Gas relief

Chris and I are pleased to announce to the world that we finally have a baby.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Wait, didn’t I get an email back in May that Heather was in labor? Surely it couldn’t take nearly three months for her to push that child out!”

While it is true that I did give birth twelve weeks ago, up until this week, we didn’t really have what you could call a baby. We had a gas generator. Not a generator that runs on gas, mind you. I’m talking about a machine that generates tremendous amounts of gas — enough natural gas to solve today’s gas crisis singlehandedly.

Maddi’s days were spent taking in breastmilk and turning it straight into pure methane. When she wasn’t releasing it, she was turning red, kicking like a little two-piston engine and screaming frantically in her attempts to get rid of it. Sure, there were periods when she was quiet, and even periods when she would bestow gummy smiles upon her loved ones. But it was a bit hard to do anything or go anywhere, because you never knew when the good mood would fade and she would thrash about like a madbaby, wailing for what seemed like hours.

Time to eat? No, time to rock Maddi at just the right speed and bounciness to keep her from losing it. Need to use the bathroom? Wait ’til Maddi’s sleeping; being alone is no fun when you’re a baby in pain. Car ride? It could put her to sleep, but then again, she could shriek frantically the entire time.

To me, and probably to Chris, it seemed as if this difficult period would never end. Every time we hit the road, Chris and I starred in our own little version of the movie “Speed,” in which we could not let our vehicle drop below 60 mph lest Maddi explode in tears. Having no time for myself whatsoever, it was impossible to get in any exercise, yet my biceps are ripped beyond words from rocking Maddi up and down for hours on end. I developed a cry threshold, which enabled me to sleep through tentative pre-crying noise and wake up only when the wailing began to escalate. I could neither remember life before Maddi’s gas nor imagine her without it.

And then, slowly, a week or so ago, the sun began to come out from behind the clouds. Maddi spent longer and longer each day playing and smiling, and less and less time working her little lungs and legs. She still has her gassy periods, to be sure, but there are only a few a day and they’re much shorter than they had been.

Mere weeks ago, I approached the weekly Baby Talk class at the public health unit with trepidation, because I am known there as The Mother of the Baby That Always Cries Loudly the Whole Time. But two weeks ago, she cried just a little, and last week she didn’t cry at all. Now I can be the mom who plays the games at the end of the hour with her baby while someone else’s infant wails. Now, instead of racing through the mall, straining to push her carriage fast enough to lull Maddux into slumber, I can stroll in a leisurely manner whilst pausing to allow strangers to coo over the darling ray of sunshine that is my wee daughter.

During the day, she can be left in her swing for short periods in which she will be awake and alone, yet perfectly happy. She now greets Chris and me with enormous toothless grins each and every time one of us enters the room, and even bestowed one of her precious smiles upon a random lady at the mall — just because.

It’s been a long time in coming, but Maddi is finally the baby we expected for nine months and knew was lurking inside little Miss Gassypants for the past 12 weeks.

Yes, we are, at long last, the proud parents of a happy, gurgling, grinning baby girl. I thought it was great before, but now it’s really awesome. Mother and baby are resting comfortably (at long last!) and the whole family is enjoying the precious new arrival.

And here’s our little princess in all her 12-week-old glory:

Water baby

Back in the olden days, before swimming lessons at the Y, fathers used to teach their kids to swim by chucking them in the the lake (or the deep end of the pool, for city kids). If they swam, it was a success. If not, well, they were too weak to be of use on the farm anyway (or the textiles mill, for city kids).

Nowadays, the young ones are soft — and our baby is the softest of them all. Not that I mind, because I love touching Maddi’s velvety baby skin. But her acclimatization to water has been slow to say the least.

I suspect she never did really enjoy being bathed in amniotic fluid, since she never stopped kicking and thrashing for a minute during her gestation. On her arrival into this world, she showed a pronounced distaste for water. Her first bath ended abruptly when she told the bathtub exactly what she thought of it — with her rear end. Her second bath was similar, except with more screaming. In fact, each bath during her first two months hit decibel levels usually associated with heavy-metal concerts.

