Busy Busy Bean

Touching.  Climbing.  Exploring.  Licking.

One of the things I cherish most about being around Bean is his wonder and awe at absolutely everything.  His desire to test the limits of his body and his fearlessness.  Where other children fear to tread my little man rushes in with a big goofy grin on his face.  He’s not afraid to try new things and right now…pretty much everything is new and FREAKING AWESOME.  I mean, c’mon.  Did you see that transport truck?  It was like WHOAH DUDE.  SO BIG.

He’s a busy guy and an explorer.  I have to be on my toes because he has no hesitation to climb higher or go faster than his body is ready for.  Indoor playgrounds have been my blessing this winter as it gave Bean a huge and relatively safe place to play with lots of fun things to do.  They are also super fun for me because I’m pretty much a kid inside and giving me free reign to run around a playground and climb up things and go down slides…well let’s just say I was also having a blast.

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Sometimes I forget how small he is.  He’s in 2 – 3T clothes at 20 months – he’s tall and slim with my family’s thick thighs and big feet.  But then something happens and he needs to put his hand in mine and it’s still so tiny and fragile.

Temper tantrums, sleep problems, iron deficiency – it’s been a hard couple months.  But through it all I try to remember that his view of the world is still so new.  So tiny.  That he’s watching and learning but not all of what he’s seeing is something he can do.  That would be frustrating for me too!  That is big personality and big emotions are spilling out of him from time to time when he’s tired or hungry or just plain not having it.  He’s growing up so fast but he’s still so very small.

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Baby, Stairs Are Dangerous

I haven’t completely trusted my husband with Bean.  I’ve left them alone together (they look after each other on Saturday and Sunday) but there’s always this little nag in the back of my mind.  What if, what if, what if…it chants, spinning my anxieties and having me imagine the worst possible scenario.  Hubby is easily distracted.  He has a tendency to get sucked into the computer for hours on end.  Doing impersonal things when he’s supposed to be looking after the boy.  While I know much of this worry and mistrust is my anxiety, that logical conclusion does nothing to quell my fears.

Yesterday one of those fears came true.

At his grandparent’s house (Hubby’s side) Bean often goes up and down the stairs with our help.

This time he wormed his way past his father and attempted it on his own, tumbling headfirst down the flight of carpeted stairs.

Lightening quick, hubby dove headfirst after him, catching Bean’s shirt halfway down and preventing a full tumble.  Bean finished his fall gentler than he would have without his father’s quick grab and after a bit of scared tears and crying Bean was back to his normal self, wandering around and being silly.  He doesn’t even have a bruise or a red mark from this scary fall!

Hubby, on the other hand, has ended up with a scraped knee that would make any schoolyard boy jealous and multiple bruises on his shoulder and leg.  His knee puffed up and he’s been hobbling around since.

We took Bean to the doctor after I got home from work just to be sure everything was fine.

Someone was certainly looking after Bean yesterday and that someone was his father, my hero.

Struggling To Keep Up – PPD, Anxiety and Back To Work Blues

I knew going back to work would be hard, but I didn’t think It would hurt this damn much.

Thursdays and Fridays are the worst days for me.

Every Thursday I wake up and cram as much “special time” in to the two hours before we leave that I can, in between getting clean and dressed.  I’ll feed Bean his favorite breakfast of grapes and crackers and turn on a bit of Pocoyo so he’ll sit in my lap and munch happily away.

He’s so excited when we get ready to go out the door.  He holds my hand and laughs as he half walks/half jumps down the stairs to the car.

He’s content and happy and silly and everything I love until that fateful right turn.

The right turn down the street towards his caretaker.

I try not to look in the mirror.  I try to ignore his little whines and cries as his face scrunches up in anxiety and sadness.

By the time I get him out of the car he’s sobbing, his body shaking.  I make it as painless as I can.  I hand him off, dig out his current lovie from his bag, give him a hug, tell him I love him, then head out the door.

I can hear his cries until I’ve pulled out of the driveway and driven away.

The last image I have of Bean as I head into work is a look of total…well…betrayal.  I’ve betrayed his trust.  I’ve made my child cry.

I hate it.  Most of the time I spend the drive to work near tears and coiled in taut anxiety.

I don’t even get to pick him up as my shifts are long.  I don’t see him again until the next morning, repeating the same from yesterday only I’m more beaten down and bone-tired from the previous day’s 10 hour shift.

