Just Pause

Finally checking back in. Finally found a moment to sit down and write. It only took me a few months this time. I’m proud I made it back to the blog before Christmas sneaked up on us. As expected, things have become quite chaotic around here. Best way to describe our busy: it’s a next level of busy. But I can proudly say that Amia has adjusted to the new routine and to daycare extremely well. I had no doubts. Her social and lovable personality just shines at daycare. She’s a natural.

Ma and Pa on the other hand are feeling the almost burn out point. That sounds scarier than it is. We’re not going to burn out anytime soon, but we’re feeling pretty run down juggling everything. From getting ready to head out the door in the morning (on time) to throwing some food together to make a quick dinner in the evenings, it’s a spectacle every single day. Amia is our priority right from the moment she’s up in the morning to the moment she’s in bed at night. We try as much as we can to get out of bed before her in the morning to get ready and organized. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. When she is up for the day, it’s a rush to get things going. We change her (for the record, the toddler tantrums have begun), feed her, pack her bag, and out we go. Side note, I have no idea how this is all going to get done in the winter months, I’m already dreading it. We’re out the house between 7-7:15 AM. Roughly 95% of the time, we’re late. Usually because our almost 14 month old already refuses to cooperate and put her jacket on (like I said, I’m already dreading winter).

Matt and I carpool, so we’re usually at work by 8 AM and leave by 4 PM. Most times, actually almost every day, our evenings seem like a blur. So, since having a baby, I have become a huge germ freak (not a germaphobe just yet). I think I’m still in denial. But ever since Amia has started at daycare, I just want to wash her up every night so that she goes to bed nice and clean. So, that’s exactly what we do. Every night when we get home, around 5 PM, the very first thing we do is give Amia a bath. Followed by her carefully thought out dinner, her milk, a bit of play, and then bed by 6:30 PM. Any later than that and we are in trouble. And once she’s in bed, we manage to make a quick dinner and usually by 9 PM we’re out cold.

It has been close to 3 months of getting through this new routine. I’ll admit (and not ashamed to do so), it’s hard. And it’s not like our 7.5 hours of work are a breeze either. Since returning to work from mat leave, I got a promotion (yay, I think), and it has been demanding on so many levels. I came across a really amusing and relatable meme on Facebook that Jillian Harris (I’m a fan, if you aren’t already, follow her!) shared. It was the crazy lady from the Dalmatian’s movie with the following lines: “Me trying to excel in my career, maintain a social life, drink enough water, exercise, text everyone back, stay sane, survive and be happy”. As comical as it appeared, there was so much truth to it. Work has been a rollercoaster of emotions. And with all the adjusting going on, I’m still trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and somewhat make time for social outings. So on many fronts, we’re both still trying to get a handle on work life all while managing to balance our personal lives.

But the other day, something dawned on me. Matt and I took an “us” day. Something that we haven’t done in a really long time. And it was very obvious that it was needed. Ladies and gents, Ma’s and Pa’s, do it. Take a day out of your schedules and forget about the laundry, the dishes, the house cleaning, or whatever it is that consumes all of your time and just take a break. Talk to your significant other. Hold hands. Giggle. Drink beer mid-day. And embrace the moment. For the last few months, Matt and I have been consumed with our day-to-day routine and naturally bickering over the littlest of things, we just needed to step away from the chaos. We dropped Amia off at daycare (which I felt uber guilty about at first) and grabbed two coffees and made our way to Gatineau Park for a nice hike. It was quiet, serene, and no one in sight. It was magical. It brought me back to our dating days. The days of just the two of us. I felt selfish, but at the same time soaked in every minute of the day.

All this to say: I actually really reflected about us and realized how entwined we’ve become with our work life and our day-to-day madness; sometimes late days, sometimes work travels. There was a time where I felt I needed to catch up with my career because I “lost” a year. Such a big misconception on my part. If anything, the skills I learned as a Ma during my year off are being practised in my work life. Time management, setting priorities, dealing with difficult situations. I’m still learning. We’re both still learning. And we’re both still adjusting. And that’s just it; we’ll never have our set routine or confidently say we have things under control. Because the reality is life happens. There will be ups and downs and we’ll continuously learn how to handle situations as time goes on. For now, during this moment of time, I’m focusing on us and noticing how much of an awesome team we make to keep our little family of 3 going.

-Ma

 

You are One, Our Little Warrior

To our little warrior,

Today you are one. It all feels like yesterday: holding you in our arms for the first time, delicately putting on your first set of clothes to take you home in, walking through the front door with you in our arms. The first few days and weeks feel like a blur. Ma and Pa were so sleep deprived and struggling to get me back to being healthy. Everyone would tell us to sleep when you were sleeping. But we couldn’t. We would place you in the middle of our bed and just watch you sleep. Pa would doze off, but I just watched and studied you. How did we create such pure beauty?

I’m not sure where the last year went. At the time, the multiple wake-up calls during the night or the “witching hour” moments felt so unbearable. But those moments passed. As did those precious moments: snuggling you during skin to skin, holding you in our arms and watching you look back at us and coo away, or attempting your first tummy time session (sorry, we had to!). And just like that you were a pro babbler at 2 months, started rolling around everywhere at 4 months, sat up all proud at 6 months, slept like a pro since 7 months, crawled at 9 months, became a pro at standing and pulling up on everything by 10 months, and a daycare attendee at 11 months.

