Baby’s First Birthday

I have been to so many first birthday parties as an adult, I honestly couldn’t tell you how many. Everything comes in waves. You reach adulthood and there is a time in your life where it seems everyone you know is getting married, and of course, soon after everyone is having babies.

With my own baby girl’s birthday closer than I would like, it’s really got me thinking about first birthday parties.

My initial thought about my daughter’s birthday was to skip the party. I know, I know. I can hear so many parents out there gasping even as I write it, but let me tell you why. I think in this age of technology, a lot of people do things just for the photos. They want to throw these huge elaborate parties so they can post all the photos on Instagram and have their followers look at them and think; “I wish I could throw a party like that!”

Personally, my thought was to keep the whole occasion centred around my daughter and what she likes (Crazy, right?). I was going to do a small get together at my mother’s house, maybe have a barbecue or something, and put most of my time and effort into her Cake Smash photos. No-fuss, no muss, no coconuts. My thought in all this was that my daughter sometimes gets overwhelmed and burnt out when there are too many people around, and when she gets overwhelmed and burnt out she gets extremely cranky. A cranky birthday girl would definitely ruin her birthday.

However, with the knowledge that my husband’s parents are coming all the way from the East Coast to celebrate her first birthday with us, I kind of felt like maybe I would need to put a little more thought and planning into the day. So I started (very last minute, I might add) to put more of the typical birthday party together.

One thing I think a lot of parents need to come to grips with and fess up to, is that the first birthday is in no way, shape, or form for your child. We can pretend it is all we want because the celebration is about them, but it’s really for all the adults who will attend because our little ones are never going to remember this birthday.

Although I have no problem with a first birthday party being centred more around the adults, I feel like we have to be realistic about it and honest. A lot of parents like to masquerade around this fact and what ends up happening is you end up with a birthday party for kids, where the bulk of your guests are adults which, to be honest, is just really inconvenient.

I can’t tell you how many kids parties I have been to where the parents invited over 30 adults to the party and there were maybe 10 kids. Is that bad? No, as parents you have every right to celebrate with some adults. You have made it through your first year and that was no small feat. With that being said, plan your party with those adults in mind.

Why? Because it isn’t fair to the parents of the 10 kids that arrived for you not to.

A lot of you read that and are wondering “What the hell is she talking about?”. Well, of course, I am going to tell you.

One of the huge things a lot of parents planning a party who invite more adults than kids don’t account for are two things: seating and food.

What usually happens when you invite adults who don’t have kids, is they sit down and socialize. They are a bit more removed from it all because a lot of them just don’t know what to do or whether they should interact with the kids. It’s a little awkward for them to find their place at a kid’s party, so they sit. Which is absolutely fine. But for the parents who have trekked their kids to your party and chased after them while at your party, it isn’t really fair to them that there be no seating left. They really do need a few moments where they can sit down, have some food, and have some adult interaction while at the party too. Plan for this.

Another thing is the food. I don’t want to be that person, and when I attend a kid’s party I usually just roll with the punches, but you can’t plan a kid’s party with kid food only if you plan on inviting more adults than children.

I get it, your an adult and you want to invite your adult family members and best friend etc. I also understand that it’s so much easier to have hot dogs and chips and pizza, but I think you should really plan for the adults as well. Don’t go overboard! You don’t need steak dinners for every adult there, but a cheese and meat tray, some veggies, maybe even some easy appetizers would be something to consider putting out.

Another big thing is making sure you provide activities for everyone and be okay with the fact that not everyone is going to stay as long as you wanted them to, especially the adults.

With all of this in mind, I really had to think about her party. Ideally, a restaurant with a party room would have been my first pick. We don’t have to worry about food, everyone can choose what they want to it as opposed to having to eat kiddie foods, and absolutely no clean up for me! After some research, I realized that unless you are doing a wedding or a business dinner, there aren’t really too many options down this road.

(Insert exasperated sigh here)

I am hoping the party room pans out but if it does, that means I am going to have to plan for food. I would do pizza for the kids since my daughter has recently discovered pizza and loves it but would have to think a little outside the box for the adults.

This is the first party that I have to plan for my baby girl, and I have to say I am not thrilled with how much work it is all turning out to be. If I am being honest, I would love sticking to the original no fuss plan.

Is it too late to throw in the towel and go back to the no party idea?

Parenting vs. Time

When we are kids, it seems like we are anxiously waiting for time to pass. Each moment feels like hours. I can remember being in school and watching the seconds pass on the clock thinking time was standing still.

We wait for the school day to be over, we wait for the week to be over to have our weekends, we wait for the school year to be over to have our summers… summers that somehow feel like they would last forever.

