Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sleepless at Six Months

"She looks pretty new." A friendly older woman said about Michelle as she lay sleeping in the cart like a little angel. Yeah still has that new baby smell!
"Six months," I replied.
"She's beautiful. These must be the best days of your life." She said and smiled sweetly.
"Yes. And the hardest," I answered.

It was the first time I'd been out in quite a while. If you've been following my blog then you know that between the weather, the lack of funds and the fear of Michelle having a Stage Three Meltdown in public, I have been avoiding going out as much as possible. Even to the point where I started ordering my groceries online. Her six month check-up and needles were coming up though so I knew I'd have to go out for that. Even though they were calling for snow and freezing rain. Super. I was nervous about the excursion and decided to have a trial run the day before. I needed to pick up a few things anyway that I couldn't get online. My car was covered in snow. I wasn't even sure if it would start. Luckily it did. The whole day went far better than I'd anticipated. Michelle was good as gold in the grocery store and actually fell asleep. She was solid even when I left the store and put her in the car so I decided to be especially daring and go to Sears after. I can't afford to shop anymore unless it's free so I went to Sears to redeem my Club points. I had enough for a $30 gift card. I got a couple of outfits for Michelle on sale for $9.99. Miracle of miracles, she even slept in Sears and when she did awaken she was mellow and didn't fuss. This was almost too good to be true. I couldn't resist going for McD's across the street. It had been a long time since I'd had a Big Mac and I wanted to celebrate my great day. She even remained quiet as I rolled through the drive-thru. I thanked Michelle for being such a good girl. This was awesome. What a perfect day. Maybe things really were getting easier. Not quite. Unfortunately later that night she put me through sheer Hell.

Life with Michelle is definitely a rollercoaster from the highest of highs to the lowest of the lows. Lately it's been tougher than ever. The kid just doesn't sleep. I mean I was always a night owl but she can stay up later than me. For several nights she was up until 4 a.m. It was unbearable. I was so exhausted I nearly collapsed trying to carry her. I started having back problems and thought I was going to have to go to the hospital one night when I twisted my back lifting her. When I started her on solid food she seemed to sleep a little better (at least settling down at midnight or 1 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. was a big improvement) but it didn't last. She was back to her old tricks again. I cut out caffeine. I tried eating more bland food (no more tacos). It didn't seem to matter what I did. She just wouldn't sleep. She'd cry. I'd feed her, walk the floor singing lullabies for hours and she wouldn't sleep. Or she'd fall asleep for a few minutes and wake up crying again. Or she was just wide awake and wanting to play and I was too exhausted to function.

I read that some babies that are very alert and sensitive have a hard time settling down because they're so overstimulated, their minds don't stop going. She is hyper. I don't know about her mind but her arms and legs never stop going. She's a ball of energy 24-7. Even when she starts to get sleepy (she's rubbing her eyes, her eyes look drowsy, her head is bobbing) she fights it. It's like she doesn't want to sleep. She doesn't want to miss a thing. It is very difficult for me because it means I get no break. For a while there I was trying to do Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. I was feeling better and stronger. Though the workout was difficult I forced myself to do it because I want to get back in shape. Unfortunately Michelle put an end to it. She started waking up sooner and sooner until I couldn't even do 5 minutes of the workout. She couldn't give me even a few minutes to myself. Someone suggested to me that maybe my working out was actually affecting her somehow but it doesn't seem like that was it because even since I stopped exercising her staying up into the wee hours continued.

Some days it feels like I'm going to break. I spend all of my time and energy caring for her and don't have a minute to take care of myself. I don't get to shower. I don't get even a few minutes peace. Sometimes it's overwhelming and when I'm sleep deprived and in pain, it's sheer torture. I know she doesn't mean to do it but sometimes it feels like she's trying to drive me mad!

Then all of a sudden she'll be an angel and I'll think how lucky I am. She has started reaching up her hands to touch my face so gently sometimes and look into my eyes and really try to talk and it's the most adorable thing I've ever seen. She has also started patting her own head with her hands, cupping her hands together and waving her hands around. She hums and sings and chatters and squeals with delight. I love playing with her in the day and seeing how excited she gets. I love how she hugs me now. I love her smile and her giggles. Most of the time she is a joy, the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. But sometimes she's a monster -- when she screams and won't settle down and won't sleep and won't let me do anything. Some people say "Just let her scream." I can't do it. The most I've ever left her in her crib to cry is a couple of minutes. They say that she would stop crying eventually and go to sleep but I don't believe it for a second. This kid is stubborn. I bet she could go for hours. Days even.

At least she survived her six month doctor appointment and needle. She screamed at the needle of course. She smiled at the nurse at first but wasn't a fan after getting a needle stuck in her leg. I managed to soothe her with the bottle of breast milk I'd brought. I was upset when the doctor said that she weighed less than expected. Her weight isn't increasing at the same rate as her height. I had weighed her at home (weighing myself with and without her but apparently that's highly inaccurate) and thought she was over 15 lbs, closer to 16 lbs by now. At the doctor's office she wasn't even 15 lbs. I couldn't believe it. She breastfeeds every two hours or less and now she's even having cereal for breakfast and dinner on top of that and she's underweight?! Mind you, she probably burns off every calorie she's taking in because she's NEVER STILL. She jumps if you try to hold her on your lap, jumps in her Jumperoo and Jolly Jumper, rolls over and over on the floor during tummy time, kicks her legs and moves her arms constantly (even while she's nursing). She is so hyper she's doing aerobics 24-7. And if she's anything like her father (and she often seems to be) he ate non-stop and was still rail thin. It's tough though when I feel like I give her everything I have and it's still not enough. I started to worry if it was my fault (I have problems with "Mom Guilt" -- it's like Catholic guilt only worse. I try to do all the right things for her and beat myself up over it if I feel like I've done anything wrong.) What if my working out affected my milk? What if watching my diet and trying to consume less fat is leaving less fat in the milk for her? I know that "Thin is In" when it comes to adulthood but among the baby set it seems "Fat is where it's at" -- everyone thinks that a chubby little cherub baby is the picture of health. My mother, who is a chronic worrier herself actually told me it's no cause for concern. I was an underweight baby and apparently her doctor at the time told her that the plump roly poly babies you see are the unhealthy ones and that I, little toothpick in a sleeper that I was, was actually healthier. I've seen some really huge babies. I know that that isn't healthy. I guess some babies just sit around like Jabba the Hut and barely move. It may also be that the mothers load them up with a high fat diet or they may just have a different metabolism. With childhood obesity at an all time high I should probably be grateful to have a child who's a lean mean kicking machine, who can eat as much as she wants without gaining an ounce. But I worry. And the doctor made me feel like something was wrong. The weird thing is my Mom had commented how Michelle looked heavier than the last time she'd seen her. She certainly feels heavier to me! She's gone up a diaper size and she's wearing size 9 month-12 month clothes. Maybe the doctor's scale was off. I just have to stop worrying. She's not like other babies in any other way so why should her weight be different? My Mom pointed out that with two slim parents (well, Mike was skinny and I used to be, back in the day) it stands to reason that Michelle would be slender too.

