don’t f with mama bear

Don't mess with mama bear.

Of all of the ferocious animals in the wild kingdom, there is none more fearsome than a mother protecting her young. A hungry hyena knows better than to go after a little lion cub when it knows her mother is nearby. A mother will fight to the death to protect and defend her little ones, and that’s often why female animals are better fighters than their male counterparts, even though they are physically smaller in size.

Apparently, this applies to humans, and to me specifically as well.

This past Saturday, Murray and I went for our weekly shopping trip at Superstore. Although it’s way more busy than the Save On Foods that we used to go to, the carts they have there are two levels and accommodate a baby car seat. The ones at Save On are just the regular kind, and it’s hard to fit any groceries in there unless we start putting them on top of Maddy! So, we’ve switched supermarkets. First on the list was some Breathe Right strips. (Murray snores. It’s horrible.) Murray was pushing the cart with Maddy in it, and I was following a step behind as we went down one of the pharmacy aisles. Absentmindedly, Murray must have left the cart at the end of the aisle when we found what we were looking for. As Murray grabbed a box of Breathe Right strips, I heard that metal-like clang that the carts make when you put your cart away. I looked over my shoulder and noticed that the sound was caused by some guy who had rammed his cart into our cart with Maddy in it!

I looked at him in disbelief and said “Excuse me!”  He didn’t apologize. Murray then took note of what had happened and he asked the guy, “Was that on purpose?” To my shock he said yes! What kind of person would do that sort of thing??? Murray said, “That’s just ignorant! There’s a baby in that cart, you idiot.” His reply was that it was ignorant of us to have left the cart blocking the end of the aisle.

OK, while I agree that it was inconsiderate to leave our cart there, it wasn’t done on purpose. Most normal human beings would simply move the cart out of the way. Maybe if they were in a bad mood, they would rudely point out to us that it was blocking the aisle and tell us to move it. But who the hell rams a cart with a baby in it?? This is the perfect example of an ignoranus, a person who is both an idiot and and asshole.

We exchanged some choice words with him then continued on our way. Moments later, we were coming up an aisle that he was just starting to come down into. I was still furious and shaking. My mind was racing. He rammed my baby. MY BABY. What if he had woken her? Made her cry? Worst of all, what if by crashing into our cart with his, Madison’s carseat had gotten knocked out of the cart and fell onto the hard ground? The imagined sound of her painful cry rung silently in my head, and I lost it. Without making a conscious decision, as we approached him, I stepped past Murray and lunged towards the guy, pushing his cart and sending it flying out of the way so I had a clear path to him, grabbed him by the lapels of his black leather jacket and shoved him.

That’s right. I shoved him. Mama is a lioness.

I think I said something to the effect of “That’s my baby, you #@!&*^!!” I think he was too stunned that a little Filipino chick just came at him to react. Murray stepped in to make sure nothing else happened, and nothing did. We walked away, but my blood continued to boil as the adrenaline was rushing full force through my body.

Now, no one would ever describe me as a wallflower, but even Murray was surprised that I went at this guy. I don’t know what came over me. I guess it is that mothering instinct that is ingrained into our DNA. No one messes with our kids, man. I’ll end this post with a quote from one of my favorite funny movies, Role Models.

“I am a very animalistic woman. And when it comes to my son, I am a lioness. A black sheba. I am a lioness, and that boy is my cub, and if you let anything bad happen to my cub, I will claw yo’ ass up until you shit sideways.”

the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Madison still won’t take a bottle. (Without a fight, anyway.)

There are many things that I had hoped my daughter would inherit from me. My passion for the things that I love and people I care about, my determination and competitiveness, my love of animals, and my enjoyment of sports, among other things. While it’s still going to be some time before we see if those traits got passed along, it’s apparent that she’s gotten something else. I have a very keen sense of what I want, and if I can’t get it, nothing else will do. In Madison’s case, she wants the boob, not the bottle.

What? You want me to take a bottle? I don't think so...

