MaternalMusing

A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

Mom2Mom Buy/Sell Sites: The Art of Online Garage Sales April 8, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 12:34 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thrifty (AKA cheap) moms are usually pretty creative when it comes to ways to pinch a penny because let’s face it, kids are expensive…REALLY expensive…

One of the most popular ways to do this is to join a Swap/Buy/Sell Social Media site for your local community. Here you can list or look for gently used items that are up for grabs at a fraction of their full retail price . You can also participate in actual Mom2Mom sales in your area that are usually held at community centres or halls. These happen, on average, once a season to help you clear our your closets or stock up whatever your case may be. I myself have found some absolutely amazing deals on gently used toys and clothing for our boys. They’re always ‘New to Us’ and the boys have no idea they’ve been previously loved.

However, there are a few annoyances that come up on these sites or sales that you should learn to navigate before you post or purchase. Let me outline a few of the most common offences/concerns so you’re well prepared when wading into this bidding war!!

1. Buyer Beware!!

These sites or sales aren’t a big box stores that you can take defective merchandise back to! You’d hope most people would be honest and only list items in good working condition but you need to be prepared for those few bad apples. When purchasing something with moving parts or electronics make sure you ask the seller to demonstrate or plug in the item to make sure it is still in working order. If it comes with multiple pieces, make sure you have all of the items before leaving, and if it requires batteries keep a few in your car or purse so you can make sure everything is a-okay! Once the money changes hands it’s on you if the item you bought isn’t what you expected and you’ll be shouldering the burden of having spent money on an item that doesn’t work.

**This is especially important when purchasing Gift Cards or big ticket items like mobile phones. You want to call the number on the gift card to make sure the balance is what you were lead to believe it was before leaving and with phones you need to make sure they haven’t been ‘bricked’ or ‘blacklisted’ since there is no fixing that particular issue as it indicates that is is likely stolen merchandise. **

Trampoline

Retail Price: $119.99 – What I paid? $40. It does come with electronic parts but in this case it did not test beforehand because at that price I didn’t care. Luckily (or not…it’s pretty annoying honestly) it works perfectly!

2. Leave emotions at the door!!

Just because your tiny little baby spent many happy hours snuggled and sleeping in their gorgeous canopied swing when they were born 3 years ago doesn’t make your item more valuable. Some items are a dime a dozen on these sites (like swings, newborn clothing, bouncy chairs, etc) and no-one is going to pay a premium because of your emotional attachment to the object. While it might hold sweet memories to you make sure you price it competitively if you really want to sell.

**Stick to the facts**

Baby in Swing

Are you sure you don’t want to buy my swing?? My kid is adorable!!

3. Take accurate pictures and document ‘flaws’

You’re marketing your products here!! I understand not everyone is a professional photographer but make sure you post clear pictures that accurately portray the condition of the item you’re selling. Use natural lighting, photograph from a few angles to to show both size and form and also make sure you include photographs of any flaws/rips/stains on the item you’re selling. Sticking with our swing example: if it’s been through 3+ kids over 5 years make sure you are clear if there are any stains (hey it happens!) or if the harness straps etc are fraying. Also note if there are any parts (like music settings) that don’t work or if any toys or other items are missing. Try to stick to one item a picture unless you’re selling clothing as a lot. If you’re selling a swing we don’t need to see your messy living room, 2 kids, 3 cats and a dog all vying for attention! It makes it easier to focus on the item you’re trying to move.

**Do not use stock pictures from a website – These in no way accurately reflect the USED item you are trying to sell!!**

4. Do your research when setting price

If you’re trying to sell items that are new in package or things like movie passes you won’t be using make sure you do your research before setting a price. If Walmart is selling the toy for $12.94 new then don’t price yours at $15, not only does it decrease your chances of moving the item it also comes off as a little shady. These sites are designed for Moms to get a deal, not get fleeced by someone looking to make a quick buck. Also don’t bother listing the retail price…again I stress that your item is USED! Price accordingly.

Also if you’re selling a common item (Again: swings, basinettes, bouncy seats, bumbo chairs etc) make sure you’re aware of what other people are selling their items for. You need to be competitive especially if yours is in a more used condition or missing items (like the straps for the bumbo seat that were added on at a later date). Be honest with yourself; if someone is selling a bumbo for $20 and you price yours at $25 who is going to get that sale?

**These sites/sales are a BUYERS MARKET 99% of the time**

Indoor Coaster

Retail Price: $149.98 – What I paid? $20. The seller was honest: peeling stickers and fading from being kept outside. This is probably my most exciting deal!

5. Think about your text

You usually have a word limit in which to describe your product and make your pitch. This is just like school essays with a word limit…or twitter. Make it short and sweet….if you are putting up 2 paragraphs on a bouncy seat no-one is going to take the time to read that. Focus on the item itself, it’s condition, the price and whether delivery is an option. Be truthful and to the point.

**Avoid terms like: ‘Need gone ASAP’ or ‘want GONE’ etc. Everyone who posts stuff for sale on this site wants their crap gone…that’s why they’re listing it…**

Rocker

Retail Price: $57.49 – What I paid? $20. And the sticker is apparently still on so you know I’m telling the truth…

6. Be courteous for delivery/pickups

This should go without saying but if you are going to deliver an item then deliver it when and where you said you would. There is no excuse as an adult to leave someone waiting for you when you just decide you have better things to do. If you’re running late or need to reschedule then give your buyer the courtesy of letting them know with enough time to adjust their plans as well. Predominantly the members of this site are all mothers, we’re all busy, don’t waste someone’s time!

