MaternalMusing

A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

Ghosting – New Parent Style January 2, 2016

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This past year I’m sure you’ve all seen that viral post that went around, ‘An Open Letter to My Friends Who Don’t Have Kids’ ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janie-porter/an-open-letter-to-my-friends-who-dont-have-kids_b_5823776.html ) and how much we, as parents, suck at maintaining social lives, or even basic adult interaction, away from our progeny, for the first few years. I’ve seen the article linked at least 10 times from various parents on my social media accounts usually with a quick note about how ‘We still ❤ you guys!!’ followed by a bunch of sappy emojiis.

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Work should not be your only ‘kid-free’ time!

As a parent, however, I have a problem with the whole essay. I think it’s a half-assed explanation to try and excuse the awful behaviour that ‘new’ parents tend to fall back on. An easy way to write off the tired #sorrynotsorry reasons why we can no longer function as the courteous, invested friend we were before we got knocked up. The letter even ends by admitting our friends deserve better and thanks them for their patience This honestly comes off sounding like our friends are waiting in queue for some type of friendship technical support,

“Thank you for your patience. Your friendship is very important to us. Please continue to hold until we’re able to tear ourselves away from our children long enough to celebrate your successes or listen to your sorrows, etc.”

Are you kidding me?? How dare we, as parents, try to blame our declined invitations, early bailouts and missed phone calls/text messages on a tiny kid, who for the most part, sleeps on and off for 80% of their day in the first six months.

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Baseball is a great date!

Urban dictionary defines ‘Ghosting’ as the act of ceasing all communication in a relationship with the hope that the other party will get the hint and stop trying to text/call/hang out. A relatively new phenomenon in our ‘tech savvy’ age and can easily be applied to both unfortunate Tinder dates AND new parents. Although new parents tend to not be fully aware that they’re actively sabotaging what could be years long friendships… blindly assuming the other party will still be there when they emerge from ‘new parent’ hibernation.

Now, we’ve all done it, so admit it. We’ve used our kids as an excuse to either back out of an event, leave early from a function we didn’t want to attend, or even as a reason for not responding to emails/texts. But kids are an excuse like any other…childless friends just need to get more creative. But you know what happens when your kids are finally old enough to realize that Mom and Dad aren’t the be all end all? Your friends have moved on! After numerous last minute cancellations (Omg Baby just WOULDN’T sleep last night!), declined hangouts (I couldn’t possibly ask ANYONE else to watch my child for 2 hrs…including my partner!) or ignored messages (Well I was going to reply…but I figured you wouldn’t appreciate a text back at 3am while I was up feeding Jr) your friends have found people who actually care and want to hang out with them. I know your whole world revolves around your children but theirs, let’s be honest, does not. They also have needs and desires and when you suddenly stop acting like you care, why should they put their plans on hold until you decide you can act like a normal human being?

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Definitely didn’t take our kids to the outdoor music festival last summer…

When you’re expecting your first child, you’ll get lots of advice about how you shouldn’t let your child take away from your marriage or relationship. ‘Make sure you still take time for yourselves!’ your Aunt/cousin/co-worker will tell you at your baby shower! Well your romantic relationship isn’t the only one that will need life support as your children grow. Your friends need your time as well. And they want to know you still care about THEM too! That means that when you do finally drag your ass out of your house for a quick coffee or even a phone chat, that you take some time between delightful anecdotes and stories about your baby to ask them how their lives are going! Parenthood has a phenomenal way of making Moms and Dads self-centered conversation hogs. Remember conversations are a two way street involving input from ALL parties…if you just want to wax poetic about the fruit of your loins start a blog (*cough*)

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See?!? We do have time to look at our phones!! 

Every time you cruise a mother’s board or FB group I can guarantee you’ll find at least 2-3 posts revolving around ‘Poor Me! My friends have abandoned me! They don’t understand what my life is like right now!’. Hate to break it to you sister but they likely have no idea because you haven’t made an effort to contact them or hang out since you saw the double line on your pregnancy test beyond a generic invitation to your baby shower/sprinkle/’sip and see’ to pump them for gifts.Ask yourself, honestly, have you been a good friend? Have you reached out with calls or texts to see how their lives are going? Spoiler Alert: The answer here is probably a big fat no.

