Saturday, July 31, 2010

A to-do list grander than laundry

I would like to make time someday to work these into my days:
  • bicycle race
  • paint
  • cook bread
  • grow a veggie garden
  • practice yoga (more consistently)
  • design wall art
  • make my own pasta sauce (with real tomatoes)
  • cook soups more often
  • have a dog
  • golf
  • ski
  • horseback ride
  • volunteer for organizations I appreciate, like the library
Right now, my days are full. Full with reading books, snuggles, park playing, swimming lesson watching, ball cheering, stroller walking, screen time tracking, daytrips, teaching chores, referreeing, renovating, cleaning, organizing, and more cleaning. But someday, I'm going to add these items to the ever-evolving to-do list.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Genes wonder

Genetics amaze me. I'm sitting on the couch (always with the sitting lately, nursing this babe. Who will soon be a gorgeous fat buddha baby from all this nursing. But I digress.) So I'm sitting on the couch, looking down the lineup of my kids. Blonde, golden-tanned, blue eyed Seth. Dark haired, dark eyed, porcelain pale Thane, my clone. Little blonde Claire is next, with her fair skin and icy blue eyes. And finally black haired Maxwell in my arms, deep blue eyes so far. Will his eyes stay blue or turn dark like my own and Thane? Will he have our pale skin that burns in the shade, or Seth and Troy's golden surfer complexions? He already has the tiny little nose and long eyelashes characteristic of our kids. I see little bits and pieces of both my husband and I in each of them, little bits and pieces of our own parents, our siblings, our extended families. My husband has the blue eyes and dark hair, although he was blonde as a kid, and big strong german features. My grandmother is Danish, where I attribute my two little blonde Danes to.

But how do all of these characteristics line up? How is it that my kids barely look like siblings at times, but in some ways I can see so many resemblances between them? And some other families have lineups of kids that look more like identical multiples than just siblings. And that's not even taking into account their personalities! I see little versions of Troy and I coming out in them so often, and often in ways that couldn't possibly just be learned from us. My nephew even sits like his father. Then there's the ways they're so purely themselves, like Seth's extremely outgoing personality. I'm quite a chatty person, but this kid outshines me tenfold in the chatter department!

So strange.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Week one

We've done it. Week one with baby Max is in. Honestly, week one has been amazingly easy peasy here. Claire has been Troy's constant sidekick, and he's been an excellent waiter for me (and cleaner, and grocery shopper, and general company during my copious amounts of sitting and nursing Max). The boys went to "Grammie camp", as they called it, a week of swimming, swimming, and more swimming in Nova Scotia with Grammie and Grampie Hutt. They got to enjoy a really great, jam-packed summer vacation that probably won't happen otherwise with a new baby in the house. It made for a quiet week for Maxwell and I to get into our nursing groove, and for me to recoup and feel up to doing anything again. It really was good for them to miss my sore-all-over, whole-torso-pain days, where I was consequently irritable. I can't wait to get them home though, I miss them. They left for Nova Scotia on Maxwell's day three, and I'm looking forward to having them home to share and enjoy their new baby. I'm also nervous about their arrival though, I feel like my vacation week is over and it's back to reality now. A demanding reality which is very busy, and noisy, and messy! I'm not convinced I'm ready.

I really love how there are certain things that having been through this before actually help. As much as the first week of breastfeeding hurts, the fourth time through I am well aware that the painful stage is short-lived. It's much easier to endure when you know it will only last a couple days.

Some things never get easier. Today is my first day home alone with Max and Claire, something that I've been nervous about all week. Even the fourth time through I can't seem to get my after-baby panic under control. My state of mind makes things ten times worse than anything that actually happens. Troy left this morning to pick up the boys, meeting his parents halfway. And before he even left I started to panic about having both Claire and Maxwell by myself all day. Pulling myself out of my snit always seems to be the toughest part. If I can manage to do that, and keep myself busy and calm, we really seem to make out quite fine.

