On motherhood, on Mother’s Day.

I got away for a night last weekend. There was a bachelorette party in Collingwood at a cottage with a group of girls I didn’t really know that well but I had the opportunity to take a much needed little road trip with one of my besties, and we literally couldn’t remember the last time it happened. So. Long. Overdue.

Since becoming a mom I can sometimes feel like everything is in overdue mode. My eyebrow wax. My laundry. My last vegetable consumption. My pile of dishes. My list of books I need to read and even hair washing. MY hair of course…I mean I wouldn’t forget to wash the kids hair. Or would I?

I spent the better half of the day before our trip writing lists. So. Many. Lists. Schedule for child 1. Schedule for child 2. Meal plans. Meal Prep. Emergency contacts. To do lists. Packing lists. All of the lists. Oh, and of course I had to clean the house as best I could because I wouldn’t want my brother and sister in law to think that a house with 2 kids under 3 would look lived in would I?

I packed a bag with one set of clothes for the next day and one dress for the evening, plus one pair of heels for the evening and a limited toiletries bag. My “weekender bag”, as the cool kids call it these days, was three quarters empty. You see, over the last 3 years I have become accustomed to packing for myself less and less. It’s been all about more room for spare children’s outfits, bottles, emergency snacks, soothers, toys, disinfectant wipes, booger wipes, bum wipes, all the wipes, and all the things for all the children. Actually only 2 children, but sometimes it feels like I am packing for an entire class of children to go camping for the summer on Lake Louise. Subsequently I’ve been packing less “me” things; less chapstick, less hand cream (what even is that anymore?), less hair brushes, less emergency make up, less, less less.

Anyway, I found more clothes, more “me” snacks, more make-up, more hair products, an extra dress, and stuffed it in just because I could. How good did THAT feel? Quite.

I had been sick for the previous 4 days but we all know that 24 hours with a group of women I hardly know to which I have no responsibility and a BFF who prides herself on her cough and cold remedies is significantly easier than 24 hours with two small humans who depend and rely on me for literally everything in their day.

Hours later I found myself in a scalding hot hottub where I’m pretty sure I sustained 1st degree burns, but I stayed in because why? Lack of responsibilities and Sangria.

My friend and I were among only a few moms in a group of twelve girls.

“Ahhh, quiet”, we said.

“No mommy mommy mommy”, we said.

“It’s so great to have some adult time”, we said.

“It’s so nice not to be needed for a day”, we said.

And then, naturally, one of the girls (women?) says “so why would I want to have kids then?”, in the most genuine way she could have asked. And I realized in that moment that we’d been giving some kind of impression that we didn’t want our kids, or that that being a mother was some kind of negativity in our life that we needed to escape. It was completely our fault, and was completely false. So I gave a quick response which touched on the joy that my kids bring me, how much I love them, that parenting was hard, but it was worth it. How could I put into a few socially acceptable sentences what being a mother really meant to me?

How could I explain that becoming a mother was the best choice I ever made? How could I explain the depths of ache and depths of joy I get from watching my kids hurt and watching them grow every single day? How could I explain in such a short time that when I became a mom my entire world was flipped upside down, and I feel like I have become the truest version of myself in ways that I cannot put into words?

You see you can’t explain it. Many have tried, and haven’t we all failed? Words spoken to me by mothers who have come before me fell on deaf ears, ears that did not understand, ears that did not believe before I was a mother. And yet when I held my girl in my arms for the first time it just made sense. The world made sense.

When I was pregnant I was terrified that I would not be “motherly”, that I couldn’t put my child’s needs above my own, that I would not be able to empathize, that I would not be able to foresee their needs. I was scared about what a child would do to my marriage. I was sad that our time as just “us” was ending and that it would never be the same again. I thought I might love my husband less. I was scared about the world we live in, and the people who would have influence in their lives. I was scared I would get it all wrong and everyone would know it.

When I think back I can just feel all the feelings. Pregnancy hormones don’t help of course, but they were legitimate fears. Family and friends would tell me “there is no love like a mothers”, “a mothers love is different from any other love”, “you’re going to love your baby from the moment you see it”. I just wasn’t so sure. I mean, I LOVED my husband. He made me complete. I’d never felt love in such a way before I met him and I could not imagine anything different. So how could I love someone who I had just met so deeply?

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Well I’ll tell you what, I still don’t have the answer to that question, but you just CAN. The rush of emotion that washes over you the moment you meet your child is like nothing else I have experienced in my whole life. The love is deep, and strong, and raw, and real and ugly and beautiful and whole from the very start. And as the sleepless nights, and weary days pass, as the hormones subside and the newness of it all gently goes away you find your self slowly starting to identify with that term “mom”.

It’s not rainbows and sunshine. It’s hard. It’s exhausting, and not like “oh I’m just so tired” exhausting. I mean, like, I haven’t slept for more than 2 hours consecutively for months and the sleep deprivation is making resent people I hardly know tired. And it hurts. It hurts your body and it hurts your heart and it hurts your friendships and it hurt lots of bits you didn’t expect it to hurt, but you learn that that’s what being a mom is sometimes. And the really “hurty bits” don’t last that long. You think it’ll never end and then one day you can’t even remember the answer to the question “was she a good teether” and it amazes you that you could forget something that seemed so stressful and important at the time.

Of course that was just baby number one, who I thought was hard. Hah! If you know me well you know baby number 2 has given me a run for my money. He just cries a lot and doesn’t like much food and doesn’t like much sleep and it’s really taken a while to figure him out. The transition from 1 to 2 kids kicked me in the butt, real hard. I had postpartum depression, and that’s a whole other blog. I’ll just say that it took me to a pit that I learned many people live with for much longer and I never want to go back to. I’m slowly figuring it out. Little by little, I grow everyday and I learn and I love and make mistakes and now I just brush myself off and I do it all again the next day.