Part of being a functioning adult is being able to balance many different relationships in your life. It’s admittedly a juggling act and having a baby is one more ball you have to keep in the air, but in order to have a well rounded and healthy life you need to invest yourself fully in all aspects. This means being able to parent and work (if you so choose), and build/maintain fulfilling relationships with your significant other, children AND friends. Trust me, they love and care for you too but in today’s society it’s rude to call you out on your child obsessed self-centeredness without coming off like an uber bitch. If you don’t put in the effort why should they? Just because they don’t have kids doesn’t mean they’re chalk full of free time in which to hound you for scraps of your time.

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Dressing up is good for you!!

Just in case you’re a bit rusty…here are some tips for being a good friend as a new parent.

  1. Return texts/emails/phone calls – maybe don’t call at 3am for a chat but at least a quick text indicating you got their message goes a long way.
  2. Make ‘playdates’ for yourself – Everyone needs a little social time! Even nursing moms can take an hour for coffee once a week to reconnect with the important people in their lives. I’ve done it so don’t try and feed me a line about how you couldn’t possibly….
  3. Ask about your friend’s lives – Don’t dominate the conversation with Jr’s latest milestones or bowl movements. Your friends have lives, worries and stories as well…
  4. Don’t ‘Mommy-jack’ social media – Not everyone’s FB updates, tweets or Instagrams lead back to your kids. Celebrate the milestones in your friends lives without bringing up the fact that you had sex…congrats by the way!
  5. If you make plans stick with them – Unless one of you is violently ill (and I’m talking Norwalk Virus proportions or lice…) follow through on plans to meet up! Nothing pisses people off more than last minute cancellations.
  6. Don’t assume your kids are invited everywhere – This a HUGE one! Although your friends are excited and happy for you they don’t necessarily see your baby as your ‘plus one’ to every single event going forward. Some get-togethers just aren’t kid friendly (eg spa days, adults only birthday parties etc) and they will likely not have made arrangements to ‘baby-proof’ the venue. Also taking your kids is an automatic attention-divider. Your friends want to catch up with YOU…not try and carry on a conversation between diaper changes and feedings. Even if your friends have kids of their own don’t assume everyone is bringing theirs. I’ve found that if kids are welcome it’s usually explicitly stated in the invitation.

I will note that I am by no means perfect. I’ve definitely awkwardly brought my first son to an otherwise adult event (now that I have two I actively seek events that are for grown ups only!) and I’ve been that ‘bad friend’ who has let friendships lapse while I lie on the floor in sweats feeding my toddler Gerber puffs. However I’m learning and actively trying to do better…call it a New Years Resolution for 2016! Good luck Mommies/Daddies – Let 2016 be the year we’re not complete knuckleheads!

 

A New Parent’s Guide To The NICU: A Cheat Sheet From Someone Who’s Been There April 19, 2012

Before I continue onto V’s journey, I thought this might be a good point to share my list. I actually started this post just over a year ago as a note to a friend and former co-worker who’s pregnancy was at risk for ending in an NICU stay. It was a list of all of the info I wish I’d known going into our experience, questions I wish that I’d asked or things that I wish I’d done. I’ve definitely added a few points but NICU Mommas…please feel free to add any additional suggestions!! These are in no particular order, just written down as I brainstormed!

  • Strike up conversations with other parents. They will look tired, stressed out, and sometimes angry but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to vent, chat or commiserate with other NICU mamas.

  • Ask about your primary care nurse…and what a primary care nurse is and does! I had no idea what a primary care nurse did (they are the nurse who will be primarily responsible for your child’s care..duh…) until V was about 4 weeks old. We didn’t actually meet our primary care nurse until we were moved to Care By Parent…two days before we were discharged. I definitely regret this and think we could have had a smoother experience if we’d had more contact with her!

  • Set up a routine that works for you and don’t judge your visiting times against those of other families. Everyone has different responsibilities and schedules at home which affects their ability to be a fixture in the NICU. I definitely felt that I wasn’t spending enough time with V while he was there but we went back for night visits and other random times when it was pretty quiet around there. Just because another parent is there from 8am to 8pm and you drag your sorry butt in the doors at 11am doesn’t make you a slacker or negligent! Schedule visits when it works best for you and your family.

