Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow

I was laying in Deaglan's race car bed reading him his stories before tucking him in tonight and I realized that this was one of my favourite places. One of my most happy places. A place where I find consistent good moments.

And it's not that his bed is really all that cozy for the two of us - it's a toddler bed after all and I have grown into quite a large pregnant woman with very few reliably comfortable positions at my disposal.

But when we spend this time together, reading to each other, being silly and sleepy, it's one of those rare times during the day where I wish time would stop. Tonight he picked a lullaby book and instead of reading, we took turns of singing the songs to each other.

Here Deaglan is caught coming down the slide. He was attending his first real birthday party for his friend Marha. I didn't post any of the pictures of the other kids because I wasn't sure if I should get the kids' parents' permission before doing so.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Always learning

Toddler discipline has been on my mind a lot lately. Especially after I wrote this post, my uneasiness with the techniques we'd been using (timeout and count to three) had been increasing. I wasn't able to articulate for myself why this was, but I just knew, it was something I needed to explore.

And sure enough, the next day when I tuned into a program I try to catch on Mondays called The parenting show (a terribly produced local call-in show that looks like it's run out of your neighbour's basement), the topic was toddler-hood. The content of the show is always excellent and right on. There is a host and a psychotherapist who is a parenting expert named Alyson Schafer.

Anyway, someone called in with the very same sentiments I was feeling. She felt that giving a time-out for everything didn't seem very logical. Alyson agreed and said that discipline needed to make sense to kids. If you wanted their cooperation, then the punishment needed to fit the crime. Please note that these are my own words because Alyson rarely uses words like punishment, timeout or even discipline. She gave some examples of consequences for different behaviours and then talked about her latest book. I had been meaning to borrow it from the library for some time but once I realized that the entire thing was about how to deal with misbehaviour, I hesitated no longer.

It's excellent! I'll give you the name here and a few points I've really found valuable but won't bore you with a detailed description. It's called Honey, I wrecked the kids.

Alyson talks about logical consequences, natural consequences and eliciting cooperation versus being punitive.
  • I love that she makes the point that we as adults seem to think we always know best simply because we are adults.
  • She points to ways we can really listen to what our kids are asking for and responding to that instead of thinking we know what they are asking. For example she uses the common problem of attention seeking. She explains that usually there are very real and good reasons why a child is trying to get a parent's attention - maybe you didn't spend any quality time with him after work and instead robotically fed him, bathed him and tucked him into bed.
  • She talks about using consistent non-verbal action instead of nagging. (The kid keeps jumping on the couch. You tell him once to stop because he will fall and hurt himself - or whatever the reason - and then the next time and all the times after grab him off the couch without saying a word). And so many other techniques that make sense and are intuitive.

    Now don't get me wrong, just because I'm almost finished reading the book doesn't mean I've grasped the concepts. Yesterday Deaglan kept jumping off of his potty onto the floor. I told him once, moved the potty back into the bathroom and found him jumping off of one his kiddie chairs when I came back. It took everything in me to not count to three and then give him a time out. It would have been a lot less work.

    You'll notice in these pictures a partially clad Deaglan. Lately he finds everything feels better when done in the buff. Yesterday before he realized how much fun it was to jump off of his potty, he stood atop of it, pantless, and sang Kumbaya at the top of his lungs. The night before that we had a hard time getting him to the table for dinner fully clothed. We finally accepted that we would be eating with a Nude Dude.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A birth story for Deaglan and a very long post

As you would expect, most of my thinking these days is consumed with being pregnant, my weight, baby movement, food, what I can still fit into and the upcoming and inevitable labour.

I'm remembering a lot of the details of Deaglan's arrival too and wanted to record that story here for him in case someday he should be interested.

I don't know much about my birth. I was born in a third world country to very poor people in a small mud hut. There was no midwife or doctor, no epidural or crib, and certainly no pictures or documentation. I have come to accept this. Sometimes I wish I had a picture to compare, to see if and how closely Deaglan resembles me. But mostly, I feel terribly lucky to have escaped the dim fate that would have surely been mine had I stayed in that place.

