Thursday, 22 December 2016

When Will I learn?

Last year, Kate had only been in Day Care for a few weeks before the Holiday season began. I was new on the parenting circuit and I wasn't sure what the protocol for giving gifts to Day Care staff. I sent a basket of goodies from Wine Country Gift Baskets. I didn't receive any response, so I asked the director to confirm if it was delivered. "Oh yes. Thank you." was her simple response. In the December newsletter, she mentioned that she had received requests for the names of all the providers and I noticed there were stockings hung with the names of each provider. I had the impression that we were supposed to do something for each attendant. Gift cards are always the easiest and most practical gift. Which one? Starb.ucks feels too generic. Plus there is not a store near the Day Care Centre and I know not everyone likes their coffee. Tar.get would likely to be used, but it's not really a gift to buy toiletries and laundry soap. Same applies to Ama.zon. Maybe Barnes and Noble? A book is always the right size, but I could see some of the cards going unused. I decided to crowd source a parenting group on

Cash Money!
Cash. $50-$150
Booze! but for reals cash.
Cash and maybe a small gift

Okay. I get the message. Cash is King. Yet, I didn't want to just give cash. (Kathy Griffin did a very funny bit about how her foul mouth mother Maggie only wants cash for her Christmas gift and Kathy describes that it feels like a drug deal as she hands her an envelope full of bills) I wanted to do something creative with the small gift. I am pausing to reflect that while I resent being told that I'm becoming my mother, I seem to be working very hard to be like her. My mother is very creative. She was Etsy before there was Etsy. She can knit, crochet and sew. She had a small side business selling baskets that she made and she used to teach classes on basket making. She used to stencil and do bead work, I learned that nursing wasn't her first career choice, it was the only option that was available to her. She really wanted to be an art teacher, and she would have been really good at it.

Myrtle tried to talk me out of it. She confirmed that giving cash is what is expected. She tried doing cute ideas -giving personalised travel mugs and a gift card to a local coffee store- barely got a response from Little Myrtle's teachers. Last year she just gave cash and received many thanks. "It's just not worth it to make a big effort" she warned my deaf ears. I was determined that I could put together a few small tokens for Kate's attendants without much effort.

I had a $50 gift card to and Body Works (BBW) that I received last year and never used, so I hit the travel sized bins to pick up hand cream, hand sanitizer, a candle and a lip gloss. I wanted to put these items in a small mesh bag. I looked in Mich.aels, and two party stores, but didn't find the right sized bag for my needs. I searched on Ama.zon and found the size and colours I was looking for. I had to ask my Dad to be my Ama.zon Prime bitch and order it with two day shipping. I hope he wasn't thinking that I was hinting at an Amazon Prime membership for a Christmas gift, although that would be a great idea. I figured that since Kate likes to put things into bags, she could help with this project. Sort of. She only wanted to put certain items in the bags and wasn't aware that the items really had to be placed in a certain manner. I had to fix some of her work, but quickly assembled the gift bags.

I also wanted to do some baking, so I decided to make some scones to include with the gift bags. I went to Cost.Plus World Market (CPWM) to pick up scone mix and small jars of clotted cream and strawberry jam. I had to bargain to get some Kate-free shopping time, as she would have been the proverbial bull in the china shop. Our local CPWM was out of strawberry jam -they only had apricot, which really wouldn't cut it. I tried looking on line for small jam jars, but couldn't find any. I considered going out to breakfast and stealing a bunch of small jars... I looked on line and found another CPWM about 15 miles away that has strawberry jam in stock. The store is next to a Costco, so I decided I could justify travel for such a small item if I combined a Costco run. I would later learn that the far away Costco doesn't have the same items as my local Costco, so I still didn't complete my shopping needs.

I picked up some money holder cards at Tar.get. The next task was getting some clean new, dollar bills with razor sharp edges. I think this detail separates gift giving from a drug deal. I tried to find some time to go to the back without Kate, but it wasn't happening. Fortunately I found a time when it was not too busy and she could be occupied with her milk. I asked the teller for some new bills. "We're all out." she informed me. "I've been giving them out all morning. You may want to try the branch on XYZ street" I asked her to pick out the best looking bills as I was not about to try another bank.

I placed Kate in her learning tower to watch as I made the scones. The mix is rather fool proof -just add water.  After the scones cooled (and Kate and I tested one) I assembled them along with the clotted cream and strawberry jam into some cute bakery bags I picked up at CPWM (before I found these, I was just going to put them in plain sandwich baggies). Finally, it was time to put the money in the envelopes, place the BBW items and the baked goods into the gift bags. I included some goat soap. There is a man empowered by a wheelchair who travels up and down the Farmer's Market selling home made goat soap. I pick some up every year to give as gifts.

I had Kate do some colouring, so she could contribute to signing the cards. I addressed them to all the attendants whose names I knew off the top of my head. Then I brought up the email with the complete list of names. Somehow I was short by one. I counted the names again on the email. Six. I had six BBW bags, six bag of scones, six goat soaps and six money holder cards. I looked through the names again. The director (who works in the infant room) didn't include herself on the list. F-u-u-u-c-k! I was one bag short. I had already addressed a card and labeled a bag for the director, so I couldn't make an executive decision to give her some thing different. I would have to gather supplies for another bag.

The finished product -only one short!

I loaded Kate into the car and made my first stop to CPWM in a dodgier part of town while it was still light out. Other people had this idea, as I had to circle the car park twice before a spot became available. Kate had fallen asleep, which I knew would screw her up for going to bed, but it also made an easier trip to CPWM. Fortunately, the had the clotted cream and strawberry jam in stock. I checked in with while I was standing in the queue and saw a news story that a woman was robbed at gunpoint right near the restaurant where we had our department party the previous night. They suggested not shopping at night and not going alone. I began to question why I was doing this. I made it back to my car safely and to my surprise Kate slept through transitioning from her stroller to the car seat. It's only 8 miles to BBW in a straight shot right down the freeway, but my GPS was suggesting it would take 37 minutes due to rush hour traffic. Even with the metering lights no one was getting on the freeway. It was total gridlock. I decided to take a longer route that passed my house as I knew the traffic, although thick, would at least be moving. As I got closer to my exit, I really considered bailing on this whole project and going home; but then the traffic cleared. I pressed on.

I arrived at BBW and fortunately found a close parking spot and as a bonus I found ten dollars on the ground! Things were looking up for me. It was now after 6 PM. Kate woke up after I moved her into her stroller. She quickly ate through her snack as we were in the long line at BBW. She started to cry and fuss and I'm sure people were looking at me and wondering what I was doing out with a young baby at this time of night. Unfortunately there were no stores near BBW to purchase a money holder card. We stopped at a C.V.S on the way home. Poor Kate had soaked through her cloth diaper. I was so focused on running these errands that I forgot about needing to change her. I've become a shit mom in terms of taking care of my daughter while trying to prove what an awesome crafty mom I think I am. Cue feelings of quilt. They didn't have the same card as I had previously purchased, but they had ones with the same red envelope. It would have to do.

I gave Kate a turkey packet so she could start on dinner while I drove home. I fully expected her to spill the packet everywhere, and I would have deserved it. Yet she ate it completely and even screwed the cap back on when she was done. She barely made any mess. She made me so proud and I felt even more guilt. Three hours had passed since we left the house. It was bath night too. I finally put her to bed around 8:15, despite taking an almost hour long nap between 5-6 PM, she was tired and fell asleep quite easily while I finished assembling the gift bags. I used the cash back option while paying for the extra items, so I had more bills to select the best looking ones. I ran them under the iron and found they looked almost knew. I wished I had ironed all the other bills, then I started wondering if I've gone insane. I had to do some left handed scribbling to fake Kate's drawings.

All Seven bags -Completed! 

For those of you who know me in real life, please remind me of this episode next year, if I decided to get creative with my Day Care gifts next year. Cash in an envelope will be just fine.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

16.5 Months

How can we be merely weeks from the end of the year?  It's a weird facet of toddler life, the days can seem long, but weeks and months fly by. Once Kate and I returned from the east coast trip, we survived a week of solo parenting and settled into our familiar routine. Baby swim on Saturday morning, sign class in the afternoon. Sunday morning, we hit the Farmer's Market and go grocery shopping before returning home to do meal prep. We have baby music on Tuesday mornings, swim practise and errands in the afternoon. We did some family activities such as touring a pumpkin patch and watching Daddy umpire at the America East Championships.

While I love our routine, it dawned on me that we're a bit isolated. As an only child, I'm quite comfortable in my own company and I often prefer to do errands such as shopping by myself. As my parents were the only one of their friends to have a kid, I didn't have much contact with kids my age while I was growing up. I actually found it easier to interact with adults than my peers. I don't necessarily want that for Kate, so I need to work on setting up playdates for her. Enter Operation Make Some Mom Friends. I was hoping to meet some fellow moms at some baby activities, but at baby music most kids are accompanied by a nanny or grandparent. Our Day Care has a social event for kids and parents once a month. It's usually at 4 PM on a Friday afternoon, so Husband attends while I'm at work. I was able to attend the Halloween party in October, as I was out of the office attending a medical education conference that day. However, it really wasn't conducive to mingling with other parents. They combined all the classes (infants through pre-K) and involved both locations, so it was a big gathering. Many parents were in costumes, which made it hard to identify anyone from Kate's class. I ran into one of my swim teammates who was there with his 4 year old daughter. It turns out that we don't have much in common other than swimming. I recently reconnected with my friend Amy, who has a son just two weeks younger than Kate. I've exchanged numbers and I've been texting with some moms from  music and sign classes, but it's hard as they'll often suggest activities on a Wednesday or Thursday. I have to explain that I'm not a real SAMH. I only play one on Tuesdays.

