The Kid in the Tube

I thought I had a pretty good handle on photography when Jack came along….oh boy was I wrong..

Not being a fan of traditional portrait photography I have had to re evaluate my approach and aesthetic. Kids don’t wait for the perfect light or for you to get your proper metering. You have to be quick and intuitive. Fortunately Jack is always doing interesting things.

Jack’s birth story

So. In slightly less than 36 hours, Jack will be two. This just kills me — first that my itty bitty newborn is growing up so fast, second that we’ve kept him alive so long and third… that I’m still questioning the ways and means of his delivery.

So. Our birth story.  I was pretty sure of his date of conception, which would have made his due date the 26th or so of July. On a 12 week ultrasound, the sonographer estimated August 1 or so his due date. It seemed pretty close, so I wasn’t fussed.

I had a lovely pregnancy. Other than a fall off a community bus (yes, I fell off a short bus) at the beginning of my moderately hellish second trimester/working full time/taking full time classes at SFU which caused some serious back pain, and a few episodes of serious heartburn, I felt good. Pretty much no morning sickness, no spots, no waddling —  I was good. I only gained 26lbs, which made my midwives happy, and my main cravings were milk (I was buying and drinking 10+ litres a week) and a $50/week strawberry and mango habit.  It could have been worse.

There were a few stressful things towards the end. I was in disagreement with my employer over the amount of holidays I was entitled to, and my auntie Joan was in hospice care having lost her battle with cancer.  These things are related: I wanted a week to go visit her as I was too far along to fly and couldn’t make the drive in a weekend in my state.  I didn’t get to see her, which still pretty much makes me want to cry.   There were some good stresses too: we moved to a housing co-op in Mt. Pleasant out of our craptastic little apartment in the ugliest corner of New Westminster (a good move, but moving at 7 months pregnant with an incompetent and belligerent mover was not overall positive). My sister moved to the UK in the middle of June and I was both happy for her and sad that she wouldn’t be meeting our little guy for at least a year or two.

The last two weeks of July were some of the hottest on record and the only thing that saved me is that I had gone off work a little early due to being HUGE and needing daily NST (non stress tests) in the first week of July to make sure the small fry was still going great (which he was).  So, from July 6 onwards, I was off work and in the lake. Sasamat Lake in Port Moody saved my overheated bacon in a big way 🙂

July 26 came and went. My aunt passed away, surrounded by loved ones who weren’t me. I was definitely big by my standards, and the only thing of any concern to my midwives was that I was apparently measuring ‘big’.  I wasn’t really stressed by this: my weight gain was awesome, considering I started very overweight and sure I felt huge, but I didn’t have anything to compare it to.  I still wasn’t waddling, which meant Jack hadn’t started to descent into my pelvis, which again I wasn’t super worried about. I had done a LOT of reading about natural birth and labour. I had midwives and an awesome doula, Sally, and had done the Birthing From Within course in order to learn techniques of getting out of my overly-clinical head during the birthing process.  I knew that with the onset of labour, he could move into position very quickly, and I had faith that my body just wasn’t ready to go into labour. I believed in the ‘due month’ and was willing to be patient and go past my due date if necessary.

We took long walks and short hikes, did lots of beluga-inspired swimming at Sasamat Lake and waited.

On a Tuesday, though, the 4th of August, my midwives checked in.  I said I was still great, still not waddling, but I had noticed a very few less movements that day than the rambunctious tenant I was used to. They told me to go to St. Paul’s for an NST, which was reassuringly fine. I was asked to come back the next day for an ultrasound, which I happily attended on the Wednesday afternoon.

Once I had my clothes all back on, June, who was one of my favourite midwives, came in for a chat. Apparently my fluid was measuring low (something I now know is pretty meaningless as a) fluid measurement is irrelevant to fetal outcome and b) it is pretty much impossible to measure properly by ultrasound or any other means).  June didn’t seem too concerned, though that may have been her unflappable demeanor, and I wasn’t too worried until she said that Jack needed to be delivered. That meant an induction. And a go home, pack a bag, and drive to the hospital where she would be waiting kind of induction. Furthermore, a drive to Royal Columbian (in New Westminster!), since they wouldn’t induce me at St. Paul’s since they didn’t have enough surgical staff on hand in case I needed a c-section. It was the first I had even considered a c-section as being something that could happen to me.

Back a few months earlier, when we were doing the hippie-dippy prenatal classes (which I loved, by the way, birth art and all), we were given the assignment of drawing our worst case birthing scenario.  I drew the aftermath of a dead baby. Every single other couple drew a c-section.  Funny, huh?

