Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mama Bean had her last midwife appointment yesterday

And I feel like I've lost a friend. Or, actually, like five friends. My whole little midwife family. It's just sad to know that I won't really have any reason to contact these women again in my life, and yet they've been a part of the most incredible things in my life, my children. And those children connect us in a very intimate way, but not in a way that allows for ongoing relationship. I want to be their real friend! lol... wistful lol...

I'm sure they experience this quite often. Every client is entrusting them with a huge responsibility, and a lot of access to their most personal moments (not to mention anatomy) and part of the midwifery model is fostering this sort of friendship-care type of relationship. I have often wondered if my patients have this feeling; I mean, I am their only chiropractor, but they are not my only patient. These women are my special midwives, but I am not their only pregnant lady. They have lots of pregnant ladies. And they make us all feel so very loved. I imagine that can get pretty exhausting...


During Bean's delivery, in the pushing part, Midwife Li encouraged me by repeating, "That's the way" in that super calm and soothing voice that midwives have copyrighted or something, and I just loved that, because, seriously, I had no freaking clue what I was doing, or if it was working, and it really felt like it wasn't working, like it was distinctly NOT working (but of course it was, and she knew that) so it was really good that she told me I was doing the right thing, because otherwise, I dunno. I might have stopped. And then where would we be?

I thought this was like some special Midwife Li thing to say, and maybe even just special to my delivery, like I was especially doing things in The Way that was the definitive Way of pushing, and so she felt compelled, especially for me, to affirm that what I was doing was in fact The Way. In hindsight, this is ludicrous. When I helped my friend N deliver her little Bee, the L&D nurse said the same thing to her during pushing. And when I delivered Sprout, Midwife Ca, a completely different midwife, said the same thing to me. So it is not some special midwife phrase concocted only for me, it is simply the standard pushing-a-baby-out phrase that is, ultimately, the exact thing all pushing-a-baby-out women need to hear. That is The Way. Keep going.


Sprout is doing very well, and our final midwife appointment gave us the empirical facts to confirm it. She has lengthened by 1.5" and weighs in at a hefty 10 lbs 12 oz. Which was a full pound heavier than I thought she would be. Two and a half weeks before, she was 9 lbs 1 oz, which was really great weight gain and I was very happy. I would have been happy with a 12-13 oz gain from that appointment, but she put on 27 instead. She is a much chubbier baby than Bean ever was, he of the painstaking weight-tracking and nerve-wracking percentiles. She has rolls I merely envied on other people's babies. It's a little odd, having such a baby looking baby this time around. It is only accentuating the fact that she is growing too. damn. fast.

Seriously, she's almost two months old. I'm just gonna go, like, cry a little. Or a lot.


This time, I will send the midwives a thank-you card. Can you believe I didn't do that last time? Please don't judge me. I feel like a horrible person every time I think of it. So I'm gonna make amends and send them a super-duper-awesome card this time. Or some extra-gushy fangirl type letter that will make them feel awkward from the sheer force of my affections. It's hard to capture our gratitude - how do you thank someone for walking with you to outer space and back? Twice...? I'll do my best, but I know it won't be enough. I hope they feel it in the waves of the Universe whenever I look at my beautiful children, and my heart (stomach, toes, liver...) whisper a(nother) little thank-you up to the wind.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mama Bean has a brand new pig bag

How did our mothers and grandmothers get their children from place to place? Because, to me, it seems like baby transport is a ridiculously complicated and expensive piece of the parenting pie.

Between car seats and strollers, one could go a little crazy sorting out what's needed vs. what's wanted vs. what's totally unnecessary vs. what's cute but useless vs. what the bank account can actually manage. I think we have been incredibly blessed to largely avoid this craziness, just by sheer luck. This is good, because I have my fair share of Crazy already, thankyouverymuch. Here is the oh-so-fascinating saga of our strollering adventures thus far:

