Perks of Parenting

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Here is the thing. The truth is being a parent is not all that bad. There is a silver lining to the sleepless nights, the irritating whining, the endless crying, the anxiety, the nasty poops and the interminable temper tantrums. I will not even mention the incessant screaming, embarrassing sounds and scents or the countless hours spent coaxing, rubbing, carrying, bouncing, singing, humming, gurgling, rasberrying, silly face making to appease/please/calm/restore/distract/heal/put to sleep/make’em laugh/discipline/show them you love them.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, the silver lining. Ok. So here is a list of some silly things you get to do as a parent that you could not do before (at least in public):

1) Your cartoon movie collection has now exponentially increased and surprisingly you stocked it with some classic movies that we all know junior will not even understand yet (Transformers? Voltron? Pink Panther? Felix the Cat? really??)

2) You have come to terms with the difference between what “messy” looked like before you had kids and now. A toy here or there and a book lying around your nice living room (where you greet guests) is not messy at all. As opposed to pre-children when you would dust, clean, mop and vacuum. Now we are lucky if we don’t trip over the tiny wind up car left on the floor by the stairs… there it is, I was looking for you car.

3) You realize now that naps are not a luxury but a necessity…for you. Not the kids.

4) Farting in public is so much easier now that you can blame it on the children!

5) Spit-up does not smell very bad after a couple of hours. It has a natural baby-je-ne-se-quoi scent to it that makes people lean in closer and nuzzle you.

6) Baby powder ain’t just for kids… fun fun fun for the whole family! We find remnants of that stuff in every orifice of the house afterwards!

7)  You don’t really need to hang out with anyone you don’t want to hang out with for extended periods of time because junior is going to get hungry/tired/manic/restless/sleepy/gassy/thirsty/sick… you decide on the excuse because we all know that is exactly what it is.

8) You realize that your true friends are the ones who will love you and your kids even through the stage of TEETHING when your child turns into Dr. Jekyll.

9) Moms, you look at yourselves in the mirror and feel good about how thin you are compared to when you were pregnant… the little hanging fold of skin is superficial. Bio Oil makes it disappear, trust Dr. Oz!

10) You never appreciated being alone with your spouse/friends more than when you can drop the kids off at the grandparents/baby-sitters and go out finally… there is an adrenaline rush that occurs accompanied by feelings of euphoria for the temporary freedom. Seriously though, you love your kids but everyone needs a little break dude.

11) You have an excuse to get to Church a little late… and leave a little early… and eat those yummy sandwiches first.

12) You develop a new appreciation for left-over, pre-digested food and candy and juices of all kind. Everywhere you go, you seem to be finishing your child’s plate/drink/sandwich

13) You have made up the words to at least three nursery rhymes/Christmas Carols/Songs/Hymns… like seriously… who knows all the words to Frosty the Snowman?

14) You are getting to be a master at skipping pages in a long storybook without your child noticing…

15) you are memorizing by heart all the words to Dr. Seuss books

16) You are definitely checking the time every 15 minutes when you get close to bed-time and you are secretly planning what you will do in the two hours from 8 pm to 10 pm after the kids sleep. So many exciting things to do, shall I knit or take a bath or cook tomorrow’s meal or catch up on the last episode of Big Bang or just, oh look its already 10 pm and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

17) You most likely have your phone ringers off after a certain time as to not awake the kids so you really don’t talk on the phone much.

18) You recognize now how vital daycare is…no matter the cost… we will stop eating if it means 8 hours of peace and quiet!

19) You find yourself wondering the weirdest things before you go to sleep like why is the alphabet song is the same tune as twinkle, twinkle little star and who invented Sophie the Giraffe and why on earth you didn’t…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

20) After a crappy day doing whatever it is you do, NOTHING and I mean NOTHING is better than getting a huge, sloppy, wet kiss from your kids or a genuine smile from your infant.

Beene daddy hug cr2

If that’s not the silver lining, I don’t know what is!!

Until next time,

Smartignani

Choosing a Daycare- helpful advice for residents in Ontario, Canada

imagesI graduated from Early Childhood Education and I went on to Teacher’s College. I worked in several different daycares and since then, I have accumulated some knowledge in this area. So here is my list to help you when searching for the right place to leave your child.

Before I begin, I want to remind you that this is a very serious decision and it is often underscored or underestimated. Just think you are leaving your child at this other place for majority of the day. The daycare will be the main caregiver because their hours will outlast yours. So when you decide to hand your child over, you must know that this is a commitment of at least three years. Think of all the changes that take place in our life cycle between the ages of one and three; everything from potty training to emergence of self and cognitive pre-speech development. Most parents need to start thinking about childcare even before the child turns three months. For the really good places, there is usually at least one year waiting list. Start early in your research because this is one of the most important decisions that will affect your child’s earliest development and shape their formative years.

