Toxic Relationships and How To Improve Or Move On From Them.

A few years ago, I went through a mental spring cleaning, so to speak. My mind was full, it was clouded and I found myself slipping into negativity. I would often pause and think back to the person I was just a few years earlier. I was someone who smiled often, fell back on being silly and carefree, and had this whole ‘Glass Half Full’ outlook on life. 

I sat back and reflected on a bunch of things going on in my life. 

After a lot of reflection, I realized it was some of the friendships in my life that were altering how I viewed the world and myself. Some of my friends had this way of changing my whole mood, which changed how I viewed things and how I thought about things. 

It’s important for a lot of people to realize that you personally define what is toxic to your mental state. I think when a lot of people think of a toxic relationship, they think about abuse or neglect. There are so many other little things you may not realize are sinking the ship of your happiness. 

I realized a lot of the friends in my life are overly dependant on me. There is nothing wrong with that, everyone needs a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean into when times are tough. Yet, when I thought about it, for so many of my friends, times were always tough. No matter how well things were going in their lives, they always latched on to that one thing that was going poorly and looked to me to encourage them and lift them up. 

There is nothing wrong with being someone’s moral support. This can be as beneficial to you at times as it is to them, but if you look back on your relationship and realize the only time they reach out to you is when they need you to lift them out of the emotional hole they had dug themselves into, it’s important to note that maybe they view you more as a therapist than as an actual friend. 

Relationships like this can be taxing and can leave you feeling worn and used which is not good for you. 

A lot of my relationships were like this, and all I did to clear the space in my mind and my life was stop reaching out to them first to see if they really valued me as a friend or thought of me outside of their problems. Another thing I did was took a day or two off from responding to their SOS text messages. If they messaged me when their crisis was over, then I knew they were friendships worth holding onto. 

When I was pregnant, I was emotional and a lot of those sad days were brought on by the thought that I didn’t have a friendship circle. I have one real and true friend. That’s it. 

I have a few other friendships that I would consider more of an aquaintanceship. They are there, and I reach out to them on occasion, but days, weeks, or even months could pass without speaking and neither one of us really has a problem with that. 

When you become a parent you think about whether or not these types of relationships are worth it, or whether it is just better to move on and make new friends. People grow, and because of that, it’s not uncommon for people to grow apart. 

Any relationship that weighs down on you, makes you feel negative or used, or holds you back from things you hope and dream for would be a toxic relationship. 

If you are hoping to hold onto these people and continue to have them in your life, the best thing to do is to speak to them. Let them know how your relationship makes you feel and that they are important to you, but that you can’t continue on in this relationship the way it is. You need a change, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about wanting to free up some mental space and improve your mental health. 

Whether this is someone you are in a romantic relationship, a platonic relationship, or even if you are related, you have every right to want something more out of your relationship, especially if it makes you feel bad. 

Although people do grow, it is difficult for them to change. Some people may hear what you are saying but revert back to how they were after a few weeks. Don’t be afraid to pull away if that is what you need. 

Toxic relationships can really change the way you live your life, but it is still your life. Surround yourself with people that enhance your life and the way you live it. 

Diaper Blowouts: Is There Any Way To Avoid This Messy Situation?!

A newborn baby’s poop is a dark green, tar-like substance called meconium. It is sticky, icky, and takes some intense wiping to get off the skin. Despite how difficult it is to get off your loved one’s cute behind, it is quite minimal and it can fool first time parents into thinking the diaper situation may not be as bad as you thought.

In about a week, that meconium turns into liquid poop that fills a diaper faster than you thought possible.

At our baby shower, we received quite a few packs of newborn diapers. We weren’t fussy over the brands, we were just happy to have something else checked off the list, especially something we knew would be an ongoing expense.

The newborn diapers are so cute and tiny, it’s hard to think your baby is every that small to fit into them.We had five different brands of diapers to try:

The Honest Company, Parent’s Choice, Comforts, Pampers, Huggie’s Little Snugglers, and Huggie’s Little Snugglers Plus.

IMG_1791

A lot of things will factor in to the diapers parent’s choose. Price, ease of use, quality and quantity. I tried to take all these things into account when I purchased diapers for my daughter.

The Honest Company‘s diapers are extremely cute. They come in different designs, all the diapers in the pack varied in style from nautical with anchors and boats, farm themed with animals and barns, and other type of cute designs. As cute as these designs were, and as much as I loved seeing my daughter in them (especially since she is most comfortable in a diaper and nothing else) I had to stop myself from re-buying them for several reasons.

