Dec 22, 2011

Back from vacay, straight into Xmas

Back from vacay. Had a fab time, although it was hard to get a real break since we most of our day rotated around the little one. What made it a lot easier is that neither of us was distracted by work or life, so we ended up spending lots of time on the beach, or driving, or cooking, or eating out. Pretty much perfect. Even baby-boy understood the new routine fairly quickly and loved it out there. We found a perfect "baby beach" with very shallow water and minimal waves. Baby boy loved the water as much as he did the sand. He had lots of time to explore, and would sleep lovely long naps as a result.

We came back on two flights from hell. WestJet has had a new bright idea that all babies should be put in the same section of the plane. While I sort of understand there might be a logic in that, the issue is that when you have 8 babies/toddlers on the plane and 5 of them are crying, it turns into a nightmare journey for everyone. Baby-boy just wanted to go to sleep but was prevented by the other little ones who were displaying their displeasure in the only way they know how. Arrived home at around 2 a.m. Needless to say we were all shattered. Had a broken stroller that turned out after 11 days of carrying the baby around in our arms, not to be broken after all.

Baby boy slept extremely well two whole nights in a row. Probably just catching up on sleep, poor sod, because nights are now back to their usual pattern of disruption. I'm trying to wean him completely off night breast feeding so that he doesn't build a habit. It's going ok in the sense that he can get back to sleep without feeding, but of course, he still wakes up regularly. I'm hoping a few more months of growth will improve things.

Exciting news is that baby boy is now taking a few steps on his own, without any assistance. It's really quite cute. He's learned to hold his arms out in front of him for protection (even though most of he sways sideways). He can get started from standing still and launch in my direction. Sometimes it's quite a violent launch. It seems he's more eager just to be in my arms, than the process of getting there on his own. But he does seem pleased with himself too.

We've managed to set up a Xmas tree in spite of all the travel and even collected a fair amount of prezzies to go under it. It's really starting to feel like the holidays and we're all breathing a little more easily and taking things a bit more slowly. Happy holidays everyone!

Dec 2, 2011

First night out in ... months?

I went out tonight. The first time in months. The second time in 9 months, to be more precise. Hubby and I did go out when baby-boy was a little younger, but now that he has got a serious case of separation anxiety, both of us going out in the evening is a major no-no. And since hubby has to travel often for work, I am usually at home. 

Tonight, I was invited along to dinner being hosted for a guest speaker. It was great to actually do my hair, put on some makeup and a some decent clothes without having to worry about sweet potato or some other substance ending up on them. I even wore my wool coat, although it was nowhere near warm enough for the frigid temperatures out there.

I chose a good night though. The food at the restaurant was exquisite. Simply no other word for it. And that from someone who is not really a foody. But since most Montrealers are, restaurants here have a lot to live up to.

Things are calming down and winding down. The move is mostly done. Even the majority of pictures are hung. Now it's just the blinds, and hubby managed to rent a major drill so we can get through the concrete that seems to be behind the plasterboard in random places. It'll look really nice once they're up. 

My revision for the paper is also done. I wanted to get it out of the way before we go on holiday next week (the Caribbean, yay!!!). Of course, I now have a revision for another paper, but my co-author is the lead and she's going to take the first crack at it, relieving me of any immediate responsibilities. In the calm and quiet, I even managed to buy a Xmas flower and semi-wreath to put on our door. How domestic of me.

Baby-boy finally seems a bit happier in the house and his room. He even napped a whole 2.5 hours today. Of course, he still woke up after 30 minutes as he usually does, but I put him in bed with me and it worked a charm. Not sure if I'm building a bad habit, but hey, whatever works. He's still not sleeping through the night. Not even close. But at least he manages the occasional 3-4 hour stretch, with shorter stretches in between. While far from ideal, it's more manageable than a 3 hour screaming session in the middle of the night, and he'll actually happily lay in his crib even if he's merely dozing.

I'm on a bit of a high. Maybe from going out and seeing some people. I took advantage of it in any case: I had both an appetizer and desert, and even 2 glasses of wine and a decaf. Let's hope my digestive system can handle it all! (**post-edit: turns out, it can't ... it seems that going out to dinner after a bout of gastro this week wasn't the best idea ever.)

I have some (perhaps unrealistic) notions of doing something big soon. Maybe a writing challenge, mimicking my friend's 50,000 words that she wrote in November (her second novel). I'm aiming for February when I'm supposed to be back at work. To do that, my first priority upon returning from holiday will be to find a suitable nanny.

Nov 20, 2011

Another move, but this time with a baby

I'm really not a stranger to moving. I know that I've done it more than 20 times in my life ... that's an average of every 2 years or so. Some have been little, like the university student moving from one hall of residence to another. Some have been massive, like the move from the U.K. to Singapore or from Switzerland to South Korea. 

In every case, I've always made it a point to get my new home in order as quickly as possible. I think this is partly due to my "Monica (from friends)" Personality to have a neat and tidy space, and partly due to the lack of any place I can truly call "home", and so "home" is where I lay my hat. That means whenever I have a new home, I make it as nice, comfortable and homie as quickly as possible. Usually, that means a maximum of two days from the moment the movers have dumped all my boxes in the space, to the last picture hanging on the walls. I know: I'm an over-achiever.

This time, it has been a new experience. Moving with a recently mobile baby is no joke. I started packing boxes about 2 weeks before the date. I normally would have some men come into the house and pack the boxes for me. But this time, we were paying for our own move. I figured we could save about a thousand dollars by simply packing our own stuff. Plus, it meant that I could really sort through everything, be selective, and throw a bunch of stuff out. I.e. if we never use it, don't pack it but pass it on.

We were mostly successful in the passing it on. I told my hubby that if we don't really love it, it goes. So I made a bunch of people in the facebook mommy group I'm part of very happy with free or cheap things. Even the dog lost her cage, which was substituted with a nice pillow (we figure that at nearly 8, she's old enough to hang out in the house without destroying everything).

Of course, packing while watching a baby isn't easy. I leaned on lots of friends to help watch him while I packed. They were great, although baby-boy is getting stuck on separation anxiety, and for a while it was difficult for me to even step out of his sight for a second. But I found that one of my girlfriends, who's a mom to two and an auntie/nanny to dozens more, was able to keep baby-boy happy and entertained. So I got some stuff done.

Even after the move, it really has only taken us three days to get somewhat settled. There remain only two small boxes to be unpacked, labelled "junk to sort". These are the tricky things we hold on to like a deck of Tarot cards. Never use them, but reminds me of my teenage years. Hard to let go. We also still have some furniture and baby things earmarked to pass on but the new owners either couldn't take it now, or the products haven't found new owners yet. I can always give them to the Salvation Army, but for now, they're safely in my storage area.

The baby room, as of today, is entirely finished, and I think baby-boy really appreciated it. We even bought him a horrible PVC roll-down blind for this week while we wait on our nice wood blinds to arrive. Just to make it dark enough in his room that he knows it's night and ought to be sleeping. The rest of the house is mostly done. We bought a new bookcase from Ikea (our old one lasted some 10+ years! Not bad for 150 bucks). All that remains is a towel rail for our bathroom, and the pictures to be hung on the walls.

