Mamas and Daughters

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It’s a big weekend around here – Canadian Mother’s Day and the start of my third and final trimester carrying our second child! I’ve never been a huge fan of holidays, admittedly; I’d much rather have a long weekend. Give me an extra day to spend with family without the plans or pressures that accompany most holidays! That said, Mother’s Day has caused a little introspection for me this year. This is my last Mother’s Day being a mom to just Hennie and I’m feeling so many feels! Rather than worrying like a normal mom about how she’ll handle all the change that’s coming to our family dynamic, I’ve been selfishly worried about her relationship with me.

Since her birth, Hennie and I have always had an interesting and complex relationship. I suspect that most mother-daughter relationships have these qualities, but having only one daughter (and being only one daughter) I don’t really have enough experience to know for sure. In the beginning I blamed the colic and high-needs attributes for her not wanting to co-sleep or cuddle, but as she grew into toddlerhood she continued to remain pretty indifferent to me, not unlike the beloved cat I had when I was twelve. I begged my parents my whole life for a cat and when I finally got one she completely ignored me and rebuffed all of my attempts to cuddle with or pet her. My response was to forcefully smother her with my affection even as she clawed her way out of my arms. I was never able to successfully convince her to acknowledge me when she wasn’t hungry and I quickly realized that tactic wouldn’t work on Hennie, either. So instead of smothering my daughter in love I have dutifully heeded my parenting instincts, which have instructed me to stand back and let her comfort zone blossom over time, offering attention and affection only when it is asked for. It friggin’ kills me, but she responds well to being given her space.

In time I’ve learned to see her independence not as a rejection of me but as a movement toward her own freedom. I’m happy for her that she self-soothes at such a young age and sleeps well in her own bedroom. I’m happy for her that when she falls her first instinct is not to look for me, but to pick herself up and continue determinedly forward on her own path. I’m not getting the cuddles I always dreamt I would receive from a child but hey, there’s always the next one. And I certainly cannot deny that the girl is unstoppably strong-willed; in fact I had hoped for this quality in spades for any daughter I might be lucky enough to raise.

Things have changed oh so slowly and Hen really seems to love it when we spend time together now. Our weekdays as a twosome are full of fun local adventures and my heart pretty much explodes every time she reaches for my hand or runs toward me with her arms raised. We snuggle a little more often and once in a while I even catch her looking at me with an expression that feels like the whole universe is shining it’s light on me. Maybe after the new baby gets here she’ll regress back to her “I don’t need no mama” attitude, but I’m secretly hoping she gets jealous and clingy and I become buried under babies that my body has made. The future remains a mystery until this baby comes so for now I’m gonna soak up three months of summertime park hangs, iced coffee dates, and hand-holding with my smart, strong-willed baby girl. 

Bump Update – 27 weeks with Baby #2

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Sleep: that third trimester pregnancy insomnia is kicking in lately and keeping me awake at night. Mostly my mind is day-dreaming about life with two kiddos, what our son will look like, and how labour will go this time #alwayswondering

Movement: So many kicks all night long from this night owl! Hennie was exactly the same in utero so I guess we’re in for another super active baby! Please no colic this time though, k thanks.

Enjoying: I’m a summer girl through and through so I’m loving this balmy weather! Leaving the house in shorts and a tee shirt (even when all your shirts are too small…) is a dream! We always try to prioritize a family “Adventure Day” each weekend and this weekend we went to the garden store. Hennie loved walking among the plants and touching each one. Those big outdoor nurseries must feel like an exotic jungle to a kiddo!

Craving: a baby in my arms! I’m having recurrent dreams that he’s here and I’m holding him. I’m happy to have another few months to soak up my time with Hen but I’m also pretty excited to have a little baby again. I know it sounds like I’ve forgotten the trauma of colic, but I have not; I’m just really hoping for a different experience this time.

Nesting: filling our home with plants counts as nesting, right?

