Friday, December 30, 2005

This Old House Part 2

My house got angry with me for complaining about it. About an hour after I posted "This old House" Part 1 my hot water tank busted and began leaking water. You may call it a coincidence, I call it creepy. So old house, I apologize for saying anything bad about you. I do love you, even with your cracked plaster, drafty doors and creaky floors. You are the best house ever. Now that I fixed your hot water tank which we'll be paying for during the next several months, please don't break anything else. Please. I won't ever complain about you on the internet or anywhere ever again.

New Tank!

This Old House

When Peter and I decided to embark on the journey of buying a home we discussed our criteria. How many bedrooms, bathrooms and so on. He didn't have a lot of specifications otherwise except that it be structurally sound and not in need of lots of fixing up and or extra money put into it immediately. You know, guy stuff. I on the other hand wanted a character home. Hardwood floors, stained glass, charm. Having lived in a mobile home as a child (which I HATED!) and living in apartments and other rental properties as a teen/adult I felt it was only fair that I should have my dream home.

After looking at many different houses during our search my husband would ask me “What did you think of that one?” Since it met his skimpy requirements – won't fall down, won't need extra $$$. I would reply “It was fine but I didn't LOVE it.” He was perplexed by my need to love our potential home rather than just be satisfied it met our needs and we could afford it. I'm sure he thought I'd never fall in love.

Then one spring day we walked through the door of our home. I knew it as soon as we stepped in the door and the beautiful hardwood floors stretched out before me. “This is it! It's perfect!” Once the long stressful process of buying our first home was completed, it was ours to enjoy. But there was a flaw in my plan. Something I wasn't prepared for. After two long months of excitement, looking forward to moving into my perfect home I discovered... it wasn't perfect.

The first thing that happened when I unlocked the back door to step into my kitchen – the doorknob fell off. Then I noticed that although the former owner was supposed to clean it... well, it was less than clean. Nothing a little soap and elbow grease can't fix. So I intend to fill the gorgeous old ceramic sink with soap and water with which to clean my dirty new home only to discover – no plug! We used a rag that day. Since it is an antique it is impossible to just buy a plug that will work so eventually I improvised with a plastic hair trap (to catch the food bits) and a flat rubber plug on top.

During the first week (at least) in our house I constantly felt ill. I had reached the point in our “love affair” when I had doubts about the relationship. I wasn't sure I still felt as strongly about my home anymore. Had we made a mistake? I was noticing every flaw. Was that crack in the plaster always there? Wow, these floors sure need to be redone and were they always this creaky? Why do all the doorknobs keep falling off!?

Eventually, I began to appreciate my home again with almost as much affection as when I'd first seen it. Having a friend who visited me recently tell me a house like mine would cost $500,000 (Canadian) in the city she lives in (Toronto) also made me feel the warm fuzzies again. Although the amount we paid was a lot to us, it was still affordable.

So when I'm cringing as I'm carrying my sleeping infant daughter across the very loud, creaky floors I try to remind myself why I love my old house.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I'm Sorry

As a new mom I have discovered a world of guilt that I could have never imagined. I have always been one of those annoying people who apologize for everything. You cough, I say I'm sorry. I realize it's not my fault that you coughed but I am sorry that you have a cough. You get me? I am aware of how annoying it is but I am compelled to apologize or feel guilty about everything. Since becoming a mother I am a million times worse. I feel guilty about things that are out of my control and some that are in my control but not necessarily worth feeling bad about.

It seems to me that almost every mom has feelings of inadequacy. It must be part of our genetic makeup. For myself it was my inability to feed my child when she was first born. I found myself thinking, “If I was really cut out for this mother thing I would be able to feed her.” Lucky for me I think stubbornness is also in a women's genetic makeup. It's definitely in mine. So, I stuck with it and eventually she learned to breastfeed. But in the back of my mind there is always this voice telling me I should have done better.

