Through His Eyes

Tired eyes, bright baby blues shut tightly now

Button nose snoring softly

Bow tie lips closed in satisfaction

Dimpled hands still clasping my shirt

His body curled round my belly.

That belly I hate for its roundness, flabbiness after two babies and no exercise

It hasn’t been flat since my 20s, but it was never so hard to hide

Never such a point of contention while dressing in anything other than leggings

Never was the need for Spanx so strong!

He doesn’t care that I haven’t lost the baby weight;

I am everything that is warm, soft and comforting in this world

And that belly, it was home to him.

 

With his head on one of his two favourite pillows:  my breasts

The breasts that inch closer to my waist after each kid and each year I move closer to 40

Always big, but once round and perky

Now they feel saggy and a bit sad in nursing bras and old t-shirts

But to him, they are his happy place, his new home.

My arms that jiggle underneath, never toned and tank-top ready

He sees as strong and able to lift him up high in the air, almost touching the sky.

Those big hips of mine, always so hard to hide in pants and dresses

He loves to sit squarely on, perfect for mommy-son dance parties round the kitchen.

 

He doesn’t care that I haven’t showered or brushed my teeth

He lives for grabbing my unwashed, unbrushed hair when let down

It doesn’t matter that I haven’t dyed it in who knows how long?

He is mesmerized by my smile, doesn’t see teeth that aren’t straight or bright white

He loves my face, not seeing the bags under my eyes or my dry, blotchy skin exposed

Not hidden under the makeup I’m too tired to apply.

 

Each morning and after each nap, when he sees me from the bars of his crib:

I am his rescue;

His knight in PJ pants and a top knot.

He giggles as I dance silly in front of his high chair

In clothes worn two days in a row

Too busy to put on something new that still doesn’t fit

Something that would have just gotten covered in baby puke, purees or half chewed finger foods.

 

My voice is his favourite sound, best when singing a lullaby before bed

Or a made up morning song about poop or pee

All day long I am entertaining

My jokes are hilarious

My games are genius.

 

He laughs at his big sister, grins big for Daddy

But so often, he only has eyes for me;

He searches for me in a crowded space

Spies me from across the room while in another’s arms

He finds me and his face lights up

He smiles that smile that brightens each day

All gums and a few tiny teeth now

He looks as if he has never seen anything so wonderful in the world!

 

And in turn, I melt

My heart explodes and expands passed the point I thought possible

I go to a place where I am everything:

Wonder Woman

Goddess

Queen B

And everything in between

 

There will come a day, too soon I fear, when I am no longer his whole world

There will be time to lose the baby weight

Days for fancy pants and push up bras.

I choose to savour the snuggles instead

And see myself through his eyes:

Perfect in my imperfections, perfect because he chose me as his.

 

I will rock my new mom-of-two body

Be proud of all that it has done bringing two gorgeous souls into this world

What it still does to give life and love to two tiny people!

To them I am more than enough, just as I am;

I am perfect as the person they call my favourite name to date:

Momma.

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Surviving a New Kind of Newborn Stage

A dear friend gave birth to a baby boy a few months ago, beautiful and needy just like our Oliver. Seeing her navigate life with a newborn, hearing the happiness mixed with exhaustion in her voice as she asks questions and shares concerns, I am transported back to my own experiences, both so very different. First-time motherhood wasn’t easy, but Lily Rose was a pretty good newborn:  she nursed often but not constantly, and she slept long stretches early on, swaddled snug in her bassinet with her soother. Maybe because it was almost 4 years ago, so the hard stuff no longer sticks out in my mind, or because she was our only child at the time, it seemed much easier with her. It has been a year since our Ollie was a newborn, and yet the the experience, hard times and heartwarming moments alike, still feels so fresh.

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First of all, the kid sucked like a hoover. No joke, his suction made my nipples feel as though they were being ripped to shreds. In hospital we thought the reason for breastfeeding being harder this go around was his tongue or lip tie, but they snipped those and still, it hurt like hell. Once home, I would cry in frustration, anticipating the pain every time Jon brought him to me to feed, which seemed to be every hour at first. He wasn’t always hungry; often it was him wanting comfort and the kid just wouldn’t take a soother. We tried swaddling, but it didn’t work like magic to calm and comfort him to sleep. Noise machines and singing and shushing were lost on him. And he hated his bassinet. We tried all the tricks, nothing helped for more than a night or two. He would sleep some in the Mamaroo, but even that was short-lived. Really, the only place he wanted to be was in my arms. We didn’t co-sleep with Lily Rose; I am too light a sleeper to get a wink of sleep next to a newborn, and Jon is too deep a sleeper to feel comfortable with a baby in our bed. But to get some semblance of sleep, I would prop myself up to a sitting position, all the pillows and cushions surrounding me, Ollie on the nursing pillow, positioned just so, and we would snooze together for 2 or 3 hours at a time.

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Oliver had other newborn quirks:  He was so congested, sounding like a piglet and obviously uncomfortable on his back; he went crazy passing gas, like every fart was cause for a freak out; and, we called him Angry Baby because he looked generally pissed off to be out of the womb. But it was Oliver’s insatiable hunger and desire for comfort, that only I could provide, which got me almost to a breaking point. So many times Jon offered to help, trying a bottle of breast milk and then formula, but Ollie would have none of it, so those attempts brought no breaks for me.

