My brother is about to become a father. His wife is due on Friday. We had them over for dinner last night --one last visit before their baby girl is born. They both seemed very excited and anxious about the impending arrival. Maybe a little naive, but I think most first-time parents are. ;)
Dinner conversation was dominated by the three-year-old at the table. He was quite excited to have guests and also pretty into touching his aunt's belly (and, embarrassingly, her boobs). They entertained his suggestion to give him his bath while I went in to put Sprout down for bed. I said goodbye and wished them luck, and the offered my brother a one-sentence pep talk, "You're just as important in all this." To be fair, I could have phrased myself better, but I hoped my intent came across. Before the words were even out of my mouth his wife guffawed, "Yeah, right!"
I don't want to say she's wrong, but I don't think her quick response was right either. In fact, I think her response is a big part of what's wrong with many people's perception of parenthood: the birth mother is seen as the all-important one in the pregnancy/labour/birth/newborn etc. experience, and the non-birth parent takes a back seat.
I've heard many mothers complain that their husband doesn't help with the baby, but I also see so many mothers perpetuate the idea that their husband's role is not as important as theirs. Really that message seems to come from just about everywhere. If I were told that I wasn't as important, I'd probably be less likely to step up too. Not that that makes it fair for dads not to help out. But I can see how it happens.
I was pretty fortunate when The Bean was born because most people seemed to give me a good amount of recognition as his parent. As his mother. I also owned my role. I told people that my wife was pregnant and that we were going to be mothers. I did what I could to be as involved as possible. He was our child, not just hers.
What I wanted my brother to know is that his role is just as important. It's important that he be there for his wife --that he shows her his love and support through the labour and birth. It's also important that he be there for himself --this is his daughter. His first child. He is going to be responsible for loving her and nurturing her and helping her to become a wonderful person. That starts right away.
I think The Bean's birth is probably the single most significant event in my life to date. He made me a parent. Watching his birth, cutting his umbilical cord, being the first person to hold him and kiss him, those are things I will never forget. Outsiders may not have seen my role as being as important as Jen's, but it was, it was just different. And I wouldn't change it for the world.
Last Thursday when I went to pick up The Bean from daycare, his daycare provider told me that she would be going for the first round of treatment for her thyroid cancer the next day. It was fine from my end, of course, just a little less notice than I had expected. And I'm very glad that they were able to bump up her treatment from the expected late April date, as I'm sure it's better for her to receive the treatment as early as possible.
So, my days as a SAHM with two at home with me came without the time to prepare that I thought I would have. I'm happy to say that we have survived! Perhaps even better, as I would say that we had quite an enjoyable week together.
Here's a run-down of our activities, for anyone who might be interested.
Though the calendar tells us otherwise, it is not quite spring here. Still, Friday we joined Ashleigh, Teagan and Quinn for a walk outdoors at the Evergreen Brickworks. I love it there. Sprout, much to her chagrin, stayed strapped in the Ergo, but the others seemed to have a pretty good time exploring the Chimney Court and traipsing along the snow-covered paths. Of course, hot apple cider/hot cocoa afterwards was also a hit with the toddler-set. The fresh air seemed to wear my two out and after a hearty lunch both went down for a nap. Hurrah!
We enjoyed some family time over the weekend. We thought we'd honour a Canadian tradition and take the kids to the sugar bush at Bruce's Mill, but it was FREEZING, so we called it quits before even getting to taste any maple syrup. I suppose there's always next year.
Monday I took the kiddos to the Ontario Science Centre for the morning (we have a membership). We sat through the entire planetarium show for the first time. The Bean keeps reminding me that we was a little scared to go to the moon, but that he was brave to try something new. For the record, he was he usual chatty self during the entire show, interacting with the host and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Zoom Zoom Zoom We're Going to the Moon with the best of them, and aside from holding my hand when I offered it to him during "blast off" showed no sign of being the slightest bit scared at all.
