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The Anatomy of a Mum-Mum

hot kid baby mum-mum
Simple teething cracker? Not exactly.

Baby Mum-Mums. For parents of teething babies, they are saviour and anathema at once.

How do they work? No one knows exactly. I am baffled, myself.

They are delicate enough to be crushed to smithereens in your purse (preferably inside the package).

They yield appropriately to the gentle crocodile-fierce pressure of a teething baby’s jaws.

Mixed with infant saliva, they turn to bite-sized pieces of magical cement. If your baby hasn’t yet mastered grasping, no matter. Baby Mum-Mums will affix themselves conveniently to your baby’s palm, where she can lick away at them over the coming days. They will handily store themselves on her bib as well, not to mention in her lap, armpits, neck-creases, and any other nooks she might possess.

Their revolutionary consistency means that a simple shower of Mum-Mum crumbs, landing, for example, in a light patina of drool on your baby’s tray, transforms into a rugged surface you can use to sand down your deck or car.

Give your baby a Mum-Mum today! You’ll see: once glued, these seemingly simple “rusks” WILL NOT YIELD. Amazingly, even left to soak, you will still need a chisel to remove them! You’ve never seen such staying power.

Added bonus: they may just keep your child happy for several minutes when you most need her to be quiet. Put a few individually-wrapped 2-packs in your purse for emergencies. Whether your baby is fussing or the heel just came off your shoe, Baby Mum-Mums have got you covered!

baby A with mum-mum
Mmmmmm.

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My Son’s Epic Third Birthday Celebrations

Wow, it’s been a crazy week. I started out writing a sweet little birthday note to my firstborn, on his actual birthday, and then the celebrations overwhelmed the blogging time. (Putting together the yearbook and writing report cards didn’t help either.)

There’s been so much partying that it must seem to him that his birthday really is ALL of June (he’s spent so long telling people, “I’ll be three in June!” that now he figures it’s still his birthday). Is it right for a three-year-old to have this many presents and treats in the span of a week? I don’t know, but it’s pretty fun. Aside from the very early mornings where he must get up and play with his new… whatever.

Here is a much-belated recap.

The Mommy Message:

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Dear E,

Happy Birthday! You are THREE YEARS OLD!

You’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. This morning, Daddy wished you a happy birthday and you were up in a blink. When I reminded you that this meant you’re finally three, you grinned like you could hardly comprehend your good fortune: “Yeah… now I’m three!!

It’s hard to believe how grown-up you are, for all of us adults who remember so clearly when you were just a baby. From your perspective, I know, you are a big boy who has lived a long time and had lots of life experience.

And you ARE big! You are tall for your age, and you are solid. You run around, and push yourself around on your tricycle, and you do stairs by yourself (mostly), and you get yourself in and out of your car seat. I always have to ask if I can help you with things – and usually you don’t let me.

You are also pretty stubborn and strong-willed. (Where on earth did you get that?) Sometimes you decide that you want things to be a certain way, and you get very angry if we don’t cooperate. You use your loudest, scariest voice, and it’s both hilarious and irritating. And sometimes highly inconvenient (like when we’re trying to get to the babysitter on time). But these moods don’t last long – and we’re grateful you’ve never lost your temper in a public place, like the grocery store (knock wood).

I’m glad you assert yourself. And when we ask you to use your words and your manners, you usually do really well, even if you are upset. It’s amazing to see you learning which communication techniques work. Continue reading “My Son’s Epic Third Birthday Celebrations”

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Why I Love My Midwives

As you know, baby-in-progress and I are receiving shared prenatal care from a renowned hospital ob/gyn clinic and our midwifery team. (All of this care is covered by our socialized medicine in Ontario. Thank God.)

I’d like to dedicate this blog post to my midwives, because they simply rock the casbah, on so many levels.

pregnant-belly

The Myths of Midwifery

I have a good friend who is a doctor, married to a doctor. We once had a long discussion about midwives, because he confessed that he was worried about the anxiety he and his wife would feel when they decided to start a family; they know too much, and have seen too many nightmarish situations.

Naively, I said, “You guys should get a midwife. They’re really practical and reassuring because they see their clients as parents, not patients.”

