Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflecting on my second maternity leave

I am back with a computer! Turns out we totally fried our hard drive so my dad is fixing it up and hopefully recovering our photos and other valuable data. I will do an update on my Shred workout but for now, I want to reflect on my maternity leave as it draws to a close, and Keith takes over the final three months.

Being a mom is by far, the best thing that has ever happened to me, aside from meeting and marrying Keith. I have always known I loved kids - but being a mom is amazing. I am a goof and nothing is better than having a dance party with Noah and Layla - Noah getting all red in the face, and Layla clapping to the  music. I have a hard time believing I will be a strict mom down the road, because I sure am lenient now. If you would have asked me before I had kids who was going to be the tough parent, I never would have said Keith - but he has rules and they are followed. I am lenient and get walked over a bit!

During my first maternity leave, I returned to school around the same time as I am going back to work this time. I was bitter to have done that, but I had no choice. This time, I did have a choice - and I am excited and scared.

Layla has been a very fun child right from the get-go. I remember those first moments, seeing her after she was born. They laid her on my chest and then....she wailed. I mean, WAILED...she really exercised her lungs. The healthcare staff had to shout over her as I tried to mash her face into my breast to nurse for the first time as Keith and I looked at each other with complete terror in our eyes. She wasn't quiet! She didn't just stare at me like Noah did. Oh dear....she was "spirited"!

Ever since her birth, Layla has been a spirited child who knows what she wants and when she wants it. In a way, I am happy to have such a daughter because I don't want my daughter to be a push-over. I want to raise a woman who can live on her own, stand up for what she wants in life and speaks her mind. So I think her personality will foster that.

Layla is the kind of child who you can't just leave on the floor with a bunch of toys around her. You can't allow her to go even the teensiest bit hungry, and heaven forbid you should prevent her from gnawing on an extension cord! Her voice has only gotten bigger, and her temper shorter. However, that being said, she is also the happiest and most beautiful baby. I know I am her mom, and thus biased, but she really is an amazing child. She has the largest and most gorgeous eyes that encompass you and melt your heart and her smile is stunning and warm. You can't help but fall in love with her!

Ending my mat leave early makes me sad for a few reasons: Noah is just getting funnier by the second and his imagination is exploding, so playing with him is so enjoyable; Layla is leaving the baby phase and entering the toddler years. She is increasingly mobile and she is interacting with her brother more and it is hilarious to watch. I am going to miss the days where it was just Layla and I; I am going to miss the days I had the two kids. I am really going to miss Friday morning trips to Country Style with Noah and Layla for treats. I am also going to miss my Weight watchers group and their fawning over Layla.

I have had a few thoughts about pregnancy and mat leave for second time moms that I think I should share because people just don't talk about this stuff (they are too busy with their kids to share)!

1. Pregnancy with the second child flies by when you are chasing a toddler! My first pregnancy was excruciatingly long (especially when I was on bedrest) but this time round, I really can't believe how fast it went by. Just thinking that Noah was a baby himself when I was pregnant and now is nearing 3 - it is just crazy, which brings me to point #2

2. The older child will change by leaps and bounds in your baby's first year (which, coincidentally, flies by even faster than your second pregnancy). I know the baby grows a lot in the first year, that is a given - they go from 9lbs to 30lbs in 12 months (wait...what? That is just my kids?!?!). But the older child also ages and they change so much. I know this must sound ridiculous to everyone, but I seriously feel like I just gave birth a few months ago so when I look back on Layla's early photos and Noah is only 23 months old and is now speaking in full and clear sentences and is fully toilet trained....that is shocking for only 9 months. You hear all the time that they grow up too fast but I really didn't feel that was true until we had Layla.

3. When you bring the second baby home, you assume they are going to take up all of your time. is the toddler that takes up all your time. They are thrust from their only child status and they are extremely challenging to handle those first few weeks. However, after a while, they seem to realize that the baby is here to stay and life gets a lot easier.

4. That said, having a two story house causes some difficulties when dealing with naps for two kids (which are never at the same time, by the way). It also complicates life when your baby hits the "distracted by everything" phase of breastfeeding and you have to feed in a dark and quiet room away from all stimuli. Tell me...what do you do with the older child?!?! Noah was just 2 years old and I had to find things for him to do while I was upstairs with the baby. Conversely, when Noah went down for his nap, but Layla wasn't ready to nap, I had to find something for her to do alone. It was very difficult and to this day I struggle with this.

5. It is true, you do loosen up on some things and learn not to stress the small things. New moms tend to be very concerned about what the child eats, drinks, how much tv they watch, what toys they play with, etc. I did that all with Noah. Yet, when the second one comes your values have to change. You may stick to your guns about certain things that are very important to you (whether that is tv time or juice intake) but you end up doing what you have to do to survive. For example, Noah's tv time went up...a lot - I mean, it kept him quiet and out of trouble while I put Layla down for a nap. However, as a result, I also really do think Treehouse helped his vocabulary, his speech, his counting and learning colours. It also has contributed to the development of his imagination - he is always telling me stories that are clearly based on the latest Max and Ruby program.

6. Your relationship with your spouse undergoes another change, as you become a family of 4. It is really hard to find time for your spouse. Often, Noah is with keith so I can nurse Layla and that leaves no time for ourselves. Once the kids are in bed and it is 8pm, one of us is either working out, packing lunches, doing dishes, shoveling snow, doing laundry, or falling asleep. We try to keep this in mind, but it can be hard. Thankfully kids are only this physically demanding and dependent for so long

7. Keeping track of milestones is next to impossible because time is flying by! I did my best to keep track of it all but I know I missed some stuff. I tried very hard to do for Layla all that I did for Noah, but I feel it is a bit impossible. There are also less photos and less video coverage because with Noah, I literally was just sitting in our condo, staring at him for 12 hours a day. With Layla, I have to keep Noah occupied and her happy. There is very little sitting and thus, less projects to keep me occupied.

