Hello Pumpkin

Kingston Grey Carson McLeod was born the evening of October 27th at the wee size of 10lbs 3oz. Both mommies are doing great and like most new parents deprived of sleep, we are deliriously in love.

❤️❤️❤️

Birth Story

This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And Allia and I got through it together – with amazing coaching from Laura, our doula, and Mariah the midwife, plus Kathleen who arrives for the pushing.

No epidural available until hour 13, after three days of pre-labour; laboured from 6 am-noon at home with Laura joining us at 9 am. We went to the hospital at 12:15 and was already 7 cm. Surprising, given how chill I was about the contractions. Things progressed and I was handling it like a champ until right before 10 cm. The pain and nervousness, plus exhaustion started to ge to me, but we took it as part of our journey and tried to approach it from a ‘if this is how it has to go, alright’ mindset. However, I stayed at 9 cm for hours and he was stuck. Finally one of the anesthesiologists was available. Got the epidural at about 7 pm, which worked on half my body only… then pushed out this ten pounder in an hour. Allia was so amazing and I still can’t believe it happened. He is two days old, not even, and I can’t believe he came out of my body – except for how sore I feel.

He did skin to skin right away. We sang three little birds to him. I saw him coming in the mirror. It was insane and scary and vital. He went straight for the latch. We stayed skin to skin for an hour and they brought in a specialist to stitch me up. Three second degree tears. And the stay was also because of my hemorrhage post-partum and his size, to watch his glucose, etc.

He is so chill and very snuggly. He is already out of newborn sized clothes.

Last night was so rough – the cluster feeding, engorgement and super stressed nipples. Plus a diapered lady-region that feels like an instalment of Star Wars was filmed down there – replete with battles and light sabres tearing through the galaxy.

For delivery room and power doula, midwife and spouse team highlights… more later.

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Mexico with a Baby – Travel and Packing Tips

Planning our trip to Mexico with a two month old, was a great challenge for these new moms. It was a grand success. Check out the photos at the end. Drumroll…here is what we packed:

  • Infantino Carrier
  • Travel bassinet
  • wipes
  • diapers and swim diapers
  • formula (pre-mixed or concentrate)
  • birth certificate, parent letter and passport
  • breast pads/washable inserts
  • pump (we skipped this since I’m now producing enough milk on my own, with some formula top-ups)
  • bottles and tops, enough to have spares
  • lactation aide (we also skipped this)
  • baby shampoo, creams (diaper cream, lotion, etc.), bug repellent (safe for babes)
  • rashguard, swim diaper, sunhat and sun glasses
  • baby headphones
  • pacifier/soother
  • clothes
  • carseat, base (or learn to safely install without the base), stroller attachment
  • changes of clothes for you
  • I’m investigating, in advance of travel, to see if our destination stocks the formula, diapers and other things we like for baby. If we can avoid taking a week’s supply, that will really save on space
  • Also, look up whether breast feeding in public is safe/legal/recommended in your destination
  • Sleep Sheep or white noise machine
  • medications (like Domperidone, for me)
  • vitamins for you and vitamin D for baby
  • coconut oil for sun protection for the babe
  • a UV protecting cover for the stroller. Jolly Jumper makes a great one and Milk Snob has a great cover that doubles as a nursing screen
  • Diaper cream and corn starch
  • Baby paper and some simple toys (we ended up getting some beautiful, colourful pompom garlands in a market, which he couldn’t take his eyes off. These now hang over his change table! But careful that he isn’t unsupervised, as with anything that involves string)
  • Nosefrida (for air travel and stuffiness)
  • Infant Tylenol
  • Gripe Water if you have a gassy baby

We upgraded our tickets and baby’s first trip was in Business Class.

