My Baby is One. He’s been on this earth for one whole year.
Excuse me while I have a moment…
Check out my post of my favourite photos of Olly from the past year here.
My Baby is One. He’s been on this earth for one whole year.
Excuse me while I have a moment…
Check out my post of my favourite photos of Olly from the past year here.
A few years ago, I got to wear my friends’ daughter in their baby carrier for an afternoon while we were at the park. She was four months old, so still small, but I felt like I was carrying nothing! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and was amazed to learn that you could easily go to the washroom with a baby strapped to your chest (haha). After that day, I knew that I wanted to wear my babies when I eventually had them.
A ring sling was at the top of my baby registry. That was the kind I had worn Sunny in that day, so I thought I’d go with what I was comfortable with. Friends had suggested that ring slings were the best for newborns and could carry toddlers as well, so I figured my bases were covered. I started shopping around and was shocked at the cost for what appeared to be just a swathe of fabric with a ring attached to it. Obviously, the cost of the fabric being used would affect the cost of the sling, but I wasn’t looking for anything fancy. I tried a few different types at The Baby Show, and settled on a Canadian company, Chimparoo, that had a special edition sling that, when purchased, sent $5 of the purchase price to the Canadian Cancer Society. The sling itself seemed to be durable, and featured a nice pocket at the end where pacifiers or other light items could be stored. It retailed for only $99!
Friends were generous enough to purchase this item for us, but we did not receive it until Olly was about two weeks old. I think this may have factored into some of the struggles we’ve experienced with carriers since then. When I had carried Sunny, she settled right into the sling and was happy as a clam the entire time, but probably because she was four months old and had spent a lot of time in the sling since her first few days of life. Olly, on the other hand, really did not seem to like the sling. I had trouble getting him positioned properly – it seems simple enough when you’re watching someone else do it, not so much when you’re trying to do it yourself. I watched videos and got a little better at it, but still struggled. It didn’t help that he struggled and cried every time I tried to put him in. He’d settle down once all the adjusting and tightening was done, but never in the position I wanted him in.
I finally seemed to get into the groove of it, and we had a few good months. I had, sadly, registered for the smaller version because I am on the smaller side, but this meant that the sling was too small for Alex to wear, and so he missed out on the early days of baby-wearing. We soon got to a point where putting Olly in the sling really did nothing to calm him and I gave up on it. But, at this same time, he was going through a sleep regression and I had to rock or bounce him to sleep for close to an hour most naps and at night, and there was just no way I could do this without assistance, so I went in search for another carrier that might help.
This is when I encountered a whole other level of baby carrier cost. I looked at all of the brands our friends had – Ergobaby, Baby Bjorn, Lillebaby, Tulababy… all of these were so far outside our price range, I began to despair. I went to Walmart’s website, where I so often find myself these days, and took a look at their selection and was presently surprised.
I found two carriers by Infantino – The Flip Advanced and The Sash. They were both reasonably priced – $45 and $40, respectively. I felt that the Flip would be the better investment, if it turned out to be good quality, since it seemed to offer more position options that would grow with Olly. I visited the Walmart in my hometown while we were staying with family, and could only find the Sash, so I purchased it and figured I may as well give it a try.
It took me a bit to figure out how to wrap the Sash (its a Mei-Tei style carrier), although I admit, I probably should have saved my glass of wine for afterwards rather than before. Once I had it figured out, I popped Olly in and – voila! He only fussed a bit. I told myself to reserve judgement until I tried it with him three or four more times. But later that night, when he was refusing to go to sleep, I put him in and realized how much weight was taken off of my tired arms and was sold. And he fell asleep about 20 minutes after.
The Sash was wonderful… for a time. Olly started to resist it just as he had with the ring-sling. I despaired again, but was told by friends that sometimes kids just grow out of their carriers. Alex’s cousin has a variety of carriers and his kids go through phases where they prefer one over another. So, I tucked the ring-sling away and struggled with the Sash while looking for another alternative.
I finally found the Flip Advanced and snapped it up. What I looked forward to with this carrier most, at this point in time, was the ability to have Olly forward facing. He was getting to the point of being so interested in the things going on around him that facing mommy was an annoyance rather than a comfort. My instinct was correct – he thoroughly enjoyed his new viewpoint from the carrier, but it also worked for putting him to sleep.
