Posts By: Guest Blogger

My Battle with Baby Bonding

By Lisa Van Meeteren

Preparing for a baby is somewhat like preparing for all out warfare. Battle plans are drawn, forces assembled, baby names are chosen. There is a lot to do to prepare for the imminent invasion of this little person coming into your life for the first time, dropping missiles, assaulting your senses with cries that resemble an air siren.

By the time the battle (giving birth) is upon you, you are exhausted but armed and ready. Or so I thought…here was my battle plan.

Diapering: I practised diapering my old cabbage patch doll. I swaddled that thing, dressed it, and fretted over how long it actually took me to put a diaper on the thing that stayed on.

Prenatal classes:  I took Lamaze classes to prepare for the birth, learned that tennis balls are apparently a great tool for dealing with back pain during labour and established boundaries with my husband such as, “thou shalt never touch my face during contractions.” The films were a little graphic but not as graphic as the instructor warning us about taking care of business before hand because you will likely “go” like a farm animal during delivery. This thought horrified me more than the birth itself.

Breast feeding: I took classes to learn to feed my baby, where I learned that after two months the baby will stop pooping for a week and that this was normal. I gazed around the room at women with swollen bellies nodding and smiling, and mimicked them. I wasn’t going to be the only one in the room freaked out by this.

Equipment: I bought baby clothes first, then researched strollers, car seats, the safest crib bedding, the best breast pump, the most practical diaper bags… googling reviews, investigating prices and then hitting the stores to try them out.

There. I was ready and prepared for the battle of birth. I was terrified and excited at the same time similar to someone about to dive headfirst out of a plane.

When the big day arrived, I had back labour the whole time, and I’m sorry but the tennis ball is a crock of you-know-what. It did nothing to ease my fiery insistent back pain. I wanted to get all McEnroe and shove that tennis ball somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine if you know what I mean. I bounced on an exercise ball, lamented how much induced labour hurt and then 22 hours later I had a baby!

And then something happened; something that no class could have taught me or prepared me for. I didn’t fall in love with my baby. You know what I’m talking about, that instant adoration for your child the second it’s plopped onto your stomach all slippery and wet, that movie moment you dream about where you’re laughing and crying at the same time, forgetting the pain and exhaustion as you look at your miracle? Yeah, well…never happened.

I let her latch on right on after birth just as the breast feeding classes taught me because it was supposed to be good for bonding. But still I just felt tired, and a little sorry for this creature who looked the same way. But she was exhausted and being held and cuddled and fed, I’d just gone through battle and I was expected to perform. Perhaps if my baby emerged with a towel for her mother’s sweaty brow, a cup of tea and a warm chocolate chip cookie as a peace offering, then we would have bonded instantly. I was horrified that I didn’t feel the way I should. What was wrong with me? Then I took a step back and thought maybe this is like all relationships, you have to start out getting to know the person first. I looked down at her wrinkled face, searching for traces of myself but only saw my husband. This was good because I certainly loved him. Okay, this would work.

After we came home I worked hard for my daughter, just like all moms do for their newborns. I fed her. I burped her, I changed her. I fed her. I burped, her I changed her, again. Repeat. But she still didn’t feel like my baby. I kept waiting for the doorbell to ring and someone to say, “Okay we’ll take her now, you obviously don’t deserve her.”

I tried to convince myself it was the lack of sleep. My daughter had terrible colic and I literally spent half the night feeding her and the other half trying to get her to burp so that she wouldn’t wake screaming with a sore belly. I thought if I could sleep then I would feel more loving, because let’s face it after a few weeks without sleep, it’s tough to love anything.

I was exhausted, depressed and discouraged. So my husband and I took a vacation. Yes, you heard me right. How does one take a vacation with a four month old you ask? I booked it before she was born as part of my battle planning. I knew that I wouldn’t want to leave her after she was born but that I would need it to get me through the winter.  I put my breast pump to work until I had a freezer full of breast milk, and left her in the capable hands of my mother. Not to say I didn’t feel guilty. I did. The night before we left I cried myself to sleep, saying I was a horrible mother, but I knew I needed to go. Perhaps a little sleep and being away from my baby would make me appreciate her more.

