Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Picking up pieces

Well hello, dawn! I haven't seen you in a while. Well, not since yesterday at dawn, which actually feels like a very long time ago. Sleepless nights will do that.

Unlike yesterday, however, Jack has deigned to go back to bed for a little while. So I'm taking some time, for the first time in a long time, to have a tea and visit the old blogging machine. 

I suppose general busy-ness is largely to blame for my extended absence. I've been back to work three to five days a week, my Mom was in town... and there was also a little something a BBC presenter said to me last week. 

We were working on a pilot for HARDtalk. And instead of just letting me pretend to be JK Rowling like I suggested, she decided it would be more interesting to talk about my baby. She was asking how it was raising him so far from home. Did it break my heart? Not wanting to break down in tears on a BBC interview show (I can see how people do, now!) I kept it light, said how lucky we were that we'd been able to fly back and forth so often. I kept in the feeling that always "visiting" seems to be wearing on all of us a little bit, already. Then she asked me when baby number two was coming along -- and before I answered, said, oh, I guess when that happens you won't be able to fly home anymore! You simply won't be able to afford it. 

Point one, the comment was seriously rude. But I really don't care about that.

Point two is that the comment seriously hit home. In service of enjoying our son's first few months in this world as much as we can -- and in service of me not driving myself crazy/committing to further change when we're already dealing with enough change -- we decided to stay where we are for one more year. Enjoy this time and make a solid, considered plan between now and next October about where we're going to live, where and how we're going to work and when another little person might make sense. 

The presenter's comment hit home because much as I'm playing this as sanely as I can (I'm even drinking my tea in a Keep Calm and Carry On mug, for goodness sake!) all the uncertainty is driving me crazy. I want to be the house I raise my kids in -- or at least know where it's going to be and how I'm going to afford it. I want to feel fulfilled in my career or be further along the way to that. I want to feel that I can just go ahead and get comfortable after countless years pulling the ground up from under my feet as I go along. 

Ahem. So you can imagine how nice it was yesterday when, for the first time in a long time, I spent the whole day with my kid. Just us. London even pitched in with a sunny, Autumn day. We played, we walked, we cleaned  and grocery shopped (well, I cleaned and grocery shopped -- but he ate food and crawled around on the newly-clean floors), he showed off his new climbing skills, I showed off my new chasing skills and we just hung out "talking" to each other in his room. 

By the end of the day (having started well before dawn) I was completely shattered. But also so much more whole than I'd felt in a long time. If Jack has helped change my life this much for the good in nine short months, I'm sure I can handle changing it for the better again in 11. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Cutting our teeth

As most of you are aware, I am not a scientist. As a first-time Mom, however, I am obviously an expert in infant development nonetheless.

So here is my latest scientific finding.  My kid doesn't have teeth yet because his brain has been too busy learning to crawl. I even have proof! There are five babies from our NCT group with teeth. None of them crawl. There are two who don't have teeth -- and they both crawl. See? Science.

I like to think this is because Jack wisely figured out that while food would come to him essentially pre-chewed for the forseeable future, I was probably never going to consent to carrying him under the table so he could gum our computer wires. (note to self: definitely get those wires out of sight before the teeth arrive!) In reality, it was probably just random. But the point is, the human brain can't learn to do everything all at once.

The unexpected side-effect of this scientific realization is that I've finally let myself off the hook for not "getting much done" during mat leave. It's ok. My brain was busy doing other things. Like learning to be Jack's Mom.

Now that I know my way around that department and he's able to be even the tiniest bit independent, I'm getting quite excited to sink my teeth into something new. I'm back at work two days a week and I have a little business idea percolating away in my brain. On Friday, I actually took Jack to nursery for a few hours after swimming lessons just so I could work on said idea and whip up some magazine pitches in service of getting back to doing work I love, instead of just doing the work that's available.

If the fountain of dribble streaming from Jack's face is any indication, he's getting ready for the next big development, too.

Friday, 24 August 2012

What she said!

I did not write this, but so wish I had. In honour of the latest stranger to tell me how to look after my kid (the receptionist at the osteo, on hearing I couldn't make the appointment due to the fact that Jack had been crying for three hours straight, asked if I'd tried feeding him that day. Lucky for her, it's actually impossible to rip a person's face off over the phone...) I give you this:

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wake up call

The cruellest thing about starting work at 7a.m. in West London when living in South East London is that, in order to catch the 6:08 train, you end up walking past several coffee shops -- all of which are all shuttered.

It was dark this morning when, for the first time in seven months, I woke up at 5a.m. to an alarm clock. In a word? It sucked. Thanks to my tiny demanding human, the actual early wakeup was a lot easier than it used to be, but also thanks to that guy, leaving the house was excruciating. It took all the restraint I could muster not to wake him up for a cuddle (you're welcome, Alex!).

But here I am. Green tea in hand, hoping that Jack's feeling better than he has been for the past few days, feeling grateful that his Daddy is there to take care of him if he needs it and -- thanks to a very slow news day -- counting the hours till I can head home to cuddle my boys.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Fever pitch

Despite last week's tears, I'm happy to say I kept my cool Monday morning when I dropped Jack off at nursery to set off for my first day back at the BBC. My pass card wasn't activated, my computer login didn't work, but I got online and settled blissfully into the task of cooking up story ideas, writing briefs on naughty Tory ladies and investigating whether Alice Cooper does or does not have anything interesting to say (verdict: he does not). Is it bad that I took so much pleasure being back in the office? Maybe. But I've definitely taken greater pleasure in worse.

About an hour in, however, I got a call from the nursery. Jack was running a fever and they were asking for permission to dose him up with some Calpol. I granted permission, shook off the shaky feeling and got back to work. Two hours later, they called again. His fever had gone up and someone had to go get him. I wondered if maybe it was abandonment fever, but conceded that in all likelihood, it was a bug or teething. Lucky for both of us, Daddy was able to come to the rescue. I didn't see my sick boy until I got home around 7.