I can see, in retrospect, that this was maybe a silly thing to say to a doctor. Still, I’d like to think that our conversation was somewhat enlightening (for him), because he was full of misconceptions about midwives. Actually, it was enlightening for me too; I appreciated hearing his perspective, because I’d had no idea what it’s like on the medicine end.

He got some of his feeling about midwives from personal experience. The midwives he’s been in contact with have fit a certain granola-hippie stereotype (Birkenstocks, hairy legs, patchouli, blah blah) that some would consider “unprofessional”… but more importantly, they are apparently militant to the point of obnoxiousness in the hospital setting. I’m told that they yell at doctors to get out of the room… They hate doctors and rail against them… They don’t remotely attempt to foster good relations. And then, if a birth goes terribly wrong, who gets to fix things and clean up the mess? The doctors. So basically, the belief is that midwives get all the easy births (because they are only allowed to work with low-risk pregnancies) and they get paid the same amount for less work. AND they don’t even have a College (like the College of Physicians in Ontario, keeping doctors accountable).

Luckily, we were Skyping so I was on my computer. I was able to Google-and-rebut.

  • Hippie midwives. First of all, I have never met a midwife who fits – at all – the stereotype mentioned above, despite living in a city with a high “granola” factor. (Okay, there is one on my team who wears Birkenstocks… but as a woman with weird-shaped feet, I’m all for comfortable shoes. We should all be taking better care of our feet. Amen.) I’m sure some exist, but they’re not the norm.
  • Doctor/midwife smackdown. It’s true that my midwives do not speak highly of every ob/gyn. They are always professional in terms of what they say, but I was warned about a particular doctor at our local hospital before being induced with E – one who acts like the C-section is the solution to everything. “He will probably tell you, ‘You don’t want to do all that work, let’s just operate,’ but you can say no.” Midwives know as well as anyone that there are times when a C-section is, indeed, the best option; what they can’t abide is doctors who make expectant parents feel that invasive, expensive (to taxpayers) interventions are necessary when they are not. (My labour with E was brutal, but I was still thrilled not to have my abdominal wall sliced through.) For the most part, the local midwives and doctors in my city seem to have a very functional, mutually respectful relationship going on. (If that’s all a facade, I am none the wiser.) As a mom who has had two transfer-of-care births, I’m really glad for this functionality.
  • Their job is easy. So it may be true that midwives have the lion’s share of “easy” births. (Hey moms, let’s have a li’l chuckle at the word “easy”.) You could look at it that way. My response is: a) any job where you have to be in top form, at the last minute, at an unscheduled hour of the night, for an undetermined amount of time is NOT EASY; b) Ob/gyns are completely overloaded with patients – do they really want all these ones too? c) Midwives go above and beyond. Please see below.
  • The $ Factor. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research, and the answer is: hells to the NO, midwives do NOT get paid the same. I checked the Public Sector Salary Disclosure, and the number of midwives in the Association of Ontario Midwives making over 100K/year is exactly… ONE. And Ontario midwives are among the best-paid; Canada-wide, the average midwife makes 65K/year. The figures I found on ob/gyn salaries, on the other hand, made my jaw drop. (Not that I’m saying they don’t earn their money – most of them absolutely do, especially because they begin their careers freakishly deep in debt. But I’m trying to set the record straight: NO ob/gyn works for 65K.) You can read here that midwife pay hasn’t gone up significantly in seven years – and before that, there was a 10-year pay freeze. That’s ridiculous, especially considering their services tend to cost the province far less.
  • Accountability. Yep, they do have a College. They’ve had one since 1993.
  • Home births. Just a word about this touchy subject (not that my doctor friend mentioned this). Lots of people think that if you have a midwife, you must give birth at home (or in a barn or something). That is not true. Of course, the situation varies depending on the hospital, but midwives have privileges in most Ontario hospitals, so are able to offer the choice. Even if you do give birth at home, it’s not like they come armed only with swaddling clothes; they bring emergency equipment and medications – plus, two of them are required to attend every birth, so that one can tend to the mother and one to the child. Both my births were planned for the hospital (which was just as well – if I had planned home births, I’d be 0 for 2), but it was reassuring to know that if I’d been unable to get to the hospital for some reason, my midwives were ready to travel, and experienced in home birthing.

midwife-home-birth

What My Midwife Can Do For Me

In a previous post, I mentioned our appointment with the ob/gyns at the out-of-town hospital, coinciding with our 12-week ultrasound. It was kind of a funny appointment. The doctor we’d gotten to know (in discussing Sebastian’s pathology) was on vacation, so we were dealing mostly with a resident. He was very nice, young, likeable, and soft-spoken. He did the EXACT same questionnaire with me that I’d done at the midwife’s office three weeks earlier. I also peed on the EXACT same brand of pee-stick. We did the physical exam, the weight, the blood pressure, the Doppler. In our conversation, he indicated that the clinic would be doing all our appointments for this pregnancy.