8. Having more than one child is just awesome. One day, Noah pulled Layla's highchair over to his chair at the kitchen table and he kissed her and whispered in her ear that he loved her. I mean, you just don't get better than that in life. Also, the love she has in her eyes for Noah is unbelievable. He is the only one who can make her stop crying every time, because she worships him. Her eyes light up when she sees him and her smile becomes huge. She kicks her legs and gurgles happily for him. I would be surprised if her first word wasn't his name.

9. My house is a mess, I never style my hair, my makeup sits unused and I have no idea what is in style in fashion anymore....and I don't really care!

10. I forget what life with just Keith was like; I forget what life with just Noah was like - I honest to goodness can't imagine life without Keith, Noah, and Layla in my life.  I keep telling Keith we have to have another baby so I can go on leave again, but who knows what the future holds. A psychic told me once I would have three babies: two girls and a boy - so we shall see...

I have no photos on this computer, but I do have one of my prince and princess at Christmas...enjoy:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

7 days of the Shred completed

So I have done one week of Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. Now, I should tell you that my computer broke, so I am typing this on my iPad which is horribly frustrating (dear apple...fix this aspect of apple products and make me a happy girl).

I have kept a week long journal of my progress but I am not going to type this out until I have my computer back. For now, a brief summary...

I started on level 1 and did not find the abs or card hard at all....probably because I had been running three times a week and, after training my abs for hurdles in high school, I find ab workouts are not particularly challenging...even all these years later...the strength training, however, had me shouting at the television!

I kept up with level 1 and after about five days I was able to actually do the push ups without difficult, so by day 7, I decided to move onto level 2. was so hard! I was only able to follow the modified moves, and even then I had to take frequent breaks. is seriously hardcore.

I haven't lost any inches, but I have noticed my arms looking more toned already. Bear in mind I was doing the workout daily and making sure I had proper form. I was also was doing the high intensity for cardio, abs and most of the strength. The only modification I made was to the pushup.

Anyway, I am not sure if I will do two more weeks because Keith gave me a 9 week fitness program for the Wii and I want to try that out. However, I work out when the kids are asleep and it may be easier to do the shred for now and then do the wii once we get a tv put in in the basement (I can do the shred in the basement now because it is just a DVD on the computer). So keep posted on what I decide...I may do both because I can do the wii on the days I have just Layla because she finds my workouts amusing to watch. Who knows...if people really want to see how the shred pans out over 30 days I will keep it up

Once my computer is working i will input my daily log of the shred. Till then....


Ok, so I am on my old ibook in order to write up my daily journal of my first week on the 30 day shred:

I have my measurements too but I am scared to post them! haha

Here is my daily log for the first week:

Day 1

  • Found  cardio easy
  • Strength training was rough - I find myself yelling at Jillian a lot! 
  • Can't do a full set of push ups...those are HARD!
  • Abdominal exercises relatively easy as well
  • -Bad diet day - eating chocolate all day long because we decorated our Christmas tree today. Hopefully the new Weight Watchers program will help get me back on track
Day 2
  • Sore today before working out but it didn't really hinder my workout.
  • Even worse diet day!
Day 3
  • I didn't sleep well last night because Layla was up a lot. I slept in spurts from 12am - 4am. I was really dying to skip the workout today but I pushed through it.
  • After working out I found I was sore in my lower back but otherwise feeling good.
  • Workout is feeling easier already!!! I could actually do the push ups!
Day 4
  • Despite sleeping and eating well - I found the workout very challenging today. Not sure if it is because I worked out for 4 straight days, but it was a challenge, even doing the cardio today
Day 5
  • Similar to Day 4, I had a really hard time working out - not sure why Level 1 is killing me so badly lately.
Day 6
  • Despite feeling sluggish during the workout, I am finding that the strength training is getting easier and I am not feeling challenged - going to bump it up to Level 2 tomorrow...I am scared!
Day 7
  • Level 2 today! 
  • KILL ME is SO hard. I tried to follow the beginner modifications but I couldn't finish every set. 
  • The squats worked my thighs so badly that I found them too tender to do the cardio - going to not work myself as hard on the squats - there is no need to do a complete squat right off the bat if it is hindering the rest of my workout!
  • Notice my arms are more toned. My legs also feel tighter. The abdominals....well....lets just say 2 kids haven't been kind to them. I can see the obliques behind the loose skin but it will take time to get them where they should be. I should also note that I had a diastasis of the abdominal muscles with Layla's pregnancy and it is still there - perhaps an inch of separation between my muscles. It was much worse (about 2 inches of separation), but I had read that doing abdominal exercises with a diastasis is actually a bad idea - so I did put these exercises off as long as I could.
Here, I will admit I took 2 days off. Sorry! I know that is bad but I took the first day off because Layla fell off the change table and I was too worried about her all day to really concentrate on working out. I took the next day off, just because I was feeling lazy - Keith also gave me my Wii workout that day so I ditched the rest of the 30 day shred. 