He's hanging in there. Still grouchy and lethargic, but a trip to the doctor this evening confirmed there's nothing really scary afoot. 

But I guess there was one person who had to deal with something really scary... The woman who, when I called this morning to say I couldn't make my osteo appointment due to the screaming babe, asked me if I'd tried feeding him. That was a poor, mother's-wrath-incurring statement. But lucky for her, it's actually impossible to rip someone's face off over the phone.  

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Annnnnd... cue tears!

To be fair, I think I'm okay now. But despite getting up early for a big play and nice breakfast, going for a long hilly walk to help Jack nap and scare up all the endorphins I could for myself, dropping my boy off at nursery this morning was, in a word, horrible.

It's a perfectly nice nursery. An exceptional one, even. Just two months ago, when we were making plans to put him in two days a week, I was excited about the warm staff, sweet children and lovely amenities it had to offer. But somehow today, it seemed too dark, the staff smelled weird and the image that seared into my brain on arrival was little Rosie (it's her first week, too) clutching at the baby gate and wailing her little blonde head off.

Lauren, his main carer (the one I suddenly feel smells weird) was steely but, I suppose kind. She took him out of his pram and subtly shifted her body away when Jack reached his little arms out and I moved to grab him and run away. Then she started moving toward the baby playroom before I could even think of ways to prolong my departure and gently ignored the tears welling in my eyes. It's almost like she's seen all this before.

I was surprised (and not surprised) by the torrent that followed as I stepped out into the sunny, back-to-school crisp day. I've left Jack with my friends, with Alex and my Mom before. But I guess the wave of separation anxiety is to be expected anyway.

So what to do with my two hours of anxious freedom? One Mummy friend suggested I take a nap. I told myself I should do a long workout. But racing brains and queasy tummies are no friend of either pursuit. I am sort of tempted to Google "separation anxiety in babies". Or look through old photos of Jack (which, sadly, I sometimes do when he's asleep). But that's probably a very bad idea. I think instead, I'm going to turn up the music, putter around the house and get it tidy and organized for my boy's return. And my return to the world of grown-up work next week.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


They say seven is a lucky number. And I can confirm I pretty much feel like the luckiest woman in town, wishing my little boy a happy Seven-month birthday. Hard to believe he's been in our lives for more than half a year and that this half-year-and-a-bit has unleashed more love (for the Bug, for my fiance, my family and for life in general) than I ever thought possible.
Tomorrow, Bug will attend his first settling-in day at the nursery at the top of our road and on Monday, I'll be heading back to work two days a week. I haven't accomplished even a fraction of the things on my mat-leave to-do list -- pitching articles, knocking out a novel outline, getting back into my skinny jeans or learning guitar -- But as I've watched my boy grow from a helpless, awe-inspiring little human to a hilarious, squirmy, smiling boy, my heart has grown at least seven sizes -- as has my ambition to be a woman and mother my son can be proud of and trust to take care of him. 
Happy Birthday, Bug. 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The early bird gets the Bug

I was a bit worried about this week of solo parenting. Sure, I'd have my evenings to myself, but how on earth was I going to take care of Jack from dawn till dusk AND apply for my masters, pitch parenting articles, figure out my master plan for going back to work, design a new career, do a nutritional and financial detox, get the house spotless and finish the few creative projects I've had on the go in one week?!!
Short answer? I wasn't. And I didn't. And as it happens, that was the correct answer. 
Instead, I spent my days on Jack's schedule. And come evening, I made easy dinners of middling nutritional value and enjoyed a glass or two of wine in front of the television (I can finally work it! Necessity breeds logic) and/or a good book. Jack and I even got my guitar out and tuned it one afternoon. Without my partner in crime, 930p.m. bedtimes became the norm, giving me the energy to enjoy every moment of the day with my son come 5 or 6a.m. (note: waking up crazy early is MUCH easier when you don't have to witness your partner slumbering away... but I will try to hang on to the joy of those early mornings on his return anyway).
As a very pleasant aside, despite the bathroom being borderline filthy, there are clean clothes for everyone and -- maybe due to my deep pleasure in being with the kid (and the depressive cost-benefit analysis of going back to shift work minus daycare costs) I've finally come up with an idea for what I want to be when I grow up. 
Hooray for letting things slide. And the rest sliding into place. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Letter to a childminder

Dear Childminder Lady,
It was lovely meeting you the other day. You seem very competent and organized and the children in your care seem pretty happy. But -- and this is just a thought -- maybe keep your collection of ceramic ashtrays festooned with tiny Rasta men smoking giant spliffs upstairs? Or anywhere other than the kitchen window looking out on the garden you were trying to impress me with. It's not that it really made me doubt your ability to care for my son -- personally, I might find a collection of ceramic cats or Precious Moments figurines more disturbing. I'm not going with you mainly because you live too far away. But really. Seriously. Stoner-themed ashtrays in the nursery window? Come on. That's just poor self-marketing, darlin'. 
                                        Jack's Mom 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Independence Day

I woke up yesterday morning with a strange feeling. The feeling of being well-rested. After weeks of flirting with the idea of putting Bug to bed in his own room -- and actually keeping him there till morning rather than bring him in with us, we finally did it. And it was glorious. Alex was reluctant (so was I -- we like being with that kid a lot!), but after three days of 4:45a.m. wake-ups followed by what felt like hours listening to poor Jack trying to get comfy again in his cramped bedside basket, it was time. Our kid likes to roll. And snort. And whimper a little bit. All noises which are impossible (for me, anyway) to sleep directly beside, but through the monitor, are so muffled you can't tell if it's actually a baby needing stuff or you accidentally dialed an obscene caller on your cellphone from your pocket. Not that I have a habit of doing that, of course... that would be  rude on several levels. Ah, a room of our own. A direct path to my side of the bed for the first time in almost six months.