Being a mom is hard. Being relied on by a helpless little person who not only needs you to meet their physical needs but is reliant on you to become a person of integrity and a contributor to society is a huge responsibility. But more than that, it’s an honor and a privilege. I wish it didn’t sound so cliché.

That I get to watch my flesh and blood smile for the first time in their existence.

That I get to be the one and only human who can soothe the hurt of another person.

That I get to be wanted and needed by someone so naturally, and so genuinely.

That I get to see the world through the eyes of my child.

That I get to hold little hands and lead them where I choose.

That I get to hear the words whispered “I love you mommy” and it be about me.

That I get to hear the giggles, all the giggles.

That I get to wipe the tears.

That I get to do piggy backs, and Easter Egg hunts, and cookie baking and the Macarena with the cutest children of all time.

That I get to nurse, and nourish and feed my child with my own body (and not with it!).

That I get to be there for the joys and sorrows, the wins and losses, the hospital trips and the birthday parties and I get to contribute to all of it with everything that I am.

There’s so much responsibility and yet there is so, so much privilege.

You know… I feel all the feels since becoming a mom. I can’t watch the news, a music video, read a book, meet a new person with a story or look at another child suffering without bursting into tears. Oh “how sad” you might think. But you know what, I just feel like this was me all along, just waiting to come to the surface. We’re meant to be connected as humans. We’re meant to compassionate, to feel, to love, to live in community. Becoming a mom has made me feel connected to every other person in the world in a way I never expected. Everyone on the planet has a mother, everyone is somebodies child.

And I’m in the stage in my life where I’m surrounded by moms, biological and adoptive, step and foster and so on. But I am also surrounded by women who choose not to, or are not able to be mothers. I’m not downplaying those women. I have love and respect for everyone’s role in our world. You can be fulfilled and live a life of purpose, a life worthy of respect and praise without being a mother, 100%. But for me, becoming a mother made me see who I really am. It made me dig deep and decide what’s important, to do away with the extras of life that didn’t bring me joy, and to add in the things that did. It made me not care what other people thought so much and it made me feel more love for everyone around me. It made me appreciate my “me” time so much more and it made me fall in love with my husband all over again. So to the girl in the hot tub, there you have it. I might have needed that night away but don’t doubt for a second that my family is the best part about my life.

Much love, Happy Mothers Day!

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The 6 Week Blur: Postpartum Feels

 

20160701_181730 Six weeks.

The first six weeks is the hardest. That’s what I tell any friends who are soon-to-be or new moms. In my limited experience with my first child that’s what I found to be true. Of course it then get easier after 3 months, 6 months etcetera, but the first six weeks? That’s where the real tough stuff lies.

My son turned 6 weeks old this week. I cannot put into words what my body and mind have endured the last 6 weeks.

So much has happened. The moment I met my baby was one of the very best moments of my life. After my first birth experience being more traumatic, much longer, and more grueling than I expected, a 3 hour drug-free labour and quick delivery was a welcome and empowering surprise with my second. Sometime in the first hour afterwards, my midwife gave us the opportunity to go home in just two hours. How thrilled I was. I was convinced I was able and ready to get right up and walk (skip) straight down the hallway, babe in arms, ready to start our life at home as a family of four….eeek! Of course it only took a few hours for the adrenaline to wear off, and then getting out of the hospital bed to walk 8 feet to the bathroom was far from a treat. Not to mention waiting for over 20 minutes in there before realizing my muscles had forgotten how to pee. That’s when it all started a downward spiral.

The pain: stitches, weakness, blistered bleeding baby feeders, organ displacement, queasiness.

The exhaustion: lack of sleep, lack of rest, lack of all things “me”.

The emotions: hormone imbalance, guilt, inadequacy, sadness, numbness, everything-ness and nothing-ness all at once. All the emotions, all the time,

I knew this was coming. With my first baby I fretted for much of my pregnancy over the labour and delivery, hardly giving a second thought to the woes of breastfeeding, the changes that would happen to my body, my relationship with my hubby, nevermind caring for the little human I was about to bring into the world. With my second, I easily spent at least my entire third trimester being anxious about the newborn stage. Because the thing is, when you’ve never done it, people can tell you its hard, but hard is just a word, you can’t fully ‘get it’ until you’ve done it. So with my second, I knew what was coming- and I was a little terrified.

In the first days there are so many ups and downs. In mere moments I could go from experiencing the ultimate euphoria, to a sobbing mess of a person. The love I feel for this baby is only matched by the love I feel for his sister. I created him, I grew him, I birthed him, he is human, he is mine. I breathe in his scent, I squish his (giant) cheeks, I kiss him as much as I like. This little person is just the best thing since sliced bread. And then I cry. I cry because he won’t nurse, I cry because he wont sleep, I cry because he won’t stop crying, and I cry because I feel like I am the only one. I cry because in this moment I can’t see the end. I am in a tornado of tears and there are only flecks of light to remind me it is not going to last forever. I know in my heart it will pass, but in those moments I almost can’t see it.

My post partum body took (is taking) much longer to heal this time. My postpartum emotions are much stronger this time. Generally, postpartum everything is just really kicking my butt.

And it’s not to say that I am not hugely grateful for the opportunity to be a parent. We are so, so blessed. How lucky I am to experience life in this way. It’s a treasure. And I’ve never been more sure of creation. I’ve never believed more that this was all on purpose. The miracle of life literally blows my mind. I can’t think about it too much or it just overwhelms me.

The thing is, I know I am in the thick of it. In a few months I’ll look back and dream of my babe melting into me and snoozing for hours. I’ll wish the newborn smell back, and I’ll relive the first smile, the first coo, and the first giggle. But right now, in these days, I often find myself bleary eyed, staring into the abyss, wondering when I’ll start to feel like a person again. I feel guilty for the lack of attention my daughter is getting, and guilty I can’t give my new baby the attention I gave his sister in the first few months. I’ve been told motherhood is one of the most guilt ridden professions, and isn’t it true?

