Don’t Dress the Toddler When You’re Hungry

Most of the time, my son is absolutely adorable.  I mean, how can you not love the quest for independence, the tender love he has for his sister, his charming smile and big blue eyes or his profound fascination with vehicles?  Heck, even the mini (and not so mini) tantrums he throws in an effort to develop (and showcase) his assertiveness are adorable in their own way.

There are some moments, though, where I’m just too tired or hungry or hormonal to put up with his antics.

You see, my son seems to think that anytime is good for playtime.  Of course, that can be explained by the fact that, well, he’s a toddler.  He likes it when his father or I run after him and pretend we’re not able to catch him.  It’s a fun game, except when I’ve been sleeping in increments of 90 minutes, haven’t had breakfast yet and he decides to play this game when I have to get him dressed within a certain time frame as was the case last Friday.  Yikes!

I tried to be a good sport and be patient as I ran after him.  I tried to laugh with him as I caught him and brought him to his room.  I tried to distract him with his stuffed animals as I changed his dirty diaper to avoid the mother of all tantrums.  When that didn’t work out and I still had to suffer through the kicks and screams of a very vocal and unhappy toddler (which, on a side note, seems to be my cue to start potty training with him as it is a recurrent event), I tried to stay patient and calm with him.

But I could feel my own emotions starting to overwhelm me as I hung on to my last nerve for dear life.

I started to get him dressed, fighting him to get his clothes on as he alternated between going limp limp a rag doll, twisting and turning, kicking and screaming, trying to run away from me and generally doing everything in his power to make the seemingly simple task of putting a few pieced of clothes on him as hard as possible for me.  And then, as though he could feel that I was on the verge of losing it, he decided to find that last nerve of mine and trample it into nothingness.

And I cracked.

I cracked.  I yelled at him to stay put.  Yelled at him to stop moving around.  Yelled at him to listen to mommy.

And he did, through tears and his own voice screaming my name over and over again as I finished dressing him.  By the end of the near 20 minutes it took me to get him changed and dressed, we pretty much both looked like this:

P1000763I gave him a hug and a kiss and told him I loved him.  But I felt guilty.  Soooooo guilty at yelling at him like I did.  But it happened and I can’t go back in time.  And I am just human, perfection doesn’t exist.  All I can do is know that I love both my kids to death and hope to do better next time.

But damn, this parenting thing is hard some days.

I Let My Newborn Daughter Sleep On Her Tummy & Other Momfessions From A Second-Time Mom

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 I consider myself to be a pretty laid-back person in general.  I mean, why sweat the small stuff, right?  At the same time, though, I am a perfectionist and a stickler for rules.  Knowing this, I expect you can imagine that these two sides clashed upon the arrival of my first child.  I tried hard to be that perfect by-the-book mama, but it didn’t always work out that way.  And why should it?  I mean, I am just human (and besides, how can you be by-the-book with the myriad of parenting approaches that exist) and my baby was only just human (and obviously hadn’t read any books on parenting).

Now that our family has grown again, I have made some changes to my newborn parenting style:

  1. I let my newborn daughter sleep on her tummy…And on her side…and on her back.  I know that the safest position for a baby to sleep in is on their back and that’s exactly how I put my daughter down for sleep at nighttime.  But during the day, I alternate between putting her down on her tummy, side and back.  I do this because she is more comfortable and sleeps better on her side and tummy than on her back.  Besides, alternating between these positions help contribute to reduce her risk of having flat head syndrome.
  2. Despite having a 50 week maternity leave, my partner and I still send our toddler to daycare from Monday to Friday.  We do this for three reasons.  Primo, had we pulled our son out, we would have lost our daycare spot (and we love his daycare spot).  Secundo, he’s a very social little guy and needs to play wit his friends.  Tertio, I need my bonding time with my newborn.
  3. I don’t wait for my daughter to be asleep before putting her down in her moses basket during the day.  Sometimes, she’ll manage to fall asleep on her own in her basket in the middle of the living room (with or without the presence of a playful toddler) as I tidy up or sit down to eat.  Sometimes, she’ll end up crying because sheMs overtired and unable to fall asleep and I’ll pick her right back up.
  4. I don’t pick my daughter up at the slightest squeak.  Sometimes, she’ll start squeaking about in her sleep.  If I pick her up, I’ll wake her (and, lets face it, who wants to wake a  sleeping baby?).  Sometimes, she’ll start squeaking about in her basket when I put her down awake, but can still manage to fall asleep on her own.
  5. I (sometimes) sleep when the baby sleeps (instead of looking adoringly upon my sleeping baby as she sleeps).  I can do this because my son attends daycare.  I need to do this because I believe that my children and partner shouldn’t need to suffer through sleep-deprived induced impatience if I can do something about it.
  6. I nurse on demand…except when I don’t.  I make sure my daughter nurses at least every 3 hours…but don’t beat myself up if she goes longer between feeds at night.  I will happily nurse on demand (ie: nurse even if she ate an hour before when she asks for the breast)…but when I’m home with both my newborn and toddler, I’ll tweak her nursing hours to try to get her down for a nap during my son’s afternoon nap.
  7. I bed-shared with my newborn daughter a couple of times.  I knew from experience that a baby’s second night was generally hellish because they want to nurse all the time.  It turns out that this was what happened for Amélie’s first two nights.  So, at 2am, after two hours of cluster nursing and a mama that kept being on the verge of falling asleep while holding her baby (not a good idea!), I got in bed and nursed my daughter lying down.  It allowed both of us to get some much needed rest and it was safer (in my opinion) than risking falling asleep with my baby in my arms.

I feel much more confident about this parenting thing two weeks in my second time around.  I find myself less stressed over the little things.  I’m happy to not live by the nursing clock this time around and I don’t get as stressed when my baby cries (’cause that’s how they communicate).  Of course, this time around I was armed with knowledge that I didn’t have the first time around.  I know that just because she’s nursing like mad, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have enough milk, but that she is likely going through a growth spurt.  I know that she doesn’t just cry because she’s hungry; sometimes she’s uncomfortable (like the time I swaddled her too tightly for her tastes), wants her diaper changed or has a tummy ache from gas.

What did you do differently with the arrival of you second (or third, or fourth…) child?

Love & A Shrinking Baby

Yesterday, we went to Amélie’s 2 week check-up.  Besides a leaky eye (she’s got a blocked lacrimal gland, but we’re working on that) she’s doing great.  Not only has she regained her birth weight, but she has surpassed it (we’re talking a 300g/8oz gain) weighing in at 7lbs 6oz.  Yup, the little lady is a champ nurser.  Of course, she has also grown, but I don’t know by how much as her hospital records put her birth length at 51cm and her 2 week measurements put her at 50cm *scratches head*.  Hehe, that’s what happens when your baby is measured with a tailor’s tape measure on an overbooked and understaffed day I suppose ;).

On another note, Charles is deeply in love with his little sister.  At least once per day, when I’m holding his Amélie, he comes up to me, taps on my nursing pillow, outstretches his arms, points to his sister and says “that”.  Translation:  I want to hold the baby.

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Confused

Dear Amélie,

I know that you have spent the better part of your existence inside the womb and that the outside can be confusing, so allow me to give you a few pointers on how things work out here.

  • When I swaddle you, it’s not for you to attempt Houdini-like escapes only to get pissed off when you’re unsuccessful (which, admittedly, doesn’t happen very often).  In fact, it’s to help contain your Moro reflex so that you (and I) can sleep.
  • Speaking of sleep, being rocked isn’t supposed to be an overstimulating activity that keeps you awake and a brightly lit living room with a toddler screaming (from joy or anger) and running around isn’t supposed to be conductive to sleep (though I’m certainly not going to complain that you manage to fall asleep in that environment).
  • Nursing time isn’t supposed to be guzzle-down-my-milk-ASAP-and-then-proceed-to-spit-up-and-have-the-hiccups-for-15-minutes.
  • When I put you up against my shoulder, it isn’t an invitation to work out you neck muscles.  It’s to burp you so that we might skip the spitting up part of your nursing routine.
  • Alternatively, the whole point of putting you on your tummy after diaper changes is 
  • By the way, you are allowed to poop in a wet diaper.  Seriously, you really don’t have to wait until the moment where I have just finished swaddling you after changing your diaper to poop.
  • I don’t mind that you prefer to sleep on your side or tummy and am happy to indulge your preferences during your daytime naps because I can keep an eye on you, but during the night, I would really, really like it if you could stay on your back.