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With our first born, I could nurse and binge-watch Netflix. I got some rest and I still found “me time!” I could try napping while she slept. But the whole “sleep when baby sleeps” must only be for first time moms. We did send Lily to daycare some, but it wasn’t every day. When she was home, I found it hard to cater to a needy newborn and a toddler who still needed feeding, dressing, changing (we didn’t have it in us to attempt potty training then), and to be entertained. I put shows on the TV in our room or gave her a tablet, but then I spent my time feeling guilty about it. She still napped some when Oliver first came home, but she wanted to snuggle with me too. It was very sweet, having my two loves snoozing on me in bed, and my heart burst about a bazillion times those early days, but extreme exhaustion changes a person, physically and emotionally. For me, I was on the verge of tears constantly, easily set off by anything my partner or toddler did. I have a hard time with any amount of stress, but add to that the fatigue and the hormones hitting me hard after having a baby, and you have one mess of a momma-of-two.

20170703_114935One moment I loved time my two babies and their father, then the next moment I felt smothered and annoyed:  someone was always needing me, or touching me, or talking to me, or crying for me. I felt pulled in a million different directions. If I was doing something for Oliver but Lily Rose asked something of me, I had to choose. Most often, the baby won out, and then Lily was upset, which got me upset, which got Jon upset. I felt like I couldn’t win, like no matter how hard I tried, someone was always losing out, myself included.

The thing I felt most terrible about in those early days was how hard I found it to bond with our son. I loved him, I was obsessed with keeping the little guy safe and sound, checking that he was breathing about a zillion times. But Oliver was so needy, in ways I hadn’t experienced with his smaller, less hungry older sister. I felt some resentment towards the little love. He was not only robbing me of sleep, but also of time with his sister. Lily Rose hadn’t seemed so needy as a newborn, but she had grown into a total Momma’s Girl! There were daily battles as she was going from the Terrible Twos into being a Threenager!! Even though she was a handful, I really missed time my girl, our first born, because for almost three years life had revolved around her. I would watch her outside in our new yard, once Daddy came home or on weekends, running around gleefully. They were soaking up the sun, enjoying hot days and the short but amazing summer. Daddy got all the fun, all the squeals and smiles from our girl, and I got the impatient, moody, attention-starved version of our daughter, along with Angry Baby, crying at every strange, new feeling in his tiny body. He was too cranky out in the sun on the deck or too hot under a tent on the lawn (and don’t get me started on the sweaty breastfeeding in summer, it’s just gross!). I felt I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to; it wasn’t as easy to sit and enjoy our new yard with two clingy kids, and it felt like a lot of work to haul them around in the heat to get out of the house.

20170626_140854And then when Oliver was around two months old, things shifted. Our needy newborn didn’t nurse quite as often and it no longer hurt, he was sleeping some in his bassinet, the congestion and gas pains were gone. Ollie had already started to smile, a smirk really at first. He would look at me, and grin with this twinkle in his eye, and I knew he wasn’t just some needy ball of frustration, literally sucking the life from me, but a happy, spirited soul trapped in the body of newborn. He just needed time to adjust to this new world. I needed time to get accustomed to our new normal. We both needed time to get used to one another. I would text Jon to say “We had a good day, we connected” or when he came home from work I’d declare:  “I think I really like Oliver now”;) These beautiful moments came more and more often, when I felt the connection I had so early on with Lily Rose. With every day he slept slightly better, I felt less and less like a zombie and I began to feel more present. I was finally starting to enjoy getting to know my little man.

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If I could go back, I would savour those early days more, instead of wishing that hard, tiring stage away. I would also not wait till it got too hard to ask for help. Once I was honest and open about my feelings, I felt better. I then stopped feeling guilty about things (the not connecting, the not getting out enough with the kids, the too much tablet time). I had to let go of my expectations of how things would be with a new newborn. I needed to remind myself that this stage is all about survival; just getting through a day with everyone intact is success! And I needed to commit to making time to rest, unwind or recharge. I took a bath once Jon was home some days or I went out with the girls after I’d gotten Oliver down to sleep some nights. I drank that extra cup of coffee in the morning on the deck while the baby napped and the big kid played outside, or I filled the wine glass at the end of the day once Oliver wasn’t sleeping on every night anymore. Some days I forced myself to get out outside, get active in some way. And some days it was just easier to stay in, because the prepping, the packing, the running on empty was just too much. And you know what, that’s OK, to know your limits and not take on more than you can handle on any given day.

20170620_145609For any new or seasoned mommas struggling to connect with their new bundles of not so much joy, or feeling that sleep deprivation and stress has changed them, you are not alone! For me, thankfully things changed and I felt better after a few months. But if life doesn’t look brighter and you feel postpartum depression or anxiety creep in, please reach out and ask for help! Don’t wait until things get too hard before sharing your stress, telling your loved ones you are drowning and need help up out of the depths, even just a break to find your breath. I shared my concerns with those closest to me; their support, along with time to adjust to life and coping techniques I had learned in counselling years before are what got me through! But if there is real darkness and it doesn’t lift, if things don’t get better, don’t wait to make an appointment to see your doctor or a counselor. A home is happier and a family functions when the Mother is healthy<3

20170718_080337And please, don’t buy into this time in your life being all magical and blissful; there may be magical moments but it can actually be quite shitty (literally), tiring and difficult. The good news is, it isn’t forever, it’s a phase, really a blip in time. And there are glimmers of hope at the end of living life with a newborn. There are moments when your baby looks you in the eye and giggles and it is quite literally the most gorgeous sound you’ve ever heard. All the sleepless nights, all the changes, all the added stress washes away when you feel your heart expand in ways you never knew possible. It just takes some of us mommas more time than others to realize that any hard stuff is more than worth it.  In the midst of the exhaustion of cluster feeding and all night nursing sessions, you might just catch your older sibling singing “You are my sunshine” to her baby brother and instead of tears of longing for the life you lived before, you feel tears of joy for the love that this little guy has gifted your life<3  He has changed you and your family forever, but definitely for the better!!!

