A day in the life (10 months)…

OK, so a while back I read this day-in-the-life post by Non Sequitur Chica and resolved to do a similar thing myself. A lot of people may find this type of post mundane as all hell, and I totally get that, but I personally love getting a peek into how other moms do EVERYTHING, right down to what brand of bottle they use or what time their kid has a morning nap. I can never have enough detail. So with this in mind — and also because I want to have some record of what M and I do all day, for when I’m old and can’t remember anything — I present, “A day in the life of a not-yet-back-to-work mom with a 10-month-old son, and a kitty and a husband, who all live in a small house in a big city.” (With lots of pictures)

7 a.m. – M wakes up. (OK, let’s be honest, it’s usually closer to 6:30.) He starts by babbling contentedly, with a bit of “babababa” followed by some “yayayayaya”, which means I can ignore him and lie in bed for a bit longer. Soon, though, it turns into grunts and whines, and if I ignore those because it was a particularly late night and I have a headache and I just desperately need five more minutes, it turns into actual crying, at which point I haul my ass out of bed, go to the nursery and get him.

crib

7 to 7:30 a.m. – I breastfeed him in our bed, usually lying down because so very very tired still, and then we kind of roll around and cuddle and play for a bit because horizontal everything is just better at this hour.

7:30 to 8 a.m. – I change M’s diaper, tossing the gross disposable into the Diaper Genie and putting him into cloth diapers. Still in PJs, we go downstairs to play in the living room for a bit, quietly, so daddy can try to get some extra beauty sleep.

morning

I turn on the radio (CBC French, because he needs to learn a second language!), let the cat out, or in, depending on where she spent the night, and start making M’s breakfast (I know we should eat together to make things easier but I’m really not hungry at this godforsaken time… can you tell I hate mornings?). Daddy finally gets up and comes down to give us kisses before heading to the third-floor office to work.

8 to 8:30 a.m – Breakfast. At 10 months, M is pretty good at feeding himself; we’re at about 75% independent eating, with the remaining 25% either spoon-feeding or me pre-chewing something a bit before shoving it in his gob. He can use the sippy cup by himself and we’re just starting to give him cow milk. His morning meal usually consists of a few different fruits cut into small pieces, toast soldiers with peanut butter, some yogurt mixed with banana and a tiny bit of maple syrup, and water.

breakfast

8:30 to 9:15 a.m. – I take M to the kitchen sink to wash his hands and mouth (don’t let that picture above fool you — there is a BIG mess after he’s finished eating!), then plonk him down by the floor-length mirror in the front hallway to occupy himself while I clean up the mess. Then we head upstairs and brush our teeth together — he sits in the rocking chair, gets some water on his little baby toothbrush and chews on it while I brush mine properly. And then it’s time for me to shower — I sometimes have him play in his crib during this time, but usually let him sit on the bathroom floor so he can see me.

shower

… and then I get dressed, and he’s content to just sit in the bathroom still while I blow-dry my hair. He was obsessed with the blow-dryer as a newborn and continues to be transfixed by it, though I can’t get more than five minutes before he’s all, “Get me off this damn bathroom floor already, woman!” Sooooo, with half-wet hair, I scoop him up and change his diaper again because he’s usually pooped.

change

At 10 months, it’s VERY hard to change his diaper — he’s rolling all over the place, kicking, punching, squirming, thrusting, etc. Somehow we get it done, though, and then I wrestle him into his clothes for the day.

9:30 to 10:30 a.m. – Morning walk. I strap him into the Bugaboo and we get going, usually heading to one of two nearby parks that have playgrounds with bucket swings, tiny slides, wading pools and sandboxes. This particular sandbox has a bunch of toys that parents leave behind permanently, which means M spends more time playing with a firetruck and less time shoving fistfulls of sand into his mouth.

sandbox

10:30 a.m. – Nap #1. We get home, I breastfeed him and, finally, the kid falls asleep for his morning nap. He certainly doesn’t like going to sleep, so there can be a bit of fussing and protesting, but once he’s out, the snooze-fest can last for up to two hours. This is when I make my own breakfast and coffee and check email and maybe even do some laundry if I’m feeling ambitious.