Gayle and John picked us up at home and drove us to Royal Columbian. We checked in and were given a tiny room off the nurse’s station, where June fussed over us for a few minutes and left.  At around 8pm, Cervadil (prostaglandin gel)was inserted by my cervix to try and get things started, but my cervix was still relatively closed (1cm) and high up.  We were on our own for the night and told to rest while we could, and June was going home to do the same thing. 

I felt strongly that laying there was not going to accomplish anything. If I was going to manage to have this baby, I needed to get him DOWN and I could only do that with gravity.  I was up and walking for most of the night.  I did feel contractions which I could walk and talk through to start with, but eventually had to pause and breathe through.  Hours later, when I was found by a nurse to basically not have progressed, they started the Pitocin IV.  The only complication of this was that I was told I had to lie in bed wearing the fetal heartrate monitor for 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes were unpleasant, but when I went to get up, I was told by the nurse not to.  I had known about this possibility and demanded the ‘telemetry’ FHM which was wireless and which I could walk around while wearing.  I was told the nursing staff weren’t prepared to find it for me and if I wanted it, it would have to be my midwife who put it on. We called Commercial Drive Midwives, and Corrine was on call. This was a little disheartening. We had met all three midwives: Grace, June and Corrine, as is standard, and had decided that we hoped to get anyone but Corrine. She was nice enough, but a little blank/unresponsive/unengaged and she was the only one who had never had her own baby.

When Corrine arrived, sometime around 6am, she was MAD. Mad to be there early, mad the nurses wouldn’t arrange the telemetry machine, just plain mad. We were a little taken aback, but frankly were more concerned with other things.  Sally had also arrived (before our midwife) and was fantastic — a calm and reasoned presence.  We felt more confident standing up for ourselves while she was there, and in fact I eventually ignored the FHM nurse and just got out of bed to walk some more.  Once the telemetry machine was in place (a stupid little webbing belt with several large plastic monitors attached to it), I went back to walking. I don’t know how much I walked that night, but I still never waddled.

Eventually, the doctors on staff changed shift. Instead of the dark-haired female OB, it was a man. At 10am, he decided to check my progression and I was maybe at 3cm and still far back. He offered to break my water in order to get things going.  Even knowing how one intervention can lead to another, I agreed. The thought of the past 14-16 hours resulting in a whole 2cm change was daunting. He actually offered to do a csection right then and I must have looked at him like he grew a second head. He backpedaled a little and basically said he was fine with me trying labour.  He broke my waters which hurt like a motherfucker. I thought being checked for dilation was painful (I’m pretty sure I begged him to stop in the middle) — I had no idea. I immediately asked if the fluid was clear and… no. No, they weren’t.  Now I was even more anxious. I knew that meconium in the water would limit the amount of time they would let me labour even more than the clock that started ticking when the induction started.  I felt immense pressure to get this baby moving, so I was back on my feet, wearing horrible plastic mesh panties and a giant pad to hold the green liquid I was oozing. Ugh.

I stormed up and down the halls for what seemed like hours. Every so often a nurse or Sally or Corrine would mention that the nurse was getting a little frantic when I went to the bottom of the hallway as I would get out of range of the telemetry machine and it would go all crazy.  I felt like I was slowly being corralled, my leash was being tightened closer and closer to that little room where I didn’t want to be.  Eventually some lucky mother had her baby and a bigger room opened up, one with a big tile tub, which they wouldn’t let me into because of that IV in my hand.  I think I asked at one point what would happen if I just went over to the bathtub and filled it and got in, and no-one answered me. Sally might have wished I would try, I suspect, but my midwife didn’t encourage it.

Oh yes — through this time, we also had a student midwife. I forget her name; I suspect I’ve blocked it from my mind. She was trained as a midwife overseas (the Phillipines? I forget) and was going through a program to become certified in Canada. She was horrible. She called me fat to the doctors at St. Pauls (telling them that my belly measurements, while large, were off because of the fat on my stomach). She was rude to Sally. She spent most of the time at the nurses station chatting them up. She was useless, or worse than useless. She was surprised when I said no to the c-section.  I’m not sure she understood that mothers in Canada go to midwives to *avoid* scalpel-happy OB/surgeons and all those interventions.

In the middle of those interventions I had been so determined to escape, I remember asking the nurse in charge of the IV if I could have a break before she increased the dosage again. Every 15 minutes, they would turn up the drip, and the contractions were coming fast and furious, like I had no break at all between them.  With infinite sympathy, she kept me at the same level for another fifteen before reluctantly stabbing the machine with a perfect fingernail.  The nurses were wonderful.

