Wednesday, June 13, 2012


elias and leon at about 10 weeks.

they both have such bright eyes, but whereas leon's gaze is so intense and sharp, elias' is relaxed and welcoming. i have been dealing with so many conflicting emotions since elias's birth, i wish i had time to write them down. some days i feel wistful because things are so much easier one-on-one with elias. the coos and babbling, the healthy weight gain, the long stretches of sleep at night....i feel like a first time parent, these are all new things to me.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

the kid

at what point is my child no longer a toddler? the first time they place baby brother on my chest? the first time my newly postpartum self tried to carry him and the weight was too much? the first time he cuddled in my lap and there still didn't seem to be enough room? leon and i have been sharing a bed since the night before elias was born. we have had emotional fights and absurdist arguments. in many ways the past three weeks haven't been about my relationship with elias -- or even matthew. the past three years have centered on my sweet boy. how do we find room for everyone on this metaphorical bed? recovery has been slower than i would like. all that calm and patience evaporated when i started pushing elias out. j have become even more impatient since then. maybe it's because elias is gaining weight and growing more quickly than leon did at this stage (7lbs 10oz at birth, 8lbs 14oz at 19 days), maybe it's because leon seems enormous to me, all kid no toddler, but i feel like i need to hurry to catch up with my boys. *why can't i upload photos from my phone when posting on the darn thing?*

Monday, March 5, 2012

36 weeks...scattered thoughts about loneliness, fear, and keeping busy

scenes from the past four months...

this baby is coming sooner rather than later. four weeks if he's on schedule like leon. less if any of these cramps and lower back pains indicate anything. yesterday i was at a store deciding whether or not to buy infant sized babylegs. i visualized the scrawny legs, mottled skin, and tiny toes and decided against the legwarmers. they would be too big for the first few weeks if this boy is as skinny as leon was. 6 lbs and 11 oz at birth, 6 lbs 5oz when we left the hospital. i've been looking at birth announcements at babycenter's march 2012 birth club and there are 35-36 weekers who are as big as leon was at 39w5d. in spite of my weight gain (nearly twice as much as the first time), i don't think this baby is going to be much bigger than leon.

so i keep bouncing on the balance ball while at the office. i take walks to the bathroom or kitchen every 30 minutes because short walks are the only thing that alleviates the pain. i wonder about leon at preschool, lonely and alone. he was so sad at his school birthday party, mainly because seeing us during the middle of the day made him want to go home. i miss my group of women and men in cambridge. we held each other up, listened to grievances when our partners were tired of listening, and kept an eye out for each other's littles. if only we could live communally. pre-school has been a major transition for everyone, even the ones who didn't move far away. i thought leon would make new friends and weekend playdates would be scheduled. but the loneliness of the past summer seems to have taken root these past 8 months and we just can't seem to shake it.

and then i worry about a home birth. i worry about last minute emergencies and have to remind myself that the midwives are much better integrated into health care here in toronto. they will not hesitate to call an ambulance or transfer if necessary. they will not participate in a homebirth before 37 weeks. these things reassure me, but at the same time, i do not feel ideologically bound to a homebirth. i do not imagine a 'perfect' birth experience. health and safety are paramount, but i do feel that in a normal (second) pregnancy the comfort and security experienced by the mother has a major impact on labor and delivery.

thinking back on leon's birth, i can't decide if the hospital setting made me feel secure enough to endure two long hard hours of pushing or whether going to the hospital during transition slowed down the pushing and made it worse than it would have been at home. there are so many variables, and of course this labor and delivery will be different. and that's where fear enters.

i focus on visualizing the baby in all his squirmy newborn sweetness but am distracted by my shadowy self. fear of death, of unnecessary complications at home or at the hospital. not having my support system in place has compounded the loneliness. keeping busy at work is the only thing standing between me and that shadow. so i work on my lectures, write a final exam, and grade assignments. i think about my article-in-progress and am grateful for the heavy work load.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

double trouble

leon's serious grown-up face

leon's naughty imp face

i was so certain that this new baby was a girl, but the 19 week ultrasound scans leave little doubt in my mind. unlike leon where i took their word for it, i'm 99.99% positive that this is another boy.

a small part of me is wistful because of my love of girl clothing, but i'm also thrilled that leon will have a brother and i won't have to buy a new wardrobe for this kid.