The same goes if you’re planning on picking an item up. If you change your mind or can’t make it then let the seller know as soon as you can. That way they can list it back up for sale and don’t take valuable time out of their day to sit around and wait for you to show up. Trust me, the seller will be WAY less pissed if you just let them know you’ve decided against the purchase than after they’ve waited at home all afternoon for you to pick it up. Don’t be a jerk!

Also if you’re nervous about meeting someone at your house or theirs don’t be afraid to suggest a neutral ‘meeting point’ where you can exchange goods! I’ve done some sales from home but I’ve also met in mall parking lots for some of my loot!

**Most of these sites actually have ways to rate you as a buyer or seller – Too many no shows or rude comments and you might find it a heck of a lot harder to move your stuff**

Blue Jays PJs

Retail Price: PRICELESS! What I paid? $2. How can you put a price on some awesome ‘Retro Cred’ Blue Jays PJs for their biggest fan??

7. ISO posts

If you are in search of (hence ISO) of a particular item then feel free to make a post so that potential sellers are aware that there is a market for their stuff! However please be conscious of the fact that the items sold on these sites or sales are USED. If you posts contains 15 different ways to say ‘Excellent’ or ‘New’ condition, then you might want to consider saving up the money and going out and actually buying it new. You need to have the appropriate mind set and own the expectation that the items you are going to be looking at aren’t going to be ‘New In Box’ pristine…unless you’re willing to pay that price at the retailer.  Also PLEASE DO NOT purchase safety items like car seats on these sites! Your child’s safety is priceless and regardless of what the seller is telling you there is no way to ensure they are in acceptable condition and accident free. If you truly have issues affording a car seat please contact your local health unit for help!

**Even items that are listed as EUC (Excellent Used Condition) have still been USED! Key word here…**

Car Seat

It is actually ILLEGAL to sell used car seats in Canada. Your child’s safety is too important to be left to some random on the internet.

8. Follow the Rules/Regulations set by the Admins or Organizers

These sites will usually have a posted note or visible guidelines on how you’re expected to conduct yourself while at the sale or as a member of the group. Mostly they’re common sense but people can to lose their chill for really bizarre reasons. Just try your best to be a good person – that’s really all they ask. Don’t endlessly bump your posts to clog up the site and make it harder for others to be seen and don’t add your items as a comment to some other seller’s post, at a lower price, hoping to poach off their interest. This site is here for your benefit, don’t ruin it for yourself and others!

Preemie 1

These sites can also link you up with awesome local entrepreneurs (like Little Lulu Photography in London, ON). This photo is from a fundraiser that was advertised through the page.

**If you have a serious issue with someone/something on the site or event please contact the Admin or Organizer privately – No-one else is interested in your drama**

Having covered the most common ‘repeat offenses’ I do want to be clear though that the sites are a fabulous way of saving money while making sure your child has everything they need for the next stage of their growth/development. We always talk about how baby items are used for so brief a time so why not pass on some savings to another family who could use the item and take advantage of some fab finds for yourself!! Just try to be a decent human being while doing so okay??

Preemie 2

All money raised from the photo shoot was donated back to our local NICU. These photos are definitely priceless to me!

 

Ghosting – New Parent Style January 2, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 2:43 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

This past year I’m sure you’ve all seen that viral post that went around, ‘An Open Letter to My Friends Who Don’t Have Kids’ ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janie-porter/an-open-letter-to-my-friends-who-dont-have-kids_b_5823776.html ) and how much we, as parents, suck at maintaining social lives, or even basic adult interaction, away from our progeny, for the first few years. I’ve seen the article linked at least 10 times from various parents on my social media accounts usually with a quick note about how ‘We still ❤ you guys!!’ followed by a bunch of sappy emojiis.

Iphone Backup Oct 2015 1258

Work should not be your only ‘kid-free’ time!

As a parent, however, I have a problem with the whole essay. I think it’s a half-assed explanation to try and excuse the awful behaviour that ‘new’ parents tend to fall back on. An easy way to write off the tired #sorrynotsorry reasons why we can no longer function as the courteous, invested friend we were before we got knocked up. The letter even ends by admitting our friends deserve better and thanks them for their patience This honestly comes off sounding like our friends are waiting in queue for some type of friendship technical support,

“Thank you for your patience. Your friendship is very important to us. Please continue to hold until we’re able to tear ourselves away from our children long enough to celebrate your successes or listen to your sorrows, etc.”

Are you kidding me?? How dare we, as parents, try to blame our declined invitations, early bailouts and missed phone calls/text messages on a tiny kid, who for the most part, sleeps on and off for 80% of their day in the first six months.

Iphone Backup July 2015 Second Try 1278

Baseball is a great date!

Urban dictionary defines ‘Ghosting’ as the act of ceasing all communication in a relationship with the hope that the other party will get the hint and stop trying to text/call/hang out. A relatively new phenomenon in our ‘tech savvy’ age and can easily be applied to both unfortunate Tinder dates AND new parents. Although new parents tend to not be fully aware that they’re actively sabotaging what could be years long friendships… blindly assuming the other party will still be there when they emerge from ‘new parent’ hibernation.

