We are 6 weeks away from my son turning 1 and we are starting to plan a first birthday for him. It will be low key and small but I did want paper invites for it because I figured it might be the kind of memento that grandparents and ourselves would like to have for the scrapbook. (I’ll just add it to the drawer with his hospital bracelet which I am sure will not continue to sit waiting for eternity to become part of a scrapbook that is never going to get made).
I turned to my favourite site for this, Vistaprint, which I used for my wedding invites, save the dates and thank you cards and for baby shower thank you cards. I start looking for first birthday invites and look what I find near the top of the list!
I get that parenting is tough at times and you may reach for a cold one after the baby has gone to bed by why is this design showing up in the search parameters for “first birthday invitation”? It must be an outlier I think to myself….
Oh wait…apparently it is not the only one!
Is there some sort of ironic-hipster trend to have beer themed birthdays for babies? Am I missing something here?
But “wait!” you say, “What if beer isn’t my libation of choice for my child’s first birthday?”
Needless to say, we won’t have a beer/cocktail themed first birthday for C, he already has a bottle he likes to fall asleep with.
I am coming up to my first Mother’s Day this year. If you don’t count last year when I was pregnant, which I don’t. I know some people count it but I did not. So for me this is my first Mother’s Day.
Before I was a Mom, I wouldn’t put much thought into the online gift guides that start circulating in Mid-April outlining the best gifts for Mom. I usually found something on my own for my Mom and Mother in Law and left it at that.
This year being a Mom I have been looking at them, wanting to see what type of information is out there and what these all knowing gift guides are suggesting for Moms like me. And man, if these gift guides are to be followed I am in for a life time of terrible mother’s day gifts.
Now, to be fair, my husband is possibly the best gift buyer ever! He does this really handy thing where all throughout the year when we are out he will write memos into his phone’s notepad with things I have pointed out or mentioned. Then come birthdays, anniversaries and holidays he has a ready to go list of things he knows I will like. This works so well because I often have forgotten I wanted something and then end up being so surprised by it. I am anticipating that this great gift-giving system of his will transfer over to Mother’s Day but just in case my husband decides to start looking at gift compilation lists for ideas, here are some items that despite what these lists would have you believe, are not actually great gifts for Mother’s Day.
1. For the Mom who likes to read
From The Globe and Mail list we have this lovely metal feather. The description says to “pair a good tome with this feather-shaped bookmark.” While it may be cute I think bookmarks are up there with “paper weights” in terms of gifts you give when you haven’t put any real thought into it.
A book mark as a gift says, “Hey I know you like reading, but I didn’t put the effort in to walking passed the checkout in the bookstore and finding a book you would actually like so I grabbed a book mark from the displays at the checkout.”
And at the bargain price of only $21.00 why buy your book-loving mom actual books she might enjoy reading when you could instead spend way too much money on a book mark whose receipt would work just as well at marking where in the book she left off.
(I am not even going to mention the fact that I myself read almost exclusively on my kobo making this even more pointless of a gift…nope, not going to mention that at all).
2. For the New Mom (ooh, this is me)
A baby monitor…
Wait What? I don’t want this for Mother’s day. Why is a Philips baby monitor on this list? If you are a new mother like me, you probably already had your baby and had baby showers before and possibly after the baby was born.Therefore you probably already own a baby monitor.
Even the description of this gift in the article mentions that this Philips line of products is immensely popular at baby showers. Trying to sell a baby gift as a Mother’s Day gift is tacky. You aren’t going to give a new Mom packages of diapers for mother’s day so don’t give her a baby monitor either. Mother’s Day should be about celebrating Moms, not reminding her that she isn’t out of the woods for worrying about SIDS yet.
I guess it isn’t surprising that Baby gifts are on an article about Last Minute Gift Ideas because last minute gifts usually are terrible, but if you are looking for last minute gift ideas for a new mom and you end up in the baby section just turn around and get to a section that sells anything for adults. I guarantee most items from any other section of the store would be better than buying a new mom another item for her baby.
The first mother’s day should really be about celebrating her as a new Mom. This gift really doesn’t do that so just put it down and buy something for that is really for her.
3. For the Busy Mom who wants to also be organized
The You Can Do It! Planner Pad” is a weekly planner and schedule and while I appreciate that many people like these types of planners I think that giving a gift to a mother that reminds her of all the shit she has to do after her “special day” is a bit like nagging someone about the number of calories they just consumed for dessert on their cheat day away from the gym.”Here Mom, happy Mother’s Day! You don’t have to do anything today…oh but you have a lot to do this week so you better start getting organized about it. Here’s a planner.”
