It’s crazy to sit back and think that all of these changes to my life have happened in a mere 6 months. 6 months is nothing, it can fly past in the blink of an eye. It is hard to fathom that I transformed, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly (a very messy, usually un-shower and under-rested butterfly, but a butterfly none the less) in 6 months.
For anyone who has been a part of my blogging journey from the very beginning, you all know that pregnancy was rough for me. I would turn my nose up at any woman who talks about being pregnant as a joy, and I would throw fists and anyone who dare mention the pregnancy glow. There was no glow, there was no joy. There was survival. I was trying to survive while my body grew and stretched, while the things I used to take joy in slipped away from me because I was either unable to do them due to lack of energy or just unable to do them with my growing belly in the way. Nausea was a ghost that constantly haunted me, taunting me with a heightened sense of smells.
Not that I want to get into the whole pregnancy thing in this blog post, although I could write a book on my experience that is sure to contradict a lot of the other books out there.
Maybe one day.
This blog entry is to celebrate my beautiful 6-month-old daughter.
Gosh, 6 months.
In that time there have been sleepless nights, sore muscles, days I forgot to eat, days I forgot myself. There has been laughter, tears, frustration, anxiety. Coaching and cheering, negotiating, tossing and turning. There have been hundreds of cute outfits. There have been doctors appointments, vaccinations, ears being pierced, more tears, more tears and more tears. Milestones I thought she would meet but didn’t, and milestones I thought she wasn’t even close to reaching but have been met.
Being a parent is this crazy thing. It’s like being tossed in a tornado and you are reaching out for anything and everything trying to steady yourself. When you’re finally back on the ground you are exhausted, you are worn and you don’t even remember how you got there most of the time. But you are face to face with this adorable little person, who looks up at you with eyes that hold your whole universe in them. That one look, that one little grin or giggle, makes everything else in your hectic world worthwhile.
Being a parent is an adventure, and sometimes instead of trying to control it, you just have to surrender to it. Let yourself be taken, float along with the stream.
As I type this out, my daughter is screaming Da-Da from the other room while she watches Paw Patrol (yes, I let my 6-month-old watch TV when I feel like I want a few minutes to myself). The clothes I am wearing are the same ones I have been wearing all week aside from my underwear, my hair is a grease trap, my face still hasn’t been washed since last night and as I run my tongue along my teeth, I let out a small sigh of relief once I realized I remembered to brush them this morning.
It’s been 6 months of this, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
(I would tweak it a bit to include more showers, more overall grace and style and being able to pee by myself… but I try not to hope for the unattainable :P)
It was the night before Christmas, I was sitting on the living room floor doing some last minute wrapping when a wave of dizziness hit me. Furrowing my brow, I shook my head, drank a glass of water and shook it off. Then the saliva in my mouth thinned, my jawline started to quake and I got to my feet, running full speed to the bathroom just in time to sink my face into the porcelain.
After emptying the contents of my stomach into the toilet, I got up with a few thoughts in my head. My first thought was more of a worry. I wondered if the IUD was doing it’s job, if something had possibly gone wrong and if I were pregnant, only a short three months after giving birth to my daughter.
The memory of her delivery was still fresh in my mind, my body still wasn’t completely back to normal, and I was no way ready to partake in this journey again.
My second thought was that maybe the chicken I had put in my Chicken Alfredo pasta was past it’s prime and this was my body’s way of letting me know.
My third thought was about breastfeeding. I had been told by my doctor that I could pretty much breastfeed through almost any illness. However, certain medications can affect your breastmilk supply. So a lot of the time you will have to just soldier on through certain sicknesses, if you plan on breastfeeding while sick. I am not one to take medication for a cold, but stomach related things I usually try and take something.
Diarrhea and vomiting are two things I try and put a stop to as quickly as I can, and these were two very aggressive symptoms I was experiencing.
Although digestive aids such as Tums are safe during both pregnancy and nursing, medicines like Pepto Bismol aren’t recommended for nursing moms. This meant that I was going to try and power through with lots of water, some ginger ale, a bucket and high hopes.
My symptoms started at 8:45ish in the evening. I was running to the bathroom every 15-20 minutes. After vomiting for the 6th time, I started to get the chills. Cladding my thickest robe and fuzziest socks, I slowly made my way to bed. Between waking to get to the bathroom, chills, and hot flashes, I got maybe about an hour of sleep that night. Luckily, my daughter slept right through the night.
My hope was that I would wake up, stomach and bowels empty and feel more like myself.
The soft coos of my daughter roused me at around 9am. I summoned the small amount of strength I had to get over to her, but my arms were shaking. I didn’t trust myself to even attempt to pick her up. I woke my husband, told him he was on Daddy Duty, ran to the bathroom before climbing back in bed.
This was not the Christmas I had been expecting.
I spent most of the day sleeping, running to the bathroom, and breastfeeding. I had a FaceTime call with my family, my husband had gone over to bring their gifts and bring home some food.
