Friday, October 28, 2011


He is not in a concentration camp or sleeping in an alley.

I force myself to extreme comparisons attempting to manage my anxiety as I analyze every detail of the cramped nap room my son is struggling against sleeping in. It is a divided room with a half wall. Each side has five cribs touching back to back with narrow paths separating two more cribs. A window decorates each half of the room and on William's side a painted tree with falling leaves is back lit from the playroom lights glowing through green and orange tissue paper. It's cheery and festive for Autumn, but my mind can not focus on anything positive.

I can hear noise from the other room that attaches to the shared nap space; a daycare person bursts loudly through the door and upon seeing me looks apologetic, but still drags the miniature wooden seats across the playroom floor in preparation for lunch. Each screech winds my nerves tighter and tighter. I keep calculating how long William could possibly nap and still wake up in time for lunch, and wonder yet again how he will possibly be ready to be left on his own in this foreign world come Monday.

William pulls himself up on the crib bars and sits back down over and over. The odd time he emits a happy coo as I do my best to ignore him and look sleepy by leaning against the wall with my eyes closed. At one point he reaches through the bars and pinches the underside of my arm. I yank it out of reach and muffle my exclamation of pain. To anyone other than his mother, William looks pretty perky, but I know how tired he is and how much he needs this morning nap to process the day's events, and all the change he's been exposed to earlier in the week. I can't leave him because the staff to child ratios are at the max, and even if I could, it's too soon. It's day four of daycare transition and I am running on my second night of very little sleep. As each day has progressed, William's arms length radius with me has grown smaller and smaller.

That morning I am convinced we chose a substandard daycare, especially as I compare it to the daycares of close friends and how big and airy and fabulous (and clean) I imagine them to be. I try to remind myself what the priority is: caring people watching William and providing him with basic skills, nutritious food, and support for his growth in a safe environment.

But I can't stop asking myself what exactly my exorbitant monthly fees are paying for if it isn't for a better designed nap room that features separate storage of the highchairs for meal time. I can't stop asking myself who the hell designed such a layout of a divided room split by a half wall where not all children surely nap at the exact same time, and if they do, how the hell do 16 children reasonably fall asleep in the same cramped, warm room?

On day one I can't stop my eyes from lasering in on the bits of food left in cracks of the alphabet floor--bits of cheese waiting to be eaten by my dairy-intolerant son who, despite incessant admonishments of "yucky, yucky, don't eat that", and despite the purchase and consistent use of a handy vac at home, continues to find and pick up every speck he happens upon to immediately stuff into his mouth with all the enthusiasm of Templeton the rat. I see the staff vigilantly sweep up after every meal and mop with a bleach mixture; I know the rooms are cleaned each night, but those bits are there and I can't help but wonder how easy it would be for the daycare to simply purchase a Dustbuster to make everyone's life a touch easier.

Day two my eyes fall upon the grimy little people playhouse, minus all little people of course, whose floors look as though they've never seen the light of a little people mop. More than once I wonder if this playroom has a higher instance of sickness, as at least three kids have weeping noses, and one a deep bellied cough. A bottle of Robitussin is spotted by my eagle eyes on top of the mini-fridge that cramps the playroom entryway.

In the middle of the night after day two, I talk myself into a daycare transition sick day, convinced both William and I simply need a break to decompress, especially after sleeping very poorly the previous night. After much self pep talk, and knowing how little time we really have to successfully transition, I rush through getting ready the next day ending up with a sloppy pony tail and barely there make-up.

It took 45 minutes. William was sitting up sucking his thumb when he leaned forward, face first into the mattress, and promptly fell asleep. His feet were up by his ears and I had to peer at his back to make sure he was still breathing. At one point a daycare person popped in to check on us and whispered, "Does he sleep like that?" I had to shrug. At least he was sleeping.

