Just Jump in Adjust Accordingly

Whenever I visit my parents' house and use their guest shower I find a great opportunity to take the time to think. You see their shower takes a little time to adjust. Like many tub/shower units, you first turn on the bathtub taps and get the perfect temperature of water. Then you pull the faucet plunger up and the water comes out the shower head.

The problem with my parents' shower is that the water that comes out of the shower head is never the same temperature as the water you poured in the tub. It's almost always screamingly hot! (Yes, I have been known to scream when struck by those burning hot needles of water). Once or twice, though, it's been colder than expected. So really there are no expectations other than that changes will need to be made.

I've found it's no good to stand outside the shower and try to adjust. I'm much better off cowering against the wall, adjusting with one hand and holding the other under the water. The other thing, though, about this shower is that changes in temp are not immediate. I often go from boiling hot to freeezing cold because I've nudged the cold water up four or five times before I felt a change. It takes time and you have to be patient.

Yesterday as I was going through this scream, adjust, scream, adjust routine once again I was reminded of how much like parenting it is. Let me explain:

First of all, we can spend all kinds of time before we have kids trying to decide how we will raise them, what we will make important, how we will react to issues, just like trying to prepare the water before the shower. And that's great. More power to us if we can think things through and make educated choices. However, once we're pregnant we're forced to just jump in. It doesn't matter if we're cringing in fear or brimming with hope, we are suddenly parents.

So once we become parents we learn to adjust our expecatations, our tolerance, our patience, our ideas - or not. Sometimes I suppose, as happens very rarely with my parents shower - our preparation beforehand is just right and nothing needs adjustment. But often we find that the things we once thought important no longer are and vice versa. We see that our children have their own personalities and cannot be forced into our cookie-cutter ideals. So we adjust. We adjust ourselves or we try to adjust things about our children - their behaviour, their confidence, their abilities.

The things with these adjustments, though, is that often they take a long time to come to results. And it's easy to get impatient and over-adjust one way or another. Say we expected a brilliant child and he's turned out to be just normal. It's easy to swing the other way and expect too little from the child, not providing that essential push they need to stretch their abilities. And the opposite is true too. It's easy to expect too much and push to hard to make the child fit your idea of him or her.

And when it comes to behaviour it's very easy to talk in absolutes and discipline a child too harshly for something that's preceived to be a "problem." An example would be a child that has refused to go to bed at an appropriate time - an over-reaction would be sending that child to bed an hour earlier than normal - overadjusting their sleep schedule. And there's the flip side too, some parents would refuse to discipline because they see now effect. They just give up and let the child stay up as late as they want, overadjusting and lowering their expectations of the child.

The trick, you see, is to ease the change. Slowly, slowly, trying it out and if it doesn't succeed, moving on and trying something a little different. And maybe things will never be exactly as we had hoped and expected, but we can get them close with a little perseverance and patience.

Unlike hot water, or even water itself, our patience must be unlimited. So I guess that's the only difference between showers and raising children! Although, the time you spend waiting for the shower to adjust right and feeling like you're wasting water and time can be easily compared to the times when you feel like you're wasting energy and time trying to adjust your child's behaviour or your expecations. So really there's no difference at all.

For my parents' shower and parenting itself the only advice I can give is, prepare yourself; jump in; be prepared to make changes.


Keeping Little Legs Warm and Stylish

My youngest son has a multitude of health problems, but when he was very young the thing that worried us most was the circulation in his legs. His feet were always purple, his legs often blue. I tried to keep his legs as warm as possible, but once he began to sit he was often on the floor. His socks and shoes (yes even Robeez!) would get pulled off; his pants legs would ride up. He was also breaking out in hives and contact rashes on his legs and I just couldn't keep them covered enough to prevent this.

I told my husband I was going to have to start putting tights on him. Banish the thought! Tights on a boy! That's when I thought of using legwarmers like the BabyLegs I had seen amongst friends. However, when I visited some of the store sites that sell them I had a hard time finding ones that would be appropriate colorwise (for a boy AND matches everything). The price was a bit of a turn off too.

In my continued search, I came across Wee Warmers. These legwarmers are handmade by a Mom in London, Ontario. Canadian! Handmade! By a Mom! And more affordable than BabyLegs! Lee Anne, owner of Wee Warmers works a regular job in the computer industry and sews up these leg warmers in her spare time. Yet when I placed my order for 3 pairs, they were in the mail 2 days later and in my hands within a week.

We love our Wee Warmers! I ordered two pairs for the baby and one for my older girl. They come in a multitude of colors from plain to funky and sizes from 10 to 13 inches in length. And the prices are much lower than BabyLegs, especially for Canadians who don't have to pay the exchange rate on these Canadian products. The prices range from $9-10 a pair. And they're great! 100% cotton they covered the baby's legs and his rashes lessened. They kept him toasty warm too. I pulled them down over his socks and it made it a lot harder for him to pull his socks off (not impossible, mind you, but very very difficult).

And, of course, the little princess loves hers. Wish I could post a photo but my camera's down. There'll be one soon.

This is not a paid advertisement and I received nothing for posting this. Just my honest opinion. It's very important to me to support other parents, especially Canadian ones, and I love this product!