Now I am struggling with the fact that on January 4th I am going back to work. (Insert gasp)

EVERYONE: How much will you be working?
ME: Only for three days, not even part time.
EVERYONE: Who will look after her?
ME: She won't be at daycare with a stranger she'll be with her Auntie some of the time and her dad the rest of the time.
EVERYONE: Do you think that's as good as being with you?
ME: She'll be with family.
EVERYONE: Are you still going to breastfeed?
ME: Yes, I'm still going to breastfeed.
EVERYONE: Will she take a bottle?
ME: Yes, she will take a bottle.
EVERYONE: You realize how young she is don't you?
ME: Yes, I know she's only three and a half months old.
EVERYONE: You must not love her.
ME: Of course I love her!!
EVERYONE: So why are you doing this? Why are you abandoning your child so soon?
ME: Why? I feel I need to work at least a little to maintain my clients. If I lose my clientele I won't make enough money when I do go back full time.
EVERYONE: So you put your job and money before your daughter.
ME: No, money isn't more important than my daughter but if we can't pay our mortgage we'll have to move out of our house.
EVERYONE: You don't need a house to be happy and raise a child.
ME: Yes, I know we could live in a cardboard box and be happy as long as we loved each other.
EVERYONE: (Shakes head at me in a disappointed way.)
ME: You're right, I'm a terrible mother. I'm sorry.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jocelyn Esther

Audrey received a Cabbage Patch Doll from her Grandma for Christmas. Jocelyn Esther is her name. She has terrible hair. It's all short and kind of looks like she has a perm and then she has three poker straight pony tails that stick straight out of the top of her head. Audrey seemed very uninterested but I'm sure she'll like her once she is bigger.

It's strange, the feelings that came over me when I opened the box and freed Jocelyn of her cardboard and twist tie prison. That familiar smell. You see a Cabbage Patch Doll was one of the few gifts I remember wanting so badly as a little girl. I remember how happy I was when I tore off the wrapping and found my brown haired blue eyed doll. It's one of my happiest Christmas memories of my childhood. That feeling of receiving a gift that you craved so much. Maybe that's why I always feel a little sad now at Christmas. Nothing can compare as an adult with those childhood feelings of anticipation. I always feel like it is such a waste of money and build up to a day that is over faster than you can blink your eyes.

I think this is another reason people have children. No, not so that they can pay off their credit cards for the rest of the year. So they can be a part of that anticipation and excitement again. It feels great to give a gift that brings so much happiness to someone special. I remembered what it was like to feel that happy when I smelled that overwhelming baby powder mixed with plastic scent.

I don't want my daughter to be materialistic but I hope that in her childhood we can provide a few special gifts that make her feel happy and loved.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The best present

I really don't need any presents this year. I received the best present ever on September 12. Audrey Erin. 8 lbs 7 1/2 ounces. 21 1/2 inches long. On Christmas morning when Peter and I go into her room and she smiles at us that will remind us she is the most special gift we could have given each other this year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Meow Meow Waagh Waagh.

When I was pregnant I was feeling guilty about having a cat. Why? Most importantly because of toxoplasmosis but that had it's benifits because it meant I could get out of changing the litter box. Also, there is what I consider to be a myth about cats sitting on baby's faces and "stealing their breath". Still, if it ever happened wouldn't I feel stupid!

My cat, Casey, is 14 years old. He is an "old man" in cat terms. Therefore, he can be... well grumpy. He likes my husband and I and most adult friends of ours although he definately dislikes some people and expresses it by trying to bite their ankles. Children, well, he really doesn't like them at all. Unless they are too afraid to go near him. Most kids are all like "Ooooh fluffy kitty!" with their little hands all outstreched ready to maul and torture him.

I have to give him credit. He gives them a warning meow which translated means "Stay the bleep away from me!" But of course they don't speak his language like I do and choose to ignore me when I translate for them. He must be nice because look how fluffy and cute he is, right? Wrong.

So this begs the question. What will he be like with our child? I couldn't help but think one morning while showering "Wouldn't it be easier if he just fell asleep one day before the baby came and didn't wake up." Strangely, a few days after I'd been pondering this I noticed tiny dried pools of watery blood in all of his favorite dwellings. On the window ledge especially. I felt horrible. I had willed him to be sick. I called the vet and made an appointment. I remember sitting in the clinic that day filling out the paperwork after dropping him off and bawling my eyes out. Snot everywhere. I had to ask for a kleenex between sobs. The staff would have thought I was nuts except that I was obviously very pregnant and clearly unstable. He ended up having a UT infection, they gave me pills for him. He got better, the end.

