Sometimes people ask me, ‘how do you do handle having 3 kids?’ and I’m like ‘handle?! I have no idea!’. Many of our moments are day to day and too many times I definitely lose my patience. Sometimes I really rock the mom of 3 gig and sometimes I’m all like, ‘whoa is me’ and ‘where’s the gin?’.
It isn’t just me who had to adapt to life with 3 kids, so did my big kids and especially the kid was used to being the baby. The oldest kid was totally fine with being the oldest with 2 little sisters. He was already a big brother and used to sharing time and parental attention. His sister, the new middle sister, wasn’t so used to sharing the spotlight and it was starting to show.
This past week we had a bit of a hard week with lots of exuberant 3 year old antics and many frustrated 3 year old moments. So, this past Sunday I decided it was time to have a time out. A moment where it was just me and the 3 year old together. No baby to stop and take care of and no big brother to steal the limelight (AKA no big brother to fight with).
We had plans to go shoe shopping (for me, cause it is seriously hard to shop for myself with 3 kids in tow!) and stop at the chocolate shop and buy fancy soaps and, of course, have a lunch date.
The time out worked and it restored me and it made this 3 year old beyond happy. Going down the escalator at the mall downtown she squeezed my hand and told me I was the best mum EVER. She was giddy and excited and her cup was full.
We took our time and looked at funny Kate Spade chocolate milk purses and then did that chocolate shop stop we had talked about. I scored some new ‘memory foam’ kicks and life felt easy. There was none of the crazy behaviour I had been battling the last few weeks. She needed the one on one attention and it was refreshing to just spend time with her alone.
I’m going to try and make this a regular mama habit and take the time to have these little excursions with each of my kids. Not only does it feel like a treat for me to just go out with one of them, it also is a great way to give them that special attention that every kid needs.
We don’t happen to be the ‘tent in the wilderness’ camping kind of family. However, there is still part of me that wishes we were, but I know myself enough to know that by day 2 I’d be a miserable camper and packing it in. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up camping and my only experience is basically limited to the times I went off to Brownie camp as a small girl, even then it was never roughing it.
The one thing I feel like I might be missing out on when it comes to camping is the camp food. Mainly s’mores and all their insulin loading delicious sticky morsels. I have memories of making s’mores in Brownie camp and felt it was my motherly duty to introduce s’mores to my kids. The urban camper kind of way, which means in my kitchen under the broiler in the oven.
A quick check with google and we were soon broiling the marshmallows with loads of milk Lindt milk chocolate squares and graham wafers at the ready. We had our faux camping goodness and the kids were cheering like I had made snow appear in the summer. Oven s’mores for the win!
To make the experience as authentic as possible the big kids had a ‘camp out’ in the living room overnight, complete with sleeping bags and their fake felt campfire they got last Christmas.
When Elisabeth was first born the pediatrician checked her hips and she was given the all clear. No clicks or clunks or anything suspicious was noticed. Her risk factors for hip problems include being female and my own history of having hip dysplasia when I was a baby. At a recent doctors visit for Elisabeth we were told to get her hips checked with an ultrasound at the Children’s Hospital.
After that ultrasound we learned our wee girl had mild hip dysplasia of both hips and needed to go to the ortho doctor for treatment. Her hips were not dislocated like mine had been as a baby, but she still needed some treatment to prevent things from possibly getting more serious as she grew. That treatment came in the form of a hard brace that fixed her hips into an ideal position.
We saw the nurse practitioner and we were told that Elisabeth needed to wear a hard brace for the next 3 months at least. I wasn’t too upset by this news, I had already googled the world wide web on everything about hip dysplasia and babies. We knew we were in the ideal situation of catching the dysplasia early on when things could be corrected by a brace versus possible surgery later on.
Life right now she is wearing a brace made out of plastic and foam for 23 hours a day. We get to take it off for 1 hour of tummy time each day. The most amazing part so far was that the very first time the brace was placed on Elisabeth she was all like, ‘Meh! What’s the big deal people?‘ and was seriously chill about it. It was a fresh reminder about how adaptable babies really are. Our first day with the brace we went out in the stroller with no adaptions and she went in our front baby carrier with ease. We went out for lunch and dealt with diaper changes and brace applications in the restaurant bathroom. All of us went to the playground and children ran up to the stroller to say hi to the baby and not one of them even noticed her funny frog leg position or the blue and white brace on her lower half.
