Saturday, June 30, 2012

Party hardy

It's Canada Day weekend again folks. 

If you remember last year, I was in the hospital for Canada Day and started having bright red bleeding for the first time in my pregnancy with Kaia at 30 1/2 ish weeks. (Red for Canada Day!!!  My uterus decided to colour coordinate with the holiday.  How festive!). *Eye roll*

It sucked monkey balls.

This year I am cleaning the house, which also sucks, but in a much more mundane too-bad-I'm-not-at-the-cottage-rather-than-buried-under-a-pile-of-winter-jackets-and-elbow-deep-in-a-bucket-of-Mr.-Clean kind of way.

We are cleaning the house this weekend instead of doing anything fun, because next weekend we have big plans....


On July 9th Kaia will be one whole year old!!! (Or 10 months corrected...I kind of like this number better since it means she's still my little baby for awhile longer, but really I know, I know...she's one!).

The guests have all confirmed (family and close friends, which still adds up to like 25 people).  The paper plates, cups and cutlery have been bought.  Decorations have been decided upon and hey, did you know there is a world wide shortage of helium???  I didn't think that could even happen since it's an element on the periodic table for goodness sakes, but apparently it can.  I have done a cupcake batch of 12 as a trial run for the cake I am making and all 12 were super delicious if I do say so myself.  I had 6 and Brian got 6.  Kaia got none. Sugar's bad for babies.  I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere, right? 

Yet, sometimes I still think back to last year and how we weren't even sure we were going to have a living baby at this point.  We were much more hopeful than we had been any earlier in the pregnancy, but still, pretty damn freaked out...still talking in 'ifs' and 'maybes' and 'I hope so's'.

And now we're planning a party like it ain't no thang' cuz (holy smokes!) she's one.  (!!!)

Sitting up. Clapping. Laughing at things she finds funny. Eating finger food on her own (quite dexterously I might add) . Pooping and peeing in the potty. Hip fixed. Saying Mama, Dada and Lynx (our cat's name, which is a REALLY hard word, but comes out of her mouth the same way every time when she sees the cat and although it sounds like "lthsshx" we are sure this is what she means). 

It's awesome.

I want to reach back in time and tell my June 2011 self to just's gonna be fine.  

So, I'm feeling very lucky this weekend.  Even while cleaning out the basement.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lately, with photos!

I realized I haven't updated about Kaia in few weeks, which I like to do if only to have a record of what she's doing these days.  I'm sure I'll fondly look back at these posts and it's fun to include the details that I know I will forget.

In short, she's doing really well!

She has 4 teeth now (two top, two bottom) and is transitioning to table foods and cutting back in the milk department.  From the fruit and vegetable section she's had: bananas, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, apple, kiwi, watermelon, nectarine, cantaloupe, peas, carrots, potato, beans, broccoli, bell peppers, tomato and asparagus and tonight after dinner she tried "dragon fruit".  She likes Graduate 'Puffs', bread (especially when I rip it up and put it on her tray), cheese and enjoys throwing around those baby 'mum-mum' crackers.  She also LOVES being spoon fed yogurt and can't seem to get enough of that nasty looking baby cereal . The other day we gave her some plain cooked spaghetti to try. She spent the whole meal picking it up, waving it around, and then looked confused when it stuck to her arms.  I think she thought we'd given her a strange new toy. It's so much fun watching Kaia try new foods.  She sits with us at dinner and she's like a little baby bird when she's hungry...she sticks her head WAY forward with her mouth open, eyes looking up at us, just hoping we are going to offer her something tasty!

Kaia is starting to use many more consonants including 'ma-ma' and 'da-da' and sort of a 'thhhh' sound which is generally followed by tons of spittle. Sometimes it's so clear when she says Ma-ma or Da-da you swear she's actually talking to you.  I still don't feel she's really connected the sounds (ma-ma) to the meaning yet (ME! Yes I'm your Ma-ma!), so I say she hasn't actually said her first word.  I think the day will come soon though where she'll turn to me and say "Ma-ma", and then follow it up with "Could you be ever so kind as to please go and get me a bottle of warm milk?"...ha, one can only dream.