There are many great types of carriers on the market and great carrier manufacturers out there, and it can be difficult to wade through this ocean. I have managed to find budget-friendly options that are working well for our family, but I have friends who have brands they love for different reasons. I’d love to provide a chart with this blog post that outlines the key benefits and key cons to some of the popular carriers, alongside their cost. If you have a carrier you love, or a carrier you hate, please send me a note to share your experience!
I’m sitting on the subway on my way home from work, listening to music with my headphones. I’ve forgotten that I have a son. My body thinks it’s time to relax and my brain is expecting a calm evening. The music is all I have to think about, at the moment.
This kind of dejavu is not unwelcome. Don’t get me wrong… I love being a mother, and when I get home tonight, I’m going to succumb whole-heartedly to the snugglefest that Olly will unleash on me, even if it lasts a whole 30 minutes (like it did yesterday). It’s just that I miss certain things about life before becoming a mom, like not being completely responsible for another human being. Being able to listen to music on my headphones because there is no tiny human who might need me and is only capable of getting my attention by screaming (or so he thinks). Being able to close my eyes and shut the world out for a few minutes. These are all things that I took for granted because I never understood just how drastically my life would change by becoming a mother.
Change is something that I’ve always struggled with – feared, to be honest, but I’ve forced myself to face it head on as often as possible. I struggled with the idea of not going to work Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. I struggled with having a lack of direction while on maternity leave and then I struggled with never having time to think when Olly started needing more of my mental capacity. I really struggled with the thought of returning to work and leaving Olly in someone else’s care (see my previous post). But here I am, today, enjoying the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate how different my life is, and all of the things I miss about the past, along with the things I love about my present situation.
Is this adulting?
When your baby is sick, the world stops turning. At least, that’s how it feels to me. That might sound dramatic, but it has happened every time, for me.
Olly has had a rough 10th month of life. First, he had a stomach virus that caused vomiting and diarrhea for days. We somehow managed to push through that and still see our family for Easter, but apart from that, nothing else in my life operated as normal – the dishes didn’t get done, laundry didn’t get done, toys didn’t get cleaned up, I didn’t shower for a week, bills didn’t get paid… Everything ground to a halt. I spent five days cleaning diaper explosions and struggling to get Olly to eat anything.
After the stomach bug came a cold – small potatoes in comparison. But suddenly my day was filled with wiping snot from a nose that was running like a tap. Hours passed by in what felt like minutes. Text messages and emails went unanswered.
Close on the heels of the cold was the dreaded penis infection (is that even the proper term???). I don’t know how he got it, because, as my mother said to me, I’m religious in my efforts to keep that area of his body clean. But infected it was, mildly. We got him to the doctor the same day we saw symptoms and she told us not to worry, it’s common. We were instructed to use an antibiotic cream and give him 3 sitz baths per day.
THREE sitz baths? Per day? Nothing got that done that week, either! And then, of course, he got a fever and I couldn’t focus on anything other than giving him Baby Tylenol and checking his temperature every hour. Photoshoots went unedited (I’m so thankful for patient and understanding clients).
That infection cleared up nice and fast, and that brings us to today, one week later – Olly has a cough and a runny nose and a fever that just won’t quit. And I can’t even think about eating until I see a number lower than 37 degrees on that thermometer.
Speaking of thermometers… I hadn’t been happy with ours for a while – inaccurate readings were making times of illness frustrating. The day after he had kicked his last fever, I saw a nifty one at Shoppers that allows you to use different attachments for different reading areas (oral, underarm and rectal) and, though I wanted to buy it at the time, I figured we wouldn’t need it for a while. But a couple days ago, something kept urging me to go back and purchase it. Thank goodness.
I’m currently lying in bed with Olly on my chest – he’s finally asleep after a struggle to get him to take the bottle. He drank some, but not enough, in my opinion. I’m cringing at every sleepy whimper, and wishing I could take his pain away. I’m counting the minutes until I can give him the next dose of Baby Tylenol, and hoping this dose will be the one to break the fever.
Am I being ridiculous? Paranoid? Is this new-mom syndrome? Does anybody else feel like the gears of their life just stop working when their baby is sick?
