The Mental and Emotional Weight of Milestones On Parents

Every baby develops at their own pace.” This is something that you will hear a lot as a new parent. This gives your mind a little bit of peace as you move through the days. You tell yourself that your baby will sit up on their own when they are ready, your baby will crawl on their own when they are ready, your baby will start to coo and babble when they are ready. You just wait, excited to be a part of their moments when they happen.

Yet, the check-ups happen often and at each appointment, you get the same question. “Is your baby hitting the scheduled milestones?”

For a parent, this question can make you overly anxious, especially if your child is one of the many that beats to their own drum and wants to set their own pace. That tiny little devil named Comparison creeps in and you find yourself looking at other babies, wondering how old they are as they take wobbly steps across the playground.

Up until this point, my daughter has been on track for all her milestones, early even. I would start to get a little nervous and then we would wake up one day and it would just happen. She would be sitting, she would be crawling. Just like that.

Walking has been the hardest milestone to tackle so far and I feel like everywhere I look there are younger babies wobbling around. I can’t fully express to you how this makes me personally feel, and I feel like this is a common feeling shared among parents who’s children don’t follow the curve of the developmental charts. You feel like you’ve failed. You’re frustrated with yourself for not doing more and you look back at everything you’ve done over the past months leading up to now. You wonder what you should have swapped out to ensure your baby was hobbling along with the others.

I’ve said this once, I will say this a thousand times; parenting is lonely. That inner voice you had before you became a parent that makes you doubt yourself and question your worth suddenly gets a megaphone when you become a parent. Every emotion you feel has a side order of guilt.

Those people who joke about parenting being the hardest job in the world, really have no idea. It is a lot more than just organizing programs, carpools, and playdates. The emotional and mental toll of being a parent is unmeasurable and something a lot of people who aren’t in the same situation will never understand. We don’t get to log off at the end of a workday, we are on 100% of the time. Can you even imagine being so thoroughly mentally and emotionally consumed every minute of every day?

That’s being a parent, and no… it most definitely isn’t easy.

Outside of the doctor’s office, everyone else questions you about their milestones as well. It’s like you are in competition with every other parent and their child and those parents want you to know exactly how advanced their little baby is. They will tell you just when they reached the milestone your baby hasn’t yet, note their child is younger and then reluctantly add… “But she’ll get there. Every baby moves at their own pace.”

I know babies who had started walking as soon as 8 months, and then I know other’s who started when they were around 2 years. Everything else in their lives was comparable, there was no big issue or rhyme or reason to it. That was just when they were ready. So how can there be a chart that says when our babies should accomplish what tasks when that is such a huge gap? How is that second mom supposed to feel about her baby’s development when the chart states walking should take place between 12-18 months?

I can tell you what I am feeling, I am feeling a bit stressed, a little worried and overwhelmed and definitely guilty.  I practice with her for a few hours every day, I don’t like to overdo it because she gets frustrated and I don’t want her to associate walking with frustration. Yet, I can’t tell you how many messages I get a day asking me if she is walking yet. It’s frustrating and disheartening.

I tell myself I am just going to release the reigns a bit. I am going to sit back and let her tell me when she is ready, but a part of me can’t help feeling like I should be doing more to help her along.

For anyone who is feeling this way, I am right there with you. It’s hard to let them figure things out all on their own, but that looks like the only way to progress.

Whether or not I am capable of this is irrelevant right now, I am going to have to figure out how to step back and let her take the lead on this.

Rainy Day Madness

As Canadians we know moving into the month of October we had better buckle up for the rollercoaster weather. September brought us low temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius, and highs of 34 degrees Celsius which I think left the bulk of us, here in Toronto, wonder what the in the world was going on. One day you are wearing a light sweater and thinking it may be a bit too much for the weather, the next day you’re contemplating taking your winter coat out of hibernation.

This weather means two things. The first thing is dressing your baby or little one for the outdoors becomes difficult. You struggle with dressing them warm (which is what I always tend to do) and removing their little hat to see sweat matted hair, or dressing them on the lighter side and having to hurry home as soon as the sun starts to dip in the sky and it goes from warm to freezing in a matter of moments. The second struggle is your little one getting sick.

