here is something that I got so far, just of him in the swing.  I find that for most newborn photography to look good, I need my husband to entertain him somehow so that he opens his eyes:



Life is really good.  I am preparing for the triathlon, and have shaved off one minute from my 1 km time, which is really good.  I am still the slowest on the morning training team, but so what, I am the only one that just had a baby there, and by next year perhaps I will be able to keep up more consistently.  I have started running as well, and found that actually running 5 km is really not that hard, especially when I don't have to push a double BOB loaded with my kids and the neighbours' kids at the same time (for some reason I thought that was a great idea, don't ask!).

I do a lot of art and Romanian lessons with Emma in the mornings.   We keep it fun and light, and at 10:30 we wrap up all activities and go outside to play at the park.  She is learning how to cut with scissors, and enjoys cutting both paper and play dough.  The play dough part is very messy, so I am starting to get her involved in the cleanup on a more consistent basis.  So far, I would clean up her messes and make it fun for her to help if she wanted to.  Lately it still fun, but it is becoming compulsory.

I have started reading the book on Love and Logic parenting recommended by blogger friend Lara, and it is a great, great book.  I have realized that up to now I was focusing more on being a friend to Emma, and not as much a parent.  And it was the right, age appropriate thing to do.  However, she is growing up, and she needs to start integrating into society.  That involves doing her share of work in the family (which is her little society at home) and learning to interact with the outside world (her friends, the neighbours, people we meet at the grocery store).  She is doing really well, except for the sudden bursts of wanting to make a mess (she even says "mommy, I want to make a mess"), and then I know I need to send her to her room, because if it happens in daddy's office, it involves taking all the paper out of the shredder and spreading it joyfully all across the house, including in the flower pots.

She also needs to work on respecting the cat.  Our cat is very kind and gentle, and would never hurt my kids, but since the neighbour's kids play in our house, the whole gang thinks it is great fun chasing the cat and throwing pillows at her, which we (the parents) disapprove of. (Even though I think it is hilarious to see the cat challenged a bit, since all she does is sleep and shed hair, but ahem, don't tell Emma I said so).  Here is the cat, trying on some baby clothes.  That was my idea.  I was making baby clothes by hand before Emma's arrival, and was trying them over the cat's head to make sure that they were wearable.  (They were not wearable, by the way).


Anyway, life is smooth and wonderful.  I am baking bread tonight, so I took out the sourdough starter and am feeding it some flour.  Soon I will be milling the grains.  I should move in the prairies and get some goats.  Here in town I am quite sure that one cannot keep goats.  I am craving some fresh, unprocessed milk, lots of it, to drink and to make fresh cheese from.  Mmmmm...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The height of embarrassment

Here is how to get into a really embarrassing situation: 
Step 1.  Receive phone call yesterday from nice lady who says she would like to bring dinner tomorrow night (i.e today).  Make arrangements for 18:30 drop off. 
Step 2.  Forget all about said conversation.
Step 3.  Make dinner, put it on the table, and start eating with family at 18:15, finish and relax with conversation and coffee.
Step 4.  As soon as 18:30 arrives, hear knock on the door.
Step 5.  Freeze.  Horrified.  SUDDENLY REMEMBER THAT SHE WAS BRINGING DINNER AT 18:30. 
Step 6.  Whisper at husband to CLEAR OUT THE PLATES ASAP.
Step 7.  While husband (who has no idea what is going on) tries unsuccessfully to clear out the table, answer the door so that both kind lady and her husband step right into the dining room with a roaster full of chicken and a wonderful apple pie.  Too bad that the table is already full of dirty plates. 

I don't think anybody bought my story about serving dinner to Emma because she is a picky eater and just had gastroenteritis.  I have no idea what I should have said.  Nothing really made sense at this point to anybody other than myself. 

pictures





Tuesday, June 3, 2014

on my own, and food reflections

My mom left yesterday, and so I have had two days of being on my own with both kids and I did actually very well.  I think that Emma seems to prefer my undivided attention (shocker!) and when my mom was here, we used to chitchat in Romanian all day long, which she did not really understand or like.  She is now my main focus of attention (I had no idea that a toddler takes way more attention and time than a baby) and this is a setup that she is thriving with.  She also does well with a lot of activities, and structured time, so I am trying to get together a schedule that will work for most days, in order to maintain routine (another toddler favourite:).  The baby just goes along for the ride, literally, on my back in the Ergo, or on my front in the Baby Bjorn.  He does not sleep much if left alone and unmoved, so until my swing arrives, the two carriers are getting heavy use.