About this time a year ago, I was excitedly awaiting the arrival of my first child, and secretly dreading leaving my job for a year. I knew that being home with my son was going to be wonderful, yet tiring – a different kind of challenge than my job is. But I’m a bit of a control freak, and the thought of leaving my responsibilities in someone else’s hands for a whole year drove me absolutely nuts!
I also knew that it would be difficult to adjust to not being at work, and then difficult to adjust to being back at work after experiencing the drastic life change of having a baby.
And here I am today, contemplating how to navigate this new challenge, as it seems to have suddenly hit me that it is happening very soon. I am, very shortly, going back to work.
I am so thankful that I live in a country that allows mothers (and fathers) time off to care for their new children. Twelve months is a long time, and next year, in Canada, it will be 18 months, which I think is fantastic. This allows us to care for and bond with our children in a way that not all parents get to do. But there is a flip side to this coin – I’m currently struggling with the adjustment of mindset required to go from caring for an infant 24/7 to working in an office and conversing with customers (after having cared for an infant all night, because somebody still wakes up hungry every three hours).
Another struggle I’ve encountered is the thought of leaving my son in someone else’s care for most of the day, and only getting to spend time with him briefly in the morning, and for maybe a few hours before bedtime. (Alex has gently reminded me that this has been his experience of his son from the beginning. If he can do it, so can I, right?) But let’s talk more about this child care thing…
Daycare. Daycares are in abundance, it seems – at least in Toronto. And they all make such wonderful promises. I’ve watched Olly interact with other children over the last month and dreamt about how his personality would flourish in a daycare setting (he’s such a social kid). It seems easy enough to choose that option – if you’re making enough to live comfortably in a city like Toronto. And we are not. A licensed/registered daycare facility in the city will eat up 75% of what I earn each month. Sure, there are government subsidies, but there aren’t enough subsidized daycare spaces available for the number of families that need to take advantage of them.
So our next option is an unlicensed home daycare. There are some fantastic home daycare providers out there – we have quite a few friends who have been lucky enough to find these quality care providers. We have other friends who have had nothing but trouble with home daycares, though. And it seems like there’s always a story in the news about a child being injured or dying because of a lack of quality care at a home daycare. It’s unfortunate that we hear these negative stories more often than positive stories, but the negative ones stick with us.
Since we’re still struggling with the same economic battle we’ve faced since moving to Toronto, we’re going to have to go the unlicensed route. So, I’m obviously a bit anxious about this transition. I hope to be able to share our experience with all of you and help some of you navigate the waters of Child Care in Toronto.
Since starting this post, I returned to work on a part-time basis, two days a week. We were lucky enough to have a close friend Nanny Olly for an extremely reasonable price during this time. I was dreading my first day back at work, worried about leaving Olly even though we trust our Nanny completely. But the moment I closed our apartment door behind me that first morning, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders as I realized that I was about to begin a full 8 hour day that would not be interrupted by crying or screaming or poopy diapers.
We had a wonderful experience for two weeks, and I somehow managed to forget that our Nanny would not be available for the month of June, which conveniently happened to be my first month of full-time work. So on May 23rd I was frantically trying to find a daycare that was affordable and had space for Olly. I managed to find a Home Daycare agency that had a space open in a home in Vaughan, which was not far from my husband’s work. I found a second home daycare, an unlicensed one, closer to my work. We decided to interview both and choose one based on convenience, since they were both charging the same amount. We met with Vaughan and left with great feelings, but my husband was worried about getting Olly there in time for him to get to work in the morning. We met with Toronto, and had less great feelings but there were no major red flags. I figured it would be pretty easy for me to take TTC, drop Olly off and get to work in time. We decided to go with Toronto, but my gut feeling told me Vaughan would have been a better choice.
On May 31st, the day before my first day back at work, Toronto contacted us and told us she needed to raise her rates from $45/day to $50/day. This was to compensate for any potential delay I might encounter on the TTC when picking Olly up at the end of the day. We were a bit pissed off about this, as we had already discussed the terms with her, but we had not signed any paperwork and we didn’t have any time to find an alternative situation. So on June 1st, I dropped Olly off for his first day of daycare with a complete stranger who I didn’t exactly trust, at that point in time.
