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. 

2nd Trimester Ultrasound

My ultrasound was scheduled for 10:30am and unlike my first ultrasound, it was at a hospital instead of at a private ultrasound facility. Now, in all honesty, I did prefer the first place. Everyone was there for a specific reason, you got called in right around your appointment time. Sure, the tech was a little cold and quiet, and they wouldn’t provide me with any information, but everything moved pretty quickly and my doctor got the results in just a few days for us to discuss.

For this ultrasound, I had to arrive with a full bladder. The paperwork I was given told me to drink four full glasses of water an hour before my appointment. I could only manage to drink two before my stomach was bloated and I was doing kegels to keep from peeing my pants.

We walk into the hospital where we check in and then are brought to a second area where we needed to take a number so we could register. This was painfully slow. People were being seen based on the number they had taken, which meant that people who had come in through the urgent care centre had taken numbers before me and would take priority to my appointment time.

Logically, I understand this. However, with a full bladder and needing to get to work for noon, logic wasn’t really playing a part in my patience.

An HOUR later, my number got called and I finally got a chance to get up and register. Once registered, I was told to follow the red arrows down the hall to the ultrasound area. We put my folder in a little slot in the wall and waiting for them to call my name.

Another thirty minutes passed.

*Insert exasperated face here*

By the time they said my name, I was ready to pass out from relief. My stomach was throbbing, my bladder was screaming and the first thing I said to the tech when I laid down on the table was “Fair warning, I am going to pee my pants at any moment.”

Looking at the appointment time on my paperwork, she shook her head and told me she would take all the measurements she needed to take as quickly as possible and then she would let me go to the bathroom before she finished.

Thank goodness!!

When my bladder was finally empty and I could breathe again, I was feeling a lot more excited about the ultrasound. My tech was great, she explained what she was doing and what she would be looking for, and I told her I wanted to know the gender of the baby.

At 18 weeks, she told me she was looking to be sure the baby was growing normally, making sure she could see all ten fingers and toes, measuring the spine, the neck, the skull, the heart and all the other important parts while being sure there are no abnormalities.

Her talking to me through the ultrasound put me at ease. During my first ultrasound the silence was deafening and it made butterflies flutter nervously in my belly.

She did tell me a few things, like my baby had a nice, strong heart. I doubt she would have told me if there was anything wrong. However, what she did tell me was reassuring.

The whole process took between 45 minutes to an hour for her to get all the measurements she needed, with an additional 20 minutes spent with her trying to see the gender of the baby.

From my first ultrasound, I was told my baby was very active. It made it difficult for the tech to get her measurements, and it made it difficult for her to take the pictures she needed, but it made it especially difficult to see the gender.

Legs crossed, wiggling its little butt away whenever we got close, my baby was sure to play coy and not give me the satisfaction of finding out its gender.

Did I need to know? I had written a blog post not too long ago stating the gender of your baby didn’t matter. Our babies could be who they wanted to be, love who they wanted to love. So long as they grew up to be good people, did it matter what they had between their legs? My thoughts were no, but realistically, I did want to know.

The main reason was because I felt like calling my baby “it” for the whole duration of my pregnancy gave me flashbacks of Pennywise the clown and was taking a little bit of the joy away from it all.

I did leave my ultrasound without knowing anything for sure, but my husband and I both got into the car and pretended we were okay with it.

2nd Trimester

Most of the time, people break down your pregnancy in weeks or in trimesters. I noticed, people rarely mention pregnancy in months? Why is this? It’s like people who tell you the age of the baby/toddler in weeks when they are like two years old.

“How old is your baby?”

“Twenty-six months.”

*Does some quick mental math* “So, like… two?”

This has always been something that has driven me completely bonkers mostly because I can’t find any reason for it. Why can’t you just tell me your baby is two years old? Why can’t you just tell someone you are five months pregnant? All this math! *Insert groaning face*

The first trimester is between 0-13 weeks pregnant or the first three months of your pregnancy. The second trimester is 14-27 weeks pregnant or from the second half of your third month moving through to the beginning of your sixth month of pregnancy. The third trimester is between 28-42 weeks or from the second half of your sixth month through your ninth month.

