May 25, 2011

The Power of O

"Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not." ~ Oprah Winfrey.

This is one of my favourite quotes and one that has guided some of my own personal actions in the past. And I think it captures the essence of the Oprah Winfrey Show. 

Today marks the final show of the daytime talk show that has graced living rooms around the world for 25 years. The final episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show will air today undoubtedly with many tears shed both on screen and in those living rooms. While I won't shed tears (unless of course the show is emotional and then I will because I cry at those types things... I once cried over a bladder control commercial, but alas that's a story for another day), I will tune in one final time to watch history in the making.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I watch (or should I say watched?) Oprah. I'm far from an 'ultimate viewer', not watching religiously nor owning the 20 Years DVD collection, though I have followed her show semi-regularly over the years- more so since the introduction of time-shifting. And I must admit, I'm a little melancholy that the end is now here.

A drive-by the Harpo Studios in Chicago last summer.
Love her or not, there's no denying the power of O. There's a reason she's repeatedly topped Forbes most influential celebrity list. In 25 years, Oprah has tackled some of the most controversial subjects, shone light on the darkest secrets inside America's homes, fostered a love of reading, buoyed up those who needed it most, and instilled the belief that everyone is worthy of achieving their dreams.

Through her shows on abuse and sharing her own childhood abuse story, she gave many others the courage to speak up about their own pasts and present situations. She was one of the first few who dared to discuss AIDS and LGBT lifestyles on television and continued to do so throughout the years, giving a voice and strength to those who feared coming out and who endured the slight of society because they were different. Her Angel Network gave back to those who gave to others. She built a school in Africa for girls who otherwise would have not had the luxury of an education in their country. Through her own personal weight loss (and gain) journey, Oprah inspired women and men to get up, get moving and make a change to a better life. And whether you rushed out to pick up her most recent book club selection or avoided it like the plague, Oprah's book club got people around the world not only reading, but also talking about what they read. And of course, with Dr. Oz's help, the world came to know that healthy poop should be S-shaped.

Even if she had helped only one person with her shows, she made a difference. The reality is she helped millions. Oprah earned the trust of her viewers the world over. People believe what she says, tune in to hear her thoughts every single day and act upon her suggestions. I believe she is a genuine person who endeavours to do good and make a positive change in the world through the gifts God has given her.

The end of her show this afternoon will leave a void in daytime television and in our culture. There are few people in television history that can say the same. There are few that have had the power of O.

May 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

I know I just honoured my mom in this Mother's Day post, but as today is her birthday she is deserving of more recognition. Here are just a few things I love about my mom:

She makes awesome cakes. She always made homemade and beautiful cakes for our birthdays and special occasions growing up and now does them for our babies. 
Cake made for Hudson`s Christening
Her patience. It doesn't matter how many times we call, ask for something, put off accepting her advice, she is always there to answer, give and support us.

That she can sew and is crafty. She hems my pants, sews on my buttons, and makes any alterations I need, saving my mucho money at the tailors over the years! She always made clothes and costumes for us growing up and now does so for our babes.

Christening dress made by Nanny Pat
Her love for feeding us. I think it's a mom thing that you want your children to be fed. Brunch at mom's is a favourite. Almost every weekend morning for as long as I can remember, you could count on a big ol' brunch of bacon, sausages, bologna, eggs, hashbrowns, toast (and maybe toutons), fresh muffins, fruit, cheese and homemade jam. When we were little, it was fresh OJ in fancy glasses and now it's fresh brewed coffee in big mugs. And, of course, now there's always a bag of fresh muffins to take home with us when we leave.

mmmm ....
She is supportive. Whenever, whatever I need - be it a night`s sleep as a new mom, advice as a student, band-aid as a child or a hug at any age - mom is always there.

Her giving nature. Mom hardly ever says no to anyone. If you need something, she`ll do what she can to make it happen. And if she can`t do it, she`ll help you find someone who can. 

Her sense of style. Mom always looks good when she leaves the house, whether she`s going to a fancy dinner or just running errands. She takes pride in her appearance and has a love for shoes, purses and jewellery. I credit her for instilling the same in me (both the pride of self and love for all things fashion!).