At noon that day, Toronto texted to say that she thought it would be best if I picked Olly up early, as a full 9 hours in daycare might be too much for his first day. I was surprised at this, as she had told me in our previous discussions that all babies cry for the first few days and sometimes even weeks in daycare. But after half a day, she was concerned that he couldn’t handle it? I was beginning to have serious misgivings, so even though leaving work early was an inconvenience, I picked him up at 3pm.
When I got there, Olly did not seem like himself. He did’t reach for me or smile when he saw me – this was extremely unusual. I took him from her arms and held him close. She began telling me about their day, and I noticed he had a pretty significant scratch on his nose. She explained that the wipes I had provided were too dry and suggested that I buy Pampers instead of Huggies. Because of the dry wipes, she said, he now had a diaper rash. (We’ve been using Huggies his entire life and have never had an issue. Olly has also never had a full-blown diaper rash, only a bit of redness after a poop.)
I kept waiting for her to explain the scratch on his nose, which had clearly bled some time ago, but no explanation came.
While she was speaking, I could hear noises coming from her second floor that sounded like a dog, to me, and sure enough, a dog poked its head around the staircase at one point. She had not told us that she owned a dog or that a dog would ever be present while Olly was in her care. I don’t necessarily object to a dog being present, but I certainly would have appreciated being notified of this, and perhaps being allowed a chance to meet the dog and get a sense of their temperament.
When she finished her outline of the day, I said, “I see he has a scratch on his nose.” She looked at him closer (she had been looking at him the whole time she was talking) and said, “Oh! I didn’t see that. I don’t know how that happened.”
Ok, lady. I know scratches are going to happen – he’s almost 1 and he can’t walk properly yet. But there’s no way you didn’t see him bleeding from the face before I pointed it out.
I left feeling very uneasy about returning Olly to her care the next day. I explained everything to Alex via text message on my bus ride home. Olly was calm and quiet the whole way – again, very unusual for him. He usually chatters away to everyone on the bus around us.
Alex decided it would be best to see if Vaughan still had space available and make arrangements for Olly to attend there, instead. He contacted them and, thankfully, they were willing to help. I was feeling a bit better by the time we got home, but when I changed Olly’s diaper, my anger flared up again. The diaper rash that I knew to expect was so much worse than I could have imagined. His poor bottom had blistered after just one day in her care. There was no way some dry wipes could have caused that much damage. When Alex saw it, he said, “What did she do, wipe him with sandpaper?” He screamed when I tried to wipe him, so I ran a lukewarm bath for him, but he screamed in there too. I ended up putting a fresh diaper on loosely (later, a friend suggested I put some coconut oil on, and that seemed to finally provide him some relief and did improve the rash significantly).
We realized, then, that we had made a mistake and certainly learned a lesson. I’m thankful that a diaper rash is the only thing Olly had to suffer. His first day at Vaughan went much better. He didn’t cry all day – she sent us photos of him playing early in the morning. He ate, he napped better than he does for me at home. He was happily exhausted when Alex picked him up at the end of the day. We’ve signed paperwork up the wazoo and feel very protected in this agreement.
Moral of the Daycare story – go with your gut, not necessarily the most convenient option.
As for being back at work – I’m loving it.
I started writing this post a month ago, and then life got in the way. Travel back in time with me…
I’ve wanted to write this post for a while, but every time I thought about baby food and feeding Oliver, I started to get anxious… Until today. Because he’s finally eating.
Olly is 9.5 months old, and I started introducing food to him at about 4.5 months old. It has been 5 long months of struggling and refusals and gagging and vomiting and choking (once). But yesterday… Yesterday he happily sucked a puree from a food pouch until that food pouch was empty.
I’m writing this post because, 5 months ago, I was that naive new mom who thought her baby was going to love food and eating and it would be all sunshine and rainbows from his first taste. But I was clearly wrong. And if your child happens to be similar to Olly, I don’t want you to struggle the way I did. If you’re currently struggling, I want you to know that you’re not alone.
I may have started things off wrong. I was preparing a snack for myself one day and thought, “Why not see what Olly thinks of grapes?” I grabbed a mesh feeder (handy little things for first foods!) and popped some sliced grapes in and handed the feeder to Olly.