The baby-boy is doing well today, after about two weeks of a horrendous cough and sniffles. I think the move threw him off on top of it all, and he spent the first two nights in our new home screaming at the top of his lungs at 1 a.m. The first night it took us two hours to settle him down. Yesterday, I managed in about 15 minutes, although it did take me getting up several times for the next hour. Tonight, he refused to go to bed by himself (usually not a problem). I'm hoping that it gets better soon, since I'm not a fan of sleep training. Mostly, I am trying to be there for him as much as possible now that the bulk of the move is done. The last few boxes can wait. It's more important that baby-boy is happy.

For the rest: I'm at least two weeks behind on my paper - my co-author even asked me if I was doing ok. I hope to get it done next week. Hubby promised me some down time.

Nov 11, 2011

Guilty, as charged

OK, guilty. I haven't even looked at my blog since the last post. And yes, it's almost 2 months. What happened? Just a baby. And travel. And a house purchase. And another revise-and-resubmit for a journal. That's what.

Important stuff first. Baby-boy is doing fantastic. Apart from a nasty cough at the moment. And his persistence in waking up all through the night. But during the day, he's an absolute angel. He's happy, funny, engaged, exploring, looking for me ... just a cutie. It seems he's taking life by the horns and taming it. It took him forever to learn how to sit up without falling over. Even at 7.5 months, when I was visiting family in Europe, he could still reliably fall backwards and bonk his head. The only way to cope was to surround him by cushions and sit him on 2 layers of oma's quilts. But during that week, he also started to show that he could pull up. And in fact he used his uncle to do so. He fell over shortly after, but it must have given him a taste for things. In the next week, he learned to crawl, and then pull himself up on furniture, and now cruise along it. He was always able to walk with us holding him (never lost his walk reflex since we stimulated it and he always showed an interest to be standing up rather than sitting). But now he can run holding on to our hands, and walk fairly well by himself along the boxes that occupy our house. He's even transition from one piece of furniture to another. Won't be long, methinks, before he walks.

Of course, this has been great to observe, but also a bit stressful. Until this week, there was every chance that he would connect with a wall, a chair or the floor at any moment. Thankfully, he seems to have gotten a better sense of balance and I can sort of leave him to explore from about 4 feet away, rather than having to hover constantly like a traffic helicopter. Unfortunately, he shows no fear. He launches himself from pillar to post, without thought of what might happen if he misses. Mostly I'm there to catch him, but I often catch him deliberately late, so that he will hopefully get a sense of wrongness about random body flinging. 

But perhaps the fearlessness is fortunate for him. He's progressing fast. Not at all bad for an 8.5 month old. I'm a proud mommy. Of course, ask him to wave bye-bye and he stares at me as if I've gone mad.

Baby-boy's personality seems particular. He has a small amount of separation anxiety. But it seems not with everyone. Or, perhaps, he got over it super quickly. It might have been all the travel that temporarily threw him off. We also joined a baby gym (I know, I know, Western mother). He loves the free-range stuff, but he is really not into all the singing and clapping and rattle shaking. He complains and pushes against me as if to say that the music is too loud and can we go do something else now. Maybe he takes after his mom's dislike of large crowds and loud spaces, and his dad's anti-group-ness in general.

The nights. Yes, well. By now, I hate it when people ask me if he's "sleeping through the night yet?". There seems to be some myth that babies sleep 12 hours at night, like little angels, and then wake up sunny and bright. Perfect. Of course, no human being is perfect, and aiming for perfection is pointless. In scientific studies (yes, I read them, LOTS of them), "sleeping through the night" is defined as 5 solid hours. Baby-boy does this. From 7pm to midnight. The part of the night when I'm usually awake. After that, it's a progressively shorter period of wakings. Or, sometimes just a random pattern: the night starts with a 4 hour stretch, followed by 3, then by 4 (a good night!); or perhaps 3 hours, followed by 1, then 2, then 1, then 1.5, etc (a bad night). 

Mostly, he wakes only for a few moments. The moment I provide comfort in the form of his pacifier, he's instantly asleep. Even right now, when I suspect he's going through a 9-month sleep regression period. I find him crying and rocking on all fours, while still seemingly asleep. I pop in a suce and wham, he face plants into the mattress and goes back to sleep. 

Unlike "sleep problem" babies (as defined in all those stupid books I've read), baby-boy has absolutely no trouble falling asleep. And even the "staying asleep" isn't really an issue, since it takes less than 5 seconds usually to get him to go back. It's just that I've got to get up for those 5 seconds to night-time-parent him.

I'm fervently against any kind of sleep training that requires him to cry-it-out. From the beginning I was uncomfortable with this notion. We once tried to wean him off his pacifier that way. I lasted 20 minutes, during which time, his cries went from mild complaints to an absolute shit-fit. To the point where I thought he was going to do his brain some damage, and I was going to leave him with permanent emotional scars. That was the last time I considered any kind of crying-it-out. When he's old enough to understand will be soon enough to wean him off a pacifier (that, by the way, he only uses to help him get to sleep and then spits out).

So while I was on vacation in Europe, I looked for books that didn't involve crying-it-out. I found two. A well-known one by Dr. Sears (Nighttime Parenting), and one by a less well known Australian woman named Pinky McKay (Sleeping Like a Baby). Both talk about how unrealistic it is to expect babies to sleep 12 hour stretches. Especially breast-fed babies who digest their meals at least twice as fast as bottle fed babies. Both also talk about how the "controlled crying" method is really not good for babies: it breaks an important bond of trust and comfort, causing many long-term problems later on, in the favor for a short term fix for the parent - not the baby necessarily ... it's normal for babies to wake every 90 minutes as a natural part of the sleep cycle.

Long story short. Their advice is basically to manage your nights and "parent" your way through them as you would your days. So I've mentally and emotionally accepted that this will be the way things are for a while. Of course, I try different things to help him learn to sleep a little longer, so long as it doesn't stress him out. I now use a rain sound (thanks to a gift from a friend), and this seems to help him go to sleep very quickly, and is also helping him stay asleep longer for naps. As an added bonus, the near-white-noise (via the baby monitor) is also helpful me to go to sleep! 

So here I am. Somewhat sleep deprived and exhausted, but coping by taking naps when the baby naps. Having gotten zero work done in weeks, because of a super-active baby who has learned to sit, crawl, stand up and cruise all within a 3 week time span. And having bought a house, that we need to move into next week. That means lots of packing (I started 10 days ago and still have a fair way to go). And lots of selling and clearing out of stuff. And lots of paperwork. A perfect time for the immigration people to contact us and let us know it's time to do our medical checks and fill in more paperwork. And for journal deadline to revise one of my papers. And for a new Masters student to be brought under my wing. Etc.

When it rains, it pours. Or should I say when it snows, it storms. So please forgive my lack of blogging. I'll try to be a bit more regular.