In my panic this morning I tried to convince Troy that he should take Claire with him. For the six hour drive. Luckily, experience works in Troy's favor too, and he said that was a really bad idea and that I'd be fine. He's been through this before, I can tell. He knew that in an hour he would receive an apologetic call from me, confirming that we were indeed fine. That I really can get my own food and keep diapers clean and two little birds happy all by myself. I remember after Seth was born (you know that really traumatically difficult jump from one child to two, when you have no idea how to divide your attention that was previously only demanded by one child?), I would cry when Troy had to leave for work, and ask him why he just couldn't call in sick and stay home with me. Yeah, it was that bad.

This morning has had it's ups and downs, but overall it's really been okay. I managed to shower and eat breakfast, and even make and have half a coffee, which helped my mood a lot. I've even unloaded the dishwasher, a vast improvement! Maxwell did nurse a lot though, and it was a bit tough to keep Claire occupied while I sat with him. I was struggling with guilt from encouraging her to play by herself, not being able to jump up and help her whenever she needed, and feeling guilty for generally being relieved when a tv show grabbed her attention. My love hate saga with screen time lives on. I found myself cursing any mess in our house, she kept getting into things she shouldn't. And sitting and nursing I found myself preaching at her, just streams of words that she had no plans of listening to. At one point she took her diaper off, a pretty normal occurance lately, but I only realized later that she had taken it off because she pooped. Not fun.

But Max has gone down for a big snooze now, and Claire and I promptly had a big snuggle. We read a few books and now I'm enjoying our new porch swing while Claire trots around the yard playing. In the nude of course, with her bicycle helmet on.

Deep breath, I can do this.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Meet Maxwell.

He's arrived, and he's a boy! Meet Maxwell Oliver Hutt, born July 18th, 7lbs 11oz, at 7:53am.

We're smitten.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

And now, we wait.

Today is the due date we've been waiting for.

Everyone has been waiting. The boys are patiently biding their time, filling their days with games, art projects, tv downtime, ball practice and swimming. They know when the baby comes Grammie and Grampie will be coming too, to visit with the new baby and to take them back to Nova Scotia for a week visit, a week these two boys are excitedly anticipating. That Grammie and Grampie, along with Troy's siblings, are waiting for the news that the baby is on it's way, to begin their six hour drive here. My sister is waiting, on call via texting, to be summoned for babysitting duty for these three when the time arrives. Troy is waiting, cleaning, working away on the house, waiting on me. And mostly, I am waiting, kind of painfully, my body so obviously readying itself for labour, teetering between contractions and nothing.

I've never made it to a due date before, this is a new birth twist for us. When I finished up work a few weeks ago I completely expected to barely have enough time to get things in order before the arrival of our new babe.

Troy's been sticking close to home and we've been puttering away at the house. At first our work was hurried and with the feel of a deadline pushing us. We still had our bedroom I was hoping to finish renovating. (You know, the never-ending bedroom project, the bedroom that's been gutted for six months? Yeah, that one.) Troy finished the closets in our room, building the most beautiful walk-in, a bigger closet than I've ever had. I painted the room, and then Troy put in the new flooring. (Beautiful bamboo, I'll do a room post soon!)

Then we moved in our clothes and our bedroom furniture. This unleashed a series of rooms opening up to be organized into what they are actually intended to be used for. We set up the baby's room, that had been previously used as our makeshift closet. And with all our borrowed time, I organized toys and reclaimed the playroom (where our bed had been during the bedroom renovation project). If this baby doesn't come soon, I might even get to organizing the office, where the office and playroom furniture had been stuffed. After a year, I actually feel like we've moved in! It's amazing what a few closets can do. 

Thursday morning I had a few contractions throughout the night and on into the morning. They were just beginning to have a regular 20 minute interval by noon, and I had just decided that maybe we'd have a baby by the end of the day, when they stopped. Just stopped! Now this pregnancy has definitely been different from the others in these early contractions. I've had contraction-like pains throughout the pregnancy that I've never had before, Braxton-Hicks I suppose, whenever I over-exert myself mostly. And now, for the last three days really, I've been bouncing between contractions that feel 'real', and this mild dull constant pain of smallish 'sort-of' contractions. With the boys, my first two deliveries, I really didn't have (or at least notice) any early contractions at all. Thane's delivery especially (my first), was a comedic scene that was movie worthy, beginning out of the blue with major contractions just two minutes apart and ending only an hour and a half later with our baby boy. You might laugh, but the fast pace was ridiculously overwhelming, especially with no prior experience to rely on! Seth's birth was similar, but with at least an hour of the earlier contractions that served as a pretty good warning to get ourselves to the hospital.