Being as sick as I was, I definitely have some tips for you mommies with a young baby going through it.
This is one of the times when breastfeeding really came in handy. It was so much easier to just lay her in bed beside me, sleep while she ate and have my husband take her when she was done. Although, if your baby is formula fed, it would eliminate baby’s contact with you all together, allowing you to get some rest… so either feeding method provides benefits.
Breastfeeding your baby through your sickness would be giving your baby the antibodies it needs to fight off the sickness you are currently battling, and lessens the chances of them catching it in the first place.
Feed your baby until they are full so they are more likely to nap.
Drink lots of liquids. Ginger Ale can help soothe an upset stomach, water is best, and Gatorade and Powerade are good if you can’t keep anything down.
Throw out a lifeline. This is the most important thing you can do if you have a sickness you need to sleep off.
If your partner is not available to help you for the day, reach out to someone else who can. Having someone around to keep baby busy and entertained between feedings and naps will help you get all the rest you need.
Outside of those things, I would suggest making sure any medications you take don’t have an impact on your milk supply in any way if you are feeding, try and limit face to face contact with your baby (my daughter loves kisses and chewing on my face, so this was something I had to keep her from doing).
Hang in there, we may be superheroes, but we are not super human and we get sick sometimes. It will pass!
Saying I am The Grinch would be putting it lightly. I am not, and have never been a Christmas person.
December is a stressful months for me. I have three siblings celebrating birthdays, which can be pricey, not to mention I come from a big family which in the past has required a lot of gift buying. Three years ago I put my foot down an implemented a Secret Santa within my family. We got to buy one great gift, and everyone buys for the kids. It definitely eliminated some of the stress and hurrying around.
However, I still have never been one to get into the Christmas spirit.
This year, as an exhausted new mom, it has been especially hard to summon even the smallest amount of Christmas Spirit.
My husband and I decided it wasn’t worth the added stress or hassle to exchange gifts this year, thank goodness. Knowing that has definitely taken a load off my shoulders. Instead we decided we would do a couples spa day, and have my sister watch our daughter. It will be great to relax and unwind together, and feel like a couple once again.
A common question I have been getting lately is what we got for our daughter for Christmas. To be frank, we haven’t gotten her anything.
Because we buy things she needs constantly, and stockpiling things she needs for a single day when she won’t even realize anything special is happening just didn’t make sense to us. We have bought her a lot of interactive things lately as she is growing and slowly becoming independent. Chairs where she sits upright, toys that sing and light up, activity mats, and these days none of that comes cheap.
We’ve been giving them to her as we feel we need them. On days tummy time isn’t going well but she still needs exercise the new activity mat was brought out, and a plush car for her to sit in. Life as a new parent is hard, and all these things make things seems just a little bit easier.
With that in mind, waiting to open and use them until Christmas didn’t make sense.
Yesterday I opened up this PlayGo car that sings, flashes and is perfect for her to sit in for an hour or so on the floor exercising her neck and core strength. She has been overly fussy lately, drooling a bunch, which may hint the early stages of teething are upon us. Putting her in this yesterday gave me half an hour to myself where I could sit nearby and sip some decaf coffee and just breathe.
I pushed her around on the floor in it for a bit, and parked her under the tree where she could marvel at the lights and give me a little more time to run to the bathroom. I mean, technically if it stays under the tree, it is still a gift, right?
There are so many new parents I see that pile things for the baby, perfectly wrapped, under the tree and to be perfectly honest, I don’t see the point of if. At 3 months, my daughter won’t remember this Christmas. We have our photos with Santa for the photo album, and she has everything she needs. I am sure there will be gifts for her from my siblings at my mother’s house when we got over for Christmas dinner, not to mention my mother in law always sends a care package around Christmas. She has more than she needs, and now wrapping and running from store to store shopping for her makes things easier on us.
Next year, when she is older and can actually enjoy herself, we will put in a lot more effort for the holidays. This year, we are planning on just relaxing a bit while we can.
If you are a new parent who did go a little overboard this Christmas with your new arrival, that is great! Good for you! I am not telling you to do anything differently. I am just letting you know what has worked for our family this year, and letting other parents know, that if you didn’t there is nothing to feel guilty about.
As my daughter reached the 12 week marker, and is going through yet another growth spurt which includes fun things like increased fussiness, constant feeding, and a change in her sleep routine I am feeling a little more worse for wear. Not to mention the fact that the constant change in our Canadian weather has taken a toll on me.
Every growth spurt my Sunshine goes through leaves me less and less time to myself. She is restless and fussy at night, sharing a bed with me which leads to hours and hours of her kicking and hitting me, feedings, and moaning and cooing. When she gets up in the morning she wants constant attention and less time alone independently. All she wants is mommy or daddy and unfortunately daddy is at work until late in the night.