Emma has made some friends with the kids next door, and she is playing with them every day at noon.  I got a plastic pool for her and filled it up, so they like to go splashing around.  The sprinkler that my neighbours use on their front lawn is an endless delight as well.

I am getting my first taste of how difficult it is to not expose my child to processed foods.  I am not strict about it by any stretch of the imagination, but generally Emma eats stuff that I make in the house from scratch ingredients.  Her cookies are made from ground up seeds, nuts, and dates, or from ground up wheat or rye berries and ground up coconut meat, eggs, maple syrup and held together with coconut oil.  Stuff like that.  I bake bread, but like to grind my flour.  I make ice cream from scratch, but most often she gets a fruit smoothie frozen in a popsicle mould.

Emma likes meat and fruit, but not vegetables.  Lately she started eating carrots and sweet peas.  I am trying to add zucchini and cucumbers, but so far I don't have huge successes to report.  I have noticed that she takes from my hand whatever I am eating, so it really is a "lead by example" kind of world out here.

The neighbour's kids however do not eat any of my cookies, and did not like the popsicle smoothies either.  They are more into pizza and deli meats for lunch, and sometimes Emma does eat with them. I am never against sharing a meal, I think the act of sharing is far more important than being super strict about nutrition, especially at the age of 2-3 years old.  However, sigh, I wish that the kids would share some of my goodies too, and not just drool over pizza from Domino's, or ice cream from the gas station.  I feel like I am fighting a losing battle.  I find it not uncommon that a four year old does not know what a cucumber is, let alone a zucchini or cauliflower.  With Emma helping in the kitchen as much as she does, I doubt that this will be her case, in particular as she already knows a lot of whole foods by looks (if not by taste).

I am happy that more and more people are turning to a whole foods diet, and that even in my Little Town I can find jicama and okra, but we still have a hugely long way to go, in particular when it comes to toddlers, who are such difficult creatures to feed.  Part of me wonders whether they don't naturally avoid foods containing phytic acid, since they need the minerals more than the antioxidant effect of the phytic acid, and so they prefer refined flour to whole flour, and fruit, milk and meat kind of foods to beans or salads.  Or is it that they just go with the taste?  And what is it about toddlers and sugar?

Anyway, I am typing this at 2 am since it is the only time I have when I am left alone to think, so I guess I should better get back to bed.  I have just fed Daniel, and he is lying on my lap making content gurgling sounds and trying to burp.  Life is good.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

sleep deprivation

I am not feeling particularly sleep deprived, but in the last 24 hours I have fallen asleep while pumping, while breastfeeding, and tonight I even sat on the toilet and promptly fell asleep.  I don't think I was out long, but that was definitely a new experience for me.  MrH thinks that I am expecting too much of myself and I am starting to agree.

Let's see what perfectionism will lead one to do (in other words, optional energy drainers):
-using cloth diapers and insisting on line drying everything because it is summer and it seems silly to use the dryer (I just love the smell and the starched feeling)
-making bread from scratch EVERY TIME (and I mean milling my own grain, sifting it, and even fermenting sourdough).  Delicious, but c'mon!
-ditto for making every meal from scratch.  Even the yogourt.  And the cookies.
-planting and watering entire garden complete with tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, celery, beans, etc
-pumping on top of breastfeeding so that I can go swimming and leave some breast milk behind just in case
-dieting (takes energy to motivate myself, especially when I am constantly hungry and losing so very little each time)
-sorting out ten big boxes of my own clothes, Emma's clothes, baby clothes into ages, washing, etc.
-getting back into jogging my usual 3 miles four times a week or so (I am at 2.5 miles now consistently and it is getting easier)
-juicing every day (celery, kale, cucumber, carrots, parsley-green juices for the adults, and green apples for Emma with some vegetables hidden in there for good measure)
-the training for swimming the 1 km in the triathlon.

Speaking of the swimming, there are training sessions that have started in January.  They happen at 6:30 am twice a week, and they are quite seriously brutal.  I have decided to go for it, even though everybody in the group has been already training for four months, and they are very, very fit.

Well, at least the last person in the group can now feel better about not being the last one anymore.  After my session on wednesday I am happy to report that I did not drown.  That was all I was hoping for.  Mission accomplished.  If everybody including the instructor wondered what I was doing there, they kept it to themselves really well.

The problem with being slow when you swim is that you never get to rest.  Say if you are doing sets of 50 m on 1 min (we were using fins), then every minute you are starting another set, so if you are slow, you don't get the 20 second rest that the fast people get.  You just barely arrive at the wall, and it is time to go again.

