Category Archives: Parenting

Astrid: Month Three

Moose Family
Astrid is another month older. She now consistently smiles when she’s happy, makes distinct vocal noises when she’s bored or excited, and has more head control. It’s been awesome watching her grow.

Ponderosa View

We spent the first half of the month travelling and visiting relatives in Manitoba and Ontario. She did really well with the new environments and faces. We had no problems on the three flights and one train ride we took. WestJet, Air Canada, and Via Rail all gave us priority boarding and didn’t charge us for the baby or the extra baby luggage (her car seat and stroller). WestJet was a slightly better experience than Air Canada, mostly because of the little touches – friendlier staff making sure we had everything we needed and they had our stroller waiting, all setup, when we got off our flights.

Airport Amusement

Astrid was quiet for all of our long distance rides. On our first flight from Vancouver to Winnipeg we were seated right in the middle of the BC Boys Lacrosse team. I felt really bad for the poor kid stuck in the window seat next to us, but Emily fed Astrid on takeoff and landing and she slept for most of the flight without making a peep.

Toys

Now that Astrid is more aware of the world around her, she requires a lot more stimulus when she’s awake. On the plus side, this means that she loves walking under trees, going shopping, attending baby activities, and discovering new toys. However, it’s also requiring a lot creativity and plenty of repetition from her parents. We sing the same five songs a lot, we have dance parties, we read and listen to stories, and we work on sitting, standing, and rolling over.

Crib Mobile

Skwish

The most challenging parenting moment in the past month was when Astrid got something stuck in her eye while we were in London.We noticed her rubbing her eye in the morning, but didn’t realize something was wrong until she slept for 3 hours and refused to open her eyes, even after feeding. She resisted any attempts to pry her eyelid open, so we couldn’t see what was wrong.

Irritated Eye

We tried flushing it out with water in the sink but it only upset her. Doctor Google gave us some good tips (flush water toward the nose and hold her on her stomach so the eyelids move away from the eyeball). We were tempted to give up and take her to a doctor, but after a second water flush and some time being held face down (it was the first time we realized she really enjoys playing airplane and has enough neck strength for it) she managed to blink out whatever was bothering her.

1st Full Night Sleep

Our biggest surprise of the month was when Astrid slept through the night. On September 4, while we were at the Ponderosa, she slept for 9 hours (from 9:30 pm to 6:30 am). Sadly, we didn’t weren’t able to take advantage of a full night’s sleep. After 3 am, we were waking up every hour to check on her and make sure she was still alive. We keep praying to the sleep fairies, but she hasn’t repeated that magic night since. In fact, the past 2 weeks she’s regressed in her sleeping habits, waking up every 3 hours to feed. It’s only a small change from her old habits, but the extra nighttime wake-up has been a noticeable drain on our energy levels.

Dream Time

The good news is she’s napping better during the day. Before, she would only nap in her swing or stroller. But while we were travelling we were forced to improvise. We were amazed to discover that if we wrapped her in a warm blanket when she was tired and gave her a soother, within a few minutes she would contentedly fall asleep.

1st Doctor's Visit

Astrid had her first doctor’s visit last week. There is some concern about her eczema, but we seem to have it under control. I was happy the doctor wasn’t eager to prescribe a steroid cream. Astrid’s weight gain and size are excellent for her age (around the 60th percentile) and she’s on track for her mental development.

Astrid also get her first vaccinations. I wasn’t vaccinated as a child, but have come to the conclusion that vaccines are safe and an important health measure.

Oral Vaccination

So, we took Astrid to the the local health clinic to get her 2 month vaccinations last week. The oral vaccine she got (for rotavirus) was no problem but the three shots she had (covering Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio, and Meningitis) gave her a fierce crying fit. She calmed down after five minutes and let Emily nurse her. After the shots, we monitored her at home for a fever. Not because she ever showed any signs of one, but I wanted to try our fancy, contact-less, digital thermometer – the Thermo. In 5 seconds it takes the baby’s temperature without any upsetting probing. It’s awesome.

Cuddles

New Parent Adventures: Baby Eczema

Eczema

Astrid was born with sensitive skin. Something she unfortunately inherited from her parents. We both have to deal with eczema. Mine was particularly bad as a child, when my parents would slather my legs in creams, wrap them with rags (mummy style), and put socks over my hands before I went to bed top stop me from scratching my legs until they bled. As an adult, my skin is very dry but it’s manageable with moisturizers and by avoiding eczema triggers.

