a new perspective

My birthday cake, with Madison to help me blow out the candle

Yesterday was my birthday. My first birthday as a mom! Growing up, my birthday was my favorite day of the year, other than Christmas. Why wouldn’t it be? A day to get gifts, special treatment… a day all about me. Now that I’m older, it’s a bit different, but of course I still enjoyed getting birthday greetings from people, and, being a female, I still enjoyed being pampered 🙂  Now that Madison is here, though, it took on an entirely different meaning. For one, it was the first time Murray and I got to go out for dinner, just the two of us as a couple, instead of being mom and dad for the first time in 9 weeks. Secondly, I have a new appreciation for my mother.

During my pregnancy, I grew closer to my mom than ever before. I asked countless questions about her pregnancy, delivery, and how I was when I was a baby. Instead of her calling me every few days, I was calling her almost daily just to say hello and give updates on how I was doing and feeling. After Madison was born, my mom was a godsend, giving us as much help or as much space as we wanted and needed. She spent more time at our house than she ever had before, even braving the two dogs (who she’s scared of) and our three cats (who she’s allergic to.) That tells you just how much she loves little Maddy!

Everyone sends birthday greetings on Facebook now. Even my mother 🙂 This was her Wall Post:

This time, xxx years ago, I was in labor … had spent the day cleaning the oven, washing the kitchen floor and baking a cake, in preparation for the arrival of my firstborn. Thanks for being the best daughter one could ever wish for … and thanks for giving me sweet Little Miss Madison, the love of my life!

Happy Birthday, sweetie!

Now that I have a daughter of my own, it gives me some perspective on how my mom views me. She went through of all of the things I have gone through in the past several months. All of that instant adoration that I have for Maddy… my mom had that for me. All of those times my mom was overprotective, saying she was doing it because she loved me – yeah, I can see myself saying that to Maddy.

So – here’s to all the Moms out there, who do things out of love for their children!

 

Four generations: Madison, myself, Mom and Lola

just shoot me

Yesterday I took Maddy for her 2 month immunization shots. The doc had told me that she would likely be pretty cranky afterwards, so it  might be worthwhile to see if someone could help me out with her that day. I asked my mom if she would be available, and being the loving Lola that she is, of course she said yes. I don’t think I knew what I was in for! I was expecting that Maddy would be cranky and fussy after her shots, so I was prepared for that, especially since I would have my mom to help out with her. However, I didn’t prepare myself for how hard it would be to watch Maddy cry!

Madison just before she's about to cry

Before the doctor came in, I took Mads out of her carseat and was holding her, cuddling her and telling her that she had to be brave. The doc checked her and took weight and length measurements. She is now 9 pounds and 9 ounces (on her 2 month birthday!) and is growing well. She’s small, in the 25th percentile, but she’s growing on her curve so the doctor has no concerns at all. This isn’t much of a surprise to me since I’m small, and Murray was quite small while he was growing up, too. He had his growth spurt in the 9th or 10th grade, and grew something like 7 inches in one year!! Apparently, it was really painful, but he is now 6 feet tall even though he was only a little 5 foot shorty in grade 8. As for me, I’m still a 5 foot 2 shorty. Hopefully Maddy gets her daddy’s height!

Then it came time for her shots. There are 3 needles, two go in one leg and one in the other. Babies don’t have enough muscle or fat in their arms yet, so they have to get their shots in the thigh. Now, I don’t like needles myself, so the panic started to set in once I saw how big those needles were! Was she really going to put those big things in my baby girl? Eek! I had to hold her sideways so that her left leg was facing the doc. She was already crying as if she knew what was going to happen. Maybe she was tuned in to my tension and it was making her upset. I couldn’t watch the needle go in, so I watched her face instead. Although she was already crying out loud, she screamed when the needle poked her. I felt like I had been shot! Her poor little face went all red and she was wailing. My heart broke. The worst part was having to turn her around and offer the other leg so she could get two more needles… There were tiny tears in her eyes.

As soon as it was over, I held her close, pressed to my chest and tried to comfort her. She cried for awhile longer, but eventually she calmed down so that it was just little sobs. How heartbreaking it is to see your little one cry out in pain! The doc left the room after giving me my flu shot, which normally I dread, but after watching my poor Mads scream like that, didn’t really phase me. My main concern was making sure she was ok and that I could comfort her. I breastfed her, and that seemed to really work to calm and soothe her. She fell asleep in my arms afterwards and I just whispered to her that I loved her and that it was all ok now.