He held it in his hands and turned it round and round, examining it as he does every new object. And then, also as he does witj every new object, he put it in his mouth. The look of disgust that came across his face was comical, to me. I had tasted the grapes and found them to be fairly sweet, but I suppose for his “budding” taste buds (pun intended) they were quite sour.
Ok, grapes were a “No”.
Despite this first refusal, I went ahead and started pureeing everything. I had purchased the Infantino Squeeze Station and Squeeze Pouches so that I could make baby food for him rather than buy. And man, was that thing fun! Ok, I might be the only one that finds squishing pureed food into pouches fun… But whatever. Don’t judge me. I pureed and squished and labelled and dated my way through 30 pouches. I popped them in the freezer, thinking they’d be used and replaced long before their two month expiry (recommended by various baby food-making guidelines).
I took things slowly and played by the rules (one type of food at a time, spaced three or four days apart to rule out intolerances or allergies). I had got the ball rolling earlier than most recommended (6 months), although our doctor had said that some babies are ready and willing to start solids as early as 3 months old.
Olly was not willing. He really didn’t like anything. I tried rice cereal, wheat cereal, bananas, carrot puree, sweet potato puree, mango puree, mashed potatoes mixed with breastmilk, watermelon… I felt like I had tried everything and he hated it all. There were times that he’d seem to like something – really only carrots and bananas – and I’d think, “Eureka! This is it! He likes it. He loves it!” and the next day, I’d try it again, and it was like it was the worst thing he’d ever tasted.
Along with the difficulty of trying new tastes and seeing the look of disgust on his face, came the gagging and puking. The first time he gagged, I panicked and thought he was choking. His face went beet red and he wasn’t breathing or making a sound. And then the vomit flew out of his mouth and halfway across the room. I laughed at myself and recalled witnessing my friend’s son do the same thing about a year ago; at the time, I’d told myself to remember the experience so that I wouldn’t be shocked when my own child did that.
Whole lot of good, that did.
So, ok – he wasn’t choking. I could handle some gagging and vomiting. Or I thought I could. Until it started happening three or four times a day. Then it started to get to be too much.
I lamented my feeding woes to a friend (my mom-hero… You know who you are). She suggested that I try Baby Led Weaning. It was, she said, the only thing that worked for her fourth child, who was, at the time, 10 months old. I had never considered BLW, as my only knowledge of it came from relatives who (knowing what I know now) may have misunderstood the principles behind the strategy. It was not, I learned, about letting your child eat however much of whatever their heart desired at any given time. It was about letting your child be in control of when and how the food entered their mouth.
Armed with suggestions from friends, I went home that evening and steamed some sweet peas. Once they had cooled, I placed a pile of peas on the high chair tray, and let Olly explore. He picked one up (after numerous attempts), turned it around and side to side, and then popped it into his mouth. And then smiled.
And then gagged and puked. But he did it again, and the second time managed to swallow the pea. I think he ingested three or four that night. That was the most solid food he’d ever had in his system, and he hadn’t hated the experience. That was a win, in my books.
This wasn’t the downhill portion of the uphill battle, as I had hoped. He definitely preferred to feed himself, but he still would rather not eat more often than not. I bought Gerber Puffs, and he loved them, and that became the only thing he would eat consistently.
We tried chicken. One more thing he would eat consistently. I gave up on purees, and other people told me that I had to keep trying but I was so frustrated. I had long abandoned the rules and was feeding him something new every day, because by this point, he was 7 months old and still completely disinterested in solid food. I was tired of the three-times-daily battle at the high chair, my meals going cold while I encouraged Olly to eat with me. I was done asking for help and tired of everyone telling me what I should be doing, and telling me about how much better he’d be sleeping if he was eating solid foods. (Still not sleeping any better, by the way.)
So I gave up. He ate Puffs, and only Puffs, for about a month (in addition to his formula, of course). And then we visited family and Auntie Selena decided to try her hand at feeding Olly some puree at dinner one night and…. Oh. My. God. It worked. I was pretty sure we were going to have to live at Auntie Selena’s house for Olly to start eating consistently, but we went home the next day and I tried feeding him another puree and, magically, he willingly ate it!