Not to mention, we are moving into the realm antiquated gifts. I think paper planning systems are becoming largely obsolete no? I know in our family we use google calendars and we share our calendars with each other and we can access those calendar on any of our devices….so a paper planner is about as useful to me as a cassette player. Which is to say completely useless.
Oh wait, it has a bonus feature, maybe this will change everything. “Bonus: It can also be used as a mouse pad.” Nope. It does not change anything. Because you know what else can be used as a mouse pad? A desk, or table, or book, or any paper….and why is this a selling feature? It is 2015 and I largely use tablets and smart phones. Outside of my office, I rarely use a device that requires a mouse. So good job on pointing out bonus features that were useful 5 years ago for a product that in my opinion has already moved beyond the cusp of usefulness.
4. For the crafty Mom who wants to learn a new skill
This learn to knit kit is described as being for the woman “dreaming of giving handmade scarves to the whole family at Christmas.” Great, Just what I want for Mother’s Day. Pressure to learn how to knit and then create handmade masterpieces for the whole family! This just seems like a covert attempt to get your wife/mother to make you something while masquerading as a mother’s day gift.
Remember, if one of the selling features of the Mother’s day gift is explaining its virtues in terms of what it can do for anyone other than the Mother receiving the gift it is not a mother’s day gift.
And the only thing that my son would get out of me having this gift is a new vocabulary as I utter multiple expletives as I try to master a skill I have no desire to learn. So maybe my son doesn’t have a home made scarf from Mommy at Christmas, he has learned how to say “Dammit, Stupid piece of sh…oh crap, C can hear me.”
5. For the Mother who likes to Bake
“I think having my name engraved on this rolling pin would make my pie crusts turn out better” said no woman ever.
Another gem from Realsimple.com comes a Personalized Rolling pin. Anyone who does enough baking that they need a rolling pin probably already owns a rolling pin that is perfectly satisfactory. In fact, I have known women who have a religious type adoration for their rolling pins trying to give them a new one would be like asking the Pope to consider converting.
6. For the Mom who suddenly is a 9 year old girl again
Let me say that I think that these customized stickers are a lovely idea, having kids turn their own artwork into stickers sounds awesome – for the kids.
But I don’t see how this is a great gift for me as the mother. It’s not like I have a lot of requirements for stickers in my day to day life. I am not plastering my laptop and note books with stickers. Walking into the board room at work with stickers all over my books and devices doesn’t really help the professional image I am trying to portray.
So unless the mom in your life has suddenly turned back into a 9 year old girl, I would say save the personalized stickers for your kids and get the mom something that’s really for her.
7. For the Mom who likes inconvenient hard to read charts with her wine
The practicality of these Wine Pairing tea towels is mind boggling to me. At first glance you may think this is a good idea for wine lovers. And while it is cute and has a kitschy appeal to it, I don’t think most wine drinkers are going to consult their tea towels for pairing. Between these two towels it lists 68 wines with 56 different foods. I think most people with a wine palate sophisticated enough to differentiate between that many types of wines probably does not need to consult a towel to confirm their pairing choices.
I have seen other tea towels like this in the past that have food conversion information. I always come back to the same issue. As you use them they will get dirty and possibly stained and then you are left with a towel that has started to fade as you have laundered it and you can’t read it easily.
Considering the majority of the population follows the white wine = white meat, red wine = red meat rule of thumb, this chart is also probably overkill for most people.
For Moms like me the main discriminating factor when it comes to wine is this conversation I have with myself:
“Is it wine?”
“Yes, it is”
“Great, I will drink it while the baby is asleep.”
8. For the Mom who has too many writing utensils and doesn’t know what a cup is
I am sure many of you think this is a cute personalized pen holder. And it is. But do you know what else it is? Expensive. Yup, for the bargain price of only $64 you can display your pens in this glorified rectangular cup.
Oh but wait, you can get it personalized. Yes, because that changes everything. So if you are the type of person that places an inordinate amount of value on the ability to personalize things then go ahead and buy this for the Mom in your life. Just don’t be surprised when she rolls her eyes and continues using the free mug she got from the Company Christmas party last year.
I am pretty sure there is no Mom out there engaged in an epic battle trying to wrangle and control pens throughout her house so this seems particularly useless. And considering it is just a single section it’s not like it has redeeming organizational features going for it.
Maybe I am wrong but I feel like most people I know (myself included) use a cup or small vase already found laying around my house.
9. And finally, For the Mom who likes it when you throw away $150.00
The mother of all useless gifts is the Mother’s Day Gift Card from Starbucks and it has been rightfully criticized already (kudos to the excellent article over at Mommyish.com which basically reflected my feelings perfectly on the subject) but I couldn’t make this list without commenting on it myself.
