Six weeks old on Remembrance Day

Dear Baby A,

Today, you are six weeks old! Probably the fastest six weeks of my whole life, even though I’m trying very hard to cherish every second, to make this time last longer.

Six weeks ago, you were sleeping angelically through your first day of life, as many people (who had already loved you for a long time) passed you around and admired you. You were understandably exhausted: it must really be tough going from a warm, dark, hushed, never-hungry place, through a very squeezy tunnel, to a cold, bright, loud place where people will not stop touching you, and where you’re suddenly expected to get food into your tummy using your mouth. That’s the kind of day that would really take it out of a person. (I was pretty tired myself.)

Mama and baby A on her first night in the world
You and me, on that first night.

Baby daughter, I am so excited to be your Mama.

I get lost in your deep, wonderful eyes several times a day.

I am fascinated by every little expression that flits across your face – awake or asleep.

When you smile, my whole soul smiles back.

Your tiny hands are so exquisite, I almost can’t stand it.

My favourite thing is listening to you sigh with each breath, your face getting sleepy, as you drink from my breast.

Even when you awaken too early, or cry with what seems like excessive drama (usually about being in your car seat), I know you are just learning how to be. It’s my job – mine and Daddy’s – to guide you and teach you the skills you need to cope with life. We are working on it as best we can.

Last night, I had a dream about our family, but it was different. Daddy and I were visiting somewhere far away – with two little boys. E was there, and so was his little brother, who was wearing a little cowboy hat and a diaper (and nothing else). They were both running around and playing, hiding from each other behind corners. They were beautiful, and it was fun.

I’m glad I just enjoyed that dream. I’m glad my mind never remembered that it couldn’t be real, that E’s brother – your brother, too – never will run or play or hide around corners. At least, not with us.

Amazingly, that was the only time in my memory that I’ve ever dreamed about Sebastian.

When I woke up, I remembered right away what the constellation of our family looks like in real life. I grieved, because it was so sweet and fulfilling to see him, and I don’t know when I might dream of him again.

But I don’t wish for that family from my dream, even though it made me so happy. Because if Sebastian were here, precious Baby A, you would not be… and that is a situation I can’t possibly wish for. The two families could never have been one and the same.

It’s confusing, but also simple. I love all three of you so much, with love unique for each of you. I miss your ageless brother, as I always will, but I’m immeasurably glad I don’t have to miss you. For us, you are joy, in adorable human form.

Today is Remembrance Day. It’s a day when we think and talk about war, and honour the sacrifices people have had to make during wars. I think a lot about this day, and have written about these things many times – about what remembrance means to me as a Quaker, what it means to students I’ve taught, and what it may mean to those who have lost children to war.

Your great-grandfathers, from three different countries, were involved in World War II. Today I’ve found myself thinking of them, and their wives and children, and mostly just feeling selfishly grateful. I’m grateful that your Daddy is here with us, rather than an unknown number of miles or months or years from his next visit home… that I’m not a married single mom, even temporarily… or unthinkably worse, a widow… that I don’t often worry about you and E being orphaned… that I’ve never had to worry about having enough food to feed you… that I’m not wondering whether a bomb will destroy us, or our home, or other people we love.

(Writing all this, I’m reminded that Hurricane Sandy victims have much in common with those who have experienced war. I’m exceedingly grateful we were not exposed to Sandy first-hand, either.)

Sweet girl, we are so fortunate to live when and where we do, and to have each other. I hope someday you will understand what a wondrous blessing you are to this family.

Baby A at six weeks old
Six weeks old

Love, love, love, love you, for always.

Your Mama.




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Best and Worst Parenting Moments (in one day)

Yesterday there were some radically contrasting highs and lows in the tapestry of our family life.

Some high points with Baby A:

  • Starting to get waking smiles this past week – the ones when she’s looking right at us, so they seem like she means them.
  • She peed on her potty for the first time! Only her second try! And she has done so three more times since then. OMG, her little face is so cute while she’s “sitting” on there. (Please click here if you think I’m a freak for putting my five-week-old on the potty.)
  • Baby burps. Is there anything more satisfying? Particularly when you have a girl – I really get a kick out of her unladylike noises (for now, at least). One of the many things that’s cute on a baby – but not so much on big people.

