Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another milestone

I've said this before but Baby is such a quick learner. She makes up her mind to learn or do something...and bang, she does it. And does it well and complete.

Creative use of the potty @ 18 months
I predicted she would be toilet trained by the end of summer. And she was. I'd love to take credit and share my "training" tips but really, both S and I were so lazy about it that I actually felt guilty a few times. Baby would wake in the night and say she had to go to the bathroom and we would sleepily tell her that she had a diaper on and that it would be fine. Yikes. We had no technique and didn't really think about it all that much beforehand. However, I thought I'd share what happened and what we did (or, perhaps more importantly, didn't) do.
  • We were given a potty when Baby was born and we bought another one - we had one on each floor of our home and out in the open from very early on. We didn't really talk about what they were - they were often used as toy boxes.
  • We offered the potty from about 18 months but Baby didn't really show that much interested so we stopped offering. She went in the small potty a handful of times between 18 months and 2 years old.
  • Someone gave us a potty training book and we read it once in a while.
  • Baby discovered some Dora underwear that someone had given her in her smalls drawer not long after her 2nd birthday and desperately wanted to wear them. We explained that they were for when she wasn't wearing diapers anymore. She wore them over her diaper a few times.
  • The kids at her daycare were all potty trained at the time and the care giver said Baby often went in and sat on the toilet with her diaper on.
  • Baby saw the underwear again this spring and decided she was done with diapers. We started putting her consistently in underwear at home - she only had 2 "accidents."
  • After a couple of weeks I mentioned to our care giver that Baby was wearing underwear at home and she said to start sending her there with underwear too! We were skeptical but did it...she's only had 1 "accident" and it was when there was an assistant and we think Baby is a bit quieter around her and likely waited too long to tell her she had to go.
So there you go. Nothing too earth shattering. It has been uneventful. We do put a pull up on her at night still but she has already asked to not wear it and she's dry 99% of the time in the morning so we'll likely get a good quality waterproof cover for her mattress and be done with it.

Wow, no more diapers! Crazy!

I think part of the ease with which it happened is Baby's personality and part of it was wanting to be like the "big kids." It's amazing the influence the day care kids have on her...even with her only going 2 days a week. That influence is a whole 'nother post!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Country Girl

This past weekend, S, Baby and I decided to check out a  country fair. This particular country fair promised to have hay rides, horse shows, saddle sales, bake sales, and pony rides! This country fair was also only 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver!

This is the first year we've been to the fair as I had never actually heard of it before. Baby has been on a field trip to the Southlands Farm with the daycare group she goes to on Thursdays and Fridays but other than that we haven't really spent a lot of time in that area of the city.

The Southlands Country Fair is held in, you guessed it, Southlands. Southlands is a unique pocket in Vancouver that is chock a block full of million dollar home, sprawling estates and horses. There is a riding club and a farm to round things out. If you aren't lucky enough to pass by a trotting horse while driving through the neighbourhood the evidence of horses isn't hard to find on the roads.

We've been having amazing September weather and it was a very warm, sunny day so it was a perfect day for a fair. Baby loves animals and while she has met many real horses, she's never actually ridden one. She talked about "my pony" for 24 hours leading up to the event and was thrilled when the farm hand put her riding helmut on. She was a bit shy when first getting on the pony and wanted me to walk beside her but overall she seems to really enjoy it. Her pony was special apparently as it was the only one that had curly hair...just like Baby. It was a perfect match.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Talking About Death With a Toddler

This morning's conversation:

Baby: "My mom has really big earrings"
Me: "Yeah?"
Baby: "Yes. They have lots and lots of diamonds on them"
Me: *trying to figure out who 'mom' is*
Baby: "But they are at my mom's house"
Me: "Where does your mom live??"
Baby: *ignores my questions* "One day she gave them to me. Mommy's mom"

Ahhhhhh suddenly I get it. We had been looking at my watch while she was cuddled up on my lap before I left for work this morning. I told her that my mama had bought me the watch 11 years ago. She asked where my mama is and I tell her she's not alive anymore. She has also recently been extremely interested in looking at a photo of S and her mom that sits on the bookshelf. She seems convinced that she has met S's mom and that she knows her. (S's mom passed away in 2007.) As a result I've had to start having conversations about growing old and death. When I tell her someone is dead she usually asks why in a sad tone of voice. It's been a strange topic of conversation.