Stats: 31 inches 24 lbs 14 oz

Teeth: The Molars are erupting! It seems that she cut all four molars (right and left, top and bottom) at once. She is finally cutting the lower right front tooth

Hair: Her hair is getting thicker in the back and she has a little whispy curl. It's starting to remind me a little bit of my mother-in-law. My MIL has very thin hair (she's practically bald) and she does a bit of a comb over from the back. I know I'm very fortunate to have naturally thick hair, but if I didn't. I'd invest in a good wig.

Sleep: So in my last update, I was fretting about switching from her infant seat to her car seat as I enjoyed taking advantage of all those times she fell asleep in her infant seat. I returned from my east coast trip during the last week in September and I was planning to do the car seat trade in before October 1st. It was unseasonably warm during the week I returned, and when I went to the pool on my first day off after my return (with Kate sleeping in the infant seat) It was one of the most glorious days I can remember. The warm sun was shining so bright, the water sparkled. The main set wasn't too painful! Must-hold-on-to-this! So, I bailed on swapping the car seat that weekend, I was determined to utilize the infant seat for as long as possible. However the next week when I took her to the pool, she wouldn't fall asleep. I placed her in the stroller and gave her some toys, a bottle and some snacks. My coach would check on her every now and then, but she was content in her stroller watching my team practice. I got to complete the entire work out! I relented and went to get the new car seat the following weekend. So far we're 5 for 5 transferring her sleeping in the car seat to stroller, but we're 0 for 2 transferring her from the car seat to her crib.

Overall sleep is still going well, but changing the clocks back from Daylight Savings Time totally kicked our ass. It took over a week to get her to sleep past 6 AM. Seriously, let's not do that again. Gain an extra hour of sleep? Not if you have kids. Actually, I couldn't get her to go down for a nap on Sunday as she was overtired from being awake at 4:45. I would put her down in her crib and she would scream and if I picked her up she'll fall asleep within seconds. I was so tired that I decided to break my rules and I saw in our rocker and let her fall asleep in my arms. I dozed off and enjoyed a delightful afternoon nap. I think it was the first in 16 months that I napped when she did.

Eating: I need to be a bit more adventurous as she really surprises me with what she can eat. She loves eating orange slices (and will sometimes try to eat the rind). One day when I was holding her close to our fruit bowl, she reached out and grabbed an apple. At first she just seemed to play with it, but then started biting into it and ate about half of it. Going to the Farmer's Market is much more fun as she can sample the produce. Eating at Chipolte has became a regular stop while doing our weekend errands, as it has to be one of the best menus for a toddler. She's getting better at using a fork. She'll hold the fork in one hand and load her food on to it with the other, until she gets frustrated and throws the fork on the floor and starts shoveling with her hands. Still, it entertains her for a while while I'm trying to cook dinner while she's eating. We're gearing up for the sippee cup transition. I think I finally have the cups in place. Somedays if she's in a good mood, she'll drink her milk in a cup; if she's cranky, it has to be in a bottle. ...This is going to be fun...

Milestones: She's picked up a few more words and signs. One of those words is 'dirty'. When we go to the park, if her hand gets some sand on it, she'll hold it out for me to brush off and will say 'dirty'. I'm still a little concerned about her having OCD. Husband actually has a mild expression of OCD. One of his issues is leaving doors open. It drives him nuts to see a door ajar. Even if you may be cooking, and you open up a cabinet and leave it open as you're going to put the olive oil right back... nope. Door must be closed, even if you're going to open it again ten seconds later. I've threatened that if I die before him, I'll haunt him by opening all the cabinet doors. I've twice caught Kate pushing closed a door that was barely cracked open. She's really mimicking our behaviour. As Husband has been working a lot of umpire assignments and I haven't been able to go to the gym, I decided to do some push-ups one morning while she was playing in her room. I looked over to see her doing baby mini push-ups. One day, she spilled milk all over the floor (my bad for not tightening the lid) and as I was wiping up the milk, I looked over to see that she had also grabbed a tea towel and was rubbing it on the floor. Finally, I can put her to work! She is starting to help with laundry. If I hand her items, she'll load the washer and she'll empty the dryer for me. She also likes to collect my bed clothes from the bathroom and bring them into my room to put in our hamper. Yeah, my kid totally has OCD.

Likes: We're lucky that there are a few different baby gyms and play cafes in our area, but it always seems that when we have a free day and try to go; they're closed for a private event, or closed Sundays. I saw this play tunnel at Ikea and thought it would be a way to bring a play structure home. It has been the best $25 I have ever spent at Ikea.

She also likes her Magnet doodle. I thought it was time for her to work on holding a pen and scribbling and this is the cleanest toy to achieve that objective. I've been recognising that I've had to upgrade some of her toys to match her new developmental levels (she's probably going to learn how to play that card when she gets a bit older).

Another good Ikea value
I'm sure this is meant to be a smock for art projects;
Right now it works for us in lieu of a bib

Dislikes: She does not like being in the stroller for an extended period of time. You can only keep her pacified with a bottle or some snacks for so long, before she absolutely looses her shit and wants out. She'll kick and she's figured out how to free her arms from the straps. I've been working on letting her walk out in public a bit more, but it can't be in a store (she'll pull items off the shelf) or near cars (she's been turning away when I try to hold her hand and twice I had to run after her). I may have to get one of those backpacks that has a l-e-a-s-h....

Clothing: She still has a few 9 month onesies that still fit. Yes, I am totally clinging to those as a way to keep her as a baby. Some of her clothes are 18-24 months. 18-24 months. I just got used to her clothing sizes being in double digits. I picked up some adorable shoes from Carter's, only to discover that while Carter's makes good clothes; their shoes are of the same quality standards. They fall apart quickly, they seem to be full of sand. I decided I needed to get shoes from a proper shoe company, so I bought two pairs made by Stride.Rite. One cost $29.99, the other $19.99. This is more than I would spend on shoes for myself. So far it's been money well spent as these shoes are high quality and just as adorable. (see the boots in the top picture)

Diapering: I've been joking that between her drooling and peeing, Kate can solve California's drought problem. She's been wetting through her cloth diapers almost hourly and often will soak through her clothes. At least two or three nights per week, she'll soak through her super absorbent disposable night time diaper. I just recently picked some some absorbency boosters to use with her cloth diapers as well as over night, so hopefully they will help. Speaking of help, in the early newborn days, Husband was great about being on diapering duty. As she got older, it was seemingly less so. While we were on vacation in Hawaii, I took note that he wouldn't do any diaper changes on his own. He would help me at times. He would identify if she was poopy and needed a change (which he would insist required both of us), but never did he change a wet diaper on his own. While my parents were visiting, he observed "Your Dad seems to get out of diaper duty -that's supposed to be my trick!". He will change her, but he needs prompting. Unless there is an obvious odor, it just doesn't register to him 'oh it's been a few hours since she was last changed, I bet she'd like a fresh, dry diaper.' Anyway. Our Day Care was closed on Columbus Day, so he took the day off to look after her. She pooped five times that day. Really messy ones too. He had to change her all on his own. I've never been so proud of her. Twice, she has actively shat on the changing table while he's been changing her -something she's never done for me.

Health Issues: After months of really good health (last ear infection was in early August) the streak was broken by Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. On Thrusday, we got the call from Day Care reporting that she had a fever. She had received her flu shot on Tuesday, so I thought it could have been a delayed vaccine reaction, but when I got home, she really looked poorly. She didn't want her night time bottle and instead just cuddled in my arms. Friday morning, she was afebrile and back to her usual self, so we sent her off to Day Care. As he was getting her dressed, Husband noted a blotchy patch on her thigh, which he thought may have been a reaction to the band-aid from her flu jab. I thought it was possible, but I was pretty sure the nurse injected her in the other leg. Plus she has had multiple band-aids applied from her vaccines and never had any reaction. A few hours later, Day Care called Husband to report that she likely has HFMD. We're on day 2 and so far she seems to be handling it okay. We had a rough night sleeping, but she seems to be eating and drinking okay. We're just waiting to see when she can go back to Day Care.

Looking Forward to: Well, I was looking forward to having a day to myself. Once a month, our Day Care provides baby sitting service. It's usually in the evening, but there are a few times a year when they offer child care during the day. I was planning to use that time to finish some of the renovation projects we started in August. We had to do dry wall repair in the master bath room and for the past four months I've been staring that the primed spots on the wall. The roll of toilet paper is on the floor as we're waiting to finish the painting and re-install the holder. I need to caulk and touch up the trim in the guest room and Kate's room. I need her out of the house to get these things done. Thanks to HFMD, nothing is getting crossed off my to-do list, as I had to keep her home. Focus Jane, your kid is sick, this isn't about you anymore... Still, Damn You HFMD! 