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How Our Rainbow Arrived

When we found out our rainbow baby was going to be a boy, we were over the moon! We did a gender reveal with Lily Rose and our families and the look of surprise and joy on Jon’s otherwise calm face as the blue balloons flew out of the reveal box will be forever etched in my mind.  My mother, who was on speaker phone so she could hear the news, said how she had been dreaming of a baby boy named Oliver, the name we chose before we even knew our first baby was going to be a girl. For days following the reveal I would catch Jon staring into space, then he’d shake his head in amazement, smile and say:  “Exciting times!” And they were exciting times, but they were also hard, scary and sad times.

While the pregnancy wasn’t difficult, it also wasn’t stress-free like our first. I had the same “morning sickness” for about 13 weeks that I’d had before, but in the second trimester I didn’t feel amazing like I had been lucky to before. I was a few years older, a few pounds heavier, and I had that temperamental toddler to deal with. From the start, I was so stressed about miscarrying again. After a lot of cramping, my doctor did extra tests and found I had a bacterial infection that, while she reassured me wasn’t a big deal, did need treating. I also had hypothyroidism (discovered last pregnancy before I miscarried) so that required a daily pill. And after my ultrasounds, instead of being more reassured that this baby was healthy, my doctor said I had marginal cord insertion. As quickly as she said it she warned me not to google it, otherwise I would worry myself for nothing. But I am by nature a worrier, an over-analyzer, with things turning constantly in my mind from bad to worse. So of course I looked it all up online and of course I stressed. I had more sleepless nights, more aches and pains, and the worst heartburn that started way before it had last time, as did Braxton Hicks. Not all the new pregnancy symptoms were bad, as I felt this baby so much more, and that was something that reassured me. This boy was a busy one!

Our landlord informed us that she wanted to put the townhouse we had been renting for over two years, up for sale. Really, it was the push we needed to get looking at buying a home for our soon-to-be family of four, which we ended up doing relatively quickly. Packing and moving with a newborn was not part of the excitement though and this likely only added to the stress I was already feeling. At around 37 weeks my blood pressure started to spike. Then my mom had a major health scare:  she was rushed to the ER with what was later found to be a blood clot that had traveled to her lungs. At the time, there was real fear that we would lose her, which shook me to my core. I visited her for how long I could before we all decided I shouldn’t drive back and forth to Moose Jaw so late in my pregnancy. I tried to focus on taking care of myself and our baby, hoping to bring Oliver into the world in a positive mind set. I tried hard not to assume the worst each time my mother had a set back, trusting instead in her promise that she would meet her grandson.

And for Jon, the fear of losing a parent was becoming all too real. For the past few years his dad had been fighting a battle with cancer and was undergoing chemo again. Watching his father suffer broke Jon’s heart, but he is so strong, and as always, he was our rock. He is like his father, who even when suffering more than I can imagine, managed to always ask how I was feeling with my pregnancy, and later how my mom was doing once she landed in hospital. We tried to make the most of our time together and Oliver’s arrival was something we were all excited about. It was a bright spot during a very difficult time.

At 39 weeks, our doctor decided to try to get things moving along; she swept my membranes and told me if I had any worsening symptoms due to high blood pressure, to go to emergency immediately, which we ended up doing two days later. After hours of testing and waiting, the doctor decided to start inducing labour that night. I was allowed to go home to wait for the Cervidil to take effect, and just before we were due back 24 hours later, while waiting to be admitted, my water broke. We were admitted and settled into our room around 9 pm, only for things to stall. I was at 2 cm dilated when we arrived, and nothing changed for hours. So they started Pitocin on a drip around midnight and that’s when the contractions went from mild to majorly painful, crazy fast! They warned me that things would intensify, my cousin and friends who had been through it said the same; it made labour faster, but much more painful. No standing or back rubbing or bouncing on a ball or breathing techniques helped. I finally took back my earlier statement about not needing an epidural. I hadn’t had one with Lily, but this was an all together different experience! When the nurse checked again and I was only at 4 cm, I almost shouted GIVE ME THE DRUGS!!!

The anesthetist came after what seemed to be the longest 20 minutes of my life! Before he arrived, the nurse asked to check me again, but I assured her nothing had changed; I wasn’t having the urge to push, I was just in extreme pain. But as the anesthetist was getting ready, explaining the risks and process involved, I had to keep breaking for contractions, and suddenly the urge to push was too strong to ignore. The nurse checked me quickly and there was no denying that baby was coming, and quick! She assured me she could deliver him if  no doctor came in time, but suddenly the room was filled with women ready to get baby out:  the nurse who had been with us before, and three other doctors. And of course there was one very concerned father (it still hurts Jon to describe watching me in that kind of pain). I started pushing and it was excruciating, especially when baby got stuck and we had to wait until the next contraction (I blame Jon and his broad shoulders). But focusing on the pushing was better than dealing with the contractions. I pictured meeting my little boy, holding him in my arms, snuggling him close. I closed my eyes, bore down and gave it everything I had.

After 15 minutes of pushing, Oliver was out, bigger and more beautiful than I could have imagined. My reaction:  I laughed! I laughed that the pain was gone. I laughed because I had in fact done what every woman fears doing while pushing out a baby and therefore I could not quit apologizing to everyone in the room (again, sorry;). And I laughed because after all the worry, after all the craziness of life leading up to this, my baby boy was here!

Jon cut the cord as they laid Oliver on my chest, then he snapped the first pictures of our baby boy. We kissed and we cried. The nurses weighed and measured him, gave him to Jon to hold as we took in everything about him:  8 pounds 9 ounces, 21.25 inches long, the most gorgeous complexion and most kissable chubby cheeks. Then as everyone but Jon and one nurse left the room, I breastfed Oliver for the first time and sang him “You Are My Sunshine,” through tears of joy.