Tuesday we checked out the Monarch Park Stadium . $10 for both kiddos to get into "Toddler Time" there. Kicking the soccer ball around the field and jumping in the bouncy castle they had set up kept both of them pretty busy and happy for a good hour and a half. Tuesday afternoon we continued the soccer fun with a trial "Little Kickers" class for The Bean. He did really well. I think we will try to sign him up just as soon as we can figure out when is the best time to start him given our spring travel schedule.
Wednesday was an at-home day. Both kids seemed fine with taking it easy for the day though. They played nicely together.
Thursday as another at-home day, but I got a bit of a break, if you can call it that. My aunt came over and watched the kids while I went downtown to interview to get on the sub list at another private school. It was very informal, and all I have to do now is get them a clearance letter from the police and I'll be good to go. I really, really hope that 1) They call and 2) One of the schools hires me full time for the fall. As of now neither has any openings, but hopefully that changes.
Friday I took the kids to a new(ish) indoor playground called Sprouts. Both of them seemed to enjoy themselves. It was hard keeping track of both of them at all times --a theme throughout the week-- but we managed. The staff there was really good too, and even watched The Bean for me when I went to make myself a cup of their complementary tea. Pretty nice. I think we'll be going back.
Another family weekend. Saturday morning, at The Bean's request we went to watch hockey. He actually wanted to play hockey, but we had to explain that you need gear and to know how to skate (nevermind parents who will allow you to play hockey) before you can play. Minutes after I left to go grocery shopping in the afternoon The Bean threw up all over the bathroom. He threw up again after I got home, but that was it, thank goodness. Sunday we went to the zoo. It was a bit cold to walk around and a lot of the animals weren't out, but we did get to see the polar bear cub as well as the new infant gorilla. Pretty darn cute.
Today The Bean was back at daycare. It was quiet without him around. Sprout and I are both fighting the beginning stages of a head cold, so it was probably good for us to have a quieter day, but we both missed him a lot.
The past month has been a busy one, but a fun one. Our little girl is ever so loving and cuddly, but also fiercely independent. The more she's able to do on her own, the more she's been showing us this side of her personality. I dare say I see a bit of myself in her.
-She is quite mobile now. Walking wobbly, rarely crawling. She "runs" when she is excited, most notably when Mommy and The Bean get home at the end of the day. (Usually accompanied by shrieks of joy!) She likes to jump, but has yet to get her feet off the ground. But what I really need to mention here is the climbing. This girl is a climber! Beds, couch, chairs, ottoman, you name it, she climbs it. Fearlessly, I might add. We've had to move some furniture around, mostly so she won't climb onto the dining room table when I have my back turned. I'm both excited and nervous to take her to the playground once the weather warms up.
-She has many, many words now some more established than others. Hair, head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms, hand, bum bum, poo, hat, shoe, boot, jacket, out, home, up, down, Mama, Mum Mum (what she calls Jen), The Bean's name and nickname, Aunt Jen (my sister), Mo (our cat), cat, dog, a variety of animal noises, cheese, nana (banana), water, ball, dance, and a few that I'm sure I'm forgetting. Moreover she understands so much. I find it so amazing. I also wonder at how long she has understood so much, because just in the past few months she's been demonstrating understanding, but I'm sure she understood many things long before she could do this. I'm not the only one who's impressed by this sort of thing, right?
-She has really been keen on going out lately. If I ask her if she wants to go out she'll head straight over to the front hall to get her outdoor clothes on. I have to be mindful not to say anything to her too long before I'm ready to go out because she's not very patient! It'll be so nice once the weather warms up and it's not such an ordeal to get ready to go outside.
-Jen took her out for her first tricycle ride, and she seemed to enjoy it. She also likes playing with balls, dancing, and climbing and sliding down the curvy board, climbing up and down stairs, helping me vacuum, and playing in the toy kitchen.
-She's pretty into colouring. We set her up with paper and markers in the highchair and she goes to town. We've also done finger painting this way, which she enjoyed, but the clean up is too much for me to make it a regular thing. We have window crayons that she and The Bean have been having a blast colouring with too. Other fine motor skills have included the ring stacker (though not in order) and the pop-up bugs where she has to work buttons/switches/turn knobs to make them jump up. She's plays with the doctor's kit.
