Monday, August 25, 2014

She-bear

I woke up this morning at 6 am to go for my run.  Daniel woke up too, I think he might have been a bit hungry, and even after I fed him he was still awake and chatty, so I decided to take him with me in the jogging stroller.  After bundling him up (it is getting colder in the mornings around here), I took off for my run, and he looked very interestedly at the trees, listening to the birds, and wondering why in the world I am running.  The entire time he was smiling and flirting with me shamelessly.  (That is why I don't mind taking him along, he is such a good sport, and great company).

Once we got into the forest, where there is a paved path of about 2.5 km each way, we enjoyed the dark tall trees, and the new sounds, but all the while I was scanning for bears, because there are lots at the moment.  About midway, after crossing a small bridge, I saw a momma bear pushing one of her cubs with her nose, and the cub running happily onto the path about 20 meters in front of us.  I smiled for a moment, thinking of us mothers awake so early and busy mothering already, and turned around ('cause I'm not crazy:).

I only looked back once, and seeing that she is not following me, I did not worry.  Bears are usually peaceful, if you don't bother them, they return the favour.  And I must say, it was fun seeing her this morning.  I feel like we had a bond of some sort.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Parenting up close and personal

Hey, maybe I get to write an ENTIRE post before Emma and Daniel wake up and jump on me...

My kiddies are very well attached, indeed, and love to be cuddled.  Emma pretty much demands to be held every morning upon waking, and she loves the closeness.  Since having Daniel, poor girl has had to do with reduced cuddle time, since baby has to be fed, changed, etc.  She is actually pretty lucky that Daniel is a very low-demands boy, and is content enough to sit in his swing watching Emma jumping on me.




 In the mornings, our routine is something like this:  I wake up and exercise until about 7:30, then I come home, and usually find Emma just awake.  I cuddle her, take off her diaper, give her a bath, brush her teeth, brush her hair, breakfast, etc, and we sit in our rocking chair and read a book (lately Clifford or Llama Llama).  Then Daniel wakes up, and he gets changed, a bath, fed, and then I hold them one on each knee and we read some more, or we do crafts.  At 11 we leave the house, as lately she has had a daily "camp" activity like soccer, gymnastics, pool, etc (gymnastics around here comes for only one week, but it is daily for one hour and they call it gymnastics camp).  If the camp is done, then we go to the park and are just as wise.




Emma is growing into a confident, beautiful girl.  I love spending time with her.  I have decided that I am not putting her in preschool, because she is already going to daycare for five hours daily when I work, and I simply don't want her away from me for a further two hours.  I don't care what the learning opportunities that she is missing out on might be, it is way too much for this momma and child dyad.  And, honestly, if I were not working, I would for sure homeschool for a few years as well.

I have had the opportunity to observe mother-child interactions at all these summer camps that we went to.   Some of the mothers were more involved than others (and I don't mean helicopter style at all times, but watching the kid, encouraging, talking them through difficult times, etc), and those were the kids that I found were thriving.  They stood out as more confident, just for knowing that their mothers were there and had their backs. Something good happens when the mother or father are close by, and get involved.  I want that so much for my kids.

I have read a wonderful book,  Hold on to your kids, and the book has actually reinforced for me this concept that the kid needs me more than she needs friends or peers at this stage.  Emma plays a lot with other children, especially now that it is summertime, and she does very well with them, but I try not to let her hang out all day long without supervision, and both her and the neighbour's kids do better when one of the mothers is there to remind them to be gentle, be kind, share, etc.  It takes a long time to teach a kid how to be civilized, and the more time I spend with her, the better our chances :).

I would love to hear from any mothers out there who plan on homeschooling, and in particular if working part time and home schooling.  Is it working?  What are the drawbacks (and the high points too)?

Here are some pictures from her third b-day party, and from our recent day trip to Summit Lake in the mountains.




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Milk issues again

I am thinking that my milk supply is not keeping up with Daniel's growth.  He was unsatisfied for a while now, and I don't have the same approach with him as I did with Emma, thinking that my body will keep up.  I now know better.  I tried to pump a bit each morning to have enough for the evenings, when the supply issue happens, but then I ended up not having enough in the morning either, and having to supplement twice a day, which was not good.  I started by pumping 30 ml (one oz) each morning, and weighing him to see how much he ate when he woke up.  He would eat 70ml and be hungry still, so I often would give him back the pumped milk, then he was satisfied.  I then stopped pumping and he would just eat 100 ml and be happy.  This is a lot less time consuming and much more satisfying to both of us.  My body just cannot make more than 100 ml, that's the way it is.  Pumping first, waiting a bit and feeding later does not change things either, that is the way I am built. The sooner I accepted this, the better it was.

