Thursday, October 27, 2011


Andrew, only 8 hours old.
One of the things that I wanted to do the most, but also feared the most was nursing my baby. I wasn't quaking with fear over the thought of labour when I was pregnant, I was fretting about whether or not I would be able to produce, or if it would hurt, or if I would have to supplement, etc. One of the best things I did was to take a labour and delivery class through Fraser Health that prepared me for the delivery, and the first couple of months after, and we spent more than one class talking about breast feeding. As a result, I felt pretty prepared when it came time to nurse Andrew. Or so I thought.

It was drilled into my head over and over again that as long as the baby is latched properly (and they show what it should look like) that nursing shouldn't hurt. What they didn't say was that there would be some discomfort associated with the first week or so, and that lanolin cream is your best friend. They talked about what not to do, but they didn't talk about actually taking care of your breasts when you're nursing, and that was the most confusing part of the whole thing for me.

In case you didn't know, the best thing you can do when you're starting off nursing is to take a couple of drops of breast milk, apply it to the nipples, and let it dry. But no one told me how to politely explain this to my constant stream of visitors, coming and going to see the baby. It's one thing to whip your breasts out in front of your spouse or mother, feed the baby, and then wait for the milk to dry before covering yourself up, but try your father in law, or great uncle, and you'll see what I mean.

Another thing was nursing pads. As an Eco-conscious person, I initially tried washable cotton nursing pads, but the problem was, I was a leaker. Only an hour or so, and that baby was soaked, and I would have to replace it. It's not very eco-friendly to have to wash those suckers several times a day, and then dry them in the dryer, so my only other option was disposable ones. Besides the fact that they whicked the moisture away and therefore prevented mastitis, they were conveniently thinner, and hard to detect under my shirts. So, being the Eco-conscious person that I am, I looked for disposable ones that weren't individually wrapped, which is only one brand by the way, Johnson and Johnson's. Now, let me start off by saying that I'm not usually a brand basher, but these things were terrible. If they got any moisture on them whatsoever, they stuck to my nipples, even if I had applied some lanolin cream to them. They dried the surface so completely that they were painfully chapped, and when I did finally manage to peel them off my breasts, they left fibers behind that I had to peel off individually. Needless to say, I didn't buy them again.

Andrew didn't have any latching issues or anything like that, and I was lucky in that my supply came in fast and rich, and Andrew grew quickly on breast milk. That is, until he decided to start being difficult. At about 4.5 months, Andrew suddenly lost interest in feeding from me. We would go 3 or 4 days with him barely eating, popping on and off the breast, totally distracted, and he would be hungry, but he just wouldn't focus long enough to eat anything worthwhile. Then, there would be a day of desperate feedings, every ½ hour or so, until he brought back in a considerable supply. If I was lucky, there would be one blissful day of great feeding after that, until it was back to square one. He was getting frustrated, and so was I. I thought long and hard about what I should do... supplement with a bottle of formula? No, he wouldn't take a bottle any more. Deny him feedings for awhile, so when he ate he'd be really hungry? That only served to piss us both off even more. Switch him completely to formula? It seemed like the only solution.

By 6.5 months, breast feeding was a joke. He was still on a round-a-bout feeding schedule, barely sustaining himself and keeping my supply going, and he would no longer nurse when we were anywhere but someone's house in a relatively distraction-free area, and there was no chance of nursing if his feet could touch the arms of the couch or chair we were in. I had to switch spots depending on what side I was feeding him on, or he wouldn't nurse unless we were laying down. It was getting to the point where he was only nursing because he had to get something in his system, and I was on the verge of tears at nearly every feeding. We were left with no choice. Andrew was weaned off the breast and onto the bottle during one agonizingly emotional day. And it took the help of one very patient friend while Neil and I left the house and saw a movie together.