Sep 18, 2011

Swim class

I have romantic notions about swimming. I love to swim. Always have. Some have called me half a fish. When my parents took us on holiday somewhere warm, it was difficult to get me out of the pool: my mom had to bribe my brother and I with ice cream. Nothing else would stop us from playing around in the water. 

As a teen, swimming became half play and half exercise. Out of boredom, I'd swim an easy kilometer in the pool once my homework was done after school. Mom petitioned that the private club in Seoul keep the pool open for the month of September, when it was still nice out, just a bit more chilly than the hot summer months. I was in it daily.

So swimming was always going to be in the Plan for baby-boy. We braved our first attempt when he was just six weeks. Looking back at the photos, I wonder if he had any idea what was happening to him. He was half asleep when we walked in the pool area and naively handed him to some crazy Russian lady who performed baby yoga on him. This totally freaked me out and I begged her to be extra gentle with the little boy I just spent 9 months growing and six weeks getting to know. The swimming part itself was fine, but consisted of several submergings. In itself, not such a bad thing, but as a previously qualified swim instructor, more than 3 per session is a no-no and this Russian was rather liberal with them. Once baby-boy's arms turned blue, I insisted in taking him out of the pool and into the hot tub. He took it all in his stride, but I was so freaked by the experience, that I left the swimming card off the table. Besides, summer was nearly here and we'd be outside a lot.

With the (near) arrival of fall, I decided that swim class deserved another go. But a different class at a different place. A friend told me she took her son to this particular one, and I signed us up. The water is warm enough for babies, and the pool is large. The place seemed organized about their classes, listing lots of them on their website. All positive signs. 

I don't know why I had romantic notions about this being a quiet and intimate experience with me and my son. I should have realized that by the sheer number of swim classes listed, this was going to be a noisy place. And busy. It was our first morning today and off we went for our 9.30 am class. We arrived a bit early to ensure everything was in place, and baby boy was changed and ready. We were told to sit on the bleachers on the side while other classes were finishing. I think there were at least eight classes in progress. About five for little tiny kids in the toddler pool, and another three or four in the big pool for larger kids. Then there were the three free swim lanes with people plodding along. 

All in all, this added up to quite a bit of hubbub and baby-boy was wide awake during what is normally his nap time, sucking it all in. We had a lot of fun when it was our turn. No tears, not even when he was on his back (we practice that in the bath). And even a delightful loud clatter when we got to the up-and-down out-and-in of the water bit.

So I think he's gonna like it. But, man oh man, I've never seen so many people in a "family" changing room. Next time, it's daddy's turn to take him and I think they might be better off in the men's changing room.

Sep 10, 2011

The end of summer = the start of winter

It's barely September. Well, ok, the 10th. I've been a bit slow to catch up on my blog. But still. Summer will officially last until the 21st. Yet, the mommy facebook group I'm part of (and love being part of), has started a series of conversation threads around booties, snowsuits and other winter items for babies and toddlers. 

I find this depressing. Of course, I'm grateful for the tips on where to buy a $50 snowsuit instead of forking out $150. But still ... it's summer. Come on people! 

It goes to show how Montrealers think. There is winter, and then there is the construction season (that's the joke anyhow). Of course, there is summer. Spring and fall are extremely short in this climate, and yesterday, through my polarized sunglasses that highlight yellows and reds, I spotted the first autumn colors. Too soon for my taste. But not too soon for Montreal. Within the next two weeks, all will be gloriously yellow, red and brown. And following that, mostly a dull leafless gray until well into next April or maybe even May.

So my fellow mommies are right to start thinking about winter. But I can't help but feel that it's a bit like thinking about Xmas in August (... i.e. the UK ...). It's just so bizarre when you're wandering around in the still sweltering heat to go buying snow suits.

We did, of course. I couldn't pass the opportunity for a good deal, and we found a cute suite for baby-boy. He even had to try it on in the store. He must have been hot, poor little fella. It's still big on him for now, but he may well grow out of it before the winter is over. That's what you get for living in a place that has 6 months of winter! Still, there will be more sales in Jan/Feb.

Hubby says baby clothes are my weakness. I will admit to it. Kind of like an addiction. I suddenly realized that over the last week I've somehow managed to get at least 5 kinds of "thick comfie pants" for our little one. I doubt he needs that many. And he will grow out of them quickly. But I couldn't resist.

We have also invested in an upgraded (larger) baby car seat -- still rear facing, following the Canadian guidelines to do so until the baby is at least 2. But it's a convertible at least, and can go forward facing afterwards, and may last till he's 4 or 5. Not a bad investment, and I wish I'd known about it before hand because we really didn't need the "infant" one. Even so, the infant car seat was portable and we used it plenty.

Other news: we are in the process of buying our own place. Fingers crossed that in a couple of days' time all the paperwork will finally be done (Quebec == paperwork, I find). If so, then we'd be moving some time in the next few months. The new place is nice, with a gorgeous kitchen and bathroom (that's what sold us). But also a bit smaller than our current square footage, so we're planning to downsize. On the list to go: baby things we no longer need, and a bunch of old furniture. I'm also insisting this time, that we be very selective with our wall decoration ... too many inherited paintings and pictures that are just crappy. With a hubby who's a talented photographer, we ought to be able to find SOMETHING nice to put on the walls, right? 

Stay tuned for more on the move. And any tips on how to move inexpensive, within one block of your current home, are more than welcome!

Aug 31, 2011

A different kind of hungry

The weaning continues and baby-boy has taken to food with remarkable speed. As are his coordination and sitting skills. The difference in a week or so is remarkable.

He still prefers breast milk by a long shot, but as long as he is neither hungry nor tired, he is happy to experiment with food. Since we had an allergic episode with a banana, I have been introducing new foods a bit more slowly, repeating foods that have been "ok" and combining them with new stuff.

Baby-boy is starting to react differently to different foods: beef paddies (made with egg yolk) were a so-so. He was unhappy with the texture, I think, and didn't want to swallow the coarser pieces, so I had to fish bits of half chewed beef out of his mouth for about 45 minutes after he finished his meal to soothe his complaints. Sweet potato is a definite thumbs up. He eats them baked in french fry sticks with gusto. Carrots apparently are a no-no: he pulls a face. And he threw it up. Non-ripe mango he ate but couldn't surpress the shudder reflex. Cheese was a definite wow. He couldn't stuff it in his mouth fast enough. Since I don't eat it myself I had to gain my mom's reaasurance, even though it was already grated, that it melts quickly in the mouth. Rice cereal is good, but messy for me, especially when trying to have him eat it in the mall's food court: some people actually laughed at him (I wasn't too pleased with that). Pear proved a good choice for lunch today while we were at the zoo.

In between, we breastfeed as needed. This means that sometimes he just isn't interested (probably not hungry). Like today, when we were about to drive home and I tried to feed him. He gurgled, smiled, laughed ... Everything but eat. So off we went. The very instant we hit the highway, however, he changed his mind about being hungry. LOUDLY. For the next 20 miles. Because that was the nearest exit. Oh my gawd. Can that boy scream. He almost never does, because his needs are usually met swiftly. But I had no choice and my mom was in the front too and couldn't reach him either.