Trimester   | Months Pregnant   | Weeks Pregnant

1st                 |  0 Months                   |  0- 4 Weeks

|  1 Month                     |  5- 8 Weeks

|  2 Months                   |  9- 12 Weeks

|  3 Months                   |  13 Weeks

2nd               |  3 Months                   |  14- 17 Weeks

|  4 Months                    |  18- 21 Weeks

|  5 Months                    |  22- 25 Weeks

| 6 Months                     |  26- 27 Weeks

3rd               |  6 Months                    |  28- 30 Weeks

|  7 Months                    |  31- 34 Weeks

|  8 Months                    |  35- 38 Weeks

|  9 Months                    |  39- 42 Weeks

You know me, leading with honesty. The first trimester of my pregnancy was complete agony. I slept more than I was awake, when I was awake, I was throwing up, frowning over my new crop of pimples that had popped up overnight, or in a whirlwind of emotions that seemed as though it would never cease.

I woke up every day literally counting how many hours it would be before I was right back where I was, in my bed with the blinds closed and the curtains drawn erasing all signs of light from the room.

My diet in the beginning consisted mainly of soda crackers, dry toast, Gatorade, Powerade, and apple juice. There would be days when I would wake up and have a hankering for something specific, like sausage pasta or grilled cheese. I would rejoice in inhaling without gagging and eat it slowly, savouring the first meal I had in weeks. Sure enough, an hour would pass and I would be hunched over the toilet once again.

I turned to the blogs and forums, hoping some women further along in their pregnancy would shed some light on what was to come for me. I wanted the tiniest glimmer of hope, and by god, I searched for it. Most women said the nausea and the extreme fatigue would fade away by the 12th or 13th week.

Opening the same app I had used once to countdown to my vacations and my wedding day, I put in the date I would be 13 weeks pregnant knowing better than to bet on the shorter amount of time. As the days slowly dragged on, I rode it out.

I parted my hair far on the side to pull it over my crater forehead, I sucked on mint leaves and drank ginger teas. I smiled through the lurching in my belly, farting my way through the day hoping I could go poo because it had been over a week and my stomach was in agony. In the back of my mind I thought to myself; ‘Your time is coming!’ 

My brother’s girlfriend who has a son who is going to be two years old in September reminded me that everyone is different and her agony lasted not only the first trimester, but her WHOLE PREGNANCY!

I remember the sassy moment, when I shook my head, snapped my fingers and went “Hell Naw!” I had weathered the storm, I was almost through it… I would not stand in the eye and realize I still had more storm to weather through. I was done!

Luckily, I came out of my first trimester and felt like a completely different woman. Suffer no delusions. I didn’t wake up on the first day of my second trimester with a clear face, an easy stomach and an abundance of energy. My acne was still there, there just weren’t;any new ones that morning, I still threw up in the morning but my stomach settled after that and although I was still tired, I didn’t feel like every blink I took was one where I could easily slip into a coma.

Over time my acne faded slightly, not completely. I threw up only once in a blue moon instead of every day or every morning. The second trimester was looking a lot brighter than the first.

Thank whatever deity you want.

My baby bump still hadn’t made an appearance and that had me feeling a little blue. My clothes seemed to be getting tighter anyhow. My thighs and my butt were practically bursting the seat of my pants, yet at 15, even 16 weeks (depending on my bowel movements) my stomach was pretty much flat!

My second ultrasound was scheduled for my second trimester at the 18th week. I was excited to know I may get to find out the gender of my baby at this appointment! I was biting my lip in anticipation!

Bring it on! What’s mama having?

Boy or girl didn’t really matter too much, but my husband and I had a running bet on what it was and by the hair on the Grinch’s fingers, I wanted to win!

