Family Photos

When we were in Langley visiting Shawn’s family at the beginning of July, we got a “professional” photographer to do some family photos for us. Don’t worry, grammar nerds, I didn’t use those quotation marks for emphasis. I used them because I didn’t feel that the whole experience was all that professional. Granted, the photographer is just starting out, but if I was just entering my chosen field, I would want to put extra love and time into everything I did so my business would flourish. Shawn and I didn’t really feel that our experience was very pro.

The lady who did the session, owner of Louroo Photography, did the newborn photos for our niece, so Shawn’s mom thought she would be a good choice, and as she’s just starting out, the session fee wasn’t sky high. She was able to be flexible with two littles along for the ride, so that was nice, but for me, that’s where the good impressions ended.

The whole thing felt extremely rushed; I don’t think we were out for much more than an hour, if that, to photograph six adults and two babies. The time distribution between the three couples was also a little skewed, with us getting the short end of the stick. This was especially noticeable when we got the pictures back; not a single shot of just the two of us made it through. Apparently, they just weren’t good enough.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m getting pictures done and the photographer says something like, “Got it!” I assume they got a usable shot. If they say they got it and I find out later that they’re not happy with anything they took, that’s not likely to make me happy. When my mother in law asked what happened, she did say there was one that she felt okay about sending on, but so far we’ve seen nothing. That’s also not encouraging.

I could just be extremely spoiled when it comes to photographers and their work. Our wedding photographer, Kelly Redinger, was absolutely amazing. For example:

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This is not even one of the best shots. It’s not even one of the retouched shots. It’s just one of the many fabulous things that happened with a little bit of direction and his finger on the trigger. That’s one of the things I loved about him. He took pictures until he was sure he got exactly what he was looking for, no matter how long it took, and he gave us all of them, even the ones where we were blinking or making a funny face. That way, we had so much choice it was insane.

Then, there was the newborn photographer that we used, Kristen J Photography. She had the same kind of philosophy: it takes as long as it takes, and I’ll take as many shots as I need to get the best ones. (I mean, why not? It’s digital. Taking more photos doesn’t cost you any more. Sure, editing them does, but only edit the best ones.) For example:

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She was so patient with all of us, and was amazing at making us feel comfortable. For our session being the first meeting, this was a great skill to have. Also, trusting someone with your brand new baby isn’t easy, but I had no problems putting Finn in her capable hands.

The actual pictures we got from our family photo session were lacklustre. She has the general idea, but she needs to take way more shots to make sure she gets something that’s really great. That’s the joy of digital. More pictures does not equal more money required on the part of the photographer, unless they choose to edit them all, like I stated above. She also need to work a little on composition, but that could be my lack of love for overly staged shots coming through.

So, without further ado, these are the photos I didn’t hate:

I edited this one myself to correct a gap at the bust of my dress that was showing off my white bra. Not flattering.

I edited this one myself to correct a gap at the bust of my dress that was showing off my white bra. Not flattering.

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Edited

There were also some where the babies were on their tummies, but I guess Natalya ended up in focus and Finn was blurry. I don’t know how that happened or how she didn’t notice. Oh well. Adorable photo op wasted.

There are a few things I should probably make clear: I didn’t dislike these most of these photos because I didn’t get my hair and makeup done, or because they weren’t retouched. I had one photo with pro hair/makeup above, and one where I did everything myself, and neither of them were retouched. I just think this particular photographer has some work to do. Some of the shots were okay, like the ones posted above, but this is not someone I would consider going back to in the future without evidence of some serious improvement.

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Taking a Look at Disposable Breast Pads

It’s not as much of a problem as it used to be, but when my son was first born, and even in the days leading up to his birth, I had leaky boobs. Even now, with Finn sleeping eleven or so hours a night, going to bed without some sort of protection can be hazardous, so I’ve taken it upon myself to look into as many types of breast pads as possible. There are so many varieties on the market, and most of them claim to do the same thing, so I was curious how the various brands compared. I’ve tried out seven different brands, not including the day and night version from the same company, and I’ll go over what I liked and didn’t like in each one.

(I should note that I didn’t consider washable breast pads for the same reason that I didn’t consider cloth diapers. Laundry in our house doesn’t always get done. It’s just not a feasible thing. When you have both a chronic illness and a baby, sometimes you need to pick the convenient option, and this was one of those times.)

So, what was I looking for in a breast pad? I wanted something that:

-Absorbed well;
-Was discreet;
-Stayed in place;
-Was comfortable and
-Didn’t irritate my skin.

Would I be able to find something that ticked all the boxes? Let’s find out.

First up, Philips Avent Day Pads.

 

They’re wrapped individually, and are easy to get out of the package because of the cross-over slit. If I needed to fiddle with them one-handed, it wasn’t a problem in the slightest. These pads have one adhesive strip, and stay in place fairly well, even if you use them through more than one feeding. I did find, however, that the inner material got bunched up if you pushed them down and pulled them up repeatedly. They also required careful placement in order not to be seen if you were using them with a soft cup bra. They were fairly soft on my skin, didn’t cause irritation, and absorbed a lot of liquid when I needed them to, so that was a bonus. The also provided ample coverage, so they will work for most breast sizes.

Individually wrapped, with an easy open, cross-over flap.

Individually wrapped, with an easy open, cross-over flap.

Outside

Outside

Inside, featuring leak guard ripples.

Inside, featuring leak guard ripples.

These are a buy if:

-You need something with structure
-Most of your bras have molded cups
-You need more coverage

The Philips Avent Night Pads are the same basic idea, with a few alterations. There are two adhesive strips, which keeps them in place much better, especially if you use the same pair through multiple feedings. They are supposed to be more absorptive, but I didn’t notice a difference, although they do have added leak guard rippled on the inside. Other than that, they are exactly the same in terms of feel and performance.