So that's the birth experience I went into my third pregnancy with. At the first sign of contractions I knew to get moving, a baby wouldn't be long arriving now. But Miss Claire was different entirely. I woke up with her contractions and hurried to get our things together while Troy called his mom, who would be watching the boys. And then the contractions just didn't get closer together. All day the contractions petered in, hovering mildly around 10 minutes apart. I wasn't even sure how to approach that waiting! Around noon, nervous by my previous labours, my mother-in-law came and waited with us, a nice distraction. By supper they had finally progressed to be five minutes apart and we headed into the hospital. By the time we got there however, they had gone back to 10 minute intervals! The nurse sent us to go out for supper, so we went to East Side Mario's and walked around the mall a bit. It was quite funny actually, it seemed so bizarre to me to just be walking around in public in labour, but the contractions were really pretty manageable at that point. Finally we reached contractions two minutes apart, headed back to the hospital, and within a couple quick hours Claire arrived.

It's funny how each pregnancy, each birth, each baby is so different.

Right now that baby Claire is walking around determinedly diaperless. Typical of each child being so individual, while my boys had no desire whatsoever to potty-train even by 2 and a half, Claire has decided whether I'm ready or not that she must get rid of the diaper. (Because of the impending newborn I really am not feeling so ready.) She wants to sit on the toilet whenever we're near, and comes and tells us, with her pointing and gestures, when her diaper is full, or just takes it off and brings it to us. Yesterday Troy brought out the potty and they have been inseperable ever since (the potty and Claire). She's pretty much refusing to have a diaper put on and carries the potty all over the house.

This is how she has been waiting for baby.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I wanted to see this....

I just realized this exhibit I wanted to see, Sculptures by Léo-Paul Cyr at Gallery 78, was only on display until July 8th.

Phoo on that.

Really must use my calendar for more than T-ball times.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kid quotables

Out of the blue, my seven year old Thane says to me today,
"When I decide I'm ready to get married, I'm just going to use e-Harmony. You just have to fill out the questionaire and they'll find your match for you!"
Too much tv perhaps? Too funny.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This summer I will...

  • explore NB, daytrip style, starting with Kings Landing.
  • make a cute sunhat for Claire, and perhaps one for this new little one.
  • restuff and resurrect Thane's crib bedding for this new babe.
  • paint and finish the moulding for the rooms we've done. 
  • hang curtains and get rid of the 'we just moved in' look, one year later!
  • find local, organic meat to fill our freezer with.
  • fit the farmers market into our grocery routine.
  • help Thane work on writing, Seth with his letters, and Claire with her words.
  • use a nice voice.
  • draw.
  • get to NS to enjoy our family and the beach.
  • refinish the antique door hardware I salvaged.
  • enjoy Paint the Heartland, Artists on the Boardwalk and the Festival of Flavor
  • go shopping for kids clothes somewhere other than Joe. I love Joe, but Claire looks like their spokesmodel.
  • discuss church with Thane. Really wish I could figure out what I believe in, would make the whole topic easier.
  • explore and enjoy what the Knowlesville Art & Nature Centre has to offer. 
  • finally do our passport applications.
  • teach the boys to ride their bikes, sans training wheels.
  • frequent the pool after t-ball.
  • buy/find/have someone build a porch swing for our front deck.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oh Seth.

My boy Seth. He's just a card.

Yesterday I lost him for a minute. Not a panicked minute, just a "Where did my boppy social butterfly go now?".

