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Who needs toys?

Posted by Tara in Parenting

I once heard a comedian doing a bit about how babies don’t play with gifts, they play with the box the gift came in. He once decided to skip that and just gave his kid a box, and then the kid turned around and played with the bag the box was in. As the months go by, we’re learning Tessa’s a lot like that too.

Her very own bag of egg noodles

There are some toys Tessa’s loved, particularly a couple we got from Discovery Toys, but there’s nothing she loves better than something that’s not a toy at all. An old Folgers canister, Baby Mum-Mum wrappers and empty water bottles are her current favourites, but she even used to go crazy over a bag of new potatoes and no-name brand egg noodles.

Her tastes are occasionally¬†expensive, since she tries to get her hands on my Kindle, the camera or our laptops any chance she gets, but luckily we’ve thwarted her so far.

I guess the moral of the story is don’t spend all your money on baby toys. It’s not worth it and the photos are funnier when they’re playing with bags of food.

Nothing lasts forever

Posted by Tara in Parenting, Personal

Even before we became parents, Neil and I were bombarded with advice, more than we could ever remember. Much of it was excellent (some a little less…), but the best advice we got, bar none, was to always remember that everything is a phase, both the good and the bad.

Those words kept me going through Tessa’s colic, which I was sure would never end. But just like our family doctor told me she would, Tessa eventually grew out of it and became a very different, much happier baby. They also kept me going as tooth after tooth worked their way through her gums over the past six months, disrupting her sleep and moods.

I tried to remember those wise words during the weeks when she would sleep straight through for ten hours, several nights in a row, knowing that at some point she would start waking up in the middle of the night again. And on her lovely, silly, happy days, I try to appreciate them as much as possible, knowing that a bad day will come and I’ll want the positive memories to draw from.

Enjoy the great moments, hours and days because they won’t last. But don’t worry about the horrible ones either because, thankfully, they won’t last either.

 

 

Always say “yes”

Posted by Tara in Parenting

If you can only have one goal for the first year of your baby’s life, I firmly believe it should be to make it to the other side with a happy and healthy mom, baby and family. In my case that meant a few things: eating as much chocolate as I wanted for the first 5 months, taking long baths with my Kindle, relaxing our standards about how clean the house needed to be, and talking to other parents online and off. But the biggest sanity saver was saying “yes” almost every time someone offered us help.

Friends and family brought us food, my mom stayed with us for several weeks and cooked and cleaned, and Neil’s mum regularly visited and took the baby while I napped. Not only that, but when I asked my friend to bake muffins because I needed quick and easy breakfasts, she did it.

It’s easy to isolate yourself when you have a baby, but the people who love you do genuinely want to help. Let them share the burden and accept their offers, even if that also means asking for what you need. It will make those difficult first months a little easier, so you can be a better parent to your new baby.

 

The parenting conspiracy

Posted by Tara in Parenting, Personal

Someone asked me recently if I was blogging my parenting tips and that reminded me of two things: I have a blog and I said I would start mommyblogging. Turns out that running around after our kid takes up most of my time, but I do think it’s worth doing this because at some point we’ll have a second kid and I won’t remember any of this so I would like a record, even just for myself. So… on with the show.

As you may have guessed from the name of this post, I believe there’s a grand conspiracy happening in the parenting world. I discovered it after Tessa was born and now I even take part in it. If you have kids, I’d bet real money you’ve done it at some point too. I’m talking about the pervasive notion that parenting a baby is amazing.

Yes, I love my daughter but…

Parenting my daughter really is amazing. But a more accurate way to say that would be that for me, now that the colic is over and Tessa isn’t a newborn anymore, being a parent is amazing except when she’s teething, screaming, overtired, exploding out of her diaper, or biting and/or scratching while nursing. She’s a happy, curious kid who’s currently in a great stage where’s she’s figuring out her body and exploring the world around her. She’s silly and funny and we’re both highstanding members of our mutual admiration society. But for those first few months? She was awful.

Colic sucks

Our colicky wee one

I didn’t realize Tessa had colic until she was a little over two months old. The first week of her life, she was lovely and cuddly and sleepy because she was recovering from being born, and it was only a couple more weeks before my mom came out from Ontario to help us out. After another few weeks, my dad and brothers came for the holidays so we had plenty of help and I was able to get reasonable amounts of sleep, even if some of it happened during the day. But two weeks after she left? Everything started to fall apart and I was stuck at home for days in the middle of a cold snap with a baby who screamed for several hours a day.

We tried everything we could think of except the chiropractor: gripe water, Ovol, cycling her legs, massage, skin-to-skin nursing, and probiotics. After three straight weeks I was falling apart. I cried with my baby and felt like I was a bad person because I didn’t enjoy being a parent. Aren’t babies supposed to be wonderful? Doesn’t everyone love parenting babies? I knew toddlers and teens weren’t fun, but everyone always looks so happy with their baby.

I’m not the only one

Finally one day I was able to turn to my husband and say “I’m not okay.” And once I said it to him, it got easier to say it to others. My mom flew back out here to help me for another six weeks and when I mentioned it on Facebook, I was overwhelmed by the encouragement I received both publicly and privately. I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only person who had a terrible time with their newborn, and that’s when I learned two things:

  1. As hard as it is to admit I have a problem and ask for help, it’s always, ALWAYS the best thing I can do. It’s far stronger, better and more responsible for me to ask for and receive the help that I need than it is to think I need to do everything on my own. It makes me a better person, wife and mother, and in the months since then our little family unit has only ever benefited from that decision. I firmly believe this is why I didn’t end up with full-blown post-partum depression.
  2. It’s okay not to enjoy parenting a newborn. Newborns cry and wake up every two hours and you may have nursing issues and you’ll worry because you think they’re pooping too much or not enough. You may not love your baby right away, and that’s okay too. You’ll be exhausted and hormonal, and really, you’re learning how to deal with a complete stranger who can’t communicate except by crying. It’s not a fun time and you’re learning a whole new role.

You’re not alone and you can do this

If you’ve won the life lottery and managed to have the mythical easygoing newborn, congratulations! I can’t relate to you and I am a little envious. But for everyone else like me, I just want to be the first to say I understand. You’re not a bad parent, and you’re not a bad person. The first few months can be excruciatingly difficult, especially with your first child when you don’t know any better. But millions of people do it all the time, and so can you. You will look back at that time and have wisdom to share.

I promise it gets better. Just look at us now.

Me and my now-happy girl

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