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!

Advertisements
 

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!

 

A Short PSA On Parking Lots: Don’t be a Jerk! July 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 4:03 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Over the past 4, almost 5, years I’ve witnessed some pretty blatant disregard for pregnant women and families with young children in parking lots across our fair province. For the sake of this blog, let’s review; most parking lots in Ontario, and I think many in North America, now offer three types of spots.

  1. ‘Regular’ parking spots: take up the majority of the lot, evenly spaced, clearly marked with yellow/white lines that encourage people to park their cars in an orderly fashion.
  2. ‘Handicap’ parking spaces: typically close to the entrances and wide enough to accommodate assisted mobility devices. They are clearly marked with both a bright blue sign and blue marking on the pavement. These are available to those with disabilities who have acquired the appropriate pass, displayed clearly on their dash.
One of many signs to indicate a 'Handicapped' parking spot.

One of many signs to indicate a ‘Handicapped’ parking spot.

Now we also have one more type of parking space that is starting to make an appearance in our local lots:

  1. The ‘Expectant Mothers/Young families’ parking spots. These are typically next to the ‘Handicap’ spots, close to the door, slightly wider and marked with cute signs sporting strollers or storks.
Pregnant and Small Family Spot sign. Please become familiar with and respect this sign!

Pregnant and Small Family Spot sign. Please become familiar with and respect this sign!

As a parent with two kids, I appreciate the fact that retailers understand that leaving the house with kids and all of their accessories is a daunting task. It’s hard when the only available spot is at the far end of a parking lot and you have to work your way to the doors through insane, careless drivers, while holding the hands of a curious toddler jumping his way along and toting 20 lbs of baby in an infant seat which is doing it’s best to pull your shoulder from it’s socket with every step. Having a shorter trek to the shopping carts, where you can corral your offspring, makes the trip infinitely more pleasant and I’m always pleased when we manage to snag one of those coveted spaces! It’s definitely a letdown when you see them all full up but we can’t be winners every time!

Now, my annoyance is this, child-free people who cut you off like it’s the last lap in Mario Kart in order to grab the spot for themselves! It makes me bust out into an internal monologue of ‘REALLY?!?’ a la SNL Weekend Update. I know that it’s raining outside, or hot, or you’re in a hurry but let me tell you, it’s much easier for you to drag your lazy butt the 10 extra feet from the next available spot, than it is for me, my husband and two kids to do it.

It really took the cake when people would use the short-term, 10 min max, ‘Labour and Delivery’ drop off spots in front of the hospital to wait for various friends and family. I observed many vehicles there for half an hour or more last summer and rarely saw any pregnant women exit any of the cars. Women who have delivered…just take a minute to let that one sink in. Can you imagine walking from the next lot over while experiencing contractions? Good times right?!? No.

Personally, A and I only park in those spots if all 4 of us are going into the store. If we’re shopping without the boys, that spot is not for us. Honestly even if we just bring V we’ll walk from the next available parking space because we KNOW someone else needs it more.

Topping my personal list of ‘worst offenders’ is a lady who almost sideswiped us to swing into the spot ahead of us. This was in ankle deep snow, with a tiny 4 year old and infant in his carrier, all while I was still sporting my nephrostomy tube. Oh you just needed to grab some dip for that dinner party you’re headed to? That’s fine…I don’t mind carrying two kids while slogging through slush and snow, trying not to catch my medical tubing on the infant car seat. We’re cool. I seriously debated hunting that woman down in the store and giving her a piece of my mind but managed to (grudgingly) let it go.

It is probably my number one pet peeve when we’re in a lot these days, when I see people who clearly have no kids, grabbing the spots because they don’t feel like walking the extra few feet. Sadly I think it’s just a sign of the times that people just don’t care about anyone other than themselves. I don’t believe people take the spots to be malicious…it’s just that they can’t see beyond their own wants at the time. I’d love to carry passive aggressive ‘spot shaming’ cards on me to leave on windshields but let’s be honest…that type of person probably wouldn’t care anyways.

So as a public service announcement please be courteous when you park! There may be no-one lined up behind you for the spot at the time but who knows what will happen 5 minutes down the line. Think of the worn-out moms and dads who just want to get in and get out with their overtired kids before you snake a spot just so your hair won’t get frizzy in the rain.

