Mom chat on the beach

I met up with some summer cottage friends this weekend who both became moms recently – one has a 6 month old, the other a 2 month old. We chatted about birth stories, life, and our babies while Avery played in the sand and the other babies slept or cuddled on their moms. It was nice to be surrounded by other fresh moms. I felt like I was among kindred spirits, in a tight group who shared a common understanding of just how hard motherhood can be.

But then our differences in experience started to make itself known. One of the new moms (with the 6 month old) talked about how there’s so much free time with a baby – she had just been reading a good book while her baby laid next to her on the beach. She had been able to take up baking and had been making all kinds of bread. She takes care of herself, and has leisurely showers in the afternoon. The other mom, with the 2 month old, said her baby sleeps a lot, in his own room since birth, sometimes all night without even a single feeding.

I started to feel alienated. I tried to nod and pretend like I knew what they were talking about, but I’m not good at keeping feelings bottled up. I declared that I was so happy for them, but that wasn’t my experience at all. I told them I felt like the first 6 months almost killed me, that I sometimes went 5 days without showering. They were great about it and said that every baby is different, but I still felt like shit.

Was it me? Was it my baby? What was wrong with us to make our experience so hard (on both of us)?

The next day I saw the newest mother on the beach while Avery and I built sandcastles and dipped our toes in the water, thoroughly enjoying everything toddlerhood has to offer. She tried to tell me about her night and she broke down crying. Before I could offer her support, she left in a hurry, apologizing that she was just really emotional right now.

I felt for her – SO HARD. And I also felt better. Even if your baby sleeps well or will happily bounce in a bouncer for hours on end, motherhood is still hard. The emotions are always going to be intense. The responsibility crushing.

I suppose I feel fortunate that (I believe) the hardest is behind me. Sure, the tantrums in public places sometimes give me a run for my money now, but since those first 6 (maybe 12) months were so hard for me, it just keeps getting better and better and better. And I’m also fortunate that I have that group of moms who really get my experiences here in the blog world. With that, I can’t feel alone. 😉

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We got the disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is THE WORST virus we have encountered so far. Avery came down with it a week ago and her nearly full body blisters are finally scabbing over and healing. She still has a cough to the point where she just threw up all over her bed when she was desperate for a nap, and she still has snot for days to the point where she had a bloody nose yesterday from the irritation.

I came down with it Sunday. I had intense pain all over my body, a migraine, and a high fever. My throat was so sore I couldn’t eat, and had to force myself to sip water. Yesterday I got the sores. Let me just say, this should technically be called hand, foot, mouth and genital disease. Guess where all I have these nasty, painful blisters. I’ve been on a liquid diet for 3 days now because of the sores in my mouth and throat and I have no energy.

But I can’t let that stop me, because my wife came down with it last night. She’s in bed right now sleeping off the fever. I can’t afford to be this sick or this exhausted with a sick kid, but that’s parenting for you.

It’s HORRIBLE to get something like this after your kid has had it and to know what it felt like for them. My heart breaks for Avery. But thankfully she’s eating better again now, and there’s only a couple of sores left that are still open. The rest are scabs that we just have to keep her from picking.

I am in full regret mode that we ever sent Avery to daycare. It has taken so much away from what could have been an amazing second year of Avery’s life. So many awesome developments have happened with her, but any joy we’ve found has been squeezed into the few days we’ve been healthy in between illnesses. Not to mention the fact that I spent a large percentage of the work days that daycare has afforded me out of commission from some virus.

I’m just angry at life right now, but I know it could be worse. Viruses are temporary. Eventually – although I find this hard to believe even as I write it – we will all be healthy again. Maybe we’ll have a healthy summer and we’ll be able to go to parks, interact with other people and kids, and be free from the sometimes crippling effects of viruses. Maybe.

Hand, foot and mouth disease

Because we hadn’t had enough viruses this year…

This is something like the 13th virus Avery has had in 6 months. Thanks, daycare. She just got over the flu she (and we all) had two weekends ago. Thursday night she spiked another fever and was noticeably unwell. So unwell that I felt compelled to take her to the doctor for the first time for any of the viruses she has come down with. Her fever was high and her breathing was fast and laboured. I was worried it was pneumonia. The doctor took one look in her mouth and confirmed it was hand foot and mouth disease, and sure enough, blisters started breaking out on her hands and feet (and arms and legs) through the night last night. Her fever is lower now, but persistent.

To add insult to injury, she has an ear infection, too. For now we’re letting her body do it’s own healing, but I picked up antibiotics just in case (because it’s the long weekend and I want to be prepared in case her fever gets worse). The antibiotics wouldn’t work on the hand, foot and mouth disease because it’s a virus, but they would combat the ear infection if she wasn’t able to get over it on her own with an already burdened immune system.