The same nifty packaging as the day pads, but with moons instead of suns.

The same nifty packaging as the day pads, but with moons instead of suns.

Outside, with two adhesive strips.

Outside, with two adhesive strips.

Inside, with a double row of leak guards.

Inside, with a double row of leak guards.

These are a buy if:

-You need structure
-You need better adhesion
-Most of your bras have molded cups
-You need more coverage

I tried the pads from Johnson’s after getting a sample set from the hospital. These guys have a lot of structure, and hold their shape well. They have a nipple form on the outside, so they are good for wearing under form-fitting clothing… but only if you have a smaller bust. I found that the pad itself didn’t have a lot of surface area, so if I was wearing a soft cup bar, it tended to look like I had extra large nipples. This wasn’t  bad, but it wasn’t the greatest. The small surface area made them less than ideal for sleep, as well. I did find them to be very soft and comfortable to wear, and they absorbed a lot of fluid if I needed them to. I would probably buy them again if I needed something really natural looking for a special occasion, but they didn’t really meet my every day needs. Also, with a lack of individual packaging, they just weren’t right for on the go.

The nipple shape of the Johnson's pad.

The nipple shape of the Johnson’s pad.

An inner indent meant no chaffing, even on high sensitivity days.

An inner indent meant no chaffing, even on high sensitivity days.

These are a buy if:

-You have a smaller bust
-You need a lot of structure
-You wear mostly soft cup bras

Medela makes some really great pumping gear, so I figured I would love their breast pads. I was wrong. The first thing I noticed was how noisy they were, even then I was wearing them. If I was moving around a lot, there was a definite crinkle in my chest area. They were, however, surprisingly no-show, probably due in part to the pleat at the bottom of the pad. It gave them a nice shape without a lot of added bulk. They were able to absorb a ton of liquid, but I didn’t find them overly soft, they didn’t stay in place well due to a lack-lustre adhesive strip, and if I chose to leave them alone through multiple feedings, they didn’t keep their shape. These were not one that I considered going back to for any reason. (Note: The pads being shown on the website are very different from the ones I had. I’m hoping these are a newer model, and if I could find them, I would give them a shot.)

Once again, individually wrapped.

Once again, individually wrapped.

A bottom pleat made for minimal show through, no matter the bra, but you could hear them with the slightest movement.

A bottom pleat made for minimal show through, no matter the bra, but you could hear them with the slightest movement.

Medela i

The Ameda pads that I tried intrigued me because of their unique, triangular shape. All the other pads that I had see and tried thus far has been round, so I wanted to see that kind of advantage another shape could have. First off, they’re perfect for bras with a smaller cup, but they lack an adhesive strip altogether, so they weren’t great for overnight use or for use with larger bras or multiple feedings. They are very comfortable and quiet to wear, and the absorbency was up there with all the larger pads I tried. They also maintained their shape well, but tended to get twisted around in larger bras. They come wrapped in sets of two instead of as singles, which cuts back on the amount of garbage, so that was nice.

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Packaged in pairs!

Packaged in pairs!

Slight nipple contouring, but not so pronounced as with the Johnson's.

Slight nipple contouring, but not so pronounced as with the Johnson’s.

These are a buy if:

-You wear bras with smaller cups
-You have a smaller bust
-You’re looking for something with no adhesive

Up&Up are the Target house brand, and for the price, I was surprised with the quality. The adhesive strip is really big, but wasn’t as sticky as I would have liked. The pad itself covers a lot of area, so it’s great for larger busts and bigger bras, but tends to peak out of smaller cup bras. They’re soft, quiet, and non irritating, but they claim to have a “no leak backing”. In theory, this is great, but I found that they didn’t breath very well, so I didn’t use them for over night wear. If I did, my boobs felt clammy in the morning, and I needed to let them breathe for a while afterwards. absorbency was good, however, and I really think the plasticky backing was overkill. (I forgot to get photos of these before I ran out).

These are a buy if:

-You need performance on a budget
-You have a larger bust
-You’re looking for occasional wear, and don’t need pads overnight

My favourite pads, by far, are the ones by Lansinoh. They are the softest of all the ones I tried, and are easy to hide no matter what kind of bra or top I’m wearing. They are the only pad I tried that wasn’t specifically a night pad that has two adhesive strips, so the pads stay in place really well. They also hold a ton of moisture. I don’t know what’s in them, but it absorbs a lot. The only downfall of the material is that it can start feeling a tad squishy if you leak a lot all at once. These were the best all around pad, and the ones that I keep on going back to.

Easy open, individual packaging.

Easy open, individual packaging.

Double adhesive strips to keep the pads in place.

Double adhesive strips to keep the pads in place.

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These are a buy if:

-You need sometime for both day and night wear
-You have sensitive skin
-You need something to reliably stay in place

The last one I tried is Parent’s Choice, the Walmart house brand. These weren’t bad, but I found that I liked the Target brand better. These were a little smaller on surface area, and unlike the Target ones, were not individually packaged. They did have the advantage of not having the plasticky backing, but the smaller surface area was a bigger detriment in my mind. Softness and absorbency was fine, but they did tend to bunch with extended wear. (I forgot to get photos of these before I ran out).

Parents Choice i Parents Choice o

These are a buy if:

-You’re looking for a pad for a smaller bust
-You’re on a budget

For “bust size” reference, all of my nursing and maternity bras are 36 D-DD, so I’m a little on the larger side. I also have fairly sizeable nipples, so I like some coverage. I should also note that since Finn has started solids, I’m not having as much leakage. That doesn’t mean that I can go pad free. Every time I try, my boobs decide to get milk every where.

