Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Nature's Path Review and Giveaway

If you are a regular reader here at Mondays with Mac you know that I'm very selective about the products I review. I get several requests every single day and only a handful of companies make it here each year. I need to feel good about the product I'm reviewing. I need to believe that if I'm recommending you spend a portion of your family's budget on a product it is one I would spend my family's budget on too. The company needs to respect my time and energy as a blogger and needs to value you, my readers, as their ideal customers. This perfect storm doesn't happen frequently. However, Nature's Path meets and exceeds that criteria.

Nature's Path is a family-run company out of Richmond British Columbia. They are a third-party certified organic, non-GMO project verified, vegetarian company with a motto of "leaving the earth better than we found it." And they manage to do all that while creating breakfast foods and snacks that even picky toddlers will eat. Impressed? You probably should be.


We received a gift pack of EnviroKidz products and Mac has been eating his way through the cereal and snack bars. His favourite being the Gorilla Munch. 




When you buy an EnviroKidz product, 1% of the sale goes to support endangered species, habitat conservation, and environmental education for kids. So far they have raised 1.6 million dollars! Each box focuses on a specific animal. The back and inside of the box offer trivia about the animal, tips for protecting endangered species, as well as fun word and drawing games.


The EnviroKidz line offers a lot of great breakfast and snack options for families but Nature's Path also offers a tonne of products for the whole family with something to satisfy every specialized diet (vegan, gluten free, low sodium, reduced sugar, whole grain, and wheat free). My gluten free friend says that the Pumpkin Spice Waffles are the best frozen waffle she's ever bought (including non gluten free products).

I would also encourage you to hop on over to their website, Facebook page, and Twitter page for more information on their products as well as environmental and health issues more broadly. If you have a question about one of their products don't be afraid to ask on their regularly updated social media sites. Have a look around and you will see that they really are a large company with an international reach who operates like a small family shop. Your questions will be heard and responded to quickly!

Interested in trying some of these products? Help us celebrate Earth Day by entering the giveaway below for your own gift pack!


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Disclosure: As the owner of this blog I may be compensated to provide my opinion on products and services. Although I may receive compensation, it will in no way affect my opinion or review. You will always read 100% truthful reviews on this site. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Making Babies the Lesbian Way. And why it might be good for your STRAIGHT marriage.

First things first, I should be very clear that lesbians (and trans men) get pregnant in a variety of ways. They might have sex with cisgender men or use anonymous/known donor sperm via a sperm donor clinic. They might use fertility treatments, including but not limited to, IVF. And that's not even touching on the options of surrogacy, and adoption, and children created in prior relationships. Others, like me, use a known donor to donate fresh sperm and do at home inseminations. But "Making Babies (one of the) Lesbian Way(s)" is sort of a weird title for a blog post.

So, anyway, where am I going with this? I have a friend. I'm going to call her Khaleesi because I just read that there are now more babies named Khaleesi than Betsy or Nadine in the U.S. and that totally blows my mind. But that's not her real name. She doesn't want her sex life broadcasted on the internet. I know, weird right? I mean, my wife doesn't want that either, but I can't really give her the same pseudonym treatment as Khaleesi without confusing everyone. Sorry Tracy.

So, a little while ago, Khaleesi sends me a message asking for specific details regarding our artichoke jar inseminations.  This throws me off guard as I know that she is happily married to a cisgender man. But sometimes people send me messages asking for information for their sister, coworker, hairdresser's cousin's BFF, etc. So I give her my standard reply with a few specifics and point her to The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth** which was basically my bible during my trying to conceive process.

A few days later she sends me a long response thanking me for the information and tells me that she and her husband have been trying to get pregnant, without success, for 10 months now. They have two more months to try to conceive "naturally" before their doctor will give them a referral to a fertility clinic. And in the meantime their marriage is really suffering. Sex has become a chore and they are both frustrated, grumpy, and on edge. Khaleesi is taking her temperature each morning in an attempt to predict her most fertile period. This is called charting your basal body temperature and it's awesome for seeing patterns overtime to predict when one is going to ovulate (in addition to identifying some cycle issues that may be impairing fertility). But, in general, it tells you when you have ovulated rather than when you are about to ovulate so there is still some guess work to be done.** And Khaleesi and Dothraki (also not his name but, hey, I figured I'd grab another Game of Thrones word and google gave me that one) are sick of the guessing game. Dothraki is really frustrated with the scheduled sex-on-demand that their attempts at baby-making are producing. And both of them were longing for the days when sex was spontaneous and fun.