On the plus side, training in a group is very motivational, and last year I stuck with it, improving both my time and my form tremendously.  (By form, I don't mean my thighs decreased in size unfortunately).  I am considering ordering a breastfeeding suit somewhere, since I might need to bring Daniel to the pool sometimes, and I love breastfeeding clothes this time around for their ability to allow for more modesty than simply pulling the breasts out upwards through the neck scoop.

Today Daniel is going for his 2 month vaccinations.  I am not as stressed out as I was with Emma about the event, and because my little man has gone through so much more than this, I am not even worried about a bad reaction or fever.  He just seems to be lucky and resilient, so I am counting on that to get us through  pretty much anything.  My little man is so sweet, waking up often now and looking around, checking me out, his little eyes crossing in the middle when he is trying to focus on my face.  I love him so much!

Monday, May 26, 2014

diet, exercise stuff post partum

I am now almost 2 months post c section, and have only managed to lose about 6-8 lb.  I have another 30 lb to go to get to my ideal weight, and about 15 lb to reach pre-pregnancy weight.  I have no idea why it is going so slowly.  My mom has joined me here in Little Town for the past week, and we are basically eating just about the same things,  plus another 250 calories for myself because I am breastfeeding.  Daniel eats around 100 ml each feed, so around 600 ml per day by now.  To make 30 ml of breast milk, one uses 20 calories, so I am using 400 calories just to feed him per day.

Overal, I am consuming 1250 calories per day, and exercising four to five times a week, always some form of cardio (usually running 2.5 miles).  My mom has lost 7 lb, and I have lost 1 lb.  We both have about the same ideal weight goal, and I started further from that goal than she has.  Generally the further from goal one is, the easier it is to lose weight.  I don't get why I am losing so slowly, except for the fact that my diet was very careful during the pregnancy and afterwards, so for me it was not as great of a change.  Is the breastfeeding somehow hormonally preventing the weight loss?  Have you guys experienced this as well?

However frustrating this is, I am of course sticking with it, since this is my actual lifestyle, only with fewer calories than usual (usually I go for 1500 cal per day).  I am prone to gaining weight easily, and so cannot really afford to have 2000 calories daily, even if exercising quite seriously, because if I do, I see the numbers climb up and my pants shrinking in the wash.

I am moving further from meat and more towards vegetarianism again.  It just feels right for me.  I think I will continue to have some form of meat once a week, and eggs perhaps 5-6 per week, fish twice a week, and for the rest veggies, legumes, mushrooms, a bit of grains (which I mill myself and make into a brick like concoction that I leaven with a combo of yeast and sourdough starter).  I do drink 1 to 2 cups of milk or yogourt (which I make myself, the yogourt not the milk that is), and the rest is cashew or almond milk (which I also make in the blender).

It is a good diet, on which my skin looks good and I feel well.  I am not hungry often.  I am just not sure where to go with the caloric intake, stay the same or cut further as the breast milk gets more established (after another month that is).  So far I am keeping up with making the milk Daniel needs, but I don't want to rock the boat, especially since I am still on domperidone, blessed thistle, fenugreek, and oats.  Any suggestions would be great.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

crazy idea

Wanna hear somethin' crazy?

I have entered the annual local triathlon again.  I mean, it is the logical next step after having had a baby less than two months ago, with the mandatory c section and the surprise hysterectomy, plus the (not so surprising by now) intrapartum hemorrhage.  Also highly recommended after being on bed rest for a few months...

I have exactly four weeks to train.  I am definitely doing the 1 km swim (but I am going to declare a slow time, so that I swim in the less competitive heath, otherwise the lean mean machines will put me to shame), and probably will have to run 5 km.  They allow a team approach, and I am getting a team mate to do part of the run and the 40 km bike ride, since my bike does not have breaks yet (which should help with the speed) and I don't have time to train for everything.  I am going to be lucky if I don't drown in the pool as it is.

After having my two kids, nothing seems too hard anymore.  I think eventually this might land me in trouble :).   However, my main impetus for signing up is remembering Emma's face when I came out of the pool last year (I did the swim part last year too) and her asking to go swimming and playing with my goggles for months afterwards.  It is inspirational to her, and the kind of thing that I know she would be good at.

Do they make swimsuits with the "Don't laugh at me, I just had a baby" inscription on the buttocks?  I need one in XL.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Learning how to ride the tricycle



I love summer in the North, because it is brief but intense.  Everybody is outside, using the time wisely, since we only have about three months to enjoy the outdoors for activities like biking and playing in the sprinkler.  Today Emma decided that she wanted to ride her own tricycle, and MrH taught her how.

