Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Working at home with a small infant - is it possible?

I tried finding answers to this because as a new parent staying home with a baby for 3 months now, I'm feeling the need to work regularly again.  Besides, I've got to return soon since I promised :(  It will also be good for my self-esteem if I can work again soon.  I really do need to work; not for the money but to keep up work and not hurt my career.  In fact, with the part time work I expect to do, I wouldn't be making much since my earnings would need to be deducted from the maternity benefits I'm collecting.  Here, in BC, we cannot earn self-employment income while we collect maternity/parental benefits.  The system is totally unfair but that is a totally different blog post!

Anyway, It's not like I have done nothing in the past 3 months. I have managed to squeezed in 1-4 hours of work on the computer each day but it's not enough. Well, 4 hours a day is too much and I don't expect to do that, especially since it was with Jean-Louis home helping me. Also, for the first month, I couldn't do more than check my email and fill out forms and cards to send out.

Is it possible to work at home while taking care of a baby without any help? How do other work-at-home-moms do it? I googled and found some good responses from this parents network site.  What I found was that although it is possible and some super-moms can do it with a fairly easy baby, most say it's not doable unless there is help around like a nanny or babysitter.  Well, there are other factors too such as what kind of work you do from home and how old your baby is.  In fact, after 3 months, babies require more focused attention from you

With Tristan, he can't crawl yet so I don't have to keep an eye on him constantly but he does cry a lot still.  He likes to be carried and talked to.  Plus, he doesn't nap for long periods of time... well, some days he does.  I'm thinking if it's hard now, it will only get harder once he's crawling, sleeping less in the day, and especially when he is walking!  If he's an active baby, he won't want us to cage him up in a play pen all day.  For those super-moms out there who are new parents and have to work at home with a small infant, how do you get things done on the computer without any help? Would part of the answer be a swing or jumper?  What is the reasonable amount of work to expect?  This is what I would like to know.

I found a site that has questions to help you evaluate whether or not you could work at home with an infant.  I only answered "yes" to 3 of the 11 questions so according to that, I should re-evaluate my decision to work again.  If I don't, I'll be setting myself up for failure.  Not sure I like that.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Canada Child Tax and Universal Child Care Benefit and others

We have just received notice about all the tax and child care benefits we applied for back in November. Yes, it took that long to be processed. For the Universal Child Care benefit, $100 is paid per month to all parents for each child under 6 years of age.  Every parent gets this, regardless of their income.  For the Canada Child Tax benefit, we didn't qualify for much since it's computed based on your family income.  We didn't qualify for any BC Family Bonus either.

While I'm on the subject of applications and forms, I'm a bit surprised some of them took so long to be processed.  Perhaps it is normal or maybe they were delayed due to the winter holidays??  Whatever the reason, we have finally gotten all our responses today.  When we were about to leave Burnaby General Hospital with our new baby, we were given a package of forms.  The Child Tax and Child Care benefits were among them.  Also included were the form for registering the baby's birth and ordering a birth certificate, which had the option for also requesting the baby's social insurance number (SIN), and the health form for his Care card through the Medical Services Plan (MSP).  The baby's birth certificate came in just one week (probably since it was optional and you have to pay for it), followed by the SIN card soon after.  The Care card took like 2 months.  When you call about it, the recorded message actually tells you that it takes around 8 weeks.  In the time being, the baby is covered under the mother's card.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tristan is 3 months old

Tristan is finally 3 months old.  Some people say 3 months is the transition month and that things get easier from here.  Well, things are definitely better today than it was the first month, that's for sure.  We're sleeping more and he's more responsive, smiles and coos a lot - so that's great.  Feeding him is less demanding now too since his growth has slowed down a bit and I only feed him about 6 times a day.  Breastfeeding actually got much easier the second month.  It has been a long time since I had blisters and it doesn't hurt at all anymore.  Tristan gets full after about 20-30 minutes so I don't have to dedicate as much time to feeding anymore.  All is well in that department :)  As a result, he has less pees and poops too so we don't have to change him as much.

