Weekend update: Easter

It was a beautiful spring long weekend. My wife got four days off (her new job gives both Easter Friday and Monday off!) and we only spent one day away from home. It was ideal. Busy, but at least we were busy in our own home doing our own stuff. Oh, and we were both sick, which was exhausting. We caught Avery’s bug. 

Friday 

I prepared an Easter dinner to have with my mom, and I managed to get the house cleaned too, all while taking care of Avery. It was one of those super mom days that balances out the days where I can’t even seem to get dressed by 5pm. My wife got a lot more progress done on the chicken coop, and my mom got a good visit in with Avery. 

Saturday 

I got some plants for the garden transplanted into bigger pots until all risk of frost has passed (mid May), and we sat on our first pub patio of patio season. Avery couldn’t get enough of the fries. 

Sunday 

We went to the in-laws for Easter dinner and Avery had a great time interacting with all the family she used to have stranger anxiety around. Except for her 1 year old cousin… She still has some issues to work out with him.

Monday

I had to go to work to invigilate an exam and Avery stayed home with her Mo. More coop building ensued, and some relaxing in the afternoon. 

Sleep

Since I last wrote about the floor bed arrangement, we have changed gears with sleep arrangements again. She seems to have matured a bit in the needing comfort area, because when she wakes through the night (which is still every 30 min to 2 hours) she doesn’t wail or cry in a panicked way. She cries in a complaining way now. So for a little over a week I have been putting her to sleep by nursing in the chair in her room, and then transferring her to her crib. The first transfer of the evening is hard. She needs to be really asleep to go for it, so it can take an hour and a half still. But after that all it usually takes to get her back down is a quick (2 to 15 minute) rock. She sometimes rolls around to get comfy after you put her back down, too, so she seems aware that she’s going back in the crib alone. 

The problem I’ve had over the weekend is that I’m too exhausted to rock her back to sleep. My legs feel like they’re on fire and I just don’t have the will power and I instead sit down in the chair with her. Sometimes she nurses, sometimes she just cuddles. She falls asleep, but so do I. A couple of hours pass. This isn’t helping our “training” because she still spends half the night sleeping with me, and it doesn’t benefit me like bed sharing did because I’m so uncomfortable. 

My wife took some of the night waking shifts over the weekend which was great for our “training”, but she can’t keep it up once she’s back to work this week. This will be my greatest challenge – staying the fuck awake through the night. 

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Canadian babies cry more and have a higher rate of colic – but why? 

I was interviewed for this article in the Globe and Mail on our experiences with Avery’s colic. It’s a really interesting read! 
https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/canadian-babies-cry-more-and-have-a-higher-rate-of-colic-butwhy/article34688315/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theglobeandmail.com&cmpid=rss1&click=sf_globefb&service=mobile

Weekend Update: crawling practice 

This weekend was nice. Saturday was a spring projects day where my wife worked on the chicken coop and I worked on deep cleaning the house, one wall of one room at a time. Baby steps. Avery was feeling good (finally 100% over her cold) and super into independent play on Saturday, so we were really productive. My dad also visited for a few hours – he’s moving back to our province and was apartment hunting. Avery hasn’t let him get close to her since she was 1 month old (bad case of stranger danger that was heartbreaking for my dad), and this weekend she seemed to have completely gotten over that. They played and cuddled and it was great. Just took some patience and gentle encouragement. 
Sunday I had a board meeting and Avery was more clingy, so I didn’t get anything done. I felt pretty shitty about life by the end of the day. I also hadn’t had a break all weekend because I was watching Avery and cleaning and working 24/7 so my wife could get good coop building time in. But it paid off:

*this is the base of the coop, insulated and sturdy as hell. Walls and roof will go on top, run will be attached to the side, and underneath the coop is an extended run area. My wife drew up the design herself and sourced pretty much all materials either for free from hoarder family members, or for cheap from the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Note the classy faux hardwood vinyl flooring that will be the floor of the coop. 
The big update from this weekend:

Avery is so close to crawling! She gets up on all fours and rocks back and forth. I rarely did Tummy Time with her because she hated it. There was definitely some pressure to do it more so she would build upper body strength and learn to crawl. But I believe babies will learn things when they are ready regardless of how you push them toward opportunities. They might learn faster with pushing, but I’m not concerned with having her grow up any faster. Anyway, she got there on her own. Just a little more practice and she’ll be mobile. Hopefully independent sleep will start to develop when she reaches this new independence milestone!

Gentle Sleep Methods: The Floor Bed

Catch the start of my Gentle Sleep Experiment here, and the summary of how my first attempt went, here.

After an unsuccessful attempt at getting Avery used to her crib using a combination of no-cry sleep training and Gentle Baby sleep methods, I reassessed our situation.

She sleeps like a log all night long while next to me in our bed. 

She wakes in a fret all night long when alone in her crib. 