  • Make friends with the nurses and make your expectations for involvement in and about your child’s care very clear. When we arrived each day my first priority was to find out who was taking care of V for the day, going over the notes in his file for the past night and letting them know if I planned to nurse, hold him, weight him, bathe him, etc during my visit. This set a plan for the day early on and I could make sure I was there for appointments and  dr visits. It also cut down on conflict if they thought there was too much handling going on for the day.

  • Bring pieces of home with you! Stuffed animals, blankets, outfits, anything you can think of! Just make sure you clearly label them, do the occasional search of the hospital laundry basket and don’t bring anything with huge amounts of sentimental value.

  • Take advantage of you and your significant others’ last few days and weeks alone as a couple. Everyone needs some stress-relief and I highly recommend some epic date nights before you being all-nighters with a hungry newborn. Andrew and I saw some great movies and ate some pretty delicious food before we brought our little man home!

  • Take a tour of the NICU beforehand if possible and learn more about the specific structure of the unit later. Ask as many questions as you can to make yourself more comfortable. I had no idea what a NICU looked like when we entered to see V the first time which definitely added to the anxiety of the moment. It was also good to know what the progression of the NICU was like (back room –> front room –> NPCU –> Care By Parent) and helped us monitor his progress by where he spent his time.

  • Show up every single day unless some emergency keeps you away. I had a cold my second week there and when I called to say I wouldn’t be in that day the nurse told that that’s what the masks were for…and they were expecting me that afternoon.

  • Keep the number for the NICU by your phone, but don’t panic when ‘Private Number’ shows up on your caller ID. My heart hit my stomach the first time I saw that display…and all they wanted to know was if they could feed him with a bottle! Good news comes by phone too, which is hard to remember when you suddenly become the world’s biggest pessimist!

  • Develop a filter when dealing with the nurses. Although they may not always tell you what you want or do what you want them to do…they do have years of education and experience with preemies and as a first time mom I learnt to respect their knowledge. It used to break Andrew’s heart when they’d get on his case about holding V after work, but they just wanted him to get as much sleepy growing time as possible..and the faster he gained the faster we’d take him home and be able to hold him all we wanted. A little trade off, as much as it hurts your heart, does go a long way.

  • Pump and do breastfeeding attempts but don’t rule out the bottle…how soon do you want your baby home?? NICU babies need to be feeding-tube free for 48 hours to go home and nursing takes a lot of energy which is in short supply for those little ones. There are definitely success stories about breastfeeding after the hospital but to get home ‘most’ parents go the bottle route.

  • Spend the night if you can…especially as a first time parent. It was great to get some supervised ‘practice’ with V before we actually took him home.

  • Ask about parents support groups set up with the hospital. I wish that we’d gone to the coffee meetings for NICU parents while we were there and am considering volunteering to share our experiences now that we’re a ‘success story’. It would have been nice to hear from parents who had been there, done that, and now had healthy, active kiddos.

  • Take advantage of any professional support offered: physio, respiratory therapists, dr meetings, lactation consultants. They are free professional services that are there to help you adjust to preemie parenthood and keep you informed!

  • Stockpile diapers, soothers, etc provided by the NICU…we felt like chumps when we left and took half a pack of diapers with us and the nurse had to force us to take the soother V was using. Other parents had been stocking up for weeks and nobody cared…

  • Don’t compare your post-baby body to other NICU Mommies…you will only be depressed if you were whale-like like me!! However, I definitely applaud all of those who were able to fit back into their pre-pregnancy jeans by the time their bundles were discharged.

  • Beware of ‘student’ nurses and dr’s….they tend to want to do everything and get flustered easily…at least in our experience. Experienced nurses will let you do the diaper changes, hold the feeding syringe, and bathe your little one. Student nurses tend to take over, not maliciously, but because they want more practice and experience, which is definitely annoying when you’ve developed a solid routine of ‘doing it yourself’.

  • Take many, many, many pictures. Just because your baby isn’t at home doesn’t mean that you can’t wallpaper your Facebook page with adorable cuteness. Also you have more support than you know and others want to cheer right along with you when major milestones are met!

  • Encourage family visits so long as the visitors are healthy.