also, i don't know about you, but this very creepy 3-d scan makes me think this boy is going to look a lot like leon. i had no idea the technician was going to do a 3-d scan, but i'm glad she did since this will be my first and only glimpse before birth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

many changes afoot

on top of the pregnancy (almost nausea free at 16 weeks), we decided to add toilet and sleep training because there's nothing like an extra dose of chaos to keep us on our toes.

the diaper-free movement was precipitated by our sense that leon was ready. plus, it seems like all of the toddlers here in toronto are diaper-free by the time they're two or two and a half. in general it's been going well, but we haven't been completely consistent about keeping him diaperless during the weekends, mornings, and evenings. if he's wearing underwear, there are accidents, but when i just put babylegs on (he complains of the cold), we're 100% successful with pee. i'm hoping the poop will sort itself out eventually. he wears pull-ups at preschool, and apparently he's been using the potty most of the time. he's gotten to the point where he definitely tries to hold it until he's offered the potty, but i don't think he actively seeks it out. this morning he complained that he had peed a lot and that his diaper was squishy and heavy.

the more exciting development has been on the sleep front. since mid may leon has been sleeping with matthew exclusively. i just couldn't take it anymore because i was nursing all night, sick with a horrible cold, and two days shy of defending my dissertation. ever since, it's been great (for me). leon would wake up more infrequently, often only once a night, and everyone seemed to be happier. and then we moved to toronto. matthew moved back to cambridge to work for a month. leon and i went to california for a month. i went to southern new mexico to visit a friend for two nights. and suddenly leon was completely weaned at 30 months. hooray!

but then we came back to toronto in september and moved AGAIN in october to a larger, quieter, and cleaner apartment that was closer to pre-school and work. in the past two weeks leon's sleep deteriorated rapidly. he would wake up and scream and beg to go to mama. he and matthew would argue and bargain for an hour at a time. we were all cranky, me especially. after over 2 years of sleep deprivation, i had absolutely no tolerance for a regression. i understood that leon was dealing with a lot of traumatic changes, but i just couldn't take it anymore. so i asked a friend for her sleep-training advice, and we decided to take another stab at cry it out.

now, we've tried gradual sleep training before, but every time we would hit a wall. but somehow this time leon was ready, and so were we.

on the first night, matthew read leon a few books and then told him that he loved him and that it was time for bed. he turned off the light and left. we had reinstalled the baby gate so we could keep the door open. leon screamed and cried and begged. after two minutes, matthew went back in, said the same thing, and left. four minutes, same thing. eight minutes, and then sixteen minutes. at this point leon threw up. we went in and cleaned it up without saying anything. thirty two minutes passed, and suddenly silence. matthew went in after twenty minutes and saw that leon had burrowed under the duvet. he uncovered him and left. at 5 am leon woke up and shouted that he was ALL DONE. i decided to let him come into bed with me, and we slept for two more hours.

on the second night, leon began to voice his anxieties an hour before bedtime. he was clearly dreading the moment of being left alone. he kept talking about how sad he was because he was all alone. when matthew left him, he cried for 10 seconds and then was silent for a few minutes before demanding that we say
Night Night. after two minutes, matthew went in and said his lines. twenty minutes later leon began shouting and yelling. five minutes later he shouted that we needed to change his diaper because he had pooped. i questioned this for a second before going in. he had indeed pooped. we changed it quickly without a word. after that, silence. again leon had covered his head with the duvet. i was concerned because it was synthetic and unbreathable, so we switched it with a cotton quilt. apparently it makes him feel better to have his head covered. leon slept until 4.50 am, at which point i let him sleep with me.

last night, leon went to sleep without a sound. i checked him after 10 minutes and uncovered his face. he slept until 2 am, shouted briefly, and then was quiet. at 4.40 am he awoke and declared he was all done. matthew went into his room and slept with him for an hour. then leon decided to come into my bed and sleep for 40 more minutes.

so far, so good. i really do believe that as much as we try to dictate our children's development (or at least there's this pressure to follow a timeline), unless they're ready for a change, it's difficult to do so. in some ways it's harder to let a highly verbal toddler cry alone because the things they say are heartbreaking. but when we tried to let him cry at six, and again at eleven months, the vomiting and crying were too much to take. i suspect that weaning played a huge role in our growing independence from each other. being pregnant and worrying about the next round of sleep deprivation was a major incentive, too. in the end i don't regret letting the process drag on for this long, even if it meant we appeared wildly inconsistent and undisciplined to most people. it's like a loose tooth that needs to be wiggled, prodded, and tested until the right moment comes along when you're ready to shut your eyes and give it a good and final yank. in our case, it took nearly 32 months to finally hold hands and take the plunge together.