I distinctly remember an episode of Empty Nest that perfectly illustrates my point. Does anyone remember that show? It must have been around the same time as Golden Girls… it was a show about a dad who lived with his two grown daughters. In this episode, the dad was telling his daughter about a desk that he had wanted when he was a boy. He wanted a specific one that had everything that he needed, but was given a different yet similar one as a gift. It had everything that he had wanted, except one thing – there were no cubbyholes. He wanted cubbyholes. And so, he was never happy with it. For some reason, I really related to that. When I want something, it has to be exactly that. I can’t settle for something less.

Little Miss Madison may only be 3 months old, but already she’s decided that she won’t settle for anything less than the real thing. Very occasionally, she will actually take the bottle, but never without a fight. Normally, it takes up to 45 minutes to get her to drink just 2 ounces from a bottle, when usually she breastfeeds for 10-15 minutes and drinks twice that amount. She’ll cry, scream, arch her back, turn her head away, just about anything to get away from that offensive fake nipple. She’d rather not eat at all than take a bottle.

This is a real challenge for me. It was really important to me that she be breastfed because all the research shows it’s so much better for babies. So, I was determined to make it work no matter what. Even in the early days when I was bleary eyed, exhausted and in tears at 3AM trying to get Madison to latch properly, then pumping to help increase my milk supply (a process that would take 30-40 minutes all in), there was no way I was going to give up and just give her formula because it was going to be easier. With all that struggle to get breastfeeding well-established, I never thought in a million years that we would be having the opposite problem. Everything I read said that bottle feeding was supposed to be so much easier for babies. Now I face the problem of being tied down to breastfeeding.

Although I’m back to playing coed hockey every Friday, we can never stay for food afterwards. We need to rush home so that I can feed Maddy and put her to bed. Grandmas and Aunties have tried diligently to get her to take a bottle, but she never takes the whole thing before they finally have to give up. It’s been really tough. As great as it is to even be able to get out at all, I really miss being able to go upstairs after a game and enjoy some wingies and a drink with the rest of the team. Sometimes I feel cut off from being able to have any independence at all. I feel jealous of other moms who have that freedom to go out for an afternoon or an evening since someone else can feed their baby.

I can only hope that eventually she takes to our little silicone friend. Luckily, the same stubbornness that drives her not to take it is rooted in me. I’m determined to keep trying, with one bottle every single day. We’ll see who wins out in the end.

my two cents: Happiest Baby on the Block

I decided I’d include some book reviews in my blog for other moms or moms-to-be. My first review is for Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp. (Amazon.ca link)

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Happiest Baby on the Block, $12.41 Amazon.ca

I purchased this book because it was recommended to me by a friend, who said that it worked wonders with her baby.

Madison was just a few weeks old when I got it and it has some great pointers about how to calm and soothe your baby. I wish I had actually purchased it before our baby was born so that I would have been equipped with some of the skills right off the hop, instead of ordering it after spending countless hours at all hours of the day trying to get Maddy to stop crying.

While the content is undoubtedly a lifesaver with valuable tips on how to stop your baby from crying, the book itself is a waste of paper. The entire first half of the book is just the author going over various theories on what causes colic, why they’re wrong and why he’s right. As a sleep-deprived, time-starved new mother with a screaming 3 week old, I couldn’t care less! Just give me the info and the tools I need to help my baby! The second half is better, but is still overstuffed with testimonials and examples of how effective his technique is.

I do recommend this book since the 5 S’s really DO work, but don’t feel bad about skipping over the first half and all of his real-life examples. By the second half of the book, I was automatically skipping any of the testimonials in italics.

It’s all based on the theory of the “4th trimester”. Basically, he’s saying that babies aren’t actually really ready to be born yet, and aren’t mature enough to handle life outside the womb until they are 3 months old. In order to calm and soothe them, we need to do things that will remind them of what they heard and felt while they were still inside your belly. He calls those things the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side/Stomach lying, Shushing, Swaying/Swinging and Sucking. None of these things were really news to me other than the side/stomach lying, but what’s interesting is how he proposes that you perform them. They should be done in order and in a certain way to be most effective. What we’ve found is that in addition to swaddling, the shushing and swinging are highly effective. They key is how vigorous you are. When baby is wailing, a soft shushing sound doesn’t work. You have to make it as loud as or louder than the volume of her cries, otherwise it won’t work. And when she’s really worked up, a gentle sway doesn’t cut it, you have to swing your arms around a lot and do jiggle her to calm her down. (I’ve nicknamed this move the “jiggle bounce”.)