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, we'll be going to my aunt's house. We're going to try to run a 5K on Thanksgiving Day and on the following Saturday (thus so we can earn the Thanksgiving Weekend MEGA medal, as that's what it's really all about) We'll see how she does in the stroller, I'm thinking I'm going to have to try to run faster as she does enjoy people watching while strolling. She's going to be able to participate in the kids Turkey Trot (a 100 yard dash, which features the race's mascot -a Big Bird Sized Turkey who finishes last every year). It will be a bit emotional for me, as for three years (2012-2014) I was newly pregnant watching the kids race and was wipinng away tears as I wondered if I'd ever have my own little turkey to watch in the race. We're also excited about the return of the Gilmore Girls! Oh yes, we will be breaking the no TV rule that weekend!

I'm also getting excited for Christmas and I've already started shopping for her presents. As she likes to push things, I got her a doll who has her own umbrella stroller (and some other accessories). I also discovered that Fisher Price is remaking some of their 'classic' toys, so I picked up the record player, which is probably more for my own nostalgia as I had one. Plus as kids today aren't even going to know what CDs are (let alone cassette tapes or an 8-track!) I figure I need to introduce her to the antique that is a record player. Wow. I just realised how old I am. We also got a starter tricycle that she can use up to 3 years old. As she's been trying to work the zippers on her shoes, I purchased a doll with loads of snaps, zippers and buttons to practice, because you know she needs to work on her dexterity! I really have to reel it in before I go overboard.

"what is this stuff called rain?"

Sunday, 30 October 2016

A Year Later, Still Recovering

It was actually one of my patients who told me that it would take a full year to recover from a pregnancy and a C/section. I wrote an update at 6 months, and I had planned to write another when I hit the year mark. Not that it takes much to distract me from writing (I have one in draft that I started in March) but I delayed because I knew I wasn't where I wanted to be and I wanted to give myself a little more time.

Physical Recovery
While it's much better than where I was in January, I still have some pain around my incision. I'm sure my insides turned to cement when they healed after my surgery, which helps confirm our decision to have only one baby. I have the feeling the scar tissue would make a second C/section difficult. My scar is finally starting to fade in spots. My hair stopped shedding, as I noticed that it was taking longer to blow dry in the morning. For the longest time, I still had a bit of a high diastasis. Kate spent much time at the top of my uterus, which may have been following the old wives tale that girls are positioned high, or my low lying placenta prevented her from engaging in my pelvis, but it really separated by upper abdominals. It finally seems to be resolving.

While, I'm so relieved that a year of breastfeeding didn't leave my breasts with the deflated balloon effect, once I started losing weight, they were the first to go. It's actually been a bit distressing. I'm happy to have my flat-ish stomach back and I have a defined waist again, I look at myself in a swimsuit or certain dresses, and I notice that there is something missing. It's brought me back to my 13 year old self conscious state. I'm reliving my teen angst. We're talking this is an Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret "I must, I must, I must increase my bust!" situation. It took years to get over those feelings of insecurity and finally embrace my A cup status. My friends in England even formed a group called the Small Breast Club. The SBC. We figured that if we stuck together, we might actually draw some male attention. Now that I'm married and over 40, I shouldn't care about my chest size anymore. Except now, I've been to the other side. I had voluptuous curves! I had cleavage! I haven't started googling breast augmentation yet, but I am planning to do some Wonderbra shopping.

As a brief recall, I weighed 135 pounds when I got married 10 years ago. Like many new brides, I gained 10 pounds in our first year of marriage. When I took a new job that increased my commute and decreased gym time, I gained another stubborn 5 pounds. Then we bought our current house and for six months we devoted every measure of free time to renovation projects and ate a lot of take out and crappy microwave meals. My weight went up to 157 lbs. I found my way back to the gym, started swimming and distance running, but could only manage to get the scale down to 150 on a good day. I was happy with that, but as the years passed it was harder to maintain. Once we started fertility treatments, my weight ranged between 152-154. I decided to round up and used 155 as my pre-pregnancy weight. I gained 23 pounds during pregnancy and lost most of it within the first two weeks postpartum. Then the breastfeeding hunger took hold and I became a human eating machine. I found that in order to be a cow, I needed to be a pig. I went though a box of oatmeal raisin cookies per week. I kept them in my car to hide my secret from Husband and to keep him from eating any of my cookies.

I would go throught cycles of feeling guilt and shame over my cookie habit, so I would reduce my caloric intake. Then I'd have a low pumping session and would experience a different form of guilt and shame, so I'd chow down on the cookies again. I had decided not to weigh myself until I was in a position to do something about it. Then around the end of January, curiosity got the better of me. I stepped on the scale and felt a bit of relief that it was 'only' 165. (I was fully expecting to be in the 170s). I knew that the number and my reaction to it were not good in any way. While I knew I wasn't in a position to start losing weight, I figured I could plan my strategery and set my start day after I finished breastfeeding. Then I remembered Amanda at Beloved Burnt Toast (now Burnt Toast Life) wrote about her success with Whole 30. I emailed her and she quickly sold me on Whole 30, as she described, it's not a diet, but a method that teaches you to eat better.  I was hooked.

I'll write a separate post about my Whole 30 experience, but when I started my first attempt in June (which was a miserable failure) I weighed 161 lbs. I did back to back Whole 30s in August and September and finished weighing 151 lbs. (I feel compelled to mention that the focus of Whole 30 is on improving your eating habits and fixing bad relationships with food; not merely weight loss, but this is a section on weight) I can't believe I'm actually below pre-pregnancy weight! Just for fun, I'll step on the scale in the middle of the day, fully clothed and find myself still under pre-pregnancy weight. (At press time, I'm actually at 149. First time under 150 in years) During my heavier days, I had a 'Who Are You Kidding?' purge of my closet. I had been hanging on to a lot of clothes on the promise of "if I lose some weight, I'l fit into them again!" Some were from my days when I weighed in the 130s. That was over 10 years ago. I decided they needed to go, purely from a fashion standpoint. I also got rid of my going out clothes. It was time to face reality. I'm married, over 40 and I've had a baby via C/section. I figured that if I ever did lose the weight, I could treat myself to some new clothes. I'm not sure if it was accidentally or subconsciously intentional, but I recently discovered an old pair of jeans that didn't get tossed. (They didn't fit me pre-pregnancy, but my regular pre-pregnancy jeans are now too big) I decided to try them on, but prepared myself to be disappointed. They fit. It felt so satisfying,

Yet these numbers and clothes sizes only tell one aspect of the story. I recently did a body fat test. Every four months, our gym offers body fat testing in a water dunk tank (considered to be the best and most accurate form of testing). My prior test was in February of 2014, which was the month I ran two half marathons. My weight was 155 and my body fat percentage was 24.5. This time around (after a stim cycle and retrieval, 4 FETs, 39 weeks of pregnancy and 1 year of breastfeeding) my weight was down to 152, but my body fat percentage was 26.9% (which the guy administering the test graciously rounded up to 27%). I've lost 6 pounds of muscle and gained 3 pounds of fat. So, this news burst my bubble about old clothes fitting again and getting into sub 150 territory. Yet, I feel optimistic that I may actually reach my best body state after the age of 40 and after a baby. I have set some goals for my next body fat test in February.

Much like my pre-Kate life, I'll go in cycles with Cross-Fit. I'll go regularly for a while and work on a new skill or reach a PB. Then life gets in the way, I can't make it into the gym for a while, and when I go back, I feel like I'm starting over. I sustained a weird back injury in January and had to rest for a few weeks. When I ready to work out again, I started bringing Kate to the gym. Our box offers the option of 'open gym' where you can do a self directed work-out. I had felt intimidated by the people who do open gym, as most of them are elite athletes, for whom the Work Out of the Day (WOD) is too easy. Then one of the strongest female lifters explained, "No, it's just about getting in and getting your stuff done." I came up with 'The Baby WOD', I would give Kate a bottle or a pouch while I would row a 5K, then do 50-75 wall balls and 10 pull ups. I get in some cardio and strength and work every major muscle group. Sometimes Husband would join us and we'd trade off working out and watching Kate, although this was only feasible in her pre-walking days. Around the end of April, our WOD was an AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible) of pull ups, push ups and double unders. I was determined to Rx it (do the work out 'as prescribed' -no modifications) even if I did only one round. I actually managed 4 rounds (others in the class did anywhere from 5 to 7), but they clapped and cheered for me when I announced that my score was Rx'd. It was a good moment.

You can imagine how the rest of the story goes. We went to Hawaii in May, which meant I didn't make it in to the gym in the preceding week as I was running too many errands to prepare for our trip and I didn't go the following week as I was catching up on errands after being away for a week. Then I was diagnosed with pneumonia and like my back injury, it took a few weeks to recover; and then my return was delayed due to Kate's birthday party. When my parents came to visit in August, I was able to get into the gym more regularly. We've worked into a routine where I go on Thursday evenings and Sunday morning. After a few weeks, I was able to do a strict pull up again. (Our gym teaches kipping techniques to make pull ups faster and more efficient, but they require that you can do strict before you kip) A week or so later, I attended a class that involved doing 50 pull ups. I figured I would try to do 25 on my own, and the other 25 with bands, but thought to myself that 20/30 was probably more realistic. Working in sets of five, I was able to easily bust out four rounds to complete 20 pull ups. I felt pretty good, so I decided to keep going. I also noticed I was the only woman doing real pull ups.  I did two more sets of five to reach 30. I had to start breaking into three and two, but I brought my total to 40. At this point I was the last person still on the rig, but I didn't care. I was so excited about what I had achieved. It was a huge PR for me. I used the bands for the final 10 just so I would finish the entire WOD on time.