Don’t misunderstand me. This is just a small snap shot of motherhood. It really is fantastic over all. No one can tell you how hard it is just like no one can tell you how incredible it is.

I don’t write this to complain about becoming a mother. I’m sharing my experience in hopes that someone might relate, and know that it’s okay if you don’t experience “mommy-bliss” in the immediate weeks after the birth of your child- and if you do experience it I am genuinely happy for you! I’m trying to be realistic. If you know me or read my blogs you know I write to start a conversation. There’s something so freeing in being real, in not pretending. In life, and in motherhood especially there is this huge sense of competition, and we put so much pressure on ourselves. It’s so unnecessary.

It doesn’t help that social media feeds into this new culture where we only display our highlight real. We post our big moments. We post our vacation pictures. We “check in” to the nice restaurants we eat at. We post the things were proud of, our accomplishments, as well as the things and people that we love. We show the world, or want to show the world that we’re doing alright. “Look at me, I do cool stuff too”. And it’s nice, but you know sometimes it’s just too much. We all feed into it, we all do it knowingly or unknowingly and it feeds into our desire to do more, to have more, to be more. But we don’t need to. We just need to be us. We need to be real. When we are real with one another we become vulnerable. It’s scary and hard but I think it’s what life is all about. Vulnerability is what connects us- not just as moms, but as humans. Doesn’t it feel good to know you’re not the only one? It’s especially true if you’re struggling. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re falling apart while everyone else is handling life like a boss.

I know that personally I have felt guilty for having struggled in this postpartum period. I’ve wanted to avoid the well-meaning friends and family that so kindly ask how things are.

“How is he sleeping?”

“How is he eating?”

“Isn’t it amazing?”

“How are you adjusting?”

“What is it like with two?”

“Are you all better now?”

Mostly, I’d like to tell them “No, in this moment I’m not really okay, I’m faking this smile and I only slept for 4 hours last night in 45 minute chunks. I haven’t slept for longer than a 2 hour stretch in 6 weeks and I feel like I’m hanging by a thread- emotionally and physically”. I want to tell them that although I love my boy, this newborn stage sucks butt.

I feel guilty when other new moms tell me how much they love this stage, and also when older moms tell me to soak it all in cause its gone in a flash. All. The. Guilt. All. The. Time.

In some ways its easier if people didn’t ask because then I won’t have to be stuck between lying to them or being a Debbie Downer.

I’ve always believed that honesty is the best policy. I think we’d all be a little more comfortable sharing our icky bits if we didn’t feel like we were the only ones who had them. Something
incredible happens when we take the veil off. When we connect with one another on a real level we can relax a little, lower our standards a bit, and be okay with not being okay.

I know that without doubt, for me it helps to know that women before me have gone through this, women beside me are doing it right now, and one day in years to come women behind me will be doing it…and I’ll probably watch them with a sense of admiration and nostalgia. Actually I’m sure I will.

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xo

When My Brain Stopped Working

I wish that I was that cool, intelligent, down-to earth, clever-witty girl. The kind that can keep up with the best of them, and the kind that people want to be around. I know they exist. Sometimes I meet people, and I wish I could just sound like them for a day. I don’t want their life, their body, or their experiences. I literally just wish that my brain functioned on a regular basis and that my mouth could communicate how well my brain was working.

In time, I’ve realized that I essentially have two different problems. Problem one is that I actually can’t think very clearly, or at least not nearly as clearly as I could before I become a mother. Problem two is that even when I can think, my mouth doesn’t cooperate, and I can’t find the words. I genuinely know what I want to say but my mouth goes “nah, l’m on break, come back later”, and then everyone looks at me like I’m an idiot.

When my daughter was five months old my husband told her that my brain came out when she did. Yeah, like she understands. I hate that he’s right.

In my line of work I am at a new place almost every-single-day. I meet somewhere between 4 and 35 new people each time I go to a new place and I usually remember approximately 1 of their names. This is especially useful when I am given detailed instructions and they mean nothing to me because I have no idea where I am supposed to go or who I am supposed to go with. I don’t know where the bathroom and staffroom are, not any other important places or items. And I am not only expected to keep up, but to prove myself to each person I come across- because one day I will want a permanent job and need these strangers to vouch for me. This was difficult for me to adapt to before motherhood, it’s near impossible now.

I wonder if older mothers slowly regain brain power, or they just adapt by getting better at pretending they know what is going on. I still haven’t figured it out. I secretly get really happy when other people-women especially, do and/or say ridiculous things.

And I think this is something that men just don’t understand. I’m not saying they are smarter than us, I just think that their bodies are so capable of focusing on (only) one thing at a time, and they can’t comprehend what your brain feels like then there are 75 tabs open.

I can literally think of what I am making for dinner, what my work schedule is for the week, what I have to pick up on the way home, and how mad I am at my mother for something she did 6 years ago at the very same time. Oh, but you’d like to know the name of the person I’m covering today and what town I am from? Forget it.

The exhaustion from working and mothering a toddler doesn’t help.

The fact that I’m deaf and most people don’t know that doesn’t help either.

Other people: “Hey, what are you up to this weekend?”

Me: “No, I’d rather just have a Caesar salad and a bison burger”

Other people: “Could you stop at Sobeys and pick up some iced tea”

Me: “Europe is my favourite place to get pizza”

The worst part is when I see the look on their face, which is trying so hard to pretend like what I just said made perfect sense, while at the same time trying to figure out how to get the answer to the question they had in the first place. Then I start giggling manically, and my face goes red, because that’s less embarrassing.

Today someone asked me if I had met a certain other staff member, and asked me what her name was. I responded by telling her my name, and saying it was nice to meet her. I couldn’t figure out why she had a strange look on her face until an hour later, and it was too late to save myself.