Then something happens, and suddenly it feels like our whole lives are on fast-forward. We just whiz through months, even years. There are things that have happened to me over ten years ago that I feel like happened maybe last year. When I sit down and calculate the time, I find myself wondering where in the world it all went.

Now add being a parent to the mix, and time suddenly becomes an enemy.

I honestly feel like the day I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl could have been yesterday. I remember every detail with such clarity. I remember going in early that day to be induced, I remember how uncomfortable it was, and how long I waited there before being able to go home. I remember the anxiousness that went along with it, thoughts that I wanted her here so desperately but at the same time, I felt as though I wasn’t ready. I remember going home and putting on Don’t Mess With Zohan and my husband and I taking a nap because neither one of us was sure just how long it all would take once things got moving.

I remember waking up in tears as wave after wave of excruciating pain vibrated up my back. I didn’t know these were contractions because no one had told me ‘back contractions’ were a thing. I remember looking at my sleeping husband and thinking that I should let him sleep just a little while longer as I waddled into the room, hunched over the edge of the bed and cried for over an hour.

I remember toughing through my back contractions at the hospital at first before they wore me down after hours. I remember feeling as though I wanted to give up, that I could forget this dream of being a mother so long as the pain would stop.

I remember the instant relief of the epidural and suddenly feeling like I could close my eyes and sleep for hours. I remember lying to the nurse when she asked me if I was having a contraction because I was too tired to push and all I really wanted to do was sleep.

And I remember when she finally arrived.

I kept thinking to myself that it was all so surreal. I felt this wave of relief, and then this odd emptiness. I knew the very moment she was out, I could feel it like a balloon someone had let go off that blew around the room as it emptied.

She arrived quietly, and I wasn’t expecting that. Without so much of a boo, she was wiped down and put directly on my breast. Just like that.

I looked at her with this unreasonable amount of love, a love I never would have even thought I was capable of.

And time stood still.

I felt like hours could have passed, or maybe only seconds as I held her for the first time and she just stared at me, like she already knew exactly who I was. It’s weird because I didn’t cry but my heart was so overwhelmed.

The hours leading up to her arrival I cried nonstop and then I saw her and everything was just so right…

The first few months after I was a complete zombie.

It probably wasn’t until about three months postpartum that I felt even remotely close to functional.

With my body doing all it could to try to recover from labour and provide all the nutrients it could for my new beautiful baby girl, there was almost nothing left for me. There were days when I slept more than I was awake. She would be on my chest feeding and her warmth would just lull me to sleep.

In that time, I honestly didn’t even have the energy to think about myself at all, which in a way was a blessing. I didn’t care to think about my body trying to shrink back to normal, I didn’t have the time to think about greasy hair, blocked pores, breakouts. I was in this little bubble in a way.

Unfortunately, that couldn’t last forever and at around four months I started to be really hyper-aware of myself. My looks and how little my mind seemed to be functioning kind of hit me like a ton of bricks. I forgot a little bit about the wonder of childbirth and instead just looked at myself through these cold, judgmental eyes.

This is another instance when time seems harsh. Alone, time seems to slow and it gives you this infinite amount of time to eat away at yourself. It’s isolating, and it’s this very desperate loneliness at times. I would love to say it completely passes, but as mothers, there is no one who will be harder on us than we are on ourselves. It really is a whole process learning to love yourself and give yourself the time and space to make mistakes without coming down really hard on yourself for them.

Our first Christmas did not go off as I would have liked. I got this really bad 48-hour bug on Christmas Eve and wasn’t even able to leave the house to celebrate it as I usually would with my family. It was hard. I had this new baby and I had to breastfeed and care for her while I felt as though I was dying.

Those 48 hours felt like a week. It was another time that was just really hard and trying for me. It’s hard to feel like you’re being and doing all you can as a mother, especially when you can’t get out of bed. I felt really low that whole week. I had this image of what our first Christmas would be like in my head and it really just hit me hard.

I do remember when she was so tiny, my biggest thought was that I couldn’t wait until she was a tad bigger. I wanted to be able to have more of a social relationship with her. I wanted to be able to see her reactions to things, I wanted her to be able to show me when she liked something and when she didn’t. I wanted her to be able to sit and play on her own. Reaching a lot of those milestones became a bit of an obsession to me.

I wanted time to move a little faster.

Now as we are mere weeks away from her first birthday, I find myself wishing time would just stop. My Mat leave is officially over, I am attempting to get her into daycare so I can potentially go back to work and I find myself standing on this threshold desperately trying to hold onto this time with her.

On one hand, I feel like I do want to get back out there. I want my days to have a little bit more in them and to get into some kind of schedule. On the other hand, I want to be with her ALL THE TIME!