As the story goes, Husband left for the east coast for two and a half weeks (Kate and I joined him for one week), so once again my gym time has been limited. Yet to my surprise, on my first day back, I found that I hadn't lost my pull-ups! I've come to accept that I have to make my work outs more efficient and effective, since I don't always know if I'll be able to fit them in. There are areas where I'm still struggling. My stamina is lacking (and I can't blame it on breastfeeding) and there have been many classes where I've been the last person to finish. I'm trying to convince myself that I can only improve and I'll focus on one thing each class to use as a benchmark. I'm trying to lift heavier, even if it's just one kilogram at a time.

One of the things I knew I was going to miss most about maternity leave was being able to swim at noon almost every day. I coordinated Kate's nap to occur during practice time, so I could leave her sleeping poolside while I swam under the warm California sun. I was so determined to go back to swimming at 6 AM when my leave ended that I paid my monthly fee for November. It never happened. There just wasn't enough time in the morning to either pump or nurse. It just wasn't going to work out. When I started taking Tuesdays off, I considered going back to the noon class, but swimming just once a week seemed inadequate. Thus, I took a nine month hiatus from swimming while I was breastfeeding. Just as I was contemplating returning to the 6 AM class in August while my parents were visiting, my coach somehow convinced me to swim on a few relays in a meet. To my surprise, I actually swam faster than two other women who had been practicing regularly. Although, to be fair, I am a faster swimmer when I'm fit. Still, I know I would have resented someone who showed up out of the blue and was faster than me; so I acknowledge I had become what I hate.

So I started swimming in the morning, with the exception of Monday and Friday, as I start work earlier those days. Tuesdays I can stay for the entire class. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I'll get out at 6:45 and shower on the pool deck. I turn on the heat in my car to start to dry my hair as I drive home. I get home at 7:15 to find Husband giving Kate her breakfast (hopefully she's slept to 6:30 or later or else Husband may be grumpy. Oh well, too bad) Kate will play in the bathroom while I dry my hair, then I get dressed while Husband dresses Kate and then we're ready to go. On time. Sometimes actually early. Our morning routine is smoother and more efficient on swimming days. It makes me wish that I had gone back sooner. It's also easier than pre-Kate life, where I'd have to toss my wet towel and suit in the dryer when I got home at the end of the day. Then I'd have to pack my swim bag including my work clothes and make up as I'd leave for work from the pool. It was very time consuming. Now, when I get back from the pool, I can hang my towel and suit to dry in the garage and then I just grab it on my way out the next morning. On Tuesdays, I'll bring Kate to the pool at noon, and if I get a second swim session done, it's a bonus. We go to baby music from 10:30 -11:30, and she'll usually fall asleep on the drive to the pool. So far there's only be one day that she had a meltdown and I had to leave early. I'm not sure what we'll done once the colder and rainy months hit, but for now, this is working.

I soon found that while I was able to produce a decent sprint time in a relay, swimming for 45 minutes or an hour as a structured practice was a different story. It was humbling and reminded me of my early days where I could barely make it through a session or even needed a scaled workout. I've also discovered that my swimming is much better at noon than in the morning. I've struggled or hated a morning workout, but breezed through it at noon. I recently competed in a meet and overall felt satisfied with how I did. I had to accept that I was probably right where I was last year (I resumed swimming around August, I was three months postpartum, but I had been swimming during most of my pregnancy.) Last year, I had somehow managed to score a PR in my 50 Free, so I was hoping to set a new PR this year. I fell short of that goal, but I got my second best 50 Fly time ever (and event I haven't swam in two and a half years) so I was pleased with that. I'm determined that my times can only improve. However I'm now in a new age group with some fast 40+ year old women.

When my parents arrived for their month long stay in August, I announced my intention to start swimming in the mornings. Completely out of the blue, my mother said to me, "So there's no field hockey. There is no tennis." What the fuck? I haven't played field hockey in over three years. I was stimming/early pregnant and postpartum for the past few seasons and the league gained a lot of younger more skillful players and I was feeling out of depth. Additionally, I haven't played tennis in over two and a half years since I haven't really found a local place to play. I could have replied with a rational answer to simply acknowledge that no, I haven't played field hockey or tennis in years, even pre-Kate. However there was something about hearing my mother say 'no' to an activity that set off a trigger. I felt like a little girl who was being chastized. So, I replied with a nasty response that I was 40 years old and [my mother] couldn't tell me what to do anymore.

My Dad quickly jumped to my mother's defense, proclaiming that it wasn't her intention to tell me what I could or couldn't do. (Really? because it sounded a lot like that). My mother should have left it there, but she felt the need to hammer home her point. "You can't do it all Jane. There's just not enough time for everything." NO SHIT. That's why I'm not trying to do it all. I gave up those other two sports years ago. For some reason, Husband decided to support my mother's position by adding "Unless you want to be one of those women who never sees her kid." I DON'T. THAT'S WHY I'M NOT TRYING TO PLAY THESE OTHER SPORTS. WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU BRINGING THIS UP? Husband did feel the need to explain why I stopped playing hockey, by telling my parents that I'm not very good as the league standard has improved. Thanks honey, I am well aware of my lack of skill.

My mother started crying crocodile tears, as she thought my reaction was so harsh and unfair to her. As it seemed that Husband and my father were supporting her while I felt that I was the one being persecuted. I felt the need to establish that I was the victim. I threw back that I was hurt over the fact that she was pointing out what I couldn't do and not acknowledging what I AM doing. This was something typical for my mother. When I was growing up, she could give me a list of 10 chores to do while she was away. If I only completed nine by the time she came home, she would immediately pick out the one task that I didn't do before she would comment on the ones I finished. In turn, my mother informed me that I should be focusing on swimming as there are many health benefits to swimming, as well as Cross-fit as lifting is good for strength. (She proceeded to lift an imaginary barbell). Once again, I should have left it alone, but I felt compelled to remind her that she can't tell me what to do; and furthermore I felt it was completely insulting and patronizing to have a non-swimmer and non-lifter explain the benefits of these activities. I know their benefits. That's why I figured out on my own that I can work swimming and Cross-fit into my life as a working mother and I'm not trying to do anything else. I then abruptly left the table and excused myself to my room (because that's mature). If Kate hadn't been sleeping, I would have slammed my door. Yes, immature, but very satisfying.

Anyway, I'm recounting this story as I'm still pissed off (just in case that wasn't clear) and to emphasize that I've largely had to drop running. (Fortunately, my mother didn't bring that up, otherwise we probably wouldn't be speaking to each other today). I stopped running while pregnant as I had developed plantar fascitis and with my placenta issues, I feared bleeding on a long run. Without any training, I completed a 10K last Thanksgiving and I planned to do my traditional New Year's Day 10 K run, but freezing cold tempertures encouraged me to ring in the New Year from my nice warm bed. As my parents gave us a jogging stroller for a Christmas gift, Kate and I ran our first 5 K around Valentine's Day. We were also scheduled to run another 5K on St Patrick's Day, but there was an extraordinary rain storm that kept us home. A week later, I participated in a marathon as part of a relay team and truly struggled. At one point, I couldn't keep up with the 13 min/mile pacer who was running a half marathon. (I'm omitting the fact that he was probably in his late 60s). I used to be a faster runner than one of my teammates, but I have no doubt that she beat my time (on a harder part of the course too). I could no longer run a 10 K on a whim.

It prompted me to start training on a regular basis. After baby sign, Kate and I would take a 3 mile stroll around Lake Merritt. There aren't too many races scheduled in April, so our next race was over Memorial Day weekend. It was another struggle. Kate was completely fussy in the pram, so I had to stop often to offer her food or a bottle. I can apply some blame to Kate, but I felt relived to be walking in bits. A few days later I was diagnosed with pneumonia and felt relieved to have another explanation for my performance.

After recovering from pneumonia, I decided to resume training (with Kate and the jogging stroller) by starting from the begining. Going out to run just one mile, next week two miles. That didn't last long as Kate's birthday party fell upon us. I signed up for a 10 K in early August and talked my parents into pushing Kate along for the 5 K distance. I actually felt really good for the first four miles, but then began to slow down and wished I had signed up for the 5K. Then I saw an elderly runner fall in front of me. I was the first responder on the scene. He wasn't responsive, but I could hear he was breathing, it actually sounded like he was snoring. As I was trying to feel for a pulse, I saw his face turn purple. I was struck by the fear that this man was dying in front of my eyes. I've participated in code situations, but it's always been in a hospital setting or on my ambulance ride along. I had other professionals, medications a defibrillator, access to a cath lab, cardiothorasic surgeons...This time I was all alone as I started chest compressions. Fortunately I was soon joined by two other runners who helped perform CPR and summon emergency services. The man started breathing again and we were able to regain a pulse. He was alert by the time the EMS crew arrived.