Cut to the end of day five, the last transition day: William napped for an hour with the rest of a full nap room (both sides), and though he was pretty fussy in terms of not letting me out of his sight most of the day, he still managed to sit on his own with me just off to the side, and doesn't appear to be traumatized upon our arrival back home. I even managed to leave the site to run an important errand for my return to work on Monday.

Though the grime and food bits are still there at the end of meal time, today the little people house doesn't look quite so dirty, and today I see the warm smiles the two main women who manage his room have when they see my sweet son. I see them kiss the other children's heads (knowing how natural it feels to express affection for a child), and I hear the caring in their voices as they read to them and encourage them to play and learn. Although I fear these women may be grossly underpaid, and I still wonder exactly what my hard-earned dollars pay for at the top end of the company, I am able to separate the worries of being a new mom leaving my little one in the hands of strangers from understanding what the priorities are for his care, and I am ultimately able to trust my instinct versus my anxiety.

Transition is hell.

Oddly enough, I feel like a better mother for it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

9 and a 1/2 months

Rob's first Father's Day and he totally kiboshed it (although he did let me know in advance he had no expectations). I kept it low key by just getting him a first Father's Day card and a recordable frame which featured a snippet of William laughing (originally from a video). In the frame I put a snapshot of the frame of that same video. My thinking was he'd take it to work and when he was missing William could surreptitiously push the play button and enjoy that memory (but as yet it has not happened).

We were supposed to go for brunch with friends but the timing with children didn't work out (Rhys and William are on very different schedules). : ) Naturally I thought I might make breakfast instead, which would be handily landing on Father's Day. Rob's response?

"I don't want bacon and eggs because it's dictated by Hallmark."

On one level that's hard to argue with. But I emotionally argued for it none the less. "It's the first Father's Day! It's a milestone!" I even cried.

But Rob says it's all commercial and he doesn't believe in it, even though the history of the day seems touching and sincere (according to Wikipedia). All I want is for William to make his Daddy a crappy ashtray even though he doesn't smoke (Rob did this for his Dad, only in their case Joe had quit a number of years earlier). Is that too much to ask? William doesn't yet know he's supposed to appreciate his parents. Whereas, I want a bloody parade every day of the week. I settle for one stinking day. : D

Can you imagine if kids still made ashtrays in school? There would be an uproar!

Anyway. So, I didn't make breakfast.

But we did go to the Calgary Comic Expo, which is always an experience.

We had William in a Batman onesie and jeans (so cute--I'll add pics later). He was all agog at the people, the costumes, the noise. At one point a Zombie flash mob (the link doesn't pick up the music much, it was quite loud) broke out in front of the Ghostbusters Movie car. There were even little kid zombies (all dancing to Thriller). I was trapped along with a few people by the sheer size of the dance and had no choice but to watch the whole thing.

I did make Rob an awesome burger for lunch, though. I'd picked up a couple of pre-made patties from Silver Sage Beef (organic and pre-seasoned). While those were on the BBQ, I was frying up some bacon and onions. No side dish, was too hungry and didn't have the time (at least I added tomato to mine).

William is now 17 lbs 14 oz. He's in a low percentile but has stayed on that curve since he was 3 months old. Hard to believe he's low when he looks so big and feels so heavy! Like all moms with babies, I hear it all: "He's so little! He's so big! He's so long! He looks older! Look at that hair!" Obviously my favourite is when people tell me how cute he is. : )

Does every baby hate Mommy's ministrations? When I try to clean his nose, face, hands, ears, clip nails, put on lotions, etc. he hates it. Do any babies like it? I want to meet them.

Eating solids are still a work in progress. I mentioned on FB how William went from Zero peas to TWO. It sounds so ridiculous my Mom doesn't understand what I'm talking about. I took a video of the first time he tried peas.

Now I dramatically pick up a pea, show William it's in my mouth and then ostentatiously chew and swallow it. Maybe he will then let me put one in his mouth which I end up pushing back in a few times.

