Friday, September 28, 2012

Snap happy!

I am a raging photoholic. I have probably taken close to a million photos in the past several years. It's an addiction. Like an alcoholic needs a drink, like a junkie needs a fix, I NEED to take pictures. Daily. If I'm out somewhere and I see a photo op (something cute, beautiful or unusual) and I don't have my camera with me to snap it, it physically HURTS. Once I was driving home from nightshift and saw a blue heron sitting by the water with the golden glow of the sunrise behind him. It was the perfect shot. I had to have it. D'oh! I was dead tired after a long night but I rushed home to get my camera and raced back to the pond hoping he'd still be there. He was. Yes. It's a problem.

I once sat by my patio doors for 2 hours taking hundreds of pictures of a severe thunderstorm trying to capture lightning. I had mastered the art of photographing fireworks but lightning was even trickier. If I wasn't so stubborn it wouldn't have happened. I took a lot of pictures of a black sky, one millisecond too early or too late for the bolt. I wasn't giving up. The timing is crazy. You have to press the button before the bolt even comes. It's an act of blind faith. Meanwhile my Mom phoned me from her basement, terrified because a tornado watch was in effect. I told her I was enjoying God's fireworks display and trying to get a piece of it! Mom begged me to take cover but there was no way I was missing this show when I had a front row seat! There was a dark cloud in the sky that might have been a funnel cloud for all I knew but I was going to get this picture if it killed me! Then it happened. Magic. The sky was lit up with multiple bolts at once, right over my backyard. I'd never seen anything like it. It was so beautiful. And I caught it with my camera. It was so close the glass seemed to shake a little. I felt it in my bones. I was ecstatic. I have always loved thunderstorms. The awesome power and beauty of nature makes me feel close to God.

I have this need to capture every moment in images. It started in 1994 when I went to Europe with my boyfriend at the time (my longest relationship -- on-again, off-again for nine years). We backpacked across Europe for 26 days, going to to England, France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. I knew that I might never see these places again so I had to record everything. My boyfriend thought I took too many photos. I don't think I took nearly enough. At the time I had a terrible cheap little 110mm camera. With the parallax error some of my pictures were quite horrendous. The camera was so poorly designed that what you see in the viewfinder isn't even what you are actually photographing. Many of those shots were crap. Except in Venice where it's so picturesque it's impossible to take a bad picture. Even in the rain. I didn't know what I was doing. Before that I didn't even own a camera. My boyfriend had borrowed his dad's camera which was of much better quality. Unfortunately he would only take a picture if he thought it was "worthy." He didn't want to get photos of me in front of the landmarks I'd crossed the world to see because he thought that was cheesy. I had to twist his arm. I explained that if we weren't in the photos then there was no proof we were ever even there! Photos of us at all the major sites were the best souvenirs we could have. He didn't want to "clutter" the photos up with us. (This could be one of the many reasons we didn't work out!) Luckily I did get him to take a picture of me in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum and my favourite castle, Neuschwanstein in Bavaria.) I took 30 rolls of film. At the time that seemed like a lot. It's nothing compared to how many digital photos I take now. If I had Europe to do over again I would take a hundred times more photos. Probably a thousand times more. I could snap 30 rolls of film in one hour!

Photos are tangible memories. Time is so fleeting. The camera allows you to freeze a moment and preserve it forever. That is priceless to me. After Europe, I was hooked. The rest of my life would be frozen in images. I took my camera everywhere. I'm so grateful for the photos of Europe and of all my travels and adventures. Over the years I have had several cameras. I was constantly upgrading, partially by choice and partially necessity. I had a Canon which was destroyed in Montreal when a stranger offered to take a picture of my boyfriend at the time and I and then proceeded to DROP it on the concrete! "You want I take your picture?" he had asked with a thick accent. Not a French accent. I don't know where he was from. Possibly from Hell! The pictures survived but the camera didn't. The stranger muttered sorry. I was devestated. I made sure to get a camera with a self-timer next time so that I wouldn't need a stranger to take our picture again. Some cameras (Minolta, Pentax) just wore out. Three years with me would be like thirty years with anyone else. I take that many pictures. It's quantity more than quality really but as one of my teachers said once, you produce quantity to get quality. They're not all gems but if you snap 100 you're bound to get at least one perfect shot.

The first time I got a camera that had a macro feature, I was taking close-up nature shots like a fiend. I loved going on hikes and getting photos of flowers and leaves. When I went to Algonquin Provincial Park, with my boyfriend at the time it was incredible to be somewhere beautiful with someone who really appreciated it and who loved photography almost as much as I did (he wasn't the 9 year boyfriend. He was the on-again, off-again 3 year boyfriend. The sensitive but tragic alcoholic.) Watching the mist rising from the lake at sunrise was one of the most magical moments of my life. I took hundreds of photos during that trip. I even got a close-up of a mother moose with her baby by the side of the road. I knelt down a few feet from her. She looked right into my eyes. People said I was crazy because she might have attacked me. My boyfriend got a picture of me shooting the moose (with a camera!) Other people were taking pictures but no one but me dared to get so close to her. I will risk my life for a photo! One of the macros I took during that trip, of some maple leaves, was published on Oprah's website:

When my niece Shannon was a baby, I took thousands of pictures of her. Back then it was a film camera and I was printing them all out. The guy at the photolab was very friendly. He asked if she was my first child. I explained "She's not even mine! She's my niece. God forbid if I ever had one of my own. I can't imagine how many photos I'd take!" At the time I didn't plan to have kids of my own and never thought that I would. Little did I know that one day I'd be a Mom to my own little girl. It still blows my mind.

So here I am now with my first child. And yes, of course I'm snap happy! A real paparazzo! (Or Mamarazzo!)  Michelle has gotten used to staring down the lens of a Nikon, to seeing the flash, to hearing me squeal "Where's your smile, baby?" At least now with digital photos you don't have to get them all "developed." I could never afford to print them all out! You can take 100 shots and choose the best few. I do want to print some out for a photo album but God knows when I'll be able to go to one of those kiosks. There's no WAY Michelle would let me stand still for that long! I've heard that you can order photos online, then just pick them up. I'll have to look into it. That may be my only hope of having a baby album for Michelle. I don't even know how many pictures I've taken of her so far...At least a thousand I think. And it's only been two months!

I'm always so happy when I'm able to capture one of her smiles. I've been fortunate enough to catch quite a few. The real challenge has been trying to get a good photo of Michelle and I together. Either I look like a weenie or she's pulling a face. It's hard to get both of us looking and smiling. When my Mom takes a picture she's so short that she winds up taking it from too low and it looks like I have 5 chins. My sister has tried to get a few but it's hard to make Michelle cooperate and she often starts to fuss just as the camera clicks. She smiles for Mama but not with Mama. And then in the shots where she looks good, it's unflattering of me (blinking or smiling weird or God knows what.) And of course it's even more difficult with the self-timer to get Michelle looking. It always seems to snap at the wrong moment. My friend James, of J Harvey Photography, was kind enough to do some portraits of Michelle and I very recently. I can't wait to see the pictures! He showed me on his camera that he caught at least one of Michelle smiling. I was so happy! I have many pictures of her smiling at me but that's the first one of her smiling with me. James also did my maternity photos, if you caught that post back in June. I'll post a blog about his new portraits once I have them.