The thought of trusting her with someone else through a whole workday fills me with an anxiety I honestly don’t know if I will be able to push past. I have never loved something as much as I have loved her, and I have never been one to trust easily. This is going to be a really big hurdle for me, and I honestly don’t know if it’s one I can get over.

One thing that never changes is time just keeps ticking on. It doesn’t care about how I feel, or how any of us as parents feel. It doesn’t care that we are struggling to cope with being parents and the fact that it seems to just be whizzing by is crippling in a way. We blink, and our babies are toddlers, we blink again and they are teenagers.

As parents, time is an enemy.

I’m just struggling to come to terms with the fact there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I just have to sit back, enjoy the ride and try to make everything out of those fleeting moments while they are here.

I am so close to having a one-year-old… Excuse me while I go cry.

Tell Me Something Sweet

“Tell me something sweet.” She whispered,

As tears roll down her face.

“Whisper to me sweet nothings,

Forget my ugliness and disgraces.”

“Tell me something sweet,

So that maybe I can sleep the night.

My mind is heavy, my heart is aching,

I’m forgetting how to fight.”

“Tell me something sweet.” She sobs,

Combing fingers through her messy hair.

Bags under her eyes, oily skin,

And a weight on her shoulders she can hardly bear.

“Please… tell me something sweet.” She groans,

Her throat sore as her voice breaks.

“I’m trying my best to just be strong,

But this is all so much more than I can take.”

A baby cries in the room behind her,

As she stares at the reflection of the stranger she once knew.

She’s just a shadow of the woman she once was,

After all her body and mind has been through.

“You are so… strong, you’re… beautiful, and… wonderful.”

She whispers when all she really wants is to disappear.

But instead she whispers something sweet to herself,

Because she knows her daughter’s there to hear.

 

If I’ve wrote it once, I will write it a thousand times: Parenting is hard!

There are so many mommies out there too afraid to admit their struggle, too ashamed to ask for help, wandering in the dark questioning themselves: Is this normal?

There is a lot of joy that comes with being a new parent, but there is also a lot of exhaustion, sadness, and this general feeling of being overwhelmed. As mothers, we overcome… but sometimes that requires a support system.

Reach out, ask for help.

 

The Dreaded Routine

When you first get pregnant and are preparing for your baby to come along, the main thing a lot of parents will preach to you is consistency and routine. You have to keep a routine, you have to be consistent to get your baby on any kind of schedule.

For parents who are successful at that, I tip my hat to you. For those that aren’t, you are my kind of people.

In the beginning, I have to admit I was far too exhausted to come up with any type of routine or stick to it. I was a first-time mom and like most first time parents, the threat of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) meant I spent a lot of the time too afraid to let my daughter sleep on her own. This meant that I let the window of opportunity close to make my daughter’s sleeping routine more independent.

There were a lot of things that went into my thought process at the beginning. Sure, I was told that babies should sleep on their own, even my doctor was pushing me to get her into that crib. Yet, despite what they were all suggesting, I trusted my gut. I knew that women had been delivering babies since the beginning of time, I also knew that cribs were something of the modern age, and before that, a baby slept peacefully nestled in their mother’s bosom. Knowing this told me that co-sleeping wasn’t the bad thing everyone made it out to be.

In truth, parenting has been changed over time to fit the modern woman. I understand the need for these changes, what I don’t understand is how we’ve completely ignored history and tried to shun those who stick to the basics.

Babies need attention. Babies need to be comforted when they are crying. Telling yourself otherwise is denying how we evolve and grow as people. Knowing all this, I put myself at the every demand of my daughter.

There are some parents who will tell me this is a mistake, and they are absolutely allowed to their opinion, just as I am equally allowed to ignore it. If I am only going to have one baby, I want to devote all my time and effort into that baby. I don’t want to take the easy route simply because it’s there. I know co-sleeping has made the transition into a crib or solo-sleeping more difficult, but that is countless more hours I have gotten to spend bonding with my baby. I know solely breastfeeding has made my daughter way fussier when it comes to bottles and cups, but again, that is time I wouldn’t have wanted to spend any other way.

Parenting isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and effort. Whatever decisions you make when raising your child are yours to make.

Routine in the beginning felt impossible, and our routine now may seem non-existent, but it is there. I feel like because it doesn’t fit the typical routine, a lot of people may not see it.

To be perfectly honest, at this point in my daughter’s life, her mood affects a lot of our routine. Why? Because although some people would much rather power through with their routine to make their lives easier, I have opted to let my daughter set the pace. My hope is if I move with the ebb and flow of her moods right now, we will both have a better day.

If she wants to sleep in a little longer, than she sleeps in a little longer. If she is fussy at night and wants to stay up a little longer, we do that too. We don’t always go down for naps at the exact time, we don’t schedule our walks based on the time but rather on whether or not her attitude is telling me she needs one.