I am splitting this article in three distinct sections: Preparation, Processes and Payments.

 Section 1: Preparation

You will undoubtedly do a considerable amount of research in order to find the right daycare. Equip yourself with basic knowledge about what you are looking for and educate yourself with questions to further decipher whether it is a good fit. Ask yourself:

1)      Will I need full-time or part-time care?

2)       Do I want to send my baby or babies to someone’s home instead of a big centre?

3)       Do I need to see routines and activity plans?

4)      Am I looking for a formal setting with a licensed outdoor/indoor space?

5)       Is it more important for the daycare to be close to my home or work grandparent’s home?

6)      Is it important that the daycare has insurance coverage?

 Section 2: Processes

Please know that there are laws that govern childcare but they are not as extensive as the laws that govern the public school system. These laws are encapsulated in the Day Nursery Act (DNA) and you can access all the minimal conditions for licensing online. Inspectors ONLY inspect daycares that apply for licenses through the government. There are many daycares operating without a license and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Just like everything else, there are positives and negatives to a home daycare versus a formal childcare centres. However, the main three differences are the ratio of caregivers to children, the price and obviously the environment. I will split the next few questions you should ask while touring a potential childcare in two- Formal versus Informal (home daycares).

 Formal Childcare Centre:

1)      Are all the caregivers Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECE)?

2)      Is your outdoor space inspected annually or every 5 years?

3)      How often do you sanitize toys? (should be at least four times a week in infant room and twice a week in toddler room)

 Informal Daycare:

1)      What is your ratio? (Should be one adult to five full-time children- if there are two adults there should STILL only be five children because laws stipulate that it is the ratio set for the SPACE not the number of caregivers, many use this as a loophole but it really is not meant to be misinterpreted)

2)      Is there a separate dedicated space for food preparation? Naps? Toilet training? Outdoor play? Indoor play?

3)      What is the qualification of the caregiver?

4)      What happens when they are sick and unable to care for your child?

5)      Do they allow the children to watch TV? (that should be a “no no”)

6)      Do they accept cash discounts? Offer receipts?

*Please note that childcare payments are tax deductible.  (Do your math, because discounts gained on cash payments may not outweigh the benefit of the tax deduction)

All Daycares (observations and questions):

1)      What is their stance on discipline? On Soothers?  On Christian Holidays like Christmas and Easter? (You will need to continue whatever they teach at daycare to maintain consistency and ensure optimal results so you better be on board)

2)      How do they potty train the children? (In the potty or on the toilet or both)

3)      Do they take the kids outside every day? When do they NOT go outside? (Research shows that infants and toddlers should NOT be outside for longer than 15 minutes at a time in below zero weather. It is not good for their tiny frames no matter how covered up they are!)

4)      Are they able to keep a daily journal to keep you apprised of bowel movements, eating patterns, general behaviour and newly acquired skills and developmental milestones?

5)      Are they able to take photos throughout the day for you so you can keep them for memories?

6)      Can you log in and access the childcare surveillance equipment to “check-up” on your child? (I have mixed feelings about this because if you can log-in, imagine all the sick hackers out there that can also hijack the system and watch your child).

7)      How do they reinforce self-esteem and confidence? How do they teach children to be independent without being too detached?

8)      How do they teach children speech? Reading? Writing? Cognition? Self-feeding? Self-dressing?

9)      Is the space neat, age-appropriate, stimulating? Are there clear sightlines for the caregivers to see the children at all times?

10)   What are the policies on Disease control? Lice and other Contagions?

Payment:

1)      Always get a sibling discount if you have more than one child. What is the discount if you pay upfront for the entire year?

2)      Always ask how much it will cost if your child is unable to attend or is sick or has appointments? How much is it if you are late to pick up? Which stat holidays do they open/close? Will you pay if you book a vacation?

3)      Read the contract carefully, like anything else, this is a major investment but instead of money on the line, it is your own precious flesh and blood.

Just so you know, home daycares range from $750 to $1000 per month while formal childcare centres range from $1000 to $1500 a month for infants – be weary of the overly expensive centres that have a “unique” rationale for being too expensive. Honestly, not worth your time because children learn fast and more if the caregiver is loving and attentive than if the daycare is made of gold and gimmicks.

E-mail me if you have questions I have not covered – sylviamartignani@gmail.com

Until next time,

@Smartignani

 


I hate burping.

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I don’t think there is anything more exhausting than waiting for my two-months old to burp after a feeding at 3 am. The actual feeding takes about a half hour and then comes the pat-pat-patting and cajoling until I hear the soft or sometimes loud expulsion of air from her tiny body. Sometimes she sleeps half-pat and then waiting for a burp can take upwards of one hour or so. Then there is the occasional spit-up or gas that agitates her and causes us grief until it is resolved. She is so sweet and accommodating otherwise but in the wee hours of the morning with very little sleep and even less patience, it is very challenging to accept the whining. Truthfully, I think it is quite the show when I am awake and waiting for her because it is so funny when you can see that she is visibly fighting with her burp. Sometimes, while attempting to expel gas upwards, out escapes a little fart. Too funny.

