Thursday, July 31, 2008

At least I have useful diseases...

Several weeks ago, Lillian mentioned in passing that in addition to postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, there is also a lesser-known disorder - postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder. Though at the time Chris joked, "How will we be able to separate that from your typical OCD?", it's turned out to be not so much a laughing matter. Though I only have a very, very mild case of it - I don't pull the car over twelve times during a trip to make sure Gwen's carseat is still buckled, for example - it's still having a definite impact on me. Or, to be more honest, on all of us.


The form it takes is much like my (again, fairly mild) typical OCD - I like things to be tidy. (I told you I have useful diseases.) There is a phrase on that website that describes me perfectly: "Constantly trying to keep things in perfect order and organized because you somehow feel that if you can just get organized you can get relief". Unattainable dream, of course, and no matter how organized I get the relief escapes me. When things aren't tidy, I can't think straight. I feel the walls closing in on me. I get really snappy and miserable. Babies are cluttery creatures, and my least-favourite baby-related activity - nursing - requires me to sit immobile and stare around the room at all the clutter. When I have a break from nursing, I don't want to spend time resting or bonding with my daughter. I want to clean up the damn mess.


Most of the time, this works out okay - after all, it's not such a terrible thing to want the room to be tidy! But once in a while it overwhelms me. I feel resentful of Chris for contributing to the clutter instead of helping me. And I completely cannot relate to those who advise me to "relax" and "just let the housework go". Those two concepts are mutually exclusive, to me.


Now, let's be honest - I am not a great housekeeper. I never vacuum, never wash the windows, and clean the toilets only when I absolutely must. So truly, I am not talking about the white-glove treatment here. I just want to be able to see more than a square inch of space on the coffee table, you know, instead of it being littered with used bottles and magazines and books and used burp cloths. I think most people want the same thing. The difference is, until I accomplish that goal, I feel physically uncomfortable being in the room.


This is all exacerbated by the sheer number of hours I spend at home these days, mainly 'trapped' in one room. Some days the endless cycle of it all really gets me down. These tasks are never finished, and so I can never take pride in a job well done. And, you know how it goes. The more mundane your tasks actually are, the more magnified their importance becomes in your head, so that you can convince yourself your existence isn't utterly meaningless. Chris is already urging me to try and figure out a way to deal with this, because it's only going to get worse when Gwen is a toddler and starts really making messes.



And to be honest, in the days since I truly accepted that I Have A Problem, it's gotten a bit easier. I can detach from it a little, and tell myself that just because I'm not cleaning the mess right now doesn't mean I won't clean it ever. Making sure the room is tidy before I go to bed - which takes only 5-10 minutes - means not only that I start the next day on the right foot, but that throughout the time leading up to the evening clean-up, the pressure's off: I know the room will be tidy soon, I don't need to fuss with it now.

Anyway. I'm on it. I'll get through it. It's not as bad as it could be, and I'm sure it'll pass.

But in the meantime, clearly there are still Issues.

Upcoming Travels

I may be crazy. Or, put it this way - if I'm not now, I might be by the end of all this.

This Saturday is Gwen's first SCA event! As this may mean nothing to most of you, I offer the following explanation: This Saturday, we will be sitting in a large field in Port Alberni, after having risen at some ungodly hour, dressed the baby and ourselves, and driven for 90 minutes to get there. With only a gazebo-style tent for protection from whatever weather is thrown at us, I must do all the typical mothering things I usually do all day from the comfort of my own home: feeding, diapering, entertaining, soothing to sleep (without the swing, ACK), keeping Gwen appropriately warm/cool, and so on. All while dressed in medieval garb, or in this case the closest thing I could find to medieval garb that would still allow me to nurse.

Oh, and while I'm sitting in the field, there will be armoured fighting and rapier combat and other things to watch, not to mention, I'm sure, a steady stream of people in medieval garb commenting on how loudly my baby is able to cry. "She's got her mother's lungs!" they all say, thinking it's the first time I've heard that comment.

So, after a potluck 'feast' on Saturday (and dear God, I have no idea what we're going to bring to that), we'll pack up the car and head back home, hopefully arriving by 10pm.

Sunday, in addition to the 6.5km walk dictated by my half-marathon training schedule, I must do laundry. And on Monday, I must pack. Because on Tuesday, we leave home again, this time for a four-day trip up to our family's float cabin on Powell Lake.

Repeat all previous notes, except read "sitting on a cabin deck" for "sitting in a field" and change "people in medieval garb" to "my parents".

No, in all seriousness I am really excited about that trip. My parents haven't seen Gwen since she was about a month old, so they are in for lots of surprises. And I'm sure they'll have more to say than commenting on how loud she is.

We come back from that trip next Saturday evening. Sunday will again see me doing laundry and Monday will again see me packing, because we're not done yet. To complete the triumvirate of travel, Gwen and I are going to the Lower Mainland the following Tuesday through Thursday, mainly to meet the amazing Ira and congratulate his incredible mother. (Well, I will congratulate her. Gwen will issue her congratulations in the form of drool.) I even decided, based on the unexpected arrival of the Canada Child Tax Benefit, that I can afford to take my car to the city, which simplifies things a great deal (no need to detach the carseat base and stuff it into the stroller for a walk-on ferry trip). Also, no need to pack light. Heh.

With all this travelling, though, I am getting my head around a few things. The very first time I travelled with Gwen, which was to Powell River for a baby shower and a visit with my parents way back in early May, I was completely gobsmacked when I realized that I had to pack for the baby as well as for myself. This is because I am not so very good at packing for myself, and I always forget something. To extrapolate a list of what this tiny new person, who came without the ability to speak for herself, might need for a three-day-trip, seemed impossible. But with each trip I'm getting a little better, and with these upcoming travels I've actually developed a checklist of what Gwen needs if she's going to be away from home for more than a few hours (of course I have).

She's actually quite the well-travelled little girl, and we are oh-so-lucky that she seems to take the upheavals in stride. In her three short months of life, she has already done the following:
- Trip to Powell River at 3 weeks old (4 days, 3 without Chris)
- Trip to Vancouver at 7 weeks old (And I remember thinking when planning this - "Pssh. Seven weeks old? I'll have this mothering thing totally down by then.")
- Trip to Victoria at 12 weeks old (3 days, entirely without Chris)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

People Don't Know. They Don't Know!