I’m so glad that she doesn’t have to go through that for another two months now.

battling the bottle

It was extremely important to me that I would be able to breastfeed my baby. After all, there is so much research that shows the benefits of breastfeeding. There’s everything from passing on important antibodies to the baby, development of speech capabilities, less chance of childhood obesity and better emotional and intellectual development to benefits for mom like reducing risks of breast cancer and returning to pre-pregnancy weight.

A huge part of the reason I wanted to try to give birth naturally, with no medications if at all possible, was because of what I had learned in my prenatal classes. We took a Lamaze course, which emphasizes movement and breathing to aid in a natural childbirth. They taught us that often, medications slow down labour even though they reduce pain, and that starting with one med usually means you’ll need even more interventions. It’s possible that baby may be affected by the meds and can interfere with breastfeeding. As far as I know, the only pain medication that does not have any effect on baby or on breastfeeding is the Entonox, the laughing gas, since it passes in and out of your system very quickly. Therefore, it was the only medication I was very willing to take during my labour, even though I still wanted to see if I could do without it.

We were lucky that even though we had a rough start with breastfeeding, as most mothers and babies do, breastfeeding was well established by about 4 weeks. (All babies lose weight at the start, up to 10% of their birth weight, but Maddy was losing TOO much weight.) Now it was time to introduce the bottle so that I would not be tied down to breastfeeding 24/7. The timing for introducing the bottle is pretty delicate. Do it too early, and it could interfere with breastfeeding since getting milk from the bottle is easier than from the breast. Do it too late, and baby may refuse it because she’s too attached to your breast. I’ve read that the timeline for starting baby on the bottle is no earlier than 4 weeks, and no later than 6.

We started right in the middle, at just after 5 weeks, but I’m afraid we might have waited too long. I was just so concerned about nipple confusion that I really wanted to make sure Maddy was 100% set at breastfeeding. We have had a lot of challenges introducing the bottle, from pumping enough milk to getting baby to take the bottle from others.

No one really tells you that feeding a pump is so much harder than feeding your baby! It’s like you have to fool your body into thinking it’s a real feed.Some of the suggestions I’ve come across for pumping more milk are to be in a relaxed and quiet place and to think of your baby, maybe even look at a picture of her while pumping. Warming your breast with a hot shower or warm cloth, mixed with massage and picturing streams of milk, can also help stimulate milk letdown. I’ve tried all of these things and still had a lot of trouble getting more than 1/2 an ounce in a single pumping session of about 10-20 minutes. It can become really frustrating, not to mention time consuming, when you only get 2 oz of milk, enough for one bottle, after pumping all day long! Two days ago, I found the solution to getting more milk while pumping: Do it in the morning with baby on your lap. The hormone that makes your body produce milk is most abundant at night, so your breasts should be quite full at your first morning feed. This morning, I was able to get just over 2.5 oz in a single session! That means I don’t have to pump any more for the rest of the day, freeing me up to do other things and relieving me of a lot of stress worrying about getting enough milk for her daily bottle.

Now, the other challenge we’ve had is getting Maddy to take a bottle from anyone other than mom. It kind of defeats the purpose of the bottle if I’m the only one that can give it to her! Now that I’m back at hockey, and would also like to have the occasional night out or glass of wine (I DO love my Riesling!), I really need Madison to accept a bottle of expressed breast milk from whoever is taking care of her. We are giving her one bottle per day, usually from Dad, but a few others have tried with little or no success. In fact, the only person other than me who has had no problem getting Maddy to drink a bottle is Murray’s mom.

Some of the tips I’ve read about for getting baby to take a bottle are warming up the nipple so that it’s more like skin temperature, using a low-flow nipple, sitting baby more upright so that they don’t choke on the milk, having the person feeding her put something with mom’s scent on it over themselves (like draping a nightgown over their shoulder), and making sure that baby is not frantically hungry when they offer the bottle. It’s been frustrating for everyone who’s tried without success, and worrisome for me. For my mental health, I need to have some me time. I need to be able to go and play hockey, to have a date night, to go to the spa and do other errands that take more than the two hour window between feedings.

