Month: June 2014

Science: Being Awesome to Save Your Life

It’s such a hot button topic these days, but it bears repeating. And then I’ll tell you a little story.

IMG_0778Little Grunt just went to get his first vaccinations. I took him to the one of the Public Health offices, where they are administered free of charge to all children; probably all adults if you need your boosters, too. When I arrived, I had to go through a set of large glass doors, and posted on these doors in bright red was the following:

STOP! If you have a persistent cough, and with it a rash, fever, or runny nose, DO NOT COME IN. Please go to the nearest urgent care facility immediately. THERE HAS BEEN A MEASLES OUTBREAK IN THIS AREA.

Yes, really, and yes, I have been tracking it as it has made the news. Just after Grunt was born, there was a case in the Calgary area which saw all unvaccinated children and those susceptible to infection sent home from a public school, including a couple pregnant teachers. People were enraged that someone who did not believe in vaccinations or had chosen not to get them for a certain reason had suddenly disrupted their child’s learning environment.

Then the cases started to appear in Edmonton. MiniSir was in Wainwright tracking them along with me, making sure I wasn’t taking our newborn out to places where the infected had visited in the last 7 days. What became apparent as more cases were reported was that it was one community in particular that was perpetrating all the nonsense. Unvaccinated children between 3 and 6 years of age that attended the same doctor’s offices, the same church, and the same grocery store were spreading it amongst themselves like one of those ridiculous chicken pox parties that used to occur in the 60s and 70s. One of these children even visited a maternity/newborn ward in a local hospital before being quarantined, primarily because I feel the parents just didn’t understand how seriously ill he was and how deadly his illness could be to those that cannot fight against it.

But the final straw was when an infected 30 year old male took the disease with him to West Edmonton Mall the day before Mother’s Day and spent 4 hours there spreading it around. Of all the socially irresponsible things to do, to me this was on a scale similar to that of a spree killing. I was texting with other new moms in the area every time more locations were announced, each of us making sure the others were aware of the details. We all wanted to be as careful as we could. Our husbands in the field were just as concerned. And then this dumb ass just waltzes through the busiest shopping centre in the city on one of the busiest shopping days of the year and spreads all that germy love around like a gift.

Grunt and I were lucky. All of those reported infected lived in the south end of the city, and so all the reported places of business where there could have been contact were far away from our usual haunts. But I still washed my hands religiously. I told strangers not to get too close to my baby. I purposefully avoided getting out of my car if I could, and when I did I wiped everything down with antibacterial wipes. I kept my son safe from the negligence of others because that’s what socially responsible parents and people do. The outbreak has been declared over in Calgary, but not in Edmonton. Not yet. And so, the signs at the Public Health office are still up, because you can’t be too careful.

Which leads me to my story. Last week there were celebrations at MiniSir’s regiment for the “Change of Command”, when a new commanding officer takes over from the old. There was a parade with lots of tanks driving around and firing blanks, so I took the baby out for some fresh air, sunshine, and pomp and circumstance. Afterward, everyone gathered at the regiment for a light lunch and socializing. While I was standing with Grunt waiting to see MiniSir, another officer asked if he and his family could sit beside me. Of course I said yes. I then made small talk and found an excuse to leave quickly. Why? Because said officer’s toddler was with him, and said officer has made it very clear to others that he doesn’t believe in vaccinations, ANY type of vaccinations, and his children have not had any. He put me in a position where I had to choose between social nicety and protecting my child. There wasn’t really a choice. I may have been rude, but I couldn’t consciously make the decision to stay where I was.

Science. Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Chris Hadfield can’t be wrong about it being awesome. Jenny McCarthy and Alicia Silverstone may be celeb “yummy mummies”, but until they can hold up a shred of evidence to suggest vaccinations aren’t safe, I’ll stick with the professionals on this: vaccines save lives, not Dr. Oz.


New House Blues

blog imageBeing new home owners and having an infant has been nothing short of an adventure. Sure, there are lots of things you need to buy to make yourself ready for baby to come home from the hospital, and yes, when you move there are usually things you need to get for the place, especially if, like us, you have gone from an apartment to a house. Combining the two adventures together has been nothing short of hard on the pocketbook, but more importantly, on our precious little free time.

May/June is always a socially busy time with the army, and this year even more so as the commanding officer of MiniSir’s regiment is changing, MiniSir himself is heading out of the regiment and into a post with the brigade, and the CO of both the brigade and the base proper are also heading off to bigger things. When you’re one of the highest ranked officers at your level in the brigade, it’s a big deal that you attend all the various going away suppers and parties. Therefore, there have been many weeknights where my husband is off being fabulous somewhere and I’m left at home on my own with the little one for a lot longer than I have been accustomed to. Not that I’m complaining – he’s a pretty fantastic, easy-going little baby.