What's working lately is me praising after ever bite or series of chewing and swallowing. I clap and cheer, "Way to go, William! Good job!" Although, I think I read somewhere you're not supposed to praise for feeding, the child needs to learn to eat! I have to resort to these measures. I keep wondering how the hell he's going to go to daycare if he won't take a bottle, can't have dairy, and hardly eats any solids. While I have 3 months yet, it's a major concern.

And I'm freaking out a little bit about the thought of daycare. Strangers will be spending more time with William than I will. That is disconcerting. Of course I want William to be independent and develop proper social skills, but I'm not keen on giving up my influence for 8 hours a day. A whole personality could develop without my influence.

And I was the one who said over and over, "From the moment a baby is born, it's your job as a parent to prepare that baby to go out into the world."

But he's only 1! That's too soon.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I'm afraid if I don't start writing some of these moments down, I may lose them altogether!

William has just passed the 6 month mark and is seriously cuter than ever. Jeez, went downstairs for the photo card and came up with chips and a drink, instead. Alas. (William and Rob are in bed for the evening).

I look back at videos from the first few months and I honestly can't believe how much he's changed. I thought William was adorable when he was born, but it's nothing compared to how cute he is now. And he's so darn happy! Most of the time we go into his room after a nap and are greeted with smiles. Sometimes William's a little sleepy and it takes a few moments, but the smiles eventually come.

Lately he's been scrunching up his whole face and breathing quickly through his gums in a bit of a hissing sound, which is rather amusing. He'd started raspberries/blowing bubbles awhile back and then it died off only to resurface tonight for some reason. And he's kicking up a storm right now: on the change table, while I nurse him, in the bathtub--it's incessant. He must have kicked out a litre of water in the bath tonight. The kicking while nursing can really drive me nuts. The lactation consultant wondered if that was only when he was frustrated at a slow milk flow, but he can be going to town and still kicking like a rockette (it's fairly dramatic--his feet will literally search me out to make contact, even when I move my arms and everything out of the way).

And when he's done nursing on one side he just turns away and pretends not to see me. Sometimes he'll look at me out of the corner of his eye, but there is no coaxing him back until he's switched to the other side. It's ridiculous (in an amusing way, of course). He's always been a pain in the ass in that regard, but now he's totally in control of how long he feeds on each side, whereas before I could talk him into going just a little longer before switching sides.

The reason this is noteable is we had weight concerns which started back in December and have moved neatly to full on Eczema issues. He's had Eczema from about 4 weeks old, but after a lactation consultant suggested going dairy free in February, it's been hell ever since. With the level of attention and information you get from Doctors these days, if we didn't have the Internet, we'd be screwed. I'd rather have too much information than not enough.

The Eczema was so bad on his mouth we were referred to a dermatologist and were ushered through so quickly I'm surprised I didn't get a happy meal on the way out. That Doctor told me to bathe William every day, even "two or three times a day" and that Olive oil based products "strip the skin". The Naturopath I just saw told me bathing every day was unnecessary as we needed to make sure he wasn't getting dried out and that Olive oil based products were fine, that Alcohol-based creams strip the skin (of which the dermatologist recommended one).

Now who do I believe? Dermatologist prescription creams make the eczema go away to some degree (until I have some hidden dairy, I believe), but the Naturopath says that's a "repressed" reaction as it's only driving the issue "deeper into the skin" because skin reactions represent issues occurring on the inside (in this case a suspected dairy sensitivity).

It's unbelievably stressful to look at your baby's skin and wonder how much it bothers or hurts him (nevermind when you see him itching), and how much what you're eating has to do with his condition. I wonder if he hates getting changed because his skin is sensitive, or if he moves all over the crib while he sleeps because his back is itchy.

At this point people usually ask me why I don't switch to formula.

Well, if the child has allergy issues, I need to get those sorted and resolved before I start stuffing him with chemicals and additives and such. Keeping in mind we have an established history of allergies in the family (when I was a baby I apparently threw milk up, which I didn't know until recently). Rob was hospitalized many a time due to allergy reactions, and we both had/have asthma, a history of pneumonia, adenoids, tonsillitis, and the like. Obviously I have to get this under control now, and until I have more of an idea of the cause of the Eczema, I don't consider formula an option for us.