Last night, I think we had a breakthrough, though. We’ll have to test it again tonight to see if it works again. Murray suggested that it was my voice that would soothe her, so we tried having him hold her sideways, just like I hold her while breastfeeding, and while he held the bottle, I would talk to her like I do when I feed her. It worked like a charm! Dad had tried for a few minutes on his own without success, and as soon as we tried this method, she latched on to that bottle nipple and drank a full two ounces! It’s funny how at first  we were so concerned about her taking to the breast, and now that is the easy part…

Tonight, we’ll have Auntie give her a bottle using this trick, and tomorrow it will be Lola (Filipino for Grandma) who gets to try her hand at it. I have a feeling my Mom will have no problems at all, since Lola seems to have the magic touch with all babies, but especially with her cherished granddaughter.

and now, fighting out of the red corner…

Weighing in at 8 pounds and 12 ounces, it’s the Challenger, Madison Mayhem Gibson… In the blue corner, it’s a tandem team, the reigning sleep champs: Mommy and Daddy!

She kicked our asses last night.

Madison has been going through a growth spurt for the past few days. I thought we had settled in to a manageable sleep pattern where we could put her to bed around 8 or 9PM, then she would sleep for about 4 hours before she woke for her first feeding. Next, she would sleep for about 3 hours, then wake up for feedings every two hours or so. She was getting much better about falling asleep right away after I fed her, so the whole process of a diaper change (if needed), breastfeeding, and then rocking her back to sleep was only taking about 20-30 minutes. Not too bad, definitely something I could cope with and not feel terrible the next day.

However, over the past several days she has been quite irritable, crying more than usual, and generally fussy. Two nights ago, she was up every 1-2 hours, wanting to be fed. I was exhausted, especially because I had played my first hockey game in almost a year. Dealing with the frequent wakings on top of sore muscles that hadn’t been used in months was killing me! Last night, M managed to put her to bed at about 10PM. I was sure she would be up by midnight for another feed, or 12:30 if we were lucky. To my delight and surprise, she didn’t wake for a feeding until 1:45.

Good, I thought to myself, maybe this growth spurt is finally over and she’s going back to a more reasonable schedule!

I picked her up from her bassinet, took her to her room and changed her. Then I turned off the lights and settled in to breastfeed. She fussed and kept latching and unlatching. Finally, after several minutes, she seemed to be finished. I sat her up to burp her, which she never likes. After a minute or two, and no burp, it seemed like she didn’t need to burp and so I swaddled her back up and rocked her to sleep. Once she was sound asleep, I quietly made my way back to our room and set her down in her bassinet.

Only moments after I crawled back into bed, she started crying again. I knew she couldn’t be hungry, I had just finished feeding her! So, M got up to try to rock her back to sleep. Thank goodness this was a weekend and not a weeknight. Otherwise, I would have had to get up myself. Right away, she started howling. This was not her normal cry, she was screaming. I could hear her crying from her room for 45 minutes, as Dad tried everything to calm her down. He changed her, tried to burp her, rubbed her belly, rubbed her back, rocked her, bounced her, cuddled her, shushed her, sang to her, but nothing worked. I lay awake in our bed the whole time because she was so loud! Finally, I thought, she must still be hungry, so I dragged myself out of bed and headed over to her room and took over from M. It was 3AM. She ate for a few minutes, but was still fussy and kept latching and unlatching. Once she was finished, I was able to re-swaddle her and rock her back to sleep in my arms.

I put her back in her bed, but she was up yet again at 4AM demanding to be fed. I groaned aloud – Even though I had fallen asleep immediately, it was one of those sleeps that felt like you didn’t get any rest at all. It felt like I had just closed my eyes when she woke me up again. This time, I fed her from both breasts with the hopes that she would let us sleep for longer. Instead of going back in her bassinet, she lay bundled in our bed, laying between our pillows up near our heads. She slept this time until about 7AM, but the damage was done… We had been beaten down. I looked at M and he actually had a black eye from being up for so long. His left eye was purple. While I didn’t have the same external signs of the ass-kicking, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. My mouth was dry, my body ached and I felt generally awful.