The constant up and down, being bundled, and unbundled usually leads to some kind of cold. My daughter usually gets congested with thick, mucus boogs that dry on her face before I can ever wipe them away. Wiping their nose is a constant battle which usually means you have a kicking, swatting, screaming baby who would tell you to f**k off if they could as you wipe their nose over and over.

It quickly becomes a routine of sitting in the bottom of a steamy shower, humidifier, essential oils, saline sprays, and chamomile. I always find congestion is something that sticks with you longer than any other symptom. When it is the lone symptom, it really does want to hang around, especially when the weather is so unpredictable. Going from hot weather outside, to AC on full blast inside, back to a freezing night outside really messes with your body, especially for babies and children whose bodies are still so small and trying to figure things out.

A lot of parents decide to spend most cold days indoors, not wanting the trouble.

Now, just for fun, let’s add some rain.

This past week we had three-four really grey, damp, and rainy days. Rain for me, especially now that I have a one-year-old, means its an indoor day. Unfortunately, for a lot of parents, days, where you have to keep your kids indoors, makes you feel like you are the warden in an insane asylum where your patients/inmates are bouncing off the walls, rioting, wound up with unspent energy, and refusing the essentials like naps and snacks. My daughter turns into Mr. Hyde when she is kept inside for two consistent days in a row.

We were in for four.

By the third day, I was hiding in the bathroom, pushing snacks underneath the door while a naked baby screamed at me, banging on the door and snatching those snacks in-between fits of rage and lunacy.

And my child is only one.

I can’t say whether or not it gets easier when they get older or whether or not this is the easy stage (insert nervous laugh here). Part of me believes this age is harder because there is no negotiating. They are too young to want to sit inside a fort and watch a movie or do anything that will really give us a break. This is also the stage where any minor change completely throws their routines up in the air. Not going out for a walk or going to the park for an hour or so to spend some of her energy, means she has all the energy built up and it turns into a frustration she can’t voice or work through.

This usually means she crawls over to her ‘zone’ (the mats by the balcony door), lies down on her back and fake cries for anywhere between 15-45 minutes because she just doesn’t know what to do with herself and she is sick of both mommy and her trusty best friend Toby (our dog). She is a kid who likes to be social, so the same faces for days on end makes her act pretty irrational.

Our apartment turns into a battle zone. Toys and books all over the floor, more snacks scattered around than in her mouth, baby songs playing on a loop, usually a lone diaper open somewhere on the floor that she has taken off at one point so she can crawl around naked and I have forgotten about for the time being.

Fall is hard. More rainy days mean more madness (for both of us). I honestly can’t wait until she is old enough to enjoy just sitting and watching her favourite movie or show for a few hours. (Insert new age gasp here as I admit to wanting my child to sit and watch TV so I can get a break.)

As we move closer and closer to December and when they are predicting we will have our first snowfall here in Toronto, I wonder how adding more indoor days is going to affect her mood. Will she adjust over time, realizing this is just another part of life, or will indoor days always be a battle. Some kids just need to be outdoors.

I guess time will tell.

Trading Sleep For Memories

I can still remember the days when I would be up all night, close my eyes for a wink and be ready to conquer the world the next day. Whether it was binge-ing DVD box sets, staying up late chatting with my girlfriends during a high school sleepover, or diving into a book I just could not put down until it was finished, the night sky would brighten, morning would come, and with a smile, I would greet the day so unaffected by the lack of sleep.

When we are young and weightless, unbound by responsibility, it is so easy to think we can go on forever like that. In some ways, our youth is like a dream. We live life like montages in a movie. All smiles until it’s heartbreaks, nights that will never end, anthills we turn into mountains that shake our whole world up, convinced it will completely destroy us.

