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!!

Our Transition To Solids

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

Being a parent is completely unpredictable.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank goodness!

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

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

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

Then, she got sick.

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

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

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

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

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

It was rough!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relationships are work!

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

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

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

In short, it is most definitely possible.

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

 

8 Months A Mommy

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

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

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

8 whole month. Holy moly!

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

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

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

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

Write soon!

Raising A Baby In The Age Of Tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Mother’s Day Bliss

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

I am a mother.

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

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

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

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

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

Today, I gave my daughter all of my time.

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

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

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

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

Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!

Crawling: Is It A Milestone To Push?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I should have noticed this a while ago.

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what does that mean?

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

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

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

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

7 Months A Mommy

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

What has happened in the last month?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to parenting!

A New, Emotional Me

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

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

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

Discomfort seemed never-ending.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are beautiful! You are strong!

You can do this!