 

 

The things I stressed over during the pregnancy had no effect on the labour, Oliver or me. The delivering doctor asked to keep the placenta for study due to the marginal cord insertion, just as my doctor had said they might, but that was all that came of it. After checking my thyroid months after Oliver arrived, I no longer had hypothyroidism. And because of how amazing Jon is, and with the help of supportive family and friends, moving with a newborn wasn’t as stressful as I had feared, and we had the most beautiful home to settle into.

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Luckily, my mom was on the road to recovery and she met the baby boy of her dreams when he was only two days old. Following some rehabilitation and a short stint back at home, she made the difficult but smart decision to move into assisted living. This makes for much less worry on everyone’s part though, and it is a great place for her grand kids to visit her.

 

Jon’s dad met Oliver even earlier, when he and Jon’s mum came to the hospital to meet their new grandson. Jon’s dad spent time cuddling and cooing with Oliver, saying over and over how it was just like holding Jonathan as a baby. Oliver really is the spitting image of his father:  bright blue eyes and full lips, and just the tiniest bit of blond hair on his perfectly round head. And Oliver carries John as a middle name, in honour of Granddad, who had 5 months with his new grand baby before sadly, he passed away.

After we miscarried, I saw a rainbow and it helped give me hope. And not long after Jon’s dad passed away, we saw one while driving, high in the sky, like a reminder of bright things looming on the horizon. The first two months with Oliver weren’t always easy (more on that in a future post) but once he learned to smile and got through that difficult newborn stage, it became apparent that our Ollie was very easy going and in fact, a very bubbly baby. He brings joy to all of our family, just when we needed it most. Our rainbow baby, who was the happiness that came after miscarriage, has now helped us through an even bigger loss.

 

Until recently Oliver slept in his bassinet in our room. Once he woke in the early morning, I’d bring him into our bed to feed. Even though he was hungry, he always took time to give Jon the gummiest of grins, often while lying upside down, squealing in delight as he looked at Daddy. No matter how hard the night before had been, no matter how much sadness we were all feeling, those moments between father and son were everything! The look of intense love and pure happiness that washed over Jon’s face in return is etched into my mind as well. Jon would smile back at his baby boy, shake his head in awe, and say:  “Amazing, just amazing.” And it really is amazing:  this boy and his light; the brightness he brings to our world; and, the power of love to help us heal.

 

 

 

Two Little Lines Towards Our Rainbow Baby

When we got pregnant for the second time, I wanted to write a follow up to my very first post on this blog, Two Little Lines. I was going to call it Two Little Lines…Take Two. But I was waiting until after the 12 week ultrasound and after we announced our happy news to more than just close friends and family. Then the world fell out from under us and we found out that I miscarried. I have tried writing about this experience, but I can’t do so without becoming a puddle of tears. I’m not quite ready to put our loss into words. And for a long time I wasn’t ready to write about the joy that followed either, because I was terrified of losing again. But something beautiful and bright came from that sad experience, and the time to write about our Rainbow Baby is long overdue.

A Rainbow Baby is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant/child loss. The rainbow after the storm. I love this, the promise of good things to come. I kept this idea close, it comforted me. Only weeks after miscarrying and well before we knew we were expecting again, I saw a rainbow. I was bringing Lily Rose home from daycare and as we got out of the car, we both looked up to the sky and there it was. Lily pointed and said “Purple”. No matter how common it may seem, I saw it as a sign:  our rainbow was coming…I just didn’t know how soon.

When I was newly pregnant with Lily Rose but I didn’t know it yet, there were lots of early signs. This time around, I had them all again. But unlike with Lily Rose, I didn’t get two little lines to confirm it right away.  My first pregnancy test (likely taken too early, but I am oh so impatient!) showed only one line. Still no period, I tested again a few days later and it showed a faint second line. I didn’t want to get too excited, too quickly, only to be disappointed. Everyone told me that after miscarriage, you are most fertile, but I couldn’t let myself believe that it would happen so quickly. I didn’t think it would happen on the first try, like with LR.

In my heart, there was nothing I wanted more. I waited longer than some moms to try for a second. I wanted to feel ready. I waited too long it seems because by the time I was ready, it was all I could think of. It took only two months of trying for a second (I am so very grateful that we got pregnant easily). But then we lost it, and that hurt like hell. But it also made us more sure of our desire to grow our little family. I wanted so badly to be pregnant again, to bring another child into this world with my beloved, to give our little girl a sibling.

So I went to my doctor for a test, hoping badly for a positive. I took the test and went to wait in the doctor’s office. The nurse brought in a paper with the results, face down. I sat there waiting for the doctor and tried so, so hard not to flip that friggin’ paper over and check for myself. I tried hard for exactly one second…then I peeked. Negative! I felt tears sting my eyes. I was about to call Jon, crushed. I knew he would be the voice of calm to my crazy emotional self, the voice of love, support and reason. He’d tell me it had only been a month. We would keep trying. It would be fun;)

Then the nurse came back in suddenly and grabbed the paper. She looked at me and smiled. The results had changed, she had checked it too early, she said. Congratulations, she said. My heart soared! The doctor was almost as happy as me to see the positive pregnancy test. This was a doctor who had called with her personal cell number following news of my miscarriage. She cared to. She said baby would be due around June 7th:)

Sat in my car in the parking lot, I called Jon and told him the whole results-changing-on-the-paper fiasco. What a way to stress a girl out, right!? But the results were positive, and he was over the moon:) Then I called my Mom. Like any good mother (now that I know a bit about it), she was cautiously happy. I understood her trepidation. It wasn’t easy for her to watch me go through a loss only a few months before. She didn’t want me to hurt like that again, she will forever be wanting to shield me from pain, only ever wanting to protect her baby girl. I told her to tell my Dad and my Aunts, but that we would wait until we were ready to share it with everyone we loved.