His swimming lessons had just finished up and Thane and I had been waiting for him in the shade on the nearby playground. As we entered the poolhouse to round him up I realized he wasn't there waiting for us. I found his sandals and towel and was just beginning to think maybe he had gone out to the van in search of us, when I heard his little voice. 

Around the corner, there sat Seth on a chair in the lifeguard office, surrounded by at least five enamoured lifeguards. He was getting a replacement bandaid for one that had gotten wet during the swimming lesson. He was in his glory, the center of attention chatting up the crowd. The lifeguards, mostly teenage girls, were oohing and aahing over his story and laughing over how cute he is. 

That kid.   

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sheep or unruly mama - are those the only options?

I've been trying to articulate a post for a while now and have been finding it so difficult. I feel so passionately about several topics that all seem so intertwined to me, and find myself discussing them at length with people who quite likely could care less and would love for me to just stop talking! I generally stop talking right about the time I realize I've managed to offend a friend, someone I unwittingly judged in my ranting. I just reread my last post and I sound like such a judgemental jerk, preaching from my soapbox, and I'm sure I come across that way so often. But that's not what I'm trying to do.

What am I doing? Grappling with this frustrating idea that so many of us don't think things through for ourselves, just accepting the way things are as good reasoning and following along blindly like a good little herd of sheep. And it's not because we're unintelligent. I constantly watch intelligent people not questioning questionable methods instead of deciding thoughtfully. And I can't blame them, we're not just not encouraged, but discouraged, pushed and bullied into behaving the way those in power find convenient.

Are you saying what in the heck are you talking about Victoria?

Take my prenatal doctor appointments for example. Even though I feel fine, I do as I'm expected as a pregnant lady and go for monthly appointments. Just in case, because if something went wrong with baby I'd be to blame if I didn't go to the appointments expected of me. This hospital in particular has five prenatal doctors and you're not 'allowed' to make your appointments with just one of the doctors throughout the pregnancy, you have to accept whoever is on call that day. The reasoning is that you can't guarantee which doctor will be on call when the time comes to deliver the baby. Do you see how that really isn't relevant reasoning? I understand if you have to accept whoever is on duty to deliver the baby (sort of, what happened to the personal level of care of midwives who would have worked their schedule to be available when they had a patient near her due date?). But okay, let's accept that doctors are on duty on their shift and you may or may not get yours for the delivery. But why does that mean that you can't have one doctor follow you throughout the pregnancy anyway? What about attempting some level of consistant care? Instead, I have to meet a new doctor most visits and be asked the same questions over and over again. For instance, I have dry skin/eczema, have had it since I was little. Each visit, another doctor measures my belly, points out my dry skin, attributes it to the pregnancy, and makes redundant recommendations. One time is was "Your skin is dry, isn't pregnancy a pain? You can try some baby oil." How about no, to begin with pregnancy is not a pain actually, and if you knew me at all you'd know I just have dry skin and quit pointing it out. I know that sounds so trivial, but I am so tired of being poked and prodded at and treated like a specimen by strangers.

And the tests! I'm pretty sure there is a panel that makes up a test per visit, because they think we may be bored at our appointment and need tests to fill up our day. Take the glucose screening test for diabetes. I'm on baby number four. I have never had gestational diabetes. The test consists of guzzling a sugar drink (something I'm sure would be on the ridiculous pregnant diet no-no list if not in the name of science) and an hour wait between a couple blood samples taken. It's not that the test is unbearable, just a waste of time and resources if it's unnecessary, no? And another way to make me feel like a specimen? How about if I show symptoms of diabetes then we do the test? Would diabetic symptoms be unnoticable? And if so is it actually a problem anyway? How about you tell me what the symptoms are and I'll keep my eye on it. How about the doctor actually tell me what happens to the baby if I do have gestational diabetes and it goes unnoticed. The worst I could get out of the nurse or the doctor is that the baby could come out bigger than usual. Is that really even a problem? This is the part that makes me so frustrated... when I'm asking these questions the nurse and doctor behave as though I am being the most difficult patient in the world. Why else would I ask these questions other than to just ruin their day? Why don't I just behave like the other sheep and believe the doctors are all knowing and infalliable. They get grumpy and bully me into feeling bad for even questioning them.