If you are unfamiliar with this particular product, it is a $50.00 gift card to Starbucks that costs you $200.00.
Apparently paying $150.00 for a decorative box and laser etching on the gift card is totally worth it. Except that it is not. If my husband bought me this for Mother’s Day I would be getting him a meeting with a financial planner for Father’s day. Except that this meeting would happen way before Father’s Day because I wouldn’t trust him in the 4 week’s between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. So to our financial advisor Ben, if you get a frantic voice mail from me on May 10th saying we have to meet on May 11th then you know that it is because Husband bought me this for Mother’s Day.
And Full Disclosure, this criticism is from someone who loves Starbucks coffee. But if you are going to spend $200.00 on a Starbucks gift card for me then there better be $200.00 “on the gift card” that I can spend at Starbucks because no way in hell is that “Box” work $150.00. In fact, if you want to get me a nice box for the gift card and still spend $200.00 then get a $198 dollar gift card and buy a $2 box from Dollarama.
I am sorry, I just have to stop here because I am about to have a rage-induced embolism brought on from the horribleness that is this gift.
And that is it from me. I look forward to Mother’s Day this weekend and spending it with my husband and son as well as my Mother, Sister, and Grandmother in Laws.
I hope that everyone else reading this has a great day with the important Mother’s or Mother-Figures in your life.
Stay tuned next week. I promise to post an update about my first Mother’s Day and how it went.
I have celiac disease. This is known to readers of this blog from my post on the subject. Guess what? Celiac disease sucks. It really does. I know I act like it is no big deal most of the time, but it really sucks. I hate not being able to eat what I want easily. I hate imposing on other people. I hate asking people to reveal what is in a recipe – over and over again.
Not only do I have celiac disease, over the last few years I have recognized that I also have an allergy to Kiwi. When I was a little kid I always said I didn’t like kiwi because “it made my mouth feel fuzzy.” No one clued in that I was describing an allergic reaction. I just didn’t eat kiwi. It’s not like it was super common in our house. And my Mom was probably happy that I preferred the cheap fruit – apples and bananas.
But there were always times when I got these mystery hives or rashes and eventually we figured it out. Kiwi and to a lesser extent Pineapple would do me in. It was especially bad a couple of years ago when my throat actually started to close up from it. Long story short, I now carry Benadryl everywhere and have an epi-pen, which I am notoriously bad for leaving at home.
I know that in the grand scheme of “things that can be wrong with your kids” allergies can be managed relatively effectively and there is of course more understanding and accommodations made for children’s allergies nowadays but given my history of being forced to be very careful with what I put in my body I am not ashamed to say that I prayed my son wouldn’t have allergies while I was pregnant.
I didn’t want him having to grow up to be afraid of food. I didn’t want him to be “bullied” because he couldn’t eat something. I hear stories of kids chasing classmates with peanuts when they find out about the allergy. And I especially didn’t want to experience the judgement of others when they think I am just being “difficult” about what my son eats when I question food being served.
Unfortunately, at 9 months it looks like we have a son with allergies. And the thing he is allergic to sucks. It is a super common food for kids and adults; people love them and kids love them. They are great on their own and in desserts. I am sure many of you have them sitting innocently enough on your counter (or in your freezer waiting to be turned into bread and if you are like me thrown out when you realize that you are not going to make said bread).
Can you guess what it is he is seemingly allergic to?
Every time he would eat bananas he would throw up within an hour. And not just a little spit up but projectile vomit everywhere. We tried fresh bananas, frozen bananas, as well as store bought banana baby food. Even banana bread.
Interestingly enough, I couldn’t stomach bananas my ENTIRE pregnancy. Every other food aversion I had would come and go. But bananas the whole pregnancy would cause me to vomit and be sick often before they even got to my mouth. I tried to research whether there is a known link between pregnancy aversions and allergies in babies but couldn’t find anything beyond other anecdotes like me. We mentioned it to the doctor who responded with, “Yah, that can’t be a coincidence.” But it was a rather non-committal response…..
Anyways, given that bananas made our son sick we decided not to feed them to him. He wasn’t getting hives or a rash or anything like that we just didn’t like making our son vomit if it could be avoided. Also it seemed pretty easy to avoid bananas. He mostly eats home made baby food and now as he gets older (and gets teeth) more and more table food. There is a lot of banana puree in many commercial baby food so we just started avoiding the ones that had that in it and everything was fine.