The first and most obvious reason was because these diapers aren’t available everywhere. I tend to do most of my shopping these days at Walmart and Costco, so if it can’t be bought there, in bulk, than I usually strike it from the list. The second reason was that although they are adorable, they don’t have the wetness indicator stripe which it a must for me. Having to peek into the diaper, or undo it to check if she needs a changing is uncomfortable for her, and usually resulted in a new diaper whether she needed one or not because of the tabs.

Parent’s Choice did have a wetness indicator strip, however I found the tabs didn’t always stay where I had fastened them. Also for whatever reason, once she peed (and she usually peed a lot) it would leak out by her legs, seeping into her clothes and wherever she was sitting. I nixed this brands pretty quick.

Comforts was a brand that was given to me for free at The Baby Show. They had a cute design with the alphabet and number blocks on them, and in all honesty they were pretty decent. I just had no idea where to buy them, so again I had to nix them from the list. Research proved that maybe they aren’t available in Canada.

The typical diaper debate usually boils down to Huggie’s vs. Pampers.

I tried both, and have had blowouts in both brands. (My daughter has managed to have a blowout in every brand mentioned above.)

56359720645__AE206BF8-CCED-4599-B9F3-093C79DC51A8-2

The main reason I didn’t like Pampers was because of the way their diapers are constructed.

The inside of the diapers have this mesh. It separates from the diaper when my daughter pees and seemed to get embedded in her butt or her privates which resulted in an abrasion type rash.

My daughter’s comfort is always the main reason I will buy anything, and this was the only brand that caused her to have a rash or irritability. There were days when I had to peel that netting/mesh away from her butt when I changed her. Not sure what the design is for, but I saw this as a huge flaw.

Huggies is the brand of choice in our house.

I will say that there is a Little Snugglers and a Litle Snugglers Plus and between the two, there may seem like there is little difference but we felt like the differences were enough to bump the Snugglers off the list and stick with the Plus version.

Both have this super absorbant and soft interior that put this brand above all the other’s. When you opened up the diaper, you could see the difference from all the other’s before you even touched it.

56390518943__19DBE5AF-E651-409C-AA3D-40A6EB2E5DCE

Both also have this elastic at the back waistline that is supposed to capture any runaway poop that dare seep up the back (this is a nice thought, but one that didn’t really workout for us). They both have the wetness indicator stripe, and very cute Disney themed designs (Winnie the Pooh for the Snugglers, and Mickey Mouse for the Snugglers Plus).

What made the difference to us was two things. The Plus had the size indicator on the waistband. When you hit the orange, you know it’s time to move up.

56390520895__B72B40CC-9BE3-4099-AFB8-1A2348339585

The fit was the other selling point. When you hold these diapers up to one another, the Plus seems smaller, even though the weight for the sizes are the same. This is because it is a slimmer design that tends to hug a little better. We found this resulted in less blowouts (it didn’t eliminate them completely).

So to answer the question of whether or not it is possible to avoid blowouts all together? The answer would be no. Unfortunately there are far too many factors. I find there is a difference depending on where my daughter is, if she is sitting or lying down when she goes, whether her back is pressed against something, or how long it has been since she went the last time.

Blowouts are going to happen, and although the diapers can minimize how many you have, we have yet to find one that keeps all her business where it should be. I would suggest always making sure the diaper is on properly and running your fingers along your baby’s legs once the diaper is on to be sure the elastics around the thighs are in the right place.

Sorry parents, blowouts are going to happen even in the best diapers. I would say as important as it is to choose what diapers feel right and fit best, it’s also important to invest in a really good stain remover/pre-treatment!

IMG_1768-1

 

Products I Can’t Do Without

As a new mom, bringing my daughter home was like stumbling around in the dark. I didn’t know what to expect, what she would need, how much time I would spend just existing with her in my arms.

There are a few products that have made my life infinitely easier. Ones that I didn’t think I would need so much, but know now that I can’t live without. Now, for those people reading who think I am getting paid to put all this stuff on here, no sir. These are things I have around my own house, things I had purchased for me by family or friends, or that I went out and got myself and they are things that I have used daily.

The first thing I have to put on the list because of how often I use it, is my baby carrier. The baby carrier was a super important thing for me because I am typically home by myself with my daughter all day and also have a fur baby that needs to go out on walks. Having to put her in the stroller, wait for the elevator with my dog and walk him (usually through the grass) with my stroller is not ideal. This is where having a carrier, and one you are comfortable with comes in handy.