My daughter is overly fussy. She is stubborn, and she is relentless. What this means is sticking to schedule and a set routine means that she spends the entire day fighting it. She will constantly whine in moments she is not crying. She will throw her weight around to resist doing anything she doesn’t want to do.

For all those parents reading this and thinking; Well, if you stuck to a schedule, this wouldn’t be a problem I will simply say, you haven’t lived my life. I tried the schedule thing for almost a month and it was a month of the most miserable baby and mommy you would have ever come across. I woke up every morning with this dread to face each day.

I didn’t like being a mother when we were on a routine. I was constantly tired and worn out, I was having anxiety attacks that would bring me to tears, I didn’t have patience for my daughter, and I was just in misery. I kept searching for answers, reading mommy forums and blogs, and was depressed when I couldn’t find anyone I could relate to. Every parent out there seemed to be slapping this beautiful coat of pain on their parenting experience which just left me feeling guilty.

Why wasn’t I enjoying being a mom?

Well, it’s because that routine every parent was standing so solidly behind isn’t for everyone and it’s sad there aren’t more resources out there to tell moms and new parents that it’s absolutely okay if the routine doesn’t work for you.

That calendar that you feel like a failure for not sticking to, throw it away. Be the best parent you can in the way you know-how. Trust what you feel, because chances are, that is the right thing to do.

I do not let my daughter cry it out, and for parents who tell me it’s good for her, I give them the simple answer. It’s not good for me. And in parenting, what is not good for you, is not good for your baby, plain and simple.

That cry my daughter does that so many parents have told me is good for her, fills me with an anxiety I almost can’t push through. It physically brings me to tears, and when I hold my baby after all of that, she can sense it, and it changes her whole mood. That can’t be good for either of us.

When we sleep together, I may get a foot in my mouth, an elbow to the nose, or random pinches and bites when she crawls over to me, but the sleep I actually get is sound because I am not worried about whether or not she is breathing, or okay every single moment of the night. I can feel she is, and that comfort is good for both of us.

There are so many people out there who have been parents, so many with wisdom they are constantly throwing at you thinking they are giving you gold, and almost offended when you don’t take it. What’s important to note is, yes, they have raised kids before, but they have never raised your kid. There is no manual for flawlessly raising a baby because these are living, breathing beings with their own thoughts and emotions. Every tiny body works differently, so that routine you are constantly telling me to get on, won’t work for every one of them.

My advice to new parents is to find your happy place in parenting. Ignore everything they tell you parents should be doing and just feel it out. You will know what is right because what feels right for you is what is right for your baby.

Whatever schedule or lack-there-of works for you is what is going to work for your family. And remember that it is something that will constantly change as your baby grows.

You are a wonderful parent. You know what to do!

 

My Relief Team

I feel like a lot of moms don’t fully feel safe admitting parenting is hard. They like to force a smile and tell other moms, moms-to-bes, and just anyone who asks them that they are fine. They talk about what a gift their children are, how it’s challenging but they are learning. It’s hard to ask for help.

There are so many emotions that go hand in hand with becoming a new parent. As a mother, your hormones are going wild. Even the healthiest of moms has a question in their head at any given time: “Am I failing as a mother?”

We look at these articles in magazines that show that smiling mommy. Her skin is flawless, every strand on her hair is in place, her clothes are neat, tidy, and even stylish. That mom looks completely together, hell, that mom is more together than I was when I was single. She talks about sleep training her baby, or the newest easy recipe (that really isn’t as easy as you would like). You see a mommy like that and then you compare you to yourself.

Your hair is a mess and it hasn’t been washed for a few days, and if hormones are affecting you the way they are me, it’s thinning slightly, so even when it is washed, you can never get it to look the way you want it to. Your skin is greasy, there is a pimple or two that you can never quite get rid of. Under your eyes are dark, a telltale sign of how little sleep you are getting. Your clothes have breast milk or spit up stains, a few stains you can’t even identify.

You are not that mother from the article.

Do you want to know a secret? Almost no one is.

It really is criminal the way they portray mothers in articles and other media. It makes all other mothers question what they are doing or if they are doing it right. Like we don’t have enough to deal with being new moms.

Most days I forget to brush my teeth, my hair is a mess, and that dirty diaper smell follows me around no matter how many times I change my clothes. So when my mother in law comes to visit, it gives me this huge sense of relief.

I have been fortunate in the relationship with my mother in law. I hear horror stories about how poisonous the relationship some women have with their mother in law is, and I am honestly so thankful that my husband’s mother and I get along as well as we do. When she comes to visit, I feel like she shares some of the weight of being a mother with me.

