3 months of Grayson

Grayson is the perfect baby….

I want to make this a post that is just for Grayson, should he read about his infancy one day… but to put my feelings about him in context, I have to share a bit about my experience with his older sister when she was a baby. No love was lost because of this, but she was colicky, and rarely seemed happy in her first few months. She would only sleep on me or nursing next to me. Days and night were hard.

With Grayson, everything just seems to easy and peaceful. He’s teething right now, and I’ve had to give him extra cuddles and carry him around the house with me a lot, but even when he’s hurting, he just whimpers and lets out a few cries. There are no bone chilling screams with him. He is easy to console.

Even with his recent teething, he’s such a happy baby. All you have to do is look at him and he smiles the biggest smile and coos and gurgles and kicks his legs excitedly.

The real piece of information worth writing home about is that HE IS A GOOD SLEEPER!!! Better than good, in fact. He goes to sleep in his crib after I feed him, burp him, and kiss his cheek. I leave the room, no ninja stealth moves required. He sleeps from 7:30 to about 3:30 or 4:30am (8+ hours!!!!) and then after a quick feed he goes back down for another few hours and wakes for the day around 7:30. At first I was sad that we didn’t need to keep bed sharing, which I automatically fell into when he was first born since it’s how we did things with his sister. But Grayson seems to want the peace and quiet of his own crib in his own room – yes, his own room… He outgrew the bassinet and we didn’t want to move the big crib into our room. We just keep the baby monitor on full volume and video all night and I remain in tune with and acutely aware of his sounds through the monitor. He’s very low maintenance. Sometimes I miss him so much when he’s way off in his own bed that I bring him into our bed at his 3 or 4am feed so we can cuddle a bit before morning.

Grayson is picture perfect in so many ways, but he is really pukey… I have to do outfit changes on both of us multiple times a day, and all of our furniture smells like sour milk. Despite throwing up a lot, he’s in the 97th percentile for height and weight. He was nearly 16 pounds at his 2 month doctor appointment (no idea what he is currently, but he seems to weigh a ton). He’s in size 6 month clothing, and some 9 month. He’s a big baby.

Grayson is a water baby. I have a mesh ring sling that I take him in the pool and the bay at the cottage with and he always falls asleep in the water. He also loves baths, kicking his feet and splashing and cooing while I try to wash him.

No means no! Standing up for my daughter.

I was browsing old blog posts (child 1 is away this weekend and child 2 is constantly either eating or sleeping… I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands) – and I read about a time when a family member had yelled at Avery (as a 2 year old) for touching something they thought she wasn’t supposed to touch. Turned out it was just one of her toys, and she was scared and upset by the interaction, but the adult did not apologize. They just ignored and moved on from the situation. I didn’t say anything. I felt like I had missed an opportunity to model standing up for oneself.

A couple of weeks ago, family was visiting in the backyard and Avery had been in and out of the pool, and was just spending the day in her bathing suit. A family member was playfully picking her up and threatening to toss her in the pool. Avery would shout “no!” and they’d put her down. She seemed OK with this game. Then, on one of the playful tosses, while she was shouting “no!” they actually threw her in. She sputtered to the surface and I could see that she was already crying as she swam to the edge. I ran to her, picked her up, and gave her a full body hug.

Now, I don’t normally coddle my kid when she has a minor scare, like falling off her bike. I tend to go to her calmly and check that she’s ok, asking if she is hurt or if it was just scary. She almost always assesses the situation and realizes that she was just startled and that she’s actually OK. So when I gave her this reaction to being thrown in the pool, everyone looked at me in a judgey way, and tried to belittle my reaction by telling Avery she was fine, it was all in good fun.

I spoke up LOUDLY – I told the family member who had thrown her (and everyone else who was there) that no means no. When someone tells you not to do something to their body, you listen. I told them all that Avery had a right to be upset about what had happened.

The family member seemed a little embarrassed. Good. It’s fair to be embarrassed when you’re learning that you’ve done something wrong. It’s ok to sit with that.

Later that night Avery told me that she wasn’t upset because she was hurt or scared, but because she trusted the person. I told her that we taught him his actions were not ok and that he wouldn’t do that again, and that I was sorry she had to have her trust broken in order to teach a grown-up that no means no.

I’m proud of how I handled the situation. No more passive mom in the background afraid to offend a family member… I’m teaching my daughter to be strong and stand up for herself, and to know that she deserves to be respected and listened to.