So rested and delighted in our new-found independence was I that I've even started the kid on his next foray into independence: eating food. Baby Rice (that's pablum in Canadian) didn't cut it, but this morning's addition of pear puree has the little guy well on his way to becoming a bigger one. Hooray for growing up!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Prior to Jack's arrival -- thanks to a hard-won knowledge of my mental wiring and the wonderful fact that both medical professionals and the media acknowledge the phenomenon -- one of the things I worried about most was Post-Partum depression. I took measures to avoid it -- eating well, getting rest and exercise, talking to my doctor, maintaining my network and planning ways to create a new Mummy-town world that would not just keep me from going nuts, but be fun as well. I don't know how much of the victory was my preparation and how much was lucky chemistry, but it worked. So I guess I was a little blindsided when last week, despite the NCT meet-ups and transatlantic calls, despite the healthy habits, wonderful partner and huge love for my kid, I experienced the crash.

I'd heard that cutting back on breastfeeding can cause a sudden depletion of Oxytocin (that's the love and bonding hormone, not the street drug Oxycontin,  or "Hillbilly Heroin" as it's sometimes called), but it hit way harder than I'd imagined. Provided I was within cuddling distance of Jack, I was fine. But wander out of the room or zone out for a moment and it was like someone was wringing my heart dry. I still had plenty of love and enthusiasm for hanging out with him, but when he went to bed I felt I had nothing left. Suddenly, all the things I'd accepted "for now" -- including the fact that Jack is, at least temporarily, growing up without the people who have known me forever and by extension love him almost as much as we do (and more selfishly, that they aren't able to be there for me) were unacceptable. I saw an NCT friend in the store with her mom and nearly burst into tears. The next day, when Jack was crying in the supermarket and a strange woman stopped, looked at me and told me it was going to be okay, she had kids herself and assured me I was doing a great job, I did burst into tears (discretely, of course. I'm in England now).

Despite the fact that Alex has always been an enthusiastic caregiver and bends over backward to make us happy, I suddenly felt I was in it all alone and I wasn't sure I wanted to be there. My son was just over five months old and I wanted a break. I wanted my people. I saw toddlers and ached with guilt, feeling a cold seep of dread rather than any desire to cuddle the little folks. I was honestly scared that maybe I just wasn't cut out for this mommy business forever, but forever it was going to be.

But then I'd look at Jack. And I'd remember the hormone thing. And I knew that despite the feeling there was a family of nefarious elephants lounging on my heart, we'd both be just fine. That I wanted to be his mommy forever and then some. A big, teary fight with Alex that, thanks to largely to his patience and my fondness for talking (and talking and talking) turned into a wonderful honest conversation about all of the above and then some sealed the deal that I was for sure really going to be ok.

And then, just when I needed it most, one of my people showed up on my doorstep from Canada (I was expecting of her of course, but it was good timing nonetheless). She cooked dinner and cleaned my counter tops (even behind the jars!). She took me out dancing and we spent a long sunny day in Greenwich, leaving Jack to hang out with his Dad. And I realized, not many of have the community of women in the same house or neighbourhood like we did in the olden days. But some of us are lucky enough to have them scattered around the globe and willing to come to you when you need them most. To check out your life and remind you it's real, it's beautiful and they're still in it.

Is it hard as hell living so far away sometimes? Yes. But having a loving partner, a beautiful boy and women who love me and get just as giddy about Jack as I do somewhere out there makes it a lot easier to accept and appreciate things as they are right now -- and ride out the things I know will pass.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Just Like Mom

Eight weeks into our cycle of holding NCT gatherings at each other's houses, it's my turn to host. And so, owing to a few factors (trying my friend Becky's delicious cheese scones on Jubilee Day, wanting to check and see if baking was any more fun as a stay-at-home mom, a nod to frugality and... well... mainly the desire to keep up with the other NCT ladies - most of whom baked something) I have just finished baking some scones. They look and smell delicious. But seriously? Not delicious enough to have spent my entire morning to accomplish nothing more than some baked goods and a spreding a fine layer of buttery cement over every inch of my kitchen. I concede it probably would have gone more smoothly had I had things such as measuring cups and spoons; the right flour; cookie cutters; and a rolling pin... rather than a scale, the internet and a pad of paper; the Internet and pad of paper and a scale; a tape measure, a baby bottle and some shot glasses; and a sports water bottle coated in flour... But I doubt it would have been much more fun. Actually, it may have been less fun.
Professional bakers of the world, I thank you. Thank you for allowing me to eat your delicious wares without ever having to do math, scrabble around my cupboard for the right tools, destroy my kitchen or need to know just how much butter I am actually eating.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Things that go Bump in the night

This morning, like most mornings, I was woken up by Jack's cry. But unlike most mornings, this wasn't a little waking up mewl... it was a full-on howl. And sounded like it was coming from the vicinity of under the bed. I groggily rolled over and saw his empty basket, then quickly realized why it sounded like that. Because it was like that. "Alex, we have a bit of a problem", I said. Then in a much calmer state than I probably should have been, I fished him off the floor, cuddled his terrified little bod and stroked his little face, which bore the deep imprint of carpet, bits of stuff I missed while vacuuming yesterday and one very puffy eye. It was terrifying in a way... but weirdly soothing, because despite the shock, I knew he was ok. I did end up taking him to the doc's by the end of day just to be sure, but there is something immensely comforting in the deep-down knowledge  that I understand and know this awesome little baby enough to be able to gauge whether he's alright or not without any panic bells setting off to cloud my judgement. He got the all-clear from my rather awesome doctor who assured me that at this age, they really just bounce. And the only thing I needed to give him was an extra round of cuddles... and maybe some pillows around his bed to keep my little escape artist safe, should he try it again.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

