A Colourful First Birthday Party

We recently celebrated our son’s first birthday. Um, how has it been a YEAR already?!

It was a perfect Sunday, sunny and hot. I love late summer just before it tips into fall, and now we have an extra special reason to have a party every year around Autumn Equinox.

I created a Pinterest board to share our photos. Enjoy!

We love you, little man! You’ve brought so much love and joy into our life, wow. And we’re only one year in! Happy Birthday Baby…

Dear New Mom

DearNewMom
Dear New Mom,
First of all, congratulations! You survived the pregnancy in all its glory and ickiness. You survived the birth; scarred perhaps, physically or emotionally, and stronger because of it. You now hold your precious baby in your arms. The euphoria still lingers, the heavenly scent of their newborn head somehow makes the whole ordeal seem worthwhile. Breathe it in. Because soon reality will hit.

I want you to know that there will be tears. Yours as well as your baby’s. It’s ok. You will be tired. So. Very. Tired. You will likely have moments of self-doubt. Are you really cut out for this? Moments of regret. Maybe this baby wasn’t such a good idea. Moments of resenting your baby for stealing your life, sucking your energy, distancing your childless friends, changing your body irrevocably, and robbing you of [insert your favorite things here] and sleep. Precious sleep.

Then again, I’m overly dramatic and maybe you won’t. Maybe, when you hold your baby for the first time you will henceforth wear a permanent “yay! I’m a Mom!” smile on your face until the day they leave home for college.

But I doubt it.

I want you to know you will make mistakes. Mystery crying will fluster you into giving colic remedy when you should’ve given teething gel, or infant Tylenol when really their pajamas were just making them too hot. You may think you have naps all figured out one week, only to find out how wrong you are the following. It’s ok. This is normal.

For a while you might not recognize yourself in the reflection of shop windows as you walk the streets with your baby. Who is that? You’ve traded in your cute little purses for diaper bags, trendy haircuts for headbands and ponytails, push ups for nursing bras, and late nights for early mornings. In time you will get to know the new you. Don’t worry, the old you is still in there, although it may feel like that you, that life, is over and gone and the scope of what you’ve lost compared to what you’ve gained may make you immensely sad and want to run away. It’s ok. This too is normal.

You will ponder how it is possible for such a tiny mouth to rule your life. Wonder how you will survive months of not sleeping longer than 3 hours in a row. Think of all the Moms in the world, how we’ve all been there. And somehow we make it through.

You will marvel at the fact that everyone starts out life so tiny and dependent, and you will finally fully realize what your Mother went through. You will call to thank her. And apologize.

You will come to do things that you never imagined you’d do. Sniffing butts, powdering scrotums, sucking snot (thank Goodness for noseFrida!), and one day when you’re really lucky, catching vomit with your cupped hands. Again, all normal.

You will be pushed to your limits only to find that you still have more to give. And just when you think you might crack, your heart will break open at their first real smile or giggle or the gentle way they reach their little hand to your face. And as you laugh and beam and cry all at the same time, you finally feel it. That “Mother” feeling. It might feel foreign and scary at first, or it might feel completely natural. Either way, it’s ok. This is normal. All the craziness, the mistakes, the happy highs and the desperate lows- ALL of the emotional roller coaster that is parenthood, is normal. Just hang on and enjoy the ride.

So to all you nervous and giddy new Moms out there, happy 1st Mother’s Day!

5 Great Apps for New Parents

5greatapps
Oh, my iPhone. How I love thee. I loved you before I was a Mom, with your multi-functionality that made my commute and my communications easier and more enjoyable.

Now that I’m a Mom I love you even more, with your ability to entertain me when I’ve been trapped in the nursing chair, and the ease with which I can now snap and share photos of my baby with the WORLD (because, really, the entire world cares about my baby photos).

Disclaimer: I did not “test-tap” hundreds of apps to find the BEST. I’m just sharing a few of MY favourites. (titles are hyperlinked for easy app store finding. You’re welcome.)

