MaternalMusing

A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

Why We Chose To Vaccinate November 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 3:28 pm
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One of the most controversial topics on those Mommy ‘support’ group blogs and message boards, beside the great formula vs breast debate, is the decision on whether or not to vaccinate your child. It starts with one mommy posting that she is taking her 2 month old for their first round of immunizations and asks which pain reliever is most recommended in case of discomfort. Suddenly the wall explodes in a series of exclamation points, capital letters and links to various websites either extolling the ‘virtues’ of vaccines or condemning those who chose to ‘inflict’ that ‘unnecessary’ pain on their infants. As I’ve mentioned before, everyone can find a website backing up their particular brand of crazy so in this case you need to do your own research and find the path that you and your family are most comfortable with.

This was another topic that Andrew and I discussed while I was pregnant, what we were and were not comfortable with medically when it came to our son. Our conclusion? Vaccinations would be done as suggested, including dates, dosage and type, for those that are universally recommended for infants and children. This includes whooping cough, measles etc and are administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months and 18 months I believe. The ones we decided to hold off on were the atypical vaccines like chicken pox and the flu, seeing as we’ve both had those illnesses and never experienced any difficulties.

V was a special case because he was a preemie. Vaccines are not pushed back to his ‘corrected’ age, they are done based on his actual birth date. Therefore V received his first round of immunizations before he was actually supposed to be born! No harm, no foul, and we never experienced even the slightest crankiness or fever from any mediation he received. He also qualified for the special RSV vaccine that children with weak immune systems, or preemies born before 36 weeks are eligible for. RSV can be present with any type of cold or respiratory infections and while it’s not dangerous for most of population it can land a preemie a long trip back to the ICU. That particular vaccine was given monthly between Nov and May of V’s first year and again we never had any issues.

The doctors were amazing each time it was time for V to receive his needles. They would have a nurse practitioner and a doctor in at the same time to make sure he got both needs simultaneously and quickly. Blink and it’s over, and when it came to V, after a big cry he’d forgotten about it less than 10 minutes later. When he got to the year mark they switched from giving the immunizations in the thigh to his upper arms so that when he was trying his best to learn to scramble around the soreness in his legs wouldn’t discourage him from using his legs to get around. Being a parent it was always hard to hear him cry but honestly it was over so quickly and A and I truly believe we made the best decision we could for our child. V has honestly cried more when the doctor has tried to look in his ears than when he’s had his shots, what a little drama king!

Checking out his IV accessory in the hospital

Checking out his IV accessory in the hospital

Why immunize you ask? Who’s even heard of small pox/whooping cough/mumps these days? Well being a biology major in university you learn about this amazing thing called herd immunity. Basically what it boils down to is that SO many kids have been vaccinated to prevent a certain illness that it almost never occurs anymore! Not that it has been irradiated but that there are so few people who are susceptible to it that it is unlikely to show in your general population. You’ll still hear about the occasional outbreak, probably somewhere were vaccines aren’t as readily available, but here in Canada? Not so much.

A lot of parents use this as a reason to not have their children vaccinated but the ONLY reason you don’t hear of it is BECAUSE so many kids have had the vaccine! This type of immunity only works if the majority of the population is protected and by choosing not to vaccinate you only antagonize the issue. Personally I’m not about to trust anyone else with the health of my child. Why trust others to vaccinate their kids and then cross my fingers for my own? To me at least, vaccination is the only way to ensure my child isn’t that human interest piece on the news who’s been hospitalized and treated for some illness people only hear of in history books.

Another reason that parents are reluctant to immunize their child is the widely publicized and widely discredited study that linked infant vaccinations to the prevalence of autism and autism spectrum disorders in our community. Many parents focus on the ‘Jenny McCarthy’ circus where parents of children affected by autism, understandably, look for a cause and decide to pin it on immunizations. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to have a child dealing with such an illness, one that really cuts them off from society and their peers, however there have been countless studies discrediting the former and I believe that research funds would be better directed elsewhere, like a treatment or cure. Of course people will believe what they want to and if they are not honestly comfortable vaccinating their children then there isn’t much you can do to sway them, nor should you, because its a very individual choice for each family.

