Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

"To sit on rocks; to muse o'er flood and fell;
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been!
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock, that never need a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude: 'tis but to hold
Converse with Nature's charms, and view her stores unrolled."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Henry Fever

It's 9pm. My nails are painted. My sandwich is pre-made and in the fridge waiting.

I still need to take a shower and lay out my clothes for tomorrow.

I just got a pop-up reminder to "buy patio furniture." Not anytime soon.

We owe $500 in taxes to the government because they didn't tax me enough while on maternity leave. Does that make sense to anyone? Others had a hard time believing it too.

Yesterday I spent the entire day cooking and freezing meals. I made my best chocolate chip cookies ever.

At 3pm the daycare phoned as Henry had a fever of 101 F.

I left the vegetables on the counter and rushed over to pick up my son, found him stripped down to his onezie, limply sucking on his bottle with the reddest of cheeks. Poor sod. Many other babies also had fevers and so it is the first of many group illnesses.

Generously, S took two days off of work to stay at home with Henry so that I wouldn't have to call in sick after seven months off!

Work itself, well, half of it is grooming and attitude. The rest of it is dealing with trappings of an organization large enough that it takes a lot of effort to start turning any wheels. It's kind of like being the 6th of 10 children. You count, but you're not that important.

That said, I'm happy to be back. Pleased to talk to old friends and kind of refreshed to be in an environment where children firmly don't belong. That said, I cried when I came home.

All will be well, but it will take a while to adapt.

(Mom, this one's for you.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Beginning

Today is Henry's 1st day of daycare.

I return to work in 2 days.

Let the fun begin.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Free Hamid Ghassemi-Shall

On Tuesday night, I attended an Amnesty International meeting regarding the injustice inflicted upon a local resident named Hamid Ghassemi-Shall. At this meeting there was a brief summary of Iranian corruption since the 1979 Revolution and how thousands of innocent people are put into jail, tortured or are executed. It is one thing to persuade a foreign government to be more humanitarian, it's quite another thing for a country to fight for one of its own citizens wrongfully imprisoned abroad.

Hamid's wife Antonella (Canadian/Italian), gave a brave, emotional and very poised account of what has happened to her husband.

How it happened

Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, returned to Iran in 2008 to visit his ailing mother (his father had also recently passed away). While he was visiting, his brother was arrested (also wrongfully), and the house where he was staying was searched. His Canadian and Iranian passports were taken.

Apparently Iran has made duel citizenship illegal, which creates a lot of complication.

Hamid went to the Canadian embassy to obtain a new passport, and they told him he must first get a new Iranian passport. When he went to the Iranian passport office he was arrested.

His wife didn't hear from him for 18 months.

When she did receive a phone call from him, he reported that he was in Evin Prison and had been in solitary confinement.

He had been found guilty by Iranian courts of being a spy. He is not a spy. They submitted false evidence that has been routinely disproved, but no matter.

Under torture, Hamid was forced to sign consent to his own execution which was to have taken place 2nd March, but has been postponed.

What is being done

Antonella, despite her daily pain, has worked tirelessly to campaign for his release. Amnesty International is behind her with their full weight, and there has been some press off and on given to the situation over the years.

She has contacted the government as many times and in as many ways as she knows how.

Out of the five political parties, only four have responded. Guess which one hasn't? The only one that has the power to bring this man home.

What is the value of one man's life?

What you can do

What his wife asked is to simply talk about and raise awareness for Hamid. Write to representatives on all levels and keep pestering them. Spread the word, the more people who are aware, the more pressure there will be. See Amnesty International's site for quick and easy ways to help.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Daycare: Days 4-6

Today was the 6th day of daycare transition. He was there from 9:30-2:00, with 15 minutes with me there both at the start and the finish. This is the longest time yet, and he did well.

We are very fortunate to have a spot in this daycare. The staff are excellent, and they do wash the toys every day. They've taken the time to get to know Henry and are able to calm him down within 5 minutes every time. It is difficult to sit outside of the room and hear him cry, but at least I can also hear it stop and know that he is ok. But there's always a part of me that says "go in there and stop it!" Bad idea.

Mr. Pickles, his chestnut horsey-blanket, helps a great deal.

Today one of the workers came out to ask me if Mr. Pickles was allowed in the high chair or was he just for bedtime? I was clear and said anytime they think Mr. Pickles can help Henry, let Mr. Pickles work his magic.

The first photo with Mr. Pickles.
Taken on 17th November, at almost 2 months old.

Henry formed a strong attachment to Mr. Pickles quite early and he sleeps with him every night after a chew and a snuffle into the blanket. Thank goodness he has something like this, it has helped to calm him enormously.

All in all, Henry is adjusting well and seems to enjoy the toys, the routine, the other babies. I have finally got my proverbial shit together and even brought a sandwich and a flask of water for myself today.

But I'm also on transition. I must go into work tomorrow afternoon for a few hours and that will be a bit of a shock I'm sure. It's all happening, and so far, so good.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Daycare: Days 1-3

I knew that putting Henry into daycare at 6 months of age would be difficult.