First Class Flyer – extra leg room, wider seats and a bulkhead gave us ample room for him. No tears at all on either flight to and from Mexico! Bravo little traveller!
This was the main entrance to the condos we called home for two weeks.
Watching the sunrise. Three generations.
A boy and his Mama
They see me Strollin’

Sun-protected

For Clothes, we knew we’d have access to in-suite laundry, so we packed:

Bibs

Layettes

Shorts and pants

Short-onesies/rompers (this was the majority of the outfits)

Pajamas – for the plane and at night with the A/C

Burp cloths and muslin wraps

Socks

A knit jacket/sweater for air conditioned spaces and the plane

Swimsuits/rashguard

Sunglasses

Hats

Copy of his birth certificate, immunization record, passport, health card

Swimming with baby was an amazing first.

We loved all the time with each other, with him and with our family. For the rest of the trip photos, scroll down, past the last of the items from our travel must-haves.

MISCELLANEOUS:

Fanny pack, a carry on for us, carry on Diaper bag, small purse, big suitcase x 2 (one for us and one for all the baby stuff), a small suitcase of diapers and formula.

We made a call to set up/confirm our travel insurance/health insurance, etc.

We arranged a cat and house sitter, and also opted to use the Park ‘N Fly valet service (plus detailing) so we came home to a happy cat, safe home and a clean car.

Adios, Mexico and Gracias for a great first vacay with our blossoming family.

 

Now, listen…
Always time for a tasty snack.

Enamoured of pom poms

Stroller styles

Our little global traveller

Nautical vibes

Out at the Tuesday Market

Family photo at NickSan

Baby-wearing

Big Baby-sized Beer

Hot Mama, with our Milk Snob Stroller cover

Babiators. And a babe x2
Hard to believe our little one is 11 weeks old!

What are your travel must-haves? Share your faves in the comments!

Anne Geddes, Look Out!

I was surprised to read a post asking: is it offensive that I posted/took photos of my baby girl without her top on?

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Photo: Anne Geddes

The mother felt blindsided by her own mom’s negative reaction, saying that the visible nipples made the infant photo shoot inappropriate (specifically as a girl-baby). Some other commenters raised concerns that this nudity made the photos sexy in some way, while others said that there was nothing wrong with a baby in the buff.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My initial reaction, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde: ‘Those who find ugly meaning where there is only art … are ugly-minded.’

It’s people who make a sweet photo anything other than that. In my opinion, a mom’s beautiful newborn shoot, in a tutu and blankets, is adorable and innocent. A normal person would see this as a sweet photo of a baby.

For those who said that some creep may take this photo and use it for nefarious purposes… that could be true. It could also happen if this baby, or any child, is fully clothed. However, this line of reasoning slides dangerously into the victim-blaming territory and the messaging that a female is ‘asking for it’ if she dresses the wrong way, as though if we simply prevent a woman from appearing beautiful, or a child from looking vulnerable, we have solved the problem. A child predator, I’d imagine, might find a child just as appealing in an undershirt as without. The problem is the person and predatory behaviour, not this particular photo of a child exists. This mother’s photo isn’t smut.

As a mom, she has the discretion to determine what is right for her and her family. It’s a shame that her own mom took the glow off these sweet photos by insinuating they were scandalous because it was a female infant whose nipples were visible.

To that mom, I say – the photos are precious and I hope you’ll look at them as YOU intended. If you can’t get her words out of your ears, redo them so that you have photos untainted by your mother’s negative comments.

Our first Christmas

What. A. Beautiful. Thing.

Christmas feels different with a baby. It’s a new focus and he is truly our wish come true. I remember feeling sad at past holidays, waiting and feeling somewhat defeated. I can’t explain what joy he brings. And poopy diapers. So much poop.

Wishing all of you the mightiest happiness and resilience as you carve out the lives you dream of.

Xoxo from our family to yours

Use it or lose it

Words to live by: if you don’t use it you lose it. Except in this case I’m referring to relationships. I have been irked for some time about my father in law. So what that he didn’t attend our wedding? So what that he didn’t ever congratulate us? Never apologized? I can get over those things. But where I draw the line is my own son.

We have a family thread on what’s app. Pictures get posted. Comments and reactions shared.

‘Oh my, look how big she is gettin!’

‘Just like her mama!’