Sometimes I wish I could just pause my conversations so I could take a minute to gather my thoughts, my words, and my cool composure while the other person was frozen in time having no realization that time is passing. I feel like I would omit most of my blunders that way.

It mostly started when I got pregnant, and of course I called it pregnancy brain. Totally understandable. Then I had my daughter and I was sleep deprived for a solid 6 months at least, so naturally the term baby brain made sense. Now I’ve got nothing. At no point did ANYONE tell me that I would lose ALL brain power as soon as I gave birth and it would never return to me. Is that the reason lots of women don’t return to work? It’s just too embarrassing? That would make total sense.

Either way I’m settling into my new normal. It used to shock me when I couldn’t remember what I did last night. I’m not surprised anymore.

Part of becoming a mother is learning that THIS is your new normal. Whether that means your new normal body, your new normal Friday night in, your new normal potty time parties, or your new normal anything. This is it, and you’ve got to embrace it.

One of my many new normal things is my lack of good communication skills and brain skills. Hopefully one day Ill get back to normal, but in the mean time hopefully my daily blunders can provide some crucial comic relief to those around me.

Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave

I remember being childless.

I mean, it was only 9 months ago, and yet it seems like an eternity. On one hand my daughter’s life so far has whizzed by in the blink of an eye, and so many firsts have already come and gone, never to be firsts again. And on the other hand, being childless is faint memory I can only recollect in an obscure, strange, out of body kind of way. It’s like it was a whole different me. Well, it was a whole different me.

I got a new job this week. It feels so weird, even as I type it. Job. Job! Work. Out of the house. No baby. I can’t wrap my mind around it.

I’ll be going back to work in just 4 weeks. That’s 10 months at home with my darling girl I will have had. It’s a lot more maternity leave than many people across the world get and I am ever so grateful for it. It’s two months shorter than my full year because I went off early, and hubby took some parental leave too (which was awesome).

I just can’t imagine what it’s actually going to be like. You know, working…using my brain…having adult conversations…interacting with other humans in a capacity which is void of poop talk and sing-song voices. Even though I know it’s going to happen I just can’t see it.

I suppose it was like being pregnant. I knew the baby was coming. I knew I’d be a parent. I knew I’d have to take care of a baby. I could see other people doing it. I just couldn’t put myself in that place until I was there.

I’ve gone through so many emotions to do with work and family life. I’ve gone from decidedly and single mindedly going back to work as soon as possible, for the sake of keeping sane and keeping up with my career (pre-pregnancy); to possibly staying at home for a year (pregnancy); to never going back to work ever because motherhood is the best drug I’ve have ever taken and it’s what life is all about (3 day old baby-mom hormones); to many variations of what I shall do and not do about work.

At the end of the day, and the end of my daughters first 9 months of life coincidentally, I will in fact be returning to work part-time, for now, until who knows when, I guess. I applied to a new board of education because the hourly rate is more, and that means less days of work and more time with my babe. Wahoo!

Turns out I got the job, and yesterday I went for my orientation. I just sat there looking around at all the people around me going about their daily work lives. Many of them probably had kids. Many of them had to go back to work after spending the year with their little bundle of love. But it wasn’t the same. It didn’t feel the same. I felt like I was the only person on the face of the earth that has had to face leaving their baby to go back to work.

It’s not even like I am going full time. I’m not even leaving her with a stranger, or relatives. She’s going to be with Greg, her daddy, on his days off of work. It’s literally the perfect scenario in the going back to work after a baby world.

It took everything in my power not to tell the HR manger that Millie knows how to wave now; or the other new-hires that I have a 9 month old and she’s fantastic; or the payroll clerk that my daughter is learning how to blow kisses and calls her Dad ‘Dad’. It’s not that it’s just the only the I know how to talk about, or the only thing I CAN talk about, but it’s actually what I like to talk about. She’s my world right now, and rightfully so.

I’m told my brain will go back to an almost normal functioning capacity. I hope it’s true. Because if not, these dear children I will be helping are getting the short end of the stick. I studied for weeks for my interview. Just to remind myself of all the words I used to use on a daily basis. ‘collaboration’ ‘communication’ ‘de-escalation’. A lot of ‘ations’. It was hard. And I think I am relatively average at my job on the whole. But that was before giving birth, before I had to think about someone else, before I was solely responsible for another human’s life, and before spending 9 months without much educational interaction, before ‘mom-brain’.

I suppose I am just worried that I’ll go back to work and be a blabbering, breast-pumping in the bathroom stall, airhead, emotionally sensitive, tired out, baby missing, baby talking, baby bragging weirdo. I just want to fit in. I want to be like everyone else.

I suppose I am just like everyone else. And I just relate to a new group of people now. There are tonnes of moms who work. I just get to join the working mommy club now.

The idea of going back to work has made me realize, not just how my life is different now, but how I have transformed, as a person. I don’t think the way I used to, I don’t act the way I used to, and I definitely don’t look the way I used to. I’m no better or worse. I am just different. Mostly, I like it that way. People always tell you your life is going to be different once you have babies, and it is for sure. But people never told me that I would be different. It’s something that happened suddenly, and also slowly.

Suddenly I went from being a pregnant girl to becoming a mother. Slowly I learned what being a mother actually took, what it looked like, and how it felt.

Now I am suddenly going back to work, and slowly I’ll learn how to be a loving caring mother, and also be a able bodied professional who fits in like everyone else. I’ll find out what it takes, what it looks like, and how it feels. It’ll take time, but I’ll get there.

10 Things I Wish They Told Me The Truth About Becoming a Mother

When I was pregnant with my daughter I was given all kinds of advice on almost everything under the sun. There was a bounty of information coming from every which way. But sometimes I wish people were a little more candid. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so sugar coated. In some cases my reality was so much farther from the advice I received I wondered who these well meaning advice givers were. Here’s some things I wish people told me.

