On Feeling Supported… And Then Not

When I was still in hospital after Finn was born, my mum made a point of telling me what a great job I was doing. She said it was absolutely amazing watching her child become a parent, and that it was so obvious that being a mum myself was something that I was just meant to do. This, of course, brought me to tears. Not only did this help to silence the tiny psycho in my head that kept telling me I was going to suck at parenthood, getting that kind of reinforcement from someone that I respect so much as a parent herself was incredible.

The rest of my family pretty much followed suit. My grandma kept telling my mum (and eventually me) how natural and relaxed I was with Finn. She said this was obviously what I was meant to do, and that he was a very lucky little boy to have such great parents. Both my grandma and grandpa have remarked on how Shawn is such a natural father, and how he’s taking to his role just like my dad did, and that is a huge compliment.

Both my aunts said close to the same thing. One aunt, who lives in Camrose, compared me to a neighbours kids who had just had a baby. Apparently they had a spaz when she out him up over her shoulder because they hadn’t held him that way yet. She said they just seemed very tense and nervous about everything, unlike me. Apparently, I have been schooled in the art of zen parenting. Who knew?

A large part of my relaxed attitude probably comes from this not being my first exposure to babies. Sure, it’s my first baby, and that’s a lot different from looking after someone else’s, but it’s still not my “first”. I have changed diapers, done bottle feedings, taken care of nap times. I’ve even dealt with spitting up before. Babies and the a are of them is not foreign territory for me.

Shawn’s family, perhaps not realizing this or perhaps just thinking that being a first time mum turns you into a moron, has been pretty much the opposite of my family. They haven’t told either of us that we’re doing a good job as parents. In fact, a lot of the comments have made me feel like they are expecting me to screw up. Whether that is the intended result or not, I’m not enjoying it.

During a FaceTime call with Shawn’s nana, she said (to the baby), “Your mom sure is holding you real good!” Aside from the appalling structure of that sentence, what was she expecting? Was she thinking I would be completely unaware of how to hold a child? I know it’s difficult to grasp, but I do know that you don’t hold infants upside down by the leg. Thing that boggled me even more is that she has seen me hold the baby before, so the fact that I know what I’m doing shouldn’t have been a fresh revelation.

Upon seeing Finn spit up some formula, again on the much hated FaceTime, my mother in law said, “Oh, you’re giving him formula now?” It being his second, and last, serving of formula ever I calmly explained why he’d had it. Coming from someone who was exclusively formula fed, this seemed odd. I’m not a shitty parent because my son had to have formula twice, totally less than eight ounces between two feedings. He needed to eat. I wasn’t able to feed him. It’s that simple.

They also seem overly concerned with how much he spits up. My father in law thought, during that same FaceTime call, that it was the formula irritating his tummy. I said, again calmly, that the formula had nothing to do with it as he hadn’t spit up any of his first formula feeding at all. Finn is just a spitty baby. Does this concern me? Not at all, as he continues to gain weight at an astonishing pace. Currently, he’s sitting at 15.5 pounds and he’s just over eleven weeks. I’d say he’s getting more than enough breast milk, even. With the splitting up, to sustain him over the long haul.

Speaking of his weight, father in law also mentioned that perhaps we should be feeding him less. Yeah, because telling a two and a half month old baby that he can’t eat when he’s hungry will go over really well! I’m hoping this was something he meant facetiously because if he was serious, it betrays a level of ignorance that I find hard to comprehend.

(As a side note, my grandma is convinced that I’m producing cream, as that can be then only explanation for such a robust and healthy boy. Several of my mums friends an coworkers are very impressed by how well he’s gaining with just breast milk. I don’t know why that’s impressive, but there you have it.)

We also get asked on a regular basis if he’s sleeping through the night yet. No, as he’s not even three months old. I would say we’re doing fairly well with the 5-6.5 hour stretch, then not getting up again until morning. We asked, subsequently, if we were giving him any pablum, I believe my response was, “Hell no! He’s way too young for that!” Just because it’s something people used to do doesn’t mean it’s safe or healthy. I’m a stay at home mum. I will survive if I have to get up in the middle of the night.

