Archive for October, 2009

An Aspect of Motherhood I Never Took Into Consideration

It’s been 5 weeks now since Oliver made his entrance into the world, and those 5 weeks have mostly been spent at my breast in front of the television, or at my breast in the bedroom under a book, or at my breast while I try to fold laundry with one hand, the monotony of which is occasionally interrupted by a car ride to Tim Horton’s, and our weekly mommy meeting.

Our mommy meetings (The YMCA’s ‘Y’s Moms program that I’ve mentioned before) have been instrumental to my sanity thus far as it provides me with a hole room full of people to talk to other than Oliver and Das Piper.

At first I was so happy to have these people that if I were a puppy I would have wagged my tale so hard I fell over, then piddled on the floor. Not only were these other mothers PEOPLE TO TALK TO! But they were people to talk to who didn’t mind me talking at great length about my new favorite subject! They were people who would listen with actual interest as I went on and on about Oliver this and Oliver that. Best of all they were people who wouldn’t raise their eyebrows in disgust when I started talking about boobs and poop and barf.

Now I am, realizing the true cost of this opportunity. . . Having to smile and nod and talk to people that I would never ever in a million years put up with if it weren’t for the fact that our children are only weeks or days apart.

My usual blunt self would have absolutely no problem saying ‘Hey, you know what? We have nothing in common, you’re really boring/annoying, I don’t really want to be your friend.’ It’s not like our children are old enough to have any kind of awareness of, let alone relationship with each other. So why am I so hell bent on being nice to some of these women? It’s not like also being a mother automatically makes me their friend.

As Oliver grows up this problem will only get worse, as he grows I will no doubt find myself on sports sidelines, and parent comities, or in play groups with people that I absolutely cannot stand. And in a city this small I may end up on sports sidelines and parent comities and in play groups with many of these very women, most of whom I like just fine, but some of which annoy the shit out of me. How on earth am I going to deal with that? He’s only 5 weeks old and I am already having trouble. Am I just being a big baby for complaining about having to be nice and bite my tongue for once?


October 26, 2009 at 05:35 3 comments

GIST #25 of 365

1) A little warmth after a week of cold, rain, and snow.

2) The quiet laziness of an empty Sunday after a bit of a whirl wind week.

3) Fussy baby finally sleeping. . . . Oops I spoke too soon. . . But the last 10 minutes were blissful.

4) Almost forgotten Thanksgiving leftovers in the freezer.

5) The smell of Penitin diaper cream.

October 19, 2009 at 04:14 Leave a comment

Dear Oliver;

I know that you’re only 3 weeks old, and that you have been working very hard on your 3 week old duties. . . Like that extra leg roll you grew over night, and adding 2 seconds to your holding your own head up record. . . But could we maybe work on a facial expression other than looking bored and unimpressed with me?

Also, I am worried that people won’t believe me when I tell them that your toes are so cute that I want to eat them, so as you may have noticed I’ve been trying to take pictures. I would appreciate it if you could keep them still long enough to get a decent snapshot.

On a third and final note; I know that you’re your father’s son and all. . . but I don’t appreciate you hiding your little face behind rude fingers when the camera comes out.

Love you forever and ever;

Your Mommy

October 15, 2009 at 10:01 2 comments

GIST #24 of 365

1) A 3 1/2 hour nap for Oliver and I in the middle of the afternoon.

2) My old jeans fit. . . . Sort of. . . They’re really tight, but I can button them up!

3) Oliver may be a bit young yet for the Twilight Turtle, but it sure works to relax me.

4) Being able to appreciate the beauty of all this early snow because I don’t have any reason to go out in it unless I want to.

5) Dorky camera angles make sleeping babies more interesting. 6) Das Piper has somehow managed to sucsessfully move said sleeping baby from my lap to the bed without waking him! My tired breasts are most thankful for the extra hour of rest!

October 11, 2009 at 09:58 1 comment

Off To A Rocky Start

A toxic environment.

That’s what my doctor called my uterus.

He didn’t really mean it to sound so harsh. “The infection in your uterus made it too toxic an environment; we had to get him out fast”.

Getting him out fast meant distress, which earned Oliver an express ticket to the neonatal intensive care unit, Das Piper told me later that at one point his heart rate went from a terrifying 189 beats per minute to an even more terrifying 45 beats per minute just before he was pulled out.

Getting him out fast meant less time for my body to adjust to Oliver’s shape and size, which earned me a long and painful repair and recovery. All told Oliver and I were not discharged from the hospital for 5 days after his birth.

At the beginning of our 5 day stay in hospital, I thought little about it. The doctors and nurses assured us that we were both healthy, and that the IV antibiotics were routine and harmless. In short, we would be bringing home a totally healthy and normal bouncing baby boy, just a few days later than expected.