Fast-forward to now. Closer to 30 than 20, and sleep and coffee is all that keeps me going. If I stay up past midnight and don’t sleep in until 10am the next day, I feel like I am closer to death. Some mornings I just lay there, knowing I have slept less than a few hours that night, my baby girl crawling all over me while I stare up at the ceiling thinking back on the days when I didn’t need sleep.

How funny life is. They let us function in our youth with such a minimal amount of everything, no sleep, no food, no problem. Now, when that skill will come in handy, everything is thrown in reverse.

When I talk to people about my lack of sleep, they always blame it on my parenting choices. “You’d be getting way more sleep if you would just put her in her crib.”, “If you had chosen not to co-sleep it would be easier now.”, “You cuddle her too much, so she’s too dependant on you.”, “If you had breastfed less and introduced the bottle earlier, it would be easier to get her to sleep on her own.”, “Co-sleeping was a mistake, and you are paying for it now.” I could go on.

To those people that think they have all the parenting answers and can so easily outline all my mistakes and correct them with perfect parenting, I have this to say; less parenting is not better parenting.

Yes, my daughter is very attached to me but children, especially babies, are supposed to be attached to their mothers. Parenting is not supposed to be easy, and despite all the articles that suggest things like the cry it out method and independence in your baby so you can parent, work, and have hobbies is best, you are supposed to parent around the clock.

This new age idea that we should love our children a little less, ask them permission, make sure all our plates are in the air at the same time, and step back from parenting in my opinion is a crock of sh*t. You can’t spoil a baby with too much love and attention if that is exactly what they need. You can’t over-do love, and the thought that you can is complete nonsense.

Yes, I still co-sleep with my one year old which means I get a lot less sleep than babies that are sleeping soundly in their crib. But I also get to wake up to her beautiful face next to mine, I laugh through silly situations when a tiny foot slaps me awake in the dead of the night, I have little conversations with her as she babbles at me in the wee hours of the morning instead of going back to sleep.

I have swapped out the luxury of sleep and easiness for memories, and I am okay with that. I have forgone the simplicity of her napping alone for endless cuddles and this unbreakable bond of trust between the two of us. I am given up a lot of my personal space, for dependency.

Yes, babies are supposed to depend on their parents! I know, crazy, right?

I am tired, I am worn, but I am more tired of trying to explain to people how this type of parenting is not crippling my child, as they suggest. How giving her all the love and attention she needs when she is feeling sad or grumpy, or fussy, is not bad for her. How not letting her cry her lungs out until she is to tired to be awake anymore is not neglect, quite the opposite.

There is no doctor or professional that can tell me that centuries of parenting is wrong and this new age parenting that is less than a few decades old is best.

If my plan works out, and life goes the way I want it to, she will be my only baby. I would hate to look back and regret not loving her more. Not breastfeeding her for longer, not holding her a little tighter when I had the chance. That feeling of being so thoroughly nurtured, so safe, will open a door in her life later that will make her feel like I am her safe place, I am home to her.

So yes, I am giving up my sleep for my daughter, because as parent’s we should be willing to sacrifice a lot more than that. And for all those people out there telling women otherwise, you should be ashamed. Let people love their children as fiercely and selflessly as they want, it’s really not your place to tell them otherwise.

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.

 

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!

Day 13: Wellness Challenge

I was speaking with a friend of mine who follows my blog and reads all my post (if only I had about a thousand more friends, I would be rolling in followers). In the midst of our conversation, she casually asked; “So, what did you work out today?” I told her that because of my busy schedule that day, I hadn’t worked out. I had done my stretches and then went on with my day of running around with a 6-month-old in tow. She let out a long sigh and frowned. “That sucks. Looks like it’s back to day one of your fitness challenge.”

My brows furrowed. What was she talking about? What fitness challenge? It was then that she brought up my blog post almost two weeks ago where I basically announced I was going to ‘Carpe Diem’ my life.

That blog was not about the start of a fitness challenge, but more of a wellbeing challenge.

I did not merely want to be fit. I wasn’t signing a contract with myself that stated I would work out around the clock, become extremely fit and all that goes along with it. I want to be healthy, yes, but that is more than just fitness. When I told her it was a Wellbeing Challenge, not a fitness one, she looked at me completely baffled.

