When a baby is born, you start giving and for a while, you don’t receive anything back. Which I guess is why the first smile and the first giggle stay etched in our memory, since they are the first proofs that this little bundle of joy (or rather poop, spit-up and tears) actually likes being around us. Then there is the first time that my baby crawled all the way up to me and up into my arms and laid his head onto my shoulder for a cuddle. That was cool, too! These were the rewards I had been looking forward to.

Now this weekend our son started giving kisses. Not too surprising since we must have given him about seven hundred thousands of those. He’s just imitating us. And he hasn’t figured out yet how to give an actual kiss, he just puts his open mouth onto our cheek and transfers some slobber. But it’s really cute. And he does it every time we ask for a kissy. And we love it. Even if it’s gross by most people’s standards… But eh, we’re parents. We’ve cleaned up his tears, his spit-up and his poop. A little bit of slobber is not going to stop us from enjoying baby kisses!

Baby Bedtime Bliss

Not so long ago I would have laughed at the thought of associating the three words of this title. Not anymore. Thanks mostly to Zak on that one…

About a couple months ago, we decided that we really needed to try putting Elliot to bed awake. Actually, he sometimes went to bed awake, but I was breast-feeding him right before bed. Sometimes it put him to sleep, sometimes not, and if not it meant putting up with some crying before he fell asleep. But we wanted to change that routine, among other things so we could brush his teeth AFTER he was done with milk. I tried a few times putting him to bed without the breast, but he would have none of it. I always had a really hard time resisting him when he’s crying. I called in the reinforcements.

Zak succeeded pretty much right away (probably because of his that’s-how-we-do-it-from-now-on-and-it’s-going-to-work attitude). After the bedtime routine of change the diaper, brush the teeth, wash the face, put on the pajamas and put on the sleep sack, Daddy would cuddle with his baby on the tune of his bedtime music, and then put him to bed. And to my utter amazement, it worked. At first, Elliot would sometimes cry for a few minutes, although never for long. Soon, he stopped crying altogether.

Today, Zak had to work late so I was going the one to put Elliot to bed. I dreaded this moment a bit, thinking if he really asks for it, I can just breast-feed him, it doesn’t matter too much for one night, and he’ll get back into his usual routine tomorrow. I followed our routine as usual, then cuddled with him like his daddy does. That’s when the real bliss came. Elliot just put his head on my shoulder, hugging me with his little arms. My beautiful, sweet, soft, warm and cuddly baby was resting against me, his breathing becoming slower, more regular. I could tell his eyes were closing. He was calm. No crying, no nudging in my neck or biting of my shoulder to ask for the breast. I hummed the tune in his ear, caressing his head and his back, savoring the moment.

In 15 years, when he’s a zitty teenager who does nothing but grunt, eat and refuse to wear clean clothes, I’ll still cherish these five minutes. This night when he literally melted in my arms, obliterating all of his and my worries, trusting me to his sleep, to his life… My sweet, sweet little boy.

Now I’m jealous of Zak who does that every night! We’ll have to reverse the roles when I go back to work so I can get my blissful bedtime moment with Elliot…

Gotta love Keen Shoes

I own a pair of Keen sandals. I love them. I have been wearing them for 4 years and they are still in pretty good shape, but recently the lace broke on my left foot. For those who don’t know that brand, they’re not your usual shoe laces, more like bungee cord. I decided to put their customer service to the test, so I sent them an email on June 2 to ask if it was possible to find new laces for those. Only 13 minutes later, I had a response asking for my address. Yesterday, so 8 days later, I was receiving two brand new laces in the mail. For free, of course.

Now, that is what I would expect from any good company, but it is far from the norm. So two thumbs up to Keen for their quick response and helpfulness!

What’s up with the weather (again)?

Last night, I had to turn the heat back on in our baby’s room. It was chilly and his hands were quite cold when I went to feed him at 3 am. Not sure exactly how low the temperature was outside, but it barely went over 10 during the day, with lots of rain.

Yesterday, in Ontario, the temperature went up to 41 degrees in some places. In Montreal, my mother was complaining about this intense heat wave. Even in a tank top, she said, we’re sweating like pigs (well, ok, she didn’t quite put it like that, it’s only my interpretation).

Don’t get me wrong: I’ll take 8 degrees weather over 41 any day. But isn’t it unusual to be heating in June? I admit that I am looking forward to being able to leave the house without having to layer sweaters and jackets onto my son. Not to mention that I bought him some really cute sandals he hasn’t had a chance to wear yet…

Oh well… As long as noone gives me their “And they say there is global warming” crap, I’ll still be happy!

Only two months left

In two months, I will be going back to work. My son, who just yesterday was only a shrimp-shaped shadow on an ultrasound photo, will be a year old on August 6.

I know that I have been very lucky to be able to take that year of maternity leave while receiving 93% of my salary. And I am also lucky that my husband will stay home with our son: I will not have to worry about him or run around like crazy between home, work and daycare. No, I’m not worried at all about my son, who will have a blast with his dad.

I’m worried about me.

I like my work, but lately my workplace has been… Well, let’s just say that there were lots of conflicts going on when I left and it doesn’t seem to have changed.

Added to that is the fact that I have been enjoying my year off tremendously. I have kept busy with play group, mommy-baby fitness classes, walks to the dog park and other baby-friendly activities. I have grown accustomed to building a schedule that spans Monday to Friday (instead of Saturday-Sunday) and changing it 3 times a week depending on my baby’s sleep schedule and my state of sleep-deprivedness. I have not needed my analytical brain much (except for trying to figure out what food my son is now allowed to eat at his current age and making sure I don’t forget to buy the needed groceries). I have not spoken French nearly enough and am afraid my performance at work will suffer from that lapse. And I’m not sure how a 37.5 hours work week will agree with my bum, which is not used to being sat on for that long anymore – I have been walking for at least one or two hours a day, much of that with a now 20-pound baby in my arms.

And, well, I’m used to being with my son 24 hours a day (except during sleep, but even that is always interrupted). I have left him for a few hours here and there, but it will be strange to be away from him most of the time. Even knowing he will be fine, I will be sad to miss some of his “firsts” and new developments. I more than enjoyed sharing his every laughter and activity. It will be strange to become the “other” parent when I have been the primary caregiver for a year, and to lose touch with his ever-changing schedules and habits.

So here I am, with the end in sight and so many plans to cram in the next 2 months. I know that they will go by so fast I will not have much time for that kind of introspection anymore. And probably a lot less time for this blog. Maybe my husband will take over. Maybe not. Time will tell. So while I still have time (and even more of it, as my son is sleeping better and better at nap time nowadays), I wanted to pause and share with you my thoughts on the end of that wonderful year. A unique experience that will never come back and that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Here is to hoping that this time investment will bear fruit and that our son will turn out ok!

The laughter of a child

Many parents feel some sort of epiphany when their baby smiles at them for the first time. I don’t even remember that first time; our son had been doing involuntary smiles for a while, so I didn’t differentiate his first “real” smile from the earlier ones. His first giggle, however, is etched in my memory. It filled me with pure joy.

Ever since that day, I strive to make my baby laugh. And when Zak makes him giggle, a smile comes to my face as well. There is just something so special about making a baby laugh. I guess it’s because it means he’s happy. Maybe not all the time, but in that instant, you must be doing something right since you’re making him laugh. The things that make him laugh change all the time, from playing peek-a-boo to tickling him in the neck to playing “I’m gonna catch you!”… And finding out what will make him laugh on any given day is definitely part of the fun of being a parent.

I can’t help but feel that real neglect for a child must start when you stop wanting to make him giggle. When you just don’t care enough anymore…