1. Instagram & Instacollage
Instagram is kinda like Facebook but just photos. Which I really like. Instacollage takes a bunch of your photos and turns them into a cool mash-up. Win! And companies like Sticky9 will turn your best Instagram photos into magnets! Win-win! (If you do go with Sticky9, be a doll and use my friend referral code FRIENDQZ0H, would ya? Flutter flutter)

2. Photo 365
I WISH I’d had this app from the day my baby was born. It’s super cool to upload a photo (or more) every day to remember the main event and to simply see how much they change. I used the free version first to try it out but then opted to buy it since I thought it was so awesome and was using it daily.

3. Sprout
I was kind of addicted to this app for a little while. It’s a comprehensive baby tracker for pretty much everything: sleep, feeds, pumping, diaper changes, growth, milestones, even tummy time. For a solid month I tracked my baby’s sleeping and eating habits; I thought I might “crack the code” if I could properly interpret the patterns. Ha! If anything it just confirmed for me what HIS normal average is, which is very different than what the EXPERTS say is average for a baby his age. I took a few days off, but now I’m still tracking his sleep. I also love the milestones section where you can upload a photo with the “event”. Again, I tried the free trial version first to check it out and then bought it because it is so useful.

4. Scrabble
At any given time I usually have between 3 and 6 games going. The mental stimulation is good. You can’t cheat. I know lots of two-letter words now that I don’t know the definition of. I’m into words so I like this game more than say, Candy Crush. But to each their own. The free version crashes a lot, so the paid game is worth it.

5. Wonder Weeks
Based on the book by Dutch doctors Frans Plooj & Dr Hetty van de Rijt, the term ‘wonder weeks’ describes the mental developmental leaps babies experience in their first 20 months of life. These leaps lead to exciting new skills for babies but can be miserable for parents. This app doesn’t really tell you what to do about it, but my wife and I have found it helpful to have the insight so we are more compassionate to what our baby is going through.

So there you have it.

And I do all this out of my baby’s sight since I don’t want him to adopt the gestures of our technological age too soon! Yes, we are THOSE Moms who intend to limit our little one’s screen time to next to zero until he is 2 years old at least. He sees me using it as a camera (and already knows to flash his million dollar smile!), phone and when we Skype with our long distance relatives, but I hide it from his sight when I’m texting or surfing the internet. It’s tricky, but I do it. Because it’s MY toy, not his. 😉

I’d love to know what YOUR favourite “parent” apps are, please share!

(and let’s connect on Instagram!)

My Belly Button Will Never Be The Same – A Pregnancy Poem

tenmonths

We prayed for you to come our way
didn’t know your face but knew your name
How quickly you answered our call that day
and my belly button will never be the same

I endured leg cramps, heart burn, and feeling sick
Watched my body change from the inside out
Indescribable magic, feeling you twist and kick
My love for you was never in doubt

Overdue by two weeks, you made us wait
Finally one night I felt the pain
So excited, a bit scared, such a state!
It was a stormy Equinox with wind and rain

24 hours later and not as planned
You came into this world screaming strong
Euphoric joy now that you were safe on “land”
and you were healthy and nothing was wrong

So many tears and so many smiles
in the short weeks since you came
a deeper love than we have ever known
and my belly button will never be the same

1977 vs. 2014 Mommy stress

Since the birth of my son, I’ve turned to my Mother from time to time for insight and advice. She raised my brother and I, and we turned out pretty great, so naturally I thought she’d be a wellspring of information on babies.

I. Was. Wrong.

Her response to almost every question I’ve had? “I’m sorry, I don’t really remember.” The next runner-up: “Oh you would know more than me, with all your reading. I was just winging it, being a hippie Mom.”

So this got me thinking about the vast difference in the typical Mommy stress in 1977 compared to 2014.

1977vs2014


What Moms in 1977 worried about:

  • “Feed the baby when it’s hungry.”
  • “Change baby’s diaper when it’s wet/dirty.”
  • “Help baby nap and sleep, but if baby resists, no big deal. Let them stay up late with you, watching TV/jamming with our friends.”
  • “All the other Moms in my Library storytime group seem to have their s#!t together so much more than me.”
  •  
    What Moms in 2014 worry about:

  • “I know breast is best, but should I supplement with formula for the added DHA and Iron?”
  • “My baby is in a high/low percentile for weight/length.”
  • “What kind of diaper should we use? Is cloth diapering really the more environmental option?”
  • “What kind of stroller/baby carrier should we use?”
  • “Should we vaccinate?”
  • “Co-sleeping or crib sleeping?”
  • “Attachment parenting or baby training?”
  • “What method of sleep training should we do?”
  • “How the heck do I get my baby to sleep?! They require 4-6 HOURS IN NAPS A DAY & 10-12 AT NIGHT FOR PROPER BRAIN DEVELOPMENT!”
  • “Did I remember to give the Vitamin D drops/Infant probiotics/homeopathic colic remedy, and stimulate them with black & white high contrast images/songs/story books/tummy time EVERY DAY?”
  • “Is this amber teething necklace really working?”
  • “How do I prevent my baby from watching me text and wanting to play with my Smart Phone?”
  • “All the other Moms in my Stroller bootcamp class seem to have their s#!t together so much more than me.”
  •  
    I guess some things are the same.

    I just try to gently remind myself — whenever I am stressing out over (lack of) naps, forgetting the daily D drops, or my son being in the 5-10th weight percentile — that I truly am doing the best I can and if he’s fed, clean, happy, and the house isn’t on fire, then it’s a good day.

    And now that I’ve already read all the books, websites and blogs, I can just let it all go, trust my instincts and be a carefree millennium-hippie Mom. (I think I just made that term up) I can try, at least.

    Besides, apparently late night TV and second-hand pot smoke didn’t hurt me!

    Surviving the four month sleep regression

    First off I want to make a disclaimer: I’m not an expert on babies. Not my own and certainly not yours. I’m not a Pediatrician, Maternity Nurse, or “Baby Whisperer”. I’m just a new Mom in the thick of the special little hell known as the 4 month sleep regression, figuring out how to survive this s#!t show.

    1355_woman_drinking_coffeeYou may have already picked up from my tone that I’m not very chipper these days. I’m doing my best to keep it together and still enjoy the good moments when they happen, but I’m tired. So. Very. Tired. And after three loooong weeks of crappy sleeping, I’ve come to realize the two things that will help me survive this: patience and caffeine.

    Yes siree, patience and caffeine. You’ve probably heard the saying that the reward of patience is patience? Well I think the reward is also that you don’t yell at your spouse, lock yourself in the bathroom to cry (but by all means please do that if you need to!) or worse yet, shake your baby out of frustration.

    Any form of caffeine will do. I prefer almond milk lattes that I make at home, and fair trade dark chocolate. When my baby was newborn I was worried about the caffeine negatively affecting him. After the nurse at the breastfeeding clinic assured me that wasn’t the case, I haven’t had a second thought. This is survival, folks. That one latte somehow makes the rest of the day more bearable.

    I’ve scoured the internet for advice and assistance on helping my baby sleep and I’ve concluded that:

    1. Experts tell you that you should put your baby down drowsy but not sleeping but don’t actually tell you how to accomplish this feat,

    2. I’m failing miserably at ensuring my baby is getting enough sleep (no matter how hard I try, some days he really only wants one 10 minute nap in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon),

    3. Reading anything, especially information on baby sleep, on my iPhone during a night feeding only stimulates my mind more and inhibits my ability to get back to sleep quickly (bad idea!), and

    4. A lot of Mommy bloggers, even the ones who are professional authors, have atrocious spelling and grammatical errors on their site. Sometimes I want to post a comment and correct the mistakes, but then I remember it’s 3:30 a.m., and I’m to tired too care about there speling problems. :-p

    It’s important to put ourselves in our baby’s little booties and try to understand things from their perspective. Huge developmental growth is happening at this stage and it’s gotta be a bit overwhelming for them. In the last three weeks alone, my little guy has mastered precision grasping, rolling over from tummy to back, and two new vowel sounds! We can’t project mature emotions and motives on them yet- it’s not like they are waking up deliberately to piss us off.

    Of course the other thing that gets me through is knowing that this sleep regression stage won’t last forever. After all, the mantra of new Motherhood is “This too shall pass”. Sounds too eff-ing Zen for me when I’m up lying on the living room carpet with a baby who decided not to go back to sleep after his third feeding at 5 a.m., but I still try to remember it.

    Eventually he’ll get back to being a great sleeper with one or two night feedings. Right? Better yet, one day he’ll be a kid who sleeps through the night! Heck, years down the road he’ll be a teenager who won’t let me into his bedroom any more, and I’ll fondly reminisce of these “in arms” days.