Taking about farting, no one told me how tough potty training my little toddler can be.

Whopotty training (2) knew the fear of the toilet that would embed itself so deeply in  my two-year-old’s brain or the irrational anxiety that rears its ugly head every time we ask her if she pooped.  At daycare, she sits on a small potty and plays while waiting for her bladder or bowel to move but at home, she is in instant denial when asked if she needs to go. It’s almost like she is ashamed to go around us, what’s up with that? I understand there are many ways to potty train and one effective method is taking the weekend off and just putting her in underwear where we can expect many accidents to take place until she gets it. Between you and me, I am not looking forward to asking her every two seconds if she wants to go to the washroom and I am definitely not looking forward to the bed wetting accidents and the nasty bathroom seats we have to experience afterwards. Most of all, I am not looking forward to letting go because once she becomes potty trained, she will truly be a child and no longer my baby. My heart is aching every time I see her growing up which is every day! Each day she comes home from daycare and each day I notice a difference. If you are a parent you will agree that this is a tough pill to swallow no matter how bittersweet it is.

I know I said this before, but I appreciate my mom a lot more now. Every time I see her, I understand a little more how good she was to us. And my daddy of course. I also appreciate my husband a lot more. He does so much for our family.

I am glad that the holidays are here because I can’t wait to buy the tree and decorate our house. The older one will definitely understand a little more this year and maybe even appreciate some of the presents while the baby can be just that this year… the baby of the family.

Until next time

SMartignani

Potty training, poopy diapers and pandemonium…

blog nov 3 (3) Ever since Lisee was born, we have been on the go. Things get pretty busy with two little ones. I figured my last two posts were pretty heavy so let’s make this one a little funny. At least it will be… to me because I usually enjoy laughing at my own jokes.

So my toddler is potty training. By that, I mean, we are talking/lecturing/yelling/pleading/bribing/begging her to pee and poop on the potty but to no avail. She is just not interested. We tried giving her Skittles when she goes. It worked for a while until she decided all the work was just not worth one Skittle as a reward. In fear of making this a negotiable action, I decided against offering external rewards for a natural, biological event. Bad idea. I think I might just start bribing again.

She eats what we eat so in turn that means she tends to excrete what we excrete (I know, yucky, sorry). It’s getting bigger, stinkier and stickier. I know that everyone says she needs to be ready. I don’t know if she is but we definitely are! So we are talking about the underwear. Celebrating every achievement with “You Did It!” and we are consistently reminding her to “Go on the potty”. Tonight she was helping me fold towels (I had to refold them all but it was so sweet that she was trying) and I saw the face… y’know, the one she makes when there is a little push required. A second later, the room was consumed with the penetrating stench of a poop in progress. I asked her “Do you want to go on the potty?” and of course she quickly said “No”. Then I proceeded to enthusiastically suggest to her “Let’s go to the potty.” To which she responded “No Mama”. In desperation and self-preservation I demanded, “C’mon, we poopoo in the potty not in our pull-up” to which my sweet angel sternly replied while wagging a finger at me “Mama, Juya said NO!” (that is how she pronounces her name which is Julia).

I lose. Too late. Daddy cleaned it up because he usually puts her to bed. I can hear him seriously saying “Poopoo goes in the potty Julia not in your pull-up” and I giggle. I never thought I would find that sexy. But somehow, someway, I find it extremely appealing when I hear my husband with my toddler as he lectures her, tickles her, wrestles her, disciplines her, feeds her and reads her a book. He is such a hands-on dad and I love that. I especially adore the giggles that escape from her as he chases her around the house then hides. She then begins her search for him with a sloppy, carefree smile and a squeally, high-pitched “Amma gonna getchu” (Translation: I am going to get you).

Meanwhile, I get to nurse my baby who is now 6 weeks old and I already feel like she is getting too big too fast. RANDOM OFF-TOPIC thought: I have decided that Newborn clothing is a waste of money because babies only wear the ultra-small stuff for like 4 weeks then its 0-3 months for the most part.

Anyhow, I get to play with my baby and feed her and dress her while my husband takes care of her big sister. I don’t know how people say having three kids is easy because there are only two of us. How do people do it? If we have a third, I may have to sit the other two down and let them know that someone may be pink slipped 🙂

In all seriousness now, I can’t believe the number of people who stopped to admire the baby hats I have been knitting and decorating with clip-on flowers. A lady actually told me to blog it for other parents and I said I would so I will and I am – here it is. If you have a little girl and like me, people can’t tell if it is a boy or girl, just buy/make a knitted hat and insert a flower clip in it. Here are two photos of hats I knitted on a round loom (so easy, if I can do it anyone can).

blog nov 3 (1)blog nov 3 (2) Are they not adorable and so cheap!