 I laboured on the toilet at lot. I leaked green stuff and the tiny corner of rational mind I had was completely grossed out by this.  I wore a tank top and a pair of grey shorts that I thought would never come clean (but which I still have and wear).  I tried the shower and hated it. I stood, I sat, I squatted, I swayed. I ignored the fussing of the nurses trying to adjust the telemetry machine. I was too hot, and too cold, and they brought me warm blankets to drape around my shoulders.  Sally and Steve took turns applying pressure to my SI joints, which were on fire the entire time.  Steve had brought my laptop and put on Jesse Cook, and I listened to flamenco music, every album, over and over again.  *Early on Tuesday…* I got loud, and louder. I breathed, I may have swore a little, or a lot.  No-one offered me any pain medication. I might have punched them if they had. 

When I was checked again, sometime around 9:30pm, I was no more than 4 centimetres. Maybe five. Jack’s head hadn’t descended any further. In fact, his head was starting to swell from being slammed against my pelvic bone for 26 hours. A section was necessary.  Corrine and the doctor agreed.  Steve agreed.  I agreed. I asked Sally if she could turn off the Pitocin, since being slammed by artificially charged contractions is one thing when you believe the pain will accomplish something and entirely another when you know it will not.  I remember so clearly the compassion in her voice when she told me she could not, her throat choked with disappointment and concern. 

Sally also did the unthinkable — with the decision made, she asked the doctor and Corrine, who were chatting in the back of the room, to leave so she could talk to Steve and I alone to make sure we (ok, I) was truly on board with this.  She was worried that I would be devasted by failure. Really, by that point, any regret I had was tempered by relief that the ordeal would soon be over.  However, the doctor was offended at being ‘ordered around by a doula’, Corrine was shocked, and that useless student midwife told her off.  Steve told Corrine that the student nurse had to go, full stop, and to her credit, Corrine sent her away. I took out my contacts, still wracked by contractions, and waited with Sally and Steve for the surgery.

In short order, I was wheeled to the operating room. The anesthesiologist was marvelous — skilled, compassionate and funny. Now that I was back in my head, and almost out of my mind in pain, the rational side came back and I’m pretty sure I was making jokes in the OR as he did the spinal.  I consoled myself that a spinal would not affect Jack in the same way as an epidural.  I looked up, crucified on the operating table, and saw pretty eyes above a mask behind me.  It wasn’t until many minutes later when I heard her speak that I realized it was Corrine.  Steve was let in as well, and squeezed my hand hard enough to take away the pain in my heart.  Eventually I could no longer feel the pricks and the funny man also sat behind the curtain, watching little screens.

I felt pulling and tugging and the doctor, who may actually have been kind, was calm and deliberate.  The anesthesiologist asked Steve if he was squeamish.  When told no, he was invited to stand up and look over the curtain to see Jack be born.  After short moments, I heard some little mewling and birdlike noises and the doctor exclaimed to my son that he wasn’t to be talking before he was even born. My heart washed away, and they held up this little red blur over the curtain for me to see, before he was whisked to the little table to be suctioned due to the meconium.  Corrine leaned down and said, “he’s big. I think maybe 10 pounds or more.”  All I could think, laying where I most didn’t want to be, was: “well, that explains everything.”

It seemed about a million hours before I heard those first big cries, and Steve and a de-umbilical’d Jack were brought back to me for me to kiss and breath on and in and fall in love with.  Jack, at time of birth of 10:20pm, Thursday August 6, 2009, was 10lb 8oz, and 22.5″ long. The tape only goes to 24″, so I guess he was sizey.  Steve was escorted with his child up to the ward, and I was stitched up and sent off to recovery where I would only be reunited with my new family after I could move my legs.  Sally had apparently been waiting in the hall where she met with Steve and was able to support him in the first minutes with his son, for which I am grateful. 

I hadn’t been in recovery very long when Sally appeared at the door, telling Corrine that the nurses had done a heel-stick test in concerns about his blood sugar as he was so large (even though with a 26lb weight gain, there was no way I was diabetic). His sugar was a hair low, so apparently a nurse was on her way to the room with formula for Jack, even though my intention was to breastfeed.  Corrine, annoyed again, milked me of several drops of colostrum into a little container which she gave to Sally to run upstairs and finger-feed to my baby.

Again, a fantastic nurse came to my rescue. I could barely twitch a leg, but she declared me recovered and sent me up to the ward to join my family, where I put Jack to the breast and he latched like a pro. Sally and the drops of colostrum had saved the day and he hadn’t been given any formula.  He had lots of dark curly hair, pale eyebrows, ridiculously lush eyelashes, and a serious expression.  His eyes were blue as the sky and he seemed a little tanned (normal newborn jaundice which cleared with milk and sunlight after a few months, and now his skin is as porcelain as mine own).  After the furor of birth, we took the time to fall in love with our newly outside person.  It might have been hours before I could sleep; Sally left and someone brought Steve a cot in our little private room.  I eschewed the tiny plastic bucked and settled my son beside me to sleep and nurse and marvel over.