What a difference a year makes

It's been milestone city around here for the past week or so. The bag at the end of the crib that I've been stuffing with Jack's too-small clothes is just  almost at capacity and yesterday he stood (assisted) on his own two flat little feet, rather than on tiptoe. He's been rolling like a... something that rolls a lot... and two days ago he pulled himself forward in what I can only imagine is a first foray into the crawling arts (more indication that I am probably going to need a leash for this kid once he starts walking). He got his first cold this week (which he was kind enough to share with me) and the other day, while doing errands in Brixton, I hoovered up his stuffed nose with my own face so the little man could eat properly, without batting an eye. Yep. Everyone is getting quite grown-up. Even me. And much to my delight, I now have a shiny little ring as further proof. Alex and I have decided to get married and if a giant smile and a left hand slimed in happy drool is any indication, Jack approves. When I think of where I was at this time last year (rather sweetly, Alex proposed one year from the day we found out about Bug), no one could be more surprised than me that life has landed us here. But no one could be happier, either. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Tough crowd

Well, it's official. I have a British baby. For the third time this week, the temperature has soared to a sunny 26 degrees... and the little man has been rather out of sorts. Sweaty and grouchy as any London tube commuter. However, tonight, one oscillating fan (thank you Alex), one tepid bath, and a few Billie Holiday singalongs later, he's my buddy again. Throw in a few funny faces and lots of munchy cuddles and he's really, for real laughing. Which is pretty much the best thing in the whole world, ever.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

One tiny complaint

Dear Hair,
I'm writing because I'm a bit worried about us. I thought we had a really good year together - remember the Gay Spaniard and how he got you looking so fine? I do. But now, it seems you would rather move on. I understand that now that I'm fresh out of those pregnancy hormones you liked so much, we can't spend quite as much time together as we did. But is it really that bad without them? Do you all have to leave me at once? What if the baby ends up with a fur ball from my nocturnal shedding? If you really do need to go, I guess I understand. But is there at least any chance you might consider taking the last 10 pounds of baby weight with you?

A Very Royal Homecoming

So here I am. It's 8a.m. and I've been up for hours, drinking tea out of a Diamond Jubilee commemorative mug (thank you, Alex!) as my British baby sleeps off his jetlag. Definitely not how I thought I'd be spending a morning just one year ago.
But really? It's quite simply, a wonderful way to spend a morning. Jack and I arrived home from Canada Saturday. And while there were many tears on the flight (none of them his -- he slept the whole way, bless him), I realized on arriving home that I was totally, purely happy to have my little family back under one roof. Yes, leaving home was heart wrenching -- it was truly one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, having Jack at my Mom's and introducing him to his Uncle Brad and our friends and family.  But if I'm going to have to do this a few times a year for the rest of Jack's childhood (no matter which side of the pond we end up calling home), I may as well count myself lucky that I am truly happy in both places. I got home to a loving partner and father eager to see Jack's new tricks (he also cleaned the house and had Canadian Mother's day prezzies waiting for me!) and stay up way too late catching up and cuddling. Until I can convince Mother Nature to revert back to some sort of Pangea situation to get my homes a little closer together, that's just going to have to be good enough.

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Baby Parade

Jack and I regularly cover 10km or more in a day. But while his days always begin and end in the company of people who love him, he's never had avid fans lining his route from start to finish. As we set out on our big Toronto tour yesterday, I was sort of concerned it might overwhelm him... but it seems we are related. He loved it. Started the day at Uncle Brad's and walked straight down Queen Street from Parkdale to Leslieville, meeting good friends along the way and ending up at Amanda's place where Grammie picked him up -- and I enjoyed a little well-deserved grown-up lady time with good friends.
Yep, the little man's Canadian invasion continues. And after a couple of days being out of sorts with the jetlag, he's back in the smiling, cooing, slumbery swing of things and loving every minute. Or almost every minute. Not the yelly ones, of course.
The trip's been quite a trip for me, as well. On one hand, it's been beyond amazing to introduce Jack to the people and places that matter most to me. On the other, it reminds me that while I love my life and adore my kid, my feet are currently planted very, very far apart.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mother's Day 2

To celebrate Mother's Day, Jack and I got up early this morning and crept out of the house to get all the fixin's (is that right? I know fixin' has an apostrophe at the end... so how on earth does one pluralize it?) of a traditional Canadian MD: a card, some flowers, and the makings of breakfast in bed.
Unfortunately, the only store I knew of that was open and selling any of these items was the gas station. Jack and I ponied up and got his Grammie some appropriately straggly flowers, a card that quasi-fit the bill (bizarrely, all the cards on offer contained obscure recipes) and considered a feast of Tim Hortons for the Canadiana factor. In the end we opted for lattes and pastries from her favourite bakery and crept back upstairs to get everything ready. In a shocking turn of events, writing my mom's card made me cry (I'm starting to wonder if maybe I actually cry more than Jack?). Partially because Jack has taught me just how much she must love Brad and I... partially because I'm just so darned happy to be here today. Happy Mother's Day indeed. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Back on-air