My little warrior, you have accomplished SO much in this past year and we are so proud of you. Sometimes, I sit back and just observe how you play with your toys and I always wonder what you’re so meticulously thinking or deciding. We see more and more of your personality every day. Your signature wave stops strangers in their path to wave back at you. Your joyous smile brightens a room. Your love for music shows the second you start dancing away (more like bouncing around). Amia, never lose that pure beauty that resides within you. Radiate that pureness everywhere you go. You are destined to go places and Ma and Pa will be there to always support and guide you. You are and forever will be our strength and purpose. We love you.

Forever yours,

Ma and Pa

So, I’m Supposed to What?

Oh what a crazy past few months – summer generally is busy, add in a few weddings, some birthday’s, and get togethers; it equates to not enough hours in a day. And with all of the madness going on, we’ve been trying to organize our own life. I go back to work in less than a month. I’m in denial. There’s one line in Beyoncé’s Run the World song that always resonates with me, “Strong enough to bear the children then get back to business.” In theory, yes, this is true. But I’m lost. I have been raising a little human for the past 10 months. In the next month I’m obligated to return to work and trust a complete stranger to care for my child. What?

I’ll just state the obvious by saying that this year flew by. And as if the year wasn’t short enough, I do feel slightly robbed of the first 3 months of my maternity leave. Despite my best efforts of keeping positive, I sometimes feel like I could’ve done better during that recovery time. Better in the sense that I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself and just tried to enjoy every single moment. I remember feeling like a failure at times because I wasn’t able to do more than half the things I wanted to. But as I reflect back, I think we did what needed to do as a family and moved forward. I considered extending my maternity leave to make up for some lost time, but, for us, I don’t feel that would be the best option. As much as I have loved becoming a parent and raising a child, I miss my time. I haven’t glorified parenthood and I try not to because parenting is not a walk in the park. There were days (sometimes weeks) where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. And it was nothing against Amia. I just missed me. I still miss me. I miss my hot morning coffee, my hot shower, and my fun wardrobe (there’s only so many repeat home clothes you can wear before you realize you should probably do laundry). And as much as it’ll be healthy to return back to work, I’m going to miss my little warrior. Amia has been nothing but the best and watching her grow and blossom into a beautiful soul has been so rewarding; her softness and graceful acts of kindness have made me so proud to be her Ma.

Sometimes I wonder if I did enough during the past year. I took advantage of as many mom and baby activities happening across the city to keep us busy. I did anything and everything, from keeping myself active to keeping Amia stimulated. We also met a lot of other amazing Ma’s and their little ones. Whether it was at a playgroup or salsa dancing, Amia and I made new and fun friends everywhere we went. Sometimes if we had no place to go, I would pack Amia up and just drive. Lots of driving happened. We discovered many little towns and local shops. And if driving wasn’t in our best interest, I would just pack her up in the stroller and go for a nice long stroll. Something I wouldn’t do as often before baby. I saw more of my neighbourhood and realized how nice it is filled with many parks and trails. Our days were mini adventures. Together, we explored and discovered. And the days we were home (because we needed rest days too!), we would play, laugh, and my favourite part, cuddle – lots and lots of cuddles. Those damn cuddles get me – instant heart melt.

I’m really going to miss it all. I’m not sure how I’m expected to rise in my career, take a pause to start a family, and then resume establishing my career while still learning how to raise a child. This transition is going to be very interesting. Let’s be real, it’s going to be ridiculously hard. I also never thought we would find daycare for Amia. Not because of capacity issues at these centres, but because of me. We visited about 6 to 10 different spots, both home and centres. After our last visit, Matt caught on – he told me that no matter how many places we visited, none of them would ever be good enough. It’s true.

Matt and I finally agreed on a place. It’s nice and bonus it’s new. But I’m still trying to process the thought of someone else tending to my child. I know the educators are trained professionals. I need to learn to trust them. But the thoughts always cross my mind (yes the crazy Ma in me comes out): What if Amia is too cold? Too warm? How will she let them know? What if she’s really whiney? What if she’s still hungry after snack time? What if Amia just wants cuddles from Ma? The “what-ifs” are eating at me all the time. But then I try and remember the positives: that this is good for her and her development. Amia will make new friends, interact with new adults, and learn and play in a new environment. Her days will still be filled with adventures, just with different people. So, as much as I’m dreading the first day of daycare, I’m holding my head up and convincing myself that this is all good.

And with that, the next month will be spent making lots of memories; Amia and I plan on making the most of it. Normally I try and leave on a positive note, but this time, this Ma could use all the words of encouragement and positive vibes to make this transition as easy as possible (if that’s possible) – in the meantime, I’ll just keep jamming to Beyoncé tunes to stay empowered and remind me that I got this, we got this.