My advice for the lactation-challenged ladies is (after much, much experience with hitting my head against the wall):  recognize the problem early.  If you think you don't have enough milk, it is likely that you are right.  Daniel was gaining 20g per day and doing fine, but with supplementation he is gaining 30 g and he is a lot happier.  He only needs 1-2 oz at night extra, but that is what he needs, and I won't argue with it.  Second piece of advice:  supplement at the breast using something like the SNS or Lactation Aid devices.  Bottles are fairly deadly in this situation, because a frustrated hungry baby will always prefer the faster milk flow that comes from the bottle.  Third piece of advice:  feed often.  Allow the baby to soothe-suck at the breast whenever he wants to, it will increase the prolactin levels.

I was lucky enough to have two ladies in town donate milk for him (just as it happened for Emma) and will probably be able to avoid formula until he is a bit older, and perhaps if we are lucky indefinitely :).

Friday, July 18, 2014

biking with the bears

Yesterday morning I had a biking date.  For anybody who has missed the recent developments, I bit the triathlon bug and am trying to learn some road bike skills on my second hand bike that is extremely temperamental (hopefully the bike technician comes back to town pretty soon to fix my large gear problem).  Anyway, so yesterday morning I was supposed to go biking with a lady in town, who has to go to work at 7 am.  Hence I got up extra early, at 5:15 am, to feed Daniel and change him and put him in the swing before I have my coffee, get dressed, try to find my helmet that has a bad habit of prancing around the house all by itself, etc.  I showed up at the meeting place at 6 am, and this lady was not there.  I waited for a bit, riding around in circles (I would have dismounted the bike, but the clip pedals make me fall each time I try to dismount, so I thought I'd better save that fun for later, at the end of the ride, or at least for some "stop" sign excitement!).

Finally, after ten minutes of small boring circles around the block, I felt the need to go do my workout and left.  It was about half an hour earlier than my usual riding time, so I ran (biked) into these ladies running on the road towards me.  They yelled at me "there's a momma bear with cubs further up the road, don't go there".

The local people are (rightfully) terrified of bears.  We carry bear spray in our purses just about everywhere, and definitely on any of the paths around here.  That being said, although we encounter them often, I have not met anybody that ever got attacked, except for this guy who decided to shoot one and the shot was not deadly (I think that he told me that bear was dangerous for some reason, whatever).  In general, I have the feeling that if you don't bother them, they don't bother you.  And it is generally wise not to walk too close to them with your camera, ahem, MrH...Yes, yes, even if it looks like the bear is smiling at you.

Well, that blocked my workout path alright.  I had to decide whether I was more afraid of riding past the lady-bear with the babies, or of riding on the highway, with its bigger, longer hills, and the less welcoming truckers with their fast semi's.  I chose the bear, and rode on.  I never saw her, she must have just dashed into the bushes.

That's the problem around here with riding too early, there's a lot of wildlife.  It is also what makes me relish my early morning rides, since some of the wild life consists of momma deer and their fawns too :).

Speaking of which, I cannot wait for my new cruiser (cruising bike) to arrive.  It will have breaks that don't screech bloody murder and 18 speeds.  More for me to climb the hills with!  My quads will soon need me to pay property tax on them.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Daniel is growing. And lots of mosquitoes in town.

Little man Daniel is growing so fast!!!  I feel like he is developing a lot faster than Emma.  At first, I felt that one of the advantages of having a preemie is that you get to spend more time with him.  I got two more months of life to get to know him (ok, one of those two months was not particularly pleasant for anybody, given that it took place in the NICU, but the second one was definitely a bonus).

Anyway, I digress.  He got some oral thrush, and he is so busy chewing on everything in sight in order to relieve his itchy mouth, that I have no idea whether he needs more milk (i.e. whether I am keeping up with his requirements for breastfeeding) or whether he simply needs to chew on my nipples.  I was quite in doubt of my boob-ability the other day, when he sucked me dry and continuously asked for more, when I realized that:
1.  He is making enough urine to water a whole garden, and I keep on changing his diapers/clothes/sheets/my clothes every five seconds.
2.  He is growing at 30.6 g per day on average (that's one ounce).  Which is fantabulous.

All in all, that realization has restored my boob-confidence.
Why doubt myself in the first place?  Well, here is a bunch of reasons:  firstly, I did not have enough milk with Emma, by far and wide, and secondly, I train every day for at least one hour, which is a lot of physical activity for somebody who was formerly confined to bed just two to three months ago.  The level of training together with the time away from him can definitely contribute to decreasing milk supply, so I have to be on guard and watch it.

I am planning on completing the local Olympic distance triathlon next summer, so I have decided that I had better get the 40 km bike ride under control this year, because the triathlon is in June and we can only start riding after defrost (which happens in May or so around here).  Therefore, I had better start with the road balance and gear shifting and clip less pedals and overall road testing this year, because although I have the winter to do some stationary biking, I won't be able to practice all of those skills before the event, and I will stress out about falling off/getting run over by a semi truck/eaten alive by bear/getting a flat and not knowing how to change it, blah blah.  The swim is completely under control, and the run is totally do-able on the treadmill, but the bike is another story.

