Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!

This will be momma's last post for 2012, taking my Christmas holidays to the fullest starting today.
Today's post is for all my readers, fellow mommas and daddies, their families and especially all little ones experiencing their first Christmas for 2012. Just a quick note to send along my wishes for a safe, happy and healthy holiday. May you eat too much, stay up too late, enjoy all guests, and see Christmas as it was meant to be seen - through your children's eyes. Let your inner child come out this year and soak it up. If it is baby's first Christmas soak up all the attention on him/her, the curiousity with the paper, packages, lights and food, and all new toys.

On a more sad note, I am reminded of all the families this year from Newtown CT who are going to have a very heavy and sorrowful Christmas. My heart hurts for each and every child, parent and teacher that wakes up with a missing piece this year, with a huge gaping hole that no amount of Christmas cheer will fill this year, and especially for all the victims who will not get to rush and see what Santa brought this year. It is so wrong that I am running out of words to describe just how awful it is.

My must for this tragedy - do something extra nice for someone this holiday in honor of this negative event.  Bring some positive note to it, do not let the whole thing be in vain and keep them in your thoughts, especially when things like greed, frustration, disappointment and petty things like road rage start to get the better of you this season.

Take care, be safe and have a great holiday! Stay tuned for some momma topics upcoming in 2013! Thank you for your readership and feedback, I hope you will continue to read my new posts!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas - Changes this year

As I try to recall Christmases of the past, I am struck by how things have and will change this year more than any other, including the years that I first moved away from my parents. My infant son in his short life and stature has caused more changes than I have ever experienced at one Christmas or another.

Many of the changes are good or fun, one of the first things is how we have to be more careful with what we put out and where. Our living room saw many additions this year as the once wide and empty spaces suddenly were filled with an exer-saucer, a baby swing,  a floor full of safety mats, endless toys, books, teddy bears and blankets. Trying to squeeze a tree in our already cramped living room was fun this year. We had to downsize some of our typical decorations or move them to other places - either we didn't have the space or it just wasn't safe to put them out. My son isn't quite crawling yet, but he rolls, kicks, shifts, and somehow ends up exactly where we try to prevent him from getting. We had to consider things he may get his hands (or his feet!) on and either move or remove the item from our normal Christmas decor.

Another thing is how already, Christmas has shifted to be all about him, in a good way! For fun, we have all the gifts under our tree (except the ones for him) are all from him. Seeing tags written with "To Mommy" and "To Daddy" brings a smile to my face. I know that he is not aware of Christmas or Santa yet, but we will do our best to include and expose him to our traditions to get him familiar. So far he's definitely curious about the tree and the colored packages that make a nice sound when he kicks the paper and he is enjoying my dancing snowmen and singing bells.

Family members are excited to have a baby in the mix this year as children really are what Christmas is all about. While we are excited to have our growing extended family coming and going around us, we are also a little wary of this too. Finding that balance between our own immediate family time and time to see all of the newly made aunts, uncles and grandparents may not always be easy. It will be busy, but we are going to try to have some of our own quality family time to set our own traditions and appreciate our new growing immediate family. Aside from this we are going to try to please all other family members in some way or another, realizing that they all can't be with us all the time and we will have to do our best.

Another area of caution we are aware of is the undoubted parenting "advice" we will recieve as a result of merely being around so many of our relatives for such an extended time. This is a very sensitive subject for all parties invovled, particularly when everyone will have the best interests of our little guy at heart. That being said there are certain things that will be tolerated and some things that won't, and finding that way to delicately address this is going to undoubtedly be a challenge. I personally don't want any tension building or feeling the need to defend my parenting choices, especially over a happy time like the holidays.

Another major change for us this year is what we are able to do. For the past number of years it has just been the two of us and we spent our holidays attending various dinners and parties, and hosting our share of these events- coming and going as we pleased. While we still have plans to attend/host this year, it will require some more planning time. We have to consider our son's schedule for meals and naps, and have ample supplies ready for our out-of- home activities. We cannot instantly commit to an event as sometimes we will require a babysitter.  I am also determined to maintain his bedtime routine, so there are some events that we simply won't be able to attend. I'm not saying that I will never waiver from this rule, but it will be for a very special event if I do. It just isn't worth it to mess him up and end up being up all night with a fussy baby for weeks after Christmas is long over, trying to get him back on schedule. 

 It will take some juggling and a more flexible attitude this year than in previous years but ultimately, I am very excited to enjoy my son's very first Christmas. I hope to have the best experience possible with all of our loved ones. Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Socializing - With and Without Baby

It's that time of year. The time when your social calendar fills up, when all your friends and family try to squeeze in a visit or a party over a short period. I love it - the dinner parties, restaurant meals, coffee dates, holiday get togethers - it's great. This is my first time with a baby as a scheduling factor for these things.I've touched on this briefly with my posts about going out without baby in Mommy Time and with baby in Family Outings.

There are times when it is very appropriate to take baby with you. Afternoon events, early dinners, events with other children or special occasions are all acceptable to myself and my husband. However, having just become sticklers for his bedtime routine we are planning to be careful where we take him, and how long we stay. Having spent the last couple of months with a restless sleeper, I  personally do not want to backtrack on any progress we have made. So as as hard as it is going to be to avoid certain outings or having to duck out early just when things are just getting good, I know it's a baby's world and I'm going to have to stick to it or pay the consequences.
Then there are times when bringing baby is not the best option. lt may be at a time too late in the evening, a place that it is innappropriate for a baby, or just an event that would be much nicer to do without having a baby to shift attention away from the evening's purpose. These times it is necessary to have a babysitter available to watch the little guy.

Having a babysitter requires a certain amount of preparation. First - I am still breastfeeing so I need to pump enough milk and ensure that it is properly thawed in advance. Second I need to consider if I have to pump while we're out - if I go too long it can get very uncomfortable, so I may make plans for that. Then I need to find an available sitter and ensure that I include enough time for my son to get used to him/her before I leave. He's at the stage where he sometimes gets a little spooked by people he hasn't seen in awhile and needs a little time to warm up. It also helps me to get ready if the person comes early. It can be hard to shower, blow dry, and primp with a baby in the house, at least on a time crunch. Finally, I need to have time to direct the sitter to the specifics for my child and the more time I allow the less likely I am to forget something.

I am very lucky to have a group of family members who are more than willing to sit for me and I feel so comfortable leaving them with my son. We have a no contact unless emergencies deal and I enjoy this rule. I am very much looking forward to our Christmas activities - both with my son and without him, both types are very important for us as a family!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Bedtime Routine

My son was a great little sleeper from month two to month four. Then it stopped. He started waking up in the middle of the night, once, twice, sometimes three or more times. We combated it first and treated him for what we believed to be teething pain. A fresh nummy, some benadryl, sometimes a feed - we dealt with it. I thought it would be temporary, that it would fix itself. Wrong.

After two months of these unpredictable wakings that actually turned into predictable ones, we'd had enough. My son actually started becoming predictable when he woke in the middle of the night. Sometimes I would wake up to his cries and without even looking at my digital clock, I would know around what time was. While we did feel that it was his teeth initially, my husband made a solid point. "He wasn't waking up at the EXACT same time every night and suddenly having teeth pain." Point taken. But how do we handle it?