And some low points:

  • Always waking up with the congestion. Poor sweetie does well for the first few hours each night, but by the wee hours of the morning is feeding more and more frequently to clear her nasal passages. This is in spite of the humidifier and inclined mattress and nasal spray and a whole lotta breast milk nutrients. And I can’t keep a hat on her at night for love nor money. (Not that anyone’s offering me money.)
  • Nicking her tiny thumb while cutting her nails. BAD MOMMY MOMENT. So awful: she bled and cried really hard, and of course tears started rolling down my cheeks too. She’s fine now – you can practically watch newborns healing – but still. Traumatic.

Then there’s E, who is still so engaging and fun and silly and smart and great… and also being a frequent pain in the keister.

Yesterday he had too many episodes of whining and crying and even screaming “NO!!” at the top of his lungs. (Mostly related to screen time… sigh. But that’s another blog post.) Also several instances of doing the exact thing we’d just asked him not to do.

We got very sick of his whining and crying over nothing by the end of the day. Daddy raised his voice in frustration – which I totally understand – and E kept crying – which I also understand. At a certain point, escalation seems to be inevitable. Patience is one of the very hardest things at times like that. Plus, Sean has borne the brunt of all the whining – he’s been home for the last two weeks, between the end of school and the start of work (great timing to have days off, actually), and has been having lots of Daddy/son time while I’m with A. Much as he has enjoyed it, he has also used (up) a lot of patience.

I ended up handing the baby to Daddy and scooping up E and taking him to his room. I cuddled him and reminded him how much we love him and how we know it’s hard for things to be so different now that the baby’s here. It took him a while, but he calmed down. Then he was all confused, because wouldn’t you know it – Mama was all teary-eyed too (AGAIN). I really have been missing spending quality time with my boy, so it was a lot easier for me to distance myself from the effects of the whining.

So yeah. If you were wondering, E is definitely still adjusting to the big-brother status. Even as he fervently loves his little sister.

Big brother and little sister
The dynamic duo

Oy. Parenting is hard, eh?



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Baby Lessons, and How Daddy Saved the Day (or Night)

baby A three weeks old
Baby A, 3 weeks old

There is a lot I’m re-learning about having a very young baby. Lots of things I only half-remembered, especially the counter-intuitive parts. For instance:

  • The more sleep she gets, the sleepier she will be.
  • The more tired – or overtired – she gets, the more awake she seems.
  • She may hate the swaddle (and she DOES) but it can still calm her down.
  • She will wake up, just like E did, at that damn 40-minute mark of her nap, whether she needs more sleep or not.

I am also realizing that E was one of the easiest babies possible, especially in the early days, though I’m not sure I realized HOW easy at the time. I knew I was fortunate that he almost never cried unless there was a good reason, but I always figured our successes in certain areas – like establishing good napping habits – came from following Tracy Hogg’s advice diligently in those contexts.

Now I realize that the fact that he took a pacifier after only a few tries, or that he was mostly amenable to the swaddle, meant that he was just going easy on us. It wasn’t our exemplary technique or anything.

Baby A is a feistier, fussier baby, hands down. Not that she’s a hellion or anything – she is often very sweet and mellow. (When I worried, before she was born, that we were going to pay this time for having such a good-natured baby the first time around, I was imagining colic. So far, there’s no sign of that, and I’m very grateful.) But she fusses considerably more often than her older brother did, and when she’s upset, her mad cry is WAY madder. I was pretty startled the first time I heard it.

My daughter is a pretty good sleeper. I really can’t complain. But again, I realize how good I had it with E – he was a quiet sleeper. And he didn’t even arrive with his days and nights mixed up. Baby A, however, was a night owl for a little while. She also has had minor nasal congestion since her second week of life, which means she’s a bit more snore-ish, and she periodically does a half-awake sustained grunting thing, reminiscent of a rhino or a bulldozer or some other creature much larger than she is. It makes me worry that she’s not getting good-quality sleep – but I don’t know how to tell for sure.

Last night was the first time I had a glimpse of what it might feel like… to have the urge to shake a baby. (I can barely even type those words. What a horrifying thought.) Obviously I could never even come close to doing such a thing, but I could imagine where such a feeling would come from, if you were sleep-deprived enough, with a crying enough baby.