-She's a good helper. She likes to brush her teeth and hair (or other peoples!), try to dress herself and feed herself. She wipes her hands, face and high chair tray if given a cloth. She will vacuum with her toy vacuum along side me with our real vacuum. She sort of gets tidying up and will often throw things (her diapers, for example) into the garbage when asked.
-And books. The girl LOVES books. She would happily pull every single book we have off the shelf and have me read them to her. She has favourites --B is for Bear, Builder Goose, Goodnight Moon, and The More We Get Together stand out from this past month. Her attention span isn't terribly long, so I tend to pick shorter stories for her, but boy, does she love being read to. I love it when she walks over with a book and plunks herself down in my lap.
-One of my favourite times of day with her right now is when she wakes up from her nap. She loves to roll around on the bed. She's super silly and will sit up and then flop down and grin at me. She thinks it's hilarious if I mimic her behaviour. It's adorable.
-She's still big on nursing. She nurses when she wakes up in the morning (recently around 4am) off and on until we get out of bed between 6 and 7am and before and after naps as well as before bed. She's between one nap and two right now. With The Bean home it was easier to have her just do an earlier afternoon nap and we've been sticking with that, even though she's super-tired by the time noon/nap time rolls around. I dunno, I may try two naps again tomorrow and see how she does. I'm a little up in the air over what's best for her right now.
-Eating has been going well, but the past few weeks her teeth have really been bothering her so she's been a little fussier than usual about what foods she wants. Mostly she just wants soft foods. She did break a tooth (bottom right lateral incisor) on the 17th, but I can see that her molars are not too far off. Poor babe. One in particular looks awful --bumpy, blistered, and bruised.
-Sleep is pretty good. I already mentioned that we're between one and two naps a day. Bedtime takes a while, but she's usually asleep by 8pm. Sometimes she wakes up a few times overnight, but is mostly good about putting herself back down. "Morning" comes at about 4am, but we stay in bed a few hours longer than that. (Thank goodness.)
I'm sure there are many, many more things I could say about this girl, but I'm going to stop here. Hopefully I'll be able to talk about how much she loves playing outside next month's update... we're still in winter-mode here and all ready for some sunshine.
Note: This is not meant to be a discussion on sleep training and whether it's good/bad right/wrong. Just a reflection on where we've been and where we are now. Please feel free to comment and give encouragement, but stay away from harsh judgement. We all do what we feel is best for our little ones and our families. :)
When The Bean was about seven months old Jen and I came to a breaking point. We were both exhausted from being woken up several times a night by our wonderful baby, who apparently was not so affected by interrupted sleep as we were. Though we had reservations, we decided to do CIO with him. We found a sort of modified version that we could manage and after just a few days with much less crying than we had anticipated, we had a baby who was sleeping through the night. It was life changing.
Fortunately we've experienced very few set backs. Teething never seemed to be an issue. Nor developmental milestones. Yes, we know, we've been lucky...
...Until now. For some reason, The Bean has started waking up at night. Somewhere around 4am I've been hearing the pattering of little feet up to my bedside. The first night it happened I bolted awake, thinking that somehow Sprout had manage to quietly climb out of the Pack'n'Play and get around to my side of the bed. (Night logic isn't always the most logical.) My heart stopped racing quite so fast when I realized it was her brother. Exhausted I pulled him into bed for a cuddle. Then, realizing that his sister would be awake within the hour, and four in the bed is really too many, I carried him back to his bedroom and rubbed his back for a few minutes while he drifted back to sleep. Most of the past ten days or so have been similar. Some nights he has climbed into our bed on his own. Other nights I've had to bring him water, or a snack, or sing him a lullaby before leaving him. Fortunately he seems to accept "It's the middle of the night and Mama still needs to sleep" as a reason for me to go back to our room.