Also, here is some other cool advice from moi to toi:

– Buy yourself a sanitizer for baby stuff because boiling water is from the dark ages and so slow comparably. Use the time you would spend boiling water, placing objects gingerly in water with tongs then extracting objects and letting them cool off before use and enjoy your baby instead.

– Breast feeding is not all it’s cracked up to be. I have to supplement my baby with formula and I can’t wait until I don’t have to nurse anymore. I can’t really spend time with her or play with her while nursing and quite honestly, I already know she is going to be the slowest darn eater on the planet. A single feeding can take upwards of one hour. Seriously!!

– Invest in a good crock-pot. Discover the luxury of chopping veggies and buying stewing beef or roast to place the next morning in the slow-cooker so you do not have to worry about dinner (and it’s healthy). Instead of cooking, spend time with the kids.

– Nipple Shields. Man’s greatest invention. Enough said.

– Buy a playpen with vibrating capabilities. Usually buys us another half hour or so of complete bliss (for the baby) and time for us to finish vacuuming/showering/laundry/dusting/stretching/online banking/insert preferred activity here.

– Have a routine of things you do on a day together. Our eldest knows that Saturdays, she gets to jump in bed between us, play games on my smartphone while I nurse the baby and daddy catches a few more precious minutes of sleep. On Sundays, we go to Church together as a family then come home and nap as a family. Because you know what they say… the family that naps together, stays together.

– Figure out what your toddler likes to eat and use it to leverage certain situations to achieve beneficial results. Do not fear the stigma attached to bribery and never underestimate its proven potential for success. My husband figured out that Julia likes apples so now she needs to finish her dinner to have an apple (healthy and motivational- life is good).

– Argue in front of your kids (respectfully) and then resolve and make-up in front of them too. It’s important that they see anger as a natural part of life and more importantly how to deal with it. Parents who only fight behind closed doors and maintain a serene face for the kids are setting unrealistic expectations of what the perfect marriage should be. Deal with all emotions so that the kids are well-prepared for reality. And honestly, it is creepy when parents don’t fight. Isn’t it?

– New mommies, I know this is hard, but DO try and treat yourself once in a while. It is ok to leave the baby in the bassinet and go get a hot shower or manicure. Dare I even suggest you get your hair done?

– We were husband and wife before we were mommy and daddy so give lots of kisses and hugs to your spouse in front of your children. My daughter loves it when I loudly kiss daddy on the cheek and she consistently giggles, blushes then demands loudly “More, more, more” (in that order) to which, of course, I willingly oblige.

– Adopt the following methodology of diaper changing for babies: Place a new diaper under the old diaper before opening it to save yourself getting peed on or worse, pooed on (it happened to my husband when our daughter was 6 days old). Practice makes perfect and you will soon be able to do it quickly enough but in the beginning they are so wiggly and constantly pulling up their little legs so it’s like changing a worm under water who is fighting for dear life (great imagery right?)

– If you are worried that your daily chores are taking away from spending time with your toddler, involve them! Julia loves to ‘help’ and often folds laundry, puts away the kitchen towels, throws stuff in the garbage and grabs things for us (baby pacifier, remote, tissue). There are no child labour laws against putting your own child to work around the house. Parking the car and mowing the lawn are unacceptable examples of ‘involving’ your toddlers- c’mon!

– Try and take as many photos/videos/time to scrap book for your second as you did for your first (I am awful at this and trying my best to be equitable).

– Use your maternity/paternity leave to learn something new. With my first, I learned how to knit. This time I am aiming to learn how to cook (I know I am not very domesticated).

– Try not to Facebook/message/tweet/e-mail people at 4 am because you are up and feeding the baby. It is alarming and disturbing to everyone else who is not a new mom 🙂

– Last but not least, do spend time reading my blogs, adding me, following me, liking me and messaging me because I need every ounce of encouragement to continue blogging between the two kids, a business, hobbies and trying to apply all my great advice!

Until next time,

Smartignani

What a place… RONALD MACDONALD HOUSE in HAMILTON

I promised I would so I will… While in Hamilton awaiting my baby’s discharge from the McMaster NICU, we stayed at the Ronald MacDonald House for $12 a night and man it was AMAZING!

First of all, the service and professionalism of the staff was stupendous. We were greeted late at night with a professional, kind, caring lady (Arlene) and we were given a great tour of the place. It looked and felt like a five star resort- incredible. As if it was not enough that we had a nice bed to sleep in and a comfortable place to stay so we can be with our sick baby in the NICU, they also had a chef that cooked us delicious dinners. Between the multiple amenities and cozy surroundings, we felt like celebrities. I would like to share some photos with you.