 

Gender Identity and V: Planes, Trains and Pink Automobiles December 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 7:22 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Coming up to the Christmas season, we are (I freely admit it) gearing up to spoil our little guy. He’s finally reached the age where he ‘gets’ Christmas, Santa, Family and of course, Presents! So we’re really taking the time this year to ask him what he’d like and doing out best to accommodate without turning him into one of those spoiled, entitled kids who write the pages long letters to Santa. Now, although V gets the concept of presents, he still has no idea about money so what he asked for isn’t that crazy. He has asked Santa for a Habs sweater and some little Super Mario Bros figurines he saw at Walmart. Consider it done tiny man!

Now as the chief shopping officer in our small family I was struck at the divide I found when I entered the ‘Toys’ aisle at our local store. Once you leave the aisle of ‘Infant and Toddler’ selections that are usually made up of generic simple, bright and loud, you have to choose a ‘path’. Do you want the ‘Girls’ aisle full of Barbies, Disney Princesses and Littlest Pet Shop? Or do you want the ‘Boys’ section brimming with Nerf Guns, Ninja Turtles and Tonka trunks? Um what? Okay I understand that there is a social and gender bias in the toy market, but I was unaware that that decision needed to be made as soon as your child fell out of the 12-36 month bracket. Apparently gender neutral is fine for infants and toddlers but as soon as they reach the age of 3+ then be prepared! The sky will fall around your feet if your baby girl loves to play with cars and dinosaurs and your little man likes to play with a shopping card and pink vacuum! I’m really no social activist or feminist but the divide is so spectacular and obvious it’s hard to let it go unremarked.

Rockin' the pink stripped shorts and his Pooh Bear

Rockin’ the pink striped shorts and his Pooh Bear

As parents we really let V choose the direction he wants to take with his interests and toys. Now that being said he really is a ‘typical’ boy in that he absolutely loves baseball, hockey, Thomas the Tank Engine, roughhousing and cars, any type of car. He does also, however, tell us on a pretty consistent basis that he wants to be ‘Princess Sophia’ and ‘borrows’ his 8-year old cousin’s purple ‘Pet Shop’ puppies to help drive his garbage trucks. He has a pink ‘Lalaloopsie’ car and when we let him choose which bottle of bubbles he wants we’re just as likely to have ‘My Little Pony’ or ‘Hello Kitty’ as ‘Spiderman’ or ‘Cars’. It’s really whatever draws him at the time.

Sample of V's toys 'organized' by gender colours...

Sample of V’s toys ‘organized’ by gender colours…

As another decision we’ve made is that A and I plan to sign V up for T-ball this coming Spring, as baseball is something we’re passionate about as a family. However, we’re also looking forward to the day we sign him up for dance and theatre. A is a great role model for all of this because he’s such a well rounded man! He loves baseball, hockey and tech stuff as much as most guys, but his ‘extra curricular activities’ include acting and sitting on our local theatre’s ‘Board of Directors’. V also has his Aunt K who helps coordinate the local childrens’ theatre group and directs to boot! Heck V was born during a show and became the honourary mascot for the production, so maybe he’ll find joy in performing like his Daddy.

V loves to play 'pirate'. Aaarrrrgh!

V loves to play ‘pirate’. Aaarrrrgh!

Now as all ‘real’ men know, pink is the new black, or so I’ve been told. V has been the proud owner of a few flashy pink t-shirts in his day and he rocks them just as hard as the next toddler. Not saying I don’t love to dress my kid up in a good old fashioned tie and ‘old man’ cardigan for the cuteness factor but I am also totally planning on encouraging him to explore other clothing options to cartoon covered hoodies, stupidly sloganed t-shirts and track pants. Sloppy isn’t stylish my man! Now if only I could convince him to try hats….There’s just something about a toddler in a newsboy cap that makes you do that ‘OMG too much cuteness!!!!!!’ squeal thing…

Pink shirt you say??

Pink shirt you say??