Title quote is from "Reality Bites", said by Janeane Garofalo, who plays a GAP employee, after she uses a fancy shirt-folding device to pretty up a display table. People don't know. They don't know! This quote comes to mind after I have spent 2 hours today going through digital photos and figuring out which ones I want to order to fill up Gwen's (first) photo album, as well as selecting and cropping a bunch to go in some photo frames we had lying around. AND I went to Michael's earlier today to buy frames for the prints we're going to get from our professional shoot, and a scrapbook for those as well.

People don't know. They don't know!

This doesn't even count the time I'm going to have to spend, probably on Friday, uploading pictures from the second half of July into my Facebook and Flickr albums.

Not to mention the time it's going to take me to put all these pictures, once printed and procured, into the frames and albums and so on.

People don't know. They don't know.

I now understand the old saw about how the second kid's baby book never gets filled out. Just one more reason to be grateful we're only going to have one!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Video - Gwen Rolls Over

On a much more cheerful note, here is a video of Gwen rolling over - taken yesterday. The weird camera movement at the beginning is due to me sitting down while holding the camera. Enjoy.


video

Seller's Market

I just spent another half an hour calling around to a bunch of daycares in Nanaimo. And getting laughed at. Sigh. When I call and say I'm looking for a space for next April, the bigger centres laugh and say, "You're only calling now?" And the smaller home-based ones say, "You're kind of early, aren't you?" Yeah. These are the people I'm dying to give my child and my hard-earned money to.

My favourite is a centre right near my house, whose manager told me when I called: "We have a 4-page waitlist. I only accept names on the first of the month. I start answering the phone at 7:30am. Good luck." I felt like asking exactly what was so awesome about her centre that had her feeling so arrogant. Does she bathe the children in water blessed by His Holiness the Pope? Does she feed them pure organic food harvested by tiny fairies? WTF? Obviously, we are not on the waitlist there.

Another waitlist we don't appear on is the centre with whom I had the following conversations.

Conversation #1 - about 2 weeks ago
Heavily Accented Woman: Hello, (Name of Centre)
Me: Hi, I'm looking for a space for my daughter for next April. She will be a year old. Can you tell me what your waitlist is like?
HAW: Actually, you have to talk to the manager to get on the waitlist.
Me: Okay. Is she in?
HAW: No.
Me: Can you tell me when she will be in?
HAW: Well, she takes a lot of holidays in the summer, so really I have no idea when she will be in. But you're welcome to call back, maybe after the 20th.
Me: Okay, bye.

(Wasn't it nice of her to make sure I knew I was welcome to call back? Because without a gilded invitation, I might not have figured that out. Anyway, I called back today.)

Conversation #2 - today
Youngish Woman - Hello, (Name of Centre)
Me: Hi, can I talk to your manager?
YW: Um, you're looking for Leanne?
Me: I don't know her name. I'm just looking for the manager.
YW: Okay, um, hang on. (muffled, to co-worker) Um, there's someone on the phone looking for the manager, and I have no idea who that is.
Heavily-Accented Woman: Okay. (to me) Hello?
Me: Hi! I'm looking for the manager.
HAW: Well, she's on holidays right now. (what a surprise!)
Me: Okay, can you tell me when she would be in?
HAW: No, I actually have no idea. But you're welcome to call again [so we can continue to be completely useless sources of no information whatsoever].

Seriously. And these people laugh at me.

Another place I called was actually incredibly organized, right down to asking me what days and hours I would need care for. Which, of course, I don't know, because I have no idea what kind of job I'm going back to in 9 months. If it weren't for the fact that I've already figured out I'm not the stay-at-home-full-time type - yeah, that only took three months - I'd give up the whole thing and throw my hands in the air.

I hate seller's markets. Especially when I have no clear idea what it is I'm trying to buy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Date Night

So, Chris and I went out to the movie last night. We had a terrific time. Unfortunately, Chris's parents decided Gwen didn't really need to go to bed so much as she needed to be unswaddled and spend the evening playing with them. When we got home at 10pm, she was half-assedly wrapped up in her swaddle blanket, fussing and whining, and Keith was walking her around the room. Karen insisted she'd been "good as gold" all night, and had drank THREE bottles.

I was furious, but what can you do. Free babysitting and all.

Lesson learned, though. Next time we will do the matinee, and the grandparents can play with Gwen all afternoon and tire her out.

We are still paying the price for her fucked-up schedule. We got her to sleep last night at 10:30, then she got up at 3 and again at 6*. Her naps today were screwed up and she didn't go down tonight until 9pm.

(*These times are actually fairly typical for her to wake up, the main difference being that she usually goes to sleep around 6. So instead of about 12 hours of nighttime sleep, she got around 7. Not so great, as those who listened to hear scream through our entire Council meeting tonight would surely agree.)

Anyway, we saw Dark Knight, the new Batman movie. I think that's the first movie we've gone to together since Cloverfield. It was phenomenal - very intense. Heath Ledger was downright creepy in the role of the Joker. And happily, I was able to forget about Gwen and the happenings at home while we were out and just relax and have a good time. It was only after we got home that I got stressed out, and to be honest I am *still* stressed out! Right now I'm trying to remind myself that tomorrow is a whole new day. I'm dreading the fact that it's Monday, though, and that I have to face the day without Chris here to help.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ack! FAIL.

I used to be a pretty active member of a couple community theatre troupes. I even managed to get the lead one time (playing a crazy old lady at the ripe old age of 25, go figure that one). Anyway, what used to make me a bit nuts about theatre is the same thing that Dame Judi Dench always really loved about it - the neverendingness of it. I remember hearing an interview with Dame Judi many years ago where she talked about her difficulties moving from stage to screen, because when she acted on stage, her performance could change from night to night, presumably getting better and deeper and richer with time. Whereas in film, once the performance is captured, there it is - and no matter how many times you watch the movie, the performance will be the same.

Where Dame Judi appreciated the opportunity for constant improvement and re-interpretation, I did not. I remember coming off stage after a great performance, coasting on the high of the audience's applause - and then realizing that 22 hours later, when the next show started, it wouldn't matter at all that the entire cast and crew had nailed it tonight. There would be a new audience waiting to be impressed and awed, and they wouldn't care at all how great the previous night had been. What a depressing thought.

I find parenthood to be very, very similar.

Yesterday I absolutely nailed the nap schedule. Gwen got two awesome naps, I got a few chores done as well as attending Healthy Beginnings, and we even ate dinner at a pretty reasonable hour. It was a great day. In the evening, Chris swaddled Gwen and she fell asleep in his lap without any further effort - she then slept for nearly 8 hours before waking for a night feed (which Chris handled without me, what a treat!). Then she went back to sleep for another 4 hours.

