Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Co-sleeping Doesn't Work For Us

During pregnancy, one of the things I was vehemently against was bed-sharing with the baby. No way, Jose, our bed was going to be a place for my husband and I to seek refuge against the life shock that is adjusting to parenthood. We set up the bassinet next to our bed, determined to room-in with Baby Bird for the recommended six months, but no way would he sleep in our bed.

Fast forward to Bird being about 6 months old, when he went through a series of nights where he woke up screaming, inconsolable and unable to go back to sleep, wanting only to be near his mama or daddy. I researched co-sleeping and bed-sharing, then practically begged my husband to let us try it. I learned so much about why co-sleeping could be awesome in my research that I really wanted to try it on a part-time basis (as needed).

K. was convinced that it might be a way for us all to sleep a little better, and so we tried.


It went something like this:

Shuffle shuffle squirm squirm. Awkward positioning of my arm. Nurse nurse nurse. Baby falls asleep; I lay paralyzed for fear of waking him if I shift. Lay awake for a long time. Finally drift off. Minutes later awaken to nurse-nurse-nurse. Repeat process.

And he nursed about a million times. It was unreal. I thought our 3 times a night was inconvenient before this experience. I was wrong.

So, considering I got next to no sleep and had a child attached to my breasts all night, then got up feeling like I was hit by a motor vehicle, I decided co-sleeping is sadly not for us.

I'm very envious that some people make it work and love snuggling with their baby. But I'm also secretly a little glad that our bed is just for the two of us. To each, their own.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Have a Secret

Secretly, I think I'm amazing. I think I'm special, and that I should be shouting from the rooftops about what I've managed to accomplish.

I find myself wondering if other mothers feel this way? Billions of mothers world-wide bear beautiful children in their lifetimes. Every single baby is a miracle in so many ways, but at the same time, the ability to bear and raise children is not exactly a unique trait.

Then why do I feel like I've done something nobody else can do? Like I've been let into some special sisterhood that few people are admitted into? MY baby is a miracle. MY baby was grown inside of me and continues to be nourished primarily by me now that he is thriving on the outside. MY baby has made me realize how genuinely happy I am with me, and my life, and especially my family. MY baby has basically changed me from a pessimistic, selfish, and occasionally arrogant woman into a happy, optimistic woman who is learning how to truly be generous. I feel like the Grinch - my heart grew three sizes when I delivered Baby Bird.

Baby Bird is a little bit of kismet to me. I feel strongly that he was given to us as a gift, in the exact right time for us, and for exactly the right reasons. I feel he was sent to me at this point in my life before I could become any more pessimistic or set in my ways.

New mothers are told to never wish away babyhood, because it is fleeting and will pass quickly enough on its own, leaving mamas longing to revisit those precious moments. I always believed I would "hate" the baby stage, even throughout my pregnancy. But, I can honestly say I have not wished away Baby Bird's babyhood. I soak up every cuddle, smile, giggle that I can.

Tell me, Mamas, do you have a secret, too? Do you secretly feel that you are special and accomplished because of your children?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

8 Months!

I hesitated to write this post for fear that I was going to jinx us, but it seems Baby Bird it outgrowing his reflux! Life is much easier, and he's just like any other baby now.

Baby Bird is 8 months old now. He is so much fun!
  • He is chattering up a storm! Most importantly (to me), he says, "Mama!". And now, when I ask him to say it, he does.
  • He is trying so very hard to become mobile. He's really strong and is constantly trying to flip himself around and squirm his way to whatever he's looking for.
  • He has a smile that lights up my life. Unfortunately, we have trouble catching it on camera.
He WAS having fun, I promise. Then right after this photo was taken, he got cold and his bottom lip shook.

Remembering & Realizing

Remembering the first time I heard him cry, and thought it the most beautiful noise on earth.

Remembering the first time I saw his face, red and twisted into a shocked, angry expression after meeting the outside world. How I wished his first experience after birth was being placed calmly on my belly.

Remembering how my doula made sure I saw my baby before they swaddled him.

Remembering how I felt like the quintessential woman and mother the first time Baby Bird breastfed.

Remember the first time, in the hospital, I called him Baby Bird. He was mouth agape, trying to latch to feed, maybe two days old?

Remembering the first time we put him in his car seat, and how tiny he was.

Remembering the first trip to the grocery story. I had the baby blues and wanted to sob. A lady came over to ask how old Baby Bird was. When I said he was three days old, her jaw dropped and she told me how good I looked. She probably didn't understand why I looked so sad, but her compliment was appreciated and I will remember that for the rest of my life.

Remembering the first bath at home, and how we were terrified.

Remembering crying while he ate and ate and ate during growth spurts. I was convinced I would never leave the couch and never be able to leave the house alone again.

Remembering his first smile. My world has not lost its glow since them.

Remembering the three weeks where his reflux was at its worst, and my husband was working 12 hour days. Remembering his misery and my tears.

Remembering the brief stint of depression that followed.

Remembering the first time he laughed, and how we weren't totally sure what that funny little noise was but that he sure looked happy.

Remembering all the nights where we sat snuggled together in our rocking chair in the dark, drowsy and drifting.

Remembering seeing the whole room light up when I walked into his room and he smiled because I was there.

Remembering when we stopped fighting over naps and went with the flow.

Remembering the person I was before he was born and realizing that I don't care who that person was, because this is who I am now. I am, for the first time in my entire life, truly happy and fulfilled.


Realizing that this feeling is for keeps, and that I have so much love to give that I want to have more babies.

Realizing that I can do this all-consuming motherhood thing and still manage to do some things just for me, too.

Realizing that I am far stronger than I ever believed possible.

Realizing that I am a better, kinder, more caring person than I thought I was.