She`s a fantastic Nanny. Whether playing dinkies and trains with Logan or changing diapers and cuddling with Hudson, these two boys are blessed to have Nanny Pat as part of their lives (and their mom`s even more so!)

Mother`s Day 2011
Happy Birthday Mom!

May 19, 2011

Got Milk?

Several titles came to mind for this post ... Milk Duds, Booby Trapped, Bum Boobs, Booby Blues, Got Milk? ... though none of them make me very happy. I'll be honest, my boobs are not a topic I ever thought I'd write about here on my blog. Though, upon reflection, I'm not sure why, given breasts are a huge part of early motherhood. Anyways, it seems I have bum boobs and that leaves me, well, pretty much bummed.

As an expectant mother who fully intends to breastfeed, you have these notions of what it will be like. And really, my notions weren't unrealistic. They weren't of snuggles and cuddles or all motherhood and apple pie. I have enough friends and family who've been through the breastfeeding rounds to know that (despite the assurances that's it's not supposed to hurt) it would be somewhat painful, exhausting and simply hard work. So I entered into it with eyes (or should I say nipples?) wide open and wanting to do it anyway. Breast is best after all. The proof is in the puddin' ... in those plump sweet-cheeked baby puddin's.

My pre-baby breastfeeding notions were that, despite the exhaustion and discomfort, I would do this and breastfeeding would happen the way nature intended. My milk would come in, my babe would get the hang of latching on and together he and I would work out a mutually beneficial mealtime arrangement. What I hadn't expected was that I may not make enough milk for my wee one to eat. Yes, I had heard the stories of people who had those experiences, even of people who didn't make milk at all, I just hadn't expected it to be me.

After two weeks of regular feedings and pumping and topping up with expressed milk at bedtime, my little man went from noshing on one boob to demanding both. No biggie, you want both, you get both little man - you're the boss after all. Yet. despite that increased access and hour-long feedings every two to three hours, little man just did not gain weight. He should have been back to his birth weight around the two-week mark, but two and half weeks in he's still coming up short or perhaps I should say light. In the second week, he only put on a half ounce total when he should have put on about a half ounce to an ounce a day. Mama was calling him her little chicken and then took to calling him her skinny little chicken.

My doctor suggested I supplement feedings with formula to help boost the little man into a Fatty McGee. While I was far from happy about introducing formula, putting some rolls on those chicken legs and making sure little man is healthy was my top priority. So, through many many many tears (emphasis on many), I began a regime of breastfeeding with one breast, topping up with formula and then pumping the other to keep the supply and demand production on the go.

My hope was that this process would put weight on da' babe and more milk in mah boobies, allowing me to transition back to exclusively breastfeeding. Unfortunately this isn't how the whole scene played out. Little man did start to gain weight - almost a pound in one week! - however, mah boobies were milk duds and just weren't making any more milk than they were making our first week home. I drank litres of water, ate well and rested as best I could. I did breast compression, massage and warm compresses. I'd nurse and pump and nurse and pump and then pump some more to stimulate production, but barely get an ounce out at any given time. Though I think I cried pounds of tears. It was a bad scene all around. Once we knew the little guy's weight was back up, I even tried nursing him from both breasts and pumping off what was left, which was barely anything and yet the little man was still ravenous, rooting and wailing for more. More of what I didn't have to give.

Turned out I have a low milk supply meaning my breasts simply did not make enough milk to satiate Hudson's appetite. It was heartbreaking to watch him try and try and try to nurse and become frustrated at my breast when it wasn't enough. It was exhausting for both of us as the whole nurse-supplement-pump regime was taking an hour and a half or more, every two to three hours. The more we tried, the more we both cried. This wasn't working out the way I had envisioned, hoped or wanted.

I talked to the nurses at the breastfeeding clinic. I talked to my doctor. I talked to my husband and my mother. Or perhaps I should say I cried to the nurses, the doctor, my husband and my mother. I needed to know my options. The nurses suggested a drug to enhance milk supply. I did my own research into the drug and found the FDA does not recommend it for this purpose, as the drug is not approved nor intended for that purpose. My doctor also did not recommend that option, unless I insisted upon it. Concerned that my family physician of 10+ years and the FDA are not favouring the drugs and aware of the possible side effects, I decided it wasn't for us.

