Mar 20, 2011

Maternity leave

Baby-boy is now a month old already. Time has flown by. He's bigger, yet still tiny in many ways. But he's definitely different. He's starting to look around him, taking in his surroundings. And he's beginning to interact, though it's still early. He has reached out to grasp my hand, but I think it's largely accidental that he connects as his muscle movements seem to be mostly random. He has a new habit of grabbing the neckline of my t-shirt whenever I hold him, so clearly that is at least partly intentional. He is doing better and better lifting his head during tummy time, showing his increased strength. And he does a great job of kicking me in the gut or punching my breast - all of which are unintentional (I think). 

More impressively, he seems to have gained efficiency in breast feeding, often nursing for merely five minutes before pulling away and promptly falling into a post-feeding frenzy coma. With the aggressive feeding comes lots of burping and spitting up (hubby calls him "little piranha"). All of this is normal, per the net. I've also learned today that at this point he should be feeding about 7-9 times a day and I'm still clocking 12-13 feedings daily. This would perhaps explain the short bouts of feeding. Maybe I'm doing it too soon and too often. I'm going to try a new routine with him and instead find ways to entertain him when he fusses, which per the net could be reasons for crying (rather than the need to feed).

So I've uncovered the Snugli that someone gave us (which smells of another woman's perfume and therefore will need to go through a wash cycle soon since I can't abide perfumes of any kind). He's happily snuggled against my chest. This trend probably won't last long since my back doesn't hold out with this kind of thing at all. But it is an amazing trick to keep him very content.

Amidst all this, I've been in the process of applying for maternity leave with the Quebec government. Supposedly, this was to be a "simple" process of signing on online and hey-presto, you'd get your cheque. Instead, it has turned out to be a major bureaucratic hassle like most things here, except that instead of standing physically in line this time I'm phoning and mailing lots of information back and forth. Nothing is ever easy: first, the online sign-in program isn't Mac compatible, so I had to do it by phone (therefore slower). Second, my company had given me mat leave a week too early, thus giving me a half-pay for the last week, which was totally unexpected and quite annoying. That meant that after my phone sign-in with the government, I had to phone them back to change the information. It also meant that I was close to running past the 3-week deadline you have to sign up for this stuff and I had to pay 32 dollars for an overnight guarantee letter delivery. Third, since I'm not (yet) a permanent resident, the government (of course) needs to see all kinds of proof of residency and work permits, etc. I sent them photocopies of everything, but promptly got a blue sheet back on which the box "only original documents are accepted" was duly ticked. Highly annoying, but understandable. This requires me making a trip to a notary or similar tomorrow in order to get certified copies of all my documents.

So much for the "easy" online system. I'm really going to have to give some proper feedback to the HR person at work who told me about this. At the very least, people in a similar position as me could aim to prepare all the necessary documentation upfront and be prepared to "sign up" before the baby was actually born. It's certainly much easier to get stuff done when the baby is still in the womb, rather than on a 1.5 hour feeding schedule.

The end result: it's been well over a month since I got a pay cheque, and I doubt anything will come through in the next week or two. So money is running out. To the point where I'm having to decide to buy only essential items during grocery shopping, and leave everything else. Not something I thought I would need to be doing shortly after giving birth...

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