Last pregnancy, we had Lily Rose wear a Big Sister t-shirt to surprise our family and friends. I thought I wouldn’t do anything like that this time. I felt almost guilty celebrating this pregnancy; like it was an insult to the soul we lost to be so happy about a new baby. And I was worried it would end the same way as before.

But early on, things felt different. Different than the last pregnancy, but exactly the same as when I was pregnant with Lily Rose. The insanely sore boobs for weeks, the back pain, first the nausea then the daily puking. Every time I threw up I felt initially frustrated at having pregnancy sickness, then a wave of joy would wash over me. Last pregnancy I had felt too well, too full of energy. There was hardly any sickness or extreme fatigue that time. For me, being sick was giving me some reassurance that this pregnancy was so far, so good. So we shared our good news with all the people who had supported us through the hard stuff, because they would be there for us whatever happened.

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Bump’s First Christmas

I still felt fear at every new symptom. When I had growing pains and felt my uterus stretching I jumped to the conclusion that I was miscarrying. Every trip to the bathroom I prepped to see signs that something was wrong. It’s hard to enjoy pregnancy like that, constantly worrying. I thought my first pregnancy had been fraught with worry. But this was just silly at times. So until our 12 week ultrasound, I couldn’t completely relax. I knew the stats and just hoped that if we could get to that milestone, see our baby, hear its heartbeat, things would be OK.

At the ultrasound, I was a ball of nerves. I lay there, watching for Jon’s reaction because I couldn’t quite see the screen. I will never forget the moment his face changed:  he smiled and looked at me. In that moment, my heart felt lighter, life looked brighter. My own heart opened to let this new little soul in.

I turned to get a better view and see what he was seeing. There was our baby, a strange alien blob, but a baby none the less. The tech told us its heart rate was good, but I barely heard anything she said after that. The magic of seeing your baby for the first time on an ultrasound never grows old; to see that life is growing inside you is one of the best sights in the world! But this time the relief was overwhelming. I started to cry. I felt silly but explained I was just so happy to know our baby was there, to see its heart was beating. I desperately needed this reassurance. We excitedly left with pics of our alien baby blob and a new due date:  June 11th, my Mom’s birthday!

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Baby’s First Pic ❤

We basked in our Rainbow Baby joy after that. It doesn’t erase the pain, we will never forget the one we lost. But we appreciate and celebrate the brightness that came after the storm. There is room in our hearts for three babies. This new one will just be about colourful things to come:  happiness, hope, and the promise of new life.

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Thank you Tanille Williamson Photography xoxo

Sunny Days and Sleepless Nights

When we booked our tickets and made plans to spend a week at a resort in Los Cabos, we knew it wouldn’t be a trip of carefree day-drinking round the pool or fun tourist excursions and late night entertainment at the resort. We were bringing our almost 18 month old along with us, so instead I envisioned us sipping margaritas and playing with our babe, splashing happily in the pool, crushing a book or two while Lily Rose napped, eating mass quantities of authentic guacamole and chips, and walking serenely along the beach as a family. We went into it knowing it would be harder than traveling just the two of us. But like most things in parenthood, and in life, reality wasn’t quite so picture perfect!

We assumed she would sleep at least some of the plane ride, since she’d slept the full 7 plus hours on the way to the UK. But now she could walk. She was done nursing. And she was in.to.everything. Even with a supply of her beloved soothers, she cried and craved attention. She wanted to play and explore the plane, walk the aisles and entertain strangers; essentially, be anywhere but stuck in her seat. At some points she wanted to sleep, but she just couldn’t get comfortable. Gravol only made her more antsy! Thank Gawd for Little Baby Bum videos (like crack for our kid!), episodes of Bubble Guppies, piles of snacks and tolerant strangers sitting next to us (and the very tolerant dude sitting directly in front of us, cause Lillers quickly found out how fun it is to kick the seat, eeeek!). I spent time on Pinterest, got advice from mom friends and ran around in search of supplies to make her a pack of entertaining travel toys.  The pill organizer pack filled with cheerios, gold fish and raisins was a win; stickers and colouring books were a good filler, bright sticky notes were something new, and her new baby doll helped make her happy at times. But in the end, it was Jon’s tablet that gave us 15-20 minute intervals of peace.

Once there, LR handled the long wait at customs surprisingly well, we found our bags and bus quickly, got much needed Coronas for the ride and traveled to the resort while our babe finally got a few minutes of shut-eye. Even in the lobby while Jon checked us in, Lily loved the fun of climbing on and off the low wicker couches (these couches and the fish tank in the bar were pretty much highlights of the trip for her!). Once in our room, she ran around excitedly, ready to explore again. But when we went around the resort, she didn’t want to be strapped in her stroller. When we first tried the pool, it was too cool for our suddenly sensitive tot. The first night wasn’t horrible, but it definitely wasn’t fun. We knew we’d be using Lily’s nap time for some shut-eye ourselves.

We didn’t get to enjoy any shows at the resort at night, but we were so tired from the sun, some drinks and a sassy toddler that we almost looked forward to climbing into bed at 8pm when we put Lily down. Most nights she woke up crying at 2 or 3am, and had to be brought into bed with us, something she never wanted to do at home. In the morning we took her to the beach to watch the waves crash on the shore, but she didn’t want to walk along in the sand with us, she clung to me and wanted to be carried. She was too young to play on her own at the resort’s kid’s club, so that was a bust. She was overwhelmed by new sights, tastes and sounds.