After a c-section, the nurses have you up the very next day.  I insisted they remove the urine catheter ASAP but didn’t manage a shower until Saturday when I also shaved my legs (pretty fancy, me!).  I changed my first diaper in my life. Steve slept with Jack on his chest to give me a break.  We had visitors and midwives, and the doctor came and really was kind after all.  I can’t blame him for being what he is — a surgeon.  We were released on Saturday and home at last. I was told not to lift anything over 10lbs for six weeks, but I had a 10.5lb baby, so I pretty much ignored all the advice they gave. I went to the mall on Wednesday to buy some nursing clothes (funny how I was so informed and well-read about labour, and knew nothing about nursing) and went to a meeting that night. We went to Bon’s on Friday, Jack’s first but not last trip to the best breakfast in Vancouver. Now he eats two pancakes on his own — crazy, huh?  His 14th through 17th day earthside were spent at the Princeton Heritage Music Festival, where Steve will play again in two weeks time.  I was insane. Now I would know better, but I was drunk on love and milk and fresh baby.  In time, we were fine. We are fine. Jack is better than fine: he is robust and hale and blonde and still nursing, at two.

There is still a part of me, and maybe there always will be, which will wonder if the c-section was necessary.  I know so much more now, about the cascade of interventions and how one little dose of cervidil can lead inexorably to a surgery. What would have happened if I had told my midwifes that my body was obviously not ready for labour and I was a poor candidate for induction? What if I had said, fluid schmuid, my NST was fine and I would rather wait a few more days? What if I hadn’t let them say “oh, but now you are TEN DAYS overdue”, when the ten days was based on my estimation and, according to their infallible science, I was only four days over?

With waters artificially broken, and with the augmented contractions, and with the swelled head, it is plain he never would have delivered vaginally on that day, after all that.  But but but — what if I had never walked into that hospital, never put on that gown, never knocked over that domino? Maybe three days later, I would have woken feeling a watermelon between my legs and waddled to St. Pauls where I could have experienced normal birth, normal recovery, instead of a bulge and a scar where my abdomen used to be. Or maybe I would have had a NST without a heartbeat, or a baby with an infection from meconium, or maybe I would have experienced the fear I drew.

But I will never know.  Next baby, should we be so blessed, next baby will be born at home.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood

Finally, just past midnight, it’s starting to cool down. I’m reluctant to complain about this sudden heat given that we’ve been so deprived of sun this summer on the Wet Coast. So I won’t.

Instead, I’ll share some photos of the small fry having a deliciously wet time with a hose, a trug pool and assorted toys.  We all got splashed and splattered and soaked and it was wonderful. Except, perhaps, for the odd passerby.  Aaaaah nothing like standing in a pool of cold water to cool your core.

Jack had a lovely afternoon with his friend Orien in the lane in front of our home.

I’m so blessed to live in this beautiful co-op, with a freaking cute kid and a husband who passes me a perfectly cooked grilled cheese sammich out our kitchen window so I can keep watching our small fry.  And now I can go to bed without the fan on.

I am INCENSED at the CBC

Dear CBC,

As an ardent supporter of the CBC and public broadcasting, I have to let you know that I will no longer be a supporter. 

The incredibly biased news brief which put such a poor light on the millenia-old practice of cosleeping was incorrect, inflammatory and did not even address the real issues.

Let me ask you — if SIDS, identified as ‘sudden infant death syndrome’ and by its very definition is UNEXPLAINED, then how could ‘maternal suffocation’ be a cause of SIDS? Then the cause of death would be suffocation or accident, not SIDS.  The logic is faulty.  To force a mother to be up late at night, all night, trying to stay awake in order to put her sleeping baby back in a lonely crib is what leads to unsafe cosleeping situations, like sleeping in a couch or chair.  Cosleeping deaths while the mother is intoxicated, under the influence of drugs or in a smoking household are not rightly cosleeping deaths, but cosleeping inevitably gets the bad reputation, something which the CBC had the opportunity to set straight and absolutely failed. 

What no-one seems to talk about are the risks of crib-sleeping.  What about the other deaths from SIDS that occur when the child is in a crib? Or those babies in Surrey burned in their crib when a lamp fell in? Or the infant whose fingers were consumed by a ferret… in a crib?  Had those babies been safely sleeping in their parents’ presence, those tragic accidents would not have occurred. 

All over the world, cosleeping is the norm. It is biologically correct (cavemen did not force their children to sleep separately; had they done so we would have died out as a species).  It promotes breastfeeding duration. It promotes maternal and infant rest and health.  It has been shown to prevent SIDS (yes, PREVENT!).  Safe cosleeping should be encouraged, and parents not be made to feel bad because they ‘insist’ on an unsafe practice. 

