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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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?

5 awesome little things

I’m having a good day. Here are just 5 of the little things that I’m loving right at this moment.

  1. Avery was so happy when I picked her up from daycare. She and her daycare best friend were caught in an adorable loop of “bye”s and hugs when we were about to leave, and she sang to herself all the way home.
  2. After nursing her to sleep for her nap, I took about 20 minutes to just stare at her and kiss her forehead.
  3. I played with fresh playdough before it got sticky, snotty, slobbery toddler hands all over it.
  4. I baked a successful loaf of white sourdough bread – the white flour has been giving me trouble with rising lately, but this time I nailed it.
  5. It feels like spring outside. The air is warming, it’s rainy and dreary, and the earth smells fecund. My favourite kind of weather.

Reflections on Night Weaning (at it again…)

*Photo from Pixabay.com

Night weaning is hard, even when it’s easy. Avery’s only nursing twice a day now, to sleep at nap and bedtime. It’s a big change from nursing all night long, snuggled beside me. We’re doing this to give her a gentle nudge toward sleep independence, but it’s just as much about me breaking my dependency on nursing away her every tear, every cough, every nightly stir. That has been such a wondrous gift, and although I’m theoretically ready to make the separation, my heart never will be.

I miss her as I lay in my bed and listen to her snore through the monitor. I feel jilted that I can’t lay with her all night anymore (part of our night weaning plan). I feel anxious waiting for her next wake up, wondering how difficult it’ll be to get her back to sleep, how many tears she’ll shed, how long the protest will last.

We have officially been one week without night nursing. I’m going to give it another couple of weeks before claiming that the transition period is over, but so far Avery’s doing a really good job learning to get back to sleep without nursing. Last time what broke us was her 3-5am insomnia, and her being sick. Both of those things are happening again, but we’re powering through this time. With every month older she gets, she can also understand better what’s expected of her at night, and that makes me feel better about it.

With the huge decrease in nursing comes a change in hormones. I’m getting some signs that I might be ovulating for the first time in almost 2 and a half years. Yes, you read that right – I haven’t had my period since we conceived Avery. It has been a wonderful, crampless, dry, and clean part of my life. I’m not eager for it to return.

One final reflection on night weaning: choosing to night wean was a decision I made for my marriage over my child. That alone has a lot of complex emotions associated with it. And while my wife is purely excited, I have to keep reminding myself that my marriage deserves to get priority over the child this once. It will all trickle down to benefit Avery in the long run. If my wife and I are a satisfied, happily married team, Avery will have a good relationship role model to look up to in her parents.

The flu and death strike against me in tandem

Nobody in my family died from the flu – thank goodness. This post is about the flu that my daughter contracted (as well as every other kid in her daycare, literally). It’s also about the death of my grandmother, and the spread of said flu to everyone in my family as we gathered over our loss.

First, let me say something about my grandmother (because I’m going to get whiney and focused on my own problems soon). She was an amazing woman. She lived to be 95, and was more or less healthy up until the end. She liked to do adventurous things on her birthdays. When she turned 92, she rode on the back of my uncle’s motorcycle to Port Dover for the annual Friday the 13th motorcycle rally. When she turned 94, she did the CN Tower walk (leaning backwards, in a harness, over the edge of the CN Tower, 1168 feet above the ground), and on her 95th birthday she went zip lining at Canada’s longest series of zip lines. My grandmother was the only grandparent I came out to, and she was always incredibly supportive of my sexual orientation and loved my wife. She was also my only grandparent who lived long enough to meet my daughter. She will be missed, but when I think about her now I don’t feel sad – I feel happy for her that she had such an amazing, adventure-filled life, and I feel lucky to have been related to such an amazing woman.

Now on to how the flu attacked my entire family. It’s unknown whether my wife or my daughter caught it first, but Avery’s symptoms only revealed themselves when I was visiting my grieving family on Thursday through Saturday. My parents were hoping I could help sort through my grandmother’s apartment, but Avery became absolutely miserable, tired, lots of snot and a cough, not interested in eating, had diarrhea, and a fever. I stayed alone with her at my mom’s completely un-baby-proofed house (wine glasses, crystal decanters, poisonous plants, a hot fireplace, and an open stairwell all within toddler limits). It was exhausting. My heart always breaks for my baby when she’s sick, and it was exhausting to have to keep saying no to the things she couldn’t get into when the resulting tantrums were equal parts angry and pitifully sick sounding.

I spent one night sitting upright with her to help her breathe. She was utterly miserable. Back home, my wife was just as sick, and had no one to take care of her.

On the day I left my mom’s house, myself, my mom, and my dad were all sick too. My wife was still so sick when I got home that she spent 3 hours holed up in bed while I continued to solo parent a sick toddler while I got progressively sicker. It sucked.

Yesterday we thought she MIGHT be starting to feel better, but she broke out in a full body rash that we feared was the measles. We took her to the doctor today and it turnes out it was a post-viral rash.

This is good news. It means the virus is gone, and she is on the mend and no longer contagious. Tomorrow she is going to daycare and my wife is going to work. I am going to take the morning off and sit on the couch with a pot of tea and fucking relax.

It’s going to be great.

Kids are dying from the flu in our town

It’s making the breaking news headlines today. Two children have so far been confirmed to have died of the flu, and both while in school.
*edit a week later to say that the first news article was misinformed – both children were taken from school to the emergency room where they passed away. One of the children (only 7 years old) had cerebral palsy, the other (12 years old) had no reported pre-existing condition to put them at higher risk.

My heart is absolutely breaking for the parents of these children. I know that kids die all over the world every day, and that is tragic, too, but I can’t bury my head in the sand and avoid thinking about these deaths. They’re happening in my town. My small-to-midsized town where we know our neighbours and our community members.

The details of these deaths haven’t been released yet, but I am terrified and clinging extra tight to my also sick baby. At least two kids at Avery’s daycare have had the flu since last week. One was pulled out of school and taken to the emergcy room on Wednesday.

Avery has a yucky cold again, and she also has a stomach bug. I hadn’t thought it was the flu because she didn’t have a fever and she hadn’t vomited. I blamed her diarrhea on teething. But now I’m extra vigilant.

How could these kids have been well enough to be at school, and then just die, without even making it to the hospital? How can it come out of the blue like this? I’m so unsettled.