The Lansinoh were my clear winners (did I mention each box comes with breast milk storage bags?), but the only ones I would hesitate to buy again are the pads by Medela, which was a big surprise. I didn’t really experience any irritation with any of the brands, unless you count waking up feeling like I had slept in a plastic bag after wearing the Up & Up pads all night, although I don’t have overly sensitive boobs or nipples. There is definitely something out there for everyone and, more importantly, every boob. Happy feeding!

Travelling and a Sigh of Relief

I mentioned the other day that we took a trip out to Langley to visit Shawn’s family. Both of us were really looking forward to it, but my anticipation was buried under a huge pile of anxiety. That’s right, I getting hugely anxious before I travel, and this time it seemed to be compounded with the added pressure of flying/travelling with Finn for the first time. I don’t know what it is. I love going places, especially places I’ve never been before, but in the weeks leading up to a trip my nerves go into overdrive. I start thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong, most of these usually having to do with my health, and I end up, for lack of a more appropriate phrase, tripping balls. This isn’t good for me or anyone around me, and ends up being a cycle that just repeats until I’m dreading the going more than I’m looking forward to the trip.

In the weeks leading up to this particular trip, my hemiplegic migraines decided to make a triumphant return. Hurray! One of the worst thing, for me, in dealing with a chronic illness, is to have a hurricane right when you could really use some calm waters. I didn’t want to pack my cane. I didn’t want to have to bring it to the airport. Not only that, but taking care of a baby when I can’t walk properly is HARD. Like everything else I do, I had to adapt the way I was doing things so I could use the left side of my body for almost everything. It was doable, but definitely not in the top five things I wanted to accomplish last month. Do I feel like a pro for being able to carry a 20+ pound baby and walk with a cane at the same time? Of course, but it’s a skill I could have done without. Add all of that to my normal travel anxiety, plus the anxiety I get when I think about my in-laws and my illness, and I was having a bad time. (Let me clarify that a little: my in-laws know about my illness and are fairly good with it. However, unless you live with something and deal with it every day, it’s just not something you are good at dealing with. It’s not a failing, it’s just the truth, and because they live in a different province, they haven’t had to deal with it on a large scale. I say, lucky for them.)

My normal, rational self was still looking forward to going, but the rest of me kept screaming, “Hell no! I want to stay here! Here is safe. I can sleep how I want, and be as borked as I need to be, and everything will be fine.” Obviously, my rational self won out. Finn is a pretty amazing baby. He doesn’t cry without a reason, and I wasn’t overly worried about him flying. Besides, babies cry on planes. It happens. If they don’t feel like nursing/eating/sucking, their ears might hurt and they might cry. Parents shouldn’t have to apologize for a baby being a baby. (For more on that, read The No-Bullsh*t Goody Bag for Parents to Give Out on Planes. It’s brilliant.) Luckily, he fell asleep during take off, had a decent nap, woke up, ate a little, and only fussed for a few minutes on the way down. It was great, and he did an excellent job of charming as many people on the flight as possible without our help.

I am fully willing to admit that we were not prepared for the ungodly heat waiting for us. When I checked the forecast before we left, it said 19-22 for the week. We were both looking forward to this, as it had been hot as hell at home, but when we got there, things had changed. It was close to the thirty degree mark the whole week, and so humid it felt hotter than it actually was. Being from Alberta, we both know how to deal with a windchill factor, but humidity that makes it feel hotter than it is? That is an utterly foreign concept. It was awful. We also live in a basement suite that is just over seven feet underground, so it stays a nice temperature at all times. We don’t have A/C, but we don’t really need it. Our house is cool and comfortable, and we can always turn on the circulating fans if we need an extra boost. Contrast this with my in-laws house, and we both felt like we were going to die. It was a sauna, and no amount of window opening or fan blowing seemed to be helping. This made the first night a little on the horrible side for all three of us. I couldn’t settle down to sleep with the heat, regardless of how tired I was, and Finn was up more than normal too.

This probably accounted for my extra irritability on Monday. Well, we were all a little more irritable than normal, but it still ended up being a good day. Shawn’s parents took us to Krause Berry Farms, which is a really neat place, and a great place to eat. I’m not big on berries and never have been, despite being exposed to fresh off the bush berries as a child,  but there were plenty of other things to do and eat. Have you ever had corn on a pizza? No? Well, it was freaking delicious. For more on that, check out my Yelp Review.

Checking out the little petting zoo at Krause Berry Farms. This goat freaked me out, but Finn seemed to like the animals.

Checking out the little petting zoo at Krause Berry Farms. This goat freaked me out, but Finn seemed to like the animals.

Monday night, we all slept in the basement, which was a vast improvement. Finn actually slept through the night, and we woke much refreshed for our day trip out to Whistler (with a stop at Shannon Falls) on Tuesday. I had never been to Whistler in the summer before, so this was a new thing for me. It’s awesome in the winter, so I was expecting no less from a summer visit. It was still stupidly hot, so thank god for air conditioning. I felt really bad for Finn having to be stuck in his hot ass car seat the whole time, but there was nothing else we could do. At least the drive was broken up a bit by the stop at Shannon Falls Provincial Park, a place I had never been at all, so that was really nice. After convincing Finn that he should have something to eat, in spite of all the fun things and people there were to look at, we popped him in the carrier and headed off. It’s not a very large park, but it does have some lovely trails and a really great view.

Trucking across the river on Daddy's back.

Trucking across the river on Daddy’s back.

Enjoying the view whilst trying to eat his carrier straps like a pro.