I want to capture all of Michelle's milestones on camera. I have pictures of her sitting up already, mind you it's in her Bumbo chair. I love the chair! It was so cute to see her sitting on her own, sort of. She loved the chair too and was quite entertained sitting in it. I guess it was a novelty for her. I managed to get a few smiles from her in it.

I've also been giving her some "tummy time" to strengthen her neck muscles and help her hold her head up. She seemed to get a kick out of that too.


She's been standing a little as well, with a lot of help from me. She is always kicking her legs and sometimes stiffens them so much I thought I'd try standing her on my lap. She did surprisingly well (of course it's hard to get a photo because I need to hold her with both hands!) My Mom said don't be too anxious for her to stand and walk or she'll be getting into all sorts of mischief. She said that once Michelle is moving around I may be looking back at these early days as easy because at least she wasn't mobile so I had some control over her. (Not that I have much control mind you. She's the one in the driver's seat and calling the shots!)

Of all the places and faces and things that I have photographed, Michelle is by far my favourite subject! Everyone says how quickly they grow up so all the more reason to have each step of the journey preserved forever. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing her life on the internet (I've been sharing mine for years on sites like Youtube and Twitter.) When she's old enough to read it I hope she realizes it is a testament to my love for her. From the moment I found out I was pregnant I have been devoted to her and I love her more each day. I hope it doesn't embarass her. I know that parents always wind up embarassing their kids! My Mom kept baby books for each of us kids. This blog is my version of a baby book. 
Michelle you are my life, my love, everything to me. We are on this adventure together, both of us learning and growing each day (physically for you, spiritually for me). I'm sorry if I'm a bit of a photo fanatic. I hope all the flashes don't hurt your eyes (I do opt for natural light when it's available!) Thank you for being such a good sport so far!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shots, grasshoppers and wrong turns!

Someone pointed out to me that STRESSED backwards spells desserts. Hmm. Maybe that's why I'm craving ice cream. I have been really stressed out lately! I know that I should relax. I do plan to start doing yoga again soon. Maybe that will help. I need to find my "Zen" again. I wish I didn't let things get to me. I wish I was one of those people so laid back about everything. Just go with the flow. Take it as it comes. I'm a little high strung (it's hereditary.) I can only relax when everything is perfect and everything goes right. Now how often does that actually happen?!

Car trips are often stressful with the baby. I never know if she's going to scream or for how long. I worry about the position of the sun (because even with the screens covering the back windows, sometimes there is full sun on her face and it drives me crazy! I wind up dislocating my shoulder reaching to the backseat to hold up a piece of paper to shade her little face. Have to be especially careful with my sensitive little red haired girl.) I worry if she's going to poo (because she goes so often and as I've learned the hard way a few times now, trying to change her in the car is beyond awkward. It's just short of impossible. And God help you if you don't change her because she will scream bloody murder the entire way until your ears are bleeding and your head explodes. If you happen to be on the highway and can't pull over, you're S.O.L.) or cry for some other reason. I worry that she'll wail the whole time or wait for a really embarassing moment like when I'm at the drive-thru window. Every time I put the keys in the ignition I cross my fingers and hope I get lucky.

It was my brother's birthday celebration, so I set out in the car with Michelle, hoping for the best. At least now I have my trusty soother to help out during the trip. (I have gone from being opposed to the pacifier to absolutely loving it! It really helps to calm Michelle down, keeps her from crying, actually seems to help her fall asleep and so is my magic talisman when we're out and about.) The only problem is that of course it doesn't always stay in her mouth and she cries when it drops. So I pulled over three times during the trip to give it back to her. Then there's the sunlight. For some reason on this particular drive, the sun was on her face no matter which way we went, even when the road curved. It seemed to be coming from all directions. I was afraid she'd get a sunburn. I guess I don't have to worry that she only swallows about half the vitamin D drops when I try to give them to her. She's getting vitamin D whenever we take a drive thanks to the useless screens I got for the windows. I guess I need to install full curtains or black out the windows or something.

At least we made it there for the birthday party but being at my Mom's is stressful in itself. My mother's house is a little crowded to say the least, never mind when there are nearly 20 people there. She had cleared out the family room to make some space but my nephew James and one of my brother's friend's kids were playing with toy cars and had taken up the entire floor. I needed to feed Michelle and my Mom didn't have a private room I could go to. So to get to the couch I had to carefully tiptoe like a Mommy Godzilla through a little village filled with hundreds of toy cars, trying not to slip and drop the baby.

I don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. I don't mind as much if I'm just around women but I just can't do it in front of boys. Family or not. I had pumped breastmilk in a bottle but it wasn't enough to do all day so I had to breastfeed her at least once while I was there. My Mom said "Save the bottle for when we're having dinner so I can feed her while you're eating." I put a big scarf over Michelle and I (and it was a hundred degrees under the thing!) for privacy and tried to feed Michelle. It was very uncomfortable. At home I have my nursing pillow when I'm sitting up or I feed her lying down in bed. Trying to feed her on the couch with no pillow and trying to stay hidden from two little boys playing with cars by my feet was not easy. I knew that James was aware of breastfeeding (he had precociously made the comment while I was pregnant that a baby was going to be a lot of work and that I'd have to feed her from my boobs!) but I really didn't want to expose myself to him. Using the nipple shield (which I continue to use and couldn't live without! The first week trying to feed her with my bare nipples left me bleeding and bruised! I'm never going back to that!) makes it that much more awkward especially when you're trying to stay hidden. Michelle and I both wound up soaked. (When she's not on a proper pillow she's a sloppy eater and the milk tends to drip down the two of us.)

Michelle is sometimes fussy, sometimes good. And you never know how it's going to go. Usually the soother will placate her at least but it doesn't always work. She was probably cranky because she didn't get to have much of a nap. She closed her eyes for a few minutes here and there but wouldn't stay asleep. Even if there were room for her to lie down, the TV blasting (we couldn't find the remote to turn down the volume) and the boys playing in the room probably would have disturbed her. At least my sister in law took her for a while which gave my arms a break. Barb was excited to hold her. "She's so small! You forget how small they were!" Barb's youngest is a toddler. She isn't planning to have any more. Holding Michelle almost made her want another. Hearing Michelle cry almost non-stop probably nipped that in the bud.