My remaining options were to either continue the supplementing regime or switch to full formula feeding. As much as I wanted to continue breastfeeding, the supplementing process was also not working for us. Hudson was working much too hard for food from my breast and still ending up hungry. Mama was getting more stressed and exhausted by the hour, which of course is good for neither mom, babe or daddy. I also knew in my heart that, at most, I might get another week or two before my body or baby decided to put an end to it for me.

So, with my husband and my mother supporting me in whatever choice I made, I finally allowed myself to consider full formula feeding. And it was far from easy to make. I sat in my doctor's office and cried to break my heart, listening to her logically explain that it was not "bad" to choose formula, yet still feeling somehow like I was failing. Failing myself, failing my son, failing my family.

Before I had my own babe, I had heard mothers talk about the guilt and anxiety over using formula. At the time, I thought what's the big deal? Both work as nutrition for your child and it is a personal, intimate decision that only parents can make. It's about what's best for your baby and your family, so go with whatever works. Now, as a mother, I understand. More tears have been shed over formula and feeding in the last six weeks  than I could have ever imagined. I wanted to breastfeed. Breast is best. Yet, despite the being physically unable to do so, I feel guilty. Why? I think it's because that's what "they" say we "should" do. It's because we, as expecting mothers, are told we're "supposed" to do. And when you don't or can't, somehow that's become a bad thing. This societal expectation leaves me as a new mother feeling guilty and anxious, it leaves me feeling angry and upset at myself for not being able, it makes me feel like I'm being judged. Right or wrong, that's the way it is.

Even having made the decision to switch to formula after nearly a month of trying to make breastfeeding work when there was little milk to work with, I still well up when I think about it. This is despite having a happy, healthy, satisfied little boy who no longer has to work hard for food or get frustrated trying to eat. This is despite mama being able to actually get some rest throughout day. This is despite being able to spend quality time reading and playing together rather than spending that time stressfully trying to feed. This is despite daddy being able to partake more in the bonding and feeding process. Somehow I still feel bad and guilty about something that is working for our family.

With all my heart and soul, I wish I "Got Milk?" instead of getting "Milk Duds", but I didn't. So, I write this mostly as it is cathartic for me to do so, in the hope that I can reflect on it with reason and logic at some point in the future. I also write this in case it can be shared with some other new mother who can't or chooses not to reach the bar set so high by society knows they are not alone and knows that is is OK.

May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Just adding a bit of cute to your day...
Why is it little boys clothes looks so grown up and so cute - jeans and a henley onesie?

May 17, 2011

Rockin' the Robes

These days it seems everything comes in mini... Mini Coopers, Reeses Mini's, even mini robes for babes.

Hudson has not one, not two, not three, but FOUR mini robes! And he rocks those robes with such style I fear I may have the next Hugh Hefner on my hands.

The baby blue dog eared robe from Aunt Jodie
The yellow ducky robe from Aunt Sherri, all the way from Florida.

Lovin' the oh-so-sophisticated robe from Cathy

And this plush, cozy white robe from Erin even came with mini slippers.
Aren't mini things the cutest :)

And just in case you haven't overloaded on the cute factor yet, here's a bonus shot for ya!

Hudson: "Oh mommy, you're soooo funny!"

May 10, 2011

Cards for Moms

Needless to say that with a new babe, time for crafting and card-marking is limited if non-existent, but with Mother's Day this past weekend, I did want to create something special for my mom. I saw this card over on Traveling Mama's blog and used that as my inspiration (not coming up with the original design/layout cut down on the time needed to create the card and time is a valued commodity these days, right up there with sleep!).  This was my version of her lovely design:

And of course, I couldn't forgot my wonderful Mother-in-Law on Mother's Day as well. Fortunately, I had this card on hand. I made this sweet card at a recent Stampin' Up class and it was perfect for Mother's Day.

I hope everyone enjoyed a lovely mother's day weekend.