How I’m Feeling: tired – the second trimester has been a time of big growth for this baby boy and a time for me to slow down a little (when Hen allows). Also so surprised at how fast this pregnancy is going. Everyone told me it would happen but it just feels so surreal to be heading into summer months when I’m expecting a late summer baby. I can’t wrap my head around it!

Bump Update – 24 weeks with Baby #2

 

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Sleep: I keep saying this but I’ll say it again: because I know what’s coming I’m truly savouring every single good night’s sleep I’m getting. 6-8 hours without waking to a baby’s cry is heaven and the luxury is not wasted on me. Oddly enough, the teeth-falling-out dreams I had around this time last pregnancy have started coming back again a few times a week; isn’t that crazy? I googled what it means and apparently these types of dreams can occur when a person is going through a time of transition and feels as though circumstances are out of their control. Okay then. 

Movement: his movements are changing lately as he grows bigger – less spastic and jerky and more big, rolling movements. I know that until week 28 ish is the time that a baby usually has the most space relative to it’s size and it sure feels like he is somersaulting in there while he still has the room to do so! Apparently he’s around 1.5 lbs these days, I can’t believe how fast these babies grow!

Enjoying: watching Hennie interact a little more with other kids and new people. We go to a drop-in play group during the week and she is usually so shy but is slooooowly warming up to playing with others instead of just near others. It’s so much fun to watch her confidence and curiosity grow over time. It makes me so interested to see what she’ll be like when her brother arrives and how she’ll react to him. 

Craving: Sunshine! I’m so glad it isn’t cold or dark anymore, but it was hailing like crazy last week and I’m ready to be barefoot in the grass. We are getting little pockets of sunshine here and there but it would be nice to retire my toque and hiking boots until next Fall. I ditched my winter coat a while back since I’m past the point of zipping it up anyway.

Nesting: we’re loving calling the baby by his name now that we’ve decided on one, not sure if that really counts as nesting but it makes me feel warm and cozy on the inside, so I’m going to pretend it does. I don’t think it’s pregnancy related but we have been on a major home improvement kick lately and I’ve been on an unstoppable plant-buying-bender. I just can’t get enough greenery in our home!

How I’m Feeling: I’ve been surprised to find how different this pregnancy is to my first; I admit that I was pretty much expecting to have the same experience as I had carrying Hennie, but of course that seems like a pretty silly expectation. This time around my back is giving me shooting pains and a lot of the standard pregnancy aches that didn’t catch up to me until very late in my last pregnancy have started much earlier, likely because these kiddos are relatively close together and my muscles aren’t nearly as strong as they were last time. But I still think I’m having a fairly fantastic pregnancy in the scheme of things!

What’s New: lately Hen has been discovering just how much fun it is to throw things across the room or onto the floor. Even though it makes her laugh uproariously and we find it cute most of the time, there’s something incredibly disheartening about thoughtfully cooking a delicious family meal every night and then cleaning half of it off the floor shortly after it’s done. Bonus points to me if Hen puts as much food in her mouth as she puts on her head! Oh, the toddler stage.

Bump Update – 20 weeks with Baby #2

 

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Sleep: getting great sleep when Hennie lets me and soaking in every precious hour of it that I get! She slept in until 9:30 one day last week (not normal), and I wondered for a while why we were having another newborn so soon when we’ve got it so good 🙂 Of course the next day I got cocky and stayed up late and she woke me up at 6:30. 

Movement: B2 is moving and grooving all over this belly! I don’t pay much attention to it during the day as I’m way too busy with B1, but as soon as she’s in bed and I get to sit down for the first time I feel lots of spastic movement. B2 is still small enough that he/she can move all around in there, not just kick, which is fun. Once the space runs out it gets a bit tighter and trickier for the both of us. 

Enjoying: each stage for what it is. With this being my second rodeo I know what’s coming in late pregnancy – inability to roll over in bed, swollen ankles, back pain, heartburn, and a general slooooowing down. This time around I’m finding myself so much more appreciative and less in a rush. Why would I rush the second trimester anyway? It’s the best one! ha. 