First strategy -we tried letting him cry it out when he woke in the night on a couple of occasions. Turns out the little guy has endurance. One night after an hour of steady screams we caved. We fed, changed and allowed him to fall asleep with us. I dug in my heels a few nights later and tried this tactic again. This time he cried intermittently for a period of two hours. Let me tell you, at 3am and onward - listening to cries and analyzing them for that long can do horrible things to you. I became agitated, frustrated, desperate - not to mention exhausted. No way can I doze off with him crying like that, I don't think it's in my biological capabilities as a mom.  So after that two hour stint the score was Baby - 2, Momma - Big Fat Zero.

Like fate, the next morning with heavy, coal black bags under my eyes and headache from lack of sleep, I was watching Canada AM when something caught my attention. A baby expert ( I have no idea her name) was emphasizing the importance of setting and keeping a night-time routine for a baby to get used to going to bed. I had heard of this concept before, but never paid it much heed, I always thought my son was much too young. Apparently he is the perfect age!

 Up until that point, we always had let him direct when he wanted to go to bed, waiting for him to rub his eyes to signal us, or allow him to fall asleep naturally after feeding. He had no set bedtime and could go down anywhere from 7:30 until 9:30 on any given night. Knowing this and listening to the segment, one thing really resonated with me what the expert said. If the baby does not have a routine before going to bed, he/she WILL wake up and cry out in the night time. Definitely. Wow.

I mean, it makes sense. Most of us adults are creatures of habit and we all have some sort of bedtime routine. Even things like brushing our teeth,  locking our doors, reading, changing into our pj's - we typically do these things the same way, setting the way for sleep. Why should a baby be any different?

Feeling desperately tired and defeated, but still determined to try anything, we set a routine that very day.  We started with a bath, lotion, vitamin D, Pj's, snack, story, bed. This whole process takes at most 45 minutes. All of those things we have been doing on a nightly basis anyway, but we hadn't followed any type of order or time frame. Now promptly at 7pm every night, we start and stick to the order.

So far we have discovered that he is starting to go to sleep around 7:30, and is crying less when he goes down. He has woken up at least once that we are aware of in the middle of the night, but has settled and gone back to sleep.  But here's the clincher - he is sleeping through the night again! It really does work! It didn't take long either.

Some of the perks from our efforts are that we feel less tired in the day and evening. Something unexpected that has happened - we actually have time to spend together or do our own thing in the evening! His bedtime is earlier than I ever could have hoped and I get to have more than one hour of time where I don't feel the need to sleep nor am I interrupted by baby. It's given us some much needed relaxing time and allowing us to wind down before bed. I am from here on in a bedtime routine supporter!

Momma's Musts
  • Set a routine! Figure out what time seems to work for your child, what steps you want to include, what order they will go in and then put it in place. Most importantly - STICK to it!
  • Watch for tempting schedule glitches. Company is coming to see baby, who cares about bedtime right? You want to go visiting or shopping in the evening as a family? No big deal what time you get home, right? Wrong!  I'm not saying NEVER break routine, but when the baby is still having night time issues, get the routine into a solid, nightly event before daring to change it even the slightest. Even then, beware!
  • Be patient. It may take your child a couple of weeks or even a month or more to adjust and produce the desired results from the routine. Some of this will depend on how consistent you are, how old your baby is, and what your baby is like, as I've said before - Every baby is different!
  •  STICK to it!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Ok - Bring on Christmas!

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For those of you that saw me as a grinch in my Christmas Rush...already post, please don't judge me so swiftly. I am now ready and have officially been bitten by the Christmas bug.

This time last year I was about thirty pounds heavier and a thousand times more tired, with my little one all nestled inside, and wondering what Christmas of 2012 would hold when there would be another person in our home. The uncertainty I felt then feels so different now as look back. I was so excited to have a child here for Christmas and now that is my reality. I had been wary last year, worried I wouldn't have a clue what to do when my child was born but now a more confident parent fills that space. I'll probably never know exactly what to do about everything but I am much more sure of myself this Christmas than last year.

This year my son watched from his exer-saucer as myself and my husband decorated our home. Amidst the chaos of boxes of lights, garland, snowmen and Santas; there he was right in the middle of it. The faint clicking of the attached toys on his saucer filled the background as we scurried around and tried to fit our tree into our already cramped baby-friendly living room. I can hardly believe that he is here, I had memories wash over me as I pulled familiar decorations out of the boxes. Last year I had reminded myself when I put them away that the next time I saw them I would be a mommy. It's a surreal feeling remembering these thoughts.

I find myself listening to Christmas music all the time in the house now and hoping that my son enjoys the tunes. I point out Christmas icons to him such as Frosty and Santa, and chat to him about Christmas traditions. I want him to watch the Grinch with me when it comes on, read some Christmas stories, and can hardly wait for him to be old enough to appreciate Christmas movie classics like Home Alone and National Lampoon.

We took him to his first Christmas parade and while it was more for us, I feel like he really did get something out of it. Any sirens or loud noises scared him, but the remainder of the parade grabbed his curious attention. I watched his eyes dart between the waving clowns and dancing acts. I saw him look up at the characters walking down the streets. I like to think he enjoyed himself. I sure did and I feel more excited for years to come. They say Christmas is for children and I really believe this. His excitement will bring out mine and the excitement of everyone else in his life as he gets older.

The next few weeks will be busy, and busier perhaps because there is a baby with ever-growing needs in the mix this year. I find the space in my house filling up with decorations, presents and very soon, houseguests. My social calendar is rapidly filling up right through December - and I am loving it. I am not sorry that I resisted the Christmas feeling a couple of weeks ago, waiting a little longer has made it all the more worthwhile to me. That being said I am ready now and looking forward to what this season brings with it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Mom Who Cried Worry

I normally am not the type to be a worrier. I am usually pretty good at looking at a situation calmly and not over-reacting. I'm not saying I don't get stressed because I most certainly do, but typically there's a pretty good reason for it. I can usually look at the different angles of a situation and put my hopes on the best case scenario. Now that I'm a mom though, those rules are somewhat different, much like everything else about being a mom.

When it comes to worrying now, when it comes to my little guy, my worries are much more easily triggered. Granted, sometimes my fears are very irrational as I worry about just about anything baby - his size, weight gain, social, emotional, and behavioral development, eating habits, his health or sometimes I even get a little milestone envy.  I guess the combination of never having done this parenting thing before and the importance of getting it right when it comes to real issues fuel the sometimes "cart before the horse" thinking that I work myself into.

I once heard that worrying is about as pointless as sitting in a rocking chair. All that movement and you don't get anywhere.  Knowing this fact doesn't make it any less tempting to sit down for a rock though. 

Where is the balance? When should you brush off a concern and when should you take action? Put more simply - when do you relax and when do you react? For example, I don't want to be in denial of a real issue and only bring my child to the hospital when he's desperate for medical attention. On the other hand I do not want to be that mom that runs every time my baby has a tickle in his throat or a runny nose. I know the advice out there gives symptoms and signs to watch for when dealing with a potential concern, and encourages you to use your intuition, but sometimes my intuition is over-powered by my mother fears. I am sometimes unable to differentiate fully between the two - either that or my fear takes the driver's seat.  I suppose I will struggle with this balance so long as I am a parent - in other words the rest of my life!