I also take her on my bike every single day.  I will post a picture of our setup.  I am still thinking of getting one of those Bakfiets...

OK, just kidding.  This is the bike that I am drooling after. 

Sleeping men



Oh, isn't this the best?  Sleeping with one's nose right next to the little soft hair that smells so good... I love, love, love my little Daniel, his head is so soft and warm and vulnerable.  I just want to nuzzle into it all day long. 

back home!

We are finally back at home.  Travelling with two small children and the luggage accumulated over the past four months in Vancouver is exactly the kind of circus that you probably imagine it is.  I used to be a light traveller, doing a full two weeks in Europe with a small carry on bag that held a dress, a skirt, a change pair of sandals or ballet flats, a second top, a bathing suit, a pair of pants and some underwear.  That was it.  I would wear a sweater and perhaps fold a rain cover in one pocket, if I felt particularly extravagant.

Gone are the days.
Wanna know what I had to bring along this time?  Four suitcases, one for each family member that came along (Daniel, who got gifted a lot of used and new clothing for the next year, Emma, who outgrew her old wardrobe while we were in Vancouver and hence came home with new clothing, my mother, who did not dare pack more than a spare change of clothing as her suitcase was full of things like my breast pump, cloth diapers, and organic coffee, cacao, olive oil, waxy diaper rash creams and calendula lotions from Whole foods, and my breastfeeding clothes, which are just about the only thing that I brought back from Vancouver, since none of my bottoms fit anyway, and none of my non breastfeeding tops will be practical for the next one to two years).  OK, so that was the suitcases.  Then, comes the giant double BOB stroller (named THE BUS by one of the fellow airplane travellers that had a good look at our moving circus), the photographic equipment (remember I bought a new used camera and a lens on Craigslist, and fixed an old broken lens, and MrH bought me another nice lens, and I got a flash, and in the end had to get a new camera bag to hold it all, so overall it was a sizeable piece of luggage as well), then come two car seats, a diaper bag, my purse, my mother's purse, and an umbrella stroller (more for the camera equipment really).

All that was missing was a cat in a carrier and a straight jacket.

Ever since we arrived, I am busy unpacking and hence will update soon.  I did not forget that I have a blog, I am just trying to prioritize things, and at the moment clean underwear and feeding the children and my husband just has to come first.  :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

We spent a very lovely morning over here in Vancouver, where Emma gave me a big hug and a box of chocolates (I think my dad got it for her) and wished me Happy Mother's Day, then, when she saw how happy that made me, she took the box back and gave it to me again a few times, with the same degree of pump and ceremony.  I have enjoyed the whole process tremendously.  

I have taken a nice bath with both my kids, and relaxed for a while.  I feel so blessed and thankful to have this opportunity to enjoy my family.  I feel very, very fulfilled at this point in my life.  I sometimes want time to stand still so that I can enjoy it a bit longer.  I think that is why I like to take pictures, and I have a nice collection of photos so far.  I feel that taking pictures captures the moment a little. 

I have also started to write a diary, which initially was meant for my children to read when they grow up, hence it would have been written in second person.  However, I enjoy the diary format the most, hence I started writing it (once again) for myself, about them and about mothering them, and also about my own experience of being the child of my parents.  Other than the fact that I have picked out a notebook that is too short and fat for my liking (my hand keeps on slipping off the right side, if that makes sense), the diary is a very rewarding way to spend my time at night.  

I remember many years when Mother's day was nothing but a giant festering abscess in my heart, and I am very glad to be out of that situation, but don't for one moment think that I have forgotten that pain.  It takes only one second to remember the first Mother's day after losing Adrian, and the feelings that I had while running into this colleague of mine who had had three children by then, seemingly without much fuss or trouble.  I am now like that lady to those people who are still struggling.  Sort of.  From the outside.  From the inside, I am both the festering abscess and the very fulfilled and lucky woman with a full family.  It takes only a split second to be who you were in the past.  If only it took as little effort to be that person that you will become in the future.  Too bad it does not work that way.  

I think eventually I would have resolved the pain somehow.  I don't know how exactly, but I remember that I was starting to become numb to it at certain moments.  I also remember that nature-the sound of birds chirping, a warm summer morning, a peaceful night sky, the waves lapping on the beach, a busy spider casting a net off the evergreen branch above my head- was enormously healing. And of course the love of a good man, like the one I am married to, was my main stronghold.  