Until last night. Husband and I were in the process of buying a new “old” car. (i.e. a used car) because we were going to the dealership after I was done work I threw a pouch of baby food in my bag in case C got hungry. We fed it to him while we did the financing. As we were leaving and I loaded him into the car I noticed red splotches and on his cheeks and slowly his whole face and neck were breaking out in red splotches and hives. We immediately got baby benadryl and gave it to him and the rash went away.
We talked to our doctor and will be seeing an allergist in a couple of weeks to confirm the suspected banana allergy.
Having a kid with allergies is scary. Having a kid with a weird allergy like banana I can foresee as sucking A LOT. As it is now, people are always telling me that it is really weird and that they have never heard of anyone with a banana allergy. This scares me because I think that most people understand peanut and other common allergies. It is commonplace for kids to have nut free classrooms for example. But bananas. No way will there ever be banana free classrooms (and I am in no way advocating that there should be) so I know that with an allergy like this we will have to be vigilant with C to make sure he doesn’t eat banana.
In the end I realize that I just have to accept that my son is likely going to have an allergy and I will have to be the crazy sounding Mom telling people, “No, he can’t have a banana. Yah, I know kids love them and they are a great snack but he can’t have a banana….”
Have you ever heard of anyone with a banana allergy? What about other parents whose children are allergic to something super common for kids to snack on?
Laidbackmommy went back to work today and it seems like it’s been harder on other people. Lot’s of friends and family are saying they are thinking and praying for me and while I appreciate their concern, I am really enjoying being back in the work force. As much as I love my son, I have been working since I was 14-15 years old and even longer if you count babysitting before that. I cherished my 8 months home with him but I can’t wait to see what the world has in store for me professionally now that I am back at the office.
Of course, the first day back is always an easier one for people returning from parental leave. Much of the day is spent waiting for my computer to get set up and testing my systems, calling HR….oh and the little issue of going through 8 months of email backlog!
I have heard from Husband (who will be off with baby C for the next 4 months) that C is sick with a cold. It makes me feel bad that Husband’s first day off alone is dealing with that so it’s probably not the best day.
And while I do feel bad for my sick little boy, part of me is secretly relishing in the fact that for at least 8 hours today I won’t have baby snot on me!
***This has been in draft for awhile waiting to publish. Babe is now 9.5 week old***
There is a lot of talk about birth plans out there. Throughout my pregnancy I didn’t have a birth plan. At an OB appointment during the end of the second trimester my doctor asked me if I had a birth plan. I answered “Uh, to let you guys get the baby out.” I had some ideas, like I knew I would probably need pain management (because I can’t get through most weeks without taking Tylenol for something….) but beyond that I really didn’t have any plan.
Now that I am home with my son I can tell you I am so glad that I didn’t have my heart set on a birth plan because nothing about my labour was according to any “plan” that you would want. Just before I hit 37 weeks I got a cold. At my 37 week appointment I said to my OB that I had a cold.
“I am coughing so much and every coughing fit causes contractions. I am afraid of inducing labour.”
The OB said it could happen but it was more likely that it would just help “ripen” my uterus and make labour easily when it did take place. Well, this took me by surprise because I thought my fear was unfounded.
After a week of being sick and having contractions brought on by coughing fits, on June 30th at 11:30pm, after a day of binge-watching “House of Cards” on NetFlix with my husband, I went to the bathroom which was quickly followed by me saying to hubby “I think my water just broke.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, I thought I peed myself, but it is definitely my water”
“Well, let’s get to the hospital…”
To which I responded, “But we were just about to do dishes!” Hubby laughed because clearly that wasn’t the priority right now. So I showered and had him at least rinse them off and neatly pile them in the sink. Because of course, I didn’t want to come home after 24 hours to dirty dishes (however, 24 hours is not how long I would be gone).
So off to the hospital we went arriving at midnight on July 1st. Canada Day.
After labour progressing well all night, and my pain being effectively managed by the wonders of the Epidural things started to go down hill. My baby’s heart rate fell – and it wasn’t coming back up.
At the time my husband was in the room and my Mom apparently was just arriving at the hospital, the nurse had to page for a Doctor to my room and I ended up having 2 doctors, 2 nurses and a resident all around me while my husband looked on worried and my Mom waited blissfully unaware outside the maternity ward waiting for Husband to get her text message to come out and get her.
After getting baby’s heart rate up to an acceptable level, the OB that was brought in said that if it happened again, we would have to do an emergency c section. Over the next hour and a half, we watched the baby’s heart rate monitor and watched as his heart rate fell with every contraction. We also watched as the contractions began to slow down, becoming shorter and weaker. One OB said, “It’s as if her body is shutting down the labour process. This baby isn’t going to come out.”
