Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"That's So Weird"

After spending all day cooped up with Little Man because our car was at the dealer's getting new snow tires and some much needed love, I threw my wrap sling and winter coat on and brought Xav to the grocery store. After parking, I took Little Man out of his car seat and started placing him in the sling. From behind me I heard "That is SO weird!" Just to be sure I heard her the first time, the woman repeated her statement to her friend as they passed my car. Instead of getting mad and returning their rudeness, I just gave Xav a kiss and held my head high as I passed them inside the store.

Is it just me or have any of you baby-wearing mamas had similar public disapproval?

What is weird about wearing your child close to you?  Why is it more acceptable to push your baby in a stroller or carry them in a car seat?  Do the majority of people feel this way about slings or do the few snarky comments make it easy to blow the whole thing out of proportion?

What was really sad about the whole incident was that these women were likely in the 19-24 age range.   I would imagine that one of both of them will be mothers in the future.  Will they still think that baby-wearing is so weird then?  What a disservice it is to their future minis to have that view point.  I know, I know, to each their own.  I just know how many benefits I have found with wearing Little Man.

For one, instead of having to carry Xav in his car seat to a shopping cart and then trying to navigate the enormous cart when I usually can't see in front of me, I can just pop him into a sling and then walk around the store with nothing more than my reusable shopping bag on my shoulder.  I live near a small supermarket that keeps their carts inside with no storage area outside, so if I do the car seat/shopping cart combination I first have to carry Little Man inside the store and lift him high enough to snap his car seat onto the cart.  Then when I am done shopping, I have to wheel the cart to the car, put Xavier in the car, unload the groceries, lock the door and run the cart back.  I absolutely hate leaving my son in the car for even a second; it makes me feel like a neglectful parent.

Another benefit is that I find that it gives me way more opportunities to interact with Little Man.  His head is close enough that I can give him kisses as I shop, and I am also able to see what he is looking at and chat with him about it.  When I have had him in a stroller, I never know what he is up to.  For all I know he is bored or uncomfortable.  In the sling I can sense if he needs any adjustments to make him happy.  More times than not, I have felt him poop, and was able to change him right away.  When he is in a stroller or his car seat, it is usually a lot longer before I realize what has happened.  I like that I can be more in tune with him when he is in a sling.

I could go on, but I am sensing that the rant is getting a little long.  So, I will end on an amusing note.  I was just on the blog The Baby Carrier, and there was a post with a video about slings.  Check it out below.

Cheers to all you baby-wearing moms out there!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Xavier's Big Arrival

I have three amazing friends who are very close (and very, very close in one case) to being due. I wanted to share Xavier's birth story because it was really great, and for whatever reason people love to tell you birth horror stories when you are pregnant. I can't believe it is not socially taboo to scare the shit out of mommies-to-be. I say we protest by sharing the positive...and kicking the people who tell us their negative stories (just kidding).

I will start out by saying that I never thought I would want to be a mom. After almost thirty years of being exposed to the "birth is horrible" culture in movies, TV shows, etc., I was terrified at the thought of having a baby. Needless to say when Pete was all but doing cartwheels around the room at the positive pregnancy test result, I felt nothing but fear. I was a week away from flying to northern Quebec to teach in a remote village without my husband when we found out I was pregnant, so my last week at home was spent scurrying around to find a midwife.

Although my entire life up to that point was spent dreading pregnancy and delivery, a funny thing happened at my first midwife appointment: I was empowered.

I told my midwife about my apprehension and she listened intently before encouraging me with positive stories about birth. She had a lot of great suggestions for me, and I left our appointment feeling so much lighter. In fact, once I came home from Quebec in December and had more regular midwife appointments, I always left feeling that I had everything under control. It was great.

I read two great books during my pregnancy, most of it in the last few weeks leading up to the birth. Everything I read just reiterated the fact that my body was made to have Xavier, and that Xavier and my body would work together when the time came. I rested as much as possible (oh how I miss naps!), and focused on saying a list of positive birth affirmations to myself before sleep, all of which helped me keep my cool on the big day.