I get three days with him a week and one of those days I spend wound up in extreme anxiety over the Thursday morning that will inevitably come.  That look on his face, those tears in his eyes.

It breaks my fucking heart.

Before I went back to work I was told by a woman at the local drop in that “You could stay at home if you tried.”  What a damaging comment for me to hear.  She has no idea what kind of anxiety and sadness and guilt her flippant remark caused.

See, my husband’s in school.  It’s his last year and he needs to concentrate.  I’m making just enough that we are scraping by.  Of course the childcare subsidy hasn’t kicked in either (thanks ultra slow government) and I am working two of my four days just to pay for childcare.  Seems stupid to me.

And it’s not, as people keep complaining, that childcare is “too expensive”.  It’s not.  In fact it’s downright underpaid.  If I could give the woman who takes care of the most precious thing in the world to me the money she deserved I would.  The problem is that those of us needing childcare the most – the ones who don’t have a “choice” – the ones who have to work to eat and put a roof over our heads – don’t get paid enough.  We scrape and save and get by on minimum wage while people who don’t understand turn their nose up and say we have a “choice”.

Right now the stress in our household is at an all-time high.  Hubby’s got some anxiety and depression issues coupled with some hard-core schooling (it’s hard going back after so much time away) so I try my best to give him some slack.

I’ve got some post-partum anxiety that kicked into high gear a few months ago (remember when I disappeared from the blogosphere and then wrote a cryptic message of sadness?  Yeah, then.) and has only started to get better the last two weeks (and by better I mean I can function day-to-day without weird and scary bouts of anger and panic attacks).  We are getting buried underneath a mountain of unorganized stuff that we had to throw as high as possible when Bean hit all his crazy growth spurts and began to walk.  And climb.  And grab.

I just can’t seem to catch up.  It’s overwhelming everyday to say the least.  Often I walk into a room and just stand there.  My apartment is a jumbled mess of disorganized chaos – I guess it’s kind of a reflection of me these days.

Things will get better, logically I know this.  Just how I feel, right now, in the moment is somewhat hopeless.  Bean is my only ray of light during my day to day and not being around him very much four days a week weakens me.

I’m not even sure where this blog post is going.  It’s a bit of a jumbled mess, like me.  Guess I just needed to vent a bit.  Thanks for listening.

Love Came Later – The Story of A’s Birth

I’ve decided to get the ball rolling on this writing thing again.  It’s been awhile and I’m rusty but I need an outlet to bounce some ideas off the world and work out the feels I am feeling.

In order to get my blogging juices flowing again I’ve decided to share with you the birth of my son and all the drama that surrounded it.

In a time not so long ago, in a galaxy far, far away….no wait, scratch that.  Sorry.  I really shouldn’t write these things at work.

June.  2012.  I’m freaking HUGE.  I started off as a plus size mom but gosh golly gee I’ve upped the plus sized ante.  I’ve taken off from work a tad early due to blood pressure issues – mine keeps rising when I do, like, anything.  So I try my best to sit at home and not drive anyone else crazy with my “nesting” instincts.  Which doesn’t happen but they all still love me anyways.

My ob-gyn (an awesome and smart dude who got me through the still birth of Joel) was worried.  My blood pressure kept going up, I was showing extra fluid and he was worried about how much blood the baby was getting.  So after much discussion we decided to induce.  He booked an appointment for me June 13.

I had read up on birth and taken some classes with my husband.  I was going to (despite the induction) have a vaginal delivery with little-to-no medication.  Ahaha.   Ahahahahaha.  

I went in on the 13th.  Which was, apparently, the same day half of the pregnant ladies in my city decided to go into labor.  So I was sent home to try the induction the next day, when the hospital wasn’t taxed to their limits.

The next day was the same story.  They did, however, get the gel inside and sent me on home to wait for labor to start.

A few hours later I took a warm bath which triggered my water breaking.  Not so bad I thought until OMFG THE CONTRACTIONS.  Seriously.  Nada to OMG THE PAIN.  I thought it was going to be some sort of build up.

When I entered the hospital they got me to a room quick.  My blood pressure was shooting up and up and up and…well….they threw me on an epidural.  Not literally, of course, that would be extra painful.  Also probably hard to throw a plus sized pregnant woman.  Unless you had a catapult.  Anyways, sorry.  Easily distracted.