While waiting in the doctor's office a woman sitting nearby remarked on Michelle's red hair and blue eyes. "She's gorgeous." She also told me that the hyperactivity, moodiness, lack of sleep and everything that I'm going through with Michelle is common for redheads.
"I had one too and she's 13 years old now. They're very high maintenance but the trade-off is they're very bright."
Michelle was quite happy in the waiting room. She was looking around at everyone and squealing in delight, jumping on my knee. Anyone who saw her would think what a happy baby, they'd never guess the hell she puts me through in the evenings.

After the appointment we went back to my sister's place. It was a nice visit until dinnertime. Then all Hell broke loose.

I naively thought I could try giving Michelle chicken for dinner. She'd been on the rice cereal for a week and the literature I had from Nutrition Canada or whatever it was said to introduce meat next because at six months babies really need their protein and iron. The doctor seemed to agree. The rice cereal had gone over so well that I thought I could just give Michelle chicken no problem. It didn't go well.

I shouldn't have tried at dinnertime because that is often her crankiest time. It's the point in the day where if she hasn't had a proper afternoon nap (and she hadn't), she's REALLY unhappy. The next mistake was thinking I could strap her into my sister's high chair. My poor sister dragged the thing upstairs for nothing because Michelle went ballistic and wouldn't even sit in it. The high chair I have has a plastic thing to hold the baby in easy so I can just slide her in. As soon as you start messing with straps and things she shrieks and flails. So I sat her on my lap and tried to give her a spoonful of chicken. She was not impressed. She was already mad and that was the last straw. Frankly I couldn't blame her. I tasted a speck of the stuff on my knuckle when I tested the temperature. It was pretty awful. It tasted like chicken but the texture was just gross. Sometimes texture is everything. I mean I like chicken but not as a pudding. I love pizza but probably wouldn't enjoy it as a smoothie. Some foods just don't lend themselves to softening. Meat is right up there. So I gave up and decided to try it the next day for lunch, when she was rested, hungry and in a good mood. At least she did consume a little. Close to a teaspoon. She was decidedly unimpressed. The following day she barely had a quarter of a teaspoon and started to cry. You know a food is bad when it actually makes them cry. I had done a chicken dance beforehand to get her into the mood. While she enjoyed my song and dance the chicken itself was a no-go. I didn't want to waste it so I tried to give it to the cat. Even Ali turned up her nose at it. She's used to her Fancy Feast Chicken Florentine so I guess plain old bland chicken wasn't cutting it. I'm hoping she will eat some meat at least because she needs the iron. Maybe once I start adding in veggies it will make it more palatable. She was eyeing my chicken alfredo and likely thinking that life just isn't fair. I told her she could eat Mama's food once she has teeth.

Today she is actually six months old and I can't believe it. The time is flying. When I look back at pictures of her as a newborn I see such a huge difference. Her face, her expressions. She's so much more lively and aware. I know that each month will bring new changes and milestones. It's exciting. She tries so hard to talk. I can't wait until she can say a few words. The sounds that she makes now, even when they do sound like words "Hiya" "eh?" don't really count.

It was unseasonably warm and all the snow had melted away so we went for a little walk. It was perfect walking weather because it wasn't too cold and there was no sun so I could leave the top off the stroller and let her look around. She was fascinated by everything. I'm hoping the fresh air will do her good and maybe she'll sleep better tonight...Fingers crossed. A woman out walking with her daughter admired Michelle and said "They're so sweet when they're that small." "Except at night when she doesn't sleep!" I replied. "Yes but you'll forget about that when she's bigger," she told me. Will I?

I keep waiting for things to get easier but I don't know if they ever do. I think as soon as one thing gets sorted out then there's something new to worry about. Now Michelle is a little better behaved in the store. She hums instead of crying herself to sleep in the car. She can play and entertain herself for a few moments on her play gym, Jumperoo and Jolly Jumper. But she barely sleeps. If she has an afternoon nap, she doesn't fall asleep at night. If she doesn't have an afternoon nap she's cranky beyond belief at dinnertime, falls asleep briefly in the early evening and then wakes up and won't go back to sleep all night. So you can't really win. I look back at the days when she used to sleep for 3 or 4 hours at a stretch and think how good I had it. Now I'm lucky to get 4 minutes to myself. But as Mom is quick to point out, soon she'll be walking and running amok in the house and I may look back at these days and think how easy it was when she wasn't as mobile and I could keep track of her at least.

From one day to the next I never quite know how it's going to go. I just have to roll with the punches (and kicks!) and be grateful that there are more good moments than bad, that she is a healthy, happy baby overall and is the light of my life. Who knows what six months and seven months will bring? I can never predict her behaviour. There's still a chance the day will come when she'll fall asleep at 8 o'clock and sleep through the night. Sure. There's a chance I may win Lotto Max too...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Solid food!

Michelle had her first solid food! Rice cereal. I know you're not supposed to start solids until six months but I started a bit early (she's turning six months next week). Considering she was born a week late, technically she's six months old already. She's already outgrown her 6 month old clothes (and some of the 9 month ones for that matter.) She wears 12 month old Winnie the Pooh pajamas and even they're getting snug.

Though I was nervous about experimenting with solid food for the first time, I was anxious to see if it might help her to sleep better at night with a full tummy. Lately she hadn't been sleeping at all (as I mentioned in my previous post she's up until 4 a.m. That's late even for a night owl like me!) She feeds so often (every two hours or less) that I thought she's probably ready for something more.

Michelle also met the other criteria for starting solid foods -- she can sit up on her own now, she has been showing an interest in food and reaching for it, she watches me eat and sometimes mimicks chewing.

I started off small with just a teaspoon of rice cereal mixed with breast milk (it says to just add water but I figured milk would be healthier for her and the familiarity might help her warm up to eating food.) I decided to record the momentous occasion on video (I posted it to Youtube, link below.) If a picture says a thousand words then a video must say at least 10,000. Eating her very first spoonful of food is a milestone in my book! I didn't know how it would go. Would she turn away? Spit it out? Refuse to eat? Make a face? Instead it went very well. I was so relieved she actually ate it. It took a while to feed her even just a teaspoon full.


