A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

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

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

V's newborn pictures, with Pooh Bear

V’s newborn pictures, with Pooh Bear

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

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

Pooh Bear and V chillin in the NICU

Pooh Bear and V chillin’ in the NICU

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

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

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

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

Nothing says Xmas photo shoot like Pooh Bear!

Nothing says Xmas photo shoot like Pooh Bear!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sleeping with his Pooh Bear

Sleeping with his Pooh Bear

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

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

Recent family photo session! We love you Pooh Bear!

Recent family photo session! We love you Pooh Bear!


Rogers Wireless and Pooh Bear: The Cuddle Wars January 31, 2012

Andrew and I had a long conversation that Saturday night about Vaughan cuddling his receiving blanket in the isolette, and how sad it seemed. We felt so guilty that he didn’t have anything to snuggle! Newborns who come home can cuddle Mommy or Daddy, their teddies, toys etc. Vaughan had to stay cocooned up in his blankets and wires…so what to do?

One of V’s nurses that day had mentioned to me that we weren’t able to put stuffed animals into the isolette with him. They tend to pose a smothering hazzard, because, at 2 lbs 12 oz, pretty much any stuffie would dwarf V. The toys were welcome in the NICU but were left perched like ominous, fluffy giants on the side of the isolette rather than inside as a snuggle-buddy. We were, however, allowed to bring in layettes, also known as lovey blankets, which could be put inside with our little guy.

The nurse recommended that Andrew and I sleep with it so that V would know our scent and then bring it in for him to have. So Sunday morning we had a mission, to purchase a ‘blankie’ for V! This would be our first official purchase as parents for our baby boy. We’d been so spoiled at our shower and by family and friends, along with the fact that V arrived so early, we hadn’t actually gotten him anything ourselves at this point.

We also had another purpose for heading to the mall that Sunday. Andrew needed a new phone and since my contract was coming up, we had decided to take the plunge and sign up for a family plan with Rogers Wireless. As mentioned before Andrew’s phone had stopped working the night I went into labour and I was unable to reach him (I am aware that this does sound like a B-rated romantic comedy moment here). This remained a problem afterwards because if the hospital or I needed to reach him about anything to do with V, we both needed reliable sources of communication.

As you know signing up for a cell phone contract is serious business and we researched in our ‘spare’ time to make sure we were getting the best value for our needs, or at least what our perceived needs would be, over the next three years. We figured that hitting up the mall when it opened at noon would let us get in and get out relatively quickly, stuffed animal blanket thing and new cell phones in hand. Then we’d head up to the hospital for a visit with V before Andrew headed back to the theatre for rehearsal.

Looking back now, I’m sure ‘fate’ was laughing it’s fool head off when it heard our plans and decided to make our already memorable and stressful week a little longer. We stopped at Walmart first and bought the only lovely blanket we could find; a pale yellow ‘Winnie The Pooh’ with a velvet top and satin underside, featuring Winnie’s head and arms. Beggars can’t be choosers and we were determined to have the toy to him that night (yeah, yeah I know we were supposed to sleep with it, so sue me). No more receiving blanket snuggles for our kiddo!

Then we made tracks over to the Rogers store. Cue ominous music here….

The lineup was epic. I’m talking at least 15 people long. Why oh why did everyone decide to get new cell phones that day? Oh yeah…OSAP had just come in. Awesome. There were also the assorted students who had dropped their phones, or in one case run them over with a bike, during drunken Orientation week shenanigans. Double awesome.

So Andrew and I sighed and took our place at the back of the line, hoping that the 3 employees manning the desk would make short work of everyone’s requests. Oh wait, new employees got stuck with the Sunday shift? Sweet! AND someone called in sick? What luck!! If you haven’t already sensed the sarcasm here, let me tell you that all of this info made me want to start jabbing myself in the eye with one of their little USB internet devices. We hunkered down for a long wait.

I feel like this is where I need to mention that, while epidurals are like a giant hug from Heaven, they do occasionally have the unpleasant side effect of some lingering back pain for a few days after they are administered. Not surprising seeing as someone jammed a 10 inch needle up your spine. This was just the icing on the crap sundae, as each moment standing in that line felt like someone was running a pizza cutter along my lower back. This made the whole experience just that much more special.

When we finally made it to the front of the line, luck of the draw, we managed to get the ‘newbie’ who had never signed anyone up for a plan in his life. This however, wasn’t too bad for us, however, I did feel marginally guilty for the people behind us as one of the more experienced employees came over to help. I could go into more detail but I’ll leave it at this: Signing up for the plan took a lot longer than necessary due to (and we should have expected this at this point) computer glitches, stock issues, etc. Thankfully after 2+ hours we left the store the proud owners of fancy new smartphones. We made tracks out of the mall and back to St. Jo’s.

Now, I had nothing else to do with the rest my day other than spend time with our little guy. Andrew, on the other hand, had a rehearsal to get to and by the time we arrived at the hospital he only had 15 minutes to visit with his son. This was a big moment for us as a family and I remember Andrew getting to hold V and crying because he just really didn’t want to go.

Andrew enjoying his all too brief snuggles after our Rogers experience.

As a woman and mother there is nothing sweeter than watching the two greatest loves in your life bond and feel it so strongly that it moves, at least one of them, to tears. Andrew was so angry at Rogers for taking away his time with his son, and although it was necessary, he just felt robbed of his day. I also think this is when it really struck him that, for the next few weeks at least, his time at the NICU would be limited. It’s different when a newborn is home and Daddy can see him before and after work, and then be able to snuggle after the play. When that newborn is in the hospital it is a lot harder to just go and cuddle, especially juggling it with rounds, visiting hours, work, etc. We made a deal that if he was unable to make it between work and rehearsal, or even if he just felt like he needed more time with V, that we would come when we could afterwards, even if that was at 2am. This, I think, helped him relax and he was able to head back to his commitment with the play. I assured him that I’d use our fancy new phones to keep him updated on V’s progress.

Sleeping peacefully while being held by his Daddy. I can totally understand why he didn't want to leave this little miracle!

We did decide to hold off on the lovey blanket for one more day so that we could wash it and yes, sleep with it before we added it to his little world inside the isolette. This was important because Andrew wanted to have time to see Vaughan’s reaction to the toy, and we really wanted to experience any ‘milestones’ like that together as a family, a philosophy we still stick to today!