Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adlerian principles for children

It is rare that we have a big discipline issue with our kids, specifically with Noah. He is, by nature, fair and "unreasonably reasonable" for a 3 year old. Since his surgery, we cut him a bit of slack and backed off our parenting a bit with him since he had enough going on. This was also recommended by our cardiac team as children tend to regress behaviourally during these tough times.

Recently, as he is clearly feeling better, we have gotten back into our parenting and it is being met with a bit of resistance. Keith and I try very hard to parent by the Adlerian principles touted by parenting expert, Alyson Schafer:
  • Treat family members with mutual respect
  • Utilize encouragement
  • Highlight feelings of security for children
  • Rewards and punishment are ineffective
  • Natural consequences will serve as a teaching tool (i.e. you jump on the couch and fall - well that is what happens when you jump on the couch)
  • Logical consequences are not arbitrary - they are direct and logical (i.e. If you don't want to join us at the table for dinner, that is ok - but this is the only dinner being served and when it is over, it's over)
  • Don't interfere in children's fights (i.e. kids are arguing over a toy - they should learn to work it out themselves)
  • Take the time to teach children essential skills and habits - not in the heat of a conflict
  • Never do for a child what he can do for himself
  • The four goals of misbehaviour: attention-seeking; power; revenge; assumed inadequacy
  • Ensure family members are an equal voice in issues and finding a resolution
  • Catch your child being good!
This parenting philosophy is fantastic and really does help our children feel they are a vital member of the family, yet it is difficult. I say that because when you are engaged in a power-struggle with a toddler, it is very hard to not let your emotions guide your actions. You are supposed to parent in a judgement-free manner and be a comfort and support to your child.

For example, one of Noah's biggest power struggles right now is getting back to dressing himself. The Alderian principle states Never do for a child what he can do for himself. So by that reasoning, he is very capable of putting on his own pants, underwear and socks. So in the morning we lay them out and ask him to get dressed. Sometimes, he is feeling he needs to be coddled a bit more so he will freak out and cry and scream for help. Now, we have no problem helping him with some of it....if he asks nicely. So we will reinforce that. I think that goes against this principle a bit but I have a hard time telling him I won't help him if he asks me nicely and respectfully.

The last week he has taken to screeching and screaming loudly when he is very upset or frustrated. It is in these moments that we have a hard time keeping our cool. I went to Alyson Schafer's new book for guidance: "Ain't Misbehavin'" as it has a section on tantrums. Tantrums come from a child locked in a power-struggle, meaning that ultimately, to stop these, we have to help him gain more control over his own choices. For example, I have noticed he wants to get his own spoon out of the drawer for his breakfast or help us make his those are small examples of how he is able to take more control. Yet, it is clear there is more control he needs to be we need to find out where we can improve.
In the meantime, while a child is in mid-tantrum - the best thing to do is offer comfort if it is needed, but remove yourself (not banish them to a corner). I got the perfect chance this morning:

Noah and Layla were having breakfast and I asked them if they wanted an apple (they are apple-crazy lately and have one every morning on the ride into school and evening). They refused. We carried on and Noah was just heading to his carseat when he noticed he didn't have an apple. He wanted one and I had to remind him that he had said he didn't want one and we were now in the car. The time for choosing was over. He LOST it - screeching and screaming and getting right in my face and yelling. I calmly told him that when he was done screaming I would come into the car. I closed his door and waited outside of the car. He calmed down nearly instantly. I got in the car and while I should have left it at that, I felt the need to discuss why that voice was inappropriate and asked him to apologize. This is actually not in the parenting philosophy at all, which states: never teach children essential skills and habits in the heat of conflict. I also gave in and got an apple once he asked me nicely.

Again, wrong move....I almost got it right!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The development of speech

As Layla gets older (she is now 18 months), her tantrums are greatly reducing. We believe this is largely due to her speech development. She has quite a large range of words and is now putting together simple two-word sentences ("Hi daddy" or "Mine mommy" or "No thankyou").

Keith and I speak to the children properly. We don't use short forms or baby talk. Noah has been followed by a SLP since his infancy so we know how to speak to a child properly. That being said, it is strange how speech develops. Often, children come up with their own words for things. For example, Layla will often refer to her soother as a "soo". Clearly a shortform of the longer word we use for the pacifier. She will eventually master the full word, so this is the mid-point.

That said, where do they come up with some baby words?!?! For example, Layla refers to her baby blanket (and sometimes her soother) as her "nana". She isn't the first baby to refer to a lovey or soother with this word. My neice calls her soother a "nana" as well. I am not really sure where this came from - we still refer to her blanket and soother with the proper words (although I do find myself now asking her where her nana is). She clearly made up the word herself and labelled the objects consistently with this word. I find it very interesting. I would love to know the reasoning behind this.

She also has taken to using the word "No" a lot  but refuses to say "yes". She does, however nod - which helps.

Another confusing aspect of speech development is her ability to say different names. To her, everyone is "Layla" (except mommy and daddy). Yet, if you ask her to give an object to a specific person, she will do it right, 100% of the time. At first I thought she was goofing around by calling Noah by her own name, but she has been doing this for months now!

Infant development is amazing. I find daycare fast tracks their development, especially when surrounded by older peers. Noah, for example, is learning french and both children are continually expanding their sign language skills. As fun as it is to watch them grow-up, I am always a bit sad when they learn to say a word properly. Noah used to refer to himself as "wo-wa" and I really miss that! But to see how clearly he can articulate his thoughts and feelings is amazing. Yet, you continually run into ways his speech is still limited by his age. For example, if he is mad he will say "I'm not feeling happy...I'm mad". It is a more roundabout way to say what he really means.

Of course, along with developed speech comes more complex reasoning and thus, resistance to parenting....but that is another post...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Noah's operation

I thought I would share some of Noah's journey, since everyone has been so supportive and kind. It was a tough week - but we are very thankful for the doctors and nurses who cared for Noah. We can see a difference in him already and I finally feel that he will be ok. We have had a sense of dread hanging over us for the past three years - knowing he was walking around with a partially repaired heart. We were always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is very hard to relax in that situation!

Tuesday August 23rd: The night before surgery
We had a hotel room booked, a 5 minute walk to the hospital. We had to be at the hospital for 6am and since we live an hour away, it was easier to just sleep 5 min's away. My mom had come to stay with Layla and I was worried about leaving her but she smiled and waved as we left the house. Pre-op, Noah couldn't eat past midnight, so we wanted to make sure he had a good dinner. Keith made a favourite meal of his and he sits down and pushes it away. Keith and I were terrified - Noah was booked for surgery at about 1pm the next day. If his last meal was lunch, rather than dinner....we were scared for the following day with a starving preschooler. Luckily Keith bought Boost (disgusting meal replacement beverage) and protein "chocolate bars". So on the ride down to the hotel Noah munched and drank. Not a lot but enough to keep us happy. We think he knew something was up and was just too nervous to eat.
Driving into Toronto was awesome - he was enthralled with the tall buildings and general bustle of the downtown core. I didn't really think our hometown was a "small town" but now that I see his reaction to Toronto, I suppose I have to face facts.
After a particularly stressful parking event which involved a very large Buick Enclave and a very tiny parking garage with minimal turning room, we arrived at our hotel which was just FILLED with children. I have never seen anything like it. They even had a check-in desk for kids where they get a toy and a book. Our room was nice with a king bed but we didn't have time to enjoy. We had to get Noah to have his bath with the special scrub brush for the OR and get him to bed! Sadly, the mixture of the strange bed and having his parents in the room with him made him wide awake! It was nearly 9:30pm before he fell asleep and hogged the bed for the rest of the night.