Now, we’ve all done it, so admit it. We’ve used our kids as an excuse to either back out of an event, leave early from a function we didn’t want to attend, or even as a reason for not responding to emails/texts. But kids are an excuse like any other…childless friends just need to get more creative. But you know what happens when your kids are finally old enough to realize that Mom and Dad aren’t the be all end all? Your friends have moved on! After numerous last minute cancellations (Omg Baby just WOULDN’T sleep last night!), declined hangouts (I couldn’t possibly ask ANYONE else to watch my child for 2 hrs…including my partner!) or ignored messages (Well I was going to reply…but I figured you wouldn’t appreciate a text back at 3am while I was up feeding Jr) your friends have found people who actually care and want to hang out with them. I know your whole world revolves around your children but theirs, let’s be honest, does not. They also have needs and desires and when you suddenly stop acting like you care, why should they put their plans on hold until you decide you can act like a normal human being?

Iphone Backup July 2015 Second Try 1339

Definitely didn’t take our kids to the outdoor music festival last summer…

When you’re expecting your first child, you’ll get lots of advice about how you shouldn’t let your child take away from your marriage or relationship. ‘Make sure you still take time for yourselves!’ your Aunt/cousin/co-worker will tell you at your baby shower! Well your romantic relationship isn’t the only one that will need life support as your children grow. Your friends need your time as well. And they want to know you still care about THEM too! That means that when you do finally drag your ass out of your house for a quick coffee or even a phone chat, that you take some time between delightful anecdotes and stories about your baby to ask them how their lives are going! Parenthood has a phenomenal way of making Moms and Dads self-centered conversation hogs. Remember conversations are a two way street involving input from ALL parties…if you just want to wax poetic about the fruit of your loins start a blog (*cough*)

Iphone Backup Oct 2015 300

See?!? We do have time to look at our phones!! 

Every time you cruise a mother’s board or FB group I can guarantee you’ll find at least 2-3 posts revolving around ‘Poor Me! My friends have abandoned me! They don’t understand what my life is like right now!’. Hate to break it to you sister but they likely have no idea because you haven’t made an effort to contact them or hang out since you saw the double line on your pregnancy test beyond a generic invitation to your baby shower/sprinkle/’sip and see’ to pump them for gifts.Ask yourself, honestly, have you been a good friend? Have you reached out with calls or texts to see how their lives are going? Spoiler Alert: The answer here is probably a big fat no.

Part of being a functioning adult is being able to balance many different relationships in your life. It’s admittedly a juggling act and having a baby is one more ball you have to keep in the air, but in order to have a well rounded and healthy life you need to invest yourself fully in all aspects. This means being able to parent and work (if you so choose), and build/maintain fulfilling relationships with your significant other, children AND friends. Trust me, they love and care for you too but in today’s society it’s rude to call you out on your child obsessed self-centeredness without coming off like an uber bitch. If you don’t put in the effort why should they? Just because they don’t have kids doesn’t mean they’re chalk full of free time in which to hound you for scraps of your time.

Iphone Backup July 2015 Second Try 2132

Dressing up is good for you!!

Just in case you’re a bit rusty…here are some tips for being a good friend as a new parent.

  1. Return texts/emails/phone calls – maybe don’t call at 3am for a chat but at least a quick text indicating you got their message goes a long way.
  2. Make ‘playdates’ for yourself – Everyone needs a little social time! Even nursing moms can take an hour for coffee once a week to reconnect with the important people in their lives. I’ve done it so don’t try and feed me a line about how you couldn’t possibly….
  3. Ask about your friend’s lives – Don’t dominate the conversation with Jr’s latest milestones or bowl movements. Your friends have lives, worries and stories as well…
  4. Don’t ‘Mommy-jack’ social media – Not everyone’s FB updates, tweets or Instagrams lead back to your kids. Celebrate the milestones in your friends lives without bringing up the fact that you had sex…congrats by the way!
  5. If you make plans stick with them – Unless one of you is violently ill (and I’m talking Norwalk Virus proportions or lice…) follow through on plans to meet up! Nothing pisses people off more than last minute cancellations.
  6. Don’t assume your kids are invited everywhere – This a HUGE one! Although your friends are excited and happy for you they don’t necessarily see your baby as your ‘plus one’ to every single event going forward. Some get-togethers just aren’t kid friendly (eg spa days, adults only birthday parties etc) and they will likely not have made arrangements to ‘baby-proof’ the venue. Also taking your kids is an automatic attention-divider. Your friends want to catch up with YOU…not try and carry on a conversation between diaper changes and feedings. Even if your friends have kids of their own don’t assume everyone is bringing theirs. I’ve found that if kids are welcome it’s usually explicitly stated in the invitation.

I will note that I am by no means perfect. I’ve definitely awkwardly brought my first son to an otherwise adult event (now that I have two I actively seek events that are for grown ups only!) and I’ve been that ‘bad friend’ who has let friendships lapse while I lie on the floor in sweats feeding my toddler Gerber puffs. However I’m learning and actively trying to do better…call it a New Years Resolution for 2016! Good luck Mommies/Daddies – Let 2016 be the year we’re not complete knuckleheads!

 

The Selfish Breast-feeder: What’s in It for Me? November 11, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 10:14 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Note: This post does contain pictures of a nursing baby. If this offends you then I’d recommend putting on some Netflix and carrying on!