It helps that she goes such long stretches without seeing my daughter, I know when she is here she wants to get in as much time with her as she possibly can. This means I can do things like a shower, wash my face, and even something as silly as just sit by myself and breathe.

The week she was here literally flew by. She was putting my daughter down for naps (a task that I find impossible since my daughter usually falls asleep on my chest and moving her is the end of the nap), playing with her every moment she can, reading to her. All the things I did alone during the day, suddenly I had tagged out, and nana was the go-to. It was honestly wonderful.

Every new parent should have a relief team, one outside of the household. Handing the baby back and forth between the parents isn’t quite the same as having someone else come in and give you both time and space to breathe.

She left yesterday and I can honestly feel her absence. I have no more stolen moments to myself. My daughter is looking for that extra person for attention, and finding only me, she has gone back to being clingy.

Sure, I am getting more sleep (my daughter and I co-sleep and we gave up the bed in her room to accommodate nana), but the extra energy I get from sleep quickly fades throughout the day when I am at my daughter’s every beck and call.

Every parent struggles, and it’s okay to admit that to yourself, and even to be so bold as to admit it to someone else. I have been honest in my pregnancy and my parenting, mostly because I hope that my honesty will spread and we can be more open discussing out issues honestly.

Yes, parenting is a blessing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t long for a relief team to swoop in and give you the break you need!

We were sad to see her go, and I’m sure all three of us will be counting the days until our relief team returns!!

Our Transition To Solids

Gerber Lil Crunchies in Apple Sweet Potato Flavour, Gerber Puffs in Banana Flavour, Heinz Farley’s Teething Biscuits in Banana Flavour (favourite*), and Gerber Lil Entrées Pasta Stars in Meat Sauce with Green Beans.

Being a parent is completely unpredictable.

Around 6 months, we transitioned our little Sunshine from exclusively breastmilk, to some baby fruit and veggie purees. This happened more quickly than I would have thought, but I don’t know why I thought it would take longer than it did, she seemed to always take to things right away. Even in the delivery room, I was amazed that they had barely cleaned her off and she was already latched onto my book, staring up at me. I remember thinking ‘Really, just like that?’ The same could be said for her switch to purees.

In my mind, when I was pregnant, I told myself I was going to breastfeed as long as possible, and now at 9 months old, that is still pretty much the plan. They tell you how difficult it can be to maintain a good latch, how to get the baby to latch, they even tell you how difficult it can be to keep your milk supply up, but I feel like they don’t tell you how draining it can be on mom, emotionally and physically, to breastfeed.

During days when she is overly fussy, when she is not feeling herself, when she is going through a growth spurt or a developmental leap, she is attached to my breast almost constantly. She falls asleep on my breast and if I dare even move her, she stirs and cries. This can be so overwhelming. It means that even if your baby does take long naps, it doesn’t make a difference to your day because you are trapped beneath them, providing the comfort they need while they go through whatever is happening in their little bodies.

Some days I felt so helpless. Hair unwashed, body odour building up, teeth not even brushed yet, and I had this little baby attached to my breast. My nipple the cork in a wailing child.

The thought of introducing purees was more than exciting. In a way, it meant freedom. I had read that because the fruits and veggies would make them more full, they may way to breastfeed less.

Thank goodness!

The purees worked and did just that. She would eat a quarter pouch and have four sittings throughout the day during the first week. Then it went up to half a pouch, four times a day. After a month of that, we went up to full pouches, three times a day and introduced some handheld snacks like teething cookies or Gerber Puffs. (When introducing any handheld snacks to your baby, make sure they are always supervised. If your baby gags or chokes, use your forefinger and thumb to squeeze their cheeks together and use your forefinger from your other hand to hook into their mouths and removed the food.)

At 7 months, I remember getting a feeling of freedom and relief. The baby purees meant that I could sit her in her playpen for longer stretches of time to play on her own while I actually did things for myself or around the house. It also meant we could spend longer times outdoors without needing to breastfeed.

Around the time we introduced the purees, we also introduced whole milk. I would use this when we were out and breastfeeding was impossible, like in the car. It really was a life saver.

Then, she got sick.

On May 31st, she woke up with her face caked in dried mucus. For babies, having their nose blocked is stressful, as they solely breathe out of their nose, especially for breastfeeding or bottle feeding. We took a nice warm steam in the shower to clear her out, but we did have to stick to a regime of saline nasal spray, and constant clearing of her nose.

Her mood was atrocious, as you can imagine. All those wonderful purees that had given me freedom suddenly didn’t interest her at all! Any type of food besides my breastmilk was pushed aside, her dramatically throwing her weight back to let me know this was not going to work anymore.