Now I’m sitting pretty.  I’m out of pain, my blood pressure is stabilizing, the baby’s doing fine and we are just waiting for things to move along.

Which is when the other half of my city’s pregnant ladies went into labor.

Turned out it was fortunate for me as I was able to bribe my panicked husband with a kiss to go downstairs and get me a diet pepsi while the nurse was attending another patient.  Score!

5 hours pass.  The contractions are starting to be strong again so the doctor and nurse get me to start pushing.

I push.  And push.  And push.  He crowns.  Yay!  He’s coming!  I still push.  And push.  They give me some pitocin as the contractions start to wane.  I push.  And push.  And push.

He’s still crowning.  In fact, according to the Dr, he’s stuck.  Also mom and baby are not faring well.  Blood pressure starting to skyrocket.  The Dr looks me in the eyes and tells it to me straight.  Emergency C-section.  So STOP PUSHING.

Yeah, easier said than done.

Especially when now the epidural wears out and the pitocin kicks in.  My pain level goes from 0 to 100 in less than a minute while I’m panicking that OMG MY BABY IS GOING TO DIE.

My terrified husband is tossed a covering and I’m wheeled into the operating room.  Where I meet one of the nurses who was there when I still-birthed before.  In my addled brain this means that I’m DOING IT AGAIN.

I am embarrassed of how I dealt with the pain.  I was BEGGING for more drugs.  To take the pain away.  I was screaming about how much pain I was in.  I hope the nurses realize that I wasn’t just screaming in pain.  I was PANICKING hardcore.  I was terrified and anxious and all those things compounded.  What came out though was a mom begging them for drugs.  And I’m embarrassed.  I look back now and I am ashamed.  So much so that when I am ready to give birth again I almost want to avoid that hospital.

Finally another epidural.  I’m numb from the neck down.  Fred is sitting in a chair beside me holding my hand, though I can’t feel it.  The doctors are talking in hushed voices.  I remember how QUIET it was because I was straining so hard to hear that little cry.  That first breath.  Anything to let me know everything is ok.  The nurses are running around making rustling sounds and in my head I’m screaming shut up shut up shut up.

He’s out.  They rush him to the scale.  Fred trims the cord.  Finally I can hear him squawking in the bright light.  Must be so weird to go from dark and warm to cold and bright so fast for the little guy.  He was born at 4:15 in the morning.

They brought him over to me and put him on my chest.  And that was it.  Things got really messed up from there.

When you read about birth, when you read about other’s experiences, you hear over and over about that rush of love, the stream of adoration, the tears of joy at seeing your baby for the first time.  Cue the choir and the cherubs and rainbows and sparkles.

I felt none of that.  The only thing I felt was panic that I was going to drop him because my arms were still numb and I couldn’t hold him properly.  I had Fred take him away and go bond in a corner away from me.  I didn’t want to touch him or see him.  I didn’t want to hold my child.  How fucked up is that?

The rest of it is a bit of a blur.  I think they sewed me up and wheeled me into recovery where I slept for awhile.  Then they put me in one of those rooms where there are 4 (or more) other moms.  I remember waking up and Arthur is beside me with an exhausted husband at the foot of the bed.  He hadn’t slept in over 24 hours so I sent him home to get some sleep (and also contact grandparents/friends who were anxiously awaiting news).  The baby was snoozing in one of those hospital beds next to me.

I was tired but couldn’t sleep.  I remember a nurse coming in and asking if I wanted to hold him and I declined.  My arms and legs were still pretty numb and he seemed content in his swaddle and bed, I thought.

I could hear all the action around me.  I was surrounded by moms who had birthed the day before and the room was swamped with visitors.  It was divided into four by curtains hanging down.  The people on the other side of my curtain thought it was ok to take my only chair (and possibly any other chairs they could find) and build some sort of living room in there.  Where they continuously kept banging the chair into my baby’s crib.  I tried to call out but no one heard me.  Finally after the third “bang” I called the nurse and had her go chastise them.  Which she did spectacularly telling them to have some respect for the other mothers and pointing out that the thing their chair kept hitting was a baby’s crib.  One of the men sheepishly brought me back my chair and apologized.

Sometime in the midst of all this excitement a big bouquet of flowers arrived for me from my parents.  They were dealing with a very sick pup and couldn’t come see me but sent their love via purple lilies and pink carnations.  It was pretty and a nice addition to my small room.  However it also made me sad because all I really wanted was my mom there beside me to tell me it’d be ok.  That it was normal to feel so disconnected from my kid and that it would get better.  I understood why she couldn’t be there but it doesn’t mean it hurt any less.

