Don’t be a hero, get some sleep

So as I write this, I’m coming off a night in my basement, where I slept in the guest bedroom in the dark – two floors away from my family. My husband had both baby monitors for our toddler and 1 year old, and the dog was in his usual spot on the couch upstairs.

I didn’t sleep right through the night. I woke up 3 times to pee (not preggo just still can’t hold the pee so well after the babies were born), and my mind wasn’t calm (I thought about work a bunch right before I feel asleep). I also heard my hubby in the kitchen in the middle of the night.

But you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t get up to tend to anyone’s needs from 10:30 until 7am. And at 7am I was enjoying a hot shower when my three year old came into the bathroom to get me (he was being super cute too so it was a lovely wake-up). I concentrated on nothing else other than my own sleep during those hours.

I do this twice a week: sleep alone in the basement. I warn my hubby in advance and I do it because otherwise, everyone’s screwed. I have learned that 3 sleepless nights is my absolute maximum. And on that third day without at least a five hours-in-a row night time stint, I am an absolute monster/psycho/all-around-bitch who you definitely don’t want to cross. After 3 nights I don’t have any emotional stability (is my husband mad at me? Why am I crying at this commercial?), I have ZERO patience (Why do I feel like throwing a fit when my toddler drops rice on the floor?), and I hate all aspects of life: work, parenting, and being a wife. Forget pleasure in normal things, I just want to lay down in a corner and have no one talk to me.

You feel me ladies? Not getting sleep: my worst. Worse than not eating, not having sex, not getting time to myself, or being broke. I hate it.

So when I debate “hey I can do this fourth night in a row of night shift” – I remind myself that I am a much better human when I’ve had some sleep. You see I PREFER to be the one that gets up with the kids every night. But it just isn’t healthy.

I also remind myself that when I’m too overtired, I fall asleep driving.

Huh?

Yup. I am one of those people who if I am overtired is easily lulled by the motion of the car. And would end up a car accident statistic if I don’t get some ZZZs once and a while.

I learned that this is the effect sleep deprivation has on me in particular BEFORE I had kids: I used to be a commuter and would fall asleep on my 1-3 hour drives to and from work ALL THE TIME. I eventually learned to pull over and use techniques to wake myself.

But now? I can’t imagine putting my kids in that situation. I don’t have any long drives in my daily life, thank goodness. But I remember: mama, people will be in danger if you don’t sleep. I am also hugely clumsy and know that the less sleep I get the better the chance is I’ll fall on the stairs holding one of my precious boys!

I’ve done lots of reading over the years on the topic of sleep deprivation, and this is one of the better articles with tips that I’ve found. It’s accurate in terms of my life, take a look and see if any of these tips can help you.

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/moms-sleep-deprivation#5

This is the part that really speaks to me: “Some of the scariest risks come when a sleep-deprived mother gets in the car. Studies have compared the risks of driving drowsy with the risks of driving drunk — it’s estimated to cause 100,000 auto accidents a year. And yet mothers who would never, ever drive their children after having a few glasses of wine drive exhausted every day.”

So mamas? Don’t screw around or be a hero on no sleep. Whatever you have to do to give your brain and body a rest while momming, do it – everyone will benefit.

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xo Sara

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Ring the alarm

Our son has always been a strong personality. You’ll always know what’s on his mind, he can’t contain his emotions well at all and quickly flies off the handle. ‘Chill’ is never a word you would ever use to describe him! He’s got none of it! Sometimes I find for me that it’s easy to confuse that with teflon. To think that nothing gets to him. To think he’s tough and resilient. I’ve known deep down that’s not the case. I know that behind all the boldness that he conveys is a very sensitive, loving, and now more recently, insecure little guy and it’s breaking our hearts!

Almost 2 weeks ago at school a scheduled fire alarm went off in the daycare and simply put, it scared the living shit out of him. He’s not been the same since and I’m really at a loss as to how to help him. Basically, since the alarm he’s been afraid to leave the bathroom or bathroom area of his daycare room and has been almost entirely refusing to eat while he’s at daycare. The food thing would scare me but unfortunately for us he’s always been a very poor eater (like his Daddy) with a spotty appetite at best. He’ll eat a big breakfast for sure, and the morning has always been when he consumes the most food of the whole day. So for now, let’s take the food thing out of the equation because I know at least he’s getting lots of food at home with us in addition to his vitamin.