Monday, September 26, 2011

here we go again

this is a somewhat secretive post. i'm assuming there are only 4 people who actually look at this blog.

so, my radio silence has been directly related to: finishing the dissertation, moving from cambridge to toronto,  matthew going back to cambridge for a month to work, everyone heading to southern california for 3 weeks, the beginning of the semester, and oh yeah, pregnancy.

everything that was so great about the first time isn't present this time (aside from the happiness of actually being pregnant).

now v. then:
constant nausea from week 6 to week 13 v. 1 hour of the queasies at breakfast time for 3 weeks.
mind-numbing fatigue v. energy, so much energy!
insatiable hunger, especially at 3 am v. eating for two? that's ridiculous.
daily headaches v. a respite from daily headaches
everything smells and tastes bad except for junk food v. a single smell aversion

obviously having a 2.5 year old and my history of sleep deprivation doesn't make things better, but i'm in a bad place mentally these days. i ate greek yogurt drenched in honey in the middle of the night, cheese puffs and ramen as a 'snack,' and jogged once a week, if even that. prenatal yoga and pilates were usurped by a 9 am bedtime.

all of that arrogance that came with being the skinny, fit pregnant person has been flattened unceremoniously by this pregnancy. i've always had a soft spot for sweets and snacks, but my diet was tempered by exercise. this time around i've managed to both feel incredibly nauseated and famished for all things unhealthy. staying with my mom didn't help because she was constantly feeding me (mostly good things, but somehow box after box of mochi ice cream landed in my lap). and now i understand how eating can spiral out of control, how i can stop caring about what goes in my mouth because i'm too tired and fatalistic. i've always believed in hitting the ground running, which is why i was in the best shape of my life before we decided to have our first. i continued yoga and pilates, jogged 3-5 times a week until 32 weeks, and swam once a week in the winter.

and now i feel like a slug. i'm unhappy with my body, cranky about everything, and annoyed at the Canadian health care system. i'm 13 weeks and still haven't had a prenatal visit with my midwife. no bloodwork, no ultrasound, nothing.

last time around i was sad about the hair-loss during the first trimester and my terrible skin, but at least i looked and felt great in all other respects. i felt empowered throughout the pregnancy and especially during the birth. it was afterwards that i fell apart. i didn't expect such an intense newborn who never slept (and still doesn't sleep). i didn't expect to nurse for 30 months.

this time around...i felt defeated before i even found out about the new pregnancy. the pessimist in me was rewarded. with the lifting of the nausea/exhaustion fog in the past week, i'm hoping that i'll be able to get back on track. i'm also placing bets that this is a girl.

Monday, August 8, 2011

one step forward, three steps back

or, we'll get there eventually.

what was i saying about weaning and sleeping through the night? well, life has been pretty unsettled for the past three months, and it shows in leon's behavior. matthew ended up going back to cambridge to work for 5 weeks, leaving me alone with leon for a week before my mom arrived to help out.

so we're still nursing in the middle of the night once every four to five nights. that said, he rarely asks during the day, which is such a relief! and things are improving somewhat with sleep. he's now able to go into his room and fall asleep during the day when my mom is there. but he always insists on me laying down with him. i've noticed he's always clingier with me, but then again, i'm the same way with my own mom. 

things are so inconsistent with his night hours, though. sometimes he'll sleep 8 hours straight, but most nights he'll wake at least once. last night he woke up at 2 am and insisted on nursing. he then proceeded to wake up every hour and nurse. just like old times....instead of fighting it or becoming angry, i've started to accept that going along with whatever it is he needs once in awhile isn't going to set us back indefinitely. having a few nights of sleep under my belt has definitely improved my feelings about sleep and nursing. it was hard to not be emotional and angry about things when i was waking up every 2 hours.

anyway, we're off to southern california for three weeks starting on the 16th, which i'm really excited about. i'm also going to new mexico for three days, which will be the longest i've spent away from leon. it's about time--he'll be two and half this month!