This was not her first cold. She was one when she was about three months and I thought to myself then that it wasn’t that bad. She fed constantly, sure, but she also slept all day long. It passed quickly and I found myself shrugging the whole thing off.

This time, I was not so lucky. Her congestion meant she didn’t sleep at night. She spent most of the night angrily rubbing her face, rolling onto her stomach, doing whatever she could to try and get comfortable. It usually meant I would move onto the couch with her and spend most of the night there, where she could sleep, partially sitting up, skin to skin on my chest while I got as much sleep as I could, which wasn’t a lot.

Her lack of sleep at night meant she was a tyrant during the day. Tantrums and crying, her naps would be interrupted when she awoke abruptly, unable to breathe through her nose the way she wanted.

It was rough!

For over a month, while being sick and coming back from being sick (she was sick for two weeks!) she refused to eat any solids. Constant breastfeeding to both boost her immune system and make her well, and because she wasn’t eating anything else started to wear on me once again. My doctor assured me it would pass and to just keep trying offering her purees and foods I knew she liked.

For any parents out there who are feeding their babies the purees, you know the shelf life of those are 24 hours after it’s opened, which meant a lot of food was going to waste. I decided to hold off trying any more of the purees until I knew they were something she would take.

Her transition back to food happened just as quickly as anything else with her. I was sitting on the couch next to her eating some barbecue meatballs and rice and she smelled the sauce. She slowly crawled over and looked up at me with her big eyes and I thought ‘What the hell, let’s try this’.

She, of course, tried to put the whole meatball in her mouth before I could take it back and then sat there smacking her lips at me the whole time while I fed her bite-sized pieces of meatballs with white rice.

After that, I did make an attempt to go back to purees with absolutely no luck. She was ready.

I made handheld cinnamon pancakes (I would make up to a dozen and keep them in the fridge so she could snack on them throughout the day or week as she wanted) for breakfast, she liked mashed potatoes and bananas for lunch, and at dinner, she wanted whatever we were having. The transition happened so quickly, but I am so happy it did. Life is a little easier when she is just grabbing what she wants and eating it.

Banana bread, cheerios, vanilla yogurt, French fries, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes… it has made my life easier knowing I can just heat up some leftovers for lunch and sit her in her chair for an hour or so while I eat my own food.

My advice to parents with children between the age of 6 months and 1 year would be; Don’t be afraid to try! I was so nervous about things that seemed too small, but you’d be amazed what babies can eat. There weren’t always baby foods and purees, and mothers would feed their babies off their plates once they were weaned off the breast. Offer your baby things they are interested in, supervise them.

Not everything will work, but once you find some staple things that will, you’ll be so relieved!

New Parent and A Love Life; Can You Have Both?

My husband and I have been together for ten years, and even before I get pregnant it is easy to fall into a routine and forget that although it’s wonderful to be comfortable with your partner, it’s more important to keep that flame lit. So many new mommies I speak to talk about the difficulties of maintaining their love lives with their partners and being a new parent.

Some times you will find yourself wondering how you can steal a breath to yourself. Covered in pee, poo, and spit-up, it’s an understatement to say there are more than a handful of new moms that don’t necessarily feel sexy. I was in the mindset, especially after giving birth, that without feeling sexy, well, you might as well take those first three letters away.

As new parents, it’s extremely overwhelming. Nothing can ever prepare you for being at home alone with this brand new baby completely dependant on you. For a mom who has just given birth, there are so many other things that push sex and your relationship with your partner to the very back corners of your mind.

Your body and your mind are still healing, and it takes time. While you are healing, you are devoting every extra bit of energy you have to keeping this little being alive.

I felt like the thing that made our relationship even strong after giving birth was communication and openness. I told him exactly how I felt both physically and emotionally, I told him that our relationship was going to change and we both prepared ourselves for that. There are so many people, especially mommies, who I speak with that ask me for advice. They ask me what they should say, how they should approach telling their husbands they need space, or they aren’t ready to start a physical relationship again, and I always ask them the same thing; Have you spoken to them about it?

You can’t come to any resolution in your life, especially in your relationships, if you don’t talk about the things that bother you and that you need to work through.

Relationships are work!

Especially the great ones. I think in the age of social media, we get caught up looking at photos and the illusion of what we think the perfect couple is, forgetting that people post at their bests, not at their worst. We also forget that they aren’t uploading photos CONSTANTLY. There are breaks, and in those breaks, they may be having disagreements, they may be fighting through hard times, and working hard to be sure their relationship not only works but lasts.

After you have a baby, so much of your focus is on raising your baby. It can be all too easy to forget that you were a couple before you are parents, and if you hope to continue to be that couple, you have to work at it.

