Read the latest in a weekly blog by two seemingly different living the Urban Mommy lifestyle...the other raising her child in Mama Earth style. Every week we'll write about everything from taking herbs during pregnancy, to hiring full-time nannies, AND anything YOU would like to hear about too!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter wonderland...??!

So to update, I've just been hired as a part time Raw Food Chef apprentice; I'm finally feeling fit enough to ride my bike whilst pulling Mayana behind me on a trailer up the hills of Saltspring; and I've now officially separated (amicably so!) from Mayana's Papa.

However, in true life's irony, all I'm craving right now is coffee and hot soup; there is snow a foot deep all over Saltspring; and I'm suddenly feeling horny as heck for the first time since birthing Mayana!

Ah yes, the life of a Scorpio never ceases to be colourful...and perhaps a recount of this past weekend's shenanigans proves it perfectly...

It all started on Friday afternoon. I headed to my first day as a Raw Food apprentice for an excellent 3 hours of preparing desserts for a "Sweet Treats" workshop the next day. As we vita-mixed, soaked, dehydrated, and generally "un-cooked" Mum watched Mayana and took her for a long walk. "Watch out, its going to snow- its cold enough" my Mum warned when I returned. "Yeah, yeah" I scoffed...thinking, geez, its only November.
Later, San watched Mayana as I did an acting workshop with the ever-amazing Nicola Cavendish. She has acted in, and written, a number of Canadian plays, including one titled "It's Snowing on Saltspring". Without a doubt Providence took centre stage later that night as we had to rush off early from the workshop due to heavy snowfall!
By the morning, we were engulfed in a brilliant, beautiful blanket of white...and totally snowed in.
And 20 minutes past 8am, we also lost all power.
Its amazing how survival skills kick in for a group of people who are used to electric heat and hot water on demand. Firewood was whisked into the dry cover of the hall entrance, a fire was made, and blankets were rounded up. We even managed to make a pot of coffee on a camping pot on the fireplace (priorities please!).
With coffee having warmed our bellies, I donned Mayana's first ever snowsuit(!) and out we headed. She thought it was wonderful...chattering to all the new shapes made by the snow, and the birds twittering and dancing among the whitened branches. Wonderful that is...until she touched it. "Waaahhhhh!!!"...oh right, sorry darling, I forgot to mention, its REALLY cold!!

We got lots of video, and plenty of photos, and it was amazing to watch her as she giggled at the deer families walking delicately to search for food in our garden of trees. The computers were out, and the 2 teenagers in my house learned to drum, read books to us, and helped to make dinner by candlelight on the fire! Its true "Papa" and I are still getting used to our new status, but we totally worked together to keep the fire going, and to make warm beds in the living room where we all ate, talked, played, read, and slept for the next 48 hours.

Family is so unique for all people, but this past weekend, I felt a strong sense of family. My roommate who usually lives above the garage, also spent the nights with us, and it was lovely to get to know him better...and I know Mayana considers him Uncle John now that he's read her a book!

Now the power is back on, the boys are back upstairs in their rooms, and I don't have an excuse NOT to make a wheatgrass smoothie for breakfast instead of hot coffee! I still have an excuse not to bike pulling Mayana up the hill behind me!...but I did manage to go to the gym to workout yesterday.
And my peaked hormones?
Perhaps the snow reminds me of days of yore where I would snowshoe with a handsome love interest, and then return to the warm to snuggle with hot chocolate and Baileys in hand. Winter can be a very "cosy" time! Perhaps it is simply that now Mayana is 10 months old, my physical body has been able to take one of its first steps back to stand as a woman, and not just nursing mother. Or perhaps it is the new changes in my life bring feelings of excitement like a new love...healthy shifts are sexy!