Enjoying the view whilst trying to eat his carrier straps like a pro.

The actual, and totally stunning, falls.

The actual, and totally stunning, falls.

Finn and his Grams.

Finn and his Grams.

Shawn, in his typical fashion, didn’t shy from climbing everything he could, even if the baby happened to be on his back. Finn didn’t mind at all. We did take him out once we started back down the trail, but that was mostly to keep the two of them from over heating. They’re both furnaces, and Finn starts to get antsy if he’s in his carrier for too long anymore. He just can’t move as much as he’d like. Shawn and his dad took a climb up the lower part of the falls, and we even managed to stick Finn’s feet in the river. He loved it, right up until he realized that he was getting cold. After a stop at the Squamish Valley Golf Club (good food and fabulous views, see my Yelp review), we headed off to Whistler. The plan was to take a trip on the Peak to Peak gondola, which is a fairly recent installation. To get there, you have to take a gondola up Whistler itself, a ride that we were all quite familiar with. Finn slept for this part of the journey, which was good. He needed a little break.

Taking the ride to the top of Whistler. We were both melting, but luckily it only shows in my bangs.

Taking the ride to the top of Whistler. We were both melting, but luckily it only shows in my bangs.

At the top of Whistler, looking out at the snow and the blessedly cool air.

At the top of Whistler, looking out at the snow and the blessedly cool air.

Apparently, the temperature at the top of the mountain was only about sixteen celsius or so, but it felt like heaven. It it had been like that everywhere else, it would have been much more tolerable. Also, and I’m not going to speculate about where these people were from, but there were bears that had been sighted on the mountain within view of the gondola to the top. These people asked the lift operators if the bears were wild and what they did with them in the winter. We laughed about that for most of the ride up. I mean, seriously? Did they really think a mountain resort would keep bears around for fun? It’s still a wild place. There are going to be bears. Ha. The Peak to Peak gondola is pretty amazing. There are two types of cars: regular and glass floor. The wait for the glass floor was ridiculous, so we just grabbed a regular one. The view was spectacular all the same. 024 It was incredible riding an unsupported cable all the way across the valley. Finn woke up, and got to come out of his stroller to have a look around (after he was done eating one of our maps, of course).020 We’re not sure how aware he was of what was going on, but he did have a good laugh at his reflection in the glass. Regardless of whether he knew how high up he was or not, we got some great pictures of him, and I’m glad he got to do something so neat at such a young age. It reminded me a little of when my parents took me to Europe when I was his age, just on a smaller scale. He’s got Gondola pictures, I have “riding the train to the Alps” pictures.     029

Getting the lay of the land.

Getting the lay of the land.

We trucked around  bit on the other side before heading back to the Whistler end. Finn was starting to not want to be in the stroller any more, so we were taking turns holding him. They had a set of Olympic Rings and an old podium set up at the top Whistler, so we grabbed a shot of me with the “Number One Champion Gross Baby”. 036 One thing that Whistler is doing really well is not shoving the fact that they were part of hosting the Winter Olympics down your throat at every turn. They have it on signs on the way it, but it’s not kicking you in the face everywhere you look, and I think that’s a good thing. They were an extremely popular spot before the Olympics landed there, and they should stick with what they do best. I was very impressed with the way they do the downhill bike trails, and would love to go back for some lessons, as downhill mountain biking is something that I’ve never really done before, at least not on purpose. Another time, when Finn is old enough to join in the fun, we will have to go back for a day or two of biking and hiking. There is so much mountain space to cover, you really could make it a new adventure every day.

Wednesday, we took a much needed break before heading out to Hell’s Gate on Thursday. Now it was starting to feel like a gondola vacation! The Hell’s Gate Airtram is one of the longest descending gondolas in the world, so that’s pretty cool. It runs over an insanely deep part of the Fraser River, and we were there it was over 400 feet deep. They actually had to construct metal viaducts (they may be called something else, but that’s what they made me think of) so that the salmon could make it through that part of the river during salmon run season. 

006 (3)Apparently, the place is haunted, but not y anything malicious. There is a haunted stove near the gold panning site, and there are several documented cases of ghost sightings and paranormal activity. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything weird. Oh well.

Lunch was good, even though they made a mistake on my order and put the bacon in my poutine instead of on my burger. I will never say no to meat in my poutine. The salmon chowder, which is apparently world famous, was enjoyed by everyone who had it. I did not, as I can’t abide seafood or fish. What I have was good, though, and we all left happy.

They also have two gift shops (one at the top and one at the bottom), a candy store with some damn fine ice cream and some decent fudge, a fisheries interpretive centre, a little spot where you can pan for gold, and a suspension bridge that goes across the river and over some train tracks if you feel like taking a bit of a hike.

Sitting in a large, and very hot on the ass, chair. Finn was apparently trying to get my attention. I obviously didn't notice.

Sitting in a large, and very hot on the ass, chair. Finn was apparently trying to get my attention. I obviously didn’t notice.

Finn and his Daddy taking a look around on the suspension bridge.

Finn and his Daddy taking a look around on the suspension bridge.

After Hell’s Gate, we stopped off at Harrison to take a dip in the lake. Neither of the babies, Finn or his cousin Natalya, were overly excited about the cold water. Natalya was neutral about using Finn’s floaty, at best, and Finn wasn’t really happy until we just sat him in the shallows and let him splash around on his own. He did look wicked cute in his dragon bathing suit. My husband also looked wicked handsome, as always.