We’ve demonstrated the shushing to others and it really does work like magic. Most of the time 😉 While it doesn’t necessarily keep Madison calm, it does normally get her to stop crying for a few moments or minutes, which is usually enough time to work your other calming techniques. Of course, nothing works every time, so we still have those instances where she’s just fussy. The one thing this book is really missing is info on how to get your baby to sleep! I’ve often found that at night, I can get her to stop crying, but I’m still left rocking her and shushing her quietly for half an hour before she falls asleep. She just lies there with her eyes wide open at 2:30AM, while I’m trying desperately not to keep my eyes open in the rocking chair.

Bottom line, this book was definitely a lifesaver, so thanks to Sarah for recommending it to me.

Sweet dreams, little Madison!

miracles

Madison and Sylvie

The other week, I met an friend for coffee. We had gotten to know each other a bit while we were pregnant, since we were due only two weeks apart. I used to look for her to see how much her belly had grown to get an idea of how my belly might look in two weeks time. We would chat about how we were feeling, how the babies were kicking us, and how we were looking forward to finding out if we were going to have a boy or a girl. Shannon’s baby girl, Sylvie, was born the day after Madison, on August 26th, 2010, but actually they were just hours apart.

We met at Starbucks, and we set up shop in the comfiest-looking chairs with our Lattes and Artisan Sandwiches, strollers in tow. Madison was asleep at first, while Sylvie was awake. Then Maddy woke up shortly before Sylvie went to sleep, so the two girls got to meet at last! It was such a neat thought to know that they had already been in close proximity several times before, but they were each tucked away in their momma’s bellies. Madison had heard Shannon’s voice before, as Sylvie had heard mine. They they were, our precious baby girls, face to face at last! We shared our labour and delivery stories, sleep deprivation battles and breastfeeding adventures. But then Shannon shared something that rocked me to the core. Sylvie was not her first baby. A little over a year ago, she had a little boy named Oliver, who was born still due to a condition called Trisomy 18.

I was too shocked to ask very much about it, but later Shannon sent me a link to Oliver’s memorial page. I read it that morning. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to read, as well as the most beautiful. I don’t know if I would have the strength to deal with what they went through, never mind having the courage to share that story with others. It was heart wrenching to read, and I thought about what we might have lost if this had happened to our little girl. As soon as I finished wiping the many tears from my eyes after reading the story and looking at each of the pictures, I ran upstairs to hold my precious Madison. She was asleep, but I picked her up anyway and held her tightly, pressing her tiny, warm body against mine. I kept whispering, I love you, I love you. I’m so glad you’re here…

Every one of us deals with tragedy. Sometimes privately, and sometimes openly, with the support of our friends and family. I believe that this serves to make us appreciate the true miracles in our lives. I asked Shannon if it was ok that I shared her story, and she told me that one of the things she wanted most in the world is to keep Oliver’s life alive in this way, and to help others who might be going through the loss of a baby by talking about their experience. Please, take a few moments to help keep Oliver’s memory alive and celebrate his life by reading Shannon’s incredible story of love. Link: Oliver Paul

waking up

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a huge change in Madison. She’s waking up. Not in the literal sense of the word, although she does unfortunately still wake up multiple times during the night, but more in the sense that she’s become more than the cute little blob that doesn’t do much other than sleep, cry and poop. She spends more time awake and alert during the day, and I can tell that when she looks at things, she really sees them instead of just looking in that general direction.

My Tita Christine gave us a baby bouncer as a shower gift, and we tried to use it when Maddy was first born, but she didn’t really seem to care for it. It’s not that she disliked it, it’s just that if she was calm she would stay calm, and if she was freaking out, she would continue to freak out. It didn’t make any difference that the seat played music or had toys dangling from a bar for her to play with. We ended up putting it away in a closet since we weren’t really using it. After I had a visit with an old co-worker that is also on mat leave, I decided to give it another shot. She encouraged me to try it again because she had found that her baby grew into toys that she previously wasn’t really into. I was stunned! As soon as I put Maddy in her seat and did up the safety buckle – BOOM!