Wednesday August 24th: Surgery day
We left the hotel bright and early. Noah led the way with his Cars backpack filled with toys and us with a bag filled with games and toys to keep us occupied until the afternoon call for surgery. When we arrived on the floor we learned he had been moved to first case and another child had been cancelled. So we were taken to get Noah's vitals done, his weight and height and give him yet another bath. All of this went ok except when weighing him in the hall, another child (post-op) was walking and moaning down the hall past him and I think this scared him. I was never aware of this stuff when I worked as a nurse, but as a mom I was a bit angry that the weight wasn't done in his room so he wasn't scared of what was to come. Regardless, we got him weighed and then all he wanted to do was play with a train set in the playroom of the cardiac ward:

All too soon we were called to the operating room. We had to give him some medication to make him a bit loopy so he wouldn't be scared of going into the surgical suite alone. Keith carried him down and we got him to a bed just as the medication was kicking in. He kept insisting on holding James (his train from the Thomas set) but he also kept trying to watch an infomercial that was inexplicably playing in the holding area before the OR. I tried to recite his favourite bedtime stories but was way too teary to do so. He looked at me clearly at one point and I was trying so hard not to cry. I didn't want to scare him. Keith took over the story telling. After meeting the OR team, they wheeled him away (with James!). I can't tell you how terrifying it is to send off your seemingly healthy child into cardiac surgery where you know he will be on bypass. We were both very upset, but got it together after he was wheeled away and we settled into the waiting room for a long wait. We anticipated we would be seeing our surgeon around 1pm. It was now 8am.

Time passed and aside from being disgusted by the family beside us who felt that the table I had my coffee on was their personal foot stool (they had bare feet!), it went relatively quickly. Around 11 or 12 (i lost sense of time) I saw our surgeon. He brought us to the back room to tell us good and bad news. Good news: They cleared out MOST of the tissue that was blocking his outflow tract - there was some on the aortic valve that he couldn't get off without damaging the valve. His pressure gradient had gone from 120-150 down to 15. His valve no longer was leaky. He received no extra blood products (other than those needed for bypass) and he was extubated (this is a change from even his first surgery - they extubate in the OR which speeds up their discharge process by many days). Bad news: there is a tear in one of the leaflets of the aortic valve. He admitted that he thought he did it at first but upon examination saw the stress on the valve was too great and this tore it. He could have fixed it but it isn't leaking so he left it alone. This probably means another cardiac surgery down the road.....5 years or 40 years from now....we have no way to know.

The wait between knowing the surgery is over and going to see him is excruciatingly long. Luckily, we had a friend sitting with us to pass the time. Once we got to go in to see Noah, I was shocked by two things: 1) he was on no other medication other than morphine. For some reason I expected some sort of cardiac medication; 2) he looked like he did before he went into surgery. He was pink and not puffy or sick looking. he just looked like he was sleeping (minus the tubes, drains and IVs).

We were moved to a private room within minutes of seeing him because a sicker child needed his bed off we went to our own room with a nurse who was just fantastic. She really valued family-centered care and a few hours after surgery, helped Keith hold Noah, which really was amazing. As soon as he held him, his heart rate dropped and he seemed more stable.

As Noah became more and more conscious as we weaned morphine, he also became more and more hysterical. Not in a thrashing kind of way - he was just very weepy and easily set off by things. So, for example, if he didn't have his James train he would be very inconsolable. We knew we wouldn't be sleeping that night, so we chose to sleep in shifts. Keith went 9-2 and I went 2-7 back to the hotel to sleep. Since we didn't sleep the night before, we were exhausted. Sitting in a dark room with a lot of white noise is hard to stay awake in! Noah would wake on my shift and cry for his pillow or his daddy. It was very hard. Keith said his shift involved him sobbing for me and for his sippy cup. He was so thirsty but we didn't want to push it too much because the morphine made him feel ill.

Thursday August 25th: Post-op day 1
Getting through the night was ok, but getting through the next four hours until he was transferred to the cardiac ward was really tough. he remembered the train set on the ward and that is what he wanted. He wanted to get up to the unit and play. We endured hours of sobbing for that train set, or to go home, or to watch Curious George. It was very hard to see him so upset and not be able to explain properly why he had to be in pain and couldn't play.
Getting up to the cardiac ward around 11am, we got settled into our room and Noah fell asleep around 11:30. I went out to tell the  nurse practitioner admitting him to take her time as he just fell asleep and she got very confused. You see, I used to work on this very unit, and talking to her like I normally would have as a nurse threw her for a loop. It took her some time to piece it together - very amusing! As Noah slept, Keith did the same and I played look-out to ensure Noah didn't roll onto his tummy or need anything.

Hours passed and he woke up a bit happier but still determined to see that train set. So, with the NP's permission, we unhooked him from the monitors and he walked all the way there! We expected the typical "old-man post-op shuffle": the hunched-over slow walk to the play room. But Noah just got up and marched to the room. He walked normally! Even the cardiologist was shocked at his abilities. I mean, he wasn't even one day post-op!

He looks less than thrilled, but he did well playing with the trains and then asking to do puzzles.
The challenge for the day was getting him to eat/drink. He wouldn't do either...can you blame him? Except with cardiac kids their fluid intake/output is very important so I drove him mad with insisting he drink to get him to pee. It was our ticket out of there!

Night was hard this night because his Tylenol and vital signs were every 2 hours he was woken by the nurse for one of those things. Which meant, he called out to us and we would go lie with him. Noah seemed content though. At one point the nurse came in and he was just laying there awake and agreed to have his vitals done with no complaint. That is so very Noah....

He kept desating with his oxygen levels over night, so he did need a bit of oxygen. I had a hard time with this because I kept seeing it as a set back but thanks to the very lovely Lisa, the charge nurse that night, she assured me that being only one day post-operative, this most certainly wasn't a set-back- more of an expected outcome. We spent the following day blowing bubbles with him to get those oxygen sat's back up:

Friday August 26th - Post-op day 2
Noah was told he may be able to go home at rounds. This felt CRAZY fast to me. I worked on this unit 5 years prior and I don't think I ever discharged a child this fast. But, once his drains and pacing wired were removed there was no point in sticking around. This was a very busy day: drains/pacing wire removal, chest x-ray and an echo all needed to be done. He was still desaturating with sleep so we needed to figure out that as well.

We gave morphine before the tube got pulled and it was BAD. He got very very nauseated, sweaty and fidgety. He was feeling miserable and that was evident by him curled up into the fetal position moaning while I put cold cloths on his head and Keith rubbed his back and waited for him to be sick. I insisted they give an IV med to settle his stomach and they agreed. Just as they were about to pull the tube, the nurses listened to his chest and noticed he had decreased air entry to his right lower lung. So, we had to do an x-ray first to see if that chest tube could come out or not. All day Noah had been very lethargic and not himself: "Lack of affect" as we say in the health care world. So he went in a wheelchair and watched Toopy and Binoo on the iPad as he went down to x-ray - let them do their thing and came back up for an echo. He was so quiet and still the technician kept commenting on how good he was. Once the xray was back we found out there was some mild atelectasis in his right lobe and his lungs were a bit wet - so with a dose of lasix to pee off that fluid, they pulled the drain anyway. Sadly, we had to give more morphine - which bugged me but he still had the IV meds to keep the nausea at bay. This was a hard time because pulling chest tubes and pacing wires hurts like hell. He also needed his sternal dressing removed and his IV's taken out. So we did it all at once. He is a trooper though, and did quite well with it all.

Taking off the sternal dressing though, we thought we saw some pus - bad news - so we had to watch him overnight for a fever and had a doctor come and assess it. We had to redress it just to see if it would start oozing from an infection, however, no one thought it was infected (thank goodness) so we were able to plan to leave the following morning.

Because Noah was acting off all day, we had asked that we stay the night - and shortly after requesting this, he was acting normally and playful again. This coincided with a visit from his Uncle Nik. He loved Nik and finds him hilarious so that raised his spirits. My friend, Jen & Roula, also visited, as did both my sisters and their partners. It was nice to have people to visit with.
As Noah was falling asleep, he desat'ed to 86% so we were told to take him on another walk but I was afraid he would need oxygen over night again. For some reason, one more walk did it - and he was saturating 97% all night on his own!