My First Column

If you'd like to read my first published column - and all the controversial feedback it produced - check it out on the Western Star website. It was an interesting experience. Scroll down to the bottom to read some of the comments from online readers. And feel free to leave your own!

I was pleased with the amount of feedback received, even if some of it was critical of my perceived parenting "issues." Meanwhile, word of mouth feedback was excellent. I was even stopped by people who didn't know me to say how much they enojyed the column.

My favourite feedback, though, came from a Mom in Stephenville. She said she was home ready to tear her hair out when her husband brought her home a photocopy of the article. Fortunately, my column lightened her day. I could recieve negative feedback from 100 readers but that one reader that found the column helpful makes it all worthwhile.

Really, except for a couple of people leaving comments online, everyone seemed to enjoy the article. And even those that left comments online must have enjoyed reading it enough to feel like they should respond. I'm pretty proud of my first "flame" from a reader, to tell the truth!


What to Take to the Hospital (For Baby's Birth)

I compiled this list some time ago for a friend and it was then requested by a few other friends. I've added some things, deleted others in the past 5 years, but I think it's a pretty definitive list.

Unfortunately, you have very little control over how long your labour will last, how painful it will be, or what possible complications you might encounter, but you have a little control over how comfortable you are during that time. This list will help you stay comfortable and should provide everything you need.

I welcome comments, though; if there's something you think should be included or something you feel isn't neccessary, let me know by commenting below!

The What to Take to Hospital List

  • 2 crappy nightgowns (go to Walmart and pick up the $5 ones); they will get messy so you're just going to throw them out after.

  • 3 or more pairs cheap ass granny panties - you will dump these in the garbage as you are packing to leave.

  • 1 ultra comfortable easy to use nursing bra and one more supportive bra for your "going home" outfit.

  • 1-2 pair pajamas or pretty nightgowns - for after baby is born so you can look pretty.

  • 1-2 nice outfits - don't just bring a "going home" outfit. The sooner you get into your real clothes and out of your pajamas, the sooner you'll feel recovered - trust me!

  • Fuzzy socks - be prepared to throw these out too. But you may not have to. Your feet can get cold while in labour so they're really nice to have.

  • A book, or several magazines. Baby will sleep a fair amount after birth and before birth you might be waiting around for a bit. Bring both so that if you have a short attention span you can read the mags.

  • A pair of hard-soled slippers - for wearing around the hospital

  • A pair of flipflops or water shoes - for in the shower

  • Toiletries - most hospitals specify unscented.

  • Hard candies or cough drops for dry mouth/throat.

  • A large water bottle - You can refill in the hospital but it's hard to get a pitcher of water.

  • Depending on what the ward has (many have small fridges in your room or a patient- use fridge in another room) and how often you expect visitors, you might like to keep a small soft-sided cooler with some drinks, fruit, etc.

  • Your own pillow - trust me!

  • Any comfort items you might want - favourite blankie, stuffed animal, whatever.

  • Thin pads with wings. The hospital gives you the long pads, but they're long and narrow. Wear a long pad, then put your own wing pad on top and wrap around. Trust me, bulky but more comfortable overall!

  • Witch hazel - really great for bathing a sore bum/episiotomy.

  • Moisturizer - hospital is dry!

  • Nursing pads. The hospital never has these. For the first few days in hospital it's probably best to use the reusable cotton kind. You won't be leaking much and these can be gentler on sore nipples than the disposable kind. If you buy the disposable ones I reccommend Johnsons, they are soft, good absorbency and have a sticky pad to stick to your bra.

  • 3-4 onesies/diaper shirts in the smallest size you have.

  • 1 hat

  • 1 pair scratch mittens (often the hospital will give you the hat and mittens but the mittens are too big. You can also use infant socks if you don't have the mittens)

  • 3-4 baby nightgowns/sleepers.

  • 1 going home outfit

  • 1 warm blanket (for when you leave)

  • Your own baby wash - the hospital usually gives you regular bar soap - way too rough on poor baby! You can also request that the nurse use your baby wash for the "first bath."

  • You may also want to bring your own cloths and towels - the hospital cloths are usually okay for the babies, but the towels are often kind of rough.

  • Wipes if you want. You can just use the cloths and water. That's more gentle on baby's bum, but if you're really sore and not up to walking across the room to wet a cloth everytime you change baby's bum, the wipes might be better.

  • There's usually a good supply of newborn diapers in your room. And when you leave, tuck any open packs in your suitcase - they don't reuse the opened diapers so you might as well take them home.

  • CD player and cds if you're so inclined. Or MP3 player.

  • Camera

  • Phone list and calling card

  • Ditty bag or plastic bags for your dirty laundry.

  • Paper and pen/pencil - to write lists of things for your partner to pick up, reminders to yourself, nurse's names in case you want to send thank-you cards or bouquet, first impressions of baby.

  • Small amount cash - to activate your phone and/or tv and/or purchase a snack from the cafetaria or gift shop.

  • That's about it. Some things you may find you don't use at all, other things you may find you're sending someone home to pick up more of. But if you have everything on this list you should be pretty well set. I definitely reccommend a few comfort items or treats.

    Finally, my husband and I usually try to pick up some kind of treat for the nurses. With our oldest two we bought them all lunch, with our youngest it was flowers and a couple of boxes of chocolates for the nursing station. Do this on the day your child is born, not when you leave. A little bribery can go a long way.