But today is another matter. And today, it just doesn't matter how well I handled all my responsibilities yesterday, because today I have to do it all over again. The nap management, the laundry and the dishes, the tricky pre-planning to make sure I get lunch and that there's something ready for dinner this evening. The bottles: prepping them, feeding them to Gwen, cleaning them, getting them prepped again. Tidying the living room just enough so that the clutter doesn't take over. Sometimes it does feel crushing, the mind-numbing repetition.

And just as a stage performance, no matter how well-rehearsed, can be undermined by a prop failure or another actor's missed cue, my great intentions as a mom can be instantly pulled off-track by Gwen's failure to co-operate. It's especially irritating when the exact same things that worked so well yesterday, are suddenly failing miserably today.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gwen Rolls Over: A Story in Five Parts

Stage One: Mom just propped me up on my tummy and then grabbed the camera... TOO SLOW, MOM!



Stage Two: My giant head is pulling me over to the side. Better go with it. Do you think I can blame this ridiculous facial expression on the cruelties of gravity, too?



Stage Three: Hey! Shit! I'm on my back!


Stage Four: I have no real idea how that happened, but I'm totally going to take the credit for it!


Stage Five: Mom, did you SEE what I just did there? Are you aware that this is the beginning of mobility? Do you have any idea what havoc I'm going to wreak around here? MWAHAHAHAH!


Bonus picture: I call this one, "I'm three months old and I still look really stupid in pants."

Dear Gwen: Month Three

Dear Gwen,

Month Three has not been my favourite month. Your sleep schedule has been unpredictable, your moods have been erratic, and your demands have been nearly constant. I'll admit it, the comments about throwing you out the window have increased quite a bit this month, and your dad and I are not at all sad to say goodbye to Month Three. Although we both thought that things would be getting easier around this time, Month Three has so far been the hardest month of parenthood.



It all started on June 26th, the day of your two-month immunizations. We'd been coasting along, fully aware that you weren't ever going to be a big pudgy baby, but feeling fairly secure that you were gaining enough to be healthy. The nurses who weighed you before your shots were convinced otherwise, and persuaded me to start supplementing you after every feeding. This edict in turn transformed me into a crazy woman, determined to give you as much breastmilk as possible, by way of pumping 4-5 times a day in addition to our regular nursing sessions. It took nearly the whole month for this madness to wear off, for me to realize that formula is just fine, and that however much breastmilk you get is enough, dammit. You are finally gaining weight at a healthy pace, thanks to the formula.



This month also saw our first heatwave. When the temperatures climbed, I couldn't stand the thought of you being swaddled and overheating in your cradle, so we tried to teach you how to sleep unswaddled. This little experiment caused you to wake every 1-2 hours instead of your usual once-per-night, so I told your dad that no matter what we had to do to keep the house cool, you were going to sleep swaddled! I actually went back to the book that first advised us to swaddle, "The Happiest Baby on the Block", to see when to stop swaddling. Dr. Karp advises to test the waters by leaving one of baby's arms unswaddled - "if she sleeps just the same, she's ready to move on from swaddling; if she continues to cry, she's telling you she still needs the swaddle." You responded to your unwrapped arm by batting yourself in the head several times, so you're going to keep getting swaddled to sleep for a while yet.

There were some other really fun parts to this month, like when we thought you had a tooth (it's really just an Epstein pearl, and as of now it's still there), and when we thought you had a bladder infection (you didn't, and you took the catheter like an absolute trooper). And there was the time - which seemed like months, but was really only a week or so - when I gave up sugar for the health of your tiny, thrushy bottom. I'd have to say that the best part of Month Three was giving thrush the final goodbye. With the reintroduction of sugar being a close second.



There have been some other good times, too. Today as I watched you play on your blanket on the floor I was overcome with the wonder of you, and of your learning. While it may look to anyone else as if you are "just lying there", I knew that all those movements you were making were the result of concentrated effort, and that you were exploring the world fully through all your senses: feeling the fluffy blanket under your skin, looking at the light streaming through the windows, listening to the music from the radio, smelling the scents of our home, and tasting ... well, tasting milk, since that's all you ever get to have. And all the while learning about your body and your voice, which are your first tools to affect this world around you. You've been working hard on developing some important skills this month, for example:

- bringing your hands together
- raising your head while on your tummy
- rolling over from front to back (and very nearly from back to front)
- reaching for objects
- grasping objects (if helped)

It's only been the past two weeks or so that you've noticed your toys, but now that you have you are paying a LOT of attention. You haven't yet got the co-ordination to see something you want, reach for it, and pick it up, but it's coming, and it's fascinating to watch you focussing so intently on your efforts.


Another change this month is that you are truly in love with your mama. And while this is very flattering, and it fills my heart to bursting when you grin madly at the sight of me, there is a downside to this infatuation as well. For example, it doesn't make your dad feel very good if you cry whenever I hand you to him. And it makes getting out to have a bit of a break really hard, when you cry whenever I'm out of view. In fact, it's hard to even get a load of laundry done when that's your attitude. It seems awfully early for you to be 'making strange', and I hope this phase passes soon. Except for the smiles - you can keep it up with those, okay?

All in all, as I said, it's been a rough month for us, but I think we've made some really positive changes (like the arrangement where Dad puts you to bed every night) and I'm optimistic that next month will be better. But even when you're screaming and gassy and nothing we do is right and we joke about throwing you out the window, we love you to bits and are so glad that you're our daughter.

Love,
Mama

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

There is so much more to it than "Sleeping through the Night"

Gwen is just messing with us lately, I'm sure of it.

She keeps taking shorter and shorter morning naps, later and later in the morning. Then her afternoon nap, as a consequence, is later and later in the day. So then, of course, her bedtime is later and later.

For example. She used to get up at 7, and nap from 9-11 and 2-4 and then going to bed at 7 again. Toda she got up at 8:30, napped from 10-11, was still fussy and tired so I put her down again to 'finish' her morning nap from 12:30-1:30, then had her afternoon nap from 3:30-5. It's now 6pm and of course she's not anywhere near winding down for the night. I need to be absolutely dedicated, these next few days, to getting her back to a realistic schedule.

Because on Saturday night, Chris and I are going out to see The Dark Knight. Which means her grandparents are putting her to bed.