After talking to Keith, I realized I have to finish what I started so today I was back on the Shred and did my second day of Level 2:

Day 8
  • Mad at myself for taking 2 days off - I would be on Day 10 by now if I hadn't done that!!!
  • I decided before I began that I would follow the modified exercises until I found those easy and then do them "normal". 
  • Despite finding myself doing a full squat, yet again, I found it much easier when I didn't push it, and allowed myself to do the modification for some exercises (note: I didn't modify them all - mostly just the moves that involved plank position). 
  • I wasn't too sore afterwards but I do have a bad knot in my left shoulder blade that led to a migraine after working out. 
  • I don't know that I will master Level 2 in the 30 days, so I doubt I will ever make it to Level 3! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Trust and other things

I am preparing to go back to work early. Instead of taking my full year maternity leave, I am going back in January, when Layla is 8.5 months old.

I am not struggling with the idea of being away from my babies - although I do have my moments of sadness as I look at Layla nursing, or when I am having a quiet cuddle with Noah - I am struggling with the loss of control over the caring for the children.

Keith is a fantastic father - he loves his kids with every ounce of his being. He cares for them, plays with them and nurtures them. I know he will do a great job, but for some reason, I am having a lot of trouble believing that it will be ok when I am not around.

More than once I have found myself, pen in hand, ready to write out our daily schedule of how things get done:
-Brush Noah's teeth and hair before he goes to school
-Feed Layla no later than one hour before her nap

I have very specific guidelines and a pretty tight schedule of how things run when I am home with the kids. Yet, I have stopped myself a million times from writing it all out because I know that they will figure this stuff out for themselves.

I blame part of my controlling nature on being a nurse. As a nurse, I was very organized, scheduled and had my own way of doing things. I know that my colleagues were the same way: in the morning I would walk into my patients' rooms and reorganize their bedside table of supplies. After my shift, the next nurse would do her own thing and when I came back in the next day, I would have to redo what I had done the day before. We all had our own way of doing things - but did that stop my complaining about reorganizing the rooms? No way....

Yesterday I was at the toy store, buying some stuff for Christmas and I found myself in the bottle section. I am having a lot of trouble grasping the fact that Layla will be bottle fed during the day. I know many children breast and bottle feed quite well - but I know that won't be the case for us. Layla is, and always has been, an impatient nurser. She doesn't like to wait for the let-down and she will have a fit in the process of waiting, which makes the let-down even slower. So, I know once she gets a bottle, she will be in heaven. I have a feeling she will wean herself off shortly after that.

We have a lot of bottles at home because I was a bridesmaid when Noah was 5 months old, and he refused every bottle on the market. Since Layla will be older when she gets her bottles, we will need bigger bottles and nipples. While in the toy store, I stared at the multitude of bottles available. I am completely clueless: I have never bottle fed either of my kids. I didn't know the size of bottle, the type of nipple, or anything. I was near tears in this process so I BBM'd my brother for help, as he bottle fed his kids once they were no longer nursing. I began wondering if I also needed a bottle warmer, or more nipples, or more bottles. Here I was being controlling and untrusting. I stepped back and told myself that Keith was more than capable of coming to the store and getting what he needed, once he figured out what he would need. There was no need for me to buy it all.

Thus, with three weeks until I return to work, I have decided to believe that the family will figure things out on their own - I didn't instinctively know that Layla does best if she naps at 9am and 1pm - I found out by trial and error. Things will be rocky for a little while f while they find their own groove, but I am sure they will find it. Teeth may get forgotten, reflux medications may be given late, and naps may be shortened for a while, but over time they will figure it out.

The only thing I am forcing us to work on before I go back to work is bottles - I want Keith to try to do naps with bottles on the weekend (hey, you can't change me completely!). I think it would be nuts to go back to work without knowing if she can (or will) take a bottle of breastmilk before a nap.

In truth, despite my worries, I am actually excited to get back to work. I miss my office mates and I miss the hour-long train commute in - where I get to read and just be alone and quiet. I am also super excited for Keith to have this experience. As much as it kills me to leave my kids early, I really really want this to be a fun experience for Keith. I want them to have lots of bonding time and I want him to be able to feed one of his kids as they fall asleep in his arms. I want their relationship to grow even closer as they spend unlimited time together. In truth, I also want Keith to know what my life is like as a stay-at-home mom during mat leave. It is not always easy, there isn't always time for me to nap, and at times I want to pull my hair out....and I want him to experience that, good and bad.

I had a friend tell me that paternity leave is a great experience for a marriage, and I really believe that. I think we will both grow in this experience: I will learn how to trust him more and how to give up some control; Keith will learn how to be there for the kids 100% of the time and all that entails.

So wish us luck as we embark on this journey!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

30 day shred

I have had a bit of a rocky weight loss journey since having kids: before Noah I was on hormones to get pregnant or induce menstruation, so I gained 10 pounds before getting pregnant. After that pregnancy, I had just hit my pre-pregnancy weight, when I found out I was pregnant with Layla. It took me 14 months to loose the baby weight, but I was still unhappy with my weight because of those lingering 10 pounds (which, lets be honest - is a lot of weight on a short girl!).

So when I had Layla, I was sick of feeling overweight for so long - so I chose to start Weight Watchers at 5 weeks postpartum.

The program is very manageable when you are nursing - and I would often have "second dessert" much to Keith's horror. Despite the multitude of desserts, there was never a week that my weight went up. It went down...down...down...down past those lingering 10 pounds. By the time I was about 4 months post partum I had lost a total of 32 pounds. I kept it off for 6 weeks and made lifetime status.

