Sorry, I can’t. It’s Nap Time

“I can meet you between 1130am-1230pm, 3pm-430pm, or after 8pm” – me from months 4 until present day of my daughter’s life

I’m well aware that I have friends who think I’m too accommodating of my daughter’s schedule. And I’m not just talking about non-kid friends who I have previously remarked might not, understandably, fully appreciate how life changes post baby. Even some mom friends have made gentle, well-meaning comments on my sometimes-inflexible nature when it comes to my daughter’s routine (and I agree! I’m a serious clock-watcher #sleepscheduleforlife).

But sometimes I do break routine. Sometimes I still do things for myself (note, things done for oneself cannot include showering, eating or the basic necessities of life). This means that my daughter is accommodating my needs instead of the other way around (it sounds shocking–even selfish–I know). It’s so rare that I can count the number of times on my fingers that this has happened since she was born eight months ago.

One of those times was last Friday when I brought her to a baseball game. I love baseball. Before I had my daughter, I would attend half a dozen games per year. My team is finally in the play-offs and my partner and I made the decision that this is something for which we could equip ourselves and manage. (With the dismal management of sports in this city, who knows if we will ever have the opportunity again.) The result? It was amazing. My daughter loved looking around, was a star among fellow fans, and was even fine missing her second nap (if you know my daughter then you understand the magnitude of that last part).  This was a similar (excellent) experience to when we brought her rugby-sevens during the Pan Am Games.

There have been recent comments from a number in my social media circle that a ballpark isn’t the place to bring an infant. Well, sure. Most places aren’t ideal for babies, but we make choices everyday to manage those less-than-ideal situations (or we stay in our houses with our bubble-wrapped furniture singing the same Rainbow songs over and over, losing a little bit of sanity each time. But hey, our babies are safe!). To be frank, there was probably a greater risk driving to the actual stadium than during the game itself.

As parents, we happily give up a lot for our children. But let’s hope we can still have a few small indulgences. After all, life can’t all be play-groups, poop, and parks*.



*I still love these, too!

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Mom and Non-Mom Friends

***This is an extension of a recent Facebook post in which I expressed gratitude for my fellow mom friends. In this post, I extend this gratitude to include the importance of non-mom friends in my life.

I wrote a Facebook post about how grateful I am for my mom friends. To be clear, I am also very grateful for my non-mom friends. They remind me that, beyond being a mother, I am also a woman who has dreams, ambitions, and interests independent of my child. It’s important for me to remember that there is a world that exists outside my daughter and that I am still my own person. Sorta.

The reality is that my daughter is the most important aspect of my life. By far. There is not one other aspect that even comes close (sorry husband!). Her needs are put way above my own, especially at this age where she is dependent on me for literally everything (although she is starting to play independently (yay!), but only if I’m watching her (boo!). She will actually look up every few minutes to make sure I’m looking at her and not doing something productive like folding laundry or writing this blog post… because how dare I?).

I find it sometimes hard to explain this to non-mom friends. They don’t always get it (I thought I got it before I had a kid, but nope, I didn’t*). And I’m not talking about not getting it in a Louis CK “Why” or a Michael McIntyre “People Without Kids Don’t Know,” way. Although, let’s be honest, those videos are hilarious. My non-mom friends don’t think raising kids is a piece of cake, that their future offspring will never misbehave in public, or that their babies will be sleeping through the night in their own bed by day two. At least I hope not. In truth, I find they demonstrate a great deal of empathy and understanding.

But I’m talking about the little things that you don’t even think about before having kids. Here is an example:

Nap schedules: my life is actually ruled by my daughter’s nap schedule and I make no apologies for it. She has three naps per day at specific times and I need to be home for them. “Can’t she just sleep in the stroller?” Not well. “Can’t she nap a little later?” No. If I miss the nap window, it’s closed. “What about skipping a nap?” Sure. I can do that, but then I will pay for it at bedtime and all through the night. I like the five hours of sleep I currently get. Miss a nap and that number drops to two or three hours. It’s not worth it to mess with the nap schedule. #napscheduleforlife

To be fair, some people have easy babies. They sleep anywhere. They switch between bottle and boob with ease. How I envy those mothers! (Not really. My daughter is awesome.) But I have a lot of mom friends and I would say that these babies are the anomalies—not the norm—and those moms who do have them know how lucky they are and refrain from bragging to us sleep-deprived moms.

I am happy to have mom friends with whom to lament nap schedules. Who really understand the challenges of breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding). Who get what it’s like to go six months with a maximum stretch of five hours of sleep per night. Who don’t bat an eye when my daughter is having a meltdown in public or otherwise. Who talk about poop, vomit, spit up, and various other bodily functions with both the alacrity and worry of only a mom (and maybe a gastroenterologist). Who get what it’s like to have your identity and life forever altered by a tiny ebullient human (who yes steals your sleep, but also your heart).