  • Ask about post-discharge support like feeding studies or pediatrician follow up. We got involved in an amazing nutrition study that lasted until V was 8 months old. The support I got from the dietician, lactation consultant and pediatrician involved was invaluable and fingers crossed that it becomes a regular support program for preemie mamas after the paper is released. V was actually the last graduate from the study (a whole other post I assure you) and a big fuss was made over him…how can you not be happy about that!

  • Get a good day-timer or app to keep track of your kid’s many many many appointments. There will be scheduled eye exams, physio, respiratory therapy and developmental appointments. You will want to be there for them!

  • Start a diary or blog to help you get your frustrations and worries out. I wish I’d actually started this while V was a patient rather than almost a year old!!

  • Wear comfortable clothing…the NICU isn’t a fashion show and the chairs are not comfortable. No one is going to judge you for bring back the university look of PJs in public at 2 in the afternoon…in fact they may tell you that they look comfortable and ask where you got them.

  • When meeting with the NICU dr. before delivery ask about the side effects of ANY medications they will be giving your child. If we ever do this again Andrew and I will hands-down decline surfactant unless it is 100% life-savingly necessary (which it wasn’t in V’s case).

  • Get a really really really good hand-cream. With all of the washing and sanitizing you will do as a NICU parent your hands will be so dry they will crack and bleed…true story.

  • Take some time to feel sorry for yourself…this situation sucks and you have the right to the occasional pity party…just don’t let the negativity overshadow all of the great progress your baby is making.

  • Spend your time at home ‘nesting’ if you can. Chances are that if you have a preemie you have absolutely nothing ready at home and the time spent in the NICU will allow you to get your act together. It will also help you feel closer to your child and more useful as a mother to fold tiny onesies and fight with your partner over crib construction.

As I mentioned before, I’m sure this list in incomplete and I sincerely hope that no-one needs to use any of these little pearls of wisdom, but I definitely do find some satisfaction in sharing my would-haves/should-haves with others. Wishing you all healthy, happy and NICU-free deliveries!!

Ps.  I should probably mention in the context of the info and experiences that we had…we live in Ontario and our healthcare experiences and costs are both public and covered by our provincial OHIP. I imagine that some of the general points will definitely apply to NICUs across the globe but in terms of appointments and specialists I’m not sure what is provided in other countries.

What better way to end a post than with adorable tiny baby feet? Squeeee! If this doesn't make you feel mushy inside you need to go and watch some sappy movies...

 

Who Says Roommates Start In College?? V’s First Friend! April 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 8:53 pm
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After those first few days, as a new parent in the NICU and if you’re very lucky, you settle in to a somewhat uneasy routine. Your baby is stable, growing slowly, and you just show up every day and wait…and wait….and wait…

V had his umbilical line removed, was being fed lipids through his regular IV and had stopped receiving jaundice treatments. Basically we were just sitting by his bedside and watching him sleep. Preemies sleep a lot, more than regular newborns, and V would be awake for maybe 2 hrs a day. He was still on his ventilator, although the sprints were getting longer, and holding was kept to a couple of times a day to help minimize disturbances to the growing boy. To keep myself occupied I napped (sitting on a stool and leaning my head on my arms on top of a bedside table…thank you boring university classes for teaching me how to uncomfortably catnap anywhere!), read many trashy magazines since my mental capacities weren’t up for any extended or intellectual masterpieces, and just sat and stared at the baby. I made small talk with the nurses when they stopped in to check on V but the isolation made for some long, stressful days and I was always happy to see Andrew when he showed up after work.

V rocking the newborn cap and sleeping. His usual MO while in the NICU!

Luckily that week we were thrust into the unofficial NICU parent support system when V got his first of many roommates. A little girl in a ‘big girl’ crib (picture an ugly, white metal institutional type thing) took up the back corner of the front room and, although her parents were very quiet, it was nice to see other babies who were getting bigger and thriving under the nurses’ care.