During the weight loss, I took up running again with Keith. I used to be a sprinter in high school and after high school I took up running as my favourite way to work out. Since I had babies back-to-back, I chose to start slow with the Couch to 5K program. Once I got up to 5k, I kept that up three times a week until recently....I got bored.

Once I hit lifetime status, I have not been eating well - falling into old habits. I haven't gained weight, but I have been fluctuating in a close range. However, I hate that I am not being healthy because I feel sick when I eat poorly during the day. I found weight loss the easy part - maintaing it is absolutely brutal!

Weight Watchers is starting their new program this week so I hope to feel motivated again to be healthy. I am also starting work in January, so that will present me with new challenges with my diet and exercise routine, so I need all the help I can get.  Also, once back at work I loose points because I am not going to be nursing Layla around the clock. A 5 point loss is going to be hard!

I had Jillian Michaels, 30 day shred DVD in my house, so I decided to give that a whirl.

It is 30 straight days of exercise, based on the principle of muscle confusion. It is a short workout (so very do-able for a busy mom) but it is absolutely brutal - because you can't have big results if you don't work hard for them. 20 minutes isn't a long workout, so you have to work those 20 minutes to the max! I figured this DVD would give me a short term goal to aspire to, and hopefully motivate me again.

I am going to keep a blog of the month I do the shred, and post weekly reports. I took my measurements so I can keep track of my progress. I probably won't track my weight since I think my body has hit it's ideal weight, but I will keep track of inches lost because I really need to tone up.

Today is day 3 of the workout and I was already thinking up excuses why I should skip the 20 min routine, but typing this post has reminded me that I shouldn't - and if I blog about it, I am being held accountable. It is going to be a bit tough at times since I have a baby who hates to sleep some nights, but I will try to not skip a day...Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

First one is glass....

Ever since Noah came into our lives, I have been considered a "helicopter parent" - you know, the kind of parent who just hovers over her child and secretly wishes she could put him into a big bubble and save him from everything bad that could happen to him. Given all we have been through with Noah, can you blame me?!?!

People would constantly mock me and tell me that while I treat Noah like glass, I will treat our future children like plastic - be more lenient and easygoing....

Have these people met me?!?! The worst part of this is that it is my own family telling me this! HA! I am not just a helicopter parent because of Noah's health care issues....I am just obsessive and anxious by nature! I am a germ-a-phobe and a worrier - these things combined make a lethal combination of helicopter'ing.

Ok, so I am a bit more lenient with Layla: I don't make every ounce of her baby food from scratch and if her soother falls on the ground I don't sterilize it immediately; but for the most part, I still treat her the exact same way I did with Noah.

I am sure, if we ever have more children, I will treat them all like glass: they will be considered my own little china shop...
...and I will be the bull running through it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My father's wish...

Growing up, my father would always say to me, "I hope you have four little girls...just like you". Awww - sounds sweet doesn't it? That is, until you find out he was saying it to me out of exacerbation!

And so, many years later my father gets his wish: I am 2 for 2.

My two children, while they may look like Hemingways, are infuriatingly Spilka's! I am mostly talking about their stubborn streak, their temper and the fact that they are mean when hungry.

Ok, mostly I am talking about their tempers and stubbornness. Layla is so much like me that I fear we won't get along when she is a teen. There are days where she is having such a tantrum that I just throw my hands up and say, "Arg! I can't deal with is like dealing with myself!" - and I drive myself crazy!

Today, for example, Noah had to put his shoes away in the cubby at school. He refused to use two hands to pick them up - and so I had to watch as he was determined to move two shoes at once, with one small hand, into the cubby. Once I told him he "had" to use two hands, he simply wouldn't.

Sometimes Noah will throw himself dramatically onto the couch to cry over something he is not allowed to do/have and I just roll my eyes because I did that the night before to Keith over something that I couldn't do/have.

Luckily Layla is still a baby so her Spilka-like nature is minimal right now, but believe me it is there!

The person I feel the worst for is Keith - he is surrounded by me (and not my best qualities, I should add). Thank goodness he is a kind and patient man, because he handles it all very well. Nothing really ruffles his feathers. I think he is in for a treat as the kids age and one day become difficult teenagers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hoarding Maternity Leave

While I was pregnant with Layla, I finished my Master's degree and promised Keith I would look for work starting in January (when she was 9 months old).  I have been hoping to find a job that would use my Master's degree, and thus get me more money and a different nursing experience. I figure the hunt for the appropriate job will take a while. If I happened to find work early, we have been toying with the idea of Keith taking the rest of my year leave.

Now that Layla is nearly 7 months old, I am going back and forth over whether or not to return to work. You see, I am hoarding my maternity leave! With Noah, I went back to school when he was 8 months old and I always resented that and wanted to have a full year unburdened by school or work. However, I did promise Keith he could have some time off with the kids, if the opportunity presented itself.

I find, as a society, women hoard their maternity leave. Yes, flame me if you will - but lets be honest here: mom's get the final say regarding the maternity leave. Why do mom's feel they hold the control over "allowing" the husband to have some time off with his kids? In Quebec, there is a paternity leave the men can take that cannot be transferred to the mother. How fantastic is that? True, many men don't want to take the paternity leave, either because of the stigma associated with it, the inflexible nature of their jobs, or even the fear of taking care of the children all alone. Whatever the reason, many men do not want to take that time off...which is fine by the women!