One main reason we decided in favour of vaccination was that we would never ever forgive ourselves if V experiences any serious, preventable illness, regardless of whether he suffers lifelong complications or worse. Honestly, even as an adult I go in for my regular tetanus vaccine every time it’s needed so why would I deny my child the same right? As parents we wanted to do anything possible to protect our child from everything, including the germy environment around us! After watching him go through a long hospital stay last year there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to prevent that from happening again! After that hospital stay Andrew and I also changed our stance on the elective vaccines and V will be receiving both the flu and chicken pox vaccines this winter/spring.

Another thought on vaccinations that we’re aware of now is that IF we are ever successful in having another child and IF that child ends up being preemie then V would not be able to visit a sibling or relative in the NICU without proof of an up to date vaccination record. Hospitals don’t mess around with that stuff, so maybe we shouldn’t either!

Now some parents, especially of preemies, delay their vaccinations. I know some of our NICU companions didn’t get their immunizations until their corrected dates and some families don’t plan on vaccinating until their children move more outside the home for daycare or school. This ensures they have the protection they need when interacting with their peers but doesn’t put the vaccine in their system while they’re still so young. Personally I think this would be harder on the parents and kiddos! V doesn’t remember any of his vaccines so visits to the doctor never bother him. He loves the RN that delivered every one of his injections so not post traumatic stress for this little man. After he had his IV put in at the hospital he even thanked the nurse who did it. Always our polite kiddo!

Playing around at the Dr's office!

Playing around at the Dr’s office!

I think that parents are so vocal when they choose not to vaccinate because they’re usually called out on it or feel they need to justify their decision, but us parents who decide to go with the status quo tend to be a little more reserved. I just wanted to throw in my personal two cents and come out as a parent who, having done my own research and soul searching, sides very strongly with our doctors recommendation to vaccinate. If you respectfully disagree with my position on this topic that is your right as a parent and I would never tell anyone how they ‘should’ raise their child. I’m only sharing my view on this particular topic as a parent who tends to lean a little more on the ‘helicopter’ side when it comes to my baby’s health! What is that saying? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? LHSC has had more than enough of our time in the last three years and I’m not eager to give them anymore!

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The Big Question November 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 6:41 pm
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This is a blog post that I’ve been thinking about writing, but it’s probably one of the more difficult ones for me since it’s not quite as much about V and more about me as his mother and previous human incubator.

This is me. Hi! (All photos for this post courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography)

This is me. Hi!
(All photos for this post courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography)

As soon as I left the safe cocoon of my mat leave and started interacting with other adults the most common question I get after telling them I have a child is, “So when are you guys having another?” Now let’s be honest for a second, this isn’t really anyone’s business besides me and my husband but I can understand why it gets thrown out so often to us moms.

For some reason, society seems to think that children couldn’t possibly be happy, well adjusted or well behaved without siblings. FYI all of those assumptions are a bunch of crap, and this isn’t based on my biased opinion as V’s mom, it’s based on my adult friends who grew up as only children and still managed to survive and succeed into adulthood. Shocking I know! Anyways, end of that rant but let’s examine this question a little more closely shall we? I also want to point out that this post reflects my opinions entirely, if you want A’s you’ll have to ask him! It also covers some topics related to a woman’s baby-making parts so for the easily squeamish please come back for future updates.

A and I are the happy, proud and lucky parents of a fantastic, healthy and energetic three year old boy. When I first went back to work V had yet to sleep through the night; 18 months was our magic marker. I am still a little bitter at all those mom’s who had night sleepers at 6 weeks. At this point I knew my limitations as a mother and was aware that although each child is blessing I wouldn’t be the happiest camper balancing an active toddler and another sleepless infant. I have so much respect for those mommies with kids close together but I know that it’s not something I would win any awards for. I love my sleep!

Active little man!

Active little man!

A and I had also discussed V’s development when the conversation of more kids came up. We were sure that we didn’t want any more until we knew that V was developing normally, didn’t need any therapies or surgery and that we would be free to dedicate time to two children without having V suffer should anything come up as a result of his dramatic entrance. We knew that V would be followed very closely for 3 years to make sure he was on track with other kids his age and there are such a wide variety of things that can result due to prematurity, resuscitation, oxygen tubes, etc that we wanted to make sure V would have 100% of our time, money and attention should anything come up.

