The “Top 10” things I didn’t know about motherhood…

Now that little Terry has crossed the threshold from infancy to toddler-hood, I am reflecting a little on the things I didn’t know about motherhood. I’ve decided to summarize this in a “Top 10” list, Letterman-style.

#10. Yoga pants and sweatshirts would become my clothing item of choice. Seriously, who wears jeans? They are so constrictive (like, how can I chase after a baby hell bent on sticking his finger in the one plug without a cover). And when the baby sits on your lap while covered in Vaseline and no diaper, it leaves behind a big ass-shaped grease stain that no amount of stain remover or repeat laundry cycles can remove. Yoga pants and sweatshirts are cheap. They expand and shrink with you as you go from hourglass to pear to apple to corn-on-the-cob shaped. They hug you. They make it all better.

#9. That new perfume I’m wearing should be labelled “Eau de sour milk and dirty diapers”.  ‘Nuff said. Just plain nasty. But eventually, you fail to notice your own pungent aroma and it becomes status quo.

#8. The body has a strange ability to keep functioning long after it should have shut down from sheer exhaustion.  I’d like to know how all these celebrities end up hospitalized for exhaustion? I partied all night long with an infant for the better part of 5 months and I didn’t need to be put on bedrest. Sure, at times it was hard to see and I felt nauseous, but this body sucked it up and kept on truckin’. Go body! The mind, however…. it might not have fared as well. See item #7 below.

#7. Stringing together coherent sentences is much more difficult that I remember. For those of you who follow the Barbie Fails blog, you are likely familiar with my vocabulary follies over the years. Despite the fact my career is focused around communications, I’ve been known to mix up words and say silly things. This has become worse over the last two years. The hormonal changes have melted my brain. And I think these changes are permanent.

#6. I narrate everything that I do. I was told this was a great way to help baby learn language skills. So, I pretty much spend the day talking to myself at home, in public… wherever. I appear slightly insane, but whatever, he’s learning.

#5. I will never have nice furniture or things again. Nope. But leather and vinyl might be viable options.

#4. I will see reality differently: things that are choking hazards and things that are covered in germs. This is pretty self-explanatory. Although, over time, I am loosening up on my “germ” phobia.

#3. I will never judge the parent of a screaming, tantrumming child again. Because, unfortunately, I have THAT child. You know, the one that has a complete meltdown in the grocery store because you said no. Perhaps he is “spirited” or he has an underlying “behavioural problem” — who knows at this stage. But right now, I have one little monster when he doesn’t get his own way. Of course, I was a terribly behaved toddler and I believe this is what is referred to as karma. Damn.

#2. Having a dog does prepare you for parenthood. They do. From training to housebreaking to breaking the house, babies are an awful lot like dogs. For example, yesterday, I caught Terry gnawing on the side of the coffee table. The other day, he was shredding Kleenex into little strips. These are both things that my dog did when she was a puppy. The good news is that she has survived 9 years, so I am doing something right. My houseplants, however… not as lucky.

#1. I will never, ever be the person I was before children again. This is actually a good thing. The person I was before Terry came along was one who did not stop and smell the roses. I worked too hard, I played too little, and I wasted time worrying about silly, unimportant things. And while I continue to worry about silly things, I worry for different reasons and it all comes back to making sure that my little man is healthy, happy, and becoming a wonderful little human. Parenthood changes you. There is no doubt about that. And even though I have a list of ten items above, nothing in this list would make me choose differently.

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Listeria hysteria #tbt

In honour of Throwback Thursday (#tbt), I thought I’d toss up a pregnancy-related story for all of my loyal followers. Some of you lived with me during the period I like to call “Listeria Hysteria”, so this may bring back some fond (or not so fond) memories.


 

While I was pregnant, I became aware of the heightened risk of food poisoning for expectant mothers. This wasn’t something I had been aware of before, but like the many things I Googled, this became a prominent concern over the 9 months gestational period. Now, while there is plenty of misinformation on the internet, this came from a reputable government source — our very own Health Canada. Right there, in the middle of their webpage under a big blue heading of “Did you know?”, is this very daunting fact:

Pregnant women are 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to develop listeriosis if they are exposed to the Listeria bacteria.