Maybe it’s because I hate unsolicited advice that these things are getting to me so much. Maybe it’s just the stark contrast between how my family has reacted versus how Shawn’s family has. Unadulterated praise and support is completely the opposite of what I feel we’ve been getting from his family, and I don’t understand.

They were convinced his hair was going to fall out. It never did. Shawn’s mom was asking after the bald patch on the he back of his head for a while. He doesn’t have one. It’s been a huge like of assumptions and not much else, and that drives me nuts.

Do I dislike them? Of course not. Are they very different from my family? Yes, and while that’s not a bad thing, letting us know they don’t think we’re completely screwing up our son would be nice. You know, just once.

Reads: The Lunar Chronicles

Have you ever wondered what would happen if certain fairy tale heroines ended up in a dystopian future on Earth? Yes? Well, the Lunar Chronicles will be right up your alley.

Written by Marissa Meyer, the threes books out so far came across my radar when I was perusing sale books on hyena Kobo store. The first instalment, Cinder, sounded like just the thing to keep me awake during late night/early morning feedings. Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing who gets caught up with a prince. She even has an “evil” stepmother and two step sisters. Sound familiar? She’s loosely based on Cinderella.

Here’s why that works: while you will see noticeable similarities between Cinder and Cinderella, the story is not just an updated version of the old classic. The author picks certain aspects of the he original story to work in to the story she wanted to write, and the effect is white simply, magical.

This is one of those books that I gave a 50/50 chance, and it didn’t disappoint. Th second book, Scarlet, and the third, Cress, are based on Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, respectively, and I couldn’t wait to gobble them up after the first book was closed. My 50/50 had turned into not only a win, but a genuine pleasure to read and continue reading.

The characters make you want to get to know them on a personal level, even while feeling that you know them already. The future setting. Unlike a lot of dystopian fiction, is completely believable. If there ever happen to be more world wars, I can totally see the world government being restricted as Meyer has imagined.

The only downside? The next book, Winter, isn’t slated for release until 2015. I hate having to wait to continue a truly excellent story.

I could write more, but I don’t want to risk spoiling the plot or story too much for anyone that thinks this may be worth checking out (and trust me, it is). Likeable characters and a believable future history pair with solid writing to make this one series I will be coming back to.

On Breast Feeding in Public

Well, isn’t this a hot buttons topic! What I want to know is why? What, honestly, is the big deal about breast feeding in public? I near so many stories about women who are called sluts, called out for being inappropriate or having no shame, and I don’t understand that at all. Maybe it has something to do with where I live, but I’ve had nothing but positive comments about feeding my son wherever we happen to be when he’s hungry.

For example, my mum and I stopped to have a bite to eat at a very busy restaurant in Spruce Grove after going to a swap meet a few weeks back. Finn was starving by the time we got there, and he didn’t want to wait to start eating until we were seated, so I let him eat in the writing area and carried him, still attached to the boob, to the table. No one said a thing to me or looked at me cross wise.

On the contrary, there was a family seated next to us who kept looking over and remarking on how cute he is. The grandma of the group came over to us before they left and said, “Two things: first, I’m sorry if we were making you uncomfortable by staring, but your son is just so adorable!” Naturally I said I wasn’t making me uncomfortable at all. Then she said, “Second, we are so impressed that you’re nursing in public and acting like it’s no big deal. Good for you!”

After hearing all the horror stories from others about how they get shit for breast feeding in public! I was honestly expecting the worst. This was so nice to hear, and just reaffirmed my decision to feed him when he’s hungry.

It also made me wonder what all these other “feeders”, for lack of a better term, are doing to incur the wrath of the surrounding public? I think no one has cared about what I’m doing because I just go about my business like it’s no big deal, because it isn’t. I’m not one of those militant feeders who feels the need to make a declaration of some sort every time I feed my kid somewhere that isn’t home.

