Jul 27, 2011

What Have We Done?

Our home. Peaceful, quiet, playful and full of gentle laughter. Then the bubble burst. Our home of three has changed to a home of four and it seems that with the blink of an eye, our family life has been turned upside down.

Here's  a recent scenario:

I was in the prison master bedroom, tending to my newborn babe. She frequently goes through 2-3 hour spells wherein she's inconsolable. Anything I do won't stop her from having an epic fit (at least once or twice a day). Usually she has one of these fits at about two in the morning.

She cries. I feed her.
She cries. I change her diaper.
She cries. I burp her.
She cries. I rock her.
She cries. I sing to her.
She cries. I play music for her.
She cries. I try to feed her again. At this point in time she either beats my breast with her fists or she clamps down with her toothless, but bony, mouth on my nipple.
She cries. I cry.

While I was dealing with this epic fit I hear my husband telling my 3 1/2 year old that climbing on the shelf is not a safe choice.

Daughter: It IS a safe choice!
Husband: I'm worried you're going to get hurt.

Daughter: I'm NOT going to get hurt!
Husband: You might get hurt.

Daughter: I'm NOT, I'm NOT, I'm NOT going to get hurt!
Husband: I would be sad if you got hurt. I think you would be sad too.

Daughter: I'm NOT going to be sad!
Husband: If you don't find a safer place to play, I'll find one for you.

Daughter: I'm NOT going to find a safer place to play!
Husband: Okay, it looks like I have to find a safer place for you.

Cue the intense screaming, foot and hand banging epic half-hour tantrum from my daughter (who by the way, maybe had two tantrums in her entire life until we brought the baby home... now she has at least two a day).

Within minutes my husband was upstairs. He looked frazzled. I'm sure my look was the mirror image of his (except with mascara streaked cheeks).

I looked at him and said, "What have we done? We've upset the balance of our little family."

He looked at me and said, "It's them against us baby, it's them against us."

In summation, we are adjusting to our new family composition. We understand our 3 1/2 year old is trying to figure out how she fits into this new family unit. All of us are trying to figure out our roles and find our place in this family of four. It will take time, lots and love and understanding but I know we will get there... one day.

Any tips, advice or words of encouragement? Please share. This mom needs it!

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Jul 24, 2011

Random Thoughts After Having My Second Child

It is amazing how the "solitude" of having a baby can make so many thoughts race through my mind. I decided I would share some of these random thoughts. Perhaps they're not so random. Maybe you've thought some of these things too?

  • My 3 1/2 year old daughter suddenly looks like a giant.
  • It's amazing how a simple shower can feel like a day at the spa.
  • All this baby ever does is eat and poop.
  • Speaking of poop, when will my conversations with my husband NOT revolve around the colour and consistency of the baby's poop?
  • Holy cleavage Batman!
  • I used to think there's nothing more peaceful than a sleeping baby. Wrong. There's nothing more peaceful than a sleeping baby and a sleeping preschooler.
  • How much longer will I have to pee with a peri-bottle?
  • I hate the postpartum chill. How come no one told me about that before I had children?
  • It's amazing how having a baby can make you feel completely incompetent.
  • Why do babies smell so good?
  • Where do the days go?
  • Speaking of the passage of time... why are the days so short and the nights so long?
  • And speaking of nights, will I ever get to sleep for more than three hours?
  • I wonder what's happening in the world right now.
  • My bedroom feels like a prison.
  • If I do one more sudoku puzzle, I think my head will explode. Actually, maybe I can do just one more.
  • Do telemarketers have nap radar? Every time I try to nap someone is calling to sell me something.
  • I love the way my baby curls up against my chest and falls asleep.
  • It feels so amazing to wear real clothing. Why don't I get out of my pajamas more often?
  • I can't stop eating. I graze all day long!
  • I wonder when I'll be able to sit on a chair without my donut pillow?
  • I think google was created for postpartum mothers.
  • I thought I knew how to breastfeed and everyone told me that it's like riding a bicycle. This baby has taught me that it's not at all like riding a bicycle. This time it feels like I'm learning how to drive a car that's revving to go while I'm just trying to figure out how to put the car into gear.
  • Speaking of breastfeeding, I can't wait for breastfeeding to be established and for the baby to have more of a predictable schedule. When that day comes, I will finally have that long-awaited glass of wine.
  • I love having this little person in my life. I look forward to watching her become who she is meant to be.