I had to think long and hard about whether we should go see a matinee or an evening show, and I kept flip-flopping back and forth. If we go to a matinee, Keith and Karen won't have the headache of putting her to bed, but we'll get the privilege of being in a theatre full of tweens and teenage punks. Plus, if the going-to-bed goes smoothly, then Keith and Karen will have a pleasant and easy night, and the "work" part of it will be done quickly, whereas if they were to babysit during the day they'd have to keep doing diapers, bottles, and entertaining for a few hours. Neither of which they mind, of course. In any case, I finally decided to do the evening show, with dinner at the Acme beforehand - our first date in several long months. Cross your fingers that it'll go well and that we won't return home to a screaming, overtired baby!

Gwen has actually been sleeping really well these past few nights. She is back to her habit of getting up only once a night, and often that waking is around 4am, at which point I just bring her into bed to nurse and we both doze off again until 8 or so. That part is really nice, because she wakes up smiling and cheerful and I wake up pretty well rested. The subject line above is inspired by the fact that even when babies start sleeping through the night, you don't *know* they're going to sleep through the night, so you continue all your previous habits as if you were going to have to wake up in two hours. For example, you go to bed criminally early; reading before falling asleep becomes a ridiculous luxury; and you don't sleep as deeply as you would otherwise. In other words, sleeping for six hours when you know ahead of time that you're going to sleep for six hours is an entirely different experience from waking up several hours later than you expected, leaking breast milk everywhere, and discovering that no, your baby didn't suffocate, she just somehow miraculously slept through the night. And you don't even really get to celebrate this, because you have no idea if she'll ever do it again, and you certainly don't say out loud to anyone that she did this, because that will definitely jinx it. In fact, I wonder how many nights in a row a baby would have to sleep before his or her parents relaxed enough to accept that as the new norm. I suspect it's somewhere in the teenage years.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Insert Spinal Tap Reference Here

After a terrific weekend of stuffing Gwen good and full of (non-gas-causing) formula, she is up over 11 pounds today. Yay!

Also, this evening while practicing tummy time with a rolled-up blanket under her chest, she started to roll to her side. Chris said, "Whoops, she's tipping over," and I said, "That's okay, that's how she will learn to roll over. At which point, she rolled over. Yay again!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Busy Summer

There's a lot going on here these days. It's hard to find time to update, and when I do, it's hard to decide which of the many topics and events I should write about.

Thus, a rather fractured post follows.

First of all, I satisfied my recent stroller lust not by blowing $400 on a Bob, but by purchasing a second-hand, no-name brand jogging stroller from craigslist for $55. Here it is:



It needs a snappy name, though, so if you think of one please let me know.
With that addition, as well as the upcoming purchase of one of these, I'm
all set to start my half-marathon training tomorrow. I am both excited and nervous.

Gwen has been developing some amazing skills lately. She can now hold onto some of her toys, though she cannot pick them up on her own: I hold the rattle near the back of her hand and place it inside her fingers when she opens them. She sometimes hangs on to it, sometimes drops it. She can also roll quite handily from her back to her side. I read that babies around this age start rolling front-to-back first, and that back-to-front doesn't happen for a few more months - it's likely that she's not developing the front-to-back rolling because we don't do enough tummy time. Please note my total lack of guilt or panic about that.


Speaking of tummy time, though, we have been doing a bit more of it lately. Gwen tolerates it a bit better if we do it in the morning as she and I lie in bed together, because I am right on her level. I also finally tried the trick of propping her up with a folded receiving blanket under her chest and put a toy in her line of vision. That worked quite well and she didn't fuss for nearly an entire minute.

Also? Last week I gave her a bath in the morning instead of in the evening, and she didn't scream at all until I washed her hair. There's hope. I don't know why I didn't think of that earlier - she is almost always in a good mood in the mornings, and almost always in a rougher mood in the evenings, so why did I think she would learn to like bathtime when she's already in a difficult mood?

We visited some friends in Victoria over the weekend, and Gwen got to spend some real time with a child for the first time - her honourary cousin, Zoe, who is ten years old. Zoe was captivated with Gwen and was actually quite a big help to me - she is going to be a terrific babysitter in a couple of years. I was quite intrigued to notice how Zoe played with Gwen in different ways from those I would think of to use, which then engaged Gwen in different ways. Gwen also really responded to Zoe every time she was near - she can obviously sense, as Zoe's dad Mike pointed out, that Zoe is more like her than the adults she is usually surrounded with.

There was also this really hilarious moment where Zoe was watching me feed Gwen, and Gwen pulled off the breast but was still leaning into it with her hand, and milk shot all over the three of us. It was pretty awesome!

Another awesome bit of news is that I am now finally ready to proclaim that the THRUSH IS GONE. Repeat, the THRUSH IS GONE! With that, we are back to cloth diapers (though I did cheat and use disposable while travelling this past weekend), and they are fitting a fair bit better than they did 6 weeks ago. Oh, and just as important as the reappearance of cloth diapers on Gwen's bottom, is the reappearance of sugar in my diet. Ahhh, now things are back to normal.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Twelve Weeks =/= Suddenly Easy

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've had some discouraging days (and nights) and wanted to wait until I felt a little bit more positive before posting. However, in the interest of honesty for my daughter to read someday (or perhaps for me to look back and laugh?), here's what's been going on.

Breastfeeding/Pumping
After Sunday's power-pumping day, I'm sad to say I haven't found the time to pump even once. On Tuesday, a nutritionist was the guest speaker at Healthy Beginnings, and she told us about a hundred times how important it was to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. She emphasized how this would drastically improve baby's immune system and greatly reduce the chance of allergies. This all-or-nothing attitude really pisses me off because guess what, I blew the "exclusive" breastfeeding when Gwen was 10 days old and we started with the SNS. Maybe that was because I was a lazy mom who didn't care about my daughter's immune system? No wait, I remember, it was because she'd gotten the stupid Norovirus and was too tired to eat and had thus lost 9 ounces after birth and she needed formula to survive. Yeah, that was it.

Anyway, I came home from that feeling like crap because really, all any mother wants is to be able to provide for her child, and when you can't do that you already feel inadequate, and the last thing you need is someone putting Exclusive Breastfeeding on a pedestal like anyone who supplements is doing less than their best.