Brace yourself! This isn’t another one of those blogs that goes on and on about how breastfeeding is the be all, end all of raising your new son or daughter. If you choose to nurse, awesome! If you choose to formula feed, right on! And if you choose to pump you straight up deserve a gold medal. We all have breastfeeding shoved in our faces on a pretty consistent basis as mothers and honestly I’m getting sick of it. It drives me crazy to hear uneducated harpies (#sorrynotsorry) pipe up in conversations, both IRL and online, with made up statistics and unhelpful admonishments. You know the ones that start ​with ‘Well only about 27% of women ACTUALLY have trouble producing enough’ and ‘Dark beer with help you up your supply!’? Yeah those… A note to those ladies: Quit selling your half-baked advice to fragile new mothers who think they’ve started off as a failure if they don’t take to nursing like a fish to water. You’re not helping anyone and really just seem to enjoy the sound of your own voice…

Perspective shot during a nursing session. You get the same angle bottle feeding btw...just in case you were worried!

Perspective shot during a nursing session. You get the same angle bottle feeding by the way…in case you were worried!

For V I pumped…and pumped…and pumped… so when I had A I knew there was no way in hell I could do that again. I set my goal to pump and try to transition to breast within three months or that kid was going to be getting his nutrients through whatever formula I could buy in bulk. As second time mom I felt empowered to make my own decision that would allow me to maintain a happy, healthy baby AND mother. So long as you have a full and sassy kid on your hands, however you choose to get there you’re doing the right thing.

He sure does...and formula...and really any type of food he can get in his mouth.

He sure does…and formula…and really any type of food he can get in his mouth. He’s not picky so long as he’s full.

Anyways as it turns out A was a champ. Switched to nursing like it was nothing and we settled into a great routine. I never had any mastitis, engorgement, blocked ducts, cracked nipples, etc. Honestly, and hate me if you want, it’s been awesome. But not because I’m providing that ‘Liquid Gold’ to my son. There are a host of other benefits that I’m revelling in, even at one year in. He’s still had a bottle of formula or two a week up until a year ’cause honestly Mom needs a break sometimes but let me fill you in. I’m a selfish breast-feeder. I do it more for my benefit honestly than his…and there are tons of upsides here. Check this out:

A) Cost

It’s free!! I didn’t have to pay to feed my kid for 6 months. I never even bought a nursing bra (giant waste of money…sports bras are a zillion times more comfortable and come in convenient 3 packs at Walmart). I did buy a cover and that was a mistake. Infants may be okay with cloth dangling on their face while they eat but try doing that with a 7-8 month old and see how fast it gets tossed on the floor.

B) Laziness

I hate cleaning bottles with the passion of a thousand suns. Seriously. Have you ever tried to clean out a bottle with gooey, caked, congealed formula at the bottom. The smell alone could clear the room. Also you need to buy bottles, a sanitizer, dishwasher rack, bottle scrubber, drying rack and be prepared to give up half your counter space to the various feeding gadgets. A’s feeding source came attached directly to me so…win!

C) Laziness Pt. 2

I didn’t have to get up to prep bottles at 3am. I literally grabbed the baby, lifted up my shirt and went back to sleep. Feeding my infant went from a 30 min production in the middle of the night to a drowsy, 15 min snuggle. Have you ever stumbled downstairs at midnight, in the dark and tried to measure the correct water to formula ratio while half-awake? It blows.

D) Space Saver

When I packed the diaper bag for V I always had to make sure I had pumped milk, knew how long it would be out of the fridge, etc. It was stressful and took up too much space. Plus when bottles spilled all over the inside of the bag, wiping out diapers and clean outfits, it was enough to pull my hair out. This time, when I left the house all I had to do was make sure I had a change of clothes, wipes and enough diapers to get back home again. No fuss, no mess, no stress! My food supply was kind of obligated to come along with us.

I refuse to live in a world where I'm the only source of nutrition for my kid! Although a bottle of water is less gross to clean than milk...especially if you forget!

I refuse to live in a world where I’m the only source of nutrition for my kid! Although a bottle of water is less gross to clean than milk…especially if you forget!

Now there are definitely some downsides to nursing as well. I can tell you more people have seen my rack in the last year than have in my entire 30 years before that. It bothered me to start but honestly at this point it doesn’t even phase me. I’m not someone to push my nursing on anyone else though. If I’m not at home I’ll usually leave the room or set myself away from the group after asking the host if they’re okay with me breastfeeding. I don’t think the fact that I’m lucky enough to nurse my child means that I have to become a warrior for a cause. Breastfeeding is like religion, it’s a personal choice and doesn’t need to be rammed down anyone’s throat.

Milk drunk. Infants make this face with a full belly, formula or breast milk.

Milk drunk. Infants make this face with a full belly, formula or breast milk.

I’ve also seen the differing reactions from family, friends and strangers now that I’ve reached the year mark. Those who tipped their hat to me about what a great service I was doing my child at 4 months suddenly ask, ‘Oh, you’re STILL nursing?’ I should be clear here that I’m not still nursing because I believe in extended breastfeeding (and it’s totally cool if you do). I’m actually actively trying to wean but A still enjoys the comfort and snuggle in the morning and before bed, so it is what it is. I’m going to take the fact that we’ve gone from 5-6 times a day to 1-2 as a victory here and find comfort in the knowledge that we’ll stop before a) he can actively remember it and b) before he can verbally ask for it or start pulling down my shirt in public. No free peepshows courtesy of my toddler thanks!

Gotta make sure Mom doesn't go anywhere...