So, I did what every pregnant woman is supposed to do: I didn’t eat luncheon meat unless it was heated to steaming (gag… I wouldn’t eat that slimy crap, anyway); no soft cheeses, even my beloved goat cheese, just to be safe; ensure all meat is fully cooked; wash fruit and veggies well; and, so on and so on. Of course, I lost all control of this when I went out for lunch or dinner and had no control in how my food was handled or prepared.

I will now regale you with the story of my listeria hysteria at its peak. Hubby, my brother and I went for dinner at a local chain restaurant. Wanting to ensure I had lots of leafy dark greens and fibre in my baby-growing diet, I ordered a salad to go with my meal. When I arrived, I scarfed it down like the ravenous pregnant woman that I was. I was about to take my second last bite when I realized the piece of lettuce in my mouth tasted dirty, like earthy and gritty — unwashed. I swallowed it, but the nasty taste lingered in my mouth and I felt my anxiety level surge. I excused myself from the table and went to the washroom, where I promptly forced myself to throw up my dirty salad.

Okay, okay. I know barfing isn’t the correct way to handle this situation. But all I could think of was that I had to get the dirty, listeria-covered lettuce out of my body before it made both the baby and I sick. Upon returning to the table, I confessed my bulimic ways to the boys, who promptly shook their heads and laughed… or ordered another beer… I can’t really recall now.

The next time we frequented this same restaurant, I ordered a soup to start. I figured, stick with the cooked stuff; cooking kills bacteria and germs. But before I could finish my order, my little brother felt compelled to ask the waitress if they wash their soup. I mean, he couldn’t take the chance that I might consume unwashed, listeria-laden soup, now could he?  Funny boy. Funny, funny boy.

 

 

Taking an Infant’s Temperature…. where????

When the little man was just three weeks old, he caught a nasty case of RSV that landed us in the hospital for six days and five nights. For a new mom with well-documented paranoia and anxiety, this was by far, one of the most emotionally scarring experiences of my life. If you aren’t familiar with RSV, it is something you should understand if you are ever around or ever plan to be around a newborn baby or infant. “Just a cold” may not be just a cold, it may be RSV and it may cause serious illness requiring oxygen and hospitalization in a new baby with little, developing lungs. But, I digress… and we will get on with this blog.

After Terry was discharged from the hospital after his admission for six days, I kept a close eye on him (yes, that is the understatement of the year). I monitored him closely for signs of respiratory distress and also, for signs of infection, such as fever. While in the hospital, one of the doctors that we saw explained that the rectal thermometre was the most accurate measurement of an infant’s body temperature. She advised me to purchase one just for this purpose and as a good mommy, I did just that. She also said I just needed to put a little Vaseline on the end and slide it in about an inch to get a read-out. Sounds simple, right?

Ha. Let me count the number of ways this was not simple AT ALL.

  • First, the baby wiggles. An infant just one month of age will wiggle significantly. It’s kinda like trying to stick a straw in a drinking box during a small earthquake. Not cool. Not cool at all.
  • Babies don’t listen to reason. No matter how many times I tried to talk him through it (“Mommy just needs to insert this thermometre in your bum for 30 seconds”), he didn’t care.
  • The rectal cavity is like a vacuum. When you put something in there, a stranger-than-fiction force tries to suck it right up. Like a little hoover in his colon.
  • This brings me to the next traumatic phase of this story. You aren’t supposed to put the thermometre up too far or you will puncture his little colon. So, as I’m inserting the well-lubed thermometre into the wiggling baby bum while fighting against the evil forces of suction, I need to be sure it doesn’t go past the little line marked on this particular thermometre. And while I was trying to be as careful about this as I have ever been in my life, for a second… just a split second… I thought the thermometre travelled north just a little over the line.