Momma's Musts
  • Try to balance. I struggle with it with every issue with my child. Sometimes I let my intuition keep me clam, other times my fear wins out. Keep trying to find your balance when faced with an issue - it's not going to be an easy one!
  • Forgive yourself. If you make a bad judgement call on one extreme or the other -  for example if you bring your child to the hospital with a simple stomach bug or if you stay home too long with a high fever - remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and you are unable to know exactly what to do in every situation all the time.
  • Err on the side of caution - within reason. If you have a nagging concern or something just doesn't feel right, you'll feel worse if you ignore it and it becomes a more serious problem later. If nothing else, you gain peace of mind by having something that is persistently bothering you put to rest.
  • Don't look for things to worry about. Watch how much time you spend on "Dr. Google" or listening to worst case dramatic scenarios. True, the internet can be an invaluable resource, but sometimes those sources are not as legit as you would have hoped. They may be biased or based on limited or incorrect information. Trust only the professionals when it comes to real issues and avoid giving yourself unnecessary things to worry about.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Changing My Mind

I admit it - I am one of those moms who has said "We're NEVER doing that" or "We're ALWAYS going to do this". I see now how silly those statements sound. I'll provide some examples.

For starters - I was NEVER going to give my son a pacifier. My reasoning?  I didn't want him to be dependent on anything to help him soothe. I wanted him to be completely independent and able to self soothe. Maybe if I had kept up this absolute he may have reached this goal, but things change. When he was 4 months old, he started teething. He was desperate for things to chew or suck on - he needed things in his mouth to ease his pain and discomfort. I had several teething toys - one that vibrated and one that you could freeze. The trouble was that he was too small to hold the teethers up to his mouth long enough to provide substantial relief.  I would place one in his mouth and bring his little fingers around the handles and step back and wait. The result - only a few seconds of comfort. Then followed this screams from having had relief for a brief second and now that is horribly gone. To assist him in these times, I did sit and hold them up his mouth for a period each day but he still pulled them out, not to mention me not being able to stay there all day. 

Then one night as I was getting him ready for bed he was chewing hard on his hands and crying out in pain. I suddenly had a thought that maybe if he had something that he could actually KEEP in his mouth to chew/suck on he might feel better. Now what could such a thing look like? I wonder...I gave into my NEVERS and gave him one of the pacifiers that I had recieved as a shower gift. I've never looked back since, it was a great decision and sometimes a cold nummy is all he needs.

Another NEVER was allowing my child to sleep in our bed. At first it was a safety issue, I thought that he was too small and maybe I would roll on him or he wouldn't be able to recognize when he was too close to a blanket or pillow. I am still a firm beliver in my child having his own bed and room for sleeping but with exceptions. There have been moments when I have broken my NEVER rule. On a particularly early morning - say 5:30 am - I am just not ready to get out of bed for the day. When he wakes this early have taken to feeding him in my bed and letting him fall back asleep next to me.  I have tried the alternative of moving him to his crib, but he thinks it's time to get up for the day to play. I find that I love having him in the bed with us on weekends when we "sleep in" and hang out the three of us.

Those are just two of the many retractions I have experienced. I have learned the foolishness of my statements and am wary of saying them again in the future. The truth is I have no idea what I will do in a situation I'm presented with until I am actually IN it. I haven't worn the shoes of those times yet so how do I know how they fit? Today I may do something one way and tomorrow a completely different way. I guess my bottom line is - major parent lesson - NEVER say NEVER!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

10 Things that I Never Really Anticipated Before Becoming a Mom

Here is a list of 10 things that have happened because of becoming a mom - none of which I anticipated as being part of the mom deal.

1. Hair loss. After baby was about a month old I began to lose my hair in large clumps. I would find it all over the house - on the floor, in my bed, in the drains, in my baby's hands - everywhere.  It was an unpleasant side effect but it seems to be slowing down now and I've even got new hair growing on my forehead.

2. "Ish". Timing things with baby can be tough so when meeting someone - I always add it - "I'll be there by 3ish" because you can only approximate time with a baby. The little one is running the show and the best you can hope for is a ballpark time. This also works when someone asks you a question about the recent past - "When did you last feed baby?" again, the "ish" answer is required because memory is usually a little foggy "Ah, around 2ish??"

3. Little tiny things are so exciting. Rolling a certain way, saying "d" on the way to "dada", lifting himself up a teeny bit higher while on his belly - all is such a giant step for baby and means so much to me. I have shrieked with excitement over the tinest development and love every bit of it!

4. Children's songs and TV shows. I find myself humming and singing songs from Disney Jr. and Treehouse channels, and actually enjoying the songs and having preferences for shows. I also am critical about the "adult" parts of the shows in a funny way - such as why does Handy Manny never recieve payment for all his jobs? Haha.

5. Suddenly having no idea what's going on. This one kind of ties in with #4- I rarely catch the daily news because I never noticed the time or I just plain forgot to bother switching the channel. I have discovered that a PVR is my new best friend to allow myself to actually watch some of my own shows when I can, and also to have certain kiddie programs ready on a second's notice for a fussy baby.

6. My willingness to handle body fluids. I was the type that got grossed out by all things human - blood, vomit, poop, mucus, you name it.  Now,  when my son poops I change him willingly and as fast as I can because I don't want him to be uncomfortable. Then I analyze the poop to make sure he's having healthy movements for the right consistency and colors - I even checked out a photo album online to match the poop. The pre-mommy me would NEVER have been able to stomach that. Now it doesn't matter at all to me - spit up, puke, poop, bring it on!

7.My ability to measure - Before my son arrived I had no idea how big a baby would be at any stage. Now I can pick up a set of sleepers in a store without looking at the tag and know if it will fit my son now, or have an idea of when it did fit or will fit in the future. I am also good at judging ounces without any measuring marks- I had no idea how big an ounce was before I had my baby.

8. The value of one free hand. I have surprised myself with the range of things I can do with baby in one arm with the other hand free. I can pour, stir, open jars, move laundry, lay down blankets, eat, water plants, carry bags, - you name it.  I can also pick some things up with my toes now...haha

9. Bedtime. My bedtime has drastically changed since baby. While my little guy is a pretty good sleeper, you can never know when he is going to have a bad night. So I have taken to getting into my bed shortly after he gets into his. I don't always go tp sleep right away, sometimes I read or watch TV but I find staying up a possible waste of necessary relaxation time that I simply cannot afford.

10. How much I love cuddles. I can never get enough of those moments when my baby is in my arms and snuggling up or just sitting with me, hanging out with mom. It will never be enough!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Rush.....already....

I am going to preface this post by saying that I really enjoy Christmas and the feeling that comes along with it. I love the songs, the wrapping presents, the cookies. I love the parties, the parades, the tv specials, and the busy time between Christmas and New Years.  However, I'm just not ready for it yet.

I took my little guy out shopping this weekend and again today. I was disheartened at the craziness that has consumed the mall, and the now extremely dangerous parking lot for motorists and pedestrians alike. I spent over an hour simply arriving at the mall, doing one walk through and making a single purchase and then trying to get off the parking lot. It was absolute madness! It felt like the day before Christmas, not the month! Today I opted to try Costco as it was a Monday morning and thought it may be one of the slower days.  It reminded me of a crazy Saturday, filled to the brim and horribly congested. I arrived early and there were no shopping carts left, clogged aisles and overflowing check outs. Drivers on parking lots have less patience, horns seem to honk more frequently; in the air there's the feeling - of rushing! I know this is part of the Christmas experience every year and maybe it's just me - but it seems like it starts earlier and gets crazier every year. 

