Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

I Am Here

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May 19, 2015 // Parenting, Pure Mama

I am living the dream and right now that dream is motherhood. I am fully submerged in it and I’m consciously embracing each moment with our tiny newborn, even when it feels hard. Like really hard.

One thing that gets a bit of a backseat when you’re mothering a newborn is yourself. You will be the last to shower, the last to get dressed and the last to eat. It’s fine though. You will get over it and be happy that your baby is washed and dressed and fed and snuggled on your chest. Eventually you will shower and eat at regular intervals. The third baby taught me that. Eventually you will find yourself again.

The blessing of my third baby is knowing that these all encompassing newborn days are heavy but swift. No sooner are things semi figured out and then they are over. Just like that. Over.

Today I had mixed feelings of being totally content with my current place in motherhood and feeling irritated that I’m wearing the same stretchy outfit (once again). I felt annoyed that my baby cried the whole 3 minutes I was in the shower and that it was close to 11 AM and I still hadn’t eaten anything.

From experience I’ve found that the cure for feeling annoyed in motherhood is to go outside. Forget the mess at home, the chores that really need to be done and just get outside.

So, we did.

One big kid was at school and the other big kid had fun plans, so it was just me and the baby. We went on a short walk around our downtown neighbourhood stroller style. I grabbed an iced Americano at one of my favourite cafes and we strolled the city sidewalks. We took in the hustle and bustle and people watched and for a moment we lived on their energy.

Instant mood lift.

Super charged on sunshine,  we came back home and settled in on the chores and  all the things begging to be taken care of.

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Back in 2008 we were awaiting the birth of our first baby and we were feeling very eager to keep our streamlined city chic status amongst the sea of baby paraphenalia. This may have been somewhat naive but we tried and even with baby #3 in the apartment, we are still trying! We didn’t want our condo filled up with too many baby items but we still needed ‘stuff’ and so we chose wisely. We knew we didn’t want items with too many crazy characters or wild colourful patterns.

One of the things that we did buy was the BabyBjörn original bouncer in black. It was my husbands pick and he liked the fact that it was black and not some crazy bright colour with animal characters and also that it folded flat and could be stashed under our couch. We used that bouncer on baby #1 and #2 and loaned it out to friends and family, it has truly been through the masses and it still holds up to its original shape.

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The one problem we found with the original bouncer is that it’s too big for a newborn or infant, especially tiny ones like Elisabeth. Her tiny little face is right at the top of the safety harness, however, it was great as the other babies got bigger and older and we loved that you could turn it from being a baby bouncer into a seat that fits up to nearly 30 pounds.

Cue the unveiling of the newest baby product from Baby Björn! It’s so new that it isn’t yet even on the market till this summer, however, one lucky winner will be able to win their own mini bouncer from Baby Björn.

We received this new product 2 weeks ago and have been putting Elisabeth in her own pink mini bouncer and we are all loving it. The ‘mini’ size is much more suited for infants but it still has all the same features that we loved with the original bouncer. It was easy to assemble and the fabric comes off for easy washing. We love the clean lines and simple look that we appreciated about the original bouncer but the tailored sizing for 0-6 month babies.

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YOU can win this Baby Bjorn Bouncer Mini in either pink or grey valued at $159.95. You MUST enter using the Rafflecopter entry below and note that it is just open to Canadian residents.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am a middle child and, to be totally honest, I kind of hated that role growing up. I felt stuck between not being the oldest and not being the baby and had a lot of, ‘what about me???!’ moments. Of course, there were some okay parts to be the middle sibling. I could use the oldest siblings make up and products (secretly of course!) and then go play Barbies with the youngest sibling. Sure, I was 13 but it didn’t matter. I always had someone to play with it and was able to alternate enemy sisters whenever I needed to.

I didn’t really hate my middle child role until I was in the pre teen age bracket and the differences were a lot more obvious. The more things that the older sibling ahead of me was able to do, the more it made me feel jealous and angry. The more attention the youngest sibling received, the more I felt kind of unimportant. Cue the whole, ‘what about me??!’ feelings of middle child syndrome.

