Prepping for baby’s first flight, first birthday, and first daycare! 

August is a busy month around here. Not only do I have a full garden to harvest and preserve and a half finished dissertation proposal due at the end of the month, but we’re also prepping to go on our first family vacation (with baby’s first flight!), we’re planning Avery’s first birthday party, and I’m trying to prepare her for daycare starting in September. 

Let’s start with the vacation. We’re going to Prince Edward Island, which is my favourite province that I’ve visited so far (granted, I haven’t been to British Columbia). We’re going to eat fresh seafood for days, and lounge on the deck of our rental cottage looking out over the ocean. I’m psyched, but also starting to feel the vacation-prep stress… I’m starting to make lists (oh, the lists I am making… there are scrap pieces of paper everywhere!), I’m cleaning out the tablet with the hopes of using it to distract the baby on the plane, and we just bought a small travel stroller. There is so much to do still… Any tips from seasoned family travelers are welcome  ☺️

In particular we need advice on baby containing devices for out and about. We have a fancy backpack carrier for hiking that is comfortable for us but Avery’s not overly fond of, we have the newly purchased umbrella stroller, we have a ring sling, and a Moby wrap (the latter two we use at home regularly, but she’s getting a little too heavy for). What do we bring? Our baby carrying needs are as follows: We plan to do some hiking, beach walks, and maybe even a whale watching tour on a sail boat, but also maybe a local fishery museum, fish market, and the necessary trips to the grocery store for supplies. 

On to the 1st birthday party. Birthdays are a big deal to me. Not adult birthdays, but definitely kid birthdays. I remember almost every birthday cake I got as a kid, decorated elaborately with my favourite things of the moment. One year my parents put a tiny toy horse farm on the cake, with a tiny plastic fence as the border. It was elaborate. So I want Avery to have equally awesome memories of a big celebration of HER on her birthday every year. We’ve decided on a rainbow theme, and as soon as my damn car stops being broken down (AGAIN), I’ll start shopping for decorations and supplies. Her party is the weekend after we return from our vacation, so I want to have everything purchased before we leave (except the food, obviously). 

Daycare. Yes, we have a whole month before she starts at daycare. But with travelling and birthday and everything else we have going on, I want to make sure it doesn’t sneak up on me. To transition, one thing we can be doing is visiting the provider at the park at couple of times a week when she’s there with her current (“graduating”) group of kids. This is something I need my broken down car for, unfortunately. I also want to work on a nap schedule that will fit with our daycare schedule, but travelling might make that difficult. Also, Avery MIGHT be trying to transition herself to one nap a day… slowly, and very much dependent on how she’s feeling on any given day. So perhaps it’s a bad time to try to forcefully reset her nap schedule. 

Also for daycare, I need to decide if I want her to try goats milk in a cup (she has been allergic to milk and eggs since birth, but we have been successfully building a tolerance since 9 months), or if I want to get serious about pumping so she can have milk while she’s there. She still nurses every 2 or 3 hours (24 hours a day), although at 12 months and with 3 full solid food meals a day +snacks she doesn’t NEED that much milk. Pumping is one of my least favourite aspects of motherhood, and usually only yields 2 or 3 oz at a time. My Midwife suggested to me that I may have low breast storage capacity, which is fine if you’re an on-demand nurser and don’t rely on pumping, but gets annoying when you want to fill a bottle or a belly in one quick go every 4 hours. So I have some contemplating to do. 

Planning an Adoption Party

We conceived of this child together. We dreamed of her together, we planned for her together, we found our donor together and my wife even pushed the plunger that delivered the baby-making goods to my egg. My wife coached me through labor and saw our daughter emerge into the world before I did. She even cut the cord. But when we registered her birth, we couldn’t include my wife anywhere. We couldn’t even give the baby her actual last name because my wife was invisible in terms of the law. 

We have spent months and lots of dollars to have my wife adopt Avery as a “second parent”. After all the required lawyer visits and a meticulously prepared shit-ton of paperwork, the court has sent back our application twice, for silly things like using blue ink instead of black ink. It has been an infuriating process and we are so excited to finally get this done so we can move on as a legally recognized family of 3, and my wife can stop worrying about her rights as a parent. 