The shopping is one thing to notice, but I have heard Christmas songs already, seen lights lit up on houses, know people who are baking cookies and many who are already wrapping presents and trimming trees. I know I sound like a grinch and feel a "Ba-Hum Bug" in the air but I am really not. I love the Christmas feeling, but there is a time for that, and to me that time is just not here yet. I think we are wearing out Christmas if we start too early, taking away that simple feeling of making ourselves wait a little longer in anticipation. Maybe I'm old fashioned, or just plain conservative, but I want to wait a little bit longer before I start my typical holiday habits.  

I know this is a controversial topic and for every person out there who shares my opinion there is at least one who completely supports the opposite and loves an early start to the Christmas season.  For me personally, I just wasn't quite ready for that feeling to avoid crowds and trying to shop at "low" times just yet, I was hoping for another couple of weeks before the real craze started. Sigh. That's all.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Updates -DST and Naps

Updates on Daylight Savings Nightmares and Nap time trials as promised.

I was very concerned about my son waking up an hour early after Daylight Savings moved our clocks back an hour. I was very right, the first night he woke promptly at 4:30 am, his normal time being 5:30 am. That is an hour that where I really felt the difference and was angry at the clock gods for having set this in motion. His naps were off, he was eating his meals far too early, it was difficult at first and I couldn't help but wonder how long it was all going to last. Luckily I was fortunate and the effect was very short lived. After just a few days he began to regulate and under a week things were back to normal. Lessons I learned here were to have patience as things will work out and to also not plan an important activity the day of the clock change!

Keeping with the sleep theme, I finally experienced my Eureka! moment that I had been long overdue - he went to sleep on his own in the day! After trying several tricks and giving up time and again, finally we got the balance right and with the help of his nummy and Ocean Wonders Fisher Price Aquarium we have achieved success. He has found his nitch of a schedule of sorts - napping between 10:30 and 11 and again around 2pm. We wait until he shows the tell-tale signs of being tired - rubbing his eyes, whining, fussiness. We put him in his crib and sometimes he cries a little, but in usually 5 minutes or less he is snoozing away, kicked off with his hands tucked behind his head. It is a very sweet victory and worth the struggle it took to get there.

Momma would love to hear about your Eureka moments and sleep tricks, feel free to comment here, on my  Facebook or tweet me @hollymommablog.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Play Dates...Mommy Dates?

One of the highlights of being a new mommy - play dates. At this stage in my son's life the playdate is more a mommy date. As he gets older they get increasingly more beneficial to him though and it is great to see him with other babies. Here is my look at the positive...and negative..side of playdates.

A playdate is a time to get out of the house(or host a small group) and spend some time with mommy friends. I have found that even if a mommy and myself had nothingin common before, this no longer matters since baby arrived. There is an endless list of topics to cover. We listen to each other's stories, share each other's joys and struggles and offer suggestions. We snack and let the babies interact with each other.

We learn some new tricks of the trade for teething, sleeping, feeding and fussiness. We discuss product brands that work and ones that don't, what TV shows we prefer for our little ones to watch, and what toys are useful and fun. I feel like I have some time with people who really understand exactly where I am in life now. Playdates lead to a fantastic source of companionship and support, and it's neat to see the babies start to socialize with each other.

As with most things, there is a downside, but thankfully I don't believe it is too severe. Things to watch out for is comparing the babies beyond the norm. Of course the babies are all different and progressing at different rates and as I have said in Milestone Envy it is virtually impossible for us to avoid comparing our children against one another. The important thing to remember is to not let it get out of hand. It's okay to voice our comparisons in light conversation, as long as we don't let things get too heavy and become competitive. Another downsidesis the "keeping up the with baby joneses." There is no way that you will ever be able to have every toy or every baby gimmick that your friends have. While discovering new and useful toys and quality baby gear from others is a plus, it can get concerning when it becomes a contest. If you are trying to copy everything someone else has, it can be exhausting and never ending. It may also be necessary to tune out the mommy who appears to be constantly boasting that she has the best of everything. You are doing just fine as a mom! Your child has everything he/she needs!

Bottom line, I love playdates and like to think that my son does too, and I plan to swallow up every opportunity to attend one!

Momma's Musts
  • Join up! Find a playgroup in your local area or start one among your mommy friends. Even if you only know one other person with a baby, they may know someone else and it can snowball from there.
  • Soak it up! Listen to other's stories and relate in their experiences, and offer and welcome advice from other mommas. Sort through the advice when you are home later and decide what will actually be useful to you
  • Be wary. Try to avoid the competitive side in comparing babies and baby gear. Trust yourself with your decisions and equipment choices. Sift through advice but let your thoughts be the final word. As long as your baby has sufficient materials for healthy growth and development - relax!
  • Enjoy yourselves! The purpose of a playdate is to do just that - play!  Play with your babies and enjoy the other mommies and just let yourself have fun!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Breastfeeding - The Older Baby

I have discussed benefits and pitfalls of breastfeeding a newborn, now I relay my experiences of breastfeeding a 6 month old.

I feel very lucky to have been able to continue breastfeeding my son beyond the six month mark. Despite many close calls, I have maintained my milk supply and my love for this task, and I am happy to keep doing it for the next few months at least. Having lasted this long there have been both increased benefits and some new challenges.

The benefits of breastfeeding an older baby start with it's ease. My child has a radar for finding a latch in pitch dark better than a plane honing in on a runway. He has no trouble latching or getting a thorough feed at this stage. The feeding time is very quick and efficient, no longer have I got the worry of him falling asleep or spending a lot of time re-latching.  It is also still convienent for going out and not requiring any feeding equipment.  Blocked ducts have ceased, there are rarely any leaks, and I can wear whatever I want to bed now without worrying that I will wake up covered in milk. Basically we have found a rhythm with feeding that is nothing like the frustrations of getting breastfeeding established in the earlier days. However, there are a few new challenges that have developed.

For one thing, he is a much bigger guy now than at his newborn and earlier stages - therefore a lot stronger. He tugs on my breast sometimes while sucking, and pulls himself off abruptly, taking part of me with him. He has also taken to pinching me while feeding with his fingers..OUCH! He also has two teeth, coming up more every day. I can feel the tips of these razor sharp biters while he feeds and constantly fear a potential bite. Another new issue - he is very easily distracted now. If someone new comes in the room and talks to me, my son launches himself off and attempts to roll over in the direction of the visitors voice.  A lot of times I can't even watch TV while feeding him anymore, the noise and bright screen are things he simply can't ignore. Funny those things were recommended in the beginning while breastfeeding to help keep him awake during his feed. He is also very fond of the breast, and sometimes I worry that it will be tough to fully wean him. Sometimes when he is fussy, uncomfortable or tired he wants to nurse to pacify and it is hard to both recognize every instance of this and to avoid doing it. He can be very persuasive, haha. Another side effect of breastfeeding a slightly older baby is opinion of some. I know it is ultimately my decision, but it doesn't stop the uncomfortable feeling. I am in the company of some people who feel that six months is long enough and believe that once a baby has teeth and/or can eat solids, they no longer need to be nursed. I struggle with this one because it is my body, my baby and my choice. I am doing my best not to let this be a factor in my decision, but it is rough to tune it out.

Regardless of the new challenges, for me the benefits of breastfeeding are still the deciding factor. I have no intentions of stopping just yet, and hope that my supply maintains for as long as I wish to continue.