The BIG decision for us in regards to more children involved me though. My body was my enemy during my pregnancy with V and I can’t tell you how upsetting it is to your self confidence as a woman when the one thing you can’t do properly is (from a biological perspective at least) your one purpose for existence! I mean, all of these other women get pregnant, sail through, and deliver without a care in the world, why not me! The big wake-up happened at my 6 week follow up with my high risk OB. I went in hoping for some answers on why V made his early entrance and although we definitely weren’t thinking of more babies at the time, find out what the future would hold ‘just in case’. I left greatly disappointed. I was told that they had absolutely no idea why V was early. There are just so many reasons that some babies make their way into the world earlier than others that they couldn’t even guess. What my Dr was able to tell me though was what our lives would look like should we decide to have any more children and trust me when I tell you that it’s no picnic.

First I will need to be referred to my high risk OB by 16 weeks of any subsequent pregnancies for weekly appointments to follow on the fetus’ progress and the length of my cervix. This means being subject to ‘trans-vaginal ultrasounds’ on a weekly/biweekly basis to see how tightly my body will hold onto any pregnancy. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to load up your bladder, have someone insert a bizarre looking wand into your lady parts and wait to see a specialist on a weekly basis. I might as well move in to the hospital…

OH WAIT! That’s what will likely happen should we decide to take this leap of faith again. I will likely be admitted for observation and strict bed rest by 30 weeks of pregnancy, depending on what my ultrasound results show. They can’t continue the trans-vaginal ones in the third trimester because it’s too dangerous to the fetus, so you get to sit/lie around and wait. And having been there before I can’t tell you how much that idea thrills me. Weeks away from my family at home, alone, lying on a hospital bed and crossing your legs? Good times.

Did I mention the stitch they may put in? One thing every pregnant lady looks forward to is surgery early into her pregnancy. Again, based on the results of any future ultrasounds, I may have to have a circlage put in to hold my cervix closed as the fetus gains weight. My Dr believes that the most likely cause for my water breaking early with V is an incompetent cervix. Essentially when V gained weight my body became incapable of supporting it and he, for all intents and purposes, ‘fell out’. The surgery in and of itself presents possible pregnancy ending complications but without it we may run the risk of going into labour before the viability marker (24 weeks). Prior to that point no life-saving efforts will be undertaken and we will be left dealing with the terrifying spector of infant loss.

The other concern my OB had for me was the fact that my contractions started with frequency and pain at 19 weeks. This indicates low hormone levels which can stimulate my body to trigger labour early. The only way to try and prevent them going forward will be to obtain weekly injections of synthetic progesterone to trick my body into behaving as it should. This will be along with my rH negative vaccines since I’m one of the 5% of the population that carries a negative blood type. Now I don’t mind needles but the prospect of weekly shots in my behind doesn’t exactly fill me with glee.

Watching my boys! Life is always better as a participant.

Watching my boys! Life is always better as a participant.

Even with all of these precautions that they would be willing to undertake for me there is no guarantee that they will work and A and I have to face the reality that any future pregnancies could have devastating outcomes around the 21-24 week mark. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to bury a child. Any parent knows that regardless of how your child comes into this world as soon as you’re aware that you’re going to be responsible for that precious tiny life there isn’t much you won’t do to protect it. How would I be able to deal with forming an emotional bond to a child I wouldn’t be able to bring home? Another question is how we would deal with another preemie. We have a very high likelihood of having another early arrival because I unfortunately experienced both forms of premature labour with early contractions and early water breakage. What if a second child did experience complications and subsequent physical and developmental delays. Are we in a good position to dedicate the time and attention to a child with special needs as well as V? We know that love would never be an issue but do we live in a area that provides good services, what do our benefits cover etc.

Daddy always makes it all better.

Daddy always makes it all better.

This would also have HUGE implications on our day to day life for the duration of the pregnancy. I would be on bed-rest and off work, likely from 16 weeks onwards and A would have to take over pretty much all home and work responsibilities. He would be responsible for all of V’s care and most of mine as well, and I do struggle as to whether that’s a fair burden to put on him when he does so much for us already.

Along with all of these concerns that apply to our personal situation we also deal with the normal questions parents ask themselves when considering adding to their family regarding time, attention, finances etc. It really is one heck of a process isn’t it?

Loving my baby boy!

Loving my baby boy!

That being said, A and I have not made the final call in expanding our family. I, personally, would love to have another but I would also love a ‘Magic 8 Ball’ to predict what the outcome to another pregnancy would be for me. I know each expecting mama experiences uncertainty but having come so close to losing something so precious I just don’t know if I’d be able to survive. I do know several of the NICU mommies I met have had amazingly successful, full term, subsequent pregnancies, but I just worry that that won’t be me. I think an important aspect of any possible future pregnancy would be to head in thinking that it will be normal and roll with the punches if and when they come up but with the intervention I’d need I think pretending would be difficult.