Saturday August 27th: Home time!
Overnight Noah did great and we knew we were going home. It was a Saturday so things move slower in the hospital. We had to wait for our Nurse Practitioner to be free to discharge us and to get the OK from the doctor on daily rounds. It took until noon till we could go home. Yet to me, this was still very early post operatively. However, the reasoning was that he would probably do better at home and get up and move more to get rid of that atelectasis. To pass time, we watched the elevators - which at Sick Kids are fun to watch because they aren't in an elevator shaft - you can see them going up and down. He kept saying he didn't want to go home because of the elevators!

Around noon we packed up, took off his dressing and went home. Layla was soooo happy to see him. She kept waving and saying "hi" as she stared at him on the couch. Noah was happy to and shared his snack with her:

Every day Noah is getting better and better. We learned quickly that we have to stay on top of his pain meds - advil and tylenol...that's all he gets! He must feel great because he keeps doing more (physically) than he should be doing - and then he pays for it around bedtime when he gets upset with the pain. But overall I think we are both shocked at his resilience.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2 week countdown

Noah's surgery is in 2 weeks. It is coming way too fast for my liking. Next week he has his very long pre-operative clinic day (x-rays, blood work, child life, surgeon) and then he is being pulled from school to keep him as healthy as we can.

So I thought I would just post on how we are doing: On the whole we are actually functioning ok. After the initial shock wore off, I think we just fell back into our normal day-to-day rhythm. However, that said, we also have moments of grief overtake us. I have to admit I get very sad when I wonder why Noah has to endure such things. I also wonder why kids have to be sick ever...doesn't seem very fair to me.

We bought Noah a book about staying in the hospital. He likes to read it and he asks us lots of questions about the hospital but overall he is quite oblivious to what is going on. I do, however think he senses "something" is going on - as he is more clingy to us.

Today Keith booked our hotel room close to the hospital so we don't have to wake up super early to get down there. For some reason, hearing of the booking made it seem real and I became a blubbering mess. I cried so much that I can't leave my office now or I will draw a great deal of attention due to my puffy and red eyes. I also only just realized that we won't see Layla for quite a few days and that made me equally upset (we plan to have us both by Noah's bed while he is in the ICU and then when we get to the ward take turns staying with him). She is too young to understand and I can't help but wonder if she will wonder where we are. That breaks my heart.

Tonight is DQ Miracle Treat Day - raising money for local hospitals. It feels fitting that it falls so close to Noah's operation. We will proudly buy blizzards and feed those sugary treats to our kids tonight to support a good cause. Quite frankly, when you are in our shoes, it seems like feeding sugar to children is the last thing to worry about right now...I am sure they will love it!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Talking about surgery

I have been told by other parents, that I should blog about our struggles with Noah's health issues because other people with chronically ill children may benefit. With that in mind I thought I would blog about a big issue: how to tell your child that he has to have surgery - for Noah, one that he can't live without. At Sick Kids we are blessed with Child Life Specialists who talk to kids about surgeries and are absolutely amazing. However, until our pre-op clinic, we have to handle it ourselves.

When we went to cardiac clinic two weeks ago, we told Noah we had to do some tests on his heart. He thought they were fixing his heart, and told us so. We didn't agree or disagree but he seemed ok with it.

On our own, Keith and I both started talking to Noah about the surgery. We aren't trying to dwell on it too much or he will be more afraid of it arriving, but we do want him to be aware of it. A few nights ago, when Noah was telling me how he took a train, subway and bus to the hospital two weeks ago, I told him we would be going back soon for the doctors to fix his heart. He was ok with this and sort of brushed the thought aside and kept telling me about his train trip.

Last night, while Keith was putting Noah to bed, he also brought it up by telling him he would have to go to the hospital soon to get his heart fixed. In a completely gut wrenching moment, Noah told Keith he was scared. Keith answered him in the best way possible by agreeing that it was scary, and that mommy or daddy would be there with him at all times. It is absolutely important that we don't lie to Noah by telling him it isn't scary or that it won't hurt. We both refuse to do this - it will just serve to make Noah loose trust in us. As a nurse you are taught to be honest, but that doesn't mean you can't add a bit of hope in there: "Yes, this will hurt, but I will hold your hand and when it is done we can pick out a toy out of the treasure chest" (A box of trinket toys for kids around Noah's age who are afraid of procedures that will hurt).

So at dinner last night Keith was telling me, for Noah's sake, that they had spoke of going to the hospital soon. Noah instantly got a scared look on his face. I just reiterated that we will always be there for him - either Daddy or Mommy. But that we also have to look after Layla, so we will take turns staying with him.

I am trying to not dwell on it too much - so as not to make him fear the event. But I also don't want him walking into the hospital in a month's time, thinking we are just going for normal tests again. I am not too keen on telling him they will be cutting him open to get to his heart - so I am leaving that for the Child Life Specialist, who uses a muppet-type of doll to explain this. Anyone who has had a child go through surgery at this age knows how tricky it can be. I do, however, thank the heaven's that we were able to hold off until he was 3 years old because at 2 years old he would have been hard to reason with and speak to so this makes it somewhat easier.

He is doing ok otherwise though. We went for a long bike ride and he pedaled most of the way - he got tired near the end but after a short break he was excited to go again. He isn't eating much lately, which I suppose is to be expected - with heart conditions, when the heart doesn't work optimally, one of the first places to take notice of heart failure is the stomach (think of the fight or flight response - same deal). He is still laying around a fair bit but he doesn't look ill to me. I am thankful we are going to repair his heart, because having a surgery hanging over our heads for the past two years has been very hard and we have hope that he will feel and act much better after the surgery, even though his heart still won't be 100%.

So that is our current struggle surrounding the heart condition. It consumes a lot of our brain power and emotions but we still carry on our day-to-day living, which at times can seem odd given what we face in a month's time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The end of breastfeeding

All good things have to come to an end, I suppose. As my La Leche League book tells me, "Everybody weans". I have loved breastfeeding from the moment I figured it out with Noah. Before babies I knew that I wanted it to work out for me and through many tough moments, both my children nursed until approximately the same age. We made it through Noah's surgery, tongue ties, too much milk, fast flow, lazy nursing, fast nursing, returning to work and name it. 

On September 1, 2009 Noah weaned abruptly. He was 16 months old I made a post on a parenting forum, entitled "Crushed": 
UGH I just went to put my son to sleep and he refused to nurse. He just wanted me to put him into his crib. As soon as I did he fell asleep. He has never, ever refused his bedtime nursing session! 
I kept offering and he kept biting me. I thought he just didn't have a good latch so I kept trying. He bit me hard and I said "NO" out of pain and his face crumpled and he sobbed. UGH that is just a lovely nursing memory isn't it?

I hope this isn't in response to the pregnancy. I can't imagine he gets much b/c he only nurses the one time and never for long before he is asleep. I am terrified to try again b/c all I can think is that our last nursing session will have been yesterday where I just spent my whole time reading perezhilton. Lovely....

I left his room and sobbed. I am fairly certain my husband thinks I am crazy!

I was, without a doubt - devastated. I got over it though because I was pregnant with Layla at the time (so I would be breastfeeding again in only 7 more months!)

I have one photo of me nursing Noah, laying in bed together when he was a toddler. 

I have suspected Layla was close to weaning for a while. She hasn't relied on it for a long time but I push it because I didn't want to stop. Today, on July 18th, 2011 I think I have to throw in the towel. Layla is now 15 months old, exactly. It has been three days in a row where she has refused. Personally, I think it is due to her teething, as she has refused to eat at school today too. However, since this is day three perhaps I should take this window of opportunity and wean her. I share similar thoughts to my last weaning session - as I didn't really "appreciate" the last time I nursed. In fact, the last few times were comical. She would lay down, nurse for a bit, then sit up and pop between both sides while trying to nurse and rest her cheek on my chest. Then she would giggle and pop back on. I have known for a few months now that she was close to being done and I would watch her nurse and think, "this could be the last time". I tried to cherish it, but I am left with the last few days as a memory - her arching out of my arms trying to get to her crib. Oddly enough, the same way Noah weaned. They are just a month apart in age from when they stopped. Similar to Noah, I have one photo - a self portrait - of our time nursing. She wasn't a cuddly nurser - she was all business with breastfeeding. It isn't a great photo but it is all I have. 