May 8, 2011

Mother`s Day

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

Mama & Hudson on his birth day
This will be my first Mother`s Day as a mom and I am more honoured to be mom to my beautiful son than I could have ever imagined. I also couldn`t have imagined how having my own child would make me appreciate my own mother so much more than I already did.

My mother has always held a special place in my heart and is loved beyond belief - even if I`ve not always shown it (aka the teenage years). My mother raised my sister and I as a single mom for many years and did a darn good amazing job, if I might say so myself. Only as an adult could I appreciate what she must have sacrificed for us over the years. We wanted for nothing, least of all love and kisses and hugs. I always felt special. I always felt I could do and be whatever I wanted. I always knew that no matter what I did, no matter what happened, I could count on my mom. Of all the people in my life, I knew she was the one I could turn to with my successes and my challenges. She was, is, the best mom.

Mom & me, awaiting baby
Now that I have my own son and am a mom myself, I appreciate all that she`s done and all that she does that much more. I wouldn`t have survived the last month as a new mom without her - or at least not made it through with my sanity in tact. From being with me at the hospital while in labour to being here with our new family those first couple of weeks at home to taking me home with her for a few days and letting me get some much-needed sleep to supporting me through the very difficult transition from breast to formula feeding, my mom made becoming a mom easier. As always she sacrificed - her time, her sleep, her vacation days, and her own needs - for me. For that, I love her and thank her with all my heart.

My mom + my son = love at first sight
Mothers are the special people in our lives we can count on no matter what. They are the ones that love us, hold us, teach us, push us, inspire and encourage us to grow and be true to ourselves. They selflessly and willingly change diapers, wipe noses, kissed skinned knees, wash load after load of laundry, eat cold toast and drink cold coffee, mend broken hearts, and play second fiddle to their children.

I now, almost suddenly, find myself willing to do all that, give all that, and more for my son. It is true, with his birth came mine as a mother. For that, I am grateful to God. I am blessed with this new role in life and even more blessed to have my mother`s example to go by. If I am half as wonderful a mother to Hudson as my mom was to me, I`ll have succeeded as a mom.

A favourite photo of mom & me.
I love you mom.

Happy Mother`s Day.

May 6, 2011

Before & After

'Let sleeping dogs lie' is a well-known expression meaning you shouldn't disturb a situation as it would result in trouble or complication. I think it should officially be changed to 'let sleeping babies lie'.

Seriously. They say you should wake babies to eat every three to four hours, but when they look like this before:

and they look like this after, why?

If this installment of `before & after`doesn't convince the world to change the expression I don't know what would. I, for one, will be letting sleeping babies lie more often from here on out.

May 4, 2011

@ 1 Month

I can hardly even believe that our wee one is one month old. It seems like we were just
(im)patiently waiting for him to arrive and he's now been with us for four whole weeks!

@ 1 month, our little man

... loves to be snuggled and cuddled, especially on our chests.

... strongly dislikes being placed on his back, whether for naps, diaper changes or playtime.

... is a very happy camper in his swing. I wholeheartedly commend and thank the inventors of this marvelous contraption.

... has finally started to put on weight, a welcomed addition after a couple of weeks of little to no gain.

... has only just moved out of newborn-sized diapers and sleepers.

... still keeps his little hands up by his face, just like he did in the womb, often looking like he's ready to fight.

... eats about every three hours and sleeps a whole lot in between - just not always during the wee hours of the morning when mama would prefer it. 

... is starting to turn toward and follow toys and faces and sounds.

... resists being swaddled up tightly like a baby burrito, but usually calms within minutes once he's been wrapped and cuddled. Thank you Dr. Karp for the perfecting and sharing the technique.

... has been given nicknames of Little Chicken and HP.

... doesn't cry a lot, instead makes a lot of little noises that sound like a cross between a baby sheep, mewing kitten, and a little pony. {Note to self: get that on video before he stops making these sweet sounds}

... has the sweetest smile and baby pout {even if both are gas-induced} and mama already knows it will be hard to say 'no' when he breaks out either on her as he gets older.

... has easily stolen the hearts of his large and extended family, most notably that of his mama and daddy.

Happy 1 month birthday Hudson.