The Mental and Emotional Weight of Milestones On Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rainy Day Madness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We were in for four.

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

And my child is only one.

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

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

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

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

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

I guess time will tell.

Trading Sleep For Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dreaded Routine

When you first get pregnant and are preparing for your baby to come along, the main thing a lot of parents will preach to you is consistency and routine. You have to keep a routine, you have to be consistent to get your baby on any kind of schedule.

For parents who are successful at that, I tip my hat to you. For those that aren’t, you are my kind of people.

In the beginning, I have to admit I was far too exhausted to come up with any type of routine or stick to it. I was a first-time mom and like most first time parents, the threat of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) meant I spent a lot of the time too afraid to let my daughter sleep on her own. This meant that I let the window of opportunity close to make my daughter’s sleeping routine more independent.

There were a lot of things that went into my thought process at the beginning. Sure, I was told that babies should sleep on their own, even my doctor was pushing me to get her into that crib. Yet, despite what they were all suggesting, I trusted my gut. I knew that women had been delivering babies since the beginning of time, I also knew that cribs were something of the modern age, and before that, a baby slept peacefully nestled in their mother’s bosom. Knowing this told me that co-sleeping wasn’t the bad thing everyone made it out to be.

In truth, parenting has been changed over time to fit the modern woman. I understand the need for these changes, what I don’t understand is how we’ve completely ignored history and tried to shun those who stick to the basics.

Babies need attention. Babies need to be comforted when they are crying. Telling yourself otherwise is denying how we evolve and grow as people. Knowing all this, I put myself at the every demand of my daughter.

There are some parents who will tell me this is a mistake, and they are absolutely allowed to their opinion, just as I am equally allowed to ignore it. If I am only going to have one baby, I want to devote all my time and effort into that baby. I don’t want to take the easy route simply because it’s there. I know co-sleeping has made the transition into a crib or solo-sleeping more difficult, but that is countless more hours I have gotten to spend bonding with my baby. I know solely breastfeeding has made my daughter way fussier when it comes to bottles and cups, but again, that is time I wouldn’t have wanted to spend any other way.

Parenting isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and effort. Whatever decisions you make when raising your child are yours to make.

Routine in the beginning felt impossible, and our routine now may seem non-existent, but it is there. I feel like because it doesn’t fit the typical routine, a lot of people may not see it.

To be perfectly honest, at this point in my daughter’s life, her mood affects a lot of our routine. Why? Because although some people would much rather power through with their routine to make their lives easier, I have opted to let my daughter set the pace. My hope is if I move with the ebb and flow of her moods right now, we will both have a better day.

If she wants to sleep in a little longer, than she sleeps in a little longer. If she is fussy at night and wants to stay up a little longer, we do that too. We don’t always go down for naps at the exact time, we don’t schedule our walks based on the time but rather on whether or not her attitude is telling me she needs one.

My daughter is overly fussy. She is stubborn, and she is relentless. What this means is sticking to schedule and a set routine means that she spends the entire day fighting it. She will constantly whine in moments she is not crying. She will throw her weight around to resist doing anything she doesn’t want to do.

For all those parents reading this and thinking; Well, if you stuck to a schedule, this wouldn’t be a problem I will simply say, you haven’t lived my life. I tried the schedule thing for almost a month and it was a month of the most miserable baby and mommy you would have ever come across. I woke up every morning with this dread to face each day.

I didn’t like being a mother when we were on a routine. I was constantly tired and worn out, I was having anxiety attacks that would bring me to tears, I didn’t have patience for my daughter, and I was just in misery. I kept searching for answers, reading mommy forums and blogs, and was depressed when I couldn’t find anyone I could relate to. Every parent out there seemed to be slapping this beautiful coat of pain on their parenting experience which just left me feeling guilty.

Why wasn’t I enjoying being a mom?

Well, it’s because that routine every parent was standing so solidly behind isn’t for everyone and it’s sad there aren’t more resources out there to tell moms and new parents that it’s absolutely okay if the routine doesn’t work for you.

That calendar that you feel like a failure for not sticking to, throw it away. Be the best parent you can in the way you know-how. Trust what you feel, because chances are, that is the right thing to do.

I do not let my daughter cry it out, and for parents who tell me it’s good for her, I give them the simple answer. It’s not good for me. And in parenting, what is not good for you, is not good for your baby, plain and simple.

That cry my daughter does that so many parents have told me is good for her, fills me with an anxiety I almost can’t push through. It physically brings me to tears, and when I hold my baby after all of that, she can sense it, and it changes her whole mood. That can’t be good for either of us.

When we sleep together, I may get a foot in my mouth, an elbow to the nose, or random pinches and bites when she crawls over to me, but the sleep I actually get is sound because I am not worried about whether or not she is breathing, or okay every single moment of the night. I can feel she is, and that comfort is good for both of us.

There are so many people out there who have been parents, so many with wisdom they are constantly throwing at you thinking they are giving you gold, and almost offended when you don’t take it. What’s important to note is, yes, they have raised kids before, but they have never raised your kid. There is no manual for flawlessly raising a baby because these are living, breathing beings with their own thoughts and emotions. Every tiny body works differently, so that routine you are constantly telling me to get on, won’t work for every one of them.

My advice to new parents is to find your happy place in parenting. Ignore everything they tell you parents should be doing and just feel it out. You will know what is right because what feels right for you is what is right for your baby.

Whatever schedule or lack-there-of works for you is what is going to work for your family. And remember that it is something that will constantly change as your baby grows.

You are a wonderful parent. You know what to do!

 

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!!

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!

 

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!

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 3: New Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are amazing.

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

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

Why?

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

So, this is day 3 of 66.

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

66 days.

I can do this!