So basically, we were in a cycle that wasn’t getting better. I had used all my techniques to encourage her to sleep (swaddling, nursing, un-swaddling, bouncing, patting, shushing, singing, burping, etc. etc.); she would often drift off, but just wake up again and be more upset. Sean had switched places with me for a bit – I had gotten to go sit with E for a bit, which was really nice since it’s rare these days. (He asked me, because there was a sleeping bag in his room, “Can Mamas go in sleeping bags, or just Daddies?” Then he held my arm and said, “I love you.” Because he loves my arm so much.)

Daddy had gotten A to sleep, but then she awoke again. He suggested he should put her in the Moby wrap, where she sleeps very well, but I objected because I didn’t want that to be the only way she can fall asleep. (Not my best moment. I should have said yes.)

There commenced well over an hour more of trying the same things over and over and having them fail. I was already not in a very positive frame of mind, since the night before hadn’t been the best sleep either… I didn’t know what to do, and I was falling-down tired (not literally, since I was in bed with her, but you know what I mean). It was past midnight, and all I could imagine was this awful cycle continuing all night long.

Sean finally came back in and insisted on his original idea of wearing her so she and I could both get some sleep. I felt bad – because he wouldn’t be sleeping – but couldn’t say no.

And it worked. She went right to sleep in the wrap, snuggled against his chest, and he sat with her for three hours. (Glad we have internet and Netflix.) And I fell fast asleep too, and it was awesome.

baby A smiling in her sleep
Hurray for sleeping!

By the time he brought the baby back to me, she was in sleep mode: she had some milk and went straight back to sleep. Daddy finally went to bed himself, well past 3 a.m., seeming totally sanguine about the fact that he would be getting up with E in the morning at whatever hour our son’s three-year-old system decided.

Lesson learned. If it’s that time of night and overtiredness is on the horizon (or already there), use whichever technique is the most fool-proof. It’s worth it.

I love you, Hubbibi. THANK YOU. You’re the best.



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James Hill – and Anne – Concert, with baby in tow

On Friday evening, Sean and I had the good fortune to see ukulelist James Hill in concert with his cellist fiancee, Anne Janelle (Davison)… in the company of our not-quite-four-week-old Baby A.

We had debated about whether to go, since we would have to buy our baby a ticket, and then there was always the possibility that she would fuss and we would have to take turns missing the concert anyway. She has gotten past the stage where she falls asleep on a dime and continues sleeping no matter what.

But Sean said, “Oh, come on, we should go! It’ll be fine.” The tickets were not that expensive – still totally (potentially) worth it. I have wanted for years to see James Hill perform.

I was kinda nervous about the whole scenario – especially when A cried most of the drive to the concert venue – but she had calmed down and was actually sleeping when we took our seats. I allowed myself to get giddily excited looking at my program insert for a few minutes before the show began. Then, of course, A woke up and squawked just as James and Anne took the stage. Thank goodness for magic boobs – I got her on there and she barely made a peep for the whole first half. The only real drawback to this was that I couldn’t applaud – had to settle for grinning my face off. (There were several times when, if I’d been able, I would have initiated/elicited some more enthusiasm from this rather timid audience.)

As you may know, James Hill is the artist who inspired me to take up the ukulele (well, he and my husband – Sean’s the one who bought me my first uke). I thought (and still think) his instrumental-only album, A Flying Leap, is pure brilliance – exactly the kind of music I’d want to write if I were a ukulele virtuoso. (That sounds like a dumb thing to say, now that I’ve written it… but really. I deeply relate to his chord combinations.)

james hill a flying leap
A Flying Leap

Then we bought Man With a Love Song, and I realized this guy can write, AND sing. Frickin’ awesome.

Then I put myself on his email list, so I personally received the email announcing that he and Anne were engaged. Which means we’re, like, practically buds. (We’re like THIS.)

James and Anne started off – after saying how glad they were to be in our city – with a story about being in quarantine in Singapore during the swine flu debacle (it was actually kind of a funny story). You’d never guess, listening to it, that those were the circumstances under which the “Assam/Like a Bird” medley was written. I adore this number – makes me so happy whenever I hear it. E loves it too – calls it “fair music“; sometimes we dance to it together in the living room.

