Its another rainy Sunday over here. I hardly got any sleep last night, Asher has been teething, so he was up three times, and Mila was up once. Seeing that the rain was still coming down this morning my heart dropped a bit. I don’t mind the rain, but I was really hoping to set the children loose outside and catch a ‘mom nap.’
Instead I promptly built the kids a tent in the living room and took advantage of the cold weather to turn the stove on. We made a beautiful batch of blueberry muffins. Its a recipe I adapted from Pinterest to be vegan and a little less sugar, but still awesome, fluffy and sweet. I have included it down below.
Bakery Style Blueberry Muffins
2 Flax eggs (1:3 Tbsp flax to water)
1C raw sugar
1/2 C coconut oil
1 C almond milk
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C blueberries
Unfortunately this quiet, slow morning was a little overshadowed by Mila’s behaviour. Everyone says three’s are worse than two’s and I wasn’t sure how or why but I am starting to feel like I understand that quote a little better now.
Recently we have been dealing with an extraordinary amount of naughty behaviour. Mila steals from the cupboards and the fridge. Anything she can get her hands on. I limit the sweets a lot, and I often ration the fruit in the house because she would eat me out of house and home and I could never afford to buy that much fruit (we already eat so much fresh food!) And I find it often has nothing to do with hunger, its simply because its available, and when I say “no, wait until lunch,” if I leave she just helps herself anyway.
So this morning, while I tidied the kids’ rooms she stole a muffin as they cooled on the counter. She drew on her face with markers after I scolded her for that and sent her to her room. And she cleaned out her drawers in her dresser, spreading out all her clothes and socks and undies. She is always getting into the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, and locking herself into rooms to do naughty things and get into things she knows she isn’t allowed to touch.
I thought maybe I just need to spend more one and one time with her, so I bought some activity books we could do together; but she just cries, gets frustrated and says she wants to quit, no matter how much I encourage her. I typically just end up doing it for her, so thats been a bit of a bust.
I’m not sure what to do. She knows its wrong because she scolds her brother for these things. I hate constantly yelling at her, and try to instead praise her when she does something right, but lately thats nothing! Every chance she can get she purposely does something naughty.
So today I feel rather defeated and sad. Its been nearly two weeks of this and I know it has to end soon. I never thought the 18month old would be the easier of the two, but its starting to look like it.
At least I can eat away my sorrow now, right? What do you do with your naughty toddlers and how did you teach them to not steal food?
I went for a bike ride today as my daily exercise (because I kind of loathe the gym.) In fact I have been walking almost daily, for the past week. I forgot how much I love going for walks, whether it be to somewhere or just for leisure. As I rode, the pedals going up, down, up, down, grinning ear to ear, head swaying left to right as I scanned the beautiful road-way, smelling sage and sweetgrass, the last of the lilacs, the beginning of the cotton woods releasing the white fluff into the air, I had to ask myself; Why don’t I do this more often?
I feel like a lot of us do that. My mum quit painting ages ago despite loving it. I know dads that quit playing guitar and sports. And instead we fill our days with errands and tasks and kid stuff and more errands that all it seems we make time for is television, or something that requires no energy and its a bloody shame.
I went for coffee with a good friend and when she asked me what I’ve been up to, I shrugged, “the usual,” I said. “Kid stuff, house stuff, blogging and yoga, gardening…” I paused. “taking naps,” and she laughed.
“Oh good, its not just me!” she says. “Thats kind of refreshing, it seems everyone I talk to when I ask that question they answer with ‘busy. I’m busy, just so so busy.’ Why is everyone so busy?!” she said throwing her hands up. “When did busy become a badge of honour?”
Now I laughed. I only laughed because what she said is true, and once upon a time I wore it like a badge of honour too.
For one, I really just didn’t know what else to say. I suppose I wanted to seem like I was doing something interesting, when really I was doing the usual. Work, eat, sleep, repeat.
It was after having Mila and attempting to go back to work and everything else I did before kids, getting pregnant again in the midst and having my world turn upside down, I realized, ‘hey all this busyness sucks.’
So I cut my schedule down to nothing and started over.
Now I’m almost always free. My schedule is loosely planned, I can fit anyone in for coffee. I spend a lot of time alone with the kids, floating from one task to the next. Hitting up the odd play group, appointment, Calgary trip. I’m really really un-busy and its kind of fucking awesome.
I’m not trying to make motherhood and homemaking a cake walk- it isn’t. It is stressful and it is a 24/7 gig. But it is because of these factors, I simplified it to this point so it is enjoyable. Before, for me, it wasn’t. I have also decided to spend my time more wisely, doing things I love, instead of spending my time on things I don’t enjoy.
No, I can’t spend my days skipping down a wildflower path, but I sure can walk to do my errands. House work is always there, its endless, theres a time and a place for that, but its not during Nap Time. I always, always spend the kids’ nap time doing something quiet, gentle and restful for myself. It is my time to ‘just be.’ When they wake, I wake, we work together. The errands are done over the span of the week. The laundry piles and is done in one day, usually after Justin complains of no socks, or Mila runs out of dresses. Toys are picked up periodically throughout the day and entirely before bed, everyone helps. The rest of our time, are just moments strung together that make up a day, broken up by meals and snuggles, tasks, reading and naps.
Perhaps not everyone can cut their schedule down to what mine is, but I encourage you to take a look at it, and see if you can in fact take more time to do something you love. You are not meant to work and work and work and work to pay for a vacation once a year so you can attempt to recover from working yourself into the ground. Life is meant to be enjoyed. There is beauty and simplicity all around you if you choose to see it and allow yourself a break amongst the chaos. I encourage you to join me in my #findingbeautymovement. Share with me your moments, the ones you that really speak to you. Share them so that they may inspire someone else to see the beauty in their life too.
