Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Travelling with your toddler

Travelling with a newborn or baby is usually pretty easy (at least in my past experience). Especially when they aren't crawling or walking yet! Babies like to sit in your lap, look at everything going on around them, and are easily soothed with the boob.

It's between 1 and 2 years of age where things get trickier. Our family is leaving next week on a trip to Florida, and although the plane ride is usually only 2.5-3 hours, it will require some creativity in order to keep our little girl amused for that length of time.

In searching the web, I have found a lot of different advice for parents travelling with young ones. The first suggestion is to always get the child a seat, unless they're very young (younger than crawling age). This way, they have their own space, and are able to do some activities on the food tray. Another website even suggested buying first class tickets, for the extra room!

Sounds great, but my hubby and I can't afford $500 (or more, for first class!) in order to fly our "free" child down to the States. So we just opted to have her on our laps. We may regret it, but clearly this isn't a long flight. And given that it leaves at 10:30am, we won't have to deal with the issues you might encounter during a night flight.

I've travelled quite a bit in my life, and the one thing I've learned is that you need to remain calm in any situation. Unless you have a superbly magical vacation, chances are, something is going to go wrong. It could be that a flight is delayed, or luggage is lost. Perhaps you lose your wallet (or it gets stolen). Maybe the weather is crummy, and you spend your whole beach vacation indoors. Or, you're touring a country who's roads and language are unfamiliar to you, and you end up getting horribly lost. Let's face it, some vacations are definitely better than others. But the hope is that you overcome adversity, and end up looking back on it all with fondness.

And so, here is what we plan to bring with us on our trip down South. These things will hopefully help our 18-month old travel with relative ease:

1) Stickers. Shiny, fuzzy, big or small, all children like stickers!
2) Little Critter books. A has become obsessed with finding the cricket on every page
3) Some kind of hand-held game device. I am SO not technologically proficient, but I'm going to head to Boomerang Kids (a great second hand store here in Ottawa) to see if I can pick up a second-hand educational video/computer thingy
4) Lots and lots of snacks (Cheerios, Almond butter, crackers, dried fruit, water and juice)
5) One stuffed animal and fuzzy blankie - in the hopes that A might actually take a nap!
6) A good supply of suckies - the only thing (other than breastfeeding) that helps A calm down when she's tired. I have given up the guilt about her suckies!

And if things get rough, and nothing seems to be amusing her, there's always Mama's purse!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dealing with anger

A is all grown up.

Well, I guess I should say, she's no longer considered a "baby." She is now, by expert definition, a toddler. And THAT means we are slowly entering the toddler phase - full of its ups and downs, smiles and tears.

Many people argue that there is no such thing as the "Terrible Twos;" that this is a phase we have created ourselves due to our lax parenting skills (we coddle our children and give them everything they want, therefore they throw tantrums whenever things don't go their way). Some parents argue there's no such thing as the Terrible Twos because they've been blessed with the angel child who is submissive and rarely ever cries unless injured.

I think that the outcome of this phase all depends on the personality of the child. Certainly, if you've had an easy baby all along, chances are you'll have a fairly easy go of things during the toddler phase. But if you've ended up with a whirling dirvish as your child, there may be some challenges.

My own challenge will be keeping my anger in check. It does nobody any good when Mom joins the foray of yelling and screaming. Case in point: yesterday morning I made A and me some french toast for breakfast. I even sprinkled a tiny bit of maple syrup on her piece, which I was sure she would gobble up (I mean, what kid doesn't enjoy sugar once in a while?). But would she try even one single bit? Not a chance! She took a look at her plate for a while, handed it to me and said "done?"

I have tried not to stress out about what A eats, but I'm a firm believer that everyone needs to eat breakfast. I think it's a little suspect when people claim they're able to go until noon without eating anything (do this, and you'll end up eating a huge dinner and late night snack, which certainly doesn't help your metabolism). If I don't eat within half an hour of waking up, I'm irritable and shaky. Don't forget, food feeds our brains!

So, I decided to use the leftover egg mix to scramble up for A. I know she loves scrambled eggs, as she eats them all the time. I put the plate down on her tray and she immediately began screaming and waving her arms around, tossing the egg (and plate) into the air. Egg went everywhere - on the wall, the floor and even on our poor dog Darcy (Darcy has become used to being hit with flying objects while A eats). She was still screaming when I slammed the plate down on the kitchen table, and began yelling back at her that "this is unacceptable! You don't throw good food on the floor!"

I could have saved my breath (and probably my sanity) by calmly getting her down from her chair, informing her that we don't throw food in our house, and asking her to help wipe up the egg with a cloth. But instead, I ended up angry and upset, and she stood in the dining room crying and stomping her foot. Not good for either of us.

My goal this week, and while we're away on vacation, is to learn how to breath through my annoyance/anger before taking any steps. Remember the whole "count to 10" advice? I think this is truly an important thing to do when disciplining a toddler. After all, they don't respond to the same kind of discipline you would use with a 5-year old. And yelling at your kids at any age only makes matters worse.

How do you discipline your toddler? Pass along your tips (except spanking, which is not an acceptable form of punishment for our family!)

Thursday, March 10, 2011


To me, this looks like a gorgeous snow scene. I can imagine skiing all day in the mountains, sipping hot chocolate and bailey's by the fire, and going for beautiful moonlit walks at dusk, my breath making puffy clouds in the night air.

This, on the other hand, looks awful. Piles upon piles of snow, wind, low visibility, and slush. Right now, we're experiencing something to this effect, although this certainly is much worse than the amount we've ever received. It's bad enough, though, that I spent almost 2 hours shoveling this morning. It's that super wet, dense and heavy snow that can break even the strongest back.