What does it mean?

It means that I have stopped putting off things I can control until tomorrow.

There was a lot I was shrugging off, telling myself I would get done tomorrow. Errands, goals, even just basic hygiene. Gross, right? Well… when you are a parent, especially to one of a child under the age of three, some things, especially when they are things for yourself, get put on the back burner. Sometimes they get forgotten altogether. This was one of the biggest and most important things I wanted to change. It is absolutely okay for me to do things for myself, putting myself first in small instances before being a mom or being a wife.

I am brushing my teeth, I am showering daily, I am stretching in the mornings and getting in a workout if my schedule allows it, I am making meals for myself and actually sitting down to eat them while they are still warm. These are things I can easily control, things that work towards my overall health both mentally and physically, and they have been things I have been neglecting since becoming a mom.

Keeping a Journal.

This was something I did a lot when I was younger. I had fallen in love with my cursive writing when I was about ten and thought to myself that I was going to write down absolutely everything I could, all the time. Poems, skits, short stories, every detail of my life written down and kept.

I haven’t kept a journal in almost ten years, but I remember how refreshing it was. To write all your feelings down on a page, to list your goals and your wildest dreams, bringing them to life in some small way, even if just at that moment, they were only words on a page.

There is a lot we keep to ourselves. As we become adults, we grow and adapt. One of the things we learn is that we can’t just say whatever we want all the time. There are repercussions attached to our words, consequences that may not be worth the weight that is temporarily lifted from your shoulders.

One of the things I wanted to start with my Wellbeing Challenge, was journaling again. It is so great to just pour your heart out onto a page. No judgements, no fear. I have to say, anyone that is feeling overwhelmed or unhappy, start journaling. Sometimes when you just let your words flow, you write down things you may not even know you were thinking in the first place.

More meals, just for me.

This may almost seem silly, but when my husband goes to work there are days I forget to do more than snack. I am playing with my daughter, we are going for walks, I am constantly on for her that somehow I forget that I need to eat too. And actually, eat.

I was getting into the bad habit of ‘Man, I am hungry. Maybe I will just snack on these crackers.’ and not actually making a full meal for myself. Aside from the obvious hunger, this was really bad for my energy levels and that affected everything throughout the day. My mood, my procrastination, my whole schedule was determined by my lack of energy would all have been helped by better meals.

Water.

Water, water, and more water.

It honestly helps with so much. Have a slight headache, drink more water. Feeling overly tired, drink more water. Not hungry, drink some water.

I got into the bad habit of having a coffee as soon as I woke up (decaf :(), that coffee would often be cold before I could finish off the half pot I had brewed so I would just reheat and drink that through the day. Which means there were literally days when I would go without a glass of water. It sounds crazy, but it’s how a lot of us are living. We drink coffee, teas, juices, and all the while we are forgetting that we should still be having water on top of all this other stuff.

I start my mornings off with two tall glasses of water before my stretches, and a third when I am through.

Blog out negative people, and their negative energy.

A lot of people live their lives with a social circle that may have a few bad eggs in it. They’ve lived in their circle for so long, that they shrug off the anxiety and judgement that goes along with being a part of it because they tell themselves that is just the way it is. They don’t want to make changes, they don’t want to be honest with themselves and say that maybe this person isn’t the kind of person I want in my life.

If it isn’t your personal social circle of friends, it could be family, or it could be people that have come into your life riding on the back of your partner. When you welcome a new person into your life and dive into a new relationship, sometimes you are so wrapped up in that person and how they are changing your life that you don’t stop and ask yourself if the people that walked through the door with him are adding anything positive to your life, or whether or not they may be harming you.

A lot of the mommies in my group talk about how their In-Laws add so much stress to their lives, how they belittle their abilities as parents, and spouses and how so much anxiety is built up with each visit and conversation. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine. I was lucky enough to marry into a great family, but I know that isn’t everyone’s story.