Sending beautiful vibes your way, dear reader.
My daughter lost her beloved Bwanket (Blanket) this weekend. We didn’t realize until we were already on our way home that it was missing. She was falling asleep in the truck, chilled from the air conditioning, eyes heavy from all the walking and excitement the city has to offer. She whined to me, eyes closed, lips downturned in a pout, “mummy, I want my….Bwanket!” she managed the last word with a bit of drama.
I flipped around in my seat and began scouring the back of the truck with my eyes. It wasn’t there. In fact, I hadn’t remember seeing it since we were out walking in the middle of a city through a residential section. Why were we there? For a community garage sale. It was my husband’s idea, one that I was reluctant to agree on (I had had other plans) but sometimes you just do things for your spouse when you see that look in their eye saying “I really want you to come.” We went, it was a disaster (two kids yard-saleing, HELLO) but there is where I will leave it, because what is done is done.
I semi predicted the disaster awaiting us, but I could never have predicted the loss of Bwanket. You see, when you become a parent and your child chooses a Lovey, you protect that Lovey with your life. You do not leave home without it. You do not leave your location without double checkin, triple checking it’s availability. If it is not in their hand it is within your reach. AT. ALL. TIMES. It is the Ultimate Pacifier.
She fell asleep in the truck fine without it as I frantically ripped apart bags and any compartment, looking for it even though I knew it wasn’t in there. I felt sick. It was gone. I even found one on Ebay and scooped it up before we were home because I felt so awful. I knew she wouldn’t want it, because it wasn’t HER blanket. Hell, I didn’t even want it. Ebay Blanket hadn’t gotten puked on in Costa Rica because she was carsick. Ebay Blanket didn’t know her newborn smell. It wasn’t there for sleep training, Saturday morning cartoons, airport layovers, sick days, weekend trips and hotel stays and picnics. I couldn’t help but cling to the idea that the fabric somehow held those memories and without it I would lose them. Without it, Mila was somehow less like Mila.
Mila is my tough, live-in-the-moment girl. She is like a little Faerie, she doesn’t walk, she dances on her tip toes everywhere she goes. When things happen it’s like water off a ducks back, nothing seems to affect her. She rarely pouts for more than a minute. She’s never butt hurt, she doesn’t hold grudges and she doesn’t compromise who she is because someone didn’t like it. She is so far into the moment I am inspired by her. So when I explained to her Bwanket was gone, she frowned and looked down at her hands and slowly said “okaaaaay…” took a deep breath as if digesting this horrible information and went back to playing. At bedtime she reiterated she knew Bwanket was gone but that we would find it soon. She didn’t even cry until day two. And I was crushed even more over that.
Didn’t she miss it? Didn’t she need it? Or was I the one who needed it more than her? Was I the only one who associated its presence with her identity?
I think we do that with most material possessions and that is why they are almost a bit of a poison to us. We associate them with our worth and self image, without realizing thats not our True Self at all. It feels like our true self, despite it really only being our Ego. Our True Selves do not need possessions, labels, images or judgments. Our True Self does not desire for more, or cling to past events as fundamentals of our identity. Our Ego does.
Despite all of this I still went to the ends of the earth for find Bwanket. I looked because I still believe in treasuring some things. I think its healthy to surround yourself with things that truly make you happy, and Bwanket most definitely made the cut. I knew possibly where it was, but I was no where near the city to go and look, so I took to Facebook for help. By the evening, after many shares and posts to additional Facebook pages, it was found.
I felt utter relief and joy that it had been located. I snuck into Mila’s room and told her the good news and her face lighting up made my life. That blanket sparks absolute joy in that girl, and while the reminder that possessions can at times be a burden if they cement you into a box of self-imagery or the past; when something sparks joy, it should ultimately be loved and kept and treasured.
Bwanket is home now. Safe and sound in her arms. Mila was beyond thrilled, and me? Well you could say I was over the moon too.
Today was always meant to be a park day. The sun is shining and the sky is mostly clear. It’s the perfect spring weather, winter in the shade and summer in the sun. The kids were happy to be free of winter beanies and coats and instead got to sport canvas slip ons and zip up sweaters. I scored this darling cashmere sweater on clearance from Joe Fresh after Christmas, and it was perfect for layering with a leather jacket. It has become a new favourite piece for me since it is so versatile. Mila originally wanted me to wear my favourite black pumps, and I almost agreed but I really wanted to take them for a little walk to the park after running errands and felt they weren’t the most “park appropriate.” Luckily she compromised with a pair of wedges.
We ate graham crackers in the sun, I sipped my London Fog and the geese flew overhead in little pairs. Asher tested out his newfound walking skills on uneven ground. Mila’s shinbones found a few extra playground war wounds today, and there were many kissed owies.
This is Momlife. Coffee and boo boos and snacks. There was something on my pants and diapers in my designer bag. I have a handful of lipsticks in my purse because I always forget to put it on at home anyway. Wet wipes and extra undies, because, toddlers. Kate Spade paired with Kate Spade paired with my current read, Eat, Pray, Love.
I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I didn’t have kids. What would I be doing, who would be my friends, who would I be? My kids have changed me in ways I never thought parenting would. I feel like I’m a better person, more empathetic; but that I worry a lot more. I worry about the world, and about educations and schools and bullies. I worry about art and music and politics and healthcare and GMOs and chemicals in the air and in shampoos. I worry about what their lives will be like when they’re 18. How much will school be, and will it be any good? Will they know how to be happy, or meditate, or ask questions?