After spending a night with her, waking up to my husband at work already, then spending hours feeding, burping and entertaining, I finally got her settled into her swing so I could sneak off into the bathroom. I looked at the reflexion of myself. My hair was messed, I still hadn’t had a chance to brush my teeth, my sports bra had spit-up stains on it. All it all, I looked frazzled, like a woman suddenly feral living in the wilderness.
Since I gave birth, I have put my daughter first. She has come before me in every way. I think of her before I eat, before I sleep, before I bathe. Which means a lot of the time, I am completely forgetting about myself. As a new mom, I imagine there is a routine of self-neglect we all fall into.
Today, as I stood there looking at my reflection I realized it had been a long time since I took a moment to myself to just breathe.
I haven’t had a chance to write creatively, to journal.
My husband has a busy work schedule and I find that I feel too guilty to ask him for help sometimes, even when I feel like I am drowning. I take my daughter from him when she starts to get fussy, instead of forcing him to figure it out. I am always on call.
Looking at myself today, I decided it was time for me to breathe. I went online and joined up for the gym down the street and am planning on leaving daddy solo more often so I can have some time to myself where I can reconnect with the woman I was before I got pregnant and had a baby.
When we become mothers the woman we were slowly fades into the background. We let it happen because all we think of constantly is how to be better mothers to our children. I think in that pursuit, we forget that we should also be trying to become better women, which means thinking about ourselves every once in awhile. We need to care about ourselves physically and mentally. We need to be the woman we were and the women we are constantly becoming.
We are still us.
So tomorrow morning, I am planning on getting up bright and early, sneaking out and heading to the gym before my husband has to go into work.
This is the first step to breathing again. Getting my head above water.
When I was younger, someone very important to me said something I don’t think I will ever forget. They said to me; “The man who always looks to his neighbours plate, will always be hungry.” Honestly, no truer words have been spoken and I think it’s so important for all of us to keep these words at the forefront of your mind.
Those words, as wise as they are, weren’t words I really paid much attention to until the other day.
As a new mom, I am looking to a lot of parenting forums, apps, and articles for information. My life is changing, I am a mother suddenly responsible of keeping this adorable little girl alive, and although 11 weeks have past and I am getting the hang of things, I still don’t know what is best for my daughter and how to get her on the right track developmentally. So for a lot of the answers I need, I look to others for guidance.
This is really a double edged sword. Someone will tell you that at 2 months, your baby should be loving tummy time. They should be reaching for things and copying little noises you make. That will make you as a new parent sit back and think, Is my baby doing all that? If the answer is no, it is going to make you wonder about your child’s development. Are you not doing enough? Should you have done more earlier? Why is that baby already supporting itself on it’s front arms at 3 months? Will my daughter be doing that in just 2 more weeks?
As I sat there on the floor beside the mat my daughter was lying on and watched her angrily yelp and squeal (she absolutely hates tummy time), I wondered why she seemed to hate it when all the other parents told me that every baby loves tummy time. What’s going on with my Sunshine that she acts as though its some kind of torture?
I found myself comparing my situation, my parenting, and my daughter to other parents and babies. Let me tell you, this is a slippery slope.
What started off as a routine exercise for my daughter that usually ended up in her giving me the stink face for several minutes afterwards, turned into me wondering whether or not she was where she was supposed to be.
If I was baking a cake of unhappiness, I had already put in the most important ingredient: comparison.
Any time in your life when you compare yourself to anyone else, you are asking for trouble. Yet, it something so many of us struggle with. I am a confident person in certain ways. I won’t change who I am as a person for anyone, I don’t care about people’s opinions about me, and I will always stand beside someone who I care about. That being said, I am not always the most confident when it comes to my looks and I feel like those waves of low self-esteem seem to hit me when I compare myself to someone else.
Today, it’s impossible not to. Everywhere you turn there are images of beautiful, fit women who everyone tells you are perfection. It’s hard not to look at them and ask yourself what is different about you, what elements of yourself are keeping you from being seen like people see them?
As a new parent, you are so vulnerable. Being a new parent, in my opinion, is isolating and in a way lonely. Even when you have an amazing support team, it’s hard not to be lonely. Sometimes it feel like you are losing the person you were and you experience that loss all on your own, no one else can share in that with you. As strong as you are for your new baby, you are vulnerable to the world and I feel like this is when you will most compare yourself with other people.
You compare your delivery, you compare your bodies with other women who have just become mommies. You compare you weight loss, your stretch marks, your sleep, your feeding routines. It’s like there are just columns and columns of other women and every day you see if you can add a check next to something they too are doing. It’s tiring, it’s difficult, and at the end of the day, it’s just throwing more and more ingredients into that cake of your unhappiness.
So, what can we do?
It’s not easy to just undo years of subconsciously comparing ourselves and our accomplishments to the people around us. It’s like our lives are a competition or a game, and everyone is working to get the high score. We can’t just turn it off, can we?