An Update on Avery

I started this blog 5 years ago while trying to conceive my first child. That child’s gestation, birth, and first year or so of life was heavily documented, and then she started full time daycare and I was working more and more and I just didn’t document her anymore. But in honour of the child who made me a mom, I want to write another post all about her.

She’s still the sweetest, smartest little person I’ve ever met. Once shy, she is now an amazingly adept communicator and socialite (how this happened when she spent ages 3-4 in a pandemic lockdown I have no idea…). She is intimisatingly smart and thinks critically about the world around her. She decided to become a vegetarian – even though her parents are not – because she understands that eating less meat is what is best for our planet’s health. She also loves animals, and doesn’t want to take a life just to enjoy a juicy burger. At only 4 years old, all on her own, she has stuck to her guns on this piece of her identity. She even has us eating less meat (which, it turns out, was always a part of her agenda).

She was the smartest kid in her Junior Kindergarten class. Yeah, I’m her mom, and of course I’d say that. But her teachers also strongly hinted at it. They went out of their way to send us emails about how much they appreciated having her in the class, about how she instigated so much of the class learning that went on in this strange year, about how she was a natural teacher helping her classmates learn. Despite not learning much of anything from her teachers this year (no offence, it’s just the nature of JK on a computer during a pandemic), she has taught herself how to do lots of math (adding, subtracting, memorized some of the multiplication table, counting by 10s, 5s and 2s…). She has taught herself to read some basic words, and knows how to write and spell a couple dozen words. She is a naturalist, able to identify dozens of plants, insects and bird species. And thanks to the TV show Wild Kratts, she schools all of us adults on the many species of wildlife she knows, including what continents they’re from and where they are on the food chain.

Above all else, Avery is KIND. She is an amazingly nurturing big sister and daughter. During the labour of her brother, she was my little midwife, holding cold compresses on my forehead, giving me kisses and encouragement, and rubbing my back. At 2am. The actual midwives were blown away by her ability to care for another person in what could have been a stressful, exhausting situation for some kids.

At school (before going virtual), Avery’s teachers said that she was like a classroom mother, helping her classmates physically and emotionally. When she sees that someone is upset, she gives them just what they need. She either sits quietly with them, talks to them about what’s wrong, or makes them a card with a picture of her and them on the front, usually surrounded by a heart, to remind them that they’re loved.

As I was emotionally shut off in my family of origin, it astounds me that she is so incredibly emotionally intelligent.

Avery is also very good at following instruction, and thus has really been enjoying karate lessons. She likes to fight (but proper, skilled fighting, not scrapping in the playground, which she considers naughty and immature). She is very concerned with social justice (we’ve instilled that from an early age through the books we choose to read to her and the open conversations we have about racism and sexism and colonialism). We heard on the radio recently a story about black folks in our province receiving more charges for breaking COVID-related restrictions than white folks. She piped up from the back seat of the car, “white people really need to learn that black people are the same as us.” This kid gets it. She’s going to make waves.

I could go on and on and on about how wonderful my first born is and how ridiculously much I love and admire her.

A relaxed attitude toward sleep

Grayson was fussing last night around 7:30. My first thought was ,”witching hour here we come.” But then I remembered that he had woken up at 4:30, and 3 hours is a long time to be awake for a 1-month old. I pulled out all my tricks to get him to sleep for another stretch, even though that meant we’d both have a later bedtime.

That was the first time I’ve been conscious of this baby’s sleep cycles and “nap times.” And I’ve been wondering if it’s actually too early still to be overly conscious of these things. Babies this young sleep when they’re tired… They’re not suffering from FOMO yet, they’re not begging for a later bedtime… They’re slaves to their biological urges. Reminding myself of that will allow me to relax.

No need to set a nap routine yet, no need to schedule anything. We’re just going to ride Grayson’s internal schedule for another couple of months and enjoy the freedom that letting go brings us.

With Avery, I think we started instilling a routine for sleep around 4 months, when the 4 month sleep regression started. I’ve since learned that fighting the 4 month sleep regression is an uphill, losing battle. So maybe with Grayson we’ll start at 6 months… Everything is a little bit more lenient this time around.

4 weeks of Grayson

This big, strong babe is 4 weeks old today 😊

He can already roll over from back to side, rocks tummy time with ultimate pushups, and weighs in at 12 pounds.

He’s also in the fussy, gassy period that is typical for his age. He’s up all night grunting and straining and eating, and during the day he just wants to be laying on my chest. He won’t be put down. I often go to the bathroom with him in the Ring Sling. I CRAVE an opportunity to shower. I haven’t slept in days, beyond quick, 10 minute power naps in the middle of the night, sitting upright in the glider chair with a nursing baby in my arms. It’s all so familiar… And now I have the perspective to know it won’t last forever, and to know that I’ll survive the sleep deprivation and touched-outedness.