Thankfully, it was over the minute we stopped and he ate right away. And not altogether a bad thing because I needed gas anyhow and might have missed that fact otherwise.

But one thing is for sure. He is experiencing a different kind of hunger.

Aug 22, 2011

On the agenda

The baby-led weaning is a learning experience. Both for baby-boy and myself. A number of days in now, and things are still going well, but baby-boy is showing frustration with some foods. Especially if it's too mushy or slippery, which means he can't get it into his mouth without it falling out of his hands first. He's developed a kind-of strategy for this: shoveling the food directly from his tray to his face. This would probably work, if I eased the straps enough for him to plant his face into the tray. Except that baby-boy's abilities to sit up are still somewhat random. And the possibility of a serious face-plant is very real. So, for the moment he strains the straps to hang over his tray, scoops the food up in his hands, makes it half way to his mouth, and drops the majority of it into his lap.

Our dog loves it. But it's a real exercise in restraint for her. She has to wait till the meal is over. And she has learnt to shoot over to the high chair the moment I lift baby-boy out of it.

Meanwhile, I'm learning what to cook, for how long to make it just the right consistency and the appropriate shapes to cut the food into for little baby hands to pick up. It's an effort. But one I'm willing to go forward with.

For now, the BLW is the main item on the agenda. One change at a time. We plan, soon, to move baby-boy to his own room. By most standards, he probably should be in his own room by now, but our summer has been hot and we only have one aircon. Now that the weather seems a little cooler, it may be possible to put him in a non-airconned room.

We will also be starting swimming classes soon. I've signed us up for a weekly Sunday morning swim in a specially heated pool so that he doesn't freeze while in the water. Should be fun. Since it's on a weekend, hubby should be able to come along and go into the pool with him. Bath time is associated with daddy time at the moment, and we can extend that to the pool.

Today is also his official 6-month check up with the doctor. More vaccines ... a long evening ahead, no doubt!

Aug 20, 2011

Baby-led weaning

The past week or so, my life has been consumed. Mostly with travel - again to Toronto. This time to apply for Dutch passport for baby-boy. I had obediently followed all the online instructions, booked my online appointment, and rocked up at the embassy first thing in the morning with a pile of paperwork. All set. Or so I thought. Stupid of me to assume that the information on the embassy's website was complete and correct. Turns out that a bunch of the legalized documents they claimed they needed actually need to be apostilled as well. Nowhere does it mention this on their site.

I stayed polite but pointed out firmly, in Dutch, several times that they really need to say this in their instructions. The woman behind the counter was frazzled - probably in general, not just because I was being firm but polite. She was all over the place. In the end, I got her to stamp and sign all the documents that were right, so that baby-boy and I don't have to go back there in person, but hubby can just rock up with the other documents in tow and get the damn application done. At least, so the lady claimed. We'll see whether the Dutch decide to change their minds again with half-arsed instructions. 

So, the next week will consist of getting necessary documents apostilled, by mail or in person depending on the destination. What a pain.

Meanwhile, baby-boy reached 6 months this week. Happy half-birthday to him. We celebrated by letting him recover from his flight back from Toronto and then began the process of weaning the following day. You will probably think this means I spent days in the kitchen puree-ing stuff. Not so! My cousin introduced me to a new concept used widely in Europe called baby-led weaning. It's a simply idea. You just give your baby whatever food you eat. With some minor modifications: e.g. babies shouldn't have salt or sugar and a few other things.

I was excited to start this process. All the evidence, though not a large scale statistical study, suggests that babies become very comfortable with food this way, and it never becomes a battle-ground. Perfect for me, since I was such a picky eater when I was a child. So the main question was what to feed him first. You can give them anything you want, in no particular order, and a mix of stuff (none of this "introduce X for 3 days, then move to Y"). The theory is that if you wait till the baby is 6 months old, his digestive system is strong enough to handle pretty much anything. You don't have to puree stuff; the baby can chew things with his gums. The main challenge is making things the right size and consistency so that he can actually pick it up from his tray or plate.

We started with pear slices for breakfast. Hubby and I held our breath as we positioned baby-boy in his high chair and presented the slices on his tray. Of course, no one had told baby-boy what the plan was. So he looked at us curiously. Smiled. Laughed. Explored his bib. Ate his bib. Explored the high chair strap. Ate that. Smiled some more. And eventually got fed up and asked to be let out.

So much for that then. But you're not supposed to interfere, so I trusted the process and moved on to lunch.

Lunch time came with some rice cereal and avocado slices. Avocado is super slippery, as it turns out. But baby-boy showed interest in the stuff on his tray. This time, he mushed some of the cereal around and even tried to stuff it in his mouth. Better. Maybe he was getting the idea.

Dinner: I cooked some chicken pieces, with fusilli and roasted veggies (squash, bell peppers and carrots). Baby-boy's interest was picked. Now there was a bunch of stuff on his tray he could try. We'd followed the advice of only putting a few things in front of him to avoid him becoming overwhelmed, but keeping some food aside so that the tray could be replenished as needed. Baby-boy thought dinner was fabulous. Especially the squash. He manoeuvered everything into his mouth, though most of it fell down into his lap. But I believe he did manage to get some squash into him, and he even sucked on some chicken. 


After a second day, I'm thinking I really like the BLW approach. Baby-boy has shown interest in everything on his tray so far. And he even really likes the washing off process afterwards because I sit him in the sink and let him play with the water. The only drawback is the mess. But our dog, very happily, helps out with that.

Aug 5, 2011

August resolution

So August is here, and with it a new birthday resolution to return to the blog. I miss the writing, in all honesty, and it is something I'd like to prioritize in my life. In what form, I will need to consider. Right now it seems to be mostly academic (apart from the blog). I'd like part of it to be non-academic too, perhaps even fiction. My subconscious keeps reminding me of the 150 or so pages of my fantasy book that are waiting for me to *do something* with them.

This year, I'm 38. It's not young, but not yet that old either. Somewhere in the middle. Plenty of time to get to life. At least that's what I tell myself. Of course, with new challenges, since we have baby-boy, but as he gets older, somehow things also get easier. Maybe it's just that I'm feeling (physically) my old self again, full of energy and inspiration. That's good.

I got an iPad for my birthday, and am liking it much more than I had expected. I still prefer the intuitiveness of the Blackberry Playbook, but the iPad has its own advantages. Such as the thousands of free applications. And I spent a good two days downloading the ones I wanted, and asking friends for their favorites. So now I'm back to playing Scrabble with a friend (or a version of), and have come across a wonderful app that combines news with gossip from my social network.

There are disadvantages too. I hate typing on it. One thing is for sure, the iPad was never meant for typing. Instead, it relies on tentative and sporadic touching, which about 80% follows your intentions and 20% selects something random that you didn't want. Annoying to say the least. And doubly annoying for someone like me who can touch-type and finds that the moment you rest your fingers on the virtual keyboard, all hell breaks loose. So I find myself back to my trusty old laptop for things like email and blogs, even though I now have an app for all that. Besides, the apps make my inbox look horrendous and incomprehensible. 