Our little fruit lover didn’t want anything to do with the beautiful spread of tropical fruit at breakfast, wanting instead to stubbornly feed herself sugary cereal, making for messy mornings. She only wanted to eat snacks and treats the rest of the day; guac and chips, cheese quesadillas, hotdogs and ice cream. She didn’t want to wait to eat until the dinner buffet opened at 6:30 pm (pretty much her bedtime!). And she definitely didn’t want to wait for us to try the lovely meats and cheeses before diving into the main courses. She didn’t want to sit strapped into a highchair while we waited at the à la cartes, unless it meant she got a whole plate of guac to herself, the second she sat down, or had my phone to play with as soon as she was done eating a bit of something. One night we got excited at the sight of the Italian buffet, and hoped our little pasta-lover would finally fill her face and give us a chance to enjoy it ourselves. But Lily spat out the spaghetti, cried and threw it down on the floor. It took me ten minutes and a quick trip up for seconds to discover it was in fact SPICY spaghetti. Oops, #momfail.

Once Lillers settled in (about 4 days into the 7 day trip!) it was quite fun. She splashed in the water, floated in her blow up toy, sat at the swim-up bar with Jon and entertained other guests as she sipped her virgin daiquiri. Who cares that we stuffed our faces with Mexican bar food, and missed out on mussels and other fancy fare at the restaurant at lunch, cause enjoying snacks pool-side while Lily coloured and consumed hotdogs was much easier. And she even made use of all her travel toys as we got ready in our room before dinner, while giving her plenty of snacks so she didn’t go mad with hunger;0

She was down to one nap, so we took turns sleeping beside her, or sitting on the balcony of our room while the other chilled at the pool. I didn’t get much reading done, but at least we were able to enjoy the margaritas and beers, with the gorgeous view of the ocean in front of us. Or we took her on a walk and she slept in the stroller while we perused the grocery store for fun Mexican fare and used the wifi at Starbucks. We chose not to do any excursions; realizing Lily would likely ruin it for others! We ventured off the resort the last night to nearby San Jose, and while Lily cried the whole walk there, she eventually fell asleep and we got to sight-see around the beautiful town and take in the art festival. Then she woke in time to watch some cool dancing in the street, and a delicious Mexican meal complete with her very own big plate of fancy guac;) We’d gone with a couple we’d met there, who could sympathize with our traveling-with-a-kid-plight, cause they’d brought along their almost one year old…and for them too, the trip was for from the relaxing Mexican vacay they’d enjoyed pre-baby.

We can laugh about it now, giggle about the spaghetti fail, the days we had to leave lunch early, the nights we woke to a screaming toddler and took our frustrations out on each other. The horrible flight home has faded enough for us; it was a hard day, but it was just that, a day. We know we will likely do it all over again someday; we just might be the crazy parents who always bring their kids along! We have family who can take her for a night or two, and we are very thankful for that, but leaving her for a week is not likely going to happen. So we have a choice:  either we never travel (boo to that!), wait till Lily is older and hopefully less of a nightmare (can’t see that happening haha), or…we just suck it up and learn to appreciate the experience, toddler tantrums and all! Oh and asking Gramps to come along next time might just be a brilliant idea;)

So the sunny days are worth the sleepless nights:  waking to her smiling face and morning snuggles all together in the big bed made up for the middle of the night crying and too-early starts to each day. The missed Mexican meals, day drunk buzz kill and not being able to get all the R&R we’d hoped for was worth it for squeals of delight when she saw new birds and fish, hearing her say “bird” repeatedly and point to the sky, make fishy faces each time we asked what fish say:) The look of wonder on her face as waves crashed on the beach was worth her being so clingy again; we had our toes together in the sand, on a beach, in Mexico!!!

On the last day away, a kind man collecting garbage along the beach brought her a pail and shovel, and she finally played in the sand beside us. Our girl was along for the adventure, game to experience this strange place, sometimes she just needed to know that Momma and Daddy were right beside her for it all<3

Daycare Trials, Tears and Triumphs

As soon as we made the decision to move to Regina, I started the painstaking process of calling daycares. I focused first on centres, because Jon and I were both initially so freaked out by the prospect of entrusting our precious babe to a complete stranger in a home. So I looked online, used sites other moms and friends from Regina recommended, called countless places, talked to directors and staff and got on every wait list I could, extending beyond just the area of the city we hoped to live in. My options were already limited: most centres would only take babies 18 months and older, and like most people, I was returning to work at a year (figure that one out!?). I was told so many times that the lists were long, some hundreds of names ahead of mine and others several years in length (I guess I could always stay on them for a future baby!). I was told the chances of getting my girl in were slim. And they were right, because I have only ever heard from one centre with an available spot! Maybe the trick is to start searching as soon as your baby arrives in this world, cause it’s not like you have enough going on then;)

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We were both so happy and hopeful at the start of our daycare adventure!!

So I went to Plan B: looking at dayhomes. After speaking to seasoned working mommas, I learned that a dayhome might be a better fit for our little one! And they were cheaper!! And there were actual spots available!!!

We lucked out and found one pretty quickly, after only a few interviews. In August I took Lily Rose for weekly trials. Each time she did well, and neither of us cried…at first! In September Lily started full time and the daymom even said our girl was the best eater and sleeper there! She communicated well with me, reassured me during the day that our babe was happy and doing well in her care:) Then our short-lived luck ran out:  Not even three weeks after starting Lily full time, this seemingly reliable daymom started telling us she was sick, and day after day she couldn’t take LR. I do believe she had medical issues to deal with, but she dropped the ball on communicating with the parents of the babies in her care. It took weeks for her to tell us her plans going forward, and even longer to give us any kind of refund or Lily’s things. Meanwhile we would have scrambled to get daycare most days, but luckily my Dad more than rose to the challenge and cared for his granddaughter for over a month until we found a new spot. After talking to friends and coworkers, and interviewing three more dayhome providers, we chose a new place. It was run by two women, one of whom lived almost across the street! It was so near and there were two daymoms running this one, awesome:) We felt lucky once again!!