I had the bottle of breast milk to give Michelle at dinner which she consumed in seconds (120 ml should be plenty. I can't believe how much she can drink/eat!) and then proceeded to cry while I tried to scarf down my dinner. My brother in law joked "This would be a good commercial for Advil!" It's funny because I remember so many get-togethers in the past where my siblings' kids were crying, screaming. Arguing over toys. Crying because they fell. Sometimes it could get pretty loud, especially with a couple of them going at once. I never suspected that one day it would be MY baby who would be crying. Having a child seemed beyond the realm of possibility. Now it's my reality.

My brother in law asked if maybe she was hungry or needed to be changed. "No," I explained, "She's just been fed, burped and changed. She's just a redhead! Mom says I was a nightmare too."
Even little James asked "What's wrong with the baby?"
"She's a baby!" I answered. Babies cry. It's their only form of communication. (Well other than the occasional coo or goo and a little laugh.)

The sound of the baby crying, along with all the other noise and commotion of the family was a bit overwhelming. I wondered what Christmas would be like when an even bigger gang (all of us) will be there. Of course by then Michelle will be 5 months old and hopefully much better behaved. She may even be talking. (I can dream. She has said "Hi" more than ten times now which to me makes it more than a fluke or accident. So who knows? A few times when she was crying it sounded like she said "Mama" even when she was first born. OK that probably was just a fluke...)

Get-togethers with the family are a little different with the baby. Everyone was hanging out in the backyard. Usually I would have been out there with them. We went out briefly but then I had to go in to feed Michelle and after feeding her we were both damp with milk and it was too cold to go out. So I barely had a visit with anyone other than the boys and their cars in the family room. Then even when everyone came in I missed my brother opening his gifts because I had to change Michelle who was screaming (again). I tried to get a group photo of us but there really isn't anywhere to set up the camera at my Mom's. My camera has a self-timer so I'm usually able to get all of us in a shot. Unfortunately on this occasion I couldn't fit everyone in and the baby was crying. It was one of the worst pictures ever. At least Michelle settled down for a few minutes and we were able to get a couple of photos.

By the end of the day I was physically and emotionally exhausted and anxious to get home. Little did I know what lay in store for me...

The baby was screaming. She wouldn't even keep the soother in her mouth a second so I thought something is definitely wrong. I was on empty anyway (of course) so when I stopped to fill up at the gas station, I took her out of her seat to change her diaper (as nightmarish as it is to do so in the backseat of the car.) Sure enough she'd had another HUGE poo (why she couldn't have done this five minutes earlier before we left my Mom's, I don't know. Timing is everything! She usually has at least three really big poos a day but you never know exactly when they'll happen.) So at least she was changed and happy. Unfortunately it seems that while I had the car door open, we picked up a hitchhiker...

I was driving along when I suddenly saw a grasshopper spreadeagle, legs splayed across the windshield. Inside the car! Normally I'm not afraid of grasshoppers but I'm not a big fan of insects flying at my face when I'm trying to drive. I have had insects -- spiders, wasps, mosquitos -- in the car before, long before I had the baby and it was never pretty. It usually involved me screaming and swerving and nearly crashing to my death. I'm a little more cautious now with the baby and knew I'd have to try to restrain my natural instinct to scream and flail like a madwoman, possibly killing us both. I didn't know if the grasshopper might jump or fly or fall on me but he kept slowly inching up the windshield until he was at my eye level. I can't describe how hard it is to keep your eyes on the road when you're whiteknuckled staring at a grasshopper praying that he doesn't jump at your eye. I had to get him out. I just didn't know how. I didn't want to squish him. It made my skin crawl just thinking about it. Then I remembered my friend had given me this handy little diaper bag dispenser for my purse. I could catch him in a bag and let him outside. I finally went for it. It was terrifying but I managed to catch him in the bag and let him out the window. Logically he probably died anyway. If the impact didn't kill him, then a passing car would but in the scheme of things I figured the lives of my baby and I were slightly more important! One disaster had been averted but there was still another in store for me...

The route that I used to take home hasn't been possible for months thanks to an annoying road closure due to a never-ending construction mess (on the main road that I took 50% of the way) so I had an alternate route. Then to my horror as I was heading home I saw that the infuriating construction disease had spread even to my alternate route. It was closed. Great. It was pitch dark out. My night vision isn't great to start with. I thought I had figured out another way home. Turns out the road that I thought I was on was something else entirely. Before I knew it, I was lost. Really lost. Nothing was familiar. I was in the middle of nowhere. There were no lights. I turned from one street to another hoping something would take me somewhere. I didn't even know what direction I was going. North, south, east, west? I hadn't a clue. For all I knew I was going in the opposite direction to where I should be heading. Everything was "Sideroad" this and that. You know you're in the country when they don't even call it a road or a street, just a sideroad. Sure enough, now I was on a dirt road! It wasn't even PAVED. Thankfully Michelle was still asleep through all this but I started to panic. "OMG. She's going to wake up and be starving because I should have been home with her an hour ago to feed her. I don't even know where we are! How will we ever get home?!" I started to pray "Please God help me get home! Soon!"

Now most people have modern gadgets like cellphones and GPS. I don't. I refused to get a cellphone. Yes I think I'm the last person left in North America over the age of 10 that doesn't have one! There are times I wish I had one for an emergency but with money tighter than ever as a single Mom it's not really in the budget. Anyway, so I had nothing to help me find my way and no way of calling for help. I started looking for any lights or signs of life but it was just blackest pitch as far as the eye could see. I was getting more and more nervous. I didn't know what to do.

Finally I saw a house with a light on. Part of me worried that this was just too much like those horror movie scenes where some poor unsuspecting schlep is lost in the middle of nowhere and stops somewhere to ask for directions (or runs out of gas -- at least I had gas) and happens upon a family of inbred cannibals. I was hoping that wouldn't happen! I nervously approached the wooden door and a man came to greet me before I knocked. Thank Heaven he was NICE (and not a murderer/cannibal!)

"I'm so sorry to bother you," I said "but I'm really lost and I have a 2 month old baby in the car..."
He kindly gave me directions and even drew me a map. I was so relieved and grateful. I should have asked him how long I was going to be on each of the roads though because it took so long for me to find the main road that I started to worry I'd passed it. I didn't know how much longer to keep driving. When I finally got to a sign and to signs of civilization I was so happy I wanted to scream "Woo hoo!" but was trying to stay quiet for Michelle who was miraculously still asleep. She didn't wake up until we were nearly home and she started to scream. Poor girl was starving by now. Of course (because we hadn't been through enough already) I got stuck behind some idiot on the one lane road going as slow as molasses. I kept trying to comfort Michelle "It's OK baby. We're almost home! We'd be home by now if it wasn't for this IDIOT in our way!" Of course I was an idiot too. I'd gotten us lost in the first place.