Eczema

While we were travelling, Astrid’s eczema really exploded. The heat in Ontario and a bunch of other environmental triggers caused the small patches of eczema on her legs to get much worse and spread to her stomach and chest.She never really complained or itched, but that might because she doesn’t have the motor skills to scratch yet.

Our number one priority when we got back to Vancouver was to get her eczema under control. Here’s what we did:

  • washed all her clothes with scent-free laundry detergent
  • started moisturizing her skin twice a day with homemade lotion (made from shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and olive oil) and Aveeno Baby Eczema Care
  • Emily avoided eating soy, eggs, and dairy (which irritate my skin)
  • gave Astrid oatmeal baths twice a week

After two weeks, her skin isn’t perfect but the eczema is now under control.

Better Skin

Astrid: Month Two

Beach Time
Happy 2 month birthday to our little girl, Astrid. It feels like we’re getting the hang of being parents and she’s establishing a more predictable routine. It hasn’t been all sunshine and beach parties, but things are getting easier, especially over the past 2 weeks.

The biggest change is that we feel more rested and less exhausted than we did last month. I’m not sure if that’s because we’re adapting to life with less sleep or she’s sleeping better. Probably both.

Mobile View

Parenting is becoming less of a chore and more fun. Astrid is more interactive – she smiles, makes happy baby noises, and reacts to sounds and objects around her. She really loves the mobile Emily made for her. When she’s awake and happy she’ll stare it for up to an hour as it slowly spins above her. She also likes hanging out with her stuffed animal friends – Maurice the mischievous monkey, Pauline the perky penguin, and Ekua her elephant spirit guide.

Last week Emily took Astrid to the library for story time. Astrid was the youngest baby there and slept through the whole thing, but Emily learned a bunch of kids songs that she enjoys singing with Astrid.

Animal Party

We still don’t have a life outside of the baby and it’s tough to plan anything. Astrid doesn’t have much of a schedule, except for one day a few weeks ago when Emily freaked about sleep training and tried putting her on a rigid nap schedule. That proved to be more effort than it was worth, so now we’re back to letting her nap when she’s tired.

For the most part she feeds every 2 1/2 hours during the day and spends the rest of the time awake and playful or cat napping. Her only scheduled activity right now is bath time – Wednesday and Sunday evenings around 8 pm. It helps calm her down and sleep better. We try to get her to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 pm.

Bath Time

We’ve been lucky she’s been developing some good overnight sleep habits over the past two weeks, without us having to stress too much about it. Most nights (fingers crossed), she goes to bed at 9 pm and sleeps until 2 or 3 am (a good 5-6 hour stretch). Then she feeds and goes back to sleep until 6 am. At 6 am, I take her and Emily goes back to bed. We do playtime for an hour and then I try to get her to nap for an hour.

Anna, Astrid, and Zoe

During the day, she cat naps for short stretches (up to 30 minutes) in the stroller, carrier, or on the floor with a soother in. The only way to get her to have a long nap is to put her in the swing. It usually knocks her out pretty quickly. I don’t know if that makes us lazy parents or smart parents, but it sure beats having to push the baby around in the stroller. At least this way we can do other stuff, like eat, cook, and watch Netflix, while she’s napping.

Messy Reward Donuts

Astrid is a very regular pooper. A pretty consistent 5 poopy diapers a day, and you have to be careful when changing her because sometimes she tries to sneak one in before the new diaper is on. We’ve started a tradition where you get a donut every time you’re pooped on. It was Emily’s idea (she’s had a few poop explosions while breastfeeding) and I think it’s just an excuse for her to eat more donuts. But she usually gets one for me too (even though I’ve only been peed on), so I’m not going to argue with yummy vegan donuts.

1st Bottle Feeding
My biggest triumph of month 2 is successfully bottle feeding Astrid. I’ve done it 3 times now and it was pretty easy (twice at 6 am while Emily slept). We’re lucky that Astrid has no problem drinking from a bottle. We know a few babies who refuse to.

So the plan is to occasionally pump and I can take care of the odd feeding. That way Emily can leave the baby for more than 2 hours during the day or get a full night’s sleep when she needs it. It’s also nice for me to be involved in the feeding.