Momlife is a different life, but it’s a good life. I don’t remember what I used to do with my days before I had children. My days are slower now. We are park junkies, and outdoor explorers. I see the birds and I see the bugs and I smell the flowers because my children do. I notice the art and my attention is drawn to toast in the shape of Santa’s sleigh. Make up is half applied and coffee half drank because toy sharing needs to happen and “no Mila, you can’t eat chocolate for breakfast.”
Momlife is a good life. Momlife is just the life for me.
I hope the sun is shining wherever you are.
December 23rd invokes different feelings in everyone. For many it is the sheer excitement that in a few days there are presents and feasts and family and delight. Perhaps your family is already together in celebration of the holidays. Or maybe, its just “two days before Christmas.”
For me, December 23rd has the same excitement and joy in waiting for Christmas, but for other reasons. And three years ago it was filled with another kind of anticipation. I was swollen with the third trimester of my pregnancy, getting more and more uncomfortable by the day. I wasn’t due until January, but every evening while I lay in the bath I would place my hands on my stomach, envision them blending through the layers of skin and muscle and fat to surround the baby. I would envelope the baby as I would a precious pearl. I pictured myself holding them close to my heart, tucked under my chin and whispered,
“Whenever you’re ready, I’m here. It might seem like a scary journey, but I promise I will be waiting for you on the other side. You are SO loved already. So any day you choose for you birthday is perfect for me.”
I would say this over and over all while feeling reassuring kicks.
At my 37 weeks appointment I was assigned a new doctor as my other one had gone on holidays to Africa. My new doctor found the heartbeat, the reassuring ba-dum ba-dum as fast as a hummingbird. She pulled out her tape and measured me. She paused. Measured again. Frowned.
“You’re measuring awfully small.”
“I get that a lot.” I said.
“You’re only measuring at 33 weeks.”
I immediately felt icy all over. That was rather small.
“I want to get you an ultrasound. I want to see the blood flow from you to baby, there could be an issue with the umbilical cord. I want a non-stress test, blood and urine.” she said quickly writing up the requisition.
The ultrasound receptionist laughed at me when I asked for something before Christmas. “How could you possibly think you could get in?” I gave a meek “Sorry,” Feeling bad but angry. I wanted to shout at her “because there could be something wrong!”
I explained my issue of being unable to get an ultrasound to my Doc upon coming in for the others tests. She sighed, shook her head and hooked me up to the machine to measure the baby’s activity.
She seemed frustrated with the results of my blood, urine and non stress.
“I want you back in two days.”
The next week was filled with hospital visits and urine cups. It was as if she had a sixth sense, an inkling something was going to go wrong and by damned she was going to catch it at the first hint. She performed a bedside ultrasound on the evening of December 22nd.
“Baby’s head and height are measuring correctly…but the little belly is small. Babe isn’t getting the proper nutrition. I don’t know whats going on..I’d rather keep them in there so they can be bigger…weight is just over five pounds..” she muttered more to herself.
“Come back tomorrow morning.” she said after wiping up the ultrasound jelly.
I packed my bags that night.
My grandfather called me, later that evening.
“Hows my great-granddaughter?” he asked. “Why didn’t you call and tell me she was here?”
“Papa what are you talking about?” I was sitting in the nursery rocking chair, jittery with anxiety and now rather confused.
“The baby isn’t here yet, I don’t even know if its a girl, and you know I would call you as soon as I have the baby.” I laughed.
“Oh..Well alright then.” he said a little miffed.
“I’m going in tomorrow for some testing, I’ll call you if anything happens…but…you thinks its a girl eh?”
“Its a girl…Night sweetie,” he said.
The next morning, the non-stress test revealed that the baby was slowing down. There was more and more time between each sleep cycle, and was staying awake for less time. My urine also showed the hint of a sign of preeclampsia as the proteins were on a steady incline.
“Go home, get your bags. I wanted to leave this baby in to cook a little longer, but I feel that perhaps they would do better out than in at this point. I get the feeling you’ll probably go in to labour around 25th or 26th but the holidays are always crazy, lets just do this before Christmas.”
Nearly eight hours later I was holding a little girl. My labour was the perfect length, enough time to adjust, short enough to not be frustrating. My nurse was kind and loving, attentive and experienced. She walked me through everything, encouraging me in the shower, giving us the space we needed as a couple, as a team. She got me through the transitions, where I wanted to give in, crying because of the pain, feeling defeated because I just could not get through one. more. contraction.
But I did. And at 9:27 there she was. Pink and puffy and tiny. No screams to announce she was there. Just calm, serene, beautiful.
The doctor examined my placenta and discovered why Mila wasn’t receiving the correct nutrition: Velamentous Cord Insertion. Instead of the umbilical cord inserting correctly in the mass of the placenta, it had inserted into the membranes. It traveled unprotected by the heavy insulation of the Wharton’s Jelly where at any time it could have ruptured and she would have been a stillborn. At the time, we were all unaware of my other condition, Succenturiate Placenta, where I had a miniature accessory lobe of the placenta still inside, which would give me all kinds of issues in the coming weeks.
Aside from already feeling blessed by holding a healthy baby, I felt doubly blessed now as I tucked her beneath my chin like I always imagined and breathed in the smell of her head. I was just so grateful she had made it Earthside safely.
