Survived 4 weeks

God I didn’t think I would make it a month but here we are – Kensi will be a month as of this Sun, Feb 19!


Actually there’s an ongoing debate in our house on whether she’s already a month. Dan thinks we should be counting every Thurs by 11:30pm as a full week since that’s when she was born – which means she’s already a month old. My mom thinks it should go from Jan 19-Feb 19. What’s the actual definition because inquiring minds wants to know.

Processing what I felt at week 2 versus week 4, here’s the difference:

  • Still highs and lows for sure, and every time I think we feel like we kinda know what’s going on something new happens that throws us for a loop. Like baby acne – I know this is very common for babies because their skin is essentially untouched when they come out and just naturally react to things as more time continues on Earth, but like what’s normal and what’s severe that we should be concerned about?
  • Sleep deprivation – still an issue but some days are better than others. But sleep is never great, which I’m told you just have to accept until they turn maybe 15 years old.
  • She’s getting increasingly fussy and spits up so much that I’m constantly overthinking everything we are doing. Like is it me, my milk, am I holding her differently, am I doing something wrong, if she spits up so much does that mean she didn’t consume anything, etc etc etc.  This whole over analyzing everything that goes wrong is  a HUGE issue, because as a first time parent you can’t help but over analyze everything since it’s all new.
  • I’ve hired the person who trained us for hypnobirthing to come do private sessions with me for post partum care and infant massage classes. Since I responded so well to what she taught for the delivery I’m very hopeful that she will provide equally effective tools for post partum and help increasing bonding with the baby. Maybe this will reduce all the tears (mine AND the baby’s!).
  • BTW: I’m still questioning wtf we have done and still committed to likely being a one child family, because this is hard AF and it’s made even worse I think by having the deadly trifecta combo: Type A + Hypochondriac + Not naturally maternal. This is the perfect storm for feeling pretty unimpressed with motherhood. Plus I know tons of people who are an only child and they have tons of friends and turn out (relatively) normal.

I’m not into tracking milestones month by month because right now all I focus on is whether she eats, produces enough diapers, sleeps and is clean (enough) but here are some pictures that provide some hope that life might get better:


1. A friend made a flower headband for her and I put it on her the other day but I call it her purple cabbage hat. I think putting funny things on her will at least provide some small personal form of entertainment (but in no way makes up for the sleep deprivation, let that be clear!).

 


2. Dan has discovered she likes to look at herself in the mirror. I don’t know why but I think this is funny because maybe she will be as vain as her mom? I’m actually quite proud of her 😂

 


3. WEATHER IS WARMER THANK GOD. Took our first family walk today. Once the weather warms I vow to get out and walk everyday (duh because I can’t drive) so that I can try to return to feeling a bit more human.

Sending prayers out to the universe out there that I start getting more sleep. If anyone would like to donate their prayers to this cause I would welcome your positive energy and thoughts!! 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

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Out on good behaviour 

On today’s episode of prison life – the warden (Kensington) let me out on good behaviour. She took a decent length nap so I took advantage of that and the considerably warmer weather today and finally went outside. Note: I haven’t been outside in a week.

What did I do on this glorious venture out?

1) Dan and I walked to McDonalds and got cheeseburgers.


2) I then went across the street to the health food store and got more omega fish oils because my bottle was running desperately low – and girl needs her omegas.

This is my life now. 

And also – unapologetically went outside wearing today’s sweatpants attire which may or may not have vom, pee or shat on it in some combination or another.

Mat Leave: If Martha Stewart can survive prison, then I can do this.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how my new life is similar to either being on Survivor or being in prison. Only in both instances, I debate their lives are still marginally better because neither are sleep deprived… but maybe they are and I have no idea.

I also think about how Martha Stewart and Teresa Giudice both survived prison, so if they can do it then I have to find the internal mental and physical strength myself to endure how things go day by day so that maybe one day weeks or months from now, I’ll start seeing the pay off. The pay off being – sleep, a better routine, a smile that isn’t gas related, warmer weather to go outside, a baby laugh, etc.

So on today’s episode of Survivor otherwise known as my life, my ONE thing that’s keeping me together is that I took a shower and was able to brush my teeth uninterrupted. I know this may not seem like much to most but if you are a mom you likely KNOW how much this is worth. Like in prison, it’s probably worth about 10 packs of cigarettes. THAT’s how valuable having an uninterrupted shower is in motherhood.