I got the Infantino Cuddle Up Ergonomic Carrier With Hood.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 5.50.04 PM

This was a gift from my best friend that I received at my baby shower. I also had one of those wrap ones, but my number one fear was that I would wrap my baby incorrectly and she would suffocate or something else would happen to her. Would I tie it too tight and she couldn’t breathe? Would I tie it too loose and she would fall out? I just wasn’t comfortable with that style of carrier (although they are heavily praised by moms).

I love that it is sturdy, when she is strapped it I really feel like she is strapped in. I love that it is machine washable, can be worn on your front or on your back when they are larger, and the cute little hood (which can easily be removed) did come in handy when it was windy out on our walks. There is also a pouch for your hands when it’s cold, although I usually use this pouch for poop bags, my phone, or my keys.

We use this carrier three or four times a day depending on my husband’s work schedule. I also use it when she is being fussy at home and wants to be in my arms, but I have things to do like chores.

The second most important thing in our house is our Fisher-Price Woodland Friends Cradle ‘n Swing.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 5.56.26 PM

$150 CAD

We got ours from Walmart and it is worth every cent.

Let’s start with what it does. It swings baby in two directions, back and forth or side to side. The overhead mirror is a fun distraction for baby and is the centre of three owls that can be set to rotate with the touch of a button. You can set the speed in which you want baby to swing. This in itself was a game-changer for me. I liked that I could set it to swing faster when I knew she was being fussy and slow it down then she fell asleep. And if that wasn’t enough for you, it also plays music.

Right now I have the tray off the front as my daughter is only 7 weeks old. She has no use for it just yet and it just gets in the way of me taking her in and out, which depending on her mood may need to be done quickly. When your baby is a little older, that tray will be great, as you can use the beads there to distract them when the mobile isn’t enough, or you can even use it for snacks when the swing isn’t in motion.

The seat can be set to three different points depending on baby’s age. It can be used up until 9 months I believe… not sure about the weight limit.

Another thing that made this swing a done deal for my husband and I was the fact that it can just be plugged into the wall as opposed to needing batteries. This just made sense to us because we don’t often have D batteries lying around the house and the idea of our swing dying mid-use when baby is fussy and you are home alone and just need a moment had me grinding my teeth.

The reviews for this weren’t the best, and honestly, I have no idea why. This swing has saved me from meltdowns when I have been walking the halls trying to soothe my daughter when she has gas and I have to pee or haven’t eaten.

The other reason why I love this swing is because she is off the floor. When I need to run to the bathroom, I like that she is out of reach from our fur baby. When she is fussy, his kisses don’t help as much as he thinks.

When we were visiting my in-laws on the East Coast, there wasn’t a single room that didn’t have a rocker or glider of some kind. My daughter got so used to being rocked, everyone would joke that we would be in trouble when we got home to our rocker-less apartment. Boy, I can’t tell you how right they were.

Unfortunately, some rockers can cost upwards of $1000, and I just couldn’t justify spending that much knowing how much my daughter will need. So away to Walmart we went.

There we found Graco’s Glider and Ottoman.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 6.10.48 PM

$199.97 CAD

It is only available in the one colour. The wood is a darker espresso than pictured and the cushions are a lighter beige colour.

I can’t tell you how quickly we rushed out after arriving back home to pick this chair up. Our daughter told us all too quickly that she was no longer happy sitting on the couch with me anymore, she wanted to be in motion, and she wanted it now!

All the cushions are removable. The armrests and back cushion can be thrown right in the washing machine and the seat cushion can be spot cleaned. The cushion on the ottoman can’t be removed at all so I would suggest with the light cover, putting something over it or scotch-guarding it.

The pouches on the sides are great too to throw your phone or the TV remote in for the moments where baby is sleeping and you can’t move from where you are sitting without waking them.

I don’t want to overwhelm you guys with products, so I have one other thing that for us was a must.

SkipHop Moonlight & Melodies Nightlight

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 6.25.29 PM

$40 CAD

This little elephant is a bedtime helper. My daughter, much like my husband and I, is a night owl. Usually when she lies down in bed she is hesitant to drift off to sleep, especially if I want to go down before 11:00pm.

This little elephant plays music and has a number of other noises like rainforest, ocean waves, and even a heartbeat soundtrack that makes her think she is still in my tummy. Aside from that, it is a nightlight, the whole underbelly glowing softly which helps me during those late-night diaper changes or maneuvering her so I can breastfeed.