She obviously "gets" death in the most basic way - that it means someone isn't here anymore. But I'm not sure she gets that they aren't anywhere on earth. She asked me the other day in the car why people have to die. I explained that the cycle of life is that we're born, we live a happy, full life (hopefully) and then everyone dies. I think I compared it to the plant we have at home that grows flowers and then they die and then new flowers grow (this part may have been confusing...I was grasping for a simple example). I took care to emphasize that most people live a really long life and that death happens "a long time from now." That seemed to be good enough and she changed the subject.

I like and appreciate that she is asking these kinds of questions. I hope to never answer a question like this with "just because."  But it's hard. It forces me to really evaluate my own feelings on things. Big idea things. Or everyday things that I take for granted and don't give much thought to. Conversations like these are great opportunities. To learn, connect and dig deep into things. I feel like I would be missing out if I dismissed them. So, lesson #356, receive your toddlers millionth question as a gift. A gift of trust, confidence and respect.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Marches, parades and swimming...oh my!

As I sit here listening to the rain pelting the skylight and balcony my sun drenched weekend seems so far away!

Vancouver Dyke March 2012
It was pride weekend here in sunny Vancouver. This pride celebration was different for a few reasons. For the past 9 years I've either volunteered or been on the board for the Vancouver Dyke March (there may have been one year where I wasn't involved - my memory is a bit fuzzy.) For the first time I actually marched as a participant! It was good fun. The sun was hot, the crowd was pumped and bystanders cheered us on. We even got interviewed by Xtra West. We set up our blanket in a spot of shade where we could still hear the music and spent the next 3 hours catching up with friends and crowd watching. We then spent the night at home watching the fireworks - we're fortunate to be able to enjoy them from our balcony!

The next day we were up and out to the annual pride parade. This was also a different experience for me because for the past few years I've missed most or all of the parade. Baby napped through her first one back in 2010 and then again last year. This year I had every intention of being there early to scope out a spot on the the shade! As we left the house in 26 degree weather at 11:45 I was not feeling very hopeful. We parked our car at a friend's place and hurried down towards english bay. We decided to try a spot in a park along the parade route. We found a small tree shading a lovely spot slightly above the sidewalk on the route. We quickly laid out a couple of blankets (held a spot for some friends) and managed to sit down and enjoy the entire parade in the shade! Baby loved it and other than getting a bit wiggly near the end, she was completely hypnotized by it. I enjoyed it. I haven't enjoyed the parade that much for many, many years. We finished off the festivities with a picnic dinner and a swim at second beach pool. A perfect end to a hot, sweaty, thoroughly enjoyable day.

The main reason this pride weekend was different from the last two is that Baby was engaged and able to enjoy it. She loved the music and the wigs and the balloons. I loved watching her enjoy everything. I often found myself watching her watch the parade. Her eyes were wide open and she was just taking everything in. She once again reminded me to be completely present in the moment and see things with openness and curiosity.

Thanks for the reminder, Baby! And Happy Pride!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Work/life balance. Ah, the subject of many articles, discussions, blogs and workshops. But I've never actually read or attended anything on the subject. When I first thought about having children I assumed I would take the 12 months off that we are so lucky to have up here in Canada and then our little yearling would start full time daycare at a large center. That's what working parents do, right?

Imagine my surprise when we actually started trying to make a baby that my thoughts on the subject of work/stay at home mom/daycare would change. Drastically. It suddenly felt so completely unnatural for someone else to have such a huge role in raising OUR child. Couple this with the scarcity of quality childcare in our city and S and I found ourselves in quite a quandry. WE wanted to raise our child. WE wanted to be the most influential figures in our child's life. This wasn't coming from selfishness or arrogance...we just honestly feel like we're the best people to be caring for our child. I still feel that way.

We were fortunate enough that we did indeed care for Baby exclusively for her first 2 years. Now she also attends a wonderful, amazing small (5 kids max.) home childcare 2 days a week, S is home 2 days a week and I'm home 1 day a week. It feels like a really good set up. Our caregiver is truly an amazing woman and we're so, so grateful to have found her.

I do still have fantasies of Baby having a stay at home parent though. I don't feel guilty (anymore) that she is in someone else's care for 2 days a week but I still have niggling deep rooted feelings that I wish one of us could stay home full time.