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Jul 22, 2011

{this moment: a snooze}

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Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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Jul 19, 2011

The Birth Story of Hope

How can I begin to write this? I sit here, hormones raging, body riddled with pain, wondering how do I tell this story without losing control, without breaking down? I can't. However, I know this story needs to be told. Armed with a cup of tea, a box of kleenex, and sitting on my donut pillow, I want to tell you the birth story of my sweet little baby girl.

My First Birth
This story actually begins with the birth of my first daughter, Grace. When I was pregnant with her, I researched and planned for a natural, intervention-free and medication-free birth. My husband and I hired a doula and armed ourselves with the books and classes to help us through the process of labour and delivery. When the day arrived my daughter was OP (sunny side up) which resulted in long and difficult back labour. I ended up taking laughing gas for a few minutes (which I stopped after I realized how much it was annoying rather than helping me). I then agreed to a slight dose of pitocin to speed up labour. After three and a half hours of pushing, I agreed to an episiotomy and forceps delivery. Grace came out with the cord wrapped around her neck. It took a few brief moments for her to cry but she ended up being strong and healthy.

With this pregnancy, I wanted to plan again for a natural, intervention-free and medication-free birth. Once again, we obtained the services of a doula, read more books and took more classes. I was ready to have the liberating birth I had dreamed of. Naturally, I knew things could go differently as they did with Grace but I was putting my mind in a positive place and I just knew this birth would be special.

False Alarm or The Real Thing?
It started on the evening of Tuesday, July 12th. My husband and I were watching television when suddenly I started getting contractions. Now I had a lot of Braxton Hicks throughout my third trimester, so I wasn't going to get too excited. We timed the contractions and they were consistently seven minutes apart. I told my husband I didn't want to notify anyone until we were down to five minutes. After about three hours of contractions everything stopped. I was disappointed... again. When was this baby going to come?

On Wednesday the 13th my day started as usual. My daughter and I ate breakfast and she was colouring at the kitchen table while I was busy making mini-meatloaves to freeze. At about 10:00 am my contractions started. Three minutes apart, about 45 seconds long. Well I wasn't falling for this trick again. I kept going about my business. However, the consistency and length of my contractions were making caring for my daughter challenging. I called my sister-in-law and asked her to come watch Grace. I told her not to get too excited... this baby had a mind of it's own.

Upon speaking with my doula and my mother-in-law, I decided to call my husband and get him to come home so we could go to the hospital. My contractions were still 3 minutes apart.

The Hospital
We got to the hospital and I was assessed at 3 cm dilated (which was my dilation a week prior). I was disappointed but I knew we could help this process along. My husband and I walked laps around the labour and delivery ward. Round and round we went. Nurses commented on what good time we were making. We talked, we kissed, we laughed and we joked around. At one point I reminded my husband that this was our last baby. He needed to go get snipped once this baby was born! He jested that he thought they did that down the hall and that he would be back in a few minutes. It was a pleasurable time that we spent together. About three hours later I was assessed at a dilation of 6 cm. I was really in labour! This baby was coming!

I realized now was the time to switch gears and have the labour I envisioned. We dimmed the lights. We put on meditative music and I slow danced, squatted, lunged and laboured on all fours. Within a few hours I was fully dilated and ready to push.

I was able to have the "ultimate labour" that I had been dreaming of for all these months. It was a peaceful, all natural, medication-free and intervention-free birth. When it was time to push, I was amazed at how my body took over. I smoothly expelled the baby. My body bore down naturally... I could not slow it or stop it. My body was doing all of the work! I was excited when I heard that the baby was crowning. Then it happened.... I heard the OB-GYN declare that there was a situation, the baby had shoulder dystocia. I heard of this before. It is when the baby's shoulder gets trapped behind the mother's pubic bone and with every passing moment, asphyxiation becomes a reality. All my reading and preparation told me that this was a medical emergency but I wasn't panicked, everything was going to be okay. I just had to stay focused and continue to push this baby out.

However, as fate has it, my peaceful delivery turned into a frenzy.  An alarm bell went off and within seconds the whole delivery room was filled with medical staff who were shouting orders at each other, at me, and at least eight of the eleven people in the room were on top of me pushing on my pelvis, my abdomen and thrusting my legs behind my ears. There was a moment when I froze in terror. I thought, "Oh God, my baby is going to die and I'm going to die with it." Then I heard my husband's reassuring voice through all the commotion, calmly telling me that I was doing a great job and that in a few moments we were going to meet our baby. I pushed along with everyone pushing down on my body and she was out. For a few moments everything was silent and then my beautiful babe let out that wonderful, lusty, huge cry. A feeling of relief spread through the delivery room as everyone burst into laughter, cheers and tears of joy.

