Highs & Lows – Week of February 20th

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Morning!

I can’t believe it’s time for another installment of Friday Highs and Lows. If you want to read the previous weeks you can go here and here.

Highs

Building up my consignment store cash flow! With the weather warming up I realized that it was time to top up our consignment cash flow so I could start working on creating a spring and summer wardrobe for Margs. So, I spent a few days sorting through Margs’ winter clothes and toys and ended up dropping off a bunch of things that will help cover the cost of buying her enough outfits to last us through the summer. In this haul, I brought over her Infant Car Seat (Graco Click Connect 35 if you’re curious), a V-Tech Sit to Stand Walker, a fisher price ride on toy, and 2 boxes of clothing she’s outgrown.

We found a new groomer for our pup. Our dog is the anxious type and we’ve been struggling to find a groomer that would be patient with her. After trying a few different ones we finally found a lovely lady who grooms pups from her home. Puppy had an amazing experience and didn’t want to come home! Here she is with her new “summer” haircut!

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Absolutely gorgeous weather! It’s been sunny and well above freezing all week and it’s unbelievable how a little sunshine can improve my mood and energy levels. Margs and I have been taking advantage and getting out for walks. The sun is setting later (around 5 pm) which makes the days longer and so much more cheerful. Spring is on the horizon and I couldn’t be happier! Sunday is supposed to climb up to 14 degrees!

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Lows

Margs ate laundry soap at the end of last week. My mum was here visiting and we got caught up in a conversation and the next thing we knew Margs had powdered laundry soap all over her hands, face and inside her mouth. I washed her mouth out and promptly gave her a bottle of milk. I then spent the next 45 minutes trying to get through to Poison Control and then a local emergency health line in our area. Both agreed that an ER visit wasn’t necessary and that it was unlikely she ingested enough to cause issue. I was told to watch her for any unusual symptoms but that she should be just fine. Thankfully, Margs experienced no side effects. We’re now in the process of child proofing this place – she’s so mobile and fast that we’re not taking any chances.

Basement reno costs are getting a little higher than we anticipated. I haven’t discussed much about what’s going on within this TTBH have I? When we bought this home, we knew we were going to transform the basement into a small 1 bedroom apartment for my mum. Her lease is up at the end of April and she’ll be moving in with us. Work on the basement has been slow because we have an arrangement with a contractor where we are saving on labor costs (FYI we bartered a hot tub for the labor costs of finishing our basement. Said tub came with the house and we did not want to keep it). But, because of this the process has been long and drawn out. We’re nearing the end which is wonderful but I was calculating the costs of materials and my heart sank a little. We’re about 3000$ over budget but considering we aren’t paying anything for the labor I suppose it’s still an awesome deal.

We’ve reverted to co-sleeping. I hate hate hate that we’re back here. We had made so much progress with Margs and then one night she just would not have it and exhaustion on our part took over and we put her right back into our bed. Since then, she’s refused to sleep anywhere but our bed. We’re going to keep trying but this week she’s slept in our bed more often than not. This kid seems to have some sort of sensor – the moment you try to put her down in her cot she freaks out.

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of February 20th?

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I’m not the fun parent and I’m okay with that

When Margs was approximately 6 months old it became really clear that Mer was becoming her “fun parent”. At first, my big green monster reared its ugly head and I got really jealous and resentful that my precious little girl (that I gestated horizontally for so so long) appeared to show a clear preference for her father. I cried, a lot. Seriously, far more times than I’m even comfortable admitting at this point. Selfishly, I believed that she’d somehow know what sacrifice I’d made to get her here safely and prefer me by default (totally minimizing Mer’s suffering- because he suffered too. My grief was so very selfish and I plan to write about that one day). Clearly, she loves me dearly but as she gets older and develops more autonomy it’s pretty clear Mer is still the fun parent.

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And you know what guys, I’m totally okay with that.

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As Mer and I navigate this parenting thing we’re realizing pretty quickly that our roles are very different. Mer is the fun parent while I’m the authority figure setting boundaries and creating consistency and routines in her life.

Why? I’m with her the majority of the time since I’m her primary care giver because we decided that Mer would work full time (makes sense financially) and I’d stay at home with her until she’s at least school aged.

If Mer were the stay at home parent I imagine the roles would be reversed. Her “preference” by consequence has no bearing on whether one of us is genuinely more “fun” than the other but rather by our different “presence” in her life.

Mer’s experiences with Margs are far  far different than mine. He spends 10-12 hours per day outside our home fixing and geeking out over complicated computer problems. During this time I’m parenting a strong willed little one who most recently became extremely mobile, curious and creative so I’m often trying to make sure she doesn’t manage to evade me and walk over to the kitchen, pull out the trash and feed that shit to our dog.

When he arrives home in the evening he’s had the time to “miss” her in ways that I’ve really never experienced since he gets a physical detachment from her every single work day. Naturally, she’s super excited to see her dad who is most likely more excited to see her than she’ll ever know – and you know what, it shows in the way they interact. That excitement builds and the house immediately fills with loud baby giggles and squeals. Squeals and giggles that I have to work really really really hard to achieve during the day since for the most part I’m chasing her around saying things like “no, don’t touch that”, “be careful that’s gonna make you boo boo”, “don’t put –insert disgusting thing here– in your mouth” and “woah, slow down so mommy can catch up”.