To make matters worse, their work schedules don't line-up. She often gets home from work when he is sleeping and sometimes he needs to leave for work before she is awake. So, not only are they having sex that neither of them is enjoying, at least one of them is missing precious sleep to do it.

Enter - making babies the lesbian way. After my detailed explanation of how to insert "donated" sperm Khaleesi and Dothraki now have a system in place that is working much better for both of them.  During their fertile window Duthraki gently nudges Khaleesi awake and hands her a jar of fresh sperm and then heads out to work. She inseminates herself and then falls easily back to sleep.

"This is seriously life changing." She admitted to me recently. "We do this really wacky thing now where we have sex WHEN WE FEEL LIKE IT and it feels like so much pressure has been lifted off of our shoulders. There's no more fake moaning to try and speed him up so that I can get back to sleep before I'm totally awake. Lesbians have the best ideas. God, make sure you change my name if you blog about this."

Of course, I am not saying that using this method of insemination is going to increase a straight couple's chances of getting pregnant. But if you are frustrated with your current attempts, and open to trying something new, this might help to take a bit of the pressure off. The general understanding is that inseminations done with fresh donor sperm are about as likely to result in pregnancy as heterosexual intercourse.

Curious about how to do it yourself? Keep reading.

What you will need (other then your bodies).
- a jar, bowl, or something with a lid to catch the sperm
- a needle-less syringe (most jokes about lesbian conception involve a turkey baster but a needle-less syringe is actually easier to use). The best size to use is 3-cc or 5-cc.

What to do:
Make sure the jar you are using is clean and dry. Encourage your partner to take his time producing the sperm. The more turned on he is the greater the volume of ejaculation will be. Decide how you want to do the hand-off. Is it less awkward if he leaves it on the counter for you? There's no right or wrong way as long as the sperm stays warm. Some people also think that sperm can be a bit sensitive to air and light so tell him to put the lid on the jar and dim the lights when he is done. When we did our inseminations Tracy took the jar of sperm from Andy and then kept it warm in her sports bra until we were ready to inseminate.

I haven't been able to find a definitive amount of time that fresh sperm is "good" for. In The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth Stephanie Brill suggests one hour (p.288) but other sources have said thirty minutes, ninety minutes, and even up to 24 hours. I am no expert so I can't give solid answer.

Make sure the cap is off your syringe, that there is no needle in it, and that you have pushed all the air out. Put the tip of the syringe in the sperm and pull the plunger part back (there's probably a word for that part of a syringe - I'm sure someone will chime in) so that the sperm is pulled up into body of the syringe. Lie on your back and insert the syringe deep inside your vagina. Slowly push the plunger part so that the sperm enters your vagina. When you are done, slowly pull the syringe out. Doing this slowly will help the sperm to not fall out. At this point you would do all the things that you would regularly do after intercourse. Some women like to lie with their hips up for twenty minutes. Others like to spend a few minutes on their back, stomach, and each side to help the sperm move around and find the cervix.

And that, my friends, is it. I want to be very clear that I am not a doctor, midwife, or in any way trained on matters of fertility whatsoever. So please don't take anything you read here as definitive. There are links to a few REALLY GOOD books below. Read those and talk to your own health care providers!

Good Luck!



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If you are interested in the books or products mentioned in this post please click on the links below. They are affiliate links which means that should you make a purchase I will receive a small fee.

**


***
If you are a longtime reader you may remember that when I was trying to get pregnant I used the Ovacue Fertility Monitor. This little gadget does a pretty awesome job of actually predicting your fertile period.

OvaCue Fertility Monitor

If you are looking for a good book on how to chart cycles and understand fertility this is the standard recommendation.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

JORD Watches: Review and Giveaway




You will notice that this blog isn't heavy on reviews.  But even though I don't actually host a lot of reviews I do get a lot of emails asking me to review products. Ninety-nine percent of the time I don't. And that's because if I am going to show you something it has to A) be very cool and B) I have to jive with the company.