The last three years have been full of life, love, adversity and triumphs. Mila has grown into a fearless, tenacious, funny little girl. She loves to run and dance. She loves to be naked outside, running with her dogs, wild hair trailing behind her. She reminds me of a carefree little forest sprite. She’s caring and cuddly, shares with her brother and is so concerned when he wails. “I lay with you.” she says to me, every night as I tuck her in to bed. And I can’t help but crawl beneath the covers and breathe her in like I always used to when she was oh so small; her inhales and exhales growing longer as she fades off in to sleep.
Happy Birthday my Love. I’m so glad you picked me to be your Mommy. You’ve been the best Christmas gift I have ever got.
Five stockings. No. I’m not pregnant. No. I didn’t miscount. No. It is not for the sake of symmetry. Yes. It was intentional.
My dad thought, since it wasn’t any of the above things, that maybe it was because I was keeping a stocking as I would an extra setting at the table, for someone passing through, or who would otherwise not have a Christmas. And it is that, of sorts.
My extra stocking symbolizes the creation of ‘making space.’ Physically, emotionally, spiritually.
I’ve dreamed of three little sprites for years now. My heart has always told me three is my number; despite everyones protests and advice of being a family of five.
You’re always outnumbered.
They don’t make vacations for a family of five.
Someone is always left out, four is better.
But for me, two is not enough. Four too many. Three is just right. Unconventional. But perfect.
At the height of my depression when I felt I couldn’t cope with two children, I feared my dream would never come true. The voice of judgement went on and on about how inadequate I was, how dare I think of having more when I was already screwing up two children’s lives and so on. I love the acronym used by Gabrielle Bernstein of FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. Because none of this was true. I was gripped by fear. The fear of being a lousy mum.
I felt my dreams diminishing as the days wore on. As I sought help and balance returned, for the first time since I can remember, I actually just felt at peace. I didn’t want anything more. I didn’t want to buy or acquire anything. I was just okay, with exactly what I had, who I was, where I was. And that included my number of children. I felt so blessed with what I had and it was a phenomenal feeling.
As Christmas came closer, I pulled out our decorations and started stringing them up about the house. I came across these stockings, ones I had purchased last year while pregnant with Asher. I had been furiously searching Etsy and all the big box stores looking for knit looking stockings. With pom poms of course. And I found these, 70% off, at the grocery store, the Christmas stock clear out. Hardly the handmade look I was wanting, but good enough, and easy on the wallet. I picked up four, but then stopped.
What if we had one more?
I didn’t want them to have a different stocking. The odd one out for all of our Christmases together for all eternity. So I spent the extra three dollars or whatever it was, and got another one, for that maybe Extra.
This might seem silly, a dream, a waste of money, or maybe one will be ruined one day and actually will come in handy. But the way I look at it, it is the intention, the making of making space, preparation, for the cultivation of dreams.
I used to think, God, the Universe was just a genie of sorts. Ask and you shall receive right? But if it didn’t come in the timeline I had imagined, it was just all a hoax. Or I was undeserving, naughty and Santa didn’t deliver.
I’ve since learned that a lot goes in to the manifestation of dreams, patience, gratitude, are all key. Patience is more than just waiting, it is how you behave whilst you wait. Are you being truly patient; do you already feel as though what you have is enough; do you feel thankful and blessed?
Our dreams are being manifested and are coming our way, but how you feel, your gratuity, love, your doubt and bitterness have a direct impact on this process because they create mixed signals. You want it, but you doubt how deserving you are of it, or perhaps you pass judgment, so it sits in limbo. Wanting to deliver, but unable to due to a mixed message.
I want to remind you to have faith. How would you dream differently, believe more faithfully, if you knew that someone or something had your back?
By preparing, this act of making space, you are cementing the footings for these dreams. I am not pregnant, and I do not wish to be for at least another year or more, but I am putting out to the Universe that one more is welcome, my home, my heart has space for one more. I have full faith that exactly what needs to happen will happen, exactly as it should, when it should. Even if this little stocking stays simply an extra. This picture will forever show how much this spirit is wanted. This picture will be a physical reminder of a dream.
Because I think dreaming is essential in life, as vital as breath, as beautiful as sunrises and sunsets and rainy day kisses. Our dreams are a direct conversation with the Universe, a deep reflection of the heart. So this brings me to ask,
what is your heart saying?
Love and Light
and a very Merry Christmas, from my family to yours,
It has been three months since I sought medical help for my depression. I feel it has been a long enough time to gather an educated opinion on my experience in order to share it. If you happened to have missed my post on my Postpartum Depression, you can read it here.
I had a number of reasons for avoiding medical help in the first place despite having a deep respect for the medical field. I try to exhaust every possible preventative treatment before using actual medicine. Also, the sheer number of articles and people claiming to have cured their depression with a gluten free, sugar free, cruelty free diet was staggering. Then there was Spirit Science claiming depression was just a hoax or something. Probably just Big Pharma fucking with me. Cue paranoia.
Now while this great plethora of information called the Internet is a blessing it can also be a curse. I immediately tried to figure out what I was doing wrong, since my already rather clean diet was failing me. I tried harder; cutting more things out of my diet in hopes it would help and just ended up loathing myself for my complete utter lack of self-control. I was a mess.
I was also terrified that if I went on medications, I would never get off. I was scared it would screw up my body’s ability to produce its own neurotransmitters and I would forever be dependent on medications or be violently ill if I attempted to wean myself off.
This misinformation came from family members, as well as an ex. My ex told me, HIS ex girlfriend had been on anti-depressants for years, a high dose, and when she tried to get off them she was very ill, vomiting, bed ridden, and he thought they were unnecessary, evil, life ruining. He cajoled me to not go on them, when I was considering them back in high school to combat the sadness I had then. He convinced me to try St. John’s Wort (I was on Birth Control at the time which can make it ineffective, so I never tried it) to exercise more, it was a natural anti-depressant, didn’t I know that? Just. Don’t. Take. Pills.