Our relationship hasn’t always been perfect, in fact, there have been times in our ten years together where we forgot to work on our relationship. Life is all about a balance. You have to work on yourself, constantly. At the same time, you need to work on your relationship, and now you have the added constant responsibility of being a parent. It can all be overwhelming.

In short, it is most definitely possible.

Once you have healed both emotionally and physically, you’ll find that you are capable of more than you have ever imagined and this new chapter of your love life as parents can be as adventurous as two single college kids trying to steal a quick minute… so long as you put in the effort!

 

8 Months A Mommy

Guys, I can not even begin to tell you how overwhelming this past month has been. I have fallen behind on a lot of self-care lately. I have been missing out on sleep, showers, clean clothes, and because of that I do feel like internally I am barreling towards some kind of downward spiral.

I’ve been a mom to this beautiful baby girl for 8 whole months. In some ways, I find myself asking ‘That’s it?!’ and on the other time, I am a hopeless mess sobbing on the floor asking myself where all the time has gone.

There are a lot of mountains I find myself climbing daily. It is a constant trek, this adventure we have been on, and just thinking about returning to work and the possibility of leaving my beautiful rain cloud (she used to be a ray of sunshine, but she lost that title) in the care of someone else leaves me with this immeasurable amount of anxiety.

8 whole month. Holy moly!

Two teeth in and one making a slight appearance, some moms say goodbye to the little cherub they once knew and wake up to sit face to face with an inconsolable troll. Add a cold on top of the teething and you have found yourself trying to weather the perfect storm.

I would love to be able to commit more time to my writing and this blog in particular. I have tried reminders, alarms, consequences and rewards and honestly, the moments I have to myself are ones I waste away staring blankly at the wall or scrolling through my parenting apps.

It’s not as bad as I make it sound. Every day I test my limits and find new joy in being a mom. I feel like I haven’t done anything this important in my whole life.

This post is a bit late, she has been an 8 month old for some time now, but I am learning that some things are better late than never.

Write soon!

Raising A Baby In The Age Of Tech

This is a conversation I have a lot with moms. They wonder how much of things like the iPad and other gadgets are good for their babies, and if it’s even possible to keep your little one away from technology altogether. There are those that fear exposing their baby’s still growing mind to tech early, could in some way hinder their growth, while other’s worry that keeping their baby away from technology will have their child dropping behind.

I mean, I personally know two-year-olds that can turn phone’s from ringing to silent, know how to unlock iPads and navigate the apps with little effort, and for some parents who see how much technological skills it takes to progress in the world nowadays, it is a glowing talking point for them.

My view on this is, anything in moderation is okay. I think those who push too much, either way, don’t realize how hard it is for some moms. We don’t know everyone’s situation, and for a lot of moms, they are battling more than just motherhood. There are those working and struggling to deal with all the stress that goes along with that, there are those that are battling emotional and mental hurdles. For a lot of parents, the idea of just ten undisturbed minutes is a dream, and one worth faltering when it comes to those ideals.

Apple products seem to be taking over. There isn’t an infant of a grandma who isn’t carrying around an iPad to check The Facebook or watch YouTube videos. Naturally, when I got pregnant I looked at my husband and had the audacity to tell him that there was absolutely no way our child would be one of those kids addicted to the iPad.

Alright, guys, I am going to admit something big to you here. My daughter (gasps audibly, touches the back of her hand to her forehead and throws herself back dramatically) has iPad time. Now, what does that mean? She is 8 months old. How could she possibly be using the iPad?

Well, in the mornings when I am wishing I had more sleep, wondering how my boob fell out of my bra during the night, wiping crusts out of the corner of my eye, and zombie-walking towards the coffee maker, I open up the Amazon Prime app on my iPad and put on a Super Simple Song episode for her. What is that? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s about 45 minutes of Nursery Rhymes, Shapes, Colours, Alphabet, and Number songs that keep her busy long enough for me to at least attempt at getting my shit together in the morning.

For all those people gasping and pointing a for shame finger in my direction, I have a finger I can point at you as well, so let’s not get nasty.

I have said this once, and I will probably say this a million more times in my life; Parenting is hard! Sometimes we need just a little bit of time to ourselves, and for those people out there who think it’s simple to put a baby in front of a toy or activity and have them stay put without wailing, then they obviously aren’t parents.

My daughter and I have constant play time. We spend hours on the floor together with her toys and her books, we do lots of things to try and keep her engaged and work her mind. However, parenting constantly with no breaks to be a human being is extremely taxing on your mind and if you do that every single day without any time for yourself, you are barrelling towards a mental breakdown.

So, despite all I said when I was pregnant, my daughter watched the iPad when I need a moment to myself at home, or in the car (I have prayed to deities I don’t even believe in for a moment’s peace in the car while I am stuck in traffic and my daughter is screaming at the top of her lungs because apparently, the car seat is her nemesis).