  1. You aren’t just going to be tired, you’re going to be sleep deprived. It’s entirely different and you’ll feel like you are losing your mind. You’ll wonder what you got yourself into and convince yourself that no one has ever experienced this before. But, it’ll get better, much much better. One day you’ll forget what that felt like, and you might even want to do it all over again.
  1. Your body is going change in ways you cannot even possibly comprehend. Most of it will be permanent and it goes much farther than stretch marks, a kangaroo pouch and the inability to hold your pee for more than 10 minutes. You’ll try and remember what it was like before you gave birth. You’ll wish you took pictures to remind yourself that you used to look different. But it’ll be your new normal and the fact that you made another human being will feel way cooler than a thigh gap ever did.
  1. Your baby is going to look like an alien potato at first, but your mommy hormones will tell you it’s the most beautiful thing that has ever graced the planet. It’s okay to have our hormones (and our friends) lie to us. Months down the road you’ll look at pictures and possibly see them more clearly. Nevertheless, your human is a miracle- alien potato looking or not.
  1. Your baby is going to be 100% different than your best friends baby, your sisters baby, or your co-workers baby. Your baby is going to suck (no pun intended) at some things, and rock at others. You’ll feel like your friends are shoving their perfectly sleeping baby stories in your face. But they aren’t. They are probably just happy that something is going well for them and wish they could breastfeed as easily as you did- or something like that. We’ve all got our hurdles. Don’t take it personally.
  1. You will likely want to drive a knife into your husbands face in the first three months at some point. No matter how many breakfasts in bed you’ve been served, no matter how many late night ice creams have been fetched, no matter how much he loves and provides for you and your family and how many diapers he has changed. One night, you’ll be awake with your baby, you’ll wonder how he could possibly be asleep at this moment and you’ll imagine yourself becoming very violent with him. You likely won’t do it. And in the morning you’ll probably love him again.
  1. Your friendships will change. You’ll gain some. You’ll lose some. Your priorities will change and not everyone will understand. At least one of your friends will continuously ask you to hang out after 7PM as if you have no children- even after you remind them that evenings don’t really work anymore. Just be patient. One day, they’ll likely be in your shoes and get it.
  1. You are going to want your baby to do new things and discover the world. The wonder of development is incredible. You are going to dream of a day when your baby can tell you with words what he or she wants. Don’t. Never, wish away a stage in your babies life. The first 3 months are some of the hardest in the first year. But they will never be that young again. They’ll never need you in the same way again. They’ll never fit into those clothes again. Enjoy every stage for what it is because it is gone in a flash.
  1. You can’t always sleep when the baby sleeps. Let’s be real. Can you cook when the baby cooks? Read while the baby reads? Sleep upright in a chair, with a baby latched to your boob fast asleep? No you cannot. While sleep is essential, and you must get as much of it as you can, this advice is old and impractical. Sometimes, crap just needs to get done. Sometimes you need time to yourself where you catch up on being you. Sometimes, the baby sleeps and you hold him for 3 hours straight because he cries if you put him down. So, try to sleep when you can, but realize this advice is not always realistic.
  1. You can’t do it all on your own. You just cant. Emotionally, physically, practically, you just can’t. Don’t put that on yourself. If people offer help, take it. You aren’t a bad mother for needing help. You are a great one for taking the help. Not only will your family be better taken care of, you’ll be less of a basket case because you won’t be trying to singlehandedly do everything. It’s in everyone’s best interest for this to be a team effort.
  1. Your man needs you. You needed him to make this baby and now he needs you to fill his love tank. Don’t forget this wasn’t just a one ‘man’ job. This little human needs you both around. Invest in your man. The first year you are learning so much how to be a mom and it can be exhausting, but don’t leave him in the dust. He needs you too, and if you want your baby to grow up in a happy home then Daddy needs love too.

That’s it, that’s all. What are some things people told you that were inaccurate? What do you wish someone warned you about?

Favourite Mommy Moments in the First Year

In no particular order I’d like to share my personal list of favourite things I’ve experienced in my few months of momhood. It’s been challenging, wonderful, and fulfilling in ways that you can only believe when you experience it. Enough blabber, here’s my list:

  •  That moment during labour when it hits you that you get to meet your little human today. WHAT?!
  • The very first time your little love is placed on your chest, and you hold them for the first time. Nothing else matters.

  • When you finally get a good latch. Breastfeeding mommas, you know what im sayin’.

  • The first time they look you in the eye. Gush.

  • When he/she falls asleep on your chest, sink into you, and you feel as one.

  • Watching him/her sleep, anytime.

  • The very first smile.

  • The very first giggle. My heart if fluttering just thinking about it!

  • The very first anything.

  •  The sound of your babies sigh of relief when you pick them up after being upset.

  • The sound of babbling. Eeek! “She’s talking!”

  • When your baby holds onto you like you’re the most important person in the world. Well, you are.

  • The moment you realize you get to keep her for the rest of her life (well, at least 18 years). Yes!

  •  The first time they sleep more than 2 hours, or 3 hours, or more!

  • The moment, after a very long day of gassiness, and constant feeding, and exhaustion, when you lay your little peanut in her crib and she actually stays asleep. “What do I do now?!”

  • The look of relief on their face after you’ve spent an hour and a half helping them to fart…and it finally happens!

  • Rubbing mini Buddha bellies. So soft, so warm, so round.

  • Good morning “I missed you” smiles. It makes waking up better than ever.

  • Before bedtime snuggles.

  •  Anytime snuggles. Right?

  • When you see your husband’s features in their face.

  • Watching their eyes flutter to sleep.

  • Realizing “I made this”, for real.

  • Getting lost time, in wonder and awe, staring at this creation…and I’m not just being sappy.

  • Playing with tiny fingers.

  • Raspberries on baby bellies. The joy!