This new life of mine also sees me living in sweatpants permanently. This is almost refreshing to me, because I can be unapologetically a total hot mess – and nobody can comment on it because they’re like ‘oh she’s got a newborn, I’m impressed she even has pants on.’  Sweats, hoodies, shirts with vom on it, the whole kitten caboodle – it’s like CAMPING almost because I’m just always in grungy clothes + dirty. Just like on Survivor!

Since having Kensington, she’s effectively cured my clothes shopping addiction. I now have a closet full of really nice clothes I likely won’t be able to wear until a year from now when maybe I’ll be allowed out for good behaviour, and I also haven’t had any inclination to shop for anything new (no matter how many emails Aritzia or Club Monaco sends to me). That being said, it’s been 3 weeks now that I haven’t bought anything for myself (which in my old world is very rare because I was always living the motto of ‘treat yo’self!’ on the daily) so today I decided to channel some of that previous energy into something meaningful for Kensi:

I’ve been following this company ever since I got pregnant called Cuddle and Kind. They make hand knit dolls (employing 100+ artisans in Peru) and each doll you buy feeds 10 meals to kids in need around the world.  So I bought this package they’re offering right now where if you buy 2 dolls, you also get 2 free prints and free shipping = 30 meals.

Below are the 2 dolls I chose for Kensington. The boy fox is named Wyatt and the girl fox is named Sadie and they each measure 20″. I don’t know if I’ll keep their names or change them, because to me the girl looks more like a Margaret and the boy fox could be a Wyatt but I think he could also be a Montgomery. What do you guys think?

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I also plan to use Margaret + Montgomery as a way to measure how tall Kensington grows, because right now I’m pretty sure the dolls are bigger than her – so if we get to the day that she outsizes these dolls, then I’ll know I’ll have done something right.

Oh shit the Warden is up, SUBMITTING THIS NOW so apologies for any typos.

Mat Leave: Day 30 – My New Strategy

Ok first – thanks EVERYONE who posted comments or messaged me directly about my very honest + frank last post regarding what motherhood + having a newborn is like (fyi: it’s awful)

I’m really happy to hear that literally everyone who had commented or messaged me directly said that what I was feeling was absolutely normal and they could relate to at least one if not all of the things I wrote about (and there should be no shame in that).

It’s been almost 3 weeks since Kensi was born and ever since I had several mental breakdowns as of last week, I’ve adopted a new strategy moving forward. Since employing the new strategy, I haven’t sobbed since – but note I did cry for like 10 minutes today but I think that’s pretty damn good (note the benchmark is to NOT be sobbing for hours).

Here’s my new strategy:

1) SURVIVAL: focus on the BASICS and leave all the other bullshit aside. That means my only priority I should focus on is feeding Kensi, having her diaper changed (either by myself or Dan), and trying to get her back to sleep (either by myself, Dan or my mom). That’s it. Note this cycle happens EVERY 3 hours day in and day out (which is a recipe for insanity but that’s a whole other story) – but that’s all I should focus on.

I got paranoid last week when I read a stupid article about tummy time and maximizing their awake time by having enriching activities which freaked me out because 2 weeks had passed and I hadn’t even thought about any of those things. While bawling to my midwife at my last appointment she effectively said no, don’t focus on that other stuff. My only job is to focus on the basics. She also said she didn’t do any tummy time with her twins (TWINS she breastfeed ahhh!!!) and one of them is the fastest runner in her class so how useful IS dedicated tummy time.

2) Unapologetically leaning in on my support team: I have a lot of support, I’ll admit it. And I won’t apologize or continue to feel guilty about it. Because even though I have a lot of support through Dan + my mom who lives with us full time now, it’s STILL not enough support to make me feel sane, confident, well slept, etc.  It honestly takes a VILLAGE to raise a baby, let alone a newborn baby, and even with the 3 of us it still feels like my head is barely above water. I’m constantly feeling like I’m either drowning or not doing things well.

Note that in other cultures, it’s not common for a new mom to be by themselves which I think is the norm in North America. In fact the other day someone told me in Taiwan that it’s very popular to have “post partum nursing centres” which are essentially luxury hotels for new moms + their babies to stay in for a month or two after. Nurses there show moms how to do everything (i.e. breastfeed, use a pump, bathe a baby, etc – you know all those things NOBODY really prepares you for) and have meals prepared for the moms 5X a day.