20130924_084013_resized  Well-kept hallways

20130924_084022_resized Beautiful décor

20130924_084045_resized Spacious

20130924_084107_resized 20130924_084115_resized Movie Room for families and siblings of NICU Babies

20130924_084201_resized Piano in the sitting area

20130924_084218_resized  Gorgeous furniture

Children's room Children’s Play Room (1 of 4 different areas for children)

Dining Room Sunny, gorgeous dining room where they provided a great breakfast daily

library  Library (1 of 2)

park  Outdoor playground for children

Reading Room 2 Fireplace and a cozy place to sit and read

Reception  Reception area with a waterfall

There is also a “secret” room for kids that ends with a magical place filled with new toys and they get to choose whatever they want. There is a room with a pool table and other games for adults. There is also a full out MOVIE THEATRE. There is a magnificent shared kitchen where families who are staying there for long can cook and store their food in the many refrigerators. There is also a laundry room that is clean and functional as well as a mother’s pumping room with a TV and a hospital grade pump. I was not able to take pictures of all the different spaces, but you get the idea!

The place is staffed with volunteers and sponsored in part by the Government of Canada, Province of Ontario and City of Hamilton. I am so impressed with the facilities and I wanted to give them a huge kudos in my blog for being there for the families of sick children. No one can imagine how difficult it is when your newborn baby is fighting for their life and their health. Each day is filled with mixed emotions from confusion, despair, fear, tension, anxiety, depression and insistent gloom. The last thing you want to worry about as a parent of a child in the NICU is where to sleep or eat. To be honest, if they were not there, I would not be eating or sleeping.

Thank you to the people of Ronald MacDonald House in Hamilton who gave us the luxury of not having to worry about our own health and well-being while we take care of our newborn baby girl. I was moved to tears by their kindness and generosity. They even gifted us with a beautiful quilt for our newborn.

I owe them so much and I would recommend them to anyone who has a similar experience.

Their website is: http://www.rmhhamilton.ca/

Here are some ways to donate and give back: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/tribute.aspx?eventid=57066&langpref=en-CA&referrer=http%3a%2f%2fwww.rmhhamilton.ca%2f

 

Until Next Time,

SMartignani

 

Jelly Bean’s Journey

Elise

It is time for me to narrate the journey we took as we welcomed Jelly Bean a.k.a Elise to our world and our family. This is no light reading and you may need to grab a cup of tea or coffee before you continue reading this lengthy and detailed blog entry. Be forewarned, this may incite some strong emotions in you.

I started blogging so other moms can relate, react, and generally learn from my experiences. I read other mommy blogs as well so I can learn from them too.

A Brief History:

In my first experience of becoming a mommy, I was disappointed and sad that my FIRST infant was swiftly snatched away from me to the NICU where she had to remain for 5 days in order to gain weight and be released back to us. I had severe preeclampsia in my last pregnancy and I gained an incredible amount of weight. I was induced for two days before being c-sectioned and after all the pain and misery, I was distraught with post-partum depression and the void that my newborn left in my room as she was rushed to the ICU. I was unable to announce her birth to our family or nurse her for two days. I was unable to hold her or have my husband join the other fathers that were walking the hallways to put their babies to sleep. 5 days later she came home and all the pain and agony was washed away by the joy and the hope she exudes everyday until now… as a gorgeous toddler.

Elise’s Journey:

There is much I want to cover in this piece but I will spare you the minute details for fear that you will think me incomprehensibly traumatized. I recall every second and every emotion as a mother but I will try to narrate as an observer so that you can get a clean view from the outside.

On September 19th, we dropped our little toddler to daycare early and checked in at the hospital. After the nurses pierced my veins with the IV and prepped me (which means asked me to undress and wear the lovely, couture blue hospital gown that is incessantly opens in the back). I was on stand-by for a 10 o’clock C-section but they got me in early. The anticipation was mounting because once again we decided to not know the gender and I knew that this pregnancy I did not have high-blood pressure and that the baby was at least 6 lbs. Which boded really well for my hope and dream to have the baby carried out  by my husband back to our room so that everything can be ‘normal’ and I can be given a better opportunity to try and breast feed my newborn.

After a nervous and somewhat brief pain in the back from the spinal, I was laying on the table when my husband came in wearing the blue scrubs given to him by the nurses. He was sterilized and amped to meet our new baby too. I said a prayer in my heart that all goes well and just lay there asking my husband questions and conversing casually while 6 or 7 people got to work at opening me up and extracting my organs and the small, wild child that was rocking my insides for the past 9 months. I cannot describe the deep sense of pride that I felt giving my husband our second child or the amount of joy at being able to withstand all the pain and agony of pregnancy leading up to that pivotal point in our life.