Weight Gain
Still not where it should be. I am now vigilant about weighing her twice a week, and she gained only half an ounce in five days (should have been between 3 and 8 ounces). That second weigh-in was on the same day as the nutritionist's talk at Healthy Beginnings so I really felt awful. I was totally being pulled in two directions: Gwen needs to eat (because she's not gaining weight) but she needs to eat breastmilk (because it's better than formula). So if she nursed and seemed satisfied I wouldn't offer a bottle, instead patting myself on the back and thinking I had managed to feed her adequately without compromising the Exclusive Breastfeeding mantra. Meanwhile she clearly wasn't getting enough because she was not gaining weight.

Sleep
I will be the first to say: we are very, very lucky with Gwen's sleep. She has on occasion slept as long as 10 or 11 hours (very rarely!), and even when the nights are shorter she usually only wakes up once (Knock on ever-lovin' wood). The problem is getting her to sleep, which seems to be getting more difficult lately. She used to go down fairly easily, between 6 and 7pm, but nowadays we start putting her to bed at 7 and sometimes we are still rocking and shushing her by 10pm. She will drift off in our laps, we put her in the crib, and she sleeps for 20 minutes or so before waking up and crying, at which point we start all over. It's incredibly frustrating. I have been starting to really dread her bedtime. As soon as she wakes up from her afternoon nap, my stomach knots up and my body tenses in anticipation of the horrible evening ahead.

Chris noticed that when we kept her up later, say 9 or 10pm, she actually slept 7 or 8 hours, so for a couple of nights we kept her up late. But that makes my day as a mom horrifically long. I really look forward to the time when she goes to bed and I can be a wife or just an individual: having time with Chris, having time to myself, getting a few things done or just killing time on the web. (And let's not forget the damn pumping session.)

Fussiness
This may or may not tie in to the sleep issue. Gwen has been a lot fussier lately than she had been in her first 2.5 months of life (she is 12 weeks today). I had thought things were supposed to get easier at 3 months, so to have things getting harder instead seems doubly unfair. Anyway, she yowls like a cat being mutilated, with tears rolling down her face, her legs stiff as boards and her little tummy rock-hard. Here is a brief summary of advice I have received on this topic:

"It's gas. You should eliminate dairy from your diet/eliminate vegetables from your diet/track your diet and her screaming for a few days and figure out what's bugging her/give her Ovol/give her colic tablets/give her gripe water/stop giving her formula/change her formula/stop giving her Vitamin D/put up with it because it's a sign of an immature digestive system."

"It's colic. You should make her comfortable by massaging her tummy/trying reflexology/putting her on a vibrating mat/putting her in the swing/doing the flying angel hold/swaddling her/bouncing her/bending and bicycling her legs."
"It's just a stage. You can't solve it, so you should just put her somewhere safe and go somewhere that you can't hear the crying for at least 10 minutes every day."

(Bolded things, by the way, are the ones we have tried so far.)

So what are we doing about all these frustrating issues? I won't call these 'solutions', but they are perhaps 'survival mechanisms'. Gwen's survival, that is.

Weight Gain
Obviously I have to offer a bottle at every feeding, even if Gwen only takes a few sips. Formula is not so expensive that we can't afford to waste a bit of it, and she desperately needs to chunk out. I have people guessing her age at 6-8 weeks old, then when I say she's nearly 3 months they ask if she was a preemie. Bring on the formula.

Breastfeeding/Pumping
After a lot of thought, I finally figured out what I want to do about this. I was getting exhausted trying to keep up with breastfeeding, pumping, and bottle feeding, and if I have to be more on top of offering her a bottle every time, something's got to go. For a while, it looked like the solution was to give up breastfeeding, but I'm not ready to do that. Finally, the solution revealed itself to me. A few months ago when I bought the pump, it was to ensure myself some freedom: so that I could go out for a couple of hours while Chris or his mom looked after Gwen. But as soon as the supply issue worsened, the pump instead became a cruel taskmaster, and I felt chained to it; trying to pump 3 or 4 times a day in order to increase supply, which completely took over my day and made me feel incredibly stressed about our daily routine. I need to go back to that feeling of freedom. From now on, I pump a few evenings a week and/or during Gwen's morning nap, just enough to ensure a couple feedings for me to get out of the house a bit. Much more sane.

Sleep
Chris and I have made a deal as of a few nights ago and continuing until further notice. I will do everything else for Gwen - feeding, diapering, administering Ovol, pumping and preparing bottles, laundry and so on - as long as he will put her to sleep at night. I already have the chore of getting her to sleep during the day, I am just out of resources when it comes to getting her to sleep at night. We also agreed that he would put her to bed earlyish, like 7 or 8. Strange as it sounds, I'd rather have the 4am wakeup than a sleep from 10-6 if it means I can have a couple hours off in the evening. So far this is working well (for me, at least!).

Fussiness
This is the one we don't have any idea on, yet - or rather, we have so many ideas we are not sure which one to pursue. We are so scattered that it's hard to follow any one course of action long enough to see if it's having an effect, and Gwen's screams don't exactly have a positive effect on our reasoning abilities. Starting tomorrow I am going to change her formula, and if by next week nothing has changed I think I'm going to take her to the doctor (so I can get ten more ideas about what to try).

So, that's about the state of things. We are puzzling our way through the post-partum phase with a lot of trial and error. We still have our senses of humour, fortunately, and we are still working together - we make a good team. It's also amazing to have the support and encouragement from our families and friends who give us advice, commisserate, and above all remind us that this will all pass.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Photos & Power-Pumping

Yesterday was exhausting. We had our photo session in the morning - yes! it actually happened! no one went into labour! - which took nearly three hours. Gwen was SOOOO good, I was amazed; there were no major meltdowns, though there were a lot of insecure and unhappy requests for comfort, which was absolutely fine. In all, I'm pretty sure we spent an hour of the three nursing.

We shot five rolls of film. Sixty pictures of the divine Miss Gwen. It's going to break my bank account to buy the prints.

Anyway, when we got home I started the major portion of my day's plan: a power-pumping day. This is recommended for increasing supply. I pumped every hour for 15 minutes, from 1pm to 10pm. (I missed one session at 6pm when Gwen nursed instead; other than that, Chris gave her a bottle.) I hadn't really predicted how tiring and somehow stressful this work would be, but it was. I tried to convince myself that I was doing this not to produce a lot of milk right now, but to scare my body into producing more in the future, but it was hard not to get hung up on the numbers. There were some sessions when I didn't get a single drop in 15 minutes. And my nipples were just killing me by the end of the day, too.

But if it works, and my supply becomes adequate ... well, isn't that the whole point?