-Ma

 

 

I Didn’t Forget About You Pa’s…

Father’s Day came and passed. So, you must be wondering about my tribute to the amazing Pa’s out there. To be honest, I get a little choked. I had to build up some tough skin to get my words out for this post. A Mother’s love holds its own special place. But I truly believe that a daughter’s first true love is her Father. Some find this statement offensive. I don’t. For us daughter’s, our Father is the first man who wiped away our first tears and held us close to their heart.

I have witnessed this love first hand between Amia and Matt, her Pa. I have never doubted Matt’s big heart, but since Amia, the love he gives her each and every day just moves me. I know he has been dealing with some changes in his career, but the second he walks through the front door every evening, he leaves work behind him and shows up for Amia. I’m guilty for giving him a hard time, almost all of the time, but I recognize his love for his daughter, I always have. He’s the goof she needs (I mean that in the nicest way); he’ll let her play with her food, splash a little longer in the bath tub, and push her bedtime for some extra giggles between the two of them. And Amia loves it. The moment she hears the front door unlock, she knows it’s Matt; she stops whatever she’s doing and turns to the direction of the door. Her face instantly lights up when she sees Matt walk in. This moment melts my heart every single day. The time they spend on evenings and weekends is short lived; I wish I could have Matt stay home all day, not for my own selfish reasons, but to see the bond between Amia and her Pa grow stronger.

I’ve come to the realization (there’s been a lot of these lately, bear with me), that a daughter and a Father’s relationship is very unique. To us daughter’s, our Father is like that best friend figure; he’s the go-to when we’re in need of something (and we know mom won’t approve), or when we want to be silly, or when we really disagree about something we won’t speak for days and then forget why we’re not talking. At least this is how I’ve experienced it to be. My Papa: the “goofiest cool strict Dad” you’ll ever meet. The thought of doing math homework with my Pops still gives me shivers – god forbid if I ever made a mistake. But it was my Pops who taught me how to ride a bike, polish my parallel parking skills before my driving test, and to overall be a tough cookie (but I still can’t kill a spider without calling him to the rescue). Even today, he empowers me to push myself and to never settle for second best. He will only ever give credit to my Mom (understandable), but give yourself a high-five, Pops – you did good.

And to the Ma’s out there who fulfill both the Ma and Pa duty; I salute you – you are my true heroes. I could never imagine raising Amia without Matt and I could never imagine growing up without my own Pops. Again, sorry Pa’s for the belated shout-out. Your efforts and selfless acts never go unnoticed.

– Ma

A Ma’s Day Special

This post is a special one. Today is Mother’s Day. A day we celebrate all of the beautiful Ma souls; our creators, the backbone of our existence. There is so much our Mother’s have done for us that go completely unnoticed. I only realized this after becoming a Ma. Our little ones will never know how us Ma’s survived the sleepless nights, the worries of feeding, or the way we watch them sleep. They’ll never get it. And that’s okay; I think it’s part of the role of Ma-hood. We do these things out of care and concern with no expectations; it’s how we’re naturally programmed. So as much as we should celebrate all the Ma’s today, they deserve to be honoured every single day for all that they do.

Like I said this post is a special one. I started this blog a few weeks after Amia was born. I felt empowered as a Ma to write and share not only the joys of Ma-hood, but the challenges we face but don’t talk about often. The writing has helped me mentally to let the thoughts out from my mind. I sent out a request on my personal Facebook page asking other Ma’s, Ma’s-to-be, and Pa’s too to share something about Ma-hood. And this is why this post is special. Today I’m sharing with all of you words from other brave Ma’s who are expressing their experiences/challenges/stories about Ma-hood. I’ll leave you here with their stories. Again, love your Ma’s today and always. No explanation needed. They need us as much as we need them.

-Ma

Pearly’s Story: 

January 03, 2016 was the day we found out we were expecting….  The day my maternal instinct kicked in, in full force.

Although it was a surprise to us, we were overcome with joy and lots of emotions. My husband, (boyfriend at the time) who had lost both parents a few years back, said to me “thank you for giving me a family”.

I’ll never forget that moment. I felt incredible, divine, powerful, fulfilled…

I also felt confused and tired. Very VERY tired. Despite knowing we were doing something great and out of pure love, I was confused. I have naturally always done things differently, against the “norms” of society and I am also never apologetic about it! This is who I am but suddenly I was thinking “people will be shocked” and “what will my family in Malaysia think?” and most importantly “my mom is going to be pissed!!” Regardless, it is news we had to share.

Growing up in a South Asian household predominantly influenced by a mix of Malaysian and Punjabi culture, we had always been outsiders in our own community. Simply because my parents were more liberal and understanding. Still, my mother WAS shocked…. AND pissed! When we told her, there was first a wave of calm and confusion. Then, a concerned/pissed mother with a million questions. Finally, an understanding and compassionate mother who held me and cried with me. She saw my confusion and offered her support. That is all I needed. All of this happened within 48hrs of us taking that pregnancy test. I had my true love and my mother and I felt incredibly loved and unstoppable.

This was the beginning of my journey into motherhood.

Although there were many ups and downs, I will focus on the high points.