That said, what if the father does want time off with his children? Why does he have to ask the mother for that time? Why is there fear in his voice when he mentions it? What is it about women that we feel we have to hold on to that full year for ourselves? Is it because we have to recover from birth? Heck, I was recovered a week later! Is it because we are breastfeeding? My extensive essay writing on breastfeeding indicates that a very small minority of Canadian women actually breastfeed past 4 months - so that can't be it!

I certainly don't have the answer, but I can tell you why I flip back and forth between "allowing" Keith to take the final months of my leave. First and foremost - I am selfish! I want that time with the kids! I like the lazy days that Layla and I have together. I enjoy my time with Noah, colouring and making forts. With Noah's maternity leave, I watched a lot of television because there was nothing to do around my area. Now, I never watch a television program for myself and a whole day can go by without an email check!

Secondly, I am afraid of what returning to work will do for my breastfeeding relationship. I am very pro-breastfeeding (I wasn't lying when I said I have written numerous essays on the topic!). I nursed Noah until he self-weaned at 16 months when I was pregnant with Layla. Nursing Layla has been a fight from day 1. She honestly doesn't seem to like nursing all that much and she is a master at the bottle. I never give her a bottle for fear she will prefer it. I know she will - and thus, returning to work likely will mean an early wean. I will continue to pump and provide her breastmilk in the bottle, but it isn't the same. There is something about holding a baby close to you, while they look you in the eye and stroke your face (or, in Layla's case: claw at your face and mouth and then giggle). Can you get that same experience through the bottle? Of course - but something about breastfeeding is very near and dear to me and it breaks me up that she will wean early (and believe me - she will!)

Thirdly, I am afraid of what it will do for my relationship with the kids. Any job I may find will be an hour and a half commute - I won't see the kids much during the week. I have done this before, when Noah was a year old and we adjusted just fine. Layla however, is going to bed at 6pm lately, so there may be days I don't see her at all! However, this relationship aspect is what Keith always uses to drive home why he needs that time on paternity leave - afterall, he has always had to work and come home with only a few hours to see the children. It won't make the kids hate me or resent me - but down the road I worry it might, no matter how silly that fear may be.

Finally, I am afraid of missing out. I hate that I won't be around all day long to see Layla's firsts. I will get over this, of course. Noah, for example, took his first steps at daycare and I was happy and proud of him; not sad that I missed it. Yet, a part of me wants to fall on the floor sobbing at missing these events with the kids.

However, all of my fears and hesitancies can be used as arguments as to why Keith should be able to take that time with the kids too. He never got that time with Noah, and I can hardly tell him he can't take that time with his own children! Do I think he is capable? Sure! I think it will be a large learning curve for us both to flip roles, but I certainly think he will do a fantastic job. No one plays hide and seek as well as he does!

So will I go back to work early? Probably - I feel it will be good for us. A friend of mine told me that it strengthens the marriage as it allows the husband to realize what a day at home with two kids is like, with no breaks or help; and I will get to realize what it is like to come home and have two kids thrust at me and allow him time to check his email and just have some alone time.

Now, to find work.....

Monday, November 1, 2010

In her own room...

We did it! Finally! Layla now sleeps/naps in her own room!

We made "the big move" from beside our bed, to her room this weekend. Keith was not happy that I took his little girl away but I tried to explain that the older she got, the harder it would be!

We set up her room nicely - it was painted green with a dragonfly wall decal on it. It is very pretty. We had to use some room darkening blinds - which were hand-me-downs, and not very pretty - but they are functional! They do a lovely job.

Setting up her video monitor was more of a challenge because we had been propping it on the side of her crib until we went to bed, then I took it down. I didn't want to leave it on her bed for obvious strangulation fears - so we had to move the bookcase closer to the bed (which seems like another hazard when she gets older - but is fine for now).

Her room was also very cold - so Keith bought a safe space heater for her room that kept it at 21 degrees last night and it was very comfortable.

The first night was rough: I was going to her over 10 times that night. She wasn't up more than normal - she feeds 2x and then the rest of the time was to put the soother in. However, when she was beside me, I could put her soother back in and fall back into bed. Now, I have to get out of bed and walk across the hall. That wakes a person up! Thankfully, my fantastic husband let me sleep in that morning and watched the kids. It was his turn to sleep-in so I was very appreciative.

Last night was much better. She got up three times: 2x to feed, once to have a soother put in. However, after her last feed at 4am, she thought it was time to party. I left her in her crib for 45 min's: during which time, she thought it was party time! She babbled and talked. Finally Keith suggested I bring her to bed with us - she loves this and sleeps great. Sure enough, she fell asleep immediately and slept until nearly 8am!

Even Noah slept in - he was up at 7:45, which is very strange for him! He is a 5am kid for sure.

The trials of raising a "shy" kid

I hate to use the word "shy" - I try to not use it around him for fear he will label himself as such, but there is no getting around it: Noah is shy. It has its challenges, but for the most part shyness is easy to overcome by providing some extra time for him to warm up to the situation.

However, Halloween was a struggle.

In this respect, Noah reminded me of my brother (who has always hated getting dressed up for Halloween). We had to force Noah into his Halloween costume, he really didn't want to wear it. It was as if he was embarrassed to be wearing something out of the ordinary. I felt terrible about it (no matter how cute he looked). We got Layla dressed up too, with hopes that he would see that it is normal to wear a costume on this day! We had to force him out the door and I literally carried him door to door (he didn't refuse so long as he was being carried). When someone would open their door, he would cast his eyes down and pout. We just made him go to the neighbours around us, because they like to see the kids dressed up. When we got home, I felt terrible  for forcing him to do something he clearly didn't want to do!