Momma's Musts
  • Just one today, and I'm going to repeat my above statement. It's your body, your baby and your choice. If you are among those who have managed to maintatin your milk supply and met all your previous challenges,you have the option to stop breastfeeding or to continue. It is up to you and no one else and you need to remember this main point. There is no shame in finishing up or in continuing for as long as you choose.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Milestone Envy

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Since I got pregnant, I have heard over and over - "Every pregnancy is different," and since the baby was born "Every baby is different." The purpose of these statements I have decided is to help you feel better when things are not going as swift for you as they "should" be according to the "normal" development guidelines. It doesn't stop the envy though.

Every milestone your child reaches is exciting. First roll over, first attempt to speak, first smile - even the first time they really look at you. These are all very exciting moments for parents. I know I can only speak for myself but in those moments not only do I feel elation and excitement ( and the need to instantly contact all my loved ones and go on and on about how great it is) but I also feel relief.  It's a feeling of "Good, he finally did that!" or "He CAN actually do that," or "He's right on schedule, developing normally." I can't help feeling it.  I try the adage that he's unique and will reach the milestones when he's ready but when he seems a little behind I am on alert. I think it's only human nature to feel this way.

Myself and my other mommy friends are constantly sharing each other's excitement for when our babies sit up or crawl or even when they finally like the food they are eating. We also share our pain when one of the babies is sick or struggling to cut a tooth. I can honestly say that I feel genuine excitement for another child achieiving a milestone, more so now than ever - I guess that is simply because I can directly relate to the situation. However, if my child is older than another child that is already rolling over and mine hasn't yet I'm a bit nervous. Another scenario is if a child a month older than my son and is now  sitting up, I tell myself that okay - he now has a month to master this skill. Again, I can't help it! I know I shouldn't be comparing my child to others but its tough!

We all want our children to be healthy and develop as they "should"  and no matter what we are told to think, we can't help worrying it if our little one is a little bit behind schedule compared to his/her baby friends. I even find myself trying to make a friend feel better if my son does something on an earlier time line such as say "mama" with things like "I'm sure she'll learn that soon," or "He just suddenly started to do it, you'll be surprised how fast it happens" or even "She has a tooth already! He doesn't have any!" as if having the tooth will compensate for lack of speaking.

The key point with all of this is - it's almost impossible not to compare your baby to others. Ultimately I am not really worried at all about his development.d I only will be if he goes an extended period behind the "norm" for reaching a particular milestone and I feel the need to consult with my doctor.  I just have these little twinges of....well...not worry or concern really - but I feel something, not sure what to call it. I guess I just don't want him to be different in a way that is behind where he should be.

Momma's Musts
  • Relax. Ah yes, I'm going to say it. Every baby is different, so try to remember this when you feel a twinge of something.
  • Celebrate others! Be truly happy for another child's progress and keep your uncertainties about your own child to yourself, at least initially, unless they become something to really be concerned about. Don't rain on anyones parade! Think of how happy you are when you child does something, it isn't nice to hear a worry from another parent stealing your thunder - at least not right away.
  • Be supportive and don't gloat. Help each other out when your children are struggling. Take time to listen and offer suggestions. We're all in the same boat! It isn't nice to constantly relay that your child is doing something that another parent's child cannot do yet.
  • Try to balance. This one is tough - trying not to under-react (?) or overreact when a child hasn't reached a milestone. Selecting that exact moment when you really should be concerned about something is the balancing act that we try to do all the time.  Like I have said before - trust your instincts, you will figure it out!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sick Days

We've all been there. Runny nose, sore throat. Or maybe it's vomiting, and nausea. It could just a general feeling of being unwell, a day that you would normally call in sick from work.  Times when changing the channel, rolling over or walking to the bathroom is the extent of your activity. Throw in a child on a day like that and things really get interesting.

It is inevitable, as parents we are going to get sick. Common ailments such as colds or the stomach flu may plague us from time to time, and maybe we may fit into the category of requiring hospitalization or surgery from something much more serious on occasion. Our world before may have not stopped but it definitely slowed down. Now we discover that it is impossible to call in sick from this job. Another interesting phenomenon - our child is more likely to be fussy, gassy, in need of more attention, more diaper changes than usual, or just be more work than a typical day would normally require. This of course is like Murphy's law! It only makes sense that you would have a harder day than usual when you are not feeling well.

As a new momma, surprisingly I have had an array of sickness ranging from the pretty serious to the just not right days. I have caught myself wishing for just a pause button to let myself catch up on sleep or not need the help for myself or baby. I have postponed doctor visits and denied health issues.  What took me too long to realize is that they are there anyway, and thing is, the longer I waited the worse it got. I have learned to just face facts and listen to what's going on with me.The other bad side effect - the sicker I was the worse I was for my child. I had no energy for playing with him and dreaded changing and feeding times, and begged for nap times.  The funny part is once I let go and gave in and got help, it was never half as bad as Ithought it was going to be, we are designed to deal with a lot as parents!

The key is to keep your head. You are capable of a lot more than you think you are even though you aren't feeling the best. Your baby needs you no matter how you feel and will be grateful (even if they don't always show it!) for your efforts.  You are not alone here either, as I'm sure every parent has a crazy sick story when the baby or young child caused more grief than usual on top of everything. Take it in stride and take care of yourself! Your baby needs you!

Momma's Musts
  • Don't sweat it. As sick as you may feel, remind yourself that it likely a short term thing and you can do more than you think you can!
  • Just do it! Don't promise yourself that you will change that diaper in five more minutes. Do it now and then you can get back to resting sooner, and feel less guilty about it!
  • Don't worry. If you find yourself giving your baby less one on one time, its really ok! Letting your child play solo gives you some time for much needed rest. It's okay to have an off day every now and then!
  • Accept/Ask for help. If help is offered and you feel you need it, take it! If you think you are sicker than you originally thought and it might be more serious, seek medical help, ask your partner to stay home or call in a family member. Listen to your body and trust your gut!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Tell me the Tooth - and Boy Does it Hurt!

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Eureka! I see a tooth! No wait - I see two teeth!

After almost three months of gritting my teeth and watching my son drool, bite, suck, chew cold teethers, and cry out in pain, finally I see something white. I actually felt it before I saw it, the sharp jagged edge that is unmistakably his first tooth. Two days later after being up EVERY hour (no exaggeration) the night before, another tooth broke the surface. He was crying out in his sleep in agony. I tried everything, rocking him to get into a deep sleep, benedryl on his gums, feeding, changing, walking, rubbing his belly, singing, shhushing, cold nummys, spite of all of this I was up most of the night anyway. It was by far the worst night I have punched since becoming a mom, even in the beginning with 3 feeds a night. At least he went back to sleep for longer than 20 minutes at a time then .

The next day out of desperation I went searching for something else to soothe his gums, what I was trying simply wasn't cutting it. Also, I NEEDED some sleep. I know it sounds selfish to think about me but the truth was that if I didn't get enough sleep I didn't give him the best care I could the next day. My lethargy made play time shorter and more laborious, and my patience was definitely thinner. It's a good thing he's so cute!

I discovered that adult benedryl was recommended, I only had ever used children's, but it apparently wasn't strong enough. I set off ready to try the stronger medicine the next night. I did have a slightly easier night, he only woke 4 times instead of every 20 minutes. Now the teeth are coming up nicely and he did manage to sleep much better. If only daylight savings hadn't happened in the middle of all of it. I guess that's all part of the tests we face as parents.