My pregnancy was sensational. I’m not religious nor do I believe in a god but if there is such a thing, I found it in my partner. He is my king of strength. He is a hunter-gatherer protecting his women. He is a phenomenal man. From the physical comforting to my mental well being.. He tended to it all. When I met him, my life changed. I can see now that all of the bumps we faced in our lives (and there were a lot) were preparing us for each other. We survived distance, doubt, hate.. Our love created a life force. Proof that magic does exist.

I could not have had such a pleasant birth experience without him. From 3:30am when my water broke to pushing (REALLY hard) for 2.5 hrs. Together we experienced the most painful and challenging thing in our lives but it brought us even closer.

I’ll never forget the look in Nicho’s eyes when he saw Reina for the first time. He shed his previous sense of self and a father was born.

January 03, 2016 is the day I became a mother. 2 hearts became 3. The love I felt is indescribable. August 27, 2016.. the first time I felt Reina on my chest, I landed on another planet. Her cries turned into a calm sleep and unfathomable depths of love oceans flowed through us… I felt stronger, more intuitive and capable of being her mother. She is what I had been missing.

I had been waiting for her and I am so grateful she chose me.

Anonymous Story:

I began writing my birth story with the intention of sharing my experience with both birth and subsequently, life with a newborn. I reached two full pages of writing without even breaking the surface…which is when I decided to re-evaluate exactly what message I wanted to share for both interest’s sake and what I feel is most important to know; exactly how can I benefit any potential readers after sharing my piece? Well I’m about to try my best with the hour I have before babe wakes for a feed again.

The fact that I’m being given an opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences through a fellow mom is bit of a testament in itself to a lot of the feelings I’ve had during my first six weeks as a new mother to our beautiful baby; as parents, we need each other more than I could’ve ever imagined. Before giving birth, I was always a very independent person – asking for help and support didn’t run thick through my veins. I can’t tell you how much I’ve changed in just six weeks. Realizing I was about to and actually giving birth at 35 weeks pregnant all within the span of four hours was just the beginning. Without any further ado, I want to share my experiences here in way of gratitude. I’d prefer this to be a bit more polished, but with a newborn on my baby monitor potentially waking at any time, I’m going to give you my raw thoughts…so here I go:

  • To all my fellow moms and dads: thank you for welcoming us with open arms, encouraging and supporting us as we made the biggest transition of our lives. I used to think the whole “welcome to the parenthood club” was like okay yeah, cute, y’all are parents and a bunch of geeks now (hey, no hate…I voluntarily joined this club!) but I can’t explain what a club it truly is; it’s like receiving all this love and support from people you may have not even shared much of a connection with before, or people you hardly even know. They get it, you get it…and it’s a bond like I’ve never had with anyone before; not even the people I am closest to. So thank you for enabling me to have such wonderful outreach along my journey so far. My sanity would not exist without you.
  • To my fellow mommas: you are freaking INCREDIBLE for everything you do, from birth to the moment your baby leaves for college. I now truly understand why moms are often likened to superheroes – this isn’t some cute suggestion, moms are the real-life definition. You deserve the world.
  • To all you supportive dads: you are ROCKS and bring so much calm to the turmoil us new mothers are going through. Having a baby with a supportive dad has made me fall in love with him ten times over…I just can’t imagine doing it without him. For those of you that have done it without “him”, you are incredibly amazing for being so strong. I look up to you.
  • To single moms, moms of multiples, and moms with more than one child: I don’t know how you do it. I truly don’t. You are amazing and deserve a national award. Sending you so much love and strength. You are ROCKSTARS.
  • To my fellow moms of preemies – I know. I know the pain, the guilt, and the joy of seeing your whole heart go through things that even an adult would find scary; waiting to see if your baby would start reversing their above-threshold- weight loss and jaundice…and seeing that feeding tube go through their tiny noses into their bellies to nourish them. These are just some of the problems with premature babies, and after meeting several other sweet mothers who were doing the same song and dance as I was – breast pumping for 20 minutes (since you weren’t allowed to try breastfeeding because it would impact your baby’s delicate energy reserves), coming to feed your milk to your baby and rock them to sleep, then returning to your room to eat and do it all again an hour later for the entire duration of your baby’s stay in the NICU – I couldn’t fathom the bigger problems our baby’s NICU neighbours were facing. A few moms had babies in the NICU for months after delivering 2-pounders. My heart goes out to you all, moms of preemies and micro-preemies. I hope it gets better soon.
  • To nurses of all wards: you are true angels on earth. It brings me to tears just thinking of how incredibly sweet, supportive, and caring you all are. What you do is SO important and you help to change lives for the better every single day. I’m bordering a career change here…;)
  • To my fellow mom out walking her newborn, covering those teary, dark-circle- ridden eyes with giant sunglasses, sporting unwashed hair, and clothes stained with milk and all sorts of baby fluids: thank you for that knowing smile you flash me when we pass each other. There’s nothing like solidarity – stay strong, sister!
  • To mothers experiencing post-partum depression (PPD): we must believe that life will go on and things will get better with time; as much as I am reminded of this, on my darkest days, there is no light at the end of the tunnel despite how anyone tries to paint the picture for you. I hope that anyone experiencing symptoms of PPD get them checked as soon as possible, and for those family members and friends of someone who might be at risk, please do not dismiss the signs as being normal emotions (although it is a roller coaster for the first couple of weeks) when they are experiencing them long after giving birth. Please encourage them to seek help. Mental health is more important than I ever knew before now, and there is absolutely no shame or guilt in speaking up about your true feelings.
  • To friends and family of mine that have had a baby that I’ve visited in the past: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not offering more help and recognizing that the last thing you wanted to do was chit chat about baby and your birth story, about what’s going on with me, etc. for any time over 30 minutes. My vow to my friends and family with babes in the future is to come over (if you will accept), bring you meals, groceries, cook for you, take out your garbage’s, do you laundry if you are comfortable, watch babe while you shower, whatever you want. You got it.
  • To friends and family of parents: your friend/sister/brother/daughter, etc. need you. They need you to offer and push your help on them. Thank you to all supportive friends and family out there. Without you, we wouldn’t be succeeding.
  • To mommas-to- be: I need you to know that early parenthood is truly both the most wonderful, the most difficult, and one of the most trying times of your life so far. Nothing can prepare you for it. I encourage you to reach out for support of all kinds: accept ALL of the help you can get – cooked meals, groceries, cleaning, watching babe while you sleep (SLEEP WHILE THEY SLEEP!)…accept all the damn help you can get! Because, trust me love, you barely find time to even feed and hydrate yourself. Please also remember to never feel judged for any decision you make – there is no right way to do anything except love up on your babe. Especially for feeding – know that FED is BEST. No one cares if you feed by breast or formula –please make the decision that is best for your sanity. To take care of your baby, you need to take care of yourself. More important to keep in mind – enjoy your little human as much as possible. Every coo, every snuggle, every tiny smile (whether it’s gas or not, hah!)…and attempting to read I’ll love you forever while rocking your babe…good luck to you and your melting heart 😉 Parenthood is truly the hardest job in the entire world. Please go hug your mothers and fathers, and for those of you who are mothers, go and do something for yourself. This mothers day, I have been blessed with not only the title of mom, but an entirely new perspective on life. Parenthood is so much more than I could’ve ever anticipated; nothing can truly prepare you for the road ahead. I’ve never felt more vulnerable, naïve, in love, frustrated, scared, and sleep-deprived in my life. But what’s most important is that despite consistently cold coffee and being in pyjamas all day every day, my baby is happy and is thriving. I have so much love and respect for parents, I can’t even explain it…so I won’t begin to try. Sending so much love to all you amazing moms and dads forever and always. Infinite x’s and o’s.