Kaia still gets 4-5 bottles of milk per day, probably around 600 mls, but has little interest in sippy cups beyond tossing them off her tray.  She understands that the little nub at the top goes in her mouth, and that water will come out of it, but she tends to bite on it rather than suck and she wants ME to hold it while she does this.  She better get out of this habit soon, because I don't think daycare is going to be impressed with having to hold her bottles or sippy cups for her all the time.

In terms of pumping, I'm still easily keeping up with her demands even though I'm now down to 3 pumps per day, making about 900 mls. This is a good thing, because my huge storage of frozen milk (40 litres or 1500 oz) had a bit of an "accident" when Brian disconnected the power to our deep freezer by mistake. Despite the thought of all that hard work (hours and hours of pumping down the drain...literally!!!) I wasn't too upset about this because most of that milk was pumped last August when Kaia was still in the NICU.  Since it was getting close to it's one year expiry date, I figured we'd probably end up tossing it anyway.  I liked having all that milk stored over the winter as my 'insurance policy' in case for some reason my milk started to dry up I knew I had at least a month's worth of food left for her. I knew I would never be able to donate it either because there are no milk banks in this province.

Probably the area that Kaia is slowest in developing is her gross motor skills.  She's been out of the cast since April 3rd and it wasn't until mid to late May that she could confidently sit up on her own (although I was told this was pretty fast at her NICU follow up appointment where they said kids in spicas can take a long time to sit).  She can stand for short periods of time, if supported by a chair or table...but she makes no real efforts to go from one position on her own to another.  These are called 'transition' movements (ie: sitting to lying down, or sitting to pulling up) So if Kaia's sitting...she's sitting unless she falls over backwards.  If she's standing, she's standing in one position (with me closely behind her as she's not very steady) and won't try to take any steps on her own.  If she's on her tummy, she CAN roll over, but seems very stiff and awkward doing it and generally doesn't seem to 'get' that she can change positions to lying on her back if she wants to. It's a little frustrating to watch her struggle, but I know it's temporary and eventually she'll learn how to do these things.  To help her, Kaia is being seen by a nurse from the infant development program about once every two weeks.  The nurse gives me a few tips each time she comes to our house on how to help Kaia with her motor skills, and an OT from the same agency came once to really assess her development.  This was at the end of May so Kaia was just over 8 1/2 months corrected and was falling into the 6-7 month category on some skills and 8-9 on others.  So really not TOO far behind, and pretty damn good for spending 1/4 of her first year in a cast, and 1/6 in the NICU.

This might sound terrible, but I'm actually not sad that she's not getting around anywhere on her own yet.  I'm sure it will be thrilling when she begins to crawl or takes her first steps, but it certainly makes life a lot easier not having to chase after her yet.  A friend of mine came over one time with her 10 month old who was able to cruise and crawl. It was exhausting chasing after this kid.  You had to keep one eye on her at all times. She was also quite destructive, not because she was a 'bad' kid, but because she was young and curious and at 10 months old, didn't really get being 'careful' or 'gentle' yet.  Another friend of mine had a daughter who didn't walk until she was 20 months.  Although she started to get a bit worried about her daughter's development by that point, it definitely made for an 'easier' baby to look after.  By the time her daughter was solidly walking, she could understand if you told her 'no' or asked her to 'be careful'.  This friend never even did any baby proofing because there wasn't a need.  So if your baby does happen to develop later, don't fret moms, it does have some advantages.

My feeling is that as long as Kaia can walk her butt into her Kindergarten class, I'm happy.

I don't want to jinx anything, but all of a sudden Kaia has decided to start sleeping through the night the past couple of weeks.  She'll do AT LEAST 8 hours at a time, and the other night she slept for 12 hours straight!  It was wonderful.  However, there seems to be a bit of a trade off (there always is, isn't there?).  While she is sleeping better, she is taking a LONG time to fall asleep initially at night, or she'll fall asleep okay and then wake up 30 minutes later as if she's refreshed and ready for more play time.  I don't really want to get into the 'cry it out' stuff, because a) we've never done that and I'm afraid if we start it will mess with the sleeping through the night part and b) she is VERY resistant to 'cry it out'.  Kaia's stubborn and will cry, and cry, and CRY, and whine, and fuss, and then be very quiet for awhile and you THINK she's gone to sleep...but no, she's just rallying for the next round of crying and fussing.  Usually if she hasn't started to settle within 10-20 minutes, she's not going to and it's going to take some parental help to get her back to sleep.  While it makes for some crummy evenings since a lot of it is spent trying to get her to go to sleep, I'll take that over multiple night wakings, especially since I'm headed back to work in a month and a half.