To be honest, we are not supplementing Gwen all that much. For the most part, she isn't interested in the bottle. She maybe takes one or two a day; if she's been nursing for more than 15 or 20 minutes per side and seems fussy and frustrated, pulling off often, I judge that I'm empty and I give her a bottle. But this is the exception, not the rule, and she's acting much more pleasant in between feedings, so I'm optimistic that we don't have a serious problem. At last weigh-in she was 10 pounds 12 ounces - that's up 2 pounds since birth, which is still low, but she's gaining more rapidly now for sure. I'm going to keep weighing her twice a week when I go to Healthy Beginnings.

And when I get really frustrated and depressed about this myself, I remember that it's only three more months until she's on solids and the bulk of her nutrients will be coming from something outside my body, so the pressure will really be off and nursing will become less of a survival thing and more of a comfort and bonding thing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stroller Lust

I have stroller lust. I never thought it would happen to me.


I keep seeing all these gorgeous all-terrain strollers (or as I call them, off-roading strollers) at the Healthy Beginnings drop-in. And although I question the reasons for putting a kid into a stroller when you're just walking from the car to the building whose parking lot you're in, at which point you're going to take them out - it is okay to just carry babies, you know - seeing all these strollers has given me the stroller lust. I've got it bad.


The other reason for my lust is that I do a fair bit of walking. Last week Tricia and I walked on the Divers Lake trail, and the week before that we went to Colliery Dam. Bumpy trails both, and my stroller barely managed to stay bolted together. The walking is only going to increase as marathon training begins, and I don't want to be limited to only paved trails - Westwood Lake was my favourite training spot last time, and I'd like to have the option to do it again, though I think I'll skip the hills when I've got the stroller in tow.


This review at Baby Gaga lists the BOB Sport Utility Stroller as one of their top three, and from what I can see BOB does seem to be the brand to beat as far as jogging strollers go. MEC even sells this stroller (though, sadly, they are not stocked at the Victoria store).

Of course, if I buy this stroller then I'm going to have to get the sun shield and the handlebar console, too. Amounting to nearly $400 before taxes. Yikes! I'd be tempted to ask for this for my birthday or Christmas, but then again the marathon training starts long before that.

Decisions, decisions!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cravings

If ever my daughter comes to you in a fit of teenage angst and suggests that I, her mother, do not love her, please do me a favour and remind her of the time I gave up sugar for the health of her tiny bottom. Will you do that for me?

The thrush is nearly gone, by which I mean that if you hadn't seen her bum when the thrush was bad then you wouldn't be able to see the tiny remnants of the spots still haunting her. The spots faded dramatically for about two weeks and since then have not changed at all. So I'm not completely sure when to stop describing it as "nearly gone" and declare it "totally gone", and until that moment I remain sugar-free and slightly jittery.

It's been a good, and busy, week. Gwen and I had a great visit with Sally and her tiny dog Finnegan, wherein Sally and I got to discuss all sorts of intriguing subjects. Gwen and I also drove out to Horne Lake Campground the other night to visit briefly with Mike, Jenn, and the newly-shorn Zoe. This morning, Gwen stayed with her Grandma while Chris and I went out to Save That Child, a first aid course for parents. We learned a lot, and I was glad I'd made the decision to leave Gwen at home (though we were welcome to bring our babies, and every other couple did) because I wouldn't have been able to focus on what was being taught if my entire attention span was taken up by the practice of Making Gwen Not Scream. We have learned recently that Gwen ... she does not cry like other babies. No, hers is more of a sonic scream. There is no conversation within 50 feet of an unhappy Gwen. So if one needs to concentrate, converse, and learn, one should leave Gwen elsewhere.

Gwen is working hard on some new skills these days. She definitely recognizes me and often smiles in greeting, which is incredible. She can very nearly roll over (back to front), and is starting to reach out for toys or books or other things of interest, though she isn't yet good at grasping them. She is almost laughing. She can bring her hands together, and she tries quite hard to suck her thumb (she would succeed, too, if it weren't always wedged between her first two fingers).

Tomorrow is our third attempt to have our portraits taken; hopefully Gwen will have a good sleep and a good morning and be full of smiles and charm.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's not a tooth.

By the longest of long shots, yesterday's guest speaker at the Healthy Beginnings drop-in was a dental hygienist. So I made her look in Gwen's mouth to tell me what the weird white thing was.

To my IMMENSE relief, she did not tell me it was thrush.

No, it's an Epstein pearl. I had previously come across this term in my tooth-denying research, but discarded it as an option because every description I found said they were found on the roof of the mouth, not on the gums. But the hygienist said they could be anywhere in the mouth. And she did say it looked a whole damn lot like a tooth, to make us all feel better about being so very misled.

Short story, if you don't want to follow the link: painless, symptom-less, not to be worried about, and will go away on its own. My favourite weird Gwen glitch so far.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Just Some Random Stuff

The downside to having a midwife as your photographer is that you can get dramatically upstaged at the last minute. Chris and I had our pregnancy portraits done with Lillian back in April, on what turned out to be one week before Gwen's birth. We've been trying to schedule the "after" shoot with Gwen since late May, and twice we've been bumped for a birth. Tonight, our second scheduled attempt, Lillian called us from the hospital at about the same time we were showing up at her house to find her not there.


All this by way of saying, in a very long-winded way, that we *still* don't know what that thing in her mouth is, because we didn't get to check in with Lillian this evening. But I did get the results of the urine culture, which were negative. Gwen does not have a bladder infection.


So if she doesn't have a bladder infection and she doesn't have a tooth, what's with the crying jags, eh?


To be honest, she's been much better these past few days. We've been vigilant about giving her Ovol every day as suggested by Best Friend and Honourary Uncle Mike, and it seems to be working.


Also, last night when we got home from the aquarium, she slept for ten hours.


(in a row!)


Freaked me out a little, actually. It was amazing.


The other wee bit of news is that Chris and I went out on Friday night to buy Gwen a mobile, a long-overdue purchase that we've been nattering about for months. I'm glad we didn't end up doing it before she was born, actually, because now we know what she likes. My sister had passed on to us a little teddy-bear wind-up mobile, which was all well and good, but it only lasted about a minute before you had to wind it up again. Meanwhile, we've learned that Gwen is completely fascinated with the ceiling fan in our bedroom. So what we wanted to get was a mobile that didn't necessarily play music, but that was battery-operated instead of windup, so it would spin for a loooooong time.