Francine’s Story: 

Motherhood happened suddenly and apologetically. It didn’t care that I packed up all of my shit and left a man’s home, changed my number and vowed never to speak to him again. That I was in a different country, alone, left my job and my city. I did not feel bad that I was 36, divorced, not married to the father of the baby and broke with no plan. I didn’t feel sorry that I wasn’t prepared to hear I would be a mother and single mother, face my family, her father, the shame of an imperfect situation.

I thought I couldn’t do it. Despite her disappointment of the circumstances, it was my mother who told me as I paced the hallways of the hospital, that I could do it and that it would be fine. I let go of that shame and at that first ultrasound a day later..felt joy.
The rest of my pregnancy was magical. I soaked it all in and I accepted that although I didn’t have much, we would have everything we needed.

I was a total rockstar in the birth (I have to give myself props)! I had a home birth and never been so proud. Despite a complication that caused a lot of blood loss and could have been fatal, I still feel like a rockstar because I did it, I survived it and I would do it all again.

Motherhood has been beautiful and challenging but committing and trusting in something greater than myself to guide me and protect us both has been an absolute awakening. I have something I’ve always wanted and it took it to come in the most unapologetic and rude way possible but I am so grateful for the gift of my beautiful daughter, for being knocked on my ass and for giving me the opportunity to build it all back up one block at a time..with patience and authenticity.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

After a serious hiatus, I am back. I actually started this post a while ago, but geez, life just got really busy. Our little warrior is now 7 months. I’m still in denial. Time needs to chill. In the last 7 months, we have seriously come a long way. By we, I mean Matt, myself, and Amia. We’ve adjusted nicely to our cozy family of three. Nothing is perfect, nor will it ever be, but each and every day we are thankful for our life and for each other. Originally, I wanted my next post (being this post) to go back in time – I have wanted to share our honeymoon travels to Dubai, Maldives, and India. Instead, I’ll give you a little update on us (because it has been a while). But I promise, one day, l will write about our trip of a lifetime; it deserves to be shared.