Most everyone tells me that it is harder on the mother than it is on the baby. And this seems to be true. I am utterly exhausted, mostly emotionally.

But with positive results so far.

Here's what I can say so far about the daycare itself:

The infant daycare room is situated in an elementary school (ages 0-12yr). The infants range from 6-18 months, with the majority of them being around 1 year old. There are always 10 infants and 3 carers present. There are additional staff that come in to give breaks. There is a set schedule which includes an hour "walk" in the morning, activity time, lunch, nap, snack, activity, hour "walk" in the afternoon and then it's pretty much pick-up time. There are two nap rooms which holds one crib per child. They can sleep and eat whenever they need to, but generally they all do things at the same time. (Henry already seems to be adjusting to their routine). There are cubby holes for each child with a note binder on top which holds notes on each day for that child. Henry has a basket for his blanket and Mr. Pickles and has a spare change of clothes at all time. The workers know the children well and are mindful of personality quirks. One carer has been there for over 20 years, another for 4 years, and so on. Their own children are at the school and I sense there is a strong sense of community and pride there. Eventually, S will drop him off around 8:30am and I will pick him up at 4:30pm. The walks that they take work well in that the will happen right after he's dropped off, and then right before he's picked up. It takes 15-20 minutes to walk from our house to the daycare and we found a back-roads route so that we avoid the busier streets. My only criticisms or concerns so far is that the play area is a breeding ground for bacteria as toys are constantly in one mouth, then another and then stepped on by the older babies and eventually just put away. It would be very time-consuming to wipe off each toy every day and so it doesn't happen. This is a reality of any daycare, so it's something that just has to be accepted. Henry will get sick more often I'm sure, but I console myself knowing that it might make his immune system stronger in the long run.

How Henry & I Reacted

The first day was overwhelming for both of us. The new environment was a lot to take in. Learning new faces, routines and adjusting to the noise level and constant activity. But each day has be gradually easier and felt more natural. Henry is quite content to sit and play with toys, look at the other babies, play with the mirror, look at book and the like.

The first day I left him for 10 minutes. He was absorbed in the play centre and didn't notice I had left (I didn't say goodbye as I was crying and trying to keep it together). Five minutes later he couldn't find me and cried, threw-up and was body-heaving when I held him. I cried. We left and he was very clingy at home. Wouldn't let daddy hold him or me out of his sight. It felt very unpleasant knowing I would wake up and do the same thing the next day.

However, the next day I left him for 30 minutes. The same thing happened, he cried and threw up but did calm down being rocked in a car seat and was almost asleep when I returned. He saw me and cried. I cried. He was little less clingy at home, but still wouldn't have daddy play with him.

Yesterday I gave him Mr. Pickles, said goodbye. He watched me leave, close the door behind me and I left for an hour. When I returned, they said he did not cry but when to sleep happily. When we woke up and I wasn't there, then he cried. But he did not throw up! I didn't cry either. He was happier at home as well and not only did daddy play with him, but he let him put him to sleep again. Progress!

I feel confident that Henry is adjusting and accepting the new circumstances with a sense of inclusion. I think he wants to do what the other babies are doing and certainly by the end of next week, should feel quite at home there.

Mommy's Notes

I am a disorganized mother. My diaper bag is inconsistent and a mess. With the house also disorganized as a result of basement construction, I managed to misplace his gloves and his hat. Yesterday he wore daddy's over-sized winter hat that kept falling over his head ;p

I forgot to bring the diapers. Then I realized they are the wrong size of diapers. And on and on and on.

These two weeks are probably most important for me to get my proverbial shit together.

By the end of next week, S will be taking him in in the mornings and I'll meet them there at the centre. All the paperwork should be complete, Henry's cubby well-stocked, our routine set, Henry adjusted, mommy adjusted and then I'll go back to work. This is my hope anyway!

And on a lighter note, here's Henry "eating" an apple. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tying Up Loose Ends

The subject line is thankfully not in reference to my scar-tissue. After seeing the doctor on Friday, I was told the small lump is benign and no surgery was needed. It should fully heal in 3 months time and I have been advised to strengthen my abdominal muscles to help. As if I needed any more incentive to do crunches, planks and leg-lifts.

Henry is now a sturdy sitter and is able to eat in his high chair and play with his toys without falling over constantly. He will take steps forward when being held up in a standing position. He likes this a lot.

Tomorrow we start the daycare transition. I imagine I will have a series of posts in the next coming weeks about this process.

The basement work is almost finished. They are coming back on Monday to do the plastering. The house is still covered in cement dust, but I managed to clear most of the kitchen and main floor.

Throughout all of these changes, I think daily on where my life is and who I am becoming. There are constant demands and tests of patience, as well as the joy and healing that comes with learning from your child.

The moments where I become aware and open to new understanding, these are the most arresting and wonderful reminders of how much more life has in store. There is always more so long as we are willing to take on the challenge.

After talking with a close friend along this vein, the following video was recommended to me. It's about an hour long, so perhaps not what we're used to coming across on blogs, but I'm sharing this as I found it to be quite enlightening and empowering.