Months later, baby is home. Casey is fine with her. He so far has payed her all the attention of sniffing her head. One day he licked her when she was crying which she was too hysterical to notice anyway. He seems protective. When someone is holding her other than Peter or myself and she is crying he lurks around their feet as if to say "Why are you hurting my baby? Stop it or I'll bite your ankles, I'll do it!" It may be a different story when she is older and has better control over her busy hands. I think she'll be like me and speak his language. In fact, they may have a language all their own.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Merry Christmas kid, we're getting somewhere

When Audrey was born I knew my life would never be the same. It isn't. We have gone through so much in the past three months and one week.

I have: become a mother, become accustomed to strangers seeing my boobs, learned to survive (sort of) with less than 2 hours of sleep at night, learned what loving someone unconditionally really means, learned to use a breastpump, learned that everyone is going to give you their opinion of what a good mother should do, learned to take a deep breath and try to let it go, had mild postpardum depression, had mastitis, had a headache from hours of crying both by my daughter and myself, had more fights with my husband than ever before, had more respect for my husband than ever before, felt more needed than ever before.

Audrey has: been born, had many strangers handle her and force her into her mothers boob, tried her best to breastfeed, cried a lot, tried to eat with a breast shield, a tube and breast shield, a tube and syringe, a syringe and a little medicine cup, learned to take a bottle, had many baths, learned to breastfeed, had very bad gas and a sore tummy, stayed up all night (twice), made her mother cry both happy and sad tears, met a lot of people, learned to hold her head up, learned to stand (with someone's help), learned to smile, learned to talk and squeal, fallen in love with her mobile, learned to suck her thumb, learned she needs her parents, learned to melt her parents hearts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ho Ho Ho! Barf.

Five more shopping days 'til Christmas. I can proudly say I'm almost sure I'm done my shopping. Actually my husband and I are very lucky. Although we both have considerably big families - he has two brothers and three nephews and two neices, I have three sisters, one brother, five neices and four nephews - we have a no present policy. We used to draw names. Then we thankfully dropped it. I am not a scrooge, I would just rather buy things for my husband than my sisters husband. Because that's what would happen. I'd get my brother in laws name and then I'd have to call my sister and ask her what he wanted because how should I know? Then I'd have to skimp on what I bought Peter or skip him altogether because hey, I'm not Paris Hilton. And thank god might I add.

Even so, this year Christmas is making me a little nauseous. I am on maternity leave right now and apparently you only deserve 50% of your normal wages because being a new mom is only worth half as much as what you normally do for a living. I live in Canada by the way if this sounds different to anyone. Peter and I have been finding it interesting to pay our mortgage and bills as it is without Christmas to worry about. So we both agreed not to spend much on Christmas. It's impossible. I don't even have to worry about my daughter, I'm totally taking advantage of the fact that she is three months old and doesn't have a mile long list for us. I bought her a TY Giraffe and a book, a rattle and a teething ball for her stocking. That's it. I can't say what I bought for Peter because he might read this but it really wasn't much. I bought us all new stockings and iron on letters to personalize them. We do buy for our parents. I gave pictures and bought frames to put them in. What are credit cards for? I feel our debt piling up by the second. Also, since we live in Canada and it's winter thus snow and ice - but only in the winter folks, I've heard some of you think it's like the North Pole all year round - my husband had to buy four new winter tires for his car at ninetysomething dollars a piece. Eeek! Also on credit.

So Merry Christmas, here's your five hundred dollar credit card bill. I think I'm going to be sick...

Monday, December 19, 2005


I'm wondering if it's pathetic or possibly geeky to post something twice in one day. I'm sure there will be days when I won't have time to post at all so we can bank this one for those times. As I type it's almost as though I can feel the stress dribbling out of my fingers. Dribbling now that's a funny description. Maybe because my three month old is starting to teethe already and her mouth is constantly dribbling.