I'm hoping that eating solid food now will fill her tummy and leave her satisfied and sleepy enough to sleep through the night. That is my dream! Oh to have just a few hours to myself in the evening! The things I could do! Working out, a bubble bath, getting things done around the house, working on my computer. Maybe even painting again. Writing songs. Although I actually wrote a song the other day while Michelle was in her Jolly Jumper. I started to get a tune in my head and grabbed my guitar, a pen and paper. Michelle seemed to enjoy the show and danced along to my playing. I'll get around to recording it one of these days. It's so hard to find time for anything anymore. Michelle has become my life. She is certainly worth the sacrifices though I have to admit it is nice to have a little "me" time once in a while. At least after her first couple of days on cereal she started going to sleep at 1 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. so that's a big improvement.

I read that a baby's iron level drops at six months so they really need the iron fortified cereal as well as protein from meat to stay strong. They say to introduce foods one at a time to make sure there are no allergies. So after a week on cereal I'll start introducing other foods. Meat. Then vegetables and fruit. One food at a time for 3-5 days to make sure it's OK before moving on to the next. I hope she'll be a good eater. I've heard from many Moms that struggling with a picky eater can be a huge stress. Every stage will bring new challenges of course. It was fun for me to start giving her food though and I was pleased that it went so well. Just that tiny bit of cereal already affected her poop. It smelled 10 times worse and was a bit more brown than usual. Not quite solid yet but definitely different.

She still watches with great interest when I'm eating. I try to explain to her that she can't have those things quite yet. I tried her cereal when I put my knuckle in to test the temperature. It is pretty bland. At least she seems to like it, of course all she has to compare it to is milk. It will be interesting seeing her reaction to different tastes -- meats and vegetables. I'm hoping she'll be a good eater. She seems to be so far. I just keep hoping for that magical day when she falls asleep at 8 PM and sleeps through the night. It could happen. Sure. Actually I wish they made baby turkey. They have beef and chicken but no turkey. You know how you get drowsy after a big turkey dinner? That would be helpful. Maybe I can suggest it to Gerber...

Monday, January 21, 2013

This baby never sleeps...

If she were a city, she'd be NYC. Lately she just doesn't sleep. It used to be she'd fall asleep by 10 or 11 p.m. Once in a while, midnight at the latest. Then it kept getting later and later. 1 a.m. 2 a.m. Now it's 4 a.m. before she settles down. It's really tough on me because it means I get no break at all. I used to be able to get things done in the evening after she went to bed. Now by the time she settles down I'm exhausted and ready for bed myself. She either doesn't fall asleep at all or nods off for a few minutes and is up again. I'll rock her to sleep finally after an hour of lullabies and the instant I try to put her down she wakes up crying again.

She has always been active, somewhat hyper but now it's beyond anything I've ever seen. She's doing acrobatics in bed -- wriggling, rolling over and over, wiggling around, kicking. She just can't stay still, can't slow down. I cut out caffeine from my diet thinking it would help her sleep better. Instead it's had the opposite effect or maybe it's just a coincidence. I Googled "hyper at 5 months won't sleep" and read about other Moms going through a similar spell. So I hope it's just a phase and she calms down at some point. I'm hoping starting her on solid food shortly (at six months) will miraculously make her sleep through the night. I can dream! She's so hyper she's even started carrying on when I put her on the change table now. Sometimes it's like she's possessed. She's so restless she can't bear to be still for an instant. She goes ballistic until I distract her with puppets, songs and dances to make her laugh. At least she is a happy baby overall. She smiles, laughs and squeals in delight (at such a high pitch the cat runs for cover and my ears are still ringing. Even over the phone my Mom said it's so loud her ears were sore. "I've never heard a baby squeal like that!") She's very vocal. She's definitely found her voice and likes to show it off. "I am baby. Hear me roar!" She's started making a series of sounds da-da-ta-ta-ga-ga. I was hoping Mama would find it's way in there but I guess it's harder to say. I really don't want her saying Dada, as you can imagine! I know it's just the easiest sound to make. Sigh.

It's funny how you think things are challenging and then they get more so and you realize how easy you had it. In some ways I thought things were getting easier (at least she plays and entertains herself for a few moments now) but in other ways they are far more difficult. When she was a newborn she would sometimes go 3-4 hours through the night between feedings. Sometimes I even got to take a bubble bath at night. I had a couple of hours to work on the computer, do laundry etc. That pretty much stopped at 3-4 months. She has been feeding every 2 hours or less since then. Now it's gotten even worse. Sometimes she'll feed for an entire hour and then she sleeps for 10 minutes and is up again. Sometimes she's so hyper during a feeding even that she's trying to roll over and do stunts WHILE she's nursing, which let me tell you is no picnic for a nipple that's being twisted!

I was trying to do the 30 Day Shred to lose weight but had to give up on it since she wouldn't even sleep for the 20 minutes it took to do the workout. I got through the first week and got lucky other than her waking a couple of times before I was done so I raced to have a 1 minute shower (while she screamed. I feel guilty even letting her cry for a minute. I could never "leave her to cry herself to sleep" as some people suggest. I don't think she'd ever sleep. I think she would just cry forever. I can't do it. I'm at her beck and call.) before picking her up. But then she started waking up before I was even halfway through the workout. If I couldn't do it while she slept I thought I'd try to do it while she's awake. She's sometimes content to play on her play gym and jumperoo for 10 minutes or more. Maybe I could have her with me while I do the workout. It didn't quite pan out. At first she was entertained watching Mommy jump around like an insane person. She even giggled at me. But it got old pretty quick and she started to cry. So much for that idea. I decided to save the Shred for sometime in the future when (hopefully) I have at least half an hour to myself. I'll just try to do yoga or something that's not so regimented. Something I can do for a couple of minutes and stop and go back to if I need to. I was getting frustrated with the workout anyway considering I'd done it for almost two weeks and wasn't really seeing results. The last time I did it years ago I lost 20 lbs. Mind you I hadn't just had a baby back then. I started doing a few sit-ups and jumping around with Michelle while she's in her Jolly Jumper. Michelle enjoys that. She got a kick out of Mommy jumping too and laughed. I'm also trying to watch my calories now. I started keeping track of them. I realized I was taking in almost double the calories that I thought. Though I have been mostly eating healthy things I wasn't careful about portions. The nutritional info on foods gives you the calories for the ideal portion size -- a cup, quarter of a cup etc. Do you know how small that is?! I was sometimes eating 3 or 4 times that amount. Perfect example -- those little thin frozen pizzas. The box boasts that it's 150 calories a slice but if you're like me, you can end up eating the whole pizza (hey, they are small!) which is then 600 calories. Anyway, I think now that I'm more conscious of it it will make me more careful. I have been snacking on veggies in between meals because I know that they are mostly negative calorie foods (the calorie count is so low that you actually burn more calories by eating them than they actually have.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, my camera flash died recently, which is devestating for a photoholic with a baby! Though I could still take pictures in natural light that's no help for someone with a night owl baby who seems to have most of her energy at night. One night Ali (my grey tabby) jumped up on the couch with Michelle and it was so cute I just had to get a picture. I turned both the ceiling light and the floor lamp on hoping the incandescence would be enough. It wasn't. Michelle (who can't stay still for an instant) was wiggling around and wound up being a blur. It was frustrating. A cute moment that I couldn't capture. Sheer torture. Ali finally got fed up with Michelle kicking her (She's so hyper, the legs never stop going!) and left. Michelle had a grin a mile wide and I was determined to capture it somehow.