So, why doesn't one of us stay home? Good question. We (un)fortunately live in one of the most amazing, expensive cities in North America. In fact, I think it is currently THE most expensive. Both of us were born and raised here so it's hard for us to imagine living anywhere else. The cost of us owning a home here requires us both to work. We also both enjoy our jobs and my job in particular is stable, flexible, provides great benefits and it pays well. It just doesn't seem to make sense to give it up. And as I mentioned, for the most part, I really enjoy it. However, having said all that, theoretically we could do the stay at home mom thing with a few modifications to our lifestyle. We could sell our expensive 5 minutes from downtown Vancouver townhouse and buy a bigger house out in the suburbs. This would not only give us more space but one of us (likely S) could stay home full time. I don't know. This is a tough decision for me...for our make.

For now, we're content with our situation. And content feels ok for now.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


It's been awhile since I've written here. I've been consumed by some training I've been taking for work (Which has inspired a yet-to-be-written post on life/work balance).

"Do this, Mama!"
Lots of other exciting things going on right now as well. Baby has started potty training herself. I have to admit that we have been SO lazy on initiating anything. We offered it once in awhile and she used it a few times but then we just didn't bother. However, she discovered some underwear in her drawer and loves wearing them so that started a conversation about how she will wear underwear when she's done wearing diapers. She asks to use the potty several times a day now - very consistently in the morning and evening. I feel like if we dedicated a day or two at home to just "get it done" she'd likely be out of diapers. But again, we've been a bit lazy about it so it's going at a slower pace. I anticipate she'll be diaper free by the end of the summer though. This seems like a HUGE milestone and the end of a big part of us caring for her physical needs!

She is continuing to blow us away with her drawing skills. Her drawings get more and more detailed. Her people now have pupils, fingers,'s fascinating to watch. She has known the alphabet for a long time and can count to 20 with no problem. She can even spell her name now and recognize the letters. I don't want to focus too much on "academic achievement" but at the same time I want to pay attention so she's always inspired in whatever she's doing.

She's also transitioned to her own "little bed" 99% of the time. Again, completely her own choice. She still wakes up at least once, usually twice a night but her bed is in our room so we don't have far to go to settle or comfort her. We're thinking we'll move her bed into her own room in the fall or winter if she wants. She's asked a couple times but we're not sure she's actually ready for it.

She has an awesome sense of humour and we all laugh lots together. I laughed a lot with my mom and I cherish having the same thing with my own daughter.

She's also really challenging "the rules" even though we don't really have any rules.Some days everything is a battle - which we try hard not to turn things into. We're very laid back but S pointed out the other day that she feels I'm "on Baby" a lot. I don't like being that person but I'm not sure how to deal with what seems like complete defiance sometimes. I honestly don't know what to do in those moments. No matter how many mama blogs I read I can't figure it out ;) Mostly I think she's just exerting her independence and learning so much every minute of every day.

All these things make her seem so grown up. She's just the sweetest thing and I'm grateful every day that she chose me to be her mama.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A belated Happy Mother's Day

I can't believe it's been 10 years since I said Happy Mother's Day for the last time to my mom.

10 years!?!

How the hell did that happen? I still find it almost unbelievable that she's gone...let alone gone for 10 years. I remember the last Mother's Day we spent together. She was sick but not bed-ridden sick yet. We went out for lunch and to Ikea. That might sound strange but it was something we liked to do together so it was a perfect day. I wanted to buy her a new bookshelf for her office. She wouldn't let me, saying something along the lines of "well, I'm not sure I need it." We both knew what she meant but neither of us wanted to say anything out loud. We both still had hope then.

I miss my mom pretty much every day. Really, really miss her. Sometimes I will cry out for her when I'm sad or hurting. I feel very young and vulnerable in those someone's baby. But one thing I've gotten used to about having 2 parents die way too young is that I'm not anyone's baby and haven't been for quite some time. Which makes me feel incredibly sorry for myself.

But mostly I feel bad that she got ripped off. She didn't get to become a "senior citizen". She didn't get to grow old. She didn't get to see me become a mother.

Happy Mother's Day, mom. I love you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Our little van gogh

Mama, Me, Mommy - "I is jumping"
S and I received our first homemade Mother's Day card from Baby (the writing wasn't done by her)! We have been shocked lately by how well Baby's drawing is developing. The first drawing of people she brought home a couple of months ago I threw in the recycle bin thinking that it was mistakenly sent home with her (really?! she drew that?!). A couple of days later I realized she was drawing these people whenever she had an opportunity. We have never taught her to draw anything, we've never shown her how to hold a pencil or felt and we've never directed her to draw. She does a lot of art at the daycare she goes to twice a week but I'm certain she isn't being micro managed or instructed in her art there either. She learns very quickly so she's likely watching what the older kids are doing and also appears to be quite good at it. It's super fun to watch this interest (and talent!) unfold.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Wow, it's been a very emotionally charged month! I'm feeling a bit drained and very, very tired so I haven't felt much like sharing anything.