Here are some interesting articles I found that talk more about this industry, but I seriously think this is definitely a gap in the market and common discourse here in North America. New moms should not be left to fend for themselves – we’re at our MOST vulnerable and need a whole TEAM to back us up:

http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2099912,00.html (this one talks about the Chinese tradition of ‘sitting the month’ which essentially has a new mom spend a month after birth staying inside, focusing on being warm + cozy and restoring her energy back)

http://taiwanxifu.com/2013/04/10/a-peek-inside-a-luxury-baby-hotel/ (this article is cool because it talks about the luxury baby hotel industry in Taiwan, if we had this here I totally would have signed up for it!)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/these-upscale-israeli-hotels-are-designed-for-new-moms-and-babies/ (this one is a similar idea, but in Israel)

3) Self care + self preservation: this is key. In the first week and a half, I kept constantly checking in on my mom or Dan asking them if they slept enough. I also wanted to continue to make meals, do some laundry, clean and vacuum, literally just do ANYTHING while the baby was sleeping that would make me feel like a normal human being again. This was all pre breakdown.

Then we deduced that all of those activities to feel “normal” was likely what caused me to be run down and exhausted, which led me to forget to eat or hydrate properly. This is a big no no. Back to the earlier article about the Chinese observing the ‘sitting a month’ period, that’s when I decided to follow suit and adopt a similar approach: focus on being warm, cozy and not doing a lot besides nourishing the baby and restoring my own energy.

So this point circles back to point 1, which is survival and just focusing on the basics. I need to also focus on myself and for me, that’s:

  • Getting enough sleep which personally means min. of 6 hours in a 24 hour period (hence I need to lean in more on Dan and my mom for diaper changes and rocking the baby back to sleep so I can just pass out)
  • Taking my vitamins + supplements (prenatal vitamin, probiotics, vitamin D, fish oil, encapsulated placenta). Note remembering to do all of this is a feat in itself!
  • Picking one thing during the day that is just for myself – today that was eating some nacho chips with a 7 layer dip, and then a donut. I did this while fast forwarding through to watch 2 reality shows I had recorded the night before.  Yesterday it was taking Frankly out for a walk with Dan. You get the point. But it’s just one thing because before I was trying to do everything and anything and I didn’t realize it led to just feeling super run down.

4) Stop comparing myself to other people and their babies. This is also tied to trying to ignore social media (which we all know is DECEIVING). Every baby is different, and every parent is different. And I have to work on just letting that go. I can’t be jealous of someone who has a baby who sleeps through the night right away because they might have something else going on that I have NO idea about (and vice versa).  I also can’t be jealous of pics I see on social media where people seem like they have all their shit together with their babies.

This also means suspending any judgement or anxiety about what I’m “supposed” to be doing. Case in point: breastfeeding. Honestly if you have a baby, the most contentious arena that is likely discussed other than maybe vaccines is BREASTFEEDING. Everyone and their neighbor has an opinion about it – we live in a culture that truly puts a huge amount of pressure on a mama to breastfeed, especially exclusively. It’s like apparently you’re not a good mom if you don’t breastfeed, “breast is best” is the slogan you’ll constantly hear.

I’m hear to tell you FED IS BEST. Here’s an article that someone sent me – the most important line in the article is this: YOUR WORTH IS NOT MEASURED IN OUNCES. 

Even though I have been exclusively breastfeeding, I’m toying with the idea of introducing one formula feed at night time to see if that stretches Kensi out in the evening for longer sleeping which in turn allows for myself to have more of a reprieve.

And guess what? Nobody is really allowed to comment on what we choose to do because at the end of the day, it’s our family’s decision to figure out what works best for US. That’s the whole point – every family makes their own decision on what works best for them and their needs – and anyone else who may have a different opinion can – apologies in advance for being rude, but STFU.

Breastfeeding, formula, sleeping arrangements, diet, potty training, parenting, the list goes ON AND ON.  Just like before when I made a blog post about pregnancy and I said, my body, my choice, my decisions – the same rings true now since Kensi has been born but now it’s our family, our choice, OUR decisions!