We’ve nursed with not a lot of change but more pillows are needed to help support both of us. The only real negative that I see is when she nurses there is a hard piece of plastic and velcro against my skin while I hold her. Not the most comfortable thing but not terrible. She will wear this brace everyday all day until November and then we see how things have gone, but for now I get to claim my title as a Hip Mama.
The post partum period can actually be kind of intimidating even when it’s the third time around. You’ve had your baby but your body isn’t necessarily back to where it was at before being pregnant… and then all of your hair falls to remind you that hormones rule the world.
Like clockwork at around the 3 month mark my hair started falling out, creating tumbleweeds all across the apartment and clogging shower drains. Basically every single stand of gorgeous hair that grew during my pregnancy decided to quit at the same time and now I am finding hair everywhere. I find my hair in the baby’s diaper, in her mouth, wound up in her tiny little hands. I find it coating all my clothing and the bedsheets are now like a jungle of long dark strands of my locks. I knew it was coming, I was ready for it and now I just kind of want to get it over with.
I’ve read tips about slowing down the hair loss by not combing your hair too vigorously and using extra conditioner to keep things hanging around a bit longer, but I’m just like ‘get it done!’. So, I take the bristle brush to my hair and do 100 strokes. Luckily, my case of post pregnancy hair loss is just average but I’ve had girlfriends who have experienced it on a more intense level.
Right now I can hide my lady balding spots with my long hair but there is definitely a change to my hair line and a tight pulled back ponytail revels the truth! I think that I’ll do a bit of a chop soon and I’ll keep on with the regular hair brushing. In a few months time it will be all about the ‘baby hairs’ as new growth crops up.
In other news, last month I received a fun birthday gift from my mum and sister for a monthly subscription to Birch Box. I filled out a little info about myself and my likes and each month they send me a fresh box of beauty related treats. Today’s delivery was like perfect timing really, what with the hair loss issue and all. So, while I’m feeling all befuddled about my current hair state, I got to try out a few fun beauty treatments that I might not normally have bought.
This month’s Birch Box was a bunch of different stuff for my skin and hair (ha!). There was also a fun pink chubby lipstick that I had to instantly try on and test out. Not my usual colour and not something I’d necessarily grab while shopping for make up. However, I’m kind of loving this pink colour and I like how it really stayed on my lips. I’m already excited for next months box delivery!
***This post was first published in 2013 when my oldest was heading off to kindergarten. I found these tips so helpful at easing the transition and making us feel prepared. I hope they help you with your soon to be kindergartener too!***
This September Ben will be heading to kindergarten and I feel very fortunate to have access to some of the inside scoop on how to help him get ready for this milestone. My older sister Sarah is a kindergarten teacher at a public school just outside of Victoria, BC and I’ve been asking her about what we can do with Ben to help him get ready for full day K. I really appreciated her insight and thought she would be a perfect guest blogger to help other readers in the same boat. This will be a first in a series of post on kindergarten readiness. Even if your child is still on the wee side it’s still fun to explore the milestones they have ahead of them in the future. Enjoy!
Teacher Sarah’s Top Ten List for Getting Ready for Kindergarten!
As a kindergarten teacher and Mum to two kids (one who recently completed kindergarten), I am familiar with the angst that some parents feel about sending their little one off to school for the very first time. Preparing ahead of time for new routines and new expectations makes the first few weeks of school so much easier (for both you and your child!). Before starting Kindergarten your child should be able to…
• Get dressed and undressed on their own. Practice zipping up jackets, buttoning up sweaters and putting on shoes before school starts. Velcro shoes area godsend for both your child and the teacher (can you imagine bending down to tie 22 student’s shoes several times a day? Ouch!).
• Use the bathroom independently (make sure your child knows to use only a little bit of toilet paper and can wipe themselves after as well!) and wash their hands on their own. Don’t be stressed if your child has the occasional “accident” as this is common for some 4 and 5 year olds, especially in the first couple months of school (keep a change of clothes at school or in your child’s backpack).