Night One I was surprised. Night Two I was worried about a habit forming. But before Night Three my friend and fellow blogger, J, posted a Maria Montessori quote on Facebook, "Once awake, he is impelled toward those he loves, through rooms that are still dark, closed to the light. He goes, stumbling perhaps, but unafraid of the shadows and the half-closed doors, approaches his parents and touches them lightly." It's about a child waking up in the morning and going to his parents, so it doesn't apply directly, but it gave me a bit of a different perspective. The Bean comes to us because he loves us and he is comforted by being around us. And that's sweet. Really sweet. It won't be forever that this little person is going to want to have us so close. For now, rather than worry about it, I think I'll appreciate the extra closeness and be thankful that he does go back to his own bed after he gets his extra snuggles. Now it's late and I had better get to bed myself. Four am comes more quickly than you might think.
I've been meaning to post an update for a while, but as seems to be the case lately, I can't seem to gather my thoughts in the rare free moments I find to write...
But really, there are no free moments, are there? Blogging is something I need to start carving some time out for again. I really enjoy having this space, recording my thoughts and memories, but it seems the longer I stay away, the harder it is to get back to.
Last week ended up being quite busy. I was called in to teach a few days, which was great. This is the last week before a two week spring break, so it's doubtful anyone will be calling off. I have, however, taken a three day contract from a childcare company I used to work for quite a bit, so this weekend and early next week will be busy too. I went to a job fair last weekend and am hoping to get on a few more independent school's sub lists. It's hard to know how many places to reach out to --I want to be getting work most days, but I don't want to be turning work away (the kiss of death for subs). Hopefully I can get on with one or two more schools and find a good balance. A foot in the door a few new places wouldn't hurt either.
This week I also found a little bit of free time to finally go through some of our TTC paperwork. Please tell me we're not the only ones with SO much paper from the whole process. Cycle monitoring protocols and charts. Donor information. Shipping receipts. I threw out a lot, but then there was some stuff I wasn't sure about --The donor info we kept. Obviously. But I also kept the pro/con list we made when we were deciding on a donor. It seemed like something to hold on to. I also kept the cycle monitoring info. We'll probably get rid of it eventually, but for some reason it just didn't feel right to throw out those papers with all our hormone levels and lining measurements. Maybe because it was such a process and it seems like there should be a record of it? I don't know. Maybe it's just that I'm a bit of a pack rat and nostalgic to boot. Not a good combination when it comes to getting rid of stuff. At least the shipping receipts got trashed.
Going through all our paperwork reminded me that I STILL have to put together baby books for the kids. We have store-bought books that are sort of half filled in, but I also want to do baby photo books online for each of them. I've always sort of held it against my mother that she never did fill in our baby books beyond our birth stats and first visitors, but now that I'm on this side of things, I can totally understand how it happened. Never mind that she already had a four year old and that there were two of us and that we were premature.
Organizing seems to be an ongoing process around here. I've always prided myself on being hyper-organized and I hate that things have been piling up so much. It's so hard to find the time to get to thing these days though. A little bit at a time seems to be the way to go. Tomorrow I'll drop off a bag of clothes at Goodwill. Hopefully before the end of the week I'll find some time to get to my overflowing crochet basket and finish a new hat for Sprout. (Poor thing has outgrown all her winter hats, and winter doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.)
I don't think I've mentioned yet that I am going to have both kids home with me for a while in the not-too-distant future. Our child care provider has to go through some medical procedures and gave us the option of having him place somewhere else temporarily or keeping him home. We chose to keep him home. I'm happy, because I think The Bean will be excited about it and I am excited to have more time with him, plus we'll save some money by not having to pay for daycare; but I'm also terrified because how do I feed and give naps and play and take out two little children on my own?! I've started compiling a big list of things to do, but I know that keeping busy won't be the (only) issue. I'm sure we'll be fine, but I'm a worrier, so it's hard for me not to panic just a little bit.
Even though I'm tired (always) and overwhelmed (often) things are going well. Like everyone else I'm looking forward to spring, but I feel like change is coming, and that's a welcome thing right now.