That sort of thing.

My nieces take yearly trips to Jamaica to stay with their grandparents. My son won’t. At least I can’t imagine a world where he will.

His grandfather has acknowledged his existence once when he happened to be in the frame of a FaceTime conversation. Grandma, by contrast is amazing. But I can’t envision a future that is different when so little ground has been gained. He is here now. And soon he will start to be perceptive. How will I ever break my own heart, or his, trying to explain why his cousins know their grandpa and he doesn’t? Why he can’t go to Jamaica for a month and revel in the sunshine. Because grandpa is a dark cloud and I have turned my cheeks to that storm – but draw the line at a child as a test subject.

I imagine that one day I will have to overstep the status quo – the preference for patient silence that my wife prefers – and will one day have the conversation, that will feel like an ultimatum and likely catch him off guard: how else can you respond or explain the behaviour that hurts so passively to someone who seems oblivious?

If you don’t step up now and decide to be a grandparent – your choice will be made for you. I refuse to allow a child to grow up thinking there is something wrong with them, that they are somehow unlovable or unworthy. I will not give you the chance to sow that seed of self-doubt. Step up or step aside. If you don’t want to be the grandparent my son deserves, you’ll lose the chance. I will parent as you should have, loving my child fiercely, protectively.

I have so few fucks left to give. I have no more time to waste on someone who changes too little, too late. You’ll. Probably. Not. See. The. Writing . On. The. Wall.

Until it’s over.

Instead my son will flourish and see around him the faces that have eagerly awaited his arrival; watched each change; clamoured for a ringside seat to the life he will lead. His aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, the village. His other grandparents will swell to fill the vacuum until no one remembers the lack of you.

But for now, I remind myself that there is time – as I put myself and my own hurt over you aside. Putting my son first for the slight chance that me smiling and opening my arms, instead of ripping a strip off you, will allow you to grow up – before he is too big for you to know and old enough to ask what was wrong with you that we knew enough, as his moms, to protect him from you.

Latent homophobia can be just as shitty as blatant. Either one has no place in the lives we are carving. So much joy radiates from his little face that I have trouble imagining that he won’t win you over, even though I couldn’t.

A Great Doula is Hard to Find

I didn’t know how indispensable our doula would be for our birth experience. Our midwives were great and they delivered our baby with such skill and certifiable awesomeness… however, our doula fulfilled so many of the skills, support and roles that I assumed our midwife would perform: comfort, hand-holding, motivation and being there early, as soon as labour ‘might’ have started. Who will be/was present at your birth? I thought we’d have each other (wife and I) and our midwives, but when the opportunity to have a doula arose, I was curious whether it would be a good fit.

Our doula’s name was Laura and I can’t say enough good things.

I honestly could not have imagined the birth of my first child without Laura’s support and I couldn’t have asked for a more ideal doula experience. Before and after labour, Laura was invested in our family and in finding just the right way to support us, both me as a new mother and my partner. During labour and delivery I cannot express how essential Laura’s care, attention to detail, advocacy and kindness were for me, both mentally and physically. She ensured that we had the labour we wanted and reminded us of our options; when a complication arose, and it turned out that I was delivering a 10 pound baby, Laura was there to make sure that I remained calm and focused, coaching me through the hardest moments of my life and helping my partner and me reach our end goal: the safe arrival of our little one and a safe delivery for me.

Laura is intuitive, professional and warm. She’s a fantastic listener. Laura anticipated my needs and was a constant reassuring, strong presence for me at each step of the birth journey. Laura’s approach is equity focused, which was very important to my partner and me. She took the time to listen to us, to understand what our family envisioned for the birth of our child. She really alleviated my fears by sharing excellent professional knowledge and asking great questions, which allowed her to provide information, expertise and emotional support in the most positive way. I could say that ‘I couldn’t have done it without her,’ but more accurately – I wouldn’t have wanted to labour and deliver without Laura’s care and support.

All in all it was a very feminist birth: all women and none over 40 – pretty impressive and empowering. Our doula, at left, was someone I didn’t expect to need so much.