I was ecstatic when we finally made it home. I was like Dorothy in her ruby slippers saying "There's no place like home!" Michelle fed voraciously. It felt so good to be home safe and sound that I swore I wasn't going to leave the house the next day and we didn't. We had a nice peaceful day in our pjs and Michelle was quite mellow and content (probably exhausted from the day before.)

There was still something else coming up to stress about -- I had to take Michelle for her 8 week shots. Needles had always caused me anxiety. The idea of my innocent little baby having to go through it was far worse than if it were happening to me. To make matters worse I'd even read about immunizations in "What to Expect in the First Year." Now don't get me wrong. It's a great book. I like that it's so thorough that it warns you about absolutely everything that could possibly happen. The problem with this (much like "What to Expect When You're Expecting" some sections of which gave me nightmares) is that if you're a worrier and you read about all these negative, horrific things that "might" possibly happen, it's a recipe for anxiety. So when I read that the shots could cause a rash, fever, hours of screaming and in very rare cases, even DEATH I was petrified. Of course the book said that the benefits far outweighed the risks. I hoped Michelle would be OK. I was worried enough about her crying at the needle never mind her having a bad and possibly fatal reaction! After cutting her thumb accidentally when I did her nails I wondered if she'd keep bleeding after the needle.

My Mom came with me for moral support. First they gave Michelle a Rotavirus vaccine which consisted of drops (if drops are an option why use needles at all?!) Then they gave her two needles, one in each thigh, one for Diptheria, Tetanus, Polio, Pertussis and HiB. The other for "Prevnar 13." I'm not very familiar with any of the infections/illnesses. I guess because we've been immunized against them for so long they're not really around anymore. Michelle cried and it was a heartbreaking cry of shock and pain. I comforted her. I had tears in my eyes myself. Poor little thing must have wondered what the heck was going on. At least she didn't bleed much. They didn't even put bandages on her. We stuck around for a bit to see if there was any allergic reaction (rash or anything) but she seemed fine. She calmed down eventually. The doctor gave me some infant tylenol just in case but she didn't need it. She wasn't any fussier than normal and you could barely see the tiny dots where the shots had been. I had worried for nothing. I was so relieved. Unfortunately we have to go through this over and over again. Apparently she has to get more needles at 4 months, 6, 12, 15 and 18 months. Then at 4 years, 12 years, 13 years and 14 years. Gheesh. I don't remember getting so many shots as a kid. I thought it was just one booster shot once in your life and you're done.

Even when I don't have anything immediate to worry about, my Mom will call up and try to give me something new to stress over. The latest was her phoning to warn me that there is arsenic in rice. She heard it on the news so it must be true. There's never anything happy on the news so I avoid watching it but I get to hear tidbits from my mother. I'm never sure if she got the story quite right. (Like when she told me that eating eggs is as bad as smoking cigarettes. Not quite right. Apparently eggs -- cholesterol anyway -- and cigarettes can both contribute to heart disease but I'd prefer the eggs.) Some foods I might be willing to give up (broccoli for instance) but I love rice. I eat it almost every day. I was pretty sure that if all rice was poisonous they might make more of an effort to warn people about it, like drawing a big skull and crossbones on the front of the bag or something. Then again it took them a while to let people know that cigarettes would kill them and even that doesn't stop the smokers out there. I don't know much about arsenic. I remember hearing about a play called "Arsenic and Old Lace" about a couple of psychotic old ladies poisoning people. Anyway, I Googled the rice arsenic thing just to see what Mom was on about. It turns out that there is actually arsenic in air, water and soil. Consequently it ends up in many foods, not just rice. Organic arsenic isn't so bad. But there is also inorganic arsenic (in the form of pesticides and insecticides which wind up on fruits and vegetables.) So while the focus was on rice recently for some reason, apparently there is arsenic in apple juice too (which is fine because I HATE apple juice! My Mom turned me against it because she used to always put it in my thermos and made it smell like apple juice. Even when she started giving me milk in the thermos it still tasted like apple juice. Awful.) Anyway, I'm a big fan of rice, especially Uncle Ben's Express Basmati Rice -- my fave. From what I read online there are only trace amounts, not enough to kill you, so I don't think I'll change my diet too much. The weird thing is that I read the FDA really doesn't have any standards for levels of arsenic. So technically all our food could be poisoned with toxic levels of arsenic and they wouldn't have a problem with it? I don't get it. I'm going to try not to worry about it. Apparently everything is bad for you in some way, even things that are good for you. You can't stop eating everything. Fish is brain food but might have mercury in it. Fruits and vegetables are healthy but might be poisoned with insecticides. My Mom said that when I start giving the baby food, not to give her rice cereal, just in case. I rolled my eyes. I won't give her apple juice either.

My Mother was always a worrier and she's passed a lot of her worrying tendencies on to me. As much as I swore I would never become my mother, sometimes I catch myself doing it. I don't want to turn Michelle into a nervous wreck so I do want to try to relax. I don't want her to think the world is a scary place (even though sometimes it is.) Overall it is a beautiful place, full of magic and wonder. The good things are what we need to focus on. And sometimes it's just your perspective. I remember one boyfriend that I dated could put a positive spin on anything. Even when he got lost while driving he would smile and say "It's an adventure!" He would have loved the grasshopper thing. Maybe I need to work on my sense of whimsy. You can't wait for life to be perfect. You just have to smile at the imperfections. Attitude is everything.

I can't believe Michelle is two months old already. The doctor said she looks very healthy and she weighs 11 lbs 6 ounces now. I figured she had to be over 11 pounds by now (judging by how much it hurts my wrists, arms and back carrying her!) Time is flying by. I am so grateful that she is in my life. Even when it's stressful. Even when she's difficult. The moments when she's happy, when she smiles or coos at me make it all worthwhile.

I just need to lighten up. I need to learn to laugh at life's (and my) foibles. The key to overcoming stress is keeping your sense of humour. I usually find mine after the fact. I can laugh about it later when I recall these things. It's just finding my humour in the moment that proves difficult. I have to remember that nothing is that serious. Nothing is the end of the world. Almost everything becomes an amusing anecdote eventually. As Charlie Chaplin said "Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up but a comedy in long-shot."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Good days, bad days...