  • When you first feel that deep love in the pit of your stomach that everyone tells you about. So real, so cool.

Are you a Mom? If so, what are some of your favourite things about it? What are of some of your favourite moments?

Let’s share and all be friends!

I Always Think My Baby is Dead

Yesterday my shower was cut short.

The phone wasn’t ringing. The dog wasn’t barking. The doorbell hadn’t rung. The baby wasn’t crying…

Well, that was the problem. The baby wasn’t crying.  I had put her safely into the exersaucer, where she was happily bouncing. I had the dog with me in the bathroom with the door closed, so there was no chance of him getting near her. I was all set. Perfect. But somehow, in the 3 minutes that I had spent in the shower, I had convinced myself that someway, somehow, she was either in the process of dying or dead. Had she choked on her spit up? Did she face-plant the toy and get stabbed in the eye? Is she suffocating on Sophie? Had she passed out? I admit that even on the best of days my imagination can get the best of me, but do I really need to add this to my list of worries? No, but I am guessing (from my limited experience) that THIS IS MOTHERHOOD.

I say that because incidents of this nature, though different in their specific details, are a very common occurrence these days. You can give me any situation, and in my mind I will find a way where it is entirely possible, and even likely, that a mother might find herself with a dead baby.

My daughter is the most important thing in my little world to me. I would never leave her, anywhere. She’s the first thing I think about in a day, and the last too. So, why would I leave her at Dollarama? Well, the answer is that I wouldn’t, and I didn’t, just to be clear. But for a split second when I was driving home tonight (before I turned around to check), I convinced myself that when I set down her carrier at the cash register, I had left her there and only took my purchases with me. That’s logical right?

I am a pretty laid back person, most would agree. I’m laidback most of the time, except for when I am not, and in those times I suffer from a condition called O.C.P.C.D, which is better known as Obsessive Compulsive Pulse Checking Disorder. It’s real, and it’s serious.

 I have been having a really hard time getting my daughter to nap during the day. I have tried everything, short of medicating her and letting her “cry it out”. Lately if she naps at all, it is right after nursing and she sleeps on me, until the moment I lay her down somewhere else and she wakes up immediately. So, you can understand how excited I was when I laid her in her crib, (of all places) and she didn’t wake up.  For the first 20 minutes it was just pure excitement…the thrill! I didn’t know what to do with myself, as I was half expecting her to wake up every five minutes, and just waiting outside her door waiting for a cry. After that, I started doing some things around the house, and was feeling quite accomplished for quite a while. And then, suddenly it hit me. Maybe she is dead. That’s why she’s ‘sleeping’ so well! Now we’ll just say that altogether she napped for 3.5 hours and after the first hour, I checked every 20 minutes to make sure she was still breathing. I was watching her tummy, watching her face, listening for breaths. You name it and I was doing it.

This reminds me of the first time she slept through the night. Actually no, it was more like the first time I woke up before her, and she was still sleeping. Panic! She’s not crying to be nursed, and something horrible has happened. Nope, she’s just sleeping like all humans do, and she’s fine.

It’s just crazy… How we automatically assume the worst in any given situation, and then blame ourselves for whichever imaginary situation we’ve come up with in our minds. I can’t even describe the depths of the words ‘a crying baby is a breathing baby’, and what they now mean to me.

One time…one time, I left her playing on her mat in the kitchen while I went to the bathroom, which was 6 feet away, with the door open. In the 30 seconds I was in there I’d convinced myself that my ridiculously calm, gentle dog had had his way with her and that I’d be making headlines the next day in the news. None of which proved to be true. The dog was fast asleep on the next floor up, just like he was when I went in the bathroom.

Oh, and not to mention co-sleeping. I mean, yeah, most of the time (actually all the time as I turns out) it’s fine and I am totally aware of where I am, and where she is and make sure not to have blankets near her etc. We don’t co-sleep all the time, but hey, once and a while it’s quite lovely just to snuggle back into bed with her instead of being up for an hour feeding in the middle of the night, in a cold rocking chair, in a lonely room just waiting to crawl back into bed. But the other night, for some reason I woke up after being wrapped and snuggled up like a bug in a rug with my giant heavy down-filled duvet. In my sleepy slumber I thought I had her in bed with me and thought she was lost somewhere in the blankets not breathing.  This of course was not true, not has ever been close to true, as I always sleep with her in a safe place, and away form any blankets of the sort.

None of this matters though. Logic is no longer logic, because the worry is incessant. It doesn’t matter what makes sense, what is likely, what is unlikely, what is probable, what is possible, what is common, what is not common…all that matters is that I am her mother, her protector, her source of food, her calm, the one who grew her, her biggest fan, and the one who will fight for her to have a full life and be the best she can be of whatever she is going to be. I am the cheerleader of her life. There is no one who will care for her more than I will care for her. No person who will love her more unconditionally than I will. I am her mama bear.

Right now it’s early days. Heck, it’s only been 5 months. But it’s amazing how many times in 5 months you can worry sick about what something means or doesn’t mean, what you’ve done that’s hurtful or helpful, or whether your baby girl is breathing or not breathing. That’s my job though, and as crazy as it is, and as crazy I am, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a good thing because I have a feeling it’s going to be like this for a long long time!

The New Meaning of Dirty

So I’m sitting here in my bumming around hoodie, which I am sure I just got out of the dryer yesterday and all I can smell is rank, old, dried up, bona fide, breast milk spit up.  There is nothing that smells quite like it. The question I pose now is…

Where is it coming from?

…my hoodie, the couch, the pink blanket, the muslin blanket, her bib, her outfit?!

I spend the next 4.5 minutes sniffing around like a dog, to decipher the whereabouts of this stench. This has become my life.

And I’m not just talking about spit up… or even baby poop… or even dog hair. I am talking about the whole business, the business of being a parent, the everything about my life that gives “my house is dirty” a whole new meaning. A more life-stage appropriate phrase might read “my life is dirty”.