We really truly hope that the judge will approve the latest iteration of the adoption application and we will be able to file for a birth certificate and substituted birth registration with her new last name. When it finally goes through, I am throwing my wife and daughter a party. 

I’m not the greatest at throwing parties. Back in my undergrad days my parties ended up being me and my roommates sitting around our living room eating chips and drinking out of plastic cups. Nobody ever came. Since moving in with my now-wife in our tiny old home, parties have been similarly small because I worry that every guest should have a place to sit, and we only have seating for 5 in our living room. I under-invite and downplay the fun that can be expected in my worries. But this is going to be different. I’m going to invite everyone who has supported us, near and far, family and friends, call it a drop-in party so people will hopefully flow in and out to make room for more guests, and I’m going to serve simple food I can easily set out ahead of time. Some chips, a veggie tray, and frozen hors d’oeuvres. I’ll also throw in a couple bottles of cheap wine and some cases of beer, and those plastic cups will make a reappearance from the undergrad days.

I’m struggling now to come up with decorations. Anyone have ideas? I have two things nailed down: I’ve ordered a onesie for my baby to wear that says “officially an [wife’s last name]”, and I’ve ordered a 6′ banner to hang that says “Love Makes A Family”. That’s all I’ve got… Any ideas to make the message hit home to our friends that this party is celebrating our long fought legal win?

“too accommodating” to my baby…? Sleep dilemma

My mom worries that Avery is too needy – that she wants to be held too much and needs too much assistance getting to sleep. I’ve used the “she’s a newborn baby, of course she needs to be held all the time!” excuse for as long as I could, but she’s going to be 4 months old in a couple of days and now I’m starting to get more judgment for the way I get her to sleep.
No-cry sleep training attempts were a bust. We tried for a month to take a morning nap in the crib and she would fuss for an hour before I’d take her out and let her sleep on me to salvage a half hour or so of the remaining nap time.

She’ll only sleep on me if I hold her against me and rock her to sleep, or next to me if I nurse her to sleep while lying down. This is the case for naps and nights. At night I transfer her to the bassinet once she has fallen asleep in our bed, but the bassinet sleep has gotten worse and worse and she ends up bed sharing more often than not. I get terrible sleep this way because there isn’t room for a spread-eagle wife, a spread-eagle baby, and me. However, I get worse sleep when I try putting her in her bassinet. Last night I held her hand in her bassinet for 2 hours to keep her asleep – everytime I let go she awoke.

I mentioned to my mom that I’m uncertain of how successful all 3 of our family Christmas dinners will be next week, because Avery gets fussy at 6:30 and the only way to appease her is to get her ready for bed and quiet down the house for the night. This is dinner time. This is why I usually eat dinner early, and then when my wife gets home later she eats separately. We have eaten dinner together, without a fussy baby in either of our arms, a total of 3 times since Avery was born.

I deal with the evening fussiness by laying in bed with the baby from 6:30 until she falls asleep – sometimes an hour, sometimes 3 hours. I put her to sleep in our bed because it’s the least exhausting for me and because I let her comfort nurse to sleep. If I get up to shower or something and Avery wakes up to my absence, she screams. If she wakes up and sees me there with her, she falls right back to sleep. I am kind of trapped.

Not really an ideal situation for holiday dinners. And this is why my mom said that maybe I am too accommodating to my baby.

I see my only other option as cry-it-out sleep training, which I really, really don’t want to use. But I’m torn as to whether this is inappropriate behaviour for an almost 4 month old at all, or if the problem lies with the social expectations of our fast-paced, independent culture where going to bed at 7 just because your baby goes to bed at 7 is unreasonable. I don’t have a problem with it – I like to unwind in the evening in bed, cuddling my baby.

Who is being unreasonable here? Avery and I, or our family?

Sleep Training: step 1

Avery sleeps well. She wakes for food 2 or 3 times a night, which is acceptable for her age, and she barely wakes during these night feeds making it easy to transfer her back to the bassinet. But getting her to sleep (for naps or bedtime) is becoming a problem.

I’m afraid I’m making sleep hard for her by committing the sleep training no-nos: nursing her to sleep at night and naps, picking her up as soon as her fussing and whimpers turn to cries, and letting her fall asleep cuddled up to me in my bed every night before transferring her to the bassinet.