Babies grow something like three times their size in the first year, and most of this growth happens in several short bursts. Typically, these occur at about 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 9  months. (Read more about infant growth spurts.) Supposedly, these growth spurts mean that baby is more irritable, and demand to be fed much more often than usual. That describes Maddy’s temperament lately perfectly. They’re only supposed to last about 2 days, but it’s been several days now. I really hope and pray that last night was the peak of her growth spurt (and the mayhem that ensues) and that she’ll get back on a more human schedule tonight. I don’t think I can handle too many more nights of this.

jumping over the boards

I haven’t played hockey since December 2009. For someone who usually plays 2 times a week, this means that I’ve probably put on a lot of rust. I used to play on two teams, my Women’s team, the Martinis, and my coed team, the Huskies. My coed team is made up of husbands/wives, girlfriends/boyfriends, sons/daughter/dads, and neighbors. So, we’re pretty close knit. And we’re also not very good. Not to say we’re crappy hockey players, but let’s just say we belong in the lower division where we are currently placed.

Huskies Coed Hockey Team

 

The hockey is fun, but I feel like a big part of why we play is also just to hang out with each other every Friday night. We’re not 20 anymore, so this is our social time! I have missed hockey a ton, especially when my fatigue had worn off a bit during my pregnancy and I was able to go out and watch a few games. It sucks to watch from the sidelines! Especially when we were losing, I really wished that I could be out there trying to make a difference. I’m competitive and it killed me to not be out there playing my ass off. I’m not the most skilled player, but I can skate pretty well and no one could ever say I took a shift off. I’ve played sports my whole life, and it’s hard to not be right in the thick of things.

Back in eighth grade, I had an inclination to be a cheerleader. The outfits were cute, I liked to dance, and I had taken gymnastics as a kid. But then I found out that the season and schedule conflicted with actually playing on the team. So, I had to make a decision – cheer for the Boys team or play on the Girls team. The choice was obvious. (Unfortunately for me, I missed parts of a few games because I kept getting fouled out of games. See – that competitive streak again…)

You can imagine how pumped I am to finally be playing my first game back tonight. I have no idea how I’ll do. Hopefully I remember how to skate. I suppose skating is sort of like riding a bicycle, but I guess we’ll find out tonight. I haven’t really exercised much during my pregnancy or after I gave birth. The most I’ve done is some walking. I did buy a pregnancy yoga DVD at the start of the year, but I only actually used it twice. It will be interesting to see how my lungs hold up. I could be completely gassed after 30 seconds! Hopefully I do OK, and I’m not completely written off tomorrow.

I have gotten the go ahead from the doc to start exercising again, but she cautioned me to take it slow and see how I feel. I have also read that doing strenuous exercise can deplete your milk supply. Since breastfeeding is extremely important to me, I want to make sure that I don’t overdo it. Keeping this in mind should be a good incentive for me to take things slow.

I have a tendency to push myself too much, so I need to be really aware of how I’m feeling and actually pay attention to what my body is telling me. A perfect example would be when I did the Sun Run a couple of years ago. I was never a “runner” even though I played tons of sports. It seemed boring and pointless. However, after doing one of those Survivor Boot Camps, I saw a huge improvement in my running ability and decided to keep running after our class had ended. I actually grew to enjoy running and continued to run a few times per week. Running for the sake of running just didn’t cut it for me, though – I needed a challenge: Do the Vancouver Sun Run. It’s a 10K run, and a joined a training club to help me prep. My goal was not just to complete the run, it was to be able to run the entire 10K with no stopping or walking. It turns out my body just isn’t made for long runs. My flat feet and curved shin bones meant I was putting a lot of pressure on my ankles and knees. Being as stubborn and competitive as I am, I continued to train through the discomfort. On race day, I felt like my knee was going to explode around the 7K mark, but I pushed through it. I literally limped the last kilometer, all the time telling myself that I HAD to keep going, I was so close to achieving my goal. It turns out I did myself a major disservice. I had what looked like a golf ball sticking out of my knee the next day, and spent the next several weeks in rehab.

So, when I jump over the boards tonight (not literally, I’m too short and I’d definitely fall on my butt), I have to remember to take it easy, even when I think I can take the puck away from that guy in the corner…

rant: baby clothes sizing

Everyone knows babies come in all shapes and sizes.