    But for now, patience and caffeine. For all you veteran parents, how did you survive?

    (If you want to read a great article on the 4-month sleep regression from a certified baby expert, check out “Help – My 4 month old is sleeping like a newborn again!”)

    What I hate most about being a Mom

    crying-Fyn
    So I haven’t been blogging much lately. Caring for a newborn baby can get in the way of things like that. I’m only two months in, so admittedly, I’m still on a steep learning curve. However, my wife and I do feel like we have a handle on some things; at the very least, we are feeling like we are getting into a rhythm and it’s pretty good.

    But there are definitely aspects of my new job that I’m not too crazy about. So while my adorable tiny beast is napping, I want to vent a little.

    1. The verbal abuse. Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t like it when someone screams at me. But now I have to put up with a boss who, if he gets hungry or cranky, pulls himself up to his full 22 inch height and BELLOWS at me until he’s reddish purple in the face. To make things more stressful interesting, he and I don’t speak the same language, so I am constantly trying to translate. Usually what he wants is my breasts however, which also makes this whole scenario borderline sexual harassment.

    2. I am now a 24 hour human buffet. It’s wonderful and all that I can nourish my baby the way nature intended, with the “liquid gold” that flows from my breasts, but wow it takes up a lot of my day (and night). For someone whose stomach is apparently the size of a walnut, he sure spends A LOT of time feeding. Good thing I have a comfy chair, a breastfeeding pillow, and books, magazines and my iPhone to occupy myself. What? WiFi is dangerous to infants? Screw you.

    3. It’s a dirty job. If you saw a job posting for a 24/7/365 live-in caregiver that required you to deal with human excrement, urine, drool, and (if you’re really lucky) vomitus with no overtime, stat pay, or holiday bonuses, would you apply? Just the other day my baby spit up on my freshly laundered shirt in the morning, and leaked pee and poop on my pants in the afternoon (two different occasions- glad I didn’t bother changing my pants the first time). Motherhood is NOT glamorous.

    4. Date nights look a lot different. My wife and I established our Friday date night tradition years ago. Whether we actually went out for a nice dinner or night of dancing or just stayed in and ate nachos and watched a movie, we always did something fun together. Nowadays, Friday date night involves us entertaining our baby while he sits in his swing so we can eat our dinner with both hands, then maybe catching up on Modern Family before it’s bath time and I’m in the glider nursing him to sleep for an hour. If that works (and sometimes it doesn’t), we then fall into bed, exhausted, or she’s already asleep by the time I hit the pillow. Sexy time? Not so much.

    5. It’s all my fault. Suddenly, I’m blaming myself for everything. Baby is gassy? Must be something I ate or drank. He won’t fall asleep? My fault for keeping him up too late. I thought I’d be immune to the ubiquitous Mommy guilt, but apparently not. Can’t I at least share the blame with my wife? There’s two Moms in this house!

    6. Not enough sleep. It’s cliché , but it’s true. I love sleep. And I really shouldn’t complain because by definition my baby sleeps through the night- which is 5 hours in a row. Yaaaay… So forgive me if I don’t have the energy for Mom and Baby Pilates or Stroller Boot-camp in the park (even though I do need to work off my remaining pregnancy pudge. Oh joy!).

    7. I feel incompetent. Normally I’m a confident, capable woman. Since having the baby I now doubt myself more and question my knowledge (I’ve never done this before!) and intuition (this feels right but the books say no?). I don’t know how to navigate the unfamiliar feeling of being responsible for another human! Being a new Mom is probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, and I can’t just walk away and quit when it’s tough. It’s a good thing the hospital doesn’t have a return or exchange policy…

    Okay, okay, enough sarcasm. Besides, we haven’t even hit the really rough patches yet- like teething, the terrible twos and teenage years! (shudder)

    Yes I love my baby and I count my blessings every day that we are both healthy, live in a peaceful part of the world, and I get to raise my child in a solid and loving partnership.

    I love it when he smiles, coos and giggles. I love seeing him adapt and grow. I love how strangers smile at me more. I love how much stronger my connections are to my family and friends. I love being a member of the Mommy club now. And I LOVE not being pregnant anymore- which really, let’s be honest, is the second-best gift you get after your baby. 😉

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