Every day is different and I never know when I get out of bed whether it will be a good day or a bad day. Sometimes I get lucky. Michelle is often fussy, especially when I try to go shopping, but I had a really good day with her and she actually let me get through Walmart without causing a scene. Mind you, I was motoring through the store. I was walking so quickly it would have been a run to anyone else. People saw me coming and ducked out of my way. I was a woman on a mission. Pushing the cart like Mario Andretti on acid, burning through the store, from one end to the other. Diapers. Cat food. Milk. Baby clothes. Even when Michelle woke up at the cash register, miracle of miracles, she didn't cry! Maybe she was in a daze after riding in the cart at 100 miles an hour! I was so happy I kept thanking her for being so good for Mama. And then I decided to be really brave and go to the Tim Hortons drive-thru. She even stayed quiet for that! (She screamed previous times I tried to get my iced capps. Sometimes she'd cry if I even glanced at a Tims, slowed down and contemplated pulling in. So I'd drive by and she'd be quiet again.) I was amazed. All day she was happy and smiling. We played and read books (Well I played and read but she did look somewhat curious/interested what I was on about.) She barely fussed at all. It was Heaven with my little angel. Until the evening when she was restless and wouldn't settle down so I barely got any sleep. She can be good in the day or at night. Expecting both is being greedy.

The next day, unfortunately, didn't go so well. It was a nightmare actually, but more my fault than Michelle's. I was rather zombie-like on minimal sleep. Sometimes I feel so weak and exhausted it's hard to carry Michelle around (I'm guessing she's over 11 lbs by now.) I was clumsy. Bumping into, tripping over things, dropping things (like my vitamin when I went to take it.) While I was playing with Michelle on her ocean play gym I accidentally dropped a toy on her head. She cried and it was a different cry than I'd ever heard before. It was a cry of shock. I felt horrible. I kissed and kissed her saying "I'm so sorry baby!" It didn't bruise her or anything, mostly just startled her.

It wasn't just me, maybe the whole day was jinxed. I checked the calendar in case it was Friday the 13th. It wasn't. But the cat was clumsy too. She tried to jump up on the counter and missed. Then she jumped on the glass side table in the living room (which I guess I will have to get rid of before Michelle is crawling/walking) and knocked it over with a loud crash that scared Michelle and I out of our wits. She's never done that before. At least the table didn't break. It was just weird.

Then things got much worse...I don't know why I picked that day to cut the baby's nails. I should have known better. I had cut her nails once before and it had gone smoothly but they were growing long again and she kept scratching herself. She wriggles around so much and clenches her fists so you could never cut them while she's awake. I had to wait until she was sleeping and preferably during the day when there's enough light to see. So when she settled down for a nap in the morning I thought I may not get another chance. I got the scissors and carefully went to work. She stirred a little but didn't wake up. It was hard to cut though because she's a restless sleeper and jerks her arms and legs every so often. I tried to be quick. I was almost done when the unthinkable happened -- I accidentally clipped her finger. Her thumb actually. "Crap!" The cut was tiny. Just the size of a pinprick but it bled. I applied pressure and it still bled. I held it for a solid minute (I even counted to 60) and it was still bleeding. Not a lot of blood but each time I took the tissue away it was still dripping. I kept expecting it to stop (and praying it would stop!) After 5 minutes of it bleeding, I was a basket case. I called my sister frantically. By now it had been 10 minutes and every time I removed the tissue, it was still going! Why wouldn't it stop? The only time I'd seen a cut like that was when I stubbed my toe while pregnant and it was a geyser but I figured that was because all the blood was pooled in my feet (if you read some of my pregnant posts you no doubt caught the descriptions and photos of my freakishly swollen feet). Why would a baby's finger bleed that way? My sister was very reassuring and comforting as always. She suggested calling Telehealth but anytime I've called them or heard anyone else call them they always just say "Go to the hospital to get checked out." The idea of sitting for several hours in the emergency waiting room with a screaming baby (she never lasts more than half an hour without crying when we're out in public so several hours in a waiting room would be unbearable) only to be told at the end of it that it's a minor cut and I was an idiot to worry anyway, did not sound enticing. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't understand why it wouldn't stop bleeding. At least it didn't hurt her. She didn't even wake up until I started talking to my sister on the phone. And then she didn't even cry. I managed to nurse her, while holding a paper towel around her thumb and talking to my sister on the phone. It wasn't easy! Now awake she kept wiggling around and moving her hand. Trying to keep a grip on her tiny thumb was beyond challenging.

My sister checked Google to see if anyone else had been through this or had any suggestions. She found all sorts of people describing the same thing -- accidentally cutting their baby's finger and it bleeding continuously, for hours even. One person suggested it was because babies' fingers are so fleshy, another said that their blood is thin. Whatever the reasons, it seemed to be common. (That's one thing I love about the internet. The human community and the ability to find answers so quickly. No matter how strange you think your problem is, you're not alone. There are many people who have been through the same thing and may have advice for you.) Everyone's baby survived. Everyone said it was normal and OK and would stop eventually. So I tried to stop panicking. My sister suggested putting a little bandage on it and one of those mittens so I did. And thankfully it did stop bleeding. I was so relieved when the ordeal was over. My sister said that it's a rite of passage as a parent. Accidents happen and it's so stressful when your child is hurt. But it's even worse when it's your fault! I felt so guilty, so awful. But it happens. Their fingers are tiny and trying to cut those miniscule nails isn't easy but if I didn't do it, her face would be covered in scratches. I think I may just have to keep mittens on her until she's 10 years old because I don't ever want to cut her nails again! Later that day I looked at the red mark on her little thumb. She didn't even realize what had happened. She looked into my eyes and smiled and even let out a laugh. I was so grateful that she was OK. It made me appreciate her even more. How precious she is. I couldn't bear for anything to happen to her. I was so relieved that she was OK and realized I probably had overreacted but I still felt awful about the whole thing.

When I told my Mom about it she said I'm in for a lot worse as Michelle gets older and started listing all the times she had to rush to the hospital with one of the kids needing stitches or a cast. Kids get hurt. They fall. They get scraped up. They break something. It's scary, it's heartbreaking to see your child hurt, but they survive and somehow you get through it. Life happens. It's worse though when it's YOUR fault that they get hurt! I have heard stories though of parents accidentally dropping their kids, accidentally dislocating their arm (I always worry when I see fathers horsing around with the kids and swinging them by their arms...) Even the most careful, cautious parent can slip up now and then. I remember the cool nurse in the hospital saying "Kids are like hard-boiled eggs. They're more resilient than you think." Still, I want to protect her from ever being hurt. I'm still beating myself up for the nick on her thumb.

My Mom was so overprotective of us when we were growing up, we were never out of her sight and never allowed to do anything. I was the only one in my class that never got to go on school trips. Mom never went on a vacation. Wouldn't get on a plane. She liked to be at home and wanted to keep us there too. She was a stay at home Mom and we were her world. She was so worried about us getting hurt, she tried to keep us sheltered. She gave me an ornament when I was young and I still have it. It's a little redhaired girl in a glass bubble. I think it's symbolic. It always felt like Mom wanted to keep me in that bubble, her happy little redhaired girl, safe from the outside world. She did keep me quite a while. I was late leaving the nest (I didn't move out on my own until I was 36!)