So, why, then, are 98% of all baby clothes sized as an age range? When I shop for Maddy, most of the clothes say “0-3 months”, but there is a HUGE difference between a newborn and a 3 month old. Above and beyond that, there’s actually a huge difference between two newborns! For example, a colleague of M’s had a baby 5 days after Madison was born, and she’s literally twice her size. When they came over for a visit and the two girls sat next to each other, it was hard to believe that Maddy is actually older than this baby! They ended up giving us bags full of clothes that were never worn or worn once because their baby has already outgrown them, and miss Mads doesn’t even fit into them yet.

I ❤ DAD onesie from H&M, $12.95

So far, I’ve only come across a couple of clothing lines that get this right. H&M and Gerber. Gerber is no surprise, since they’ve been around forever, but H&M impressed me. Not only do they have a ton of fantastic and fashionable baby clothes, they actually break down their newborn sizing into 0-1 month, 1-2 months and 2-3 months. After that, they move into the more traditional 4-6 month, 6-9 month ranges. Two of my favorite outfits for Madison are from here: her “I ❤ Dad” onesie, and her “Rolling Stones London” onesie and matching hat. (Although the latter is no longer with us, thanks to our bad dogs. I’ll write about that another time.)

Rolling Stones London onesie, H&M $12.95

Gerber goes one better by offering two sizing options: age and weight. They have sizing that says “0-3 months, 5-8 pounds” or “0-3 months, 8-12 pounds”. This makes things so much easier!!! Everyone should be doing this! We received so many gifts for Maddy in the 0-3 month size that is still absolutely huge and she won’t fit into for quite awhile, so I went searching for some clothes that would actually fit her when she was just a couple of weeks old. I was able to find this 3-pack of Gerber onesies in the 5-8 pound size, and she wore them all the time because they were one of the few items that didn’t hang off of her little body. Maddy recently outgrew them since she’s now almost 9 pounds! I could still squeeze her into them if I really wanted to, but she looks like a little sausage in them now.  She also has some short sleeved and long sleeved night shirts by Gerber that are perfect for sleeping in. They are much easier to deal with for diaper checks/changes in the middle of the night since you don’t have to mess around with the buttons at the bottom.

I’m very surprised that the big chain kids stores haven’t figured this out. Both Children’s Place and Please Mum just have the age sizing. I’m theorizing that they do this because maybe most parents don’t shop for their kids there. I’m wondering if it’s mostly relatives and friends buying gifts, so they have no idea how much the kid weighs, and have to do their best to remember how old the kid is.

rocking the draft

For the past 4 years or so, I’ve been in a hockey pool with a bunch of guys I went to high school with. Before that, I was often the “secretary” – attending draft night and keeping track of everyone’s picks. Then finally, I thought, man, I should be IN this pool! So, I started ponying up the $50 entry fee and drafted my team. I`ve got some good bragging rights: Out of a group of about 13 to 15, I`ve been in the money three out of the four years. That`s pretty solid.

Usually we meet at someone`s house and gather around a table with drinks and our McKeen`s hockey yearbooks to draft our teams. However, this year a bunch of the guys were out of town, so it was decided that we would do an online draft instead. We used Yahoo! Fantasy Sports live draft. I initially thought, great, this will probably actually be a lot easier for us since we have the baby and it might be tough to tote Madison to someone`s house. Not the case!!!

Imagine trying to play GM while you`ve got a baby attached to your boob! Yes, I had to breastfeed right in the middle of the draft. I think it was during the 10th round. (I think that`s when I took Shane Doan, PHO) Even when I wasn`t feeding her, I was still holding her in one arm, so it made it pretty tough to look through my magazine to decide who I wanted to take next. Normally, I consult the points predictions page, then cross-reference players that I`m considering by checking out their team page. I read their notes, check out last year`s performance, see what line they`re predicted to play on, who they`ll play with and if they`re predicted to play on the power play. Near the end of the draft, I had to rock her to sleep, so I counted on the Yahoo! Watch List feature to select a few players I was interested in and hope that they were not all taken by the time it was my turn to select. Luckily, I was able to be back at the computer with about 45 seconds to choose my last pick. (Erik Christensen, NYR)

So – I don`t know if I drafted well enough to be in the money again this year, but I guess we`ll see. Overall, I think I`m pretty pleased with my team.

Forwards: Kane, Parise, Elias, Sharp, Knuble, Doan, Antropov, Kunitz, Bolland, Hartnell, Christensen

Defense: Pronger, Goligosky, Hjarmarsson

Rookie: Neiderreiter

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