Category Archives: birth

Things I Don’t Regret

Before I had kids, there were lots of things I was never going to do. And there were lots of things I was told never to do, or I’d regret it. Ten years into this parenting gig though, the kids seem to be doing all right, so I can tell you there are a number of choices that I don’t regret. Not at all. Here are some of them:

Breastfeeding my infants on demand around the clock. Breastfeeding past infancy. Not forcing them to wean when they weren’t ready. “Encouraging” them to wean when we both were.

Co-sleeping. “They” said we’d never get them out of our bed. “They” were wrong. If anything I regret not doing it sooner.

Rocking them to sleep. Nursing them to sleep. Staying with them until they fell asleep. Letting them nap in my arms, in the swing, in the car. Those years seem so long ago.

Vaccinating.

Picking my babies up when they cried. Carrying my kids as long as I could.

Not potty training. Amazingly, they have been out of diapers for a long, long time, despite the lack of candy or sticker rewards!

Encouraging my kids to take part in different activities. Not pushing them into activities.

Having a child in daycare. Working full time. Having a nanny. Staying home. Being a student-mom. Working part time. Working from home. It’s all good. Honest.

Taking a year of maternity leave. Having my kids three years apart. Taking my preschooler out of daycare while I was on mat leave with BB#2.

Putting my kids in French Immersion.

Not forcing them to do homework in Grade One.

Taking a stroller to Disneyland for my almost-5-year-old. Judge away, at least we had fun!

Spending money on books. Reading to my kids after they could read to themselves.

Letting my kids watch TV and play video games. Not letting my kids watch or play everything their friends are watching or playing.

Giving them choice over their hairstyles.

Staying with them on playdates when they were younger. Letting them walk around the block alone together now that they’re older.

Telling them the proper names for body parts and being honest about where babies come from.

Not being Pinterest-perfect.

Letting them believe in Santa Claus. Not getting into Elf on the Shelf.

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To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: Is There a Question?

During my BEd studies, I got called out by one of my professors for talking in class. She had made a dismissive comment about people choosing not to vaccinate their children and relying on herd immunity to keep them healthy.

“Not necessarily,” I commented to the pregnant woman beside me, not quite as under my breath as I’d thought.

The professor asked me to explain. I told her that some people felt the vaccines were riskier than the diseases they were meant to prevent. They weren’t necessarily relying on other people to keep their children healthy—they actually accepted that they might get sick, and hoped they would build up natural immunity. It wasn’t simply that they were OK with the rest of us pumping chemicals into our kids so that they didn’t have to.

Being Canadian, she later apologized to me for any offense, and I apologized in return for interrupting her lecture. And we both made it clear that our own children were, in fact, fully immunized.

So why was I defending anti-vaxxers? When my children were born, I had questioned vaccines, or at least the number and frequency of shots they were scheduled to receive. I came into contact, at least online, with other parents who were concerned—not so much about the (now disproven) autism link (though there were some of those), but with the idea of injecting their perfect babies for what they considered treatable illnesses in this age of modern medicine. There was a certain sense in the arguments.

I could also understand questioning standard medical advice. Already as a new mom, I’d learned that doctors aren’t perfect, and don’t always agree. If I had listened to my OB, I would have believed there was no benefit to delayed cord cutting, because she hadn’t heard of it in 2004. If I had listened to the nurses in the hospitals where my sons were born, I wouldn’t have succeeded in breastfeeding. If I had listened to my pediatrician, I never would have breastfed past 6 months, and would have let my baby cry himself to sleep. If I had listened to my family doctor, I would have accepted that my sons’ PFAPA was a series of viruses. Heck, solid feeding guidelines changed by the time my firstborn was 6 months old, and have changed at least once since then! So it was no surprise that some parents weren’t in a hurry to get their babies vaccinated, no questions asked.

In the end, my husband and I did ask questions, and chose to go with our instincts and our doctors’ recommendations (it helped that they were parents of young children themselves and could honestly tell us they’d chosen to vaccinate their babies). But I could still understand that other parents might not make the same choice.

