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!

 

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!

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.

 

 

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!

Being Sick With A Baby

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!

The Hustle And Bustle Of The Holidays

My daughter recently turned 3 months, and it seems she is becoming more and more fussy over time. In the last few weeks, she has shown a strong distaste for her car seat. Whenever I start walking towards it, she freaks out and starts to cry. There are some days when I think to myself, ‘Oh my goodness, she is actually not making a peep. Perhaps this time will be different.’

Then sure enough, she opens those pipes up and lets me hear it. Usually the first ten minutes in the car are an excruciating test of my patience and willpower. In a way, hearing her wail like that breaks my heart, but another part of me has my eye twitching because I need to go out and get things done, especially now.

For all those people thinking ‘We’ll, why don’t you get another car seat? Maybe it is just the seat she doesn’t like.’ Thank you for the suggestion, but I have taken her to Babies R Us and out her in every seat they have to offer and it makes absolutely no difference. She wants to be sitting completely upright, and she is still too young to transition to that style of seat. *insert dramatic crying face here*

Now, with Christmas a mere day away and the two of us struggling to come up with an agreement for her to mellow out just a tad so I can get more done, I have put a lot of what I had to get done down to the very last minute.

Having a 3 month old around the holidays can either put you in Christmas overdrive and turn you into Will Ferrel in Elf,

Or it can turn you into the Grinch like me.

This year with all the growth spurts, the constant mood changes and just good ole fashioned fussiness, I haven’t had any of the Christmas spirit rubbing off on me.

For any parents that are also going through this phase with their babies and wondering how in the heck they are going to be able to get out and get things done without having a screaming, unconsolable baby in tow I will say that having a forward facing carrier where my daughter can see out has been a life saver.

I have ditched the stroller (which is actually great because I can use a cart in store) and strapped my fussy Rain Cloud who is usually my Sunshine to my chest and she is loving every moment of it. My husband and I always say she is a nosed girl (curious) and boy, were we right.

Once she is able to see everything that is going on, it has completely quieted her down and mellowed her out. Getting her back in the car in a headache and a half, but I guess I can’t have everything.

Yesterday I went out and finished up what little shopping I had left to do. It was a great feeling to have it done but it was miserable out and my daughter wasn’t adding any sunshine to my day with her soggy attitude.

I was talking to a friend about her son who is two months older than my daughter. I said to her “Why didn’t you ever tell me there were patches that were this rough? Was your son just constantly an angel, or what?”

Letting out a long sigh, she confessed “God no! My son was a nightmare. There were days that I would put him in his car seat and he would just cry and cry. Eventually, I would break down, take him out and sit on the couch and cry myself. It was so frustrating.” When I asked her why she never told me, she said it was because she felt guilty.

This seems to be a common theme for parents, especially mothers. We feel guilty about telling the truth and admitting how hard this all can be. We sugar coat everything to other women, other parents, and at the end of the day that is not helpful, all it does is make struggling parents who are going through the thick of it, feel worthless and like crap.

Why?

Why must we throw a cloak of deception over parenting?

It’s hard, it’s rough! There will be days when you don’t shower, there will be whole afternoons that pass where you don’t eat, nights where you don’t sleep. You will sometimes feel like a prisoner inside your own home, all you movements monitored by this demanding infant.

Being a parent isn’t always as wonderful as people sell it as, and that’s okay to admit. That doesn’t make us bad people and it sure as heck doesn’t make us bad parents.

So give yourself a gift this year, and allow yourself to be honest and human, and guilt-free!

You deserve it!

Mommy’s Me Time

My baby girl will be three months old tomorrow. I have to admit, as rewarding as being a new parent is, it’s also tedious, overwhelming, and downright exhausting. It is a 24/7 job being a parent, and even a super parent is still human.

About a week ago I got completely worn down. I was tired, I was frustrated, and mama just needed a break. I sleep with my daughter, I am up with her in the night if need be, I spend the whole of my day with her, and all-in-all I maybe get about two hours a day to myself where no one is touching me and I can just breathe.

2 hours is not a lot considering how much time you have to do nothing or everything before you have kids.

Worn out, I popped on my computer and signed up for a membership to the Fit4Less down the street from my house and told my husband that I was going to get up early in the morning and go to the gym. I needed adult interaction, I needed a moment where I didn’t have to be in Mom Mode. I just needed to swim up to the surface and catch my breath.

The next morning I was up before my alarm. I fed my daughter, changed her bum and slipped her back into her bed and clocked out. Mom duties were done for me for the next few hours. It was daddy’s turn to be at our sweet baby girl’s every beck and call. No mommy to pass her off to.

Out of the house, I walked to the gym, signed in, got my membership card and started in.

I was in the gym for a total of two hours, some of that time was spent just exploring and getting to know the new facilities I would hopefully be spending several days a week. I did dome exercising, some cardio and I left the gym feeling refreshed and like I was ready for anything.

I took my time walking home, stopping off for a coffee at the little shop across the street to chat with a few strangers and just relish in feeling a little bit like my pre-pregnancy self again.

This is definitely going to be something I do often, I can’t tell you what something as simple as going to the gym did for me mentally. I just felt good knowing that if I did ever get too overwhelmed, I had somewhere I could retreat to for a few hours.

And dad survived, so that is a major plus!

Parents, if you can, try to find time to do something for yourself, by yourself, outside of your house. I can’t stress how important this could be for your happiness, your mental health, and even your relationship with your partner and your baby!

Trying To Find Time To Breathe

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. 

I’ll let you all know how things go. 

Comparison Is The Main Ingredient to Your Unhappiness

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. 

Just live your best life, the best you can. 

Happiness will come.