Enter: JORD Watches.



JORD watches are made from different woods from all over the world including bamboo, maple, sandalwood, blackwood, cherry, and teak. The glass is made from scratch-proof blue film glass. The best part is that each one is hand-crafted from natural materials making each one truly unique.

To clean your JORD Watch you mix two tablespoons of olive oil and lemon juice and apply the mixture to a cotton cloth and then to the watch. Jord watches are splash proof, meaning they will withstand some water being splashed from a kitchen sink, but they are not designed to be submerged in water.



The watch in this post is the Fieldcrest Series in natural green model.  It is unisex and comes in three design options at the affordable price of $120 USD. 

And hey, do you want one too? Excellent - enter below for your chance to win! 

When you get your unique Jord Watch don't forget to post a photo on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #JORDWatch for a chance to win cool monthly prizes! 






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Disclosure: As the owner of this blog I may be compensated to provide my opinion on products and services. Although I may receive compensation, it will in no way affect my opinion or review. You will always read 100% truthful reviews on this site. 



Monday, 31 March 2014

Always a Privilege


I wasn't sure what to write about today. It's the first day of April and we are finally getting some  nearly-spring-like weather. It's still cold. I mean, if Mac's American dad was visiting he'd be in long johns and a parka. But, relatively speaking, it was quite warm today. And that's good because at this point winter is a houseguest who has long overstayed her welcome. There is a Disney movie that is popular this winter called Frozen. About a girl who turns her kingdom into eternal winter. And in a strange case of life imitating art it has felt like our city was transplanted to that magical kingdom.

My eyes no longer see the beauty in freshly fallen snow. We've long since passed the sweetness of tiny bodies bundled in puffy snowsuits. We are firmly in that part of winter where boots never seem to be dry and we each own six mittens that have lost their mates. Somehow over these cold winter months my son has transitioned from a baby to a boy. Magic beans and fairytales. His legs, like beanstalks, grow towards the sun. And his snow pants fit like capris. But winter is almost, almost, almost over and there's no point in buying new winter gear that may not fit next season.

And my lack of patience for mother nature and her unwelcome shenanigans have been creeping over to Mac. Because he's tired of his Mama's tiredness but he's too new to really understand seasons and I'm not sure he gets that there will ever come a day without snow again anyway.

So in my winter-weary state I decide to read some old blog posts to see if one will spark an idea for a new post. And I start at the beginning. When everything was new. The springtime of parenting. My little baby born in trauma and his magical voice that reached into my chest and pulled out my heart. The marvel of baby legs that fold into bodies not yet aware of the vastness of space on the outside. And the humbling reality that this ridiculous knock-you-on-your-ass love that I feel for this tiny human is a feeling shared by two people towards me.

And that's when it hits me that the cold and the snow and the infinity of toddler snot and winter illnesses have tricked me into glossing over what an immense privilege this whole parenting gig is. With spring eyes I look to that boy who not too long ago fit neatly in my belly. I smell his head. It smells more like peanut butter than newborn but it is just as sweet. I brush my fingers against his soft cheeks and I whisper secrets in his ear. I tell him that of all the blessings I've had in this life, and there are many, being his Mama is the very best one. Because even in the last days of a long winter, when his snow pants are wet and dirty and too short, and there are no matching mittens, and there is kleenex in every pocket, loving this little human is still always, always, such a privilege.

Monday, 17 March 2014

I love you too.

I told my wife I loved her very early into our relationship. Even by lesbian standards. It was summer and we had plans to meet friends. She was still in that place where she didn't fully believe that she could be loved. Completely. For exactly who she was. She was trying to push me away - picking a fight - testing me. And I just blurted it out. What are you doing right now? Don't you know that I love you? The pupils of her eyes got so wide that I could see myself reflected in their shiny black surface.

Do you know what you just said? She asked accusingly, assuming I would take the words back as quickly as I had said them.

I know exactly what I said. I love you. 

And I did. Wholly and completely. Nobody had ever made me laugh the way she did. And my heart had never fluttered at that speed before. It was lust and love and everything in between. She became the  best part of my world. And in the years that followed I said I love you more times than I could count.