No. We are creatures of habit and once those habits have etched themselves into our character, they are hard as hell to get rid of. Trust me, I’ve tried.
I do think that being aware of it is so important though. These past few days I have been aware of it more than ever. That first night I compared my daughter to other children her age, I was miserable. I reduced my daughter to this nameless faceless thing that was nothing more than her age and accomplishments. I have to admit I went to bed feeling extremely shitty.
My daughter is the greatest gift I have ever received in my whole life. She is wonderful, silly, stinky at times, and I wouldn’t change her for anything or anyone else. So why the hell does it matter to me what other babies her age are doing?
You know what? It doesn’t! It honestly and truly doesn’t now that I realize that I was comparing her to other babies, I could care less if she is copying noises I make, or whether or not she loves the dreaded tummy time all other mothers swear their babies loved.
We do not have cookie-cutter babies. They are not all the same. Some are late-bloomers. Some are creative things that want to imagine what they are doing instead of practicing to do it. Others are athletic, others are terrors, others are calm and content. There are no two babies that are exactly alike. Every baby is different, so why even bother comparing them?
My life right now is complex. I am happy as a new mother, but that doesn’t mean I am not struggling. Most days the only people I physically talk to are my 11 week old daughter, my 8 year old dog, and my husband for about 2 or 3 hours before bed. This often leaves me feeling like I am on this new Mommy Island that not a lot of people can get to, and that I can’t leave.
It’s lonely and time does this weird thing of passing both slowly and all too quickly. I never get to really sleep, and most days I am just a cow for my daughter to constantly feed off of.
Mentally, every day is a rollercoaster ride that I can’t get off of and I have a feeling I won’t get the chance to get off any time soon.
But, we all have to celebrate small victories.
I have stopped comparing my daughter to other babies and that has eliminate a lot of the stress and worry that had weaved itself into my every day life. She will love things and hate things at her own pace. She is her own little person that is growing and learning every single day, and I am so excited to see what and who she will grow into.
The oven is off, the mixing bowl is in the sink, and I have thrown the main ingredient to my unhappiness in the trash. No more comparisons for me.
I can breathe a little better knowing that…
Everyone else out there that has been subconsciously baking a cake of their unhappiness that they will undoubtedly end up eating through thick tears while they struggle to breathe through heavy sobs in the dark, I hope you’ll join me in throwing it all away. We are all struggling through different things, there is no point in comparing lives, bodies, or anything else.
When you are pregnant or thinking about starting a family, it is so common to think about the kind of family you want for you baby. You start to think about your own childhood and your experiences and memories, and you make a mental list of all the things you want to do differently, all the experiences you want your baby to share with you.
My childhood was rocky. It was chaotic and messy, and in a way lonely.
I have four siblings, an older sister and three younger brothers. It was an odd place to be in the line-up. My sister was a cool kid, very Regina George from Mean Girls. She was the It Girl, she had all the friends, knew everyone, did all the partying. Because of this a lot of the time people just knew me as her sister, and not as myself. Having Regina George as an older sister also meant that I was bullied mercilessly, and put in the supervisory role for my younger brothers because she was always doing something that kept her from babysitting.
My mom was a single parent. She worked tirelessly to make sure we all had what we needed, but that also meant that I didn’t get to see her very often. One of the first things I told myself when I started making a family of my own was that I wanted to spend a lot more time with my kids when they came along. It isn’t something I hold against my mother at all, I admire her work ethic and she taught me a lot, but it is something I wanted to do differently.
My relationship with my father was complicated. He had cheated on my mother when I was a kid and had an abusive relationship with her both emotionally and physically. It was difficult for me as a kid because when I was really small I was more of a Daddy’s Girl. He was the one I ran to when I had a problem, he was the one I ran towards with pure joy, he was a big part of my life and I idolized and loved him more than I could ever say.
However, watching what he put my mother through and the emotional toll losing him put on my brother, he suddenly became the villain in the tale of my life. Parents are human, and I completely understand they will make mistakes, we will all make mistakes. But I do think as a parent, it is your job to hide some of you mistakes, some of your villainous attributes from your kids and he made no effort in doing any of that. He included us in his villainy, made us bear witness to it all, and that to me was unforgivable.
When I became a teenager, I cut all ties with my father. He is a toxic person and I could no longer stomach his influences. I just needed distance, I needed to pull away for my own survival. I think in a big way that is what being an adult is, realizing that a lot of life is just trying to survive different situations.
When I was pregnant, I thought a lot about family. My husband’s family is the kind of family I always wanted when I was a kid. Two loving parents. A mom that is supportive and just radiates joy and love, and a father that finds a lesson in every situation. He is close to his two brothers and they have this bond that seems as though it would survive anything. Not to mention both his parents come from huge families and he is close to all 15+ aunts and uncles, and their children. It’s just such a wonderful family vibe and I am so happy to be a part of it.
