The second time around

I’m only 8 weeks in, but I find parenting much easier the second time around.

Of course, having a preschooler to take care of adds to the burden and we don’t have as much down time as we used to. There is always something to do and someone asking for your attention. But we are also much more relaxed and we seem to be avoiding some of the mistakes we made with our son.

For instance, the fact that we came home from the hospital right after the birth definitely allowed us to be more rested in the first few days, which can be so daunting. Our daughter has been much easier to deal with at night than our son, and a big part of it is probably temperament, but we could talk about nature vs nurture all night – the fact that we have experience may have made things easier too. I have not been as exhausted as I was with my son, when I had trouble opening my eyes at night to pick him up for a feed.

We also have more realistic expectations… With my first child, I was hoping he would be one of the easy ones who sleep through the night really young. He wasn’t. This time, I was just hoping I would survive the sleepless night. And so far, I have been getting enough sleep to function properly. My rating system has changed, and my frustration with the situation is thus lessened.

We also don’t sweat the small stuff as much. With our son, I remember panicking when his skin started peeling in the first week. We wondered if our soap was to blame and tried different ones. But it was just normal adjustment from living in water to living on dry land. When my son fussed at the breast, taking a few sips, then spitting out the nipple and screaming, I used to worry: do I have enough milk? Too much? Does it taste wrong? Does he have gas? This time, when our daughter does the same thing, we understand that she’s just tired and we put her to sleep.

When our daughter started refusing to nap unless we vigorously bounced her around the house in her carrier, we had our experience behind us and we decided there was no way we could do that for the next several months. We understood that if something is not sustainable, it should be avoided if at all possible. We started working harder on having her nap in her crib at least once a day, and lo and behold, it worked! We can even sometimes put her down when she’s only partially asleep, which we were not able to do with our son until he was much, much older.

I’m not saying everything is easy. We still get those moments of “Is something wrong with her – or us?” Like this morning, when I was trying to put her to sleep and she had a huge fit, crying her eyes out and trying to wriggle out of my arms. I started questioning myself… Maybe she’s not really tired? Well, five minutes later, she was in bed, passed out, and she slept for over an hour.

In the first few weeks after our son was born, I remember wondering how people could do this with a toddler to take care of. Now I know the answer: they do it differently. And it works just fine.

Now we’ll see if I still think the same in a few months. But so far, so good!

Final thoughts on midwives

After being visited in our house by a midwife for the first week and a bit of our daughter’s life, we had to go to the office for the 2, 4 and 6 week appointments. At 2 weeks (a group appointment), I noticed the midwife examining the eyes of the other babies. She didn’t check my daughter’s, so I figured the other babies were older and she would check mine next time. At 4 weeks, the midwife asked me if my daughter had been tested for her red-eye reflex. I said no, so she left the office for a minute, came back and said that they couldn’t find the instrument used for the test and had ordered a new one. My daughter would be tested next time, it was no big deal. At 6 weeks, the final appointment, I asked for her eyes to be examined. The midwife mentioned that they still hadn’t found the instrument and believed it belonged to one of the midwives who just left the practice – she probably took it with her. They still hadn’t received a new one, but she was “sure she’s fine, there’s very little chance she could have been born with cataracts”. Right. But you still do the test on every baby. There must be a reason, no?

So now that my relationship with the midwife has come to a close, it’s time to think back on the whole experience. Would I recommend midwifery to a friend? The answer is maybe. But as nice as my midwives were, I don’t think I would recommend them specifically to a friend. Here is why.

I was followed by 4 different midwives, plus a fifth during holidays. I think it’s pretty standard for midwives, but it seems like mine couldn’t get their records straight. From one appointment to the next, they wouldn’t remember if they had talked to me about certain things, done this or that test, etc. It didn’t matter too much for me because I was not a first-time mom, I have plenty of resources, when I wasn’t sure of something I wasn’t afraid to research it or ask about it, and I remembered things that had or had not been done and I made sure the midwives didn’t forget anything. But for anyone who is less well organized or more anxious, it could definitely be an issue. I certainly preferred being followed by only one practitioner the first time around. But then again, another clinic might do things better.

On the other hand, there are things I really enjoyed from midwifery. The fact that the person helping me during labor would be someone I had already met was certainly a perk (my new doctor works in a group of 7, any of which can be at the birth). The fact that she would come to my house if need be and we could always have the baby here (with her help) if I didn’t make it to the hospital. The fact that she would give me postpartum care in my home (at least when they had time to come), which allowed us to leave the hospital early. That in itself made a huge difference as we were able to rest much, much better at home than in a hospital (where nurses come in and out all the time to take your vitals and various people get paged at various hours). Indeed, I think that choosing midwifery was worth it for me mainly because of the possibility of early discharge. Of course, I wouldn’t have wanted early discharge with a first child (I was much less confident back then), which would have defeated the purpose.

The other really nice thing I got from the midwife is my records on the last visit. I always wished my doctor had given me that kind of a summary of the pregnancy and birth. This time, I know what happened when without having to trust only my memory. That is really, really nice. I also think the midwives did a better job explaining the whys of different tests and asking for informed consent instead of just having me take them because it’s the norm. The truth is, it didn’t change much because I still opted for a pretty standard course of action. But it was nice to get a bit more info.

So my experience was certainly not only negative, and I don’t regret it. Given my options, I would do it again, although I may try a different clinic to see if they’re better at keeping records. The midwives were nice and I really trusted the one who was there for my labor. But I don’t think midwifery would be a good option for a first-time mom who is insecure and needs to feel like someone is taking charge of her pregnancy. There were several times when I was asked a question and I just wanted to answer: “Aren’t you the specialist? Shouldn’t you tell me what to do?” They trusted me to know what to do more than I trusted myself. But in the end, it worked out really well and I had another uncomplicated delivery and a healthy child.