• Practice opening and closing containers for snack and lunch before starting school; on this note, I also highly recommend that you LABEL everything you send to school if you want it back! Teachers are happy to help children with their snack containers but learning to be more independent is so important in Kindergarten. I also suggest that you pack food that you know your child likes and will eat (now is not the time to try out new sandwich fillings and vegetables). I guarantee you will find less of it coming home uneaten if you do!
• Print and recognize his first name (ideally with an upper case and lower case combination). Using the correct pencil grip is important as it helps your child print neater and more efficiently. Here’s some more information on pencil grip: http://www.schoolsparks.com/blog/teaching-children-the-proper-pencil-grip
• Listen, follow and complete two to three step directions. Practice these skills at home with something simple as cleaning up after supper: “please put your plate and cutlery on the counter when you are done eating. Then make sure to wipe up any crumbs.” There are also a lot of great activities to reinforce listening to directions skills. A great website to look at is http://www.playingwithwords365.com/2012/10/five-playful-ways-to-work-on-listening-skills/
• Sing the ABC’s and recognize some letters and their corresponding sounds. Starfall.com is a fun interactive website that I recommend to parents. If your child is already writing letters, that is great! Just make sure they are printing from top to bottom and using the correct pencil grip. I use the Handwriting Without Tears program in my classroom to develop printing skills. It also has some helpful parent links: http://www.hwtears.com
• Count from 1-10 and recognize some numbers. With your child, practice counting forwards, backwards and from a given point. For some fun online math games check out: http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/math/games/preschool-kindergarten/pbs-kids-games/
• Enjoy reading books. Read to your child on a daily basis (at least 20 minutes a day) and offer them lots of chances to look at a variety of books. Children grow and develop at different rates so don’t fret if your child’s best pal is reading but your child is not! Before Kindergarten starts, it’s ideal if your child likes to listen to and look at books and is showing some signs of reading readiness. Here’s a great link for some more information on reading readiness:
• Enjoy spending time with other children in a variety of settings such as at play dates, at the playground, in sports programs or at camp. In Kindergarten, a good amount of time is spent on developing children’s social skills. If you are wondering how to help your child deal with some challenges and difficulties they might encounter with other children, I recommend the Bucket Fillers Program–http://www.bucketfillers101.com
• Feel positive about starting school! If your child is showing signs of anxiety or has fears about starting school, there are lots of ways to help them transition more successfully into this new stage. Some things that have helped me as a parent are: role play with your child what the first day of kindergarten will look like, familiarize yourselves with the school playground and school yard, discuss who will be picking up and dropping off your child each day, and emphasize what fun your child will have in Kindergarten (and honestly, Kindergarten is a blast!). Also, once school begins, make sure to communicate with your child’s teacher and let them know if your child is feeling overly anxious. Check out this link for some more anxiety-reducing activities to do with your child before school starts:
Hope this information helps. There are lots of great books to read about starting school and to help calm those first day jitters -I will be writing about my favourite books in my next post!
Sincerely, Teacher Sarah
***This is the follow up to the first blog post. You can read Part 1 here***
The day that I first discovered Elisabeth had an upper lip tie I felt this magical glimmer of hope that I had found the reason why she was such a slow weight gainer. Despite feeding regularly, she was still quite small and babies younger than her always looked way bigger than her. I knew releasing tongue and lip ties could allow for the baby to latch more effectively and transfer more milk. I had heard about babies who literally gained a bunch of weight within the first week after their tongue tie was released. I felt like, if this happened for us it would make getting the tie released a total success.
From my professional life, I knew that some babies who were found to have lip and tongue ties can also have issues with properly latching on and effectively transferring milk. Of course I turned to my LC community and my breastfeeding buddies to see what they had to say about tongue and lip ties. The overall verdict was quite mixed with lots of success stories and some stories where no big change was made. I decided to go with my mother’s intuition and booked a consult with the only person who does laser frenectomy. Luckily, this dentist was just a bridge away from us but I’ve had heard of parents driving long car rides or even taking plane rides to go and see this dentist. I was impressed that this dentist was very knowledgable and supportive about breastfeeding and latching.