But it paid off. I suddenly had the freedom that I didn't have when I was nursing. I could leave Andrew with Neil or a babysitter and go run errands, or actually go have some time on my own for a change. Andrew started gaining weight again on the calorie-rich formula, and it meant that people who had wanted the pleasure of bonding with Andrew during a feeding, like his grandparents, suddenly had that freedom. I really beat myself up for awhile after weaning him about not sticking with the breast feeding, I loved the bonding as much as I hated the fighting, and I wanted to give him what was best. But that's just it, for Andrew, breast feeding wasn't what was best anymore. He couldn't move my nipple around to see what he wanted to see, the way he can move the bottle, and he couldn't eat in the car while we were driving, or other inconvenient places. I gave Andrew the best possible start I could, but in the end, bottles were what we needed.

And now comes the next stage of life for Andrew, at just over 11 months old, we are now starting to wean him off the bottle and onto sippy cups. Once he hits 1 year, we will do 1 can of Transition formula, and then it's onto Homo milk for him. It seemed like such an agonizing step at the time, but really, would he learn to take sippy cups so well if he was still breast fed? Perhaps not.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Months 0-3: Sleep

If you have ever talked to a new mother, or lets face it, even looked at a new mother, you know that sleep is a precious commodity. From the time that you get pregnant to the time they are about 5-6 years old (and sometimes even older than that for some) sleep becomes something you will do just about anything to get more of, and a subject you will talk for hours about. Probably to the point where you are repeating yourself, but you're too tired to remember saying anything about how exhausted you are the first 18 times.

Now, people who know me know how small I was before I got pregnant, and everyone was betting I would show early (which I did) and that since I already had a bladder the size of a walnut, that I would be making even more frequent trips to the bathroom. They were right. All throughout my pregnancy you could see me power-waddling my little behind to the bathroom at all times of the day, and definitely multiple times during the night. And it seemed like I would just get comfortable and be about to drift off when my body would wake me up to pee, yet again. Before I even felt my first pang of labour pains I was an experienced up several-times-at-nighter, and I thought I would be a pro at this getting up to feed the baby thing.

I was wrong.

Because you see, I expected the getting up for the 2am feeds to be just that; get up, change a diaper perhaps, feed the baby, then maybe spend a few minutes rocking him to sleep and then going back to bed. Boy was I ever naive! Because babies are just not that simple, at least, mine wasn't. In that first month Andrew would wake up, and I would indeed change his diaper and start to feed him, but what no one told me about, was falling asleep on the breast. I would do anything I could think of to wake him back up to continue feeding, but nothing short of banging pot lids together would do it, that is, until I would finally give up and put him back to bed, crawl back in myself, and then.... "Waaaaa!!!!!" back up I would get to feed him again.

Only this time, he would eat wide awake. And he wouldn't want to go back to sleep after that. A 2am feeding would turn into a 4am exhausted crawling back into bed, only to be woken up shortly after that again. Finally by 3 weeks we had a bit of a rhythm going, and then we got sick with the Head Cold from Hell.

Now, let me tell you, I have had head colds. But I never had a head cold like this, and Andrew was just as sick as I was. Our nostrils were plugged, our throats were clogged with phlegm, and we were exhausted all the time, but could hardly sleep. Andrew had finally gotten used to sleeping in the basinette for a couple hours at a time, and I had finally gotten used to sleeping in 2 hour spurts, until we got this cold that is. I tried putting him to bed in his car seat, in our bed, on the floor, everywhere, but the only thing that he would sleep soundly in was his swing. While it was moving.

And that's what did it for the next 3 months. No matter the time of day or the amount of time, Andrew would only sleep in his moving swing. We even heard it run out of batteries one night, and had to do an emergency battery change, one of us moving the swing while the other tried to quietly fumble with the battery compartment and change them as quietly as possible. I laugh at it now, but at the time, we were desperate. We couldn't let that swing stop, we were wiped.