This habit/routine came about during her extreme fussy period, when comfort nursing and rocking for hours was literally all we could do to minimise her cries. The books all said it was OK with a fussy baby – do what you need to do to survive until 4 months (then repent for what you did to survive!!).

I think back to a time when I could actually put her down in her crib drowsy for a morning nap and she would drift off for one or two hours at a time. I thought we had won the baby sleep lottery. But then she became more and more difficult to settle, and I became more and more directly comforting to get her to sleep. And now if I put her in her crib at any time she cries and works herself into a tizzy.

Honestly, if it were just her and I and a paid 12 month mat leave, I’d be OK with our way of doing things. It feels natural, and usually it works really well to keep Avery happy and well slept. But it’s just not sustainable in the real world.

Here are the reasons I think I’m ready to try sleep training Avery:

  • My wife and I can’t really have a life together when Avery’s bedtime routine is two hours of comfort nursing in the darkened bedroom. We just sit in the dark in silence every evening from 7 until we fall asleep. We eat dinner in bed in the dark. When my wife speaks above a whisper I snap at her to be quiet because the baby isn’t in a deep sleep yet. Not good for the maritals.
  • She can’t nap without me, which takes a lot of my day and means I can’t get much done, or go anywhere.
  • She is only about 2 inches away from literally not fitting in the bassinet anymore. The bassinet is also on loan and is needed back by its owner in January or February for another baby. Her crib is waiting for her…
  • The books and sleep experts seem to try not to judge co-sleeping or using vices to get a fussy baby to sleep, but they do say to think about the future – practice now what you want the baby’s sleep habits to look like in the future. I want her sleep future to involve her Mo being able to put her to sleep in her crib with a short bedtime routine around 7pm. I’m not concerned about getting her to sleep through the night, but getting to sleep in the first place looks a lot different in my ideal future than it does now.

How I plan to sleep train:

  • We have talked about moving the crib into our bedroom (huge undertaking that would require dismantling the crib or removing the door jamb, and would require removing our dresser and climbing over the bed to get past it in our tiny room). We have talked about blowing up the air mattress in the nursery and starting sleep training in her own room, cold turkey. Not sure which one we’ll go with yet.
  • In the mean time, I’ll start with that morning nap. I’m going to keep working on her positive crib association by putting her in there slightly before her usual morning nap time (to avoid getting her overtired). I set her room up with the heater, humidifier, sleep-associated lullabies playing softly in the background, blinds drawn, light off, mommy-scented lovie on her chest. I rock her for a bit and put her in the crib awake but drowsy. She cries. I rock her, put her back in awake but drowsy. She cries. Repeat. I have been giving up after 45 minutes and letting her sleep on me, but today after 30 minutes of in and out, she fell asleep in the crib! It only lasted 10 minutes, but it’s a first step in building the crib-sleep association.
  • Timeline: my goal is to master the morning nap (and maybe others) in the crib during the month of December. We will be messing with the bedtime a little over the holidays with travelling and festivities, so I plan to save the bedtime sleep training for January and hope it goes quickly because we are losing the option of the bassinet. Also, she hasn’t reached the 4 month sleep regression yet, and I’ve been hearing that sometimes it’s best to wait for that to strike before sleep training. She will be 4 months on Christmas Eve.

Any sleep training tips are welcome as we embark on this long journey…

Wish us luck!

Osteopathy for babies?

Avery is a perfectly healthy baby with no physical problems besides sensitive skin and a history of colic. She has 10 perfect little fingers and 10 perfect little toes, bright eyes and a happy smile, and she is growing like a weed. But there is something in the back of my mind making me worry, and making me consider getting some kind of alternative physical therapy done on her.

She has always been a great breastfeeder. She latched from her first moment of life outside the womb, and has always had productive feeds. However, in the past 6 weeks or so I’ve noticed that she seems to prefer side lying nursing to the typical cradle hold. In fact she hates it when anyone tries to hold her in cradle hold. When I hold her up to nurse she either cries and squirms away (even though I know she’s hungry), or she has very short feeds (we’re talking 4 or 5 minutes short). When she is lying on the bed to nurse she can go for an hour without moving during evening cluster feeds.

Also, since birth we have noticed cracking and grinding in her shoulders, sometimes loud enough to hear, sometimes we just feel it. I asked her doctor about it at the 2 month appointment and the doctor said that since she couldn’t replicate it, and since shoulder displasia wasn’t a thing, there was nothing to worry about.