However the downside of being the new addition to such a great family, is that it makes you look at your own in this sort of judgemental way. It made me long for they type of family I never really had.
In our family it is just us. We aren’t close with my mother’s sister and her kids. We don’t speak to our dad who remarried and has a whole new family. We don’t have relationships with our grandparents. It’s just the 6 of us, my mom, my four siblings, and I. Over time that family has grown a bit. My sister had a son, my brother had a son, I married adding my husband and now our daughter. Our family of 6 has become a family 11. It’s dysfunctional at times, but it’s mine and I love it.
When I was pregnant a lot of family related questions came to mind, but the biggest question I asked myself was whether or not I would finally answer one of those emails from my father, the ones where he makes a weak effort to reach out and attempt to rebuild the bridges he had burned.
Hormones can make you act crazy and question everything. I questioned my decision to completely cut him out.
I am happy to say I resisted that urge. Why? Because although family is important for children, there is nothing better for them then a healthy environment where they can witness healthy and functioning relationships.
There are no cookie-cutter families. Some families are two parents, four grandparents with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins. Some are one parent, four grandparents. Some are just a grandparent. Some are just one parent. Families come in all shapes and sizes and as long as everyone in that family is constantly working to make one another happy with their best interests always in mind, that’s what’s important, no matter what members make that family.
Toxic relationships are never good for anyone, and although it’s hard, sometimes you need to say goodbye to the harmful people in your life to ensure your happiness, and the happiness of your children.
It’s so important to make a family for your baby and your children, but it’s important for us as parents to be smart enough to know what family our children need. Sometimes including everyone isn’t what’s best.
I am, and have always been an animal lover. Before I was a mother, before I was a wife, before I was a live-in girlfriend, I had a dog who was dependant on me and my very best friend. Last September, while a friend of mine was dog-sitting for my husband and I, someone stole my very best friend Thunder.
He was a gift I received on my birthday when I was 11 years old.
I offered a $2000 reward for him, put up posters, handed out flyers, but after six months of searching, I had to give up because quite honestly, my heart couldn’t take it anymore. He was my old man, he had been there for me through so many milestones in my life, he had travelled with me, comforted me, and suddenly, just like that he was gone.
For anyone who has ever had a pet, you know how they burrow deep down beneath your skin right into your heart. You love them like a member of your family, and when they are gone, you feel that loss as though it were a sibling or a friend.
When Thunder was stolen, our other dog Toby was going through some major health problems, which was why Thunder was with a friend. Toby had come back from a kennel we will never use again with swelling in his brain. He was lethargic, he wouldn’t eat or sleep, he couldn’t even stand long enough to move himself from one place to another. With all of this going on, once we started him on a round of steroids to hopefully bring the swelling down, he got really aggressive towards Thunder. He was irritable, and a bit mean and Thunder was a lot smaller than he was. We had hoped to get him better and then bring Thunder back home.
With Thunder gone, and Toby back to his old self, I was suddenly pregnant.
There were a lot of fears that came with suddenly being pregnant and planning for our future and one of those fears was how Toby was going to react to having a new baby in the house.
We have always had our behavioural issues with Toby. He is mistrusting of men, doesn’t get along with any other dogs (besides Thunder) and we knew having someone else in his space was going to be a touchy subject.
I got a lot of questions about Toby when I was pregnant. One of the most asked was “What are you going to do with him when the baby comes?” This was a question that always stole all the words I had from my mind. I just couldn’t comprehend it. It was as though people believed that now that I had a baby on the way, I would be shipping Toby away to a shelter or somewhere… trying to re-home him.
Toby is a lot of work. He is full of energy, he loves to cuddle, is always in your space, acts out when he feels neglected, and that is before we even get to all of his social behaviour issues. That being said, when we adopted Toby, we made a commitment to him and that was until the end… not until something else came along.
I can only imagine how some parents must feel with a baby on the way. It is overwhelming. There is so much planning and so many factors you have to take into consideration before bringing a baby into your home. It can all be made more stressful when you have a pet. I completely understand that.
However, I also believe that if you have patience, and are willing to put in the work, you can make any situation work for your family.
Toby was attached to me through my pregnancy, and I was glad for it because I was insanely emotional and often I would get sad at the thought that my oldest friend, Thunder, wouldn’t be here to meet my new bundle of joy. Often, Toby would lie on my belly as it grew and grew and grew. He would feel the little kicks and movements and he would react to them.
I think this is key with any pet when you are pregnant. They can tell something is changing and they can sense that you have a baby on board. Cuddling with a pet while you are pregnant allows them to bond with your baby before they are even here.
In the beginning when we brought our daughter home, we were overly cautious. We introduced them slowly, giving Toby a sock she had worn all day to smell and see how he would react. He reacted to her cries and coos. We noticed that when she cried he would rush towards us, wanting to see what was wrong.