In my mid teens the role of being the middle sister seemed to peak at an all time level of suckage. Any article printed in my favourite teen magazine that touched on personalities and birth order peaked my attention.

Now that I’m a mother to 3 and have my own newly minted middle child, I can already feel her birth order angst. There seems to be more tears and more moments fuelled by emotion. There are more fights with the oldest sibling and upset over me having to tend to the baby once again. The ‘what about me??!’ is very evident and I feel for my middle girl right now, I really do. The oldest can go off and do his own thing and the youngest requires more obvious parental attention. So, we just sometimes just leave the middle to be by herself.

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We are trying to be conscious of the changes that adding a new sibling can create for any child. We are putting more time into one on one moments with the middle child. There has been an increase in coffee shop dates with daddy in the morning and silly fun while walking the dog outside. She is sensitive and sweet and I can tell that it will take a bit of time for her to embrace her new role.

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Apparently, even research backs up the idea that the middle child will never be the favourite child among the parents and parental preference often falls to the oldest or the youngest child. Australian researcher Julie Fitness did a whole study on this topic and I can’t say I’m shocked by her findings. All the middle children out there are nodding there head while reading this.

As a parent who is now raising a middle child, I feel even more compelled to ensure that she doesn’t fall into the ‘what about me??!’ role. Look at this solid gold finding from Psychology Today:

“Middles have lower self-esteem than other birth orders because of their lack of uniqueness and attention at home—but this can actually be a positive as they don’t have huge egos.”

Fantastic!!

According to this highly scientific on line quiz, My personality is 86% a middle child. Go ahead and find out if your birth order and personality traits line up.

 

It’s been two weeks since I gave birth to my third baby and I’m blissfully soaking it all in without worrying about getting back to normal. I am not rushing around or making too many plans or even putting on a bra. I am purposefully taking it slow. I am giving myself time to recover and heal and readjust and I am allowing time to tick very slowly while I fall in love with my newest child.

I feel so fortunate that I don’t have work on the horizon anytime soon and I don’t feel any external pressure to get back to a new version of our old normal. I am functioning in slow post partum recovery mode and it feels just perfect. There is a lot of lazing around in that newborn sleep deprived fog state. Which, by the way, doesn’t get any easier the more babies you have. The only difference is you really grasp just how temporary it is and how all too soon it will be a distant memory. It feels like more of  a privilege than a hassle.

Over the week and a bit that we’ve been back home from the hospital, we’ve done a lot of laying in bed. Breastfeeding, holding the baby and just hanging out. My new norm seems to be wearing pajamas until the middle of the day, or all day and into the next day, and I am so okay with that. I gave up feeling guilty if the kids were on the iPad once again and am letting things just unfold. One big thing I learned from the other post partum recoveries is not to rush that return to busy day to day life. Visits with friends can wait. Dinner can be take out or a big bowl of cereal. Eventually the new norm will emerge and those newborn days will be over.

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Two months before I had Elisabeth I told my husband that it would be great if he was able to take some time off work once I had the baby. We usually plan a family vacation in March or April and I thought that maybe he could take time off work in lieu of that Hawaiian vacation to help get us all sorted as a family of five. I was pretty pleased when he said he most definitely would take the time off work to be with the family, but really I was the most pleased when he actually took the time off work to take care of us.

Most mornings I feel like a truck has hit me and like there is no way I will be able to make it through the day. Some mornings I have actually been awake all night long nursing and soothing our wee girl and when the clock hits 6 AM and I hear the big kids getting up, I start to feel really overwhelmed with exhaustion. So, when my husband gets the kids ready and takes Ben to school and comes home and makes me eggs and toast, well I pretty much fall in love with him again.