And to top it all off, I had a ridiculous cartoon moment, when I stepped outside my house, slammed the door, and felt a huge ton of snow land of my head. The snow had accumulated into a massive pile on the roof, and I must have created a mini landslide while shutting the door. Big chunks of wet snow fell down my back, and into my shirt, and I had to run inside to rip all my clothes off.

I was handling winter very well up until this point, so I am now dreaming of the beach....if I don't see the sun soon, I may just cry.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Woman

Somewhere in the world right now, a woman is crying.
Up that big hill, a woman is running
Squatting down, a woman is birthing
Through a belly laugh, a woman is gasping
To her child, a woman is smiling
On her knees, a woman is praying
In the fields, a woman is working
Riding the bus, a woman is daydreaming
Through her tears, a woman is hoping
In her wisdom, a woman is growing

Happy International Women's Day

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Family-Centered Cesarean

A Family-Centered Cesarean

I would like to share this link to my readers to show how a cesarean section CAN be a positive experience. I'm not sure if this has ever been done here in Canada, but it is certainly worth a discussion with your midwife or OB.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Granola is good for you

I was inspired to write this post from a discussion I had with someone the other day. This person approached me to see if I might be interested in meeting with her pregnant friend, whose hubby was not up to being her labour support person because of a fear of hospitals. So instead, another friend had offered to step in to be there for the labouring Mom.

I was informed that this labour support person is a med student and "pro-epidural." She had advised the Mom-to-be against getting a midwife. She clarified later that she was fine with people using midwives, as long as they didn't have a home birth. The Mom-to-be isn't sure she really wants an epidural, and feels like she might be able to have a natural birth.

I try to remain calm when I hear things like this, but my blood starts to boil, and I usually end up griping to my hubby, who is probably getting tired of all this pregnancy/baby talk. I think he would rather discuss the eavestroughs or deck plans for our backyard!

So instead I will gripe to you, my wonderful readers.

Now, most of my friends and family will tell you that I'm a "granola" type of gal. I don't wear birkenstocks, but I care a lot about the environment, I cry when birds die or cats are hit by cars, and yes, I believe that birth is a magical experience that doesn't have to be scary. As a doula, I have two lives: one, in which I support my clients regardless of what they want for their birth and newborn; and two, where I am a proponent of midwifery care and home birth. I do not let these two selves mesh in my work as a doula, as then I would be trying to coerce my clients into seeing things My Way. It's not about me, it's about them. I can spend my personal time as an advocate for the things I really care about, involving myself in midwifery consumers groups and the like. Besides, who am I to say that home birth and midwifery care is best for all women!? It's mostly based on what makes you comfortable, and a lot of women feel comfortable in the hospital.

So it bugs me to no end when medical students (or whoever!), who have never witnessed a home birth, start informing their friends and family that birth is dangerous, and that midwives are not qualified to catch babies. I do understand how this view comes to be - students are only seeing what goes on in hospitals, where intervention rates are quite high. They don't always understand that things such as induction and epidurals are what can sometimes lead to complications. Instead they come up with diagnoses like "fetopelvic disproportion." If the woman had never received Pitocin or drugs in the first place, she would have birthed normally and naturally in her own time. (And I do understand here that there are high risk births - but the WHO states that this is usually between 10-15% of the population. So the rest of us are totally capable of having normal, natural births!)

Although I'm granola-y, I also work in health research, and rely on good quality evidence to support my beliefs. And, surprise, surprise, research has shown that home birth is JUST AS SAFE as hospital birth (I might argue even slightly safer because you are able to avoid interventions that have significant risks attached to them). When I discuss this research with others, a nurse friend (or on one occasion, a 911 operator I knew) will usually pipe up that she has seen numerous cases of women who have attempted home births being wheeled into the hospital in an emergency. Well of course there can be unexpected outcomes at home, just like there are unexpected outcomes in the hospital.

Midwives are trained to screen women who might be eligible for home birth (low risk pregnancies), and are also trained to spot any issues that might come up that would lead to a transfer to hospital. It is very very rare for something to happen at home that cannot be dealt with quickly by a transfer to hospital. Baby's heart rate is dropping? Midwives will consult with the OB and transfer! Third stage hemmorhaging? Midwives bring Oxytocin drugs with them in this event, and a transfer to hospital can be done easily if bleeding does not stop. It is extremely unlikely that you will bleed to death at home or in hospital.

And you have to remember that my nurse friend and the 911 operator are only witnessing these transfers. They don't witness the thousands of home births that happen every year that go according to plan, and result in a healthy Moms and healthy babies. And remember what the research shows - Moms and babies can have bad outcomes in hospitals as well, and the chance of this happening is exactly the same as in a home birth.

My family has wondered whether my witnessing hospital births as a doula will slowly convince me that being at the hospital is safer. So far, it's been the opposite. With each birth I attend, I'm more and more convinced that home birth is for me! If ever I had a problem, thank god that an OB would be there to guide me with his/her expertise. But my first pregnancy was completely normal, and I'm sure I'll go on to have another normal one in the future. And it's just that I'm so much more comfortable at home when I'm in labour. For other women, they feel more comfortable getting to the hospital. And that's GOOD! We want women to feel safe, because that's when labour will be able to progress normally. Fear can have a negative impact on the labouring woman.

As for my friend's friend, I will not be attending that birth. I'm booked as it is, but even if I wasn't, I would not look forward to butting heads with a labour support person who is not on the same page as the labouring woman.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get a snack. Plain yogurt and hemp granola, with a sprinkling of flax seed...yum yum!!