We’ve been keeping busy since my last post. We took our first family trip and visited Matt’s parents in Florida. When I was 4 months old, my adventurous parents packed me up and took me overseas to India. Brave, right? I figured if they could handle an infant on an international flight – I got this – what’s a 4 hour flight to Florida? I wasn’t worried. We spent our weekends leading up to the trip preparing and buying items; mostly for the little one. New stroller. New summer clothes (my favourite part). New bottles. New carrier. Lots and lots of new. I started packing 3 weeks in advance. I wanted to be sure nothing would get missed. I consider myself organized – not overly organized, but I can get it together. I don’t colour coordinate or label items, but I can place items in piles and know what’s going on.  All that to say, I was feeling pretty confident up until the night before our flight. That’s when it truly hit me that my child will be taking a flight for the first time and I don’t know if I’m prepared for the worst case scenario. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much the night before our flight. We had a 6 AM flight and had to be at the airport for 4 AM. Before putting Amia to bed that night, we placed her into her travel clothes – less to do in the morning. While our little one was getting some much needed rest, Matt and I were doing the sheer opposite – we were still packing. This is when my nerves kicked in – what if we were missing something really important? What if I didn’t have enough clothes? Did we pack the thermometer? Enough bottles? Did someone pack socks for her? Socks? Really? We were going to Florida. But I was a worried wreck and I don’t think I’ve experienced such anxiety as much as I did that night before our flight.

In any case we arrived at the airport on time. Checked-in. Ready to board. So far, everything was going smoothly; even our luggage weight was perfect. Normally, I am not a nervous flyer – I’ve always enjoyed flying and travelling. But travelling with an infant is VERY different. Along with our luggage, we had Amia’s diaper bag, her car seat, her stroller, her carrier to lug around. From my research on my Mom Facebook groups, I knew that it was suggested to nurse Amia during take-off and landing. My attention was geared towards her well-being and comfort that I completely forgot to chew gum – I always need gum during take-off. But of course, she surprised me. Not a single tear during take-off. She was just so curious about her new environment; the whole process didn’t faze her. It was such a good feeling when we landed – leaving the snow behind us, taking in the sunshine, and enjoying some much needed family time. We spent a few days with my in-laws and then headed to Orlando for the remainder of the trip. I was pretty adamant to visit Disney World – what’s the point, right? Your 6 month old will not remember a thing. Without sounding too silly, the visit to Disney World was for me. I have been bugging Matt for a while now about visiting Disney – I was on his case that we should go before we have kids; it’ll be more enjoyable – but he didn’t listen. I had been to Disney a couple of times; this was Matt’s first time. We managed to enjoy the full day at one of the theme parks. I was worried that the day would be too much for Amia. But, again, she surprised me. She was a champ and thoroughly enjoyed being outdoors and even loved being on some of the slow paced rides. She was soaking it all in; now, if only Ma could just sit back and do the same.

I think as Mom’s, our number one stress is worrying. At least for me. I worried so much about Amia’s well-being throughout the trip. She was completely fine. But I worry because of the unknowns. I am a planner and I like to know details. In this case, we didn’t know how she would respond to a new environment – the weather, the new sleeping arrangements, or the new routine for the week. But, I’ll say this one last time, she surprised me. Babies are very adaptable, more so than we are as adults. They sense change, but they don’t shy away from it. They embrace it and love it. Without any trouble, Amia was back to her routine once we returned home. Overall, a very successful first family trip. We’re ready for the next adventure.

So, going back to the part about us Mom’s stressing ourselves out from all the worrying we do; seriously, we need to tone it down, or at least I’ve been told by Matt I need to chill sometimes. I can’t help it. I grew a human inside of me for 40 weeks 5 days. I think I mentioned this in my first post, but my worrying kicked in the second we found out we were pregnant. But now my worries have heightened to an entirely different level. Is she eating okay? Is she sleeping okay? Oh my, the sleeping. Let’s talk about the worry surrounding her sleep for a second. Since birth, we co-slept. At the time, this was the best decision for us. Fast forward to Amia at 4 months and the whole co-sleeping thing was not going well anymore. Her sleep schedule suddenly changed on us and she would wake up every 2 hours to feed. Something had to give otherwise this zombie of a Ma was going to lose her mind. So, we started the process of sleep training. This meant that we moved Amia to her own room in her own crib. This transition came with a lot of worries and heavy hearts. The adjustment was not easy, for Ma, Pa, or Amia. Matt and I dedicated a weekend to start Amia’s sleep training process and I was told to leave the house on the first night as things would not be easy for me. We were working with a professional sleep consultant through this process but it was still very difficult to fathom. Why? Well, just imagine this child who only knows the comfort of her mother or father and only knows how to sleep in their arms is now being forced to sleep in a completely new environment. Amia didn’t know any better. I felt terrible the first night we started. I remember waking up in tears and telling Matt I wanted to bring her back to our room. I was ready to back out. But through Matt’s encouragement and determination and realizing that this was best for our little one and for us, we kept at it. He was the superstar throughout the training. All I could do the first night she was in her crib on her own was just worry. I watched the monitor like a hawk – constantly checking her breathing reassuring myself by watching her chest move up and down; the slightest noise making me want to run to her room to check on her. Of course, during this time Amia learned how to roll over on to her stomach – the panic set in because the second we put her on her back to sleep, she’d roll. But we quickly realized (and researched) that once baby’s start rolling over on to their stomachs, they’re fine.  Although it has been a couple of months now since Amia has been sleeping in her own crib, from time I still wake up to check the monitor to make sure she’s okay. I’m that Ma!