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Finn was fascinated by his cousin. Natalya was almost ten months old when we were there, and he kept looking at her like, “Hey, she’s like me. Why can’t I do some of that stuff?” She seemed to think he was rather interesting, too. I loved the fact that she was taller than him by several inches, but weighed practically nothing any time I picked her up. It was a nice change, and something that my arms greatly appreciated.

Natalya checking out Finn's toy tray, and Finn checking out her feet. He was all, "Those are not my feet. What?"

Natalya checking out Finn’s toy tray, and Finn checking out her feet. He was all, “Those are not my feet. What?”

Our last stop for that day was dinner at the absolutely stunning Pretty Estate Resort. Seriously, this place is divine. 044I kept picturing a Victorian or Steampunk wedding here (in full costume, of course, because full-on traditional weddings bore the pants off me for the most part). I’m still hoping someone will do it and post the photos to Off Beat Bride, just so I can drool over them.

The food was decent, although I left wishing I had ordered a bigger bowl of the chicken chowder. It was really good. The ribs I had were well cooked, but the flavour of the sauce didn’t stick. It vanished in the middle of each bite, so that was a bit of a bummer.

The babies were really well behaved, in spite of being tired and hungry. Finn was playing with Sophie the Giraffe, and Natalya decided this was a great toy. This came in handy the next day for family pictures. At least the decided that they could share:

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Also, here’s another picture of my spectacular husband, just because:

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He’s fabulous. How could I not love a guy like that? He’s just as awesome as he looks 🙂

Friday, we got up early to go and take family pictures at a local heritage site. The park was very pretty, with views of the river, lots of trees, and old buildings. The photographer doing to shoot also did Natalya’s newborn photos, and she’s fairly new on the photography scene. She was able to be flexible with timing because we obviously had little ones to deal with, so that was nice. I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail on the experience here, as I’m planning on doing a separate post to cover the photos and my thoughts on the whole process. When that will be is another thing. Blogging with a baby is quite the process.

Saturday, being our last day there, ended up being mostly just a day of sleep. The rest of the week was fairly full, and it was so damn hot and humid, that we were exhausted. This isn’t a complaint, by any means. It was a great week. I really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with my in-laws. In spite of the face that Shawn and I have been together for just over four years, I really didn’t feel like I knew them overly well, and I don’t think they knew me, or us, either. This trip fixed that, and that’s where the sigh of relief comes from.

I really like both of Shawn’s parents, and getting to spend time with them, and have them spend time with us and with Finn, was great. I love watching people love my son. He’s such a little charmer. He loves to meet new people and spend time with people other than us, so it was great to give his other grandparents ample time to spend with him.

I also really appreciated the immense amount of effort that Shawn’s mom put in to making sure we had a good trip. She’s such a sweet and kindhearted person, and it shows. I feel that we have a better relationship (not that it was terrible before) after this trip, and that’s a great thing for me.

Reinforced may not be the right word to use here, but spending time with Caelin and Natalya reinforced the fact that Shawn and I have a real, live niece. It’s one of those facts that always floats around in the back of my head, the same way that I know Star Wars: Episode I was a huge disappointment, but seeing her several days in a row was really great. I loved how she was fascinated by my lipstick and kept trying to touch it. I didn’t even care if it smeared or not. She wanted to touch the red, she could touch the red. It’s not something she sees a lot of, so she was welcome to explore it, no matter how many tiny red fingerprints I ended up with on my face.

We even got to spend some time with our brother-in-law, Dmytri, which, if I’m being honest, was a little strange. He’s not the same guy that he was when we first met him, and he and Caelin came and stayed with us for a week. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it seemed like he was spending time with us out of obligation rather than a genuine desire to be there, and that made me sad. He barely spoke, though he did ask me how things in Edmonton were and how my parents were doing, which I appreciated, and he only took Finn because I physically put him in his arms.

This is is an improvement over when he was here for Finn’s Baptism. I’m not even sure why he made that trip. And yes, I could be taking things out of context, but I really don’t know how else to take things. I have one niece, and I loved getting to spend time with her. As far as I know, Finn is his only nephew, and I just thought he would be a little more jazzed about it.

That was the only thing about the trip that kind of bummed me out. I feel that it was a smashing success otherwise, and am looking forward to going back in January. We will be there the week before Finn and my collective birthday (birthday thief!!), so it’s not going to be so stinking hot. People who live in BC seem to think that it’s cold at that time of year. People who live in Alberta just sit back and laugh at them.

Here’s to great vacations, great families, and good memories.

Getting Teeth and Starting Solid Food

Shawn and I took Finn on his fist vacation (and plane ride) to visit Shawn’s parents last week, and that was when Finn decided to start teething in earnest. He’s been getting, shall we say, chewy, for a while now, but it we really noticed it starting to cause him discomfort last week. Naturally, it was going to happen when we were away and things were all sorts of out of whack (more on that in another post).

Finn has liked putting stuff in his mouth ever since he figured out that he can get his hands to his face all on his own, but now it’s all about what he can get in there and chomp on. Some times, he’s perfectly all right, but there are moments when I know his mouth is causing him some distress, and both of us really wish that there was more we could do for the little guy.

He has teething toys, rubber toys, wash clothes that we soak in cold water. His Sophie the Giraffe toy has been gummed so much that the colour is starting to come off her feet. My dearest wish is that the teeth that are trying to make their appearance do so in a timely manner and don’t decide to go up and down a few times first. That would be awful. My wisdom teeth did that, and it was torment for me as an adult. I can only imagine what that must feel like for a nearly-six-month-old baby.