Adoring Her
That night I couldn't sleep - I was overjoyed. I counted her fingers and toes over and over. I marveled at her thick black hair, her little nose, her beautiful rolls. All 9 lbs and 6 oz of beauty filled me with a love that only a mother could have. That deep primal love that is unlike any other love.

The Aftermath
The following night I was exhausted. I got ready for bed at 9 pm but I couldn't sleep because every time I closed my eyes I was thrust back into that nightmarish scene in the delivery room. I felt the fear over and over again and was stuck in the cycle of reliving the nightmarish part of her delivery. The next day, the doctor and a psychiatry team intervened and diagnosed me with acute stress. The experience of complete peace and bliss quickly turning into a life-threatening situation had rattled me.

It's a delicate time and I've been told by my doctor and psychiatrist to tell my "story" as much as possible so I can relay and relive the happy ending, when my daughter came into the world and the whole delivery room was filled with joy. Almost a week later, my body is still wracked with excruciating pain but my long-awaited and anticipated baby is here.

We went into this labour with two possible girl's names in mind. After the experience we had, her name could be none other than Hope.

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Jul 17, 2011

{this moment: baby's arrival}

Inspired by SouleMama

This week I'm a little late but I have good reason to be!

Hope Marie was born on Thursday, July 14th! 9 lbs and 6 oz and 22" long. She has an amazing birth story but my body can't tolerate sitting at a computer long enough to write it. I'll be sure to share it in the near future. In the meantime... I had to share a couple moments instead of just one. I think this occasion deserves more than one picture.

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Jul 13, 2011

Tar and Feather Me! I Can't Stop Nesting!

Okay, I am officially crazy. I can't stop nesting. It's become a bit of an obsession and I don't know how to stop! What have I done? Well... I've cleaned my house to the point of obsessiveness (I'm talking about washing baseboards, cleaning the inside of appliances such as the dishwasher and washing machine, cleaning grout, vacuuming, dusting, sorting, organizing and sorting some more). I even vacuumed our dog (he's part Malamute and he blows his coat twice a year). I think he's been so stressed by my cleaning that he's blown his coat for the third time this year!

Then there's the baking. I've been cooking non-stop! Breakfast cookies, three different types of muffins, banana bread, corn bread, pancakes and two different types of freezer meals.

I'm 39 weeks pregnant as of today. Can this baby come out now? I really can't help myself and I can't stop this crazy nesting behaviour.

Did you nest before you gave birth? Were you as crazy as me?

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Jul 11, 2011

My Best Life: A Plea For East Africa

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This week, I'm going to do something a little different in the My Best Life series. I will report on last week's strategy next week and I will dedicate this posting to a cause that has filled my spirit with concern, grief and remorse.

If you haven't already heard, there is a food crisis of epic proportions happening in East Africa right now. People (many women and children) are dying every minute and we need to do something to help. This morning I was watching the news and I was devastated when I saw the reports of people dying of hunger. However, within a couple minutes I heard the report that Transformers has made $645 million in worldwide ticket sales over the past two weeks. How can Transformers make $645 million worldwide, yet there's a serious food crisis in East Africa that could be resolved almost three times over with that amount of money? That's just Transformers... imagine all the other money spent on movie ticket sales. What is wrong with humanity? Get your priorities straight people!!!

Imagine how many people we could feed if we skipped that one movie night, didn't buy a bottle of wine for dinner or passed up on getting a massage! If you haven't heard the reports or seen the images, please visit these links:

Horn of Africa: 60 Babies Are Dying Every Day
East African Drought is the Worst in 60 Years
Hunger Needs Expected To Rise in Horn of Africa

I was going to get a pedicure this week as a way to spoil myself before my second child is born. However, I have chosen to donate the cost of my pedicure to this worthwhile cause. Do you want to help? What will you sacrifice to help others? Donations are being accepted through a variety of organizations. Here are a couple of my personal favourites:

World Food Programme

If you can make a small sacrifice or any contribution, please do so. Also, if you make a donation to this cause and/or if you blog about this cause, please make sure to let me know! I will post a permanent link to your blog /website on the My Best Life page of my blog. Together we can make a difference. I know we can!

Share food, change lives

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Jul 9, 2011

The Red iPod (a.k.a. Ghetto Blaster)

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I find it entertaining that my daughter refers to the old ghetto blaster in her play room as "the red iPod". She loads a cassette tape, presses play and listens to it. Wait until we bring out the record player. That will blow her mind!