Regardless of our decision however, A and I are so blessed to be as lucky as we are. If V remains an only child his whole life then we’re happy with that. How can you be disappointed when you’ve already hit the parent jackpot?! I sure do love that little man! I mean all of these ‘what-ifs’ only really come into play if pregnancy does even happen for us in the future. All of those couples who deal with infertility and miscarriages are a testament to the fact that pregnancy is never ever a sure thing no matter where your heart lies.

To wrap up though, I guess going back to the original question my answer for the time being needs to be, “We haven’t quite decided yet, thank you.” and then do my darnedest to change the subject back to the awesome little kid we already have in our life!

Family <3

Family ❤

 

V and Pooh Bear – A Love Story November 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 4:41 pm
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If you’ve been reading my previous blogs then you’ll already know the story (and have seen pictures) of when V received his first toy: his Pooh Bear layette! When we first brought it for him in the NICU we figured it would keep him company until he got home and saw all of the other awesome toys and blankets awaiting him, not the cheap little thing we picked up at Walmart on a frantic afternoon away. Little did we know that it was the start of a beautiful and serious relationship between one tiny little boy and his comfort blanket.

V's newborn pictures, with Pooh Bear

V’s newborn pictures, with Pooh Bear

I know that most of us, as children, had a stuff animal, or lovie blanket that we carried around day after day, night after night, keeping our secrets, snuggling and chasing monsters away when we were tucked up tight in bed. I know even as adults, some of us, myself included, have one or two that we keep to remind us of easier times and maybe give us comfort when we’ve just had one of those days/weeks/months. The thing with stuff animals is that they never give you any judgement or attitude, they just lie there and take the tears, hugs, or punches, whatever you need at the time. As a parent I assumed my child would have a toy that spoke to him but I didn’t really think about how that toy would be chosen or understand just how much he would love it. I think every parent of a small child understands the absolute world ending panic that occurs, both for your child AND yourself when you’re unable to find that ONE toy they can’t do without. Its like the apocalypse happening in slow motion…

As for Pooh’s beginnings, when V was in the NICU, he was so tiny that the nurses actually used Pooh Bear as a blanket, resting him onto of V’s swaddle for a little extra warmth. Sometimes Pooh would migrate up to V’s head and they’d participate in some tete-a-tete snuggles, but they wouldn’t last for long since it was dangerous to keep anything near V;s tubes, wires and face while he was in the isolette.

Pooh Bear and V chillin in the NICU

Pooh Bear and V chillin’ in the NICU

When we got home V kept Pooh Bear close as he moved into his bassinet and crib. We noticed, especially when he had colic, that it was one of the only things that helped soothe him. Our nighttime routine was swaddle, soother, music, Pooh Bear. Pooh Bear also hung out with V on his playmat and during tummy time to make it less traumatic on our little drama king. When V was starting to reach out for things, Pooh Bear was right at hand for those first tentative grasps, and when he was learning to focus his eyes on objects and hold his little head up Pooh Bear was a great focal point.

Learning to focus his eyes and hold up his little head.

Learning to focus his eyes and hold up his little head.

As V grew into toddlerhood, Pooh Bear took on new roles. He was a great teether for when V’s gums were giving him issues and around 6 months totally replaced the soother when V ditched the plastic in favour of sucking on Pooh Bears arms. Pooh Bear still travels to all of V’s doctors appointments and takes the sting out of those ouchie vaccinations. When our little guy started to walk he used to try and trade Pooh Bear to people for things he also saw as valuable. Most memorably he tried offering Pooh Bear to his Uncle S in return for a sip of his beer…no dice little man! He just couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t as overjoyed as himself to have Pooh Bear by his side.

Nothing says Xmas photo shoot like Pooh Bear!

Nothing says Xmas photo shoot like Pooh Bear!

Pooh has been through more car rides than we can count and even two trip to Florida! He’s a well travelled stuffie who doesn’t mind being sogged to death when V decides to take a nap while he waits to get wherever we’re headed, Pooh Bear hanging out of his mouth. Pooh has also sadly made several trips to the ER and tagged along for V’s week long stay at Children’t Hospital last year.

4 hour delay at the airport? Good thing for Pooh Bear!