The real surprise came the next day when I arrived in the NICU and received one heck of a shock. There was a baby in a plexiglass bassinet in the bay in the middle of the room! His tiny head was covered in the standard newborn cap and he was sleeping peacefully. Brand new mother that I was, I did a double take, was that my kiddo?? He looked an awful lot like him and so I actually had to check the name plate attached to the bassinet. Nope…not mine! Another new roommate for V! I guess swaddled and covered up babies all look pretty similar especially when they’re all about 3 lbs, wrinkly and sleeping. V was still in his full-on isolette next door, sleeping like a log.

The new baby’s name was Lucas and I had the pleasure of meeting his Mommy, Nicola, later that day. Suddenly my days in the NICU became a little more relaxed as we struck up a friendship based on our shared experiences with our boys. Nothing helps new Momma bonding like sharing birth stories, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation!

Actually, I had ‘heard’ about Nicola when I’d been admitted to Antenatal during the drama of my pregnancy. I had brought the book ‘Outlander’ with me to read and had struck up a conversation with my day nurse about it when she’d seen it in my bag. She had told me she’d recommended that very book to the Scottish lady in the room next door. Well, now I was on a first name basis with that same ‘Scottish lady’ and wishing I’d made her acquaintance earlier! We still keep in touch to this day and this past winter she has been doubly blessed as a Mommy with the birth of a healthy, full term baby girl!

Lucas was and still is an adorable and sweet-natured boy who was also dealt a rough hand in the beginning. He’s an incredible trooper and if I can convince his busy Mama (hint hint Nicola!) to share his story I will definitely put it as a separate entry. Their whole family continues to inspire me and I really hope they are able to share it with you!!

Talking with Nicola was a great stress-relief for me and helped us stay grounded throughout our time in the NICU. V and L kept to very similar milestones/sleeping and feeding patterns during their stay in the NICU which I think helped settle both of our minds that they were staying on the right curve. In the NICU you never want your kiddo to be the ‘special’ one….usually it’s not a good thing when they’re that fragile!

Even thought we haven’t been able to meet up as much as we’d like (or at least I’d like!) V and L are both thriving and adventurous little guys who still have remarkably similar taste in toys and food (if Facebook pics are anything to go by!). As horrible as the NICU experience was I do feel that it enriched our lives with the addition of a first buddy for V and a lasting friendship for a couple of first-time Mommies.

Now to wrap up this posting, Preemie Mommas everywhere can attest that, as soon as you start developing a support system of other NICU parents, your days get a little better. As nice as it is to talk to family and friends, unless they’ve been where you are it’s hard to really get a handle on what’s going on. I always got ‘So he’s just small?’ as the reply when explaining to others where V was. Ugh!

What those other NICU Mommies understood was that being a preemie encompasses so much more than size…it covers poor lung development, inability to regulate body temperature and oxygen levels, jaundice, susceptibility to life-threatening infections, hearing/sight/development delays, as well as the inability to summon enough energy to feed themselves. Each of these presents a world of possible complications and talking them over with other parents who know where your head is at makes them a little less scary. Think about it as similar to talking about a nightmare after you wake up in a cold sweat, it slays a few of the demons and lets you get back to sleep. Getting my frustrations and worries out to people who understood let me sit back and enjoy more of the time spent with my son, rather than spending my time thinking about all of the ‘what ifs’ that circle in your head. I can never thank those other Mommas enough for all of the generous support and giggles the provided during our experience even when their own little ones took up so much of their thoughts.

 

Before I was a Mother: Identity Crisis Time! January 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 12:25 am
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I know I promised to keep going with the beginning of V’s story (and I will get back to that), but I was inspired to write this post in particular. I was at work this past week and since it was slow I started to think about how my life has really changed, in fundamental ways, since I became pregnant and gave birth to my little guy. Every day V astounds me with what he learns and discovers, he brings so much joy to our lives…but as we watch him learn himself, sometimes I feel like we, as parents, get a little lost.

 

Before I was a mother I had so much confidence in my abilities. I thought I was pretty good at school, work, teaching, keeping in touch with friends, taking care of myself physically and adept at my home/life balancing act. I was very solid in my identity and took advantage of the many great opportunities that were offered to me. I’ve been very fortunate to have experienced many cultures and lived on all sides of the world (except the super cold parts!). I went to university and even completed a post-graduate degree. I was luckily to receive some great job opportunities in both retail and teaching and loved expanding my skills in both areas. In short, things came easily to me and I never found, luckily, that I had to work too hard to move forward at work or get good grades. I feel self-conscious about saying this and I’m not boasting but this is just how I perceived my life to be like…before I was a Mom.