Finally, Chris and I hit on the idea of running the shower before her bath, rendering the room a passable imitation of a sweltering tropical rainforest by the time Maddi was plopped in her tub. The first time we tried it, Maddi didn’t scream. The second time, she actually smiled. Now she enjoys her bath for a good five to 10 minutes.

You may recall that a few weeks ago, we took a short weekend trip to another province with no planning whatsoever. This week, we took a longer weekend trip within the province and Chris planned it all in advance (and yes, we packed for this one). Our journey took us about four hours away, to Halcyon Hot Springs near Nakusp.

We had hoped that, with her newfound enjoyment of baths, Maddi would also enjoy the bath-temperature hot springs pool. Alas, on our first foray into the water, Maddi’s good spirits lasted approximately three minutes. Then the wailing commenced. As people throughout the resort wondered who was shoving bamboo shoots under our baby’s toenails, we raced back to our chalet and dressed Maddi in a nice warm sleeper, hoping we hadn’t scarred the poor child for life. To our great surprise, she fell promptly asleep as I buttoned her up.

Having discovered that torturing our daughter with 87-degree mineral water is one of the few things that lulls her into slumber, and capitalizing on the fact that she will never remember any of this when she is older, we immediately planned our next trip to the pool. We figured 15 minutes should do it.

The next time we got in the pool, instead of regarding the water with suspicion, the wee one delighted in being bobbed up and down in the water. She smiled and made big baby eyes and was generally adorable. We were able to get about 30 minutes of quality water time before Maddi started fussing. The only freaking out occurred when Chris was 30 feet away, getting our stuff, and Maddi followed where I was pointing to Daddy and made direct eye contact with him. We’re not sure sometimes whether we got a baby or a very tiny adult.

Whatever it is we got, though, she takes awhile to get used to things before being able to enjoy them. We’ve finally got our water baby, but it took some acclimatization.

There’s no throwing this one in the deep end.

And here’s a shot of Maddi at 11 weeks, figuring out whether she’s OK with water or not.

Boogie baby

Sad but true, Maddi sleeps best in the middle of a chaotic party. When she was six weeks old, we took her to a friend’s wedding. She slept on the two-hour drive up, the two-hour drive back, through most of the ceremony and through all of the loud reception.

This weekend, Nana and Poppa threw one of their legendary parties. Friends, relatives and neighbors dined, drank, and rocked out to live music. Maddi was no exception. Before the party began, she was fussy and gassy. As guests started arriving, she fell promptly asleep, and when she woke up, she was in a much better mood.

Our pint-size princess spent the night passed from woman to woman until she had been held by just about everyone in the small town of Oliver. One neighbor rocked her and cuddled her while I ate. Another took her for a whirl on the makeshift dance floor, a.k.a. the Kreut driveway. Having not burped very well (the wee one hates being burped and is violently resistant), Maddi wasn’t at her best, but once the dancing began, she was as happy as a lark. Whether it was Patsy Cline or bebop or Elvis, Maddi bounced happily around in various arms and wound up the night being sneakily burped along to the music whilst whirling around in her mommy’s embrace. Her little eyes were bright and happy long after other babies would have been tucked into their little beds.

It could be the soothing clamor and noise, or it could be the sheer amount of people around to comfort and cuddle her, but Maddi definitely likes to party. Nothing cheers her up faster than a large gathering of people, and if there’s music, well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

And here it is, Maddi’s 10-week picture, all dolled up for the party:

Take this baby on the road

Maddi loves the car. When she was younger, she would fall asleep within minutes of leaving the driveway, and now, while she doesn’t always sleep, she still enjoys her car rides and coos happily to herself as we ride along. (Unless, of course, we drop below 60 mph, an event she senses instantly and which causes her to fuss until we are back above 60.)

Because traffic lights are sure to send our little princess into a barrage of piteous wails, Chris and I have been taking lots of highway drives and jaunts along country roads. On Saturday, we decided to travel up to Vernon using a scenic back road wigh no traffic lights. Alas, it was closed for repairs, so we headed up Highway 97. It was a gorgeous drive, and when we got to Vernon we thought, “Hey, why not head up to Sicamous?”