I decided to try some of the other photo modes on the camera that I'd never really used (I'm not very adventurous when it comes to things like that. I usually just point and shoot. I did use the night setting for fireworks before and the macro setting for flowers but aside from that, 99% of the time I had it in portrait mode.) So I fiddled around and tried the sport/action mode. Since Michelle wouldn't stop moving I figured that would be the most appropriate. It worked! To my delight I was able to get a few pictures of Michelle's big smile in sport mode. The photos weren't blurry though they did look a little different. The resolution wasn't as high. They were a bit grainy. As you can see they almost look like video stills. I didn't mind. It's better than nothing until/unless I can get a replacement camera.

I'm hoping this hyperactivity is just a phase she's going through and that she'll calm down somewhat although if I'm being honest she was hyper even in the womb. She was constantly kicking and moving around. The doctor got kicked every time she tried to listen for a heartbeat and the ultrasound technician had a hard time getting a good look at her she was moving so much. I can't even imagine what it will be like once she's walking (make that running!) around the house. I'm going to have to start really baby-proofing everything. I guess I won't need the 30 Day Shred. It will be an intense workout just keeping up with her!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gone in a Flash

If you've been following my blogs, you've probably figured out that I'm a total photoholic. I am obsessed with photos. I seem to have a need to record every moment of my life. It's my way of holding on. Life is fleeting. Photos are forever. Of course as life moments go, my baby is the crowning glory. When it comes to photo ops (and I've enjoyed my share including close encounters with a moose, lightning, fireworks, landmarks around the globe, macros of flowers and plants, animals and thousands of snapshots of people) it doesn't get any bigger than this!

Photos are a big part of this blog for me. I always include them. One day while I was composing a new post, I tried to upload a photo and it wouldn't let me. When I clicked on upload, the window just stayed blank with a little circle going around and around. Soon I was spinning too. At first I thought it was just a temporary glitch but the next day the same thing was happening. I could upload videos from Youtube. I could upload photos that were already in my blog but no new ones. The window to browse from my computer just wasn't coming up. Was it a problem with my computer or with Blogger? I was worried I'd never be able to add pictures again. I don't think I'd even want to continue the blog without photos. It wouldn't be the same. How could I show Michelle growing and changing? How could I share all her milestones? Just writing about things isn't enough. A picture says a thousand words after all. This blog traces Michelle's (and my) journey and the pictures tell more than half the story. I'm not a techie and didn't know how I'd ever figure it out or fix the problem. Luckily I Googled it and discovered that I was not alone. Other people were experiencing the same technical difficulties. Someone was kind enough to advise us that Blogger's engineers were working on it. They also gave a work-around solution -- you can compose in HTML mode and upload the photos there. Though the images show up as code there you can hit Compose or Preview after to see them. I was so relieved. So that's what I've been doing for the last couple of posts. (It would appear that Blogger still hasn't fixed the problem because I still had to go into HTML mode to upload photos here. It's been weeks now.)

As if the Blogger thing wasn't enough to thwart a snap-happy Mommy, I would soon encounter another, much bigger snag on the photo front...

One day I had set the self-timer to take a photo of Michelle and I (often the only way I can get in photos is with the timer, otherwise I'd always just be the person behind the camera at special events etc.) When the picture snapped, the flash made a loud Snap Crackle Pop! sound (apparently it's not just for cereal anymore.) It startled me. It sounded like the camera was about to explode. When Michelle was safely out of the way I tried hitting the shutter button to see what would happen. It was scary enough when I was across the room. Holding the camera in my hand while it popped, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I thought it might catch fire or something. Snap crackle pop was apparently the sound of the flash on my Coolpix Nikon L110 taking its last breath. Sigh. No more flash.

It figures. I don't have much luck with cameras. Many years ago I had a Canon dropped on the cement by a stranger who offered to take a picture of my boyfriend and I in Montreal (which was why from that day on I only had cameras with self-timers. I trust a flat surface more than a stranger.) I had a Minolta that died after 3 years. A Kodak. A Pentax. It seemed cameras only ever lasted 3 years for me. Mind you, to be fair to the camera manufacturers, I take a MOTHERLODE of photos. I've taken thousands. It may even be a million by now. Three years with me would be like 30 years with a normal person. Now my three year old Nikon breaks down, right on schedule. It couldn't happen at a worse time though. While I have a baby! And while I'm trying to save money on maternity leave. I've been so careful even with buying groceries and trying to limit myself to just necessities. Of course to me, a camera is a necessity (right up there with food, water, oxygen). I will have to replace it eventually. I'll just have to go a couple of weeks without groceries and sell some stuff on Kijiji. In the meantime I can still take photos in natural light. I actually love natural light. The only problem is when it's not available. I just have to hope to God that Michelle doesn't do anything particularly adorable and/or amazing on overcast days or at night because without the flash she's just a blur. I can still take videos so if she does miraculously start walking at 5-6 months or something at least I'm covered that way.

The good news is that like all electronics and technology, cameras are constantly getting smaller, smarter, faster, better and cheaper. I took a peek at what cameras are going for now and was somewhat relieved. It wasn't as bad as I thought. If I have to I could get a Nikon now with more megapixels and for half what I paid 3 years ago. Or maybe I'll go for an Olympus. That's one I haven't had yet. I've had just about everything else. Maybe there's a camera out there that can break through the 3 year barrier. I had always believed that Nikon was the best. Now I'm disappointed with them. Actually even before the flash died it was kind of temperamental. Sometimes when I'd try to photograph people they would come out overexposed for no reason. One second you'd take the picture and it would be normal and the next second it would be completely flashed out for no reason, under the same exact conditions. It made no sense. Maybe the camera/flash was faulty to begin with.

When the sun came streaming through the window of the nursery one morning I thought "OK this is my chance -- light! Grab the camera!" I snapped several pictures of Michelle on the change table. Natural light really is the best for photos but in the dead of winter you can't always count on it. There are so many dull grey days. I was happy to get a few shots of her smiling. I love her smile more than anything on the planet. It makes me forgive her for running me ragged, not letting me get anything done, being demanding and impossible at times.