Gotta make sure Mom doesn’t go anywhere…

In the interest of full disclosure, I did also have my days where I struggled with breastfeeding. Not because it was uncomfortable or hurt in any way. It was because I felt trapped. I’d literally be ‘touched-out’ by the end of the day and just want 30 mins of complete solitude where no-one was crawling all over me. I was A’s main source of nutrition so I couldn’t leave him for extended periods of time, go on a long weekend with my husband or even drink more than a glass or two of wine at a party or celebration. Also I’m not sure if I just have a slow metabolism or love food too much, but it’s also done absolutely zip for my post-pregnancy weight loss strategy. Those moms who say that they lost 50 lbs purely based on their boobs are full of crap.

Funny part of a breastfed kid? They'll literally try to nurse off of anything. Exhibit: A trying to nurse off the wall.

Funny part of a breastfed kid? They’ll literally try to nurse off of anything. Exhibit: A trying to nurse off the wall.

Another load of baloney that mothers are fed is that your bond with your child isn’t as strong if you don’t breastfeed. Hooey. I never nursed V and I love both my boys just as fiercely. How your child eats isn’t the basis for love and anyone who tries to sell you that load of garbage is obviously dealing with some serious issues of their own. Smile, nod, and walk away slowly.

Breastfeeding is a huge commitment. Not as big as pumping honestly, having done both, but still a pretty big deal. I was very proud that I’d managed to stick it out for a full year and I decided to celebrate reaching my goal by having some nursing pictures taken. We never did newborn pictures with A, like we did with V, and I wanted to do something special and unique to celebrate getting through the first year happy and healthy. I’m lucky that we know a very talented photographer who had no qualms about capturing what ended up being a very sweet moment between mother and child. The pictures honestly brought tears to my eyes, not because I’m breastfeeding, but because you can see such a strong bond in the pictures, something that’s hard to find words for. I’ll treasure them forever.

Courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography.  Adore this.

Courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography.
Adore this.

So in the end, breastfeeding is awesome and not for all those reasons the crazy mothers will drill into you. There’s definitely an upside for you in there but if it’s not what you want, then do what keeps you and your child happy and healthy! Just in case no-one has told you lately, you’re doing a great job, enjoy a virtual high five from me!

 

No WAY It Could Be Worse – Baby A’s Pregnancy August 8, 2015

Now those of you who have been following my blog know that my pregnancy with V was a little rough. Bleeding, early contractions, PPROM (pre-term premature rupture of membranes for those in the know!) and an extended NICU stay for our first little miracle man definitely made for some interesting stories. His pregnancy wasn’t actually too rough on me though. I had a few small kidney stones, and plenty of anxiety, but mostly V just didn’t deal well with being ‘baked’.

When A and I decided to try for Baby #2 we determined that it really couldn’t be any worse than V’s and we were prepared! We thought we’d maybe have to have some hormone injections and perhaps in an extreme case have a cerclage placed. We were prepared for some late-term bedrest and maybe another short stay in the newly updated NICU. We had this!

God must have heard us planning and had himself a pretty good laugh. He probably thought ‘Easy eh? I’ll show them!!’ What followed was probably the worst summer on record followed by the joyous birth of our second son. They say you can’t have a testimony without a test so let me fill you in. Note that I have another post planned with his actual birth story but this is just the condensed ‘highlight’ (low-light?) reel of pregnancy #2.

Spoiler Alert: All's well that ends well.

Spoiler Alert: All’s well that ends well.

Test #1 – Initial Stones

Not even a week after we got the plus sign on the pregnancy test I woke up at 4am, from a dead sleep, literally screaming in pain. I thought for sure I had an ectopic pregnancy and my insides were rupturing into a pile of mush…it hurt that badly. Keep in mind I’m no stranger to kidney stones and this pain made my other experiences look like a stubbed toe. Our first trip to the ER let us know that I had stones in both of my kidneys, but they looked pretty manageable and since the biggest one was only 6mm I would probably pass them on my own. Joy. I was sent home with some T3s and told to sleep it off.

Test #2 – Kidney Infection

About 3 weeks later I was back in the ER with pain AND a kidney infection. The awesome thing about stones in that they tend to horde bacteria in their rough surfaces and if you don’t pass the little bastards they tend to make your kidneys all yucky. Sent home with my first of many rounds of antibiotics and was placed on medical leave from work…at 9 weeks pregnant. Spoiler alert…I never got to go back.

Test #3 – Braxton Hicks/Pre-term Contractions at 15 weeks.

I was sent to the ER again at 15 weeks, this time for early contractions. After spending a good portion of my night freaking out I got to see my OB the next day for the first of many medical interventions.

Back when my family dr first confirmed our 2nd pregnancy they sent off my referral immediately to my High Risk OB from my pregnancy with V. She knew my history and had told me if we ever had another she’d want to see me by 13-14 weeks to make sure we were proactive against anything that could cause another early arrival. Turns out by the time she got my referral at 9 weeks and saw my ER frequent flier miles she had me in for my first appointment at 10 weeks.

Normally High Risk Drs won’t see you until the second trimester due to the risk of miscarriage but Dr. D was taking no chances! She was incredibly upfront with me about what could have cause V to come early and had a game plan in place for Baby #2. In her medical opinion V’s early arrival was most likely the cause of a hormone issue. She thought that my body didn’t do a fabulous job of regulating my progesterone during pregnancy and when the levels dropped low enough it figured pregnancy time was up! For most people, from what I understand, progesterone builds quickly during the first trimester (hello morning sickness!) and maintains a pretty even level once you hit the second trimester onwards until labour. My body seems to drop my progesterone levels once I hit about 15 weeks so I start getting contractions etc which is never a good thing when viability isn’t reached until 24 weeks.