I tell people she's teething and they look at me like I am nuts. I get the "Oh, you are a first time mom. What do you know?" Nothing apparently. Only that Baby A is drooling, chewing on her fists while making angry squealing noises and her cheeks look like candied apples. And no she isn't hungry. In fact, she seems to have slightly lost her appetite. Tonight her dad walked around with her until she was practically passed out and then I nursed her. Before that she was screaming so hard and even harder when I tried to feed her.

I have issues about feeding my daughter. When I gave birth to her, I did so with the help of my wonderful midwife. They encourage breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth which I was totally cool with. I loved having a midwife and everything that they suggested, I knew was best for the baby. So before the cord was cut they brought her up to me and we were trying to do the feeding thing. Afterwards while I was being stiched up (only 7 stitches, so don't feel too bad) we were trying to do the feeding thing. Not ideal, but I was trying between winces. Although it was a natural birth with no drugs and she was born practically on her due date she didn't have a hot clue how to eat. Everyone kept saying "She's acting like a preemie or as if she'd had drugs during the birth." I guess my kid is a freak. I didn't have a home birth so when my midwife was not able to help me a lactation consultant or the on duty nurses tried to help. It was brutal. She would try for a while and then start flailing and screaming. I felt horrible. I had done a lot of reading before I had her and I thought I was prepared for breastfeeding being difficult. I hadn't read about this. We tried a nipple sheild. A nipple sheild with a tube under it, which they pushed the small amount of milk I had pumped through, to try to encourage her to suck. Then they fed her with a syringe and once with a tiny little medicine cup. This story could go on and on. Just ask my husband. To sum up. I pumped and we ended up feeding her my expressed milk in a bottle only after attempting to breastfeed first. And after a week in the hospital, which is nearly unheard of these days unless you or your baby are very ill, we went home. Bottle feeding.

I found this heartbreaking since I was really wanting to breastfeed. I felt like a failure but my daughter had to eat. The happy ending of this story is that my midwife came over twice a day for my first week at home to help me breastfeed and after what felt like eternity she finally started to figure it out. First a couple of times a day, then four or five and eventually she became an exclusive breastfeeder. Sigh. Unfortunately, three months down the road we still have our issues. My inexperienced first time mom opinion is that if something is bothering her, such as if she is over tired or teething it manifests itself in the way she eats. Or doesn't. It brings back all of those terrible feelings of inadequacy from when she was first born. Nothing feels worse to me than bringing my daughter to my breast and having her start hysterically crying. I thought it was supposed to be beautiful and sometimes it is. But just like the jerk at work who yells at you on an otherwise perfectly happy day, I can't always remember the beautiful times when she looks into my eyes as she gently sucks, swallows and her little fingers play with my shirt.

Oh, by the way I wasn't implying that my daughter is a jerk. She's very sweet. I just hate it when she screams at me.

Here we go...

My nerves are frazzled as I sit down to write my first blog. Not because I'm going to be writing about my life for all the world to see. (if anyone cares to) Because I just spent almost 2 hours trying to get my tired, crying three month old little girl to sleep. Audrey is what you would call stubborn. Well, I call her stubborn anyway. She comes by it honestly both her dad and I could also be accused of the stubborn trait. I'm hoping it will be a positive thing when she is older, as in not to be swayed by other childrens foolishness.

I discovered blogging by accident when I was searching the internet for my daughters strange (normal) behavior. I came across the brilliant Sarcastic Journalist. I started to read about SJ and her family. She tells the truth about her life and being a mother and doesn't sugarcoat anything. I was totally mesmerized and spent several of my daughter's long morning naps reading SJ's and others blogs. I thought "What great therapy."

I have loved writing since I was a little girl when I used to sit in my bedroom and type stories on an old clickty clack non-electric typewriter. What I wouldn't give to get my hands on some of the stuff I wrote back then. My parents must have patted me on the head said "What a nice story!" and tossed it into the trash! Aren't parents supposed to keep that stuff for you? So you can see what a weird kid you were. Well, I was weird.

Anyway, I'll be writing about me, Lil' A and the love of my life, Peter. I can't always promise it will be thrilling, happy or entertaining but I promise it will be honest. I always have a lot to say so some of it has to be good! Right? Right!

So as I embark on the blogging journey I welcome comments and feedback. Especially from new mom's like me. I need all the help I can get!! Here we go!!