5) Stop trying to check work emails. Ugh this one is really tough for me to let go of and I still do it but just not as much, but I am having major FOMO when it comes to work – not the actual work itself haha but just going to work and having that routine and knowing what to expect. It also doesn’t help that as soon as I went on mat leave they got a full time barista at work, so now all I see on social media is people’s damn art lattes they’re getting. BLAH

 

So far my strategy above has led to a better mental and physical state of mind. I mean I still cried today but it was only for 10 mins, and then I took a nap, and then I ate my nachos and watched some reality TV and now I feel way better. This is what I assume are more natural highs and lows rather than just nonstop lows which would be more concerning.

 

Mat Leave: Not sure wtf day it is

Oh hey there, it’s ME again, back from the DEAD – otherwise known as having a newborn.

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Last time I posted was more than 2 weeks when I just had the baby and I was still living in shock and denial that a human came out of my body (I’m STILL in disbelief but obviously had to accept it REAL fast).

Guys – let me tell you, newborns are not for the faint of heart. It’s also a total physical and emotional roller coaster that has high highs and very severe lows (emphasis on severe because yesterday I spent almost all day crying).

2 weeks into having my life completely change, I’ve decided to draft a list of high level thoughts + feelings on what it’s like on the other side with a newborn.  This list is not going to sugar coat things my friend, and it’s something that I wish I had read prior to Kensington being born, so that maybe I could be a bit more mentally prepared for what was to come!

1. I feel lied to – or at least tricked by all the people casually walking around who have kids like it’s no big deal. IT’S A BIG FUCKING DEAL. I didn’t realize the pain and suffering you had to endure. Prop – serious props. Newborns are MONSTERS. They’re emotional and physical terrorists – they build you up and then tear you right back down. How do they do this? Mostly sleep deprivation. But also there’s so many things you have to worry and think about, that it’s also a mental assault on your brain too. I recently read a quote that NAVY seals are similar to new moms, because they are trained to tolerate torture by prolonged sleep deprivation and having to listen to hours of infant screams, similar to new moms! ENOUGH SAID.

2. Myth: you will fall instantly in love with your baby. I mean yes I believe this is real for some people – but for me it’s not. I mean I feel the obligatory kind of love because hello, Kensington came out of my body so I love her like I love my arms and legs, but I’m not IN love with her (yet).

But here’s the thing: I don’t feel guilty about this. I think some people are afraid to admit they’re not in love with their baby initially but I’m not afraid to say it. Because you know what I think is weird? Falling in love with something instantly without having forged any sort of connection to it. THAT to me seems more foreign and strange.

I am confident I will grow to love Kensi to smithereens though because look what happened with Frankly (who is still #1 in my heart… for now). When we got Frankly as a puppy, I was so overwhelmed with all the work that was required to take care of her that I felt really detached and burdened by her. It wasn’t until we figured out and normalized into a routine and she became house trained that our lives became easier, and subsequently my adoration grew.

So in case anyone still doubted me when I emphatically said Frankly will still be #1 in my heart even after the baby was born – this statement STILL HOLDS TRUE. In my heart, the hierarchy in this house is Dan – #1, Frankly #2, and then Kensi #3. But then in terms of needs being met it’s reverse, Kensi has to be #1, Frankly is #2 and then Dan is #3 because he can change his OWN diaper and pick up his own poop thank you very much.

3. There will be several moments (and for me it’s like dozens of times in an hour) that you question wtf you have done. In my case on day 2, I decided I didn’t want her or this life anymore and told Dan we should put her up for adoption and that for a newborn she was pretty cute so I was confident that someone would pick her right away. But then a day later I conceded we can still keep her. Not going to lie, I still dance around and think about it several times a day.

4. Mourning. It’s kind of funny that as one life is born into the world, another life as you know it is essentially put to rest. For me, my old life has died – and now I’m adjusting to a new life. I miss what my old life use to be. My independence, my frivolous spending habits, the ability to just do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, working + making money, the list goes on and on. I spent almost ALL day yesterday crying because I missed my old life so badly, that I felt like it finally sunk in that the life I once knew has pretty much died.

5. Missing when it was just the 2 of us. Or in my case – I miss when it was just the three of us – Dan, Frankly and I. We were the three amigos and now I feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not having more quality time to spend with either of them.