12:00 p.m. – M wakes up, and sometimes takes another nursing session, depending on his mood. Another diaper change, too, and then I bring him downstairs. He loves our cat Weeps, so I’ll often let him stroke her (with my supervision, which is basically just me yelling “Gentle gentle gentle!!” as he grabs tufts of fur). And because he’s really close to walking now, I’ll sometimes prop him up by the chair so he can practice standing.

kitty

12:30 p.m. – Lunch. This meal closely resembles breakfast, except I’ll try to include a different carb like rice or a chapati or pasta, fewer sweet things and more veggies, and often protein in the form of cheese. On this particular day, the vegetables were lacking, so I resorted to some squeezy packs of organic purée.

lunch

1 p.m. – After lunch, I clean up, pack his diaper bag and we head out again. Our afternoons are more social, involving meet-ups with friends to go to the art gallery or maybe heading over to another neighbourhood for a play date. Soon, I hope to get a bicycle that can fit a front-mounted Yepp Mini seat for M to ride in, but until then, we most often get around town in the Prius.

car

On this day, we hung out with a friend of mine who has a baby the same age as M. He loves having different toys to play with, and she loves… well… playing with him. And grabbing his butt.

playdate

3:30 – At some point in this time frame, I’ve managed to eat lunch (it’s often take-out, or I’ll make a sandwich, or I’ll eat whatever’s in my friend’s fridge if she offers). By this point, however, M is getting cranky so we head back home — I keep my fingers crossed that he doesn’t fall asleep in the car seat because transferring him to the crib without waking him up is near impossible. If it’s a Thursday, I’ll usually arrive to find our week’s worth of clean diapers waiting for us on the front porch.

diapers

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. – M takes his second nap, which is fitful and involves more protesting and sometimes, frankly, doesn’t happen at all. I don’t like to let him sleep past 4:30, though, so regardless of how much shut-eye he’s gotten, we are back up for another diaper change and more activity, with the focus being distraction distraction distraction. I often change his clothes by this point because he’s mucked himself up throughout the day despite my attempts to keep him clean.

4:30 to 6 p.m. – I take this time to get errands done, maybe walking with M to the grocery store or, on this day, schlepping over to Rona to purchase a vanity for our basement bathroom, which we’re renovating. Boring for both of us, to be honest, but at least M got a fun ride out of it and lots of attention from the adoring cashiers.

rona

6 to 6:45 p.m. – Daddy finally quits work and takes M for half an hour or so, while I get to relax and have a cup of tea glass of wine.

6:45 p.m. – M has his dinner. Again, I know it would be easier to only cook one meal and have us all eat together, but part of being a grown-up is eating at a grown-up time, which is not 6:45 (in my opinion, at least. No offence to the early eaters and/or Bubbies). Granted, I could just wait another 15 minutes and it would be 7, which is totally acceptable, but I suppose the real problem is that I’m not entirely relaxed while M is eating, so I’d rather just wait until he’s asleep, and starve a bit in the mean time. Doesn’t make much sense, I realize, but it’s how we roll.

7:15 p.m. – Bath time (not sure why the top of his head looks so blotchy and weird here… hidden cradle cap, maybe?).

bath

7:30 p.m. – Daddy manages bath time while I clean up the mess from dinner, which sounds like an unfair deal except that I’d actually rather clean and not deal with a baby by this point. Once M is bathed and towelled off, however, I head up for about 10 minutes of naked time (M is naked, not us). He rolls around on our bed and gets his last few bursts of energy out and generally looks adorable.

photo 2

7:45 p.m. – I coat his butt in “cream and sugar” (ie. zinc cream and a clay-based baby powder), strap him into a Seventh Gen disposable and get him into his PJs. We kiss daddy goodnight, read a picture book — his favourite is Orla Kiely’s Creatures — and then I’ll sing him a lullaby (let’s be honest, it’s usually “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers or a weird, slowed down version of national anthem because those are the only songs I know all the words to) while nursing him one last time. Afterward, we say “goodnight” to a few things in his room (the mobile, the deer on the wall, his nightlight, the ukulele), and then he lies down in the crib with his IKEA owl puppet and a pacifier and a small blanket. I give him a kiss and rub his back and he usually drifts off without too much objection.

bed

8 p.m. – Grown-up dinner. Daddy usually goes for a jog or a bike ride while I cook, but if I’m sick of being in the kitchen all day I’ll sometimes make him prep the meal instead. On this day, dinner was a frittata, and I’m the only one who knows how to cook it without effing it up too badly. Hubby helped with the side salad, though.

dinner

9 p.m. – We usually aren’t finished dinner until now, at which point hubs does the dishes while I relax on the couch and, full disclosure, have another glass of wine, because our glasses are totally small anyway. Our night gets finished with a bit of TV (currently making our way through 20 episodes of The Killing — the Danish version), or sometimes reading.