I was convinced that this time, this baby and this pregnancy were different. Everything will turn out perfect and yet deep in my heart, in the black depths of my soul, I hoarded a secret dread that something was going to go extremely wrong. This feeling of foreboding was a constant thorn in my side and it manifested itself in my dreams and waking hours. I experienced several small anxiety attacks which I brushed off as normal hormonal imbalances and standard pre-delivery jitters.

Elise was announced at 10:17 am and scored a 9 on the Apgar scale. She was feisty and the nurses even called her a drama queen which made me laugh. Everyone commented on her extremely long fingers and toes. She was 6 lbs. 5 oz. at birth and I couldn’t even wish for anything more. I insisted that my husband go get her but they were busy cleaning her and readying her. I was feeling the same sense of anxiety as before but this time it was overwhelming. I was nauseated by it which led me to be occupied with my constant need to be sick that I didn’t hear the first time one of the nurses said “She is grunting”. It didn’t register. My husband was given our daughter who equally mesmerized him as our firstborn and I was able to see the grouchy little wrinkled face of my darling little angel. My C-section was just about to wrap up and we were minutes away from the scene I played over and over in my mind… I will be wheeled out to the recovery room with my husband holding my baby at my side as he takes her to show the grandparents waiting anxiously in the room.

Then it happened again… she grunted.

My husband called the nurse over to confirm the noise being expelled from my daughter’s chest to which she immediately reacted by carrying Elise to the NICU where, I was told, she will be kept under observation for one hour to assess her breathing.

Not again.

But one hour, I can deal with that. Fine.

I was in the recovery room where I was willing myself not to give into the powerful urge to sleep. I awaited my husband’s sporadic visits that would relay to me any tidbit or update about our new baby. He kept saying that they are just observing her breathing. One hour later, I was moved to my room and he came in and told me that it can take up to 6 hours.

5 more hours until I can smell her, hold her to my breast or whisper to her how amazed I am at her gift to me- making me her mommy.

I was unable to get up to visit her so I relied heavily on my husband to share every detail. I fell asleep tormented that I was unable to hold her and awoke to the news… she will not be leaving the NICU for at least 24 hours. Elise had fluid in her lungs that was prohibiting her from taking deep breaths and she needed the oxygen they were providing her. I was crushed, Patience and prayers were all I had left and the first was exhausted by the mistakes made while the latter was weakened by my debilitating recognition of my fears being actualized.

Please read the next part with an understanding that I am a mother who needs to vent and warn other moms of what can be. I write this free from malice. I simply state what I experienced,

A Tough Journey:

I visited my baby as soon as I regained some form of feeling in my legs. It was the only highlight to the searing pain I felt in my abdomen as a result of the foot long cut made on me hours earlier. I asked my husband to haul me into a wheel chair and take me to my baby. I needed to be with her and see her. It was all a recurring theme from my first delivery and I was not taking no for an answer. He complied and I was wheeled to her little cot situated in the back of the dark, sterile and sombre Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She had many tubes attached to her with two different monitors and several other ‘leads’ that measure her heart beat and her breathing. She was taking very shallow, quick breaths and seemed unable to catch her breath even with the CPAP (Oxygen tube) that was attached to her face. The mask on her nose seemed too small and did not sit right on her tiny little nose. It often crept down to suck in the top lip and at times I wondered what this machine was designed to do at all, it seemed quite ineffective. I was informed that she may have swallowed Meconium which is the yukky stuff in my belly. The doctor in charge put her on antibiotics because he thinks it is an infection. I was told that sometimes it takes up to 72 hours for the breathing issues to resolve on their own (which was incorrect because I learned later that something should have been done after 8 hours). I was repeatedly told that they are waiting on her, a day old baby, to resolve her own breathing issues. Levity was attempted through the joke that boys usually take longer to resolve this particular issue and that she was behaving like a boy. I kept hearing the nurses joke with her that she needs to stop “misbehaving” and start “breathing properly”. I was insulted and incredibly enraged by these words and uttered whispers to my newborn.

I patiently waited to see if my baby will “resolve” her own breathing issues but deep in my heart I knew that she would not. Something needed to be done but what? I am not a doctor nor do I have any information at all about what these things mean.

That was Thursday. Friday was more of the same bad news. She was still not breathing or “behaving”. She was still on the CPAP and she was being given glucose through her IV to nourish her. I was asked to pump so that they can dip a Q-tip into the colostrum that I pumped and wet her lips with it. I was still unable to hold her. Friday night I was at her bedside pumping with my mother-in-law when Elise stopped breathing for the first time. The nurse said it was because she was pushing hard to have a bowel movement. She notified the pediatrician on duty and alerted us that if this happens again, the doctor will come see her. They were trying to take her blood. I left at midnight and demanded that the nurse awaken me if ANYTHING happens. I wanted to be there if she decides to stop breathing again.