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As you can see – the above list is kind of depressing (even though it’s the TRUTH).  That’s why I’m glad that I didn’t originally post this on Day 3 when I originally drafted the list because since then, I’ve had more time to normalize (and my hormones are also calming down somewhat).  For every bullet on the list above, I’ve also drafted a new list of realizations I’ve had since Kensington was born:

1. I’m really fucking strong. Physically, mentally, emotionally – even when I’m a sobbing mess and crying for hours (or days!), I’m still strong. I carried and grew a human inside of me for 10 months. And then I unknowingly endured contractions for DAYS. I was in active labour for 10 hours (take THAT Navy Seals!) and veins were bulging out of my neck and head while I was pushing Kensington out of me. I’m actually UNSTOPPABLE.

Not that I ever doubted this myself but for anyone who might be on the fence – here’s the truth: Women are stronger than men. We just are.

This is something I have to keep reminding myself 2 weeks later because yesterday I was just confronted with so many things I felt fearful of. Afraid to figure out how to put her in the car seat by myself. How to use the stroller by myself. How to use the breast pump. Everything that felt new and foreign that I’ve never done with her feels really scary, intimidating and daunting. And then I have to remind myself I somehow made it through labour, and survived the first 2 weeks – so somehow I probably have the reserves to figure it out.

2. I love Dan MORE THAN EVER (and vice versa). I might not be head over heels in love with Kensington yet, but I know I love Dan more than ever.  Dan was amazing to me during labour and has been even more amazing to me since. I was bedridden for a few days after the delivery and Dan did EVERYTHING he possibly could to make me feel comfortable. He’s been there waking up with me in the middle of the night, changes the majority of diapers, always makes sure a glass of water is filled next to me to keep me hydrated,  and doesn’t complain when he has to go up and down the stairs a million times if I ask him to get things for me. The list goes on and on.  The days after Kensington was born, we would be in bed and even though I felt really overwhelmed and crippled with fear and anxiety on how to keep this human being alive, I knew that no matter what I had a partner who felt the exact same way I did and thought I was doing great.

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3. Kensington is changing every day, and subsequently so am I (or at least I have to).  This is VERY scary and liberating all at the same time.  I’m the same but I’m completely different. Things I cared about I instantly don’t seem to care about anymore. Case in point: Aritzia sent me their snooze you lose sale email and I went through it and didn’t buy ANYTHING. I don’t even have the compulsion to shop (for clothes) anymore, because now I evaluate everything as ‘is it worth it if it gets puked, peed or shat on?’ and if it’s not – then bye Felicia!

4. Learning to let go. Newborns are the greatest exercise to challenge anyone who has issues with letting go. I’m slowly day by day learning to let go and shed my OCD anxieties and insecurities. For anyone who is Type A or a control freak – you’ll know how tough and challenging the idea of letting go of any sort of control is, but Kensington is forcing me to do it and I’ll be better for it and so will she.

I’m also letting go of what I think my life was, and doing my best to welcome what my new life is like. Right now my new life is awful. Simply awful. Kensington may have been receiving her livelihood via an umbilical cord when she was inside me, but being outside is different because there’s an invisible umbilical cord. I am her source of nutrients so I am essentially tethered to her. She has to be fed, diaper changed and go to sleep every 2-4 hours…. day in and day out. This is the formula to driving someone insane, and this is ultimately what is making me feel depressed and spontaneously combust into tears anytime someone asks “how are you doing?” Lets be clear: I’M NOT FINE.  And I just have to keep reminding myself: THIS IS NORMAL and THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

That’s why when I’m scrolling through social media and seeing all these mommy blogs, with moms and their strollers out for coffee or tons of social media of people posting these perfect pictures of themselves with their newborn in these cutesy outfits I’m like WTF. That is not real life. Do not try to instagram filter what being a first time mom is. Show me the pictures of you in your pjs for 3 days straight, covered in vom, sleep deprived, and bawling your eyes out. Those are the REAL pics I want to see, none of this insta filtered bull shizzle.

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5.  I’m grateful for the small private moments I might have with Dan and Frankly because I appreciate them way more now. And I’m also grateful for the sweet moments that I see Kensington have with everyone around me. Dan + Kensi. My parents + Kensi. Dan’s parents + Kensi. Mostly though Kensi + Frankly – the combination of those two are going to be DEADLY (right now Franks isn’t too interested in her but she always checks up on her when she cries and gives her some really good sniffs once in awhile and that already warms my heart).

 

I’m committed to trying to return to normal and updating the blog more, so stay tuned! But note I’m also committed to being super honest + frank about what being a new mom is like, like for REAL and not social media real. Hence the pics I posted are all of me looking like shit, because that’s what it’s REALLY like!