10:30 p.m. – We are brushed up, washed up and in bed!

Breastmilk snob…

OK, first of all, this:

lingerie

Anatomical lingerie, people. Let’s get real.

All right, now for an altogether separate topic, I need to get some advice from everyone who has an opinion on breastfeeding (FYI that’s everyone, period). It turns out my 9-month-old son is a breastmilk snob — he will not take formula (even though it’s expensive and organic and I bought a whole damn tub of it), nor will he take defrosted breastmilk from the freezer, whether warm or cold, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference whether it’s in a bottle or sippy cup. He wants straight from the boob or nothing else, and honestly, I can’t really blame the guy. However, this doesn’t work so well for when momma has to leave the house for more than three straight hours. And let’s just say there are a few weddings coming up, plus most likely daycare in the near future because we are so damn broke and momma needs to get a real-ass job. I know that once he reaches 12 months we can switch over to cow’s milk, but what the heck am I supposed to do in the interim? I don’t have a pump because I had to return it to my friend, but even if I did, it would always take about three pumping sessions to get enough supply for one feed. So annoying. Anyway, would love any advice out there for how to get this kid’s palate adjusted to the shitty merlot of the milk world (ie. formula).

Obsessed with French parenting

I don’t often like to read books about what I’m already doing 24/7 (ie. parenting — or, last year, being pregnant). But I kept coming across this memoir called Bringing Up Bébé by American journalist Pamela Druckerman, about her experience raising kids in Paris and the vastly different approach French parents have when it comes to child-rearing (and I don’t just mean feeding croissants to 4-month-olds). After reading a few sample pages on Amazon, I decided her tone was warm and funny and self-deprecating enough that I might actually be able to read it during M’s naps and not feel overwhelmed, so I bought it, plowed through it, and have to admit that, despite my resistance to joining any kind of parenting cult, I’m kind of obsessed with this French approach. Let me count the ways:

1. It spins laziness into cultivating autonomy… Apparently most French babies sleep through the night by three months of age. Now, I’m not sure if this is the “five straight hours” definition of sleeping through the night or the “7 pm to 7 am” definition, but whatever — that’s pretty damn impressive. And how does this work? Basically, moms do a teensie-tiny version of cry-it-out from the day they’re born; when the babe cries, they pause for a couple minutes before picking him up, stopping to analyze the situation and determine whether baby really needs feeding or is just trying to settle himself. This is like what I do already: M starts crying at 6 a.m.; I turn off the monitor and “pause” for five minutes (also known as desperately try to cram in more sleep), allowing him to self-soothe and learn to cope with his own frustration. Obviously this isn’t a cure-all for babes with sleep problems, but I would be curious to try this technique if we have kid #2.

2. It provides lots of tips and tricks for getting your kid to eat stinky cheese and charred eggplant and whatever else you plonk on the table… Long story short: NO SNACKING, and start offering the camembert early. This was kind of enlightening for me because I feel like we were encouraged very early to plump our baby up as much as possible and that chubby = healthy; because of this, I’d been shoving food in M’s mouth every hour, all in hopes that he’d be on track for his next weigh-in at the doctor’s office, but also so that he’d be full enough by evening to sleep 12 hours without any food or breastmilk. Now, at almost 9 months old, we’re sticking to the every-four-hours rule and he seems just fine with it. He’s still not touching the eggplant, and most of the food ends up on the floor, but I’m trying to be patient and adopt the whole European, que sera (ie. lazy) attitude here.