So there it is. My birthday has passed. I'm ok with being 38. I like my gift. I have energy again. Generally all positive things. I will have to make sure I don't get too sucked into the app thing -- but I'm not too worried, since I don't have an addictive personality.

In the meantime, look out for more posts! I should be able to work on baby-boy's website again soon with the help of an HTLM-skilled friend. And, I have lots of notes on ideas for blogs (that's a first!). So, August, here I am.

And let's ignore the fact that summer is almost over. That's too depressing to think about.

Jul 26, 2011


I've just realized it's been well over 2 weeks since my last post. Sorrys are due. Mostly, I've been busy setting up a new website for baby-boy: ask me about it if you want to have a login and password.

The rest of the time has been taken up by a trip to Toronto for passport renewal. The place was worse than a sauna or, more accurately, a Turkish bath since it was humid. Baby-boy was *not* happy.

Upon coming home (happily), I realized I only had a week to read through a thesis (unhappily), and I will need to be somewhat coherent about it by Monday. You'd think a life time of schooling would teach me not to leave things to the last minute ...

In the meantime, I've had lots of thoughts of things that would make for fun posts, all of which escape me now.

Happy July.

Jul 10, 2011

Sweet Dreams

A second attempt to get this little video up ... had to cut the length in half and reduce the resolution so that blogger can handle it. But enjoy!

Jul 5, 2011

On nursing pads

After four and a half months of breast feeding, I know all about nursing pads. I don't really know why they're called nursing pads since they aren't for nursing but rather for leaking when you're not nursing, but I guess "nursing pad" sounds better than "breast leakage pad". 

Nursing pads have given me a headache. I'm all about being sustainable. I went ahead and signed up for a reusable diaper service instead of the more conventional disposable diapers to avoid piling a garbage can of plastic and chemicals each week onto the local landfill. So when my breasts started leaking up a storm the moment my milk came in, I naively thought I'd do the same with nursing pads.

I didn't know quite what I was in for. I first tried to buy washable nursing pads in the supermarket pharmacy. They claimed they were made of cotton with some kind of nylon lining to stop leakage and seemed a good choice. They sucked. I barely made it through an hour before my entire t-shirt was soaked through. Luckily this happened at home when I was still too exhausted to go out much.

I moved on to more serious environmentally-focused products, and spent up to $13 (yes, that much) on 2 sets of bamboo lined pads that were wide in diameter. These were better, but they never made it through the day. As a result, I was changing t-shirts several times a day to accommodate the leakage and change over to the second set, which didn't last me till evening ... plus having to run the washing machine and dryer every day to clean and dry them. Not so sustainable, I thought, from any perspective. And no better products seemed to exist on the market.

My mom had been yammering at me to use sanitary towels - cut them in half, she said, and stick them in your bra. That's what she did. In 1973. I felt a bit dubious about this and was right to. Though the sanitary towels were plenty absorbent, they stuck to my already sore and split nipples and poked through my bra and t-shirt for a horrendous-looking malformation in my chest area. 

This is 2011, I thought. There must be some product out there. And there was. I found a brand of disposable nursing pads made by Medela. These guys also made the breast pump I was using and while not the state-of-the-art, it was a functional product. The nursing pads were also functional. But I didn't like how the milk got absorbed and formed into some kind of gel in the pad itself, making it heavy (and to my nose also smelly). I had to use 2 sets a day to avoid the heavy/smelly combo that was driving me bananas. But I liked the contoured design, even if the sticker on the back turned out to be pointless because my bra and breasts moved in opposing directions throughout the day and the damn things always ended up in the wrong spot (causing leakage). 

So I switched brands, to the competition on the rack next to them, by Lanisoh. Again, I used their vaseline type product to fix my nipples and it worked quite well even if it was sticky. Like Medela, these pads were contoured (though without the nifty but pointless fold Medela has to follow the shape of your breast). But like Medela, they gelled up. Not as much so it was more tolerable. But gel they did, and for whatever reason this made the internal lining of the pad stick to my breasts. Quite an unpleasant experience to remove them. 

Worse, both disposable brands of nursing pads were individually wrapped. As if being disposable wasn't bad enough already, these companies seem to think it's a good idea to produce yet more plastic and waste. Needless to say, this jarred with me. Not least because the individual wrapping seemed useless the moment you stick it in your bag, because it wrinkles up making it hard to get the pad out.

So when I was in the supermarket two days ago and saw a different brand of nursing pads (my previous box having run out), I was excited. These were by Johnson's. They seemed a bit thicker than the previous pads, but well shaped, with a "fake" nipple at the end so that your nipple has space to fit somewhere rather than get completely squashed flat (so much so that I had to rub it back to its normal shape before breast feeding could begin). My only  worry was that they seemed a bit smaller than the other pads and could therefore possibly leak more easily. 

Not so. They are super-absorbent, so probably don't need to be as big. They keep their shape throughout the day and the inner lining doesn't detach and stick to your breasts. Even better - they aren't individually wrapped! Better still, the sticker-cover doesn't have texted slated all over it like the Lanisoh ones, which is visible through a white bra and t-shirt.

I think I've found my pads. Finally. Only 4.5 months in.

Jun 26, 2011

Moving day

July 1st is the universal moving day in Montreal. It's also Canada day, of course, so therefore a public holiday. And exactly a week prior, on June 24th, it's what I call Quebec-day (properly St. Jean Baptiste day or FĂȘte Nationale). So the end of June and the beginning of July are generally infused with a holiday atmosphere. The jazz festival has started, and a few other smaller festivals have already been and gone. Montrealers truly take advantage of the summer.

But why everyone in Montreal has to move on July 1st will always remain a mystery to me. It's an almost 40-year remnant of what was once a legal requirement. Back in the 18th century, the colonial government of New France forbade landlords from evicting their tenant farmers before spring snows had melted. Sure, that made sense in 1750. In 1866, urban leases were required to start on May 1st. In 1973, the Quebec government decided it would make more sense to move this date to July 1st so that students would not be required to move during term time.

However, this law was repealed in 1974. Yet, people persist in moving on July 1st. In fact, in 2009, more than 225,000 households moved on July 1st. Tell me this isn't a headache?

One step outside my building reveals numerous moving trucks, the weeks prior and following July 1st. Where do these trucks go when it's not "moving-day"? Do they just hang out on a parking lot all winter? Surely, the increase in moving volume during this time of year means either a massive shortage of trucks (and accompanying men), or a giant shortage of business in the remainder of the year. Do moving companies make all their money in June and July? Do they just hire a bunch of students to do the work in the summer? Presumably to accommodate the serious shortage of moving trucks, I even saw two guys on bicycles with "heavy-duty trailers", pant their way up the hill on Atwater Avenue.

The entire concepts seems insane, if quaint. You can't drive through narrow Montreal streets without having to swerve around a double-parked truck every other block. Everything, including the kitchen sink is being moved (almost literally - people have to move their fridge and stoves since these are not typically supplied by Montreal landlords). Used furniture can be found everywhere along the streets. If you haven't booked a moving truck at least 6 months in advance, you're out of luck. My facebook page is full of appeals from friends who are asking for moving help. 