It’s the anxiety he clearly feels in the classroom because of the alarm that went off. He’s just 3 so he’s having a hard time understanding the difference between ‘alarm’ and ‘fire’ so when it comes up I try to explain the difference and tell him that there’s no fire and that he is safe. When I went to pick him up yesterday from daycare I watched through the 1 way mirror for few minutes. He was wandering around with his blankey which is supposed to only be for nap. He wasn’t huddled in a corner or anything like that which is great but clearly the blankey was offered to help comfort him. When I went into the room to scoop him up into a big hug he hugged me and told me about his day then pointed at the fire alarm light on the wall. I can’t remember his words exactly but clearly there’s an anxiety about it. I don’t know what needs to happen next. I’m out of my depth but I know that something needs to happen so that this anxiety doesn’t turn into a full blown obsession that prevents him from enjoying his life. Please help?! Does anyone have experience with anything like this? A sudden fear? Separation Anxiety?

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xo Kristin

Thinking about the birth-day

As the days draw closer until baby #2 arrives, fear is starting to creep in.  Of course I’m excited to meet the new little squish!  I can’t wait for the gender surprise on the big day, to see what he or she looks like, to watch how big sister C will react when she meets baby for the first time, and all the other good things that go along with growing your family.  And if I’m being honest, the last couple of weeks have been very emotional and difficult for me every time I think about the birth-day; there’s just nothing comforting about a baby exiting your body, no matter how that may happen.

Moms know more with each subsequent baby and birth, which can be a good thing, and also a scary thing.  I’m starting to think that perhaps ignorance is bliss for certain parts of the baby’s exit strategy.  I ended up with a caesarean after a very long labour with my daughter.  For this baby, I’ve chosen a scheduled caesarean.  You would think that I would have some level of comfort in knowing at least some of the details of the birth-day.  Well, yes and no.  I know many people who’ve had subsequent and scheduled caesareans, and they assure me it will be a much better experience, in terms of preparation and also recovery.  This was comforting to me at the beginning of my pregnancy.  And now that I’m in the third trimester, I’m having a hard time keeping the fear in check.

I had my first OB appointment last week, which made baby’s arrival seem so real, and so close.  We spoke about my first birth experience, and the reason for my caesarean, and he mentioned that the notes in my file said “failure to progress”.  Call it what you like, dude; I prefer “long labour that stalled / was slow AF / baby C was having no more of it”.  In any event, having this conversation with him stirred up a lot of hidden feelings that I had forgotten about.  Something about the word “failure” made me feel like, well, a failure.  Let’s all agree to stop using this word, ok?!

I wanted to share an article that I found recently: 13 things you should never say to a mom who had a C-section.  It puts into words many of the things I’ve been feeling lately, especially numbers 2, 3, 5, and 8.

https://www.todaysparent.com/pregnancy/giving-birth/things-you-should-never-say-to-a-mom-who-had-a-c-section/

If anyone has any tips for remaining calm, leading up to and on birth-day, please share!

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xo Leigh

Odes on Mother’s Day night

Ode to my mom 

Mom, you rule for so many reasons. When we were kids you let us eat junk food on Friday nights, but didn’t let us watch scary movies so that we wouldn’t have bad dreams. You didn’t spoil us because you wanted us to understand the value of everything but always put on the best Christmases.

You made sleepovers legendary because I could have lots of friends sleepover, not just one. You let me throw a high school grad party and parade around that party wearing a fake fur and carry a bottle of red like a party champ.

You embarrassed me the appropriate amount necessary to remind me that you are my mom and you love me no matter what (lots of excessive waving as you dropped me somewhere where I was trying to be cool with my friends etc.) but you always gave me my space when I needed to fit in. You came to the rescue at University if I was having a basic needs crisis (no food, etc.) and many times after if I was in a bind.

You didn’t ask too many questions when it was too tough to answer those questions. You trusted my choices (even though many of them were very questionable good lord). You gave me a million reasons to want to be a better mom now because you were so selfless with your own kids.

And most important: you imparted the wisdom that I should dream big as much as I can when I can – because you didn’t get lots of the opportunities you wanted so badly for me. Defining moment: I told you that when I was done school that I wanted to go to Europe, solo. I’m an extrovert by nature but with terrible anxiety. But the solo Europe trip was mandatory for my life because I knew I needed to figure out if I could hack it. The problem? Making it happen after spending every last dime on school. The day I graduated you came to Kingston, picked me up, and drove me to the travel agent’s office. You bought my plane ticket and said “off you go.” The best gift you could ever have given a budding adventurer.