But as I write this, I realize that it’s so important for me to have non-mom friends too. I don’t always want to talk about poop (believe it or not). And sometimes I want to do something for me (ladies, my manicure lasted four days). And there will be a time when my daughter is not totally dependent on me and I can re-focus on my own dreams and ambitions, however altered they have become**.

This blog post meandered a bit. The point (I swear I had one) is that while I am lucky to have friends in a similar situation who understand what being a mom is all about, I am equally lucky to have friends who remind me of the independent woman I was and still (hopefully) am. Here is to all of the amazing women in my life, mom and non-moms alike!



*As a side note, one of my bridesmaids had four-month old twins during my wedding. I always knew she was amazing, but when I think back to all the activities in the lead-up—and on the day—I’m pretty blown away by her ability to manage it all at the time. I can’t really recall the details, but I can only hope I was understanding if she required flexibility during that time. My best friend is getting married this weekend and she has been both patient and accommodating of my/my daughter’s needs and schedule.

**I find my dreams have mostly shifted to dreams I have for my daughter… you know, after I become the CEO of a major corporation ;)

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Baby Center

Once I began consuming my news online, I operated by a simple rule: don’t read the comments section of any given article. Because everyone knows that if you do, you inevitably lose a little faith in humanity (I had a few hilarious examples, but it revealed too much about my politics).

But the comments section tempts you. You reach the end of your article and before looking away you see “COMMENTS” mocking you from the bottom of the screen; daring you to click. And you do click, don’t you? And sure, you see some comments affirming your own views. Relief! But there are also always comments that are seemingly there to purposely enrage. You know the ones. The commenters who cherry pick data or abstain from using facts altogether (despite being stated so matter-of-factly). Or the commenters who twist innocuous sentiments into bellicose tirades—obscuring truth and obfuscating logic. Yet despite the confrontation, the trite, and the inflammatory remarks that lurk in the comments section, you click. (Isn’t there an overused cliché referring to the definition of insanity?)

So after I break my first rule, I have a second rule: don’t comment. One of my favourite quotes is by Mark Twain: “Never argue with a fool; onlookers might not be able to tell the difference.” Despite my failure in the first rule, I was pretty successful at adhering to the second. That is, until Baby Center.

For those of you who don’t know, Baby Center is the online pregnancy and baby bible. It guides you through your pregnancy, telling you your baby is the size of a banana one week and a green onion the next (what? No, seriously). It tells you what to expect each week in your fetus—and then your baby’s—development. I’m pretty sure that every mom has visited Baby Center at some point during and/or after her pregnancy.

In addition to the development guide, Baby Center is where moms and moms-to-be go to ask their questions to the other moms and moms-to-be. A forum designed to air insecurities, share knowledge, and compare notes.

The forum is a good idea in theory. In practice, it is often plagued by the same issues as the comment boards from the news articles I read. Yet—despite knowing all of this—I still click. And I read. And I get angry because some mom has told another mom that her son is going to grow up with abandonment issues because she lets him cry it out, or another mom’s daughter is suffering because she has chosen to formula feed. You are putting your child to bed too late; he’s going to have lifelong sleep issues. You are rocking your baby too much; he will get too clingy. You aren’t rocking your baby enough; she feels lonely. You should be breastfeeding on a schedule so your baby can develop a routine. No, you should be feeding on demand because your baby is hungry. Essentially, here is a bunch of anecdotal evidence why my parenting style is better than yours*.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of the commenters are empathetic and try to offer support and encouragement. This can provide reassurance and comfort. But doubt creeps in when you read the not-so-supportive comments. And because the stakes are higher (it’s your child after all), I often feel the need to respond to these antagonistic comments, backing a mom’s intuition that she really does know what’s best and rebuking naysayers (only the aggressive know-it-alls). Thus, I break my second rule.

I have recently established a third rule: never look back. Once I add my two cents I never go back to check whether other moms have responded for fear of getting baited into an unproductive argument (remember what Mark Twain said). It’s a write and run type situation. But hopefully the OP (original poster in chat room language) reads it and feels the mom solidarity I’m trying to convey.


*Even if research is cited, there is often no universal agreement on many of these issues in the scientific community.

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Dr. Google

My sister is currently finishing her second year of medical school (a fact that makes me both proud and inexplicably envious–having no real desire to be a doctor). Every May, as part of their fundraising activities, each years’ students perform collectively in a variety show called Tachycardia. The show is designed not only to raise money, but to also provide comedic relief from the gruelling school year. It consists of amateur actors and singers performing musical parodies–taking jabs at the other years and at the profession writ large. This year my sister’s class performed a skit involving a medical student trying to offer advice to a resistant patient. The patient was convinced that her Google diagnosis was superior to that of our poor medical student who struggled to compete with the Internet’s endless information.