I remember reading a story a few months ago about a little boy who wanted to wear a frilly headband to Walmart and the difficult and upsetting situation the family found themselves in when someone took exception to a baby boy wearing ‘girl’ clothes. We have luckily never run into a situation like that but we do tend to get some sidelong stares when we’re cruising Walmart with V clutching a Disney Princesses bubbles container. The only comment I’ve ever had someone make however was recently at a toy fair that was operating for one week only in our city. I’ve actually worked at this toy fair way back in the day just when I was finishing school, and I’ve made it a point to check it out every year since V was born since it has such amazing deals for kids! This year I was looking for some fun stuff from ‘Santa’ and was blown away when I saw a Dora the Explorer scooter on for just $15! What a deal! I scooped one up immediately and I know when V sees that sucker on Xmas morning he’ll be thrilled! It’s just like his cousin’s scooter so he’ll be able to play with the ‘big’ kids in the summer and to top it all off it features decals of two of his favourite cartoon characters! Dora and Boots! As a parent I was also pleasantly surprised that although the box is pink and purple, the scooter itself is a flashy orange and teal! It is the first and only gender neutralish Dora toy I’ve been able to find. I figured since Santa doesn’t deliver in boxes we’ll just set it up, stick a bow on it and call it a day.

The Dora scooter!

The Dora scooter!

On a sidenote here, those parents who’ve watched Dora know that it is a gender neutral show for the most part. Yes Dora is a little girl but the adventures she has are awesome and usually include trolls, trains, farms, mountains and lakes. It’s fabulous because it appeals to such a wide variety of kids with the added bonus of throwing in some rudimentary Spanish for good measure. On the downside when you go looking for any Dora merchandise it is ALL pink or purple! The shirts have frills, the backpack toys come with makeup compacts, bangles and brushes and the dolls are usually ballet or gymnastic related. Are you kidding me?? So V is the proud owner of a ‘Dora the Explorer’ does Ballet colouring book….

Anyways I’d snapped up the scooter and headed to the cash where the cheerful cashier went to ring it through. She picked it up, exclaimed over the deal and mentioned ‘Well that’s one lucky girl this Christmas!’ I was so stunned I just shot right back with ‘Actually that one is for my 3 year old son’. That put a quick end to any small talk and I really was pretty shocked. Yes I understand that the toy comes in pink and purple packaging but does that really make a difference? Dora is like the Rolling Stones for toddlers and young kids, I really don’t think it matters if the thing was covered in frills and sparkles…although sparkles would stick in the cracks in the hardwood….

What really bothered me later was that that lady’s comment made me second guess my choice for V. I know he’ll like it but I worried that maybe I was buying him a ‘girl’ toy and that the other kids would laugh at him, even though I know he’ll just have a blast whizzing around our complex. Finally I just decided I needed to let it go. Whatever my son likes he likes and people will just have to deal with it! I never ever want to be that parent who asks him to second guess his preferences based on what other people will think. My job as a parent will be to make him strong enough and confident enough to make those choices he believes in and to respectfully stand up for those choices when his colleagues and peers question them, be they social, political, religious etc.

Chillin' with Daddy's friend...getting him started on 'wraslin' young!

Chillin’ with Daddy’s friend…getting him started on ‘wraslin’ young! The size difference in this pic is really what makes me laugh…

I guess to get right down to it, I don’t think that having pink bubbles, playing with dolls or wanting to wear one of the leftover pink tiaras from Aunt K’s bachelorette will turn my baby boy into a girl or have a lasting effect on his preferences later in life. I do, however, think that it will teach him that Mommy and Daddy don’t care what he wears or plays with so long he’s happy and polite. We want him to be an open-minded, confident and cheerful toddler, kid, teenager and man and we’ll love him no matter what. Isn’t that our job as parents? We let V develop his own interests (except for the slight amount of baseball brainwashing) and discover who he wants to be, not what we ‘expect’ of him. He’s pretty awesome all around anyways!

He may not look it but he really does love Ace...

He may not look it but he really does love Ace…

And the Blue Jays brainwashing continues...and no we do not have the whole Jays Shop in his room...pretty darn close though!

And the Blue Jays brainwashing continues…and no we do not have the whole Jays Shop in his room…pretty darn close though!

So to wrap it up, this kid is getting a Cars playset, a Captain Hook ship and a Dora Scooter for Xmas and he’s going to love every darn one. The only thing I expect at the end of the wrapping paper massacre is a thank you!

 

Why We Chose To Vaccinate November 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 3:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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!

 

The Big Question November 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 6:41 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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!