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?

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?