My Relief Team

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

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

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

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

You are not that mother from the article.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Transition To Solids

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

Being a parent is completely unpredictable.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank goodness!

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

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

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

Then, she got sick.

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

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

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

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

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

It was rough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relationships are work!

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

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

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

In short, it is most definitely possible.

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

 

8 Months A Mommy

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

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

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

8 whole month. Holy moly!

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

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

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

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

Write soon!

Raising A Baby In The Age Of Tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Mother’s Day Bliss

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

I am a mother.

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

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

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

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

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

Today, I gave my daughter all of my time.

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

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

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

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

Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!

Crawling: Is It A Milestone To Push?

When you are a new mom, it is so easy to get so wrapped up on what everyone says your baby should be doing. “By 3 months, your baby should be trying to hold up their head.” “Babies love tummy time!” “Baby should be starting to babble and talk to you by 4 months.”

There is all this information out there. As a new parent, you use these charts and these milestones to let you know your baby is normal and on the right track. I think along the way, we forget that our babies are little people and they will progress at a speed that feels right to them.

Think about how you learn. Chances are, your baby will learn similarly to them. Are you the kind of person that will get something if someone maneuvers you into the position? If someone repeats something over and over? If you see someone else do it?

Not everything just comes. We all learn in different ways, and not all brains are wired to take on new tasks and skills the same way, yet we expect our babies to all fall under these cookie cutter milestone charts. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from a worried mom, comparing her baby to the charts and to other babies their age.

I always ask the same questions. “Does your baby get to interact with other babies?” Do you have pets that they watch and may try to mimic?” How much time a day do you spend with your baby trying to teach them something new? How do you try and teach them?”

There are so many things that come into play. My daughter didn’t really start to thrive until I put her in a situation with other babies. I noticed how she would watch them, how fascinated she was and how when we got home, she would suddenly be trying all these new things, saying new words, suddenly grasping what I had been trying to teach her.

I should have noticed this a while ago.

She mimics a lot of our dog, Toby’s behaviour. She licks the play mat, she growls and grunts, she goes after a ball and will follow it with her eyes and excitement if you move it in front of her.

Why?

Because they are relatively the same size and are always on the floor together, so to her, they are similar. That and the fact that the interaction with him is so different from the interaction with mom and dad, just like interacting with a new baby is different. Putting your baby in situations where they can see someone else doing the things you want them to do, is definitely beneficial.

However, bear in mind, some babies just bypass certain milestones altogether. There have been a number of mommies that I have spoken to that have told me their babies didn’t crawl until after they were already walking. This seems most common in babies that walk earlier. Which makes sense because if your baby is spending all this time learning to walk, they jump over crawling and erase that safety net that brings with it some of the hesitations they have towards walking.

My daughter hates the idea of being on her knees, yet she tries to pull herself up to her feet every opportunity she gets. She loved to grab onto things, support her weight and just stand there. When she is not standing on her own, she likes to have either my husband or me standing with her, supporting her while she takes those wobbly steps forward.

Every time I speak to my In-Laws, they ask me if she is crawling yet. It seems to be a common question being asked because of my daughter’s age. I am coming to realize that just because the milestones are common, doesn’t mean your baby will ever meet them. And not meeting those milestones, doesn’t necessarily mean anything in regards to your baby’s overall development.

My nephew never crawled. He went straight from sitting to walking. The being said, I can pull up videos of him having perfectly clear conversations with me when he was two. I have videos of him reciting from memory about twenty different species of sharks (as this was his obsession when he was younger). Although in those months when he was making no attempt to crawl, some doctors would have pushed more tummy time or given tips on how to get him moving.

Milestones are the guidelines we use to measure our baby’s development. They tell us whether or not our baby is ‘on track’. That being said, I know a handful of babies that met all these milestones but are still behind are certain things, whose words are still muffled and they are struggling with potty training. I know babies that didn’t meet milestones and leapt over all the other difficult things with ease. And I also know babies who met every milestone exactly when the guidelines said they should have and they are exactly where they are supposed to be.

So what does that mean?

It means that babies are people, and they will grow and learn at their own pace when they are ready. Not meeting milestones doesn’t mean your baby isn’t developing. Meeting every milestone doesn’t mean you have the next Albert Einstein, and being all over the milestone map doesn’t mean your baby won’t be the next Einstein.

My advice is just to sit back, do your best to stimulate your baby’s mind without pushing them to meet the milestones. If they meet them, that’s wonderful, if they don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t just enjoy these moments with your baby.

Babies grow so fast, and before you know it, you will be looking at a teenager and you won’t have a single thought about whether they crawled when they were supposed to, whether they babbled enough, or what milestones they met when.

Throw away the map, forget where you are supposed to be, and just enjoy the ride of being a parent!