At some point before we got to Sicamous, we decided that our afternoon drive was so pleasant that we really should just make a weekend of it and head to Lake Louise and Banff, some of the most beautiful areas in the world.

Except for a few diaper explosions of epic proportions, Maddi was great for most of the ride there and back. At the hotel, it was another story. Since she had slept all day, Maddi spent the night of her first vacation noisily cooing and passing gass in her playpen. Therefore, Daddy and I were not as well-rested as our little princess on the following morn.

Despite our bleary-eyed demeanor and the horrid tourist T-shirts we were forced to wear because of our rash decision to turn a three-hour drive into a mini-vacation, we enjoyed the beauty of the blue-green lake, the stunning mountain vistas and our equally gorgeous baby, who hardly made a peep until we were back in Sicamous, where our trip was to have ended the day previous.

Here is nine-week-old Maddi reclining on her very first hotel bed in aforementioned tourist apparel:


Here she is enjoying her lovely reflection in the mirror:



And here’s our little traveller chilling out in front of Lake Louise (don’t worry, the brake is on!).


Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Since the day she was born, exactly two months ago, the only pain Maddi has experienced has been gas. She hasn’t been sick a day, and so far she’s had no injuries despite her strong desire to wiggle free of my arms after each and every bath. Her head accidentally grazed the door once when I was carrying her into her room for a diaper change, but other than a look of bemusement, she was unfazed by the bump. So this morning, I was terrifically worried that her two-month vaccinations would traumatize our delicate, uninitiated daughter for years — nay, decades — to come.

As it would happen, the only people traumatized were Chris and me. I had glanced over her vaccination info the night before, so I had about 12 hours to prepare myself, but the public health nurse was the first to inform Chris that our little princess would be subjected to not one, not two, not three, but FOUR big, scary needles during her visit.

Having absolutely no idea what was coming, Maddux was all smiles and coos as we discussed vaccinations with the nurse. When I held her close in preparation for her shots, she seemed to enjoy the nice cuddle.

I, of course, was bracing for the horror of having my little 12-pound, 11-ounce bundle of joy jabbed repeatedly with sharp objects full of burning vaccine — and the half-hour of frantic wailing I expected would come with the aforementioned baby torture. Of the two of us, Maddi was the more composed.

During her shots, Maddi only cried while the needle was in her thigh and managed to calm herself seconds after each shot ended. Meanwhile, while I put on a brave face and calming voice for Maddi, only the spectre of a horrible death from diphtheria prevented me from folding the little one protectively in my arms and racing madly from the office, never to return. In short, Maddi was a trouper, and I was a weenie.

She has needed a bit of extra cuddling this afternoon, but that worked out well since, after the trauma of getting her vaccinated, so have I.

And here, for your viewing pleasure, is Maddi’s two-month photo (taken yesterday, but close enough!), in which she is enjoying her mobile.

Best laid plans

This week, I’ve finally gotten Maddi on a schedule.

You may take this to mean that we are now a well-oiled machine and have our days mapped out in five-minute increments, but only if you are thinking like someone without an unsleeping, ravenous, attention-loving eight-week-old. We here at Casa de Maddi play fast and loose with dictionary definitions. Things like “sleep,” “meal” and “basic hygeine” have taken on entirely different meanings here, and “schedule” is no different.

I am sure there are some parents who do have their babies on rigid schedules, just as there are newborns who sleep 18 hours out of 24 and moms who breastfeed their young ones for 20 minutes every three hours. Rest assured that these parents would be on my hit list if only there was time in my day to make that list. While Maddi is not a really colicky baby, she sleeps only 10 hours out of 24 (I’m including ALL periods of sleep including catnaps), has a huge appetite and is not content with amusing herself but requires constant, stimulating interaction. She also spends a good portion of the day fussing and working her legs like little pistons because of her gas. And up until a week ago, while she was (sporadically) sleeping more at night, she did NOT do schedules.