As this race took place on my usual training course, I recently questioned if I had been avoiding doing any training as I don't want to pass by that spot and evoke the memories of witnessing someone's near death. Then I questioned if that wasn't the case at all and I had just invented a convenient excuse as it was easier than facing two other fears. My mother is right. I can't do it all. [Please note, I didn't share the story to seem heroic, I was actually told by one of the other responders that my chest compressions were too slow. She did provide a good tip if you're in the situation. Follow the beat to the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive. "Staying Alive. Staying Alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha Staying Alive, Staying Alive."] Then I remembered the words of one of my swim teammates, "there's no such thing as 'I can't do something'. You find modifications." So my modification is that Kate and I will stick to 5K distances for now. It will be a while before I can think about doing a half. I signed us up to run two 5K races over Thanksgiving weekend. We'll try to fit in a training session.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Fifteen Months

We're appriaching a major transition. Not a big milestone like first day of school, or first trip away, but one that will have a big impact on me. It's time to upgrade from the infant seat to a convertible car seat. We've loved our combination unit. The person who came up with the idea of attaching the infant seat to a stroller is a fucking genius. As she's been getting bigger, I've started putting her in the "big girl" stroller, rather than attaching the infant seat, which was sign #1 that we were ready to move on. I even picked up an accessory tray, which requires that you remove the supports for the infant seat (sign #2). Her feet have now reached beyond the edge, so they're just hanging off, but she's not yet touching the seat in my car. She's only 29.5 inches, but Husband is such a Dudley Do-Right that he wanted to make sure we moved her into a new car seat before she reached 30 inches. We figured it would be a project after we returned from visiting the east coast, but a local baby supply store was offering a 25% discount on a new car seat, if you traded in your old one during the month of September. A price reduction and you take away the old one so I don't have to deal with it? That's a win-win! 

Except I am finding it hard to part with the infant seat. The infant seat allowed me to be a mom who didn't work her day around her baby's nap schedule. Well to a point, I would often take advantage of the fact that she easily falls asleep in the car and could just transfer her in the infant seat to the stroller when I needed to get some errands done. If she fell asleep on the way home, I could just drop the infant seat off in her room and carry on unpacking groceries. [as I am writing this, she's sleeping in her infant seat]. Once we move to a convertable car seat, I'll have to risk waking her as I move her from the car seat to a stroller and hope she'll fall back asleep. It's going to put a crimp in my carefree mom life style. [I do acknowledge that this is going to be less of an issue, especially as we officially transition to a one day a day schedule]. There was just something else about the infant carrier. I admit I felt that it gave me a sense of status. I have one of these! I'm in the club now! I'm thinking the same thing you are; Jane, after all this time, do you still need validation that you're a mother? Well, no. Yet, I still enjoyed it. Of course it was easier when I was carrying around an 8 pound newborn and not a 23 pound toddler. I won't miss lugging that thing back and forth while dropping her off and picking her up at Day Care [Husband and I alternate Day Care duties, so we needed to leave it with her. We also need two convertable car seats for this reason]. I have brusises around my mid thighs and knees that might finally fade. Still there are aspects that I'm going to miss. It's going to be hard to hand it over; but it needs to be done. Otherwise, I might try to repurpose it for hanging plants. 

Stats: Weight 24 lbs 13 oz, 29.5 inches

Teeth: She was a little late on her two month schedule of cutting teeth. At first she seemed to be on track as she was especially irritable when she turned 14 months, but the swollen gums didn't appear for another two weeks. At press time, another tooth on the lower left has started to emerge. 

Hair: Getting longer, but it will be ages before she'll be ready for a barrett, let along a pony tail. As she's been following me into the bathroom while I'm ready in the morning, I'll use my rotating brush hairdryer on her. I think she likes the way it feels, and I'm envious that she can practically get a blow-out with just one pass.  

Sleep: We're still so blessed to have a great sleeper, yet I fear this will come back to bite us in the ass once she can climb out of her crib, or moves into a big girl bed. She has had a few nights were she'll wake up in the middle of the night screaming bloddy murder. This is not her just stirring, but will go back to sleep cry, this is full on panic mode. We're guessing maybe it's a bad dream? She'll fall asleep quickly if you hold or rock her, but wakes as soon as you put her down. So, we've taken her back to bed with us on these few occasions, as they seem to correspond with the nights before my long days at work. However the last time we did, neither Husband nor I slept well as she kicked us all night. I think the next time it happens, we'll have to soothe her, but then let her cry it out. A funny thing occured a few weeks ago; she woke up around 12:45 AM with some light cries. Husband asked what I wanted to do and I told him to wait it out, as I thought she would likely go back to sleep. Well, Husband and I definately fell back asleep as we were woken up five minutes later with a 3.5 magnitude earthquake!  We quickly ran to check on Kate and found her sleeping peacefully. We joked that the quake rocked her back to sleep. 

While she's an angel once she falls asleep, she's become more difficult to put down for the night. Our routine has been; change into a fresh diaper and jammies, read a book while having a bottle, go brush teeth, [turn lights out, set white noise machine and sleep sheep] have a cuddle with Muma (or Daddy) and then go into the crib. First, I had to cut out the story as it was too stimulating for her as she wanted to turn the pages herself. (cue freak out that I'm not reading to her enough during the day) Then one night she was squirming on my lap and dropped her bottle. I picked up the bottle and placed in on the end table as I prepared to re-adjust her on my lap, but she jumped down and grabbed her bottle, tucked it under her arm and headed out of the room in a business like manner. This occurred while my parents were visiting, so I suspect she was aware that everyone else was staying up and was having fun without her (which I imagine will only get worse as she gets older and more aware). Since then, I've changed her routine. We turn the lights out as soon as we're changed into jammies and the white noise and sleep sheep go on while the lights go out. We drink the bottle in [near] dark and I bring a loaded toothbrush into her room to give the teeth a wipe, and then it's a few minutes of cuddle before putting her down in her crib. Then it's usually 5-10 minutes of crying before she falls asleep.

On one of those nights when she had a nightmare and slept with us, she slept late the next morning. Husband (wanting to take advantage of this, so he could get some extra shut eye himself) suggested to let her sleep and offered to take her in later that morning (as he also had help available from my visiting parents).  When I picked her up that evening, I saw on her report that she only took one nap, which I explained was due to her lie-in. "Oh, she'll need to be on one nap when she goes to the toddler room [at eightteen months]" My least favourite attendant informed me. Just as I was thinking that we still had 4 months to work on this, she also informed me, "Grayson is on one nap per day. So is Lilly." She has such an amazing way of making me feel that I'm doing everything wrong. Fortunately, Kate know what she's doing, as she has been starting to take only one nap at Day Care. 

The other sleep related issue is that we had to make a decision about crib bumpers. We placed a mesh, breatheable bumper around her crib once she started sleeping in it nightly. A few months ago, I discovered that she was able to put her foot above the crib bumper and she trapped her foot between the slats of the crib and the wall. So we bought a second bumper to place on top of the first one. Then we discovered that could loosen the velcro on the bumpers and still manage to wedge her feet between the bumpers. So since the bumpers aren't really serving their purpose, we decided to remove them. I spent some nervous nights getting up multiple times to check on her hands and feet. Then it became colder and I started putting her back in her sleep sacks. Problem (partially) solved. 

Eating: Oh, I feel there is so much to report on this topics! She started eating packets again, and I started sending them to Day Care with her. They weren't coming home, so I figured she was eating them; until I got a report that she had dumped one all over the floor. So, she will eat packets, but only if you hold them for her and squeeze them. It's just something to use at home now. I started cooking a batch of frozen meatballs at the start of the week. Along with the microwave bag of frozen veggies and rice, it's become a convenient way to prepare small containters in order to quickly assemble her lunch each day. Okay, there is a part of me that feels really quilty about feeding her processed foods, but I've decided there are worse things I could do. I keep planning to make a batch of homemade meatballs, and one day I'll get around to doing so. I did learn that she has been trying to feed her food to the other babies at Day Care. Sigh. No Kate, I don't mind you sharing, it's not like I put a lot of effort into prepping your meals each day... [Future Kate reading this] Um, didn't you just finish saying that you used a bunch of processed food because it was convenient? Maybe it's not such a good idea that I'm writing all this down.

Her appetite can sometimes be hit or miss. Our pediatrician wanted us to try to cut down one bottle per day, by giving her more food. Yet I would find that sometimes if she's too hungry, she'll be too frustrated to feed herself and if I give her a bottle, she'll be more interested in eating. Although I've found sometimes that can backfire; if she has a bottle too close to meal time, she won't eat. Somedays it just feels that I can't win. I used to be able to get her to finish her protein by dumping some cut up fruit on her plate, but now she's savvy enough to pick through the pile and pull out want she wants (and throw what she doesn't want on the floor). I do worry a bit about her becoming a picky eater, as both her parents are picky. Well, I've become a bit better with age. While I don't go out of my way to eat tomatos, mushrooms, green peppers or onions, I won't push them to the side of my plate anymore. Husband refuses to admit that he's a picky eater, which makes him the worst picky eater of all. We also tried having baby eat what we eat, when we eat it. While we were on vacation visitng my parents, we were able to eat early enough to have meals with her before she went to bed. I think she seemed to enjoy the socialization (there is a no phone at the table rule when Kate is dining with us) of being a part of the table, which is probably much better that sitting alone in her high chair while Husband or I wash her Day Care bottles and containers or work on cooking our meal. Yet it's still logistically hard. I work late on Monday. Wednesday is Husband's gym night. Thursday is my gym night; three nights out of the week, one of us is alone with her. It's not easy to cook while she's underfoot. I try to arrange Monday's dinner to be reheating Sunday's meal and we use the slow cooker at least once a week. We'll keep working on it.