So I ask you: what do you do? With Noah, he is shy to try new things, but that doesn't mean that he won't like it eventually. Kindergym is one of his favourite activities - at first he clung to Keith for the whole class; now he is comfortable and has a great time. How would we know if he likes something if we don't get passed his initial hesitancy?

As Noah grows, we will have to respect his wishes for not wanting to go Trick or Treating, but that will come with challenges too, as he wonders why he can't eat his sister's candy (as I am sure Layla will love Halloween - she was smiling at everyone in her costume yesterday!)

We really hate making Noah so upset in these situations but we have to try to see if he really hates it or if it is just because it is a new experience. I suspect the need to wear a costume is even further incentive for him to hate Halloween though...

Keith's pumpkin

My pumpkin

Layla's pumpkin - that is a soother in it's mouth!

Noah's pumpkin

Noah stealing OUR candy!

Our beautiful butterfly!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween crafts

Noah is really into Halloween this year. They must have been talking about it a lot at daycare this week. He has asked to get pumpkins, put faces on the pumpkins and watch his favourite Toopy and Binoo Halloween episodes repeatedly. Of course, this doesn't mean he will willingly put on his fireman costume (he keeps telling me he is going to be batman for Halloween, but I am not about to buy a second costume, when he doesn't even know who batman is!). In fact, I anticipate a big fuss and a lot of tears over getting him into the costume.

To help keep the spirit alive, I have decided that we should bake some sugar cookies and decorate them in halloween themed items. However, when I looked at my cookie cutters, all I have are Christmas ones. So Keith and I came up with the idea of taking the gingerbread man cutter and making zombies and monsters.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows I don't have a creative bone in my body (aside from the ability to play musical instruments), so I have a feeling this is going to turn into a batch of gingerbread men with splotches of icing and sprinkles on them - but at least he will have fun doing it. I will post photos once we are done...prepare to laugh!

Ah, that turned out to be great fun with Noah! What a great Saturday afternoon project for toddlers. I can't wait until Layla is old enough to participate!

Noah had so much fun decorating the cookies - then eating them immediately after! We ended up not doing zombies and monsters - due to my limited skills and cookie cutters. Instead, I would ask him what each teddy bear or gingerbread cutout was going to be for halloween.  I was very impressed with his suggestions!

Here are the results (By the way, we both feel sick now from the amount of cookies and icing we have consumed!):

Noah getting started

Very serious!

Enjoying the results of his work

A princess and Noah's "blue bear" dressed as a ghost!

Conjoined nurse twins

Noah's bear, "Mrs. Wiggins"

Noah chose to dress this teddy in a green outfit

Brown bear

Noah's other teddy, "blue bear"

A pirate

"Blue bear" dressed as a pumpkin


Mommy's bears/gingerbread men

Noah's teddy bears/gingerbread men (Note: There were more but he ate them!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bedtime Battles

Our current battle with Noah is bedtime. We have always had a consistent bedtime and routine. This has really helped him, and we have never fought over when bedtime is: he knows that after dinner, we wash our hands and face and head upstairs. If we are done dinner early, he plays upstairs. If we are late, he goes right to bath. Brushing his teeth and bath are always at 7-7:15. Right after, we do diaper, PJs, stories, bed.

Since Layla's arrival, our schedule gets a bit more complicated because she is usually ready for bed at 6-6:30, which means that if we are done dinner early, he can't play upstairs because he likes to run around all the rooms playing hide and seek or "sleeping bunnies" (a game that involves Noah and Keith laying on the ground sleeping, until I say "WAKE UP!" and they hop around).

We have tried every combination of activities to figure out what works best, because Noah seems to need that run after dinner to burn off his excess energy (especially on days he isn't at daycare). We have tried having dinner later, giving Layla a fourth nap to keep her up later, having dinner earlier, playing downstairs instead of upstairs. However, the result is always the same: he fights us constantly with every step. He won't brush, he won't floss, he won't get into the tub, he won't put a diaper on, he won't put PJs on, he won't get into bed. This is very frustrating for us because Noah is such a creature of habit, and the one thing Noah has always been good at is bedtime!

We know it is because his routine has been disrupted, but more than that - after reading Alyson Shafer's book, "Honey, I wrecked the kids", I realize that Noah is ready to control more of his bedtime. According to this book, Noah is challenging us with a power struggle. Children don't like to be told to do things, as they would rather be given choice in order to control their outcomes. To test out her theory, we gave it a shot: First we asked Noah where he wanted to read stories (we had been reading them in bed, all cuddled up together, but he had been fighting this) and we now read them on the chair in his room, as per his request.

Another big struggle was getting him into bed after stories. So a few days ago I told Keith that Alyson Shafer would suggest we just turn out the lights and let him choose where he sleeps - even if it is on the floor! The other night we decided to try it. We gave him a kiss, Keith sat down with our iPad, and I turned out the lights. Keith said he stayed out of bed, but after a short time he picked up his teddy bears and head to bed on his own! It worked!!!

Now that I have a bit more faith that Noah is capable of controlling certain aspects of bedtime, I have to figure out how to get him to do the more challenging aspects of bedtime: Teeth and bath. We have tried offering him a tooth brushing while IN the bath or after the bath - that helps a bit, but flossing is a nightmare. Honestly, if he wasn't a cardiac patient, I wouldn't even bother with his flossing right now - it just isn't worth the battle - but I don't want him to get an infection that can impact his heart. So, I actually have no idea how to give him choice in teeth - but I am still reading the book (for the tenth time - I keep coming back to it when we encounter a new challenge).