It's okay Baby A! Big bro knows just what a NICU stay is about.

It’s okay Baby A! Big bro knows just what a NICU stay is about.

So…after having cervical length checks done (these are super fun…not!) my OB decided that I would need weekly shots of progesterone to keep my body from going into labour early. I was supposed to start at 16 weeks but after our scare at 15, we got going a week early. We had the option of progesterone given by pill (and nope you don’t swallow it) or through intramuscular injection. I chose injection and picked up my first batch of 4 vials. Progesterone is actually suspended in oil so it is incredibly thick and needs to be administered through a large gauge needle given in one of the largest muscles they can find. Your butt cheek. Yup…we’re all glamourous up in here! So from 15 weeks to 35 weeks I had to visit either the hospital or my family dr and have a nurse jam a giant needle into my backside. Luckily the shot itself had pretty minimal side effects, mostly just a giant bruise for a few days, and the benefits far far outweighed any embarrassment or discomfort I might have had.

Test #4 – Hydronephrosis and Nephrostomy Tubes

Nephrostomy tubes have already been given their own special blog post but my experience with them started at 21 weeks when I was again rushed to Triage with unbelievable pain…again. Ultrasound showed that my right kidney was completely blocked by stones, the largest of which measured 1.5 cm. Doctors can’t do much about all that when you’re 5 months pregnant so I had a tube inserted into my back that drained my urine (sexy I know) into a bag for the next 6 months. Sidenote: You know your husband loves you when he will clean your surgical site every 3 days for 6 months and empty the bag for you when it hurts just too damn much to climb out of bed and drag yourself to the bathroom. Did you know your mattress has a lip on the edge that catches medical tubing at just the right angle to bring you to tears? True story…

Oh I caused how much trouble?? No way!

Oh I caused how much trouble?? No way!

Test #5 – Infections, PICC line and IV Antibiotics

Getting tired of my list yet? Cause it’s been a year and I’m still over it! After the tube was placed I ended up still having some cramping and thought it might just be those pesky early contractions. Turns out it was from my bladder since I had one heck of an infection. When my OB diagnosed it I figured she’d hand me a script for 14 days worth of pills and I’d be on my way. Turns out what I needed was a 4 day hospital stay to set me up with a permanent PICC line and a portable IV pump of 3x daily antibiotics until delivery. I guess sepsis during pregnancy is a pretty scary possibility and they figured high dose antibiotics for the next 3 or so months would do the trick to keep me (mostly) healthy and out of pre-term labour…yet another risk of infection. The PICC will likely get it’s own post later because it was also it’s own new level of suck. Enjoy taking showers? Dressing yourself? Being able to brush your own hair? Too bad!

Test #6 – VRE Infection

So one of the side ‘benefits’ to making hospital visits your full time job; including letting a team of medical professional getting their hands (literally) on your kidney once a week is that you open yourself up to a whole new world of infection that isn’t actually otherwise available to you. I picked myself up a lovely ‘vancomysin resistent’ infection during one of my stays so A and I had to learn to disconnect my IV pump and hang our very own gravity IV line. We were super high tech about it too…we hung it from a picture hook in our living room for 30 mins over 7 days to clear that sucker up. I guess that’s what we get when we said that after the PICC line and IV pump that things couldn’t possibly get any worse…

Test #7 – Pre-eclampsia

True story – when your kidneys stop functioning properly your chances of developing high blood pressure go up…and not just because it’s stressful! After I gained a whopping 9 lbs in a week, while not changing my diet in the slightest, my doctor was understandably a little concerned. Turns out that my blood pressure, which for my entire adult life, including during my pregnancy with V, has been a textbook 120/80 had shot up to 140/95….they were not impressed. I tried to sell it as ‘white coat’ induced especially since I’d had no ‘classic’ pre-e signs like headaches, spotted vision etc. No dice. They put me on a drug called Labetalol which honestly made me feel a zillion times worse. My parents even hooked me up with my Babcia’s ‘at-home’ blood pressure cuff which I compulsively used throughout the day. Turns out the drug didn’t work out so well for me and after a month of trying to bring it down my doctor finally called uncle and induced me on Sept 12th…5 weeks before my due date…when my bp reached an astonishing 191/115…beauty.

August-Man has arrived!

August-Man has arrived!

I should also note here that unlike gestational diabetes which, 99% of the time, clears after you deliver, pregnancy induced high blood pressure can take months to go back to normal. For me I took bp meds until Dec…I worried it would never go back to normal!

Test #8 – NICU and Pneumonia

Even after ALL of this drama A decided he wasn’t going to let V be the only high needs baby in this family. He was born making a very odd ‘squeaking/sighing’ noise that almost sounded like a half-hearted cry. Turns out that since he was born just as his lungs were on the point of maturity he’d developed pneumonia and was struggling to push the air out of his lungs. Seriously? After 3 months of in-utero antibiotics? Guess so…

My Glowbug

My Glowbug

16 days later we finally got to bring our second miracle mister home and did our best to settle into a routine while still dealing with 75% of our previous issues. Luckily I was PICC line free and obviously not pregnant after being discharged but it took me another 2.5 months for surgery on my right kidney and to lose the tube, 3 months pp for my bp to regulate and 4 months pp for the surgery on my left kidney. So much for a quiet mat leave full of snuggles!