Yup, I am that Ma and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to admit to it. We all have our own irks and quirks, our own opinions on things, and our own preferences on how to do things, and that’s perfectly okay. You created your own child, therefore only YOU have the right on how to raise your child. Another fair assessment about your children is that they all come in different shapes and sizes. Amia is a petite one. She was born at 7 lbs 9 oz; however, genetics would suggest she’s just a wee one. Our doctor has never shown any concern regarding Amia’s weight. Amia is reaching all of her milestones, she is a happy baby (most of the time), and most of all eats, poops, and pee’s around the clock. But this Ma was worried (sometimes, still am). And I think what sparked my worrying is that anytime Amia was surrounded by other babies around her age, well the comments would start pouring in: “Oh my, she’s so tiny.” Yes, I am well aware my babe is tiny, I created this human. No, I’m not depriving my child. But as our doctor put it, Ma and Pa are not large people; therefore don’t expect a chunky monkey of a baby. But no matter what the doctor would tell me to assure me that Amia is growing perfectly, it was bothering me. I somewhat started doubting myself. Maybe my breastmilk isn’t cutting it? Maybe I’m doing something wrong? Or maybe I’m missing her cues? Gosh, the thoughts that eat at you sometimes almost don’t let you live. I would constantly worry about this, especially before bed. And of course, asking Dr. Google did not help. Ma’s, if there’s one piece of advice I could give, it is to NOT Google anything related to your baby period. I think at one point I had myself convinced that there was genuinely something wrong with me or with my babe. That’s when I realized, enough was enough. Honestly, trust your instincts and move forward.

As time goes by, I’m slowly starting to get over it: worrying aimlessly about Amia. Because in the grand scheme of things, I need to stop taking to heart about what others have to say about MY child. I made her. I know her best. I know what she needs. I know when she needs to be fed, held, soothed, or changed. I don’t need anyone telling me otherwise (of course my own Mother is the exception to this rule). I’m mastering the “in one ear, out through the other” practise when it comes to people and their opinions. I know some people are genuinely offering a suggestion of help, but trust me, I got this. All that to say, I still worry sometimes about Amia’s weight, but now that she’s eating 2-3 meals a day, plus her bottles, plus the breastmilk (she’s an eating machine), she’s good. I’ve accepted that my 7 month old is a petite babe, and I’m okay with that. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that just as every person is unique, so are babies – that’s why it makes me wonder why we try and put babies into the same basket and compare them. A baby will learn how to crawl, roll over, babble, or walk when they’re ready to do so. The “Mom Competition” is real. So many times I’ve heard Mom’s comment over one another. Sometimes, the comparisons are really not necessary. All of our babes are achieving their milestones in their own special ways; let’s celebrate that. I think it’s also important to note that we shouldn’t be afraid to discuss our fears about our babe’s or about our postpartum life. I’ve said this before, life after baby is not glamourous. I am guilty of sometimes posting your standard hallmark-esque pictures that deceivingly show nothing but smiles and happiness in our life. Trust me, it’s not like that 90% of the time around here. We have our ugly days and then we have our very ugly days. But I hope by opening up about some of worry’s related to Amia will show that I’m just as human as you are and I’m trying to figure it out one day at a time.

So, as much as Ma-hood has brought happiness and excitement in my life, the level of worriedness for my child has grown exponentially. It’ll never change. I know this is only just the beginning. I’m trying very hard to not turn into a helicopter Mom – only because I want my child to explore and grow as freely as possible, but my helicopter Mom tendencies do come out in some moments. I’m also trying not to worry to the point where that’s all I do and fail to enjoy the precious moments with my little one. I never believed it when people would say to me, “Enjoy this time, it flies by.” I get it now. At 7 months I can’t believe how much has changed. My next big worry: daycare. Our hunt has begun and it absolutely scares me. I’ll save that story for another time. For now, let’s all try to worry a little less about things and enjoy the present moment with our loved ones – especially our precious little munchkins; they’re the best.

-Ma

 

Appreciate. Appreciate. Appreciate.

How often do we sit back to reflect and appreciate the little things in our lives? I remember as kids growing up, my parents would always reiterate to my brother and I to always be thankful and appreciate the food on the table, the hot water, and the roof over our head. We did. I don’t think we’d be where we are today if we didn’t appreciate these things. But since becoming a Ma, I have found myself in general just observing more, understanding more, and definitely appreciating more.

Observing. Until recently, I never paid attention to accessibility or convenience in public places. I used to access the automatic doors nonchalantly. Unknowingly press the handicap button to open doors. Funniest one: take the stairs wherever I could because elevators make me feel claustrophobic. Fast forward to today, I now think twice before leaving the house to venture out with my almost 5 month old. Not because we don’t want to leave the house, but because I need to ensure that we’re well equipped to tackle the obstacles ahead in our day’s excursion. What if there’s no nursing room (this “what if” is ALWAYS a major concern)? What if beb has a major poop explosion (this has happened)? What if there’s nowhere to change the little one? All the “what if”s” that a first time Ma could possibly think of literally seep through my mind. And I don’t believe I’m wrong in thinking this way because I have been in situations where the place in question has no means of accommodating me or my little one. About a month ago, I shared on my Facebook the horrible experience I had at the passport office. I won’t get into the details of that experience here again, but in a nutshell, it was not pleasant. Waiting for over 2 hours to be attended to. No place to change the little one. No place to feed the little one. No proper place to sit with the little one. No courtesy. When we were first attended to for our initial application screening, I jokingly (well, deep down I was quite serious) said, “Oh, is there a priority for women with young kids?” The person behind the counter just chuckled. Okay then.