Craving: patio season = craving a patio cider in the sunshine! I feel pretty “meh” about most food lately, I’m eating when I need to (lots of smoothies!) but no major cravings or foods that I “gotta have right now”. 

Nesting: starting to research double strollers and think about where to put a minicrib in our bedroom. Working on little projects around our house keeps me feeling productive and happy. Waiting to tackle Hen’s closet until we know what we’re having!

How I’m Feeling: overall, great! I take these steep New West hills a bit slower than I used to but I have decent energy, am keeping up with my workouts, getting out of the house with Hen as often as possible, and just enjoying being mobile while I can.

Bump Update – 18 weeks with Baby #2

 

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Sleep: I’m getting decent sleep, or was when we were back at home. In Palm Springs this week not so much! Sharing a house with family has its perks, but “quiet” is not one of them. 

Movement: As is obvious when comparing the pic above with the one from four weeks ago, my belly has really popped out this week! As a result I’m able to feel way more little kicks and bumps and I’m absolutely loving it. For a worrisome mama like me those movements are constant reassurance that Bugaloo 2 is doing okay in there!

Enjoying: A break from the incessant rain, cold, and perpetual sicknesses that this winter has wrought in all our lives! As a hater of cold weather and a true Summer bum, Nov-Feb are my least favourite months by a long shot and I’m deeply happy to be rid of them for another year. The weather in the desert is wonderful and since we fly back home on Daylight Savings Day we hope there’ll be a little more light after this trip!

Craving: A workout! This is the first warm weather vacation I’ve been on in five years and I’m loving it, but I miss moving my body and have been eating too much junk food. Maybe some Desert Bootcamp is in order!

Nesting: I’ve been trying to find little projects at home to improve our space – adding plants to the mix, putting up little shelves here and there. It’s lovely! Still not sure we have room for another baby but we’ll figure something out when the time comes!

How I’m Feeling: Like a million bucks! The second trimester is always good to me. My belly grows a lot but I have good energy and no nausea so I certainly can’t complain!

Bump Update – 14 weeks with Baby #2

 

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Sleep: as good as can be expected with a toddler; we’re feeling super grateful that Hennie sleeps so well (thank you, sleep training!) and just need to work on getting to bed earlier. A constant struggle when the evening is your only time to get stuff done!

Movement: not much movement from this itty bitty baby belly yet, but I expect and hope to feel something soon! That was my favourite part of pregnancy last time so I’m really looking forward to it. 

Enjoying: having a silly, funny, sassy, smart toddler to hang with during the day! She can sure be a handful but now that I have some of that Second Trimester energy back I don’t mind running after this little bugaloo all day long. 

Craving: I don’t think I have a lot of cravings in pregnancy. After the CarbFest of the first trimester I’ve been enjoying fruit smoothies and healthier dinners lately. 

Nesting: lots of home improvements being made lately but I suspect it has more to do with home ownership than pregnancy symptoms! We are in the middle of an ongoing kitchen renovation that is “on a break” for a few weeks in February while we wait for our new cabinets. In the meantime I’ve been painting our bedroom – it was baby blue with lots of big marks and dents when we got possession of our condo but I prefer a nice crisp white. Our room is cleaner, less cluttered, and more of the “sanctuary” space that I always like my bedrooms to be. 

How I’m Feeling: excited about the prospect of having another baby but super content with it’s arrival still being six months away. During my first pregnancy I always wanted to rush things along at top speed so I could become a mom; this time I know the chaos that newborns bring so I’m revelling in the time with my daughter (and the sleep!) we’re enjoying and not wishing the months away. That’s a lie, I wish it was Spring, the dark and dreary winter months have been a tough slog this year 😉

The First Year

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Sometimes Tom and I wonder aloud to each other about the minutiae of our lives. When we die, wouldn’t it be fascinating to know the exact statistics about how we had lived? Maybe we are defined in part by how we live: many hours we spent loving the ones around us, how many times we went out of our way to show someone kindness, how many books we read or hand-written letters sent. Of course, it’s best to think of the good things; no one wants to know how many pints they have imbibed in their lifetime or how many weekends were wasted watching Netflix (no regrets!). These conversations always bring some much-needed perspective to my life and a secret commitment to myself to do better.

