The Necessary Betrayal

Hello everyone,

My previous blog post to this one was dated back in December just shortly after my father passed away as a result of a long two year battle with cancer. The grief is still at times very raw and fresh. My sensitive heart needed time away from writing when I could not even string together a coherent thought beyond coping with my day to day experiences. As a mother, my limited energy needed to be channeled towards caring for my son. I realized recently that I have been operating from a state of depletion when I give to others in my various relationships whether that is my spouse, son, family members or my friends. One cannot give to others if you have nothing to share. Veronica Krestow shares a personal experience where she had to make a very difficult choice to put her needs first before those of a loved one, and examines the difference between giving to satisfy your ego and genuinely giving from a space of love. I recently made a similar choice in my own life that was very difficult, but I know intuitively will have a far better result for all those involved. Hope that you can find some wisdom from Veronica sharing her personal story.

Amanda

Fashion Mood Boosters

Perk Up Your Day

I sit in front of my computer typing this blog post in bright red sweat pants and curled up in a cozy black fleece jacket lined in faux fur. Both of these appeal to my need today to be comfortable and warm as it’s a chilly autumn day where I will be close to home. Whether I am spending a day chasing my toddler at the playground or attending an art opening I want to feel good in what I wear. Fashion is one way to express who we are to the world outside ourselves. What we wear can have a very big impact on how we feel about ourselves.

I came across this short segment on Cityline, a Canadian talk show, about ways to boost your mood through what you wear. Cityline is a show that I view on a daily basis as the segments are always interesting on a variety of topics from cooking to fashion. Each day of the week revolves around a specific topic like beauty or family. The show is a breath of fresh air from the pessimistic television news or violent prime time television.

The details can be what makes the most impact. As a busy mom, if I can make a little effort then it makes me feel like I am still a beautiful and sexy woman. A scarf can elevate a basic outfit to a level where it becomes very chic. I love to throw on a scarf or a hat to change things up when I head out my door. A cross body bag is a practical solution when out running errands or going to work. Your choice of shoe illustrates who you are and what you do with your day. Even when you choose to purchase a coat with a pattern, or to choose something more traditional like a grey or black wool makes a statement beyond the need to dress warm.

Clothing can be a great creative expression that allows us to shine our inner light to the world. What’s also wonderful is how thrift or consignment shopping can lead to some great quality finds. Most of my “investment pieces” were purchased in this way as I have champagne tastes but a beer budget. So it is definitely worth having some fun with the hunt and experimenting to find your own person style!

Postpartum Challenges

Since I arrived home from the hospital I have struggled to adjust to motherhood. It is not an easy transition for many women. There is judgement attached to when a mother expresses anything other than joy after she has given birth.

Sleep deprivation, hormones, and the gap between expectations of what motherhood will be like versus the reality can bring on postpartum depression or make it worse. If one has a history of mental illness then the likelihood of developing it can be greater.

Alanis Morrissette talks about her own struggle with postpartum depression also referred to as the “baby blues” in this interview to raise awareness. I am writing about the topic on this blog for similar reasons as even though I was aware that something didn’t feel quite right. I really didn’t feel like myself when I came home from the hospital. It is actually difficult for me to describe something that felt so raw emotionally.

It took me a while before I was willing to speak to anyone about it, because of societal attitudes towards those who admit that motherhood is not any easy adjustment for everyone. Long term it would do worse harm to myself and to my son to not deal with it.

Amanda

Curious Paradoxes of New Motherhood

The arrival of a new life is a little like a hurricane has come through shaking everything up to the point where you don’t recognize the landscape any more. I had a reader comment on one of my recent poems that the adjustment to motherhood appears to be agreeing with me. Becoming a first time mother is exhausting, scary, joyous, frustrating, and can feel like you are going a little nuts. In some ways I have enjoyed the transition that I am adjusting to as a new mother. In other respects I find the change to be very overwhelming. 