I guess it's Murphy's Law. Things go wrong at the worst possible times, when you can least afford to deal with them. A camera is something I could never live without. I am grateful to have so many memories preserved in photographs. There's no way I'm stopping now. I know that in years to come these days with Michelle will be my sweetest, most cherished memories. They don't stay babies for long. This first year will be gone in a flash (if you'll pardon the pun!)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Time of My Life

Recently someone told me that I was "in a rut" and "needed to get out more." "Why don't you go out to the mall or something?" the person (who shall remain nameless) suggested. Perhaps they meant well but it bothered me. I wish I could just let things roll off my back. Maybe it's the breastfeeding hormones that make me extra sensitive. Anyway, I found the comments insulting and for the record, completely inaccurate. I am not in a rut. In fact Michelle has forced me out of the rut that I was in for at least two decades. Thanks to my baby I have quit both of my addictions (shopping and men) cold turkey and I'm happier than I've ever been.

If you've read posts like "Hibernation" and "Homebody" then you know that I have been spending A LOT of time at home with the baby, often for several days and often in my pjs. I've even started ordering my groceries in from (I've ordered from them a couple of times so far. It is such a treat to have groceries brought to my door and just be able to put them away in minutes, avoiding the stress of shopping, loading and unloading the car etc.) I don't consider staying home with my baby being in a rut. To me it's a blessing. I've found a contentment that I never had before. Spending time with my baby means more to me than anything. I don't see anything wrong with staying in my pjs if I'm not going anywhere and no one is seeing me. It's comfortable. I've even seen people wearing pajama pants out as casual wear. So there! I'm not a fan of the winter and when it's snowing I am not going anywhere if I don't have to. I was nervous driving in the snow even before I had Michelle so I certainly wouldn't take any chances now. Slipping and sliding on the ice and snow with bald tires isn't my idea of fun and Michelle is too precious to me to take the risk. Besides saving money on gas by making fewer trips is a necessity these days anyway. As far as shopping goes, it holds no appeal for me anymore. Michelle doesn't like it (and she is the boss after all) and usually complains which makes it stressful (hence the online grocery shopping). Above all, staying home most of the time has become a necessity. As I've mentioned several times as a single Mom on maternity leave I have to be REALLY careful with money these days so recreational shopping isn't a possibility anymore.

I found it judgmental and condescending for someone to look at my life and find fault, to tell me that what I'm doing is wrong. The truth is that my life was wrong for a long time and it's finally right. By definition a rut is getting stuck in a habitual pattern, as a groove or track is formed in a dirt road after the wheels have gone over the same path over and over. I was stuck in the same pattern for a very long time. For most of my adult life I felt like something was missing. I was a shopoholic, trying to fill the void with "things." Most people have their addictions. Some people drink, do drugs or overeat. I shopped. As you can guess with any addiction, no amount of stuff can fill the void. What I really longed for in my life was true love, which leads me to my other favourite addiction -- men. In 20 years I barely went more than 5 minutes without a boyfriend. I dated all the wrong men. I stayed in dead-end relationships far too long. Sometimes I would want to leave one guy and didn't have the courage because I was afraid to be alone, then the universe would put his replacement in my path (usually the complete opposite of the man I was dating because the contrast would be attractive) and I'd jump from one to the other (often from the frying pan to the fire) with no break in between. Of course the pattern was unhealthy. I never really recovered from one relationship because I would dive into the next. I never got to discover who I was. I was afraid to find out. My friend told me to take some time, at least a year, to be on my own. I laughed. "I'd never last!" I said. Finally fed up with the bar scene I decided to try online dating. One day my friend and I were having brunch and she sat and made a list of all the guys I had dated in just a few months and we laughed. It was pretty ridiculous. I kept looking for my one true love, Mr. Right, my soulmate but he never showed up. Sometimes a guy would seem perfect in the beginning and then the illusion would shatter. Sometimes he looked like a mess but I thought I could "save" him. Of course you can't save anyone. Of all the men that I dated, Mike (Michelle's father) was the most messed up of all (and that's really saying something because I dated an alcoholic on and off for 3 years and he died of an overdose). For all of his faults (which were many) Mike did bless me with two incredible gifts that would change my life forever -- the first was my baby. My little Michelle was the biggest and best surprise of my life. His second gift to me was his absence. He left us while I was four months pregnant and as painful as that was at the time, it was a blessing because we are far better off without him.

My friend had always told me I needed a year alone to find myself. Thanks to Michelle I finally got it. I couldn't very well date while I was pregnant (that would just be weird.) And since Michelle has been born I haven't had the time or the inclination to meet anyone. Besides after what I've been through it will be hard for me to trust a man again. There is so much more at stake now. I would be so much more careful if and when I date again because now he would not only have to be a good partner for me he'd have to be a great father to Michelle. I don't know if that man exists.

Michelle is what was missing from my life. She is my true love. There is no void anymore. My life has more joy and more purpose than ever before. Being home with Michelle isn't being in a rut. It is the best time of my life. I am grateful for all my life's adventures -- falling in love, travel, climbing a mountain, swimming in the ocean, being published, writing thousands of poems, helping to set a Guinness World Record, being on the front of the newspaper, acting, being on TV and in film, winning academic awards, art shows, creating hundreds of paintings, playing in concerts, writing hundreds of songs, sculpting, having my own business -- to name a few. I feel blessed that I got to dabble in so many things and have a taste of my dreams. A lot of people "settle down" and have kids in their 20s or 30s. I am settling down later than most. For a long time I was never home. I always had to be out doing something, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. In my 20s I was hitting the clubs 4-5 nights a week dancing, going to concerts. In my 30s and even past 40 I was still out more than I was home. I loved staying out late and sleeping in. I never planned to have children. I couldn't see myself as a Mom and yet it has been the most rewarding role of my life. When I look back at my past I realize that all the things that seemed so important pale in comparison to being a Mom. Being with Michelle is the time of my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Yes it's tough to live on maternity leave (especially without a partner to help pay the bills) but I'm willing to make sacrifices and live on a tight budget because Michelle is more precious to me than anything. I wouldn't miss my daughter's first year for a million dollars. No amount of money would be worth missing her first word. Her first step. The first year in a child's development is so crucial and these days are so precious that I will do whatever it takes to stay with her. I'm not leaving her with someone else. If that means I can't go shopping and have to stick to just the necessities to get by, then so be it. I'm pretty sure at the end of my life I will never say "Gee, I wish I'd spent more time at the mall." There is nowhere on earth I'd rather be than with my baby. Home sweet home has never been sweeter. I will not apologize for that.