Well, hello blog! After a few reminders from Jack's daddy and the lovely Merrikate, we are back. I swore when I returned to this blogging business, there would be reams of catch-up posts from our recent adventures (Spain! Galleries! "Working from home"! Separation Anxiety! Babies being trickier as they get bigger! Um... A whole bunch of other things!!)... but it seems at least one cliché  I heard over and over again in early Mommy-hood is true. You really must record things, because you think that you'll remember them all... but you don't. Or something like that. I heard it way back in early Mommy-hood! How am I supposed to remember?! Another cliché that is proving true is that you really do start to care about and talk about poop. 
But I digress. And a promise is a promise, dear readers, so no poop will be discussed in this blog. Instead, I figured I'd choose today, the day after Jack and I landed on home soil for the first time, to start playing catch-up. Partially because landing on Canadian soil allows me to oh-so-smoothly recap our flight to Spain, which was just as gloriously (relatively speaking of course), smooth as this one. We started off  spending hours and hours wandering Gatwick (a big thank you to Cafe Rouge for providing comfy and discrete booths for breastfeeding and a big, 'oh, come on, Gatwick' for providing nothing of the sort), I realized that waiting for planes was a lot more mellow when all I had to do was read a book and sip on a coffee or glass of wine for hours, I skipped my old standard airport bookshop shopping spree in favour of buying my boy a new book (way more fun in a way, for the record... and besides, I'm lucky to read my Kindle one-handed when wrangling the little one). Then, in the final pre-departure moments Jack shrieked like the babes of Hades in the boarding area, terrifying our fellow passengers and (in a stroke of accidental brilliance) lowering any and all expectations of good behaviour. In Spain, this act had me in tears as I boarded the plane. This time, I just avoided eye contact and calmly boarded the plane. Because I knew (or hoped I knew) something those other people didn't. He was about to go from child of Hades to delivering an in-flight performance worthy of the angels themselves. See, the kid hadn't eaten in hours -- and as soon as we started taxiing and I let him go to town on the formula I was packing, I knew all anyone would hear would be his voracious gobbling down of said formula, no inner-ear pain induced shrieks and then he was almost sure to pass out in a state of blissful milk-drunkenness. Is it nice to bring your child to what he is probably sure is the brink of starvation (like, a whole 2.5 hours without food!) to ensure you hold such a bargaining chip? Maybe not. Is it effective? Happily, yes. I was relieved when it worked on our three-hour flight to Spain. I was amazed when he repeated the feat for our eight-hour flight to Toronto (obviously he cried a bit over the flight -- he's a baby for goodness sake... but nothing resembling his ground performance and never for more than a few minutes). I am delighted to report the kid is a great traveller. Which works out well... cause as a bi-continental babe with Grandparents who clearly adore him on both sides of the pond, he's gonna have to be. 

Monday, 9 April 2012

My little champion

I would very much like to celebrate the fact that my baby -- mere hours ago -- managed to break his all-time record for wailing his head off in preparation for bed!!! "Hooray!!", I would say... if I meant it. "His lungs are so advanced and strong for his age!!".

Sadly, I can't say that outside of those quotation marks. Because to be honest? I'm pretty sure it's just normal. And I mainly just found it exasperating*, **. That is the polite way of putting it. Par for the course? Sure. But "exasperating"? Absolutely.

The feeling of parental victory on achieving eventual shut-eye, though, was Sweet. Sweet, indeed.

*exasperated with love, of course
** how weird is it that there aren't more random Internet photos of babies wearing actual medals?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Jetset Jackson

It's not often that one cheers for bureaucratic mistake-making, but today, I did so. Aloud. So loud, I may have scared the baby. My dad and his wife are set to land in London next week, the plan being to hang out here a few days, have some romantical time in Barcelona, then meet up with us in sunny Malaga. One slight hitch, the trip was booked before the kid was hatched... and up until the blessed doorbell rang this morning, I was under the impression that his wee passport might not arrive in time. Because basically, over the course of a painfully lengthy chain of conversations with the passport people, they told me it might not. Well, long (and not so eloquent) story short: It did. His ridiculous, could-be-any-baby passport photo is all officially in a UK passport. My tiny man of international mystery is all set for his first across-the-channel adventure. Hooray!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Jack saves the day!

In my ongoing quest to shake off the baby weight and boost my sanity levels through forced endorphin production (aka, exercise), I headed to the gym the other night for an aquafit class. It's a patently ridiculous form of fitness... but it was fun, it was exercise-y and I was delighted to be there. Until I got out and realized I had forgotten a towel and didn't even have a spare item of clothing to use (in my early days in London, I briefly stayed at the YMCA, where I used a large scarf very effectively as a towel for days). Lucky for me, I did have one of Jack's diapers in my purse. Did I look like a crazy person rubbing myself down and toweling my head with a size 2 Pamper's in a busy change room? Yes. Was I dry and warm for the walk home? Also yes.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Day One

Yes, my son is more than two months old. And sure, I have had him to myself for periods of a day or more before. But Monday was my first day of "Pearson, this is your actual job now. And although it will frequently involve going for a walk in the park, it will not always be a walk in the park."
My new boss showed me he meant business from the get-go, swapping his usual sweet and sleepy morning demeanour with his first ever morning meltdown. Not to be ruffled, I hauled his stroller downstairs and took him straight out to join the East Dulwich fitness centre. I took him to our first mom and baby pilates class, which I thought was quite nice -- but he was unimpressed and screamed the house down. So we left. Next up was lunch at home, bookended with more screaming. Me, I scarfed down strips of toast dipped in soup, which I tried not to spill on my sweet angel as he ate his own lunch. Our next destination: Baby Sensory Play, a free drop-in session for babies with lots of cool toys to play with in a totally relaxed and cheery environment. It was awesome! Or so I thought! Seems it was a little too full of babies for Lord Yelly of Screamy Manor... so we bailed on that, too. And then there was more yelling when we got home. Let's just say that when Mel called asking if I would meet her for a drink to celebrate her new 6-month attachment to Cairo (sob!) I did NOT HESITATE.
So after spending yesterday pottering around the apartment (which Lord Yelly found infinitely more pleasing) I am going to stand up to the boss man and insist we venture forth once more. Today's activity: mom and baby yoga -- which I have on good authority will only have a few babies in it. With any luck, Jack won't noticed those other kids and instead, take pleasure in laying around in public.