So I find the current anti-anti-vaxxer backlash that I’m witnessing online and in the media quite interesting. I find myself agreeing more and more with the idea that we need to work together to keep ALL children in our society healthy, and that science isn’t evil. As some have pointed out on Twitter, peanut butter is not welcome at schools, so measles shouldn’t be either.

But then again, most years we’ve resisted the hype and chosen not to get the flu shot, and apparently that was a good call this year. So what would I do if it was suddenly made mandatory?

Note: edited to add sixth paragraph, February 7, 2015.

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Royally Overexposed

You might have noticed, I love motherhood. And I’m outspoken on all things birth and breastfeeding. So you might think I was one of the millions waiting with bated breath for the announcement that a rich, gorgeous couple I’ve never met had had their first baby today.

You’d be wrong.

Oh, I was following the news—it was impossible to avoid on Twitter. Heck, even Starbucks and Well.ca and other accounts I follow for deals and sales tweeted congrats to the new parents! But while I am apparently in the minority, and will no doubt come off like a humbug for admitting this, I don’t see why the birth of the little prince was such big news for anyone not related to him. And okay, maybe for the people of Britain. Yes, yes, all babies are wonderful etc. etc. and I wish them all happy and healthy. Truly. But why are some babies front-page news from the moment they are conceived (or even before, in the case of this child)? What is our societal obsession with the offspring of the rich and famous, or infamous? No really, I want to know, because I don’t get it.

You’re probably thinking: “this child is heir to the British throne! It’s a historic day!” To which I have to respond, meh. Despite the image of the queen on my money, I don’t feel the monarchy is at all relevant to me personally, or to Canada. I don’t think of them as my royal family. I don’t see them as having any real power. They’re just a remnant of an archaic system—a very expensive, privileged remnant.

It’s not just this particular baby, though (and I’m sure he’s lovely, and William and Kate are over the moon, as they should be). I feel the same way about the constant reporting on any celebrity pregnancy, birth, or baby. Is the media feeding an actual demand? And if so, who is demanding it? Why do we care how much weight this model gained during pregnancy, or how this actress conceived long after 40, or if that singer is going to change his child’s diapers? Why do reporters follow celebrities’ children around, feeding us earth-shattering news about who is “still” nursing, who “still” has a pacifier, who got what expensive gift for her birthday? And why, despite the fact I don’t seek out this information, am I still surrounded by it (stood in a grocery store line lately?)

Already I’ve seen links to articles on what the royal baby’s personality will be, based on his astrological sign. And headlines suggesting his sex is a disappointment to the public! (actually I know a bit about that…) The child is a few hours old, people. You know what I’m not looking forward to: the media falling all over itself for the first images of the prince. And any bets on how long* it will take the press to report on how quickly the (already genetically blessed, and wealthy enough to employ a trainer and nutritionist and nanny) Duchess will get back her “pre-baby bod”? I guarantee the words “flaunting” or “showing off” will be used in the headlines the moment the woman steps out in public, as long as she looks good, and especially if she dares to wear a swimsuit some place crazy like a beach on a private family vacation (which won’t really be private). If she retains a pound or two, well, she’ll surely be publicly shamed for that too.

Okay, I admit, even I am mildly curious what the new prince will be called. But it’s almost certain his name will contain any or all of the following: William, Charles, Phillip, Edward, Henry, James, David or George**. Nothing “unique” for this baby, I’ll wager. (I have a theory that all those bizarre names (Bear Blue, Pilot Inspektor, North West) celebrities give their children are really to throw off the public and the media, so plain old Ann or Jack or whatever can lead a somewhat normal life in private.)

On one hand, I feel sorry for celebrities, who have to endure the media glare during the most intimate moments of their lives. I could not imagine knowing there were crowds and cameras outside while I laboured. Talk about pressure! But on the other, I’m sure there are more than a few fringe benefits to being rich and famous that make up for all of that. Celebrities have to know going into the fame game what it means for their privacy, and many of them actively court the cameras (I still have no clue why the Kardashians are famous, but I get the sense it was not thrust upon them.)

The children of celebrities, though, have no such choice in the matter. So it would be nice if we left them alone. But somehow, I don’t see that happening.

