Saturday, May 29, 2010

Never default on rent owed to a woman in labour

Here's how I coped with the pain of labour:

I read a book.
I talked on the phone.
I watched half a movie.
I breathed through each contractions.
I evicted my tenants.

Never default on rent owed to a woman in labour, or you will find your lease agreement terminated at the earliest possible time.

Last night Man and I went back to my house, showing the place to potential new tenants. I've had trouble collecting the rent money from the current tenants every month, and I know my former neighbours are none to pleased with them either, as their kids have been terrorizing the neighbourhood (seriously - break and enter, thievery, spray-painted roads).

The showing last night was a little stressful, becuase my current tenants were at home, with their two yappy dogs and three surly kids. And those kids? Those kids keep untidy bedrooms. The whole house was untidy, though if you were being evicted I don't suppose you'd be inclined to clean up for the landlord, either. As we walked through discussing electricity costs, tenants' insurance and how many references I require, the oldest kid was sulking around after us. When we checked out the backyard, he came outside for a smoke. As we stood in the driveway discussing move-in dates, he hand a hankering for more nicotine... this time out the front. His younger brother took a more stealthy approach, hiding out in his bedroom with his window cracked open listening from there.

The couple who saw the place last night were friendly, and their kid, at 2 years old, is not likely to be breaking into the rec centre down the street. Promising. I've had many more calls on the place, and a few more lined up to see it in the next few days.

It was hard being back at the house - I bought it before Man, before Squeaky, and I had pictured many long hours in the garden, many mornings canoeing on the lake just beyond the back fence, and many barbeques and bonfires among friends. It is also an ideal house for our small family now, but it is just too far away from Man's work to make it a viable living arrangement at this time. Also, what did we spend all winter renovating for if not to live here in our wee small house?? (And I like our house, I really do, I just wish it was finished). I know houses are nothing more than four walls and a roof, and ideally a wood stove, but the associated memories and fantasies of the future can tug on the heartstrings as if they were living beings.

First time (separation) jitters

My baby is five kilometers away from me. This is the farthest we've ever been separated, and will likely be the longest stretch of time, too. Apart from when she's sleeping, but even then I'm no more than 10 metres from her (living in a tiny house as we do).

Man decided he was going to take her to work this morning to give me a chance to rest. He feels bad because I do all the nighttime feedings and changings, but really Squeaky is an easy enough baby, and he works mad hard hours, so why shouldn't I get up? (The other night she slept from 11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. - not an unusual occurrence - and she's five weeks old! I know I may be crowing a little too soon, but for now I do count myself lucky beyond measure.)

So my baby is at work with her father being showed off to all and sundry. This makes me glad. What makes me sad is the five kilometers separating them and me. What makes me mad is the thought of his mother getting all handsy with my baby, and breathing her smoke-filled breath into my baby's ear as she tries to Shhhh her. (Newsflash, Grandma: Babies cry! Just because you spanked your oldest child at six weeks to make him sleep through the night does NOT make you an expert on Shhhing babies.)

And now I've gone and gotten myself all riled up. There will be no rest for me. I guess I'll just HAVE to get dressed and drive those five kilometers to get my baby back. Shame.

But I don't want Man to think I'm checking up on him, because I'm totally not - he's a wonderful father, he's got all the diapering accessories he'll need and a bagful of expressed breastmilk. And I REALLY need to get over my irrational anger towards his mother when it comes to Squeaky. So, as Man pointed out, this will be good for me in the long run. Better still if I actually use the time to get some sleep. Wish me luck, dear Interwebs.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sleep, and music for the very young

Squeaky's got me spoiled. She sleeps five- and six-hour stretches so regularly that I've come to rely on them, until BAM! Two hours was enough for her last night! And I'm left with debilitating fatigue for the rest of the day, and the next.

I can't complain. Like my pregnancy, I've been so, so lucky with this Motherhood racket, especially when it comes to Squeaky and sleep. 

Meanwhile, I'm thinking I need to track down a few lullaby CDs. I visited my friend and her baby on Wednesday, who had instrumental lullabies playing while her baby took a nap. They were so soothing, they almost made me fall asleep! So yesterday I tried out Squeaky's baby Beatles CD, but I found it had a little too much tinny noise to send me off to sleep. Squeaky too would only doze for a couple of minutes at a time (her new favourite trick). We have a couple of other albums - choruses of kids singing silly songs and the like, but I prefer the instrumental stuff and Squeaky's too young to know she's supposed to like the sound of kids singing. I've got a ton of cello recordings, and she seems to like those. Any recommendations out there for excellent baby background noise?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


In all the reading I've done about new motherhood, breastfeeding and the life changes that come about when a baby joins your household, there was one thing missing from the litany of nap-when-you-can new-mom tips. That is: just how much time you will spend naked.