3. The author basically calls for a crackdown on this weird trend of treating one’s child as a colleague or collaborator — asking them if they could “please not bite daddy while he changes your diaper?”, as if this is optional, or attributing a temper tantrum to a child’s energetic nature, implying that it’s out of anyone’s ability to control. I’m all for giving kids options and involving them in decision-making, but I want M to understand that, ultimately, I’m in charge here (ed note: obviously I reserve the right to drastically alter this stance when my kid is 2 years old and I’ve turned into a pushover). Apparently the key to establishing authority is to employ the “big eyes” technique — opening your eyes wide like an owl on crack and maybe even twitching one eyelid slightly while you shoot “don’t you even dare” daggers from them (loving daggers of course).

So has anyone else here read this book? Thoughts? Criticisms? And are there any other parenting books that you’d recommend (ideally ones that have a sense of humour and can be flipped through during naps and other short bursts of freedom)?

And for good measure, here is my child behaving like a perfect, well-read French citizen:

Reading

Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy elimination communication

Well, if there was any seminal life accomplishment that was going to convince me to start updating this blog again, it was my kid taking a shit in the bathtub. (Insert more sincere apologies here about neglecting this space and follow up with a few obnoxious, humble-braggy excuses relating to how little time there is when you have a baby, etc. etc.)

So, it turns out I have an 8-month-old.

In this time, I’ve enjoyed many new life experiences. It’s rare that something 100% new and unfamiliar happens when you’re in your mid-thirties, which is why it’s so damn exciting to, like, grow a human in your uterus and give birth. But changing diapers – done before; feeding another person – done; being woken up repeatedly throughout the night – done; buying stuff I don’t really need on Amazon – done. Hence, it was with GREAT excitement when a total first happened recently: Max pooped in the bathtub. Fine, it was pretty gross, but also kind of hilarious, and it gave me a brand new challenge, ie. cleaning poop out of the tub, which I’ve never had to do before, even in my drunkest of college days.

I’m going to spare you those details — let’s just cut to the following night, when Max was in the tub and I heard the telltale grunting. It became our first attempt at elimination communication, and was a complete success. So here, I present my easy-peasy guide to accomplishing this, in case you want some inspiration:

1. Make sure your baby knows what poo is; do this by holding a soiled diaper in front of him and gesticulating to it as Vanna White would, explaining that this fine specimen he produced using the powers of his intestinal tract and a momentary burst of concentration is called, simply, poo. Slight variations in colour and tone may occur from day to day, but generally speaking, it’s the same shit.

2. Feed your baby a large meal, washed down with some breastfeeding (or formula), then insert baby into a warm bath. Wait.

3. Listen for pushing/grunting noises and watch for physical straining of any kind, and/or a slight protrusion of the stomach.

4. As soon as this happens, HOIST BABY OUT OF THE TUB AND THROW HIM ON THE TOILET AND CLUTCH HIS DRIPPING WET AND PROBABLY GETTING COLD TORSO AND KEEP SAYING “POO POO POO POO POO POO POO POO” OVER AND OVER.

5. When baby starts to poo, say “Good job!” and kiss him on the forehead. Demonstrating affection while the turd is still technically on its way out may feel slightly awkward, but get over it — your baby is pooping in the toilet like a grown-ass man! Screw diapers!

6. Take high-res photo of poop in toilet with your fancy iPhone 5 and send it to husband who is currently travelling and therefore will see this first thing in the morning before he’s had breakfast.

Mission accomplished. You’re welcome.

(This was obviously inspired by Mom Spelled Backwards‘ recent How To guides, which are much funnier).

Eight weeks in…

Holy crapballs, how do any of you new moms have time — or hands — to blog?! I’ve opened up WordPress a dozen times and it’s only now, almost eight weeks after Max’s birth, that I’m able to do a quick update. I was going to elaborate on his birth story, but you know what? Forget it. Blah blah C-SECTIONS ARE INTENSE blah blah; that’s kinda the gist of it. OK, now before he wakes up and realizes he’s pooped himself, here are a few more current pics of the little man:

Max8

Max7

Max8

In the first 8 weeks post-birth, the two of us have:
- Walked through the park with other stroller moms and not been called out for being a fraud or even looked at funny;
- Breastfed in an art gallery;
- Attended fancy dinner parties at friends’ houses
- Had brunch at a restaurant… like, an actual restaurant;
- Taken the SUV stroller into rather tiny shops and cafés;
- Survived two weeks of daddy being away;
- Projectile shat on two of mommy’s girlfriends (um, that was NOT me)

