Highs & Lows – Week of February 6th

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I’m so so excited that it is finally Friday – it’s been a rough week anxiety wise and I’m really looking forward to having Mer around to give me a small break this weekend. I think I might head to a local coffee shop tomorrow and treat myself to a cappuccino and a much needed emotional/physical break from my role as mom. I feel awful that I’m so desperately craving a break from my kid but it’s just been such a rough week (sleep training, teething, general fussiness coupled with my own anxiety issues) that I just need some time to sit and just be me and not mom for a few hours.

Highs

[1] Margs slept in her pack and play 4 nights this week. This is HUGE since we couldn’t even put her down anywhere but our bed without having her wake up screaming. She hasn’t slept through the night yet but the physical separation means that Mer and I are finally sleeping in the same bed again. We’ll take it – even if it means getting up 2-3 times per night to help soothe her back to sleep. Eventually, we hope she’ll be able to self soothe. But, for now we’re celebrating this small victory.

[2] My meal prep on Sunday has made dinners this week an absolute breeze. I prepped a cottage pie, baked fried chicken, pork chops in a white wine mushroom sauce, Mediterranean chicken, rice with lentils, broccoli rab & green beans. Dinner has been basically been heat and serve – there’s no mess to clean and it makes our evening routine with Margs much more relaxed an easy to manage. Is anyone interested in the recipes? If so, I’d be more than willing to post them on the blog. Just let me know!

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[3] We celebrated Margs’ 14th month birthday this week. It’s truly amazing to watch her grow. It seems like she’s changing by the minute. She’s currently walking, talking and exploring like it’s nobodies business. She continues to amaze me every single day.

Lows

[1] I’m feeling rather isolated most days which isn’t good for my anxiety because it gives me far too much time to think and feed the spiral. I should try and immerse myself in our small community and start going to play groups with Margs again or find another activity we can join that will give us both the opportunity to socialize but winter in the Canadian north sucks guys – it makes going out so difficult.

[2] I’m over winter. I’m nursing a very sore shoulder thanks to having to chip 2 inches of ice from our driveway. I used to love winter but now it’s just hard. The cold, the unpredictable weather, the crazy amounts of baby gear needed to keep Margs warm and safe. Some days it’s just easier to avoid heading out at altogether. It’s pretty but totally not practical.

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[3] I’m struggling with my own sleep patterns. I’ve never been a great sleeper but recently it’s been increasingly difficult to fall asleep at night. I’m sure our horrible sleep situation wasn’t helping. There are far too many nights where I find myself awake binge watching Netflix hoping I’ll doze off. Some nights that means no sleep until 3-4 am.

[4] I’m still trying to find an allergist to have Margs tested. I’m so incredibly frustrated that one, not one clinic has called me back and that two, we might have to wait up to 2 years to find out if she is in fact allergic to blueberries because the wait list is that long. Socialized health care really sucks sometimes. In the meantime, we’ve got an epi-pen and we’re avoiding blueberries. I’m just worried there are other allergies we don’t know about.

So there you have it, my highs and lows for this week!

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of February 6th?

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My authentic experiences of motherhood

When I was pregnant I never gave much thought to the actual act of parenting. I didn’t read parenting books, I didn’t look ahead, I didn’t sit there and sketch out a plan of how I would raise my little girl. My history is 100% to blame for my reluctance to face the fact I was actually going to become a Mum to a living child so as you can probably imagine I had no clue what was awaiting me when she joined us earth side last December.

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I spent so much of my time convincing myself I’d lose her that thinking through what parenting actually meant to me was unfortunately not my priority. When she arrived I was frazzled, insecure and terrified because I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea how to care for this perfect tiny human.

Enter the internets where motherhood and parenting are glammed up to look like the interior pages of some glitzy mommy magazine . I perused pinterest, facebook and instagram and was horrified by how “put together”, “perfect” and “easy” all these expert Mums made the task of caring for a little one appear.

I later started interacting with other mums. Some rainbow mums, some not and it became pretty clear that my feelings of exhaustion, insecurity and terror were far more common than the interwebz led me to believe. Motherhood is hard work and the internet can be a bold faced liar making it appear to be an easy task. This idea that moms need to have it “together” all of the time is absolutely ridiculous and so incredibly damaging to moms like me who sometimes struggle with the demands of motherhood.