Then there is the other extreme -- parents who don't seem to worry at all, who are so laid back they let their kids run amok. One friend I knew had parents who let him travel alone (on trains and planes!) even as a very young child. I couldn't imagine. Growing up I knew kids that could come and go as they pleased. Their parents would let them do anything. I would like to fall somewhere in between the overprotective parent and the overly lenient one. To give Michelle just enough structure to be safe yet enough freedom to grow and explore. Not an easy balance. So many things sound great in theory but are almost impossible in practice. I don't want to be too strict and hold her back from living life to the fullest. But I want to protect her from being hurt. The problem is that living is risking being hurt. I know from my own life that some of the heartbreaks and mistakes I went through wound up being the best things that ever happened to me. Like falling in love with the wrong man and winding up with the greatest gift of my life -- my beautiful girl. So I don't know what the answer is. I will let her know I care. I will try to steer her in the right direction. But I will try to never hold her back from living her dreams and following her heart, wherever it leads her.

Years ago, back when I never expected I'd have my own children, I remember being out and seeing people let their kids go barefoot on filthy floors in fast food joints, put things in their mouths that were on the floor, etc. I even saw a parent pick up a soother from a dirty floor in a liquor store, blow on it and stick it back in baby's mouth! And I used to hate when I'd see kids out with that ice cream-lint beard (you know where the kid has a five o'clock shadow made of ice cream residue that the parents never wiped and then they get lint and dirt stuck to it? Brutal.) Or the runny nose dripping into their mouths. I always hated that. I wanted to go up to them and clean them with a tissue myself. I will never let any of that happen if I can help it. I know I could never stand to be sticky or messy when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure Michelle would be the same. She'd be screaming for me to wipe her face. She will be a princess like Mama.

Of course it's easy to say "I would never..." when you don't have kids. Sometimes you think you know what you would do in a situation until actually faced with the situation and then you have to rethink your stance on it. Case in point: Yes, I waffled on the whole pacifier issue. I finally broke down and got a soother. I was against them initially (I thought it would interfere with breastfeeding etc) but there were times when it seemed nothing would soothe her and I thought I might as well try it. Everytime I went out I saw people with babies sucking on pacifiers. Along with the bottle, the pacifier seems to be the international symbol for babies. My friend who is a nurse said that everyone uses them. They even gave her baby one in the hospital when she was born. I asked my doctor about using them and she said it couldn't do any harm, as long as it's before their teeth come in so it doesn't interfere with that. Having the doctor's reassurance that it was OK was just the push I needed. I thought, what the heck.

So I went to buy one. There was an entire aisle filled with pacifiers. Different brands, shapes, colours. I wouldn't have known how to choose except that one woman I ran into with a newborn baby (sucking on a soother) suggested that "Nuk" was a good one. So I got it. I was at my Mom's place when we tried it for the first time. I sterilized it. My Mom gave it to Michelle actually. I got a tear in my eye. I felt guilty about it. I didn't feel like it was right. It seems like just putting a cork in a kid to make them quiet! But then I realized I was being ridiculous. She puts her fist in her mouth anyway as a comfort thing and then her sleeve gets wet. This is just another way to comfort her. Like the vacuum or shushing noises or crinkling sounds or anything else that calms her down. I was afraid it would interfere with breastfeeding but the doctor said she's well-established at 6 weeks (she's obviously eating well, she poops non-stop and is gaining weight consistently). I use a nipple shield anyway so she's used to rubber. I also give her bottles of my pumped breastmilk when we're out. So she's used to different kinds of nipples (there's no "nipple confusion" which I had read was a risk.) The soother will just be a last resort when she cries inconsolably and all her other needs have been met -- when she's fed, burped and changed. When she is just cranky, overtired and needs to calm down. I just don't want to create an oral fixation and turn her into a smoker one day. It's silly though because children naturally have the instinct to suck and even without a soother she'd be chewing on her hand, sucking her thumb and you can't take that from them. So yeah, I caved in. But I still have standards. I wouldn't let her keep sucking it once she's a toddler (I've seen those kids out there). And I would never pick up the soother off a filthy floor, blow on it and stick it in her mouth. I'm almost certain...

I admit I'm neurotic and worry too much. I torture myself with guilt (it was instilled in me through Mom, the Queen of guilt trips and of course there's all that Catholic guilt). I always tried to be the good girl (unfortunately I fell for a lot of bad boys! Opposites attract...) I always had to be the good student. I had to be the best at everything. I was alway hard on myself. Nothing was ever good enough. It did help me achieve excellent grades in school, straight As and academic awards but it also drove me crazy. Now I'm trying to be the perfect Mom but of course there's no such thing. I have to cut myself some slack. I'm doing my best. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I'm human. Michelle seems to be doing well so far. She's physically thriving, gaining weight, obviously getting enough milk. She's happy overall (everyone comments on how much she smiles and she's even starting to laugh.) Strangers approach and tell me how beautiful she is (when she's not screaming bloody murder!) She's talking up a storm (though it's babytalk and hard to interpret) cooing and making a lot more sounds. I know she is trying to communicate. I spend my entire day caring for her: Feeding her, burping her, changing her, reading to her, playing with her, entertaining her, carrying her, rocking her, dancing with her, singing to her. I give her all that I have.

Considering that I didn't expect to have children, that it's all new to me so I'm figuring it out as I go and considering that I'm doing this all on my own, I think I'm doing a pretty good job. I need to go easier on myself. I've talked to parents who made a lot of mistakes and their kids still turned out great. No one is perfect. Your children likely won't remember all the times you screw up and even if they did they'd likely forgive you. Until they're teenagers and then they probably fault everything you do! (Not looking forward to that.) When they're babies they won't even notice if you mess up now and then. As long as their needs are met, they're happy.

The most important thing you can do for your child is love her. And I do. I'm realizing more each day just how much.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I may not be in a band anymore but I'm rocking more than ever! Of course now it's rocking the baby. She loves rocking and rolling, having me dance around with her in my arms, sing to her etc. She also likes when I play guitar though I haven't been doing so that much these days. I wrote her a new song and played it for her. She seemed to like it. I've missed songwriting. An avid songwriter, I've penned close to 800 songs. Last year I was writing and posting an original song every day on Youtube. I kept it up for the whole year. It was difficult but I didn't have a baby at the time. It would be impossible to keep that up now! I wanted to do a special song and video for Michelle. I wrote her several songs while I was pregnant but it's more difficult now to find the time to write and record. I finally managed to put together a video for her. The song is called "Michelle" and the video features some of the photos I've taken so far (yes, I'm a photoholic!) Just click on the link above. 

Michelle has taken over my life completely. Most of the things that used to occupy my time are now pretty much non-existent. She is pretty demanding, even more so than the average baby. There isn't much time for anything else. But it's funny how things that used to seem so important don't matter that much anymore. She has given my life more meaning and purpose than I've ever had. Nothing else compares to her. Nothing else could be as important as she is to me. It's amazing how much you can change. You think you know yourself until you find yourself in different circumstances and somehow you discover who you really are. Your priorities and dreams alter.