It wasn’t long before he was attempting to kiss her whenever he could. If her hand was within reach, or her foot, he would sneak as close as he could to her and get in as many kisses as he could before we noticed (or he thought we noticed).
My husband was a lot more cautious than I was and would often over-react when Toby got too close. But I was with him all day throughout the end of my pregnancy, and I was with the both of them all day afterwards and I could sense that he wasn’t showing any signs of aggression towards her. He was curious, and he knew in some way that she was the newest member of the family.
That being said, no matter how much I trust Toby, I wouldn’t leave them unsupervised together? Why? Because babies are just as unpredictable as dogs can be. I wouldn’t want her reaching out and grabbing onto him in a way he is unready for and would react to before he realized.
As parents of children, and fur babies, it is our job to teach our children what is acceptable when it comes to animals. And it is also our job to train our pets to react to things accordingly.
You have to think about the life your pets have had so far. In a house with adults, they don’t have anyone pulling at their ears or tails, they don’t have anyone poking at their noses or their eyes, or falling on them. When you introduce a baby into their lives, you have to realize that everything will be entirely new and it may shock your pet to realize that your baby isn’t as gentle as you are.
At this age, our daughter doesn’t do much so Toby seeks her out. Although, I know there will be a time when she will be the one looking for him, and he may not want her to find him. When she gets big enough to start grabbing for him, I am going to be sure to explain to her that she needs to be gentle.
Just like I will teach Toby that he always needs to be gentle.
Repetition, repetition, repetition.
There is no reason you can’t have your cake and eat it too when it comes to pets and babies. They can co-exist, so long as you take the time to teach them how. You have to remember that nothing new is easy, not even for us. You can’t expect your dog to know what to do without any help or guidance from you, the same goes for your growing baby.
Thus far, I haven’t had an issue with the relationship between Toby and our daughter. I know that very soon I will have to readdress everything with him when she starts moving around. I am sure those movements will confuse him, and he may not like it when she is so mobile.
I will just remind myself that I was his parent first, and my job is not done. Every day will be a new test to my parenting skills.
Remember that is exactly what you are: a parent. You may not know exactly what to do when it comes to the co-existence of your new baby and your fur baby, but just remember there are a lot of resources out there to help you along your way!
Last night I was sitting on the couch with a fussy baby on my breast. Scrolling through the many options on Netflix, I was hoping to find something humorous that I didn’t have to 100% pay attention to and still follow. I settled on the movie I Feel Pretty starring Amy Schumer.
The movie had a lot of laughs, but it also got me thinking about body imaging and how social media, shows, celebrities all affect our confidence and body image. It can be so toxic.
Amy Schumer may not have the ideal body that advertising and Instagram pushes, but she is not outside of the norm for so many of us. Her body is relatable to so many, and it is beautiful. Yet, this movie made it seem as though we should laugh at her having confidence in a body that isn’t the typical hour-glass figure society wants us all to strive for.
Every day is a battle for women to cling to confidence and not to succumb to what the world around us tells us is beautiful. As a woman, and as a mother to a baby girl, I find the very thought of beauty terrifying. I know that somewhere down the line I am going to have to wipe tears from under my daughter’s eyes because she may not fall into the category of beautiful every outlet out there pushes at women.
Pre-Pregnancy I was skinny.
My body was athletic and thin. I often had women ask me if I ate, or what my secret was. Both were equally frustrating questions. We are hardwired to crave smaller bodies, to want curves with minimal fat, wide-set hips, a full bottom and heavy breasts. Passive aggressive comments are made to those people we find too heavy, and people we find too thin. There really is no winning, and it’s shameful the way we, as a society, make women feel.
Despite having a small waist, and being thin, I still didn’t have confidence in my body. I often would have people walk up to me, especially older women, and wrap their hands around my waist, commenting on how thin I was. They would comment when they hugged me, at the size of my clothes “Did you buy that in the kid’s section?” no matter where I turned, there was always someone commenting on my body in one way or another. In some ways, being skinny is worse to someone who doesn’t have high self-esteem or confidence in their body because it is somehow more acceptable for people to comment on how thin and skinny people are as opposed to people with a larger body type. If you aren’t confident in your body, there are people reminding you of it every single day, as those comments are completely acceptable.
Pre-pregnancy I struggled to maintain my weight. I have an over-active thyroid and because of that, if there were days when I didn’t eat as much as I should have I felt as though I could see that on my body, that I could feel it in my energy and how I went through my day.
When I got pregnant, weight was definitely something I worried about. I worried whether I would be able to put on the weight my baby needed. Whether my baby would get enough nutrition or whether I would be on all sorts of supplements to help me through this important time in my life. I was lucky to gain all the weight needed, and then some.