So I didn’t. And I became afraid.
After my son was born, and things got really bad I kicked everything I had done for preventative medicine up a notch. I worked out more. I ate ridiculously clean until I would stress so much I would binge on sweets and hate myself more. I started doing yoga and guided meditations. It helped. But I would still feel like a failure when I inevitably would fly off the handle in a rage or have the outrageous compulsion to run my vehicle off the road. I was afraid to drive alone, because if my kids were in the back I knew I would stay on the road.
Reverse to three months ago. I was fucking scared. I was fucked up, but I was going to be more fucked up if I went on something and I would forever be on bloody pills for the rest of my life. I was 23. I didn’t wanna be on this for the rest of my life. How did this happen?
So I asked my doc, whom I trust with my life (she’s saved it a few times now) and this is what she said.
“They don’t know if medications cause the body to stop producing it’s own chemicals, or if your body has this inability to produce its own in the first place.”
She also said, “Postpartum depression is different from clinical depression/chronic depression. PPD is treatable. 6-12 months of medications and potentially therapy depending on the severity, and it is treated. Chronic is different. It’s a condition, which needs long term medication.”
Well that clears that up.
I remember sitting there feeling utterly relieved and utterly idiotic at the same time. I had listened to absolute bullshit from people who knew next to nothing on the topic. But mostly I felt relief.
I had fears that maybe I was just a shitty mom. Why couldn’t I handle the sleep deprivation, and the colic and the tough times? I signed up for this when I chose parenthood, get yourself together. Ridiculous, I know. I had even comforted friends who had said the same things during their struggles with PPD. But I still felt that way when it came to myself.
“It’s not your fault, and PPD doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. The moms that don’t care, they don’t get PPD. It’s the type A, caring, loving, scheduled, perfectionists, that get PPD.” Doc said.
I sighed. I knew that. Deep down I did know that. I knew I wasn’t a bad mom. I knew my perfectionist tendencies complicated things, but I was that way because I just really care.
It was hard seeing her concern etched on her face; her furled eyebrows, yet soft eyes. She was listening more intently to me than anyone had ever listened to me before. She truly cared. It was hard because she is such a serious person. She is childless; she loves her job, you can see the passion. She takes it very seriously; she’s a genius, I have never had a doctor so thorough. But her intelligence makes her a bit rough, as well as her experience. She sees babies die. She sees depression rip mothers apart and sees medications put them back together again. It’s hard to not be jaded. So seeing the care in her eyes, her face, and her body language. I had never seen her like that and it just about did me in.
For the last three months I have done a number of things to heal. I’m not trying to discourage you from attempting a clean diet in the name of a depression treatment, far from it; but this is where my high regard for modern medicine comes in- sometimes you need it, and that’s the really cool part of living in 2015, is its available, if you are willing.
I have taken both a 10mg dose and now 20 mg dose of escitalopram/Cipralex. It is a medication specifically designed for PPD. There were minor side effects listed, but to be honest I have only had one.
I don’t hate my life anymore. I don’t hate my kids and I can actually cope with stress.
I’m not angry anymore. In fact, I’m more patient than I ever have been. I’m able to be the kind gentle parent to my tantruming toddler. I taste my words before I spit them out.
I’m sleeping. This was the kicker in all of this.
“You need to get REM sleep.” She said.
“Well, duh, I know.” I said. “But how do I convince my baby I need sleep, it will be good for both of us? I have already sleep trained him.” I said.
“You might have to quit breastfeeding.” She says.
“That doesn’t guarantee me any extra sleep. I’ll just have guilt over quitting something I know I’m actually for sure good at. It’s the only thing that isn’t a struggle.”
“But you need to sleep. If you bottle feed, someone can help.” She retorted.
I sighed. Justin has always been a great dad and helper, offering to get up with the kids. I’ve always declined because he has to actually get up a work in the morning. Not that I don’t do anything. I do. But I get the liberty of doing it in my pjs. I sometimes get fortunate enough I sneak a nap. He can’t. Therefore I feel bad asking him to get up in the middle of the night with a screaming baby who wants his mom, and her bosom.
“Mothers with babies who don’t sleep longer than three hours at a time have been proven to have a higher occurrence of PPD. Sleep is essential. And if you cannot get sleep, these medications will not work.” She said seriously.
Well that was a possible reason as to why I was in this mess. Asher hasn’t slept since the day he was born. I could bore you with my sleep log, but I will make it easy for you. For the first four months of his life, he slept on me mostly, even during the day. Yes it was brutal. Yes I tried other shit. I tried everything. I don’t believe in sleep training before three months of age. As soon as I could I did though. It helped. For a while. But as they get older they get smarter. Granted he was sleeping in his own space, but after sleeping 8pm-1am, he was up every two hours. I was still only getting two hours of consecutive sleep. And more often than I would like to admit, I was up at 4 for reasons I don’t know, wide awake, eating cereal and watching Paid Programming.
Then my husband’s alarm at 4:30.
And 5:00 because he hit the snooze.
5:10 I’d beg him to turn them off. He did. But his back up alarm went off at 5:50. 6:00. He’d leave for work.
Mila is up at 7:00, just as I am fading into sleep.
Asher is up for the day by 7:30.
I asked for help. This was hard. But I did it, at the request of my doctor. People helped me when they could, it didn’t always work out, but I asked, and everyone did the best they could.