I guess the concert was only billed as “James Hill” because most of the songs played were ones he wrote, and he is the guy with the melody most of the time – but really, James and Anne are a duo on stage. You can tell they’ve been playing together for many years, so seamless is their interaction, both musical and conversational. Seamless, affectionate, and full of humour.

They mostly played material from Man With a Love Song (all my favourites – ‘cuz, you know, we’re buds – but with dazzling uke solos added); it was interesting to find out that James uses a capo to play “Hand Over My Heart” on the ukulele (was it the tenor uke? I’m not sure – in the video, his banjo uke has no capo); during “Heart-Shaped Tattoo”, I wished – hypothetically, since I’m still not that great – I had my Lady (and no baby in my lap) so I could play too. James told us that the song “You Should See Me Now” – a gentle, wistful tune I’ve dubbed a lullaballad in my head – was inspired by the inane catch-phrase of the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia: “You Should See Us Now!” (The duo lives near Truro, NS.)

I was stoked that he asked us to sing along for the “ooohs” in “Man With a Love Song” (pretty much the most gorgeous song ever – I listened to it about five times in a row when we first got the album). He explained that he thinks of it as fatherly – or, in his case, avuncular (yes, he used the word avuncular, with great relish) – advice to a daughter/niece. Suddenly that song makes way more sense – and is somehow even more charming.

Man With a Love Song

They also played a few from their collaborative album, True Love Don’t Weep, and a couple of Anne’s own songs, which I hadn’t heard before. They were lovely. I found I could hear Anne’s voice more clearly and individually in the live setting; it’s like a clarinet, very sweet, and pitch-perfect. (If you visit Anne’s website, you can listen to some of her music; you can also discover as I did that she is a photographer and modern dancer in addition to cellist and singer. Ridiculous in the talent department, I tell you.)

true love don't weep james hill anne davison
True Love Don’t Weep
anne janelle beauty remains
Beauty Remains

We were also fortunate enough to witness the playing of “Billie Jean”. Folks, it’s CRAZY. No looping machine, just one guy with two hands. I’d seen it on YouTube already, but now having seen it live, in its component parts, then put together… I still cannot figure out how it is accomplished.

Similarly, during the encore, they played some traditional East Coast fiddle music (“Smash the Window” and “St. Anne’s Reel” – no fiddle in sight, mind you) and James tried to teach us in the audience how to do the also-traditional galloping triple-stomp foot-tap thing (seen above at the end of “Like A Bird”). I like to think of myself as a coordinated person, being a dancer and all, but I could not do this foot-tap for more than a few bars without messing up. He did it flawlessly… and then added this wild, complicated uke-playing on top of it. I was blown away.

Baby A did very well, in general. She mostly nursed/dozed; a few times she surfaced and just looked around, seeming to enjoy the music (as well she might, since she’s been listening to it ever since she grew eardrums in utero). During intermission, we’d taken her out to the lobby where she was adored by the usher ladies. It was a good thing, too, because some of those ladies were very helpful, guiding us to seats by the “secret” exit for the second half, just in case. And A did run out of patience and start fussing about two songs from the end, so Sean scooped her up lightning-quick and took her out the secret door, where he could still hear the music and sing to her along with “Hand Over My Heart”. Another usher ferried the diaper bag out to them, and carried the car seat down to the lobby at the end of the show, just out of kindness – well, and also a confessed obsession with babies.

At the end of the show, James and Anne were all, “Hey, we’re going to be out there in the lobby, and we’d really like to meet you all, so please come say hi.” As if we’d be doing them this great favour by keeping them company out there. HA!

Of course, this would turn out to be one of those situations where my shyness and social insecurities – which I so often squelch – come rushing to the forefront. A time when I’m unable to assert my turn in the midst of an awkward clump of fans… when I’d love to say something scintillating and memorable, and instead can only think of things that would sound cheesy, like “I love your music!”, “Great show!”, or “You inspired me to take up the ukulele!”, all of which are true, but come on. Boring.

A little girl had them autograph her shiny red ukulele. James noticed it had already been signed by the Good Lovelies and said, “Yeah, they’re good friends of ours.” One of the many reasons to be a Great Canadian Musician: you get to hang out with other Great Canadian Musicians (the likes of David Myles, Stephen Fearing, Melanie Doane) and, you know, jam and stuff! Sigh.