Squeaky feeds every three hours or so during the day, for between 20 and 40 minutes each time. Between feedings, she'll nap, and so will I. So I don't get dressed. I wear underwear and a nursing bra, most often with the snaps undone.

Some times she feeds every hour in the evening, which leaves even less time between feedings to get dressed. So why bother?

And at night, I was never comfortable in pyjamas, so it's naked-to-bed for me.

All this to say, I only get dressed to leave the house. If there are any Peeping Toms in this small town, I hope they're not into stretchmarked bellies and leaky breasts.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The logistics are staggering

Before I had a baby, I'd spend an hour in the bathroom only the rare time I took a book, the phone and a bag of Epsom salts to the bath with me. I haven't had a shower lasting more than five minutes since Squeaky was born. And a bath? A laughable luxury.

Last night, I spent an hour in the bathroom. Five minutes in the shower while peaking around the curtain at Squeaky in her bouncy chair, five minutes setting up the bathroom for her bath, 30 minutes bathing her and everything that goes with it - hair wash, diaper changed (twice), drying all her tiny toes etc., five minutes soothing her (Squeaky? hates the bath), five minutes drying my hair and ten minutes cleaning up the place.

I said to my friend who drove from the Big City to spend the day yesterday that the logistics of newborn care are staggering. (You see, we have two cars and therefore two car seats, but do you think they are compatible? No. The van was at our house, my car was at Man's parent's house. We couldn't drive my friend's jeep because there is no backseat. So in order to get out the door and on the road to the trail head, we had to load Squeaky into car seat # 1 that matches the base in the van, drive 10 minutes to my MIL's house, switch a sleeping Squeaky from car seat # 1 to car seat # 2 that matches the base in my car, and load up the diaper bag, Baby Bjorn and picnic and strike out for trails unknown.)

And Baby Time moves at approximately one quarter the speed of normal time, so all these switcheroos take time. All this to say, hours in the bathroom are a luxury of the past. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Six long weeks

That's how long I've been instructed to avoid intercourse following the birth of my daughter last month.

"I'm not worried about me," Man told me months ago while discussing the postpartum reality. "I just don't think you can last that long."

He may be right.

I almost feel I'm betraying all of womanhood, or at least all the new-mom guidebook authors out there by admitting that, at three weeks postpartum, I can't wait to have sex!

And I've felt this way for the past two and a half weeks. That's right, folks, mere days after getting home from the hospital, I was thinking about Man's body in all kinds of ways I never expected to so soon after giving birth to his daughter. I couldn't quite imagine taking the fantasy further, because oh the stitches!, but there was a definite...tingle.

We've had a few make-out sessions already, and it's awesome. Despite our newly-collicky baby (yeah. No fun.) and my still squishy belly, I'm grateful for this one bit of postpartum life that hasn't been by the book.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

At the mercy of the wind

On this crooked spit of land reaching into the Atlantic Ocean, our little house braces against the wind. Today it is out of the South West; a warm wind, but blowing so hard that cool air is forced through the cracks in the walls and around each window frame. The draught from under the couch is enough to make me put on socks.

The water in the arm is whipped to froth where is comes ashore. The waves would be far too much for my canoe, but are not enough to keep the fishing boats home - there are lobster pots to haul and herring nets to check. The tractor-trailer is parked at the wharf, waiting for the fresh catch.

The wind is as loud as it is strong, drowning out the washing machine and the beeping forklift at the wharf. I'm impressed that Squeaky can sleep through it. But she sleeps so soundly I shouldn't be surprised - at four days of age, we brought her to the volunteer fire department annual dinner and dance. Her father was awarded a five-year service pin, and we had our first family dance. She slept through the whole thing.

Yesterday Squeaky and I walked to the end of the point, or at least as far as the pitted trail would allow the stroller to pass. There was no wind, except the air currents I made brushing flies away from her face. We saw two hares - or I did, anyway. At three weeks, she can't see much beyond the stroller's carriage. She slept while we walked through town, but woke up as soon as we hit the trail. We named her well. Her name means wooded or forest, and she lived up to it yesterday, wide awake and taking in all the sounds and scents of the woods, meadow and ocean. She only started to scream when we hit the pavement on the return trip. I know, Squeaky, pavement makes me cry too. 