That makes having started solid foods very stressful, as I'm extremely linear and literal. I love knowing what to give/when/how much, a schedule, and on and on. Down to the "T". I don't think everything I've read is specific enough. I want to know exactly how much iron is in each food, so I know which food is the best bang for my iron buck. And exactly when to go to two meals and day, and two foods a day, and all that.

I am not a go with the flow kind of gal.

And yet, I must be. I have a beautiful baby boy, and he's not going to subscribe to some schedule I've determined is in his best interest (judging from his sly sidelong glances at me when he's done nursing on one side--though I think he could clearly go longer).

Still, I've got my charts; I'm cross referencing my material; I've determined which iron filled foods I'll serve next, and I'll just have to go from there.

And I will figure out this Eczema thing if it kills me.

Never mind the Naturopath suggested also giving up Eggs and Wheat, to which I said, "Uh, hell no. For now." Until I'm convinced it isn't Dairy, I can't give up anything else.

As all moms out there know, we give plenty, thanks.

Of course, if I have to I must, but for now Dairy will just have to do. More on the classes we been taking next time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stars and Strollers

Let me start by saying I'm in a good mood despite not seeing the end of the movie, and considering William has been crying for an hour since we got home from our first <---- (I must be optimistic!) Stars and Strollers attempt. *update*: after William finally went down he slept only an hour and was hollering blue murder at the top of his lungs until Daddy gave him a bottle (I naively thought I'd get at least an hour and a half of sleep out of William and went to the drugstore).

Now, I realize most mommies have been there and done that, but seeing as how this is my first baby and our first movie attempt together, I'm writing about it! : )

Can I just say what a cash grab Stars and Strollers must be? Seriously. How many mommies even make it to the end of the movie, or could even tell you what happens at any given moment? I lasted for about an hour and a half, and I knew in advance popcorn was not an option.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

My friend Suzy, who recently had a baby (now just over a month old), and I got there with plenty of time. The movies are NOT discounted, by the way--some might say, "why should they be", but I think I could make a case for it (I won't here, though). Suzy went with Burger King right at the theatre as her four year old was home from Daycare, Daddy Sean made the trek to make it a family event, and they needed lunch before the movie. Their bill for two meals was $23, which they were openly horrified by, especially after paying over $50 for 3 adult and 1 children's ticket (upon which Daddy Sean declared, "I am eating every single one of these 50 cent fries!)

The website advertises "Stroller parking available in select theatres", which consists of space for about 5 strollers, not including the ramp that enters the individual theatre (where I watched a portion of the movie).

Daddy Sean and Lucas went to a kids flick, while Suzy and I parked our strollers in the front row of the main tier of our theatre, just before about 10 mommies and strollers showed up looking for more space to "park". Can someone say Fire Hazard?

I made sure to bring William's sound muffling headphones, which made Suzy laugh, but were alternately fabulous and irritating to William. At one point I had the headphones off just as the abusive father on screen shouted at his wife and child, "Fuck! Just go ahead and eat your fucking lunch!" (because said lunch wasn't good enough in typical cliched abusive behavior). This of course sent William into a high pitched scream--always accompanied by real tears, mind you. So now I'm trying to get the headphones back on, kiss William on his wet cheeks and reassure him it's "just a movie, Sweetie"--like he understands that, and so on and so forth.

At times William was calm just watching the movie (despite my anti-tv-and-and-everything-related-policy-until-2 years-old), headphones on, and then he'd claw at said headphones, restless, and I'd try to pacify him with the pacifier, of course (despite my no-pacifier-after-3-months-policy). Then I'd try and give him his blue giraffe, or his new crunchy Winnie the Pooh "Hunny" book. I tried cradling him, looking longingly at the calm baby in her mother's lap next to me who was actually "shooting" William a look like, "what the hell, buddy, settle down."