I did manage to get James and Anne both to sign our ticket stubs (all three of them), and told them it was a great show. I also mentioned how much my colleagues and students who got to see his educational performance last year loved it (I was really envious about that because I couldn’t go). And, Sean took my picture with James. I’d like to think James won’t mind me posting it, since I know from his photo galleries that he understands the urge to have one’s picture taken with artists one admires.

Di and James Hill
Dilovely with James Hill.

Then, luckily for me, Sean had to go get the car from its faraway parking spot, which meant I was waiting in the lobby for quite a while – long enough for the crowd to have basically dispersed, so that chatting with James and Anne became much easier, almost inevitable. I got to congratulate and talk with Anne about the upcoming wedding (next September – several international celebrations happening), and found out that she and James have been together for ten years, having met while studying music together at UBC (University of British Columbia). They both met the baby (she was sleeping, but it still counts), and did not seem to mind that she had created a disturbance or two.

Then Sean returned and jovially shook hands with James – he has never been subject to shyness, that I know of. He was the one who mentioned I’d been learning to play the ukulele, leading me to admit that I’ve been learning a lot by playing along to his album. When I mentioned that I’d first heard him on CBC and found that video of him playing “Down Rideau Canal”, he looked kinda sheepish and said he’s not sure he can even play that one any more – that was back when he was “young and foolish”. (I’m sure that’s not really true – if he can play “Ode to a Frozen Boot“, which he did, his fingers are obviously still pretty nimble.)

When we got in the car and Sean found out I hadn’t even talked about my ukulele with James, he chided me (gently) for wasting such an opportunity. I guess if it had been up to him, I would have told him all about belly dancing to his music, my musical background, my progress with the Lady, etc. Ah well, maybe next time. 😉

If you have read this and now wish you’d been at the concert, well… sorry ’bout your luck. But there’s lots of cool stuff to hear/see/read on and Teachers (and all other interested parties), check out Ukulele in the Classroom and The James Hill Ukulele Initiative – you’ll be inspired!



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The new life of the two-child family

And now, how we’re doing back on the home front, after 2.5 weeks: Mommy, Daddy, big brother, little sister… just like the Berenstain Bears.

The New Family

What’s the same:

  • The new baby looks like Daddy! Although now, people are more likely to say she looks like her brother (who is Daddy’s Mini-Me). She does, quite a lot… but I personally think her eyes are very much her own. I spend as much time as possible staring into them, so I know.
  • It’s been easy to fall in love with her, as with her brother. I’m sure they make babies so snuggly and adorable like that on purpose.
  • Breastfeeding is hard at first. I’ve had a relatively hassle-free time of it – no serious latch or milk supply problems – but it was like starting from scratch with this baby. Re-learning how to help her open wide, and cringing through the pain of the first few days of feeding. By this point, we have reached the stage where I only wince when she first latches, and then we’re good.
  • Of course, we’ve also reached the stage where the milk is ALL IN and it’s a bit too much for her sometimes. She’ll get the flow going and then let go – and get sprayed in the face. (This helps her keep her youthful complexion.) Now I remember why we went through so many receiving blankets in a week with E.
  • She often does the “fresh-air pee” when the diaper comes off, just like E. I thought it was a boy thing, but no, girls have the skills too. Just not the aim. (Which is in fact a good thing, since E was known to aim at his own face sometimes.)
  • Baby A didn’t like her first bath either… although she resigned herself to it more quickly than E did as a newborn. (She was positively mellow for the second bath.)
baby's first bath
Angry Birds shows her angry side.
baby bath
Learning to live with it.

What’s different:

  • Girl parts. It is a very different thing, and rather intimidating, changing the diaper of a baby girl. So many more crevices! I guess it’s handy that Mother Nature sees fit to enlarge babies’ genitals when they are first born – like a magnified version to practice on until you have your bearings.
  • Pink stuff. We have been very grateful for the gifts and hand-me-downs that are clothing our daughter so far… but wow! You’d think it was the law for baby girls to wear pink and only pink. We throw in some “unisex” clothing just for fun sometimes.
baby girl wearing green
Yep, she’s a little cross-eyed sometimes. That’s normal, right?
  • Baby A is actually kinda chunky. E was always long and lean, even though he was a big eater, but A has the beginnings of baby thunder-thighs. Yay!
Baby A a few days old
Only a few days old but already squeezable.
  • “Cute little” baby noises. I remember that E used to make noise while eating – contented sighs and so on – and that was pretty sweet. Baby A does too, but I swear it’s five times louder. In the quiet of the night, when she needs feeding, she sounds like a ravenous wolf-pup who’s never eaten before. If she accidentally pops off her latch, it’s even more loud and angry and frantic. And those times when she’s working on filling her diaper, she grunts and growls like a dump truck going full-tilt on rough terrain. (HA – dump truck! Get it??… Yeah. Sorry about that.) It’s not ladylike… but it does make us giggle.
  • Sleep deprivation. Good thing the embodiment of my exhaustion has such a cute, kissable face. (There’s no way that’s a biological coincidence.) It is a whole other world when there’s a new baby and a busy, ebullient, non-napping three-year-old in the house. So far, I’ve been very lucky: my brother is in town and has helped us quite a bit, taking E out for bike rides/park visits/swimming lessons while I nap with the baby, holding A while I do other things (like brushing my teeth, sorting laundry, etc.). He even has some cool techniques for burping her. My elder sister, though busy, also steps in when she can (she’s done a heck of a lot of dishes, among other things), and Sean always makes sure I get to sleep in with the baby when he’s home on weekends. But on those mornings when E is all raring to go and it’s just the three of us… I’ve tasted what it is (and what it will be) to suck it up and just function – albeit in a blurry, half-numb kind of way. Still totally worth it. And E is (mostly) such a good boy… He learned while I was pregnant that Mommy needs a few minutes of “warmup” before getting out of bed – and now he even understands that sometimes his sister has to eat breakfast before he does. He’s very patient with us. Again: I am one fortunate mama.
  • We are gradually figuring out some nighttime sleeping. It’s been… pretty okay. Looking back, I realize that E slept quite well at night right from the beginning – 3-4-hour chunks were his standard – but A has shown more nocturnal tendencies. There were a few nights right at the beginning that were very wakeful and tough – one in particular where, for three-and-a-half hours, I would feed her, she’d fall asleep, I’d put her down, and within two minutes she’d be rousing herself, making desperate rooting noises and wildly trying to suck her fingers. By 2:30 a.m., I was starting to wonder if she was actually a possessed demon-baby. (Then she fell asleep.)
  • Brother/sister dynamic. E is so excited to have a little sister; it’s beyond awesome to see his face light up around her. The tricky part is making sure he doesn’t literally smother her with love. If he had his way, he’d be right on the nursing pillow with her, with both hands on her delicious cheeks, and he’d never stop kissing her. We are constantly quelling him – but of course trying really hard to encourage him, too. And reassure him that he is just as loved as ever… and that Mommy is still capable of being fun – at least a little. Sigh.
big brother and little sister
Big brother, baby sister, and Auntie Em.
  • There are times when we can tell E is still working on this adjustment – getting inordinately upset over things that wouldn’t normally upset him. He is also demonstrating very selective hearing at the moment. And occasional bursts of outright defiance. We just try our best to help him through those… without overindulging him. (It’s not simple – anyone have tips on this?)
  • The hormone-coaster. I was definitely hormonal after E was born – I remember crying at all kinds of little things – but it was all happy crying. This time, it is similar, but more bittersweet. For most of the first week of A’s life, Sean and E both slept in E’s room, away from our family bed – until I had a meltdown. I was no longer brushing E’s teeth or reading him stories or taking him for bike rides or doing most of the other fun things I’ve been known to do, and it suddenly hit me that things would never be the same for us. I could never give him as much as I had been giving; it was the end of an era. I found myself grieving the loss of our relationship, the way it used to be… and the hormones just made me sadder. Now, it does help to have him back in our room at night, where I can hear him breathing and put my hand out to touch him. (Of course, when he decides he’s ready to be by himself in his own bed, I’m determined to be fine with it.)
  • Speaking of postnatal emotions, I’m sure you’ve guessed that Sebastian is still in my mind all the time. It’s part of what makes me grateful for every single aspect, good and bad, of this experience. It’s also what makes me tend toward hypochondria where A is concerned; all of her noises have made me fret about whether her nasal passages are wide enough, even though I’m pretty sure she’s perfect… I worried about SIDS with E, but actually worry more about it now, instead of being more laid-back with my second time parenting a newborn. But I’m trying not to dwell on it.