So I’m not TOO worried, but I want peace of mind that she is as comfortable as possible as she grows. Many, many friends have told me about chiropractic work or osteopathy for babies, as up front as “have you booked her for her chiropractic assessment yet?” Just days after her birth. I know nothing about either practice besides what I’ve googled as I try to figure out if this is something I want to pursue, but I am a little cautious about someone twisting and turning my baby’s mushy little body.

Currently I am between going on a 2 month long wait list for a well rated local osteopath, or going in much sooner for craniosacral therapy. I’m still not sure if this is something we will pursue at all, but if anyone has any experience with either of these therapies on their babies, I’d love to hear.

Baby’s first visitors and accepting help

I have a pretty selfish dream for the first 24 hours with baby. I want that time to quietly and calmly adjust to parenting with just my wife and I. If we are in the hospital, I don’t want a waiting room full of family waiting to come in to the room where I am likely going to be emotional and sweaty and bleeding. I have been respectfully breaking it to people over the last several months that we will call them AFTER the baby is born and we will schedule some short visits.

I know that people often give the advice to take any and all help that is offered to you, but I am an independent and stubborn person who gets frustrated by people trying to help me do things, and I get anxious when people try to offer advice that I don’t want to hear. I want to be able to learn to take care of the baby on my own – I don’t want people looking over my shoulder suggesting this and that for breastfeeding, diaper changes, what this or that cry really means, etc. I want to feel like I can awkwardly learn how to care for the baby without being observed and scrutinized by those who have done it before with their own babies. My wife is also only taking a week off, and I want that time with her to properly bond as a family and just be together. I don’t want that to be interrupted by a steady stream of house guests.

I think I’m more stressed about managing visitors after the birth than I am about the birth itself!

Wanted: Cloth Diapering Advice

We had a lovely in-home consultation from a cloth diapering service in our town, but after crunching the numbers ourselves (and not just blindly reading the estimated cost savings in the diaper service pamphlet), we realized that using a service would be quite a bit more expensive than buying disposables. We want to cloth diaper for more reasons than just cost, though, so we have decided to go with option #3: cloth diaper without using a service. Option #3 means we need to do our own research and supply our own materials, so I am seeking advice from anyone who has experience with cloth diapering. Some of the specific things I would like to hear about are:

  • Where you buy your cloth diapers (used from online groups, new from certain stores, etc.)
  • Your top 3 brands and why (I understand that every baby is different and therefore everyone will have different favourites, but the “why” part of this question is of particular interest to me)
  • How many diapers/covers and how often you wash
  • What is your diaper changing system like? E.g., where do you put the dirty diapers (wet bag, pail of liquid solution, etc.)? What is your on-the-go/diaper bag changing experience?
  • Do you mix disposable and cloth, and why?
  • Do you use cloth wipes too, why or why not?
  • Do you use flushable liners, and if so, when did you start using them?

Any any other general CD advice is welcome, too!

Thanks cloth diapering mamas!

What bottle system to register for

Spending that first week with our new nephew we had the opportunity to learn through observation. One of the things we observed was his parents scrambling to figure out what they needed when baby came a week and a half early and struggled with breastfeeding. They had registered for bottles (Dr. Brown’s) and an electric breast pump (Medela), but didn’t have a bottle warmer or a drying rack, probably because they expected to use bottles as supplementary only.

I have a dream situation for our own baby – that it will latch right out of the womb and my milk will be flowing from Day One. In this case I would love to use the Kiinde milk storage bag system, because we would stock just enough for occasional feedings by my wife when I choose to not wake up for a late night feeding. But if we have difficulties with breastfeeding – if we need to supplement with formula, if I need to pump to get stubborn milk to come in, if baby is tongue tied and can’t latch – this would be a wasteful system as the bags are disposable. Sure, they come with a great freezer storage system and make the milk’s journey from pump-to-baby’s-mouth hassle free, but if we end up needing to feed 12 bottles a day, we will be spending $70 a week on those disposable bags.

How do you know what system to register for when you don’t know what specific challenges you will have? Any advice on this would be very appreciated. We are heavy into product research mode right now as we start making our official registry.