We had plans to go to the cottage this weekend. I spent all day Friday prepping. I bought SO MUCH FOOD to feed our extended family of 10 people. But now we’re spending the weekend at home (and the family will have to figure out their meals, which I feel bad about since we gave short/no notice). Despite wasting my time on all the prep, I’m glad we’re staying home. The last time we were at the cottage Avery and I both had the flu and we were miserable. We’ll try again next weekend…

Avery doesn’t have a dad

We love our day-care provider. And when we interviewed her we asked how she would handle it if other kids asked about Avery having two moms, and she gave a satisfactory answer. But today, when she was talking about how tall Avery is, she blurted out, “how tall is her dad?”

I was surprised because I haven’t heard anyone use that language around us in a long time. We tried to clarify our preferred language (“donor”) to everyone in our lives before Avery was even born.

Our daycare provider quickly changed her wording and said, “I mean, her donor.” All was fine. But it wasn’t fine, because her 6 year old daughter overheard and then said “I didn’t know Avery had a dad…”. Their whole family has met both my wife and I. They all know Avery has two moms. It’s no wonder she was confused.

Unfortunately, I’m not happy with how our provider handled the situation. She told her daughter, “yes, but it’s complicated,” and kind of brushed it off like it was going to be too much of a hassle to explain it.

I’m not going to tell a parent how or when to explain how babies are made, but I feel like she could have made more of an effort. I don’t want Avery to be witness to that kind of conversation (although I’m not naive enough to think I can shelter her from it forever). How would it make Avery feel to hear for the first time that she has a “dad” and that “it’s complicated”? I mean, that’s how she did hear it for the first time. I’m only assuming she isn’t quite old enough to grasp the nuances of what was said in front of her.

How and when can my wife and I start talking to her about her donor, about the fact that some people will assume she has a dad, and about how some people will get uncomfortable with discussing it and freeze up, or worse – say something hurtful?

Currently we try to read her books that have different family structures (dads are not excluded from our repertoire, although they play a smaller role than families that resemble ours in Avery’s library). We also have Cory Silverburg’s book, What Makes a Baby, which is an awesome book about sperm, eggs, and uteruses that is completely non-graphic, non-gross, and kid-friendly by anyone’s standards.

I’m totally open to tips and ideas, here. It’s something I thought we were prepared for, but now that it’s happening and Avery’s listening I’m feeling significantly underprepared. I also need to grow a backbone, because the thought of bringing this up with our provider at a later date is making me nauseous.

Day in the Life with a 20 Month Old

It’s time for my every-5-month DITL post! Here’s a taste of what my life is like as a part-time WAHM (work-at-home-mom) with a 20 month old toddler.

5:00am Avery woke me up with a demand to “EAT!”. I looked around me and realized I was in her bed (oops, must have fallen asleep in there after a middle of the night wake up). She was pulling at my shirt hoping to get milk. Although we haven’t offered morning nursing for months now, she’s been sick, and she always wants it more when she’s sick. But I offered her a banana instead, and so downstairs we went to get a banana at 5am.

We played and fed the cats and let the chickens out and ate breakfast and washed dishes and watched some Paw Patrol and coloured for the next 3 hours. I’d rather not have the early morning wake ups because I’m so tired, but at least we have a leisurely morning together before daycare starts. I drank half a cup of yesterday’s coffee, and didn’t get around to finishing it.

My wife stayed home sick today, so she watched Avery while I was able to shower before daycare drop-off, which was a nice treat. However, Avery screamed for mommy at the bottom of the stairs the whole time. She’s all about her routine and doesn’t like it when we mix things up.

Despite having 3 hours to get ready in the morning, in the 5 minutes before we had to leave Avery spilled a cup of almond milk on herself and on me and all over the couch. She freaked out over being wet. I changed her pants. Then she pooped. I changed her diaper. Then we had a disagreement about what shoes she would wear. Typical morning with a toddler.

She was emotional at daycare drop-off. She hasn’t cried over it yet, but her lip quivers and she doesn’t want to let go of me. It’s weird, because she has ALWAYS loved her daycare, and nothing has changed there. I think it might just be because she’s still not feeling 100% better from her last bug.

8:30am On my way home I picked up my wife’s dry-cleaning. I also got a mother’s day card for my wife and could only find one card written for a wife that didn’t say inside it that it was from a husband. WHY. Why can’t they just leave the sender out of it and let them fill that in by themselves?? Anyway….

Yesterday our damn cat ripped a hole in our duvet with his nail and tiny feathers had been puffing out of it all night. I sewed up the hole when I got home and then threw it in the wash. I put away a load of laundry. I stripped and remade the bed. I vacuumed the upstairs because there were tiny feathers EVERYWHERE. I cursed the cats.