And what is she listening too? Stompin' Tom Connors of course!

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Jul 8, 2011

{this moment: reflection}

Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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Jul 6, 2011

Horchata - A Great Summer Drink

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I had not heard of Horchata until I heard the Vampire Weekend song, Horchata. I always wondered what this beverage was and what it would taste like.

Sunday mornings while I drink my morning coffee, I usually watch The Food Network or The Home and Garden channel. This past Sunday, I ended up watching Mexican Made Easy (and am I ever glad I did)! On this particular episode the hostess, Marcela Valladolid, made Sweet Cinnamon Flavoured Oatmeal Drink ("Horchata"). Traditional Horchata is made with rice and almonds but this recipe is nut-free, takes less time to prepare, and is so simple to make. Also, when Marcela announced that this was a great dairy-free drink, I was hooked! I am always looking for dairy-free recipes for my daughter.

Within minutes we were in the kitchen whipping up a batch of this beverage and what can I say... it was delicious! Even more importantly, my daughter loved it! We made our first batch with sugar and the batch we made today was made with agave nectar. I especially loved the agave nectar version. I wouldn't serve Horchata to my daughter too much because it doesn't have as many nutrients as her regular dairy-free beverages but it is a tasty alternative to her usual rice or soy beverages. Did I mention that I loved it too? It's truly a refreshing summer drink and it really is best when served over ice.

Try out this recipe if you have a chance. I would love to hear what you think of it!

Here's the song that made me curious about this beverage in the first place!

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Jul 5, 2011

My Daughter's Art Gallery

My daughter loves to paint. For months we have been providing tempera paint for her to work with. However, the task of setting up daily painting experiences has been daunting. So to resolve this issue we purchased a great set of watercolour paints for her.

She loves the watercolours and has created some wonderful pieces of art. I decided that I would fill four empty frames (which I was saving for travel photos) and then hang her artwork in the entrance to her playroom.

The results were stunning.

I didn't use matting for her paintings (which would look great too) because I wanted to display the entire piece of art. I also typed up little art labels to mount to the frame of each painting. The labels have her name, the name of the piece of art with date, and the medium used (watercolours on paper).

We were very satisfied with the results.
My daughter named her pieces of art and we labelled her artwork.
Top right - "Not a Sky"; Bottom right - "Not a Sky"; Bottom left - "Not a Sky"; Top left - "A Sky".

I look forward to periodically rotating the paintings in her art gallery... but I must admit, the "Not a Sky / A Sky" series will always have a special place in my heart.

What do you do with your child's artwork?

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Jul 4, 2011

My Best Life: Every Day is a New Day

Sunrise through the clouds

Last Week's Strategy
Last week I spent some time considering healthy snack choices. One thing I learned in the birth of my first child was that when you are breastfeeding, the mom needs a lot of nourishment as well. Unfortunately time is limited because you have a new little person requiring your constant attention.

In a few weeks (hopefully), I will be home with a newborn and a 3 1/2 year old. I want to be prepared and have some healthy snack choices available for us. The first thing I did was I compiled a list of our favourite snacks (i.e. muffins, crackers and hummus, fruit, veggies, etc.).

I then began my work of baking some of the snacks. This weekend I made pancakes, muffins, and banana bread. I then packaged and froze snack-sized portions. I also decided that when we have fresh foods (i.e. fruits and veggies), my husband and I will pre-wash and cut small servings for the week.

I think with these strategies at hand, healthy snacking will take place more frequently in our home.

This Week's Strategy
Have you ever woke up in the morning and instantly thought about something that happened the previous day? I know I've done this... and often the previous day's experience was not a positive one. This choice to think about or dwell on the past is not helping me to live my best life.

If I want to be truly happy, I need to live in the present and enjoy this day and bask in it's glory. Dwelling on the past keeps me from achieving what I want to do today. It keeps me from experiencing happiness in the moment.

The only strategy I can think of to approach this goal is to mentally remind myself to think about today... to enjoy the moment. Hopefully this mantra can keep me focused on the present.

What do you do to stay focused on the present and not dwell in the past? Any tips, comments or suggestions are always appreciated.

Photo Credit
Photo by Chris Betcher found in the Creative Commons on Flickr

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Jul 1, 2011

{this moment: Canada day}

Inspired by SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

 Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

█ ♥ █ Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians! █ ♥ █
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