So I guess for now, I am going to pretend to be an adult and keep my cool until I get to this ultrasound and find out what we are having. Gladiator or Gladiator. Knight or Knight. Doctor or Doctor… come on guys, my kid can be whatever the hell it wants no matter what the gender.

Baby Shows- What To Expect

IMG_0741At seventeen weeks pregnant, and during an awful spring ice storm, I ventured out with my mother and eight year old nephew to a baby show at The Enercare Centre, at the Exhibition Ground in Toronto.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was a first time mom mostly excited about the possibility of freebies and coupons, and wasn’t sure what else the show would have to offer.

The admission to get in was $15, and children under 12 got in for free.

When you first walk in, it is a little bit overwhelming. Everywhere you look there are women in different stages of pregnancy wandering around. There are rows and rows of booths and it’s hard to know where to look or which way to walk. Do you walk towards the strollers, the cute photography booths, or maybe those adorable outfits that are causing your uterus to contract despite your baby only being the size of a poppy-seed?

I just did the rounds, making sure to see everything so I was thoroughly informed, keeping a careful eye on the coupons given to me at the door to see just how much I would be saving.

Overall, unless you go there with the thought that you will be spending thousands of dollars, there isn’t too much you will really jump at in regards to furniture and baby gear. There were all these intense strollers and car seats. All upwards of $1000. To be honest, if I had brought my husband with me, I probably would have spent a lot more money than I did. Although, I am not sure I would have gotten any of the strollers.

I have done more than my fair share of research and had decided at that point that I wanted a travel system. Although they did have some there, they were these high-tech ones that I couldn’t quite figure out and the sleek designs had me feeling a little nervous about putting my fragile newborn in them.

One thing that definitely caught my eye was this really cool up and coming company called Sprout.

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As my stomach went from flat to “Dear God, I swear these fit me yesterday!” I wondered if buying maternity clothes was really something I was going to be doing. I am a thrifty person by nature, and the idea of buying maternity clothes just felt like a waste to me. Not to mention, there aren’t a lot of really affordable options.

Enter the brilliant Sprout Collection. Where you can browse their collection online, choose pieces and have them mailed right to your door. Once you are done, you send them back, they handle the dry-cleaning, shipping, hell, the only thing they don’t do for you is carry the baby. As I listened to the stylish, chic and adorable owner explain everything to me at the baby show, my eyes lit up.

Check them out here, worth a look.

At the show, they hadn’t launched yet so you had to sign up for an email list and hope for an invite. I am happy to say they are up and running now.

Of the few things I purchased, there were two things that I really, really loved and was happy to come by.

After binge-watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix, the episodes where poor Mateo got a flat head and had to wear a helmet had me thoroughly looking for a solution to that. I kept thinking, “Oh my god, babies lie down so much! How in the hell am I going to keep my baby from getting a flat head?” Insert Ellie Ears.

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I bought two of these! Why? Because they are adorable, exactly what I had been looking for and to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t decide between two of the patterns not knowing the sex of my baby as of yet and hoping for something gender neutral.

They aren’t overly pricey and at the baby show, they were together with another booth which earned me a discount on both items if I bought them together… and of course I did.

Adorable Ellie Ears

The booth that was sharing with the Adorable Ellie Ears was a towel place. At first glance, I didn’t pay too much attention to them, I was struggling to decide between the patterns I liked for the Ellie Ears and wasn’t looking at anything else.

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Fortunately, the woman working the booth was charismatic and pulled me in. Plus, the towel she was wearing at the time seemed to match the Ellie Ears I had in my hand perfectly.

She had the towel clipped around her neck like an apron and quickly explained how difficult it could be to juggle a wet newborn, shivering baby as you tried to get the towel around them. Just the idea of my poor wee babe shivering as I took a second too long to wrap them up made my heart immediately ache and… I bought one.

This is definitely a product I felt I would use and use often and would make my life so much easier. As a first time mom, I was hoping for things to help me through a time I knew would be stressful.

One Berrie proved it would do just that for me.