The trunk works as a projector and projects a stars and moons on the ceiling. This is the feature I am most thankful for. My daughter stares at them, and it tends to keep her quiet when she rouses in the night or when she refuses to go down to sleep right away. Before I was using it she would fuss and cry right away, but there have been several times a night when I look at her and she is bright-eyed, wide awake just staring at those stars.

This has definitely helped me get more sleep than I would without it.

I would say a lot of the other baby items we have accumulated in this short time we could easily do without, but these are ones I simply can’t get through the day without using and they have made our lives so much easier.

The other lifesaver has been my breast pump but I am going to do a seperate post just about breast pumps for those of you that aren’t sure which one is right for you.

These are just products that worked for me and my family. Every family is different and every baby likes different things. In terms of swings, I would maybe try out a few, see if you can borrow from friends to see which baby likes best. Knowing that my daughter tends to be a little picky with what she will calmly sit in, I bought from Walmart because you can return absolutely anything with a receipt, no questions asked. I figured if the swing didn’t work, I could always bring it back (however I did try another gliding type chair by fisher price as well as a vibrating one that didn’t work as well, and we knew she loved the motion of a swing from the rockers and gliders).

Finding the right products to make your life easier will definitely help keep you from feeling overwhelmed and help you get a few moments to yourself which is great for a new mom and her mental health.

 

Taking Baby Home

In the hospital, our daughter was quiet. She whined a little bit and cried when we would lie her down to change her, but other than that she mostly liked to be cuddled up to my husband and I, skin to skin, catching some major Zs.

Once we got her home, we noticed a change in her personality.

She was fussy. She didn’t like the bassinet we had in the room, because, as we would discover later, she didn’t like lying flat on her back. She didn’t like a lot of the little gadgets and gear we had gotten in hopes of her getting a good night’s sleep (and a nice sleep for my husband and I as well.)

Instead of the typical bassinet that she would grow out of in just a few months, we went with a playpen with the bassinet and change table attachment on top. Not only did she not like the bassinet, but she also didn’t like the changing table. We ended up having to bring her into the nursery to use the larger changing table.

Of the things she did like, she liked this Fisher Price rocking chair thingy. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is called because my brother handed it down to us. It has a base that is supposed to move the seat back and forth, but when we got it, the base didn’t work. However, the legs on the seat itself when you take it off the base are like little rocking chair legs, and she liked the way her body sunk into the seat and how her own movements could make the seat move.

Our thought for bedtime was to remove the bassinet and changing table attachments from the playpen and just sit that little chair in there. That way she was up where I could see her from the bed (and my dog wouldn’t fuss with her being on the floor), and she was secure in the frame of the playpen.

Genius! Or at least I thought.

Nope. As it so happens, the chair was all fine and good during the day, but absolutely unacceptable for bedtime.

She would lie in there for a few minutes before she would wake up and cry. Okay…

Now, all the articles and doctors will tell you that co-sleeping with your baby is dangerous. It increases the risk of SIDS and really should just be avoided all around. Trust me, I have read all the articles, I understand the risk and trauma of rolling over onto your new baby or having your baby tangled up in the sheets. When I was pregnant, I read through those articles and thought to myself ‘What in the world are these people thinking? Just have your baby in a bassinet beside your bed.’

When you actually become a parent, you realize just how ridiculous it is to think things are that simple.

When you are running on empty, and all you want is a mere thirty minutes of uninterrupted sleep, you will put your baby on your chest the way you know they like and doze off completely, forgetting all about those articles.

I am an extremely light sleeper, always have been. I used to wake up when my dog would wake up and move around the room before I was pregnant. Every little coo or deep breath my daughter takes I am aware of, even if I am sleeping. I am also the kind of person who has always slept on my back and doesn’t toss and turn. So the idea of letting her sleep on my chest for an hour while I caught a little bit of shut eye was not even something I thought of as dangerous.

It just made sense.

Over the past eleven days of having my daughter at home, I have noticed things that make her sleep routine easier.

My daughter does not like to wear anything but a diaper when she sleeps. It’s important to test the waters with a new baby, especially when it comes to their sleeping attire. So long as you keep your room a comfortable temperature for baby, there is no reason why they have to wear clothes to bed. If my daughter has so much as socks on her feet when she goes to bed, she will fuss until she gets them off.

My daughter can’t sleep in silence. I think we forget just how noisy it is for babies inside the womb. We assume they will want quiet when they sleep, but in our tummies they hear the constant beating of our hearts, every breath we take, not to mention some of the noises from out in the world are amplified for them in there. They have spent nine months with this constant soundtrack of sound, if you strip away all the noise for them on that first night home, it will be hard for them to settle.