I stepped up the sleep training. It worked. We now successfully sleep through the night, getting up once to eat, and sleeping until morning. (Teething recently has been a bitch, but that’s part of the whole infant thing. I can handle that.)
Call me a bad mom for sleep training or whatever you want to call it; but something I find odd is, we are so adamant about educating our children, yet when it comes to sleep, this is off limits because it is ‘damaging.’
Sleep training is simply sleep education. You are educating children how to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own. Why is it so bad that everyone gets a good night sleep? Why do we make people feel so bad for choosing not to suffer all night? Because Facebook told you, sleep training destroys your child’s brain? Puh-lease. If you’re interested, read the book Bringin Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman; in it she studied French parenting and describes how the entire country of France essentially sleep trains their infants from birth. So if it were so bad, the entire country of France would be fucked up. Granted they do eat a lot of fois gras, and are “rude” to our standards, but I digress.
Anyway, by my personal experience, my degree of suffering and self-sacrifice does not make me a better mom than So-and-So.
Let me repeat that.
Mom martyrdom does not make you the “better” mom.
It makes you a sleep deprived one.
I was already taking time outs for myself; saying eff the dishes and giving myself a pedicure. Having a bath. Essential oils. Reading a book. Doing stuff I loved. This is important as mothers. Don’t leave yourself on empty. Love yourself. Fill yourself up. Do what you love, alone, child free, whatever it may be.
Get outside; for at least a half an hour. Feel the sun on your face. Bundle up the kids and yourself and feel the cold winter air. It will do you wonders. It tires out the kids. Fresh air and nature are essential in healing; just as much as medications.
Exercise. This can go hand in hand with outside if you decide to go for a walk. Exercise does not have to be at a gym, or be intense. Walk to get the mail, or groceries instead of drive. It doesn’t have to be hours of your day. Simply incorporate it into your life. And if you love the gym or running, well bonus. Do that.
Meditate. I think that our opinions of this are very jaded. If you think meditation is for yogis and monks, you’re wrong. You don’t have to chant OM SHANTI SHANTI OM SHANTI SHANTI- to meditate. But you can if you want. That’s actually a good mantra. You don’t even have to sit cross-legged, or join an ashram, or smell like patchouli (love patchouli, just an FYI). You also don’t have to do it for hours a day, although there is a quote that if you think you don’t have time to meditate, you should do it for an hour.
Meditation is as simply as connecting to your breath, as I have mentioned before in another post. Do it for one minute. Right now. Focus on your breath, going IN and going OUT. For one minute. That’s easy. Do it on the train, at a stoplight, while you’re out for you walk. Just be present. Wash the worries away, the to do lists and the fears and think about your breath.
Sitting not working for you? Do walking meditation. Be aware of where you are stepping. Take in absolutely everything you see around you. If you think you are already present, I will ask you this.
When you go for a long drive, can you recall absolutely every moment from the time you left to the time you arrived?
That’s because you’re in your head. When we go for a walk, we often do the same thing. So when you go for your walk which gets you outside for your 30 minutes a day, be present for it. Look at that, just killed three birds with one stone.
Do Yoga. Yoga is a moving meditation. People feel energized after doing yoga because of their presence involved with the activity. You exercised, you meditated, and you feel good. This goes back to killing two birds with one stone. Three if you do it outside.
Eat well. Nourish yourself by eating straight from the Earth. Quitting sugar did not fix my depression, but it sure does help my body function at a greater capacity. You feel and look better when you don’t eat these things. Avoid empty foods; highly processed foods, fake foods with high sugars, salts and fats. You are doing zero benefit to your body or your condition. We all know we can make better food choices.
I made a lot of choices when it came to treating my depression. I didn’t just meditate. I didn’t just try holistic or medicine. I did it all. And together, it integrated into this amazing support network that has helped me cope with this.
I don’t feel ready to go off medications yet; although possibly in the New Year, depending on what my doctor says. Honestly, I feel okay being on them. I feel really good. I’m hopeful, I’m clear headed, and most importantly I am the mom I’ve always wanted to be to my kids.
After going on my medications, I realized that I am that mom I always looked up to, the one I dreamed of being. It was shortly after starting my medications I sat down to play a game with Mila. I was patient, present, kind. I realized in that moment, that I couldn’t remember the last time I had done something to this capacity with her, not trying to catch a nap, gazing into my iPhone trying to fill my mind with something, or trying to become one with the mattress and disappear. I had to bite back tears because I couldn’t remember the last time I had played with her, yet here I was, playing Little People and even enjoying it.
I was 100% there, loving every minute of it, Asher at my side gnawing on a toy.
And by God, she was too.
So in summary,
If you think you are suffering from Postpartum Depression, depression and anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, please do not to hesitate to contact someone; your doctor, therapist, a family member, a friend, or me. You can contact me ANYTIME. The door is forever open.
I found the following literature helpful in the decision to seek help. This was forwarded by my best friend, my ‘soul sister,’ fellow mamma, and nurse, Laura. Much love to you L.
My children never cease to amaze me, in how much they educate me daily. My son just learned his second word, yet I feel like I’ve learned more from him in his nine short months Earthside than I have in all my 23 years.
He recently learned to climb the death trap, err I mean the two stairs leading up from the sunken sitting room. I call it a death trap because it’s a wide set of stairs, and there’s nothing we can do to barricade Asher from falling. Just like his nickname however ‘The Engineer,’ he cleverly learned to get as close to the stairs as possible, without falling; then squawk and wave his arms and yell at me until I pick him up and place him where his toys are down below.