As we approached the first birthday of our first baby I haven’t been able to shake my curiosity about the statistics of this last year. Though I know I’ll never have the answers, I can’t help but wonder: how many diapers have I changed? How many night feeds have I endured? Good Lord, how many cups of coffee or glasses of wine (sometimes in the shower because #MultiTaskingMama)?

But those are boring – how about the things that are specific to my family’s experience? Could I measure this year by the nights spent walking around our kitchen island bouncing our swaddled, colicky daughter; in hours spent shushing her? The number of naps in that vibrating green chair we bought on Craigslist in desperation or the tears shed by a mama beset by guilt because she is unable to calm her own child? How about the number of appointments with Hennie’s paediatrician we attended this year, or her geneticist, or her cardiologist, or her GP? Can we measure the year in the number of times I googled ‘sleep regression’ or ‘teething remedies,’ or the number of times I texted my village in the middle of the night, desperately seeking their advice?

I wish I knew how many times this year my husband has cheered her on as she conquered a new skill or has made her shriek with laughter. How many times have we brushed our lips against her head or rubbed that downy blonde hair under our palm absentmindedly like she is an extension of ourselves, like we are scratching an itch on our own skin? How many times has she fallen asleep grasping our finger in her hand or reached for us to pick her up? How many times did we call her “Little Miss Custard Pants” or sing her a made-up song? Surely her first year could be defined by the number of hours she has spent in our arms or times she has turned those big, blue eyes on us with a mischievous smile? Has it been hundreds of times, or thousands? And yet still not enough.

This gorgeous little girl. She is growing so quickly and I’m struck with the knowledge that one day she will outgrow my arms, outgrow her stroller, outgrow her parents. She pushes my hands away so she can show me that she can stand on her own, but still expects that I remain nearby to scoop her up in my arms when she falls and praise her efforts with the enthusiastic applause that only an over-proud parent can give. I will always celebrate your independence and stay close enough to catch you, baby girl, long after you’ve learned to walk with steadiness through this world that isn’t good enough for your innocence. I don’t have to know the statistics of my life to know that it is already defined by the time I get to spend with you.

This Season

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It’s Fall! For the rest of the world this season is heralded by the changing leaves, chilly morning air, and pumpkin everythaaaang. Once upon a time the arrival of Autumn meant the same thing for me, but mamas of November babies have an additional reason to be excited for this season. As the air cooled this year I was reminded of how painfully pregnant but palpably excited I was at this time last year as I waddled around in the crisp sunshine or walked in the park under the changing foliage, trying in vain to get comfortable on the hard wooden benches down by the water. I spent the majority of the third trimester in a daze, daydreaming about what my daughter would look like and when she would arrive. Seeing the first Halloween display in a shop window one day jolted me into the reality that my due date was only weeks away and we would be welcoming Hennie James into our world soon.

We had our babe in early November and winter came shortly after. Everyone told me to enjoy each season for what it was, to savour every moment and not take anything for granted, but we struggled. The busy-ness of Christmas filled me with anxiety as invitations to parties and family events filled our calendar. We weren’t able to control our baby’s constant crying at home so what made anyone think we wanted to troubleshoot that unstoppable, shrill screaming in front of others? I felt bumbling, inexperienced, embarrassed, and exhausted, and I was as much of a hermit as I could get away with.