Lately, I love you comes a little less frequently. And not because it's not felt but because of the
busy, busy, busy. Did you give Mac his puffer? Yes. Did you pack an extra set of clothes? Yes. Did you feed the dog? And so it goes. While we seem to exchange a substantial quantity of words with each other, the quality is lacking.

But if you pay close enough attention to the little hidden meanings that creep up from time to time you can still see those unabashed, screaming it from the roof tops, I LOVE YOUs poking through amongst the grocery list conferring and the vast and varied list of toddler needs.

On the weekend I was out of town attending a bachelorette to celebrate the total awesome-ness of my oldest friend as she prepares to marry to her best friend. And Tracy was home alone with Mac.

On day two she texted me 4 simple words that filled my heart with warmth:


It was, you're a good mom, I appreciate what you do, and I love you all wrapped up in one. And while a lot of things have changed since that first time I blurted out I LOVE YOU, there is one thing that really hasn't: I love her too. 





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FTC Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Four Ways to Entertain a Toddler While Lying Down

I remember back in my pre-parent days when parents would complain about the onslaught of colds and flus and general virus-y ickiness that accompanied the winter months and I would listen to them with a modicum of sympathy but I remained relatively uninterested. Because here's the thing about the common cold - when it happens to somebody else it seems like totally no big deal. I mean, it has the word common right there in the title. But when it happens to you it's basically like Armageddon and it rivals tragedies happening in far off countries.

But every year you get one, and every year you get through it relatively unscathed. But what they don't really tell you about parenting a child who is either in daycare or school, is that the months between November and March are basically just one giant germ infestation. Or, rather, parents totally do tell you but you just don't really believe them because when somebody says they've been sick with one thing or another for 4 months straight that seems like total bullshit. Except - IT'S TOTALLY NOT.

So here we are, in March, and we've all been sick for months to varying degrees of horribleness. But the absolute worst of it was a recent stomach flu. I also remember, back in my pre-parent days, a friend who called her mom (who lived in a different city) to come and stay with her while she had a stomach flu. "Well I can't take care of him (her 2 year old) while I'm throwing up," she said. And I remember thinking that was sort of weird. I mean, he's two, how hard could that be? Can't you just put him in front of the TV for the day? Oh silly pre-parent me!

Last week Mac had a stomach flu. And then, just as he recovered, Tracy and I got it at the same time which meant that we had to take turns lying in the living room pretending to take care of Mac while the other person got to sleep in bed. And quite frankly that was pretty horrible and I wished I could call my mom to come over.

But necessity is the mother of invention, so, here are my four ways to entertain a toddler while lying down.

1. Dead Man's Twister

This one requires a sheet of stickers. But if you have a toddler you have a sheet of stickers somewhere. Basically you lie on your stomach or back on the floor or couch and occasionally call out things like "red sticker on mom/dad's knee" and "puppy sticker on mom/dad's back." Then the kid follows the instructions and covers you with stickers.

2. Hungry, Hungry Laundry Basket

You lie on the couch or floor next to a laundry basket and say things like "laundry basket is hungry for something red" and "laundry basket is hungry from something square." Your kid then scours the rooms he can access to collect those things. Make sure you are playing in only childproofed areas.

3. City on my Back

You've probably seen one of those t-shirts on Pinterest  with roads and buildings on the back. The person wearing the shirt lies on his/her stomach and kids can use dinky cars to drive along the routes. On Pinterest these shirts and colourful, the roads and buildings are drawn well, and they are very clearly Pinterest-worthy. But toddlers have much lower standards. Just take any old t-shirt and throw some duct tape on the back. Take a marker and draw some centre lines on the "roads" and you are good to go.

4. Stuffy Hide and Seek 

Tell your toddler to go down the hall, cover his eyes, and count to ten. From your lying down position take your kid's favourite stuffed animal and throw it across the room somewhere. When your kid is done counting s/he can come back and find the stuffed animal. And repeat.

I hope that helps if you are struck down with a stomach virus while home with a healthy and energetic toddler. And hang in there parent friends - cold and flu season is almost over!


Psssttt… Pin it! You know you want to! 