Winter wonderland? Oh yes...a true weekend to symbolise the first year of parenting...we are tired, the house is a mess, we are busy organizing everyone, food is less than brilliant in its presentation...but my goodness, can it get any more magical?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today, I'm a good mother

Being a mother seems to mean always feeling like you could do better. If you're a stay at home mom, you feel like you don't have enough "quality" time with your baby. If you're a working mom, you plain don't have enough time with your baby. We can't win. So that's why, today, I want to celebrate: today, I'm a good mother.
My husband is away this week and work is extremely busy. On top of that, since Monday, we're trying to get Adam to fall asleep in his crib, instead of in our bed. However you want to look at it, the odds are stacked against me. Tuesday, Adam ate all his dinner, but was indignant at the idea of falling asleep in his crib (and so, consequently, didn't - no question who is boss in our house!). Yesterday, Adam had a grand total of two spoons of his dinner, but fell asleep in his crib (an achievement that was slightly dulled by the fact that he woke at 5am, starving). Today, however, he did both: he ate all his dinner AND he fell asleep in his crib. In addition to that, I managed to skip out of the office on my lunch hour and take Adam to his swimming class, even though I barely had time to breathe, much less read e-mails or make any inroads into my to-do list, . For one hour in the middle of the day, I got to play and giggle and be silly with my son. We both had a blast. And even with my break in the middle of the day, I was still home at a decent time - a successful day by any definition.
As mothers, I think we are programmed to feel that we can always do more. As women, we want to be more than a mother, and finding the balance is like searching for the holy grail. Today, I feel like I have found it. Tomorrow might be different, but today, I'm celebrating. Today, I was a good mother.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The breast may be best, but it's not enough

Breastfeeding was one area of motherhood I was woefully unprepared for. I expected it to be easy. I imagined myself looking serenely down at my baby feeding at my breast, a perfect picture of mother and child. Wow. Not quite.

My adventure started in the clinic, where I was given shields to help Adam latch on. First mistake: nipple shields create a barrier between you and your baby that prevents the stimulation of milk. At ten days old, Adam hadn’t regained his birth weight and so we fed him 100ml of formula. Second mistake: supplementing with formula prevents your body from producing milk. In order to try to get some rest, my husband would sometimes give our baby a bottle of expressed milk in the middle of the night. Third and fourth mistake: milk stimulation is at its greatest during the night hours and feeding with a bottle leads a baby to reject the breast. And so I felt guilty. Guilty because I couldn’t seem to be able to feed without the shields. Guilty because I was feeding him formula from a bottle instead of a feeding tube attached to the nipple (or from a syringe, as my pediatrician recommended). Guilty because I was putting my needs (rest) ahead of those of my baby (breast milk). Add two bouts of mastitis and six weeks of cracked nipples into the mix, and breastfeeding was turning very quickly into a nightmare experience.
But I survived… Eventually I said screw you and decided to do it my way – which meant nipples shields and the odd expressed bottle. I went on to exclusively breastfeed Adam until I had to return to work (ironically, as soon as I stopped obsessing about it, my milk supply increased). How? Support and lots of it. From my husband, who was always there with open arms and endless patience. From my best friend, who had been through it all and worse. Together we laughed and cried and got indignant over men writing books on breastfeeding. From our local midwife, who brought tears to my eyes when she patted me on the back and told me I was doing great, (everyone else only seemed to be telling me what I could be doing better). From my mother, who was concerned for me and not just for my baby. My mother-in-law, my yoga teacher, Adam’s pediatrician… the list goes on and on. For me, it wasn’t a village raising a child. The village was feeding the child!

So, when Health Canada or the WHO wonder why more mothers don’t breastfeed or why they give up so early (90% of mothers in Canada start, but less than half that last three months), I can tell them. It’s hard. It’s hard on Mom. It’s hard on Dad. And sometimes it’s hard on Baby. Without proper support (which is seriously lacking), an emotionally and physically exhausted mom can very easily decide that breast is not best. And really, who can blame her? Not me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From the Urban Mommy