Luckily, his sleep hasn’t really been affected all that much. He still goes down for 7-8 hours at a time, gets up to breast feed, and then goes back to bed for another 2.5-4 hours. True, it’s not the 11 hours we were getting for a while, but that was extraordinary, and I’m happy with what we have. Last night, though, we did get 12.5 hours straight. Part of me wants to attribute it to the fact that we started feeding solid food a few days ago, even though I know it’s a coincidence. It’s more likely due to the fact that he’s still exhausted from our trip to Langley, and being back in your own bed feels amaze-balls.

I was planning, initially, to go right up to the six month mark with breast feeding (that would have been July 21, for anyone who has lost track). Finn has been showing a lot of interest in food for a while now, and he decided all on his own while we were on vacation that he should try and drink water from a cup. So be it. He drank water from a cup, and took water from an adult size spoon no problem, so the timeline moved forward a little. Babies tend to work on their own schedules.

When we got home, Finn had his first taste of rice cereal. To say he was pleased would be an understatement. He even tried to take the spoon from me and feed himself. That just made a mess, but it was a definite “A” for effort. He now has a training sippy cup, from which he will only have water to protect his unsprouted teeth, and two kinds of cereal. Tomorrow, we start veggies. I can say that he likes rice over oatmeal so far, but that could just be the texture aspect. The rice cereal is much more smooth, and probably feels more familiar on his palette.

Now, I’ve had some people ask why I didn’t start solids sooner. You can start as early as four months now, or so I’ve been told. Regardless of that, it’s never something that I was going to do. I just didn’t see the point in starting solids at such a young age when he was able to get all his nutrients from breast milk. he still loves to nurse, and has breast milk after his morning and evening cereal. Not only that, but until babies are able to do a fairly decent job of sitting on their own, they’re not going to do a great job of swallowing, so what’s the point in rushing? I didn’t want Finn to feel the need to wean himself early because I wanted him on solid food. I don’t mind breast feeding at all, so going EBF for the first six months was never an issue for me. (And hey, standard disclaimer: if you do solids earlier, great! I hope it’s going well! It’s just not what was right for us.)

So, at six months (or nearly six months), Finn:

  • sleeps through the night
  • sits on his own, with only minimal balance issues
  • can stand, needing only his hands held for  balance
  • drinks water from a sippy cup on his own and an adult cup with help
  • really wants to feed himself, but lets me do it (while holding his own spoon)
  • weighs more and is taller than I was at age one
  • is getting much more free with his laughter (though not as free as he is with his smiles)

He still amazes us both, every single day. Being a parent, while it’s not for everyone, is the best job I’ve ever had. Cliche? Yes. Truth? Absolutely.

Reflecting on Our First Year of Marriage

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: being married has not changed our relationship. People kept asking if I felt different now that I was married, and that never made any sense to me. We stayed the same people, with the same house and same relationship. The only difference was a legally binding contract. I mean, yay and all, but the actual relationship didn’t change one bit.

Do I really need to do a post about our first year then? It feels like I do. After all, I became, for lack of a better term, violently pregnant before we even got back from our honeymoon, so things have been going at warp speed. That is not a complaint, just a statement of fact. We wanted a baby right away, and Finn wanted to be with us. I wouldn’t change the way things happened for anything. It’s just been a hectic few years and, for the sake of sanity, we need to slow the hell down.

We planned our wedding for almost a year and a half, and the actual day was freaking magical. There were not a lot of things, if any, that I would have changed, and I don’t know many brides that can say that. Our honeymoon was pretty great, even with the discovery that neither of us like cruises over much. Then we came home and confirmed that we were going to be parents. Talk about a whirl wind.

So many things happening at once, and having a rather rotten pregnancy, only served to confirm that I have a spectacular husband. I would not have wanted to deal with a c-section with anyone else. For a while, he was way better with the diapers than I was because he did most of the diapering. Unless it was the middle of the night and I was up feeding him while Shawn slept, diaper duty belonged to him. Every time I had a doubt that I could have done something differently to have a different birth experience (which is total crap), Shawn was there to reassure me  that no, nothing I did could have changed anything.

I still doubt myself as a mom sometimes. When I have a migraine, and that happens far more often than I would like, I feel guilty for not being able to take Finn for a walk, or take him outside to sit on the porch. I know how much he loves it out there, but we have to stay inside if we’re by ourselves. I feel terrible on the days that I’m so tired I would kill for a two hour nap, but Finn doesn’t nap. I love watching him play, but he’s in this phase where screaming in delight is the best thing to do, and that is not conducive to migraines. You can’t, however, explain to a five month old that mummy’s head hurts so we have to have a quiet day.

My husband, the husband I honestly never thought I would have, sees me as an amazing mother. When I have doubts about the kind of parent I am, he wipes them away. When I feel bad about not helping with something because Finn is eating, he reassures me. He is everything I ever could have asked for.

I think that’s why this year has been so surreal. This is going to sound very cliché, but the two things I’ve always wanted for my life were to be a wife, whether it be to a man or woman, and a mother, and I got both those things almost at the same time. It’s like my life decided to finish clicking in to place right as I was coming up on my thirtieth decade of life. I was happy with things before, but now I really feel complete.

Our anniversary was a great day. Shawn bought me a new dress (a blue swing dress with black cats and red balls of yarn by Pinup Couture, we got to try out a new barbecue joint called MEAT, and we took in two movies (both X-mean: Days of Future Past and Maleficent). Without even realizing it, we recreated out first date, which happened exactly four years earlier. Luckily, neither of the movies this time was Prince of Persia. It reminded me of why, and how, we connected in the first place.

Shawn and I don’t just watch movies (or play games or read books). We talk about them and hash them over, sometimes for weeks after the fact. Our tastes are very similar, and it was a lot of those things that drew us together in the first place. I’m pretty sure that Shawn loved the idea of a decent looking girl who played video games, read fantasy novels and comic books and was capable of having and intelligent conversation. If I had found me, I must admit that I would have been turned on. If I can’t talk to someone and I have nothing in common with them (or they have to pretend to like what I like) there is no point. When Shawn found me, we both struck gold.