    That’s it. I’ve done it. I’ve punched a hole in his rectum and he’s going to get a terrible infection in his poop shoot. So, on top of the fact the poor kid just spent 5 days on oxygen in a hospital bed crib, I have  now ruined his ascending colon and he’s going to hemorrhage or end up with sepsis. Awesome.

    So, like any neurotic new mother, I Googled it. It made it worse. I stopped myself. I then texted my dear cousin, a nurse at our local hospital and told her I’d perforated the baby’s rectum. She assured me that I would have known if I had poked a hole where a hole is not intended to be, he would have screamed bloody murder and well, it probably would have looked like a blood murder scene, too. Since neither situation occurred, she assured me that despite thinking the thermometre travelled up where it shouldn’t have, he was going to be just fine.

    And he was. But, I have NEVER elected to use the rectal thermometre again. We are an “armpit only” house from now on!

    Lost: One pet cat…

    Earlier this week, we lost the cat. He’s an agoraphobic kitty, but every once in a while he gets brave and thinks he might like to push his boundaries. Unfortunately, his stealthy way of moving and my distraction with a miserable, exhausted, and teething baby, led to kitty going AWOL for the better part of half of a day. They may revoke my fur parent license because of this.

    You can read more about this misadventure here on the Barbie Fails blog.

    Lost: One small baby turd…

    Yes, you read that right. This morning, I lost a turd.

    Terry slept well last night and I was pleased when he woke up at 8:30, looking for his morning feed. After his belly was full, I brought him to the downstairs change table (yes, we have one on each level of the house) for his first bum change of the day.

    I put Terry down on the change table and proceeded to change his diaper. Since it was the first change of the day, it was a very heavy one. Luckily for me, it was mostly #1 and just a small #2 (sorry, I know… but these are important details). I excitedly announced, “Just a little poop this morning… like a rabbit”. Neither Daddy nor his big brother, who were up watching a recorded wrestling show, seemed nearly as excited by this, but then again, they haven’t been dealing with the abominations this kid has been producing all week.

    Anyway, I proceeded to remove the diaper, but when I looked down, the little poop wasn’t in the diaper. Oh, I thought, it must be still on his bum. I grabbed my wipe and went to retrieve it. Nope, not on his bum, either. Hmmmm.

    Okay, so, it’s not in the diaper and not on the bum? Huh. That’s not right. I checked on the change table. No turd. I checked on the floor. No turd. Really weird. IAt that point, the dog walked by and I thought, “Omigod, did Chelsea eat his poop?” (For those of you with dogs, you know this is a definite possibility considering they will eat just about anything.) The dog did not appear guilty, so I suspected that she hadn’t, however. Of course, Terry thinks this is all hilarious and is lying on the change table, in partially removed camouflage jammies, with a huge smile on his face. This kid has a wicked sense of humour.

    At this point, I called to Daddy for help. He brought out the trust flashlight and searched the floor. No poop to be found. Okay, seriously, how could I have lost a poop? It wasn’t on the floor, not on the change table, not in the diaper and not on the bum. I officially declared the turd “missing”.

    At this point, I needed to get a diaper on Terry before he decided to give me a golden shower. I lifted his legs, slid a diaper under, and grabbed for the side tab to fasten it. And that’s when I found it, stuck to his side, blending in perfectly with his green and brown camo pjs… the evasive baby turd! And our Saturday morning mystery is solved.

    Life lesson: Camo sleepers can be used for hiding your baby in the forest or for your baby to hide his own poop. Use with caution. 

    She’s got Beaver Fever

    This summer, Ken and I packed up Baby Terry (who was just 3 months old) and piled into my brother’s truck and fifth-wheeler trailer for a weekend of camping at a beautiful campground on the Saugeen River. One of the park’s greatest attributes (aside for the free-range baby goat that kept visiting our campsite) is that campground patrons can rent (or BYO) inner tubes and take a leisurely float down nature’s lazy river.