When the hospital discovered I was under the care of a psychiatrist and a high risk for PPD they moved me to my own private room.  At no extra cost.  There was even a “crashing couch” for my hubby to make use of.  Only thing is that I had to stay for 5 days for “observation”.

Looking back now those first few days, even the first few months, are all kind of a blur.  Mostly I remember moments and feelings.

Like the only thing that got me out of that bed the day after my c-section was the thought of a shower.  I was bound and determined to take a shower.  A shower will make me feel better, I kept thinking.

I remember staring at Arthur.  He was quiet (due to the drugs) and wasn’t latching on properly when I tried to breastfeed.  My milk was taking it’s sweet time coming in as well.  He had jaundice so the hospital had him on a strict schedule of formula to “flush” it out.  He was cute.  He was a baby.  But I didn’t feel, anywhere in those five days, that he was mine.

People kept telling me he was.  I would smile and look after him and cuddle and feed and then easily hand him off to Fred so I could roll over in bed and go to sleep.  I pretended to myself and others that everything was fine.  But a part of me kept feeling like someone would come and take him away to his real mom.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was not mine.

Even despite the fact he looks so much like my brother.

I felt guilt.  Shame.  Like a failure.  Disconnection.  Numb.

I didn’t show any signs of PPD and the c-section was healing nicely so when I had my staples out they sent me home.

It took a more than a few days until the feelings I had in the hospital to fade away.  Even longer for a bond to form.  Breastfeeding was a challenge – let’s just say he was on almost all formula and I managed to fight my way through mastitis and bad latches to get him breastfeeding without formula.  (okay, the occasional bottle at night so mom doesn’t lose her mind).

After bonding I had a sudden realization like “Ah, now I SEE what all those other moms meant.”  Now I can’t imagine a life without him and I look forward to our time together.  The days and weeks are flying by and despite our rough start I look forward to doing it all again.

After all I have a good idea how to work on making things go differently next time – but also I have a pretty good idea how to accept them if they don’t.

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Realization At The Park

I realized something today while taking Arthur out to the park.

Seeing as it was the nicest weather we’ve had yet the park was full of happy kids and parents.  I disentangled Arthur from the Ergo and set him on the ground.  Immediately I had a mini conversation with a mother about how cute my son’s jacket is.  Another young mom came over to coo over Arthur and her little girl gave him a pat on the head.

I took Arthur over to the swings and tried to get him in – a kind mom came over and helped me fit his legs through the hole.  She made a joke about “wait till he’s older and his boots get stuck” and it hit me.

I’m one of THEM.  A mom.  An ADULT.

I think my inside teenager laughed and screamed at the same time.

I mean, I know I’m a mother.  I routinely touch the scar across my belly to remind myself of the  beginning to this tale.  My most stimulating conversation recently involved the different consistencies of baby poop and I know all the words to “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” by heart.

But I didn’t realize until today that I’m a mom.

That instead of being an awkward teenager enjoying the cuteness of any given child, I understand the amount of time and effort the parents put into letting this young life shine.

Instead of being a know it all twenty something judging the mom with the screaming kids in the mall, I’m sending her looks of understanding and empathy.

Instead of sitting on the park bleachers a jaded thirty year old having a cigarette and watching the mothers in the park, I’m pushing my own kid in the swing and haven’t smoked since before he was born.

I’m the mother in the park with her child.  I’m the lady on the bus with a stroller.  I’m the woman taking up the special parking for mothers with young children.  I’ve got a family and life has changed.

Swings are AWESOME

Swings are AWESOME

I’m navigating some new social waters by chatting with other mothers.  I don’t know what topics are taboo, what compliments to their children will be taken the wrong way, how much of my nerdy inner self can I reveal before they run away in horror.  I’m in unfamiliar territory here.  Thank goodness there are some other mothers out there willing to throw me a  life jacket.

The List’s The Thing – 10 Things About Being A Mom

Lists.  They’re so hot right now.  Everyone’s doing it.

Anne at Belle Jar Blog did a list called “15 Assumptions That Might Be Useful To Make”

Make Me A Sammich posted (the very important) “10 Things Rape Is Not”

This one:  The Ten Commandments of Blog Comments I found super-useful (especially now with so many new readers and comments – HEY ALL WHAT UP?