I belong to the baby sleep camp that believes this is her way of telling me she legitimately needs me for comfort. And my parenting instincts are telling me to be there for her. I know there are sleep consultants and sleep trainers out there who would say that she just needs to get used to her crib and I need to allow her to protest and not give in. They would tell me that I’m not doing her any favours by forming “negative” sleep associations like nursing to sleep – how will she ever learn to fall asleep on her own?? I’ve tried to get on board with that perspective, but I’ve come to realize that those methods just don’t sit right with me. 

So I’ve started using a new gentle method for getting her to feel more comfortable in her own room and in her own bed: The Floor Bed. 

I now sleep next to Avery on her crib mattress on the floor beside her crib. She can nurse as much as she wants through the night, and she goes to sleep easily with a quick nurse and a cuddle after a good, solid, predictable bedtime routine with her Mo that lasts about 10 minutes. I try to leave her through the night when she’s deep in sleep, but I tend to fall asleep and not wake up until she needs milk again, so I haven’t been getting back to my own bed.

So, the big question.

Is it working?

Yes, almost as well as bed sharing in her moms’ bed. She sleeps anywhere from 2-4 hours at a time. When she wakes up hungry in the first half of the night she nurses back to sleep easily and neither of us have to move. When she wakes in the second half of the night (2-6am) she is less easily comforted. I need to get up and nurse her in the chair, but then I can put her down on the mattress and can usually leave the room for a bit. I’ve also been able to have a few evenings back where she sleeps in her room on her own between her bedtime and my bedtime. The only evenings where this hasn’t happened, I blame teething. She’s working on 3 new teeth and until that Tylenol kicks in she’s super clingy and upset. 

My favourite part of sleeping next to her still (or being able to lay down next to her when she calls me in the night) is the she has started to sometimes fall back to sleep by simply putting her hand on the breast as if to make sure it’s still there. Such a peaceful and easy way to make her content in the night. 

Its been 2 weeks. I’d like to start working on leaving her alone in her room on the floor mattress and sleeping in my own bed. The challenge will be consistency when I am tired as f***. How am I supposed to just get her to sleep by laying next to her and NOT fall asleep myself? It takes 20 minutes for her to enter deep sleep, and it seems pretty instantaneous for me. By the time she’s ready to be left, I’m out cold. 

I miss my wife and I really want to make my own transition back to our bed work. It’s a slow but steady process. 

Wish me luck…

Weekend Update

Our weekend was busy and full of little parenting worries. Not my favourite kind of weekend. 

Worry 1: pressure to leave my baby

Friday night was tainted by an emotional discussion between my wife and I. We’ve been getting a lot of offers from people wanting to babysit Avery so my wife and I can have a date night. I want to be emotionally available to my wife, and she really needs some alone time with me after 7 months of always coming second. But, I’m just not ready to leave Avery with someone other than my wife. She’s been going through a long phase of “making strange,” and my instincts are to slowly help her ease into social situations. Those offering to babysit assure me that it’s ok if she cries the whole time – they can handle it. No offense, but I’m not worried about the adults in that situation. So my wife and I continue to debate how and when we’re going to leave the baby with someone else for a date night. 

Worry 2: Eczema

We decided to miss Avery’s last swimming lesson of the season because her eczema spots on her cheeks were open and weeping and we didn’t want to get pool water in them. It was sad to miss because Avery LOVES the pool and we love seeing her having fun. 

Mid-Saturday-morning we went to a parenting book club meeting at the public library. That was nice. I love talking with other like minded parents. Hearing that others bed share and struggle with feminist parenting dilemmas, and just being around people who don’t pass judgment on my parenting is refreshing. It makes me feel like I suddenly have a cheer squad backing me. 

Saturday afternoon we ran errands, did a lot of cooking, and I did some work. The house did not get cleaned, I did not shower or even look in a mirror. Self care fail. 

Sunday morning we left for the city where we picked up some used building supplies for our chicken coop (my wife’s building us a chicken coop this spring!) and then we were off to Avery’s cousin’s first birthday party. My sister-in-law did such an amazing job throwing a Wiggles themed party – everything was rainbow and it looked like a Pinterest party gone right. 

Worry 3: my baby being labeled as anti-social 

At these kinds of social functions, though, Avery tends to get passed around a lot. She doesn’t like it, and she gets labeled as not liking people or as being a mommy’s girl. We’re already working on teaching Avery (and friends and family) about consent, and don’t want physical interaction to be forced upon her. If she cries and gets upset when someone new takes her, I want to let her come right back to her safe zone (with her Mo or I). I like to slowly introduce her to people and ask if she wants to go to them (even though we kind of have to infer her answer based in body language right now…)  But others out there believe in letting her work out her fears through tears. Unfortunately I pried her out of several people’s arms at the party when my wife had passed her around, and by the end I started to get frustrated. People assumed there was something wrong with her because she was being so “anti-social”. They even got the baby thermometer out, assuming she must be sick. Nope, I know my baby. She’s not sick, she’s sick of the grabbing hands. So that had me feeling quite judged as a parent, whether intentional or not. Oh and note to self – don’t admit to bed sharing around old school parents…. 