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I think we both have fallen in love so deeply with this baby and we are just so happy to spend time with her. Outside life can stand still for now.  The last few mornings he has taken her out on a seawall walk and I get an hour of sleep. That ONE HOUR is amazing. Seriously people, who knew you could get by on a a couple hours of broken sleep and actually still seem sort of human. I think the oxytocin must be flowing in abundance over here.

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It took us over a week to come up with this baby’s name but we have one, we finally have one! My husband favoured Gabriella but I was just stumped. I literally did not have one name that called out to me. I did not have any big favourites or names I had always wanted to call my daughter. I think the emotions of the pregnancy and then the quick post birth admittance to the NICU didn’t allow me to get my head wrapped around naming our girl.

For a full week she was just ‘baby’. We tossed around different names and my husband even bribed the nurses and staff at the hospital with buttery croissants if they voted for Gabriella. I love the name but it just wasn’t HER name. My requirements were that it should be something classic that went with Benjamin and Josephine and that you could make a few short names out of one long name.

Let me tell you, no matter how much it doesn’t bother you that your baby has no name, it bothers A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE. Almost to a comical level when they ask you in exasperation once again what her name is. Apparently people love to get all the details in a very prompt manner. Everyone gets a name eventually and I wasn’t going to feel rushed with choosing her name.

Once she was out of the NICU and out of phototherapy, I was able to spend more time being with her hanging out skin to skin in my hospital room. It was during that time that I was really able to start connecting with her. I knew she wasn’t a Gabriella and our other names on the short list didn’t fit her either. We had tossed around Beatrice, Beatrix, Jessa, Abigail and even more.

When we got around to the idea of Elizabeth, a name we had tossed around casually, my husband said he liked it but it suited her with a gentle S instead of a Z. That was it. I loved it! It totally fit this tiny girl and it went with the flow of the sibling names. We are still working on what her nickname will be, we are just letting that fall in place and so we call her Elisabeth for now. Our sweet baby Elisabeth.

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Back when we had Ben we were sort of taken aback by the fact that he became jaundice about 24 hours after birth. He hated being under the photo therapy lights and treatment was difficult to balance between his cries of misery and getting enough light exposure. Then we had Josie  and we felt like total pros and asked for her to be tested for jaundice at the 24 hour mark. Like we had predicted, our second baby had jaundice too. However, she didn’t mind being trapped in a warm box with a eye mask on.

I felt pretty certain that baby #3 would also need treatment for jaundice and I was not at all surprised when at the 24 hour mark she needed phototherapy. This wee girl was super chill under the lights and probably the easiest one when it came to soothing and leaving alone in the box.

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Her nurse made a little nest on the bed and she felt comforted surrounded by a ledge of rolls as she kicked and wiggled. It was funny to watch her hanging out in her photo therapy box. Man this girl can wiggle!! I knew she was a mover and a shaker from when I was pregnant, as she flipped positions all the time and would often lay side ways instead of head down. I even had a few fretful moments when she turned breech. So, watching her under the lights was interesting as she did the exact same thing. I’ve never seen a newborn move as much as she did.

On her last full day of treatment Ben dropped by after school and absolutely adored staring at her. We let him put his hands through the side doors and he counted her toes and rubbed her hair and was just in awe of his tiny sister.

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Today we waited patiently for yet another blood test to come back to tell us that her levels of bilirubin had come down enough for us to take her home. Things settled down enough for her to come home and we couldn’t jet out of the hospital soon enough! We’re going to be keeping a pretty strict feeding schedule so that we can work on getting rid of the leftover bilirubin in her system. Lucky for her and for me, she nurses like a champ and my milk is pouring in (and all over the bedsheets).

 

As I rest up in the hospital (side note: totally ‘old fashion’ style as baby is nearing 6 days old!) I’d love to share the next guest post from blogger Laura of the hilarious and insightful blog Navigating The Mothership. Her post makes me feel like I can do this mother of 3 gig!