I used to spend a lot of time gardening. Now the poor garden is overrun with weeds because I haven't been able to tend to it since having the baby. One day after taking Michelle for a walk I thought I'd try to sneak into the backyard with her. She was asleep in the carseat. The sun was behind the clouds and there was a nice shade to sit her in safely. I thought I'll just pull some of the biggest, most obnoxious weeds quickly while she sleeps. I got out my garden gloves and shears. I had barely pulled my first weed when I heard "Waaaaa!" She was up. Sigh. I did finally manage to steal about 15 minutes while she was napping later and ripped out weeds like a fiend. I had never moved so fast in my life. It was a big improvement. I'll just have to chip away at it a bit at a time. It seems like a gargantuan task but if you break it down it's not so bad. Some of the weeds can pass as wildflowers. At least the perennials are still there beneath the weeds. I was pleased to see my favourite flower, the hibiscus (a hardy hibiscus actually, Rose of Sharon) in bloom. When I planted my tropical (very high maintenance) garden I couldn't possibly have imagined that I'd be having a (very high maintenance) baby a couple of years later and not be able to keep it up. You just never know what the future may hold.

I got a two-seater convertible a couple of years ago not knowing I was going to wind up having a baby. I loved that car. I had some amazing experiences in it. Driving to Florida last year was one of the best. Now I haven't driven it in almost a year. It wasn't a practical car for the baby and I started driving a sedan instead. I tried to sell the Miata but couldn't find a buyer (the only offers I had were so low I wouldn't have just been giving the car away, I'd actually be paying someone to buy it since it was financed and I'd have to make up the difference to pay back what was owing on it) so I've had it built into my mortgage. I figure if I find a buyer then great and if I don't, I'll keep the car and one day my girl and me will make a road trip to Cali when she's old enough. At least I don't have those car payments every month which were killing me!

Art is something else I don't really have time for anymore. I did the paintings for the nursery while I was pregnant but haven't done any painting since having the baby. It would be difficult. It can be messy and time-consuming and I'd hate to have paint on my hands and have the baby cry. I did do a little touch up to one of the paintings though. I added some copper hair to the baby in one of the mermaid paintings so it looks more like Michelle! (The baby was bald before.) The painting over the change table seems to be Michelle's favourite, she smiles and coos at it each time I'm changing her.

Last summer I spent most of my time at the beach. This summer I went a couple of times while I was pregnant but going to the beach with the baby would have been impossible. I had enough bikinis to wear a different one every day. Now I don't know if I'll be wearing them ever again. Though I've lost 45 lbs so far I still have my "mommy tummy." It's kind of loose and flabby. Not to mention the stretch marks. Though I am going to start doing yoga and the 30 day shred again, my doctor told me I will likely NEVER get my flat stomach back. She said it'll never be quite the same. She also said that although they'll fade (they won't always be purple) the stretch marks will never disappear. And those stretch mark creams don't really do anything. "But you have a beautiful baby girl and she's worth it!" she added. She's right. Michelle is worth it. I am going to try to get my tummy back though if I can. When I got down to my goal weight last year (125 lbs) I had no idea I'd wind up pregnant and get up to 190 lbs by July of this year. I'm down to 145 now but I have a feeling that last 20 lbs will be the hardest to lose.

I used to love going out dancing in nightclubs. It was how I met most of my boyfriends too. Now I dance around the house with the baby to entertain her and rock her to sleep. Before getting pregnant (and being abandoned by her father) I always had a boyfriend and when I didn't have one, I was dating and searching for one. Now I have no interest in men and no opportunity to meet them anyway. It doesn't feel like anything is missing in my life though. I always used to feel like I needed a man. Now the love that I have for Michelle is so consuming that I know I don't need a man. Still I'm not ruling out the possibility of romance again one day in the future, but he'd have to be an exceptional man (trustworthy, kind, caring, funny, strong, sensitive) and an incredible father to Michelle. He'd have to be worthy of her. I don't know if such a man exists. Ironically her own father was the most unworthy man on the planet. I can't entirely despise him because he unwittingly gave me the greatest gift of my life. And part of me wants to believe he wasn't all bad, that he knew we were better off without him, that it broke his heart to leave but he knew it was for the best.

My life is now devoted to caring for the baby. Though there are many things I've given up, it doesn't feel like a sacrifice. I am more fulfilled and happier now than I've ever been. I feel more love than I ever felt possible. The days fly by. I never get bored. It's always an adventure. And there's so much to look forward to. I can't wait until she can play. Right now she doesn't have much interest in toys though I keep trying to introduce them to her. I even found a new way to put her to sleep -- just by boring her! I went through the toy box (the ottoman in the living room which is filled with toys, mostly from my sister) and introduced her to each toy. I would take each one out, tell her what it was, what it could do, describe the colours and textures and features. There are some really cool ones -- Lamaze toys with various patterns and shapes and colours and squeaks and crinkles. When I looked down at her I saw that her eyes were closed and she was sound asleep. I don't know if any of my rambling is getting through but I figure it can't hurt. She is cooing and making cute noises more than ever. Some of them almost sound like words. She even laughed in her sleep which was just about the coolest thing I've ever seen/heard! She holds her head up pretty well when I have tummy time with her and she straightens her legs so much that she can almost stand (with me holding her of course!) on my lap. I will enjoy every step of this journey, watching her grow.

Life before her is like a distant dream. The things I thought were so important fade into the background. She is my life now. She is everything to me. She is my beauty, my sunshine, my flower, my song, my dance, my love, my dream, my hope, my present and future. The best moments of my life are the ones I spend with her. I wouldn't trade this for the world.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

White Noise

Recently I discovered that I have a helper to soothe and entertain the baby for a few minutes while I run to the bathroom, grab a bite to eat, etc. His name is Dyson. He's a vacuum! (He's a great vacuum too by the way!)

I had heard that babies love white noise because it reminds them of being in the womb and makes them feel safe. When I vacuumed with Michelle in my arms, she fell asleep pretty quickly. Unfortunately she would wake up as soon as I put her down and turned the vacuum off. It took me a while before I got the idea to leave the vacuum running for a few minutes after I lay her down so that she's asleep or at least content for a bit anyway with the white noise. It worked! Even when she woke up, the sound of the vacuum was enough to pacify her so she didn't scream. Sometimes I have to go to the washroom urgently and there's no one to hand her off to so Dyson has stepped in as a temporary babysitter! (Sometimes I had to go to the toilet so badly but was holding it in because of the baby and causing damage in my colon/rectum -- wrecked him? Darn near killed him! My doctor said it's better to let the baby cry while I go for a poop than to end up in the hospital getting colo-rectal surgery! Who would watch baby then? I've had some constipation and bleeding because of holding it in too long. And this is WAY TOO MUCH INFO! Sorry. But it just goes to show you the lengths I go to for the baby! Stupid I know! The doctor says it's OK to let her cry for a few minutes. The world won't end. It won't hurt her. I just feel so guilty. I have to stop that. I try to take care of the baby as best I can but I have to remember sometimes to take care of me because if something happens to me I'll be no use to the baby anyway!)