Scheduling conflict

In Canada, Mother's Day is always the second Sunday in May. In the UK, it's the third Sunday of March... which this year, just so happened to be the day after St. Patrick's Day. And the big UK-Ireland Rugby match.
So um, yeah. I wonder how many other UK Mummies noticed this schedule of holiday events was perhaps less than ideal?
For someone who has always been rather nonplussed by Valentine's Day, I was sort of shocked at how important my first "Mothering Sunday" was to me. Happily, despite a late start, it did consist of a bouquet of my favourite flowers, yummy champagne brunch and one final day relaxing en famille before Alex's return to work. Jack was also kind enough to write me a note saying there would be more on the horizon soon. Aw. Funny how a made-up holiday and a forged note can so genuinely warm my heart these days!  

Friday, 9 March 2012

Ignorance is bliss

So I do try not to simply get on here and post about how awesome my baby is. But really, he is. Sure, sometimes he is worthy of his title: Lord Yelly of Screamy Manor... but never for long and never (knock on wood) for "no reason". After all, I myself have been known to get a little yelly when hungry or over-stimulated... and I can't imagine I would take well to being left to lay about in soiled undergarments, either. But I digress. Back to how Jack is awesome. Reason #104? He is a highly-portable and desirable Plus One.

There was a lot I didn't know about babies before this one moved in to my life (namely, everything). And in some ways, I think this has worked to my advantage. I've been praised by a lot of strangers over the past few weeks for having Jack out doing whatever -- going on a three-hour historical walk, doing yoga with me, visiting a gallery, seeing a movie, going "power-pramming" (more on that later, in a post likely to be titled something like, WHY THE HELL MUST ALL BABY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES HAVE SUCH PATENTLY RIDICULOUS NAMES!!??!) or taking in the rugby at our local. And while I do enjoy praise, this praise is entirely unwarranted. When people see us out doing what have you, they ask how old he is, look at me for a minute and say something to the effect of "wow, good for you. i don't think we got out of the flat in the first three months! How do you do it?" Well, my big parenting secret (other than the fact that for every three or so days out, I spend an ENTIRE day inside with Jack in our PJs) is this: I like getting out and doing stuff, and, within reason, it never actually occurred to me not to take Jack out with me as I continue to go out to see and do stuff I like. In fact, in his current, sleepy-headed, non-talking, stroller-friendly stage of development, he is the ultimate Plus One. Provided I keep my end of the the bargain and drop everything the moment he really needs to be fed or changed, regardless of where we are (a chilly and epic feed on a bench outside the Southbank Centre on the Thames comes to mind), he will never complain about the exhibit I choose. He will never "forget to bring his wallet" and make me have to pay for tickets or drinks. He will never tell me to hurry up if I'm browsing in a store I like (well, unless it's time for the aforementioned feeding or changing) and he will always -- even just laying there asleep in his stroller -- make me see the world a little differently.

Let's get digital

It's 8p.m., the kid is bathed, the flat is sort-of tidy and dinner is prepped. Having scarfed down half a packet of chocolate digestives with tea on my return from Brixton this afternoon (proof I am becoming more British by the day, I suppose) I'm in no rush to get cooking, though. Nope, with Jack in the other room making contented sounds from his bed, I'm happy to put my feet up and catch up on a thing or two on the computer machine - a few worky things, another look at a Master's Programme I'm fantasizing about taking come fall, a bit of a search for some kind of amazing yoga DVD that will both unlock my seized up hip flexors and ensure my abs will protect my back and -- perhaps more pressing -- allow me to banish my maternity jeans to the back of the closet for good. Then it's time for what sometimes seems like the never-ending process of Keeping In Touch -- trying to bridge the Atlantic divide with another album of photos on Picassa to distribute to interested parties, a video of smiling Jack for Grammie to share with her friends on holiday in Florida and finally, giving into temptation and posting a photo on FB for the simple and semi-guilty pleasure of enjoying the ensuing digital coos from far-flung friends. I'm a chatty person and a communicator by nature (see: Blogging, despite minimal sleep), so mostly doing this is a pleasure. But sometimes it just serves to underline the fact that for all the people who rave about Skype... it's just... not the same. Luckily the computer machine is also pretty good for buying things like plane tickets - and luckier for me still  there are a lot of those waiting to be used -- Spain with Dad, home to Mom and Sarah here from Dublin -- in the coming weeks and months. Because sometimes, only an IRL coo will do.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

According to the experts, a new mom is supposed to wait a full six weeks before exercising. Initially, I had no problem with this. After all, in my pre-Jack life, I regularly waited six weeks between workouts. Besides, with the magic of breast-feeding, I was told the baby weight would all but melt away on its own.

Sadly, much like anti-aging creams or unicorns, the fat-burning powers of breast feeding are just a beautiful fantasy. Even sadder, I have spent nearly six post-partum weeks fuelling that fantasy with cake, chocolate, full-fat lattes, red wine and enough carbs to make Dr. Atkins weep in his grave.

My first clue should have been a couple of weeks ago when I tried my old Levis on "just for fun" (note: it was NOT fun) and realized they barely pulled up past my knees. The second clue was even less sneaky: my ex-masseuse (who also happens to be the truth-telling waxer, for those of you who've been reading for a while) blatently told me I'd gained weight. Hoping she had me mixed up with another client, I pointed out that I had been nine months pregnant when she'd massaged  last time. Yes, she said. But now the fat was in my face and hips. It was, quite possibly, the least relaxing "Relaxation massage" of all time.

So that was last week. And although I technically should wait until Friday of this week to do much about it other than try to find reasons to go for walks that don't end in coffee and cake somewhere, today I threw caution to the wind and did my first post-pregnancy workout. It's called The Tracy Anderson Method Post-Pregnancy workout and it is designed to "awaken your muscles" and bring the skin back to the muscle. Well, after an hour of being tortured by this pert little pocket person (who apparently gained 60lb in her pregnancy... a claim I find dubious, but whatever) my abs are awake. And after nine months of napping, they are extremely grouchy.