What I’d forgotten:

  • The milk jugs. I was reminded last summer of how giant one’s boobs can get when the milk comes in; what I’d forgotten was the sensation of looking down and realizing that they’re actually considerably larger than my baby’s head. Bizarre. I’m glad that stage is waning – especially since it’s because I get to feed that milk to someone this time. That part is inexpressibly wonderful.
  • Baby softness. You know in your mind that babies have soft skin, but it’s impossible to believe how soft it really is except when you’re touching it. It’s almost liquid.
  • Milk face. There’s this expression Baby A gets right when she finishes eating and “pops off” – she gets the pouty lips and looks full to almost bursting. E made that exact same face, but I didn’t remember it until I saw it in his sister.
  • So many adorable newborn things – the bobble-head effect, the startle reflex, the big luxurious stretches, the sleepy arms that are so limp it’s like they have no bones, the way she tucks up her legs and sticks out her bum when you pick her up… Such great stuff, and so fleeting.

What I remembered:

  • Healing your lady bits is not as fun as it sounds. Ha ha. I’m very stoked to have only two stitches this time, but it’s still hard to find time take care of them properly. (Very much worth the trouble, though. Let’s hear it for the sitz bath!)
  • Newborn ears are so tiny and exquisite. One of the perks of breastfeeding is getting to gaze at them a lot.
newborn baby ears
Perfect baby ear. (The other one’s just as cute.)
  • Sleeping baby… ahhhhh. Nothin’ like it.

sleeping baby

sleeping baby 2

sleeping baby 3



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Dear Rainbow Baby, now that you’ve arrived

Dear, sweet Rainbow Baby A,

You are finally here. Today you turned four days old.

You arrived on Sunday morning, September 30th, at 10:21, after about thirteen hours of labour. It was a beautiful autumn day, and we could see spectacular orange and red trees from the hospital room.

Precious girl, it was so amazing to meet you, finally. I know that in some ways, I’ve been waiting for you for much longer than nine months. I really enjoyed feeling you move around in my belly, getting to know a bit of your personality that way… But that was nothing compared to the joy of holding you in my arms and seeing your perfect self at last.

Mama and baby A
Newly born.

You look like your big brother E, and your Daddy; there’s no denying it. (I guess Mama’s genes just can’t compete.) Actually, your Daddy and I both noticed right away that you look like your other brother, Sebastian, maybe even more. Your hair is brown, like his, just as I imagined it. Your cheeks are adorably round, your ears are perfect, and you have actual chubbiness in your legs and tummy (you weighed 8 lb, 8 oz – even more than E!). You have long monkey-toes, and slender, ladylike fingers (unlike either of your parents – I think maybe your Gramma Sue sent them).

baby toes
Baby toes.

Unlike E, you did the classic newborn thing and cried angrily when you found your breath. It was so good to hear your voice.

newborn baby A
Expressing yourself.

Then you calmed down when you were put on my chest and heard my familiar heartbeat. The elation we felt, seeing and hearing you in sturdy good health, was indescribable. I shed a lot of happy tears.

In the past four-and-a-half days, we’ve learned a few things about you.

  • You have, as your Uncle Ben puts it, two modes: sleeping and hungry. You eat a LOT. Even on that first night in the hospital, when many newborns don’t eat much, you spent a good few hours learning to eat and asking for more. (Good thing your food is essentially free!)
  • You are a bit nocturnal. Your longest awake periods have been at night. I should have guessed, considering how often I would lie down in bed at night and you would be dancing up a storm inside me.
  • Although we didn’t see much of them the first day or two, you have beautiful eyes. I am mesmerized by them, during those moments (becoming more frequent) when you are calm and awake. You remind me of some kind of woodland creature, a chipmunk maybe.
  • You are full of expressions, awake and asleep. We all just watch you in fascination. You have one face you make in particular that makes me think of a confused monkey and never fails to make me laugh.
  • Your expressions extend to your hands, too. They are very eloquent and do lovely dances to match your face.
  • You are very, very cuddly. I know babies are meant to be cuddly… it’s just so wonderful having the chance to enjoy this stage where you just curl up on somebody’s chest and sleep – your great-Auntie CL calls it the “tree frog stage”. You are so soft and snuggly and delicious, you’re irresistible.
  • Everyone who meets you is delighted by you – especially your big brother. He was a little unsure for a few minutes when he first came to visit you in the hospital – I think he could see that his parents were going to have to spend a lot of time on you – but now he’s your biggest fan. He sings to you about how sweet and beautiful you are. He wants to give you hugs and kisses and touch your silky cheeks all the time; the only challenge is helping him remember how fragile you are, that he must contain his excitement enough to be safe around you. He is all ready to protect you (once he learns how).