Astrid in the Garden

So we’re two months in, Astrid is healthy and happy, and we couldn’t ask for more. She has cradle cap and sensitive skin (she gets heat rashes easily and has some eczema on her legs), but otherwise she’s very healthy and gaining weight and a good rate. We don’t want to jinx it, but she’s a really sweet baby.

Pouty Faces

New Parent Adventures: Baby Tracking App

Today's Timeline

I’m a proud data nerd, so it probably comes as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of our baby tracking app. It’s the great aid to my sleep deprived brain and the keeper of our daughters history so far – at least all the important statistics like weight (4.9 kg), height (57 cm), and dirty diaper count (445).

We use the Feed Baby app. We paid $4.99 for the Pro version so we could sync data between our phones faster and not have ads but the free version is pretty good. The main competitor, Baby Daybook, looks very similar and I’m not sure there is much that separates them.

Sleep By Day

The app’s main day-to-day feature is helping mothers keep track of what side they’ve most recently breastfed the baby on. It’s also a great aid to help decipher the baby’s moods and answer the some key questions. When was the last time she fed? Is she constipated, when did she last poop? Maybe she’s over-tired, how much has she slept today?

The charts and statistics have been handy for seeing the patterns in her habits. For example, Astrid’s steadily been getting better at sleeping at night, with longer sleeps and less time awake for feedings and diaper changes. Of course we can feel that, but the data really shows that although there has been a few hiccups, her sleep patterns have been steadily improving.

Sleeps Heatmap

It’s also useful for tracking her weight, height, and head circumference and comparing them against standard growth curves. Astrid started off small and lost 10% of her weight in the first 3 days, but has rapidly growing since then.

Growth Chart

There are a bunch of features we haven’t used yet, but will as Astrid gets older – like new teeth and vaccine tracking.

So if you have a newborn, I highly recommend getting a baby tracking app. It will make your as sleep-deprived life much easier.

New Parent Adventures: First Triumphs and Fails

There is an excellent parenting podcast called Mom and Dad are Fighting, which starts each episode with the hosts retelling a triumph or failure from the past week (for a taste here is one of my favourites). It’s been 1 month since Astrid was born, and Emily asked me what our triumphs and failures have been. Here are our answers.
Drowzee soothing
Dad’s Triumph: Astrid has been particularly fussy the past few evenings (growth spurt?). I’ve found that wearing her in the Baby Bjorn and slowly walking around the neighbourhood with a gentle bounce soothes her to sleep better than anything else. This alone is a success, but the real triumph is realizing that Pokemon Go is a perfect companion to our walks. Astrid is soothed to sleep and I get some video gaming time. Win-win! Our neighbourhood is a real Pokemon hotspot (and full of Drowzees), so even late at night there’s usually crowds of people around which is comforting.

Mom’s Triumph: When Chris went back to work I was struggling with how to fill my day and how to do errands. I was feeling better physically and wanted to go out and do things, even without a regular schedule. I knew that riding the bus was an essential way for us to expand our radius, but was quite intimidated. I had one particularly urgent errand that forced me to give it a try. Astrid slept the whole way there (yay!) but was wide awake on the way back. As soon as we got on the bus she began to holler. I managed to pick her up and settle her on the bus before putting her back in the stroller and rolling her off at our stop. The most satisfying triumph is one that involves overcoming a little turbulence. 🙂

Dad’s Fail: With each day, I’m feeling increasingly worn out. In Astrid’s first week, I would heroically jump out of bed whenever she was fussy and bounce her for as long as it took to get her to sleep. I didn’t care if it took hours. But my heroic moments feel more forced now and after 10 minutes of holding her in my arms my back gets sore; after 20 minutes it starts to go numb; and after 30 minutes I’m spent. I wish I had done more exercises to strengthen my back before she was born. I’ve also managed to lose 5 lbs and I’m not sure where it went.