Of course, some have suggested that mandating the July 1st rental contracts was a deliberate move on the part of Quebec-separatist politicians: after all, who can truly enjoy the Canadian national holiday if they're having to lug their entire apartment's contents around?

I can't help but wonder how many people break ankles, wrists or even their neck on the narrow, curved Montreal stairways. Come to think of it, perhaps moving in the summer is safer than moving during the winter. But does it all have to be done on July 1st??? True Montreal Madness.

Jun 24, 2011

New routines

Baby-boy and I have been falling into some nice routines. Not really on purpose. I'm a firm believer of "on-demand" babying for little ones, since they can't be spoiled, and us adults have trouble interpreting what it is they want. So, on-demand feeding, sleeping and playing has dictated my life these past four months.

Eventually, a pattern emerged. (Doesn't it always? This is the beauty of statistics. Though I'm proud to report I haven't actually gotten to plotting any of my baby data - I'm resisting that temptation). So the self-emerged routine looks somewhat like this: baby wakes at 6.45am, wants a itty-bit of milk but not that much - mostly, he just smiles, giggles and gurgles. Roughly 2 hours later, he's ready to pass out again. Now he gets demanding and WANTS HIS MILK (dammit). I comply and he fall asleep in the process. A nap ensues. He wakes later in the morning for more giggles and play. Then we follow a roughly feed-every-two-hours routine. Typically, he naps again either around lunch time, or an hour or two after lunch. Most afternoons, he likes to nap at least twice and can wake up *very* groggy, in a fashion that has hubby saying he takes after me when waking up. Often, I'm able to sing or massage him out of his funk. Sometimes, I'm rewarded with squeals of delight and serious laughing fits. The evenings are mixed: often he has a short nap. Usually we try to keep him up till bed-time, so that he has a longer sleep. Bedtime falls around 8.30pm. Some days he has a bath with one of us first, followed by milk and sleep. Other days, he gets story time (a very famous Dutch children's book "Jip en Janneke"), followed by a quiet ten minutes during which his eyes get heavy. The nights. Well, they still vary, but mostly it consists of a very drowsy feed at around 11pm before I go to bed, followed by a long sleep till about 3.30 or 4.00am. After that comes a short sleep till about 6.30 or 6.45, and the routine starts again.

It's a pretty good routine that has been working well for us. But it is also one that gets interrupted -- daytime in particular since we go out and about in the stroller, and sometimes evenings when we go to dinner with friends and/or family. Not surprisingly, baby boy has been totally exhausted the last few days, after a 10 day visit from "oma". He loved all the extra attention and stimulation. But a keen mommy's eye can see that it's taken its toll on the tiny body and brain. 

So, sleep it is. More naps for a few days.

Jun 12, 2011

Night terrors

Baby-boy has been experiencing night terrors. Not often. About once a month or so, since his birth. They occur in the early part of the night. He wakes up screaming - not just any kind of scream, but the type you might hear when someone is being stabbed. That kind of scream. Utterly terrifying. 

When it happens, I get the shock of my life. My adrenaline shoots through the roof. While still half-groggy, I shoot out of my bed to run over to his crib. He's clearly still asleep but all the while screaming his head off. Sometimes his eyes are open. When I pick him up, however, it's clear he's still asleep because his body is entirely floppy. He seems to feel comforted when I pick him up and after half a minute or so, he calms down enough for me to put him back to sleep. It's as if nothing ever happened. For him at least.

Me, I am still trembling at that point. We had one of those terrors last night. And since his lung capacity is now much bigger, the screams are even more jarring. Needless to say, I was very shaken and had difficulty getting back to sleep. I kept checking on him every 10 minutes to see if he was alright. As far as baby-boy was concerned, he went back to his regular sleep schedule, and even had a longer sleeping stretch than usual in the latter half of the night.

So this morning I scoured the internet for information on night terrors in young babies. Experts disagree. Apparently, they used to think babies couldn't dream (idiotic - in fact, babies already experience REM sleep while still in the womb). Some also say that night terrors don't occur until a child is about 2 or 3 years old. Again, this seems wrong. Clearly, my little one isn't experiencing a regular nightmare from which he wakes up and doesn't want to sleep again. This is very different, and very much follows the pattern of a night terror. Other experts and mommy blogs confirm that night terrors are indeed possible in newborns, but only happen to about 5% of babies.

While terrifying, I'm glad to know that these don't seem to be a cause of, or cause, psychological distress. Rather, sleep deprivation appears to be an indicator. I'm inclined to believe the latter is true, since baby-boy didn't have that many naps yesterday. So now, I'm trying to make sure he gets enough naps during the day time!

Jun 10, 2011

Laughing baby-boy

Some evidence of the things that are curious and those that are funny.

Jun 3, 2011

Post from Baby-boy

Some things are curious. A lot of things are funny.

It's curious when mommy disappears behind the shower curtain. Sometimes her head sticks out. 

It's curious when the cat walks by. And when the dog rolls on the floor.

When mommy cuts my nails, I lay very still and ponder.

I like the bouncy chair. I get to bounce and smile. And work things out.

I don't know what mommy does in the kitchen every morning. But it's intriguing.

The lady in the moon captures my attention.

It's funny when I get to bash Poo Bear, Tigger and Eeyore.

I laugh when I see the safari animals.

It's very funny when mommy looks at me.

I always laugh on the changing table. I bang my feet. It makes a loud noise.

Sophie the Giraffe is funny. She squeaks. 

The wind is hilarious. I love it when it strokes my head. I squeeze my eyes shut and then throw them open in delight.

But the funniest of all is when daddy sings me Lady Gaga songs.

And then I get hungry, and want to sleep.

May 30, 2011

Publications, milestones and SlutWalks

It's been a busy month. I've barely had a moment to myself, now that baby-boy is growing up and spring (summer?) finally seems to have arrived in Montreal. That's not to say that our hot days aren't interspersed with the occasional bouts of (days of) rain. In fact, a town not too far from here seems permanently flooded, as we discovered on a recent trip to the U.S.

Yes, we have been out and about. And we've had visitors, with more to come in June. My parents-in-law were here for about 2 weeks and baby-boy thought it was fantastically fun to have them over. Permanent entertainment and attention. To the point where he was actually quite exhausted by the end of the 2 weeks and sleeping more often during the day. I, myself, was suffering from my third cold, this time accompanied by a nasty cough that took about 2 weeks to go away. But, I finally feel a lot better. Of course, once I was on the mend, baby-boy caught it and has been snorting his way through the night and day over the past week. But he too seems a better now.

While our visitors were here, we also picked up our new car. This meant that hubby wanted to test it out: he drove to Quebec city and back, and last holiday weekend (Victoria Day in Canada), we went to the U.S. for a quick shopping day in Burlington. The car was great. Baby-boy's passport worked a treat; the immigration officer thought evidence of his feet sticking out from the car seat was good enough and didn't insist on seeing if his face matched the picture. I bought a pair of pants now that I'm finally lean enough to almost fit back into my old clothes. For the rest, Burlington is a small college town, not unlike Ann Arbor. Cute, but not somewhere I'd like to live for any length of time. 