At 2 am, I opened my eyes and found Elise’s nurse in my room. She told me that she “desatted” again and that the doctor came in to see her. I took my pain killers and anxiously waited until their effect can somewhat dull the extreme pain in my abdomen. I rolled out of my bed and painfully walked over to my wheel-chair. They had placed me in the furthest room away from the NICU so I was to half roll myself and half walk towards my goal while heavily leaning on the chair. No one offered to help me, no one thought to move my room so I can be closer to my baby who just stopped breathing TWICE and needed me by her bedside.

I finally arrived at my destination and asked, politely, to see the doctor. I was talking to my daughter’s attending nurse but the nurse sitting behind her playing Soduko at the computer quickly replied without looking at me and said “She is busy in the Emerg”. Apparently my daughter’s inability to continue breathing was not an emergency and I had to wait. I informed them that I would wait but the nurse clearly told me that she will only page her if anything else happens. I WAS SUPPOSED TO WAIT FOR MY DAUGHTER TO STOP BREATHING AGAIN TO SEE THE DOCTOR!

What?!

I stayed by her bedside until 5 am. She was fine. Labouring to breathe but all vitals were ok and still she was taking shallow breaths. I was completely and utterly exhausted and finally gave up on seeing the doctor. So I informed the nurse that I will make the trek back to my room but if anything happens yet again, I want to be there BEFORE anything is done.

Funny enough, I was speaking to my husband the night Elise was born and he was not happy with the progress or lack thereof that was taking place with her in that NICU. He even told me that he is giving this specific hospital until Sunday then he will be requesting that Elise gets moved to a different facility. This was really frustrating him and it struck a deep fear within me. I was unable to shake the feeling of pure and utter mistrust in their care for the remainder of that fateful night. This goes to show you that you MUST FOLLOW YOUR PATERNAL/MATERNAL GUT INSTINCTS because he was right!!

At 5:45 am, my daughter stopped breathing for the third time. I rushed to the NICU and waited for 45 minutes while the doctor finished consulting with Sick Kids on the phone. She finally came to speak with me and inform me that my baby girl was simply tired of breathing. What a profound notion… and I say that sarcastically.

I was incensed and I told her that I knew this would happen and I don’t even hold a medical degree. I asked her what the next steps were and she informed that they would have to intubate her. I had already did some research on Google (it was all I can do at that time of night prior to this conversation) and attempted to ask some informed questions like “Will you intubate her nasally or orally?”, “What are the risks?”, “Will you sedate her?”, “Have you done this before?”.

I felt no confidence in their ability to intubate her successfully but what choice did I have. I pulled a chair and sat about 12 feet away from my baby’s tiny sized cot that was now surrounded with the head nurse of the NICU who was cracking some jokes, the Respiratory Therapist (who was chewing gum, open-mouthed which I think is not sterile nor code compliant), the doctor who was too busy in Emerg to see me the first two times and the attending nurse who informed that swallowing meconium was a fact of life and everything will be fine.

15 minutes into the procedure I was politely asked to wait outside until they were done. I called my husband and asked him to make arrangements for our toddler and come to the hospital right away. I make this next statement with all the firm belief I possessed at the time… I actually thought that our daughter was going to die.

He arrived and joined me in waiting for the nurses to come out and tell us what is happening with the baby. I saw them changing shifts and finally saw the attending nurse leaving to go home. She came over and asked if anyone came to get us and talk to us yet (she was supposed to do that right after the procedure) and we replied “No”. So she told us that the procedure was complete and to go in.

We did. Our daughter was in a deep sedated sleep. I asked how it went and they said it was done. Sick Kids were on the way and they were going to decide what to do next. A respiratory therapist and a nurse practitioner show up with an elaborate 300 lbs. piece of equipment attached to an Isolette that is clearly designed for transporting sick babies. I am told that she needs a higher level of care and that the Sick Kids coordinator is deciding on the hospital that she will be transferred to. Sick Kids and Mount Sinai are too busy and they don’t have beds. She may be sent out of region. Maybe even Kingston. Ottawa or London, Ontario. I go back to my room because they will need at least 45 minutes to find out.

I only slept one hour that night so I break down. I cry like the world is coming to an end. I was experiencing the most gut wrenching moments ever which will haunt me for a long time. My husband tells me to try and relax but I am devastated.

I recall the my first experience in the NICU and the mom who had gestational diabetes and had to have her baby transferred to Sick Kids. I recalled the empathy I felt for her. I cried just as hard as she did even though it was not my baby. Now I was that mom.

We are informed that she is being transferred by ambulance to McMaster Children’s hospital where she will be receiving level 3 care. I get discharged early and head home to repack my bag and quickly rest before we head down to Hamilton, Ontario for as long as needed until we can bring our baby girl home.