My daughter can’t sleep in complete darkness. I am the kind of person that liked the room pitch black, black out blinds and silence (unless I was listening to my rainstorm sleep sounds). The first night we brought our daughter home, I crawled into bed in the dark and revelled in the silence after spending the past few days in the hospital with no sleep. My daughter however, was not as comfortable as me. She was up constantly, whining and searching for us. The womb is not completely dark either, so most babies do like a small amount of light while they sleep. We decided to go for some dim string lights behind the frame of our bed so it wasn’t so bright for mom and dad but was enough to make our daughter feel comfortable.

My daughter craves skin to skin. Skin to skin is so important to build a bond between you and baby in the first few months they are here. My daughter would curl into my husband and I at the hospital like a cat in the sun and go right to sleep. When she is being overly fussy at night, I take my shirt off and lay her on my chest and she is asleep in mere moments. I noticed she couldn’t initially fall asleep at bedtime without some cuddling. For now, this is okay, but it is something I am going to have to ween her off of as she gets older.

There is no spot in our whole house my daughter loves more than our bed. It has been 11 days since we took her home from the hospital and we have had just as many nights to try and find what works best for her and for us. At the end of the day, there is no spot that puts her to sleep more soundly, than a spot on our bed.

Look, I am not a doctor. I am not telling any new moms out there to co-sleep with their babies. I know the risks, trust me, I do! I am merely being honest with you guys and telling you what works for us.

IMG_1472

Regardless of what you decide is best for you, it is going to take some trial and error. If you do decide to co-sleep, make sure to give you baby enough space away from you to be sure you don’t accidentally roll onto your bundle of joy. Also, remove all the blankets from around baby (this above photo was taken before I did all of that). If you have the space on your bed, co-sleeping could work. If you are still too nervous, than maybe you will be successful where I wasn’t.

Good luck either way!

Feel free to get in touch with me and let me know how you are doing with your new baby!

 

A Sea of Wonder… and Worry

In the beginning of your journey towards becoming a parent, you compartmentalized. At that point, all you can think about is getting pregnant, or getting your baby however you decide to do it.

Everything in your life becomes a routine of temping, logging, scheduling. Maybe it becomes treatments, shots, dietary changes. For some it becomes an endless sea of paperwork and hoping. Maybe getting in touch with your religious side and doing a little praying.

Our journey to become parents is not always the same, but in the beginning our minds become consumed. All we can think about is the possibility of that baby, and hope that possibility will turn into reality sooner rather than later.

And then… it happens.

You are pregnant, or maybe you got accepted to be foster parents, or adoptive parents.

The part of your brain that had been running full steam all around the clock suddenly starts to shut down, and another part of your brain starts working.

You know, that part of your brain that over-thinks everything, the same part of your brain where worry and strife go to breed. Yeah, that part of your brain.

In the beginning of my pregnancy, I cut out everything that I thought was even remotely toxic. If not enough research had been done, it had to go. Why? Because I had finally gotten what I wanted and I would be damned if I screwed it all up because of something so silly as coffee, or deli meats.

The first trimester of pregnancy is stressful for some, it definitely was for me. Why? Because the risks of a miscarriage are high in the first trimester. It’s hard to know what little thing will be the thing that triggers our bodies into deciding now is not the time. Not to mention the first trimester tends to be the most difficult for most women.

Nausea, heartburn, bloating, gas, constipation, dizziness… the list is endless for some and to top it all off, you can add stressing and over thinking.

When you finally cross over the line from your first trimester into your second. You sigh a little sigh of relief. Just a little one. Because although you feel like you can see your way out of the woods, you aren’t quite out yet.

Now you move into making sure your baby is healthy. There are genetic tests, anatomy scans, all these things that have your anxiety kicking into overdrive.

When you first get pregnant, they do a full blood and urine workup. This determines first and foremost that you are pregnant. It also determines you are STD free and tests the levels in your blood for certain things like anemia, your blood type, all this stuff that will help them decide whether you will require further testing.

For the most part, my tests came back good in my first trimester. I was anemic, but that was something I had known for over a decade, so that was nothing new. Aside from that, all was good and I could store my anxiety and worry away until my second trimester.

It seems like the most testing they do is for chromosomal defects. I am sure they test for a lot of other things, but it seemed like whenever I asked, the test or measurements that were being taken were to determine whether my baby would have chromosomal defects. The measurements taken of our babies neck to see if there is increased fluid in that area or if the area is thicker than anticipated, is one way they can determine if your baby will be born with Down Syndrome. The measurements of the nose can also tell them if your baby is high risk to be born with Down Syndrome.