I guess this is my cue to say what it is that makes me an urban mommy. Most of it, you already know. I live with my husband in a three bedroom, 85 square meter apartment in downtown Barcelona. Adam was born at a clinic, ten minutes away, and I had an epidural, just in time for the “expulsion” (as they so delicately put it here). I breastfed Adam exclusively until he was six months old, and I had to return to work, but I also expressed milk and had my husband feed the baby sometimes, to give me a break. Working full-time, I believe in outsourcing as much as possible, so that my time at home is full on and quality. My husband and I own one car between us, which he uses to commute (I bike to work), but which at weekends stays parked most of time as pretty much everything we need is within a decent walking distance – one of the great advantages of an urban lifestyle. Like Amy, we make Adam’s food fresh (he also likes yams!). The ingredients aren’t organic, though, but the veggies are seasonal and locally grown, purchased at the market located right in front of our building.
But… I think that for all our differences, Amy and I have an awful lot of things in common, too. I bet there are times Amy can’t stop staring at her baby, still surprised after so many months that this incredible little creature is actually hers. Amy probably also thinks that there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and that an extra hand or two wouldn’t go amiss! Although our chests may puff with pride whenever someone comments on beautiful are our babies, what really fills our hearts is when someone remarks on how happy they are. I suspect that Amy, too, sometimes looks back with nostalgia to those simpler times when we didn’t have quite so much responsibility, but yet, neither of us would change a thing about what we have today. And finally, however different Amy and I are choosing to raise our children, however different our dreams may be, in the end, what we both really want, is for them to grow up to be happy, healthy, kind and tolerant.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What makes me a "Mama Earth"...

Okay, so I promised Europe tales...but I'm tired, and need to do something easy. Hippy-style...I've just burned some sage to clear the house of germs, I'm sipping organic wine, and eating local freshly picked corn straight off the cob. So I figure its about time to give some insight into why I'm the Mama Earth between me and Deirdre...
And in wine-induced, relaxed end-of-the-day style...I'm doing it in point form!

*I leave Mayana bare-bummed often to let her get sun on her behind, and let the grass catch "anything" she decides to do!

*I have taken Mayana to a Saltspring dance with world music and a sacred chanting circle at the end...and she whirled around happily in her carrier with me all night

*I co-sleep with Mayana, and wear her while shopping...even walking and nursing at the same time sometimes!

*I visit my friends who live on a float home and use solar power, and went skinny dipping off their dock

*I use cloth diapers, and when I need to use disposable...I use the compostable kind...yes, they exist!

*I burn incense to clear the air of diaper smells

*I take Mayana to my djembe drumming class...and give her a shaker to keep the beat

*I make Raw Cacao Walnut Carrot Cake, and feed Mayana other interesting things like pureed organic yams, curried tofu, and homemade granola bars. I chew her food sometimes as a way to soften it before she eats it...and we sometimes eat fresh parsley or calendula right from the garden

*On sunny days, I'll often hang out with my other Mama friends and our babies, and we usually go topless and discuss things like our connection to our "yonis" (goddess term for vaginas)

*I write poetry about Mayana and her birth

*My partner and I have been to an astrologer to learn more about Mayana's signs surrounding her birthdate

Gotta go, I'm having a craving for Oreo cookies. Even Earth Mamas have their vices. ;)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Finding the time...

Sometimes I wish I had a nanny! Unlike Deirdre, I am home often with my daughter, however the guilt still occurs for me. The guilt of always being behind somewhere- whether its calling my mom, being on time to meet with a friend, writing this blog!, or even playing with Mayana. Yes, even though we spend most days together, sometimes I am so busy with shopping for groceries, writing a belated email, or getting to the ferry on time, that Mayana has to patiently (and sometimes not-so-patiently!) just stick with me in the hullabaloo.

I have just moved to a new home. My partner and I have decided to live separately, although we are still together working on things. I don't think this is actually that strange...I know many couples find it hard in the first year of having a new baby. And in our case, we had only been together 3 months before getting pregnant, so we're still getting to know each other, and how we work! So space seems to be a positive thing for us to stay harmonious, and we both agree this is best for Mayana- to have parents who like each other!

So I have moved to a large home since I have agreed to be housemother to a 15 year old international student from Germany and my 17 year old cousin who wants to try school on Saltspring island. There is lots of strange music in the house, and I am learning how to make food for big eaters, but Mayana seems to love the young energy in the house, and I am excited at positive changes in everyone's lives.

Off I go as apparently I am behind to head into town, and Mayana stirs downstairs- ack!

Next installment, TRAVELLING IN EUROPE...that is my excuse for not writing this summer...we were too busy with East Indian weddings, Portuguese camping trips, and swimming in the Scottish seas...stories coming very soon!! When I get the time =)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Worthy Read

I belong to a google group of English speaking parents living in Barcelona and during a fiesty exchange of e-mails regarding the daycare system here, someone sent this out:

It's a very interesting read and is definitely thought-provoking.