Here is a recent article by the Sunday Times in the UK which talks about the changing reputation of cosleeping, something which the CBC just put back 10 years due to your incorrect reporting:

You may want to pay special attention to this quotation from the article:  “In the UK, 500 children a year die of Sids,” Sunderland writes. “In China, where it [co-sleeping] is taken for granted, Sids is so rare it does not have a name.”

Shame on you CBC.  I expected better reporting from you, and now I feel that I must question the quality of your reporting on all subjects. 

Lorien Quattrocchi

I suck so hard

My little family took an almighty roadtrip this last week where one of the stops was my little hometown. I saw an old friend there who I hadn’t actually saw in person in oh about a million years. We chatted about small fry, old houses and current projects.  It came up in conversation that I’m not really making anything these days and it’s true.

On the interminable drive from Kaslo to Whistler (11 hours, delayed by ferry shenanigans in Galena Bay), I contemplated that comment a lot.  This is the first stretch of time in my life in which I haven’t made stuff.  Any stuff.  I don’t really even cook, certainly not in a creative fashion.  Even my food is utilitarian, though every trip to the farmer’s market causes creativity to bubble up inside me. Too bad that creativity gets thrown out ten days later, having rotted in the fridge.

I used to make a lot of things: I took art and shop and home ec. in highschool, and God knows the SCA kept my fingers busy for almost 15 years.  Even when I went back to SFU and may not have had a lot of time for sewing or embroidering or pewter casting or painting or woodworking or armour making, at least I was an English major and could channel my creativity there. I spent a lot of time causing my professors late night marking angst with my obscure thesis statements and leaping metaphors.  Even at my most scholarly, there was room for creativity. 

So seriously. I have a child. One who loves to play trucks and trains, swing and climb and draw and pour water from one vessel to another, and is a 29lb quickly-moving lump of imaginative play, and I? I am at a loss.  He hands me a pen while waiting for food at the restaurant, eager to see what my adult mind and coordinated  fingers can create to pass the time before pasta and… I draw an apple.  Ok, part of it is to hear his identification of my picture — “appull!”  But what else do I draw? Not a heck of a lot.  I used to draw interesting things, pretty things. Now I draw a dinosaur. And another apple, this time green.  I add a leaf. Ooooo so creative. I pretty much want to put a fork through my eye.

All this isn’t helped by Steve’s unending creativity.  His paintings are admired daily at my office; he plays music every day.  When I’m asked at musical gatherings what I play, musicality assumed, I respond “taxi driver.” Haha. Too bad it’s true.  

I can hear the kind voices of my friends, “oh but you did create! You created a beautiful little person! Just look at Jack!”  Whatever. It’s not like he birthed out of my head.  My uterus is awesome; my brilliant mind is what is flagging.  My fingers have forgotten the feeling of fabric. My sense of aesthetic almost thought that sentence was ok.  Obviously this is a problem.

So… I need to make. Stuff. Things. Words. Food on plates that didn’t meet a jar at any time in its culinary journey.  I need to draw things that aren’t apples. Or fish. Or “brontosaurus! Look, Jack, a dinosaur! This dinosaur ate leaves and trees.  Apple trees. See the APPULL?”  I’d like to sew — I have bins of fabric I couldn’t bear to part with. I even have curtain fabric for our fishbowl kitchen windows.  I still have a box of drawing stuff and beautiful blank white pages to start with. I have casting supplies and pewter in Kaslo, leather working items in a tote, a box of tools I could make a cedar deck box with. I have a more-and-more independent small fry who can be reliably entertained at the park for an hour at a time. I have the want to make things burning inside me.  So.

I’m starting here.  I managed to keep the blog ball in the air for quite a few months, even as a monthly update. I can surely spare some of the time I usually spend reading about other people’s creativity and make something of my own.  Ohdeedoh and Young House Love, I’m thinking of you here. 

Who knows, maybe I’ll even sew some curtains, much to the relief of my neighbours 🙂

Jack, considering the possibilities of a large puddle.

And with people food comes…

People poops! 

Jack loves his mama’s milk, and I am delighted to provide it to him. 

He was exclusively breastfed until just about six months and, for those that don’t know, the poop that comes out of an exclusively breastfed baby is actually not too bad, as poop goes.   Kind of yeasty smelling, yellow, runny, washes away, wipes off.

At six months, we started him on little bits of food — some yoghurt, some banana, a little avacado.  A cheerio or two.  He still mostly drinks milk, but his range and volume of solids has increased.  And things have changed.

Oh my, have they ever changed!

First, he stopped pooping as often. He was a once-a-day guy until about seven months. Then it was every few days. Then he started pooping every four-five, sometimes six days.