We arrive at 6 pm on Friday night and we are informed that many tests have already been done on Elise. The NICU is leagues above and beyond the first one. The level of care, professionalism and atmosphere spoke to me instantly. I felt like the nurses were proficient and competent. Every half hour, a nurse, respiratory therapist or doctor would approach us and give us updates. They kept us informed and helped us secure a room in the Ronald MacDonald House across the street for $12 a night (my next blog will illustrate how amazing THAT experience was- they need their own shout out for being awesome to us).

We return to the hospital and they ask me to pump because they have attached a feeding tube to my baby girl and she needs my milk. They give me the entire Medela pumping kit and a sterilization bag (at no cost, where as the previous hospital charged us). They were consistently positive and confident that Elise will be fine very soon. THEY FINALLY LET ME HOLD HER after 5 days, I was smelling her hair and feeling her against my skin. I was in awe of her little body next to mine as her breath fanned my neck and I felt her little tiny heart beat moving her chest up and down. It is indescribable how the wait crystallized that moment and made it a million times more special.

I can’t describe the tumultuous roller-coaster of emotions I have experienced up to that moment when I finally felt the sudden release of worry that I harboured in the depths of my heart. I just knew that all will be well. And from that moment on… everything changed.

Within mere days, Elise was improving. Her breathing was even. They extubated her on Sunday morning. She was breathing with very little help from the CPAP machine. I was informed, indirectly, that it took them 4 times to intubate her and after all this, they used the wrong size tube which the RT referred to as “trying to breathe through a straw”.

I decided at the time that I need to focus on the incredible journey that my child was making. I was going to keep my mind on the amazing health care that Elise was getting and her obvious fighting spirit.

I was blessed with calls, texts and visits from priests, friends, family and co-workers. Many people needed constant updates which kept me busy and increased my cell phone bill considerably. I was starting to feel a tentative dependency on the NICU and the positive nurses who lived up to their job descriptions and “nursed” my baby girl back to health. I was told on Tuesday night that we need to check out of the Ronald Macdonald house because they would put us in a courtesy room for parents and release Elise to us for the night so we can call on them if anything happens.

It was a fantastic night. I held her all night. I let her sleep the entire night on my chest. Matching my breathing to hers. I was too elated to sleep and I was never happier to lose so much sleep at night. Every time she woke up, I was awake with her. I would smile at the little noises she would make and I found every little movement she made impossibly sweet. I missed my toddler so much and I was so anxious to bring Elise home and be with both my girls.

We were discharged with Elise on Wednesday, September 25th and we rushed home to pick up our firstborn from daycare.

We were home.

We were thankful.

We were finally a complete family all in the same space, together.

Hold your loved ones closer. Tell them you love them. Hug them and let them know that they alter your life. I can’t tell you how much more I appreciate my girls and husband since this bitter-sweet experience.

I will cover how my toddler reacted to her baby sister in another blog. For now I leave you with one final thought…

You are never given any experience you cannot handle. Raise your chin up from the misery and look around you. You are surrounded with people who love you and care for you and only through the hard times will you see true friendships shine. I am so grateful for those people in my life who asked, who cared and who were in constant contact offering words of wisdom, comfort and reassurances. Thank you for your prayers and for your love. We felt it from Hamilton and we are ever grateful.

SMartignani

Here we go… again!

709188_coming_soon2 So the OB/GYN told us that tomorrow is the big day. We are all set. I was instructed to eat lightly and pack my bag. Hopefully it will only be two days until we are back home barring any trouble or complication.

I am stoked. I am also STARVING. Eat LIGHTLY?

What does that even mean exactly? I am nine months pregnant and my little baby happens to need nourishment. This is not helping the anticipation or the excitement really. I am a little light headed and headachy. Does banana count as light food? Ok, I will stop writing about food because it is making me even hungrier.

So tomorrow is the big day. We will become a family of 4 and everything is set to go. We are dropping our toddler off at 6:20 am at the daycare and then going to the hospital to have a baby! I will be on stand-by until 10 am and then Jelly bean (name for baby #2) will be surgically extracted from me and join us here on planet earth. I am grateful that I made it this far and I feel so blessed.

It is really bittersweet, all these emotions. I am holding my little toddler extra tight tonight and telling her I love her. I know that there will be love in my heart for a second baby but I worry that I will not love the same way. My first was special in every way. I remember when she first sat up, crawled, clapped, talked. I remember every moment of the past 25 months and now I feel like I will need to remember equally hard for this one as well so there is equity in my love for both.

Did I mention I was starving?

Anyway, we decided on a girl’s name but the boy’s name is still debatable. I will come up with something but I really think it’s a girl so we will just have to wait and see.

Tonight we head to bed with the knowledge that our lives are set to change forever…again. And the best part is, I cannot wait!!

(I also can’t wait to eat again…I will have a burger, fries, sub and cake on standby as soon as I can eat… really… I know I am pathetic… leave me alone… do not judge me!!)

Until next time…

SMartignani

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