That all being said I am so excited to look into his little mouth and see the two tooth buds on his bottom gums. He is worth every time I throw my feet on the floor out from under my warm cozy sheets. It breaks my heart to know how much pain this is causing him, how I wish children could be born with their teeth!

Momma's Musts
  • Do what you have to - try every strategy that you can think of in times of struggle. You never know what might help, even if it didn't before. If nothing else it helps keep you feel like you are helping!
  • Love yourself too. It's okay to feel frustrated or discouraged, or even a little selfish when your little one is having a rough time. It's hard on you too, and you're allowed to feel their pain!
  • Love the milestones anyway, no matter the struggle that it takes to reach them. It's because they are so tough to reach that makes them seem like such a big deal!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

On Solid Ground - Introducing Food!

It's that time. 6 months old and time for a major diet change. What to give? When to give it? How to make it? How much to give? When to give something new? So many questions. Here is what I did - I trusted my instincts, plain and simple.

When : Some sources said to feed a little at every meal, another said to introduce one meal at a time adding the second and third meals after a week or more each. Yet another suggested feeding new foods only in the morning.  I took all of this and decided to try one meal a day and I first tried at 8am, around the time of his second feeding of the day. I gave the food a little before he showed signs of hunger so he wasn't starving when time came to eat. I had to tweak this a bit and found that lunch time was his best time as he hardly ate anything at that morning feed. After about a week, I started giving him another small meal at supper time - when he appeared hungry around the 5-6 feed.

What/How much : I started with Rice Cereal and chose to mix this with breastmilk. I started with a half tbsp of cereal and about 3 tbsp of lukewarm milk. I increased this amount based on his appetite. If he still welcomed the food, didn't turn his head away and appeared hungry I increased the amount a tbsp a day or so until we hit 5 tbsps. After 3 or so days we tried Oat Cereal mixed with water and he was fine here too. I added water gradually, mixing to get the right texture. We soon found out that he preferred food a little thicker than thin and runny. After another 3 more days we introduced the first meat - pureed pork. I gave him this meal at supper time. He has been a little more hesitant about the pork but it came down to trial and error for texture and timing. It's really all a guessing game.  Plan is to then add another meat (beef), and move to vegetables, and finally fruits. I will mix it up in between by giving a new cereal or introduce chicken sometime soon also.

I decided to make my own baby food. We baked, chopped and pureed the meat mixed with breastmilk. The veggies - basically the same just boiled/steamed instead of baked.  We froze the food in icecube trays overnight and then placed the frozen food cubes in ziploc bags labelled with food name and date.  I plan to alter the texture by spending by reducing the amount of liquid we add as well as how long we blend it as he gets more exposed to the food. When I feel like he can handle more lumps, lumps is what he will get!

So far things are going relatively well and I find I am eager to discover if he likes a new food. I am enjoying preparing it and like the whole process. He sits with us at our meal times and we alternate feeding him and feeding ourselves(when we can - sometimes he's so hungry that he simply can't wait for us to eat!). I will update my progress on this topic as new foods are attempted in weeks to come.

Momma's Musts :

  • Trust yourself. Start your baby on solids when you are ready and when you feel he/she is ready. Start introducing the cereal/protein/veggies in the order that you feel.
  • Listen to baby. You will know pretty quickly if baby likes the texture, is still hungry, is too full or simply just doesn't like the food. Try to alter your preparation to see if that helps, take a break from a certain food, or if all else fails, give up on a food and move on!
  • You decide. If you want to make your own food, buy baby food or mix and match do what you choose! It's your baby and you are the one feeding him/her so trust what you think!
  • Enjoy! Make meal time with baby family time! Have your little one sit with you and eat meals together as much as you can. This will get easier as he/she gets used to eating.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Baby's First Halloween

I have always loved Halloween, and now I love it even more. I feel now that with a little one in the mix I get to be a kid again, getting to experience that fun of trick-or-treating.

Ok so my little guy is too small to know what's really going on. That didn't stop us from taking our time to select his costume, dress him up several times and take him around. We have family spread from one end of the city to the other so we took an afternoon over the weekend and had him go trick-or-treating there. Then we did a select few houses from our neighborhood. Everyone was so nice, giving out baby food for him and a couple of treats for mom.  We managed to get together with a lot of his little friends for costume photo ops too...they were all sooooo cute.

I have always loved watching the trick-or-treaters come to my door, and hated missing that part when I used to go out myself when I was younger.  Last night in the midst of a ringing doorbell and a crying baby I realized that from here on out Halloween will only get more fun. When he starts to select his own costume, pick houses he wants to visit, sort through his candy, still covered in make up when he gets home. Simplicity yes, but just such a nice feeling.

We made a point of decorating with him watching us, and showing him the spooky ghosts and witches, and reading him Halloween stories. I think that while he wasn't sure exactly what was happening he knew something was different. He was so well behaved in his costume too. Costumes have certainly come a long way since I was out years ago.

Momma's Musts

  • Be a kid again! Enjoy as thoroughly as your child does these "kid" events. They are part of what life is all about.
  • Involve your little ones. They may not know what is going on or be able to do much but expose them to what you are doing and try to bring it to their level as much as you can.
  • Step away from the Candy! Do not gorge on all the left over treats or the ones that baby can't eat that you collected. Well, not all at once anyway, haha.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Daylight Savings Nightmares

A few days ago in the wee hours of the early morning around 5:30am, I was breastfeeding my early riser, anxious for him to finish his first morning feed and hoping that he would go back for a nap. In my sleepy mind the thought occured to me that it would soon be daylight savings time. In the fall the time goes back, giving us an extra hour of sleep. I was excited for this prospect, knowing that I was missing out on some sleep every night and an extra hour would be a welcome event. Then I remembered. Uh oh..I have a baby.

My son is likely too small to notice such a subtle difference in the clock that we follow. He follows his own clock, regardless of the numbers that may sit in front of him.  Granted, he has gotten himself on a schedule lately. I know around what time he wakes, naps and needs to eat. This has taken several months for him to establish and now that it is settling in I am starting to relax and am able to plan a little more around his habits.  Moving things around an hour will unfortunately shake all of this up - more for me than him.

What do I mean? Well right now he generally wakes up sometime between 5 and 5:30 am. If I am careful, he just needs a feeding and with the right movements, I can get him to go back to sleep for another hour or two. Sometimes however,  I am not so lucky and I cannot get him back to sleep - he is ready to play and get up for the day. The 5 am time is just too early for this momma to get up! It's particularily hard when he has already been up once before for some soothing just a few short hours ago.  My point - once daylight savings hits these 5 am times will now be 4 am. Yikes. Now that's way too early for momma.

I know that everything else will be off schedule to, but I think I can handle having him change his naps and I can try to get him back on our meal times by feeding him a little earlier than before. I guess that means he will also go to bed earlier in the evening? I am mostly worried about the super early morning potential and how I will be able to handle it. Funny - I never even considered this before.

I will have to see what happens this coming weekend as the clocks fall back. I will update with how things go for my little guy, and for his potentially tired momma!

Momma'a Musts :

  • Sleep while you can!
  • Never take any schedule with a baby for granted - something is bound to shake it all up soon enough!
  • Prepare for the worst case scenario - and hope for the best!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stroller Etiquette

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Those of us who have our license to stroller sometimes encounter obstacles. Before I gave birth, I had heard about and imagined some of the issues, but I had not realized how it would actually be, as was the case with most things baby related. This post will take a look at some of the issues that I have encountered while operating a stroller.

