May 25, 2010

The Family Tree

hayjo_bigboy3 weeks. That’s how long our newest family member has been in our lives. Oh, wait… 3.5 weeks. Bloody hell, I look away from the calendar for a minute and 5 days go by. I don’t even remember what month we’re in.

Regroup. Back on topic.

Version 2.0 has wound his way around our hearts in little time, and is becoming more and more alert every day. I love watching him look around, usually with furrowed brow, wondering what the heck he got himself into. If only he really, really knew what a crazy crew he’d joined.

My family has been tremendous since his birth. Everyone has been so generous and chipped in to help in one way or another, spoiling the kids and us, bringing food or just entertaining Version 1.0 while we adjust to two. (Particularly important for her to have all that attention lavished on her because she is clearly a child of my own flesh and blood and thrives on being the centre of everyone’s attention.) We’re going to be forever grateful for having had that assistance during these first few weeks. Now that Grammy and Grampy are heading back home tomorrow, life’s going to get a little weird and crazy again.

For whatever reason (and I don’t think this is particularly strange), I want my children to have a close family. I want them to know their family, have close relationships with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, and be able to call or visit whenever the mood strikes. I lament the fact that Hubby’s parents are so far away that this can’t be reality quite yet, and we hope to have them here soon, but I’m looking for ideas on how to bring them closer when they are still physically far. Any ideas on traditions, routines, tools, techniques for staying connected with far away family? We love them very much and want the kids to know them well.

Are the roots of the family tree important in the development of our kids? Or, is this primarily contingent upon mom and dad and their immediate surroundings? How much interaction with extended family is required for that to be a strong influence in their lives? Can they achieve that same influence through letters, emails, phone calls, etc.? Even with my family only an hour away, it still means we don’t get much face time together.

I’m interested in ideas and thoughts around engaging with family that is far away. Or how to kidnap them so they can’t go home and are forced to stay with you forever.

May 22, 2010


Breathe, breathe, breathe. In for two, out for four. And… we’re good.

Apologies for the brief interruption in sanity that was my last post. I was teetering on the edge of “holy sh$% is this going to be my life for the foreseeable future???” and contemplating what types of substances could opiate me enough to not notice the circumstances until we got past the colic. Luckily for us, Version 2.0 recognized his mommy’s instability, weighed the costs and benefits of continuing the crazy-making behaviour and thought the wiser of it all, ending the sleep strike of a few days’ duration.

Today, and the last couple of days, we have been back to a mostly angelic child with a discernible fussy time in the early evening/late afternoon. This, I can handle (even though I feel somewhat zombie-like due to an unfair bout of insomnia last night). I’m still sleeping on the couch with him at my side, due to a toddler unwilling to sleep in her room while the guest bed is being occupied. It’s just easier to have my own, compact space to sit up, feed the Hoover, and then lie down again to sleep.

So, we’re settling in to something of a routine.

Another way I am settling (and if you are offended by my critical view of zealots and overly passionate do-gooders, skip the rest of this post):

Coming to terms with my medically interventioned delivery.

This is a big, hot topic and I’m going to try and be brief, but doubt my ability to do so. I’ve fought for awhile to try and educate the very passionate individuals out there who (usually with good intentions but lousy forethought) are actively alienating a good portion of the population of the women they profess to be supporting. These are the women who went through childbirth with surprising ease and likely no medication or intervention, and believe now, strongly, that every woman can do this if they just reject the horrible pressures and fear-mongering of the medical profession, plan to give birth under a shady oak with their friends and family chanting beside them. Surgical procedures are unnecessary, drugs harm the baby and mama, and we all live happily ever after because EVERY woman is designed to give birth.

My assertion has always been that as long as mom and baby are healthy and happy, who cares how they got here? Also, not every woman is designed to give birth. Without the tools and procedures available to us, we would see alot more deaths and injury to both mom and babe. That’s the way it is. Let me say it again… we’re not all birthing divas, for various reasons. Some of us need help in order to have a healthy baby. As long as we know that this help is available, we are able to feel more confident and less fearful.

Logically, I know all this. Pragmatically, I know I needed the intervention I had, whether it was the emergency c-section this time, or the epidural last time, and I can reason that out. BUT! GET THIS! I feel disappointed this time. I feel like I’ve somehow not risen to a challenge – that I copped out! REALLY? Why is that? Oh! I know why! Because the zealots have created an environment in our society where anything less than the drug-free, quick hero birth is somehow seen as sub-par. Like we haven’t really done our part. Where does this come from? Videos (I’ve seen some doozies where the distributors insist it’s not meant to alienate anyone, just to celebrate life…. yet right there, in the video, in plain text, it compares and contrasts drug-free and not drug-free births and how the babies have suffered or been unable to ‘perform’ to the optimal degree… um, guilty much? Oh, actually my favorite is the new FB group called “I had a home birth. Not crazy. Not brave. Just educated.” …. seriously? Could you be more condescending? I’ve read and read and read and based on my experience it is just not for me. Don’t call me uneducated for THAT!), discussions, prenatal classes, public health nurses, online communities, EVERYWHERE. You can’t NOT support these approaches without being disregarded as jaded and fearful. Imagine a new to-be mom watching these, reading these, hearing these, and going in to deliver their first child absolutely convinced that anything that is suggested to her is an abomination and she suffers the disappointment and guilt when she requires assistance of some kind or another. You want to try and tell me that that doesn’t instil unnecessary fear of judgement and criticism to a new mom? It’s absolute crap.