The sippee cup saga continues.  I was using the sippee cups only for water, figuring that if she was going to be spilling the contents, I'd rather it be water. It also helped when she started signing to distinguish between milk (bottle) and water (sippee cup). Then one day I filled her sippee cup with milk, just to see what would happen. She drank it without any issues. Around this time I had the opportunity to meet up with Kimberly Q and pick her brain about when and how to make the switch. She offered that whenever you have the opportunity for a drama free transition, you have to take advantage of it. So I really should do this sooner rather than later. Yet when I went to shop for more bottles, I noticed that smaller ones tend to have handles (which would not fit into her current lunch bag). Ones without handles hold twice the volume I need and are a bit large for her to handle. I looked to see if her current brand of bottles make a sippee top (because that seems way to logical) and they do make one... for a cup with handles. The tops don't work with the current collars and aren't sold separately. So I could buy the cups, and use the tops on her current bottles. Maybe. Actually those shitty cups from Ikea seem like they would fit the bill, except they don't have a screw top and would waste a lot of milk while making a complete mess. It is also possible that I am overthinking this.
"I don't need a sippee cup; I'm ready for a big person bottle!"

Milestones: She is so physicially active! She's figured out how to dismount from our bed. She looks like she's going to dive off head first, but she turns sideways and lowers her legs down. So naturally, as soon as she gets down, she wants to climb back up so she can get down again. She pretty much wants to climb on anything and everything, and in doing so, she's picked up quite a few scrapes and owies, but fortunately no major injuries. I often think of a 'Calvin and Hobbes' cartoon, where after playing outside on a summer day, Calvin explains that 'if your knees aren't bruised and grass stained by the end of the day, then you need to seriously re-examine your life." It's part of being a kid exploring her world. Mostly we want to teach her that when you fall, you brush yourself off, and get back up again. While we were on vacation, she tripped going out the front door and grazed the side of her face. Two days later she slipped in the outdoor shower and picked up a scratch on the extact opposite side of her face, so her owies were symmetrical. I am wondering if she is exhibiting any of her parents' CDO (it's like OCD, but the letters are in their proper alphabetical order).

I've been trying to let her walk more when we're out in public, but I'm still so nervous. I feel I need to wait until she really understands and response to commands before letting her walk near a parking lot. She's getting so quick when she walks/runs and she'll sometimes turn away if I try to take her hand. However, she is frickin Houdini in her stroller. We may have set a bad prescident. She could easily slip her arms out of the over the shoulder straps in her high chair. As she was still rather secure with the lap belt and tray, I stopped re-attaching them, especially as I felt that having more freedom with her arms would be better for her self feeding. It was helpful for eating, but not so much when she popped her arms out and tried to escape from her stroller while I was in the queue at Chip.olte. We may be using the Bjorn carrier for a long time. I also got one you can wear on your back that can be used up to 45 pounds.

She picked up a new sign, as she's become obsessed with dogs. The proper sign for 'dog' is to tap your hip and then snap; Kate just starts tapping any part of her body, but she has been doing it consistenly whenever she sees a dog. Recently, I had an opportunity to do some shopping while Husband was watching Kate. I saw a couple walking their dog and I exclaimed "Look! Doggie!" [while doing the sign]... before realising that I was by myself... She was starting to get really expressive with the milk sign. When she was becoming impatient, she would raise the hand in the air and pump her little fist quickly. Milk.Now. MILK!!!!. She hasn't been using the milk sign as often as she was while we were home with her when Day Care was closed. I think I know why. The director at her Day Care informed me that she would make the milk sign whenever she saw other babies with a bottle, so I think she's learning that she doesn't always get milk when she signs for milk. She wasn't grasping the sign for  'all done', but she would clap to indicate when she was finished eating, so I had to accept that as close enough. However, at press time, she's just started doing the actual 'all done' sign. I signed us up to reapeat another 6 week series of sign classes, so hopefully she'll pick up more signs and applications.

She has become quite talkative, but it's completely in her own language. The most consistent word she uses is 'kitty' and almost every animal (a dog, a bird) is "Kitty!" She's picked up a lot of new sounds into her bables. The most recent one has been "oh eh oh eh", which propmpted me to recall that I have been listening to an all-80s radio station. I think this is the influence of Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. The rhythm is going to get  you. Both our pediatrician and Isabelle (everyone's favourite Speech and Language Pathologist) feel that she is right on track and don't have any concerns about her language development, but as her mother, the doubt always creeps in. My cousin's language delayed son was saying the words "bubble" and "turtle" (with very clear diction,  although absent context) just before he turned 16 months, so I'd feel more comfortable if she had some actual words by next month. Yet, as I remind myself not to compare the children, I'm also reminding myself that his developmental delay wasn't with where he was at 16 months, it was the fact that he was pretty much at the same place a year later.

We also had a bit of a breakthrough in Baby Music. Previously, when the instructor would bring out the big box of instruments, Kate would find a padded drumstick and start chewing on it. She had little interest in the instruments. During her recent classes, she has finally started using the drumstick to tap on a drum. I felt like I was in the scene from Mr Holland's Opus, where he finally succeeds in teaching a football player to keep a beat. Since then, she has started trying to drum on everything she can, and according to my dad, she actually has some rhythm. My dad's side of the family is very musical. His brother was a pianist, my dad sung in a touring choir for many years. My cousins both played piano and my other cousin's kids play percussion and saxaphone in the jazz band at their school. Actually my cousins from my mother's side were both members of the marching and pep bands while they were in high school and college (yes, the went to band camp too). This trait certainly skipped over me as I am hopelessly tone deaf. One of the objectives of Baby Music is that all children are musical and all children can achieve basic music competence. Their parents on the other hand, are still a lost cause.

Clothing: I did a purge of her closet recently, but saved some 9 month clothes that still fit her. Holy shit, I can't beleive that that was 6 months ago. I found a stash of 9-12 month clothes that I had be storing for when she "got bigger" and completely forgot about them. So now I'm using them frequently in her rotation so I feel they get their proper wear before she outgrows them. I've been putting her in dresses more often, because I'm guilty of wanting to dress up my little girl. However, the best thing about dresses? They become next year's shirts! (sorry boy moms) Pants that no longer fit -become leggings! Clothing sizes can be so crazy though; she can still wear a Gymboree dress that is for 3-6 months, but I recently bought two 12 month dresses from Cart.ers that she only wore once. Once. Unfortunately, it looks like Kate has inherited my broad shoulders.

I am becoming slightly obsessed with shoes. It's been like Cinderella trying to get the perfect fit.'s has some really cute shoes, but the quality isn't as good as their regular clothes. I purchased a sweet pair of grey flats, but after washing them once, I went to put them on her and found they were filled with sand! I thought she may have worn them went she went to the park, but my mother confirmed she hadn't. Seriously, it was like we had been to the beach. I had to throw them away. She has another sweet pair from Cart.ers that she's only worn a few times and they're already starting to look worn. Or maybe my daughter just wears the hell out of her shoes quite quickly.

Highlights from our New England Trip

First trip to Boston and visit with a Doggie!

First Carosel ride
(Mom got in trouble for trying to ride too)

Meeting 'Salty' the beach cat and substitute Tyler

So adorable to see cat paw prints in the sand

Wading in the Atlantic Ocean

Another canine dining companion

Visit to Aquarium with Little Myrtle

Husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on the day it was announced that Brad and Angelinia were divorcing. I thought back to when it was announced that Brad and Jennifer Anniston split. "When these two are tired of having sex with each other, what hope do the rest of us have?" asked Tina Fey on Weekend Update. (this was before some sketchy details about the Brangelina situation emerged) Actually, we celebrated on the night before our anniversary as Husband had to umpire a hockey match on our actual anniversary. When we travelled to Australia and New Zealand for our honeymoon, we talked about going back down under for our 10th anniversary. Instead we bought a house that needed renovations, did a few rounds of IVF and spent our anniversary at a cottage in Rhode Island with my parents and our amazing daughter. Living the life of dreams.

Looking forward to: My next update! So, as you can see, (if you made it to reading the end of this) I've become a bit obsessed with update writing. I had to keep jotting down notes and I actually had the bulk of it written weeks before the deadline. I'm looking forward to the holidays and am trying to grasp on to the fact that by the end of the year, my baby will be a year in a half. 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Five Grief Stages of Breastfeeding Cessation

Although things were going surprisingly well, I attended a breastfeeding support group when Kate was only four days old. I think I needed validation that we were doing things right, or I wanted to know what to do if things stopped going well, but mostly, after being holed up in a hospital room for three days, I just wanted to get out of the house. There was another mother whose baby was only a few days older than Kate. She only shared a few details of her birth event, but I knew it was not exactly what she was expecting. I got the sense that she wanted to do an all natural, possibly a home birth, but ended up with a C/section and her baby needed to be in the NBICU for a few hours after birth. Her recovery had been hard and she was still in a lot of pain. Breastfeeding was quite challenging. Her baby wasn't latching well, they were trying SNS, nipple shields, everything. She was pumping, but producing very little. It seemed to be another layer of disappointment for her.        
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              About two months later, I started attending the New Parents group and I ran into her again. She was talking with the nurse who led our classes about her breastfeeding struggles. While I was trying not to eavesdrop, I couldn't help catch a bit of their conversation. The nurse was gently suggesting that maybe it was time to move on from breastfeeding, and she offered some suggestions to help her with this transition. I was glad I overheard her, as her words helped me when I had to stop nursing and pumping. Here's the advice she gave adapted into the Five Grief Stages of Breastfeeding Cessation.