But last week, having grown tired of having to rotate my few daily breaks between basic hygeine rituals and basic housekeeping, which resulted in my having to choose whether to brush my teeth or throw Maddi’s poopy sleepers in the wash (Guess which one won? You wouldn’t have to, if you were in breathing distance!), I decided that Maddi was not going to be eating every time she indicated she was hungry. I know this sounds cruel, but bear in mind that your average newborn needs to eat every three hours, and, as time goes by, less often — and that Maddi at nearly two months was still eating every 90 minutes. When you factor in burping, changing, comforting and amusing the wee one, this leaves two or three 15-minute periods of downtime per day, during which time I had to juggle showers, bathroom trips, meals, hair and makeup (whittled from 30 minutes to 5), and the occasional bit of housework or blogging.

Tired of spending my entire day doing feeding-related tasks, I consulted my baby book during one of Maddi’s marathon feeding sessions (not an easy task with one hand) and was delighted to read that her feedings should now be four hours apart and that it was OK to delay them by distracting her with interesting things to do. Having finally convinced her that the sling was a fun mode of transportation rather than a heartless attempt to bind and smother her, I am now able to haul our tiny girl around and show her the housecats and flowers in my attempt to forestall her meals. At first, she found this torturous, but she quickly learned to compensate by eating more — and more quickly — at mealtimes.

Unfortunately, while the sling increases my mobility, in order to keep the wee one happy I have to keep moving, which rules out anything that is done in a standing position, such as dishes and blow-drying my hair, and in order to keep the wee one from tumbling out, I can’t bend over, which rules out cleaning the toilet and tidying up the room. Laundry is OK, as are vacuuming and tidying the bathroom counter. The things I can’t do with Maddi dangling in front of me vastly outnumber the things I can. Nevertheless, it’s better than being able to do nothing at all!

So far, we have gotten on a schedule in which she usually (75 percent of the time — all bets are off when she’s really gassy) falls asleep around 11 or 11:30 and sleeps anywhere from four to the occasional nine(!!!) hours. If it’s the former, which is the case most nights, she may sleep for another three after an hour of eating and burping. If it’s the latter, she’ll eat for an hour, sleep for an hour, then eat for another hour. Either way, she’s ready to face the world by noon. I give her another meal around 4, one around 8, and then at 9:30 or 10 I start topping her off for the night. In between meals, she gets tummy time (which she still hates), bouncy seat time (that’s how I stay clean!), playing-on-Mommy’s-lap time (her favorite next to eating), sling time, and being-rocked-for-hours-because-she’s-gassy-and-screaming time. One day we will introduce the concept of independent-play time — or maybe even nap time — so I can shave my legs AND do dishes all in one day, but for now any attempts to let her amuse herself in the bouncy seat or anywhere else are met with furious resistance.

So our schedule has a LOT of fine-tuning left, since there’s no point in planning out the whole day if there’s still no time to pee. (Chris thinks I could manage to use the bathroom with the sling on, but then this is from someone capable of very neatly writing his name in the snow. My thoughts on this are that I have enough laundry to do and not enough time to do it and I’m not about to make more!). However, it is a schedule, and anything is an improvement, right? Someday, Maddi will learn to accept the fact that she cannot eat every minute of the day and will find other things with which to amuse herself. Since the bouncy seat’s efficacy is fading, she will soon be getting a swing, and in a few months she’ll be old enough for a playpen. One day, she may even be predictable enough that we will be able to take her to the portrait studio during her “happy period” without her wailing uncontrollably, then gorging herself and releasing bodily functions all over her cute outfit. And at some point, I’m assuming she’ll be able to burp and pass gas without disturbing the entire Okanagan valley with her tortured screams.

In the meantime, it is nice to feel like we have a schedule, even if by calling that I am making a mockery of the day-planner industry. (Or maybe they should just make make a special day-planner for Maddi with the suffix “-ish” after every two-hour increment.)

Now if you are five minutes early everywhere (as I used to be) or have a perfect baby who plays happily on her own and has predictable hours, I don’t want to hear about it. Not until I’m getting eight hours a night and eating at the table like a normal human being. If Webster’s can add a new alternate pronunciation for the word “nuclear” for George W., they can add an alternate definition of “schedule” for my darling little girl.

And without further ado, Maddux’ 8-week picture!