Shawn and I went out for a meal with relatives who had a young, at the time, baby. She needed to feed him and felt the need to say, quite loudly, “I hope on one minds that I’m just whipping my boob out, but he hates the cover and I refuse to use it!” That’s great. I’m glad you’re feeding your son, and no, I don’t care that you “whipped your boob out”, but I honestly wouldn’t have even noticed if she hadn’t feel the need to say something.

I don’t think most people care as long as you don’t get all in their facades with it. In the case mentioned above, she spoke up way more loudly than was needed for just our table of four. We were in a booth, and no one would have known what was going on if she hadn’t felt the need to yell about it. Do women like this look for confrontation about what they’re doing? That’s the only reason I can think of for going on about it.

I’m sure there are people out there who are not particularly fond of public feeding, but don’t give them an excuse to call you out. I don’t use a cover because Finn gets fussy when I do, but I try to be as discreet as I can. Yes, he need to eat, but the whole world doesn’t need to be aware that he’s eating.

Another thing I found odd happened later that same day in the mothers room at a local mall. It must have been baby eating o’clock, because the place was packed. It was great seeing so many other moms breast feeding, but I was the only one not using a cover. Keep in mind, this is a room designed for breast feeding and changing, and the only people in the room were other breast feeding moms and their kids. We’d all doing the same thing… Why cover it up?

I’m not saying they were wrong to do so, I just didn’t get it. I’ve never been a particularly modest person myself, and maybe that helps me to not care if someone decides to look. I just think that ditching the cover in a nursing specific room would make things a lot easier.

In my travels, and I’ll admit I haven’t had as many as some, I haven’t encountered a single negative thing when breast feeding Finn, and the positives have been almost overwhelming. This has led me to believe that the militant feeders, who insist in pushing it in the faces of those around them. Are doing more harm to their cause than good. I treat it like it’s no big deal and have had a lot of success with that approach.

And even though I’m technically a feeder myself, the militant ones drive me just as crazy as they do everyone else. Feed your kid and get on with your day. What you’re doing is great, but there is zero need to yell it from the rooftops.

On Breast Feeding

Let me start off by saying I have spectacular nipples. They are a great shape and a nice size, and I’ve always known they would be perfect for breast feeding. I suppose that means that I’ve always wanted to beast feed, which is true. It just made sense to me. Why give your baby man made crap when they could be eating what nature intended?

(Yes, I am all about “breast is best”, because it is. I also know for a fact that anyone can breast feed. Some people just have a harder time getting established. However, I want anyone reading this to know that I do not look down on those who exclusively formula feed or who choose to supplement. Different things work for different families and you need to do what works for you.)

The thought never crossed my mind, not once, that I would have any issues getting feeding established with my son. I mean, I had been leaking colostrum for months, so my supply was going to be good, and I had these perfect nipples. What could go wrong? After needing a c-section to get him out, I’m so glad that I was right.

Once I got our first post partum nurse to show us both now to get a really good latch, we were golden. I also had to realize that Finn was incredibly impatient, and expressing a little bit on to my nipple before offering to him let him know that yes, there was food to be had. Otherwise, he would pull off and get disgruntled after attempting to eat for all of five seconds. This little trick became invaluable in the first week with him.

He lost just under 9% of his body weight after birth and was a little slow about gaining it back. This was probably because my true milk didn’t come in full force until he was six days old. It had started to change over, but I didn’t get the rock hard, oh-my-god-am-I-engorged boobs until then. One of my nurses suggested that I try pumping to get my milk in faster (no luck), and possibly feeding him some formula to make sure he was getting enough. I refused.