1. Appreciation
Be thankful for the time you spent breastfeeding your baby; no matter how long or short it was. There are many women who want to breastfeed, but aren't able to do so. 5-10% of new mothers will not produce enough milk to nourish their newborns. Some women have had prior breast surgeries including cancer treatment that prohibits nursing. Women with infections such as HIV are restricted from breastfeeding.  Schitzophrenic mothers have to forgo breastfeeding due to their psych medications, which prevent them from decompensating. Some babies don't latch well. Frenulums may be tight, or a cleft palate may be present. Adoptive mothers or women whose babies are delivered by a surrogate may not have the opportunity to breastfeed. As paid maternity leave is not guaranteed in the United States, some women must return to work as soon as six weeks after their baby was born, sometimes even sooner. Some women may not respond well to a pump and will lose their milk supply. Despite laws to protect a woman's right to breastfeed in the workplace; sometimes it's simply not feasible. Only a small percentage of women in the United States continue breastfeeding to their baby's one year mark. Don't whine about only nursing for 11 months.

2. Acknowledgement
"Feeding your baby is the most important thing" the nurse said, "How you feed your baby and what you feed your baby are just details." I've often reminded my patients that formula fed babies turn out very well. My Husband wasn't breastfed and he has a PhD in computational chemistry. I had to follow my cues from Kate. She was just as satisfied by her bottle of formula as she was with a bottle of breast milk. As long as I was available to cuddle and snuggle with her, she wasn't bothered by the fact that we weren't nursing. It may have been the development of two more teeth, but she seemed to advance her self feeding and really moved away from purees and started eating more solid foods. I've often noted that other animals in nauture breastfeed for a very short duration. Although other species are much more mature and developmentally advanced than humans; their mammas know that their babies survival is dependant on their ability to hunt and feed themselves. As Kate could now walk, grab things with her hands and bring it to her mouth and chew; she was ready to move on. It was time for me to be ready too.

3. Anticipation
"What are some of the things you can feel excited about doing after breastfeeding?" the nurse asked. For me, it was some of the little things. I could wear what I wanted, when ever I wanted. I no longer needed to live in my nursing tanks. I could wear a dress out in public without worrying about flashing my bits if she needed to nurse. I could sleep through the night without feeling guilty that I didn't wake up to pump. We no longer needed to spend 45 minutes each night washing my five sets of pump parts and packing my pump bag. No more worrying about forgetting my pump bag at home, which happened on three occasions. The first time Husband had to drop off my bag, he was very sweet and even brought me a coffee. The third time, he was really pissed and became more angry when he got stuck in traffic on his way home and was late for a Web-Ex conference.

The first time I went to work deliberately leaving the pump bag at home, my shoulder felt so much lighter, and it wasn't just because of the weight of the bag during my climb up two flights of stairs from the parking garage to the office entrance. I didn't have to worry about trying to fit in a morning pumping session in between patients. I no longer had to miss lunchtime interviews with prospective candidates because I needed to pump. I wouldn't have to strip down and hope that everyone would respect the 'do not enter' sign on the lockless door to the quiet room. Oh, I'm sure I flashed the window washers, some construction workers and various flight paramedics (the room I used overlooks the helipad landing).

Mostly I felt a weight lifted from being relieved of the pressure of pumping. I didn't have to worry about how many ounces I would produce; fear I might spill some or forget to refridgerate or leave the milk at work (which miraculously, never happened) While I appreciated that he was involved; it would bug me when Husband would ask me how much I pumped and then would do the math to let me know how much I needed to fill her day care bottles each day and possibly have some left over for the freezer. While he never said anything to put pressure on me, I resented feeling like I had to meet my quota. While fortunately, I haven't had any occasion to use it, but the next time I get a cold; I am so taking pseudophederine!

4. Celebration
The nurse suggested doing something that she couldn't do before as a way of celebrating the end of breastfeeding. Perhaps going out for Mexican food and having a margarita. As I had often consumed alcohol and followed the one hour rule, I had something else in mind. I went out and got botox injections. My previous session was about a month before Kate's embryo transfer. "We're not actively trying, but we're not preventing anything. We're open to the idea." I told the anestetician who asked if I were planning a pregnancy, just because it was fun to say. It was even funnier as I had started my lupron injections that morning. This time, I knew that I could take advantage of their complimentary re-tocuh after two weeks.

5. Commeration
The nurse's final piece of advice to the new mother was to purchase a special necklace that would allow her to reflect on her breastfeeding memories when she looked at it. While I haven't ordered it yet, there is a woman who can make a necklace with a drop of your breastmilk. I completed my final pumping session on the night of my botox injections so I would have some for this purpose.

About a month later, I discovered there is a sixth stage of grief. I was getting dressed for the gym and for the first time post-pregnancy, I realised that my breasts now looked the same as they did pre-pregnancy. My immedicate response was to be thankful that they did return to my previous state without any stretch marks, enlargened areolas or deflated looking skin (or at least it hasn't taken affect, yet) When I arrived at the gym, I saw a 28 week pregnant woman with her perky cleavage just bursting out of her top, reminding me what I no longer had. I commiserated with a friend who is a fellow A-cup. "Sorry Jane, somethings just aren't meant to last."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Sunday, 21 August 2016

13.5 Months

After Kate reached one year, I was planning to write an update every three months. I knew that her growth and development would slow down a bit and I figured that I would be pressuring myself to turn out monthly monotonous reports. Yet I often found myself making mental notes; 'I should include this in her next up date' or taking photos for a post. I decided that since I'm really writing these updates for myself, I would aim for every six weeks. As tedious as it can feel at times, I really appreciated having these posts when I was preparing her baby books, and as time seems to be flying by so quickly, I enjoy looking back and reliving my memories. What I want to capture from this point in her life is that she's starting to become so affectionate. She'll walk over to me with her little arms outstretched and if I squat to become closer to her, she'll wrap her arms around my shoulders and give me the sweetest hug. It feels like my heart could burst. Some times, she'll bury her head into my shoulder, which is the best thing in the world. Less charming memories; breaking my glasses. 

Stats: 22 lbs 4 oz  29.25 inches

Teeth: Proud owner of 6 teeth. Four on top, two on the bottom. I suspect she'll cut the next two on the bottom right when she reaches 14 months, if she's keeping up with her 2 month teething schedule.

Hair: Her hair is growing longer and thicker in the back. I can finally brush it and can even get it to flip up a bit at the end, a la Cindy Lou Whoo. We're worried that she may have inherited her father's hairline as she's still pretty bald on top.

Sleep: We are so fortunate as she's a rock star sleeper. I'm so thankful every day she [and we] sleep through the night as I know a sleep regression could be right around the corner. We [I've] been working on putting her down in the 'drowsy, but awake' state so she can put herself to sleep. She usually does in about twenty minutes. There is crying when I leave the room, but a few minutes later she'll settle and I can hear her babble to herself. She's not as reliable about going down easily for her naps, so I've resorted to putting her in the jogging stroller and walking around our block to get her to sleep at times. When I do put her down in her crib, she's on her front and she'll cross her legs underneath herself, sticking her butt up in the air. It's very sweet. 

Eating: I think she's finally grasped the concept of Baby Led Weanig and she's now like; "BLW? Where have you been all my life?" She wants to eat herself and does not want to be spoonfed my purees anymore. In fact, she's discovered how to shake her head when she doesn't want something. Oddly, she seems to prefer picking foods out of a container, than having everything placed on the tray in front of her. Even when we're at home, I discovered serving her bite sized pieces in a small tuperware container makes the feeding process more efficient. She has also lost interest in squeeze packets, which is really irritating, as I've been making pouches with my own purees. (Yes, I've become that Mom.) I purchased the Inferno squeeze pouch filling stations, which reminds Husband of the multi-vial set up for a lethal injection. Nice thoughts while you're making food for your daughter. Anyway, I have several pouches stored in our freezer, so I hope she takes to them again. As I stopped pumping on the night before her first birthday, it helped me to be filling the freezer with packets as we started working though my supply of frozen breast milk. Fortunately, Kate had no problem transitioning to cow's milk, and I've been giving her 1-2 bottles of breastmilk per day (if I remember to defrost some). I'm dreading the day I discover the last bag of breastmilk. Would it be really wierd if I kept one bag in our freezer forever? 