William would screech a little, and then Suzy's guy Charlie would let out a whimper (but was mostly content to just eat and eat from Mommy). William's screeching would set off some other screeching in the theatre, so there was always some screeching going on.

I figured we'd had enough when William really started to howl his ear piercing, squirm out of arms shriek. No cradling, giraffe, headphones, or "relaxing" in the car seat/stroller would do, so off into the hall we went. After a few trips around the hallway, back to the seat, and more screaming--I finally plunked him into the stroller to leave--had to manoeuvre around the babies playing on blankets next to us, the other strollers, the car seats, and out we really went.

William settled down outside, but the moment I'd attempt to roll back in, he'd literally start whimpering. We managed a five minute stretch of watching the movie in the entrance/exit aisle because he was facing the screen, when a woman joined me with her baby. She was trying to coax me into the "closer" seats, etc, until William started to protest and she finally took his hint and left.

I went back outside and rolled William around in the stroller. I tried to go back in again, and saw other Mommies and squirming babies in the same aisle I'd just vacated--but William would have none of it. Needing some guidance, I called Rob for mental support and he advised me to feed William inside and if he still didn't settle, to go out into the mall and simply shop (we were at Chinook and I had it in my head I would accomplish many errands on this trip). Normally I would make such such a deduction on my own, but it was a new scenario, other mom's seemed to be sticking it out, and Suzy was down in the front row with Charlie contentedly feeding away.

So, back in we went. I could just barely get William latched without a full audible episode, but he did quite fine without my usual guidance. I looked over and Suzy was still feeding Charlie, while a variety of other moms were now up in the aisles bouncing to soothe their bundles as baby shrieks ricocheted around the theatre like a vocal tennis match--which set William off during feeding and after when I thought he might actually be able to nap. We were about 3/4's of the way through the movie, after all.

The movie? Blue Valentine. Some artsy flick (crap) about a failing marriage, all "gritty", shot with a multitude of shaky cam close-ups, complete with a fuck scene where the woman wants her husband to hit her, and an abortion scene featuring the dr between the woman's legs all ready with the needle and such. This is the movie mothers are running to for relief from being cramped up in the house? Seriously? The movie started with the family dog disappearing as he'd gotten hit by a truck (and they showed him dead by the side of the road, then wrapped in a blue tarp for burying). And it's not like we had a choice between a nice fluffy movie and this. Our other option? The Rite. Right! God, $13 has never been so poorly spent (though I buy cheap movie passes, Suzy bought my full priced ticket in advance as they got there ahead of a huge line up).

And still, though William has had by all accounts an awful afternoon and evening (and subsequently Mummy and Daddy as well), I'm in pretty good spirits. Which may be difficult to tell, but none the less.

At no point did I get frustrated with William. If anything, his behaviour was completely expected, but I had to give it a shot. I know my son and he is a baby who is (currently) sensitive to sound, and who does not nap except in his crib or if he's REALLY tired, maybe the car. This is my baby. Why do you think I put headphones on him in the line up at Starbucks when the speaker next to us was blaring some pathetic tinny song, causing William's face to screw up in a telltale howl until I placed the headphones on him? Did I feel silly when the women behind me commented? No. I know my baby. I was happy I didn't force him into "sticking" out the movie when he was screaming in intense discomfort. I can't make William shriek with that much unhappiness just so I can finish watching some two-bit "Oscar nominated film". Yes, I want to push his boundaries and expose him to new and noisy surroundings, but not for my explicit benefit and so utterly at his expense.

Yet after all of that, William was full of smiles when we got home, and before our many attempts at putting him to bed, and will still have many toothless grins for us when he does go to sleep and finally wakes up.

Will I attempt Stars and Strollers again? It should be a resounding no, but never say never. William may evolve and I may find new ways of getting him accustomed to noise and napping. I'm just not going to completely disregard our happiness and sanity to do it.

: )