Now, you are a grandma. You come every few weeks to help with my boys, 3 and 1. They are busy. They are demanding. But you rock it like you have been momming your whole life. Which, by having me at 22, is kinda the case. And after a long day with the kids when you’re visiting, you always have time to be my mom: “had a hard day? Where’s the wine? Let’s sit down and have a glass after I get the kids to bed.”

Thanks mom, for doing it all, and supporting all of the crazy dreams I’ve ever had.

Xo Sara

An ode to my MIL who is watching us from heaven

Thank you for being in my life during a critical 12 years of it.

You related to things that sometimes seemed un-relatable. You listened to me go on an on about silly things, things I was excited about and things that made me angry, things about parenting, things about trying to be a good wife, about sleepless nights and about being overwhelmed.

You always made me feel special especially during times when you knew I wasn’t feeling particularly special, and you did this in a million ways. You taught me about appreciating the valuable time I have with my kids, without my kids, with my husband, travelling, living, dreaming. You became my confidante and my role model.

You gave me a million reasons to want to be a better mom because you were so selfless with your own boys. You loved unconditionally: your kids, and mine – and treated everyone with the best you had in you.

You had an impact on me that I’ll never ever be able to explain. You were a shoulder to lean on and an amazing grandma to my boys.

Thank you L, for making me so grateful for life.

Xo Sara

Ode to my children on Mother’s Day

You make me want to be a better person.

You give me a million reasons to want to be a better mom.

With each day I love you more and more.

I can’t wait to discover more awesome things about you because you surprise me every day.

You make me wonder what life meant before you. You help me keep things in perspective.

I don’t know how mothers do it who have more kids, because my heart is already so full it’s on the verge of #heartexplosion every minute already because you bring so much love into my life.

I promise to help you be the happiest you can possibly be for the rest of my life no matter what.

You make me realize what living life is really about.

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Xo Mommy

 

The Dark Days: An open letter to mothers of a high needs baby

Everyone will tell you that the early days of motherhood is a difficult time. Especially for new mothers. Sure, you have those 9 months to mentally prepare for how much your life is going to change but can anyone with children admit that they really appreciated what that meant ahead of time? It’s impossible.

You’re told it will be hard, that you will be more exhausted than you ever thought possible. You read that getting to know your baby can take some time, but that’s ok! It’s exciting, like a budding new relationship that makes you giddy every time their name comes up. Yes it’s going to be tough, but it’s a biological certainty that you will do everything it takes because it just is, right? It’s a mother’s instinct, right?

The first few days will be a whirlwind. With adrenaline coursing through your body from the madness that is childbirth to the healing and soreness that comes next. The doubts will be endless. You won’t know if you’re holding them right. It will be so strange to buckle their tiny body into a car seat and feel at all like they’re safe. You will worry from the moment they’re born whether they’re eating enough food and constantly people will say ‘I think they’re hungry’, ‘has your milk come in yet?’, ‘are you pumping?’, ‘how often?’, ‘are you sleeping?’ ‘is the baby sleeping?’, ‘how much?’…it goes on and on and on.

At first it will be fine but as the days wear on something will seem not right. You had heard that babies sleep a lot and that all they do is sleep and eat but for some reason there doesn’t seem to be much sleep going on. Your baby will hate to have their diaper changed. They will scream with an intensity that seems disproportionate to their tiny bodies, with a redness in their face that is terrifying and for the next year it will be something you dread doing because of the screaming that happens when it’s time. They will want to be in your arms at all times and no matter how many times you try to lay them down once they’ve fallen asleep in your arms they will wake within a moment and scream in protest.

You will be proud at first. Too proud to admit that this wonderful experience with your newborn baby is causing you so much pain. People with practically smile through the phone to hear all about how your bundle is doing and for a while you will lie and say it’s great, or convince yourself that what you’re experiencing is typical. Eventually it will be too much. You will begin to grieve. You will be so sad because you feel like the beautiful experience you were promised has been stolen from you. You will begin to scour to internet for solutions, old wives tales, tricks, tips, how-to’s and stories to confirm that there are other people out there dealing with the same type of baby and that yours isn’t the only one who could be so miserable to have been born.

You will blame yourself. If you’re breastfeeding, you will think it’s something you’re eating and spend weeks eliminating everything from your diet and cataloging everything you consume and how it affects your baby’s temperament. If you’re not you’ll look into a type of formula that could be more digestible for their tiny body. You will try anything and would easily spend every penny you have if only someone could tell you they could ‘fix’ your baby. You will hate night time, you will dread it and feel so sad. You will cry, a lot. You won’t know how you’re going to get through another night with no idea if you will get a moment’s rest.