Bath could happen in the morning, I suppose. However, on days he is at daycare, I have a small window of time to get him out the door between Layla waking up and her first nap - so I don't know that morning bath would work better. I know that he would take the bath more willingly if it happened at another time, though.

Finally, diaper...Why does he refuse to put it on at night? He runs around his room hopping and won't let us put it on. What a battle! We offer him the choice of where to put it on but it doesn't work anymore. So that is another battle we need to fix. I mean, there is no choice - he needs to have it on for bed since he isn't potty what to do? The other day he peed on the floor while we were waiting for him to allow us to do his diaper, but it didn't phase him.

The parenting book is fantastic (and Canadian!) - I highly recommend it to any parent, as it covers all issues from infants to teens. I think it will get a lot of wear and tear! Here is a link to the book for those who are interested!

Finally, here are some photos from our bedtime play (older photos - probably a year ago):
Sock puppet time!

Hide and seek in the curtains

Running from bath

He used to think if he was against the wall, you couldn't see him!

Daddy and Noah, running away to hide from me

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All about Layla

Layla was a surprise pregnancy...the result of two people believing themselves to be infertile! At the time I got pregnant, Noah was 14 months old, I had just returned to work and was finishing up my Master's degree. We always said if we somehow conceived on our own it would be a wonderful blessing. This is how Layla Grace came into our lives.

The day I found out I was pregnant, I had gone to work with a suspicion that I was pregnant. I went to a drug store on the way into work and grabbed a test. Keith and Noah had an appointment at Sick Kids, so I knew they were going to meet me afterwards. I went out to meet them and couldn’t keep it in, “I’m pregnant”. Keith looked as shocked as a human could look! He just stared at me. Part of his shock is largely due to the fact that a few weeks before, we had sat down and had a serious discussion about when to return to the fertility clinic. We were trying to time it around Noah’s age, the end of my Master’s program, finding a new job and saving money before going back onto maternity leave. Life had other plans. 

Layla's pregnancy was very easy and very different from Noah's. Keith and I just knew that it was going to be a healthy pregnancy and it was - short of taking a fall on ice at work one day!

Layla was supposed to be named "Grace Elizabeth" as we had that name picked out for a long time. "Grace" was picked because I liked it, more so than the meaning. "Elizabeth" was after Keith's grandmother. However, one day Keith came home and said that he thought Grace was too common lately and after naming Noah (whose name is in the top 5 names right now), we didn't want to have the same problems we are encountering with Noah at daycare (there are three Noah's in his small class right now!). He met a little girl at Noah's gym class named Layla and said how much he liked the name. Once he was into changing her name, I searched high and low for other names but he hated them all because in his mind, she was his little Layla already. Of course, since choosing this name, I have heard of three new babies named Layla and haven't heard of a single who knows. We chose to use the name Grace as a middle name and for some reason, I can't stop calling her Layla Grace - rather than just Layla. Keith loves to call her L.G. and Noah...well Noah likes to call her "baby".

Layla was born a month before Noah's second birthday. Her birth story is actually quite humourous - many of you have read it already but I will post it here too because I think it was an amusing situation.

So far Layla is very healthy. She is a big baby - off the charts in all respects, but she definitely has a different personality than Noah. She is my "spirited child". She knows what she wants and when she doesn't get it - watch out! She has developed a disturbing deep and husky growl when she is frustrated - it is hilarious to hear. She is a great sleeper but her naps have always been a challenge. Worry about naps consumes so much of my time I am sure it will get it's own blog post.

Layla and Noah are opposites in every way thus far: 
  • Noah ate all day long when he nursed; Layla is in-and-out in 10 min's
  • Noah was quiet; Layla is very vocal
  • We never had to baby proof with Noah - he just was told not to do something and he wouldn't...I have already caught Layla chewing through cords (time to baby proof!)
  • You could leave Noah to amuse himself; If Layla doesn't have constant attention she is furious!
I find it very hard not to compare them. I want them to each be their own person without comparison, but I think it is just natural to compare. Layla is more of a needy baby who, at times, makes me question my desire to have more kids! Yet, she isn't a fussy or colicky baby - she is just very demanding of time and attention. It is because of her spirited nature that she is also one of the most loving and fascinating babies I have ever met (of course, I have a slight bias here). Her smile is so infectious, she can make a whole room smile and stop talking to stare at her (believe me - I have seen this happen at my weekly Weight Watcher meetings). She really is a wonderful baby!

I think the biggest challenge we will encounter raising Layla, is helping her grow up without resentment for Noah's ailments and the attention they inevitably receive: good or bad, attention is attention - and I fear that it may have repercussions on her childhood and her relationship with her brother. I have witnessed this first hand at the bedside, and I have no idea how to avoid it. We try to treat Noah as normally as we can, however on some level we will always baby him a bit, even if we don't try to - when you go through what we did with your child, it is hard not to baby them!

Conversely, we feel that Noah's health issues have given us a unique perspective when it comes to appreciating the children and enjoying every minute of their lives.

Layla is still sleeping in our room - we moved her crib beside my bed when she outgrew the playpen. Thank goodness we have a huge room and can't afford to properly furnish it! So our next job is to get her into her own room. Right now I am working on getting her naps in the crib. Currently we either co-nap, or I nurse her to sleep on our bed and leave her there. I am day 4 into this experiment and so far she is doing ok. Every now and then she stays on our bed, but I am really trying to help her learn to nap in her crib.

Layla has also started solids. She loves them some days, hates them on really depends on her mood. As I said, she is spirited! 