Before my husband and I had a child, we were pretty tidy people. I mean, we weren’t neat freaks or super clean by any means, but we were sanitary and regular everyday twenty-somethings, who could get their crap together pretty quickly when company was coming.

When I said “oh, sorry my house is dirty its been a busy week”, I actually meant “it’s kind of dusty in here, and the way the light reflects on my floor shows that I didn’t sweep up the dog hair today”. Really though, my house was what I now would call pretty close to perfect.

If you are a mom you get it, more than non-moms (or non child caring people) could ever possibly understand. At any given moment, or on any given day your body parts could have come into contact with puke, milk, poop, spilled milk, sprayed breast milk, sprayed poop (NOTE: this is entirely different than regular poop), sneeze juice, snot, drool, soup, coffee, or really any combination of liquids which might be found in ones modern day home.

Earlier today my elbow was wet. I figured I must have just brazed by a damp counter, or spilled some of one of my 76 glasses of water which I gulped back to make sure my milk supply doesn’t dry up or I don’t dehydrate. My baby is a milk drunk, and a very very hungry gal.  Anyway, as I went to wipe it off I followed the trail up all the way to my finger, which my daughter had so fondly been gnawing on for no more than 1 minute. How can this much saliva really come out of someone so small, so quickly?

Years ago….Heck, months ago, if I chose not to wear my brown sweater because it was dirty, all that meant was that I had worn it a few times and it would be weird to wear it again without washing it. At the worst, I may have sweat in it…a little. If we’re being perfectly honest here I could wear the same sweater for days before thinking it was a good idea to give it a wash. No.Big.Deal.

Today I wore 4 sweaters. Four, sweaters. NOT AT THE SAME TIME. Consecutively. And I can’t just throw them in the hamper and wash them in a week like in the good old days. No, that would be disgusting, because the various bodily fluids would soak in, dry up, and start to stink. The problem is that life is so wonderfully busy and not busy these days that I likely won’t get to the laundry for at least 3 days and my room in fact WILL start to stink.

 It’s interesting because I never used to care that much about disinfectants. I mean, I was clean but I didn’t get stressed if I ate a stray Ritz cracker off of a plain old washcloth-wiped counter. Now that I have a little one, I care a whole lot about sanitation, and cleanliness, and her not getting dog hair in her mouth, and her not licking things that aren’t clean (which by the way isn’t possible because SHE LICKS EVERYTHING), and generally disinfecting most items that may come into contact with her in any way. The irony is abounding… because now that she’s around, everything is SO much dirtier than it used to be. Gah!

Sometimes I get excited about how awesome I am. I get excited for 10 minutes every 2 days (or so) right after I have vacuumed, and swiffered when there is almost no dog hair on the floor and all of the random baby accessories have been shoved into a corner, or box, or the counter in the laundry room, and I’ve wiped down the kitchen counters. I get really, really inappropriately excited. I almost want someone to just show up for a drop in visit, just so they can see how ‘awesome’ my house looks without me even trying. Goodness forbid they actually looks closely, or worse-look in any room other than the living room.

Oh, and I am only excited for 10 minutes because I am lucky if it all lasts for that long before someone launches curdled breast milk out of their mouth and across the room, or I decide to sanitize toys, bottles and nipples galore, then let them air dry all over the island, or my baby poops through 3 layers of clothing and it soaks into the fabric of the swing. You get it.

All I am trying to say here, is that dirty doesn’t always mean dirty, and dirty doesn’t always mean dirty either. It all just depends on who you are talking to and what their life situation is. Let’s just all come together and stop pretending our houses are ever REALLY clean anymore. If you come over and my house looks ‘great’, it’s either superficially clean, or my father-in-law did it. Let’s be honest here.

People who don’t get it, and why I am a little bit nut’s: A Mother’s Rant.

So I’m driving towards a stoplight, and refuse to speed up to get through the green before it changes, because I have a baby in the backseat and I turned into a grandma driver the moment she was born.

This is a problem.

Now I sit at a stoplight, wondering why on earth it is necessary for other people to get through the intersection and what possibly makes them anymore important than I. Don’t they see that I have a BABY?! Don’t they realize that if the car is stopped for more than 23.5 seconds that my baby will start crying uncontrollably, and the longer she cries the harder it will be for her to stop? Every.Second.Counts.

No, Libby. Nobody realizes that, and even if they did, nobody cares, because the world does not revolve around you and your baby. I know, I know. But, still.

Every moment of the day is like this, especially those moments spent outside the 4 walls of my home. It’s very intense.

I almost lost it on the girl working in the McDonalds drive-thru tonight. It all began when I decided it was necessary to get 2 chocolate chip cookies on my way home, accompanied by a medium tea with milk. Easy enough, right? And there’s nothing faster to make and hand out a little window than cookies and tea, right? No, wrong. Apparently, asking (before ordering) “Do you have chocolate chip cookies still at this time of night”, does not give the opportunity to say “no, we are out for the night or you can wait 10 minutes for new ones”. Apparently.

I was at my Mom’s house visiting. I timed it perfectly. If I stay until 7, nurse the baby, and get into the car immediately, she’ll fall asleep on the way home, without crying, and I’ll put her right to bed when we get home. PERFECT plan. It even involved staying a solid hour later than I wanted to- if I am perfectly honest with myself. A lot of thought goes into when I do what, and how I do it, and all the potential hiccups (not literal hiccups).

So after paying at the first window (therefore solidifying my purchase no matter the wait time), I get the second window only to find out that they are out of cookies. REALLY? “But if you want to wait only 2 minutes we’ll make some new ones”, said the cashier. Ugh. So I pull up to the wait spot, and after a solid 35 seconds the baby starts to wail.  After 5 minutes, the girls gossiping behind the counter wonder why I’ve marched in there, baby carrier in hand, bouncing and shushing.