When we took Elisabeth to see the dentist we did a consult first to see if she even met the criteria for continuing on with the procedure. Basically, just because your baby has a tongue or lip tie does not mean they need to have their tie released. Some babies with tongue and lip ties do just fine gaining weight and the mother’s never complain of pain with feeding.
Here are some of the questions that I was asked by the dentist prior to going ahead with Elisabeth’s lip and posterior tongue tie release:
–How has her weight gain been since birth? Slow. Slow. Slow. My other babies gained quickly after birth but each ounce has been a slow victory for this baby. It also took her longer to regain her birthweight.
–Does she make any clicking sounds when nursing? Yes!! My other 2 never did this but she is SO noisy! She clicks so loudly, even on a bottle. She leaks milk out of the corners of her mouth during nursing.
–Can she suck a soother? No! I can’t get one to stay in her mouth. A few sucks and it falls out and she cries cause she does want it.
–Do you have any pain with breastfeeding? I do and I feel like I’m an experienced breastfeeder and this is the first baby I’ve had pain with during feeding. It always looks like a good latch and I can hear her transferring milk but it hurts.
Once we went through these questions the dentist did confirm that Elisabeth had an upper lip tie and posterior tongue tie too. I had only diagnosed the upper lip tie but often if there is an upper lip tie there is also a posterior tongue tie.
The dentist was supportive of having me learn about the procedure and I stayed in the room with the baby while he explained everything that he was doing. She was quickly swaddled and wore some fancy eye goggles and they put her on the big dental chair and the assistant gently held her there as the dentist did his work. She did cry but I think it was more the holding her down and opening up her mouth that upset her more than the laser. The actual time of the laser was very fast and it felt like seconds.
As soon as it was done I nursed the baby right away, which felt perfect for many reasons. For comforting her and for the breastmilk swishing around those open wounds. We were given some post procedure information and lots of support for the wound care and the mouth physio. The hardest part to all of this was actually the post wound rubbing that has to be done to keep the tie from growing back. Having to rub it 5-8+ times a day was really hard but it is vital to do this wound rubbing so that the tie does not grow back. After the first week she did not cry when I rubbed her wounds and by week 3 she didn’t even seem to notice at all.
The first breastfeeding session at home after the procedure was…PAIN FREE!! She still clicked and made a bunch of noise but there was no pain. Since she hadn’t been using her tongue effectively we still needed to do mouth physio to teach her tongue learn how to properly move. It was quite simple to do and I found this video by a IBCLC quite helpful.
It’s been a solid 6 weeks since the baby had her procedure done and the wounds are totally healed and the ties did not regrow. Here is where we are at:
-Elisabeth did not get huge and chunky or gain a terrific amount of weight. She continued on her slow weight gain.
-There is absolutely no pain with nursing at all. Yeah!
-She can suck on a soother and loves to have one for nap times and I am happy about this part. I noticed a difference in her suck strength with doing the mouth exercises for the 3 weeks following.
-She does not make clicking noises anymore! She does not dribble milk like she used to and I can see her lips flanged out more now.
My final thought:
I think it’s great idea to identify tongue and lip ties in all infants. However, not all infants with a tongue or lip tie will need a tie release. Even though my biggest hope was that Elisabeth would gain a lot of weight from having this done, I still feel like we did come out ahead.
I do wonder what would have happened if I had discovered her lip and tongue tie earlier than the 2.5 months that she was. Would releasing it a lot earlier have helped my milk supply and allow her to gain more weight? I have to wonder that by not doing the release till she was 2.5 months old may have possibly decreased my milk supply due to an ineffective latch and milk transfer. That is my food for thought.
If you need more information about making the decision to have your baby’s tongue or lip tie released I would encourage you to see a IBCLC (gold standard lactation consultant). Not all LC’s have training about tongue and lip ties but there are many that do. Here are a few more websites that might help you identify if your baby does have a tie.
A few years ago I wondered what it would feel like to absolutely know that I was done being pregnant and having babies. I never was one of those lucky ones who enjoyed every part of pregnancy and instead I was always sore and achey. Each pregnancy felt harder and harder on my body and with this last pregnancy I felt like I experienced almost every single pregnancy symptom.