Anyway, here is her shortened birth story (also posted on FB), and I am going to post photos after it of our gorgeous blue eyed girl!

Layla's Birth Story

April 17th, 9pm: Keith and I are watching TV and I keep getting intermittent pains. They were quite uncomfortable, so I tell Keith and go upstairs to have a shower to make them go away. I feel much better after the shower, but when I get downstairs, Keith is clutching the phone. We then proceed to argue about whether or not I am in labour or if I just have gas! He wanted to call his mom to come up because she had a long drive, but I wanted to wait because I really didn’t feel it was labour (I was, after all, a few days early!). We argue all until bedtime, at 10pm. I tell him that he can’t call his mom and if I do in fact go into labour that night, he is not to say, “I told you so”.

10:20pm: We shut out the light, and I get a contraction. To tell if it is a Braxton hicks contraction or not, I decide to get up out of bed and walk it off – as soon as I get up, my water breaks! I run to the bathroom yelling, “Call your mom!”.

I can hear him on the phone with his mom: “It’s go time! Her water broke……Yes…..come now…..Her water broke!.....HER WATER BROKE!” (clearly it took a few tries to get the message across)

My contractions never really kicked in, so I go to bed. I was up every 15 min's with contractions, but they didn't get any stronger or closer together...just more annoying than painful.

April 18th, 6am: I get up with Noah and my mother-in-law is shocked to see us still at the house. My contractions are getting further apart so I call triage, who tell me to call the OB on call (who just happens to be my own OB). She suggests I go to the hospital (but don’t rush there), where she promises she won’t send me home because too much time has passed since my water broke the night before.

8am: We arrive at the hospital. We are the only ones in triage so we are seen immediately. The nurse hooks me up to the fetal monitor and leaves us to our own devices. I nap off and on, since I didn’t sleep well the night before. Finally a doctor comes to see us around 10am (I had missed my own OB who went off-call by 7am). She said they will admit me but I ask her to check me. She didn’t want to, but I insisted – I am 3cm dilated at this point.

10am: Keith and I walk the halls and I try the exercise ball to get labour going, but contractions totally stopped by now. The nurse asks me if I will want an epidural – she anticipated my labour would come on hard and fast with the pitocin because I had a fast labour with Noah. She suggested it might be easier and better to do the epidural before the pitocin – I agree. So we spend the next hour waiting around for the anaesthetist to do the epidural.

11:30: Got the epidural - I felt like such a weakling getting an epidural before I had any real contractions, but with Noah’s birth, the epidural didn’t take, so I knew what labour felt like and I wasn’t eager to feel it again! The doctor assured me many people do it this way and made me feel less stupid for asking for it so early.

I did not like how I felt once I had the epidural. I felt faint and nauseated from being numb. It wasn’t related to my blood pressure, which was fine. It was all in my head – I couldn’t get past how awful it felt to have numb legs and bum. I think because I didn’t relish the relief an epidural can bring when in active labour – I basically got it with no pain at all – so it really felt weird to me.

12:45: Started the oxytocin

13:15: Contractions 4-6 min’s apart, increasing in strength. I didn’t feel a thing so I napped a bit off an on.

15:19: Contractions 2.5 min’s apart. Starting to shiver – likely in transition at this point. The nurse kept increasing my drip because my body would react well initially but then it would seem to get used to the level of drugs and slow down again.

15:30: Increased my pitocin again.

16:15: I had asked the nurse if they could check me because I was shivering but couldn’t feel an urge to push. I had been on the drip for about 3.5 hours and I wasn’t convinced I would feel the need to push. They told me I would but I had convinced them to check me anyway. Lo and behold – I am 10cm! Who knows how long I was 10cm for because I really couldn’t feel a thing. My bum was very numb.

All of a sudden I am VERY nervous. I didn’t feel any pain with the labour and I didn’t have the urge to push so the thought of just pushing with no urge, made me scared. So I begged the doctors and nurse to take their time setting up, so I could calm down a bit. I start shivering big time but this time it is related to my nerves. I did however, have another nap as the doctors tended to another labour (at my request).

17:23: I can feel the contractions enough now to know when to push. I pushed three times with each contraction, despite feeling quite ill with each contraction. After 2 contractions they had to call the doctors because her head was right there. I didn’t really realize how close it was because I didn’t feel a thing!

The nurse called in the resident, fellow and staff into our closet of a room, and I begged them not stretch me to accommodate the head – they all laughed. Then I told the nurse that if I threaten to punch her, not to take it seriously.

I push once and I hear “STOP!”. I stop and ask “WHY? What is going on down there?’. They laughed and said “The head it out!”. I am shocked because I really didn’t feel it! (I should point out that Layla's head remains, to this day, enormous! At 33 weeks, her head was the size of a full-term infant)

Then I push one more time and out she came flying! I had pushed for 9 min’s – most of which was waiting around for contractions or doctors! All in all it was 3 contractions.

Layla Grace was born at 17:32 – 4.75 hours after being induced.

Here are photos of our beautiful Layla Grace:

Layla after birth
24 hours old - going home! 
First family photo! 
10 days old
This photo always make me laugh!
Big brother holding his new sister
1 month
Right from the start, she has clutched a blanket when sleeping

This is how she slept for months!
3.5 months
3.5 months
Another photo that I find hilarious!
4 months
Playing in the leaves with Noah
Modeling her Baby Legs
5 months
5.5 months
Party time in her diaper!
First food
And just like that...she takes a sippy cup. No problem!