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So, I wanted to share my authentic experiences of motherhood with you today and I hope you’ll share yours with me too. Some will probably make you cringe- others laugh? (hopefully) and I hope that if you’re a new mum feeling like you’re drowning this post will help you realize that you’re not alone.

My kiddo is nearly 14 months old and some days I’m still left wondering what the hell I’m doing.

/ Wishing time would stop and simultaneously speed up at the same time. Being exhausted all the time often leads me to wish the day away, then I feel guilty because I should focus on savoring every single moment. They’re only little once right?

/Abandoning my personal care regime and strangely being okay with it. Pre-baby I was insanely vain about my hair, makeup and clothing. Today, my hair is always tied (in the early days I legit developed dread locks because of how many days I went without actually combing it – I’ve since gotten a shorter more manageable cut), I wear zero makeup and live in mom tights. Most days my legs are unshaven and my socks don’t match.

/ Prioritizing happy and quiet baby over clean and freshly changed baby. Sometimes she’s so peaceful and content playing with books or puzzles that I leave her sitting in her poop to avoid a diaper change mega meltdown. She absolutely hates having her butt cleaned – think arched back, red faced screaming hates it.

/ Pretending to be fast asleep when Margs wakes up for a night feed. I don’t always do this but some nights I’m just so tired that I hear her and pretend I don’t. Mer is a saint and takes care of it. I think he’s on to me too.

/Heading out for 30 minutes of free time in the evenings to just get away and clear my head. Drug stores are my favorite because I peruse the aisles, try on different perfumes and listen to music on my i-Pod. Oh my god. I cannot believe I’ve actually just told you that!

/Awkwardly bursting out into children’s songs at the most inopportune times. I recently started singling “if allllll the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops – ohhhhhh what a rain that would be” in the grocery store. Outloud. By myself.

/ Planning to do creative, stimulating, entertaining and otherwise amazing activities with my kiddo only to burn out by 1pm and abandon ship. I try my best but some days the best I can do is play puzzles, read books and hope for an extra long afternoon nap.

/ Loving this child so fiercely and deeply it hurts. Margs is my blessing, my miracle, my world. It doesn’t  mean that parenting her is easy though. Some days are awesome and other days are hard but ultimately I’m learning to be okay with doing the best I possibly can. Motherhood aint about perfection folks.

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Now tell me, what are your authentic experiences with motherhood?

My tiny piece of internet real estate

Aaaand another week starts. Happy Monday folks! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

When I started this blog just over 2 months ago I wasn’t really sure if it would be something I’d stick to long-term. I know that I felt like I needed a place to write and that I wanted to connect with other like-minded individuals but above and beyond that I had no idea where my blogging journey would take me and whether it would even be something I’d enjoy doing.

There was fear because I’m really an open book (too much so sometimes) and I worried about oversharing. There was apprehension because I’m really just a run of the mill stay at home mom with nothing extraordinary or exciting to share since most days are fairly predictable and mundane. Yet, every time I open my dashboard to write a new post I feel myself drawn to writing about our debt-repayment journey, our struggles to bring Margs into the world, saving money and how living a simple and minimalist life continues to bring me happiness and reduce my anxiety.

If you’re subscribed to my blog – thank you. If you take the time to comment, like and email me – thank you. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough but please know that I read every email, every comment and am beyond grateful for every like and subscription here on This Tiny Blue House.

I reached 1000 followers on Friday and I’m still in disbelief because I never imagined anyone would really want to read what this stay at home mum had to say. I’m beyond grateful that each and every one of you has given me prime real estate in your reader and take the time to read my posts! Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

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My 2 month blog anniversary is literally a nano-second in the great big world of blogging. Some bloggers have years, even decades under their belt and my tiny little piece of blogging real estate is still very much in its pre-infancy.

As my blog grows a little and starts to take shape, I’m beginning to realize that I really enjoy sharing my ideas with you fine folks. I enjoy reading other blogs, commenting and building a sense of community in this vast space we call the internets.

But what I couldn’t figure out these last couple of months was what compelled me to blog in the first place; what pushed me to register This Tiny Blue House on that fateful day in November? So, today I want to share the 5 reasons I’ve discovered fuel my desire to share my life with you lovely people.