Madison, totally astounded by the elephant on her bouncer

Her eyes opened wide with wonder as she checked out the safari animal toys that hung from the bar. Her mouth made an “O” as she took in these wondrous new sights. I was blown away! I had never seen her like this before. She started to move around and make little sounds, as if she was trying to talk to her new animal friends. She even gave the giraffe a huge smile! We’ve named them now: Jerry the Giraffe, Edward the Elephant and Larry the Lion. The bouncy seat has become a favorite for both Maddy and I. I can actually put her in there and she can keep herself amused for awhile so I can do other things, like sweep or get the laundry started or – gasp! – eat lunch! It doesn’t work for long, or even every time, but it’s definitely great to have an option to try so I can put her down for a few minutes.

We also have more time where we can really interact now. We do tummy time every day, and she is definitely getting stronger and more co-ordinated. I’m amazed at how high she can lift her head up sometimes, almost to 90 degrees, but almost always able to hold it for several seconds at 45 degrees so she can look at me. I can hold a colorful toy in front of her face, like her little stuffed parrot, and she follows it from right to left with her eyes.

I’ve also started playing classical music for her in her room while we play, or whenever I feed her. It’s supposed to be good for their development. The more complex structure supposedly primes the brain for spatial reasoning, the skill we use for solving problems. Mom gave me a CD with Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mozart and Bach to play to her.

It amazes me how I can really tell that she is taking in her environment now. She doesn’t just gaze over in some random direction, she LOOKS at something that captures her interest. She especially loves faces, even if they are in pictures. When we go to my mom’s house, there is a graduation picture of me hanging on the wall that she always stares at. It’s like she knows it’s me. When we’re upstairs in her room, and I’m trying to burp her after feeding her (which she doesn’t like to do!) she always likes to look at this stuffed platypus toy that is hanging from a shelf. She makes cooing and gurgling sounds at her stuffed animals, or even at the moon and star pattern on her feeding pillow.

It’s so exciting to see how her eyes are opening up to the world, and I’m thankful that I get to witness it!

Monkeying around

Madison having a full monkey meltdown

Yesterday was Maddy’s first Halloween. When I was a kid, growing up in Edmonton, the best part of Halloween was dressing up and getting loads of candy, and the worst part was the tummy ache from eating way too much sugar. As a teenager and in my twenties, the best parts were the dressing up and the parties, and the worst part was the hangover the next day. For my first Halloween as a mom, the best part was seeing my little munchkin dressed up in her monkey costume and the worst part was dealing with her crankiness all afternoon!

It was really tough to even find her a costume. I had been on the lookout all month, but every costume I found was going to be way too big for her. I really liked this strawberry costume from Children’s Place, but it was an 0-6 month size and would have been hanging off of her. I looked online, too, but was never sure of the sizing, so never ended up ordering anything even though there was a really cute white bunny costume that would have been just adorable.

I had pretty much given up, thinking I would have to just draw a nose and whiskers on her, when we came across the perfect outfit! We were in Sears because Murray wanted to buy a frying pan and as we walked toward the exit, there was a rack of infant Halloween costumes. The one at the end was a pumpkin, which I grabbed and was about to buy, until I saw a little monkey face on the hood of another costume. How perfect! Murray always calls Madison his little monkey, so we knew this was it 🙂

As cute as she looked as a monkey, she was a dragon all day long. Maybe she was just cranky or tired, or maybe the costume was itchy, but she spent most of the day either grumping or sleeping. Daddy and I both did our best with rocking, bouncing, swinging, singing and shushing, but not much was working.

We would answer the door and greet the little goblins and princesses with our grumpy little monkey in tow. They got their candy and an earful of screams before going off to the next house. There was even another little monkey who came to our house, but he was in a much better mood than our little one. In fact, he walked right into out house to check out Maddy’s costume while his dad reminded him he shouldn’t just walk in to people’s houses.

Maddy won’t remember her first Halloween, but of course, we’ll remember our first Halloween as parents. Based on this picture, we might forget the grumpy part and just remember how freakin cute she looked.

Madison in her first Halloween costume

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