Things started out well, with my Dad taking LR over for successful trials at the end of October. But when she started full time in November, things didn’t go so well. Lily would cry on the way to daycare, cry the minute we picked her up, be clingy and crying most of the evening. Our smiley, silly babe was a whiny, upset mess most days. I got myself so stressed about how she was adjusting that I obsessively messaged the daymoms during the day to check in, but I was always told Lily was either cranky or she was sick and we needed to come get her. It was a month of being told my daughter wasn’t napping well, was hardly eating, she screamed when the other kids touched her, she wasn’t bonding with either of the daymoms. We kept waiting for the day we picked up LR and they happily said she did well, or even just OK. But it never happened. The daymom who was almost as cranky as my teething tot said they would give it a few more weeks, see if things improved. But they were never going to give it more than a month, which I thought wasn’t long enough for a babe to get used to a new people, new surroundings and a new routine.

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Hard days made for hard nights:(

There was a lot conspiring against little Lily Rose at this time:  cutting molars, fighting colds, and and she’d gotten too used to being home with Grandpa, doing things on her own schedule. And this new dayhome had major structure. For a 14 month old who just wanted to play and explore, it was too much. It wasn’t her age though they told me, it her was personality! Jon was frustrated with these women early on, feeling like they weren’t stepping up and doing what they said they would. We knew something wasn’t right there, whether it was the structure, the timing of the transition, a kid she didn’t like or the daymoms themselves. They danced around the issue for days, but finally they said she wasn’t a good fit for their dayhome, and I finally listened to Jon, my momma-instinct and our child’s response to the situation, and agreed:  We were done!

The kicker came when I picked Lillers up from what would be her last day; the other daymom tried to be all sweet about things not working out, meanwhile insulting me and my girl in the process. She asked if Lily was ever around other kids, or in any activities!? Um, yeah, lots! Well, she doesn’t seem to like other kids, she said. That’s weird cause she seems to like kids when we do playdates, go to activities and birthday parties! (She likes kids lady, just not the ones here!) Miss Passive Aggressive went on to suggest we start Preschool at age 3, not wait till 4, because this transition had been so hard already on Lily. Seriously, I thought, that’s years away!! The daymom finished the unwanted advice with:  Lily Rose is just so clingy, I wouldn’t get pregnant with a second baby anytime soon. OUCH!!! At the time, I didn’t respond to the remark, because I couldn’t believe anyone (except maybe my own mother) would dare tell me when I should think about having a second child. I wish I had answered with some witty, bitchy comeback, I wish I had told the chick to shove it. But I kept it classy (ok not really, I was just plain speechless!), and instead I later vented to every friend and family member I have. Yes I knew Lily was clingy, but she’d been happy before at a dayhome, so I refused to think that she couldn’t be her happy self again someday, given the right fit. We just needed to find it…and fast!

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After an especially hard day at daycare, I took this monkey for her 1st McDonald’s meal to cheer us both up;)

Enter Ayesha, and our third dayhome. We had actually interviewed Ayesha earlier, but went with stupid cranky pants and passive-aggressive almost across the street instead. At the time it seemed like the best choice. Geez hindsight is a bitch;) I called Ayesha and we were lucky that she hadn’t yet filled the spot and could get us in for December. Jon’s parents helped out by taking Lily a for a few days until we could start, so again:  Thank Gawwwd for Grandparents!!!

Even though Ayesha was a bit weary at first, after hearing that Lily had had a hard time at the last dayhome, she chose to fore-go a lengthy trial period, and started her full time almost immediately. We all thought for sure Lily would cry with her. But her first month there, Lily didn’t cry once. Ayesha said she’d never had a new baby who didn’t cry in the first month (#winning)! Then in the second month, Ayesha said Lily Rose was not only not crying, but was always smiling. And just like that, our girl was back 🙂

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Our Baby is Back!

LR has been going to Ayesha for almost three months now. I was scared to say it was a success and jinx it. But I know we’ve found our fit. Things could always change in the future, but for now, Lily goes to daycare happy, and comes home happy. Ayesha hasn’t once called to say she is sick and we need to pick her up (knock on wood!). She deals with things so confidently, and calmly. The way Lily smiles at Ayesha in the morning and waves goodbye to her in the afternoon warms my heart.

Yes Lily still has days when she is cranky at night, wants to eat the second she enters the door, or is tired so friggin early. While she is slow and wants to do it all herself, Ayesha says she eats well in the day. Now I don’t know how healthy everything she eats is, but that is not something that keeps me up at night. She doesn’t nap great all the time there I’m told, and I think Lily would likely prefer two naps over the one Ayesha does. But she usually sleeps great each night and naps longer on weekends, so I choose my battles. What’s most important to us is that our girl is safe, happy and as healthy as possible.

Going into it, I had no idea that the search for a daycare would be such a difficult experience. I had no idea it would be accompanied by such frustration, stress and so many tears for me and our babe. But I know we aren’t alone in this. We got so much valuable advice from parents who have been there, done that. It’s another stage of parenthood that is just that:  a stage. The hard times don’t last forever (hopefully!) and things do get better (thankfully!!). And there were bright spots even:  the outpouring of support from family and friends; the beauty of seeing Granparents care for and bond with Lily Rose in between daycares; the experience of growing as parents through this process; Jon and I becoming even stronger as a couple by putting on a united front to find the right fit for our girl. So in the end, after two failed attempts, we found a reliable dayhome where our girl thrives, and is back to being our smiley, silly Lily ❤

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Happy girl:)

Grandaddy Daycare Days Are The BEST Days!