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Looking for super cute clothes for your kid's this spring?
 Check out Gymboree's selection of clothes at 50% off.




FTC Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


Monday, 3 March 2014

Keeping it Real. Blogging and the Truth.

"Your post last week was reeeeally beautiful," my friend confides over coffee. Her emphasis on the E in really conveys the seriousness of her confession. "I was just so... real."

I thank her for the compliment and listen as she talks about the struggles in her marriage. We are confidants now. Our coffee turns cold and we add more from the pot to keep our mugs warm. We are alone in the house but our voices are soft as we confess the secrets of our marriages. Of course only her words are secrets. Mine are published on the internet for anyone to read.

But what sticks with me is her description of last week's post as real. The word rattles around in my head as we talk about fighting, making-up, frustration, and love. I wonder if perhaps what she means by real is vulnerable. Last week I wrote about our choice to stop at one child. We made that choice because postpartum depression was a nightmare. It nearly killed me and my marriage. And those are two things I'm not willing to risk. It's not the first time I've mentioned how PPD has changed my marriage. My wife and I, neither of us are perfect. But we are doing our best. In the world of Facebook and Twitter where our lives and our families are presented as a series of carefully screened photographs and 140 character summaries of our thoughts we can sometimes forget that we don't always see the full picture. So when somebody tells that part of the story - the less shiny part - it can make us uncomfortable. Or it can make us relate. Really? Your marriage isn't perfect? Mine either! We should form a club! Except that we forget that we are already in that club. And it's called humanity. None of us are perfect people. We try and we succeed. We try and we fail. We love and we fight. And sometimes we just plain fuck it all up.

But reality is complicated. It's filled with moments that are both perfect and entirely not perfect. But it's important to remember that the good and the bad are equally real. When I write about postpartum depression, or struggles in my marriage, those posts are entirely real. But when I write about the humble gratitude I felt for my son's cries when he got his first tooth, or the wonder of a baby who curls her legs into her body because she doesn't yet understand the vastness of post-womb space, or the joy of watching my son understand that his dad is actually his dad, those things really happened too. They are pretty and shiny and testements to the happy moments of parenthood and family life. They are real.

And I think that's why you are here reading this with me. We are here to commiserate on the bad parts and revel in the good parts. And none of our lives exist entirely in either end of that spectrum. But believing that they do exist only in the negative or should exist only in the positive is where we screw ourselves over. It's not a competition. This whole parenthood thing. You don't have to find it rewarding and exhilarating every moment of the day. None of us do. Even those of us who blog about the moments of pure perfection on a weekly basis. But don't forget to notice those moments in time that take your breath away either. The sweet smell of a newborn's head, holding your toddler close for a slow dance, the warm feel of your partner's hand on your shoulder when you think you are out of strength for the day. Those are all real too.

I can't invite you all over for coffee. But you can pour a cup where you are and we can chat nonetheless. So, what you are your real stories?




Monday, 24 February 2014

If You Give a Toddler a Steroid

[If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura J. Numeroff]

If you give a toddler a steroid he'll want some juice to go with it.
So you'll give him some apple juice.
But the apple juice won't be in a purple cup.
And toddlers always want apple juice in a purple cup.
So you'll pour the apple juice from the blue cup into the purple cup.
But the purple cup won't have a straw.
So you'll go to the cupboard to get a straw.
And the toddler will remember that apple juice comes from apples and apples are high up on trees so he will climb on the counter to pretend to pick an apple and spill the apple juice all over the floor.

So you will get a mop and a bucket.
And the water in the bucket will look like the perfect tub for a teddybear.
So the toddler will plunge the teddybear into the bucket.
And you will tell the toddler to take the bear out of the bucket.
Which will make the toddler run around the house with a wet, soapy, bear.

Since the bear is already wet you will ask the toddler if he wants to have a real bath.
And he will chant "TUB TUB TUB" until he wakes up the neighbours.
So you will call the neighbours to apologize while pouring a bath.
But the toddler will scream that the bath is too cold. And too hot. And too cold.
And then he will remember that tubs require sitting and sitting is not running and he will insist on getting out immediately.

You will be so tired that you will call super aunt for backup.
And she will bring stickers.
The toddler will want to put all the stickers on all the furniture.
And you will let him.
Because it means you can sit on the couch for 76 seconds.