My husband and I were discussing how fast he learned this new trick, when our daughter never learned to climb stairs until long after she was walking. Then we considered that, Mila just never got the opportunity since we didn’t have stairs at our old home.
Overnight Mila has transformed from a toddler into a pre-schooler. She has been listening, behaving, and holding my hand when I ask. We’ve been able to work out the power struggles without tears and she’s potty trained herself, in less than a week.
Potty training has been a source of immense frustration and stress. Why? Mostly because I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, I don’t know what to expect, I know its possible to do it in a few days because the Internet told me, and there is always that mom that potty trains her infant so you feel this ‘pressure’ to follow suit. It has also been a complete disaster the few hours I’ve attempted.
When things weren’t working so well for me I began badgering my mother on potty training secrets and how she trained my brother and I; and the best she had for me was “You potty trained yourself.”
This was almost the least helpful advice, or so I felt, because I’m a real do-er. I like plans of action. So, I just all out gave up, mostly out of frustration and I no longer wanted to think about kids that potty train themselves because they were mythical unicorns to me. I would just deal with it later, if she didn’t “potty train herself,” like my mother promised me she would. I knew she wouldn’t go to school in diapers, and it would work itself eventually.
So when Mila ran upstairs from her movie one day, yelling as she ran past “I pee on the potty,” went into the bathroom, pulled down her pants, removed her diaper and peed on the potty before I even got there- I thought it was nothing short of a one off miracle, although I was impressed.
But then it happened again. And again. She would get out of the tub to pee. We would be in the car and she would ask. She had totally figured it out. Maybe the stickers and skittles had a say, but honestly, we had tried those before to no success.
These two experiences really summed something up for me, and thus are why I think my kids are my greatest mentors. They proved to me that all you need to do is plant a seed, water it with opportunity, encouragement, and allow life to flow wherever it naturally wants to go. Let go of the illusion of control. Let go of expectation. And just let things flow.
My son is not some baby athlete because he learned to climb stairs earlier than my daughter or maybe some other baby. He was just given the opportunity to do it, he tried it, and he succeeded.
I could have pushed my daughter to potty train, harder than I had attempted in the past, working through my frustration, the accidents, the doubt in her. But I didn’t. I just told myself that she would not go to school in diapers, and that it would work itself out. And it did. I don’t think I’m lucky. I don’t think she’s a genius. It’s called opportunity. The potty was there, we talked about it, and I educated her about how to go, when and what to do. One day it just clicked for her.
I think we would all do a little better in life, and by better I mean less stressed, if we just let life flow where it naturally wants to. No, your child might not be climbing stairs at this moment, but maybe they are learning to wave, cutting teeth, or learning ‘mama.’ There is no clear-cut direction in parenting, and much of the rest of life is that way too.
I’ve been considering switching careers altogether, or just temporarily doing something else while the children are young. This has been an agonizing decision for me because I’m afraid to make a mistake, make a ‘wrong’ decision, as well as let go of my massage career. I felt like I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t even know how to get there, I didn’t know what I could possibly even take to get me remotely close to achieving this. So I decided to let my life naturally flow where it wants to be. Be adventurous until you find something that makes you say ‘I need more of this.”
I researched more of what interests me NOW. I bought some books, I’ve signed up for online classes. I went into specialty stores and meditated on the topic of my future career. I literally asked the Universe “what will you have me do? How can I be of the best service and use my full potential.”
And over time, little snippets of a sign appeared. Little messages popped up in my inbox or newsfeed. Suggestions were made on my Pinterest page, and the cogs really got turning. The answer is getting clearer and clearer as the days go by, as I dip my toes in more adventure, drink more tea, spend more time with the kids. Be open to the opportunities, and be open to taking them too, it makes life more adventurous, and it adds a little more beauty too.
I think we could all do with a little more beauty.
I originally wrote this for my blog…which was not up and running. I instead shared it to my personal Facebook page where it garnered many likes and shares. I’m sharing again, because I believe my sisters need to be reminded, as often as possible how amazing they are, and how perfectly imperfect they are, and just how OK that is.
I have always struggled with “fitting in.” I’m adaptable, change, although makes me uncomfortable at times, I’m not afraid of it. I like many things; I love being barefoot in grass, but have a closet full of worn stilettos. I’m a tom-boy at heart, but I’m dapper in a maxi dress and 70’s turquoise jewelry topped with a oversized sun hat; my go to outfit for summer. You find me, up to my eyeballs in gardening, dirt under my polished fingernails, iPhone always within reach. Diamonds, or semi precious crystals, it doesn’t matter. They’re worth the same to me. I love death-metal, but find myself cooking to indie rock. Vegan is my favourite cuisine. I love yoga, I meditate, I eat hemp hearts. I vaccinate my kids, and have been known to eat a hot dog on occasion.
Labels have always been something I’ve struggled with, because I don’t fit under just one. I sometimes fear people see me as a wannabe this, or that, but quickly sweep it under the rug. I remind myself of how I was as a child, where I didn’t care what people thought of me and the fear goes away. However the thing I wanted to be since I was a child, and the label I know fits me best, is Mother.
I am a Mother. I have been blessed with a life where I have two healthy, living children, to prove to the world that I am a mother. Although motherhood is heavy at times, I’m unable to see myself being anything else. Even in the thickest of things, I come out a better human being every single day. A little more patient. A little more wise. Much more compassionate.
Today, however, I caught a glimpse into the world of misogyny and motherhood perceptions I am trying so desperately to change; mostly, for the sake of my own daughter. My sister in law and I were at the park, and a young girl babysitting two other girls eavesdropped on our conversation. She then brought up the topic of having children, and how she “didn’t want to have kids because it just wasn’t for her, and they kinda, stretch ya out y’know?”
