last christmas

Madison's first Christmas tree!

I’ve always loved Christmas, but this year is different. It feels even more exciting, more special than ever before because it will be Madison’s first Christmas. I hope that she grows up with as many wonderful memories of the holiday season that I did. Last night, as I fed her at bedtime, I thought about how magical tomorrow will be for all of us. She’s too little to understand what Christmas is right now, but I got giddy at the thought of her two or three years from now, her big eyes wide with wonder as her stocking, empty the night before, is now full of gifts from Santa. I held her tight to my chest, her little body already heavy with sleep, and thought back to last year. My eyes got wet with tears as I thought about how a year ago, she was already with me, a tiny speck inside my belly, unbeknownst to Murray and I.

It was Christmas morning when we found out I was pregnant.

One of the suggestions when you take a home pregnancy test is that you test using your first pee of the day. As my luck would have it, I woke up at 2AM that morning with a full bladder. Wait, I told myself, don’t ruin the test in the morning by peeing in the middle of the night. Hold it, hold it, hold it. So I went back to sleep but woke up again at 3:30. And again at 4AM. And once again at 5AM. I had to go, but I didn’t want to potentially ruin the test. However, I wasn’t particularly interested in fumbling with the test at five in the morning, either. After wrestling with my thoughts for several minutes, I decided that I just couldn’t hold it any longer – nature was calling.

Honey… I whispered.

Murray grumbled and rolled. What??

I gotta pee, but I don’t want to ruin the test for later if I pee now. I can’t hold it anymore, I’ve had to pee for like 3 hours. Should we just test now?

He laughed. Might as well.

So, still half asleep, I climbed out of bed, unwrapped the test in the bathroom and followed the directions carefully. I placed it back on the counter, finished up and came back to bed to wait out our 3 minutes. When the time arrived, we both got up and walked to the bathroom door, which was still shut. I took Murray’s hand as he opened the door to look at the results.

We both had to lean in closer to see, but there it was…. two pink lines. One was lighter than the other, but undoubtedly, there they were: two pink lines staring back at us. Merry Christmas, baby!

We could not have asked for a better Christmas present! It amazes me to think about how much our lives have changed since last Christmas. Having miss Madison has given me a new perspective in so many ways, and I can’t wait to see the magic of Christmas through her eyes.

All ready for Santa in her candy cane sleeper. H&M, $19.95

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my new job

This is what I deal with some days...all day...

Being a stay at home mom is tough. It’s definitely tougher than working at a regular job. First of all, it’s 24/7. There’s no time off. I work days, evenings, graveyards and weekends. Secondly, my boss yells at me all the time.

It’s funny how my definition of “accomplishments” has changed so much in these past four months. At my office job, I got tons of stuff done. I could produce work. I could put numbers and measurements to it. Now, it’s an accomplishment to empty the dishwasher, or do laundry, or to be able to pump enough milk to make a bottle. Funny how that’s changed. On the other end of things, I have a way more important job to do now than ever before. I’m giving my baby everything she needs.

My old job title was Advertising Manager. I bought media for my company, ClearlyContacts.ca, and ran our social media program. I loved my job. I got lots of stuff done. I liked that feeling of crossing things off my list, planning campaigns and finishing projects. I was organized. I had excel sheets, timelines, structure. Now all of that is out the window in my new role as Full Time Momma, or, as I’d like to think of it: Director of Development, Entertainment and Catering.

Development:

  • A baby’s head is about a quarter of the length of their body. Think about that for a second… imagine if our heads were still that proportionately huge in adulthood!! That would be pretty heavy! So, babies need a lot of time on their tummies so they can develop the strength in their back and neck to hold up that big noggin. We do tummy time every day, and Maddy actually holds her head up extremely well. She’s been able to hold it steady from when she was just a few weeks old.
  • We play lots of different kinds of music, but especially a lot of classical music, so that she can learn about sound and rhythm.
  • We read books so that she hears lots of different words, and we look at the brightly colored pages to stimulate her vision. We pat the doggies and the kitties to feel the texture of their soft fur.

Entertainment:

  • Playtime is learning time. We play peek-a-boo so that she learns about object permanence. So even if she can’t see Mommy’s face, it’s still there behind her hands.
  • Babies love to copy what they see and hear, so when I make funny faces at her or stick my tongue out, it teaches her about her own facial expressions. When she makes cooing sounds like “doo” or “ah” and I repeat them back to her, she learns about conversation.
  • I’m in charge of keeping her amused while she’s awake and alert. Whether it’s a song and dance, or putting the right toy in front of her, or putting her in her bouncy seat, if she’s not entertained, she’s going to let me know she’s not happy.