Worry 4: constipation 

Becuase of all the stimulation on Sunday, Avery didn’t breastfeed well. I only got her to have one small feed through the entire day. By evening, I noticed her straining more than usual. She woke a few times during the night crying (which she doesn’t normally do while next to me). This morning she struggled to pass some hard rabbit-like poops. I’m focusing on offering her the boob all the time throughout the day today, and her solids are going to be prunes and pears. 

I have to call the doctor today to ask what to about eczema that isn’t clearing. It keeps blistering and scabbing and weeping and I don’t want it to get infected. The corticosteroid is doing nothing and I’m concerned that overuse is going to thin the skin. 

I just want to look at my baby and feel like she is perfectly happy, healthy, and carefree. Do we ever get to that point as parents, or will there always be something to worry about? 

This post was written in reponse to a daily prompt:

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On having a second child

My wife and I always knew we wanted one child. Even when we wavered on having any children at all, we knew that if we did, we’d want an only child. We both loved the idea of the one-child lifestyle, the extra resources, traveling more, getting back to restful sleeps and feeling like ourselves again sooner. It was set in stone.

And then we had one.

We certainly have not decided to have another child, but the conversation is starting to happen. It started when people asked us if we wanted more and our answer changed from a unanimous “NO” to “never say never.” 

One day we were talking to a friend who said she felt her ovaries screaming as soon as her friends started having kids and my wife and I unanimously said “babies are addictive.” We looked at each other like, “oh, you feel that way too?” And then there was the time I expressed some nervousness about babysitting a friend’s kid while taking care of Avery and my wife said “it’ll be good practice.” “For what?” I asked. We left the answer unspoken. We’ve also casually dropped baby names that would sound good with Avery. A big 2nd baby trigger came when our donor family had their baby over the weekend. We haven’t met her yet, but the pictures were TO DIE FOR. The picture of the older sister holding her new baby sister made our hearts melt into a puddle on the floor.  

We really have no idea what the future will bring, but the fact that we’re subtly exposing to each other that we’ve thought about it is a big development. And as I deal with every big decision, I’ve started thinking about this in terms of a pros/cons list. 

Cons To Having A Second Child

  • IT’S HARD! Holy shit is it hard to be a parent of a baby. I don’t know how much easier it gets, if it gets easier at all, and there are moments with Avery where I even vocalize how I couldn’t go through this again (e.g. sleep deprivation). 
  • I’ll likely just be starting to build my career when we would try for another because I have a couple of years left on my PhD and we would want kids close-ish in age if we had another. Even if my wife took the parental leave (I’d be carrying again), I’ve learned that having a baby DESTROYS my mental acuity and motivation for brain-work.
  • If I didn’t have a job yet or if I were just starting to build a client base as a self-employed consultant, we’d be just as broke as we are this time. A 12 month maternity leave would be SWEET, but I’m so far from that.
  • I’m afraid that our life would be completely overtaken by “the kids this and “the kids that“… I’m still 90% mom, 5% student and 5% wife, and I’m really hoping this ratio balances a little better as Avery gets a little older. I don’t know where the extra percents would come from if we had a second baby.
  • Even part time childcare for one child is going to be tough on us financially. 

Pros To Having a Second Child

  • Although it’s hard, it’s also the most amazing experience we’ve ever had, and Avery is the most wonderful and beautiful thing in our lives. Another child would add more amazingness, wonder, and beauty into our lives. 
  • I would love another crack at my dream home water birth experience. 
  • I LOVE being a mom. I feel like it’s my calling in life. 
  • Every exciting milestone, every heart melting smile, every laugh, every hug, every new personality characteristic… times 2

A Sunday Funday at the Butterfly Conservatory

We had an empty weekend. That is so rare and so sweet an occurrence for me, the homebody. Besides Avery’s early Saturday morning swimming lesson (my wife wore the bathing suit this week so I didn’t even have to shave my legs) we had nothing scheduled. We spent Saturday lazing around the house, cooking, and running a few small errands. Sunday was wide open, so I started some of my seeds for the garden, cleaned a little, and with time to spare we decided to do something fun as a family. There’s a butterfly conservatory just a 15 minute drive from our house that we’ve always loved going to in the winter for a brief dose of warmth and humidity. This was Avery’s first time seeing butterflies. She didn’t really notice them unless they fluttered right in her face – she was more interested in all the other kids running around. She’s my social butterfly (where’d she get that??). Nonetheless, we got some cute pictures ☺

There was a stick insect making the rounds on a nature educator’s arm, and Avery definitely locked eyes with it and definitely wanted to eat it. 

She loves Mo’s shoulder rides (she uses your hair as a handle).

And finally, now that we have a kid, we see gift shops in a whole new way. Now they’re a fun place to find adorable souvenier-type toys for our kid. 

This outing was probably one of the last “winter” outings we’ll do. Very soon, the air outside will be a little more like the air in the conservatory, and we’ll be able to do actual outdoor activities. I. Can’t. Wait.