The problem I’m encountering (and truthfully, my husband because he’s home less than me and is still dealing with all this) is the new home owner side of things. We had a hole cut into our driveway over the winter so there could be access to the main water line. That was fine, but it’s been 6 weeks since the condo company said they would finally fill it for us. In the meantime, the rain has washed away so much of the dirt in it that the hole is now 5 times bigger than the original cut and is in the process of hollowing out underneath our entire driveway slab. Someone actually put a metal plate over it two weeks ago because there had become a very real chance of putting a tire in it and getting the whole car stuck. They painted the porch without letting us know they were doing it, and you cannot see the front door from the living room. So my hubby went to leave and stepped in the wet paint. Now we have footprints on the porch they need to come touch up because they didn’t bother to knock on the door and say, “don’t come out this way”. There’s a step down to the basement where the tread is split and I swear I’m going to step on it one day carrying the baby and send the two of us tumbling to our deaths. They said they would fix it. Still not fixed. I’ve had to get the tire repaired on my car (and I’m pretty sure I have another puncture) because of all the nails in the roads surrounding our still-under-construction neighbourhood. You get the picture.

And then there’s the alarm system. The condo board installed all the hardware for their own system and said the first year was free for us.  Which seemed like a great deal until they told us that it didn’t operate with cell phones and we needed to get a land line. So we went with another company, one that we can control our alarms with a mobile app, remotely lock and unlock doors, and set the thermostat to correspond to different users and times of day. Ingenious. There’s just one problem. It hasn’t worked since they put it in. Thank god it isn’t the middle of winter because we called on Friday for a service tech to fix it, and now it’s Wednesday and he MAY be here at 3pm. If it was November I would have frozen to death by now because the thermostat that they so nicely hooked into the system isn’t working. The furnace can’t be communicated with at all. I would rather have to deal with a sweaty baby than a frozen one, but the whole point is that it’s taken 6 days! 6! We get a two-week trial period with the system. We’ve spent the last week trying to get it fixed. So far the trial is going really well. Sigh.

When we decided to get a new home instead of an older one, we thought it was the smart thing to do. But at least with an older one, it would have been up to us to fix the things that needed fixing so there wouldn’t be any sort of expectation that it get done by someone else. And that’s exactly what is happening here – people not living up to expectation. I can’t just give my baby back if I don’t feel like living up to the expectation of being a mother, so why are these contractors and providers not following through with their own responsibilities? Why do we have to harass them day after day to get the things that were promised us actually done? Customer service is just that: service, of which we are certainly not getting the quality I would have anticipated. I’m teaching my infant that if he can hear my voice, he is safe. I wish just one of these companies would do the same with me.

To Mommies Everywhere: You Got This

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I’ve been a mummy for 8 weeks now; weeks of wonder and of exhaustion. And in those 8 weeks I’ve begun to learn all about this mommyhood business. My most important lesson thus far has been this: every single mommy out there is winging it. Especially if they have more than one sweet little bundle. Every parenting moment happens on the fly, and it’s over before you know it. You’re so tired that you don’t even go back and analyze what you would have done differently until much, much too late, and by then you are doing all the things you said you weren’t going to do with your own kids.

I made a proclamation to my mum a few months back that I wouldn’t co-sleep with my newborn. I wasn’t even going to have him sleep in our bedroom with us. He was going to sleep next door in his crib where I wouldn’t roll on him accidentally and I would listen on the monitor in case he needed me. That lasted a week once he arrived home: one sleepless, heartbreaking week in which we discovered that he hated lying flat, he hated being swaddled, and he hated being left alone. (It was a lot of grouchiness for one so small.) Now, he sleeps in his hammock-style bassinet beside my bed, and when I can’t convince him to sleep during growth spurts or bouts of sickness, he lies between MiniSir and I in the bed. I’d be upset when Mum chooses to remind me of the arbitrary statement I made back when I was still naive, except now that I’ve learned just how little every other mother actually knows, I let it roll off my back.

Some of you reading this might argue that you do know quite a bit about being a mommy. That may be true, but there is a caveat you’re forgetting. You know a lot about being a mommy NOW. Think back to when you were still squeaky new and still had so much to learn, and admit you didn’t have the faintest idea of what to do. It’s okay. I’ll wait while you remember doing all those things that are now causing you to facepalm pretty hard.

Some of the other discoveries I have made during these last 8 weeks:

  • The internet can tell you how to do things like get formula stains out of onesies, but it cannot tell you why your baby is crying.
  • Similarly, if you believe the internet, your baby has every disease known to mankind and the only way to cure them is with a totally organic health food product bought from fair trade farmers in Peru.
  • If your baby is present in a room with other women, they will either compare it to their own or steal it from you. There is no third option.
  • Apparently, because I both breastfeed and supplement with formula, I am a hideous monster mother who wants her child to grow up to be a sociopath.
  • Also, I drink caffeine, have the occasional beer, and eat dairy while breastfeeding my son, so he will be an obese alcoholic.
  • No one ever believes you when you say that this is going to be your only child. NO ONE.
  • Take pictures. As many as you can. Because you will be too tired to remember what that weird rash looked like when you see your pediatrician next, but photos will always be there to explain for you.

Lastly, and in all seriousness, this: when you wake up at 2am for a feeding, and you’re exhausted and just looking for more sleep, and that beautiful little face stops crying and smiles at you as soon as you lean over the bassinet, your heart will stop and you will know that all of this BS you wade through every day means nothing because your baby feels safe and happy when you are near.