There, I hope that clears up a few things for you.

Love you to bits,

Mama

“Shhhhhh” Toddler Style

With a new baby around the house, we’ve introduced the concept of “shhhh” to our toddler.  Of course, being a toddler, he has a limited (but oh so cute) understanding of what it means.  Take, for example, this conversation that occurred between my son and I yesterday evening:

Charles (tiptoes towards Amélie’s room): mommy

Me: yes, Charles

Charles (points towards his sister’s room): baby sleep

Me: yes Charles, Amélie is sleeping

Charles (brings his index finger up to his lips): shhhhhhh

Me: yes, Charles, shhhhhhhh, we have to be quiet

Charles (claps, pushes a very loud and high-pitched squeal of pleasure and runs off towards the living room to play with his toys)

Almost as Planned: Amélie’s Birth Story

The first contraction started at around 9 pm on Thursday evening.  Of course, at the time, I didn’t know that it was a contraction, I thought it was just a cramp.  I went to bed not long after and between the “cramp” that kept coming back and my snoring partner, I was struggling with falling asleep.  By 10 pm, I decided I was going to take a shower.

Oh yeah, much better.

I felt like I could have stayed in the shower all night (that should have tipped me off, but it didn’t), but I decided to get back to bed.  I was extremely tired, but just couldn’t fall asleep.  Thinking that my snorer was the bulk of the problem (sorry honey, my inability to fall asleep had to be blamed on someone ;) ), I went to the living room to try the miracle couch (which is where I sleep when I just can’t sleep in my bed).

But it didn’t work.  The darned pain kept hitting me again and again no matter what position I was in.

And then, my brain did something wonderful, it decided to play the game of “connect the dots” that my body had initiated.  I started timing my pains.  They were suspiciously regular.

Contractions they were!

A part of me was super excited that my body was going into labour on its own (more on this in Charles’ birth story) and that I would finally be meeting my little boy or girl.  Another part of me was still wondering if I was truly going into labour.  Yet another part of me told me to get up and tell my partner that he would not be going in to work the next day.  I calmly listened to that rational part of my brain.  Then I went downstairs to tell my brother that he would have to watch Charles the next morning until either my parents or in-laws came to get him (it was 11pm by then and I didn’t want to wake the grandparents). 

I called L&D at the hospital and was told to come in when I mentioned that my contractions were about 5 minutes apart.  Of course, the nurse also mentioned that I would not be admitted unless I was at least 4cm dilated, but I wasn’t too worried about that.

I got into the shower again as I waited for my partner to wake up and get ready and then got into the car as he loaded the already packed hospital bags.  We were on our way (after a small pit stop to get some gas in the car).

We arrived a little before 1am and I was checked.  To my dismay, I was only dilated 1cm (the cervical check I’d had three days before had me at 1cm).  A part of me was afraid that I was making a fool of myself and wasn’t really having contractions.  Another part of me reaaaaaly did not want to go back home.  Nonetheless, the nurse hooked me up to the monitor and I was, well, monitored for almost an hour (the L&D wing was full so she kept being delayed before coming back to see me).  Once it was established that I was indeed in labour and that everything looked good, the nurse told me that she was going to have me walk along the hall just outside of the L&D wing for half an hour and see how I’d progressed.  After that she’d decide if I was worth admitting or not.

Well, walk I did and my contractions got closer and closer.  My partner was wonderful and each time one of them hit, he helped me get down on my knees so that I could lean against a chair and he massaged my lower back as I breathed through them.  He also made sure I stayed hydrated by handing me my bottle of icy cold homemade “Labour-ade”.  He and I were both amazingly calm throughout our walk.