This South West wind, warmest on the land, is the hardest on the house. When the wind is from the North East, it's another story. A fishing stage - twice the size of our little house - guards us from the worst of the Atlantic's icy breath. The wind in the chimney still whips the fire to a frenzy, but there is less draught through the floorboards so the wood stove keeps the cold away. From the South, there is nothing to ebb the wind's bracing blow and the stove that can smother us with it's output in calm weather can barely keep the chill off.

Living on the edge of the Eastern ocean, you've no choice but be in tune with the ways of the wind, the direction of the waves, the cycle of the tides, the plunging of the thermometer. Even inside our little house, the weather reaches us. It is at once refreshing to be so in touch with nature, and worrisome to be so vulnerable to the elements.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Baby is no longer unknown - she's a squirmy, snuggly little thing with a personality already and tiny hands that are forever in motion. Right now her mouth and cheeks are a vibrant purple, thanks to gentian violet we're using to treat us both for thrush. Her sucking blisters are dyed a deep purple, and I have visions of Halloweens and teenaged makeup applications to come, She's just so funny and serious at the same time. She loves our bedroom curtains - black with white embroidered flowers. She smiles at me as if she knows she already owns me. And she does.

Squeaky is her name.

No, not in real life. But in the virtual pages of the wide open Interwebs, Squeaky she shall be.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I ought to be napping

It's really hard. When she's sleeping, I want her awake. When she's awake, I just want her to go to sleep. I'm afraid I don't talk to her enough, hold her enough, wear her enough, bathe her enough, feed her enough, play with her enough, sing to her enough, change her diaper enough...  She's two weeks old. Two weeks, and the farthest we've been separated by has been about 35 ft - the distance from her bassinet to the garbage box down the lane. I also made two trips to the woodshed, but that was only a 20-ft separation.

Already there are things I miss. I miss sleeping soundly. I miss snoogling with her father. I miss our uninterrupted suppers. I miss jumping in the car and going to the Next Big Town at a moment's notice. I miss not having to plan my showers around a sleeping baby, or a fussy baby. I miss having two arms free. I miss my stretch-mark-free belly. I miss my breasts as my own. I miss my independence. I miss all my fantasies about parenthood because now that it's here, it's so much harder than I imagined.

And so, I feel guilty. Guilty for doubting my parenting. Guilty for doubting my love for this perfect little girl who is so SO beautiful she takes my breath away. (Just thinking about her takes my breath away), and even now as I relish these moments of quiet, I want her to wake up so desperately, because my arms ache for her. And then I hear her stir, and I wish her back to sleep because I haven't had a nap yet and the supper dishes are still unwashed, and then I feel guilty for that. I feel guilty for resenting her father's work schedule. I feel guilty for not welcoming my partner's parents as readily as I do my own. I feel guilty for the stack of birth notices still unmailed, for the coursework I've been neglecting, for the hours I spent watching The Mom Show and Friends instead of lighting the fire and sweeping the kitchen. And even though I know I'm a danger to my own mind when I haven't slept, I'm still up, still writing, still checking on her bassinet to make sure she's warm enough, not too hot, still breathing, still sleeping, not hungry and growing enough.

It's a mental and physical tug-of-war between my wants and needs, and her needs. It is exhausting.

I imagine the women who Do It All must have cleaning services, nannies and zero financial worries. They must also be even more organized than me, and I had casseroles in the freezer. They are probably living in finished houses, too.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I haven't forgotten about my blog; I've been mothering a newborn baby. MY newborn baby. She's just wonderful.

I'm still recovering from the delivery. It was all relatively mild - 4 hours of bad pains, 20 min of pushing, no drugs, no IVs. But I do have stitches. Lots of stitches. So getting around is... achy.

I am trying to keep a mental "did do" list every day, rather than a "to do" list. So far today I've checked my e-mail, ate lunch, gave my daughter a bath, showered, walked to the post office, and made chocolate chip cookies. Not bad.

The days are mostly easy; the nights are not as bad as I anticipated. There are difficult stretches when Babe won't settle and won't sleep, and these are SO MUCH HARDER when I haven't had enough sleep myself. She is a good sleeper - Up to five hours at a time! - if only I could sleep as well as she does, I'd be just fine.

I will definitely try to get back on track here. I have started a longhand journal again - maybe blogging just isn't my thing - but I like the outlet and I will do my darndest.