I am not sure if we will have another baby, so this is very sad for me. I am sure most people will think I am crazy but at least I'm not sobbing this time!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Noah's heart

...and so, Noah needs more surgery...and soon.
That is all we know up to this point.

As I tell people this, I do so in a detached manner that seems to alarm the person on the receiving end. I was telling Noah's teacher yesterday who said, "Um...this is a small surgery?". I respond, " is open heart surgery". She looks at me and says cautiously, " are handling this....well....". It sort of makes me feel like a horrible parent. Keith is a bit detached too. To him, we knew this was coming so it is just what we expected. To me, I seem to be spitting out the information but  not absorbing it. I talk about it in that detached manner nurses do: "I have a repaired VSD, ASD, Co-arct patient in room 6 here for pre-op workup for a muscle bundle resection and valve repair....". It is slightly demented how I am treating it, to be honest. I am walking around acting as though I didn't receive devastating news yesterday. I think every minute though, my layer of ice is melting and some poor sap will ask how the appointment went and I will finally dissolve into tears of grief.

Don't get me wrong, I did tear up as I BBM'd my brother to tell him what was going on as I stood booking his next appointment in the cardiac clinic. He was (and always is) the first person I tell these things to and he always says just the right thing to make me tear up. He is always very supportive. I didn't want to cry in front of Noah though - he doesn't know what is happening. He knows his heart needs to be fixed by a doctor, and that is it so far.

So the day was ok. I always have minor panic attacks walking into Sick Kids these days. After working there for four years in total, I find that those memories and experiences are completely obliterated and replaced by the memory of the hospital stay with Noah. Truthfully, the incident traumatized me, and likely Keith. But I can't really get past it. So I was a bit anxious all day. We took Noah on the train and subway so that distracted us. He was such a good boy.

When we got there, our appointment was supposed to be at 9am and they told us it actually was at 11am. Noone called to tell us so I got quite upset. They saw us at 9:10. They were great and explained to Noah what would happen and he lay on the table, quietly watching Treehouse tv for nearly an hour and a half. He fell asleep at times and was quite warm (Turns out he also had a fever of 103 degrees - not sure why yet). After the echo he had an ECG where he just lay quietly on the table again, prompting the RN to ask him if he "is always this serious".
We had to eat lunch and pass some time while we waited for our 12:30 appointment with the cardiologist. This wait was the longest because we knew the news would be bad but we just wanted to hear it. We had to see a fellow first, and that was even more torture because she couldn't tell us what was wrong yet. Finally we see our cardiologist and basically all he could tell us was that the muscle that is building up under his aortic valve has gotten so crowded that we can't wait any longer to do the surgery. He couldn't tell us if the valve needs replacing or anything more. We have to wait until his case is presented to the surgeon and cardiologists on Monday. Keith asked some great questions and I felt like I just sat there with a goofy look on my face. Somewhere between a grin and a grimace.

Noah fell asleep on the bus ride home - and then we were settled on the couch (him, slightly febrile still) relaxing and watching tv.

I carried on (as did Keith) normally. Making jokes, playing and having a good time with the kids. After Noah had some Tylenol he was a bundle of energy and we had a great time playing. For yesterday, at least, I refused to let his defect and surgery affect our time together. I refused to sit beside him on the couch quietly crying. I just wanted us to have a normal and fun time. And so, I let him throw foam blocks at me and laugh hysterically, even though we aren't supposed to throw toys at people, because lets face it - the kid needs to be let off on some of the rules now and then.

Sometimes my mind wanders to all that can go wrong. I know all this from working there and this knowledge destroys me. I think of when he will be healing and we have to remove his chest drains or pacing wires and how it will hurt him. I think of him laying in bed, intubated and on a ventilator. It is gut wrenching. I can't get these images out of my mind and that is why I choose to be numb for now. When he was a baby it went so fast and was a life-or-death operation. We didn't have time to dwell on the situation. With a week old baby, you are coping with being a new parent, mom has post-partum healing herself, struggling to figure out how to breastfeed, living on no sleep. We had no choice but to deal and move on. This time, the's excruciating...

So, as I type this, the ice melts a bit more and I get a bit more sad. Waiting for Monday and even for our surgical time (which will be before Halloween) is like a huge weight hovering over us. Once we get that date, we can set forward with our plan: who will stay in the hospital, who will stay with layla, who will work, who will watch Jade, etc. We plan for 10 days in hospital and who knows how many more days at home recovering after.

I will update when I know more. :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

To have more children or not...that is the question....

As I approach Layla's 15 month milestone, I am reminded that I was just finding out I was pregnant with her when Noah was 15 months old. Keith and I have had this argument since we were married - how many children do we want?

Keith, coming from a two child family, is ok with stopping at two. Most people would probably agree with him: we have the "million dollar family" - a boy and a girl who are both lovely children.

I come from a 4 child family and I love the idea of a bigger family. I loved the noise, the chaos and the fact that if I was mad at one sibling, I still had two others to hang out with. To me, two is way too small. As I always say to Keith: "If Noah and Layla are fighting, who do they hang out with?!?!"

We have seemed to decide (informally) that 4 is too much. Three may be ok - but there is a constant debate in our house: With two, you can move on from the baby phase (the diapers, potty training, breastfeeding) and start saving for nice vacations, educations and house renovations. We both grew up in families where we didn't take annual trips to cottages or various vacation locales - so it isn't like this is something we need to have annually, but it would be nice to give to our children. We have had only one vacation since having children, when we took Noah on a car trip through New England. It would be nice to go on another trip relatively soon, with both children.

There is also my career to think about. I have just finished my Masters and yet I haven't found a permanent job. I have worked contract for four years due to school and back to back maternity leaves. This has also left a slight financial strain on our family, despite us both making good salaries. Also, as vain as it sounds, this is the best shape I have been in since my wedding and I am kind of enjoying it!

And so, we are approaching the time where I would want to make a decision. I loved having Noah and Layla 23 months apart. It seemed perfect. I would want to have another child relatively soon, as I don't want Noah to be too much older than the youngest child.

However, Layla (over the past few weeks) is going through a particularly difficult phase: kicking and screaming tantrums, biting, hitting - all of which I attribute to her final eye teeth coming through and the cold/eye infection she is currently plagued with. Yet, with her being such a handful it does make us wonder if two is just perfect. Simultaneously, Layla is also the most cuddly and lovable toddler ever - she will sit on my lap and cuddle into my chest all evening while we wait for dinner to be ready. She loves to be held and she has the most infectious smile. Similarly, Noah is the most polite child I have ever met: saying please automatically and apologizing more often than necessary. He is a lovely and gorgeous boy who will obviously be a lovely and gorgeous man one day. My kids are, honestly, amazing and beautiful - and seeing the children we made and how they each are their own little person, with their own (very different) personality traits makes me really want to see what else we can make.

I don't want to live a lifetime of regret at stopping at two if i really wanted three - but I just don't know what to do right now. I didn't really appreciate my last pregnancy as being "the last". I am still nursing Layla and I am hesitant to stop just in case I don't get to nurse another little baby.

We have made one decision - we won't actively try for a third. It was very hard going to a fertility clinic with Noah (luckily Layla was just a lovely surprise). I don't want to go through the emotional turmoil of "trying" again - it is very hard. So if we do decide three would be ok, we would leave it up to fate.

