Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Dirty Four Letter Word

Work. Yes, that's right work. What word did you think I was referring to?

To work or not to work - I'm sure that just about every mommy (and daddy too) has struggled with this question at one point or another, or perhaps on and off throughout the course of their child(ren)'s life. This is probably one of the toughest ones to tackle when being a parent. As always, this is a sensitive subject, so keep in mind these opinions are my own and I am only one person! I respect the views of my readers and know that we may not all agree on this topic!

For me the reality is - life is expensive, and let's face it - there is a certain standard of living we expect, there are things we can't imagine living without, that we feel we shouldn't have to live without, at least at this stage in the game. I feel as though I worked really hard to get my post secondary education. I did without a lot of things and got by on very little or no income for long enough. I feel like I paid my dues (literally) and deserve to reap some of the benefits of my hard work. There is no shame in being a stay-at-home momma, but for me personally, I feel if that's where I am going to land, then why did I spend so much time and money on a hard earned education in the first place? I could have started my family at a younger age if that was the case instead of waiting to get things with my career ironed out first.

The money is one thing, but there are some other reasons I consider returning to work, and feel guilty for the selfish motive behind them. I miss the workplace chatter and social aspects, I relish the idea of having something else in my day other than dirty socks or sticky floors, and I would love to do something else that I love doing, something that I have been trained to do, something that I miss more and more.

Still, I am very torn. I love being a momma. I love being home every day with my little guy, being the person he knows best, the person responsible for his unbringing. I get to witness first hand all of his growth and development,  I get to teach him things, I get to be his strongest influence. I don't want to miss anything, but I know that's impossible.

 If I am not with him all day, someone else is. I struggle with the notion of letting him go, of trusting someone else with my most valuable asset, of missing him so much. I have not been away from him for more than a night or two since he was born, and even then I have felt 100% comfortable with the person taking care of him.  Returning to work will force me to select someone to take care of him - someone who right at this moment is very likely a stranger to me.

While I have decided to take a little extra time off work to soak him up, I know that eventual date is looming when I will drop him off somewhere. The day is coming when I will not have the freedom to run errands, go on play dates and to reel babies, or to just take him for a walk in the afternoon simply because I feel like it. My life will become more hectic when rushing home after daycare pick-up will become the norm. We will have things like supper, bathtime, and getting ready for the next day all standing in the way of the short amount of time left to play and cuddle, and just be.  Having a job and not being home means giving up a lot of things too.

I have struggled with this since before I gave birth, but the longer I spend at home, the more I know that I will get over the transition, and that it is important for me to return to work. It will also be good for my son to socialize more frequently and consistently with other children, for him to get used to being around more people on a regular basis. It will do him good to have something else in his life besides mommy and daddy.

I both look forward to and dread the eventual return date, and know that it will be rough for awhile. I have to remind myself to make the most of the time left and spend as much time as I can with him, so we can just be.

Stay tuned in coming posts for a daycare search checklist!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Momma Loves her Coupons!

Today I am going to mention some of the great coupons and samples that I have recieved over the course of my pregnancy/maternity leave.  Some you may know about, others you may not - look them up if you didn't know! Free stuff is great!

  • At Motherhood by Maternity, the maternity clothes store, if you register with them you will recieve some email offers and some free samples in the mail from various baby companies.
  • I have recieved samples from Enfamil ( and Similac in the form of cans of powder, individual pre-mixed bottles, cans of lactose free milk, and individual packets of ready mix powder.  My son was breastfed most of the time, but there were a couple of emergency moments when formula was necessary. It was great to have formula in the house for those times when we didn't have time to run out and pick out a formula.
  • I registered on and recieved a diaper bag (and it's my favorite one, it's a small backpack), Good Start Formula, cereal samples, a Nuk bottle and pamphlets of information. You can register for each baby that you have too!
  • Between these companies I also have gotten several "cheques" for money off purchasing formula, coupons for discounts off Fisher Price toys and discounts on baby food and baby cereal. They are for small amounts but every little bit helps, especially when on a reduced income!
  • On both Pampers and Huggies diapers and wipes there are small tags with codes that you can register online and collect points to obtain items at a later date.
  • Air Miles has several baby items as rewards for various amounts of miles
That's all that comes to Momma's mind at this point in time, but if there are more I will mention them in future posts. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Missed Vacation

Sigh. It's snowing outside. Again. The wind is pounding my house, snow sticking to my windows and my driveway is heavy with large chunks of the stuff. I know, it's winter and it's all part of it. It's just that I wasn't supposed to be in the winter season this week, I had plans to spend this week in the sunny south. Those plans rapidly disintegrated after this wild weather weekend, however.

In October of 2012 we booked our first flight vacation as a family of three. We were going to brave it and take our infant on a plane ride to a warmer place. The time we selected was in the middle of winter to escape the depressing snowstorms and slip into a time of shorts and sandles, something I have never done in the month of February. I was very excited to say the least.