Only to feel anxious because if you don’t get any sleep you have the entire next day to get through…round and round the merry-go-round goes.

Time is a curse. Time is what fear and anxiety are made of. It’s time, the time ahead of you, the hours of unknown terrors that wait right around the corner for you. Time is waiting in the corner to creep out of the shadows and steal away the brightness and optimism that used to sit high up on your shoulders. It’s the long, endless dark tunnel that as much as you try you can’t seem to position yourself at the right perspective to spot the end of it. It’s too far, too dark.

You may even wander onto your deck one day to rock your screaming baby and gaze out at the gorgeous sunny day and feel nothing but pain. You will think to yourself, if only for the briefest of moments that you could just leap off that deck and all the pain would stop. But you won’t do that. You will quickly get a hold of yourself and carry on.

You won’t want to leave the house. It will seem so big, so hard and so intimidating that it can’t possibly be worth it. People will offer to help, once word has inevitably gotten around that you’re having a hard time. They’ll pop by. You’ll try really hard to make it seem like despite the misery that your life is, you’re doing just fine.

When they leave, you’ll go back to the dark corner of your house that you’ve begun to favor over the weeks and crawl back into the place that makes you feel some sense of security. You will love your baby, but you will hate them too. You will stare at them when they finally fall off to sleep and think they’re the most perfect thing you’ve ever seen but as soon as they stir and begin to fuss you will immediately be anxious because it’s only been 20 minutes. They will wake up screaming for a long long time. Never will you hear a happy little coo coming from their crib as the only indication that they’ve woken up. At least not in their first year.

I’m sorry to say all of these things to you. I’m not trying to hurt you or make you feel more hopeless. I’m saying them because I was you. I’m saying them because I want you to feel less alone. I want you to know that it’s not something you’re doing. It’s not something you can ‘fix’ it’s not anything but just the way things will be for a time. I’m saying them because I want you to do better than me and ask more people for help. I want you to drop your pride and your shame and tell your doctor that you are feeling really low. Ask him if there are any services or support groups out there to help you. Tell your partner that you need them to stay home if you do. Be brave. Face it head on. Don’t hide out, or do, but don’t do it alone.

You’re not alone. It will get better….I won’t say when, I will just say that bit by bit, you’ll feel that brightness begin to lift you up again and a love of life will bring a flush back to your cheeks. You will stare at your baby and feel so much love. I promise you. That day is coming.

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Xo Kristin

My advice (for what it’s worth)

My heart goes out to all of the new mamas in today’s world.  Thanks to technology, there is just so much information readily available to expectant and new mothers and it all feels like it’s just too much.  On one hand, the power of technology is great because we can all be more aware and more educated and are better able to self-advocate, but on the other hand, it can become an information overload.  Everywhere you look you are bombarded with “how to”s and “what not to do’s” and warnings about this, that and the other thing.  A lot of the time the information that we are getting is conflicting and leaves us feeling unsure and a little afraid.  It has the potential of making us all a little neurotic.  For what it’s worth, I’ve put together a list of things that I would like to say to new mamas.  Take it in with a grain of salt and then forget about it if you want.  Whatever you do don’t let anything that I’m saying change your mind about something if you’ve already decided what is best for you.  After all…this is just my opinion and we are all totally different.  They say hindsight is 20/20, and if I had the ability to go back and do things all over again, this is what I would tell my 24-year-old-expectant-mama-self.

1) Put the books down – I’m not an expert, but nobody is, and although the person who wrote the book may have some sort of certification or education that declares them an expert the fact of the matter is that there is NO SUCH THING as “expert” when it comes to parenting.   Parenting is hard. There is no book. There is no guide. Every baby is different, every parent is different and every situation is different.  The only thing we can do is try our best to be our best and to make the best decision we can under our current circumstance.  If I have come to learn anything throughout my years of being a parent to four very different children it’s that what works for one baby may or may not work for another baby, it’s really a matter of trial and error.  If you feel more comfortable reading books then maybe choose one or two highly rated or peer recommended books and think of it all as more of a suggestion for a possible solution, and not as a bible for a definite solution.

2) As hard as this parenting thing is, we’re all naturally better than we think.  Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Trust your natural mother’s intuition. Believe in love. You know what is best for your baby because you love your baby with all of your heart.  When it all gets too overwhelming and you think that you’re doing it all wrong, just breathe, and remember that we all have bad days, everyone makes mistakes, we’re all learning, and we’re all doing the best that we can.