I gained weight slowly in the beginning. Through the first five months of my pregnancy there was no one that knew I was pregnant. I kept it to myself for two major reasons. The first reason was because I thought it was a nice bond that was being built between my husband and I. Having this secret between us, such a happy secret, really pulled us closer together. The other reason was that I knew the comments I would get. People telling me I was too thin and not putting on the weight I needed to be in those early stages of my pregnancy. I didn’t need the judgements of others adding onto the anxieties I already had.
For whatever reason, the outside world gets to have all these opinions about women’s bodies.
During pregnancy, if you weren’t the kind of person that radiated confidence before, chances are, your confidence levels are going to drop. I think the main reason for all of this is because of the major changes your body goes through and with each change that happens there is one questions that repeats itself in the back of your mind, over and over and over.
“Is this normal?”
The problem with this question is that we all put ourselves in these comparison columns where we compare every change to other women we know or see that are going through the same thing forgetting the most important fact: we may be going through the same thing, but we are not the same.
Every single woman is different. Even my sister and I who only have two years separating us, are as different as can be. Night and day. As were our pregnancy experiences. As are our body types, and body images.
It’s important to keep reminding yourself that there is no normal, just what is normal for you.
My body went through a lot of changes during my pregnancy, and my confidence went through changes right along with it. At the beginning, I felt my body was still mine. Sure, I was nauseous all the time, but outside of that, I still looked like me.
My confidence was as it always was. Not the greatest, but still there at times. I kept wondering when I would start to show. When would I finally get breasts, something I had always been lacking in my life? When would I get a little bump? Would I balloon out of control? Something my sister said she did although I always thought she gained weight normally. Or would I stay more myself? I had so many questions at the beginning and as much as we don’t want to admit it, a lot of our confidence as women is tied to what we look like and our bodies.
At 28 weeks I was probably my most confident. I had the bump I wanted, my breasts were looking pretty nice if I do say so myself, and I had gained a good amount of weight. My doctor was happy with my progress, and that made me happy. In the back of my mind, I was still a little worried I would get a lot of stretch marks. My sister had a lot, she had them on her belly, on her breasts, on her arms, she even got them behind her knees. My sister has a lighter complexion than me, more pale like my mother so her stretch marks were angry and red. I remember that being something I worried about a lot in the beginning. Would I get those?
I worried whether my body would be so changed after becoming a mom that it would shatter the small amount of confidence I had. Or would my post-pregnancy body make me see myself the way Amy Schumer’s character saw herself after she hit her head during a spin class?
I took a photo of myself right before heading to the hospital to deliver. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was too exhausted for confidence to even register in my brain. My feet were swollen, none of my clothes fit, I had a lot more discharge, I was tired, hungry…. if I had confidence, or a lack there of, it was a mystery to me.
In the days that followed I was exhausted, sore, and uncomfortable but bigger than all of that was my happiness. I was a mom, I couldn’t believe it. I was also amazed at how quickly my stomach shrunk while breastfeeding. I forced myself to take a postpartum photo.
Today I have been a mom for 2 months and 10 days. My weight seems to stay at 130lbs which I am happy with since my goal weight pre-pregnancy was 125lbs. I look more like myself but have extra weight in the places I always wanted.
So how is my confidence?
It goes up and down.
The skin on my stomach is darker than the rest from stretching to accommodate my baby. The skin, although shrinking back, is looser than I am used to and honestly I struggle with accepting this. I don’t need it to go back to what it was, I just… if I’m being honest I’m not entirely sure what I want or need for my confidence to build up to a place where it doesn’t negatively affect my happiness.
It’s a journey and I’m finding my way. Hopefully I figure it out soon. The grey weather is also weighing on me a bit. I’d love to just be out enjoying my new mommy life but feel a bit restricted.
For any new moms reading this or mommies to be, just know that you are beautiful and we are all amazing! Everything else we will figure out as we go.
I have been a mother for two months now, and a lot of the blogs and forums I had read to prepare me for being a mother (yes, I read some books too) told me that it would be so difficult in the beginning and that the best way to get through it, was to give up on the thought or idea that you can keep a routine this early in your baby’s life. Is this true? If you had asked me that the first week I had brought my baby home, I would have told you it definitely was. A routine was something single people and people with older children could possibly keep if they planned and had a strong desire, but for a new mom, it was completely out of the question.
Now, I realize how wrong that was.
Babies are unpredictable in a way, but if you pay attention to all the little things, you will realize that your baby does have a routine… it just may not be the one you want them to keep.
My daughter wakes up between 10:00am and noon. She is NOT a morning way in any way shape or form. You may think I am just making that up, but if you spent a morning with me at my house and watched how utterly miserable she was for no other reason than because it was before noon, you would whole-heartedly agree with me.
My daughter + mornings = one unreasonably cranky baby.
When she gets up I change her out of her sleeping clothes, wipe her down (we usually give her a full bath in the evenings) and then I take her to the rocking chair (glider) or the couch depending on how we feel for a feeding. She eats until she falls back asleep which is anywhere from 30 minutes to and hour. I use the time she is asleep to pump out the remaining breastmilk and do a few things for myself (wash my face, brush my teeth, change my clothes, read through some news highlights, have my cup of decaf coffee).