Yes someday when Michelle is older and if our financial situation is different, I would love to travel again. I would love to share many adventures with her. But for now I'm happy just to be home with her. We do still go out sometimes of course. We visit my Mom and my sister often. Lately the weather has been warmer. The snow melted and the sidewalks were clear so Michelle and I went for walks with the stroller. It did feel good to get some fresh air and sunshine again. Michelle seemed to enjoy it too and fell asleep. She's been having more naps during the day and staying up late at night. A night owl like her Mama.

Michelle is five months old now. Every day she amazes me and makes me laugh. I love watching her discover things. She's always enjoyed storytime but she keeps letting me read for longer intervals and now she puts her hand on the pages trying to grab the pictures. Sometimes she stares at me while I'm talking, hanging on my every word. She has really found her own voice and babbles long conversations consisting of gurgles, coos, squeals and screams. Sometimes when I'm on the phone with Mom she'll ask "Is that Michelle?!" because she sounds like a doll or a bird. When I've been out with her people comment on how vocal she is and say she'll be talking in no time because she's so eager to communicate. She keeps trying to crawl and I'm pretty sure she'll have it figured out in a couple of months (which is scary because she's so hyper I bet she'll be zooming across the floor). I love her smile and her laugh is the sweetest sound on earth.

Her new favourite word is "cozy." Everytime I say it (which is often!) she giggles. I even managed to get a video of her giggling at it. (See link above.) I think cozy is my new favourite word too. On a cold, snowy winter's day, I can't think of a better way to spend it than wearing my pajamas, comfy, cozy and snuggling with my little girl.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Embrace Life...

This post is a departure for me. It is actually a guest post by Heather Von St. James, a cancer survivor. She approached me and asked if I would share her story in my blog and I'm honoured to do so.

A 43 year old mother to a 7 year old girl, Heather was given the devastating news that she had Mesothelioma (a rare and particularly aggressive form of cancer with a high mortality rate) when her daughter was just 3 and a half months old. Heartbroken, Heather was afraid she wouldn't live to see her daughter grow up. I believe it was her love for her child most of all that gave her the strength to beat the odds. As you can see, she is alive and well to share her inspirational story.

We all meet bumps in the road of life. Some are molehills. Others are mountains. These struggles test us and teach us how precious life is and how strong we are.

Thank you Heather for sharing your story...


How My Battle with Mesothelioma Taught Me to Embrace Life -- Heather Von St. James

On August 4, 2005, I gave birth to my first and only child, a daughter named Lily. Less than four months later, on November 21, my doctor gave me some of the worst news a patient can hear. I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. According to my doctor, without treatment, I would have less than 15 months to live. Even with treatment, the mesothelioma prognosis was grim.

When I heard the news, my first thought was of Lily. I couldn’t bear to think of my husband raising her alone after I was gone. I knew I had to survive, and in order to do so, I, along with my husband, settled on the most aggressive treatment possible. We flew to Boston where, on February 2, 2006, I underwent extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, which involved the complete removal of my left lung and all of the surrounding tissue.

When my husband and I left for Boston, we sent Lily to stay with my parents in South Dakota. During the time I spent recovering in the hospital, Lily grew and developed in the care of her grandparents. People I had known while growing up and even some of the girls I had babysat when I was a teen, surrounded my parents with full support and helped in raising Lily. My parents both still worked full time, so they needed all the help they could get. I can never fully thank the people who helped out during that time. Knowing that my daughter was in such loving hands was what kept me going and helped me to be able to actually focus on recovering.

In Boston, I too was surrounded by a group of supporters. The people I met at the hospital encouraged me daily. There were other people that we met who were going through the same things I was, and that was a comfort to me. You never realize how quickly and how close you can get to someone when you have something like cancer in common. Even my nurses were so great to me and such an encouragement. They always came to “ooh” and “ah” over grainy pictures of Lily that my husband would print from emails my mom sent.

While I recuperated in the hospital, my baby learned to eat solid food and scoot around Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Even though she was in good hands, I missed her dearly.

Now that it’s in the past, my family and I always try to embrace each moment life gives us. I am thankful for the deep bond that was forged between my daughter and my parents during the days of my illness when they looked after her. I am also thankful for each day that I have to share with Lily and my husband.
There is no end to the things life might throw at a person. When those times come that we cannot make it alone, others are there to help us. No matter what, embrace anything life brings your way. If good can come of cancer, good can come of absolutely anything.

NOTE -- This was a guest post by Heather Von St. James, who asked me if she could post on my blog. My blog is usually about my daughter and I and my experiences as a single parent however I was honoured that Heather would want to share her moving story with my readers. Her story powerfully reveals that life is precious and you have to embrace every moment.

Recently I've had some people write to me about mesothelioma and ask me to include a link to a website with resources, news, information on treatment, survivor stories, assistance with benefits and claims etc so here it is: I hope that it helps. The site's motto is Hope. Faith. Action.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How dry I am...

My baby is sucking me dry! Well it certainly seems that way. Breastfeeding for the past several months has made my skin drier than ever. Admittedly the winter was always harsh on my skin but moisturizer used to help at least. Now I can slather on copious amounts of lotion and it's still not enough. I have elephant elbows and alligator feet, all cracked and dry. No amount of moisturizer seems to work. I try to drink more water. I don't know how much I would have to drink to be hydrated enough. I'm a walking desert! I have an unquenchable thirst. My Mom was worried I had diabetes but the blood tests proved I didn't, not even during pregnancy. No I think it's just that Michelle is feeding so often -- every two hours or less -- that it's taking everything out of me. She drinks her fill and I'm left looking like a dried up riverbed. My baby vampire draining the life out of me! (Her father and I joked about him being a vampire. Maybe there was something to it...) She's even keeping a vampire's hours most of the time now -- sleeping by day (though not very much), up at night.

Michelle is five months old now. In the beginning when she was feeding so often I was told that the feedings would become less frequent after three months or so. The opposite is true for Michelle. She used to at least go 3-4 hours sometimes during the night. Now it's every one and a half to two hours even throughout the night. Sometimes it feels like she eats non-stop. Some of her nightly feedings last an hour. She just doesn't let go. So I get no sleep, get nothing done, am basically her prisoner! My Mom thinks I'm carrying attachment parenting too far and letting the baby have her way too much. She worried that I  was feeding Michelle too often. I told her that I heard you can't overfeed a baby when you're breastfeeding. It's self-regulating. The baby knows what she needs. And it's not as though she's a heavy baby. She's pretty slim, especially by baby standards. She's just so active that she burns it all off. She's in perpetual motion. She's jumping and kicking constantly (the Jumperoo and Jolly Jumper only encourage her even more). She's never still. So she's always hungry. And I will not let her go hungry.