The stickers will remind the toddler of crafts and he will ask for scissors and glue.
So you will spread the craft drop cloth on the floor and get supplies.
But while you are trying to figure out how to turn newspaper and pipe cleaners into something entertaining, the toddler will run in circles around and around and around throwing pieces of paper in the air and yelling CONFETTI! CONFETTI!

You will remember the tip on Pinterest about pushing pipe cleaners through the holes in a colander.
The toddler will sit to examine what you are doing.
But the pipe cleaners will look like spaghetti and spaghetti will remind him of playing chef and he will shake the colander while screaming "I'M COOKING! I'M COOKING!"

His head will shake back and forth and you will remember Jesse Spano singing "I'm so excited, I'm so excited, I'm so, so … scared."
And you will be scared too. But you will also laugh. And you will try to take a picture of the chaos.




Pretending to cook spaghetti will remind the toddler that he's hungry.
So you will open the fridge.
And the toddler will crawl inside.
He will want pickles.
Not pickles, cheese.
Not cheese, donuts.
Not donuts, cookies.

And with the fridge open you will notice the half empty (half full) bottle of wine.
And you will drink it.
Because when you give a toddler a steroid it is like - well - giving a toddler a steroid.
So you should also give his parents more wine.

Monday, 10 February 2014

One

It took three attempts to make our Mac. Three awkward airport pick-ups of Mac's dad. "How was security?" I would ask him and he would laugh. Officials start to become a bit suspicious when you cross borders, leaving the city that never sleeps to come to the city that's never warm every 28 days. There's no declaring sperm at the border.

I rushed through the unease of it all. Rushing to catch that egg. Wanting so badly for the next part to start. But still, if I had known I'd only do it once I might have savoured it more. I might have taken a moment in the middle of that social discomfort to remember how it all was. What it means to meet a stranger and make him family. To relish in the excitement of what was to come.

Three attempts. Twelve artichoke jars of sperm. And eighteen pregnancy tests. Until the one. The one where the second line emerged. Strong and beautiful. And I knew there was a baby in me. Well, there were cells that would one day, with luck and magic, transform into a baby. Our baby.

And I walked around my city. Proud like a peacock. A secret growing inside me and it took everything in me not to tell every detail to the woman cutting my hair and the man selling me carrots. The happiness of those moments shone like moonlight. Illuminating our blessings. And yet paling in comparison to the brightness of the sun and what was to come. The round belly. The birth. The baby. But still, if I had known - if I had known it would be the last time I peed on a stick and cried with gratitude I might have held that stick a little longer. I always thought there would be a next time.

Nine months of throwing up. In public and in private. On the side of the road and in a garbage can in the middle of the shopping mall. Nine months of people offering me crackers like I was part parrot. That's what I think of when I remember being pregnant. The damn crackers. The memories of curling up in a rocking chair so that my legs wrapped around my belly and rubbing the bundle of countless possible dreams yet to be lived are harder to hold onto. They slip through my fingers even as I write them down. A permanent record can still be forgotten. Next time, maybe I won't be so sick I thought to myself. But if I had it to do again I'd know what it's like to love like your heart could explode. And that would be enough to get me through it.

Twenty-something hours of pain so unimaginable to me I shudder when I remember it. His tiny bum crushing my sciatic nerve like an elephant on a peanut shell sending waves of excruciation through my leg and out my toes. Contractions four minutes a part lasting a minute. We should have been much farther along. But instead we stayed at 4 centimetres for an eternity.

I clung to the plan I had for his birth. Laminated pages of ideas already tattooed on my heart. I stared straight ahead at the robot onesie hanging on the wall. I imagined his little body turning the cotton fabric from 2D art to 3D perfection. But he had other plans. And so did the doctors and nurses. I negotiated with them like a child resisting bedtime. Just one more hour. Please. Just let me do this on my own for one more hour. Just leave me in this tub with this jet positioned right here where it can penetrate my flesh and apply pressure right to that nerve doling out pain every four minutes. 