And then there’s “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Sloths” (you’re welcome!)

So in the spirit of international post-a-list day (i’m just kidding, stop panicking and trying to find the bullet points on your computer) here’s my list.

THE TOP TEN THINGS I LOVE ABOUT BEING A MOM

1)   Having a baby means you can make a damn fool of yourself in public and it’s ok.  Such as singing “Some Nights” at the top of your lungs in the Wal-Mart parking lot or making weird babble-y noises while walking through the mall.

2)   Finally someone likes and applauds my singing.  And asks for more.

3)   I get to revisit all the awesome things I LOVED as a child and see them again through the eyes of my child.  I showed him the Real Ghostbusters cartoon from the 80’s today and he crapped his pants.  Though that might have been a coincidence.

4)   I don’t need alcohol to laugh hysterically while rolling around on the floor anymore.  Just a baby giving me raspberries on my tummy or wrestling-style slamming his tummy into mine.

5)   I can avoid conversations with pushy salespeople at mall kiosks (Dead sea lotion guys I’m looking at you) by pretending my baby is stinky/hungry/dangerous.

6)   There’s nothing like a mobile baby in the house to motivate dwellers to clean up after themselves.

7)   People don’t think I’m talking to myself anymore.

8)   Babies bring family and friends closer.  Also the elderly.  Whether you want them to or not.

9)   My breasts finally have a purpose above annoying me/attracting attention.  They are the perfect shelf for snacks baby hasn’t finished yet.

10)  The fact that finally someone in this house is adorably and fashionably dressed.

This post was sponsored by the wonderful day out with Arthur I had today where we traversed the wilds of Brampton, made new friends and avoided old enemies.

I constantly make lists and itineraries and then can’t stick to any of them – Freema Agyeman

Proselytize THIS

Naps are hard won in this house.  Especially morning naps.

Arthur was asleep all night and now that he’s up and discovered once again that the world is AMAZINGBALLS he is understandably reluctant to go back to bed.  But he rubs his eyes and falls around my living room like a drunk old man so off to nurse to sleep he goes.  He does not go easy though and it takes up to an hour of breastfeeding gymnastics, pinches, pokes, prods and push-ups.  After he finally relents and closes his eyes, his breathing slowing and his grip on my breast loosening, I pull the cover over us both and nap myself.  Because getting this child to sleep is hella tiring.

Today was no exception.  He woke early (7am-yikes!) and after several games of “something silly on my head” he was ready for a nap around nine.  We did our usual song and dance in the bed and eventually we had both drifted off.

Then the dog barked.  Which always startles the hell out of me because she so rarely does – unless someone’s at the door.

Today that someone wanted to teach me about Jesus.

I didn’t answer.  I gathered my (now awake) child in my arms and stumbled sleepily out to the door of the apartment.  Part of my nap-addled brain thought it was my friend come to visit early.  When I saw the flyer under my door though, I knew.

I guess it’s to be expected this time of year.  It’s almost Easter, the weather is nice and just like their savior proselytizers have risen in order to spread the word of the Lord.  Whether we want to hear it or not.

I really hate it when, like these two ladies, they bring small children along (and have them closest to the door).  It’s awfully hard to shut the door in a cherubic two year old’s face as he holds out a paper for you to take with an innocent smile.  Proselytizers in my parent’s area have gone so far as to stand at the car and send ONLY the children to the door.

Do you proselytizers honestly think I haven’t heard of God?  Christianity in all it’s various forms?  We have something wonderful now called the INTERNET and if I wanted to I could EASILY find information for myself.  You should use it too.  Set up a blog and proselytize to your heart’s content.  People will find it and if they want to hear what you have to say they will stick around and ask questions.

No more of this bothering poor elderly people, harassing people home sick from work, waking sleeping babies and pissing off sleep-deprived mothers.  Because, seriously, next time you come to my door and wake my child from a nap I will hit you.  With a book about athiests frolicking with pagans.  Then sing some heavy metal with lots of swearing and invite your child to sing along.  Then, while you are writing on the floor in physical and spiritual pain, I will give your kid an espresso and shut the door.

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“Just to be clear, I have respect for those who follow their religions within their own homes and communities.  However, when you start to try to “convert” by going door to door, infringing on the rights of others or forcing your way into public institutions THEN I have a problem.  Respect my rights and boundaries and I’ll respect yours.  Peace.”