3) Find a friend.  Choose someone who you can trust and who is due around the same time as you or someone who has recently been through it.  Having someone to talk to who can relate to the way you are feeling makes all the difference in the world.  Just being able to talk is therapeutic in itself, but knowing that you’re not alone and that your feelings of uncertainty are normal is priceless. To this very day, the thing that I need most in my life when being a Mama is seemingly unbearable is to be surrounded by supportive, strong, amazing women.  Women are the most amazing and empowering beings on this planet and just being in the same room as them is energizing and leaves me feeling re-focused and ready to Mom another day.

4) Take a pre-natal course. In my opinion, this is honestly one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself in preparation for labour and delivery.  Most cities offer pre-natal courses as a public service through places like the health unit.  Take the course and bring your partner along with you. A lot of the time the things we hear about labour and delivery sound really scary and very intimidating.  This will be the best thing you can do for yourself to make you feel calm, safe and prepared.  The fact will remain that every single labour and delivery is different and unique, but taking the course will put your mind at ease and make it seem a little more manageable.  You’re probably still going to feel a little scared or apprehensive and that’s ok, but try to trust that in most cases nature will take its course and your body will instinctively know what to do, and if things don’t go according to plan, we are very lucky to have an excellent health system that will be there to support you.

5) Understand that this is all new to you and let yourself learn. No one expects you to be an expert and no one expects you to be perfect.  Forgive yourself!  And know that making mistakes is part of the learning process.  Take it one day at a time. Don’t get so caught up with “making a plan”.  Have a general idea of how you imagine things will go but understand that expectations have a way of being very different from reality.

6) When all else fails, try with all your might to enjoy it all, even the hard times (cliché, I know). Your baby is going to grow up so quickly that you won’t even know what happened.  Seriously – when you become a parent your life enters a new level of warp speed.  You’re going blink and when you open your eyes your chubby little baby is going to be all grown up. You are going to miss holding them on your chest close to your heart and patting their little bums as they snuggle into the nape of your neck. They are only little for a very short period of time. Embrace the beauty and the chaos of it all.

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xo Michelle

This is what I’ll miss about being pregnant

If I’m being honest, I’m finding this pregnancy far less “magical” than when I was pregnant with my daughter.  And yes, I was one of those rare women that felt amazing and loved almost everything about being pregnant.  But this time around?  No.  Just no.  I’m really trying to enjoy it.  When people ask me how I’m feeling, I usually respond with “Meh” or a grunt.  Maybe it’s because I’m three years older, or that my body just knows what to do much faster.  Or maybe it’s because I’m at that weird stage of feeling like I’ve been pregnant forever, yet not quite ready for baby to be on the outside.  All I know is I’m much more tired, I feel way bigger faster, I’m starting to get achy, and I already feel like I’m waddling.  And it’s not even hot out yet.  Yikes.

Waddling aside, there are some things that I will truly miss about being pregnant.

  1. Expectant mother parking

This is like VIP parking, for moms.  Usually located close to the entrance of stores, I roll up and scoop this gem of a spot up any time I can.  I didn’t do it very often with my last pregnancy – hello!  What was I thinking?!

  1. Baby hiccups, movements and kicks

The first half of pregnancy is very unglamorous; it’s basically a series of urine samples and blood tests.  The part that I like is when baby takes over and starts moving and kicking.  It’s a strangely comforting feeling, although it sometimes feels like harbouring a gremlin that is trying to escape 😉

  1. Luscious locks

I have thick hair to begin with, but when I’m pregnant, my hair feels extra thick and healthy.  I feel like it holds style better, so I can get away with styling it about twice a week.  Bonus.

  1. Being taken care of

This time around I’m taking full advantage of people wanting to help. People seem to be nicer to pregnant women by offering to let them go ahead in line, holding doors open, etc.  Carry something to the car for me?  Why, yes please!

  1. Maternity clothes

I’m not going to lie – there are a lot of extremely unflattering maternity clothes out there.  I might have had a mini meltdown recently when shopping online, and all I could find was peasant-looking items that would make you feel like you’re wearing a potato sack.  But when you find some comfy gems, it’s worth spending a bit of money to look and feel fabulous.  I’ve been living in dresses this pregnancy.

  1. Having pregnancy as an excuse

Pregnancy is like a catch-all reason for explaining almost everything: Tired?  Forgot where you parked your car?  Not feeling up to going anywhere?  It’s ok – you’re pregnant.

What did you love most about being pregnant?

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xo Leigh