So, I’m not trying to come across as a “negative Nancy” here by complaining about all the wrongs that I have been encountering lately; I’m just trying to create some awareness about the struggles us new Ma’s (and experienced Ma’s) tend to experience. Another struggle. Parking lots. How many parking lots do you know of that have priority parking for pregnant women and/or women with young children? I’ve seen a few lots, but how many spots? In my opinion, not enough. Isn’t that a bit ludicrous? Actually, what’s extremely ludicrous is how I went to the mall with beb the other day and the automatic sliding doors had a sign saying, “It’s cold out and for that reason the automatic sliding doors are out of service.” Um, pardon? So, you expect me to open a door and struggle to wheel in the stroller at the same time? The worst is coming across a handicap button that fails to open. This one makes me sad/angry. So, all that being said, how do we make this society realize the obstacles that exist for women who are either pregnant or have young children? Actually, how are people who rely on accessibility assistance coping? Seriously makes me wonder and question our true concern for those in need.

In any case, at almost 5 months post-partum, personally I’ve started to stop caring as much. Caring less in the sense that if I need to feed my child, I will find a quiet private corner and feed. Or, if I need to change her soiled diaper, I will lay down a blanket and her “on-the-go” change pad (so convenient!) and change away. But the issue of accessibility still angers me – something needs to change. Ma’s need to unite to make a difference; who is with me?

Understanding. The understanding component stems from me being more observant of my surroundings lately. I now understand how challenging Ma-hood is. Not just on an emotional and physical level, but psychologically it can take a toll on you. If we stay home, we go crazy. If we go out, we also go crazy, well more so me. But I choose the latter. Getting out and seeing other faces make both of us happy (I think). And as the days go by, I’m more understanding of Amia’s needs – when she needs to nap, play, or needs a change of scenery. Slowly a routine is forming; although, there are some days where she throws me off. But this “understanding” would not have happened without observing her ever changing personality and behaviours. Unfortunately, she didn’t come with a manual (I remember my parents used to say this – actually, they still say this). Both, Ma and Pa are learning and are more understanding of the time we spend with Amia now. These months are pivotal as Amia is growing and developing, so as much as it might feel like a mission to head out that front door, I make every effort to make it happen. Whether it be to a mall that doesn’t have working sliding doors to wheel in a stroller or running an errand where there are no proper amenities, I understand that we both need that fresh air.

Appreciating. Oh, how this sometimes gets ignored. This is probably the main reason for writing this post: to emphasize how we sometimes take the little things for granted and forget to appreciate all components in our life. Personally, before becoming a Ma, I never appreciated my independence; how easy it was to just make plans, jump in my car, and head on out. I never appreciated the automatic sliding doors before. I never appreciated just carrying my tote purse (although sometimes heavy because my whole life used to be in my purse). I never appreciated taking the time to do my hair, my make-up, or putting on a clean pair of leggings. I also never appreciated my pre-pregnancy body. This is real talk. And this is definitely not a negative connotation towards Ma-hood. I’m just expressing how I never truly appreciated these little facets that made up my life. Now, spending almost all of my waking time with another little human has opened up my eyes and undoubtedly made me appreciate what I used to take for granted. On a sentimental note, Amia has made me appreciate the importance of life and this new role of Ma-hood. Her existence keeps me going everyday (despite the lack of sleep, but we’re working on this). She’s made me appreciate my new self and this new chapter and that Ma-hood comes with its ups and down, challenges, and struggles. My little warrior has given me a new purpose. I don’t necessarily care for doing my hair perfectly every day, or putting on the best of make-up, or wearing the best of clothes – I do take a day every so often to pamper myself, but every other day is dedicated to my one and only and I’m perfectly content with that. I’m not sad or depressed about the fact that I didn’t appreciate certain things pre-Ma-hood. I do miss that life sometimes: the simplicity, the fun, the “me, myself, and I” phase. But now I can’t imagine my life any other way. I mean it. Every morning, I look forward to seeing Amia’s smiles, hearing her babbles, getting her all dressed up. It gets to me a little sometimes, but that’s okay, I think it’s normal. And that’s when Pa plays a crucial role by keeping me sane. So, all that to say, seriously, appreciate the things and people in your life – whether it’s something new or old, embrace it all.

A bit of mixed thoughts with this post, but I hope I connected the dots as best as I could. I have been battling with getting some sleep for the last couple of weeks. But I really wanted to touch on some of the challenges and realizations Ma-hood encompasses. Hold tight for the next post, I think I’m going to expand my thoughts and go back in time with the next one. For now, take a few minutes to reflect and appreciate the goodness in your life; it’ll make you smile, I promise.

– Ma