asphodellium

Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

Pregnancy was kind to me. I was happy, well-rested, and very fond of my bump. Unpleasant symptoms? Well, I had mild nausea in first trimester. Does that time I threw up a cucumber count?

The early months of motherhood were likewise kind to me. Mommybloggers seem to predominantly prefer toddlerhood to infancy, a common refrain being “I don’t miss those [dark, shock-to-the-system] days.” But although Ashelyn’s babyhood wasn’t half as interesting or fun as the present whirlwind of my waking hours, I remember it being easier. Back then I was still reading through my kindle library, sleeping baby in the crook of my arm. Now, I hide my kindle from the whirling dervish who has already cracked the screens on my phone and ipod touch.

So I’m one of those people. I liked being pregnant and I like babies when they’re brand new.

All this to say … I have an itch.

An itch for another mini!

Maybe, maybe.

However, Ashelyn is still breastfeeding (going so strong, in fact, that I periodically wonder if it interferes with her appetite for regular food). Aaand I haven’t gotten my period back. Which is lovely and all, but is this normal?

My sister-in-law's one-month-old. It appears I've forgotten how to handle tiny ones already.

My sister-in-law’s one-month-old. It appears I’ve forgotten how to handle tiny ones already.

It boils down to this: though I’m aware that conception is definitely not impossible, it doesn’t seem extremely likely at the moment.

I’m okay with those probabilities.

This should be where I say, “Goodbye, birth control!” Except we’ve actually only used birth control once, maybe twice, since Ashelyn was born. We’re mature and responsible that way.

(Then again, frequency of sex post-baby is like a form of birth control in itself … but that’s another post that in all likelihood won’t ever be written. Don’t hold your breath.)

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I don’t feel strongly about “defining my parenting style.” (Natural parenting, gentle parenting, free-range parenting? What does that even mean?) However, I always chafe at being pigeonholed, and for some reason I’m especially resistant to the “attachment parent” label, even though – or maybe because? – I practice many of the things attachment parents advocate.

I had a natural homebirth. The “home” part was an accident, but it will forever make an awesome story. I was indeed crossing my fingers for a natural birth, but it was supposed to occur at the hospital. (I felt safer having my first at a hospital, you know, in case of complications. Plus the facilities at BC Women’s are wonderful.) But I held off too long and Ashelyn came too quickly. Strictly speaking, I had a freebirth, or unassisted birth.

I breastfeed. I’m fortunate and thankful to have encountered no hurdles here, so the boob it is. It’s convenient. It’s free. Ashelyn’s a fan. Actually she’s never tried formula; she’s never even used a bottle, because I’m crazy lazy. We’ll probably continue until Ashelyn wants to stop, unless she turns two and still doesn’t, in which case HELP. (I’m no elitist, though. If a mother who is perfectly capable of breastfeeding chooses to use formula just because, we can totally still be friends.)

We chose baby-led weaning. Because who wants to bother with separate food prep for munchkin? Certainly not I. We try to avoid processed foods and excess salt and sugar, although now that Ashelyn’s older I’m less likely to freak out if someone gives her a piece of croissant. I don’t care about buying organic or avoiding GMO; I’m not convinced the benefits justify the price.

I babywear more often than I use a stroller. We started with slings, but haven’t really looked back since acquiring an Ergo. It’s just that I’ve found a carrier to be more versatile, and more likely to result in peaceful cooperation. I’ve also done my fair share of toting Ashelyn around in my arms (and I’ve got the biceps to show for it).

We co-sleep. A while ago we sidecar-ed the crib, but Ashelyn doesn’t spend a ton of time sleeping in her space, preferring instead to cuddle with me. Which is sweet and all, but bedsharing is the one thing I’m not proud to admit, because ideologically I believe in the marital bed, not the family bed. Unfortunately Ashelyn was a sleepfighter from day one, and this is where the path of least resistance has led us. I still haven’t committed to any form of sleep training, not because I’m opposed to CIO, but because I doubt it’ll work on my girl without crossing a threshold of unpleasantness to which I am opposed.

We do EC and cloth diaper and use disposables. Ashelyn has pooped in the potty since she was five months old, because she is awesome. So is poop-free cloth diapering! Still, there’s no denying the convenience and absorption power of disposables; we use them, sparingly, for (longer) outings and overnight.

We vaccinate. On schedule. In all other matters I stand behind the decisions of well-meaning parents, even controversial ones like spanking or crying it out. But unless your child is immuno-compromised, if you don’t vaccinate, I say you’re doing it wrong, and I shake my fist at you for weakening herd immunity.

I’m a proud product of the public education system, and biased in its favour. Although there’s plenty of time for shifts of opinion on this front, presently I’m not very interested in private institutions, and I don’t intend to homeschool.

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I’m no expert on babies. I am, however, an expert on one baby. And that’s all the authority I need.

I can imagine some things getting easier.

We’re in an interesting window of time where Ashelyn has definite wants and opinions, but not always the language to communicate them. She’s a strong-willed little thing, and I fear that the stage is set for tantrums. So far the closest we’ve come is the odd phenomenon wherein all her bones liquefy and she oozes out of our grasp onto the floor in slow-motion protest. It’s amusing more than anything else … for now. And even though she’s normally no mystery to me, I look forward to the day Ashelyn can just tell me what she wants, how she feels. Guesswork can be tedious. Plus, toddlerspeak is squee! (So I suppose this will get worse before it gets better.)