Then it was back to work for me last week. Mainly because a few weeks ago I had some fantastic news: one of my papers was accepted for publication. Now, writing it here like that doesn't seem too meaningful. But let me assure you that after seven years of hard work based on my thesis, this is amazing news. That paper has been under revision with this particular journal for well over two years. I totally expected it to get rejected in this third round of revise-and-resubmit. Needless to say, I was over the moon to get the word from the editor that it's a go. Of course, some minor changes are still needed, so I set aside a bunch of time (and hubby agreed to babysit) to get it done. It's now with my co-authors for the final touches, and soon I hope to submit it for the last time. I walked on air for about three days with this news, and once it's done, it'll be a huge weight off my shoulders. This thing has been hanging over me for far too long. And because it's my thesis work, it has more emotional value attached to it than any paper has a right to have.

With the paper off my plate for now, I was even able to squeeze in some work on other papers this weekend (hubby still acting as the babysitter). Even more exciting, now that I feel better again, I've been able to get back to my exercise routine with the cardio-poussette class and general walking out in the sun. My tan is working itself up nicely. Baby-boy gets his naps. And my weight is continuing to go in the right direction: down. 

One of the activities we did this weekend was the Montreal SlutWalk. It was baby-boy's first activist walk in support of the right of women to wear whatever they want without fear of being raped or persecuted in other ways. This movement started in Toronto when a cop blamed a woman who got raped for "asking for it" by the way she dressed. Incredible that society can still say and think that way. People should be able to wear whatever they want. I'm an avid supporter of that, never having been in favor of "having to" wear a suit at work (why? I'm not a man!), or "having to" wear heels that kill your feet and back. Nor do I think anyone has a right to call my best friend derogatory names when we lived in South Korea because she died her hair blue, had facial piercings and wore thigh length boots. Or, indeed, having to wear long jackets that cover up your butt so that you don't get touched up inappropriate by some random man on the street. (Yes, this actually happened to me when I was about 15 years old - and I was fully clothed in a pair of jeans, not displaying any naked skin ...). No one should be in danger of being raped, regardless of what they're wearing. So we walked. And it was fun. And baby-boy and I were interviewed by a campus radio. 

May 27, 2011

The difference a few weeks can make

Earlier this month, I posted a video of baby-boy and his Poo-bear play arch. It's about three and a half weeks on, and just look at the difference.

Apologies for all the video postings. I promise to actually write a blog soon. I've just been too busy (believe it or not). Between baby boy's needs, in-laws visiting, and a small detail to take care of at  work (MY PAPER FINALLY GOT ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION, AFTER 7 YEARS!!!!), I've been too rushed on my feet to actually post anything.

May 17, 2011

Baby-boy's new trick

Baby boy is 3 months old tomorrow. In honor of this milestone, he's showing off his new trick : grabbing.

May 14, 2011

May - so far

Well, my lack of blog posts can be entirely explained by three things: spring has finally arrived in Montreal, my in-laws are visiting, and I'm sick. The latter could possibly be a result of the first two ... spring is bringing changeable weather including rain and cold as well as sun and heat. As for my in-laws, they arrived from the U.K., and might have brought some new lurgies with them.

Baby-boy seems to have taken all of this in his stride. That doesn't mean he's gotten away scot-free. In fact, he has been a little bit congested with the very occasional cough, and a right eye full of gloob. The eye is probably some kind of viral conjunctivitis, or perhaps a clogged tear duct - both fairly common in babies. But since it was his eye, I insisted on going to the walk-in clinic and have it checked out. I don't mess around with eyes.

Of course, he's entirely fine. The intern/doc didn't recommend anything other than wait it out, and after a few squirts of breast milk in his eye (recommended by the internet), the entire thing seems to have resolved itself.

I've been less lucky. I'm thinking I should start treating myself with my own breast milk. My right eye seems to have contracted baby-boy's conjunctivitis. And I've been sick ever since his vaccinations, i.e. for three weeks now. Not seriously ill, but a fever, three sore throats, two colds and now a mean cough. 

So while baby-boy happily giggles himself (and me) awake at 6 a.m. every morning (and I can't help but smile about it), I'm struggling to shake this thing. I'm hoping it'll only be a few more days. If not, it'll be another trip to the clinic. But in the meantime, I do my best to giggle back, even if it comes out as some kind of congested snort most of the time.

May 1, 2011

Apr 30, 2011

Vaccines and fever

My back spasm is better. At least I can say that much for this week. The spasms stopped on their own a day or so after the doctor's visit. The rest of the week consisted of recovery, so I skipped my cardio workout and went to a stretchy-therapist in the building opposite us who helped out my back and the rest of my body. Since the lower-middle back is now better, the  back problems have transferred back to their usual locale: the upper-middle back. But it's not a spams, just discomfort. And a second visit to the stretchy guy really has helped.

My health recovery was short-lived, however. This week, I came down with a sore throat and a fever. On the same day that baby-boy needed his first vaccinations. And hubby needed to be out of town. 

The shots were no fun for baby-boy. The doctor was kind enough to ask someone to help her so that both shots went into his upper legs at the same time (poor kid!). Baby-boy took to screaming at the top of his lungs. Louder than I've ever heard him scream. Hubby had the honor of holding him down for the shots, so I had the honor of consoling him. But he wasn't to be consoled. No amount of breast was attractive enough to settle the screaming. So we got last minute advice amidst the distress, left the doctor's office noisily, and attracted lots of stares from people in the waiting room. Eventually, baby-boy took to a breast in the breast feeding room. Thank goodness.

The rest of the evening was no more fun. I think baby-boy relived his terrifying moment several times while dreaming. Clearly, this was a very distressing event for him. Of course, moments before we had him gurgling and laughing on the doctor's table, so it was a complete surprise. Since hubby had to leave town, I ended up holding a very cranky baby the rest of the afternoon and evening, until exhaustion hit. He slept badly that night, as did I since I was still burning off my fever. What an exhausting experience for both of us.

As a result of the fever and general fatigue, I skipped another cardio session this week. Not great for my return-to-pre-pregnancy-weight goals, but I couldn't face another training session in the cold pouring rain.

Thankfully, the weather is on the up. I even spotted a bunch of buds on all the trees in our road. Spring is definitely on its way. I just wish it'd be a bit faster!

Apr 20, 2011

Back again

As it turned out, I waited 2 hours for the doctor only to be told all muscle relaxants are transmitted to breast milk, so nothing could be done. The doc quizzed me for 15 minutes about postpartum depression. This seemed odd to me, until I realized it was probably because I burst into tears in her office after 2 hours of waiting and a week of pain. She must have thought that having a new baby was too much for me to handle.

I didn't mind her being thorough except that it was followed by another 10 minutes of quizzing about my back, and then she disappeared for 15 to get a consult from another doctor. I suspect most of the doctors in the walk-in clinic are interns, so they can't move a muscle without checking everything with someone else.