1. I want to give my loss history a voice. I hope to share the message that although devastating a happy life after child loss is possible. I’ve grown a ton emotionally since we first lost our twins and I know that I want to spread awareness about baby loss. Lost pregnancies happen more often than we’d like to acknowledge and I’m hoping that other loss moms who find their way here will see that after the raw devastation subsides a little – putting the pieces back together is possible. It just takes time to adopt a “new normal”.

2. I want to share my imperfect experiences with motherhood. I’m still figuring out this parenting thing. Raising Margs is proving to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’d like to continue blogging transparently about how difficult it is to parent a child when you suffer from anxiety. I’d like to continue sharing my struggles with my parenting decisions and choices. I’ll never claim to have all the parenting answers because I just don’t. I’m figuring out this motherhood thing as I go and trying to be the best version of myself I can throughout the process.

3. I want to talk about how we live a frugal lifestyle and how we manage our day to day life on less than 1000$ per month. I’ve already discussed how we’ve gotten ourselves out of  hefty credit card debt but haven’t really touched on how we spend our money on a monthly basis. I’d love to show you fine folks that it is possible to live well, eat well and enjoy life on a 1000$ a month budget. We’re by no means experts but we’ve found a way to save money and live what we consider a relatively comfortable lifestyle for about 1000$ per month. I look forward to sharing more about that part of our lives with you.

4. I want to discuss how simplicity has changed our lives. We were once the “worst” type of consumers, living a life of gross gross excess. Scaling back our spending to pay off our debt taught us so many valuable lessons about what truly makes us happy. I’d love to share how we overcame the need to “keep up with the Joneses” and accept that we’re the happiest versions of ourselves when we have less stuff.

5. I want to give you a peak into the life of our run of the mill imperfect family, living on a lower-middle class income. I’d love to share my experiences with marriage (Mer and I argue), finances (we still worry about money), parenting (I’m just terrible at it some days) and cooking (I make a few good go-to meals on a budget). In a nutshell, I’d like to share our very ordinary life with you without creating the illusion that we’ve got it all together which we just don’t – probably never will.

So thank you thank you thank you for reading, communicating and exchanging ideas with me. I look forward to continuing on this journey and I hope that you decide to come along!

If you’d like to keep in touch outside the blog feel free to follow me on twitter, instagram & pinterest.

Why do you blog? I’d love to hear what pushed you to create your blog and why you keep at it!

Double rainbow

It’s been a long and anxious week.

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I’ve really been struggling and it’s apparent in basically everything I do. I have far less energy and so everything around me suffers: the house isn’t tidy, Margs watched more t.v than usual because my thoughts have been elsewhere and I’ve been struggling to really live in the moment.

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Can we get personal for a minute?

I’m anxious and completely overwhelmed because despite my history, I think I might want to try and have another baby.

Until very recently, I was adamant that Margs would be an only child because of the hardships we’ve faced, the complexity of my pregnancy and the consuming fear that comes from being pregnant with an incompetent cervix.

Then, suddenly, I got this intense urge to have another baby and experience pregnancy again despite how unconventional and restrictive it was. I started to think that maybe facing all the frustration that comes from trying again, dealing with the hospitalization, the stitch placement, the bed rest and the paralyzing fear of losing another child would be worth it if there was even a tiny chance that we could be blessed with a second living child.

But how?

How would I manage? Who would help me? How would I continue to raise Margs if I couldn’t lift her or walk? Would my mother in law and mother be willing to step in and mind precious Margs while I gestate her sibling? Will we end up facing more losses? Can we handle that? Can our marriage? On and on and on.

We’re in a good place right now. We’re beyond grateful that Margs is here with us and at certain points when I remind myself of that, I decide that I do not under any circumstances want to tempt fate. Then, some maternal desire to have more children overpowers and I start thinking that maybe we should try – we’ve been through so much already, we could handle the worst case scenario even though heartbreaking.

I’m 35, Mer is 40. We’re not exactly in a situation where we can spend the next 5 years sorting this out and make a decision. Mer is on board with having more children but rightly worries about how the next pregnancy would unfold given the circumstances.