Our first stroller was a hand-me-down-gift from a family at church whose three children had outgrown it. It is a Graco travel system, with a 3-point harness baby bucket that we could only use in the stroller, but not in a car. Luckily, we'd been passed down another Graco seat that clicked into the stroller as well, and we ended up with a bucket base for each car - so handy. Bean used (and abused) this stroller very well, and I am so glad we didn't have to shell out for this big expenditure during his first year. This stroller was nice and big and solid and relatively smooth-riding. It was good for long walks and outings - good storage underneath, cup holders and trays for mom and baby, big wheels to take the bumps and curbs easily. It was also 'one-hand folding' which is nice.
Our second stroller was a Combi umbrella stroller. We knew we wanted an umbrella stroller, because 'travel system' strollers tend to be quite large, and once he started outgrowing the bucket (which is to say, once he was too heavy to continue lugging around in the bucket, and we started taking him out of the bucket to lug around all by his potato-sack-self) we'd welcome the chance to port around a smaller stroller. The Graco filled the trunks of our two compact cars; the Combi fills the trunk about 1/2 to 2/3. There are umbrella strollers that are smaller for sure, not to mention cheaper. We wanted to spend less than $50, which would normally put the Combi out of our price range. However, we discovered the Combi at our Superstore, mislabeled with the barcode and price for a much cheaper Bily stroller - only $40! We bought it immediately, and walked (skipped!) out of the store feeling like thieves. Which we kind of were, because, I suppose, the honest thing to do would alert someone to the mistake. Instead, I came home and alerted the moms on my facebook group to the mistake, so they could join in the savings/thievings lol. It was a good day :) The trade-off for the compactness of an umbrella stroller is smaller wheels, which don't handle bumps and curbs as easily, less storage underneath, and less convenient cup holders, etc. We still took long walks and outings with it, but it was harder to juggle the diaper bag or snacks when I was by myself. Then again, long walks and outings are always more complicated by myself - so helpful to have a Papa Bean around!

We had thought we might avoid needing a double stroller until next summer. We figured we wouldn't really be going anywhere this summer with both kids and just one parent, so each parent could just push one child in their own separate stroller. We were wrong. Our little boy turned into a running boy, and he does not want to be inside all day, he wants to go out, in the air and sunshine, and see and touch and experience things. He wants to do these things whether there's one parent or two at home.
So. We were in the market for a double stroller.

We looked on the used sites. We looked in the stores. We were thinking a sit-and-stand style might work, but then read it was better if the older child (Bean) were at least 2.5 years old, which he's a year away from. We looked at a used one for $100, but it was quite old and heavy and awkward (amazing how far stroller 'technology' has come...) We thought about ordering in the US and having someone bring it across the border for us. We had pretty much settled on buying a Graco in-line double stroller new, for $250 plus tax. It handled well, it folded relatively small. Our car seat fit in it, just like our first Graco. It had cup holders and under-storage galore. I don't remember why we didn't buy it right away, but we decided to come back the next day.

That night on kijiji, a used Phil&Ted's Sport stroller came up for $300. These are $500 new, plus $100 for the 'toddler attachment' that allows it to accommodate two kids, so this listing was 'half price' and about what the new Graco would cost us (after tax.) The seller let us know there was quite a bit of interest in it (four others) coming to see it in the evening, so I asked to come that afternoon because we were pretty sure we wanted it *grin* I mean, I would never have a $600 stroller under normal circumstances, we just have other things to buy with that kind of money, like, uh, groceries. So I feel pretty special to be able to have it, because I really love it.
It's a three-wheeled style stroller, which makes it very maneuverable. The wheels are pneumatic, so they just cruise over bumps/broken sidewalks/ice and snow/curbs/everything. Driving it is an absolute dream. I can go further, pushing two kids, than I did pushing just Bean in the Graco, without getting tired, because it rides so smoothly. Though there are some 'features' missing that'd be nice, the ease of use more than makes up for them. It folds down to the same size as the single Graco, but it is heavier. It takes up the whole trunk in our smaller car, but still fits better than the double Graco would have. It does not fold with the toddler attachment still attached, which adds some extra steps to the unloading and loading process, but not enough to be a PITA. It had less under-storage than the double Graco, and no cup holders and trays, for baby or mom. This is sad because I like a cup of coffee while I stroller, but it's not the end of the world. In fact, the ride is so smooth, I've found I can push it one-handed and still hold a cup of coffee with only minor awkwardness. All-in-all, we're super happy with it :)
I have used it almost every day since we bought it, often twice. We go for a morning walk between Sprout's feedings, which gets Bean ready for his early lunch and nap. Then we might go for an afternoon walk between Sprout's feedings, which kept Mama Bean sane until Papa Bean got home from work. Now that PB is stay-at-home again, I'm excited to see where we'll be taking the stroller now. We already discovered a new path connecting some parks along the river near us yesterday, which gives us new territory for Bean to terrorize explore.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mama Bean is feeling the imbalanced balance of Good Friday