That may sound horrible to some people. Why would I refuse to do something that could benefit my child? What if he wasn’t getting enough? Well, let me tell you, the amount of pee he was generating was proof positive that he was getting enough to eat. He peed all the time, especially when his diaper was off. His jaundice (yup, he had a good bout of preemie jaundice) wasn’t getting any worse, and I was determined to do things the way I wanted. My birth went way off course, so this was going to go as planned, dammit!

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As you can see from the above photo, he latched well and ate like a champ. Sure, he looked like a banana for a while, but as soon as my true mill came in, there were no more issues. He had one period where he gained almost a pound in five days!

My problem came, and and still comes, with pumping. For some reason, it didn’t matter now or when pumped, I could barely get anything at all. Manual, electric… It didn’t seem to make a difference, and I was starting to get extremely stressed about it. If I didn’t manage to pump enough to save, Finn would need to have formula in addition to breast milk when Shawn and if needed to leave him. I know, that’s not the end of the world but it’s definitely not something I wanted to do.

I thought I was doing something wrong. Surely, it wasn’t meant to be this difficult. It didn’t matter what I tried, however: after a hot shower, first thing in the morning, nothing worked. Luckily, one of the post partum feeding experts that works with my mum told her that some women just can’t pump efficiently. It has to do with their let down reflex. My milk will not let down unless Finn is actually eating. Looking at a picture of him doesn’t work. Listening to him fuss doesn’t work. He needs to be physically at my breast.

I’ve come up with a plan to deal with this. Usually, when he’s eating off one side, the other side will leak. Instead of letting it go to waste in a breast pad, I’ve starting letting it drip into a storage container. I’ve gotten up to an ounce from dripping alone! Then, as soon as I can after he’s finished, I manually express whatever I can. It has to be right after he’s eaten, or I don’t get a thing. Sometimes I end up with three or so ounces after a day, sometimes just one, but it’s taken a lot of the pressure off that I was feeling while trying to use a breast pump. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t give up entirely.

I know some people hate breast feeding, or at the very least don’t enjoy it at all. For me, it’s something that makes me feel accomplished. I call Finn Tiny Bacon because he likes to eat so much, and being such a direct part of his diet feels really good. It’s going to be nothing but breast milk until six months for our little guy, and if things go as planned, we’re going to keep it up until he’s at least a year. He’s doing do well with it, I don’t see any reason to change what we’ve got going on.

Hey, he’s 14.6 pounds at ten weeks. Breast is definitely best in this instance :-)>

Local Jazz: Kristen J. Photography

When I started looking for a newborn photographer, I had no idea what I was looking for. Shawn didn’t think we needed the photos at all, but this may be the only baby we ever have, so I wanted to make sure things were properly documented.

The web was scoured. Many a website was looked at, many a portfolio perused. Honestly, nothing really jumped out at me, regardless of the price being charged, and I was starting to feel very discouraged. Perhaps these photos just weren’t meant to be.

It was at this point that I decided to take a different approach: I started thinking about all the newborn photos I had seen in the last year, and which ones really stood out for me. The clear winner came from a friend and co-worker of my mum at work. Her daughter had twins in the last year, and I really loved her photos. We decided to ask who had done them and go from there.

Kristen J. Photography┬áturned out to be just what we needed. not only was she within our budget, but I liked everything she had on her website. That doesn’t happen for me very often (hence why it took us such a long time to find a wedding photographer). I decided to shoot off an email, and the rest is history.

Our photos were taken two days after we got home from hospital, when Finn was five days old. Everything about the shoot went smoothly, in spite of the fact that I got pooped and peed on. Finn was brilliant and we ended up getting some really great shots. Take a look:

Five days old! Photo by Kristen J. Photography

Five days old!
Photo by Kristen J. Photography

With daddy.

With daddy.

Wearing the custom Finn the Human (Adventure Time) hat from his Auntie Caelin.

Wearing the custom Finn the Human (Adventure Time) hat from his Auntie Caelin.