A lot of these tests are to see if your child will be born with Trisomy 18, as opposed to the Trisomy 21 which is the extra chromosome that is found in people with Down Syndrome. Trisomy 18 is scary to think about when you are pregnant because it means that the extra 18 chromosome can disrupt the normal patterns of your baby’s development which can be life threatening.

I think what bothered me most about these tests, is that they don’t come out with a clear negative or positive. They give you a percentage, and your doctor uses that percentage to determine whether you are high or low risk. Regardless of whether you are high or low, you can still give birth to a baby with chromosomal abnormalities.

My pregnancy was exciting, I felt like I was standing in a heavy rainstorm of joy and anticipation but suddenly, with all this new information, I could see rain clouds closing in.

I have read all the mom forums, I have read all the comments and questions and fears about pregnant moms who were afraid their children would be born with Trisomy 18 or 21. Surprisingly, a lot of these comments were met with negativity. People said things like “So what?” “There are worse things in the world than having a child with Trisomy 18 or 21.” “Be thankful you are pregnant!

Even though I can understand where these comments are coming from, I don’t think people are really thinking about how stressful it is to be pregnant. You are holding scales up before you and you are trying to balance your worry and your happiness every single day. It doesn’t make you a bad person to worry about these things, just like it doesn’t make you a bad person to want your child to be healthy.

Only 50% of babies with Trisomy 18 will be born alive, and of those 50% only 10% can make it past their first birthdays. I have read that a small amount of that 10% makes it to adulthood… mostly girls. That is a lot of information to take in and to see some moms of healthy babies shame women who are pregnant for fretting and losing sleep over the chances their baby will have Trisomy 18 seems heartless and misplaced.

Trisomy 21 in this day and age shows a great survival rate. I know and have worked with a great deal of Down Syndrome children and teens to know there are different levels of functionality, some of which can live almost independently. However, 1 in every 2 children born with Trisomy 21 will be born with a hole in their heart that will differ in severity. Some will close on their own, but other’s will require surgery to close it. If it heals and is closed correctly, that is wonderful, if not they may have heart problems their whole life.

Now you may be wondering, why is she so stuck on the Trisomy tests? It seems to be something not too many people worry about during pregnancy, what is her hang up?

Well, my sister just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy with Trisomy 21. She had taken all the same tests I did and the doctors had told her she was relatively low risk. Later, they noted an abnormality in his heart, but told her it was something she shouldn’t worry too much about. Fast forward to Mother’s Day, a month before you due date and she had an emergency C-Section.

A C-section alone is a lot to make a lot of moms to be nervous. Especially if they had spent a lot of time on a birth plan that stated natural birth, a month later than the day you are told you will have one. Then they tell her her baby looks as though he may have Trisomy 21 and they will have to run additional tests. Then they tell her he has a hole in his heart that is too large to close on it’s own.

It is a lot to take in during the moments after giving birth.

Up until this moment, I had taken my doctor’s word. She had told me the tests gave me a good percentage which meant I was in the lowest of the low when it came to my baby’s risks for chromosomal abnormalities. Suddenly, my anxiety was in hyper-drive.

Fear ate up a great deal of my mind.

The sea of wonder I had been sailing on became rough. It darkened and became tough to navigate.

Just another part of pregnancy that I don’t think a lot of people talk about enough. On top of all the embarassing symptoms, the constant changes to your body, the mood swings, the emotional rollercoaster that just keeps going around and around, there is also all the risks.

Before my pregancy I was not the type of person that worried about these types of things. I was the kind of person who would wait for ailments to clear on their own, I would shrug off misfortunes, I would just keep powering through life when I stumbled or fell.

In pregnancy, I have never felt more helpless.

Why don’t we talk about the helplessnes?

We live in an age where mental health is becoming less of a stigma. I think it’s also important to talk about the changes in your mental wellbeing while you are pregnant. Sometimes I hear my own thoughts and feel like they are the thoughts of a stranger.

Normally I chalk it all up to the hormones and move on. However there are days where I feel blue and it is overwhelming and all consuming. Untriggered, but ever-growing.

I can’t even pretend to know what is going on with me mentally. What I can say for sure, is the amount of anxiety I feel sometimes in pregnancy is the same kind of anxiety I felt after I got hit by a car three years ago. The way my heart would pound at the very thought of crossing the street was crippling.

Does everyone feel this way during pregnancy? I have looked through the twitter feeds, I have read the forums, I have tried to find a group to see for myself if this is common or not.