I am going to say something completely crazy here; you are not obligated to have a relationship with your in-laws if they don’t treat you well. WHOA! Insert explosion sounds here.

Mind blown!

Your mental health and wellbeing are more important than keeping face with people who could care less about your opinion or worth. It’s up to your partner to step in and be the barrier you need from them if they treat you poorly. They should put their foot down, and lay down the law. However, that isn’t always something everyone is capable of, and if they aren’t setting strict rules for how their family treats you, then you have every right to back away and tell him that you refuse to interact with people who treat you that way.

I may not have had to do this with my In-Laws but I have done it with other people. Even those who may not necessarily be abusive, but there are other types of taxing relationships that aren’t good for you. Like people who depend on you too much but don’t offer any type or comfort to you when you are distressed, or people who cheer on procrastination and act more like speed bumps or road bumps in your life.

You can dictate who gets to be in your life, and you should.

Asking for more help.

Being a new mom and parent is hard, and for some reason, it seems like a lot of people are afraid to admit that it is hard. They don’t want to talk about the struggle, they just want to highlight the good times and hide behind the fact that it’s a blessing. Well, things can be more than one thing.

Being a mom can be hard as hell, and it can also be a blessing. You can be a dishevelled mess on the brink of a mental breakdown and still acknowledge that your baby is glorious and everything you ever wanted.

Asking for help is healthy, and everyone should do it more in every aspect of their life.

Whether it is parenting, whether it is at work, or just improving yourself.

Ask for help if you need it.

Another important thing is accepting help when you may not have asked for it. There are so many proud people out there afraid to have someone help prop them up when they are falling? Why?

We all need help, and we shouldn’t be shamed out of asking for it.

Getting more sleep. 

This has to be the hardest thing thus far.

I co-sleep with my daughter. We share a Queen sized bed which a lot of people would think is plenty of room. However, those people must not have ever slept with an infant before because let me tell you, it is not.

More often than not, I wake up with hands tangled in my hair, feet smooshed against my face, the daunting stare of a little girl who is pooping and wants eye contact while she does it. I sleep on the edge of the bed while she is sprawled out, babbling in her sleep, inching somehow closer and closer to me.

Since my daughter has betrayed me and said ‘Da-Da’ first, she calls out for him in the mornings. He comes and gets her and they spend the morning together while I get an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep.

It’s glorious.

Outside of that, I have learned to nap. I will set her in her swing or playpen, or even her crib to play at times during the day when I am extremely exhausted and could benefit for half an hour of shut-eye.

Sleep is so important and a lot of parents learn to function without it, but over time it weighs on you and can affect your mood, your energy level, your thought process, and even your emotions. Sure, we can all function on coffee with a high level of illogical rage, but should we?

Having tough conversations.

So many people hold in a lot of their thoughts. They think more about other people’s feelings than they do their own, which most of the time is okay.
Sometimes we do it way too often. We are afraid to have the difficult conversations because we know it will be awkward and we will feel naked and bare.

Have those conversations.

It’s so important to unload, to not have this fictitious relationship with people because you never say what you are thinking and never tell them when you disagree.

It’s liberating to be your true self with someone, within reason. Don’t be spiteful and mean, just be honest.

I am sure there are other little things on my list of self-care that I am forgetting, but I have drafted this blog entry a half a dozen times, constantly being interrupted by my tiny dictator, so there is a lot that is getting forgotten, I am sure.

Challenge yourself to care more about your wellbeing, and do things that are specific to you. Not everyone neglects themselves in the same way.

Day 3: New Me

Last entry, I talked about the toxic lifestyle of pushing things off until tomorrow. This is something I have been extremely guilty of lately. After months and months of living like this, Sunday was the day I looked at myself and said; “No more!”

After a bit of research, it seems like it takes 66 days for something to become a habit. That means I will need to overcome my recently weak willpower for 66 consecutive days if I am hoping to make this new lifestyle I have in mind a reality.