When we arrived at the beach, my worries ebbed away with the tide. I became myself again, the person I was before miscarriage, infertility, pregnancy and motherhood. A woman in a bikini sharing some much needed alone time with her husband. I felt happy again. And I felt guilty for being happy. It didn’t help that every time we saw a baby my husband would point to it and say, “Ah, look. How old do you think he/she is?” Followed by a sad look and, “I miss her.” Every baby he saw was smiling and cooing and each one I saw was screaming while it’s poor harried mother tried to walk the beach with a look on her face not unlike a titanic survivor.

“Do you miss her?” My husband asked me.

“Who?” I asked.

His eyes widened. “The baby!”

“Oh, her, no not yet…I’m good.”

Every day he asked me and every day I said the same thing. As the plane docked in Toronto all I felt was disappointment. I didn’t want to be home. When I was reunited with my colicky bundle of joy all l felt was stuck. After a blessed break where I’d had sleep, and uninterrupted conversations I didn’t feel renewed, I felt like I was being tossed back into shark infested waters. My mother returned to her home, an hour and a half away, my husband returned to his long work hours, and I was alone. I wasn’t experiencing any of the joys of motherhood. I had a healthy baby, colicky and miserable, but still healthy so why wasn’t I grateful?

Then it hit me. Babies are selfish. Yes, I said it. They take and take. They take your sleep, your breast milk, your figure, your time, your energy and your brain power. It’s hard to love someone that is always taking and never giving. In any other relationship this would be considered downright dysfunctional!

So there you have it, my confession. As much as I prepared for all the possibilities of birth not bonding with my baby right away wasn’t one of them. I am happy to say that when my daughter was five months old our relationship became a two way street and it finally happened. I was 100% truly madly in love with my baby. For me I guess love is a two way street. As soon as my daughter showed her love by smiling, cooing and saying mama, it was easy for me to give her mine.

You can’t predict when you’re going to fall in love with your baby. For some it is the moment they conceive, for others it is the first time they hold their bundle in their arms and for others, like me, it takes time. So if you’re having trouble feeling what you think you should for your baby, I’m here to say don’t worry. It will happen when it’s meant to, and it is one love that is definitely worth the wait.

Did you or someone you know have difficulty bonding with baby? How long did it take you to fall in love with your bundle? How did you overcome your bonding obstacles and develop secure attachment?

 

About the Author

Lisa Van Meeteren is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 9. She works as a copywriter and has just completed a novel!

Smart Lice and Your Families Health

Just the thought of bugs crawling in your hair is enough to send anyone racing to the bath tub armed with bottles of lice-killing treatments. But wait! Before you treat lice symptoms, take a seat, take a breath, and get the facts about head lice.

Head lice are a common problem with more than two million Canadians experiencing head lice annually, and around six million annual cases in the U.S. There is quite a market for treating lice mostly dominated by the sale of head lice treatments that contain pesticide or other chemical compounds. These are toxic to lice and pose potential danger to humans and the environment if over used or abused. Children who are still developing or those who may have an underlying health issue should not be exposed to high levels of pesticide. Although the levels in most of these over the counter remedies is low the potential risk comes from their over use and abuse when they fail to work as directed.

Why is this important information for your family to know? A recent study in the medical journal of entomology has shown that head lice are now 97.1% resistant to most of the over the counter head lice treatments containing permethrin, a common synthetic chemical widely used as an insecticide, acaricide, and insect repellent. It belongs to the family of synthetic chemicals called pyrethroids and functions as a neurotoxin, affecting neuron membranes by prolonging sodium channel activation. It is not known to rapidly harm most mammals or birds, but is dangerously toxic to cats and fish. In general, it has a low mammalian toxicity. Most popular head lice treatment products contain permethrin. When the product fails to perform people may over use or abuse them in a desperate effort to get rid of the bugs. I have personally spoken to many mothers who have told me they have used upwards of ten to fifteen applications without success.