Poor Steve seemed to get the bad luck of the draw in the diaper changing regard (even though I almost never engineered it to be his turn when the poop finally came), and confess that I resented his shouts of horror and begging for help when he was diaper changing. I confess that I rarely helped him, and if I did it was with much resentment. “Drama queen” I would mutter to myself. “Princess.” I was really very ungracious. It really didn’t seem that bad, even though he has been telling me that for the past few weeks, the poop has been taking on a most unpleasant texture and odour.

“Whatever you say, Steve. It’s only poop.”

You may see where this is going.

Today my choice was diaper change (which I knew was poopy) or litter box (also a known poop entity). As I abhor changing the litter box, and my sense of social justice finally reared it’s ugly head, I opted for the diaper.

What a terrible mistake. A terrible, terrible mistake.

The first indication something was wrong was the smell. My darling little baby boy smelled… funny. Bad, somehow. Actually kind of gross. He hadn’t smelled so bad since his cord stump turned into a putrid swamp of zombie-ness before it fell off.

Then I took his pants off.

The green streak up his leg wasn’t completely unexpected since he hadn’t pooped in two days, even given our awesome cloth diapers, but the smell had intensified. Badly. In preparation, I got two wipes out of the container (I generally pride myself on using one wipe per change) and had them handy. Then I unvelcro’d the top of the diaper. Jack reached for his penis with both hands.

Within a nanosecond, I had re-velcroed the diaper.

“STEVE!!!!!!!!” I screamed into the baby monitor. “STEEEEEEEEVE!!! I neeeeed you! HELP!”

My husband ran up the stairs, laughing. “Hold his arms,” I told him. “Stat.” Steve grabbed Jack’s arms, weak with laughter. “I told you they were bad.” “Shut up and hold his arms.”

I wiped the leg first. Then I opened the diaper.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have never seen anything like it. It was a greyish green putty, smeared in a layer about a centimetre thick all over his penis, testes, buttocks and diaper. It had *chunks* in it. I’m pretty sure I saw peas, watermelon and zucchini. The image is burned into my retina. And the smell. Oh my goodness, the SMELL.

Have you ever attended a country fair sadly undersupplied in the porta-potty department? Where large, large men with unhealthy colons have voided their bodies of too many corn dogs and Those Little Doughnuts? And it’s hot? Very, very hot? And the overused porta-potties are in the middle of the sunniest part of a blacktop parking lot?

It was like that. Only all over my baby’s bum. And it was cold and windy outside.

I looked at this abomination of diaper-ness, and I looked at my two puny wetwipes. I looked back at the abomination, and grabbed a prefold from the shelf. I started taking big swipes at the bum, and grabbed another prefold. Worse yet, I couldn’t even put the used diapers anywhere, since I needed one hand  to hold Jack’s legs up and out of the detritus and other to wipe.

In all this, my husband was still laughing. Whenever he had breath to speak, he would gasp out something that sounded like “I told you so.”

Gee, thanks.

Unfortunately, all the laughing got Jack right riled up — he thought the situation was HI-larious — so he squirmed and wriggled and twisted his little bum and thighs ALL OVER the dirty diaper. As fast as I wiped him clean, he rolled his bum, back and legs back through the mess.

Did I mention the peanut gallery Steve was still laughing? Yeah.

Finally I got the worst of it up (which is to say there was now just a film of disgusting smelly poop instead of a spackle of disgusting smelly poop), and, with two premium-sized prefolds AND my two sad little wet wipes now covered in that toxic waste, I told Steve to just hold Jack on the change table and I ran to run the bath.

One double-dose of bubble bath and two very wrinkled baby feet later, I was pretty confident he’s clean. I do, however, still feel like scrubbing my hands with the barbeque brush and I may have to bleach the bath (to say nothing of my sinuses. And my eyes.). I haven’t even considered what to do with the diaper (tongs and a bonfire comes to mind), and Steve (who mercifully stopped laughing) tells me this is the new normal.

Normal? This? And he potty learns WHEN? What did you say? WHEN?

The heck with starting solids at six months, I’m not giving him another solid until he’s THREE YEARS.

So, to all lovely mothers just champing at the bit to feed your little angel his or her first mouthful of sweet potato at six months and two minutes old — don’t. Just don’t. For the love of little apples, wait as LONG AS YOU CAN before introducing solids. I recommend middle school at the earliest.

Trust me. 

In our eighth month together…

In dark hours, I feel you breathe beside me, deep in sleep.

Pale morning light cools your skin to porcelain, so much like mine.  The blue line of your eyelid flicks with a pulse matched by your throat as you nurse.  Your cheek flutters — a hummingbird wing — you suckle for comfort, and I am comforted at our connection.  Soon you will wake and you will exercise your will, assert your independence, and I will celebrate your confidence.  But not now.  Right now, we are one.  