Last night, our friend's father died. He had traveled to Cowtown to visit his dad, he felt likely for the last time, and he was, sadly, correct. He is a wonderfully gentle and wise mentor and friend to our church family and Papa Bean, and I imagine he discovered much of who he is at the knee of his father - what a beautiful legacy to be reflected in the loving qualities of your children! It was a bittersweet introduction to Good Friday morning to read of his father's death.

This afternoon, Papa Bean's uncle lost an emotionally fraught and protracted battle with a confusing kettle of medical problems that the doctors were unfortunately unable to solve before his body gave up. His family has been through an absolute wringer of medical craziness - I can only imagine their exhaustion, shock, and feelings of emptiness. Their father is dead, and at peace now, but their lives continue. It is hard to feel the comfort of his peace when they are not at peace themselves - when they have endured weeks without peace as he suffered.

Also this afternoon, Papa Bean's cousin gave birth to a bouncing, over 9 lb baby boy! We heard the news just as we preparing to leave the family gathering for home - it was a delicious shot of sweetness at the end of an already bitter-bittersweet day. There is joy in birth. There is joy in meeting with family. There is joy... in the sadness.

This is what Good Friday teaches us, right? The joy in sadness. That's why it is called "Good" this day when Jesus suffered so intensely and so completely for the hearts and souls of humankind. There is a terrible imbalance to the world - sin, death, pain. And an inconceivable imbalance corrects it - death and pain, but he was without sin.

I haven't put my heart and mind into Lent this year, I was preoccupied with Sprout and my own, like, stuff. Awesome excuse, right? /sigh. But today, I felt a certain calmness, a quietness and steadiness in my steps. I am calmed by Papa Bean's return to stay-at-home status. I am steadied by a (perhaps fleeting) feeling of competence in my mothering, at least for today. And I am quieted - by the sadness of friends and family, by the miracle of birth, by the silence of death. It is a Good Day, I know, in the midst of all this Earthly bitter-sweet, and I am caught up in it, in these monumental shifts and events - down here, and in the Heavens...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mama Bean has to stop letting expectations get in the way

When Bean came along, I didn’t know what to expect. Every day was another chance for him to do whatever it was he was gonna do, and I just went with the flow. I didn’t know a thing, beyond what the internet and friends passed along, which is not the same as information you’ve experienced for yourself, so mostly I just let it happen.

And he grew. It was busy. I didn’t write much of it down, despite having a blog, despite loving to write, despite processing various moments in a bloggerly kind of way in my head but never quite managing to get it down on the “page.” Yes, he grew. I pray I keep my memories as long as possible. I know I’m already losing some. I didn’t know...

This time, the expectations are getting in the way. Because now I “know” something about babies, which is to say, I know about one baby fairly intimately, and about his various baby friends less intimately (but now I’ve been paying attention, while wishing I had been doing so while my siblings and friends were having babies before I did, so I could have learned a thing or two going in, but it’s too late now!)

So my little brain does its little science-brain thing, and makes comparisons. It tells me what I can “expect.” So my little brain says things like, “I can’t wait until she’s three months old, and we’re only doing 6 or 7 feedings a day” or “I can’t wait until she’s sitting and more interactive with Bean” or “I can’t wait until...” Wait a second, what?

I “can’t” wait?

No no, that’s not right. Wait a second, she’s already a month old? I “can’t” wait?! Just a minute, she’s already A MONTH OLD?!? I “can’t” wait?!?! No no no, I can wait. Please, wait, slow down, just for a bit, let me hold her a bit longer like this, because she’ll only be doing this 6 or 7 times a day in a couple months, because she’ll be sitting and then crawling and too busy for this four months after that, because... because she’s only going to be my little girl for such a short time. I “can’t” wait?