 

After giving birth to baby V however, I feel like I’m still trying to pull myself back together and figure out who I am now. Especially since V was a preemie and spent his first year pretty much in solitude, I spent a whole 12 months of my life at home, caring for an infant, cut off from the ‘adult’ world. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of that time with my baby boy but since returning to work and the outside world, I’ve been struggling on how to mesh my new identities as ‘Vaughan’s Mommy’, and ‘Andrew’s wife’ with the ‘Me’ I knew before.

 

Before I was a mother I took chances, not crazy, life-threatening ones, but I took exciting job opportunities, be they at home or overseas. I went on trips. I made executive decisions at home and at work, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Maybe it’s something inherent to being a mother but I now find myself second guessing my decisions and abilities in ways I never have before, which creates a lot of anxiety! I know that whatever decisions or mistakes I make now, affect not just me, but the two most important people in my life. I spend so much time mulling over which option to take that often times I’m too late or make some careless error. My memory is also shot! It’s a good thing that I have a cell phone because usually I’ll get halfway to work and remember the really, super important thing I had to tell Andrew about Vaughan’s dinner/day/routine/dr’s apt. To attack this issue I’ve started leaving myself post-its and lists like a senior citizen…some days it works, and other days the laundry sits in all of its damp glory until I re-run the cycle the next day.

 

Before I was a mother I balanced school, a job, housework and an active social life. Even on my maternity leave I felt that I had a good handle on balancing baby and home. My house was usually pretty clean (with a few dust bunnies roaming around), dishes were done and meals were planned in advance. Now that I’ve added work into the mix, even part-time, and tutoring my niece, I find that the house becomes a disaster zone and I’m overwhelmed with where to start. Laundry becomes mountains, dishes pile in the sink and really all I want to do when V isn’t running around like a mad man is sit on my duff or have a nap right along with him. I feel like I’m failing as a woman and wife when I stare at the pile of unfolded laundry, or I have to pull out ‘adult’ towels for V’s bath because his are still sitting downstairs, waiting for their turn in the washer. My husband is fantastic and never, ever mentions how little gets done each day while he’s at work, and he helps so much when he’s home for the weekends, but I hardly feel it’s fair to pass it on to him since he’s bringing home the majority of the bacon. Where did my old organization skills go? Before I became a Mom, when I was in school, I’d work 40 hrs a week, have 20 hrs of class, managed to keep an  A average and go drinking with friends on the weekend, all in clean clothes! Why all of a sudden is 20 hrs of work a week and tutoring on average 3 days a week such a mountain to climb? I’m trying to resolve to look at the housework in small sections and set little goals for myself each day….for example: By the end of today I’d like for all of the laundry to be clean and dry, not necessarily folded, but clean. I finding that this helps but I really miss when all of this stuff seemed to take care of its self and I wasn’t collapsing into bed at 10pm.

 

Before I was a mother I was pretty proud of my physical appearance, not vain, but not totally unfortunate looking either. I had an enviable closet packed with current fashions, cute haircuts and the time to do makeup. Now, I really see a difference in  my appearance…and it has nothing to do with the extra pregnancy pounds still hanging around. Regardless of weight, my body just feels different, from my hair all the way down to the width of my feet.  This has also contributed to a fair amount of my decline in self-confidence. When you get up at 7am to take care of your beautiful baby it’s hard to get all excited about getting dressed up. You know that by 10am you’ll be covered in milk, food, snot and possibly other bodily fluids that do not mesh well with dry-clean only materials. As a nod to the aforementioned laundry mountains I prefer to not go through 10 outfits a day and so, I pick the easiest thing to put on…which sadly for my husband happens to be jeans or jogging pants, t-shirts and slippers. I put my effort into making sure V looks adorable since I wouldn’t want other parents thinking my child looks like a hobo! I can’t even discuss hair and makeup, because to be honest I can’t remember the last time I did mine. This year I’ve also resolved however, to take baby steps and make more of an effort in my appearance, not just for me but for my newlywed husband as well. Flannel Pjs just aren’t a sexy look for the first year of marriage….My first tiny step has been keeping my nails well maintained, and I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to keep it up! It sure does help when OPI makes such pretty colours….