4 hour delay at the airport? Good thing for Pooh Bear!

One of the most important roles that Pooh Bear fills though is as emotional support and confidant. As V starts to work his way around all these big emotions swirling in his tiny body he needs an anchor when everything else seems to be all messed up. No matter how V is feeling; happy, sad, scared, angry, Pooh Bear is there to help him through. V will take a few minutes to pull himself together, suck on Pooh’s arm, stroke his head, occasionally cover his face with the blanket portion and get himself back on track to being a functioning kiddo.

Recovering from the trauma of his first haircut with Pooh Bear.

Recovering from the trauma of his first haircut with Pooh Bear.

I know that a lot of parents are in a hurry to distance their child from their comfort object be it a blanket, soother, toy etc but as parents A and I are really going with the flow. Pooh makes V happy so I’m happy for V to have Pooh, when and where he needs him.

The most common rebuttal we hear when we send him out with his Pooh is ‘What are you going to do when he goes to school? Other kids will make fun of him!’. All I feel like saying is ‘WHOA! Slow down there buddy! This kid has JUST turned three, this toy keeps him happy during travel, naps and long outings, and it’s not hurting anyone, least of all you!’

Nothing helps you get ready for a good night's sleep like a Pooh Bear (and Daddy) snuggle.

Nothing helps you get ready for a good night’s sleep like a Pooh Bear (and Daddy) snuggle.

I know that he won’t take it to kindergarten with him but I don’t see a reason to rush him away from what is his main coping mechanism at the moment. Kindergarten will be the start to a whole new routine, and Pooh Bear just won’t even come into the picture, but as his life is right now, Pooh Bear is a member of our family and where we go, he goes. It’s also great to have such a loved constant in V’s life. We know that wherever he is right now; home, grandparents, car, vacation, he’ll have Pooh Bear with him when he’s trying to adjust to new or different environments. We value constants as adults so why would we deny them to our kids who don’t have the life experience or maturity to know how to work through all of those conflicting emotions.

Pooh was also great for self soothing when we were ready to move V into his crib from our room. We just stressed that he had his own room now and things would be okay since Pooh Bear was there. We only had a couple of night of issues before everything settled into our current routine. However if Pooh Bear, that sneaky devil, makes his way off the bed or under the pillow during the night and V can’t find him immediately during his half asleep fumbling then we definitely hear about it. A mad run to the room and a Pooh Bear search will usually result in all parties returning to sleep within 3 minutes flat.

Sleeping with his Pooh Bear

Sleeping with his Pooh Bear

The best thing V does with Pooh Bear though is this sound he makes when you first hand him over after he hasn’t seen him in a while. He immediately puts Pooh Bear into his mouth and moans like an addict getting his fix for the first time, closing his eyes to savour the moment. I ask you, when as an adult was the last time you were that happy? How simple it is to be a kid!

One word of advise to parents who find their kids with a strong emotional attachment to a toy, BUY MULTIPLES! Seriously….buy ALL of them! There will never be enough! We have 7 Pooh Bears and we rotate them because with all of the sucking they get pretty gross and we swap them out for a ‘bath’ every day. This kind of wear and tear is pretty hard on a cheap stuffie or blanket so you want to be prepared. I really try to not think about the first day our kid has to go to bed without Pooh. I imagine a lot of tears and very little sleep will be had. We had our first ‘accident’ last week when Pooh’s head came off but Daddy can fix anything (just ask V) and sewed his head on good as new. Hang in there Pooh Bear…you’ve got a few more good years in you yet!

Recent family photo session! We love you Pooh Bear!

Recent family photo session! We love you Pooh Bear!

 

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions! November 2, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 1:09 pm
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As a parent you are suddenly, ready or not, either the sole or partnered decision maker in the life of one very small human being. And oh the decisions you need to make! Do you want to vaccinate? Circumcision? Formula or breast? Co-sleeping vs crib? Do you believe in self-soothing? Do you pierce ears? Rear-facing or front-facing car seats? And those are only a few! Don’t even get me started on the rows and rows of baby products (Cloth? Organic? Generic?). And when you’re a first time parent you obviously have no experience to draw from in terms of your preferences! It’s a whole new world of trial and error and eventually you figure it all out…honest!…well mostly anyways!