Damned expectations; stop telling me about some “better” tomorrow I “can’t” wait for. Let me stop and catch my breath a bit in Today.

Here’s the cruel irony. With that first baby, I had all the time in the world to revel in every tiny moment, but I didn’t. Because, I don’t know why, I don’t have good reasons, I don’t even have excuses. Because the first child is overwhelming, those Delirious Early Days, and I didn’t know what a luxury of time I truly had? Or because I fell prey to that conceit, that I would remember everything, and here I am remembering (what feels like) nothing? Or maybe because I knew I’d have another one and so I’d get a second chance to hold a two-day, and a two-week old, and a two-month old...? I don’t know.

What I’m realizing is, that first time through, that’s when I had the time to bask in every moment, that’s when life was slow(er). This time, which will be the last time, I wish for more time, I beg internally for any time to bask in any moment, any tiny moment of a day, and life is far from slow, just when I want it to be the most.

So, I’m telling the expectations to take a hike. They're getting in the way of enjoying my baby in whatever brief moments I manage to steal back from Time's slippery hands. And let's be honest, I still have no clue what to expect from Bean, every day is still a complete surprise from him (Holy crap! He can climb into the car by himself and climb over curbs and he doesn't need to hold my hand for any of it, didn't he need to hold my hand yesterday, was it only yesterday? What about today? Don't you want to hold my hand today, buddy? No? Oh /sigh. Ok, then...) There's really no need to compensate for a lack of expectations towards Bean by piling on extras towards Sprout. That's just... complicated.

No, I do believe the expectations have got to go. Quite frankly, I just don’t have the time.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mama Bean has a(n almost) four week old daughter

Sprout is really cute. I mean, to me. Papa Bean says newborns are only cute to their parents, and maybe their grandparents. So, since I'm her parent, I can say she's really cute. I'm so absorbed in her cuteness that it's taken me four weeks to get around to blogging. Well, that and, y'know, all the other stuff I do. Plus the cuteness.

Sprout's labour was shorter; the pushing part was blessedly shorter. I know an hour still sounds like a long time, and often with second babies it's way shorter than that, but compared to two hours, an hour was lovely. wonderful. perfect. And I didn't tear this time, which, like, wow, I (clearly) have no words. It's that different. I kind of want to buy my midwife flowers for coaching me how to push so I wouldn't tear. My favourite part about the labour was when Sprout came out, and my second favourite part was when the midwife said, "Nah, I don't think I need to stitch you."

My next favourite part was how Sprout latched right away, and nursed from both sides, for about an hour, and hasn't stopped nursing like an absolute champ since. No SNS system, no setting the clock to feed, no stripping the sleepy baby and coaxing it to eat just one more millilitre, no nipple shield. No. Nipple. Shield. Just plain old breastfeeding; like riding a bicycle. Fantastic.

Bean is very fond of his baby sister. He likes to point out her nose, and then her hair. He likes to touch heads with her, which is his way of kissing, and he likes to try and hold her or hug her. He likes to pat her head. And he likes to be the one showing her off when other people are paying attention to her. He thinks Sprout is the coolest thing ever. As for me, I am not so cool in his books (yet.) For about a week after her arrival, he wouldn't look me in the eye, wouldn't really let me hold him, wouldn't hug or cuddle or play with me. It pretty much broke my heart. He's warmed up since, especially now that all our houseguests are gone and it's me or nobody (is that comforting? not... really.) He seems to want to be carried or held more, and is more prone to crying/tantrums if he has to wait, but some of that may be transitioning from two naps to one, and overall he's doing really well.

I'm only taking nine weeks off from work, since I don't qualify for the year of EI benefits most (Canadian) moms can get. Five weeks of that have already flown by (ACK!) which feels so much faster than the eight weeks I took off when Bean was born. She'll be a month old soon! I have so many thoughts and blog posts rattling around, but not a tonne of time to actually type them out, but really want to write. Babies; they're so inspiring! It's crazy to think I started this blog a year ago, when Bean was three months old, and now it's 14 months later, and I have Sprout! We're feeling super blessed and full of love right now, and I'm glad I have this place to document it. Thanks for sharing with me!