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.


  1. When Elena was just a few weeks old I was nursing her & reached for my bottle of water & dropped in right on her head! I felt awful!! & that's not the only time she's gotten hurt & it's never easier & the guilt never goes away! I also remember once when I was a kid & my mom was trying clothes on me & yanked a turtle neck too hard & sprained my neck! I had to wear a neck brace for weeks! I can still make my Mom feel guilty about that one! I guess that's the way of parenting, lol!

    So is the soother working?

    1. Yes it seems every parent I talk to has a story about when they accidentally hurt their kids. Sh&% happens!
      Yes the soother is a GODSEND! Can't believe I existed without it! Very helpful on car trips etc. Except when she spits it out and cries & I have to pull over to give it back to her again! But it does help to calm her down so that's great! I was worried it would mess up her feedings but she's still eating great. :)

    2. For the soother on car rides, I got one of those attach-y things (don't get a velcro one!!) Nuk actualy makes a good one & I would connect it to Elena's shoulder strap so that if she spit out the soother while we were driving, I could just reach back, follow the string (don't worry it's short so she won't strangle herself) & was able to pop it back in her mouth without having to barely take my eyes off the road!

    3. That's pretty cool. I do have an attach-y thing but I don't think I'd be able to reach right into the carseat to put it back in her mouth anyway. I'll have to try it next time! :)