My hands look ancient, battered, like they've been through a war. People always guessed me to be younger than I was by at least 5-10 years, if not 15-20. That was when they looked at my face. If they looked at my poor weathered old wrinkly hands, they'd probably guess me to be 30-40 years older. My hands have it the worst because I'm slightly OCD and wash them about 1,000 times a day. I washed them pretty frequently (hundreds of times a day) even before I had a baby. Now with the baby, it's far more because I have to wash after every diaper change, every time I pick her up, every time I do anything -- cooking, eating, doing laundry, dishes. Every thing I do requires hand-washing, sometimes several times during the activity. I basically wash my hands before and after everything I do. Sometimes I accidentally wash my hands before I collect the garbage and then I think, "That was stupid! That was one time I didn't need to wash them!" They are so dry and sore and rough that my knuckles are cracked and bleeding and puffy. It's impossible to keep moisturizer on them because of all the washing. I try just to wash the palms of my hands without the backs of my hands but that rarely works.

I looked online to see if anyone else had gone through a similar "dry spell" while breastfeeding. Sure enough, many breastfeeding women suffered from dry skin. Some have the advantage of not being OCD at least and not washing their hands constantly. Some live in a warmer climate that isn't so cold and dry. Some drink a lot of water. I try to drink more water but it's just so darn bland. If only water tasted like Coca Cola! And broccoli tasted like chocolate. And men were trustworthy. And it rained money. Yeah. If only! Anyway, at least I know that it's a normal effect of having a small human draining fluid from you several times a day. I knew that breastfeeding burned an extra 500 calories (still not enough to lose my "Mommy tummy" unfortunately!) When I first brought Michelle home and she wouldn't let me eat I was losing a lot of weight quickly and having fainting spells because I was burning off more than I took in. Now I actually get to eat meals but I guess I don't drink enough to account for all the fluid I'm losing. I'm just always thirsty. I'll have a glass of milk, a glass of water and I'm still thirsty. I should probably keep a big bottle of water by the bed and drink WHILE I'm breastfeeding instead of waiting until afterward. I feed Michelle several times during the night without getting a drink myself so that probably doesn't help. By morning I'm dying of thirst.

While pregnant I was retaining so much water that my feet and legs were blown up like balloons. (If you check out posts like "My Left Foot" from last summer, I even posted photos of my freakishly huge feet.) Now I'm shriveled up like a dried flower, losing so much water I'm cracking. My knuckles are the worst. They're so sore it hurts to bend them and they're bleeding. No matter what, Michelle is worth it. Bloated feet, cracked hands, whatever. She has taken me over body and soul. I'm living for her now. As long as she's fed, healthy and happy, I'm happy. Maybe I'll just start keeping moisturizer by every sink in the house now. And a glass of water with me in every room.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Happy New Year! I can't believe it's 2013!

We celebrated New Year's Day with my parents but on New Year's Eve my little angel (now 5 months old!) and I just stayed in. Back in the day I always felt like I had to have plans for New Year's Eve. It is the biggest party night of the year after all. Anytime I tried to do something special however (a night out at a party or a bar) it was a fiasco. I always thought how cool it would be to go to NYC Times Square for New Year's Eve but it would probably be freezing cold, crowded and chaotic. I think I'd rather just watch it from the warmth and comfort of my bed, snuggled up under the covers with my little Michelle. I never thought I'd become a homebody but then I never imagined I'd be a Mom either.

I'm becoming a bit of a hermit. I stayed in my pajamas, didn't shower or leave the house for several days. If you'd told me a year or two ago that I would be content to stay home all the time I'd have said you were crazy, but here I am. The old me was rarely home. I was either working or out. Out playing music. Out dancing. Restaurants. Movies. Boyfriends. I never watched TV. I'd go stir crazy if I was home on the weekends. Now I'm happy when I don't have to go out. It's too stressful trying to go anywhere with Michelle and I can't leave her. I suppose one day I could get someone to watch her so that I could have a "night out" but right now I'd rather be with her than doing anything else and I'd worry about her too much anyway.

Shopping is something I used to enjoy. Since having Michelle it has become a chore at best and a nightmare at worst. Everytime I went out I worried how it would go. The question wasn't WHETHER she would have a meltdown but WHEN. It was inevitable. If I was lucky, she'd be OK until we got to the car at least and scream all the way home, which isn't fun but is preferable to a scene in public. Most of the time she'd wail at the checkout. Sometimes she'd howl from the moment I entered the store. It was incredibly stressful trying to rush around and grab things before she started to scream. But what could I do? I had to eat after all. Well now I have ventured into a new frontier -- online shopping and I LOVE IT!

After hearing my grocery shopping woes (my December post "Venting" recounts one of my WORST experiences in a grocery store!) a friend had suggested I try but I was reluctant at first. I imagined it being rather expensive, something wealthy people would do who can't be bothered going shopping. These days on maternity leave I'm on a tighter budget than ever and can't afford to throw away money on luxuries. After researching it however, I discovered that the delivery fee is only $12. When I consider the stress and aggravation of shopping with an infant -- loading a kicking and screaming baby into the carseat, frantically running through the store, having her scream at the checkout, loading all the groceries into the car (amidst her screaming) and unloading them at the house (still screaming), not to mention bundling up for the weather and driving on treacherous snow-laden roads, slipping and sliding with bald tires -- $12 to avoid all that hassle doesn't sound like much at all! The groceries come from Longo's so you know that the quality is good. Their prices can be a bit higher than bargain retailers but if you get things that are on sale you can still get most of the groceries you need at about the same price you'd pay elsewhere.

I finally took the plunge and registered with them. They wound up sending me a promotional code for $5 off as an incentive, on top of the $5 off that you get as a new customer so I only ended up having to pay $2 for delivery. One night while Michelle was sleeping, I went to the site. Shopping in peace, in the privacy and comfort of my own home, was a dream. I had my list in hand. Milk was at the very top (I go through a ton of it!) I was trying to get all the groceries I needed for $100. It wasn't easy but with some adjustments I was able to do it. For instance, I love asparagus but they were charging $5.99 for it (!) I've never paid anywhere close to that. So I settled for broccoli instead which was on sale for 99 cents. I've always hated broccoli but I know it's so good for you and it was cheap so I forced myself. I discovered that although I can't stand it cooked I actually don't mind it raw with dip. When it came to items like milk, I just went for the least expensive brand they had which was $5. I can usually get it on sale for $3-4 or get the better brands (regularly $8-9 which is OUTRAGEOUS) on sale for $5 but it's still not too bad. When I consider the convenience it's certainly well worth a few extra bucks. My health and sanity are worth the investment!