I was going to make a cake to celebrate his 3-month birthday but we'll have to see.  Right now, I'm pretty pooped.  Last night we didn't sleep as well as we would have liked.  We just had trouble falling asleep, even after Tristan dosed off.  This morning we went to Jean-Louis' work place and finally paid a visit to his co-workers.  They all seem to love Tristan and he didn't embarrass us by crying (or farting) :)  Next week we will be taking a trip down to White Rock to visit my co-workers.  Hopefully, he will be just as good.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Over 4 hours of work logged

Wow, it has been an exceptional work day for me. I have never been able to log more than say 2 1/2 hours of work since Tristan arrived. It's great being able to work again and not have to think about "baby" all the time. It would be hard to repeat today since I didn't have to cook at all and Jean-Louis is still home on his parental leave. We let Tristan cry a bit more today too or at least I think we did. I feel guilty of course and that's something that I'm concerned about too.

I don't want to neglect Tristan but I can't possibly be there every minute for him either, else I would never get anything done. Besides work, I have chores to do like laundry and cooking and all the little things to keep the house together.  You'd be amazed how much time those little things take up.  Tristan has got to learn to be on his own sometimes. Listen to me... he's still just a little baby (almost 3 months now) and I already want him to be more independent! If I tend to his every need and ignore all of mine, I'll go nuts and may even resent him one day. I do love spending time with him but I'm also starting to feel a little brain dead. I have lots of work piling up and lots of potential work lined up for me as well. With the current economic turmoil, I should really take advantage of all my opportunities and try to work as much as possible. But Tristan is still so young :(  I get to work from home so I'm able to breastfeed him and spend time here and there with him, but I still feel guilty. I can't imagine having to leave the house and go off to work. I would experience separation anxiety for sure!

The extra attachment I feel for Tristan may also be due to the fact that Jean-Louis has not yet "bonded" with Tristan (not sure if that is the right word??).  It doesn't seem to bother him that much when Tristan cries.  I let Tristan cry too but not as much as him and it totally stresses me out.  Yes, I'm the mother and it's normal.  I asked Jean-Louis and he doesn't feel that guilty when he leaves Tristan to cry while he checks his email for instance.  I feel bad for Tristan and as a result, I want to be there for him even more.

Anyway, I'm definitely starting to get that itch and need to work again. After having my research meeting this past weekend too, it also looks like I will be needed very soon too. I'm just worried about having enough time to do everything.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Some work productivity and so much crying

If I had to give an update of this week, I would say that I have finally made some progress in terms of work and Tristan has been crying like nuts.  I've finally figured out some errors on my website and blah, blah, blah... Tristan is crying in the background right now as I type.  Jean-Louis has him and he has been crying really hard for a long time now.  He just had a snooze in my arm but I think he is still tired.  If he is a bit sick, he may need more sleep than usual.  I hope he is not sick and it's hard for us to tell.  His temperature seems normal.  He is just really fussy this week and as a result, we hardly went out.  I think today was his second trip outside of the house.  We had to go pick up groceries.

Tomorrow, I have my first research meeting since having Tristan.  I hope it goes ok.  If Tristan cries hard upstairs the guys will hear it and I will be embarrassed.  He will have to come down at one point since I want the guys to meet Tristan.  Ok, Tristan is still crying and the fan noise is not working.  We're trying everything and nothing seems to work much so I guess I'm going to have to feed him early and put him straight to bed.  Our new routine of having him sleep early means he wakes up earlier and since it's not on my schedule, I'm super tired these days too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

First real laugh and possible allergies?

Yesterday, I got Tristan to laugh or more like smile with a noise. It may have happened before but this time I was able to reproduce it for 5 minutes. It was fun to see but a lot of work for me and then he just lost interest altogether.  Laughing sure makes playing much more fun!

Yesterday, I also noticed what looked like a cold hive on Tristan's lower leg. That made me wonder if it's not too early for babies this young to have allergies. After doing a bit of research online, 2 months is not too young to get allergies.  I was really hoping he would not get my cold allergy :(  I didn't get my cold allergy until in my twenties or at least that was when I first noticed them. In the past couple of baths, I also noticed unusual dry patches on his belly.  I sure hope this is not eczema.  If it is, apparently it is quite common and may go away as stated in this Q&A on eczema.  He had a lot of goose bumps on his body when we removed him from the bath tub too. That's unusual too. We're wondering if he is somewhat sick since he has been extra cranky these days.  The hive on his leg could have been from his mild cold, if that's what he has.