We are all on this sea, just trying to navigate towards our happy endings. Trying to sail towards the rainbow that will be our children.

For now, I will just keep sailing and hope to make my way through.

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.

So, I’m Pregnant- How To Tell Your Boss

When I first began trying to get pregnant, I wondered how the conversation with my bosses would go. I do not work in an office, I do not work for a big company where I could shrug my shoulders at the idea of taking time off, calling in sick, or revealing that I would be going on maternity leave for a year.

I work for this great couple with five year old twins as their nanny. I have worked for them for over two years and although there have been some long hours, some hair pulling breaking of habits and I have gone through every test against my patience that you ever could imagine, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It is a Monday to Friday job, but there are some days when I am with the kids for over ten hours depending on whether or not they go to school (there were a lot of sick days early on).

At previous jobs, telling them I was pregnant would have been easy. I would have requested to have a word with them in private, gone into a superior’s office where I would have told them about my pregnancy and my intention to leave towards the end.

What do you do when there are no offices? When you get about fifteen minutes a day with your employers to talk to them before running out the door while dinner is being put on the table? I racked my brain trying to find the right time, trying to find the right words.

Firstly, I do strongly believe in waiting until you are out of your first trimester before telling your employer you are pregnant, unless your job may put you at risk during your pregnancy. I believe in this so strongly that I didn’t even tell my sister about my pregnancy until I was 15 weeks pregnant. I tell my sister absolutely everything.

We told our parents when I was 16 weeks pregnant and then we told my job after that.

In a normal job, I would have told my supervisor I needed to speak with them. Sent an email before hand to let them know I needed them to clear ten to fifteen minutes for a discussion. Then I would professionally tell them about my pregnancy and my plans moving forward. I do think at this time, it would be a good time to discuss doctor’s appointments if you work a typical 9-5 job. It would also be a good time to discuss modified duties if you typically lift a lot of do strenuous work.

My job is not particularly normal. I approached my boss in the kitchen about five minutes before I had to leave when he had just come in from work. I noted the kids were both out of ear shot and told him I needed to have a word with him and his wife. Now, we have a very open, honest relationship. So of course when I said this, right away his interest was piqued and he wanted to know everything, just them. It wasn’t how I had planned it. I had planned returning after the kids had gone to bed and speaking with both of them, but I told him right there, because it would have been awkward to do anything else.

In the days leading up to this, my nerves were shot. I played through the conversation over and over again in my head. I wondered if they would be disappointed. I know how much they depend on my and in a small way I felt as though I were letting them down. I wondered if they would be frustrated. Sure, I had given them ample time to find a replacement, but replacing a nanny is no easy task. When it boiled right now to it, the heaviest weight on my shoulders was the kids finding out I was leaving.

My social circle has gotten smaller and smaller over the years, and majority of my time is spent with these two kids who tell me everything, who look to me for lessons and guidance, who tell me their silly jokes, lean on me when they are tired or sad. In a way, I felt like they were mine. The realization that a day was coming where they suddenly wouldn’t be, was heartbreaking.

It would be someone else wiping away their tears, someone else giving them a stern look when they are being difficult, someone else rubbing boo-boos, and telling stories. How long would it be before they forgot all about me, just as they had their previous nanny?

Telling the people I worked for was a lot, but they took it well and have been nothing but supportive after. We didn’t tell the twins then. I felt it wasn’t my place to tell them, and their parents wanted to wait until later in the school year, when the excitement of summer clouded everything else they were being told.

Keeping such a big secret from two really important people in my life was such a task. It left me tired, had me biting my lip to keep from letting it slip, and it just made me feel heavy.

Every day I pretended everything was normal, wishing and hoping that this would be the weekend they found out.

Being an adult is hard. You have to pretend to know what you’re doing and when big things happen to you, you have to pretend they didn’t until the timing is right. There is this whole conduct of doing things, everyone seems to fall in line, like sheep but no one really knows who the shepherd is. We do it, because that’s what is done. Plain and simple.

Regardless of how you do it, how it all works out for you, I hope you keep sight of the horizon. Remember what is coming, what you are moving towards and keep at it. You are going to be a mom soon, and there really isn’t anything more important. In our own small way, we shape the world.

So could you at least pretend to know what you’re doing?

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 8.45.54 PMScreen Shot 2018-05-23 at 8.46.21 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 9.04.13 PMScreen Shot 2018-05-23 at 9.04.57 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 9.11.33 PMScreen Shot 2018-05-23 at 9.12.10 PM

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.