To recap: I was pregnant for 8 months, had 25 different procedures, 4 hospital stays, saw 4 different specialists, and was on a first name basis with our community nursing team. In the end however, it was obviously 100 million, bazillion percent worth it to complete our little family. A is a joy. He’s a happy, adventurous, beautiful little baby who adores his big brother and is loved to pieces by all three of us. We’re so glad he’s here but it’s probably a good idea we had no idea what was in store for us when we decided to expand our family.

My boys! My heart is full.

My boys! My heart is full.

 

Occupational Therapy: Daily Routine July 27, 2015

So I’ve just been throwing up all of these tools, activities and exercises for V’s fine motor development without any real structure as to how we actually do them in our day to day lives. I should be clear that we do not spend hours and hours a day doing these ‘games’ because A) V would be hella bored and B) I have a 10 month old who doesn’t appreciate that much free time. The reason we have so many different games and activities is so that we can switch it up every day without doing the same things for the next year or longer if that’s what V needs.

Realistically we do V’s Occupational Therapy activities 5-7 times a week. If we’re home on the weekend (and during the summer we are usually on the go!) we’ll take time the morning to do his games before we take on the rest of our plans. Every time we do his exercises it takes about 20-35 minutes, depending on V’s choices for the day and is divided up like so:

Category

Activity

Time (in mins)

Scissors

Card-stock Exercise

2

Straw

2

Putty Snake

2

Pre-Writing

Dot-To-Dot/Maze

5

Colouring

5

Pencil Grip/Object Manipulation/Finger Strength

Any 3 activities of V’s Choice (dice, coins, leapfrog, etc)

5

5

5

The Scissors and Pre-writing activities are pretty set, however V can chose the activity book and page he wants to colour. The other activities he’s able to chose from our Occupational Therapy Kit. He gets pretty excited about all the options but definitely has his favourites! The only time I step in is if we’ve done the same activity for 3+ days in a row, so that he’s not just practising one individual set of skills, but is able to apply them across the board!

We do all of his activities in one big chunk of time in the morning because it’s when he’s got the most focused energy (any teacher will tell you all the most important lessons take place before lunch!) and his baby brother is happiest after breakfast! That way we can make other exciting plans for our afternoon and don’t have to worry about trying to come back and ‘finish up’ anything we left out.

A doesn't appreciate me taking 30 mins away from snuggle time to work with his big bro! V decided to join him in a show of solidarity...

A doesn’t appreciate me taking 30 mins away from snuggle time to work with his big bro! V decided to join him in a show of solidarity…

Typically, as a ‘reward’ for concentrating and doing well on his OT games, V and I will play a rousing round of Mario Party 10 on our WiiU. I know that it’s become a huge bone of contention with a lot of people; kids and screen time, however video games are actually a pretty awesome fine motor and hand/eye coordination activity! A round of Mario Party only takes about 30 mins and trust me, V has no idea he’s even practising moving his hands separately. We’ve tried playing actual board games but V has trouble picking up and moving the small pieces. It usually ends in frustration and an incredibly short attention span, so Mario it is!

There you have it: Our daily OT routine! Any feedback is appreciated and I’d love to hear how you spend your Occupational Therapy time!!

 

Occupational Therapy: Activity – Nuts & Bolts July 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 2:42 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Until we started having V evaluated for fine motor issues I never realized how those delays would affect his every day life! At (almost) 5 years old you don’t see it used much beyond writing and colouring but when you start some of the exercises you really see how these difficulties could extend to different areas as he grows older. For this next activity just imagine trying to put together some Ikea furniture if you couldn’t manipulate your hands/fingers correctly. And you thought assembly was already a pain the ‘you know what’!

Materials Needed:

2 Nuts

2 Bolts

Yup OT supplies can be purchased at the hardware store too!

Our Nuts and Bolts courtesy of Home Hardware!

Our Nuts and Bolts courtesy of Home Hardware!

Category:

Object Manipulation.

** Again these type of activities help V build the coordination and strength in his fingers.

Directions:

  1. Twist the bolts onto the nuts at two different points.

  2. Have your child use their non-dominant hand to hold the nut and the dominant (writing) hand to twist the bolt until it drops onto the table, making a loud bang!

    Twisting the bolt so it will drop onto the table top.

    Twisting the bolt so it will drop onto the table top.

  3. Repeat with the second nut & bolt set.

Notes:

  • If your child is really into the activity you can have them try to replace the bolt onto the nuts using the same hand motions.

  • Buy nuts and bolts with a wider width. They’re pretty cheap so as your child masters the task you can go buy thinner ones later on but to start you’ll want them to experience success!

  • V loves the surprise of the loud BANG! when the bolt hits the table. He thinks it’s hilarious and it also encourages him to try to hold the nut and bolt still over-top of the table as he works on turning the bolt.

    End Result!

    End Result!

 

Occupational Therapy: Tool Kit – Grotto Grip July 21, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 3:23 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

This is our second purchase from fdmt.ca. As I mentioned previous, most of V’s materials can come from discount or dollar stores but the Grotto Grip was another exception. Our OT recommended it because it attaches to his pencil, marker, crayon, etc to help him maintain a proper grip. There were a few grips she considered for him but did eventually decide that the three-point grip would be the most beneficial. She let us know that a few stores in our area did carry a version of this particular grip, but she’d found they didn’t work quite as well for children with fine motor issues and since we’d be ordering the scissors anyways….might as well add some more!