Catering:

  • Breastfeeding takes a lot of work. There’s the actual feeding time, but then you also have to factor in the time that I spend pumping afterwards so that I can get enough milk to make a bottle for her each day.
  • It’s no wonder Madison loves the boob so much. It’s a warm, cozy, soft place to sleep and it provides her with food and drink. The adult version of that would be a soft heated pillow that also dispenses beer and pizza. I’d want to hang out there all the time, too.

I think I need to keep these things in perspective to help me remember that I’m still being productive every day. All I need to do is watch my little girl and all the new things she learns and discovers each day to realize that I’m doing a good job with her. My new job may be way tougher than my old one, but the results that come with it are infinitely more rewarding.

I call this one "the look of love".

here we go again

I thought everything was going so well with Madison and breastfeeding, but earlier this week I discovered that she’s actually not gaining enough weight. That’s not to say that she’s unhealthy in any way, or that she’s starving in the least, but she should be gaining more weight.

We had a lot of struggles the first few days with breastfeeding, and she was losing more weight than is normal for newborns. It was a major struggle to get her back on track, but we got there with a lot of hard work and determination. After that, it seemed like she was doing extremely well. She’s strong physically, and other than the typical baby meltdowns and usual bottle battles, she’s a pretty happy baby. She is very alert and interested and is hitting all of her milestones ahead of time or right on track. She was also gaining 4 ounces per week, which is typical, though a bit on the low end.

Tummy time helps to strengthen neck and back muscles

Over the past two weeks, though, Maddy’s weight gain has slowed. Two weeks ago, she only gained 3 oz, which I didn’t think was a huge deal. But then last week she only gained two. When I asked the public health nurse about it, she sounded very concerned and said that she definitely isn’t getting enough to eat, and made me an appointment to come in for a consultation later in the week. I was devastated. I thought we were past all of this.

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes, I’ve felt really upset that “I haven’t been giving my baby enough food”. (I word it that way because that’s how I felt about it. Note the guilt and harshness.) Other times, I’ve been worried that I have a low milk supply. And still other times, I think – stop freaking out! She’s fine, she’s obviously strong, and that nurse is probably overreacting… Those are just guidelines, and are probably based on full Caucasian babies, Maddy is going to be smaller.

This morning we had our appointment, and it just happened to be with the nurse that was with us during our darkest day of early breastfeeding troubles. Her name is Katherine and she is wonderful. In fact, she was the one who gave me the inspiration for the name of this blog. She came to see us when Maddy was at her lowest weight. She had dropped from her birth weight of 6 lbs 8 oz to 5 lbs 14 oz.  Katherine left me notes for our breastfeeding plan, and at the end of it, she wrote – Remember, you are doing a wonderful job of mothering Madison. When I read those words, it brought tears to my eyes. I guess beneath all of that stress and tension around feeding, there was an underlying fear that I wasn’t a good enough mother because I couldn’t provide for my baby. Her words were a wonderful and needed reassurance that I was doing everything I could for my little girl.

Thankfully, today was much less stressful than that first visit with Katherine. We reviewed my log of feedings from the past several days, and she observed while Madison fed. (It’s funny how I can just whip a booby out now… Now that I’m breastfeeding, it seems like countless nurses have seen the Ladies.) In order to see how much milk Madison got during the feeding, she weighed her before and immediately after she ate. She got 2 ounces from the first side, then half an ounce from the second. I had thought that she had been getting more than that – 3-4 ounces from my estimation. I’m not sure why I thought that, but in any case, she was getting less than I had thought.

The plan now is to feed Maddy more often, especially during the evenings, and forget about the once a day bottle. (Funny, since I had pledged in a previous post that she would continue to get that bottle daily…) By eliminating that bottle, we are doing a couple of things. #1: One more feed off the boob. Milk production is a supply and demand job – the more often the breast is emptied, the more milk your body produces. One more feed may not seem like a lot, but at this point everything counts. #2: We are eliminating one instance of a negative feeding experience. Since we want Madison to eat more, we want the feeding experiences to be as positive as possible. However, the nurse said that I must get back to my life and activities, so if that means Dad or someone else has to give her a bottle when I go to play hockey or go to yoga, or just need some time out of the house, then they can give her a bottle at that time since it’s necessary. She reminded me that I CANNOT  feel guilty about doing these activities, and that my baby will not starve. She’ll take a bottle if she’s hungry enough, and if she can wait till I get back to eat, then she’ll just wait.

It’s a tough thing to get over that maternal worry. (Is it any wonder that maternal worry and eternal worry are so close??) In any case, we are putting this new plan into action right away. I play hockey tonight while Grandma and Auntie look after Maddy, and tomorrow night I am going to my work Christmas party. I will do my best to just enjoy myself and know that the munchkin is just fine.

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