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It’s inevitable that parenting styles and philosophies will shift a bit as you add more kids into the mix. As a fairly tightly-wound fussypants-type (rule one: know thyself and thine lameness), this parenting shift has been a wonderful thing for me. I am a better person for having gone through some challenging times as a parent, even if the learning curve felt brutal in the moment.

Many articles, surveys, and blog posts like to insist that three kids is the ultimate hardest number of kids, which…sigh. Oh, how I loathe you, parenting “advice” (*cough* assvice) articles that promise harder futures to those in the young children trenches. Giving a blanket statement that three kids will be the hardest – harder than one kid, harder than two kids, harder than four kids – is ridiculous. Boo hiss, I say!

Everyone’s situation is so inherently different and even within each family it will be different every time a new baby arrives. What kind of baby (or babies!) are you dealing with? I can pretty much guarantee those with a decent sleeper are having an easier time adjusting than parents who are up all night with a inconsolable baby. What other life circumstances are going on?  There are so many factors that make up life: physical, mental, familial, financial..and add in the current state of employment, your housing situation – or even current weather! – and things might get harder or easier. One baby can be crazy hard. Four kids might not be so hard. It all depends and it’s all relative.

Going from one to two kids was what rocked my world and brought me to my knees. I have heard that for some going from no kids to being a first-time parent was what really challenged them. I bet my husband would pick zero to one kid as the biggest shift he experienced as a parent. And for others I know that two to three kids was what left them floundering. But for me? My life circumstances lined up to make that transition from one to two the hardest. Managing a nap-dropping two-year-old and a very physically active baby (plus a handful of health problems, among other things) was the hardest year of parenting for me. Give me the past year of parenting a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a baby any day! Even now, as we are in the midst of a true sleep debacle with our youngest – complete with spousal fights at 3 AM last night over how to fix the problem – I still prefer the level of stress of right now over the stress I felt with “only” two kids. (And fear not, we made up by 8 AM the next morning as this is not our first sleep problem rodeo. The ability to laugh at our sleep-deprived crazy is a well-honed skill.)

While I am reluctant to share parenting wisdom given my relative newbie status as a parent, I think I know enough to say this: parenting will feel “easier” and more enjoyable once you get past your own parenting tipping point. The Today show referred to it as the Duggar effect (“once you get a certain critical mass of kids, life seems to get a bit easier”) and others might snidely call it giving up but I think it’s a more complex and nuanced process. Getting past the tipping point has to do with realizing that you can only control so much and that bit that you can control is often a shockingly small amount. And once that is realized and accepted, parenting and life feels more manageable.

Being past the tipping point means I find I can enjoy parenting so much more and roll with the punches far more effectively. Standards have not been abandoned, but they have been lowered.
Expectations are generally kept as low as they can go, but I am not without hope that it might go smoothly. You pick your battles and do your best. You know that most of the parenting mistakes will come out in the wash and at the end of the day all you need to do is show your kids you love
them. I like how I parent better now that I have three. Sure each kid gets less of me now that there are more siblings in the mix, but the bit they get is a happier and more relaxed me.

This is not to say that now that I’m past the tipping point I could add in a fourth or fifth kid and it would be no big thing. NO INDEEDY, that is not what I am saying. We have no plans for another baby but if that were to somehow happen, I still think I would navigate the challenge more adeptly than I did adding baby number two. Life is not easier with more babies, but the role of parenting feels easier. An
internal shift has happened which makes the external stuff less shocking.

So hear me parents who are expecting number three and fearing the worst: you might be very pleasantly surprised at how smoothly that new bundle of joy gets added into your lives. Prepare yourself for some tough and tiring days – because you know they will come – but prepare yourself to enjoy the magical gift of perspective. It will let you rise above the bad times (um…mostly) knowing that “this too shall pass” and it will let you settle in and enjoy the sweet moments because you know that those too shall pass.

We have made it one year into parenting three kids and it has far exceeded expectations. I absolutely adore having a third child – and I say that as someone who was once on the fence. I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed getting to do the baby thing one last time. It was a flawed and glorious time and we lived it fully. I am excited to watch the future unfold in the same way: flawed, glorious and full.