Realizing that for the rest of my life, someone is going to call me Mum.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Living for What I Value

Lately, because my school program focuses so much on helping people determine their values and beliefs, I've spend a lot of time reflecting on my own values and beliefs. I'm in my mid-twenties, and I feel most people this age are just solidifying their ideas of what they value. I'm no exception. It's very important to live as closely to one's values as one can (for a plethora of reasons, not the least of which is simple happiness). This is often referred to as congruence.

In terms of congruence, it seems that some people automatically live according to their values without necessarily even needing to articulate them. In my experience, these tend to be the naturally happy, effervescent types of people. I am inspired by these people. Others, like myself, struggle with congruence.

I value my family above and beyond anything. I value generosity of spirit as well as tangible things. I value a healthy and fit lifestyle, living as closely to how nature intended as possible. I value living simply, and living with minimal "drama".

The number one value I struggle to live up to is living healthfully and staying physically active. I've been digging deep within for answers on this one, and I've come to this hypothesis:

When values are acquired through education (rather than being raised with them) and differ from habits, incongruence results.

 So, in my case, since I was raised with no particular focus on healthy or natural nutrition (not that we ate poorly), and no focus on fitness or athletics, living deliberately healthfully does not come naturally to me. My views on living naturally come from much self-directed education and a need to feel healthy and vital.

Right now, I'm struggling with a combination of factors, not the least of which is an inability to see that in many other ways I'm living according to my values. Family? Check! Generosity of spirit and tangible things? Recently I've made great progress in this area and my life feels richer as a result. Healthful eating/living? Unfortunately, no. Living close to nature? Only if you count how I am raising my son. However, I don't seem to give myself much credit for the many ways in which I'm already successful. A large part of my self-esteem comes from living healthy, and right now I'm not living healthy.

I want to lead by example. I am loathe to find myself being a "Do as I say, and not as I do" parent. None the less, I know I must be forgiving of my faults. I'm certainly not perfect, but I am doing my best hour by hour and day by day. I'm focusing on my number one value right now (family). A large majority of my non-family time is spent on school work so that I can ultimately live according to my belief that it is possible and important to be happy in one's career. I'm making natural, positive choices for my son.

The biggest hurtle in my journey to living healthfully is my food addiction. I'm not sure when it will become appropriate to chase this demon. Right now, with things in their present state, I just can't. I know I'm not ready. I don't have the mental or physical resources to deal with another thing on my plate by choice. The thing that eats at me, though, is that each day I spend living in sub-optimal health is a day that affects my life span and enjoyment. Often, I find myself thinking that if I could just hire someone to tell me how to do it (from a logistical standpoint), I'd be way better off. It's so time consuming to try and learn about how to accomplish my nutritional and fitness goals and put them into motion simultaneously. It's exhausting. I even find it exhausting to be around people who are doing it right now.

How do you live according to your values? In situations where you find yourself living incongruently, what do you do?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Side Note

My dearest mommy friends, has anyone outside of your spouse ever told you that you are doing a wonderful job raising your children?

The resident doctor who was working with the GI specialist at the hospital today was so taken with Baby Bird. He was such a great patient, smiling through her pokes and prods. She was sure to tell us that we are doing a wonderful job with him - he is happy, growing strong and thriving. She enjoyed that we have him in (adorable) cloth diapers and that we have already taken so many steps to reduce his reflux discomfort.

Anyway, the point is, we as mothers (and fathers too) spend much of our time worrying and fretting that we are making the wrong choices for our babies. This is especially true of new parents, and parents of babies with health problems.  Sometimes, hearing the words that affirm you are, in fact, a good parent come from an utter stranger's mouth - somebody who owes you nothing - is a powerful force. For me, today, it was very powerful. Between her kind words, and the doctor reassuring us that Bird is okay, I am hoping to be able to enjoy motherhood even more.

Catching up - 7 months and counting!

Baby Bird is an unbelievable 7 months old. Actually, he is 7.5 months old now.
  • He is getting smilier and gigglier with each passing day. He is just a joy to watch. He'll sit in his jumperoo and alternate bouncing with grinning at me. 
  • He can't crawl yet, but he is trying! He gets on all fours and rocks. He also lays on his belly and moves his limbs in the crawling motion, and he's squirming around to get what he wants. 
  • He loves when I stand him up against things his height that he'll soon pull up on and let him stand there.
  • He is such a charmer with strangers, although he seems to be getting shy from time to time. 
  • Turns out he is rather enjoying the world of food. So far he enjoys just about everything he's tried, except he really hates carrots.
  • His daytime sleep has really improved. His naps are typically 1-2 hours now
Other Baby Bird news:
  • Things with the acid reflux are improving. He still has the occasional flare up, but over all he is happier and less bothered as time goes on. Chances are he will outgrow it in the coming months.
  • I have been taking him to an osteopath, which seems to have helped. I recommend researching and asking about alternative therapies such as osteopathy and chiropractic for babies with acid reflex. Sometimes birth trauma such as caesarean birth or traumatic vaginal births can cause alignment issues with baby's body, which can press on the esophageal nerve and cause reflux symptoms.
  • We had a specialist appointment with a Paediatric Gastroenterologist today.  He said that Baby Bird's reflux is not severe, and there are no red flags that lead him to do further investigation. He is thriving, meeting milestones, and is relatively happy. The doctor believes that he will very likely outgrow it in the near future.  So, while this has been a terribly big stressor in our lives and continues to be a pain to deal with, it is not serious and will pass.
  • I have wondered for a long time how much of the reflux-related fussiness was a problem mostly because of my coping skills. I am trying again to focus on my self-care by quitting facebook (a time-sucking addiction for me), writing in my journal, etc.