As we eased into Autumn this year I noticed a dread building slowly in the back of my mind. So many times I found myself saying to Tom, “I feel so anxious and I don’t know why.” Usually I’m able to pinpoint the reasons for my anxiety when it surfaces but this time I wasn’t been able to locate precisely what was causing it until we had the first cool Fall day and I suddenly realized… it’s this season. My body was recalling the lingering PTSD I felt from that Fourth Trimester. Her colic, coupled with long months spent waiting to hear from cardiologists and medical geneticists, made for a very miserable fall and winter last year indeed. We did not know how severe her heart condition would be, we had not yet received any answers about her diagnosis, and I did not savour every moment. I wished many of them away and I don’t regret it; some nights all that kept my spirits up was the knowledge that it would pass, the promise from other colic-mama’s that she would outgrow the screaming. I have zero patience for Mama Guilt so I respect that I did what I needed to do mentally and I humbly foster the hope that I will always remember to be that gentle on myself and on other struggling mamas.

While we still have many parenting challenges ahead – those looming toddler years! – most days are so much fun. All of a sudden this season is no longer one of PTSD for me, it’s one that I can see through the eyes of a child who notices with delight as each leaf falls to the boardwalk down by the river, who watches the squirrels in the park with distrust and wonder. Experiencing it all for the first time through her eyes is slowly erasing the memories of last year’s colicky trauma. Letting go of that experience has not been an easy one for our family but we are moving forward and loving every minute. So whether it’s 20 degrees like last weekend or -1 like today, bring on the pumpkin patches, tweed, apple cider, Halloween, hayrides, breweries (obvi), even snow… this year we are going to savour every moment!

Hennie James: Eleven Months

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Sweet Baby James is growing up and little hints of the toddler she will soon become are starting to show through in her budding personality. This strong-willed child knows her mind, has unbelievable determination, and can be very intense (I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised about that after some of the crying sessions we witnessed in her earlier months). Like her daddy, Hen will gratefully and enthusiastically eat anything that is offered to her. Like her mama she can be noisy, stubborn, and smiley all in a single moment. And boy is she on the move! Crawling, cruising, and climbing around our home to get quickly to the things that catch her eye. Lately she has been quite drawn to the tantalizing record collection on display in our living room; a few times a day she will pull Bob Dylan and Nat King Cole from the shelf and take them out of their plastic sleeve. Later we will find that plastic sleeve crumpled in a corner somewhere and wet with saliva. Fun!

Her facial expressions crack us up daily and she has recently mastered a very high-pitched screech that she uses when she feels excited or annoyed, needs attention, or is just plain feeling cheeky. Current favourite tricks include waving hi and bye, playing peek-a-boo, pulling off her socks so she can eat them, chatting nonstop, and pointing at us when we ask “where’s mama?” or “where’s daddy?” She has perfected the stare-down at an early age and we are very aware that we will have our hands full for a long time, but are loving that we get to raise such a curious and mischievous little sasspot!

We Moved!

 

 

 

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Big news in the Procter family: we bought a house!

It’s actually a condo not a whole house but it’s no less impressive in the context of the Lower Mainland’s current real estate market (for our family across the pond, things are roughly comparable to London). So I guess we could also say we bought a flat 😉

So far we are loving our new city and our new neighbourhood. We bought in a central location near a river because we prefer to be in a walkable area with access to gorgeous views and lots of different shops (read: types of food). Our new ‘hood has train tracks, tugboats, bridges, and a heck of a lot of steep hills; my buns were burnin’ after a short stroller walk on moving day (and Hennie’s only getting heavier!).

It’s only been a week in our new home but we are settling in well, unpacking, and making some plans for future projects (painting! renovations! adult stuff!). Since having Hennie in her own room I feel like we’ve gotten our lives back. The one-bedroom apartment we just moved out of was spacious, bright, and lovely, but our Hen is a very sensitive sleeper who wakes to seemingly innocuous sounds despite the white noise we put on to drown out general tomfoolery (see what I did there?). Cooking dinner or washing dishes in the evening often woke her up and reading in bed with a small light on was absolutely out of the question. In our new place we can actually talk to each other after she goes to bed at 6:30 (a game changer for our marriage?) and at long last I can read in bed again, a favourite past time that I’ve been missing for ten months.

With our proximity to the riverfront, new parks to explore, and of course a brewery, hopefully we won’t be missing Vancouver anytime soon.