Don’t worry. Our hero prevailed and Dr. Google was defeated. Alas, we are reminded that information and knowledge are different. However it’s hard to resist using Google to self-diagnose. Just a few keystrokes and the world of Web MD, the Mayo Clinic, Wikipedia and a myriad of chat rooms are all readily available to provide reassurance that you’re dying.

It started for me during my pregnancy. Anytime I would experience a new symptom, I would Google it. Inevitably I would find answers ranging from “regular pregnancy-related issue” to “fetus in distress.” I thought I was having a miscarriage every day from weeks 6 to 24. I would march into my monthly doctor’s appointment with a comprehensive list of questions and possible ailments. My OB would sigh, visibly annoyed. The message was always the same: “stop Googling. You will drive yourself crazy” (and drive myself crazy I did).

I would hear this same message echoed five months later from my daughter’s doctor, “no she doesn’t have thrush. No she doesn’t have Grunting Baby Syndrome. No she doesn’t have Gastrisis. Stop Googling.” But I can’t. I spend hours down the rabbit hole perusing forums of information from people presumably smarter and definitely more experienced than me, especially as a new mom.

A friend of mine, also pregnant at the time, recently admitted to Googling. Her partner joked that he would start adding a fake symptom just to hear my friend’s reaction (come to think of it, I DO have an itch under my left earlobe).

Well I’m sorry medical community, but with information this tantalizingly close, I will never stop Googling. The allure is too strong. But don’t worry, I promise to check out a range of sources before making any broad statements or sweeping generalizations (to modernize another doctor: with brains in my head, and Google to use, I can steer myself in any direction I choose). And even though it may be frustrating to our future health practitioners, I’m sure they can relate. After all, the term Medical Students’ Disease derives from medical students who perceive themselves to be experiencing symptoms from the disease they are studying. Can they blame us if we do the same thing using Google?

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The ten minute shower

I didn’t really appreciate the concept of efficiency before having my daughter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a reasonably smart and capable woman (most of the time) so I knew about efficiency in the abstract sense. And I even had what I thought was a basic aptitude for it (I could shower in under ten minutes, that’s efficient right?). It turns out that once you have kids, your ability to be efficient–and to appreciate it–expands to a degree unfathomable to your pre-kid self. Now I can eat a whole pizza in under five minutes. I can grocery shop in fifteen. And my post-kid self would put my pre-kid self to shame by showering in under three minutes (is it extra efficient if it’s only a few times a week too?).

With this newfound understanding of efficiency, I’ve become more acutely aware of the value of my time. I perform mundane tasks with a strong sense of urgency stalked by a constant flow of questions rattling around my brain (when will nap time be over? When will I have two hands again? What if there is an impending meltdown?). I operate in a ‘must do as many things as possible while I can’ mentality that I believe only people with kids can truly understand.

I sometimes need a reminder of my pre-kid self. I went to lunch the other day, my daughter precariously sleeping in her stroller. When the young server asked if I wanted an appetizer I had to resist the urge to say “an appetizer? I have a three month old! I want my drink, my lunch and the bill all at once!” And at the bank with my daughter fussing in my lap and the customer service representative asking why we didn’t use their bank for our mortgage and trying to sell me the latest credit card. I sit rocking my daughter back and forth mumbling “shhh shhh shhh” trying–and failing–to maintain a modicum of politeness while thinking “can’t you see we need to get out if here!?”

Both server and banker were just doing their jobs, likely oblivious to the questions at the forefront of my mind. Almost four months in and I realize that I need to learn to navigate motherhood with greater patience in these situations. Still I can’t help thinking… If only my pre-kid self understood the preciousness of a ten minute shower!

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What’s for dinner? Milk!

Before I had my daughter, I made the decision that I would try breastfeeding. I was assured that this was the best way to go. “Babies are born knowing how to do it,” the RN at the hospital said. “It’s a natural bonding experience,” affirmed the lactation consultant at my prenatal exercise class. Babies already know how to do it? She’ll gaze lovingly in my eyes while I feed her? That sounds amazing. Sign me up!

Um, no. That’s not how it went. I can unequivocally say that breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn. And the stakes are high. It is the scariest feeling in the world not knowing if your baby is eating enough. Or if your inability to get a good latch will lead to poor weight gain. It’s heartbreaking when both of you are so frustrated by this seemingly natural process that one of you usually ends up in tears (okay, usually me). The first few days home from the hospital are particularly filled with angst. You’re tired and all you want to do is feed your baby but it’s not working. Even three months later there are times when my daughter is crying and my husband and I look at one another and wonder whether she’s still hungry and whether she’s eating enough. I am still working at it (although it’s become easier).

