Mummies need Daddies

There are two women in my life right now who are single by chance, but mothers by choice.  Both of them decided it was time to stop waiting for the right guy, took matters into their own hands, and are now wonderful mothers to two beautiful baby girls.

They both have support around them from family and friends, but by and large, they’re riding this wave alone.  And I have to say, I’m so in awe so of them.  Because I have no idea how they are doing this alone.

It’s one of the biggest cliches in the world, and nothing has ever been more true: Parenting is the hardest thing in the world.  I know there are single parents all over the place who do it alone, and do it well.  And I have to say, hats off to you.  Because doing it with two people, and only one baby, already makes me feel like I’m in over my head.

A friend recently told me about a parenting book she was reading, and it included a section called something like  “Babies need Mummies and Mummies need Daddies.”

I totally get this concept.

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Please don’t do it

Since I’ve been on maternity leave, I’ve developed an interest in reality tv.  I can see all your eyes rolling now, but hear me out, yo.  You can miss whole chunks of episodes while you change a diaper or get some laundry or warm some milk, and really, you haven’t missed much at all.  So it’s great tv when you need something on but know you can’t sit there and watch the whole thing.  With that said, even I have standards.  I won’t go near Jersey Shore.  But I have enjoyed watching every episode of every season of Guiliana and Bill.  Twice.

Because the summer allowed me to get all caught up with G&B, you can imagine my excitement when the new season started a few weeks ago, and G&B are having a baby boy!

In last week’s episode, their baby nurse mentioned the option of circumcising the little guy.  She stressed that it’s not medically necessary, but that there are people who opt to do it for religious or cultural reasons, and she needed to know what they chose.

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Before Amira was born, I didn’t look twice at baby stuff.  I wasn’t one of those women who was interested in such things for interest’s sake, or because I wondered what my own child may have one day.

Even when I was pregnant, I did zero research on…well, just about everything.  I didn’t look up strollers or cribs or carriers or clothes or anything.  I figured either someone would just tell is what we needed to know, or we’d just figure it out.  I mean, she’s a baby.  She doesn’t need fancy this and expensive that and the high-end fanciest whatnot.  Whatever it is, she’ll grow out of it before she gets any real use out of it anyway.

And for awhile, I was all good. Amira slept in her hand-me-down bassinet, and now in her Ikea crib, wearing her inexpensive onesies, and I was all good.  I know other mothers with designer diaper bags, babies with designer wardrobes and cribs that cost more than all my bedroom furniture combined.  And that’s wonderful for them.  But none of it interested me.

But then it crept up on me…stroller envy. Damn damn stroller envy.

I didn’t give the stroller much thought before Amira was born.  It had to be functional and come with a recommendation.  Well, we got both in the stroller we chose for Amira.  I asked my bestie, she told me what she had used for her kids, and if it was good enough for them, it was certainly good enough for Amira.  So we got the stroller, and it was all good for a while. A short while.  Like, till we went to the mall the first time and saw ALL THE OTHER STROLLERS.

There are a million different strollers out there, and I gotta admit, I feel myself eyeing some of the other strollers at the mall with a green eye.  None of the ones that are too spaceshipy looking like this one:


Now this is a pretty swank stroller, from what I understand.  But I just don’t dig it.  It looks…weird.

But there are others that have started to pull my longing gaze, like this one:


Oh, Uppababy Vista.  You have turned me into the mother I never wanted to be.  The mother who wants all that unnecessary damn expensive crap for her baby.

Amira’s pretty brown polka dot Graco Stylus is fine for her. I mean, look at this.  Doesn’t it look cozy?


And it is.  I mean, it must be.  She can sleep in that thing like a champ.  The bumps in the sidewalk bother me way more than they bother her.  So why the green-eyed monster directed at all those other strollers?

Before Amira was born, I was all, “ah, she’ll just use what she gets and she’ll like it!”  But now that she’s here, all that stuff that I demanded be good enough for her isn’t good enough for me.  And really, I’m not all fancy-pants like that!  I don’t wear designer clothes or designer shoes or carry designer bags.  It’s just not who I am.  And it’s not that I need for Amira to have designer things.  But I just want her to have the best.  I mean, she didn’t ask to be born.  So why shouldn’t she have the comfiest stroller, and the nicest carrier, and the softest cotton for her clothes?

I know, I know, I KNOW.  We love her.  Adore her.  Take care of her.  She really wants for nothing, and it might not hurt her to cry it out a bit more.  I really couldn’t tell you where all of this is coming from, except a desire for her to have everything and want for nothing.  I know it’s not a healthy condition when one wants for nothing – I mean, a little effort, a little desire, a goal or two – those are good things to have. But I don’t want her to.