Believe it or not, I didn’t buy too much else besides that. There was a lot of big-ticket items I wasn’t ready to commit to just yet, and for the other things, I felt like I wanted to know the gender of my baby before I bought cute outfits and stuff like that.

These seemed to be the most useful items when I looked around.

I am sure a lot of other mommies with less self-control than me went bananas at the show. I saw some poor husbands, partners, mothers, and sisters carrying bags upon bags of items.

As a first go-er, I would definitely say I got a lot of information. Even if you didn’t plan to go and spend any money. Going just to get pamphlets from things like RRSPs, Service Ontario, and talking to a financial advisor about how much you need to save to pay for your child’s education was enough to make me want to go to another.

First time mommies, don’t panic. Just nod your head, act like you know what is going on and pretend you know exactly what you’re doing there.

That Elusive Pregnancy Glow

Let’s take a moment and go back. We’ll go back to before we grew up, back when we believed that acne went away once you grew out of puberty, back when we thought there were only two or three positions for sex, before we knew about cover-ups, and tampons, and all the other harsh realities that seemed to attack us women all at once.

Are you going back? Okay, let me know when you reach that part of your brain where you thought all pregnant women had this glow. Their hair was thick and vibrant and seemed like they were starring in shampoo commercials, their skin was flawless and dewy, all their weight went to their bellies and they were smiling and dancing and glamorous.

Stop there.

The wonderful, mystical pregnancy glow that transforms all of us women into unicorns. I’ve seen the movies, read the articles in the magazines, I have seen the commercials. What I haven’t seen, is this glow in my own pregnancy.

Considering the first symptoms of my pregnancy were constant and obnoxious gas and an abundance of acne. The bloating made me feel like I was showing until the constipation passed and then I realized my baby was a backed up food baby and not my actual baby showing. All of these things made me feel like this glow that they kept mentioning was like trying to spot Big Foot. I had heard the rumours, but had never seen the proof and at this point, it was beginning to feel more like a myth than anything else.

So, I get it ladies. You are reading through this, pregnant, feeling a little swollen and blue and wondering Girl what the hell and I reading this for? Well, I have a secret.

As elusive as that glow is, it is attainable!

Scrap what you thought it was. Throw away all those articles that tell you the hormones will do it all for you and all you have to do is sit back and marvel at your new beauty. Give up on hopes of just rolling out of bed and suddenly looking and feeling like a super model.

That pregnancy glow is all a state of mind. It’s what happens when you stop frowning at that ginormous pimple that has sprouted right between your eyes. It’s what happens when you take off the track pants and put on a bodycon dress that shapes your body and shows off that beautiful little (or big, depending on where you are) bump. It’s what happens when you fart on your husband/partner and then laugh about it. It’s what happens when your partner pushes out his belly and you take matching pictures. The glow happens… when you feel it!

One day you will push through that uncomfortable feeling, all those imperfections you were so focused on suddenly blur, and you will see yourself as this superwoman. You will push and strive for strength because suddenly you will realize that you want to be the kind of woman your baby will look up to. You want to be the kind of woman your child believes can shake and move the world.

That glow is what happens when you realize what you are made of, and each one of us is made up of more than we can ever imagine! There is no strength on this earth as powerful as a confident and determined woman!

The problem is, so many of us are blind to our strength, our eyes only glued on our weaknesses. We wait for validation, we wait for permission, we wait for the glow to come to us.

I feel like a lot of us are so overwhelmed in pregnancy. There is all this information we have to take in, all these tests we have to take, all this little worries and fears that creep into our minds about our unborn babies, we forget about ourselves. We forget that our happiness is as important to the growth and development of our babies as so much else. We forget our strength and fall to our weaknesses.

I’ve pretended to have strength, just as often as I’ve pretended to know what I am doing. I pretend I am okay on days when I feel like I am going to break down. I pretend I have all the answers when I am not even sure I fully understand the questions.

Don’t we all?

Fall into your strengths, maybe it will make all the pretending we do a little bit easier, make that glow a little more attainable.