For starters, I happened to purchase a rather large four wheeled travel system. It is a sturdy stroller with plenty of room for storage, complete with cup holders and an umbrella like structure to close baby up in harsh weather.  While those things are certainly assets,  if I were doing it again I would purchase something much smaller, and I would opt for a three wheeled version. Several of my mommy friends have this type and I have noticed that they are much easier to maneuver and they can spin around on a dime, unlike my buggy which requires a three point turn in order to do a 180.  As I have discovered, there are numerous obstacles that make driving this stroller a little difficult at times.

We'll start simple. Doorways and doors in general. Some are very narrow and require precise positioning for just about any stroller to get through. Not to mention the task of  simply getting them open. I am thankful for ones that offer an automatic motion sensor or a push button that allow them to pop open for just enough time for you to slip through. There are others that are not so easy to go through and while I have had some really nice people turn back or run ahead and hold the doors for me when I am coming from a distance, some don't even see me and I have to figure out a way to squeeze in.

Second - walkways - or lack there of. Some man made ones (sidewalk) are bumpy with rivets that cause wheels to stick, and others more natural (shoulder) are so narrow that its risky to drive on as you may veer off the road,  possibly ending up in a ditch with one false move. In some public places access to walkways is limited often to only one or two lowered spots. I have several times spotted cars parked across said access points, making it impossible to get the stroller up on the concrete around their tires. Not everywhere and not all the time - but it has happened.

Another point of interest - space. You wouldn't believe how many aisles in stores are NOT conducive to strollers. The shelves are too close together, the products stick out and as a result the wheels catch, things fall and occasionally break - and its embarrasing.  Unfortunately reality is simply that some businesses have limited space, which sometimes limits where we can wheel our strollers.

Another mobility issue - sometimes elevators are limited in location, function and availablitly. There may only be one elevator in a building for example - and it may be a far distance from an entrance or may have a tendency to get stuck. Unfortunately we just don't have the option to take the stairs when we choose to bring our strollers.

My final point of concern is the mommy and baby parking spaces. I often wonder how diligent every-day people are about using them honestly. A while ago while wheeling my son across a parking lot, a large truck cut us off, zipped into a mommy space diagonally taking up that space and the better part of the handicapped space next to it. When the driver got out he was clearly alone, he had no baby with him and I'm pretty sure he wasn't pregnant. It did not make me feel good. I know he is just one person, but it made me wonder.

Don't get me wrong, most of the time I am perfectly happy using my stroller and I hate to be a negative momma. But sometimes certain things bug me. I know that part of being a mom and having a baby is that certain things are not as easy or even possible like they once were. It's just that some of the things that I mentioned above simply don't seem fair.  As an alternative for close quarters I do have a Snuggly (a back-pack like carrier) which I use occasionally. This is a great hands free way to carry baby, but it can cause back pain if you keep it on too long. However, it is a friendly alternative for certain places and/or events for short periods.

My last thought on this subject is all of these issues are ours for the time only while our children are babies - for people who use wheelchairs it is a daily concern. Now that's really unfair.

Momma's Musts
  • Be prepared. If you are going somewhere new on a time limit,  scope out the stroller friendly entrance and arrive early so you can get ample parking. It will save you a lot of potential stress.
  • Be courteous. If someone goes out of their way to help you, ensure that they are aware of how much you appreciate it. On the flip side, pay attention around you and help someone out who may need it when you can.
  • Be patient. It's highly unlikely that someone would intentionally not hold a door for you. The world is not out to get you!
  • Be happy! No matter the obstacles you may face, don't let it stop you from going out with your baby. Try an alternative carrying method when it appears to be the better option. Make sure you enjoy yourself when you are out, and don't let the hiccups dictate your mood!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Reel Babies - Let's go to the Movies!

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Did you know that you can take your baby to the movies? Well its true. At select Empire Theatre locations they offer a periodical movie event specially designed for mommy (and daddy!) and baby. I was surprised how many of my mommy friends had never heard of this so I think it warrants a post.

Every other Wednesday in St. John's there is a Reel Babies movie at 11am.  The price is $10 and yes, the concession stands are open. It's a great concept - pull up in your stroller and buy your ticket from the automated terminals, guest services or the concession stand. Park your stroller outside the selected theatre in the stroller lot (just like in the picture above!) and proceed to the theatre. Take your baby in his/her carrier and they can have their own seat. Inside you will find two change tables, a bottle warming station, a playpen and if you are lucky enough to get there early - a row filled with exer-saucers, swings, some vibrating chairs and even a rocking chair. The lights are kept on, the sound is a little lower and don't worry if baby cries! Feed, play, pace - whatever you need to do with baby.  Come with a mommy friend or go alone with just you and baby - lots of mommys do! Bring a non-mommy friend either if they can handle the crying! Fill out a ballot at the outside tables before you come in for a chance to win a great prize for baby.

A great feature is that you can have your say in what movie is shown. Sign up on Empire Theatres website, click on Programs and select Reel Babies. Two Fridays before the movie you will recieve an email indicating which movies are available to vote on for the next upcoming movie. The next Reel Babies movie is coming up in two weeks time - November 7th, 2012, and voting opens this coming Friday, October 26th, 2012. Other theatres in Canada offer the same -check out a theatre near you.

I would highly recommend this outing for any mommy or daddy that has an infant.  Myself and my son love it - it's such a treat. It's a great way to get out with baby and do something fun for you that's pressure free and baby friendly. You can tend to baby's needs and still see the movie and if your baby cries, don't worry - you are not alone!

Momma's Musts

  • Sign up. Get yourself a membership and vote!
  • Go! Get yourself in gear and make it to the next Reel Babies showing - you'll have a great time :) 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rainy Day Contemplations

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One of those cold to the bone rainy days. The wind is blowing, the leaves are zipping by, the rain is pelting hard and cold and of course - wet. The house is feeling the effects, groaning under the wind.

It's that kind of day that you are glad to be home. A day when hot coffee, a burning fire (even from a fake fireplace) and a warm sweater are all that you need. Oh yes, most important of all - a little baby for cuddle time.

Before I had my son I remember experiencing days like this and imagining the future. I pictured myself and my future children hanging out in our pajamas, watching movies, baking cookies, just feeling cozy. I realize today that I am well on my way to living that dream fully. Granted my little boy is too small to even help stir the batter or have the attention span to watch a full movie with mommy, but we still can have a great day tucked away in our comfy house. I am a big advocate for getting out and about with baby, but sometimes it's just as important to stay home. It's days like this I am so glad that I became a mom!

Momma's Musts
  • Stay dry. When the weather is beating down outside, snuggle up with your little one and put your feet up (as much as you can!)
  • Plan ahead. There are lots of fun activities that you can do at home that you probably "never get around to" because of busy schedules and nice days. Have an idea of what you would like to do for the next day you stay home and follow through! It'll be a great day!
  • Savor it. Mommy moments are fun and always passing us by. Soak them up!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Feedback Time - Teeth!

Looking for some feedback today - turning the tables. When did your child get his/her first tooth? How did the process treat you?  Did you discover any tricks to help the pain? Would love to hear your thoughts! Post here or on Holly Momma Blog on Facebook. Looking forward to hearing your stories!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Parent's Web

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During the summer, a spider built a web outside my bedroom window.  I am not normally a fan of spiders. While I'm not really afraid of them, I usually get rid of them when I see them. This particular spider built her home out of my reach but in plain sight, and to my surprise I have really enjoyed watching her since she decided to move in. I have realized that a lot of what she does is in some ways a unique metaphor for being a parent.