    I was in desperate need of a little relaxation, so my cousin and I hopped aboard our trusty inner tubes and set sail down the river while Ken took care of the baby. It was a gorgeous day and despite a few bumps and bruises from a few turbulent, less-than-lazy sections, we thoroughly enjoyed our voyage down the Saugeen.

    By the end of the ride, it was nearing time for Baby Terry’s feeding. Before I fed him, I wanted to get changed out of my wet bathing suit and dry off a little. We made our way back to the trailer and by the time I arrived, the poor little guy was starving. I changed quickly and without thinking, I whipped out one of the “milk machines” and popped him on. He happily filled his belly while I continued to enjoy my post-float euphoria.

    That was until I realized that I hadn’t washed off my boob before I put it in the baby’s mouth. I had dried off after my swim, but I hadn’t had a shower and soaped up. So, whatever bacteria or microbes or toxic waste was in the river was now on my body… my body that I had placed into my infant son’s mouth… my infant son with a developing immune system.

    I suddenly remembered an illness that a friend had suffered a few summers ago after white water rafting in Ottawa. She was terribly ill with a gastrointestinal parasite known colloquially as “Beaver Fever”.  Yes, you can laugh at the name. I did, too. But Beaver Fever is a legitimate illness. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (yes, a government-based and factually correct site, for my Google nay-sayers), “Beaver Fever”

    “…is a common cause of waterborne disease in humans. Giardiasis is sometimes called “beaver fever” after an outbreak in which hikers at Banff National Park became ill from drinking stream water contaminated with Giardia from beavers.”

    My rationale was simple: I put a dirty nipple in my baby’s mouth and he was now going to get a terrible gastrointestinal infection of some sort. Beaver Fever, ecoli, god-knows-what. What was I thinking? I sterilize his baby bottles, but I didn’t think I needed to wash myself??!!

    Despite being in the middle of nowhere, I pulled out my iPhone and made good use of my data plan. I scoured the internet for information on river water diseases and their effects on babies. Surprisingly, this isn’t a common Google search! Who knew! So, I looked at Dr. Jack Newman’s website for answers from the breastfeeding guru himself. In his documentation, he said it was not necessary to wash one’s nipple before feeding; the natural anti-bacterial properties of breast milk make it unnecessary. Of course, he didn’t specify if breast milk was adequate for destroying Beaver Fever parasites, but I was hopeful his statement was all-inclusive.

    So, I fretted and sent my mom a few panicked emails. I texted my cousin, an RPN with lots of baby experience. I think I even emailed my lactation consultant for guidance. Everyone assured me he would be fine. I decided I would just keep an eye on him for any signs of stomach issues and if anything cropped up, I’d get him in to see my family doctor ASAP.

    I took a deep breath and had a delicious glass of wine by the campfire. All was well again in Mommyland.

    … That was until the baby woke up hungry and it hadn’t been two hours since I guzzled my glass of wine. But, I’ll save the story of how I gave my baby neonatal alcohol syndrome another day. Good things come to those who wait!

    Cheers!

    A slightly melted fetus…

    For those of you who spent time with me while I was pregnant, you know I was a little paranoid. Okay, I admit it, I was full-blown cuckoo. I worried about every little thing I did, ate, or inhaled. But in my defense, depending on what you read in books and online, just about EVERYTHING you do, eat or breathe is terrible for an unborn fetus, so I felt like I had reasonable and justified cause for concern. I know, I know… stay off the internet. But what is a girl to do?!

    When I was only 18 weeks pregnant, I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions. Not sure what those are? Let me tell you. It’s kinda like a muscle spasm in your uterus. Don’t have a uterus? Imagine a mild Charlie Horse, only in your belly. Anyway, these contractions weren’t painful but they scared the hell out of me. I thought I was going into pre-term labour and ended up in the maternity ward for monitoring on Boxing Day (that’s another story for another day).