A thank you note to my son

Dear Jack,
Thank you for being so nice to mommy all day long yesterday after an evening of bubbly birthday fun with Auntie Mel.  I appreciate the fact that you were down with spending the whole day chilling out in our PJs. Parenting lesson learned: babies > champagne.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Game on!

For the most part -- with the notable exception of giving birth in a room overlooking the London Eye and waking up to the sight of Westminter across the Thames -- having a baby in London is, I imagine, much like having a baby in Toronto would be. Sure, there are some differences in terminology - pram/pushchair vs stroller; nappies vs diapers... but for the most part I just use my old Canadian words and somehow the kid gets from point A to B with a relatively clean bottom half.
Today, however, it's time for some uniquely British Culture. No, no. We are not off to Jack's first post-utero trip to the Tate, nor are we taking the stroller to see the Queen*. Nope. Today, we are going to the pub to watch the rugby. Because in England, it is somehow perfectly normal and acceptable to take a baby to bar.

*for the record, he HAS been to a few local galleries in the pushchair
**also for the record, that is someone else's kid in today's photo. Babies in bars, fine. But no baby of mine need ever pose on astroturf.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Trying to talk about Russia

Over the past couple of weeks, Jack, Alex and I have been blessed with many visitors. Which is lovely. It really, really is. But dear, sweet baby Jesus it can get boring.

I mean, like many babies, my baby is cute. I love my kid. And I am very pleased that others love my kid and care enough to visit us. But my kid being cute and loveable does not a two hour conversation make! I have spent a lot of time lately sitting on my couch, staring at people staring at my sleeping kid. Which is fine for an hour... But any longer than that and you are basically stealing my sleep.

That's why it was so extra lovely to have my BBC friend Sola over this afternoon. In addition to the usual birth/sleep quotient/bowel activity chat (which, for the record it is extremely challenging to baby blog without discussing!), we talked about Russia! And it was awesome.

Dear future guests, Come by anytime. Please bring  conversation.

Pyjama party

My mom flew home yesterday. I did my best to keep my heart under my sleeve - a few cuddles, kisses for Jack and a reassurance I'd see her soon in Toronto and she was out the door. After which, I spent a good half hour or more staring blankly, crying and wondering what the hell I am doing trying to raise a baby so far away from my own family. It really was amazing and magical having her here and if I had one wish right now, it would be to build a supersonic transit link between Toronto and London.

Oh well. Life goes on - and, really, I will manage to see her again soon. Gotta be thankful for the fact that we both have the health and resources to make that possible. Also on my gratitude list for the day? The makers of The Office. And the makers of Alex's super-comfy couch. And Alex himself. After I wiped my tears away, we spent the rest of the day/evening having the most gloriously lazy day I can remember having in months. Just cuddled with Jack, ate when hungry and enjoyed an Office Marathon. Today it's sunny outside and I'm feeling far more ready to face the world. Alex is going to stay home and job hunt as I take Mr. Jack on our first solo outing to Brixton. It's not exactly far... but it's baby steps to making London feel like home again.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

My new trick

One of my favourite things about this blogging business is finding just the right image to sum up what I'm talking about. Simply throw a keyword into Google images and hey, presto! A gallery of images from which to (illegally) choose. Well... this is today's image. Because today's keyword was "Milking". Because I just milked myself.

So that's a little weird. And... since I am not really sure what else to say about it... I will leave it to the good people of Howland Homestead Farm, providers of today's image, to sum it up for me with the following blurb from their website. Just substitute "cow" for "yourself"! (And yes, that exercise *is* as bizarre in practice as it sounds in theory).

"We believe that hand milking a cow on Howland Homestead Farm is an essential item on everyone's life list of accomplishments, along with space travel, running a marathon, getting a hole in one, or winning the Nobel Prize.  We are grieved to think of the number of future epithets that will read: "Yes, I conquered Everest, but if only I'd hand milked a cow on Howland Homestead Farm!"

I am pretty sure HH farm's copywriters are being a little sarcastical here (in my opinion, milking oneself is in NO WAY a neccessary life achievement) -- but in addition to being a really freaking weird thing to see yourself doing, it really is a pretty nifty thing to be able to do. And seeing as Jack seems to have broken my left boob, a handy one, as well!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Home Alone

Well okay, technically, I am not home alone at all. Jack enjoys food too much to be venturing out on his own just yet. But I did wake up to a grownup-free house for the first time in weeks this morning. Jack is staring at dots, I've just had some cereal and I'm trying to decide if this unsettled feeling in my gut is post-partum blues or abject terror. Either way, only thing to do is focus on my beautiful boy. It was a constant stream of visitors this weekend and both my mom and Alex have been around since he arrived. But I guess pretty soon it'll be just me and the kid, so I need to get ready for that.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

It's a bird, it's a plane...

It's a plane bearing a very excited Grandmother! My mom, the newly-self-christened "Grammie" is finally on her way over for a nice long visit with Baby J. Just yesterday, I was thinking maybe I wasn't getting my fair share of post-pregnancy hormone tears... but all is in order. Just conjuring the thought of opening the door and introducing my beautiful mom to her grandson tonight is doing the trick today.

I think this calls for a nap!

The Baby Who Stares at Dots

There's a baby in my living room. He's completely absorbed staring at the polka dot fleece lining his pram... and I am completely absorbed staring at him staring at the polka dot fleece lining his pram.
So I guess I can confirm the fact that we humans are wired to be completely amazed by our little creatures, whatever it is they might be doing.