We ended up with this. If you follow that link you'll find all kinds of blather about cognitive development and spatial reasoning, including the following quote: The captivating visuals, the constantly changing movements and spatial variations, together with the rich musical stimulation, all make this mobile the obvious choice for parents who care about their baby's development and enjoyment. (The OBVIOUS choice! Heh.) For once, I'd like to see honesty in advertising for these products, because most parents of babies don't really give two hoots about all that stuff. What would sell a mobile at any price is the phrase "Will make your baby shut up for two blessed minutes so you can gobble breakfast in peace."


In any case, the mobile is cool.

Vancouver Aquarium

So yesterday, I did something CRAZY. It all started a week or so ago when my sister pointed out that she hadn't seen Gwen since May, and wasn't due to see her again until August, and that this was simply unacceptable. A premise with which I wholeheartedly agreed. So she pitched the idea of meeting in Horseshoe Bay for the day, as both of us are just a ferryride away. She'd bring my nephews, I'd bring her niece, we'd have a nice visit.

But then as plans progressed towards reality, we realized that my nephews would be bored out of their minds to just hang out in Horseshoe Bay all day. Thus, the idea of going to the Vancouver Aquarium.

Thankfully, Sara's husband Dave decided to come along, because I don't know how we would have wrangled three kids, two diaper bags, a sling and two strollers throughout the aquarium, let alone the adventure on public transit to get between there and the ferry terminal.

Although most of the time I carry Gwen in the sling, I brought the stroller on this trip for two reasons: one, because I knew my back couldn't deal with the sling for the ENTIRE day, and two, because it can hold all my STUFF. When I'm just bopping around town I have the diaper bag over one shoulder and the sling over the other, and that's just fine. But for a full-day odyssey, I wanted some support.

Sadly, Gwen insisted on being carried most of the day, so my back is very sore today PLUS I had the annoyance of fighting through crowds with the stroller without even the benefit of having a kid in it. Next time, I shall insist that Gwen hold her head up enough to be in the MEC backpack or the Snuggli or somesuch, which would allow me to carry both her and her STUFF without any stroller-rasslin'.

Anyway, here are some pictures.

There was only one choice as to what Gwen would wear to the Aquarium - her shark onesie. Sadly, this made many Philistines mistake her for a boy, despite the PINK blanket.



There is a baby beluga at the Vancouver Aquarium - born June 10th. It's pretty small. For a whale, I mean.



Here's Gwen with her Auntie Sara, Uncle Dave, and cousin Andrew. Scotty is there too, but didn't fit in the frame.


And here's Gwen on the ferry ride home. The shark onesie fell prey to a spit-up incident, but Gwen is still cheerful. She was a very good girl all day - I am blessed, she travels pretty well.

PS: Sara and Dave agree, it's NOT a tooth. Stay tuned to hear what Lillian thinks after our appointment with her tonight.

Friday, July 4, 2008

You want the tooth? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TOOTH!


I really need an experienced parent to come over and poke at my daughter's mouth to tell me what the hell this is.

Signs pointing to tooth:
It feels hard, and didn't bleed when I poked it (so it isn't thrush).

Signs pointing to not-tooth:
Gwen has none of the signs of teething (red cheeks, drooling, chewing things, fever). With the exception of irritability and fussiness, which could be caused by any number of things. Plus, she's TEN WEEKS OLD. And wouldn't the fussiness be going away, now that the 'tooth' is through?

(PS: Yes, I know my title is groaningly dumb. But it made me smile, so whatever.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My baby swing needs new batteries again


Gwen is ten weeks old today. And looking a lot more chubby, don't you think?
So, things have been hectic around here lately. There's a lot going on.
First, the good news. Her thrush is almost gone, as in you wouldn't see it if you didn't already know it was there. Even more exciting, the nurse at the health unit told me that since my nipples have been symptom-free for nearly a month, I can go ahead and start storing breast milk if I want to.
In other good news, Gwen is really cute when she wants to be, smiling and cooing and nearly giggling.
However, there are times when she is very anti-cute. Her latest habit is to wake up for her night feeding and then not go back to sleep. For example, last night she went to sleep at 6:30pm. She woke at 10:30pm to nurse. By 12:45am we were *still* trying to get her back to sleep. What usually happens is that she falls asleep while nursing or will pull off and drift to sleep while we rock on the glider. Then when I put her down in her crib she wakes up and fusses. I tried feeding her again to make sure it wasn't hunger, then tried rocking, shushing, walking, burping, even changed the diaper to make sure she was comfortable. At one point Chris said he would take her in the office where the white noise of his computer fans usually mellows her out, so I went back to bed until the next time I was needed. Apparently she screamed at him for 15 minutes straight and I slept through the whole thing. At about 1:30am I told Chris to go sleep on the futon downstairs and I took Gwen to bed with me so she could nibble-nurse all night and I could at least lie down while she did it.
So yeah, that part's not so great.
It seems that a major part of her discomfort is gastrointestinal. To put it bluntly, she cries (or screams) when she farts. When this happened a few weeks ago we thought it was because it irritated her thrush rash, but it's still happening and the rash is a non-issue, so I don't know what the problem is. I've started giving her Infacol, but it will be a few days before we know whether it's working.
Now, as for that mysterious bacteria found in her urine sample. There has been a lot of ridiculousness about this which, as I said yesterday, both bores and irritates me, so I'm not going to get into it. The latest is that she went to the pediatrics unit at the hospital today and got a catheter inserted so they could get a "clean catch" sample and be sure any bacteria present were actually in the urine, not just on her skin. I expect we won't have results from that until Monday. In the meantime, she is gaining weight which indicates there is no bladder infection. She is, however, still her cranky little self, and as far as we know there is no cure for that.
I will say, though, that since I am spending less time feeding her she seems like a more content and interactive baby on the whole. As long as she's not having any gas issues.
So, the catheter itself was not nearly as dreadful as I'd feared. Gwen didn't cry at all, which is so strange when you consider the banshee screams she emanates to let us know that she has to fart. After we got home from the hospital, though, she was fussing all over the place and opening her mouth so wide to scream that I could see something strange in her mouth.
Something that looked like a tooth.
It can't possibly be, though, right? It must be thrush or a mouth cyst or some freakin' bizarre oral growth that no doctor has ever seen or maybe even heard of, because she's inherited her charming medical luck from her mom. But surely 10-week-old babies don't get teeth?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Still gaining!