Not being the fun parent means that I’ve got a huge responsibility – it’s  my job to create rules and boundaries around here that will hopefully create a sense of independence and self-responsibility in my little girl. By virtue of me being her primary caregiver, I’m responsible for shaping this tiny human into a kind and gentle soul who I hope grows up to do great things and find enormous happiness on her journey into adulthood. This is not to say that Mer is completely removed from this experience – we’re very much on the same page when it comes to our parenting style but, he takes a more passive role because he’s just not here enough to follow through on any of it. Sure, he steps up big time on the weekend where his fun parent role temporarily takes the back burner while I’m out running errands and he’s home alone with her but the majority of the time I’m just not her fun parent.

And, I’m totally okay with it.

I’m honored to have the privilege of not being the fun parent. I’m grateful to be responsible for her physical and emotional growth. I’m indebted to the universe for giving me the chance to parent this amazingly clever, darling and determined little girl who I love beyond words.

Not being the fun parent is actually pretty damn wonderful.

Is there a fun parent in your household?

 

 

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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?

 

 

The best parenting advice I’ve ever gotten

Parenting is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I don’t have all the answers and some days I feel like I don’t have any answers. It’s that hard – I swear. One moment you feel like you’ve got everything figured out and the next something happens that leaves you asking yourself “what the hell do I do now?”.

I roll my eyes when people give me fool proof parenting advice. I chuckle every time I read a blog post from a mum who claims to have all the answers. I roll my eyes and chuckle when mums tell me they’ve never doubted their parenting because I don’t buy that hogwash for a second.

The thing about parenting (for me anyway) is that it’s all about trial and error. I try something – it works – I do it again. I try something- it fails – I revaluate and then try something else. Kids are tough. Parenting is even tougher. It’s not easy and I’ll never lie to you and tell you I’ve got it all figured out because I don’t and I doubt I ever will.

While sorting through a few of Margs’ boxes that were left unpacked from the move I came across this.

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A handwritten note from a dear friend congratulating us on the birth of our daughter. At the time, I read it and didn’t give much thought to the “don’t forget to take time for yourself”. I had a newborn, I was getting zero sleep and I was just so overwhelmed with life that taking time for myself seemed absolutely impossible.

The thing is, this is probably the best piece of advice I’ve been given. Actually, it is the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given. Within weeks of Margs’ birth I started to feel trapped. I felt feelings of resentment and frustration at the neediness of this child that I fought so hard to bring into the world. I felt isolated and alone and most importantly I felt like I didn’t love my child enough. It was rough – really rough and I’ll admit that I cried a ton. One day, I even asked Mer “what have we done?”. He understood and admitted that he had similar feelings.

Bringing home a baby was rough on us. I’ll speak for myself (although Mer had similar feelings because we discussed it at length) when I say that I loved Margs the moment she was born but I wasn’t in love with her. I wasn’t smitten the way most new mommas appear to be. It took time to get to know her and fall in love with her- and I’m okay with that.

At around the 3 month mark I was really at my breaking point. I spent my days cooped up indoors (it was the dead of winter) with little to no interaction with the outside world (I should have started a blog hunh?) and my feelings of isolation and entrapment intensified – then, I remembered my good friends suggestion to take time for yourself.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that I do this every day. I try to but some days when Margsy is extra fussy or other obligations get in the way I just can’t. That’s what being a momma is all about I guess. But, most days I find a 20 minute reprieve from my role as mom and do something I enjoy. Some days that looks like a hot bath, others it’s listening to music with ear buds so I can tune out what’s going on around me, reading, coloring mandalas, walking, meditating, baking or running a few errands. You get the point.

That 20 minutes of “me” time restores my mental energy and it also makes me a better mum to Margs. It helps me refocus and be more present – it helps me step out of my identity as a mum and just be Jenny for 20 or so minutes which allows me the time to channel and attend to my own emotional needs.

What’s the best and worst parenting advice you’ve ever received?

That time my kid turned 1

Today is Margs’ first birthday. She’s 365 days old. I’m still not entirely sure how this past year has passed so quickly but I do know that she has changed our lives in so many beautiful ways. She restored love in our life and relationship. She is the reason we smile everyday and count each and every one of our blessings. She is the reason we’ve been able to find happiness again.

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Margs is our miracle baby.

She was born after I’d experienced a still birth and 2 miscarriages totalling 5 angel babies that we never got the opportunity to take home. Two of my lost pregnancies were twins. She came after 4 years of battling infertility, dealing with a hemorrhage that nearly cost me my life, and multiple surgeries to correct my uterus that was misshapen and not conducive to growing a baby.

I was told I had a 10% chance of ever bringing home a living baby.

Margs arrived here safely last December as the result of an amazing team of doctors, a cervical cerclage and 161 days of strict home bedrest.

She is here and she is so worth all of the above.

Today will be a quiet day for us. Mer and I just want to enjoy our little miracle.

In honor of Margs’ birthday, here is the song that was playing the moment I met her for the first time. It just happened that this track was playing in the birthing room at the very moment our bundle joined us earthside.

We still listen to this track and dance to it every single day.

You are mine Margsy. I love you kiddo. I would not have had this journey any other way no matter how hard it was to get you here – you were worth every millisecond of it.