Ironically though many of the groceries cost a bit more I may actually end up saving money by shopping online because it allows me to see a running subtotal and know exactly what I'm spending so I can stay within budget and eliminate things if need be. When you're actually in the store you tend to spend more and grab things that aren't on your list. Those "impulse" items can double your total at the checkout if you're not careful. The $12 delivery fee is still a lot cheaper than being in a store and picking up an extra $50 in unnecessary impulse items. Especially if you shop at Walmart. It's too tempting because they sell EVERYTHING. It's so easy to just put more things in your cart. Online you have more control. You can be organized and limit yourself to just the items you need. Of course they do try to lure you to buy impulse items by advertising items on the home page and at the top of the page in each section but it's easier to exercise restraint when you can see your total and try to stay within your limit.

When you set up delivery you choose a two hour window (I chose 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) the next day. The driver called when he was 15 minutes away (and it's great to have a heads up so I can try to be at least remotely presentable -- like throwing on a pair of jeans or track pants rather than my pjs! and so I know to listen for the door and won't be in the middle of feeding or changing the baby!) and at 11 a.m. I had my groceries. I can't begin to describe what a relief and what a joy it is to have your groceries brought to your door! To not have to load and unload the car and deal with a screaming baby is priceless. It was like Christmas unpacking the boxes and putting everything away. It was so organized and efficient. An OCD person's dream come true! And their produce was great. They were the biggest Macintosh apples I had ever seen! The delivery guy was very polite. He had me check over my order to make sure everything was OK. He said something like "Welcome to the world of convenient shopping." It is a new world for me! My receipt/invoice even had a welcome note from my personal shopper attached. It was nice. I thought "Man, I could get used to this. I may never leave the house again!"

Of course there will still be times I'll have to venture out. I had to return a couple of duplicate Christmas gifts (which I wasn't looking forward to. I hate making returns!) I waited for a clear day at least. It's been snowing lately and other than putting the garbage out, I hadn't stepped outside in several days. I noticed that my neighbour was kind enough to shovel my driveway for me. They know I'm a single Mom and help me out sometimes by cutting the lawn in the summer and shovelling the driveway in the winter. It is a big help. It's hard enough doing chores inside with Michelle never mind outside. Just putting the garbage out for two seconds she woke up and was crying. It's like she senses that I'm gone. Anyway I survived my returns (though I had to drive around the parking lot at the mall for 10 minutes waiting for a spot. I finally had to stalk someone leaving the mall -- follow them to their car and wait for them to pull out. Why so many people? On a WEEKDAY no less. You'd think they were GIVING things away!) and picked up a few things while we were out. I was so relieved to be back home. I'm like Dorothy in my ruby slippers now. "There's no place like home!"

I've also been ordering diapers online from Michelle's skin is so sensitive she gets diaper rash easily so I use Pampers Sensitive. Unfortunately most stores only carry it in small quantities so you end up paying more per unit. At you can get a larger economy pack. They usually deliver in about two days and just leave it on your porch. I was a little uncomfortable about it at first. They delivered on a day that I wasn't home and I worried someone might take them. But who steals diapers off someone's porch? They were waiting for me when I got home that night.

Michelle is 5 months old now! Time has really flown. She can sit up by herself for close to a minute now. She rolls over and over when she has her tummy time and lifts her butt like she's trying to crawl and scooch across the floor. I'll have to be really careful once she's walking. Something tells me she's going to be even more of a handful then! I can't wait for her to talk. I keep trying to get her to say "Mama" but she just laughs at me. So far it's just little sounds and a whole lot of blowing raspberries. Her "I'm hungry" noise has gone from an "Uh-uh" to more of an "Mm-mm" as in Mm-mm good! So I know she can make the M sound. Now we just need the "ah." She's still feeding every couple of hours or less. She's so hyper that she's constantly in motion -- kicking, wiggling, jumping. I was starting to worry that she isn't gaining enough weight. She eats non-stop but she also exercises so much that she burns it all off. I should follow suit and start working out to lose my muffin top but I can't seem to find the time/energy. Maybe in 2013 I'll feel more motivated. I'm not going to make it a resolution but I definitely do want to work out this year. Just not right now. Maybe tomorrow. Or the day after...
I can't believe she'll be six months next month. A huge milestone. She'll be starting solid foods. That will be a whole new adventure. I'm getting nervous about it. I've heard conflicting stories about what you're supposed to start them out with. Some say cereal then veggies and fruit but lately I've been told that you have to start with meats because the baby needs protein and iron which drops at 6 months for some reason. The problem is you're supposed to introduce foods one at a time and I haven't even seen baby food meat that isn't mixed with something. It's always chicken and veggies or beef with rice. It's never just the meat on its own. I'll have to ask my doctor at the next checkup. Someone told me that General Practitioners don't know much about nutrition anyway. They only get 10 minutes of training in it during their medical training. What you really have to do is speak to a dietitian. Everyone seems to have a different opinion. I guess it's like anything in parenting, you can listen to a wide spectrum of advice but then do what seems right to you. At least Michelle is starting to show an interest in food. She watches me intently as I eat and tries to grab at the food. She's started sipping water from a glass. My doctor said it was OK for her to have a little water so when she reached for my glass I let her try it. She seemed to like it. It was a change for her to have something cold from a glass since all she'd had so far was milk from me and occasionally from a bottle.
Though I do stay home most of the time I do need some contact with the outside world! When I get a chance I go online to check my email etc. Whenever I'm stressed about something I call my sister and she puts my mind at ease. She always knows the perfect thing to say. I talk to my Mom daily. Sometimes several times a day. She likes to hear from me every day to make sure that Michelle and I are OK. I get so used to talking to her that I end up calling her with every little minor detail. It's just good to have a sounding board when you're on your own. My Mom can be negative and a worrier, so sometimes if I'm worried she actually makes me feel worse! Then I call my sister to calm me down. Overall though I must say that since having the baby I've felt closer to my Mom than ever before. For the first time I really understand what it means to be a Mom. I also understand the challenge of raising a family on a tight budget. When I was a kid I used to complain about not having name brand this and that. I didn't understand that we simply couldn't afford it. My Mom seems pleased that I'm becoming more like her all the time -- trying to save money, looking for bargains and now becoming a homebody and not wanting to go out. Michelle has changed my life and myself more than I ever could have imagined. She is my top priority so everything else has to work around her wants and needs. Sometimes it is exhausting but she is worth it.
I hope that 2013 will have great things in store for us. I hear the winter is supposed to be harsh. At least I know if we're snowed in I don't have to go hungry. I can have my groceries delivered. We can hibernate until the Spring...