7 Months A Mommy

This blog post is a little late. The 21st Of last month came and went while I was in an exhaustion fuelled trance and I found myself slacking on the usual rituals we do to commemorate her milestones.

What has happened in the last month?

Teething has become less of a nuisance and more of a war zone. Her bottom two teeth are pushing their way through her gums, they are inflamed and about ready to burst and my usually somewhat fussy baby girl has become… well… I’d rather not say.

She has gone from sitting up with constant supervision as assistance to sitting completely on her own. She has begun pulling herself up into a standing position, and likes to stand. She seems more willing to start to walk than crawl. Every time we try to get her to crawl she refuses to get on her knees and ends up attempting to move around like Mowgli from Jungle Book.

Honestly, at this point seven months after giving birth, I was kind of hoping to have more of a handle on things than I do. It just goes to show that the term New Mom shouldn’t have the limitations it does. Hell, I may still be using the term new mom when my daughter is going off to High School because there is always something new.

We had settled into schedules and routines and growth spurts happened. Settled back again only to be disrupted by sleep regression. Finally went over that hump to be assaulted by a developmental leap and the separation anxiety that went along with that. We are still at the tail end of that and the universe decided to show me just how foolish I had been, thinking what we were going through already was the worst teething had to offer. Boy, was I wrong.

With sitting alone, comes a little bit of independence. Independence I foolishly use for lazing about and just sitting to myself and closing my eyes for a quick five or ten minutes instead of actually accomplishing something. Sadly, that means my blog and other social media outlets have gone unchecked for quite some time.

I am hoping to fall back into more of a routine. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can do this. Every day is a new adventure.

Welcome to parenting!

A New, Emotional Me

Since I was a child, I was not the kind of person to cry freely. I shrug a lot off, bottle up more than I should, and thought suppressing tears that threatened to bubble over was an accomplishment.

Strength was beauty to me. Vulnerability was weakness and there was something so shameful in weakness. Weakness was like a wilting flower, sad and depressing.

Pregnancy changed that frame of mind for me. When I was pregnant, I was at my most vulnerable. Every waking moment was a struggle, a challenge I had to overcome. There were days when I was so uncomfortable, I didn’t even feel like I was myself anymore. I felt as though I were staring down at the water, watching the ripples completely change what I looked like.

Discomfort seemed never-ending.

Then suddenly, everything became still. I would get a day with minimal discomfort and feel like I could finally see myself again. Here I was, I was me, and I could get through this pregnancy.

Those were the days, the days when the waters were still when something lurked there underneath the surface.

It would happen suddenly, without prompting or warning. I would get a tightness in my throat, my eyes would cloud over and my chest would sink.

I found myself asking why a lot back then. I didn’t understand it, this wasn’t the person I was. Alone in my apartment, suddenly I was crying. Not just a sniffle and a lone tear. I was full out bawling, hysterically like my whole world was ending, for absolutely no reason.

It was ugly, it was so foreign to me, and it was this unprovoked weakness. One I thought was brought on by a new blend of emotions my body and my mind weren’t used to processing.

I thought of these emotions as a storm, thinking that along with my pregnancy, this would all pass.

My daughter is 6 months old now, and those emotions are still there. I get teary-eyed watching cartoon movies, I have a full on break down where I watch any movie where a parent receives bad news about their child over the phone like Soul Surfer or Walk. Ride. Rodeo.

Ads turn me into mush and even movies and shows that never affected me before can completely buckle me into an emotional rollercoaster.

That stoic person I once seemed like a distant memory. Now, I am this emotional ball of fatigue.

I definitely have realized that being a parent transforms you. It pulls you out of who you were and opens your eyes up to everything and everyone in a way you may not have considered before. And in that transformation, hopefully, comes a better understanding.

Our idea of women as a society is and has always been that our emotions are unreasonable and irrational. There are so many negative stereotypes that go along with women and our emotions that I personally feel like any public display of my emotion is downplayed or seen more as comical than for what it really is, which is genuine. Not all women are crazy or dramatic, but if someone sees you vulnerable just once, they will act as though that is the only way they’ve ever seen you.

Being a woman who is going through emotional changes is difficult. It’s hard to know who we can reach out to, we don’t know if there is anyone who will validate how we feel and not just make it seem like we are being hormonal. Even other women have fallen into asking us if we are on our periods when we tell them how we are feeling and about changes to our mental and emotional state.

Women are strong. We are given so much to constantly juggle, it’s understandable that at times our emotions get the best of us.

It’s okay. We are human, and our emotions are a huge part of that.

For any of your women out there who have been called over emotional, or crazy, or irrational. For those women who find themselves sobbing hysterically when they are on their own or just crying silently when the loneliness or sadness becomes a little too much.

There is beauty in your heartbreak, there is beauty in your vulnerability and your sadness.

You are beautiful! You are strong!

You can do this!

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.