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Finn was definitely the star of the show. Both of us were exhausted. Shawn forgot to shave. I was super sore from my surgery, and I had grey hairs sticking out all over the place. Still, I’m so happy with how things turned out. Kristen was amazing to work with: great with the baby, super personable, easy to talk to and easy to work with. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending her to anyone else.

Looking back on these pictures now, I realize how dark Finn’s hair was when he was born. It was nearly black, with white blonde eyebrows and lashes. Now, his hair is more the colour of Shawn’s, and his eyebrows are darkening to match. Either way, I’m not ashamed to say that I think he’s one beautiful baby.

Games, Eh? Doki Doki Universe

When I first saw the trailer for Doki Doki Universe, I thought it looked adorable. Who wouldn’t want to wander around the galaxy as a cute little robot and learn about humanity? I downloaded the demo and liked it enough to buy the full game. ($14.99 CAD on the PSN)

Developed and Published by HumaNature Studios, this game is not up there on the cutting edge or graphics, but that’s one of the things I liked about it. It felt like a bunch of children’s drawing had hopped in to a game engine and started moving, and I found that very quaint. It’s categorized as an adventure game, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. While it does have some of those elements, I also felt that it had a huge hidden object element to it.

Basically, you’re running around the universe to different planets in order to learn as much as you can about being human. On the way, there are psycho analysis tests to do that supposedly tell you all about yourself. Sometimes these were wicked accurate, sometimes… not so much. This ended up being a big bummer, especially when you did an entirely different quiz and got the same results at the end.

The puzzles themselves are not that hard to solve. I found that it was a lot of running around talking to different NPCs on the various worlds. The dialog was interesting enough to not make it a tedious process.

Now, I don’t know if I had a faulty install or what, but the game kept freezing on me to the point where I almost gave up playing. Not only would it freeze, but the whole system stopped wanting to work, forcing me to do a hard reset before I could either try again or move on to something else. This was very frustrating, as I often lost a lot of progress when this happened.

Another thing that irked me is when I finished the final planet, I was still missing several of the collectible items. I’m one of those crazy people who likes wrapping a game 100%, so I went back to the places I had missed so I could try and round out my collection. Unfortunately, the items I should have gotten from solving those puzzles didn’t come up. I’m guessing that I needed to complete those quests before the end of game in order to get everything 100%. That, I must say, didn’t thrill me.

The mail system (getting letters from game characters) was a nice touch, but having it attempt to log me in to Facebook constantly was a little irksome. Not everyone needs everything they do broadcast on social media. I know, this coming from a blogger sounds a little ridiculous, but blogging is not on the same scale as a Facebook update.

Overall, the game play was smooth, the controls were easy to master (really easy to master), and the graphics were great. The freezing was bad, but like I said, it could have been a faulty install. I’m going to reinstall it when I have some time and see if I can round out my trophies.

While it was worth a play, I don’t think it needed to be priced at $14.99. I really don’t think it’s necessary to have more personality tests available as DLC. I’m definitely glad I gave it a look, but it’s not on my must play list. If you want to try it, wait until it goes on sale. 3/5

We Watched This is the End!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a bunch of celebrities got stuck in a house during the apocalypse? No? Well, you should see This is the End anyway. It’s hilarious.

The premise is this: James Franco is having a party at his new house. A ton of his celebrity friends are there, and during the party, the rapture decides to happen and a bunch of them are left behind to try and survive. I know, it sounds ridiculous. That’s because it is. This is not a movie to be taken seriously, in the slightest, and that’s the attitude you have to go in with. I was expecting a ludicrous good time, and that’s exactly what we got.

The main cast have great chemistry together, especially considering they’re all playing themselves. I think it would be harder to play myself than to pretend to be someone else. I could be totally wrong, but regardless, these guys all do a stellar job.

Deep thoughts? No. A marijuana induced sequel to Pineapple Express? Yes. A devil type figure with a huge flaming cock? Absolutely yes. For what it is, I give it a solid 4.5/5. Anything that makes me laugh that much is a good time, and I would totally watch this one again.