Head Lice Removal Options

Shampoo and cleaning products made with preformed enzymes as the active ingredient are a great solution to products that rely on chemical or pesticide actions to kill bugs. These naturally occurring plants enzymes are safe for human use and are environmentally friendly. They are biodegradable and do not pollute the water system. Their action is mechanical and when used in combination with reduction combing and environmental cleaning offer superior results. The most important step in lice eradication with natural lice treatment is to systematically interrupt their life cycles by the removal of lice eggs. Systematic combing in combination with enzyme shampoo and environmental cleaning applications will ensure that the life cycle of the louse is broken and the case is completely eradicated. You may opt to hire a lice removal service. In this case a medical device called the Air Elle may be used. This utilizes heated air to kill all lice and their eggs in combination with reduction combing to remove the dead head lice and eggs. The DIY sect may also opt for the old fashioned oil smothering method whereby you saturate the scalp in olive or coconut oil and smother the bugs.

 

About the Author:

Dawn Mucci is a mother of three, writer and founder of Lice Squad Canada. Her vision is to dispel the stigma associated with head lice and to stop the overuse and abuse of pesticides on children and our environment.

Ainsley Doesn’t Play Well with Others

I was at the kids’ park playground the other day having a good ol’ time swinging, checkin’ out the twisty slides, and enjoying the sun. My daughter was there, too, and we were having a great time. Another cute couple arrived, a momma and her son. I’m all about my daughter being social but she’s at an age where she is always looking for friends. I mean EVERYTHING in her beautiful, innocent world is a potential friend, maybe even a stop sign if she wanted to (adorable!). Of course she wanted to say hello to the couple and sadly they did not reciprocate. Then the little boy went so far as to throw water at her when she was in his vicinity and his mom chose to be, what I like to call, a PPYP (a passive play yard parent).

You know the one I’m talking about: the parent who chooses to sit outside of the play area and yell at their kids while they are on the play structure instead of being active with them. Not only did it make my daughter upset it also put me in a bit of pickle—was I supposed to speak to the mom and say, “hey stranger, your child should work on being nice to my innocent mini-me”? Or should I just continue playing with my daughter to distract her from the fact that, in life, there will be the occasional jerk at the kids’ playground? Perhaps I should ask Ontario parks to post a list on kids getting bullied and how to play nicely at the playground for all to see so that we are all on the same page. In the end, we cut our play time short, which meant the little boy was left to play on his own and that made me kind of sad, too. My daughter and I learned a lesson that day—it can be tough making new friends (no matter what the age) and hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to find some other couples who frequent the kids playground and share the same ideas regarding play time, sharing, and being nice to others.

Now that I am learning all of these new rules and tips about being a parent, I am really seeing just how naïve I was about this whole parenting business. There is a whole crazy world out there that I feel completely unprepared for. Not only am I helping to mold my daughter into a reasonable human being, but I am also gaining all sorts of new insights about making friends myself!

I worry constantly that my daughter will be too much like me, labelled with, “does not play well with others” by primary teachers. (To this day my mom, and now my husband, still laugh at this.) As I grew up, that statement became inaccurate. I grew into a friendly person, my job requires that of me—that’s what customer service is all about. As a child, I was just more introverted, my parents weren’t worried about it and I am not going to worry about it either. If my daughter wants to read and play on her own I’m not going to stop her and hopefully there will be few instances in her young life where people don’t want to have her around.

As a parent, I didn’t realize that I would also have to make new friends, remind myself how to play nicely with others, and remember how to share. I am going to have to put more effort into looking for friends who are also parents, and I’m going to have to learn to share my daughter’s time, too. As adults, we forget that we are going to have to interact with other parents and, since I’m a full-time stay at home mom, I am really going to have to try harder. It’s different when you’re at work—you can’t just run away or throw sand when you don’t feel like interacting with others. At the kids playground, I sometimes find myself a little lost, but I have to start somewhere so. . . Hi, my name is Ainsley. Wanna come out to play?

I would love to hear more about how you interact with other parents and neighbours at the kids playground or elsewhere; any advice you can share about making friends or how I can find likeminded parents would be awesome!

 

About the Author

Ainsley Gelder was welcomed into the Mabel community back in 2012 – ready for a new job and pregnant the Team welcomed her (and her bump) with loving arms and now they can’t get rid of her! You may recognize her voice from communicating with her through the Customer Service Department, she’s here to answer questions or to chat about labels and loves to laugh. Ainsley is crazy for a good DIY Project on Pinterest and spending time with her family, she especially loves spending time reading books with her toddler and having dance parties in the living room.

You can find her on Twitter @ainsleyisdancin

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