Mind you even though the big day was officially April 2nd, I am pretty sure that little man tricked me on April 1st. At one point on April 1st, I was convinced my water broke. There was a pretty decent amount of water that suddenly came out. So I called my midwife to let her know and she came over to check things out. She told me that it didn't appear like anything was happening and that my water was definitely still intact. It is possible for you to leak water from the top of your placenta, apparently, so I chalked it up to that even though it was obviously Xavier playing an April Fool's prank on us.

So the the night of the 1st ended and at 1am I awoke to a contraction. It was just one contraction, and it was not very strong, but it was intense enough to get me out of bed to head out to the bathroom. I went back to bed only to be awoken again about an hour or so later for another contraction. This cycle repeated until the morning, so I didn't have the greatest sleep. If you are wondering what a contraction feels like, my mommy brain has made my memory fuzzy. However I remember it being an all over tight feeling. It did hurt, but I found that by breathing slowly and deeply while pressing out my belly as far as I could (as if I was trying to be as fat as possible), it was completely bearable.

Because Little Man was a week over due, that day we were scheduled to go to the hospital to have a non-stress test to make sure everything was okay. We went to breakfast with my aunt, who was going to be attending the birth, and I had a few more contractions that were intense enough for me to go hide out in the family bathroom doing some deep breathing. After that we went to the appointment at the hospital for the test. Pete and I were left alone in a room while I was hooked up to a machine that monitored little man for 15 minutes. It slowly printed out a paper report that looked like similar to the one that measures earthquakes, so at the end I asked the nurse if it registered any of the contractions I had had during the test. She crabbily told me that it was probably just Braxton-Hicks and then sent me on my way.

By the time we got home around 1pm, the contractions were about ten minutes apart instead of being one or two intermittently. My aunt started timing them and they went from ten minutes apart and a two out of ten to an hour's worth of contractions, one minute long, four minutes apart and six out of ten in intensity. Before I knew it we were calling my midwife to come assess me. The funny thing about that was that we had to call an answering service four times before we finally heard back from a midwife.

The first time Pete called and said I was having contractions. We didn't hear back so he called back twenty minutes later (as we were instructed to do), and when Pete explained that nobody had responded to us and that I was still having contractions, the dispatcher crabbily told him that he failed to mention that I was in active labour. Twenty minutes later we still hadn't heard from anyone so this time Pete was so frustrated he asked his mom to call, and she relayed to them the timing and intensity of my contractions and stated that I was in active labour. After another twenty minutes Pete's mom called again and busted out the mom voice: the midwife called us back in less than five minutes.

When the midwife came I was dilated to 8cm, but my water was still intact. She broke my water and then I finally got to hop into the pool that Pete, his mom and my aunt had been filling up for the last two hours; it was heavenly. I instantly relaxed and spent a little while talking to my cervix (yes, seriously). My midwife told me that it had to get to 10cm before I could start pushing, so I repeated over and over "my cervix is opening." It might sound silly, but once I started that it didn't take me very long to get to 10cm.

The most uncomfortable thing up to that point was when I was starting to get the urge to bear down, but was still waiting to dilate to 10cm. It was kind of like trying not to pee your pants when you are frantically trying to find a bathroom. When my midwife said I was ready to start pushing, I wanted to high five her. As for the pushing part, I began on my knees in the tub holding Pete's hands while he sat in from of me. From there I moved to laying on one side to push, then the other. Then my midwife had me bend my top knee and open my hips as wide as I could while I pushed on my side. I also layer on my back for a little bit (even though it makes you fight gravity, it was comforting when I started to get tired.)

I didn't have any clocks that I could see, so I really wasn't two aware of timing. I pushed for two hours, which sounds like an eternity, but it isn't. I know now that it would have gone faster if I had had more rest the night before and if I had really pushed my hardest from the get-go. At first when I started a contraction my midwife would say "get mad" to help me push hard, but I couldn't think of anything to get mad at. Pete tried to help me by reminding me of all the things he does to drive me crazy.

"Remember how you will go to use a towel after a shower and it is dry on the front side but wet on the other because it is all balled up at the back between the towel bar and the wall?"