As for my daughter’s red-eye reflex, well, we are planning on asking our doctor to check it when we go in for her first vaccines at 2 months. Hopefully she’ll have the right instrument!

Future prospects

After making apple sauce in preschool, our son declared to his teachers, who were impressed by how concentrated he had been on cutting his apples and how he hadn’t given up until he was done, that when he grew up he wanted to be a hockey player or a chef.

Personally, I’d vote for the chef since we don’t have the soul of hockey parents. We don’t have a car to stop at Tim Horton’s at 6 in the morning on our way to the hockey rink. Our son is taking skating lessons because he is obsessed with hockey, but we are trying to find a balance between encouraging him in what he likes and trying to steer him away from a sport we don’t really want him to get involved in. Maybe we can convince him to go for speed skating?

In the meantime (he can’t stand up alone on the ice yet, so we’re safe for now), we are encouraging the chef in him. The other day, he spent two whole hours in his chair helping his dad make pizza. Supper was late, but he had cut all the veggies, grated the cheese, mixed the ingredients for the dough, etc. And this morning, he helped his dad make apple sauce “with cimannon” to go on our apple pancake.

Did I mention that Zak’s parents shipped us 13 boxes of apples from Zak’s grandmother’s orchard in Kelowna? Yes, 13. Big boxes, too. Macs, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Spartan… Sop we have been eating lots of apples, and we’ll have to keep at it for a while. Which means there should be more apples to cut for our little chef.

And if the chef idea doesn’t work, he could always become a policeman. Still according to his teachers, he is quite the enforcer of rules at preschool, pointing out kids who haven’t washed their hands before snack, etc. Not surprising. It’s the same child who will tell me, with his mouth full, “Maman, don’t talk with your mouth full” when I’m silly enough to answer his question before I finished chewing. If he could only see the speck in his eye…

Oh, baby!

I know it’s obvious, but let’s restate it: babies eat up a lot of your time! Take mine, for instance. She sleeps decently at night (by which I mean she wakes up only once or twice between 10pm and 6am). But during the day, it’s another story. She will not sleep for very long (i.e. more than 15 minutes) unless she’s in a baby carrier. So if I want her to sleep, I have to go out for a walk or an outing with our son. Which means nothing gets done around the house. If I stay home… then she won’t sleep, will be cranky and need to nurse or be carried all the time. Which means nothing gets done around the house.

Luckily, I have Zak home, so he can do stuff while I’m out trying to make her sleep, or walking around the house with a baby carrier on me. But I don’t know what I’d do if I was alone. And since it’s more often than not me carrying her (because Zak can’t leave the house by himself with her, as he lacks the food supply she relies on), it means Zak has to do everything. And it means I don’t get much time to do stuff like reply to emails or… I don’t know, sit down.

All that said, she’s still an easy baby. I can take fussiness during the day much better than at night. With our son, I remember spending countless hours at night walking him around the house, or bouncing him on an exercise ball until I was afraid I was going to fall down with sleepiness. With our daughter, at night, I can usually pick her up, feed her and put her right back to bed. Most nights she doesn’t even soil her diaper between 10 and 6, so I don’t even have to change her.

And they say 6 weeks is the worse time for fussiness. So from now on, it should only improve. That’s another thing to look forward to.

No, really, we have it pretty easy with this one. Let’s just hope it stays that way. I can already imagine our arguments about overpriced jeans and hair color.

My son is a genius…

Let’s just pretend it’s bragging week. And besides, it’s my blog, so too bad if you find me annoying!

My mom just bought our son an 84 piece puzzle, thinking he would need a lot of help but it would grow with him. After three days he could do it by himself. So we gave him the 100 piece puzzle we bought a while ago and were keeping hidden for later. He did it once with his grandmother. Then he did it by himself.

I know, it doesn’t mean he’s a genius, even though the box says 6+ and he’s 3. But I’m still claiming bragging rights.

Now to find friends who are willing to trade puzzles, else we go broke!

Today is the day…

My little girl is 5 weeks old and today I put my old pants back on!

Ok, it might not seem that exciting. But it is. When I came back from the hospital I tried them on and I was far from being able to fit them. Then I weighed myself at my 2 weeks midwife appointment, and I was disappointed to see how little weight I had lost… roughly the weight of the baby. Nothing else.

Then I had my 4 weeks appointment. I had lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks and I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight!

Not shape, of course. I still have some mummy tummy to deal with. But next week, my mom will be gone and I will start doing mommy and baby fitness. At least that’s the plan!

The myth of the “perfect family”

Ever since we came home from the hospital, everyone comments on how we must be so happy now that we have a boy and a girl: the perfect family. We find it really annoying, because it seems to imply that if we had had two boys, it wouldn’t be a perfect family and maybe we wouldn’t even be happy. I know that boys get a bad rap these days. But the truth is, we really didn’t care. There are good and bad sides to each. Sure, I’m glad to have a girl. But I’m also scared shitless about her as a teenager. I mean, have you seen how 12-year-old dress lately? And two boys may have been closer than a boy and a girl will be. But then, again, they may not. And two boys could have shared a room forever. A boy and a girl will have to be separated eventually.

As I have said before, I’m just happy we don’t get to pick. I had my baby, and it’s perfect. So it’s a perfect family. Whether it’s a boy or a girl is irrelevant…