We are so excited to be your parents, lovely girl. Thank you for being in our family. We love you more than words can express.


A very special thank you to LouLou West Photography for capturing these moments so beautifully and sensitively.

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Toddler Tracks: Recent Quotes and Conversations

Here are some examples of sentences and conversations I’ve collected from my son over the last couple of months. You’ll notice that some of them seem quite random, while some of them show just how much he’s paying attention to things…


Standing all wobbly on this bed, arms out for balance, grinning, still wearing his sleep sack and trying to walk in it: “What’s happening?!”


“I’m okay!” (Most of the time when he falls down, particularly when he pretends to fall down.)


E (looking at a strange little growth in the middle of a yellow pepper): “It’s a small planet.”


“It’s super-duper warm!” (Verbatim what Mommy said last time it was warm – which has happened precious few times this year.)


(Worrying about a spider that we found in the house and put outside): “Spider! Little spider on the ground.”


(Asking to see Mommy’s big belly with the funny bellybutton.) “I wanna open the belly.”


Speaking to the cement garden turtles, just home from the babysitter’s: “Hi!” (Repeated several times with different intonations.) “Nice to meeting you, turtles.” Continue reading “Toddler Tracks: Recent Quotes and Conversations”

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Notes on the Mid-Pregnancy Ultrasound

Last Wednesday, we had our 20-week ultrasonic anatomy scan of Baby #2!

  • Over the years, I’ve worn my share of medical/hospital gowns, but this one took the cake. The WORST GOWN EVER. Tissue paper poncho that’s only shoulder-width, so you have to try to hold onto the edges to keep from flashing your whole bottom half to the world, unsure if there’s even any point since the whole thing seems see-through anyway…
  • This scan is the long one. I’m pretty sure I lay there for a whole hour while the ultrasound tech took pictures before she called Sean in so we could have a look. I think it seemed shorter with E’s pregnancy because the tech gave me a printoff picture to look at partway through, so I just stared enraptured at our baby’s tiny nose in profile and lost track of time entirely.
  • The radio in the ultrasound room was playing classic rock interspersed with poppy dance music, which struck me as odd. (I don’t listen to pop radio much these days, so I don’t automatically know the artists, or the songs themselves a lot of the time.) I guess my patience was wearing down as I waited: hearing The World I Know by Collective Soul, I was all like, Oh, great song! High School flashbacks! But I was starting to get annoyed by the time we heard Innocence by Harlequin and I was like Dude, your lyrics are dumb. By the time we got to Teenage Dream by Katy Perry, I was getting huffy: Okay girlie, what’s your message here?? Do you want to get laid or do you want to die? And could your wording be cheesier??? But I guess it wasn’t her fault that I was getting a kink in my shoulder from lying in the same position too long. (Plus, I’m clearly getting old and crotchety.) Continue reading “Notes on the Mid-Pregnancy Ultrasound”

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Footage Sampler

Here you go.

It’s a bit on the long side, but there are several activities included: phoning, singing, boofing, sock-stretching, and a wee bit o’ walking. Just day-in-the-life stuff.

Hope you enjoy!

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Multiple Steps!… and final Baby Bits?

Yay! Yesterday, our little boy walked!

He was having fun practicing standing alone, with both arms in the air (looking like he was about to take off flying), so Sean and I tried walking him between us as we sat across from each other. Suddenly, he can take four or five steps at a time! All three of us were so excited. Then later, after Sean went to work, we even had a couple reprises between the ottoman and me, and pushing off from the coffee table all on his own… Maybe today we can get some footage! Continue reading “Multiple Steps!… and final Baby Bits?”

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