Part of my dilemma on this topic is that I do start to feel guilty for being so argumentative. I think about women in generations before me who died in childbirth from things that are now easily preventable, or women in poor or undeveloped areas who would cherish the level of care I am offered. But does it really have to be an argument? Why can't it just be a conversation?

My latest 'arguement' involved the test for group b strep. I didn't remember this test from my previous pregnancies so I asked the nurse, what is group b strep? Oh, it's a virus the mother can unknowingly carry and the baby can catch during delivery. What happens to the baby if they contract it? Well, they get very sick, she says. How? They just get very sick, kind of like pneumonia. Getting details from the nurse on this was like pulling teeth. She couldn't tell me how or if the baby could be treated if they did contract the virus. When I asked what would be done if I did test positive though, she proudly said, "Oh, we'll just give you a shot of antibiotics when you go into labor, just in case." Then she sent the doctor in with her guard up, as though she had been forewarned that there was a difficult patient waiting for her. After going through the same string of questions with the doctor, to no avail or pertinent information offered, I decided just to say no to the test for now and go home and read up on it myself, at which the doctor looked at me like I had three heads and pushed my next appointment up to one week instead of the planned two. Because apparently I have to ciphon through every decision on my own research, attempting to weed out the good sources from the bad on my own, because my doctors are hard-wired to feed me an ad campaign from whichever drug supplier they're pushing instead of offering me the information I'm asking for to make an informed choice. The information I did find? (From a very conservative source too I might add.) The baby has a 1 in 200 chance of contracting the virus from a positive mother and the antibiotics have to be given 4 hours before the birth to be effective. While to begin with my longest labor has been three hours, making the whole arguement irrelevant, why would I want a preventative shot of antibiotics in my newborn baby on a .5 percent chance that they may catch something? There must be a greater chance of an adverse reaction to the antibiotics! Let alone the link between antibiotics overuse and later allergies, and the idea that their immune system may need half a chance to establish itself naturally.

At this point in the story I got called Dr. Victoria by a friend, insinuating that I think I know everything and the doctors don't know anything. Which I don't. Which is exactly what frustrates me. I am not a doctor! Why can't I trust my doctor to give me the information I need to make an informed choice, instead of pushing a biased strong opinion on what they want me to do, regardless of whether the why makes sense.

Does this make sense at all?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Frustration, heavy heart...

I just feel so sad today. Sad because some things are so frustratingly wrong but there's nothing I can do about it.

This morning I was at the playground with Claire while the boys had swimming lessons. Playing alongside her were a big group of children from the nearby daycare, and there was this one little girl who just was not happy. I was walking around the play structure (keeping an eye on my climber Claire) when a little girl came up to me with the saddest face to show me her hand, I assumed she was trying to tell me she hurt it. I talked to her about her hand for a minute, but she was just a little toddler and I just wanted to scoop her up and hold her and comfort her, she looked like she just needed a little love. Feeling like it would be inappropriate to do that though as a stranger (and a little busy watching Claire attempt to walk off the side of the playground into midair), I looked around for her 'keeper'. The daycare guy walked near, really quite busy with about 8 toddlers to watch (while one coworker was rightfully engaged with a baby the other two were sitting on a bench in the shade), and I pointed out that she seemed like she must have hurt her hand, to which he said "Oh, everything's wrong today isn't it?" to the little girl and redirects her to go play. I couldn't really blame him, he really didn't have the resources to be coddling any one of the kids, but I felt so sad for the little girl. The poor little girl, who really was still more baby than girl, just walked around with tears in her eyes for the remainder of the half hour, at one point coming over to me and leaning her head against my leg for a cuddle. I wish now I had scooped her up and cuddled her for a moment, maybe it would have made her day more bearable.