FB_IMG_1441139348894When I went back to work in September I knew it wouldn’t be easy leaving Lily Rose everyday. I knew I would worry about my babe while at work. I knew after work would be rushed and stressful and we would both have a bit of a difficult time adjusting. But we’d found a good dayhome for our little girl, somewhere she seemed happy and cared for and I gelled with Andrea, the woman who ran it. After a rushed and stressful daycare search, we thought we’d really lucked out! Andrea even said Lily Rose was the best eater and sleeper there (#proudmommoment).

Then under three weeks into her full time stint, things went sideways. Andrea told us she was ill, and at first she didn’t communicate well and left us wondering for how long would we need to get alternate care (luckily my Dad was staying with us at the time and quickly rose to the challenge of temporarily watching Lily). Then she told us what we had been fearing:  she wasn’t going to be able to continue running her dayhome, due to medical issues. I felt terrible for her, I really did. But I don’t feel guilty that I also felt sorry for us, because we had to start the time-consuming and stressful daycare search all over again, undergo another trial and adjustment period. All this so soon after doing it for the first time, and we were under a serious time crunch!!

While I looked for a new dayhome for our babe, got a few names and numbers from friends, met with people and debated our options, my dad cared for Lily. Days turned into weeks, but he told us not to rush the process. While it wasn’t going to be a long term solution and we still needed to secure a new daycare spot, Dad was game to take care of his granddaughter for at least however long it took for us to find the right fit.

And so it was that I began to see him in a whole new light. He was always kind, generous, thoughtful. But with Lily Rose, he was even gentler. He was so sweet, and yet he could also be silly…and my dad isn’t really known for being silly;) But he was firm when he needed to be too…as firm as you can be with a one year old;) I knew my parents would make good grandparents. Even if they were never the ones to rush me to have a baby, I knew they would spoil the lucky kid rotten and be all about him or her. But I had no clue how well my dad would grand-parent. How well he would care for LR and how attached she would get to him.

For the next month, he read her stories, played with her toys and watched Sesame Street. He took her for walks and they played in the backyard. He held our clingy girl when she was cranky, sick or teething, missing Mommy and Daddy…and that was A.LOT. A perpetual night owl, my dad woke early regardless of how much sleep he’d gotten, so he could take her in the morning and we could get ready for work. At 65 and with a bum knee that hadn’t healed properly following replacement surgery, he trudged up and down stairs to put her down for two naps a day, often returning several times to put her soother back in (I offered to set up her playpen in the living room, but he said no, keep her where she’s comfortable). Never a big one for cooking, Dad made meals, cut fruit in tiny pieces and sparked a deep love of bagels and honey in his granddaughter. He cleaned up her messes much quicker and with far more care than we ever did, inspiring an early love of cleaning in Lily. He did little things that made our lives easier, things that I missed as soon as he was gone. He unzipped and laid out her sleepsack with such care to make laying her down the next time a little bit quicker. These things made me appreciate his attention to detail like never before. They were things that showed his OCD wasn’t always a struggle, it was a strength. And when I came home and was rushing to get us all fed, he recounted exactly what she’d eaten, and how much; what time she’d fallen asleep and when she’d woke; and, even the number of poops she’d had. At the time, I felt overwhelmed with all the information. Now, after sometimes struggling to get enough of this all-important information from a daycare provider, I realize how much I miss knowing exactly how my girl is doing during the day without me.

I think we were all a little surprised at how well he did taking care of Lily Rose. My mom says he didn’t do all this for my brother and I growing up; the cooking and cleaning and the majority of the child rearing was my mom’s domain. It was a different time, yes, but my dad was different then too. He was busy working, playing hockey, then dealing with his own issues. He was a fun Dad for sure, he played with us and took us to activities and on trips.  He was there for the big events. When my parents separated in high school and even when he moved to Saskatoon, he was there for us. But growing up, in the day to day, it was my mom who did what needed to be done to make sure we were fed, cleaned and clothed, rested, happy and healthy.

But with Lily Rose, he was excited to be involved in every way. Some days weren’t easy I’m sure, but he never complained. At night when Jon and I came home from work, he still tried to help cook and clean and care for Lily. I wanted him to relax and enjoy his time off but he still wanted to help with her nightly routine. He said good morning and good night each and everyday. He kissed her and gave her a hug. There is no holding back of affection or attention. There is not one part of him that is not completely devoted and in love with his granddaughter.

I am so thankful my dad stepped up and took care of Lily Rose when we needed him. LR won’t remember Granddaddy Daycare Days, but we can all tell her and he’ll show her the pics chronicling the fun they had really getting to know each other.  I am forever thankful for my father, for what he has taught me, for the person he is and the man he has become. And I feel so lucky that Lily Rose gets this sweet, smart, and sometimes silly guy, as her Gramps. Whatever issues we had growing up, whatever things my dad did or didn’t do for us as babies, kids or teens, he was, and still is a great dad. And as Gramps, I think he has truly found his groove.

And for me, his daughter, there are almost no words to describe how much this means to me. Just like having Lily Rose has mended any existing scars in my heart, filled up any missing pieces of my soul, and awakened a love I never knew existed; watching my parents bond with this sweet and spirited little soul makes me feel…whole. It completes the circle ❤ It makes me feel overwhelmed with appreciation for the love my parents gave me, for the parent they helped make me. It makes me happy that I can also give back to them now, with the gift of their granddaughter:  joy and laughs and a whole new love to embrace with eager hearts and open arms.