Other than the fussiness, he’s actually more chill than his big sister was. He rarely cries (just “fusses”, and grunts). He’s generally easy to soothe. With his big sister, once she got crying it was very difficult to bring her back down. Her cries always escalated and often moved to hysterics and then she’d crash. Grayson cries briefly to let us know something’s wrong, but never gets worked up.

He’s a handsome little babe, and I’m really enjoying him in these early weeks thanks to the fast postpartum healing and the experience that tells me everything is OK.

2 1/2 week update

Grayson’s first 2 weeks were pretty damn easy, compared to my memory of newborn life with Avery. He ate well and slept well – and didn’t care if he was in my arms or on the floor. I got shit done – I made nice meals, baked with Avery, showered and did my hair. Didn’t sleep at night, but that’s nothing new to me.

But then, 1 day after he hit 2 weeks old, he started going through the typical baby digestive struggles (soooo much grunting and straining all night long…). He’s frequently uncomfortable and, although he doesn’t really need cuddles and bouncing like Avery did, he needs help getting into more comfortable positions to alleviate his discomfort. We do lots of bicycle pedaling his legs, tummy massages, burping, tummy time, and every other position one could dream up.

We’re bed sharing (I sleep with him between me and the wall, no blankets). I tried to resist bed sharing with Avery for many reasons, but in the end, it saved my sanity. This time, I fully committed from the get-go. On night 1, I couldn’t stay awake for even a minute after retrieving him from the bassinet and sitting up in bed to feed him. Way more dangerous than safely bed sharing. The bed sharing has helped me to at least be able to rest my weary back, and some nights allows me to mostly sleep right through. In his grunting and straining phase, though, no one is sleeping.

Besides sleep and developmentally appropriate fussing, Grayson is still a really easy baby. He eats like a champ. At 2 weeks old he had far surpassed his birth weight – from 8lb 15oz at birth, down to 8lb 6oz before my milk came in on day 4, and back up to 9lb 11oz at 2 weeks. He has outgrown most of his newborn clothes.

He’s freaking adorable. He looks quite a lot like Avery did as a baby, but somehow even cuter. He’s the kind of baby who (so far) let’s out one or two cries to let you know he needs something and then easily settles. He even settles himself. I don’t know how long I can expect this luck to continue – I know the peak fussy period is around 4-6 weeks and the big initial sleep regression is at 4 months and there are tons of upcoming growth spurts. But for now, he’s an easy baby!!

Changes

Not much really changed for us when we became a family of 4 versus a family of 3. We already had a child-centred routine to life, and we were used to not sleeping and not having quality time together…

The thing that changed the most for me was our first born – she didn’t actually change overnight, but it seemed like it. The first time I took in my daughter after holding our infant son felt like I was looking at and holding an entirely different child. Like I had been in a coma for a year or two while she kept aging.

Her face felt bigger against my hand in the familiar way I cup her cheek. Her attitude seemed so much more mature and independent (which partly is real because she took on the big sister role with newfound independence). Even her hair felt different overnight – less soft, fine baby hair and more course, strong hair that has seen many days of sun, dirt and chlorine…

I grieved my lost ability to see her as my baby with the new baby in town. But I’m also celebrating her for the strong, helpful, caring and independent young person she has become.

Birth Story

Grayson’s birth was a sandwich of a really awful experience in the middle of really good experiences.

The day before my due date I was fully effaced and 4cm dilated. My midwife came to the house and did a stretch and sweep at 3pm and got me to 6cm. I was crampy after that and just kept walking around, up and down stairs, and bouncing on the yoga ball. I started having very mild, regular contractions that night, and when my midwife arrived, she stretched my cervix again to 8cm. So I got through nearly the entire dilation and effacement process barely feeling a thing!

It was 9pm on the day before his due date that I started getting regular contractions – they were only about a 3 on the 10-point pain scale. By 11pm they were getting to be just 2-3 min apart, so despite not hurting too much, that’s when I paged my midwife to come over. She arrived at midnight, and then the pain started to ramp up.

We filled up the birthing pool, and as soon as I got in the pain reduced by almost 50%. The best part of labouring at home was having Avery present. We woke her up when pushing started hoping she’d be able to be present for the birth, and she was an AMAZING little midwife. She held cool compresses on my head, gave me kisses, and even coached me to push along with the midwives.