I am going to be honest with you, this seems like a really tall order. With a fussy baby in tow, sometimes it seems like I will not get the 30 minutes I will need a day to do my stretches and my small workout. Especially lately, when co-sleeping with my 5-month-old is threatening to be the death of me. I wake up with less energy than I had going to bed and the idea of dedicating 30, undisturbed minutes of my day to working out instead of logging off and just vegging, seems like a major task.

I am stronger than my procrastination… at least that is what I am telling myself.

A lot of women, especially after becoming a mother, forget about their strength. They fall into survival mode, forgetting to take a moment to think “Holy crap! I made an entire human being in a mere 9 months. When all of that was done with, I summoned the strength needed to push that baby out. Exhausted, worn, and feeling a little bit like I have been in a car accident. I had a meagre 24 hours to heal with help before being handed this tiny amazing thing I had just created, and being sent home to weather the rest of the storm of parenting on my own. Nervous, and still healing myself, I am suddenly in charge of this little being. I have to be their everything, 24 hours a day. That is amazing. I am amazing.’

Really, to all the parent out there, I am there with you. I appreciate your sacrifice, I see your worth, your beauty, your strength. It really is amazing.

We are amazing.

Pregnancy is hard. Childbirth is hard. Parenting is hard.

Admitting that to other people seems to be one of the most difficult things any of us have to do. Something so many of us refuses to do.

Why?

Nothing worthwhile comes easy. It only makes sense that one of the most important things you will ever do be a struggle. Boy, is it a struggle. Some days I feel like I don’t have the strength in me to roll out of bed. Exhausted and worn, emotionally broken, I find a way. For my daughter.

So, this is day 3 of 66.

I cheated a little bit yesterday and only did stretches because I wasn’t prepared for how sore my body would be after just a small workout. Sure, it has been months, but I was feeling like I had been caught in a wave, unable to get out of it and back to the surface. My body was aching, I was so weak, it was definitely not something I thought would be as difficult as it was. Yet, I would still count it as a win because before Sunday I would have used my soreness and fatigue as an excuse to do nothing that day.

66 days.

I can do this!

3 Month Postpartum Recovery

For anyone who hasn’t been following me from the very start, or perhaps missed my delivery post, on September 21st, 2018 I vaginally gave birth to a 7.9 lb baby girl. My delivery required vacuum assistance which resulted in a 3rd degree perineal tear which required more stitches than the doctor or nurse was willing to count. The perineal is the skin between the vagina and the anus (men also have this).

A third degree tear means the tear went down into the muscle and also went from vagina to anus. Yay me!

For this area to heal well and not get infected, I suggest a sitz bath three times a day, and after every bowel movement. I can’t tell you how many times I was sitting in a sitz bath with a crying baby on my lap, struggling to breastfeed those first few weeks. I kept these baths up for around two months.

This was the main thing that needed healing postpartum for me. Everything else was something I barely thought about. The area was also tender because of hemmroids which was equally unpleasant.

Three months later, I went to the doctors for a follow up to having my IUD inserted. I also wanted to know if then increased discharge was due to my continuing lochia (the longest period you will have in your life, ladies) or due to the IUD insertion.

For any other first time moms out there, the lochia discharge towards the end may confuse you. There will be no traces of blood but you will have an egg white type of discharge that may seem like glue to you in some ways, and it may be clear or it may be cloudy. One thing for sure, there will be enough if it that it makes you question whether or not it’s normal. Yes, it is, and can last up to 5 months depending on your body.

During my appointment, I asked her about how my stitches were healing. My perineal area has been tender, and at times depending on my physical activities, it feels like then area is tearing and there would be some pale pink on the tissue when I went to the bathroom. She told me that there was tearing close to my vaginal entrance because the tissue there was too thin to repair itself. This is typical when you are breastfeeding because your estrogen levels will be low.

Insert another sarcastic yay here.

Three months postpartum and I am still tender in that area and now I am using a estrogen cream there to ensure the skin thickens and I can feel a little more like myself down there.

Ladies, giving birth is a lot. It is going to wear on you and it will be a while before you feel like yourself again below then belt. My suggestion is to do everything with care and don’t rush anything. You’ll heal in your own time.