She will usually sleep for two-three more hours and be up by 3:00pm. By that time, I layer up, get her layered up and she and I take our fur baby out for a walk. We are usually out for between fifteen-twenty minutes depending on the weather. I really wish it was summer or even fall weather because then I would go out and walk for around an hour, and hour and a half and just spend a lot more time outdoors and less in my apartment.
When I take her in, I usually check and see if she needs a change because outside I can’t necessarily hear her volcano eruption of poop. Even my daughter’s diaper change has a routine. I lay her down and weather she is wearing socks or a onesie, I make sure her feet are bare when she is getting changed because she loves when I kiss her feet and kissing her feet or nom-noming them is sometimes the only thing I can do to calm her down is she is fussy while she is on the table.
We play with her feet before and after her change, I usually give her a few cherry kisses on her tummy as well before I get her dressed again. Now, the dressing her after her change is always a bit of an adventure because my daughter hates wearing clothes. If she is being overly fussy, I will just shrug the whole idea of clothes off and let her be free in her diaper and some socks. If my apartment is too cold, I will put her in a cover-all onesie. Her happiness does depend on how much clothes she is wearing so typically if she gets off that table in a onesie we have to do a couple laps in the apartment before we get on the glider and she feeds again.
Typically after this feeding she will stay awake. We will move to the floor for her tummy time which she also hates. Usually she does about five minutes of that before she is grunting in frustration, bright red, and ready to stop talking to me for the rest of the day. Toby of course accompanies us for tummy time and tries to soothe her with his toys or kisses if she gets too fussy.
After tummy time, I put her in her swing with the music playing and she will enjoy that until she dozes off (the life of a two month old). She usually dozes for an hour to two hours. At this point… mama takes a nap/break.
When she wakes up, she eats again. Usually when she is done eating I will realize I haven’t eaten since her first nap and I try to get something in me and I will do my 7 minute exercises (I usually choose three different ones and do that for about 20 minutes). By this time it is between 6:00-6:30.
This means we bundle up again and take Toby out. If we popped out for only a short fifteen minutes earlier, I will typically stay out longer. If we were out longer in the morning, I will typically do the same amount of time or less depending on the weather.
We come in, same changing routine, she eats some more. Then I usually sit with her and chat with her for a bit. Exercising her legs, playing with her arms, rubbing her tummy if she has excess gas. She will doze off, eat, get changed. Before I know it, it’s 9:00pm and I try and set her back in her swing so I can get dinner started. (I know, my husband works weird hours and usually doesn’t get home from work until around 10:30pm)
My daughter will be wide awake from 9:00pm until around midnight. There is no way around this. She will be cooing, and squawking, and kicking and punching and just keeping herself up and entertained.
We go into the room and I chat with her some more, telling her stories, singing, and usually after another long feed, she will clock out at 1:21am every morning like it’s shift work.
In the beginning I thought it was madness and there was no routine to it. I only started to realize there was a routine when I went out for the day with my sister and she was fussy in the morning. I told my sister it was because she usually napped between 1:00-3:00pm and then I wondered to myself if that was true or something I just thought she did. Sure enough, the whole routine started to play out in my mind and I realize there was a routine.
For all those new moms who were hoping to have a baby that goes to bed by 7 or 8 and you could get them up early, feed them and have your breakfast, have your lunch at noon, dinner at 6 and that they would fall into the schedule you had before you had a baby, then you may be feeling like it is chaos, because it isn’t normal. But you aren’t that person anymore, and you have to be open to changing your schedule to suit a new baby, even if that schedule doesn’t work for you. Their routine will change as they grow, and sooner or later it will click into place with what you had planned.
“What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” This is important to remember. We were spiders before and now we are feeling a little more like flies, because a lot of our planning isn’t up to us anymore.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
So you can definitely have a routine, I just can’t promise it will be the one you want. Here in Canada, not living in that work life routine for months on end is fine because of our Maternity leave we have the time to adjust and months to figure it out before we go back to work. For those living in other countries without maternity leave, I definitely understand how frustrating it can be to have a newborn that doesn’t make your transition from pregnancy, to new mom, to working new mom easy as you ride the wave of their schedule.
I would strongly suggest keeping a journal of their naps, feedings, and diaper changes so it is easier for you to notice these patterns and plan your life around them. When you feel like you are falling into the groove of things, even though you may not be getting much sleep or living the hours you want to live, you will start to feel less anxious, less tired and enjoy being a new mommy.
Everything in life take times to adjust to. Give yourself that time and try not to rush a change that may end up making life more difficult for you. It’s better to have a baby on a night-owl routine than to have a miserable baby who cries all the time because you are trying to change it. Then no one is getting any sleep.
Until next time, hang in and keep pretending you know what you’re doing.