And here I am, feeling like I’ve missed something because I had to have surgery. I don’t have a birth story like I did the first time. I don’t know how long my labour would have been, how much I dilated before my water broke, how many pushes it would have taken. I went into labour, it was very quick, and he was out of me within 3 hours, taken surgically. I KNOW it had to happen, there was no choice in the matter (and trust me when I say, there was no choice…. I was NOT blindsided by some bored doctor who just wanted to get home). I should have no remorse.

But guess what? I do. Not only because of the aforementioned emotional and psychological battling, but also because the recovery is so much more intense, and frustrating. It’s unlikely I will have more children, so I won’t have to decide what to do next time, but that also means I will never have another chance to try again at natural childbirth. But why the hell do I care so much?

I’m not alone, I have discovered. In fact, I am in good company. Every other woman I have spoken to about this who has had some type of intervention (and many who have not), feel the same way. They feel guilty, like they have missed something or done something wrong, or possibly put their child in a less optimal situation, when really… they have not. They did everything they should have and the last thing they need to feel is more guilt than we are already going to face for the rest of our lives as parents.

A word of advice to you passionate people who mean well… take a second to think about what your message means to all the women who have had an intervention of some sort (and likely felt ok about it until you posted that last video or article). Take a minute to think about what you are insinuating to the rest of the less ‘fortunate’ population who chose something other than your way. By all means, do what is best for you, enjoy every minute of it. Noone is here to judge you. We’d appreciate it if you would return the favour.

To all the zealots who go a step further and actually get vigilant and abusive in your messages… give your heads a shake. You’re making it worse for the vast majority of the population. It’s none of your business how someone else wants to give birth or raise a child, nor is it for you to judge whether their situation warranted intervention or not. Why don’t you try spending your time supporting the women who need it, and leave those of us who were happy with their end results, happy.

I need to go and cuddle my little man now, and celebrate what I have, no matter how he came out. I guarantee you he’ll never be worse for wear because of it.

May 17, 2010

There’s a Forest…

So, we had a baby boy. Two and a half weeks ago. I wanted to post sooner about this beautiful little thing, and my thoughts and musings on all manner of subjects, including life with two, my love expanding, natural childbirth vs. intervention, sleep, being busy, working after birth, etc. I had intended to be light-hearted, swathed in this glowing euphoria not just of a new life but in the surprising ease with which we have entered into this new phase.
I should have posted then, to give fairness to the wonder of my sweet baby boy and how precious he is to us and how lovely our life will be with him in it. Unfortunately, over the last couple of days all the euphoria has been drained and I’m struggling, big time.
Up until a couple of days ago, he slept, ate, slept, ate, slept, ate some more and we had a good little thing going, he and I. He eats alot, more than Version 1.0 did, and is up every couple of hours but it was manageable. Saturday night he did a stint from 1 am – 4:30 am where he wouldn’t settle and I couldn’t get him to sleep. Intermittent crying, etc. I was tired for sure, but it wasn’t hell. Yesterday, 4 hours of it again in the afternoon with everyone trying their hand at getting him to settle, and varying degrees of success. Today, it started at 1 PM and it’s still going strong at 9 PM. I’ve had him out walking in the stroller, bouncing, jiggling, swinging, shushing, feeding… We’ve been rewarded with a few short naps but as soon as he wakes, he’s back to the crying. He won’t take a bottle with much success, rejects a pacifier (a whole pile of zealots are cheering right now), and the swaddle doesn’t seem effective anymore.
I’ve been crying for an hour.
My crying makes me think about other sad things, like how I have been so consumed with keeping my baby fed and happy since his birth that I haven’t been able to spend any quality time with my daughter, and how I am so conflicted and upset that I had a c-section and how mad it makes me that the natural childbirth zealots out there have made us feel less worthy because of this, how I know it’s going to be forever and a day until I get time back with my husband, how frustrated I am that I can’t put 100% into work to try and give our business the push we need (and relieve my partner who has been picking up my slack), etc.
We are the practitioners of guilt, us moms.
I will end this post now before I sink more deeply into frustration and sadness, but will leave with some bright lights that burn behind the fog and I know will pull me out of this soon enough:
  • My baby boy is gorgeous. He’s as perfect and beautiful as his sister was/is, and we’re thrilled to have him.
  • I was up and recovering from surgery within hours of being wheeled into my room. Two days after, I was walking around and ready to leave the hospital. Though it has been painful, with infections and such, I’m thrilled that two weeks in, I’m in pretty good shape and only occasionally reminded that I had major abdominal surgery.
  • My in-laws have been here to share Version 2.0’s early days, and make sure Version 1.0 gets ample attention. We don’t get to see them often, so I am thrilled they are here. My parents have also been amazing and supportive and came to help when Version 2.0 was just days old.
  • Version 1.0 has been so sweet to her brother, and I love her even more for how mature and loving she has been. Yeah, we had a few days of off behaviour, but it’s better now for the most part and she’s a wonderful, patient, loving girl. She’s started saying “Mommy, I love you SO much” and I want to eat her at that time.
  • Our friends have been amazing, stocking our freezer full of meals and our cupboard full of wine. I can’t thank them enough for being so kind and helpful.
  • I had him on Friday, was back to work on Monday, and am thankful I’ve been able to at least keep up some involvement, even if I’m not 100% productive. I have an incredibly understanding partner.
  • My labour was quick and he was out in three hours (including the c-section).
  • One day he will be a toddler, and we will be past this crying.
On that hopeful note, I will close now and try to see the forest for the trees. I just wish they would stop falling on my head.

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