Mealtime has gradually become easier. There have been a few bumps in the road – a stomach flu, a cold, an infection. These kinds of things cause him to lose interest in food for about a week. But we’ve discovered some staples that he will eat no matter what, and that gets us through the day.
I came to the conclusion, a couple weeks ago, that all that food I had lovingly and excitedly pureed and frozen was likely no longer suitable to be eaten. I took all of the pouches out of the freezer and, after staring at them longingly for about 5 minutes, threw them in the trash.
As much as I enjoyed the puree making process, I don’t think I’ll have time to do it again, as I’m returning to work very soon. Besides, Olly still definitely prefers food that he can pick up with his fingers, put in his mouth himself, and chew. So, the Squeeze Station will be passed on to a relative, who’s expected baby will, hopefully, enjoy their first foods much more than Olly did.
We’ve been feeling the sting of teething quite sharply the past few weeks. Olly only has two, so far, and they were late bloomers. I started teething at 2 months old, according to my mother, and had my first at 3 months. Olly started showing teething symptoms at 3 months, but didn’t actually spring a tooth until he was 7 months old. We had one night a crying and no sleep, and the next morning, a tooth had broken through his gums. About a week afterwards, we had another sleepless night followed by a second bright, shiny tooth.
Those two teeth are now firmly cemented in place, but boy, was it a journey. For those of you who are new parents, like us, and don’t quite know what to expect when it comes to teething, hopefully our experience will help.
Some babies don’t seem too bothered by teeth coming in, or so I’m told. For Olly, it seems like a never-ending battle. We noticed his need to chew early on. This wasn’t just a typical need to put everything in his mouth for the purpose of exploring – this was a serious urge to bite down on anything he could get his hands on. He would bite and chew and cry for no apparent reason while biting and chewing. And then I noticed that his gums were red and swollen in certain spots. And then, one day, I saw a tiny white spot on his gums. It couldn’t be wiped off, but it was so small, I figured it had to be the corner of a tooth.
This white spot would stick around for a week or so and then – poof! – disappear into thin air. Friends told me this was common – apparently teeth like to play peekaboo! So, we resigned ourselves and settled in for a long trip, but figured we’d better find some teethers to help make things easier along the way.
Since Olly had started teething so early, finding teethers that he could actually use was tricky – he could grip object quite well but navigating them into his mouth was beyond his ability at three months old. Most teethers are aimed at 6 month olds and older, but I was determined to find something that would work for him. Comotomo to the rescue! Their teether was perfect – a circle that Olly could grip, and four chewable prongs, one of which was guaranteed to end up in his mouth regardless of how he held it!
(Yeah, my kid is the cutest)
The Munch Mitt was also a life saver, because it fit his hand like a glove, and putting his hand in his mouth was something he was quite skilled at.
While I was spending my time looking for actual teethers, Olly was making do with some items we already had at home. Like his toes.
We also had two rattles from Ikea, shaped like kitty cats. For some reason, he loved these things. For a long time, we couldn’t go anywhere without them. He’d ram one into his mouth and chew and suck on it for hours.
(“Can you say hi to Baba?” – Baba is my mother.)
So, we managed for the first little while with these three strategies. As he got older and better at using his hands, implementing teethers got easier. There are a few we could not live without:
This one can be frozen and is nice and numbing for achy gums.
Shaped like a pacifier, made of soft silicone with soothing textures. I love this one, because Olly can alternate between sucking and chewing as he pleases.
Alvin has been Olly’s go-to teether since we bought him. I had been wanting to buy Sophie the Giraffe but couldn’t bring myself to spend $29.99 on a teether (for heaven’s sake). I found Alvin at Mastermind Toys and was much happier with his $14.99 price tag.
Teething necklaces are always handy, especially when you’re out and about and don’t want to lose your favourite teether! I got mine from a booth at The Baby Show in Toronto, and unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the company.
Night time can be tricky. When Olly is tired but his gums are sore, he doesn’t want to hold on to a toy and chew. So that’s when we turn to Camilia. These drops may or may not actually be helpful (Homeopathy, anybody?) but we’ve seen Olly finally drift off to sleep after one or two doses of this stuff enough times to keep buying it.
For the nights when he has a tooth actually cutting through the gums, we give him some Baby Tylenol. Because sometimes babies need actual pain relief.