But I won’t tell her that.  I won’t get her everything she wants.  I won’t get her top-of-the-line this and designer that. She will earn money as soon as she can, learn how to manage it, how to value it and how to share it.  She’ll learn that it’s okay to want things, and that you don’t always have to have everything you want.  She’ll learn that happiness isn’t found in things, but in experiences and in connections and sometimes in something as simple as a sunset.

But still…that’s a damn fine stroller.


Giselle Bundchen is such a bitch.  Not because she’s tall and thin and rich and beautiful.  (And really, that last one is debatable.  Stu – smart, smart man that he is – said Giselle is way too skinny.  Yay, Stu!!  Good husband.)

No, this week, Giselle got her name in my bitch book because of something she said two years ago.  Remember this?

According to Giselle, any woman who gives her baby formula, for whatever reason, is basically poisoning her kid and breaking the law of the universe that says one boob fits all.  So to speak.

It was a bitchy thing to say, and her lame backtracking was just as bad, but I didn’t really dwell on it until this week.  This week, it hit home hard.  And I decided that Giselle needs to shut up all over again.

Really though, it’s not Giselle I’m mad at.  It’s me.

Amira was doing all good until a month ago.  We went to the doctor, got her all shot up with her vaccinations, and had her weighed.  She came in at the 3rd percentile for weight.  That’s right.  Not 30th.  3rd.  So the doctor said she needs to gain weight faster, and that I should feed, feed, feed her and bring her back in a month for another weigh-in.  It’s like Weight Watchers for babies, but the scale should be going up, not down.

So over the course of the month, I feed Amira as I always have – whenever she asks for it, and as much as she wants (or so I thought), and I think we’re doing okay.  I notice that I don’t have as much breast milk as I used to, but the internet machine tells me that my body has just adapted to Amira’s needs, and doesn’t need to make more than that.  And during this time, Amira’s getting fussier, and I wonder if she’s teething.

We go back to the doctor a couple of days ago, where we find out that Amira has fallen below the 3rd percentile for weight.  It’s not that she didn’t gain any weight, she just didn’t gain enough.  The doctor asked me if Amira has been fussy.

Me: Yeah, I think she’s teething.

Doc: No, she’s hungry.

She may as well have just ripped my heart out of my chest right then and there.  She’s hungry.  So all this fussing has been because I haven’t been producing enough milk to keep her full.  I could have just died.

The doctor suggested I try herbal supplements before turning to a prescription to increase my milk supply.  She suggested I use the breast milk I pumped and stored in the freezer to top up my baby after each feeding.  Those precious drops of liquid gold that I’ve been saving in case of an emergency.  Well, this is an emergency.

She suggested I consider supplementing with formula, and indicated that if I run out of frozen breast milk, and my supply doesn’t increase, that’s what I’ll have to do.  And that’s when Giselle’s comments came back to me.


I’ve done everything I can to keep Amira fed naturally.  I’ve gotten up countless times in the middle of the night.  I’ve fed her in our home and others, in restaurants and on park benches.  I got up in the middle of the night to pump excess milk so I would have a stockpile in the freezer.  I’ve resisted giving her formula – even when others told me it would help her sleep longer through the night – because I’m her mother.  Feeding her is my job.  It’s the most natural thing in the world.  I know lots of women have trouble breastfeeding, or choose not to for their own reasons.  But this was never a choice for me.  Even in the throes of my pregnancy, when I was most apathetic about it, still, I knew I would breastfeed her.  Because I’m her mother, and that’s my job.

And now I’m failing.

I’m failing at the most natural thing in the world.  At the thing all mothers in the animal kingdom do for their children.  I can’t just feed my daughter the way I’m supposed to. Now it’s “take these herbs” and “pump at this time” and “top up after this feeding” and maybe give her the formula.

Oh, the formula.  I don’t want to.  I’ll fight it tooth and nail.  But if I have to, I have to.  What can I do?  Maybe Giselle can come over and fix all my breastfeeding woes so that Amira will eat with no problem the way Giselle’s son apparently did.

I’m not here to judge what other women do with their children.  We’re all doing the best we can.  Besides, I’m way too busy judging myself.  And worrying about how Giselle and her friends are judging me.  And wishing she had just kept her tall, thin, rich, beautiful, bitchy trap shut.

Now, I know.

I got up at 4:00am on Friday, to feed my apparently starving to death almost-seven-week old daughter.  She wasn’t starving.  She just screams like she is.