A number of contributing factors meant that we would be spending this time in a tiny curtained off corner of a larger public room watching other families come and go. There was the teenager who spent most of her stay alone and crying while frantically text messaging on her phone, the east Indian family with the delicious smelling food that made me even less excited about the hospital slop I was eating, the family from out of town who were evidently hard of hearing judging by the astronomic levels of their television’s volume.

I took it all in stride. I smiled and nodded at the nurses trying to tell me how to breastfeed, all of whom had different ‘facts’ and opinions about how I should be feeding my child. I didn’t punch the lab techs that came in every morning to draw blood from my baby right there beside my bed. (They don’t just use a needle on infants; they cut their little feet and squeeze out drops.) And I stayed calm and optimistic while learning to clean, calm and feed my son around the IV and the hoses attached to it, all the while telling myself that after 5 days, I could bring him home and never have to think about it again.

On the 4th day, when Oliver was in the nursery receiving his daily medication, they told me that his IV needed to be redone, again. I’d heard him crying on my way back from a soak in the gross hospital tubs. I entered the nursery to see his arm swollen around the IV. I had just enough time to kiss his head and find out that the IV had slipped out of his vein and allowed some of his antibiotic to be injected into the tissue rather than his blood stream, before they whisked him away to the NICU for the third time to have it fixed. When they brought him back I lost it.

For lack of anywhere else to put it they had stuck an IV line in my son’s head, then handed him back to me along with a bag of the hair they had to clip away to do it.

I know it sounds really stupid to be upset about a few little pieces of hair, especially when it was medically necessary and part of keeping him healthy. But that little bag of hair completely ruined every ounce of strength, patience and calm that I had in me. That little bag of hair, and the barely noticeable bald patch it left behind on my son’s head would be a constant reminder to me that my body had made my baby sick.

When I saw that little lock of hair, the one that looks almost identical to the one my mother still carries with her from my late sister, a little voice in the back of my head said ‘There! You see! Proof, physical proof of your negligence.’ That same voice that had been quietly asking why I hadn’t mentioned having a slight fever to my doctor, why I had been so quick to assume that my flu like symptoms were one final bout of morning sickness, and not a sign that my uterus was infected and becoming less hospitable by the day.

That little bag of hair was a reminder that my uterus had been a toxic environment for my baby, and I was suddenly terrified that the toxicity wouldn’t end there. What if there was something wrong with my milk? What if there was something wrong with our home, and the environment we were taking him to? What if I dropped him, or bumped him, or somehow injured him by accident? What if I fucked this kid up so far beyond repair that he became an axe murderer or something and the police and all the news papers would say that it was as a direct result of his toxic home environment?

Thank God for Teresa the night nurse who sat with me and rubbed my back while I clung to my baby (who was fine and slept through the whole procedure by the way) crying how sorry I was for the 15 minutes it took Das Piper to throw on some clothes and drive like a mad man back to the hospital. And thank God for Das Piper, who managed to calm me down and reassure me enough to breastfeed and then go to sleep.

Since being home I have calmed and reassured myself that everything will be ok. I’ve come to accept his little tiny bald spot that no one but me notices, but even more important than that I have come to accept the profound vulnerability that comes with being a parent. I have come to accept that pretending everything was ok in those first 3 days in the hospital would never have worked even if they hadn’t cut his hair, because even without the bumpy start, I would still be worried about doing the right thing, I would still be worried about being good enough for my son.

Today Oliver and I attended our first Y’s Moms group. Y’s moms is a totally free walk in social group for mothers of small children held at the YMCA. The purpose is to have a place to talk about what has been going on in yours and your child’s life, whether that is good or bad, and to provide a support group of other parents. When I mentioned this vulnerability, that I hadn’t been prepared to be suddenly so fragile, there was nothing but complete understanding in the eyes of the other mothers there.

‘It’s that vulnerability that makes us good mothers’ one woman said. ‘If there was nothing on the line we wouldn’t work so hard to give these babies the best we can give.’

Now, instead of symbolizing all of my guilt and terror over an infection that was not my fault, and not something I could have prevented, that little bag of hair is a reminder of the extraordinary change that this little boy had made in me. For better or worse, I am his mother, and I am giving him nothing but my absolute best.

October 1, 2009 at 06:07 3 comments

What is a Pocket Buddha?

The pocket Buddha is a talisman, whether the pocket is in our mind or our jeans, the pocket Buddha is there to add a touch of Zen to our lives. He smiles from his dark penny and used tissue filled abode and reminds us simultaneously to go with the flow of our lives and to keep our goals, hopes and dreams ahead of us. At least one moment everyday, the satisfaction of a project completed, the taste of a meal we managed to make without burning, the extraordinary patience we somehow managed to show in the most frustrating of times, the pocket Buddha throws us a pocket-lint sized piece of nirvana, and for that I am very grateful.

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