I am just mentioning these things in case somebody out there can use the ideas today.  
As for myself, I have to go wipe the yogourt off the walls.  Emma has just finished breakfast. 
Happy Mother's Day ! ;)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Beauty sleep

should have been this week

Daniel's birth should have happened this week.  He is 37 weeks 2d gestation today.   He is doing very well out of the uterus, but I am pretty sure he would have preferred things to happen differently, and so would I...differently better, that is, not differently worse, as that is always another option that I have to keep in the back of my mind :) lest I forget to be thankful!

I am profoundly happy still, I don't know what exactly happens to me when I have a baby, but I am ecstatic. In addition, I am falling more and more in love with little Daniel, who is so cute when he looks at me, and tries to punch me when he wakes up so that I give him milk, and makes all sorts of funny sounds...he even sings with me and Emma at bedtime.

The only thing that I am working hard on and not seeing any results yet is weight loss.  I am doing a 1500 calorie intake/200 cal exercise/breastfeeding, and from the point of view of calorie intake/expenditure, I should be losing about 2 lb a week, but so far nothing happenin' over here.  I am a bit impatient because I only have one pair of mommy jeans in size 12, and don't really want to spend more money on a second pair, rather I have several pairs of skinny jeans in size 10 that are waiting for me to lose about 5-6 lb to fit into them.  I am going to look at this store today and see if I can find a tight fitting pair in size 12 that I might be able to take in at the seamstress when I lose the weight.  I am not going to drop to 1300 calories until about two months post partum, when the milk supply is well established.  At this point, I have about 30 lb to lose to get to my pre-Emma pregnancy, and about 16 lb to get to pre-Daniel pregnancy weight.

Breastfeeding is going extremely well.  He gets tired and wants to sleep after about 3/4 of a feed, but I use the SNS to push him a bit to take in a full feed, and yesterday when we went to the paediatrician, she said he gained 36 g per day on average, which is extremely good (they expect 15-30 g a day).  Obviously the system is working.  I seem to be making enough milk, which is such a relief.  I have rented a breastfeeding scale, and it is so much peace of mind, I highly recommend it to all mothers of preemies that are breastfeeding, as it is very unreliable to go by baby's clues before their "due date" age, since most of the time they would rather sleep than eat.

The one other thing I wanted to mention is that being in a big city is full of shopping temptations.  I went into l'Occitane and walked out 160 $ poorer.  I buy the bum cream there (I use the mom and baby balm, which is pricey but works very well with cloth diapers), and also the hand cream which has been my favourite beauty product for the past 10 years in a row.  This time, my mom was with me, and she was very excited about the Divine serum, which promises to get rid of my melasma spots (yeah, right) so we decided to give it a try.  A 110$ try, that is.  Huh.  Also, Craigslist is not helping my case any.  I needed a camera flash and am meeting this photographer who is selling his used canon flash for half the price that I would pay in the store.  Unfortunately, he is also selling a fabulous zoom lens that I want want want.  There is NO END to wanting in this city.  How do you guys living in big cities not go broke?  In my small town, I go for months not buying anything other than basic food and some books/toys for Emma to spice up her life a bit.  Crazy.  I think I am going to succumb to the zoom lens charms in the end...wish I were made of stronger stuff...

Monday, April 21, 2014

so far, so good

We seem to be doing quite well at home.  He is eating even better than he was at the NICU, and peeing up a storm.  He got a mild diaper rash on a very small area, from a tiny poop made in his sleep.  His skin is very, very sensitive.  I am more paranoid than ever to keep on changing him very often, usually hourly, unless I am sleeping, in which case it goes to two hours max.  We are using cloth diapers, the G-diapers brand, which I have used successfully with Emma.  They now came up with newborn sizes, and they are incredibly cute and well built.  Because of the change in diapers from disposables to cloth, I am hyper vigilant about the skin.  If I see any other areas that are getting red other than the above mentioned one, I am going to change back to disposables for another few weeks, until his skin thickens.  The main advantage of the disposables is the ability to smear Penaten cream on, which one cannot use with cloth, as it alters the absorbability of the cotton.  I am using an organic cream called Bum bum, with calendula, which is supposed to be diaper friendly.  I will report on how it is working for us so far in a few days.

Today I have lifted Emma for the first time in 4 months, and I was shocked by how heavy she is.  I have weakened considerably during my bed rest/no activity time.  I did some lunges, about 16-20 on each leg, and felt like I tore my quads for the subsequent two days.  I have a long road ahead as far as regaining my previous fitness level.

My little man Daniel is starting to get stronger.  I feel like he is holding his head quite a bit better than he was a few days ago.  I am reassured by the fact that he seems to be thriving at home, as yesterday I was debating whether I am doing the right thing by bringing him home. Now I know.