So, was the first year good? Of course it was. We formed our family. We enlarged our family. The many reasons I love the man I married have been reinforced a dozen times over. It’s been exhausting. It’s been frustrating. I wouldn’t change any of it.

Changes

Easter and Mother’s Day have come and gone. Easter was pretty standard. Finn and I went to church with my parents (Shawn is not a church person, so he only does really important occasions), and then we headed home to Finns first Easter basket. He got books, toys and a Jolly Jumper, and I can tell you right now, that was the best investment we have made for him.

He will literally jump until he falls asleep. I nave several excellent videos of him doing just that, and often the last thing he will do before bed is have a good long jump. He turned three months on Easter Monday, so the timing was perfect. He’s always liked being in a standing position, and this way he gets to stand on his own with a lot of really good spinal support. It’s really win win.

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There were a lot of people at my parents house for dinner, and unfortunately, Finn got really over stimulated. When this happens, he gets cranky, and it’s hard to settle him for the night. Also unfortunately, my family doesn’t always get that he still needs quiet time. He’s not used to tons of rowdy people all wanting a piece of him. He can handle it for shot periods, but we’re still working up to being able to do it for longer periods. When he did finally settle, he was out for a long time, but getting there was a challenge. Luckily, if I can get him to nurse, he usually settles pretty well. Hurray for breastfeeding. It really is useful on so many levels.

Mother’s Day was pretty much a bust. We went to church again and ended up working around the yard for most of the day. Shawn was working, and while he did remember to send me a text message (he didn’t forget!) I didn’t get so much as a card. I was super pissed. See, he’s not the type of person who thinks that cards are a big deal, but it was my first Mother’s Day, and it meant a lot to me. I wanted to have something to remember it with, and while I have a few adorable pictures of Finn sitting on the deck, that’s about all I have. Add to that the fact that Finn was fussy most of the he day and I was fighting a migraine, and it was just disappointing all around. I cried, I’ll admit it.

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It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been more emotional than normal lately. (Yes, in realize that Mother’s Day is not lately anymore, but this is when things started, so near with me.) And, my hair has been falling out. It don’t mean the normal, “Hey, I’m losing all the hair I never lost when I was pregnant” my hair is falling out. I’m talking it it looks like a balding wookie lives in my house. Whenever I vacuum, I’m stopping to clean out the power head three times, at least, so the poor thing doesn’t have a heart attack and die. The hair loss and mood swings, combined with extreme exhaustion and the fact that my son eats like a starving polar bear and I started gaining weight back, led me to believe that my thyroid, or the half of it that I have left, had finally started to die.

My GP is great. If I can give him a solid reason for something (and no, googling doesn’t count as a solid reason), he will be in board with requests for blood work. I told him what had been going on, and he agreed that things needed to be checked out. We also did a bunch of other stuff, just to cover all the bases. Hey, if you’re having blood drawn anyway, what are a few extra vials?

Part of me really wanted things to be all in my head, but I knew they weren’t. It didn’t take long for the call from the doctors office confirming what I already knew, and adding an extra turd to the shit heap: the ferritin levels in my blood were very low. My doctor likes mine to be around 50 and they were sitting at 4. Low blood iron and an under producing thyroid? No wonder I felt like road kill.

So, now I’m taking iron supplements, although not as high a dose as I was because they were making the baby unbearable gassy, And a low starting dose of synthroid. In the grand scheme of things, taking a few extra pills every day isn’t really a big deal, but it still bums me out. I don’t clearly recall a time in my life when there hasn’t been something wrong with me, and that is extremely tiring. I’m not trying to complaint for the sake of complaining, because I have a pretty stellar life, but being chronically ill can be frustrating and mentally exhausting beyond belief.

There are days when I hope and pray that I will feel normal for five minutes. I would love to be tired in a way that sleep would actually be able to fix. The exhaustion I’ve been feeling lately doesn’t go away if I get eight hours. I can have the worst day and be emotionally fine with it, and have the best day and be a complete mess. Add to that the old standbys of migraines and GERD and you can imagine that I must be feeling like a million bucks.

Taking care of Finn is sucking up all my energy. I don’t have anything left to use on being pleasant to people. I’m extremely irritable, even when there’s not reason for it. If there is a reason for it, you’d better watch the hell out because I will turn into a bitch faster than you can blink. Poor Shawn has been getting the huge brunt of this and I don’t know how he deals with it. I knew he was an amazing man, but situations like this just further impress upon me how lucky I am to have him.

I’m trying hard not to stress about it, but with the upcoming trip to visit his parents in BC for the the week, it’s hard not to. I know the smart thing to do would be to tell them what’s going on with my health, so honey don’t think I dislike them more than they already do, but a large part of me doesn’t want to say a word. Shawn’s dad especially gives me the impression that he thinks Shawn married a broken person, and adding more illnesses to the heap wouldn’t help that at all. On the other hand, if I say nothing and I happen to be extra irritable, they might just think that I don’t want to be there.

What a great situation.

I can’t say that I am looking forward to going, but it has nothing to do with dislike for my in laws. I don’t dislike them. I just like being in complete control of my environment, especially when I need to sleep somewhere. Shawn snores, and I don’t always sleep in the same room because of it. When I’m staying in someone else’s house, though, I can’t exactly get up and wander off in the middle of the night. I also don’t want the in laws to know how May nights we sleep apart, eve though it has no negative impact on our relationship/marriage whatsoever. They would mostly likely assume that it does regardless of what we say. After all, Shawn’s dad assumed that his weight gain was because of stress in our relationship.