Now, I do think that if you constantly hand your child the iPad during the day instead of attempting other ways to engage them and that time on devices is steadily piling up, that you should consider unplugging. I think an hour or two a day on any device is plenty and you shouldn’t constantly co-parent with technology. That being said, moderation is key.

I would also look into certain products or put devices out of reach if you have a little one that isn’t old enough to operate the technology on their own. I learned this the hard way when I was stuck in traffic, put the iPad in the back seat so she could watch The Greatest Showman and calm down a bit, only to get home and check my email. It was then I realized that, while touching the iPad the way she always does, she purchased over $50 in iBooks.

I am currently reading a bunch of them because the helpline is not as helpful as you would have hoped and I am now stuck with all these books.

Personally I would start taking devices away when you can see it’s becoming a problem for your child, and try to keep them off of YouTube as it seems like every kid that goes on there becomes a zombie unable to function while their videos are playing. Put some games on there that can help with their problem solving and development, reading or colouring apps are great for helping their focus.

If your child doesn’t give you clear responses when you are speaking to them and they are on the iPad, don’t just laugh it off. It’s not cute and you are allowing them to develop bad habits that will only get worse over time. Make sure their attention whenever you are speaking to them is completely on you, whether they are watching TV, on the iPad or even just playing.

Limit the amount of time they use devices and use other activities as a first priority before any electronics.

It’s good for your child to unplug several hours before bedtime to give them an opportunity to wind down. I’ve read several articles about the blue light in device screens disrupting their sleep patterns if they are used too close to bedtime.

So yes, it’s completely possible to raise your kids with technology, just so long as you keep in mind that all technology connects to the internet these days, and anything that connects to the internet, in regards to your child, should always be closely monitored and used in moderation.

Like anything in parenting, find your balance and do what’s best for your family. There is no cookie-cutter solution.

 

 

Mother’s Day Bliss

I woke up today with this joy that I hadn’t taken the time to feel recently. With my 7-month-old daughter’s foot in my mouth as she screeched like a banshee the way she does to entertain herself, I thought back to the same day last year, when I could feel her little feet kicking my ribs. Now, a whole year later that same little foot was prodding my face, the little toys squeezing my skin almost painfully.

I am a mother.

Yesterday, I went out for an early Mother’s Day celebration with my own mother and my sister. Three mothers celebrating one of our biggest accomplishments. We went to a trendy bar, with confusing but delicious food and an atmosphere that can best be described as loud and the kind of place you would go to drink colourful drinks with your gal pals at the end of a tiresome work week. What made the dinner special was the company. My mother, my sister, my nephew and my daughter.

So much of this day is lost in greeting cards, gifts, and flowers. I think a lot of mothers forget that it should be a day you spend with your kids, just enjoying your little creations and the people they are, and hoping for the people they will someday become.

Not so long ago, someone I know asked me what I would give my daughter that I didn’t necessarily get when I was a kid. It was a group discussion and a lot of people said they would give their kids a better education, a more stable environment to grow up in, siblings, the list went on and on. There is something all of us craved when we were kids, something a lot of us didn’t realize until we were grown and looking back. The thing I said I was going to give my daughter was simple and may have seemed a little silly to most, but it was time. I just want to give my daughter as much of my time as I possibly could.

My mother was a single mother of five. She worked tirelessly to be sure we didn’t go without, but that also meant that although we had all the necessities, there was a lot of time where we just didn’t have her there. The most important piece to the puzzle.

So today, on my first mother’s day I spent it alone with my daughter. We woke up together, we napped together, we played together, we danced together. As much as this day is to celebrate mother’s it’s also a day I think we should take the time to celebrate our children. These amazing little beings that cause us stress, exhaustion, joy, wonder, and who without which, we would have nothing to celebrate today.

Today, I gave my daughter all of my time.

I know, I know. At this point, you are probably wondering how this differs from any other day. She is a 7-month-old who requires almost constant attention and interaction. Well, today I didn’t dare even try to steal moments for myself. I wanted us to be together. Even now, as she is sitting on my lap while I type this, banging the keys every now and again and causing me to erase whole sentences as I lose my thoughts, we are together.

Some women wait their whole lives for a chance to be celebrated on this day, some mourn the fact that they can’t. Other’s look at it as a tearful day where their trying still hasn’t paid off, and I think a lot of us mothers sometimes forget that. We forget to take a moment and celebrate the gift we have been given.

Today, I hope I have started a tradition with my daughter where I gave her all of my time on Mother’s Day.

I hope all you moms, ones that have been moms for what feels like an eternity and ones who may just be starting, take this special day and start some long lasting traditions of your own that you will look back on with a smile and nothing but joy.

Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!