And so, as my biological clock ticks away, we sit and watch Layla having a tantrum on the floor and our current decision may be to stick with two - but I am fairly certain my mind will change once those eye teeth come least until the 2 year molars begin to come through....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hitting, biting and stealing candy from a baby

Daily we get a report from school: "Layla is having trouble hitting her friends". Yesterday her report further noted that she is "hitting her friends to take their toys". I have heard she also beats them over the head with a book and laughs!

So everyday, Keith has to hear about how bad Layla is when he picks her up.

I tell my mom and she advises we do something about this. Please...someone....tell me how you correct this behaviour in a 13 month old!!! Literally, all we can do is teach her to be gentle when she hits and then distract her.

I really don't think there is much more to be done. I also don't think we need to hear, daily, how violent she is! If it were my child getting beat up I am sure I would be mad, but honestly, what can we do?

Realistically I know we are doing all we can and Layla is just fiesty and knows what she wants. She knows how to get it. At home, she rips a toy from Noah's hand and he grabs it back. She bites him and he hands it over! She is used to this!

After her report yesterday I sat with her and said, "Layla...did you get in trouble for hurting your friends?". She nods "yes" - how can you not laugh at this?!?!

I know I am not taking it very seriously and I really do feel bad for the kids she is beating up but she will outgrow it. And if she doesn't, she will eventually hit an age where she can be reasoned with or at least experience consequences for her actions.

So for now, I will continue to laugh it off...I just want to publically apologize to all the children in her class who are now her bitches. ;)

Run run as fast as you can....

Historically, I am a sprinter. I mean, I haven't been in a race not say. But suffice it to say that back in highschool I loved track and field. The track part anyway: 100m sprints, 80m hurdles and 4x100 relay races were my favourite races.

When I went away to University my frosh leader was on the UW track team and he kept trying to get me to try out. I was terrified and refused. I also thought my workload would be too much.

However, since then I have dabbled in short distance running off and on. When I need to get back in shape it is always my fall back workout.

Given I never really raced longer than a 100m race, the thought of running a 5k race is purely terrifying to me! Yes, I have many friends who are marathon runners and I therefore feel ridiculous saying that I am "training" for a 5k race because it probably seems like a sprint to them...but for me, it is LONG.

A few weeks ago I was feeling gross and unmotivated. I hate working out for the sake of working out so I decided I needed a goal. After I had Layla, I did the "couch to 5K" program with keith and loved having something to work towards. We did great but I fell out of the habit of running because I had reached my weight goal and there was no reason to keep up the torture!

So the other day I decided I would train for a 10k. It was longer than I knew I could handle and a goal I needed to work up to. I knew it would motivate me. However, having never run a distance race, Keith wisely suggested I train for a 5K race first.

Before I lost my nerve, I signed up for a 5K in my area for early July. There was no turning back!!!

Normally I train on the treadmill but I decided I should do some of my training outdoors since the race won't be on a treadmill! The first day I ran outside (a week into my training schedule) I wanted to die! I was out of breath and by the time I finished I was in a pure panic! There was NO WAY I could do this race. I was exhausted and I had only done 1.5miles! I couldn't pace myself - in fact, I had no idea how to pace myself! I calculated my time and I had run an 8 minute mile - wayyyyy too fast for me! Clearly I needed help.

I contemplated doing a Running Room clinic but they are right smack in the middle of bed-time prep for the kids. So I figured if I live through this 5K and dare to do a longer race, I may have to get some assistance but it seems everyone can run a 5K so I can figure it out on my own.

The next day I had to run, I found some new music with a decent beat to try to pace myself, I got a new running skirt (oh so cute!) and I set out aiming to run no slower than a 13 minute mile - which is uber slow but I figured this should be what I aim for and then see how I do. That day I comfortably ran a 10 minute mile! MUCH better! (not fast but I was proud of it). It felt right.

The following days I aimed to maintain my comfortable 10 minute mile run because I figured on race day I would be a bit faster due to the excitement of the race. I have been running between a 9 and 10 minute mile comfortably.

Yesterday I encountered my first barrier to training - I felt sick...I mean, I felt so gross I could barely walk around the kitchen. I still don't feel great but I have to get out there and run. My race is only a month away and I really don't want to be unprepared! I didn't really know how to account for the setback (this is where a  running clinic may be useful!). So I decided that I could take yesterday off but I had to shift my running days over by one day all week. So hopefully I feel well enough tonight. I may have to aim for a slower jog though.

All in all, I have learned something about myself: I need hobbies! I need goals! I really enjoy having something to work towards. Who likes working out just to do so? Not me! I also don't have a lot of time with the kids. Yes, I know I should "make time" to work out but I prefer to spend my time with my children. So , the only time I have to myself is from 8 - 10 at night. So while that isn't enough time to do marathon training, I should be able to do at least a 10K!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I will be the first to admit, I am a binge eater - but it only with certain foods: baked goods or chocolate or cookies or see where I am going with this? I have a sweet tooth and I am not exaggerating when I say that many times (ok most binges) I eat until I have made myself sick. I am not overweight, I am healthy and my BMI is in the proper range, but I think I have a big problem here! I literally have no ability to say "no" to sweets. I will eat them if they are in the house, even when I am not hungry. Put me in front of an open bag of chips and I won't touch them - but chocolate....I won't even share it. I also am the sort of person who needs sweets after a meal. People will offer advice, such as "just have fruit after a meal if you need something sweet" - but clearly these people do not suffer from binge eating. Believe me, if I had a choice between a piece of pie and an apple, I am choosing the pie! If I try to eat the apple first, I will just go back and also eat the now I have upped my consumption of calories by having two "desserts". I feel absolutely disgusted with myself when I binge, and I hate that feeling. I always try to remind myself how sick I make myself when I eat too much, but that feeling is fleeting - it isn't enough to make me stop the next time cookies are nearby.

So, the reason I am sharing this extremely embarrassing problem of mine, is because I know that I am not alone, and also - I need to stop. I recently lost all my baby weight plus 10 extra pounds on Weight Watchers. I have kept it off for nearly eight months - that is the best I have ever done with my weight (I am prone to yo-yo'ing, due to binge eating when my weight gets down when I seem to think that rewarding my good behaviour with food is a good idea).

I know that the only time I eat these foods is when I am around them. I have tried eating them in moderation but when you are consumed with an obsessive need to eat these foods, then moderation does you no good. So, I am going to blog to share the experience of getting myself off sweets. Perhaps choosing to do this around Easter is a bad idea...I am super close to postponing this idea, but I know that is exactly WHY I have to do this.

I refuse to live a lifetime of denying myself treats - I just want to choose ones that may be better for me, that will satisfy my cravings, but won't have me scarfing down the whole dessert. I also want to stop being a binge eater because I know my kids watch my every move and I don't want them to learn these unhealthy habits. My son already has a very soft spot for timbits, cookies and chocolate. I take it as a bad sign that he wakes up every morning and asks for chocolate for breakfast (no, I don't give it to him....)

Since I have already finished off the last of the icing from my daughters birthday party yesterday, I will have to start tomorrow. Since being back at work, I have gained nearly 10lbs and I want to loose that again. I am going to try to track my WW's points, because that also keeps me accountable for my daily consumption of food.

I am anticipating my biggest roadblocks will be my daily timmies runs, the 3pm slump at work, and tea time at work every friday at 11am.

My game plan here is to stop the cycle of binging. Once I get going, I can't stop. I want to learn a healthier way to think of sweets - they are "treats", not daily meals. I can have them every now and then but I can't go crazy with them. I don't plan on surrounding myself with veggies in the hopes that carrot sticks are going to keep me away from the sweets. As I have said before, my binge eating has nothing to do with hunger. I don't eat sweets because I need food - I do it  for reasons that aren't clear to me yet. I hope that in keeping a journal of my progress, I can figure out why I reach for sweets.

I already have made a good choice for my upcoming battle: With Easter around the corner, I was going to decorate cookies with Noah, since he is a bit young to do eggs. Instead, I saw these easter decorations that kids can colour. I figured he and I could do that instead - and just leave the cookies out of the house.