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At this point, we’ve discussed it and ultimately he’s leaving the ball in my court – talk about pressure. For the moment, I’m handling this by reminding myself of some very wise advice I was once given by another loss mom with regards to knowing when it would be the right time to try again after miscarriage

“the time is right when your fear of losing another child is outweighed by the desire to bring home a baby”.

I’m not quite there yet – fear, enormous amounts of fear and worse case scenarios continue to unfold in my head.

Mums, when did you know you were ready to try for a second child?

Rainbow mums, how did you know you were ready to face the roller coaster again?

 

 

10 tips to survive bed rest from a former bed-rester

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Me at 22 weeks. Day 54 of bedrest.

When Mer and I embarked on our journey to start a family way back in 2012 we never imagined where that road would take us. We naively thought that every pregnancy led to a take home baby and that pregnancy complications were rare – so rare in fact, that we’d never be affected.

Sadly, we we became a statistic and were faced with cervical incompetence, repeat pregnancy loss, a uterine septum and then some strange form of secondary infertility that was never explained.

When we finally got pregnant again in 2015 the plan was simple: cervical cerclage at 14 weeks and strict home bed rest for 23 weeks with the threat of hospitalization if I didn’t follow the rules. My doctor was intense; she was on a mission to get my rainbow here full-term and so her plan was more conservative than most.

I took 22 pills per day, held my breath and gestated horizontally for 161 days.

I took one seated shower per week for a maximum of 10 minutes. I walked only to use the washroom and ate laying down. One day when I was bored I timed myself – I spent 17 minutes on my feet over a 24 hour period. 16 steps to the bathroom and 16 steps back.

It was hard. I’ll never lie and say it was easy. However, I do think I made the best of it by keeping my eye on the prize and reminding myself what the alternative could be. I was determined not to be a statistic again.

Here are a few tips that I’ve come up with. These are things I did that really contributed to keeping me sane and in the best possible head space considering the circumstances.

1/ Stations.

Mer set up bed rest stations for me throughout the house. We lived in a one floor apartment and the distance from washroom to the bedroom, kitchen, living room, patio and nursery was virtually the same. He hunted down a couple of lawn chairs that reclined back completely. This allowed me to eat in the kitchen, spend time outdoors and spend time in the nursery.

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The change of physical space was crucial for me. It gave me the opportunity to create a routine that made my days structured which normalized my unusual situation. When on bed rest small things like eating with your family, spending time outdoors or being able to read a book somewhere other than your bed is a huge highlight in your day.

2/ Routine.

Establishing a routine was key. My days included scheduled self care, internet use, reading, outside time, television, phone time, meditation and hobbies. Without this structure I’m positive my days would have been consumed by endless amount of television making the days longer and far more unbearable.

Every day, I sponge bathed myself and got dressed in real clothes. I then had breakfast while watching the morning news.  Late morning, I’d  read or color mandalas and then have lunch. Afterwards, I’d spend a few hours outdoors on the patio before coming in to surf the internet and make phone calls. After dinner Mer and I would watch a movie or catch up on episodes of whatever television show we were watching on netflix.

I also never napped because I did not want to disturb my sleep patterns. My doctor had warned me that sleeping away the day could result in sleepless nights so I never allowed myself to nap. As a result, I never dealt with sleeping issues while on bed rest.

3/ Community.

There are a number of wonderful online communities related to conceiving, pregnancy and high risk pregnancy. I became part of a community where I could go to chat with other women who were in similar situations. It was nice to discuss my situation with other ladies who understood and it was so incredible to be encouraged and supported every step of the way. My favorite community is Then Comes Family.

4/ Vulnerability.

Some days were harder than others. With Mer away at work most days there were moments where I felt so overwhelmed by my situation that I felt I couldn’t continue. In those moments – I became vulnerable and I told anyone who would listen to me how I was feeling. It’s okay to lose it sometimes, it’s okay to cry, to be angry or to be fed up. Bed rest isn’t normal – there’s clearly some element of grief that comes with a bed rest pregnancy. Grieving the normal pregnancy I  would never have made me angry some days.