Afternoons bring staccato feet drumming my thighs and belly as your body’s drive to move is slowly stilled by your mind’s desire for rest. And milk.  And my presence.  And you sigh, and still, and sleep.

This is our respite from a day of activity, your “ah!” and flashing smiles for strangers, your determination and my laughter.   This is a time just for us, where you are still my baby, and not the little boy we have dubbed ‘our gift to the world’.  Jack, I miss you when you belong to everyone.  

When you nurse, though, you are an extension of me, attached to me.  I slow my breath to slow yours, calming both of us.

We slide into sleep together, your hand tracing mine. Your inquisitive finger presses the ball of my thumb, touches my wedding ring, my wrist my breast my face.  Your ear.

You hold my hand with yours, your tiny, perfect hand.  You nurse, and sleep, and your hand falls away. 

Your gossamer hair against my arm smells metallic, bright, golden.  It stirs and moves with a life of its own, lifted by the cherry-blossom breeze from the open window.  It tickles my nose when I bend to kiss your head, damp with sleep.  I breathe in how we smell together; milk and honey.

Hunger sated and with a full measure of comfort, you roll to your back, cheeks flushed and mouth pursed in the memory of nursing.  I watch over you, a lioness with loving arms. 

Your mouth reaches for me, blind and needing, as you sleep.  A rising panic makes your languid motions urgent! frantic! until you latch — aaah  — and slip back into the bliss.  This is bliss.

This is more than I could ever have imagined.

That something so simple — feed your baby — could be such a profound expression of intimacy and love is something I could never have expected.

I would do anything to protect you, and us, and the nursing that helps make us an ‘us’.  I am fierce with passion for this.  I am sabre-toothed in my defense of our need to nurse and be nursed, for us both to be nurtured at my breast.  

You have made me thus: a mother.  By nursing you, I am provider and provided for.  I am blessed, anointed, baptized in milk.   In this bed, I participate in an everyday miracle.  I believe. 

And still you sleep beside me, drinking in love.  

Thank you.

In my defence, you are keeping me busy!

In fact, as I write, you are wriggling your way over to the dvds on the shelf and look very much like you are going to pull one down for a taste.  Or all of them for a taste.  Oh, first you are going to taste Daddy’s birthday card. Again.

Which is all my roundabout way of explaining, dear Jackie, why your seven-month letter is coming at almost exactly at seven-and-one-half months a few days before you turn eight months old.  Bad mama!

The past six weeks two months have been a rollicking adventure of milestones and development, and the ride is not slowing down one whit.  As you have now pushed yourself backwards under your swing and will be clamouring shortly for rescue, I will be brief. [Ok, this is not entirely accurate, two weeks later.  The swing went on Craigslist and you required rescuing before I could finish this post. Right now you are sleeping on your sleeping daddy on the couch. Seriously, seriously cute.]

You can push yourself around backwards.  This is cute, and not nearly as scary as the next trick — crawling.  You can already get to hands and knees pretty much at will and you rock back and forth in preparation for the next stage, as if you are a little toy car getting revved up to be let go, zooming across the floor.  We MUST get a baby gate.  Seriously.

You have two teeth.  The first popped above the gum line at Mt. Baker a few weeks ago and the second followed a few days later.  They are now readily visible when you smile.  I call you ‘Sharky’ because of your terribly sharp chomping which you do on our fingers at every opportunity.

You taste EVERYTHING.  Every object you come across is lifted (if possible), turned, examined intently (with your little duck lip sticking out in concentration) and tasted.  These include and are not limited to: the buttons on my sweater, the cat’s tail, daddy’s steel guitar (with teeth clicking on the metal), any carpet you are placed on, your coat, the granite countertops at Ikea, my toes, my wallet, my debit card (handily lifted from my wallet), your seat belts and whatever else you grab/we give you in desperation to keep you occupied for another 20 seconds.

Food has been interesting.  I am a lazy ardent breastfeeder, so your diet is virtually 100% breastmilk, on tap.  This is normal at your age, and since I’m lazy prescribing to baby-led weaning, food is for fun and texture at this point, not for nutrition (that’s what the boobs are for).  No purees for you!  And no preparing/spoon feeding/cleaning up puree-covered walls for me!  Since we are going for fun foods, you have been eating a range of delicious things.  You like raspberry pancakes, scrambled eggs and toast, any kind of cheese is a BIG hit, and you sucked back two slices of spicy Genoese salami at Costco.  We actually had to go back to the sample guy for another slice.  Awww our little blond, blue-eyed Italian shows his true colours! Sometimes you hide food in your cheeks for later.  That’s always fun come nursing time.