So please forgive me for the length and winding nature of this post and even if you have warm feelings toward me that might oblige you to read the entire thing, I won't know if you don't and even if I did know, I would understand and still think fondly of you.

Let me start by saying that I have always wanted to be a mother. But I had a lot of work to do with myself before taking on that role so I took my twenties and a good part of my thirties to do that work. I still have so much to do in that area but there came a time in my mid thirties, where I could no longer ignore the yearning to have a child.

I was pregnant almost immediately and with the exception of three months of nausea, had an uneventful pregnancy until near the end of my third trimester. My midwife Mariam, a Lebanese mother of five, who strengthened her midwifery muscles in some of the most destitute places in the third world, noticed that although I was enormous, she had to really press down on my belly to feel the baby. She suggested that I may have too much amniotic fluid (a condition called polyhydramnios) and booked me an ultrasound. She was right.

This concerned my medical caregivers because it meant that if I went into labour, there was a possibility of the baby being strangled by the umbilical cord due to the rush of fluid that could be released. I was booked for hospital appointments several times a week. I had to have a second glucose test to determine whether I had developed gestational diabetes - I was measuring several centimeters over.

By this time, my due date had come and gone. I could barely stand longer than a few minutes. On top of being tired and uncomfortable, I was now anxious and fearful. I was told that if I went into labour, I should get on all fours and call an ambulance. I asked Mariam if she thought I should be induced. My care had to be transfered to the hospital staff since mine had become a high risk pregnancy. Mariam made the arrangements, however, the next available time slot was 10 days after my due date. So we waited.

The night before the induction, I had to go in and get fitted with a foley catheter to help my cervix dilate. I don't know about the hospitals in your areas but ours are teaching hospitals so more often than not, you are treated by a resident first. Well this young woman could not get the catheter in. She whispered to the nurse her concerns. I lay there with my feet up in stirrups on a tiny cot, squirming in pain and discomfort, while Shaune, worried and distrusting sat by my side. He looked to the resident and then the nurse and asked: Is something wrong? Should you call a doctor? Thankfully, this is what they did.

After what felt like FOREVER, a short balding doctor came in, greeted me, and within five minutes had the foley fitted. I was instructed to sleep in a careful position so as to not let the catheter slip out of place and come back the next day for noon to be induced. I slept very little that night from discomfort and also the knowledge that this time the next night I could be holding my baby.

For several weeks leading up to this day, Shaune became almost fanatical about videotaping our day-to-day lives. Nothing we would ever torture our friends and family with watching but in case anyone is interested in seeing hours and hours of me sitting on the couch or the recliner, petting the cat and grumpily telling him to turn the f@#*ing camera off, we have it.

Induction day was no different, bless him.

I showered careful not to lose the catheter sticking what seemed almost a foot outside of my body and double checked that my bags were packed with all that I needed, kissed the cat goodbye and headed to the hospital.

Here we were checked in and uncharacteristically shown to the delivery room almost immediately. The room was surprising and quite lovely. It was unexpected. In the weeks prior on my almost daily visits to the hospital, I had complained to Shaune how disgusted I was with some of the conditions of the waiting rooms and bathrooms in the same hospital.

Unexpected and lovely also describe the nursing staff and ObGyn who cared for me that day. At some point in the first few hours I was told that Mariam had been up delivering babies the night before and was going into her bazillionth hour of over time. Another midwife met us at the hospital and after helping to settle me in, asked me if I felt I needed her to be there while the nurses and doctor did their thing. I told her I thought I was in good hands.

My waters were ruptured and I laboured for a few hours. I had let the team know that I was interested in having an epidural and so when I began to feel breathless from the contractions that were induced from the pitocin, they called the anesthesiologist in. He too was a resident, a young Chinese doctor no older than 23. I sat with my back to him while Shaune faced me holding my arms to keep me perfectly still while the medicine was injected into my back.

It began to work almost immediately and I could go back to the pleasant conversation I was having before the contractions had become too painful. However, in the hours since I had arrived at the hospital, I had not dilated any further than the initial three centimeters brought on by the foley the night before.

The doctor, a delightful six foot blonde Norwegian woman, had been coming in every few hours or so to check my progress. Several times she told me that we might need to go through the front door to get this kid out.