Then they suddenly hit the year mark, two year mark, three year mark…and then comes some of the BIG decisions! Are you planning on heading back to work? How do you feel about daycare? What are your plans for your child’s schooling? These decisions can have longer lasting impacts on both you and your child. Forget Pampers vs Huggies…let’s talk about private vs public schooling or, if you really want to boggle your mind, home daycare vs daycare centre vs stay at home mom vs family care…
A and I have already tackled some of these challenges and I fully admit there were some trials, some errors plus we still haven’t even picked a school for V with registration looming in the new year.

Work vs Stay at Home

The first decision we had to make as a family, when V was 1 year old, (so blessed to live in Canada with our full year mat leave!) was one of the easiest to make. Financially I had to go back to work although I had the luxury of only doing so part time. The company I worked for prior to leaving on my parental leave actually laid off their workforce during my time at home so I had to look for new, gainful employment when my benefits ran out.
I chose to return to my background in retail and began to work for a large box store with locations and banners in the US and Canada. Although they were, for the most part, flexible around appointments and family time, the work environment was not a good fit and we parted ways about 8 months in. I then returned to being a stay at home mom for the summer while looking for a new opportunity that would allow me to use my education and skill set. I took the summer to spend a lot of time with V, playing outside, taking in activities in our area, and spending time with my husband. It was a great time at home but I really did miss adult interaction. 1 year olds really aren’t that conversational and require much less hovering than an infant so I was anxious to return to a working environment.
I ended up being offered a fabulous opportunity with a major financial institution in Canada and started work full time in Sept of 2012. The scheduling was originally a little less flexible than part time retail but after a year of moving forward with the company I was offered a Monday to Fri, mornings only, shift within my business and I’m now proud to say that I’ve found my niche…I’m one of those lucky moms with a career she loves, part time, and am able to spend my afternoons and evenings playing (aka napping) with my little guy at home!

 

Sleepy snuggles with Mommy!

Sleepy snuggles with Mommy!

 

Home Daycare vs. Daycare Centre vs. Family Care

Now this decision also involved a few trials and errors until we came to an arrangement now that makes everyone happy!

When I originally went back to work we had started with family care (aka having a family member who lived very close watch V while I worked). It was important to A and I that V become close to his family and spend time building relationships with his grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. We ‘traded’ watching V for me tutoring my niece with her school work in the evenings, and it worked well for the first few months. Unfortunately with the stress of working a job that wasn’t fulfilling, illness in both households, and V being a little slow to socialize/talk, we decided that after I finished my summer at home we would look into more formal daycare options.

A licensed daycare centre was never an option for us as the waiting lists are long, and the fees were high. They also do not have very flexible hours and require intense contracts upon your enrolment in the facility. We therefore decided to support a family friend who was thinking of starting her own home daycare as a way of being a business owner and spend time with her own young family. We had had play-dates together previously, our children were close in age and it seemed like a great fit. The fee was fair and the hours fit well with our work/life balance. We started with an original 6 week trial period and eventually moved into a full contract for 4 days a week. The daycare was close so I walked with V in the mornings and A picked him up on his way home in the evenings while I was at work.

Sensory corn bucket at Daycare

Sensory corn bucket at Daycare

It was everything we hoped it would be, V was socially engaged, involved in a wide variety of activities from a visit to a local pumpkin patch, story time at the library, playgroups at the local Early Years Centre and making friends he truly loves. However starting the week before Halloween someone in our household was sick every single week until the middle of May. Being a small kid, having weaker lungs, and spending most of his time sheltered at home for two years did V no favours when he began interacting with the germ farms that are other little kiddos! We had a total of two stomach bugs, 4 ear infections, 1 ruptured ear drum, a febrile seizure, pneumonia, croup and more colds than we can count. I sincerely hope to never, ever go through another year like this ever again! As a family we were worn down emotionally and physically.

It also brought our finances into focus as well. As part of our contract with the daycare provider, unless she cancelled, we were required to pay for each day V missed due to illness or otherwise. This makes business sense but with V being sick as often as he was (and obviously for the health of other children we could not send him to daycare ill!) we literally paid hundreds of dollars last year in daycare fees for days we spent at home with him. What made it all the harder was that I was usually the one staying home with him and I did not receive pay on those days. I was also receiving coaching at work for missing so many scheduled shifts. It was hard to justify paying out of pocket for so many sick days when we definitely didn’t have the money to spare. I was also suffering from a lot of job related anxiety due to missing so many days with V or being sick myself. It was at this point we began to discuss alternate daycare options that might be available to us.