It takes me hours to settle her down with my dancing, rocking and lullabies. Dyson only seems to take a few minutes to calm her. I'm not sure if it's because she likes the sound or because it's so loud she can't compete with it but it stops her from crying most times. At least the house is clean with all this vacuuming! I hope it doesn't hurt the vacuum using it so much. They need to make a CD of vacuum noises! While they're at it they can invent a machine that simulates the motion of a car. She likes her swing as well but doesn't stay quiet in it too long. Nothing beats the car for a nice long nap but with gas prices these days you don't want to go driving around too far. And the red lights are a killer!

Even the car isn't always a safe bet though. If she poops while you're enroute somewhere, you're in trouble. We were barely driving 10 minutes when all of sudden she started wailing. At least I wasn't on the highway yet so I pulled into a gas station and parked to change her diaper (which is VERY awkward in a car, I would quickly discover). At least she settled down after that, thank heaven. Speaking from experience (a nightmarish excursion recently) a long drive with a screaming baby is NOT pretty. At one point I had to just stick balls of Kleenex in my ears because my headache was so bad her screams were like knives plunging into my eyebrows. Being in an enclosed space for any length of time with a shrieking infant is perhaps the most stressful experience one can have. I would suggest it as an instrument of torture if they ever bring back that sort of thing (as opposed to the rack, water torture etc.) She likes the motion of the car but when it stops (at every red light, construction site etc) she starts to cry. She likes the sound of crinkling foil (more white noise) so my Mom gave me a piece for in the car to scrunch at each red light. It stops her crying for a couple of seconds anyway. Other popular noises include the bathroom or kitchen fan, running water (especially the bath -- I once ran a bath just to soothe her. I actually got to get in the bath but not until hours later. The water wasn't that warm anymore but I still enjoyed it.) You do what you can. She also loves music but especially loves to be danced around to it. There is no substitute for being carried around. I like to make her happy but it is really hard on my wrists, arms, neck and back after several hours/days of it!

Had a nice visit with my Mom and sister and they gave my arms a break by holding/carrying Michelle around for a while. She fell asleep in Mom's arms a few times. Mom said that she walked the floor with me all day when I was a baby. I didn't like to be put down for a second. I didn't sleep at night either. So I guess I should be thankful that at least Michelle does sleep at night. (Eventually! Even though sometimes it takes quite a while and quite a few lullabies to settle her down.)

People ask if she's settled into a routine. Not really. Each day is different. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to why she's more or less cooperative on any given day. It's sort of luck of the draw. Though she has her moments (good and bad) on any given day. In general she seems to feed every 2 hours during the daylight and every 3 hours (sometimes 4 when I'm lucky) through the night. At least she sleeps at night. Through the day her naps are pretty erratic (ranging from one minute to one hour) and sometimes non-existent. I've told her that babies are supposed to need a lot of sleep but she doesn't seem to agree. She's a very light sleeper --so sensitive to every little sensation that she awakens and cries if there is a slight noise other than white noise, if she hiccups, if she has a speck of wet or dirty in her diaper, ANYTHING!

Sometimes you get lucky. Michelle actually let me go shopping at the kid's store the other day! She had fallen asleep in the carseat and stayed asleep initially in the stroller. Then she woke up but remained quiet, wide-eyed and curious about all the colourful clothes in the store. I was so pleased! I got her a few clothes for the Fall. Surprisingly one of the sweaters I got, sized 6 months, barely fit her once I tried it on her at home! The sleeve barely went over her little fist. There seems to be a big difference in how manufacturers size baby clothes. So it's hard to know. Some six month outfits are huge, others are tiny. She's growing like a weed so it's hard to know what to do. I had a lot of cute summer outfits in 12 month size thinking she'd be a year old next summer so it made sense but at the rate she's going she may be fitting 12 month clothes at 6 months in the middle of winter! I also picked up some colourful bows on sale. Yes I know she doesn't have a lot of hair but I still think it's cute on her!

Mom says it will get a little easier at least when she becomes interested in toys and there are more things to amuse her. I can't wait to be able to play with her. I've tried showing her toys but she doesn't get it at this stage. I'm her only toy! And like the energizer bunny I have to keep going and going and going!

I try putting her on her ocean-themed play gym but she doesn't have much interest yet. Though she does occasionally swat the dangling toys with rattles and rings, it's most likely by accident as she's constantly got her little fists and feet going. She was very active even before she was born, constantly punching and kicking me from the inside. Now she does it from the outside. She's rarely ever still. I remember even when I was at my doctor's appointments and at the ultrasounds she was kicking every time. And when I try to change her diaper, she scrunches her legs up making it nearly impossible to get the diaper off. That's probably the sort of move she was pulling when I had my 19 week ultrasound so we couldn't tell whether she was a girl. I was so thrilled when I finally knew for sure. I wanted a little girl so badly, even though I knew girls were higher maintenance (in her case, VERY high maintenance!)

Every time I see her smile I'm just overwhelmed by her sweetness, her innocence. I have to be careful because with my hormones surging sometimes I'm so sentimental, I love her so much that I almost start to cry. One time I did tear up and said "I love you so much." Seeing the tears in my eyes made her tear up and her lip quiver. I don't want to upset her so I have to be strong during those moments. She wouldn't understand yet about tears of joy. Her tears are always because she wants something -- she's hungry, she needs changing or, as seems to be the case most often, she's overtired and cranky and wants to be lulled to sleep. If it's anything else, I wouldn't know and it must be frustrating for her not to be able to say. I can't wait until she can talk and tell me what she wants without me having to guess. Although I know that will bring its own challenges! Something tells me she'll be rather demanding, and none too pleased if/when her demands aren't met. I'll do my best to make her happy without spoiling her too much. I wanted a little princess but I don't want to create a monster.

There are so many milestones coming up -- being able to hold her head up, to sit up, to laugh, to talk, to play, to stand and walk. It's amazing to me. Absolutely mind-boggling how much a little human being learns in the first year. She may not remember these early months, not consciously anyway. She won't remember the countless hours I spent feeding her, carrying her, singing to her, dancing with her but on some level I'm hoping that it helps her to feel safe, to feel loved and helps her to develop into a happy, healthy little girl. I know that the early years are crucial in our development, that they set the stage for the rest of our lives, shaping the people that we become. I want to do the best for her. And I'll do whatever it takes. Sometimes I may just have to lighten up and not worry so much!