So yes. Baby Jack is here. He was born at 11:28p.m., Saturday January 14 after 2.5 hours of fast and furious labour. And I do mean fast AND furious. Apparently at one point, my requests for the "MF drugs" got so profane, so emphatic and so creative that Alex had to get out of my line of sight. He was amused, but cleverly concluded that laughing where I could see him would only end in tears (his, not mine).

Labour was indeed the worst pain I could ever imagine - the terror as bad as the pain, as the contractions feel like the devil grabbing hold of your uterus and pulling your body and nerves behind it for the worst, careeningly out of control ride of your life. My waters broke in the waiting room and by the time they got me into the birthing pool (where, from my many viewings of One Born Every Minute, I stood the best chance of a serene, natural birth) I was screaming for the drugs. In the end there wasn't actually time to administer them and I remember once the urge to push struck and I realized that tube in my hand or no tube in my hand, I was on my own, something clicked. At 10:35p.m., I got on my knees, grabbed hold of the rails and -- always a sucker for a deadline -- decided I was going to relax, use all my strength and get this kid out before the close of the 14th (carrying on in the tradition of my mom, brother and several 14th babies in Alex's family). Believe it or not, the pushing bit wasn't so bad... and all the cliches (which I had assumed were lies) are true - you really don't even think about the pain the moment you see your baby. I mean, you don't actually FORGET it -- that part is a total lie -- but you don't hold on to it.

We spent the night and next day in hospital, and since then, it's been Alex, Jack and I taking it easy at home. A few visitors, lots of sleep (relatively speaking) and lots of wonder at this awesome little dude. I was going to get this blog stuff going again the other night when I was up at 4a.m., having a mini cham after a particularly grisly attempt at feeding, but today, when he seems to be really opening his eyes to the world seems a better day to start. So. Here we go!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Our new addition

Nope, no baby yet... but Alex is getting a little early practice on the Proud Daddy front with Leo, the chatty lion. He has crinkly ears, a face out of a Picasso for kids painting and has been our constant companion since Alex finally bought him late last week after months of admiring him in the catalogue.
Nothing pithy or quippy to add... it's just adorable. And, I think, a sign of great daddy-ing to come.
Alex has also taken to following me around interpreting every twinge as a sign of imminent labour... although to be fair, Leo DID tell him last night that I was getting close. :)

Friday, 6 January 2012

The letter J

Today I decided to end the charade and admit that, much as I get weirded out by the idea of referring to an unborn person by name, I know the name of the particular unborn person currently residing in me as well as I know my own. 

I was at M&Ps (at 38.5 weeks pregnant I can confidently say it's the best place to pee near Oxford Circus) and, like I do every single time I'm there, I found myself looking at the bin of blue fabric letters, picking up the letter J and feeling this weird little premonition of love and pride.

Unlike every other time I've been in there however, Alex was with me... and so I was busted. Despite my insistence that we both come up with a list of names to bring to the hospital (a scheme he has been cleverly circumnavigating by adding only names of babies we already know to the list, thereby leaving J as the only viable option) I'm down to the one name, too.

So. I guess we just named our son.


Well. It's finally happened. I now own a bra big enough to wear on my head.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


Last year, Alex and I rang in 2011 on the dance floor. This year, we all but played Scrabble. And while I have always loved Scrabble, it wasn't until this baby forced me to take great care of myself that I realized I love Scrabble - or its equivalent, which in this case was a day at the British Museum, a soak in the bath to ease aching back after said day at museum, Alex's spaghetti and meat balls, a small glass of fizz and the Jools Holland New Year's Hootenany on the telly - more than I love a crazy party these days. It made me grateful to the kid for forcing me to give clean living a real go. As the clock struck 12 and Mr. Baby struck my ribs with his foot again, I came to the happy realization that since I decided to have him, I actually don't have to quit anything or get rid of anything this year. My entire New Year's Resolution gets to be this: I resolve to embrace the challenges and changes this year will bring with a clear head, open heart, good humour and as much patience as I can muster - which so far, is way more than I thought.

And since we're baby blogging here, a few resolutions on that front:

1. I resolve not to talk or write about poo unless directly asked to do so
2. I resolve to wait until my baby can type before allowing him to "post", or granting him access to any other manner of social media
3. I resolve not to engage in competitive parenting
4. I resolve not to use this as a forum to state the obvious fact that I am tired. Unless I get really tired and forget
5. I resolve to love and respect my baby's dad - in deed and in the written word (even if/when he is a jackass and I really, really want to write about it)

Huh. I did not know that.

As a pregnant lady, I am used to unsolicited advice and comments of a highly-personal nature. A few weeks ago, the woman stocking shelves at Sainsbury's grocery store would not let me anywhere near the peanut butter until  she finished describing the increasingly harrowing birth stories of her children - each apparently larger than the last - and leaving me with her top tips for perineal massage. My midwife told me last week as I was reviewing MY birth plan that having an epidural would lessen my "sense of accomplishment" (I now have a new midwife). And formerly all-business colleagues tell me on a regular basis to go home, have a curry and/or have sex with my boyfriend. But today, as I moved "operation get ready for delivery" from the home (this morning's nursery prep drew to a close when I actually drew blood trying to seal off the draft from the fireplace by jamming pieces of adorably-decorated cardboard in openings) to the spa, I received the strangest one yet when the aesthetician felt it fitting to wax poetic - if you will pardon the pun - about the cleanliness of my lady area. Apparently this is unusual in pregnant ladies. I did not know that... and while grateful for the compliment, sort of wish I still didn't.

We're engaged!

Well, he's done it. He's rolled over from his preferred location on the right side of my tummy, dropped headfirst and assumed "the position". So I guess this is all really happening, then.

There's been a lot of crying today. Mostly, it's stayed inside my face - but despite the low kleenex count, I feel like a marshmallow, wrapped in a hormone, covered in a blanket. My boy is on his way.