Back in 2012 when I had baby #2, I pretty much declared to the world that I was ‘most‘ likely done being pregnant. After all, according to random strangers, I had that perfect family of one boy and one girl. Plus being a type 1 diabetic and pregnant is all kinds of extra work.
After my pregnancy with #1, I carefully washed and hung to dry all of my maternity clothes before I delicately packed them away to be used again. Then after #2 I threw them in the washer and dryer and shoved them in a storage bin with a nice smelling bar of soap. I wasn’t sure if I would see them again or what. I felt ambivalent and like I could be done and content with my 2 kids, but at the same time I was kind of curious what one more of my babies might look like, feel like, be like.
We gave away lots of our baby items and we lent out other items. I was really on the fence about having another pregnancy and had no clear of idea about trying for a third baby. I toyed with the idea of maybe just one more baby but I was never really sure.
A few weeks after #3 was born, I gleefully picked up each piece of maternity clothing and folded them up for the donation bin. All while humming and smiling and feeling totally fantastic with idea of being done. It was that moment I knew for sure that I was done having babies. There will be no baby #4, I am done growing babies and birthing babies and stressing over the babies that are growing inside of me. I feel happy to have my arms and heart full with the busyness of mothering my three children. I am done being pregnant.
The last pregnancy was very memorable and from 20-30+ weeks I wasn’t even sure if I’d come home from the hospital with a baby in my arms. The stress of that pregnancy pushed me to really feel totally done. The weekly appointments with an OB or the high risk OB’s and ALL of the ultrasounds, testing and monitoring under careful watch, sealed the deal.
I no longer wonder what one more of my babies might look like. I don’t pine for the feeling of a baby kicking and moving inside of me. I don’t miss the big baby belly. While I do cherish all those moments I had in pregnancy with all 3 of my babies, I am also glad to be done this stage of my motherhood.
Now I look forward to somewhat mastering mothering of my 3 little people and learning along the way what works and what doesn’t. We are still so much in the baby days right now, but we are slowly moving ahead to new baby milestones and life with 3 doesn’t feel so new and shocking.
Today I’m packing away the bassinet that Elisabeth slept in since she came home and this time I have no funny feelings of being done with the bassinet stage of my life.
The other weekend we had some time to kill and the kids were getting antsy and bored and our condo felt even smaller with the buzz of their energy. We decided to take it to the streets and gathered the ‘seed bombs’ the kids had made at the library summer program a few weeks before. We had an idea that we would go and find a perfect spot to plant them in and watch the wild flowers bloom.
Of course, just getting things ready to go on a simple walk in our neighbourhood can seem like a battle of its own. Some days are easy and some days it is like trying to dress cats in pyjamas and this was one of those days. First the big kids were going to bring their magnifying glass and binoculars to go on an adventure walk, but then we couldn’t find any of those things. Naturally panic ensued and the kids lost their cool and people were crying. It was a scene, let me tell you.
Luckily we made it out alive with no magnifying glass or binoculars. Instead we had a scooter and a baby doll in a mini baby carrier. I might have bribed them with the idea of popsicles at the end of our adventure walk, so things went rather quickly after that was put on the line. We set out to walk to the little urban garden located under a nearby bridge. Someone has gone to town on this space and there is a picnic table and lots of bushes and flowers and things are really put together with miniature paths and chairs. When we got there the kids loudly found the spots they wanted to dig up and plant there little clay seed bombs in.
I took this time as an opportunity to enrich my children’s lives about street safety and what to do if they were to come across an old needle while playing outside. With a flamboyant flair I taught my city kids about needle safety and why you wouldn’t want to pick up a random dirty needle. The whole time I was loudly talking like I was presenting at a school assembly. It was about halfway through my talk when I noticed a funny pile of bagged leaves right next to my feet.
That’s odd. Why would the person who tends this garden just bag up a bunch of leaves in a camoflauge bag and leave it here right in the middle? Never mind. Let’s keep talking about street safety and make sure these kids understand their environment.