Then I hurriedly tidied up all the toys all over the house that Avery didn’t have time to put away before daycare (because of the milk spilling and last-minute diaper change). My wife was in the bath from the time I left until the time I finished the morning household tasks. I couldn’t help but feel a little jaded (even though I want to care for her and let her rest so she feels better) because I was just as sick 2 days ago and I DID NOT get a break. But it all comes out in the wash because I never have to sit in an office for 8 hours a day doing work that isn’t always inspiring.

9:30am Pulled out my laptop and sat on the deck in the sun and got to work. I’m working to get ethics approval for my dissertation research right now. After 2 reviews by the ethics board, I have a few more small changes to make to my application and then I expect to get that golden ticket to go ahead and start programming my data collection materials.

12:00pm Left to pick up Avery from daycare. She went down for a nap as soon as we got home. Wife was napping too, so I headed outside for some garden therapy. I got our outside water turned on for the season, planted a second sowing of peas and carrots, tended to the chickens (who were being ridiculous all crowding into one nest box), and topped up some gardens with compost. My hands were dirty, my lungs full of fresh air, and it was wonderful.

When I came inside my wife was awake and we cuddled on the couch and watched an episode of our newest Netflix show, Peaky Blinders. Afternoon grown-up tv is a rare treat these days!!

2pm Avery usually has an hour-and-a-half long nap these days. Right on cue, she woke up asking to eat. I think she’s going through a growth spurt. We immediately went outside and played at her water table, went for a walk, coloured on the deck with sidewalk chalk, and went for a bike ride with Avery in the child seat on the back of her Mo’s bike. She had so much fun that she was really upset when we had to stop, and she refused to take her helmet off.

4:45pm I headed to the kitchen/BBQ to make dinner and wash the day’s dishes. I spent the next 2 hours in the kitchen with a 20 minute break to eat. Avery gets steal cut oats every night before bed, and they take half an hour to make. She also requests fresh hot tea (mint tea) to take to bed with her. While I cooked and cleaned my wife played quietly with Avery. When it’s time to eat the oatmeal we always watch something calm on tv – either Puffin Rock, or lullabies on YouTube. Tonight she requested Puffin Rock.

6:45pm It was bathnight for Avery. My wife and I both participated in bath time because we’re trying to do less dividing and conquering and more team work. I put Avery to bed, which is now one of my favourite times of day. We snuggle in her bed while she nurses to sleep, usually for 45 minutes. It’s peaceful, relaxing, and a great way to reconnect after a full day.

8:00pm Since we’re both under the weather, my wife and I watched TV in bed and were asleep by 9:30. Our evenings are usually pretty uneventful because our days are exhausting.

And that’s it! A day that was full of little things: work, errands, playing, cooking and cleaning, ended with a lot of nothing. Laying in bed, recouperating, getting ready to start it all over again tomorrow.

Signs of Avery

The tiny sock swimming around under my bed covers.

The puzzle piece wedged between the couch cushions.

The red tricycle that lives on the verandah.

The baskets of toys that sit where our boring old grown-up books used to sit.

The tiny forks and spoons in the cutlery drawer.

I observe these signs of Avery’s existence throughout the day when she’s at daycare and they make me so happy. So thankful that we were lucky enough to become parents to this amazing little person. She has fully infiltrated every fiber of our lives, and I love it.

This post is a response to a daily prompt.

5 Random Facts About Me

I was inspired by my blogging friend My Perfect Breakdown to do a random facts about me post. Here are 5 things about me that have nothing to do with my progeny or my parenting.

1. I grew up always owning horses, was obsessed with horses, used to show horses, but haven’t been on a horse since I was probably 19 years old (so, 12 years ago). I have absolutely no reason for giving it up besides just not getting a new horse when my last horse died. This memory inspired me to look through old pictures and share some here.

2. I used to breed tropical fish for spending-money in high school. I had over 10 aquariums set up in my house. My mom was so tolerant!!

3. I’m a whiney sick person. I’m not proud of it, and spent a lot of years denying it, but I hate being sick and I make sure the world knows.

4. I was raised mostly by my mom. My parents separated when I was 3, but they remained friends and my dad visited almost every weekend and every holiday. I’m still more of a daddy’s girl than a mama’s girl, maybe because my mom had to do most of the discipline and my dad just had to show up for the fun things.

5. My favourite animal is not the cat, despite being a self-declared cat person and always having at least one cat in my care. My favourites are a tie between the blue whale and the common loon. It’s on my bucket list to see a blue whale, and part of why I love them so much is that I know it’s actually very unlikely I’ll ever be fortunate enough to see one.

Whale and loon photos from Pixabay.com

Want to share some random facts about you?