“Why is this piece of half-mascerated steamed carrot on my boob?”

You are talking up a storm.  You are speaking fluent ‘Babyese’, and we don’t understand a word of it, but you obviously believe that you are speaking a complete and many-nuanced language and your descriptive powers are amazing.  We are actually surprisingly good at translating your Ahs! and Ers! into the mother tongue, or at least you appreciate our efforts.

For the past few days, your naps have been all over the place.  Mostly far, far away.  You are working on so many skills — walking, crawling, communication — that it wires your brain and you can’t sleep even when you are so. very. tired.

You have also begun to ‘request’ to be nursed upstairs in bed no matter where we are.  It doesn’t help to explain to you that London Drugs just doesn’t have a bed we can nurse in — you are insistent! Arching! Take me to bed to nurse! Only nursing in bed + shortage of beds at major retailers = eating less during the day (though that ipod Touch Addiction is mighty handy for surfin’ and nursin’).  In compensation, you are eating about five fifty times over the nighttime hours.  Thank all the little gods we co-sleep, though your Daddy has on at least one occasion been pushed right out of bed.


I’m ordering a nursing necklace to try and keep your attention long enough to get some milk in you during the day.  Cheerios are fascinating and tasty and look fine on my boob, but I’m getting a little tired of the afternoon pump because you can’t be bothered to slow down enough to nurse — or we don’t have a bed handy.

Diapering has also become something of an ordeal adventure as you’ve mastered the whole rolling uphill thing.  Daddy and I miss the days when we could leave you on the change table to run and grab something and not worry about a *thump*.  Frankly, I miss the days when I could grab a wipe without having to simultaneously pin you with a fancy wrestling hold while trying to keep your hand off your poop-covered privates while keeping your diaper in place with a fourth hand and trying to free the music mobile from your other hand so that it can make the music it needs to TO DISTRACT YOU.  Ahh let it go.  We do love the All In One Monkey Doodlez (I should buy stock) as it is only one layer of diaper to put on and therefore only requires two extra hands instead of four.  Made in Canada with super velcro for the win! Go Canada!

I’ve been attending a ‘Mamas Unfolding‘ group put on by the same people as we did our pre-natal classes (Dancing Star Birth) where one of the mamas did the prenatal class with us.  Her little guy, James, is working on walking (so scary cute!).  You watched him and that night showed us that your mad standing skillz have translated into mad walking skillz!  Of course your balance is non-existent, but the leap to one-foot-in-front-of-the-other has been made.  Dear god.

Since I need to start working on eight months ASAP, I will close this one off with a bunch of random photos.  Quick, before you wake up.

You love hiking.  When the MEC baby backpack comes out, you jump with joy.  Which makes hiking even more fun — nothing like a wiggling 20lb backpack to make daddy grateful for a hiking pole.  Here we are at Lynn Creek.  Truth be told, you find the label on the Jackpack just as interesting as the scenery.  Mmmm… tasty label!

We checked out some Olympic venues.  Stroller = snowplow if people = snow.  Way to get us to the head of the line, baby! The energy downtown was pretty darn cool and you loved it and the people loved you.  Beth and I stood in line for over an hour in the Bay Olympic Superstore lineup, where you decided a snack would be nice right about now… so we nursed in the lineup, Beth pushing the stroller and me walking and nursing.  Too bad breastfeeding isn’t an Olympic sport.  Go Canada!

Hiking at Cypress Falls in West Vancouver.  The closest we could get to Cypress Mountain during the Olympics. You loved the rushing falls.

You do love your daddy’s music.  Three… two… one… turn and EAT GUITAR!

You also love your pasta.  This was your first (but not your last) trip to Anton’s Pasta Bar.  You like chorizo sauce on your pasta.  Someday you will be able to eat a whole plate, I know it.  Go  Quattrocchi metabolism!

Grandpa Rod and Nana Tracy were in town for a few days over Spring Break, which was awesome.  I was so relieved that you took to them like you had seen them every day (instead of not since Thanksgiving).  We went to a Sledge Hockey Game and you were RAPT.  You watched the replay, you cheered at the goals, you ate Greek food afterwards and barely stayed awake on the bus on the way home — just like the rest of us.

Go Canada!

Go Canada!

Go raspberry pancakes!

In a few minutes, we’re going to pack up and go to Grandma Gayle and Grandpa John’s house for  dinner, which will be followed by Easter brunch tomorrow and maybe some birthday cake for mummy and Auntie Lisa.  Mmmm… cake.  Maybe we’ll let you have a little taste… or maybe I’ll pick up a little salami for my little Sharky.  Go Italy Canada!

I love you, Jackeroo.  You are the awesome-est.