My son, Dylan, is now two weeks old. He has no qualms about making himself known when he needs something, or even just wants to be held. As a new mom, I usually start with basics. Does he need to be changed? Is he hungry? Is he too hot or too cold? Is he overstimulated or overtired? Does he just want to be held? Is he gassy (big source of discomfort for babies)? Sometimes though a baby will just fuss, and there isn’t too much you can do about it. This last one is frustrating when you’ve had very little sleep, and your son or daughter seems uncomfortable. 

Once you have a child you will find yourself laughing at, or saying things you never thought that you would. A few days ago I was getting ready to give my son a bath when he peed all over the towel, so I had to get my husband to fetch me a clean one. Baby boys require very fast diaper changes by the way. If you have had a little baby boy and been peed on enough times you know exactly what I am talking about. Once the cold hits his little penis it is like dealing with a fire hose. A few minutes after the pee incident, I was laughing, because my son was making bubbles in the bath water from his farts. Bathroom humour normally doesn’t make me laugh yet now it appears to. 

As a new mother, you worry about things that you never cared about before or that prior to having a child weren’t a concern. For example, if I want to take a shower or even go to the bathroom then I have to make sure if I am home alone that he is either in his crib, or another safe place. I normally leave my bathroom door open so I can hear him if he starts to cry. 

Self care is an important part of me staying well myself, and bare minimum for me is eating 3 meals per day, a shower, and brushing my teeth. Emotionally I speak regularly on the phone or have coffee with those friends of mine who have had young children. With a newborn sleep is probably the most challenging basic need for me to meet. My husband during the weekends takes the night shift to care for Dylan so I can get some rest, and during the week my mother will take him for a few hours so I can get sleep or a sanity break. I love my son, but appreciate him even more when I get short periods of time away from him. At first I felt a bit guilty about taking the time away from him, and I think most new mothers do feel like they are being selfish if they are away from their children.

Labour, delivery and the adjustment to becoming a new mother have not been easy on me emotionally or physically. Physically I am still recovering from a c-section. My staples that held the incision together came out shortly after Dylan was a week old. I am still in some pain from my surgery, and have another two weeks that I am restricted in what I can and cannot do physically. I have been lucky to receive help from family members, so cleaning, dishes and laundry are kept up. I have had to relax my standards quite a bit as I am trying to find the balance between what needs to be done, and what isn’t that important. My body also underwent a huge change physically as I dropped down 28 pounds when I gave birth from the loss of fluid, no longer carrying my son, or the placenta.

Emotionally, hormones have had some fun playing mind games with me and sleep deprivation probably doesn’t help matters either. My anxiety has been a big challenge recently as I have had a hard time trying to relax, or rest. I also find that I do not tolerate large amounts of visitors very well. It has been important to set some strict boundaries to limit how many people come to my house at once. I have been making it a point to get out of the house every second day for a walk, or even for just a coffee as I know that isolating myself will make things much worse. The first week that I was home from the hospital I was very weepy, and this is getting a little better over time. What I was wondering at the time was why am I crying when I have this beautiful little life in my care? Some of the tears came from the knowledge that his care is largely all on me. I just learned how to take care of myself not too long ago and now I am responsible for a little soul. 

New mothers don’t talk very often about the fact that it can take a while to feel a bond with your offspring. I loved my son when he was in the womb as the connection felt so very intimate. I did not finish labour and delivery with Dylan as he would not have made it through my pelvis. His entry into the world felt very surreal to me. Day by day though I am slowly getting to know this little soul who appears to have a strong personality already. My favourite moments with him are when he is snuggling with me after a feeding, taking him out in the stroller, or he is watching TV with me on the couch. It’s in those quiet times when it is just him and I that I can feel love slowly growing. 

Amanda

 

Still in the Oven

It appears that my child is enjoying the Jacuzzi tub and free buffet meals in my womb. This is wonderful that he or she finds it comfortable in there, but it will be nice to finally meet the new arrival. Today is July 26th, which is now two days past my due date. I am feeling an odd mixture of amusement, anxiety, and frustration as I haven’t given birth yet. The last couple of week of pregnancy can be trying for most women at the best of times as we feel uncomfortable and anxious.