Then the heart rate fell again and stayed low for a while, and the team of doctor’s and nurses came back. That’s when the OB said “We’re getting this baby out now.”
We were going to have to get the baby out via an emergency c-section. This is where I am very glad I had no birth plan. When the doctors confirmed it would be a c-section I said “Ok I understand.”
The nurses and the doctors were shocked with how well I was taking the news. My Mom said that this reminded her of my birth. I, too, was born via an emergency c-section after being in distress.
Apparently, many women don’t take the news of a c-section very well. The nurse told me she has patients who end up so depressed by having an emergency c-section that they require counselling after the fact to deal with the disappointment of “losing” their birth plan and that she was surprised to see me handling the news well.
I took the news well because I believed that having a c-section was what was best for my son in this situation. I also trusted the medical staff at my hospital. They had been wonderful the whole time and I knew they wanted what was best for me and my child. Finally, understanding that my son was in distress, I believed that keeping myself calm would be best for him. Anxiety on my part wouldn’t change the outcome and wouldn’t be good for my son.
The operation went well and my son came into the world at 1:02pm on Canada Day. Two weeks early.
My husband held him near me as they put me back together and I finally got to hold my son as they wheeled me to recovery. I got to hold him for all of 20 minutes. At this point, baby’s breathing was laboured and when the nurses couldn’t clear it off to NICU he went. We were told that he would be there for 5 hours. It turned into 3 days.
They had to give him formula. I didn’t have the ideal amount of skin to skin. My husband couldn’t cut the cord, and we couldn’t do delayed cord clamping. Banking the cord blood was also now out of the question. I wasn’t able to breast feed him until the next morning and it didn’t go well. For three days I tried unsuccessfully to feed him – resorting instead to feeding him the colostrum I could pump with a syringe. Daily I wheeled myself down to NICU several times a day to see my tiny boy hooked up with so many wires and IVs poking into him.
By the end of the week we finally got to go home. After all that, I didn’t care that the labour didn’t go according to any kind of plan. I wasn’t heart broken when I realized I wouldn’t be able to have a vaginal birth. When I look down at my him I can’t be upset by how he came into the world, just that he is here and we are a family now.
The fabled Golden Age of pregnancy where morning sickness disappears, your energy returns, you feel the baby move and according to seemingly every mother I talk to it’s the best time to be alive.
Except for me.
I am in my second trimester and morning sickness still hits me with alarming regularity. I still feel exhausted and most days have to nap after work. I haven’t felt the baby move so I can’t even take joy in that yet.
I can’t tell you how many people in the last few weeks have told me, “Oh you’ll feel better once you get beyond xx weeks” (xx representing 12, 13, or 14 weeks, whatever it is, it’s always in the past) and I respond with “Well thanks, but I am at xx weeks now, so passed that….and still feeling like crap”
To which they usually respond…”Well you know it will be worth it when you hold your baby…”
As much as I know that I will enjoy holding my baby, I can’t help but think wistfully about the women who are rewarded with their baby without going through a wretched number of weeks with vomiting, exhaustion, nose bleeds, head aches, crippling round ligament pain, and not to mention the roommate to my fetus, the hemorrhage currently residing in my uterus that is always in the back of my mind.
When those women hold their baby do they enjoy it less than those of us for which pregnancy has been one trial after another?
I don’t think they do.
My husband & sister have taken to calling me the “Pregnancy Cliche”. My Mom laughs sorrowfully when I explain a new unfortunate symptom and says she wishes she could relate (apparently her pregnancies were walks in the park). My mother in law relates very well (apparently my husband was not a good pregnancy for her) and has been very supportive and caring.
I didn’t have any grand fantasies about pregnancy. I am not one of those women who thought it would be the most magical time in my life. However, I work with a lot of women who have been pregnant over the years and I have never heard them vomiting at their desk, or running passed all the cubicles to rush to the bathroom. I have done both of these too many multiple times.
It would appear that I was not made for pregnancy. Countless friends have told me how they can’t believe how horrible my pregnancy has been and yet, those same people tell me that I’ll forget all about it and I’ll want to do it again soon. I don’t know if that is true. Maybe we will have more kids. Maybe we won’t. But I don’t think I will ever forget how miserable I was for the this pregnancy.
I joke with my husband that if he wants another child he better find someone else to carry it, apparently others find this joke to be distasteful. Imagine how great I felt last night when another woman agreed with me that sometimes a pregnancy is just so terrible that the thought of doing it again is completely and utterly unfathomable.