(We have been sleeping apart more than together for a long time. As we have a son that was not immaculately conceived, you can imagine that our relationship is not suffering.)

The goal at this point is to stay positive about everything that happens from here on out. The problems have been identified and are being dealt with. My husband is amazing and supportive, as always. I have an incredibly good baby (for more on what that means to me, see the next post) who I still can’t get enough of. I guess if I look at the bigger picture, two more small broken things on my body is not a big deal, no matter what it feels like.

On a side note, the blog is changing. The new name has taken effect. Shawn says that the old address is no longer active, although it should be, so I’m going to look in to that and make sure. Categories re being reorganized, and some features are going to be dealt away with. It was just getting to be too much. The features are now going to come when there is a call for them as opposed to me trying to bang one out every day. This should eke then content more quality focused instead of quantity focused. I would love some feedback on this, so please, drop me an email or comment.

On Things I Refuse to Feel Bad About

Being a parent comes with a lot of guilt trips. People on all sides keep telling you that there is something you’re doing wrong, or that you’re being too self righteous by doing something a certain way (even when you do your best not to impose your parenting style on others). It gets to be a lot out deal with some days, so move decided to compile a (slightly ranty) list of things I refuse to feel bad about to help me cope.

1: Breast feeding whenever Finn happens to be hungry. I haven’t come across any negativity, at least openly, from strangers about this, and I feed in public without a cover a fair bit. Finn doesn’t eat well with a cover, so I don’t use one. I also try and be discreet about it. I am well aware that not everyone wants to see my nipples. I have gotten shock from some people I know that I doesn’t bother me more. Honestly, if they really knew me, it wouldn’t shock them at all. Hey, my son is hungry and he needs to eat. I am his food supply. Why wait?

2: Sticking with my medication. I tried coming off my migraine meds before we started trying. It was a disaster. I went back on the lowest dose possible while pregnant, and my son is fine. Yes, he had some slight withdrawal symptoms for a few days after birth, but that’s it. I worked with professionals in the field of obstetric medicine to make informed risk/benefit choices drug my pregnancy, and for continuing me during breast feeding, and none of those choices were taken lightly. I didn’t just hop on Google one day and let the plethora of misinformation on the he web decide for me. I’m not an idiot. That’s why I don’t understand those who can’t believe I was, and still am, medicated. I monitor Finn closely for any signs that my medication is adversely effecting him, especially if I have to increase the dosage. I don’t think people who criticize are taking in to account the the fact that if I’m unwell, I can’t take care of either of us, not to mention the fact that most of the people who are concerned about it don’t really have any clue about what Shawn and I deal with when I’m at my worst. Finn is perfect, and if I tight I was going to be hurting him in any way, I would find an alternative.

3: Disposable diapering. I can barely handle regular laundry. Cloth diapers have never been an option for us. Still, people give me shit and try to push them on us. “Honestly, they’re not that much more work!” Ah, but they are some more work, and that’s enough for me. I try and be as Eco friendly with my diapering choices as I can, but nothing will convince me to switch, so all the cloth nazis should just save their energy, especially the ones who say that it would be so much better for Finn’s skin. He doesn’t have an iota of rash. Deal with it.

4: The “no TV” rule. We don’t plan on letting Finn watch TV until he’s at least two. He’s a baby. Why does he need to watch TV when there are so many other things he can be learning and exploring? I have never believed in the TV as a babysitter thing, and I’m not bashing parents who do let their little ones watch. It’s just not for us. You can tell me I’m going to change my mind all you want. I won’t. There are books, music, toys, games… I can think of a million things to do that don’t involve TV or electronics. That’s not to say he’s not going to get to watch (or play video games) eventually. That would be hypocritical. For now, though, he needs to be little. I’m perfectly happy letting three days worth of dishes pile up so I can play with him all day.

5: No looking at screens. Aside from it not being great for proper ocular development (this is coming from both my paediatrician and optometrist), why does a baby or toddler need to look at a screen? We FaceTime with Shawn’s parents a few times a month so they can see him, and I don’t think they’ve figured out that he doesn’t look at the screen. He just sees the back of the iPad case when he’s not looking at his dad, who is usually the one holding it. Again, if other people want to have their kids on FaceTime or looking at YouTube or whatever, go for it. That’s just if not what we want for Finn, and I’m tired of being called ridiculous because of it.

6: Being a “gentle parent”. I’m fairly certain that at some point in the future, a tantrum will erupt and Finn will want nothing to do with me while it happens. Right now, though, I refuse to leave him on his own to cry. What’s the point? He’s just over three months old, and I don’t understand how being left to cry is doing him any good. He was gassy and a little fussy on Easter, and my aunt wanted to put him on his tummy and let him cry it out. I told her we didn’t do that. She said it was good for him. I said I didn’t think so and took him away from her. She want impressed, but he’s my son. Leaving him to cry in pain by himself is not on there schedule. Thanks for the suggestion though.

7: Taking care of myself. Whether that means doing my hair and make up every time I go out or taking the pain meds I need when I feel a migraine starting to surface, I will take care of myself. I’m still a person. The title of mum just got added on, it’s not the whole picture. Sure, it’s the top title, and the one I love the most, but everything else still applies. No, I will not stop wearing red lip stick because I have a baby. Get a life.

My baby is happy. He sleeps over eight hours a nights most nights. He can go to bed drowsy and put himself to sleep. He’s almost as happy to play with his toys as he is to play with one of us. We’re doing a damn good job, and I refuse to feel bad about that either.