However, I thought I should update here with the very big, huge, somewhat surprising news that Baby weaned herself recently! I guess I knew it was coming but it was still a surprise at how uneventful it was.

Baby had only been nursing before bed and sometimes before her nap on days I wasn't at work. I knew my supply was bottoming out because she would latch on and then stop and ask for milkies. I would explain to her that I was doing my best but that I just didn't have very much milkies these days. She'd hug me and not try again.

I know some breastfeeding advocates would suggest I was part of the weaning process because I didn't offer when Baby didn't ask. Which is true, I didn't offer. So, I guess I was part of the process in that way. However, I still strongly feel like it was completely her own decision and I feel very confident and good about that.

Besides the fact that I was really feeling like I was "done" with nursing the last while it was also becoming increasingly painful and uncomfortable. The reason for this pain is a whole 'nother post but basically what happened is I got pregnant again. I think the pregnancy affected my supply along with making me incredibly sensitive. (Unfortunately, I just found out last week at 9 weeks that the baby no longer had a heartbeat...but as I said, that's a story to tell another time.) Baby weaning herself around the same time I found out I was losing another pregnancy was/is tough. However, even with that going on I still feel happy about how our nursing relationship ended.

Baby nursed for 25(ish) months. And then she just stopped one day. We didn't have a talk about it. I didn't tell her no, she couldn't have milkies anymore. She just stopped and other than asking once, sort of vaguely, a week later she hasn't asked to nurse since.

Weaning for Baby seems to have taken the same course that many things have taken for her so far. When she makes up her mind that she is done with something or starting something new or changing something, she just does it. There's no long drawn out transition, she just does it. Not a bad quality to have, I think.

So, there it is. I'm no longer a breastfeeding mother.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Birth Story ( 2 years later)

I realized on Baby's birthday this year (December 30) that I have never shared my birth story here. I wrote a very timeline oriented birth story soon after she was born but I've never really spent a lot of time filling in the blanks. I've written it in my head several times over the past 2 years but I've never actually sat down and wrote (or typed) it out.

I'm sure my emotional experience and perspective of Baby's birth has changed a lot since 11:04pm December 30, 2009 but I've decided to fill in the blanks now anyway. I still feel as though it doesn't capture the moment. Maybe I'll work on it more over the years.

Here's long and possibly too graphic for some people but I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Baby's Birth Story

We were planning a home, water birth. The home birth part was planned fairly early on in my pregnancy and the water birth part was planned during my third trimester after attending a very informative and interesting Water Birth Info Night held at our midwives' office space. By the end of the pregnancy we had 3 midwives on our birth team and a wonderful doula. We had also taken Birthing From Within prenatal classes, also at Pomegranate, facilitated by Dancing Star Birth. I had also been receiving acupuncture throughout my pregnancy from an amazing doctor. I sort of felt like we had a "dream team" set up.

We were ready! (As ready as you can be....)

I had a ton of braxton hicks contractions the weeks leading up to Baby's birth. I remember Christmas shopping at Canadian Tire one day and I had such a strong contraction that I had to sit down on a pile of auto tires and rest until the pain passed. Up until then they hadn't really been painful at all. My doula had already predicted I would give birth on December 31. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Baby was due on January 3, 2010.

At 6:30am on December 30 I was awoken by my water breaking. It almost felt like a pop and there was no confusion about what it was. I checked the fluid and saw that it was clear. I had been told to check for meconium if my water did indeed break before labour started. I woke up S and told her that I was pretty sure my water had just broken. She was a bit surprised but we were both excited. I reminded her that I was having no contractions at all and that it might be quite some time before Baby was born. I decided to call my doula, Michelle, anyway just to let her know what was going on. When I called her house her husband told me she was at another birth so I called her cell and yes, she was at another birth that apparently was turning out to be a long labour. I told her the fluid was clear and I had no contractions so she told me she'd get her back up, Aimee, to call me and and then she'd check in with me later. S and I decided to tidy up the house a bit, get all the birth supplies ready and then try and go back to sleep to rest up. Around 9:00am I called the midwife on call, Leslie, and let her know what was going on as well. She was just leaving another birth and heading home for some sleep but said to call her later when contractions started and to keep her updated.