I laboured in the pool for a couple of hours and then, after being fully dilated for a bit, I got out to have my water broken and then ran right back into the pool for some relief. I got to the point of pushing in the pool, but I couldn’t get good strong pushes going in the pool. Probably due to a combination of being too relaxed and feeling like I was slipping on the slippery pool bottom. So unfortunately after an hour of initial pushing, I had to get out and push on the bed. The midwife kept saying that his head was sunny side up (face first). Avery was also sunny side up, so I thought I could do it, but this baby was bigger and they think he just got stuck. Pushing for a second baby should not take that long.

Then I was in for a really stressful and painful time on my bed listening to the midwives and student midwives talking about how he wasn’t descending past a pelvic spine (or something like that). Between contractions they were giving me an IV, a catheter, and talking to me about calling an ambulance. The stress of all of that made the pain unbearable. So different from the calm, quiet and dark of the pool. So after 2 more hours of this hectic pushing experience out of water, I got transferred to the hospital. It was 4:30am, and wearing nothing but a skimpy little lace nighty that my wife hastily threw over my head, I headed out the driveway to the ambulance, crying and screaming for all the neighbours to see 😂

At the hospital the OB insisted I get an epidural so she could manually turn him. The experience of fear-worsened contraction pain (pushing contractions that I wasn’t allowed to push through) and getting an epidural while sitting through these contractions was one of the hardest moments of my life, physically. But once it was done, and once the OB reached in and turned the baby, I was peaceful and relaxed again and actually breathed him down the birth canal (thanks hypnobirthing J breathing!) with just my wife and I in the room. When the midwife came to check on us I said I could feel his head in the birth canal, and I was right. With just the midwife, a nurse, and my wife and I in the room, I calmly and peacefully pushed him out in 3 contractions.

Interestingly, even though the OB turned him so he could descend, he still came out face first. Apparently my birth canal is insistent on twisting babies into a face-up position! Grayson had the same little unicorn bump on his forehead that Avery had, but his went down almost right away because he ended up spending so little time in the actual birth canal.

Despite the hairy middle part of this labour experience, I’m thankful that I got to experience two new kinds of labour in one birth. With my first birth experience I had a hospital bed birth with pitocin induction and no pain meds. It was intense but rather quick and overall a good experience. With this birth experience I got to have a lovely home water labour, and an epidural delivery which allowed me to be really present for the sensations and emotions of his emergence into the world.

At the time of writing, our new little boy is 6 days old and thriving. I’m healing so much quicker than last time (although FUCK it’s still hard!). Now that I’ve finally written the birth story, I have a lot to write about in reflection, but somehow I don’t really have time to write… 😉

39 Weeks Pregnant

I cannot believe we’re at this point!

I’ve had all the signs of impending labour for more than a week now. Diarrhea, period-like cramps, losing bits of mucous plug, nesting by obsessively cleaning, so much pelvic pressure that it feels like the baby is sliding out… I know I was at least 2cm dilated at 34 weeks but haven’t been checked again since then. I also may have had an early bloody show at that time (5 weeks ago!!!). But still no labour.

I have a stretch and sweep scheduled for next Tuesday (39+5), but I’m really hoping we don’t get that far! Can’t wait to meet this baby!!

38 Weeks Pregnant

We went from being scared he’d come early to being totally ready to get him out 😆. Looks like getting rid of the stress of doing it all simultaneously was the ticket to avoiding preterm labour.

Now that we’re full term, we’re all set for a homebirth.

Birth Preparations:

  • The midwives have been to the house to drop off the home birth supplies and talk us through the process. Our friend (actually our donor’s wife) came too, because she’ll be Avery’s caregiver during the birth.
  • Picked up the birthing pool and purchased extra parts (potable water hose, waterproof tarp)
  • Gathered all other supplies like towels, receiving blankets, garbage pails, waterproof mattress cover…
  • Arranged plan A and plan B childcare for during birth (home or transfer to hospital)
  • Have been talking to Avery about what to expect (noises, blood…)
  • Doing hypnobirthing meditations a few times a week.

Bodily Experiences This Week

I’m ready to evict this little babe. I’m uncomfortable, sore, can’t bend over to pick things up… and I’m so excited to meet him. My body has been preparing itself by clearing itself out (ahem, with frequent bathroom visits), losing small bits of my mucous plug, and having plenty of random Braxton Hicks contractions.

Baby This Week

Fully cooked. Not much else going on with him besides getting bigger and bigger!