    Luckily for me, I had a lovely Braxton Hicks contraction on the examining table during one of my appointments. The doctor reassured me I was fine, and suggested I apply a heating pad to help relax the muscles and pop a few Tylenol if they get a bit painful. From that day forward, the heating pad became my best friend. I put it on my belly on low and let it soothe the spastic muscles into submission several times a day.

    For some reason, when I was 30 weeks pregnant, I was spending some time with my friend, Dr. Google. I stumbled upon some information that said heating pads, along with hot tubs and other sources of direct heat, were bad for an unborn baby and could cause birth defects. Birth defects???? Are you kidding me???? Because of a heating pad????

    So, I did what any paranoid mother-to-be would do, I continued to Google “heating pad on belly pregnant birth defects”. By the end of my research blitz, I was pretty sure I melted off my baby’s face and that all of its organs would be defective. Needless to say, I was beyond hysterical. I sent a few panicked text messages to friends and family, especially those with any sort of medical or nursing background, to see if they, too, felt I jad nuked my baby. They all tried to reassure me, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that my poor, little baby was going to be irreparably damaged because I boiled it in my belly with a therapeutic heating device.

    Thankfully, my next OB appointment was only a week away. I fretted and fretted until the day the appointment finally arrived. I steeled myself for the bad news when I told my doctor what I had done. So, at the end of the appointment, I broke the news to her:

    “I put a heating pad on my stomach to help with the Braxton Hicks. I think I melted the baby and its organs.”

    My doctor chuckled a little and told me I was fine. It’s true that you shouldn’t raise your body temperature too high in the first trimester, by say, soaking in a hot tub for an hour. However, as I was later in the pregnancy when I started to “boil the baby”, doctors generally do not recommend a heating pad on the belly and suggest you put in on your back to relieve Braxton Hicks contractions and cramping. This is to prevent inducing pre-term labour, NOT because you will boil the organs and features right off the child. So, since I had made it for 12 weeks using the heating pad and I had not induced pre-term labour, my OB felt everything would be fine.

    I still worried about it a little for the next eight weeks, but little Terry was born in perfect health with ten little fingers, ten little toes, all his features in the right places, and all organs present and accounted for. His skin was awfully pink, though, so I can’t help but wonder if he wasn’t just a tad overheated while he was cooking in that steamy womb.

    Welcome to the ‘hood…

    Hi, my name is Barbie*. I am a first-time mom to a beautiful baby boy named Terry*. I am also, admittedly, somewhat paranoid and neurotic when it comes to my little one. I come from a long line of “worriers” and as such, have had to deal with a few irrational fears along the road to parenthood. You may have read about some of my pre-pregnancy adventures in my significant other’s blog, Barbie Fails. Over the past few years, he’s posted 95+ stories which have garnered over 7000 hits. Given the popularity of these posts, I figured it was about time I started telling my side of these hilarious events and stories with the rest of the blogosphere!

    Before I became a mom, I was a Communications Specialist for a large Canadian financial institution. While corporate writing has its perks, it doesn’t necessarily let me explore my creative side.  In starting this blog, I have identified three main goals:

    1) To share my experiences and in doing so, help other slightly neurotic new moms learn about things that aren’t covered in the baby books. Topics include, but are not limited to: “My baby ate a poopy onesie. What do I do??”; “Did I insert the rectal thermometre too far?”; and, “Will the bumpy sidewalk give him shaken baby syndrome?”.

    2) Regain my mental capacity. Mommy-brain and sleep-deprivation have done a number on my ability to function and it is my hope that forcing myself to write will kick-start it back into gear.

    3) To laugh and to make others laugh. Laughter is the best medicine. And as I always say, if we don’t laugh, we cry. And really, who wants to wear waterproof mascara every day?!

    Deep-down, I’m actually hoping someone will want to turn my blog into a television sitcom or that I may be able to score a book deal, but for now, I’ll use it as a way to entertain others.

    Stay tuned for more hilarious stories as I foray into new, unchartered territory! I hope you enjoy Barbie’s adventures in Mommyland.

    *Names have been changed to protect the innocent.