She’ll increasingly be able to occupy herself, for increasing lengths of time. With books, for instance. Books are a magnificent occupier of time, if I remember correctly. I may even be able to shower more than twice a week.

Oh yes, and eventually she’ll have her own room and sleep in there. Eventually she’ll want to. One day. Hopefully before the age of four.

I can imagine other things becoming more difficult.

Ashelyn is still young and pliable enough to be easily distracted away from undesirable objects and situations, and thus potential scenes are quickly diffused. Move away from those cables, Ashelyn, come have some water from your sippy! Aww, did that other kid snatch your toy? Look, here’s another one!

She hasn’t yet gotten into all the cupboards and drawers. It’s an old house, so much of the built-in cabinetry is “sticky” and needs to be wrangled open – an unexpected boon. Also, she can’t open the refrigerator.

Maybe it’s the still-developing memory, but Ashelyn is very forgiving and holds no grudges. By the time she wakes up, she’s forgotten that she hates me for making her nap in the first place. Phew.

Dear Ashelyn,

One year ago today, you were born in our bathroom, while your father freaked out because he didn’t know how to deliver a baby. (Well, now he does.)

IMG_3586You’re always bucking the script. Remember how you were crawling and pulling up and cruising and climbing at six months? At the rate you were hitting those milestones, you should have been walking months ago … but you’re not! (You do, however, “walk” on your knees.) This month you’ve been willing to walk while holding my hand or holding onto our fingers, but before, whenever we tried, you’d just become dead weight. Totally uninterested.

Do you realize this is infringing on my bragging rights?

I thank you for that.

You’ve started saying “hi.” It comes out more like “aye,” but people get the idea, especially since you say it repeatedly: “Hi. Hi. Hi!” I carry you in the Ergo, and you greet anyone who happens to come alongside us.

You also say “oh wow” and “uh oh” (originally “woh woh”). I know when you drop something on purpose because you’ll say “uh oh” before you let go.

Last month you were nodding and shaking your head in response to hearing the words “yes” and “no” … now you nod to mean yes and shake your head to mean no. Let’s go outside! Yes. Want another strawberry? Yes. Shall I take you for a minute and give mama a break? No.

IMG_3569You clap in response to “yay” and “good job” and “好棒啊!” When we say it’s time to brush your teeth – four now – you run your finger across your mouth like a toothbrush. When you see a stray tissue, you’ll use it to “wipe” the nearest surface. Then you’ll pinch it into little confetti bits. You know both the Mandarin and English words for “kiss,” and you give them freely, generously, maybe a touch too indiscriminately.

In the evenings, you flop backwards in bed and kick your legs crazily in all directions, a throwback to when you were mere weeks old. Part of me is still taken aback whenever I see babies younger than you are; wasn’t it just yesterday you were the newest of them all? And now, now you say “mama” and smush your nose into my face.

IMG_3561Some mothers say they no longer remember life before their little ones, but I do. I remember late nights and lengthy internet browsing and leisurely meals. I miss those things sometimes, but I’ve found parenthood to be remarkably good at exposing the selfish parts of me, prying them away without anaesthetic.

You’re worth it.

Love,
Mama

albeo

Posted on: 15 January 2013

I liked the old theme enough to keep it for three years, but I wasn’t fond of the juvenile-ish colour change on bolded or italicized words. And I hated the format for block quotations and comments.

It’s high time for a change, anyway. (Other than Ashelyn hijacking the subject matter of this blog …)

I like that the wider column allows for more aesthetic text wrapping around pictures. I like how it’s not so wide that it intimidates me into writing longer paragraphs. (I wasn’t kidding when I swore that my days of academic writing were over.)

In the early months, most of the unsolicited parenting advice I received revolved around breastfeeding and having enough milk. Lately it’s all about … standing?

See, Ashelyn mastered pulling up at around six months. She loves being upright, loves to stand and walk while holding onto our fingers. I’ll set her down in the crib or playard, and three seconds later she’s peering at me over the edge.

So I’m getting a lot of flak from people who say that it’s too early for Ashelyn to stand, that because her legs aren’t yet fully developed standing will cause them to become crooked. And then I’ll have a bow-legged child. Once I was even told that any standing before the age of one would stunt her linguistic development.

Seriously, where does this stuff come from? Because my understanding was that it’s normal for babies to be a little bow-legged from being squished inside the womb. And that the legs will straighten soon enough – helped along, in fact, by the redistribution of weight that comes from standing and walking!

Besides, how am I supposed to keep Ashelyn from bearing weight on her legs if that’s what she wants to do? Am I to push her over when she pulls up? Because I can hear the resultant screaming already.

That’s my complaint about this kind of alarmism, I think. New mothers tend to have pretty fragile psyches, and words like that – well-intentioned as they may be – stoke issues of fear and insecurity. Then, in the drive to be safe over sorry, to do everything right, all the joy is drained out of baby’s first year.

That’s a lot of joy to be cheated out of, really.

So I discard a good 95% of what people tell me, without guilt, and I’m able to relax and savour this brief time. I heeded my midwives, I trust our family doctor, and I have a robust filter for internet misinformation and pseudoscience. And I know my daughter.

She’ll be fine.