Mom’s Fail: We were out and about with Astrid in her stroller and decided to drive home in an Evo car sharing vehicle. Since our infant car seat  is the seat part of the stroller, we just popped it off the base and buckled it into the car – super convenient. Chris and I got in the front seats and drove off. About half way home I realized that we never buckled Astrid into the car seat. We don’t strap her in when we’re walking because it scrunches her in so tightly. I drove the rest of the way very carefully, but we probably should have stopped and strapped her in.
False Creek Stroller Walk

Continue reading New Parent Adventures: First Triumphs and Fails

New Parent Adventures: Cloth Diaper Service

Saucy Bottoms Supplies
Our cloth diaper service has been invaluable. I’m not sure what we would do without it. None of the alternatives are very appealing – washing cloth diapers ourselves sounds exhausting (especially as we don’t have ensuite laundry) but creating mountains of garbage with disposable diapers would cause more guilt than we could handle.

Thankfully there are cloth diaper services in almost every city. We chose to go with a Vancouver company called Saucy Bottoms. We’ve been super happy with them and would recommend them to anyone in the Greater Vancouver area.

Twice a week they pick up our dirty diapers and drop off a fresh load of cotton diapers, cloth wipes, and fleece soakers. We are encouraged to use as many diapers as we need each week (the cost is a fixed $30/week no matter how many we use). Yesterday’s drop off of new supplies (shown in the picture at the top) had 65 new diapers and 60 cloth wipes. So we’re probably going through 15-20 diapers per day right now. Generally, they replace the diapers at the same rate as we use them, but if we ever come close to running out (which has happened once) we just call them and they drop off more.

Diaper Shells

In addition to the cloth diapers, Saucy Bottoms gave us six water-proof outer shells. We’re responsible for cleaning them. They’re usually good for several changes before some poop leaks onto them. Then we wash them by hand or in the washing machine and let them air dry before using them again.

When we signed up for the diaper service, back in May before our daughter was born, the Saucy Bottoms owner dropped off our first batch of cloth diapers and gave us a 30-minute tutorial to how to use them. She also has a series of instructional videos on her website (Saucy School) showing how to use their diapers in case we forget.

The diapers are easy to change, although that hasn’t stopped me from screwing it up once or twice.

Diaper Fail

The best part is our baby’s skin has done very well in cloth diapers. 3 weeks old and no sign of diaper rash and we haven’t had any need to use any creams or powders.

Astrid: First 10 Days

In the Garden

We’re 10 days into our new lives as parents, and it’s time to document what we’ve loved about these early days with our newborn daughter. I think we’ve been pretty lucky so far. She has her fussy moments, but she’s pretty easy to soothe and rarely cries for more than 10 minutes before we figure out what she wants. We’re definitely sleep deprived and beholden to her whims, but we’ve learnt to nap when she naps. At night she’s been sleeping well between feedings with a two or three long stretches (2-4 hours) most nights. By most accounts, we’re doing ok.

Favourite Moments

  • First night at home when I took Astrid from an exasperated and exhausted mother and soothed her to sleep while mommy slept. I’ve never felt so accomplished.
  • When Astrid starts to doze off, she makes a lot of faces – frowns, smiles, furrowed brows, yawns, and zombie eyes.
    Relax
  • Our first social outing. We got her all dressed up to take her to meet the neighbours. We were just about to leave the house when she made a big poop. So we undressed her, cleaned her up, changed her diaper, and then redressed her. Then when we were 2 feet out the door she pooped again, so we had to repeat the process. We’re starting to understand why parents are always late.
  • Showing her off to the neighbours.
    Meeting the Neighbours
  • Emily really enjoys having Astrid fall asleep on her chest after feeding. It’s their special bonding time.
    Tummy Tme
  • Bath time in the kitchen. She hated the first bath she had in the tub, but was pretty calm for the sponge bath we gave her next to the sink.Bath Time
  • Seeing how much joy the grandparents get from holding her. Before Astrid was born, I naively thought it would be best to have a few days alone with her before the grandparents visited. A chance to try and learn her needs on our own. But I was wrong. It’s been a huge help to have them visit and impart their parenting advice.
    Grandmothers
  • 4 am Daddy Dance Parties. When she doesn’t fall asleep after a night-time feeding, I take her to another room for dancing, bouncing, and exercise time. It helps her fall asleep and sometimes we both pass out on the couch together instead of moving back to the bedroom.
    Passed Out
  • How well behaved the cat has been. I don’t think Boo likes the baby but he is content to just ignore her. He hasn’t lashed out or seemed stressed at all. I’m not sure we could deal with a misbehaving or anxious cat.
    Boo and Astrid
  • Watching her sleep with her thinker pose.
    Lil Thinker