I don’t regret my decision to breastfeed but I think the breast is best campaign has ratcheted up the rhetoric to a new cringe worthy level. I shocked my peers at a recent breastfeeding cafe because I am also pumping. I was admonished for promoting the pump, which would surely lead to supply issues, early weaning, and certain death (okay, not that last one). And when I mentioned the word wean I was inundated with a slew of data on why you should try to ‘save you and your baby’s breastfeeding relationship’ and how the WHO recommends breastfeeding until your child is two.  I met a woman who was still breastfeeding her baby (toddler?) at four and a half. Nope. Not for me.

You have to do what’s best for you and what works for both you and your baby. Some women choose to formula feed. Some don’t have a choice at all. Some do both. Some women wean after six weeks, some after six months (apparently some after six years!). I set my goal in two week increments (right now I’m trying to make it to week 14).

I cried the first time I had to feed my daughter a bottle. I felt like a failure. I realize now that instead of feeling upset, I should have felt proud that I was ensuring she had the sustenance to develop and thrive. And she is thriving. At only three months she’s already more than doubled her birth weight.

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Maternity Leave (or my one year vacation)

When I told people from work I was pregnant, a senior manager joked “so you’re going on vacation for a year?” We both laughed and I feigned indignation. A vacation? Seriously?

The debate about the appropriateness of these comments aside, we both knew (I hope) that it wasn’t going to be a vacation. However, I certainly wasn’t prepared for how unlike a vacation it would be. What’s the opposite of a vacation? Oh right, work.

In every getting-to-know-you icebreaker game I’ve played, I describe myself using words such as ‘ambitious,’ ‘hard working,’ and ‘go getter.’ I was certain I would own my maternity leave. A year off? I would write my GMAT and apply for my MBA. I would start my own business (a kid friendly after work/school cafe called Suds and Sippy Cups). I would get my PMP to increase my credibility at work.

While it has only been three months, I have lowered my expectations significantly. This week I will shower more than twice. We will make it to our play group on time (okay, within twenty minutes of on time is a win). I will cook dinner instead of living off granola bars.

At times even these goals seem unachievable.

Caring for a baby is amazing, but it’s hard. Gone are the days where I could set my own schedule (which is particularly difficult as I am a project manager by trade). I want to watch Game of Thrones? My daughter has other ideas. She wants me to carry her around while making airplane noises. I want to watch my PVR of Game of Thrones (I’m smart!)? My daughter wants to eat for the third time in as many hours.

I read blogs about caring for a twelve week old and they mostly say the same thing: you adapt to your baby’s schedule. This means sometimes cancelling plans with friends and rearranging entire parts of my day. It means that I’ve stood for hours holding my daughter in an awkward facing-out-sideways position because it’s the only one that’s comfortable for her. It means I’ve eaten half a bagel all day when I was lucky to get her down for a nap. That I’ve spent entire nights taking turns with my husband rocking her to sleep and entire days singing the same song because it seems to be the only thing that soothes her (Kookaboura sits in the old gum tree…).

And it means that I haven’t done my GMAT, my PMP, or started my own business*. And you know what? I’m okay with it. I would still describe myself as ‘ambitious,’ ‘hard working,’ and ‘go getter’ but the definitions of these words has expanded to encompass my greatest challenge yet.

*don’t steal Suds and Sippy Cups. It could still happen!

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The Mother Lode

Well here it is. I bought the splitting hairs domain three years ago and this is my first post. It’s not because I was too busy. Or because I didn’t have anything to say. It’s because I wanted to say something worthwhile that would resonate with people (who? I don’t know). So I built it up in my head, constantly questioning whether what I had to say was sufficiently ‘meaningful’ enough. The task became more and more daunting and eventually I abandoned the effort.

Then I had a baby. 

It is the most frightening, wonderful, whirlwind experience. In my career life, I manage million dollar projects. But nothing could prepare me for this twelve pounder who is currently napping beside me (napping!? yay!).

Is this a mommy blog? Maybe. I’m not sure what it is yet. But between zero sleep, diaper changes, crying, learning to breastfeed and learning to survive with a child, I realize that I need a creative outlet with which to grapple this new concept of motherhood. A place to let off steam, to share in the amazing moments, and to stimulate my brain (I am still an individual right? Right now it’s hard to tell where my baby ends and I begin). Sometimes I might talk about the joys and challenges of new motherhood. Sometimes I might talk about an amazing coffee shop I discovered. Sometimes I might be funny (I think I’m funny). Other times elated, sad, angry, confused, rant-y, in awe…

I might post everyday. Maybe every month. We’ll see.

When I bought the domain name, I intended a tongue-in-cheek commentary on Canadian politics*. Now, splitting hairs has a more literal meaning. And, with a twelve week old, I might need to rename it Greying Splitting Hairs.

Welcome to the mother lode. Thanks for reading.


*There may still be tongue-in-cheek commentary on Canadian politics. Stay tuned.

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