And then his heart rate was dropping and there was no more waiting. There was a vacuum and a team of people ready to take his grey body from me. I didn't get to put him on my chest. I didn't get to let the rest of the world disappear. I just waited an eternity until he cried. And on that first night as I stayed wide awake from the adrenaline rush I imagined all the things I would do differently next time.

Nine months of bliss. He needed constant bouncing and rocking and breastfeeding. He cried a lot and needed a lot. But I loved it. I loved the smell of him. So distinct I'm fairly sure you could blindfold me and put me in a room of babies and I would sniff out mine like a drug trained hound. In those moments I thought I would get to do it again. That it wouldn't be the last three month birthday celebration I toasted.

Six months of Hell. And another six months of aftershock. Postpartum depression was the worst experience of my life. I woke up one day underwater. Unable to move. Unable to decide. On anything. The simple choice of breakfast would leave me in tears. So unaccustomed to these feelings I turned to medication expecting it to make me happy. But instead it just numbed me. And so I kept upping and upping the dosage until there was no where left to go but down. And with each new milligram I became more and more numb. Fifty pounds gained in the span of six months. One perfect marriage nearly destroyed. We work hard to patch those cracks. But the scars remain. We plaster and paint but the weak spots have been identified. They won't withstand another tidal wave.

And I know I can only survive that once.

One baby. One perfect baby. One amazing child. One love of our lives to hold our hearts in his hands and do with what he chooses. There will only be one child in this house. And while it's not how I always imagined it to be, I know how blessed I am.






Monday, 3 February 2014

Mothering Full Circle

He's two and a half. He has most of his teeth by now. Maybe all of them. I'm not sure because I haven't ventured to put my fingers in his mouth to count. He's biting. A lot. Mostly me. I try to follow his reasoning - is he mad? bored? excited? frustrated? He's all of those things. Often simultaneously. Two year olds have a lot of feelings.

I envision myself to be the mom who stops everything to have a genuine chat about what's causing the biting. We will get to the bottom of it. No yelling. No crying. We'll hug it out and laugh about it. But, well, you know - toddlers. Lots of people are giving me lots of good advice. Some of it is working.

But what do I really need? What I really need is a break. A real one. Not for five minutes and not for an hour. But for several days in a row. And that's the thing with parenting isn't it? The hardest job in the world. The most important job in the world. But if it's a job where are the vacation days? Everyone needs a vacation now and then don't they?

And that's probably why grandparents were invented. Those wondrous people who have been there. Who get it. And who aren't too exhausted running after their own children to run after yours.  So I pack up the boy and head "home" to the place that really isn't home anymore but always sorta will be. He's thrilled of course. Bobo and Ba's house would rival Disney World in his eyes. If he knew what Disney World was.

My parents have probably the world's best couch for lounging. You really shouldn't ever sit on it if you have any plans for the rest of the day. As deep as a single bed it seduces naps from even the most ardent non-napper. My body sinks into its embrace and before long I'm curled on my side and a blanket mysteriously appears to cover me from head to toe. In the distance I hear my son yell "Again Ba! Again!" My father, the one with arthritis in his knees, is running around the room with a green table cloth fastened at his neck as a make-shift cape. Dun-dun-da-da! Mac squeals with delight. I roll over.

I wake from my nap to the smell of Mom's potato leek soup simmering on the stove. Mac is in the kitchen by her side. His little body is up at her level thanks to the aid of a kitchen chair under his feet. He's "helping." Which, I know, means he's slowing down the whole process. But I don't think she minds. I pretend to keep sleeping.

Three days pass and I've had my fill of soup. A whole double batch mostly on my own. The soup and the couch and the mothering. They've all done their work on my soul and I'm renewed. I hold my boy on my lap and stroke his hair. I drink in his scent and kiss his cheek. A few days of being mothered and I'm ready to mother again.

We linger for a moment at the door as we say our goodbyes - my mother and me. I'm about to thank her for all that she's done when she beats me to the punch.

"Thank-you for coming." Her eyes are wet and she reaches out for a hug. "It's been so nice having you here to mother." Funny how things come full circle. I know there will be a day in the future when I'll yearn so badly for an opportunity to mother my grown son instead of yearning for an opportunity to take a break from it.

I laugh a little. "Thank-you," I reply. "I really needed this." And she smiles. Because she knows. She's been there too.

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