Instead of fighting it I just allowed myself to feel those emotions. Usually, I’d get a grip on the situation quickly. I’d move through the anger and frustration by reminding myself that the alternative was far worse. What worked most of the time was reminding myself how fortunate I was to be growing a healthy baby. My “funks” would usually only last a few days and then I’d be back to my usual routine.

5/ Accepting Help.

Accept help. Ask for it. Ask anyone who will be willing to lend a hand. Take it and do not feel bad about. My husband, mom, mother in law, aunt, cousin and neighbours were a blessing. When you’re on bed rest your home life is thrown upside down. Mer now had to work a full-time job, care for me and care for the household all by himself. It was a lot and he realized really quickly that he couldn’t handle it all on his own. Tell people when you need something. If you’re chatting with a friend and they mention they are going to the drug store don’t hesitate to ask them to pick up a few things for you that you need. Most people are more than willing to help if you just ask. If you’re mother in law wants to come and do laundry – let her. If your mom wants to cook your meals- let her. If your neighbor wants to bake you something or lend you books – let her. Take all the help you can get and don’t feel bad about it.

6/ Take care of yourself.

I was limited to one seated shower per week for a maximum of 10 minutes. Greasy hair basically became the norm and I just had to accept that I couldn’t do much about it. Having said that, I made it a point to sponge bathe daily. Mer would set up a large bowl of warm water with soap and a wash cloth so I could clean myself up. I found this was such an important part of my routine because it helped me feel human. Feeling dirty which is inevitable when you are not allowed to shower really takes its toll on your morale. A small 10 minute sponge bath, combing my hair, putting on makeup and real clothes really helped me feel like myself. I also always felt I looked my best (my best with greasy hair mind you) so I could welcome in last minute visitors or anyone who decided they’d pop in to spend some time with me.

7/ Eating well.

Eating well while pregnant is so important. Eating well while pregnant and on bed rest is even more important. Being bed bound means you are burning far less calories and so to keep weight gain to a minimum it’s super important to have healthy meals and snacks ready and waiting for you. Our system for food was simple – Mer would prepare snacks (fruits, veggies, cheese, yogurts) and place them in a small cooler near my bed. He’d also prepare bottles of ice water so I could stay hydrated throughout the day. You’d really be surprised by how much water you consume. Most mornings he’d load up about 60oz of ice water to sustain me throughout the day.

8/ Counting up.

When trying to get pregnant I used an app called Fertility Friend. Once pregnant I used it to to count up my days of bed rest. I really looked forward to updating my progress- every morning I upped the number and reminded myself how lucky I was to still be pregnant an extra day.

Some ladies use calendars where they mark an X, others keep track by ticking off a chart – it’s just so important to see the progress so you can remind yourself how well you’re doing and how far you’ve come.

9/ Small achievable goals.

At one of my first appointments with my doctor I told her “I don’t know how I’m going to do this”. She told me to set small goals. My first goal was passing my loss milestone, then it was passing viability. From there I worked my way up to 28 weeks (the original goal my doctor set for me), then 32 weeks and finally 37.

If you approach it any other way the burden is just too hard to handle. Keep your goals small and attainable. Take it day by day and minute by minute if you have to.

10/ Accept what is.

This one was the most important for me. I had to accept that my pregnancy was not normal. I didn’t get to experience pregnancy the same way most women do and although it was hard to accept I did. I reminded myself frequently that despite the unusual circumstances I was carrying our miracle baby. I was so fortunate to be given this chance and there was absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do to get Margs here safely. We cannot change the circumstances we are given – we cannot alter the path the universe has handed us- we cannot control the past but we can accept the future and do the absolute best we can with what we have been handed. As a result, I followed the rules. I never broke bed rest. Never. I followed my doctors rules despite my aches and pains and restlessness some days. Bringing Margs home was my number one priority and I just did what I had to do.

I wrote this post after realizing that I’ve gotten a good chunk a traffic from people googling “bed rest tips” or “surviving bed rest”. If you’re currently on bed rest and need someone to talk to please do not hesitate to reach out. I’ve lived it and I know that it is probably the most emotionally draining thing you’ll ever have to do. There’s fear, anxiety and anger all wrapped up in a journey that should otherwise be full of happiness and excitement.  I can be reached via email at thistinybluehouse@gmail.com, on instagram and even on twitter.