“Is there something you need?”

Yes. Yes there is something I need. I need you to:

a) Tell me there are no cookies when I ask you before ordering, or at least before paying

b) Give me a realistic wait time frame so that I can immediately leave and not have the baby lose it

C) Don’t look at me like a crazed cookie-hungry customer who can’t wait 2 minutes in the car with her baby

“No, just thought I’d come in to get the cookies and tea to save you a trip and keep the baby happy” J

People. Some people.

I feel like I’ve turned into a “Don’t you see I have a baby here” lunatic. I actually have, and I’m sorry.

2 days ago I was in the hospital, it was pretty quiet and I was super grateful that my baby was fast asleep while I waited for over an hour to see the doctor. As I waited by the door for my husband to pick me up, some crazy nurse (crazy because her hair was frizzy and she was grumpy), kept yelling commands to the other nurses. But she waited until she was right beside us. REALLY? DON’T YOU SEE MY SLEEPING BABY? DON’T YOU REALIZE WHAT IT’LL MEAN FOR THE NEXT 2 HOURS FOR ME IF YOU WAKER HER UP?! SHUT UP!

I’m just being honest. I’m nice, really. 90% of the time you’d have no idea I am having these crazed thoughts, but I can’t lie, my inner dialogue is generally not so friendly.

One last thing.

Why do people try to talk to me like I am a regular person with a regular focused brain when my baby is wailing?

Oh, probably because they don’t have a baby. I realize that. I am not stupid. Before motherhood I didn’t think twice about the effects of having a baby had on a woman’s brain. How non-empathetic of me. I know. But now I want everyone to understand. My brain doesn’t work properly when my baby is crying. Or when my baby is about to cry. Or when my baby has just finished crying. Or if I think she might cry. Or if I’m thinking of when the last time I fed her was. Or which boob I used. Just sayin’. Just don’t be offended when I’m spaced out, or looking like I am ignoring you, or am red in the face, or smile and nod when you just told me the saddest news of your life. I CAN’T THINK.

So the next time you ask to hold my baby, try to have a conversation with me, allow me to cross the road first, open or not open the door for me, expect me to hear everything you say, wonder if I was ignoring you, wonder why I’m huffing and puffing so hard waiting for a red light, or see me rolling my eyes at a random loud talking well-wisher, just remember that I may have just spent the last 2 hours feeding, rocking, shushing, playing and scheming to get my baby to sleep in perfect time… so that when I get home I can fold the load of laundry that’s been sitting there for 3 days, or shower, or do the dishes, or make an important phone call, or do one of a million other things that I have on my list of “to-dos while baby is sleeping” list.

Now that’s a run on sentence.

Seriously though…

To my friends who are Moms, or just Moms in general: I can’t believe how naïve and un-thoughtful when I was “pre-baby”. Sorry to you.

To my other un-mothered friends: Sorry for being crazy and half hating you for not getting why I’m all dazed and confused these days.

And to the rest of you: Stop waking up my baby.

So Honey, what did you do all day?

It’s very difficult to type with a wee baby laying on me, belly-to-belly and fast asleep. But, I’ll take what I can get.

 Here’s the thing: babies don’t care what’s convenient for you. This isn’t surprising though, given that 0 out of 116 people polled had babies because they wanted life to be more convenient. People have babies for all kinds of reasons. I like lists, so lets recall some.

  •      They think they are cute

  •      It seemed like a good idea at the time

  •      God said to go forth and multiply

  •      It’s what their parents did, and their parents-parents did

  •      Its what their friends were doing

  •      Babies make life more interesting

  •     Babies give you purpose

  •      Why not?

  •       Free baby samples

  •      It’d be interesting to see what their own mini-me looked like

  •      Baby fever

  •     It’s what society expects

  •      It’s what their spouse expects

  •     Maternity leave is basically baby vacation.

Let’s just clear the air and say that these are not necessarily reflective of my and my husband’s reasons for child-bearing, nor is this list exhaustive. But, I WILL admit that my husband DID refer to mat leave as baby-vacation (pre-baby) and now takes back that statement. Thank you, Greg.

I’m getting better at this doing nothing thing. And, by doing nothing I mean doing an incredible amount of things for the sake of keeping my baby alive, happy and developing but in the real world not actually accomplishing everyday tasks. It was really hard at first, like really really hard. I don’t mean caring for baby, although that was a whole different kind of hard.

I’ve always been a go-getter. I’ve always needed to be. If I wasn’t in school, I was working, and if I wasn’t working I was working my other job, and if I wasn’t working my other job I was planning a baby shower, or bridal shower, or volunteering or planning some kind of event. I couldn’t sit still.As I sat down I would feel a pang of guilt, so I would get up and do something else.

So now, here I am 4 months into motherhood and I am s l o w l y getting there. At first it was guilt, shame and embarrassment and how little I could get done. No housework, cooking, planning, working, odd jobs or to-do lists getting done. No achievements. And then somehow, slowly, I learned that it is okay.

Growing this little human and being everything to her is the best kind of achievement! How lucky I am to have this opportunity. How blessed I am to have her! To the outside world I may be a nothing-doer, but for my family and I…I am Wonderwoman, The Incredible Hulktress, and Shaquille O’neal of my baby, and of my life.

 Why? Because today I…

Woke up, fed my baby, changed her bum, ate breakfast, put my hair in a clip, changed my underwear (and some clothes), played with my baby, played more, rocked some, walked some, hushed some, cried some, and then fed her again. I blogged, logged in, paid bills, fed the dog, and went to the bathroom (yes!). It might already be 3:30 in the afternoon and to look in my window you might think to yourself “What does she do all day?” , but my baby and I are alive and well and that’s what matters most right now.

So well done to me, well done to you, and remember…

You ARE doing something, and you’re doing fantastic!