As with any vacation, the anticipation is a large part of the fun. Imagining yourself sitting in a pool, shopping in outlet stores, visiting local attractions, seeing palm trees and feeling the warm sunshine on your face. There is a lot involved in going on one of these trips too. You get things ready. You purchase special travel items good for plane rides and away from home stays. You get passport pictures taken and apply for your passport. You eat all the food in your house so nothing goes bad. You do laundry. You pack and write lists so nothing is forgotten. You mentally start checking out of your every day life and start getting excited to get away from the mundane everyday chores - even if only for a little while. Then you sit and wait for that magic time when you leave for the airport to board your flight that will carry you into your much needed escape. All of that happened for me these last little while, all of it, except the trip to the airport and the plane ride.

About a week ago, I saw the dreaded 5 snowflake display on the Weather Network's display and the looming giant green snow bubble on the CBC weather report that was moving along the coast. Then they put a name on this storm - Nemo. I had a sinking feeling when I heard that this storm had a name that I may not be escaping the winter after all.

Well, Nemo found us and did he ever. A yucky windy day on Saturday led first to a delayed and eventually a cancelled flight. I wasn't super surprised, but I was disappointed. I got on the phone with the airline as soon as I read that dreadful word "cancelled" on the airport website and after 40 minutes on hold and another 45 minutes re-booking I felt good. Sure, we were losing 2 days of vacation but at least we were still going. And we had a better flight, it fit better around my little baby's schedule. I came to terms with what we had lost but looked forward to making the most of what we had left and focused my attention to waiting for our Monday flight.

On Monday morning, I got up and started to get ready to head to the airport. I kept checking the airport website and just about every time I discovered that we were delayed yet again. Suddenly our ideal flight time was getting less than ideal and arrival was later and later. Every second we were delayed was yet another second that we were missing out on our hard earned vacation. Not to mention what the waiting was doing to me. I had held it together after Saturday's cancellation but on Monday after the third delay I started to crack. Finally, the inevitable happened. Flight cancelled. Because it was now cutting into more than a third of our total vacation, we decided to cancel the entire trip, cut our losses and try again another time.  Sigh.

So I had to unpack without ever having used anything in my suitcase. It had never been so tidy when it was unpacked! I had to switch gears and realize that there was hardly a scrap of food in the house and that I better get moving before any more weather hit and restock my cupboards. I needed to turn off the mental excitement and get back to the reality of winter. And I was sad. I had been so looking forward to this trip and just couldn't believe that I wouldn't get to be where I had dreamed of being for months.

So in attempt to stay positive here are some "it could be worse" statements that have helped me realize this isn't so bad.
  • we did all of our waiting at home, not stuck in some airport or on a tarmack
  • our trip was cancelled because of weather and not because of sickness or issues with us or our family
  • we didn't have to take a partial vacation after the first flights were cancelled
  • my son is too young to even notice what is going on so he is not crushed with disappointment
  • baring any insurance red tape, we should get a refund and can re-book a new vacation for later
I feel for all those people who know exactly what I am talking about. We try to escape the season of winter, but mother nature is the boss and sometimes wants to keep us right where we are, irregardless of our plans. I will get over this and I'm one of those people that believes that everything happens for a reason. I am not quite ready to venture on any airline website and look for new vacation spots just yet, but I am getting there. 

I'm pretty sure that I'm burned from ever wanting to book a vacation in the dead of winter ever again. I might as well keep my shorts boxed up until June.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sippy Cups and Other Stuff

My little boy has graduated to a sippy cup. It was a learning curve for both him and for momma as I have discovered with everything that he has learned. Today's post will work through this learning process.

When my son turned 6 months old I started feeding him slowly as I mentioned in my first post about feeding, and gradually increased. I started giving him water after about a week or two after food was increased. I read in my "feeding baby" handbook that babies his age can have up to 2oz in a meal but are not to exceed 4oz in a day. So I started off by measuring 2 oz and putting it in a sippy cup and giving it to him. This was a huge FAIL.  First, he thought the cup was a toy and tried shaking it and had no idea that he was supposed to drink from it. Then when I did try to assist him to drink from it he didn't react well. After a few failed attempts at this I realized that he had no idea what water was supposed to taste like, he had never had any before and had never seen this type of cup before, so maybe I was being over zealous and giving him too much "new" at once. So I backtracked - first I tried giving him a bottle with some water in it while he was in his high chair but he wasn't able to hold it himself so then I went back even further and gave him a bottle with some water the old fashioned way, lying him across my lap and feeding him. I did this a few times until he got used to the taste of water. Then I tried giving him the bottle in reclined position, then sitting up. When he was sitting up he struggled to get the bottle tipped enough to get the water out. Then I changed tactics again, filling the bottle all the way up so he could instantly have water as soon as he sucked the nipple. After this worked a couple of times I switched back to the sippy cup, filling it all the way to the top. Success!! By the time he was seven months old he was able to grab the cup when he was ready and drink from it on his own! Yahoo!