Part of it was that I wasn't picturing anything in particular, but part of it was that it was that I didn't want to give it my all and use up all my energy. Mind you, it would have meant less time overall if I had. After a while I got better at focusing my pushes. I spent a lot of time talking Xavier along, telling him he was safe and that my body was doing everything perfectly. I also had a four hour long play list on my iPod with chilled out music to listen to that I sang along to in between contractions. When it came time to push again, my midwife would sometimes put her finger on a certain spot in my vagina and tell me to push in that spot, which was very helpful too. All in all, these things worked well together to get things moving along.

(On a side note, as Xavier got further along down the birth canal I was able to feel the top of his head inside me; what an amazing feeling!)

What was frustrating for me was that it seemed like I would push really hard and be telling myself that Xavier's head must be close to being out and then the pushing would be over and the midwife would cheerfully say "we saw the top of his head!" It felt like it was taking s while for his head to come out, and I was starting to get pretty tired. It was not unbearably painful, it just felt as though I was running in a marathon and I kept thinking I would get around the bend and see the finish line, but it wasn't there. It was more about energy than pain.

When I had been in the pool for about an hour and a half the midwives suggested I try getting out and sitting on the toilet, because Xavier's head was almost out but just caught on something (something is my word since I can't remember). They said that by sitting on the toilet it would change the angle that I was pushing at. I did a few contractions on the toilet facing the wall, which allowed me to open my hips as wide as possible. Then I did one or two contractions on the toilet facing the usual way while hugging a standing Pete as tightly as possible. At that point I felt as though I didn't have the energy to keep going, and told my midwife so. She suggested I try a birthing stool so that gravity could help me along.

As soon as I sat on the birthing stool, things started to move very quickly. I got a sudden burst of energy and knew it was time. As for the pain, I will say that it is a very localized sensation. My adrenaline carried me through, and I remember it being completely bearable. I was not screaming for drugs or anything dramatic; I was focused on using every last bit of energy to get Xavier out. So in the end my midwife was facing me while I sat on a birthing stool (a U-shaped stool) squeezing Pete's knees (very hard) as he sat on a rocking chair behind me. The only time I remember losing my cool was during a contraction on the birthing stool when I was ready to be done with pushing and yelled "Xavier get the fuck out of me!" (not quite mother of the year material). Finally Little Man's head came out and the midwife asked me if I wanted to reach down and guide him out. Even though I had been trying to be as hands on and hippyish as possible up to that point, I was exhausted so I looked at her incredulously and said "NO!" Ha ha.

Pete says that I was on the birthing stool for about ten to twenty minutes, but in my mind it was a minute or two and then Xavier came zooming out. I reached down and held Xavier in my arms, and everyone began chatting amongst themselves excitedly. The midwife clamped two spots on the cord and asked Pete to cut in between. He did, but I was completely out of it and said (very loudly) "did you cut on the right side of the clamp?" Apparently everyone (my aunt, mother-in-law and four midwives) stopped talking at turned to look at us. Poor Pete...

After that I got to feed little man and then hop in a hot bath (both of which made me blissfully happy). I had two tiny tears that were so small that the midwives did not have to put in a suture. I think that the way in which Xavier seemed to go back and forth as I pushed then rested helped my body get ready for him to come out, which I am thankful for. So to recap, first contraction to birth time was 20 hours. Actual active labour to Xavier's birth was about 5 hours and of that 2 hours was pushing. All of this was drug-free, with almost no interventions (other than having my water broken).

As someone with an extremely low tolerance for pain, it was completely bearable. You can do it ladies. Let your midwives worry about the medical stuff, you just focus on keeping your mind and body strong.

And maybe think of a long list of things you are mad at to focus your pushing energy on. Hopefully I am not on that list. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I love sleep

On the same day that I was writing about Tornado Xav and my not-so-relaxing yoga classes, I spoke with my good friend Lisa. Lisa's son is three months older than Xav, so I usually get a heads up on all things baby from her. We share a very similar parenting philosophy and generally chat to share the good, bad and quirky moments of motherhood.

After telling her the yoga class stories, and how time to complete every day house work or preparing my tutoring business is almost an impossibility, we turned to the topic of food. Lisa introduced her little man to baby-led weaning (where you let babies try finger food and self-feeding right away vs. spoon-feeding only) when he was six months and I was nearing the seventh month mark with only a handful of finger food attempts.