We went back to L&D where I was checked again and admitted (yay, the baby was indeed coming!).

In my room, I alternated between bouncing on a birth ball, getting down on my knees against a chair and taking a shower to help me through each contraction.  The nurse had been very supportive when I’d told her that I was aiming for a natural birth and she only came in once in a while to see how I was doing.  Despite the fact that I didn’t hand her the birth plan that I had brought with me, everything was going as planned.

Things were going really well, but eventually fatigue caught up.  Since my contractions had started right before going to bed, I had been awake since 6:30am the previous morning (it was now 4am Friday) and I was exhausted by that time.  Another contraction hit me and I decided then and there that the next time the nurse would come in, I would ask for the epidural.  I didn’t feel defeated by my decision (and I still don’t), it just seemed like the logical thing to do.  I knew that the fatigue would make the pain harder and harder to manage and I didn’t want to get into panic mode and end up fighting the pain and the contractions.  I knew from experience that fighting the pain made the progress of the labour slow down.

Since the nurse thought I was nearing transition (she told me that many moms aiming for a natural birth feel like they can’t manage anymore at around 8 cm), I was checked (and was at a 7) and the anesthesiologist was called in.  Half an hour later, I was all set and it did not take long for the epidural to work its magic.  The nurse told me that she could call the obgyn to have her break my waters and help labour progress more quickly, but I declined and asked to wait things out.  She was very supportive of my decision.

My partner and I managed to get some much needed rest while my body continued its work.  At 6:15am, while my partner called my parents to ask them if they could go grab Charles at our place, I was checked again and was almost fully dilated.  The nurse offered to ask the obgyn to rupture my membranes and though I had initially planned to allow them to rupture naturally, I felt like it was time and agreed.

My partner came back, my membranes were ruptured and then I felt something I did not expect to feel: the urge to push.  An extreme, unrelenting urge.  My body had taken over.  I immediately told the nurse and obgyn who were surprised and told me to hold it in while they got ready (yeah, like that’s easy to do LOL).  I requested to be allowed to deliver on my side and turned to my left side as I waited for my body to tell me to push.

Ten minutes later, I was holding my beautiful daughter in my arms.  I was so enthralled by the moment that I only realized when it was too late that I should tell the doctor that I wanted to wait for the cord to stop pulsating before it was cut.  Oh well (note to self: next time, give the nurse your birth plan instead of counting on your brain to handle everything).

I am very happy with the way the everything went.  Both my partner and I remained calm.  I know that his support and implication were the cornerstones that helped me progress without pain medication for as long as I did.  The staff was also very supportive and despite the fact that everything did not happen the way I had initially planned, I have no regrets with the decisions I made.

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Our little sleeping beauty.

Ten Thought Tuesday: September 2nd

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  1. Today was my due date, but since my little princess decided to come a bit early, I get to cuddle my four day-old daughter instead of lugging about a big belly ;)
  2. I still can’t believe that we are now a family of two!
  3. Things have been going well with Charles so far.  He likes to help out with the baby and has asked to hold her a few times.  We are making sure to give him a lot of attention and he seems happy about everything.
  4. Breastfeeding is going really well; she’s a champ nurser.
  5. These days, Charles is obsessed with the Cars movie (Batman is still an obsession too, by the way).
  6. It’s pretty hot and really humid around the house.  It’s hard to know how to dress my little girl given that she needs to be swaddled to sleep.
  7. I’m planning on posting Amélie’s birth story sometime in the next few days.  Charles’ will surely follow afterwards.  That’ll be two new birth stories to add to my Many Faces of Childbirth page.  I’m still looking for more birth stories so If anyone wants to share their own story, feel free to check out this post for the details.
  8. I was able to take care of a whole bunch of appointments for myself, Charles and Amélie this morning.
  9. There are some evenings where Charles transforms from a sweet little toddler to major-tantrum-meltdown mode when it’s time for his bath and I have no idea why.  Today was one of those days…
  10. Wow, it took me a lot of time to write up these random thoughts!  I started this post this morning and am just finishing it now.