I've read that breastfeeding an infant will lower his or her chances of developing allergies later on in life.  This is one of the reasons why I am so determined to keep up the breastfeeding.  However, there is nothing that can prevent allergies for sure as stated on BabyCenter.  One things I will try to do more now that I have read some of the articles online is to vacuum.  We are so terrible when it comes to vaccuming and cleaning the house.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tristan in his first movie

Recently, we purchased iLife '09. One of the coolest thing about the software package is iMovie '09. After watching a few tutorial videos, I was excited to try a few things out. Unfortunately, we don't have a camcorder and the videos we take with our digital camera are of poor quality. I wanted to test out some of the cool new features in iMovie anyway so I put together something fun as a learning exercise. All of the videos are of Tristan, of course :) I chose the Photo Album theme, made some edits, threw in some transitions, text, photos, and music. A few hours later, I ended up with the following short 6 minute movie.

It's my first attempt at making a movie! iMovie makes it so easy and fun that anyone can do it just by playing around. After all, Apple is known for their user-friendly software. Since iMovie has been rewritten from scratch in this new and improved version, it doesn't come without flaws. I discovered a few bugs along the way. Depending on your clips, transitions may not work as you would like since you can't edit some of them. Cut out some of your clip, add the transition again and then it works. Nevertheless, I'm still very impressed and excited about the new iMovie! Once we buy a camcorder, I'll make some more movies.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Daddy on parental leave

Jean-Louis is home this month. Yahoo!  This is the first week of his parental leave.  This is a time for Jean-Louis to spend more time with Tristan and hopefully bond with him more. That gives me a break and since my "clients" are in no rush to pass along urgent work for me, this month also gives me time to work on other things such as revamping our website, working on our iPhone app, organizing our photos and videos, blogging, and doing our taxes. I would also love to cook more and get out more. I know that's a lot but hey it's good to aim high, yes?  I already feel so much more relaxed just knowing that he will be here more.  If I'm a bit tired, I can go nap for a bit and that is so nice!

What is Daddy responsible for?  Well, diapers (as usual), play time, consoling Tristan when he is cranky, and some house chores.  Tristan is crying less these days and is smarter.  It's rewarding to see him smile and coo when he's happy.  This all makes it easier and more pleasurable for Jean-Louis to care for him.  The deal is that he has to allow for me to have at least 3 hours of work time each day.  In fact, I have the clock running right now!  I'm here for feeding, support, and emergencies.  Any spare time Jean-Louis has, he can work on his own stuff.

It's great to see my 2 guys together having a good time.  I always knew that Jean-Louis would be a hands-on father.  I expect it from him.  His father was not at all.  Jean-Louis is actually doing a good job :)  I have to admit though that I have high expectations and although I appreciate all of his efforts and involvement, I still would like for him to do more.  To be fair, he has lots of expectations from me too.  Being parents is new to both of us but sometimes I think he forgets that I'm a newbie and expects me to be a super-mom overnight.  He keeps mentioning that it's my maternal instinct but that doesn't mean I know everything.  Maybe it means I'm a faster learner.

We're establishing a routine for Tristan as well.  We sort of know when he has his poops and when and how long he naps for during the day.  I think that is great progress!  This will really help when I have to contract again.

Babies need to sleep on their back!

This has always been something the doctors and nurses stress but I never knew it could be so serious if we don't follow it. I read somewhere that babies should not stay in their car seats for more than 20 minutes at a time. Apparently, if they are awake, it's not so bad but it could potentially lead to death if the baby sleeps in an upright position such as a car seat for a long period of time, as in the case reported over a year ago. This upright position causes breathing problems due to the lack of oxygen they can receive. In the news story that I read, the lady placed her baby to sleep in the car seat since the baby slept better in it than in the crib. This eventually led to the baby's death. I was shocked to read about it. The lesson to learn here is that babies should not be allowed to sleep in their car seats for more than 1 hour and should be checked upon several times on long trips.
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