I was really excited to see how these worked with V because, as a general rule, he HATES to colour or draw. He would scribble as fast as he could, and then tell you he was done. If you wanted to pull out some colouring books his attention span would last for all of about 5 minutes before he was running around again. This may have led to some speculation in the past that he had behavioural issues, however now that he’s been properly diagnosed we know that it was purely frustration and boredom. How much do you like being force to do something you’re not good at or find incredibly hard? Can’t blame a pre-schooler for letting his feelings be known! Anyway, I was excited to try them out and see what type of change it would make in both his skills and his attitude.

Here is a highlight of what our pencil grip/pre-writing program looks like.

Material:

Grotto Grip

Stabilizer (dice, large bead, etc)

Grotto Grip! V prefers the blue but we also have black, green and purple!

Grotto Grip! V prefers the blue but we also have black, green and purple!

How It Works:

It slides onto the pencil/pen/marker etc near the tip and is essentially a plastic mold that, for all intents and purposes, forces, his hand into the proper grip with his thumb and forefinger ‘pinching’ the sides of the instrument and a cradle for his middle finger just below. We keep his other two ‘stabilizing’ fingers busy by holding the same object he would for any of our ‘pencil grasp’ OT exercises.

V also gets his choice of pencils for his daily activities. Choice choice and more choice is key!

V also gets his choice of pencils for his daily activities. Choice choice and more choice is key!

Exercises:

  1. Connect the Dots

V’s OT told us that ‘Connect The Dots’ puzzles and mazes are amazing activities for children with fine motor issues. They make them practice drawing firm, straight lines as well as constantly changing angles and adjusting their grip. V loves them so we’ll pick one a day to do together. It’s also a great way to practice his numbers and counting!

You can find this stuff everywhere if you're looking. This booklet is full of 'Connect the Dots' place mats!

You can find this stuff everywhere if you’re looking. This booklet is full of ‘Connect the Dots’ place mats!

  1. Colouring

V is also practising his grip by learning to colour inside the lines and switching his grip between different coloured pencils. We usually colour our ‘Connect The Dot’ picture once we’ve completed the first part! V has about 4 different colouring books in his OT kit so he gets to choose which one he’d like to do for that day.

All those colour choices!

All those colour choices!

  1. Pre-Writing Activities

V isn’t at this point yet since we’re still trying to get him practising his grip but we will eventually move into repeating the tracing/copy activities from his OT assessment. V will practice tracing and drawing simple finite shapes like X, T, O, squares, triangles etc.

Tracing lines between matching pictures and their shadows. Who doesn't love Transformers?!?

Tracing lines between matching pictures and their shadows. Who doesn’t love Transformers?!?

  1. Writing and Letter Tracing

Also not an exercise we’re doing right now but V will also soon start tracing his letters in workbooks and trying to write his own name! We have to keep the end goal in mind here!

Notes:

  • We purchased 4 Grotto Grips from the website. 2 are for home use and 2 will be sent to school, labelled, for V to use when they are doing any drawing/writing lessons there.
  • Make sure you continue to use a stabilizer for all of the writing activities. Just because your child has the grip for the first three fingers, they also need to learn to use the other two to help stabilize their hand as they go.
The Grotto Grip in action! You can't even see the stabilizer hidden under the outer two fingers now! He's learning to close that fist.

The Grotto Grip in action! You can’t even see the stabilizer hidden under the outer two fingers now! He’s learning to close that fist.

  • Encourage your child to use their other hand to hold the paper and move it along as they draw/write. Part of the writing skill is using their hands cooperatively!
  • Choice is important! Have a variety of workbooks/activities for your child. Again, it’s all about getting that buy in to produce the sense of control and the feeling of success!
This is a sample of our writing activity choices! Kids really appreciate that small sense of control so make sure you provide options.

This is a sample of our writing activity choices! Kids really appreciate that small sense of control so make sure you provide options.

  • Invest in some magnets! V loves the ability to display his work on the fridge when he does a new, exciting activity! Pride in their work is important especially when learning new skills.
Look at what I can do! He is so proud of his accomplishments.

Look at what I can do! He is so proud of his accomplishments.

The beginnings of our Refrigerator Art Gallery from our 'Artist in Residence'. Definitely need to buy more magnets... Although the Canadian bottle opener does add a certain 'Je ne sais quoi'...

The beginnings of our Refrigerator Art Gallery from our ‘Artist in Residence’. Definitely need to buy more magnets…
Although the Canadian bottle opener does add a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’…

Results:

I can’t say enough great things about this tool! Even after 3-4 days of use I can already see a HUGE improvement in V’s grip and his abilities. He knows how to hold the pencil with confidence and is able to exert more pressure as he makes his marks. His lines are darker, straighter and more firm. He can also colour much close to the lines, tries to colour in smaller shapes and will actually sit and colour for more than 5 minutes at a time! He is rarely drop his stabilizer now and he looks forward to our craft time each day. As least from my end the Grotto Grip is highly recommended!!

I have never, in almost 5 years, seen V draw such straight, firm lines. I almost cried and I definitely sent out a picture text to Daddy.

I have never, in almost 5 years, seen V draw such straight, firm lines. I almost cried and I definitely sent out a picture text to Daddy.