The end result: she came back to tell me to bend my knees when lifting the baby and take hot baths. As if I haven't done/tried those things already.

Needless to say, I walked out of the hospital with nothing but frustration. Only to find the dreaded red parking-ticket car next to my car, slapping a ticket on my windscreen. I had gone 15 minutes over my parking meter time. And since I was stuck in the doctor's office, I couldn't top it up. I promptly burst into tears again.

A wasted day, all round. I think the universe is trying to teach me patience.

Apr 18, 2011

Back update

So my back got worse over the weekend. A lot worse. In fact, the spasms are comparable to having contractions, about half-way through labor.

Needless to say, I'm off to the doctor's this morning. Better hope that I don't get the mean receptionist, because if I do, my patience is running short and she'll get an earful!

Will keep you posted on my medical situation.

Apr 15, 2011

Extra weight

For a while now, I've been lugging around some extra weight. And slowly paid the price. During late pregnancy, my pelvis suffered. Two months postpartum, my back is back to its old tricks. It's on the verge of a serious muscle spasm. Actually, it probably is spasming - I'm just in denial. 

I blame the extra weight. My own, and that of baby-boy. As he packs on the pounds, my back is packing in. On top of the 15 or so extra pounds I'm carrying (mostly on the front, as I did in pregnancy but somewhat more top heavy), it makes for a bad combination for my back.

I foresaw this, of course. I know my own body, and I know that sporting size G cups has to be  troublesome for someone who's normally a B. What I failed to realize is how beaten up the rest of my body would be. Sure, I no longer have troubles such as PUPPP or swollen hands and feet (though I still can't wear my wedding ring yet). But everything else still seems to be out of whack. My physiotherapist made this clear last week when she moved some things around in my hips, back and neck. 

In anticipation of needing to build my strength, postpartum, I joined a mommy-and-stroller exercise course. Twice a week, I train my cardio and my French. Well, Quebecois anyhow. The cardio is awful - I've always hated it. The French is less awful. Still, I persist in spite of subfreezing temperatures and miserable weather (and baby-boy happily puts up with it from his cocooned stroller) for the sake of getting back into shape. 

Even so, my weight (loss) has plateaued and my body still sports the post-pregnancy belly. The key to this, I'm told, is internal abdominal strengthening exercises. I know that my core is getting stronger what with plank and kegel exercises up to my ears. But of course, my back had to protest at all this muscular activity at some point.

So I spent most of last night awake, not because of the baby but because of my back. And that truly sucks. At least with the baby, I can rationalize the need to spend time awake feeding. With my back, I've lost all patience. It's been a recurring problem since my teens and no amount of physiotherapy/osteopathy, chiropractic or exercise seems to help prevent the back spasms. And for the moment, I can hardly turn to the semi-blissful state induced by muscle relaxants. 

In my desperation, I'm trying every trick in the book: cold compresses, hot compresses, ibuprofen, and tomorrow, a long massage.

Gawd, I hope I sleep tonight ...

Apr 10, 2011

Movie star

We've been taping bits of our baby-boy during his daily activities. This doesn't exactly make him a movie star, but with some editing, it makes for an entertaining minute of viewing. 

Apr 3, 2011


Baby-boy is now 6 weeks old. And he's suddenly beginning to change. Yesterday, we were out most of the day, and baby-boy spent most of his time awake. Rather than sleeping his way through the trip to the mall, he spent his time wide-eyed, looking at all that was passing him by. Late afternoon, we made a trip to have dinner with some friends. The presence of five other children made for a chaotic surrounding and baby-boy spent the whole time awake, observing the scene or crying a little.

It seems we're entering a new phase - a more awake one. He's also hit the six week mark which is supposedly when they cry the most. For sure, he's developed somewhat of a schedule whereby he cries intensely from about 7.30 to 9.30pm. Hubby and I have tried various ways to soothe him. Most of our tricks work only temporarily. The pacifier seems the most successful, but we're conscious of not trying to create a habit, so we use it sparingly. Other than that, we've done everything from shushing, soft rocking, walking, stomach hold (good for colicky babies), feeding, bathing and baby massage. Sometimes it works well but inevitably he ends up crying again until he falls asleep, probably from exhaustion, at about 9.30 or 10.00pm. 

The good news is that this is the peak, so it should get better from here-on in. Also, he's much more engaged with us, and has started to do fun things like look around him, keep himself occupied with gurgles, squeaks and ay-s, and best of all, smiling. He smiles a lot especially in the morning. We've been trying to capture it on camera, and finally today hubby managed it. So here it is, a smiley picture of our handsome little devil. 

Mar 26, 2011

A week with the little one

This week, baby-boy and I were on our own. Hubby needed to travel to Paris on business, and so we were left to our own devices from Monday night till Friday afternoon. I had been panicking about this scenario for weeks ... how on earth was I going to manage an entire day, several times in a row, with baby-boy and his needs? It seemed like an insurmountable task and I was therefore none too happy when Monday rolled along and hubby had to say goodbye.

I had initially asked my mom to come out and help this week, but she declined to do so preferring to see baby-boy in his early days rather than now. In my desperation to battle loneliness, baby-fatigue and general exhaustion, I did something I rarely ever do: I enlisted the help of my friends.

It occurs to me now how lucky I am. We've only been in Montreal a little over 18 months, and yet I knew enough people to call on in this time of need. I arranged for several friends to share the burden of helping me out. Some came in the morning; others came during the evening. I kept the afternoon's "free" for baby-boy's and my naps. 

Asking friends for help turned out to be great. Not only did I have an extra set of hands in the house to take care of various tasks such as cooking, refilling the humidifiers, clearing out the dishwasher, etc, but it also allowed me to pass on baby-boy to their arms when I wanted to shower or check a few emails. What's more, we had a lot of time for conversation - a luxury that often passes us by due to the hectic pace of life. Baby-boy's need to be held and cuddled forced us to sit down and listen to each other. In all, the week turned out to be a wonderful experience.

Well, except for a few hiccups created by the bureaucracy of Quebec. Unfortunately, I could not escape various headaches and painful phone calls with the bureau that is supposed to be paying me my maternity leave. We've now had several letters and conversations back-and-forth, not to mention several trips outside the house to get all the paperwork sorted. And it never seems to be what they want. I finally got someone competent (I hope) on the phone who explained the proper procedure to me. Why they can't write that in the letter, I'll never know. It seems like they want to make it as difficult and vague as possible. Not only that, but I also found out that the english translation of the instructions are incorrect -- wonderful. It made for one hellish day on Thursday. And I missed most of my afternoon naps this week as a result. But I overcame it with only a tear or two escaping my eyes. I am determined not to cry over some damned red tape that has resulted in a nearly two-month delay in income.

Needless to say, baby-boy and I are thrilled that hubby is now back. I had planned a balloon-themed "Welcome home daddy"-signed airport pickup, but it wasn't to be -- too much traffic at 3pm on a Friday to make it to the airport before hubby was through. 

So here's to great friends; the ones who come through when you ask them for a huge favor, and do so with a smile on their face!