Boy Or Girl?

I found out I was pregnant on January 16th, 2018. At the time, I was so excited and completely wrapped up in the new idea that I was finally pregnant, that I didn’t think too much beyond that.

I had this new, exciting secret.

I was pregnant.

However, as more time passed and my OCD started to kick into full gear I began to think about everything. Every outcome, good and bad. I researched and planned it all, every path my mind could have thought up.

When the dust settles, and you battle your way through all the fits of worry and endless planning, you stop and think about one simple thing; boy or girl?

You have this life growing inside you and you want to bond with it. You want a link and you want to start calling your little kiwi by the name you have chosen but will most likely keep to yourself for a few more months. This is a little difficult when you are constantly calling the baby it.

Typically, they say the gender is best revealed during your second trimester ultrasound, somewhere between 20-25 weeks. It was long before my 20th week when I started painting these mental images of my life and the small differences the sex of my unborn baby would make.

If you are a whimsical person, there are a few different things you can do to “determine” the sex of the baby before that ultrasound. You can pee in a cup of baking soda and water, whether or not it bubbles determines boy or girl. You can use the Chinese Gender Calendar method, which seems to be successful just as often as it is wrong.

I didn’t do any of these things. I hate having blurred answers. I hate the idea of maybes. I opted to wait for my second trimester ultrasound to determine the sex of our baby, however that didn’t stop my mind from wondering.

Turning to the forums that both kept me sane and shook my sanity, depending on the day, I decided to take a poll. Not to find out what everyone was having, but to find out what they hoped they were having.

When I was younger, I always liked the idea of having a baby girl. My reasoning was because I thought my life would be like the Gilmore Girls. I would be best friends with my daughter, we would be completely wrapped up in one another’s worlds and although we would disagree at times, we travelled through life together and our paths always worked their way back to one another.

My own mother described the differences between having daughters and sons to me. She always told me that raising girls was hard, it was an uphill battle from the time they could talk back to the time they were teenagers and eventually moved out. Similar, we were often at odds with my mother (my sister a lot more than I was). Raising boys, she said was a lot simpler. They were easier to entertain, they were like whirlwinds that seemed to leave everything slightly askew but they were easier. However, when they got older, they grew apart. They fell in love, and they created their own families, often forgetting about their mother, or leaving her a smaller role in their lives as their partner was usually close to their own parents. (Again, this is not always the case, just her opinion.)

Daughters, if you raised them right, grew up to eventually become companions. They were people that could sit with you, have a glass of wine and discuss life. They were phone calls you would spend hours on, just discussing your life and the ups and downs of it all.

Either way, raising children is an adventure.

According to the polls that I set out, it seems a lot of women these days would disagree with my mother. A lot of women want sons. This made a lot of sense to me.

I have worked with children all my life. I have been baby-sitting since I was twelve years old, long before parents asked for references and experience. I was a camp councillor, a daycare teacher, and even a nanny. My life, at one point or another, always seemed to be evolving around children.

In my own personal experience, I too felt like boys were easier. I helped my mother raise two of my brothers. Whenever a female cousin would be left in my care I would always groan at the idea of having to watch them. They always seemed like more work, like I needed to keep them entertained, always interacting with them. Boys kept themselves busy, almost a little too well and often they needed to be told to take a break from it all.

The poll had me wondering; “Why have a preference at all?” Are mother’s falling into the whole Mama’s Boy/ Daddy’s Girl lines? Children are blank slates when we get them, rough pieces of clay yet to be molded into anything, aren’t they?

Their very personalities are formed by influence. By the things we allow into their lives to shape them. Sure, sometimes children fight the molding we are doing, they become what they are to spite us rather than because of us, but even that is something we’ve done in a way.

So what does the gender of our babies matter?

When I was younger, when I had everyone else children and before I was pregnant with a child of my own, I thought I knew. It all seemed so simple to me. Boys seemed to be more fun.

Yet, meeting the right little girls has shown me first hand that there are girls that aren’t divas in training. There are adventurous, rambunctious, imaginative, wild and free little girls that make me smile and think; “Hell yeah, I want that!”

As far as I am concerned at this point of my pregnancy, the sex of my baby doesn’t matter. Healthy and happy, that is really all I want.

I’ll let you know what I think later (I will be honest, I am happier with the baby girl name we have chosen than the baby boy name, and my husband’s suggestions make me realize he will get absolutely no say in anything :P) when I actually do find out the sex of my baby.

Until then, I will pretend I know what I am talking about, and tell you that the gender of your baby is irrelevant.