The babe has received mail addressed to him (and I opened it, which I guess was maybe illegal, technically?), gotten a social security number and health card, been hashtagged on social media, taken lots of baths, conquered a yeast infection (what? boys? yes) and peed on a variety of objects. He’s transitioned into cloth diapers, has started smiling and cooing and staring at high-contrast images (then again, he’s also been known to stare at the blank wall next to the change table for minutes on end, so who knows, maybe he’ll be a paste-eater after all). Likes: Being in his wrap/carrier; the hairdryer; running water; stretching both arms up over his head upon waking from a nap; excessive bouncing. Dislikes: His adorable shark hat; kisses; sleeping in the bassinet; classical music. Longest stretch of continual sleep to date: 5-ish hours. Breastfeeding: Like a champ! This kid will suck on anything; pacifiers, bottles, nipples, fingers… and more! (Just kidding, not more).

Questions on my mind:

- I want to get on board with this sleep-training stuff early; is this really a thing to be anal about or should I let the kid figure out his own rhythm? When do I start? And what books do I need to read? Can they be short books? Comment below and help a momma out!

- I know we’re far away from introducing solids, but how do I do that? Do you still start with rice cereal? What’s this about introducing one new thing every few days? Can’t I just blend together a sandwich?

- Diaper rash: How do you prevent it, other than frequent nappy changes and zinc cream and “naked time” (read: DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN! HELLO?!)

OK, that is all! For now, at least… I have to go check in on some of you ladies (Stupid Stork, Burnt Toast especially) who’ve had some miraculous successes in your IVF journeys — so damn exciting!

Introducing…

This kid… always full of surprises. I’ll cut to the chase: We had our beautiful baby boy, his name is Max, and everyone is healthy and elated!

Max1

Max2

But of course, my dearest babe had to keep us on our toes right up until delivery. As you all know, I was scheduled to have a C-section with my amazing OB on Wednesday; well, on the Sunday before (Canadian Thanksgiving), I was woken up at 7 a.m. with a crazy-ass painful contraction. It lasted a couple minutes, then passed, and I thought to myself, “Man, I hope that was just a one-off thing, ’cause it would really be a shame to miss out on turkey dinner tonight.” I rolled over in bed, felt the little guy move, which reassured me, and then my water broke. I was all, “Pee? … Lots of pee? …. FUCK FUCK DEFINITELY NOT PEE!!!” Ran to the bathroom, cleaned myself up, woke my husband, called triage, finished packing my bag, and bolted to the hospital in 8 minutes flat.

Once there, it was determined that I was 1 cm dilated and also that there was meconium in the water; this, coupled with the fact that I was now having contractions quite frequently, all led to a C-section happening about three hours later with an OB who looked to be about 19 years old. The C-section really deserves its own separate post — for a routine procedure, it’s an insane experience that I just did not anticipate, from the massive operating room to being strapped, Jesus-style, on a cross-shaped table, to a robust team of at least 10 doctors and nurses and other specialists, to the side effects of shaking uncontrollably, dry-heaving, weeping, and feeling totally unprepared to actually meet my baby, scared shitless that I wouldn’t love him at first sight.

Aaaaaanyway, it all went smoothly otherwise. Spent two nights in the recovery ward with a fantastic team of caregivers that made me get all warm and fuzzy about Canadian healthcare. Breastfeeding has, blessedly, been a cinch right from the get-go, I’m healing pretty quickly, and weirdly I could have been “that annoying woman” who’s able to walk out of the hospital in skinny jeans — my stomach is actually flatter than it was before I got pregnant (the nurse said five minutes after they stitched me up, “You’re bikini ready!”), and I have no idea how or why, but hey — I’ll take it.

As an aside, now that I think back on it, I should have known that our kid would arrive on the 13th, regardless of when we scheduled the C-section for — it’s kind of our lucky number, with hubby’s birthday falling on Sept. 13th, our wedding on Aug. 13th, and Max first making his presence known with two pink lines on a pregnancy test on Feb. 13th. As for it coinciding with Thanksgiving — well, it’s only appropriate. I can’t think of anything to be more thankful for than a healthy baby boy in my arms.

Will update again soon, but for now am trying to use every spare minute to sleep. There are so many of you who are at such critical times in your IVF cycles or pregnancies and I’m desperate to get back to reading/blogging, but for now, I gotta Max out. :)