"I know that it says that you can do anything in stick form for finger foods, except for the possible choking hazards list, Lisa, but WHAT am I supposed to feed him?" I asked (more like pleaded!).

"Well...Anything, really," she responded.

"But WHAT is anything?" I whined.

This was the part of the conversation where I explained that even though the book said you can offer a variety of foods to your little one (think steamed carrot, avocado slices or bread dipped in hummus), I didn't know what to try. Totally illogical, I know. It was as if my brain ceased to function unless I had specific lists to follow. I love cooking, and feeding Little Man was something I was originally so excited about. But instead of the fun of introducing Xav to new food tastes and textures, I was dreading the idea of feeding him anything other than breast milk; even with a fridge full of CSA organic veggies waiting to be used. And then Lisa made a simple statement.

"It sounds like you are sleep deprived."

I sat back and thought about it. Lisa was right. I didn't seem to be myself anymore. I was:
-always forgetting everything
-always exhausted
-always snapping on Pete and Xavier (as in flying off the handle for no reason)
-eating junk food like crazy (don't get me started on chocolate cake)

For a few weeks in September, Xav had begun to sleep full twelve hour nights. Pete and I felt recharged after all of the sleep we had missed out on prior to that. Then Little Man's two bottom teeth pushed through and we were back to square one. By the time I spoke with Lisa I was on week four of waking to Xav's cries, feeding him, crawling back into bed, waiting impatiently to relax enough to drift back to sleep, then repeating the cycle many times again. Obviously Pete and I were not getting enough sleep to feel well, but Xavier was also lacking the good quality sleep he needs to grow. Something had to give.

So Pete and I talked about it and decided to go back to square one on our wind down routine. Night one was rough, night two was a little better, and night three and four were a little better still. As of tonight, Little Man has not yet done a whole night without waking up crying, but it looks like we may be back on track within the next week or so. I am no longer needing to feed him in the middle of the night, which makes a big difference, and we are all getting better quality of sleep.

The point of this entry is that you need to take care of yourself as a parent. If you are not feeling like yourself, then you need to seek out the support of others. When I think about it now, I can't believe how long I went on in zombie mode. What a difference a couple nights of improved sleep and a new outlook can make. I hope all you mommies and mommies-to-be are resting when you can. It's a big job saving the world. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oh Yeah, I Started a Blog...

I am not a procrastinator, I am just the mother of a 7 month old tornado named Xavier. Yes, that is the excuse I am sticking to. Otherwise I'm sure there would have been daily updates complete with witty anecdotes and staggeringly amazing writing [sound of crickets]...Ahem...Maybe not. Nonetheless, I am here now.

Topic: Hurricane Xavier
I am starting to realize that I am going to be the mother you see chasing after a screaming ball of energy...
In church...
At a funeral...

Little Man and I just finished our third class of Mommy and Baby Yoga this past Wednesday. At the first class Xav crawled onto the blanket of the baby next to him, mesmerized by his colourful baby blanket. The second week Little Man branched out a little further and crawled over to several of the other babies and started to eat their toys. This past week, Xav not only crawled over to various other babies blankets to play with their toys, but also managed to get his mouth on another baby's bottle before I could stop him. This was before he tried to stick his finger in the outlet and then was so focused on getting one child's toy that he climbed on him.

It doesn't matter how much the ladies in the class claim that it is okay that Little Man is ripping around our peaceful yoga class causing a ruckus, I am always so embarrassed. In my mind Xav must be pushing his limits with other people's patience. How long would you let a strange baby each your child's toys and crawl all over you before you started judging the mom? I find it a hard mix of trying to relax into yoga because I need it and attempting to twist my body in weird ways during poses to see what Little Man is up to.

If there were other babies crawling around it would not be such a big deal to me, but in my mind there are all these peaceful blobs chilling out with their mom's and then my guy on his rampage. I had wanted to sign up for the class again because it is nice talking to other mom's in a small group setting, but I wonder if there is any point when it leaves me so stressed out in the end. Where are all the other high energy babies? Are their mom's just too afraid to take them out in public?

Maybe I just need to invest in a bouncy castle that I can keep inflated in the back yard, to be used prior to yoga class. Thoughts?