Which of course is the other big deal around here.  I'm still looking for a job to go back to in August, other than having to go back to the NICU full time. I've got a lead on a few (including one back at the unit where I was on contract before), but nothing is guaranteed yet. It's a job looking for a job, which is why I haven't been able to blog as much lately.  I spend all of Kaia's nap time looking at job boards and writing cover letters.  I just want to get my back to work place settled so that I can enjoy the rest of my maternity leave.

So that's what's doing in a nutshell.

Oh, and photos of course!

Don't let the lion eat me, okay Mommy?

Loves the swings!

Had some pro photos taken and this one's my favourite!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lessons from Aidan: Marriage

Aidan's short life and death taught me a lot. 

This wasn't his job of course. He was not created or born and did not die in order to teach me anything. He was so much more, so much better than just a lesson or a 'sad event' to 'overcome' in my life and it probably goes without saying that I would give up everything he taught me to have him back.  But, I can't deny that I feel I am a better person for both the having of him, and the losing of him. 

Grief and loss teaches you things about yourself, about others, and about life in a way that getting exactly what you want or feel you 'deserve' cannot. The lessons you learn from loss are harsh. They are abrasive and messy and gnaw away at the deepest parts of you.  While I would not say that I am a completely different person after losing Aidan, I feel I have grown in ways that I wouldn't have if he was alive today.

One of the 'gains' (can I use that word? It's not exactly what I mean, but it will have to do) I feel I got from Aidan's death was the absolute certainty I married the right man.

During the years that we dated, I always joked with Brian that he must have been made of stone, since I never saw him cry. It seems silly now, but I thought it was kind of strange that he never cried, not even at our wedding. He never seemed to get very sad or truly emotional. I had a small worry that maybe he didn't really feel things as deeply as I did, if he didn't ever feel the need to cry.

That all changed the day I began bleeding only a week after finding out I was pregnant with Aidan. When I told Brian I feared I would miscarry...he sobbed. Here we were, only a week into a pregnancy that was visually only two lines on a stick and already Brian loved this little person, felt attached to him, and was deeply upset thinking he might be lost. It was both heartbreaking and wonderful to see how much he cared. I wish this had been the first and only time I had seen Brian cry over Aidan. Unfortunately it wasn't.  Not by a long shot.

The knowledge that your partner shares the same depth of feeling that you do and understands you and meets you on the same level about the big things in life is a great gift. It is something to fall back on when the little things in a marriage begin to grate. Through our struggles both before and after Aidan died, I had to lean on Brian a lot, and he on me. We supported each others need to hope, to grieve, to memorialize, and to begin to laugh again. Our grief wasn't and still isn't always experienced on the same time table, nor do we necessarily express ourselves in the same way, but knowing that we both carry the same love for Aidan, think about him often, and miss him dearly, is a great source of comfort between us.

Our relationship has been on my mind a lot this week because Thursday was our 4th wedding anniversary. While four years is not a long time in the grand scheme of things, those years have been tumultuous ones for us. I realized, and am proud to say, that not once over the course of it all did I ever truly feel my relationship with Brian was in jeopardy. I know I am lucky to say this. Not every couple escapes their child's death so unscathed.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to really make you aware and acknowledge the quality of the partner you have chosen. One hopes that out of this comes appreciation and love for all this person adds to your life, even in the wake of so much disappointment and loss. I can only imagine the difficulties a person might face if they woke up after their baby died and realized their partner was not someone they were going to be able to get through this with. Talk about a rude awakening.

It reminds me of something my Mom told me about my own birth years ago. She said that when I was born and she and my Dad learned about my heart defect they were both overwhelmed and devastated. I was sick and would need multiple surgeries. There were no guarantees. How were they going to handle it all?  But, my mom told me she remembers saying to my Dad at the time "thank goodness it's you that I'm in this with".  30 years later, I think they would both still agree.

So, if we have to be 'in it' at all, I'm glad it's Brian who's here with me.

Who are you 'in it' with?  Are you glad it's him or her?  How has your child's death affected your relationship with your partner?  Did you ever question if you were going to 'make it through'?