Near the end of the appointment, an ob/gyn came in to follow up, and confirmed this. She, in contrast, was loud and abrasive, and talked as if our being here were somehow a result of us being dumb. She said they would be taking over our care, so she wasn’t sure what our midwives could really do for us.

We countered that we were hoping to continue with the midwives if possible, and she was all like, “Why? Where do you want to deliver?” Well. It takes an hour to get to this hospital from our house. I would not take that ride in labour unless there were NO other choice.

“So, you want your care with us to last until when? Thirty-eight weeks?” she said, in a tone as if she were boggled by our confounding indecision. I allowed myself to get a bit snippy at this point, and informed her that it was Dr. S. who had recommended “shared care”.

When she told us our 16-week appointment wouldn’t involve a scan, I asked what exactly it would involve. Guess what: Doppler, blood pressure, weight, pee-stick. You want me to drive an hour – and pay for parking – for THAT. She acknowledged at this point, “Well, I guess ANYBODY could do that. You can have that appointment with your midwives, if you want.” Gee, thanks.

I wonder what her marks were in empathy class.

Don’t get me wrong: 5 out of the 6 ob/gyns I’ve been in contact with have been lovely, competent, professional. They work hard. They do the best they can, considering the number of patients they have. I have full respect for them. But it burned me that this woman clearly thought so little of midwives.

What can my midwives do for me?? What can YOU do for me, lady?

Are you going to give me a half-hour or more of your time per appointment, to anticipate my questions, educate me on possibilities and options, and allay my worries? (Statistics from my mom friends would indicate NO, you are much more likely to give me 3-5 minutes per appointment.)

Are you going to come to my home to check me when I’ve been in labour for sixteen hours, so I don’t have to get in the car only to turn around and come home again?

Are you going to attend my birth for support, even when you’re no longer in charge?

Are you going to do six weeks of post-partum care for me and my newborn?

Are you going to get there in time when my stillborn son makes his appearance hours earlier than expected? (The answer to that is NO – the ob/gyn did not deliver Sebastian. He missed the birth by a mile, but my midwife met us in the parking lot.)

When I’m grieving my lost baby, are you going to come to my home to visit me for that post-partum care, so that I don’t have to come to the clinic and sit among the glowing, expectant moms and garden-fresh, living newborns?

Are you going to have deep, empathetic conversations with me about baby loss?

Because my midwives did all these things. They are AWESOME.

grin945l midwife cartoon

So… I did have my 16-week appointment with my midwife – the same one who delivered my angel baby.

I’ll be honest: it made my day. While completely validating my stresses and fears, this wonderful woman also managed to reassure me more than anyone else has so far. In spite of the tragedies she’s faced in her life (and there are many), positivity radiates from her. Talking matter-of-factly about this baby as a person, and referring comfortably to its arrival as a given (when for four months I’ve been catching and holding back my every assumption)… she made me remember – and even feel, for a while – the joyful, vibrant expectation that characterized my pregnancy with E. She reminded me how it felt to be truly, deep-down excited to meet my child… who is going to be fine.

baby toes in a mother's hand

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BAM-BANG Music Review: Barenaked Ladies’ Snacktime

I find the more I listen to Snacktime, the Barenaked Ladies’ album for kids, the more I want to listen to it.

barenaked ladies snacktime album cover
BNL’s Snacktime!

When we look for kids’ music in our household, our main criterion is that it be fun to listen – for us. It’s not that we don’t care whether E is entertained; it’s just that we know the drill. We know that for kids, listening to the same thing over and over is comforting, whereas for us, it has to be pretty great music to stand the test of child-style repetition.

The fact that I sometimes put on Snacktime by choice… well, that should speak for itself.