My sister in law and I giggled at her comment and continued to swing the kids. My husband used to shake his head at the amount of Bio Oil I used daily to ward off stretch marks. I’ll probably get cancer from it someday…maybe it worked, or maybe it’s my genes, but I actually did not get any stretch marks. Unfortunately, I know this is not the fate of the majority of mothers so I consider myself lucky.
I told her “that’s okay, not everyone is meant to have kids. If it’s not something you REALLY want, then I wouldn’t do it, its just not meant for everyone.”
“You never know,” my sister in law, piped up. “feelings change!”
The Girl continued on.
“Yeah, I just don’t want to go through all that pain and have all those stretch marks and be all stretched out down there”
“and have a baby and then the guy just leaves me cuz I’m all stretched out and he thinks I’m gross cuz I’m pretty much USELESS NOW. Nope, no thank you.”
I’m in utter disbelief at this point. Vaginas. She’s talking about vaginas. You don’t want to procreate because you’re worried that your man will leave you because you have a stretched out vagina, and therefore that makes you useless?
“Lemme tell ya something,” I said. “Your body is amazing, it can take a lot. And if a man leaves you because you grew his child and you have the marks to prove it, he doesn’t DESERVE you.”
“Yeah but,” she insisted. “I just don’t think it’s worth it.”
I glance at my daughter, praying she forgets these words as quickly as she hears them. How could you not be worth it, I think. She’s my little…I’d say princess, but she’s more of a bohemian goddess. Bronzed skin, sun bleached wild hair, dirty fingernails, little sundress, always barefoot.
I think about how much I loved her before I met her. I think about the love I have for my little boy, the love he has for his mummy; the family I always wanted. I think about how fucking worth all the pain, the blood, sweat, tears that went in to my husband and I’s relationship. How many times we packed our bags, ready to call it quits, but ended up in a puddle of tears embracing one another on the front lawn. How we could never give up. How, that love made these two perfect, beautiful, bright-eyed children. I think about how I could never live without them. How full they make my life, despite their impact on my body.
I don’t really know what to say to her. I know these aren’t her words, but maybe her own mother’s or friends’ mother’s coming out of her mouth. I can see she already made up her mind.
“I’ll tell you this,” I said. “I have more scarring from my bellybutton ring, than I did from growing a baby. I’d take the pain of pregnancy and childbirth, every day, for my children, if it meant they could be in my life always. Nothing could take away the love I have for my children.”
“Yeah, my mom says you forget the pain in a year anyway.” she agrees.
I forgot it the moment I held my daughter. The pain with my son, was emotional not physical, because he was premature and he was taken away within minutes of being born. I felt like my heart was in two; I couldn’t take a deep breath. Numb. So torn because my son was critically ill and needed their care, but I needed him.
I looked over at my husband holding my now healthy five-month-old son, clearly uncomfortable with the conversation. I wish I could see myself through his eyes most days. He doesn’t see the extra ten pounds I’ve been holding on to since Asher’s birth. He doesn’t see my deflated breasts, one usually bigger than the other from nursing. He doesn’t see my dry patches, or hormonal acne break-outs.
He sees this woman, juggling a baby on one hip, and a toddler dangling off one leg, cooking dinner, wiping noses and teaching alphabets all at once. He sees a queen, with long brown hair kissing boo boos and folding laundry. He sees my legs for their strength in carrying our children, in picking myself up when I’ve fallen, not their cellulite. He appreciates me. He thanks me. He tells me how sexy I am, how strong I am.
He sees the Goddess I am, nurturing our little sprites, emptied breasts, “stretched vagina’’, the tiny pooch tummy from growing seedling to baby. He sees me, the real me, the only label I will forever wish to be identified by: Mother.
“Yep, the boys at school play a game, how much would you pay to date her? All men are the same,” she scoffs.
By now I’m lost in my own thoughts. Sad. Because this is the world my daughter will be navigating in a decade. The one where she cares what people think, she’ll change her clothes, her hair to make someone else happy or to fit a certain identity. I see her looking in the mirror, pinching her stomach, something I’ve fought to stop doing myself, but something I refuse to do around her. I see her looking at my body, my marks, the evidence I carried her.
I see myself telling her how much she changed my body. How, it’s better now because it’s known the sound of her heart beating alongside mine. How it survived her great kicks and punches and twirls. How strong it was to fight through the pain of labour and how alive that made me feel. How I grew her, and fed her for her first year of life with my own body. How strong I am mentally. How capable I am. I will tell her, this I know because of You.
I see myself telling my son to see his partner as the goddess she is, the way his father sees me. I see myself telling him to love her curves, her fierceness, and her compassion with the same intensity of love he has for his mommy. I see myself growing him up to appreciate, to take the time to know this creature; the fury that resides within, concealed, often mistaken as weakness, but what is known as a ‘woman.’
I see myself thanking my children, for all they have brought me, for all the ways they have changed me.
But today, I thank the Universe for meeting you, Little Girl at the Park. I thank you for all your opinions on the topic, the identity I hold so dear to my heart. Because it forever will strengthen what I already know; that I am more than my cellulite and stretch marks, that I am capable in much more than just pleasing a man. That I need to keep teaching my daughter how to be a proud woman, to never let a man dim her shine; and if she does become a mother someday, to love every stripe and dimple. Thank you for reminding me how brilliant it is to be a Woman, and how fucking proud I am to be called “Mom.”