The children enjoyed their lesson and after questions about germs and infections they were soon running around the garden and finding rocks and having a great time. Once again, I found myself standing right next to the big pile of wrapped up leaves and, as I was hollering at the kids to ‘BE CAREFUL!!’, I looked down at my feet. The big bag of leaves turned out to be a man sleeping. The sandy coloured hair on his head was right next to my foot. He was an urban camper of sorts. That big bag of wrapped up leaves and gardening bits was his camping gear and him all wrapped up in one.
We ended our adventure with a hushed whisper, as not to further wake up the urban camper who was catching some zzzz’s. My kids turned down the volume and were soon asking about those popsicles that I had promised them. It didn’t seem to phase them to see an adult ‘camping’ in the garden and we were soon on our way to the popsicle stand to cap off our little afternoon adventure.
Who knows if our seed bombs will actually grow and bloom. We haven’t gone back yet to see if anything is sprouting up and it’s been so dry in Vancouver that there are watering restrictions. We will keep checking on our little wild flower patches and see if anything is shooting up.
Back when summer break was just upon us we promised the kids that this summer we would take them to the annual fireworks competition that happens down the street from us 2 nights a week for 2 weeks total. Despite the fact that ‘The Celebration of Light‘ is literally in our ‘backyard’ , we’ve only gone once in the 14 or so years I’ve lived downtown.
Now the fireworks don’t start till WAY past these kids bedtime, so we told them if they wanted to go then they must have nap. We are passed regular routine naps for the big kids so they don’t happen unless we are going to be out late or by accident. However, today the kids were actually excited to have a nap and right after lunch they started getting ready for the big nap time event! Woohoo it’s nap time!
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if they would actually sleep but apparently where there is a will there is a way. Ben went up on his bunk bed and off to sleep he went. The baby napped next to me and Josie plunked down in my bed and did a special routine to relax herself into dreamland. Apparently that included finding a really old sleep mask to cover her eyes and putting on the tank top I slept in over her own clothes. This picture basically sums up my sweet Josie.
It’s the 25th year for this event and tonight’s Celebration of Light starts at 10 PM and Brazil will be competing. I’m thinking my kids will be ready for the show!
Over the last few weeks we’ve had some fun milestones happening in our family. The kind of milestones where you take photos and tell the grandparents all about it and, if you’re a blogger like me, you blog about them because this is my modern day baby book.
The baby is keeping me busy and I feel like I am constantly learning how to mother her with my heart on my sleeve. That heart is like a red flag covered with glitter and waving in the wind. We’ve had issues with weight gain, tongue/lip tie, torticollis of her neck and right now a possible hip problem we are waiting to see about.
I’m still running on the stress fumes from our high risk pregnancy together and I over analyze and obsess way more than I did with my other 2 back when they were babies. I also enjoy her on a different level and love just snuggling with her at night when the big kids have gone to bed. That weight of a sleeping baby on your chest is like the perfect kind of therapy for a stressful day.
At the start of July Josie started preschool and the girl is loving it. In the city you don’t just sign up for whatever preschool you want and expect to get in right then. You have to go on a waiting list and you have to hope that you get in sometime in the next 6 months and you cross your fingers it is a preschool you actually want to go to.
We went on the waiting list for a local preschool back in February and this past June we heard that a part time spot was available that started in July. It’s not really the days that we wanted but you just take the first spot you get and then keep trying to get what you want. It seriously feels like you won the lottery when you get the email offering you a spot.
We were so proud of Ben as he really started to love karate and he takes each class so seriously. I will honestly admit that I know nothing about karate other than the black belt is a high level belt and there are kicks and punches and discipline involved. We’ve been taking him twice a week since November and he’s really excelled and enjoyed the whole process, albeit with a few aches and pains along the way.
In June we took him to the dojo for his belt test and the boy went from the starter white belt to the next level yellow belt. It’s a fun parenting moment watching your children earn rewards and learn new skills and it’s probably one of my favourite parts of parenting to watch them work towards a goal and get there.
I wrote this blog post with the baby snuggled on my chest and a pillow propped up on my lap to hold my laptop at an angle I could type at. Sometimes she was nursing but right now she is sleeping and her little body is warm and heavy. She’s my side kick these days and I’m so happy to have her in my arms.