Here are my appreciative notes on the album:

  • There are 24 whole songs on the album. But don’t be daunted: they’re all extremely listenable. And some are very, very short.
  • The “Barenaked Children” sing on a lot of the tracks. And you can tell that the BNL are Daddies who have listened to their kids a lot – the kid mentality comes through all over the place.
  • At the same time, they use whatever obscure vocabulary they want. In fact, the BNL have pulled off the kind of genius that Pixar and Dreamworks do with their kids’ movies: put in plenty of jokes and nods to the adult audience so we know they had us in mind too.
  • By the same token, they demonstrate their belief that kids should be listening to high-quality, interesting, challenging music. (I totally agree, if you couldn’t tell).
  • Pollywog in a Bog” is an adorable song that I think might actually be my very favourite. Plus, I just discovered that it’s got an awesome video in which the musicians are woodland puppets. Continue reading “BAM-BANG Music Review: Barenaked Ladies’ Snacktime”

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BAM-BANG Music Review – Sleepy Sky Lullaby

I know this guy named Eddie Douglas. He is a professional substitute teacher (meaning he does only short-term jobs). I’ve crossed paths with him at all four elementary schools I’ve worked at, and we always enjoy a chat when we see each other. He also happens to be a Juno-nominated musician.

Eddie has three albums created for children. The first is a collection of Dennis Lee poems, set to Eddie’s music, called Alligator Ice Cream – Jelly Delight! (2002). The second (and Juno-nominated for Children’s Album of the Year), entitled Gonna Keep Dancing (2007), is described as a “colourful extravaganza of children’s poetry in song” that “showcases the lyrics of some of Canada’s favourite authors – jazzy & soulful acoustic music with folk roots”. Sounds great! However, being a person who notoriously never carries cash, I had never purchased one of these albums, despite my best intentions, until last week.

This time when Eddie showed up at my school, I had the opportunity not only to purchase but to hear about the making of Eddie’s latest album, Sleepy Sky Lullaby (2011).

sleepy-sky-lullaby-eddie-douglas

It’s a combination of traditional poetry, collaborations, and his own lyrics, set to his own music. Having never actually heard Eddie’s music (shame on me!), I was really hoping I could go home and listen to it and find I sincerely liked it. Continue reading “BAM-BANG Music Review – Sleepy Sky Lullaby”

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BAM Baby Stuff Reviews – Nursing

Here’s the nursing gear that works for us (and some that doesn’t), in case you’d like to know:

  • “My Brest Friend” nursing pillow. It is firm, sculpted foam, flat on top but for two bumps for baby’s head, with a removable slip-cover, and an adjustable clip for your waist. We LOVE it. (Even Daddy uses it for when he’s giving E a bottle.) It’s apparently#1 recommended by lactation consultants, which is why we chose it, but also our midwife was thrilled to see it because she agrees it’s the best kind, and friends of ours who don’t like most nursing pillows were impressed with this one. (The more doughnut-shaped ones tend to let baby roll inward.) Plus, it makes a cute skirty fashion accessory for a new mom.
my brest friend nursing pillow
My Brest Friend nursing pillow
  • Bravado nursing bras. I tried on the nursing models of many a trusted bra brand (WonderBra, Triumph, I forget what all), and ALL of them seem to make my boobs look weird, like bug-eyes. I was recommended Bravado by a friend, and I never looked back. I have five of their bras, all very comfortable (even at night), good colours, easy to unsnap, supportive, machine-washable, and look good. Some even have removable liners to help protect your shirt.
bravado nursing bra bodysilk
Bravado “Bodysilk” nursing bra

  • President’s Choice nursing pads. Yep, you read that right. Canadians can find them at their local Zehrs, Fortinos, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, etc. For those of you who know my fondness for PC, it leaned toward awe when I found these: super-affordable, washable, breathable waterproof so your shirt is safe, but thin so that they’re not clumpy in your bra. WAY better than the Bravado ones I bought, which let the milk through on a regular basis.
  • I am told by a good friend that silicone nursing protectors are also great, and don’t leak. I haven’t tried them so I don’t personally vouch for them… but I thought it was important to mention this.
  • I have a breast pump… it was a hand-me-down from a friend. It’s so-so… so, I will tell you that another good friend of mine recommends the Medela Swing: works for her.
medela_swing_breast_pump
Medela Swing breast pump

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