Appleland with Daycare

Appleland with Daycare

The other issue that came up was the differences in parenting styles that weren’t evident in play-dates but did become a stumbling block as V spent more time at daycare. A and I are confident and happy with our parenting style and the same goes for our daycare provider. All of our children are happy, well behaved and functional tiny members of society! Our provider is an excellent parent with strong values but, as wonderful as those are, they are very different from ours. This became an urgent issue for us as V was receiving conflicting messages at home and daycare which caused him to act out emotionally and created conflict between us and the provider. If you are looking at a home daycare I definitely do recommend seeing if you can observe a day in the life at the daycare or obtaining parental testimonies from other parents who utilize the service. As awesome as it may seem through a meeting or website you must see if it will fit your lifestyle as it is never healthy for a child to be caught in the middle of two vastly different child rearing philosophies! After a meeting we decided to give our notice and part ways at the beginning of the summer however the provider, due to upcoming business opportunities, decided to terminate the contract early. We do remain friends, as well as V with his daycare buddies, and are all in a more stress-free place!

Figuring out his shapes!

Figuring out his shapes!

V has returned to family care and is once again a happy and more even tempered young man! He gets to spend time one-on-one with one of his favourite Aunties and she gets to love on him daily! He is spoiled with hugs and kisses from his cousins and their neighbourhood friends which helps maintain his social skills and we are proud to say that he has yet to be sick this year and we’ve passed the Halloween marker (knock on wood!). The arrangement is definitely a great fit for our current lifestyle and I’m so happy that V has found a place that he truly is one of the family.

V and his cousin K spending some quality time!

V and his cousin K spending some quality time!

So as I said, definitely trial and error! We don’t regret any decisions we made in the process of finding our ‘best fit’ but it did take us almost two years to find where we were meant to be! So don’t feel bad if the same happens to you 🙂 No judgement here!!

Private School vs Public School (Sub decision: English vs French Immersion)

This is our next BIG decision as parents. We have already decided that V will be enrolled in the French Immersion program offered by our public school board but this does not start until he’s eligible for Senior Kindergarten in the year he turns 5. For now we need to decide what we’re comfortable with for his enrolment in Junior Kindergarten which starts next September.

The local public school he is in the district for is, and this is no exaggeration, one of the worst schools in the province of Ontario. Due to local school closings it is now a ‘mega-school’ that draws from a large amount of low income housing, deals with a high number of learning/behavioural difficulties and has an extremely large student population. For example this year there are 5 split kindergarten classes with approximately 30 students each. That is a total of 150 kindergarteners alone and the school goes all the way to Grade 8! They have a high teacher turnover and there has been violence in the kindergarten classrooms between children. Now I’m not talking the occasional emotional outburst where someone gets clocked on the head, I’m talking pencil stabbing related incidents (you learn the darnedest things from hairdressers with similar age children…). I’m sure you can see why I’m a little concerned about registering my under-weight, under-sized, loving child, in a school where he could be completely steamrolled by his classmates or even older kids. I wouldn’t say I’m a helicopter parent by any means (and please people who know me feel free to tell me if I ever become ‘that’ parent) but I do have what I believe are fairly reasonable concerns for my child’s well-being at a school that will have him for 8 hours a day 5 days a week, 8 months out of the year. We do plan on attending the orientation nights and I will be prepared with questions!

Getting ready to head to school...in a year!

Getting ready to head to school…in a year!

We are also examining other options such as a private school or nursery for the one year. We aren’t rolling in the dough but hopefully we could make the tuition payments work, or apply for scholarships or grants so that V is able to attend. There are a lot of great options in the city we live in so we are really spoiled for choice. We do also have the option to hold V out until SK because kindergarten isn’t a requirement for children in the province of Ontario. However V is a bright, social kid who already asks us when he gets to go to school so we really want to make sure he attends as soon as we can find the right environment.

I will definitely update as we get closer to making our final decision on this one but for right now all we can do is inform ourselves, wait it out and see what happens in the new year!

So I guess there are no really ‘small’ decisions in the life of your child but I’m definitely finding as V gets older the decision have a more long running impact on his life and his behaviour and A and I are still doing our best to manage all of the information that gets thrown at us as parents. I say just go with your gut, don’t be afraid to admit you made the wrong decision, correct it and take the lesson onto the next big one that comes up! Best of luck Mamas and Papas!!