In case anybody wants to do a newbie triathlon, come along for the ride.  Before this bug itched me, I had no idea what those funky road bikes were for, i.e. I had never ridden anything that does not allow riding in a skirt and have a basket in front.  Now I am considering installing aerobars on my new-used bike.  Go figure.  I have even gotten myself cycling shorts after the lady parts started hurting.  And I just did 30 km on the bike yesterday without blinking, after which I went for a 7 km run during which I blinked a lot.  A fair bit of the blinking was due to mosquitoes and other bugs.  Some of the blinking was due to the newly installed sign at the entrance to the forest trail "BEAR IN THE AREA".  A momma bear with her cubs lives there now.  Bye bye trail running for a while.

There are numerous bugs around here in summer, but this year they are so bad that we cannot live outside without oozing DEET from every pore.  I went with the kids to a park play group, and it was ridiculous that we all huddled up in the rain when it started to drizzle instead of hiding under the tree where it was dry, because the mosquitoes run away from the drizzle under the said tree.  Rain is infinitely preferable to mosquitoes.  The bugs are another reason why I have to train in the mornings, because in the evenings bad things happen.

I took the kids in a double stroller for a jog through the forest path, and unwisely gave Emma a cookie that I had made with dates.  Within a few minutes, the hornets started circling her menacingly. I stopped just for the second that it took to retrieve the cookie and hide it, and in that second, the mosquitoes, all 150 of them, surrounded us.  Daniel had about ten on his face, Emma had thirty bites on each leg, and I did not even care to stop and count because it was freaking terrifying to see my kids covered in mosquitoes.  So we started running even faster, to get away from them, but they followed us in a thick cloud.  I stopped again to spray DEET all over everybody again and over the back of the stroller, and that helped things for about two minutes, but the mosquitoes continued to threaten us every time that I dropped my running pace below 6 mph.  That is pretty fast for trail running pushing a double stroller, and I got tired, but could not stop until we got to safety, so I had a gruelling workout.  Now, as a mother, I had to do it, but my running partner, who did not have her kids covered in mosquitoes because she had not stopped to get rid of the hornets, had no need to run so fast, and I think I unnecessarily fatigued her on a day that was supposed to be a "easy run".  It turned out into the run from hell for both of us.  When I got to the car, and quickly threw Emma and Daniel inside, folding the stroller and launching it with both hands like it was a stroller-launching Olympic event, quickly hiding in the car myself and closing all the doors and windows, we had about forty mosquitoes with us for the free all-you-can-eat ride.   You try and concentrate on driving when your right ankle is currently attacked by the bastards.

If any of my friends want to come visit, I highly recommend winter when it is -40C.  Much better to be outside in those conditions.  (Just kidding.  I love summer.  I am just in awe at how tenacious these insects are).

Monday, June 30, 2014

busy and self absorbed

I am rediscovering my body, the one that is quasi-normal and not sick or pregnant.  What an interesting time I am having!  First off, I started by exercising.  I found out that although I had not lost as much fitness as if I had never exercised at all, I was down to about half of my usual mileage in running and swimming.  I sometimes think that I am able to do something just because I could in the past, and then I realize that it I persist with this mad form of thought I will get injured...  The second thing is that I am busy trying to lose weight, because although I look fine, it is rather hard to run with an extra 20 lb on board.

I felt a bit selfish initially, because here I am, with a brand new baby, and I am expanding energy into fitness instead of gazing lovingly into his eyes 24/7.  However, I feel that I have reached a good balance now.  My exercise time is 6:30-7:30 in the mornings.  I take full advantage of it, I enjoy it, and then I let it go.  The rest of the day is spent with the kids at the park, and yes, gazing lovingly into their eyes comes in too, when I am not busy giving Emma time out in her room for throwing sand in some poor child's face... she keeps me on my toes.  (We were at the park, and she threw some sand at a young girl-18 months or so- who was throwing sand at her too, BTW, but was just not as coordinated as Emma is.  So Emma got her straight in the eyes.  I put Emma on the time-out bench, and administered first aid (i.e. removed grains of sand from poor baby's left eye), when Emma decided that she had done enough time-out and got off the bench without permission.  I asked her if she would rather do her time out at home in her room, and she agreed (to my surprise).  I personally would have liked to linger on the grass at the park a lot longer, but I had to keep my word so we went home and she went straight to her room for about five minutes, which is the longest time out she has had so far, but she did not mind).

That is how exciting my life is!!!

Daniel is coo-ing so sweetly.  I am going to try to make a video of him making his sweet baby sounds.  He is also looking at me and smiling, sometimes giggling, in the rare moments when my boob is not in his mouth.  For some reason he has thrush, which I am trying to cure with Nystatin suspension, but so far not very successfully.  If anybody has any other remedies for thrush (not so much gentian violet, which stains clothes) then please let me know.