 

Before I was a mother I thought that Mommies became a part of this super supportive, secret sorority where everyone had your back. That’s one thing that no-one tells you about being a parent… some Mommies are competitive, mean girls! I don’t think anyone can exclude themselves from this bunch because as first time, or even second time, etc parents we’re all looking for validation that ‘yes’ we are doing it right. Mommy groups, Facebook and message boards are full of exclamation point filled posts about how their 10 month old is running marathons, has perfect hand-eye coordination, is juggling college offers from both Stanford and Harvard as well as orating epic prose at genius level. This doesn’t help your confidence as a parent when you look down at the adorable, drool covered 16 month old child whose sticky hands are clutching at your leg to avoid falling down, still drinks from his bottle and babbles with very few actually discernible words. The first thought is ‘Where did I go wrong?’ followed closely  by ‘Oh my God! I’ve failed my child, he’s going to be left behind his peers’. The doctors say he’s meeting his milestones but what do they know?? Pfft…experts…

Nowadays I just stare at my little miracle, think of how far he’s come, and get a little teary-eyed when I think of all the things he has yet to do in his no-doubt, remarkable life. I’m not saying I won’t push him to be his best at what he chooses to do…but helicopter parenting is not for me!

Other Mommies will also judge you on what/how/when you feed your child along with what/when/how they play with toys, sleep, dress etc. Anything anyone can have an opinion on, you’re doing it wrong!! And this doesn’t help when you are your own worst critic. I’m finally learning to take a deep breath, say ‘Good for you’ and keep going in my own routine and beliefs. Everyone was a first time parent once and for the most part it seems to go well. I always appreciate well-meaning advice and help, however if someone is trashing my child-rearing efforts to make themselves feel good? They can kiss my stretch-marked behind and let the door hit theirs on the way out!

 

Before I was a mother I used to have actual conversations with friends that, most of the time, didn’t involve kids. Now, when I actually do have time to call up an old friend, which sadly happens less frequently than I’d like, I find that I babble about V and his milestones, simply because I have nothing else to talk about. When you’re home 24/7 with a toddler for company it really limits your conversational topics. I can absolutely update you on the current episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, however I’m sure that would be even less interesting to my child-less friends. I do appreciate the effort that they all put in, however, to show interest in our little guy. I love being able to share the greatest happiness in my life with friends but I do wish I had more time to do it! Friends with kids understand when you don’t call for three weeks because you didn’t have time. Even staying at home all day doesn’t leave you with the same free time it did before you had kids. When V is napping, I’m cleaning, paying bills, calling various government agencies to update someone’s records, or heaven forbid…napping. Sometimes I just forget….and I feel terrible! Motherhood guilt doesn’t just surround your child…I find it has seeped into other areas of my life and sometimes a good meltdown is called for when I’m feeling like a particularly bad friend. I’m trying my best to at least reply promptly to emails, and make a few phone calls a week but to be honest the results have been weak…although tomorrow is another day and maybe it’s time for a good phone chat!!

 

I also used to go places before I was a mother. Like the mall, movies or even out for coffee. Now those trips involve a car seat, bottles, snacks, toys and often a cranky child. If I’ve been lucky enough to make it out the door for a little ‘girl’ time there is still the issue of a babysitter, and making sure that it is someone we trust. With so much effort going in to 2 hours away from home, to be honest, some days it just isn’t worth it and I’d rather snuggle up with my boys and watch Netflix. I am trying to be better again this year however and have made a dinner out, once every two weeks, my achievable goal! So far, so good!

This is one of the the closest pics I can find myself in on the new laptop. I'm always the one behind the camera these days! This was Father's Day 2011 and I am wearing a Tshirt and jeans...please notice how handsome my two boys are however!!

 

I’m feeling like a real downer for this post, but everyone always extols the virtues of ‘new parenthood’ and sometimes someone just needs to vent and tell it like it is, at least some of the time. I am having the best time of my life as Mommy and wife. I love my little miracle and my amazingly supportive husband…but sometimes my identity gets lost and I need a few minutes to find it and integrate it into my daily life.