On one hand, it's a bit of a relief as I don't have to spend extra hours during meal prep making purees and packets, but I do have to chop up veggies and foods for her to eat during the week. Fortunately, I discovered these 'protein blend' bags of frozen vegtables. I just toss it in the microwave and fill her containers. She loved the Thai seasoning blend, but when I offered the Southwest inspired version, she just picked out the black beans. sigh.  Nonetheless, we're getting closer to having her eat what we eat. My Dad and I went to brunch with her and feed her from our plates and she gobbled it right up. We gave her some left over salmon and she loved it, hamburger not so much, but she did take to my homemade Mongolian beef. Sometimes it can be hit or miss. Something that she loved one night, she'll refuse the next night and will send us back to square one trying to find something to give her. She can now actually eat raw green beans, which confirms that she is defniately my daughter, as I only eat raw green beans. Seriously, cooking then ruins their natural deliciousness (in my opioion). I eat them raw as a snack and as a side dish with meals. Going to the Farmer's Market is so much more fun with her, now that she can sample the produce and to my surprise, I discovered that she can eat a whole strawberry.  I've been trying to introduce using a spoon on Tuesday and Saturdays, while feeding her yoghurt. If you load the spoon for her, she can figured out putting in her her mouth, but she can't quite scoop with it. Often, she'll hold the spoon upside down and dip the end in the yoghurt, then touch it with her fingers. This leads to the idea that she could just use her fingers to eat her yoghurt. She finishes with yoghurt all over her face, as if she's trying a facial mask. Good thing Tuesday and Saturdays are also her bath nights. 

Likes: I really want to document some of these, as they are so perculiar. Opening the refridgerator door captured her curiosity one day, and she discovered my plastic lemon and limes. A lot of Paleo and Whole 30 recepites call for fresh lemon or lime juice. Get real! I'm a working mom, so store bought lemon and lime juice will work just fine. Plus, Kate is fascinated with them. Whenever the fridge door is open, she rushes over to grab the lemon, lime or sometimes both. We're figuring that one day she'll accidently drink some of the juice and that will end the obsession with the plastic lemons and limes. 

She's also obsessed with bags. It started with carrying around her bottle or snack bag, then she got a hold of a cloth shopping bag and started walking around the house collection toys and other small items (the remote control, her shoes) into the bag. I could be in real trouble. I'm missing the girlie gene that makes you like purses and shoes. While I was a student (we're talking since high school through my mid-twenites) I just carried my wallet and other personal items in my ruck sack. When I started interviewing for a real job, Myrtle feared (probably accurately) that I show up to an interview with my worn-out back pack on my shoulder, so she bought me a nice simple back purse. I used that purse for the next eight years. The pull of the zipper broke so I replaced it with a safety pin. The inside lining had riped and I hand repaired it three times. Finally I releted and bought a replacement purse at a conseignment shop back in 2010 and I've been usting that purse ever since. It's a real Burburry and cost $75, which I still thought was a lot for a purse. Then I remembered that one of my former colleagues was so excited that she successfully bid on a [I can't remember the designer's name] purse and won it for $500. "Is it a magic purse?" I asked. 

I confess that I have a bad habit of leaving shoes lying around the house. The thing is, I can usually remember where I've put them, so I find it annoying when I look in all my usual spots, only to discover that husband put them in the closet. Shoes are not safe with Kate as she'll pick them up and move them to an entirely different spot. Like the time I couldn't find my swimming flip flops, only to discover them in our laundry hamper. 

Were you looking for these?

Our latest solution for cheap and easy entertainment is to play 'Couch Cushions'. I discovered this while cleaning one day, and it led to a regular activity. Just thow the middle cushion on the floor and she can climp the different levels of the couch. Double bonus: we can watch the Olympics while she plays! Our household rule is that the only time we have the TV on in front of her, is for sports. The morning version of this game is called 'Pillows'. We'll toss the decorative pillows on the floor and let her climb over them. It gives us a few extra minutes in bed. 

I can't stop her from playing with the remote, 
so I've resorted to turning around the batteries.

Myrtle gave her this picnic basket, as littled Myrtle loved it. 
It has special meaning to me, as little Myrtle and I played with her toy weeks before my transfer.
I was wondering if I'd ever have my own baby to play with.

"More Coffee, Damn You!"
Yeah.. letting her play with my travel mug was a bad idea 

Dislikes: I can't think of anything specific that she doesn't like, other than the usual, getting her face wiped, diaper changed or going to bed. Probably the biggest thing she doesn't like is being told that she can't do something perfectly reasonable like sit in front of the open freezer door. As she seems to be developmentally advanced in her motor skills, I'm thinking we'll hit the terrible twos early. Part of me admires her defiance and fierce determination not to let anyone tell her 'no'! I'm sure those skills will help her succeed in life, but for right now? I don't give a shit how much you're yelling and crying, you still can't wash your hands in the cats' water bowl! 

Diapering: As I was looking back at my prior posts, I found it curious that Kate has been wearing Size 3 Pampers since she was 4 month old and weighed only 15 pounds. According to the box, Size 3 can go from 16-28 pounds, but Size 4 starts at 22 pounds and goes up to 37. Just as I had opened a new box of Size 3, she started leaking at night for three consecutive nights. Previously, she had only had two leaks. Once, when she woke up around 5 AM, both husband and I thought the other person had changed her. She feel asleep after nursing and as it must have been on a weekend, she slept until 8 AM and leaked all over our bed. The other time, I think her diaper just wasn't properly fastened when we were getting her ready for bed. We bought a box of Size 4 to use at night, but still leaked. Then I learned about Over Night diapers. They don't seem to be any thicker, so I'm not sure what makes them better, but I don't care how they work. I just know we've been leak-free for over a week now. 

We're still using cloth during the day, and I'm not sure why, but I felt it was a big deal to make it to one year in cloth. My only complaint with our diaper service, is that they tie the diaper bags with a twist tie. Thanks for the chocking hazzard every week! 

Milestones: She is getting steadier and faster on her feet, which brings the question: at one point do we let her walk out in public? I know it somewhat depends on where we are and how many other people are around, but for some strange reason I feel I'm not ready for that. At least carrying her in the Bjorn or pushing her in the pram allows me to keep her safe. Sigh. This is the first step of letting go. 

She has been using the sign for milk. I know what you're thinking as you're reading. Jane, haven't you been going on about her making the milk sign since she was eight months old? Yes, but rather than using it randomly (or signalling for me) she uses the milk sign when she wants her bottle of milk! She's also figured out how to use the 'more' sign while she's eating. It's so amazing to feel like I am actually communicating with her. She is still making the sign for cow...but uses it for the cats. Palm to face... I think we may re-take a sign class. 

Although it's not listed in the Denver Developmental chart, her other milestone would have made my late grandfather proud. She was playing on the floor in the kitchen, while I was eating my breakfast/reading random crap in the internet. She started motioning to the Baby Mum-Mum on the table, so I opened it up and offered her a piece. However, she was more interested in the wrapper. I gave it to her, figuring it would be good for her dexterity to remove the cracker from the wrapper. Once I saw that she was eating it, I retruned my attention to Facebook. Then I looked up to see her opening the drawer to the garbage and she was attempting to throw the wrapper in the trash. [Well actually it was the recycling bin, but we'll teach her that later] I would later learn that a few days earlier my dad held her and showed her how to throw a wrapper in the trash, still it was a proud moment. 

Activities: Remember how I once said that I never wanted to participate in those Mummy and Baby groups that involve sitting around and singing? What was I thinking when I signed us up for a baby music class? Well, I had an underlying alterative motive. Years ago, I heard an interview with Sting, who was speaking about his experience as a music teacher.  He described that it is such a mistake for school boards to cut music programs from their cirrculum as the lessons leaned in music education translate to language, science and math classes. I'm signing and dancing so she can be smart. 
Actually, it's a really good class. The instructor is excellent and she teaches basic music competence, so I don't mind sitting around in a circle and singing if there is a purpose to it. There is a woman in the class who I met during my days of attending the breastfeeding support group, so it's nice to feel that I'm on the 'Mom' circuit. I signed us up for a 10 week session in Autumn,  but I'm not sure how much longer we'll continue with it, as the classes are a but pricey compared to other activities we've done. It just so happens, that the class is near the pool, and she'd ready for a nap when the class ends, which is just in time for the noon swim class. Sometimes she'll sleep through the class for me, a few times my coach has helped feed her lunch while I swim, and othertimes, she goes into full blown meltdown mode. I haven't figured out how to coordinate with her to meltdown during an IM day.

Speaking of swimming, I started taking Kate to "Parent and Child" drop-in swim sessions. I had been kicking myself for not starting sooner, as the pool is less than a mile from our house and is open year round. Yet, I found it to be a little disappointing. When we arrived, the organizer described that the parents walk around with their babies, there are floating toys to play with and instructors are available if you have any questions. Um, when do we do kicking drills? What is our main set? So not exactly what I had in mind. However, without any hesitation, I wore my goggles in the pool and I didn't feel the slighest bit self conscious.

Health Issues: I had to take Kate with me to a swim meet and she fell off a concrete step and received a small scrap on her head. I should mention what we were doing at a swim meet. My coach sent me a text asking if I wanted to make my return to swimming at an upcoming meet. A long course metre meet. I haven't been in a pool since our meet last October. I think she knew that I was just crazy enough to do such a thing and would start swimming again, It's what makes her such a great coach, she knows how to motivate someone like me and then can coach our young fast swimmers to a Masters world record in the 4 x 100 m redley relay (true story). Anyway, the scrap healed quickly, it just was very prominent on her little bald head. She also had another ear infection, which brings her total to three. I'm trying not to focus on the fact that she only had one ear infection during the first eleven months of her life while she was breastfeed and she's now had two since we've stopped. 

Bacon makes everything better;
even a bump on the head.

Looking forward to: We're going back east next month. Not quite sure I'm looking forward to flying back and forth with Kate by myself! Wish us luck!