I turned on the tv for company, as I’m apt to do.  And there it was flashing in front of me, the news so fresh and coming in so fast that every couple of minutes a few details changed as they tried to keep up with the influx of information.

Another mass shooting.  This one, the largest in the history of the United States.  At a movie theatre.

I don’t think I had any original thoughts in that moment.  It’s that lack of originality in times of crises, the common grief, outrage, lack of understanding and sorrow that unites us  as a species.

I wondered, like a million others, why he felt the need to hurt people he’d never met.  I felt the rising anger that simmers below my surface over the lack of gun control in the United States – access to weapons of mass destruction in the hands of whomever feels the whimsy safely cloaked behind the words “freedom” and “right”.

My heart leapt out of my body towards the families of everyone in that theatre at that moment – wondering where their loved ones were, and if they were okay.

Then someone said the words.  A baby has been shot.  And I started to cry.

Babies have been hurt in the past.  I heard about it.  It saddened every cell in my body, and made the world grey for a time.  But now I have a baby, and everything is different.

Now my baby had been shot.  I felt every emotion that baby’s mother felt.  I felt her shock. I felt her fear.  And I felt her remorse.  I had no idea who the baby was, and whether or not she was okay.  But in my head, I cried the words to my own baby girl, and the silent father. I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry I brought you here.  I’m sorry I didn’t protect you.  I should have.  It’s all my fault.  Please be okay.  God, I’ll do anything as long as she’s okay.  Please let her be okay.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry. 

I found out the next day that the baby – only a few months old – was treated and released from the hospital, on her way to a full recovery with no memory of what happened to her.  Another child – a beautiful, innocent, six-year-old girl – had a different fate that night.  And I understood in a razor-sharp moment of clarity that in times like these, every child will be my child.  And I’ll have the voice of every mother in my head, begging for a chance to go back and do something different so her child would be safe.  And again, I heard my own mother’s words in my head.  Words she said to me countless times when I was growing up.  When you have a child, you’ll know.  Now, I know.

Conversation Killer

Is it just me, or are babies real conversation killers sometimes?

(If your first reaction is “OMG she doesn’t love her baby!” then kindly take your opinion and stick a sharp pin in it.  But keep reading, because I need the audience.)

It has become clear to me that are multiple ways babies kill conversations.  They cry and fuss and demand attention by way of dirty diapers and needing to be fed right now Mummy because obviously I’m STARVING TO DEATH because I’m screaming like I haven’t eaten in 2 days not just two hours and I’m only six weeks old so no, I will not keep things in perspective.

But babies are also conversation killers without even trying to be.  And in this way, they don’t kill every conversation.  Just any conversation that’s not about them.

How is it that when you are pregnant, or have an infant, (and perhaps even as they get older though God, I really hope not), there seems to be nothing else to talk about than these kids?  Is there nothing else interesting happening in the world?  What about the US Presidential elections?  The continued decline of the global economy?  What Kim and Kanye wore to the gym yesterday?

We had some friends over for lunch a couple of weeks ago, and babies seemed to be the order of the day.  It was 3 hours of talking about nothing except eating and sleeping and pooping and playing.  I love my friends.  They came over with nothing but the best of intentions.  But all I wanted to hear about the last cool concert they went to, not discuss baby feeding schedules.

Last night, another couple of friends were over.  And again, it was babies, babies all the live long day.  This time there was one baby out of the womb (mine) and one baby in the womb (one of said friends) and besides babies and their imminent arrivals, there seemed to be nothing else in the world.

Was I like this when I was pregnant?  Did I talk about pregnancy and babies like nothing else existed?  That’s not how I remember it, but it wouldn’t surprise me.  Only because the only things people want to talk to a pregnant woman about is pregnancy and babies.

And now that she’s here, have I fallen into his baby abyss without knowing it?  No doubt, I talk about her a lot.  But I refuse to take all the blame.  Ask me how she is.  I’ll tell you she’s perfect.  Then ask me what I think Guiliana and Bill should name their little boy.  Ask me what I think the city should do about its public transit problem.  Ask me my opinion on  all the recent gun violence in Toronto, the fixing of the LIBOR by world banks, or unrest in the Middle East.  Ask me about my next vacation, my hobbies, my hair.  Ask me about anything.  I promise to do my best to keep the baby’s fussing to a minimum, so that she doesn’t steal the conversation right back when it gets going in a new and exciting direction.  But let’s at last least try.  Because I love those conversations.  Let’s not let them die.