At midnite, she came in, checked my cervix again, and looked at me with a gentle smile. Let's take your baby out now. I was prepped for surgery and wheeled into the OR. Shaune was also suited up and told to wait until he was called. Sadly cameras weren't allowed in the operating room.

While they did their work behind the sheet that separated my head and neck from the rest of my body, Shaune and I talked nervously. I felt as scared as Shaune looked. The team worked quickly and within minutes I heard everyone laugh and someone comment Kim you have yourself a toddler - this is one big baby. Someone else exclaimed it's Magnus!

My big boy (10lbs 3 oz) was brought over to me wet with the remnants of the womb, still squat from the fetal position. And although I didn't get to touch him, tears streamed down my face and I looked from him to Shaune and back and cried This is our baby? This is you??

I held my baby about half an hour later. It was the sweetest union of my life.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

What you didn't expect when expecting

I wish I could say that Deaglan was looking off into the distance here, contemplating life, but most likely he was watching Dora or Diego.

It's impossible to completely limit his TV watching and I'm pretty sure we go over the recommended number hours for his age group. However, we try not to let him watch programming with commercials and most of what he watches is pretty wholesome.

And lately I'm doing something I never dreamed I would do as a parent. I'm using the count to three in my disciplining. I guess we all imagine that our kids will be different, they'll listen when we ask them the first time or even the second. But this has not been the case around here.

Shaune and I find that every other sentence coming out of our mouths are either - do you want a time out? or I'm gonna count to three and if you don't listen then you'll get a time out!

The count to three has been working like a charm. Rarely have either of us had to reach three before seeing the desired behaviour. We always try to praise the good behaviour, tell him that he's a good listener or that he did a good job but honestly! I hadn't prepared for this part of parenting.

And finally speaking of things I couldn't have imagined, Deaglan's eating habits won't exactly earn me Mother of the year. I've put either fruit and/or vegetables on that kid's plate since he started eating solids to almost no avail. I've often found myself giving him chicken nuggets or a hotdog because I know he'll eat them.


Deaglan is wearing a sweater knit by his Gramma - Shaune's mom, who took up knitting especially for Deaglan.

Monday, 8 March 2010

I highly recommend it

Shaune said something funny the other day.

We were watching Deaglan play and he looked at me, wistful, and said, I don't know how I'm ever gonna love this new guy as much as I love him (pointing to Deaglan). I think he'll always be my favourite.

I knew it wouldn't be true but I kind of knew what he meant. When a child takes over your universe the way ours has, it's impossible to imagine making room for another.
And yet we know you do and love that one just as fiercely as the first. All the things that are said of having children are true. Suddenly your heart has legs and is walking around outside of your body. Every new thing he learns, it's as if you are seeing it for the first time too. Life takes on a renewal process because you can't help but see it through his eyes.

You start to remember the magic of things again, like eating freshly fallen snow, or staring up at a horse for the first time.

We went to a local sugar bush yesterday where we ate locally made maple syrup, and toured the grounds on a horse drawn trolley.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


When I was on maternity leave I did a little cooking. It was the first time in my life I felt excited about domesticity. I cracked open a wonderful Indian cookbook my niece gifted to me and learned a few dishes. Some of them worked out and some didn’t.

I remember Shaune used to say that he loved walking through the door on those days when he could smell a curry bubbling on the stove.

When I went back to work, the experimentation stopped but I continued to make some of the more successful recipes. However, instead of a few times a week, I would try to make a big batch every few months and freeze 2-serving portions so we could pull these out on busy week nights.

I don’t know whether it’s because from the day I met Shaune he made it clear that cooking was his passion so that I stopped even trying or that I am not by nature very talented in the kitchen but sometimes I wish I could whip up a fragrant dal or mouthwatering chicken korma with ease.

I didn’t grow up with Indian food on the table, my family is Canadian and we stuck to the things you would expect. But oh how I crave the aromatic spicy dishes of this cuisine. Maybe I’ll brush up on my few skills in this on the next maternity leave.

I tried to find a picture in our archives of something delicious but since no curry dishes jumped out at me, I posted this delicious picture of Deaglan last summer at the beach.