Since beginning feeding we have progressed to three meals a day, provided him with several meats, an array of fruits and vegetables, cheese, yogurt, bread and grains and yes..gasp...peanut butter. I gave him some on his toast shortly after he was nine months old and not only is he okay with it, he loves it.  To get him used to bigger pieces of food and to help him learn to chew, Baby Mum Mums are a great treat. These rice rusks are great at giving babies a chance to feed themselves.  I got a great surprise just two weeks after starting with bite sized foods on his tray - he picked up a piece of toast on his own and put it in his mouth! It was such a great moment! He had been struggling with the concept of trying to line up the food with his hand and then again his hand with his mouth up until then. I had encouraged him by giving him the food in his mouth first, then his hand, then having him take it from me and then putting his hands on it, all the while keeping the food available on his tray for when he was ready. That day he just did it completely on his own like he had always known how! I thought it was so funny how suddenly and confidently he achieved this.  My little boy is growing up!

I still have a few new things to introduce and have to tackle giving him a spoon to feed himself. We have been working on that one but when I give him a spoon full of food it more often then not ends up all over him, the floor, or me. Every little thing is a big accomplishment for a little one! I love the process, it is so great to see him gaining independence!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Percentile Panic

It's time for a set of vaccinations or a particular month's check-up for your little one. You pack-up and bundle up and head to the public health clinic or your family doctor's office, and if you're anything like me - you brace yourself. These visits, I'm sorry to say in my experience have never failed to leave me feeling lost, scared and usually worried. And my baby is very healthy. Is that really necessary?

Let me clarify. I do believe in the importance of vaccinating against highly contagious and often dangerous diseases and viral infections.  I also believe in the importance of checking out the major developments in a new baby, having an opportunity to ask questions, and record things like a baby's growth and milestone development. All of this, baring any major abnormalities or areas of concern should make for a fairly pleasant experience for one of these routine trips - should it not? Well in my experiences, I would say, no - it does not.

I am used to the drill - my son is weighed and measured, has his head circumference, hip alignment and sensory responses checked. I report any concerns I'm having. Then the health care professional takes these measurements and either enter them into a computer(public health) or plot them on a paper grid (doctor) and then they read me back a list of percentiles.  For example (and these numbers I am making up just for this post) let's say my son was in the 28th percentile for his height. It means (as far as I understand anyway) that he is as tall as or taller than 28% of all babies his age. On the flip side, it also means that he is shorter than 72% of all babies his age.  Should I be worried now because according to this, he is short for his age? What am I supposed to do with that information? What is the purpose of it?

When the percentiles are low, I find myself worrying that he is behind his peers; and when they are high, I worry that he is too big for his age. I worry that it is my fault for what I have or have not done with him at home.  Another question - these stats are based on information from what point in time - how recent? how many? and the big one - how accurate? There are ALWAYS discrepancies between my what my doctor reports vs. my public health clinic. One particular time my little boy was measured at both places less than one week apart, and in one particular percentile measure there was a discrepancy of almost 20% between the two sets of measures.  What one pointed out as an area of concern another totally passed over. Who do I listen to? Aren't doctors supposed to be the bottom line? Or do public health nurses know better because they are more focused on babies?

I am tired of everyone telling me that irregardless of his scores on these percentile charts, that every baby is different blah blah blah. If that's the case then why do we compare them all against each other?  It's contradictory and inconsistent - not to mention extremely stressful!

So far, because of these percentile measurements my son has had to have two further diagnostic tests, both of which came back negative.  Some say that it's better to be thorough and "let me relax" by having everything checked in order to rule things out.  While there is a part of me that does agree with this reasoning, I can't help but feel that it is totally unnecessary to put him through these tests in the first place. When all other signs point to "normal" (whatever that really means) and they've "never seen" these tests come back positive based on these percentile precautions, they still send in the referral, "just to be safe." So, what is the point other than the time spent getting it checked and the worry that fills my mind constantly until the test results come back? I think we are in a place of liability and constant fear from these health care professionals. They are terrified that they may miss any potential imperfection, irregardless of the potential stress it may place on the baby, not to mention the parents. These "non-invasive" tests are stressful and worrisome no matter how many times they are completed "just to be safe."

I know that as always, my opinion on this topic is not that of everyone reading this post and I do recognize and respect that. Personally speaking,  I am just frustrated by what I feel more often than not are unnecessary stresses caused by this need to quantify everything in these comparative percentiles.  It is challenging enough to be a parent and dealing with all the uncertainties and real issues we face on a day-to-day basis. I just don't see the need to add to this list in the extreme way that we are doing.

If nothing else, I feel a little better having a vent on this topic. I would love to hear the thoughts and experiences of my readers on this issue! Please leave your comments!