I woke up about 1:30pm with a sharp cramp. I didn't know if it was a contraction or not because it didn't really hurt all that much and since I'd never been in labour before I had no idea. I went upstairs and started bouncing on the exercise ball. I emailed some close friends to tell them we likely wouldn't be hosting the New Year's Eve get together as planned! I had a lot of blood streaked mucus over the next few hours and had some contractions but nothing too painful. S went out to buy some food and I continued to bounce. I think it was around 5:30pm when the contractions really kicked in. I remember having the first strong one while in the bathroom. I was terribly frightened by it. It was so....painful isn't really the word....intense. I completely felt out of control and I panicked that I couldn't stop it or escape it. It was interesting though because it felt different than when pain happens to you....this felt like I was doing something myself, yet I also felt out of control. I think I even said out loud at that point that I wasn't so sure that I could do this and that maybe I should go to the hospital. Aimee was there at that point and told me I was very safe and that we would do whatever I was comfortable with. But mostly her and S ignored my statement that I wanted to go to the hospital ;)

When filling up the birth pool in our spare room our hot water tank ran out of hot water. Aimee tried and tried to get it warm with water from the stove but it just never got there. And to be honest, I don't know that anyone could have convinced me to get down the hall and into it.

The contractions kicked into high gear pretty much immediately. I didn't have a long drawn out build up. They went from hardly painful to fall on the ground, don't you dare try and move me painful. I laboured on the floor in the bedroom while draped over the end of the bed a lot. I remember clutching a pillow and feeling like if I let go of it I would sink into a hole of pain and never be able to get out of it. I wasn't scared anymore though. I had realized that my body was doing exactly what it should be doing. I sat on the toilet a lot and threw up a couple of times. Even in the heat of the moment I knew they were likely both good signs in terms of my labour progressing. I also remember having a really silly outfit on...and I refused to take off my socks and slippers.

Our midwife, Lesley, came over at some point (my times are a bit fuzzy....sometime between 5:30 and 8:00), and she asked if I wanted to be checked. I hadn't been up to this point. I said yes because I wanted to know if my contractions were really doing anything. I was 8 1/2cm. I didn't enjoy being checked because it meant I had to lay on my back and I hated being on my back.

Not long after that I was laying on my side on the bed and I suddenly had this incredible, strong, powerful, unstoppable feeling that I HAD to push. It was quite simply one of the most amazing things I've ever felt. I don't even know how to describe it. It was perfect. My body was perfect. Leslie wanted to check me again and I was indeed 10cm.

I pushed for 3 hours. Beth, our second midwife, showed up at some point as well. I pushed laying down on my side and on my back - not very comfortable. I pushed standing up (I didn't like it but it was productive), I pushed crouching on the floor, I pushed on the toilet and laying over the end of the bed. I pushed and pushed and pushed. I was tired. I kept asking if the baby's head was out (I did this quite often over the 3 hours I was told ;) ). The midwives kept an ear on the baby's heart rate after each contraction and all along the baby was "very happy." I remember when Leslie told me she could see the head. I was SO excited. Beth kept encouraging me to feel the baby's head but I kept saying I was afraid of hurting it. I finally did though. Wow, what an amazing feeling. And it was also what I needed to give me that much needed extra push....Baby's head literally popped out to a chorus of ooooohhhhs from everyone but me. It felt good. I was asked to stop for a minute so Lesley could check the cord. Everything was fine and I pushed again to get Baby's shoulders out, which felt like nothing compared to the first pop. I expected Baby to slip out by that point and I remember being very surprised when Leslie urged me to "push out your baby's legs." One more push and out she came. I laid my head down on the bed and was so relieved. S had helped catch her and handed her to me through my legs. I held her for the first time and leaned back against S and closed my eyes. Best feeling in the world. Truly. She was crying a bit but mostly she was looking right up at me. So alert. All 9lb 7oz of her. I realized I still didn't know if Baby was a boy or a girl so I asked..."look yourself!" said Beth. A girl!!

I delivered the placenta not long after and had a few stitches, followed by a shower. It was so incredible to be in our own bed all cozy and warm. Everyone helped clean up, we had something to eat and then they tucked us in and we went to bed.

My birth team was awesome, S was amazing and Baby helped me along the entire journey. I wouldn't change anything about my experience.

Except, maybe next time I'll wear a more fashionable birthing outfit.