And people always look at me curiously when I say I don't want to send the kids off to a daycare. Like it's such a normal thing, why would I question it? I don't know when I've become such a suspicious, judgemental person, but I feel so often lately that the accepted way of doing things just fails. That people can't think of better ways so as a collective we justify crappy methods. And then no one argues for fear of offending someone. No one says "It's not good enough to send our babies off to inadequate group daycare" for fear of offending your friends who do it. No one just says "Babies need their mommies", because they don't have an answer as to how all babies can have their mommies always. 

While I'm watching this little girl I'm thinking of my poor nieces. In the saga of my sister's rotten custody battle with her ex, he has been sending the girls to daycare while he works on his four days with them. That doesn't sound so bad, you might be thinking. The thing is, my sister is available to watch the girls instead of sending them off to daycare, but he would rather spite her and piss her off, not caring about what's best for the girls. And the daycare he chose (to drop them off at from 7:30 am to 6pm) is one he and my sister already pulled the girls out of, back when they were together, because it was such a crappy daycare! It is quite well known for being a dirty dump, with inadequate supervision, too many children, and unqualified employees. When we had just moved back and I was looking for preschool possibilities, this daycare was on the list I received with an asterisk that read "Really not recommended". My older niece now not only panics about going to her father's house, but about going to the daycare, where "they get mad when I argue with them and make me sit in timeout until Daddy gets there." My sister virtually has to send her girls off to him for his four days with a hug and a hope, knowing she'll have no idea where they are, how they are, or who is watching them for the entire time since he refuses to answer her calls and won't let the girls call her.

Who is looking out for these kids?

Certainly not the justice system. Not for my nieces anyway. The process my sister has to go through to get any problems like this one addressed generally ends up taking at least a few months, during which the girls are the ones who have to endure the crap their stupid father continues to dish out to spite my sister! While every ounce of her wants to just pick them up and take them away from that stupid daycare, she's tied into 'following the rules' to a tee for fear of being made out to look like a kidnapper by his lawyer. Right now, even though he's been already informed that their mother has the first right to watch them when he's not available, he just does whatever he wants and she's waiting on a court date to verify that he's in the wrong and tell him what he's supposed to do. After which, if he decides not to cooperate anyway (or his lawyer twists what the judge dictates, which also keeps happening), it'll just be more waiting for another letter, another court date while the girls and my sister live in purgutory. My sister is beginning to question and panic over bruises on my nieces arms and cheeks, feeling suspicious and rightfully anxious, and worse, helpless. Soooo frustrating, and I'm only watching from the sidelines, not even stuck in the middle of it.

Maybe it is okay for a child to have to 'tough it out' sometimes. Maybe it is reasonable to expect them to deal with their little problems on their own. I don't feel it's so though, especially for a preschooler, definitely not for a toddler or a baby. When I have my kids at a babysitter I want to have a caregiver who at least tries to be even more loving and attentive than I might be, to compensate, if possible, for the fact that I'm not there for them. That if they can't have me I want them to still have 'their person'. I feel they need to feel protected and cared for and not like they've been left alone to fend for themselves in a sea of kids. Especially when they're so little. I feel bad enough sending my big boy off to school where the teachers may be strict and the supervision is often scant. At least though with him I can take comfort that the social skills he's learning to navigate among the other kids are important, but more importantly, age appropriate. And then after what is really quite a short school day, he can come home to his mom, his siblings, and his home, his soft place to fall.

Monday, July 5, 2010

This too shall pass.

I'm feeling oddly energetic. I've finished at the gallery for the maternity year 'off' and feel like I can take on anything right now. I've been cleaning, organizing, helping Troy finish up renovations I'm hoping will be complete before baby comes. I've had a busy schedule of keeping up with the kids, schlepping them to swimming, ball, and the library.

I have two weeks left until my due date. I'm big. This belly is so heavy. I'm slow. But this sudden burst of energy makes me feel like the baby might come soon.

I'm ready to meet this little person. To see who it is in my belly. I want to see their little face and hold him or her and get to know them. 

I'm a little worried about keeping up with almost-two Claire with this new baby in tow. Almost two means fast, and curious, and determinedly independent. We'll get by though. Just like the steps from one baby to two, from two to three, soon I won't be worrying about how I'm going to make out with four. I'll just be doing it. 
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