I figure my next big step is asking Keith to not buy me my annual 1lb chocolate bunny (which I can easily consume in a day - disgusting isn't it?). I think I will ask him to just get me something I will enjoy, that isn't food, like makeup.

Wish me luck.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The impact of children on a marriage

Today, in my lactation course, I heard this line:

"When you become a mother, it is like going to a different planet...nothing is (or ever will be) the same ever again".

Heavy stuff - but very true. I am going to discuss this, not just as a mother - but as a parent. I do believe that children change a mother's life as much as a fathers.

If we, as humans, knew what it was like to start a family I am sure the species would begin to die off a bit because we are an incredibly selfish group. I don't know how to make this entire blog post not sound self-righteous or condescending so bear with me. I am trying to make a point....

In today's society, it is typical to get married and have children. As women enter their fertile years (which in today's day and age seems to be late 20's to early 30's), their biological clock kicks into overdrive and the urge is unbearable for many women. As such, in these years, the women are eager to start off their marriage with children. Believe me, I was one of these women! I was ready to have a baby from the moment I was married. We held off for a year, but I really wonder if we knew what it was like (and I mean what being a parent really is like), would we have held off and enjoyed being newlyweds a bit more?

I honestly believe that people who don't have children have no idea the impact those children can have on your life and your marriage - how could you? Sure, you have watched them, babysat them and even spent long weekends with them - but they aren't your children, your worries, or your concerns. I mean, it makes sense right?

I also believe, that most young couples talk themselves into the belief that "children won't change who we are"; "I am going to be the same person"; or even "our marriage won't change at all and even if it does, we are strong enough to handle it". These are all normal thoughts because, if we didn't have these thoughts we wouldn't ever have children!!!! This is how the species continues to perpetuate!

However, having children really and truly changes you and your marriage - no matter how much we try to convince ourselves it won't. This does not mean that it changes it for the worse. Not by any means - but it sure does change it. And future mothers, lets just nip this in the bud: you will not be showered, looking slim in your lulu pants, breasts perky in a lovely t-shirt, sipping a skinny latte at Starbucks with your adorable child sleeping peacefully in the stroller while you enjoy lazy days together at 3 months post partum. I could tell you what it is really like, but I don't want the species to die off! ;)

I see the change, not so much in myself, but in my marriage. Keith and I have always (and still do) had a strong foundation of marriage. We were that sickeningly cute couple that was always kissing, holding hands, etc. The other day we were walking along together and I realized it had been years (literally YEARS) since we walked hand-in-hand, when just a few years ago, before children, we would even sleep holding hands!

Similarly, you loose that selfishness and you switch to parent mode. You give up things you normally wouldn't think twice about just to ensure your kids get what they need (whether it is a hair cut or new shoes for the kids). Do you let yourself go, physically? Of course not - but if it comes down to you highlighting your hair this month or paying for daycare, which do you think you will choose?

Intimacy changes, as well. I mean, how can it not? Moms (or in some cases, fathers) are up all night with a baby, expected to be up all day either to take care of the children or to work at her place of employment; you breastfeed so breasts suddenly become all about function; your body changes, so there are those issues to handle ... basically every single aspect of your intimate life changes. If you have kids close together in age, or multiples, it only gets worse. I basically fall asleep at 9pm every night at this stage, with "2 under 2".

Of course, nothing I can say can truly convey that you, your partner, and your relationship changes. I would never in a million years say it changes for the bad because I really and truly would do anything for my children and husband.

Yet, similar to that quote I heard today - you don't change back. No matter how much you want to believe your life, your social life, your marriage, your partner and your self will return to how they were pre-baby - it won't. You grow into a new life, a new persona and a new family. The moment your baby looks you in the eye, you change forever.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reflecting on Layla's first year

Layla Grace starts daycare next Friday....Seriously, where has the time gone. With Noah the year was SO long; yet Layla's first year has been so fast, I could have blinked and missed it! Part of that is probably because I returned to work when she was 8.5 months old and part of it is likely because having two kids makes you so busy that your head spins.

Yesterday I was watching Layla: she was holding onto the couch, tormenting her brother, when she just let go....she just tried to see if she could stand on her own without the support. She realized she couldn't quite make it yet and so she did a controlled landing to bring her back to her comfort zone. This is Layla in a nutshell: willing to dive headfirst into a new challenge, not caring about the danger aspect, but pulling back when it takes her a bit too far out of her comfort zone. I sincerely hope this is how Layla lives her life forever. Granted, the "diving headfirst into danger" aspect seems frightening - but what I truly hope for her is that she is not afraid to try new things and fail, but still be willing to pick herself up and try again another time.

Layla arrived into this world mad as hell, kicking, screaming and crying. When I tried to shush her to hear what the nurses and doctors were saying, she got mad and cried louder. This is a personality trait I can relate to, as Layla is my exact double in so many ways. She hates to be ignored, she wants to be the only one heard (or, at the very least, the loudest) and she hates when she doesn't get what she wants the moment she wants it. Luckily, I am able to see the silver lining in this personality trait too: as her bullheaded tenacity may get her far in life if she chooses to use it to her advantage. Who doesn't need to be stubborn and fierce at times in their career? Or when standing up for what they truly believe is right?

At first I described Layla as a fussy baby, but looking back I realize that an incorrect assessment. She isn't, nor ever has she ever been, miserable or cranky (illness and teething episodes aside). She merely wanted things done a certain way. Layla really found her groove right before I went back to work: sleeping better, eating better, playing better. It coincided with her increased mobility - which gave her the independence she craved.

Independent: It is the most perfect word to describe her. She isn't a cuddler, she hates to depend on me for food, she hates that she isn't mobile enough to take down her brother to get to his dump truck and she doesn't want our help getting her to sleep. She protests loudly at being strapped into a carseat or being forced into a snowsuit, as if to protest the act of doing something against her will. Similarly, diaper changes are a true test of patience, as you hold her ankles to lift up her bum and she spins around to escape. I always imagine that what she hates the most is being told to do something on our timeline, under our demands to best suit our needs. Luckily, I know that most toddlers hate this as well, so I know she will require a lot of independence as she gets older.

Looking back to this past year I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am so very sad that it has gone so fast because she is my baby and I really do feel like it went by in a blink. However, it means we are onto fun stages - I feel kids just get more fun as they age - and having watched Noah grow, I know that we are in for some fun times. I also know that daycare is going to age her and make her grow at warp speed so I expect my baby to be a baby no more in a few short months of daycare.

Yet, despite my sadness, I am so blessed and happy to have my little monster in my life. I call her all sorts of various nicknames: monster, tazmanian devil, trouble #1, etc., but I truly couldn't be more proud of the little girl. She came into our lives as a bit of a surprise but she is such an amazing baby girl. Sometimes, her "spirit" can tire you out and make you frustrated; but overall I really do appreciate that our baby has that personality. She is fun, carefree and yes, a little dangerous. She is going to be a nightmare of a teenager to raise, but I look forward to watching her try new things and one day learn to let go and stand on her own two feet...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Breastfeeding is like....

Having breastfed two children, I am acutely aware how different children can be. My two children are like night and day in almost every respect. Breastfeeding certainly has been no different in this respect.

Noah loved to nurse - he would spend all day at the breast as a baby. As he got older and went to school at a year of age, he still enjoyed nursing. We naturally cut out the day sessions, as he was at daycare - but he kept the morning, night and middle of the night feeds. In fact, until he was 14 months, he was up every two hours to nurse. Did he need to nurse every 2 hours at 14 months and 30 pounds? No way - but we did it because it was our cuddle time.

When Noah fed, he took his time - he enjoyed the cuddles and there were so many nights where he would nurse and sleep for three hours, while I sat in the lazyboy...not realizing how much time had passed because I was asleep too! We used to co-nap as well, and I would go down for quite a few hours just because he loved to nurse and sleep at the same time. If I wanted him to nap well, I had to go down for a nap too.