As Andrew got older, sleep fortunately got a little easier to deal with, and to get. We finally managed to get him sleeping in his crib, and we broke him of the habit of falling asleep in our arms, and got him to put himself to sleep. We even managed to get him on a regular sleeping schedule, complete with naps, and even the occassional full night's sleep. But mostly, we find ourselves still needing to wake up about once a nice to feed him a bottle. But sleep, it's still a precious commodity, because once you have your child on a schedule, that suddenly means you're on one too.

Everyone talks about the benefits of having your baby "sleep trained." They say it's good for them, it's good for you, etc. But one thing they don't tell you about is the fact that you now must sort of stick to that schedule yourself. Bedtime for Andrew is 8pm, and he's generally up between 7 and 8am, with only one wake-up a night. So, that means if I want to get my 8 hours of sleep in, I need to get to bed about 10pm, because I like to wake up at 6:30am so I have a bit of quiet time in which to drink my tea and check my email and Facebook. 10pm. Because yes, I am that much in need of my 8 hours these days. That means no more late night televison or movie watching, and when Neil and I go out on dates, they only last a couple hours, instead of the 3-5 hours we would take before.

To outsiders, the solution is simple; take a nap when he does. But for some of us, that's not easy. I've never been the good napping type, unless I'm sick, and even then, it tends to mess me up for the night. No matter how little sleep I got the night before, no matter how tired I am when I go to bed, if I nap, I rarely fall asleep before 1am, and I just won't chance it anymore. No, until you have a baby, and until you experience the turbulance that is sleep, you won't really understand.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go make another cup of tea. I didn't have the best sleep last night.

Another mommy blog?

Sigh, yes, another mommy blog, I know. These days you can't turn and spit without hitting someone that blogs about something they do or know, and I'm certainly no different. For a few years now I've maintained a knitting blog ( and been quite happy about it, but I feel like I'm encroaching everytime I post something about my son there, and I realized that if anyone wanted to read just about my adventures as a parent, they really wouldn't be able to, since my motherhood posts are few and far between.

So, enter Project Baby. After my son was born almost a year ago, I have been striving to preserve the first year of his life, and all the important milestones along the way. I have taken pictures, I have taken video, and I have updated my Facebook status for my friends and family to read almost daily with things about him, but one thing I haven't done is really preserve those stories about him. You know the stories, the ones where I'm talking about how wonderful he is, or how much I want to put him back inside my belly for justanothermonthprettyplease? Andrew has been a blessing, even on those terrible days, and I want the world to know it. I also want some sympathy from fellow mothers on those days when I just want to pull my hair out.

Before I end this cute little introductory first post, I'll tell you a little about myself and my son. My name is Jessica, and I'm in my mid-20's. I live in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada. And before you ask how I stand the cold, weather here is pretty much the same as Seattle's, so I stand it fairly well, thank you. I worked as a pharmacy technician before I went on maternity leave, and I decided that instead of returning to the work force that I would stay home with my son and do daycare from home. I am engaged to the man of my dreams, Neil, and we are getting married September 1, 2012. He has brought his beautiful daughter, Morgan into our relationship together, and she is 6 and a half, 7 in February. She loves being a big sister, and she's a wonderful little girl, everything I could have hoped for in my own child. I look after one child in my daycare, a 3 year old boy who for privacy reasons, I will simply call T. He's a spunky little kid, and I'm very fond of him.

I'm also a bit of a green-freak. I try to make sure everything we use is chemical-free and I recycle like a maniac. I love a good bargin, and I like to repurpose things when I can. I'm crafty, I'm quiet, and my idea of a perfect day is one spent in almost total peace and quiet, curled up in a comfortable chair or even bed, reading delicious books and writing in my journal. I love to learn and I love to play. Being outdoors is heavenly, unless the elements are killer, and I'm fairly active. I'm also very emotional and sensitive, so I will try to make sure that I don't take my commenter's criticism too personally.

Well, I think that's about it for my first post, I hope you'll tick this little blog into your "Favorites" folder and share some laughs and possibly even some tears with me.