I weighed Gwen at the health unit today and she was 10 pounds, 5.4 ounces. Since their scale and Lillian's differ, to compare apples to apples you have to look at her last weight from that facility, which was last Thursday at 9 pounds, 6.5 ounces. So very nearly a pound in 6 days. Clearly the formula is working.

The nurse I saw today confirmed that there is nothing magical about formula over breastmilk, and heartily agreed that I could "top-up" with breastmilk if that was what I chose to do. So for now it's breastmilk top-up when we're home, formula when we're out (because you can mix formula on the fly and not have to worry about keeping it cool). Soon I'll be lying to old drive-by noseypokes just like Amber.

There is a whole thing going on with the stoopid mystery bacteria but it annoys me and bores me so much that I can't imagine you would want to read about it. Just know that I am frazzled and frustrated and mostly not thinking about it, and I'll let you know what's up as soon as I do.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Vulnerability of Motherhood

There is this unwritten rule in our society, and it is: if a woman of any age is out in public with a child of any age, anyone who comes into contact with her is welcome to comment or offer criticism on subjects ranging from the child's manner of dress to the behaviour of the child and everything in between.

I call this drive-by parenting, and the best thing about it is that you don't have to actually be a parent to participate! No, single people are just as welcome to criticize as anyone else.

I was vaguely aware that this sort of thing happened, but the first time I heard a tale of it firsthand was from a friend who had troubles with her milk supply and so had to supplement with formula. She told me that she'd been approached in a local mall and asked point-blank "What's in that bottle?". I was horrified. What business was it of anyone's? That child could be adopted. That mother could have cancer and be taking drugs that could pass through the breastmilk. There could be (as there was) a supply issue. The woman could be babysitting and feeding a bottle of breastmilk. There are probably dozens of other legitimate reasons for giving a kid a bottle, whether breastmilk or formula, and having recently found myself in a similar situation I think that most mothers think long and hard, perhaps even agonize a great deal, over the feeding of their babies. The fact that strangers feel entitled to comment on it, knowing absolutely nothing about that family's situation, makes me jaw-clenchingly angry.

I had the opportunity to witness my very first drive-by last Wednesday afternoon. My car was at the dealership for an oil change, so I took Gwen for a walk in the stroller to kill time. We ended up at a nearby mall, where I sat in the kids' play area to nurse Gwen. Another woman came by with two tween-aged kids, a boy and a girl, who commenced playing with the crayons and blocks and so on while the woman sat on the bench beside me, idly paging through a kids' book. Not long after, a fifty-ish woman came walking by. Without pausing in her stride, nor meeting anyone's eyes, she commented briskly to no one in particular, "They're missing school already!?" with a look of disapproval shot towards the tweens. Aware, as apparently she was not, that it was the 25th of June, I turned to the other woman and asked, "Isn't school out for the summer?" She confirmed that it had been the last day. But Granny Drive-By was already long gone. She didn't want a conversation, she didn't want an answer, she didn't want to give anyone a chance to defend themselves by giving valuable information. She just wanted to drop her ill-informed opinion, giving someone the opportunity to feel like crap, and continue on her merry way.

I don't know how the other woman was affected, but I was in a blind rage.

Ever since I heard about the "What's in that bottle?" comment, I've been working on coming up with snappy retorts that make it clear I don't think it's anybody's business how I feed, dress, talk to, or treat my child. But with this event, I suddenly understood that when the Drive-By happens to me, and it will, I won't get a chance to respond, whether in defense of my actions or of my right to make my own parenting decisions.

The very next day, we were told that we had to start supplementing Gwen a lot more rigourously than we had been. One week and 10.5 ounces later, it seems this was the right choice. Bottle feeding, for us, is the new black. Bring on the drive-by.

Things have changed in the past generation. When Chris and I were infants, breastfeeding was not nearly as common as it is today. Breastfeeding was what animals did, and maybe third world women who couldn't afford formula. But here in North America, we knew better! We could have Scientifically Developed Formula, specially created to give your baby all the nutritional value he or she needed. I was breastfed, and my mom tells me it was a bit of a rarity at the time. Chris was formula-fed, and his mom has been subtly pushing me to give up breastfeeding since the first week of Gwen's life. But today, we know that breastmilk is absolutely the best food you can give your child. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends babies be breastfed exclusively for six months, and continue receiving breastmilk for their first two years and even beyond. There are hundreds of reasons why Breast is Best.

It's wonderful to have all this support and knowledge about breastfeeding, encouraging new moms to do what's best for their babies.

But.

As mentioned above, there are a lot of reasons why any given baby at any given time might be drinking from a bottle. And I think we've swung too far into Breastfeeding Fanatacism. I've seen moms at the drop-in who are supplementing with formula and feel they need to defend this choice by explaining their baby's whole life story before they can say anything else about any concerns or questions they have that week. I've heard other moms talk about how all they can find on the 'net is info on how great breastfeeding is, and no useful info on how to formula feed. And I've mentioned here before about how breastfeeding is touted as a Beautiful, Natural, Bonding Opportunity, a myth that annoys me no end because if you, as a new mom, don't find it Beautiful and Natural, there must be something wrong with you!*

So, society wants you to breastfeed. And you know it is best for your baby. So, assuming you are willing and able to do so, off you merrily go, nursing your baby whenever and wherever she happens to request it. But there is another facet to this issue: the pure unseemliness of public nursing. My friend Tricia was recently in another local mall (apparently, that's all we new moms do; go to the drop-ins, and then hang out at the mall) and was looking for a place to nurse her son. She was kindly but firmly directed towards the 'family room', which is of course nothing more than a washroom with a couple of stalls, a change table, and one chair right next to the garbage can. Yes, any new mother would love to spend an hour or so sitting in such a room! Ever so much more pleasant than sitting in the mall proper, watching the world go by! So you're subject to criticism no matter what you do; society expects you to breastfeed, but they sure as hell don't want to see it.**

*I also think that breastfeeding is so hard and painful in the beginning that once it stops hurting and starts working, women are so flooded with relief that they think it is a Beautiful and Natural Bonding Opportunity, when in fact it is just Mind-Numbingly Dull. But that's just my opinion.

**I am completely over my fear of nursing in public. I have even considered doing a summer tour of Important Nanaimo Landmarks and nursing at every one of them, just to stir the pot and give myself something to do. In certain situations I do use the Hooter Hider, but if I don't feel like it then I don't.

By the way: Your right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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