He naturally weaned himself when I was a few months pregnant with Layla - the taste must have changed because it was an abrupt end at 16 months. I was not ready for it to be over and mourned the end of that period of our lives. Especially since he was not an overly cuddly child, so I lost the only time he would let me hold him.

Layla....oh my beautiful Layla...breastfeeding her is like trying to hog-tie a rabid tazmanian devil and force feed it. She treats breastfeeding like it is the only way to get her nutrients and that is it. She has no desire to cuddle or spend hours at the breast. Since the day she was born, you couldn't force her onto the breast if she was upset or needed to nap. If she was not hungry at that moment, she would have none of it. Once she got teeth, she got even more brutal by ending sessions with a hard bite! She squirms, twists and pulls off. She slaps me in the face, fish-hooks me in the mouth, claws at my eyes and uses her nails on my flesh. She does not wake at night for mommy cuddles - she is another one who isn't terribly cuddly. In fact, if you happen to catch her at a tender moment and she agrees to hug you - once she realizes what is happening, she puts her hand on your face and shoves you away.

However, due to my obsession with breastfeeding, I have kept it up with Layla. I even pump at work daily so she can get a little breastmilk during the day while I am at work. She nurses only once a day now - at bedtime. I actually am shocked she still nurses. I am certain the end is going to come sooner than it did for Noah.

I remember reading a lot about breastfeeding a toddler, when Noah got over a year of age. I couldn't figure out why anyone would need to adjust how they fed their toddler just because they were older. Noah never moved when he fed! Sure, he got distracted, but I was able to work through it.

Now that I have Layla approaching the year mark, I can fully appreciate the complexities to nursing a toddler. Over the last few weeks Layla has developed a very strange nursing habit, that makes breastfeeding nearly impossible. She doesn't want to be held in the typical cradle hold (how dare I treat her like a baby?!?!). She now nurses by laying on my stomach, facing me - but she pushes down until she is dangling between my legs (I think she is trying to stand between my legs while she nurses). It is so strange to feed her like this - I almost have to put my legs straight out and let her lay on them - but she wants to dangle. So I nurse her by holding onto her under her arms and letting her hang.

Yet, despite the difficulties, I can't bring myself to be the one to end the relationship. I won't. Similar to Noah, I will let her dictate when she is done, no matter how old she is. So now I have to revisit those chapters and websites I read about nursing a toddler and work through this - which is really just another hurdle in the world of breastfeeding. It is never smooth sailing and problem free - but it is always a great time to cuddle...even if they fight it, they all eventually settle down once the milk starts flowing!

I am certainly learning a lot about how unique each child is when they breastfeed. It is giving me a greater appreciation of the complexities with breastfeeding - something I hope will come in handy as I embark on my lactation education.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chivalry is dead

On my way to the subway today, I got shoved past and pushed (not so uncommon in this city) but I still bristle when it happens. Worse yet, I was waiting for the subway doors to open and beside me were a mother and her young son. I stepped aside to let them on and a 20-something male jumped ahead of her, as did about 4 other people. It wasn't until I stepped ahead of them all and offered her to enter the subway, that they were able to safely get on without the aforementioned shoving.

What is wrong with people?!?! How are these people raised? Is it so hard to be courteous, polite and chivalrous? I suspect that while many people allegedly teach their children to be polite and courteous, these behaviours are not being demonstrated by the people in their lives and thus, they don't feel the need to follow through with this behaviour.

I was raised to be polite and courteous, as most people are. I was also taught to respect those who respect you. Now, this is a source of disagreement for a lot of people who believe that you should respect your elders. However, my mother taught me that just because someone is older doesn't mean they automatically deserve your respect - especially if they do not respect you. Respect must be earned and as such, if someone is willing to treat me with respect then I shall treat them the same way.

I want to raise my son with a bit of chivalry: to hold open doors for people or to give a pregnant woman a seat on the subway. I want him to treat women (and men) with respect so that he will in turn be treated with respect. I live my life by being polite and courteous, as does Keith - so I can only hope that he will see that we "practice what we preach". Yet, if he goes out in the world and sees that no one else is bothering with these life lessons - will he just give up on them? How do you ensure this doesn't happen?

I want to raise my daughter to be equally polite and courteous - but to also learn to stand her ground if she does not feel she is being treated fairly or respectfully. Yet again, I worry that my lessons and modelled behaviour can only take her so far.

So I want to ask everyone: please teach your children these lessons, but also model them yourselves - because this is where I think we fail as a society. We are in such a rush to get to work, to get home...thinking our lives are more important than those around them, that we are only too willing to shove a pregnant woman out of the way or steal a chair from a young toddler riding the subway.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Breastfeeding and sleep - is it possible?

I was at a La Leche League meeting this week and one of the mom's brought a question forth to the group: as a result of her son's sleeping habits, she now co-slept and breastfed at night freely. The trouble was, when she tried to remove her breast from his mouth once he was asleep, he would wake up and instantly start hunting for the breast and wake up.

Around the room, many moms offered their advice, "Have you tried....", "What I used to do...", on and on around the room.

It got me thinking - if all the moms in the room had experienced this "problem" at some point in their breastfeeding relationship, why are we so quick to deem it a "problem" that needs to be fixed?

When I go online to different mommy chat groups you hear the same questions asked over and over through the years: "I can't get my newborn baby to sleep anywhere but on my chest", "my baby is biting me instead of nursing", "my baby seems too distracted to breastfeed" - nothing is unique, many babies experience the same situations.

I have always had a big issue with sleep training. Yes, I have heard that a rested mom is a happy mom and that makes for a happy family...thing is, I'm not buying it because, when I look at these situations and see so many children experiencing them over and over, it makes me think that perhaps there is a reason.

Children are born with the innate ability to do what they have to do to feel comforted and fed. They can't change their own diapers, but every single baby in the world will cry if they are left in a soiled diaper too long, or if they can't find the breast (or bottle) for milk. So if every baby in the world goes through similar stages, why are we so quick to jump in and fix it? Why must babies sleep through the night? Is that natural when breastmilk only lasts in their system 2 hours, formula only 4?When toddlers hit the 'terrible 2's' society is quick to brush off misbehaviour as a consequence of age, so why can't the same be said for newborn babies? Is it so hard to believe that it is (dare I say) normal for a mom and baby to co-sleep and nurse all night long because the baby and mom both seem better rested in this arrangement (why do you think the mom and baby co-slept in the first place?) Not only is easier for them, but it is more comforting - and that is all baby wants!

Breastfed babies are, however, capable of sleeping through the night. I suspect this has more to do with other factors: their personalities or even their birth order.

Lets look at an example: Noah was up every 2 hours until I returned to work and was physicially incapable of waking every other hour to breastfeed him at 14 months of age (at which point we were able to wean his night feeds because I couldn't function and he was a 30lb toddler). He used to nap with my breast in his mouth for hours and hours. He slept in my arms and nursed as soon as he woke at night. Conversely Layla, being the second born, had to learn to put herself to sleep at times out of necessity. With a 2 year old on the main level of the house, it was hard to lay with her for hours and nurse her constantly. It was hard to have that time so she is actually a fantastic sleeper now. Similarily, she doesn't wake up at night, despite being a breastfed baby. I think it is just her personality....

So to all new moms: do what works. There is usally an innate reason why baby sleeps better on (or with) you, why she nurses constantly, and why she wakes every two hours. yes, it is exhausting (but that is why motherhood is so hard) - take heart, it won't last forever. I don't know of any teenagers who still need to nurse to sleep on their mothers chest. They grow so fast, and soon you will long for those quiet moments of cuddles together.

These are horrible photos of me, but I wanted to share anyway!

Co-sleeping with Noah

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh the perils of exercise


Hate it? Love it? I can't decide what side of the fence I am on.

I am not one to join group sports - never have been (except for cheerleading), or be active by hiking or biking ( own personal version of hell). So I have to find time to be active.