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Six weeks in

Where, oh where, is the time going? I am so busy, but rarely find a moment to write (although I’m taking so many photos). At times it’s bliss. I love this little face.

Here’s to six weeks with our little person.

Hard Looks

Oscar Wilde said, to paraphrase: we recoil when we don’t like what we see in the mirror. “The rage of Caliban.” I’d argue, however, that some things become funnier, more precious and deeply touching when you have the insight of self-recognition. IMG_4141.JPG

I’m having revelations almost daily.

My new barometer of ‘clean’ relies on questions like, ‘well, how much pee was it?’ Just a little? Okay, then I’m not changing. I said this after realizing that my son had secretly peed a little on me as I was finishing his bare-bum tummy time, right after I’d changed two diapers. How dirty could my pant leg be? Urine is sterile, right?

I have mini arguments with my wife about how tired each of us is, and even though we are empathetic and understand each other’s different work stresses and day-to-day, I still have moments where I resent having to get up to breast feed – FOR AN HOUR three times a night – while she dozes, interrupted and fitful … or not.

I am watching the show “The Letdown” and am finding so much overlap with my real life. There is a scene where the frustrated parents are tearfully discussing the failed attempts to sleep train (ep. 2) when the husband declares, ‘If we’re being honest, she (the baby) is the one being a dickhead’. Which sends Mom into a weepy ‘Don’t call her a dickhead!…’ FullSizeRender-2.jpg

This is echoes of last night in our own bed: we know we have a sweet, content little guy… for the most part. Yet, there are these intense minutes, sometimes hours, when bouncing on an exercise ball, or after singing, rocking, walking, shusshing, swaying, reading, and everything you’ve tried still results in a not-asleep, possibly just squeaky, but maybe also crying-intermittently baby.  Allia said, “I love him so much, when he’s not being a shithead.”

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And he is SO cute. I can’t get enough of his faces; his squirmy waking up body movements; the voracious way he attacks my boobs, like he is a Walking Dead zombie, blindly lashing out with his jaw flapping, or like an old school Nosferatu, creepily drumming his long fingers on my ribs and breast while he sucks deeply, or other times… it’s like he is making a Zoolander model face, trying to seduce the nipple. Sometimes it’s lip-smacky and funny, others he seems milk drunk and fumbly. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of him, even if sometimes I don’t want to be stuck with a tiny person on my person.

We took him to get his passport photo yesterday. He looked like a baby-burrito, wrapped in a swaddle to obscure my hands that held him. The guidelines are semi-ridiculous; they prefer that babies are ‘square to the camera, ears visible, no shadows, white background, eyes open, neutral expression. *although some variations of expression are permissible for newborns. Oh yeah, and the person holding him can’t be visible.IMG_4242.JPG FullSizeRender.jpg

The whole thing was comical – holding him aloft as the photographer tried to catch him in frame with ALL of these requirements being met simultaneously.

Also, the new daily gong show is all about avoiding poop explosions (blowouts, or whatever you’d like to call them) and pee pee surprises that prevent you from getting anywhere on time. I sometimes think I’m running on schedule but then I’m hijacked by a sudden need to feed, again, or a wet diaper even though just changed it. Or I suddenly feel that my foot is wet and wonder how on earth he managed to pee without me seeing it, or that maybe I’ll be able to eat this toast with one hand while I hold him on my breast with the other hand and my elbow. Not.

I’ve peed with him attached to the boob. I’ve bounced him with my foot while unloading the dishwasher in a routine that would impress Cirque du Soleil. I have sung hours of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Christmas carols, which (it turns out) are the songs I know all the words to.

In other words, I am killing it. We have kept our sense of humour about all of it and I honestly have doubts at times that this new normal is going to be something I can handle… but then I have some small success, or look at his face, and feel better about whatever doubts I’ve been having.

Cheers to breast feeding in parking lots, eating with the same hand I changed a pee pee diaper with, not washing my hair for six days … and cheersing with cold coffee.