You can find me on my blog at Navigating the Mothership. I whine excessively on Twitter (I am working on that) and I also Instagram regularly.

It’s been a bit of a busy week over here! Last Friday I went to the hospital and was told my induction was going to be bumped up from the following week to that day. That morning I said goodbye to my big boy and off he went to school, had breakfast with Josie and headed into the hospital to have a baby. Things unfolded in their own way and on Saturday evening I had the baby. Unfortunately after a couple hours of skin to skin and breastfeeding, our sweet little babe  needed to go to the NICU for some extra care.

I was so caught up with the whirlwind of the baby being in the NICU, plus the recovery from birth and my own health issues, that I was just not in the frame of mind to have the big kids come for a visit. All of a sudden it was Sunday and then it was Monday and it had been 4 days since I last saw them.  My only focus was trekking from my hospital room to the NICU and feeding my baby.

Tuesday came and it was time for me to see the other kids and for them to meet their baby sister. Things were settling down with both of us in the hospital and I was seriously missing those big kids so much. We made a plan that after school they’d come for a visit and meet the baby. It was truly love at first sight and the oxytocin in the room was flowing!

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Ben was beyond smitten with this tiny newborn and he had all the right big brother moves. The only person who really has had a big shift in roles was Josie. She is no longer the family baby and has moved up in ranks as a big sister and also the middle sister. Luckily she was pretty impressed with her new credentials.

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I love how this new family member fits right in, like she was always meant to complete things. She is the perfect little sister and her siblings are especially besotted with her arrival. We can’t wait to bring her home and hopefully that will  happen Wednesday or Thursday. It’s been a long week since I first arrived in the hospital last Friday but it has been more than worth it.

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She’s here!Baby ‘Cupcake’ Firmani, Born April 11, 2015 6:54 PM, 6 lbs 5 oz.birth-0001 birth-0003 birth-0004

I’d love you to meet my next guest blogger in my mini series about adding baby #3 to your family. Michelle Gadd is the voice behind the blog Elasticpantcity and welcomed her own baby #3 last year. I remember standing with Michelle at a blogging event last June and told her how I was ‘on the fence’ about having a third baby. She said to me, ‘if you are on the fence it means you will have the third baby’. Well, here I am! Ready to read ALL of Michelle’s advice!

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That saying two’s a company, three’s a crowd holds sway when your family composition consists of three little boys five and under. It is busy and crowded in our bed, bathroom, and couch and everywhere in between.  We have one bathroom and just today there was a never-ending potty train that included both parents trying to do their business.

Where the saying breaks down in its application of truth is in the negative connotation of three’s a crowd.  Our little crowd is the soul of our family, the cause of belly laughs, the application of forgiveness and grace and sweetness personified.

My husband and I thought we were tired with two kids but adding a third created a whole new level of fatigue. Even so there has never been a moment of regret. At least once a day, even after a sleepless night (Yes, he still doesn’t sleep through the night!) my husband and I look at each other and say, “He is sooo cute. I can’t take it.”

A baby in the family brought out the nurturer and protector in our oldest son.  Our middle son (the baby of the family until that point) had the hardest time adjusting. He was territorial and started giving us trouble at bed and naptime.

Slowly but surely he has adjusted and become his little brother’s champion.  He’s the fastest to run into the baby’s room to greet him at the end of naptime (or unfortunately, sometimes in the middle).  He is the sibling to track his little brother’s activities and give me the warning signal when the baby might be in danger.

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Now that the “baby” is 16 months old the boys are learning to play together. They know exactly how to push one another’s buttons but also how to make each other roll on the ground with laughter.

The family dynamic is beautiful, occasionally frustrating and always busy.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to hit the hay at 9 PM to make sure I can survive another day or that I could sit down more often and read a book but the truth is two’s a company, three’s even better.

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