Let me point out that once the kids are in bed, I do dishes and pack lunches so I am left with an hour of potential free time before bed. Many moms and dads spend that time doing laundry, sweeping the house, washing floors - whatever doesn't get done during the day. So I am not left with a lot of time to fit in exercise.

Keith is fantastic - he will do as many dishes as he can while he makes dinner to free up some of my time so I can work out. Recently, I also stopped sitting with Layla until she was asleep, as she falls asleep faster if I am not there. So I have gained an extra half hour.

A big hurdle, other than time, is my desire to be a lazy bum. I work all day and while my job is neither strenuous nor stressful, I still feel like being out of the house all day takes away from some "me" time. I love TV so I love to sit down and watch my shows at night. If asked to pick between tv and my treadmill, I pick TV everytime. If only we had cable hooked up to the tv in the basement....

As you know, I have done Jillian Michaels 30day shred. Got half way through before I stopped b/c of sickness and returning to work. Then I just got lazy - I didn't want to work out at 9pm!

So this week I got out my Wii fit - I didn't find it terribly challenging or strenuous so I figure I can do that on nights I don't want to work out.

A few nights ago I also did my EA Active for the Wii - now THAT was a workout! I thought I was settling in for an easy workout, like the Wii fit routine, but this challenged me so much that I could barely walk the next few days.

Yesterday I decided to get back on the treadmill. Previously, Keith and I did the 'couch to 5K' workout and we did great. It got to the point that we were both doing 5K, 3 times a week. I haven't been on a treadmill since I returned to work but I decided to go for it (mostly because Keith downloaded smutty tv for me to watch while I run).

Once I was done, I commented to keith that I really love running - but it is always such a task to get myself to do it. I feel better for having done it, I feel less guilty about having pie for dessert - but I can't seem to remember that BEFORE the workout.

Tonight there are two of my favourite shows on tv, so I am sure I won't be working out. Keith can have the treadmill tonight...I am going to attempt to remember that I like running...tomorrow...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Our current trials and tribulations - life with 2 kids

Keith is doing great at home with the kids. He really is amazing. He keeps the house tidy, the kids are very happy and he has fixed sleep, potty and many discipline issues. You see, I am the push-over parent. I am the one who will cave to their slightest request. I wish I could parent like he does!

I wanted to share what we are currently going through with the two kids, as life is never dull here and I am sure our stories are not unique to our kids.

Layla is too young to really have any discipline issues. She is growing so fast though. I find she is learning to do things faster than her brother did. She just figured out how to crawl forward this week - which means our previous "rolling log of disaster" is now a "crawling mass of destruction". If something is dangerous or off-limits, she will find it and eat it. This is new territory for us, having had one baby who was very placid and didn't crawl until a year of age. Our biggest challenges with her right now are baby proofing to keep her safe, teaching her that things are off-limits (we use a tone of voice with her that she knows means something is off limits) and biting.
Layla already has six teeth but we think a few more are coming. She has taken to biting her brother - not maliciously, but because she is probably teething and his flesh is the nearest thing to her mouth. When they have bath together, Noah spends the whole bath dodging her bites and scooting around the tub screeching at her to "stop it!". I would bathe them separately, but I can't really figure out how to do this because they go to bed at the same time.
The only thing we can do at this age is remove her from the person she is biting and distract her with something else. It works about 90% of the time.

Noah is an amazing kid - so happy and calm, but something is making him feel like he needs more attention or more power in his life (My guess is that Layla is that "something" special causing him to feel a bit left out).
His newest behaviour that is causing discipline issues at home, and potty training issues at school is what I refer to as "learned helplessness" (as a tribute to nursing theory). Noah likes to throw a fit over things he is capable of doing by yelling, "I CAN'T!" and then crying (or rather, trying to make himself cry). This could be exclaimed as he tries to pull up his pants, put on his coat, or put his own socks on. These are all things he is 100% capable of doing. It can be very difficult to sit and listen to when you have to get out the door. This is one of those situations where Keith is a million times better than I am - he is more patient, whereas I give in and do it for him.

Keith and I parent according to Alyson Shaefer's alderian principles ( We have been a bit busy lately to consult her book to see how to get Noah out of this learned helplessness cycle, however this weekend Keith had time to review the two chapters that apply to both attention seeking and power struggles.

We tried out the principles over dinner, which is an area we have had a lot of battles. Typically, Noah fights sitting at the table with us, and when he does he shoves his plate away and then trys to get back down after throwing a fit over what he is supposed to eat. He also has gotten ME in the habit of spoon feeding him, just to get him to eat something. After chewing it, he spits it back onto his plate. Inevitably, he will spend time in the corner during dinner.

Last night, we anticipated he wouldn't be hungry because he ate one pound of pasta at lunch...literally! It is hard to explain alderian principles properly and succinctly, so instead I will share what we specifically did with Noah:

As we served dinner, Noah dawdled at his chair. We asked him to join us and he refused. Instead of harping on him, or forcing him into his chair, we just began eating and pleasantly chatting about our day.  He played around the kitchen for a while (enjoying his new freedom!) and at some point he noticed he wasn't getting undue attention from skipping dinner, so he came up to the table and shoved his plate away. This is something we don't tolerate, so he went straight to the corner (although I think Alyson Shaefer would have said we should just ignore that behaviour). After he was done in the corner, he asked to come to the table. So we told him, very nicely, that we would really like that. He tried to get us to put him in his chair for him, but he is capable of doing so himself so we told him that once he gets into his chair, we would be more than happy to push him toward the table. He did so himself and ate one piece of food before declaring he was done. We told him that was fine, but there would be no more food until breakfast the next day. He was ok with this and asked politely to leave the table. I was a bit anxious about putting him to bed hungry, but he actually ended up sleeping later than usual and had two bowls of oatmeal at harm done!

Every time we use Alyson's book, I am astounded at how well it works. It often seems common sense, but it really is challenging because I find the hardest part of parenting is not holding a grudge or making the child feel guilty over their choice. Haven't we all told the child that "yes, you can leave this table, but now I have to throw out this dinner that daddy spent so long making"? According to Alyson Shaefer, once you are past a misbehaving situtaion, you have to drop the anger or frustration  - and this is really hard. So it is a constant work for us but Keith and I are very devoted to it and work very hard at parenting the best we can. We don't want to use old-school parenting techniques of "you have to do this because I say so" or guilt-trips, aggression or fear-tactics.

Another situation last night, where her tactics worked very well for us was when Noah wanted help putting his socks on for bed (he likes to sleep in socks!). He sobbed while begging Keith to help him. Keith gave him a long hug but then proceeded to read him his bedtime stories to Noah. About four pages in, Noah realized he wasn't getting attention over his sobbing and put his socks on himself and enjoyed the rest of the story.

If you have discipline issues with your kids, try Alyson's book out. It really is a quick and easy read (you only need to review the chapters that apply to your child's discipline issues) and you won't be sorry!

Friday, January 21, 2011

2010 in photos

Fellow mommy bloggers have done their year in photos, and I wanted to join in the fun! I am a little late, since our computer had died over the holidays, but here we go!

Pregnant at the start of 2010

This is the only photo I had in February, so it won by default...

March, we did maternity photos

I wanted to add another one with the whole family

April marked the end of my Master's program...I had Layla a week later

April: My final belly shot before being induced

A few hours later, Layla came into our lives

The three of us, Noah wouldn't join us in the photos

May marked Noah's second birthday!

June: Noah and Layla getting closer

July: Canada Day!

August: Learning to play together

September: Noah went to ride on Thomas the train with Nana and Granddad

September: Also marked Layla's baptism

October: We went apple picking with Keith's family

October: We also did some Halloween photos with Kim

November: Layla getting bigger!

November: Noah developing such a sense of humour!

December: Sibling love - but also the start of sibling rivalry, as Layla is learning to move around and steal Noah's toys

January 2011: Keith started his parental leave, until April. He is such a good stay-at-home dad.