A spider's web is a very delicate force of nature. Most of the time we see them from a distance and we don't really pay attention. However, if we take the time to look closely we see the great amount of work and attention to detail it took Ms. Spider to create such a functional and efficient home. Just like parents. Parents are everywhere, many times off in a distance and not being a major concern to passers by - but if you look carefully will see just how much passion they have for their families and how everything all seems to run so effortlessly. Up close it becomes clear that it takes a lot of effective planning and behind the scenes to appear this way.

My spider friend lost her home so many times over the summer that I stopped counting. Daily weather events such as wind and rain - or what was the horror of Hurricane Leslie demolished all her hard work again and again. It never ceased to amaze me that after seeing her hanging on in the ruins of her home on a single thread (literally) the very next day she had rebuilt everything without flinching. I thought - she is one of the most resilent creatures I have ever seen! Then I got to thinking- so are parents. No matter what happens or however horrible it may seem - we have to be there for our kids. We have to pick up the pieces, rebuild and move forward no matter how dire it may seem, and we usually have to do it quickly. The thing is - never before in my life have I been so willing to move on after things go awry - having a baby has certainly put that in perspective. He needs me, end of story,  and I had better be there - no matter the weather.

Sometimes I am lucky enough to see my little spider friend catching an unsuspecting fly or bug for some much needed lunch. She does it in such a skilled way - it is facinating to watch. Other times I see her unmoving for long periods and can't help but wonder if she is dead - but she has fooled me - she is only snoozing. Hours later I see her crawling again, scurrying around, further perfecting her home. Just like a parent, scurrying around quietly in the just when you thought they had nothing left.  Parent's lives have a certain simplicity on the surface, but in their own way are facinating to watch.

 Ms. Spider has stirred my thinking on a greater level than I ever could have anticipated, and I am so glad she decided to build her web outside my window out of my reach. Any other time I would have probably destroyed her without a second thought and I have so enjoyed watching her. It is an astonishing phenomenon and I look forward to watching her for as long as she shares an address with me.

Momma's Musts

  • Pay attention! There is plenty of amazement right around you that can inspire some great thinking and help you to appreciate your life in new ways.
  • You are something great! Being a parent is no small feat and it may look easy at a distance but up close it is a very delicate operation.
Thanks to St. John's Mom for her post about me here. Follow her for lots of valuable info and events for parents in St.John's and area!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Family Outings

Since my son was born it made me really want to get out there and be a family with him and my husband at public events. I'm not sure what it is, but suddenly I felt the door was open to so many outing possibilities - things that have been around long before I ever became a mom that I never considered. Before baby I had never bothered to find out about these things and had little interest in going. The interesting part is that a lot of the events that are now so much more fun are really not for baby at all.

A number of reasons I feel that lead that may have led to this new interest :
  1. More time to search the web to discover possible outings
  2. A greater urge to "be a family" and get out and do things together
  3. A feeling of security to step out of my comfort zone and attend events that I otherwise would be hesitant about - the baby was a great reason to do these things.
  4. An urge to get out and show off my new addition
  5. To increase my social life in any way possible since it has now changed dramatically because of baby.
It's interesting that now I suddenly want to go simply because of my son. He is still too small to really recognize or appreciate where he is when we go to new places - but I do believe he is aware at least that he is somewhere he hasn't been before. I like the idea of showing him different things that we do not have at home and peaking his curiousity to experience new things.

I have discovered that there are plenty of things to do in the city and surrounding areas and all you have to do is look for them. We've had great days visiting museums, flea markets, parks, and just going to different places to take walks. I am also excited to realize how much I look forward to going to these places and how much I enjoy myself when I get there. Even on days when we've had a rough night and we are very tired in the morning we still have more fun than we would if we stayed home. I can't wait to find other events, and for my son to appreciate them more as he gets older.  

Momma's Musts

  • Explore. There are plenty of hidden events and activities happening in your area that you never imagined. Just ask around, do an internet search or subscribe to local websites/blogs to keep you updated.
  • Just go! Don't hesitate or allow insecurities from your typical day get in the way. You'll all enjoy it if you just get out and go!
  • List. Think of all the reasons why you would like to go to a new place and then list the things you would like to do - and then just go!
  • Have fun! These events are great for your family to experience new things and enjoy each other.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tummy Time

Ah yes, tummy time.  A necessity for babies of today because they go "back to sleep." Tummy time is the exercise a baby needs to strengthen their neck, arm and shoulder muscles and to prevent the scary condition known as flathead. Tummy time was not an easy thing to master for me or for my baby.

When the baby was first born, we were told to place him on his stomach for a few minutes a day and work up to an hour and a half a day by the time he was a month old. We started with the few minutes in the beginning and right from the get-go it was clear that he hated it. He screamed almost instantly and seemed angry and in pain as he kicked and struggled to move around while in this new uncomfortable position. I swore I would get him to like it but I got lazy.

After a trying summer due to some unexpected health problems (me) resulting in the inability to lift him, I had to have someone with me while I recovered. During that time we didn't give him much tummy time. I couldn't listen to him wailing while a family member was with me to help and I kept saying that "we'll do it tomorrow" and of course I never did. He spend an awful lot of time on his back during this time period too. So no surprise at his 4 month needles the nurse was wary of the beginnings of flat head. His shoulder and neck muscles were weaker than they should be for a child his age, plus he had a large head and would need a lot of practice to get good at holding it up. I wasn't shocked but it did give me a good scare. Oh dear, now how to train my four month old to spend a lot more time on his belly. Yikes.

So I dug my heels in and started that very day. I began by putting him down for 10 minute intervals during every hour he was awake. Over the next few days I increased these intervals up to 15, 20, and finally 30 minutes. Once he started staying down for 30 minutes I wouldn't pick him up until he started crying after that point. To keep my sanity I got down with him and shook rattles, played musical toys, squeaked Sophie, and turned on the Hot Dog Dance from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as many times as I needed to in order to distract him from the discomfort and keep him from screaming. When it got to the point that none of these things worked I would busy myself close by him to avoid giving in to picking him up because he was crying so hard. It was rough on both of us.

 After about four days there was some improvement in his endurance and after two weeks we really started to see the change. Now more than a month later he is loving his time and is rolling over plenty from tummy to back much more often than before. He lasts much longer when down there, has a stronger head and can hold his shoulders up higher. He has started to make the crawling motions and is now attempting to roll from back to belly. I feel so much better too.  I thought the crying was going to break my heart but we managed to get through it. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do with him thus far, and making myself stick to his endurance schedule was something I really had to push myself to do - but it was all worth it!

Momma's Musts
  • Put the baby on his/her belly! Plain and simple, put them down for short periods and repeat a couple times a day and increase intervals and duration over time.
  • Play with baby. To keep the tears at bay, try whatever you can think of to occupy. Music, squeaks, rattles, dance even if that's what works.
  • Keep busy. If you have tried everything and nothing works to settle the tears, to help resist the urge to take the little one out of their misery find something to do to occupy yourself during the time.
  • Follow through. Don't give up when it's rough. It will get worse before it gets better but when it does get better you will feel accomplished! You will be so proud of your child for doing it! Not to mention the benefits to his or her growth and development :)