*ETA: apparently less than 48 hours (though in fairness, there has been a lot of positive about the fact she didn’t try to hide her post-partum belly–and good on her! Because YES, after you grow and give birth to another human, you still look pregnant immediately afterwards!)

**ETA: George Alexander Louis it is.

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These Are a Few of My Favourite Links – Birth

I’ve blogged a bit about my own experiences, and what led me to make different choices for my second birth. While no two births are the same, and each woman needs to choose a caregiver, birth location, and plan she is most comfortable with (while understanding things may not go as planned), I think it’s important to be aware ahead of time the impact certain choices can have. True choice must be informed choice.

Birth

Epidurals: Risks and Concerns for Mother and Baby

What to Reject When You’re Expecting

Home Births Safer Than Hospital Births for Low Risk Pregnancies

The Most Scientific Birth is Often the Least Technological Birth

The Symptoms of PPD  (if you are a new mom, or know a new mom, a must-read)

Cheating a bit here: I also recommend the documentary The Business of Being Born. While it is an American film, it’s still very informative and interesting for parents-to-be (whether first-timers or not). I don’t recommend the What to Expect books (among other things, one friend of mine refers to it as “that horrible book” that scared her silly about everything she did, and the edition I had included some pretty poor breastfeeding advice). For a Canadian perspective, check out Ann Douglas’ The Mother of All… series instead.

More of my Favourite Links: Homework, Parenting, Sleep, Breastfeeding, Education

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These Are a Few of My Favourite Links – Parenting

Sometimes I wonder why I bothered to start blogging. So many others have written on topics dear to me much more eloquently than I ever could. What can I possibly add? I’ll often share links and articles that really resonate with me, and I’ve been known to email myself the links to refer to later . I’m going to compile a list of my favourites from recent years by topic, starting with some great reads on the subject of parenting in general. Happy reading!

Parenting

Don’t Carpe Diem

On Parenthood

What is Attachment Parenting? (note the lack of a list of “thou shalts”…)

Notes From a Dragon Mom (warning: have tissue handy)

Parenting: I Quit

Mothering in the Newborn Period

Bad Baby Names (just for fun, a blog about “interesting” names people have given their children. Apologies if you recognize any of the names…)

More of my Favourite Links: Homework, Education, Sleep, Breastfeeding, Birth.

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A Letter to a New Mom

Dear new mom,

Congratulations! You just grew and gave life to and are nourishing a new human. This is amazing! Be proud of you.

Everything in your life will change now, and probably not in the ways you imagined.

You may not have had the birth you wanted, and though everyone will tell you it doesn’t matter, it’s okay to mourn that.

Take time to write down your birth story.

Whatever you are feeling is normal.

If you don’t experience that overwhelming in-love feeling you expected right away, don’t worry: it’s coming.

And after you do fall in love with your baby and start wondering how you could possibly love another child that much, don’t worry: you can.

Despite what you said before you had kids, you will have conversations about poop.

You will make mistakes. Forgive yourself. Your baby already has.

Babies are not manipulative. Trust yours.

Enjoy this time. But you don’t have to enjoy every minute of it. In fact, you probably won’t. And that’s okay.

Parenting is hard. Don’t make it harder.

Be flexible. What you envisioned might not work for the child that you have.

Make sure you are in some of the pictures.

There will be plenty of time to clean when your child no longer wants to play with you.

The only thing you can count on when it comes to sleep in the first year is change.

Let baby be a baby. Don’t rush your baby off the breast, out of diapers, out of your arms, out of your bed, to walk, to read, to grow up, whatever…Your baby will get there, and you will miss this time. In the words of Gretchen Rubin: The days are long, but the years are short.

Baby smiles and laughter make up for everything.

You are a good mom.

Sincerely,

Mum2BeautifulBoys

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My Kid Just Said (Part 13)

“You aren’t a mind-reader, you’re a womb-reader.” BB#1, 8 years old, after I told him I knew he would be a boy, born on Labour Day weekend, and have red hair.

I still don’t know where he learned the word “womb”.

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