Well meaning family and friends keep asking so when is the baby arriving? My most common answer is either when the child decides he or she is ready to come out, or when my doctor will induce me on July 31st. Inducing labour is normally only done when the mother and baby are both about a week past the due date, or there is a risk to both the mother and child. Thankfully, I am blessed that both myself and the gummy bear are healthy.

Not having control over my body is a very new situation for me that lately has tested my patience. No first time mother knows how labour will go, so my anxiety has been a little higher than usual. This anxiety combined with pregnancy hormones at their height is making life interesting at the moment. I am not feeling like myself at the moment when I swing between frustration and feeling so emotional.

The lesson I am learning from this experience is how in most situations it is important to surrender control to a higher power over the potential outcome, and to be patient as well as compassionate with myself. Laughing at myself when hormones cause me to feel out of sorts is one way to cope with their wackiness. Sometimes you learn the most about yourself when you don’t feel like who you are normally. My life experiences have caused me to be self-aware of who I am, as well as, what most of my quirks are. By this I mean that you learn what your limits are, and how you cope when they are pushed.

Once you start to heal from the aftermath of trauma there are aspects of the experience that can be blessings. Wisdom can come from experiencing brokenness. One thing I realized recently is that I need to be physically rested to self regulate my mood. In the third trimester it can become much harder to find a comfortable sleeping position as the baby bump and various pregnancy symptoms make it much harder to sleep well. Making time for a nap during the day, and keeping a perspective that the sleep deprivation during the night is temporary help to cope with this. I have had to deal with insomnia before, so I am prepared for the sleep deprivation that comes with having a newborn.

Well, I hope that all of you have a wonderful day. If you are in your last trimester of pregnancy then you most certainly have my empathy. It can be trying towards the end when you are anticipating your new arrival.

Amanda

Stumped on How to Relax

Stumped on How to Relax

The weathered old garden gnome has a permanent home every year on a stump in my front yard. He is surrounded by what ever flowers I choose to plant in the rock garden around the stump. He is a reminder to myself to take a break and relax amongst the bustle that is life. I don’t always listen to what my body, mind or soul needs to nourish itself. The past couple of days I have had sciatic nerve pain in my hips and back. This can be frustrating as the only thing I can do is make time for rest, and adapt what I am doing to the limitations of my body. Are we truly our bodies though? Nope, this bag of flesh and bone that I am housed in is only a temporary home for my soul while I am visiting here. I have it for this lifetime, so I may as well give it the rest that it needs, and respect its limitations.

Amanda

Sometimes heaven is…

Sometimes heaven is a hot bath. This blog post was inspired by two things. The first one is an art print I remember seeing at a close friend’s house that reads “Sometimes heaven is a hot bath.” The second was the music video I just watched a short time ago of the Sesame Street classic sung by Ernie entitled “Rubber Duckie You’re the One.”

Recently, I started to begin the tedious process of de-cluttering my home, cleaning, and preparing for the arrival of our baby. Today I pushed myself physically a little bit too much, so my lower back, hip and leg are sore. I developed sciatic pain shortly after I entered the second trimester of my pregnancy. What I should have done was to call my sister or a friend to help me get a few things done rather than pushing my body beyond its capacity.

When I was working full time often a hot bath with Epsom salts and essential oils, or bubble bath would help to ease the stresses of the day. I would use lavender bubble bath, oil or lotion to relax myself enough to help me go to sleep without insomnia’s plague. These days that soak in the tub helps to relieve the soreness in muscles. No, I do not have a rubber ducky but Ernie singing made me smile.

If you will all please excuse me I hear the water running in my tub right now. Hope that this evening you have the opportunity to enjoy something that you love that relaxes you at the same time.

Amanda