I took your advice.
My husband says that I am seriously stubborn and can’t admit when someone else is right. However, I’m wearing my big girl panties and full admitting that you were right.
In a blog post last week I pondered how I was going to kick ass at motherhood this summer with all three kids. Basically all of you said, ‘get a babysitter’ or ‘don’t be so hard on yourself”. You also told me that it’s seriously okay to have those quiet days where things are a bit disorganized. Basically, aiming low was more than okay.
So, I gave up on the idea of being this really kick ass amazing mama with big planned activities or a bucket list and shifted my expectations. My goals changed from attempting to being really kick ass to just getting out of the apartment at least once per day.
That became my new goal and so far we’ve made it work. Let’s recap on our week.
We hit up all the nearby parks within the neighbourhood for endless playtime. On one such day we had to stop along the way to let the baby nurse. Turns out my big kids just needed some free play with a bunch of rocks next to the ocean to be really happy. Shouts of, ‘THIS IS SO MUCH FUN MUM!‘ came from them as they collected mini rocks and large rocks and made up some sort of game. We stayed there for about 20 minutes before we went to the playground and they requested to come back for more made up rock games.
Mid week I was too busy trying to corral the three kids out the door, and also get myself dressed, so I opted for an outside pizza lunch. It was actually delicious and more tasty than something I might have whipped up. Fresh hot authentic Italian pizza from a local cafe. We sat in the shade and enjoyed the picnic and no one fought and no one cried. Win win all around. We basically just made good use of our neighbourhood and one afternoon we completed the day with a stop to see the train engine. I sat with the baby on the side and the big kids pretend they were going on a journey to make believe places. Lazy parenting at it’s finest. Another win win all around.
Instead of coming up with unique craft ideas on my own, we headed to the public library to make use of their fun summer program. The kids made wildflower seed bombs out of clay and mason bee houses out of cans. We just had to bring the cans and the rest of the supplies the library provided, including cleaning up the drips of paint and mess that happened from painting the bee houses. This activity was another big win in my lazy parenting method! The big kids loved the craft time and creating something and I was happy that they were busy and doing something that didn’t include a screen. Josie even got her first library card and that was a thrill on its own.
So, dear readers your advice was just perfect and just what I needed. Thank you! Thank you! I’m not going to pressure myself to have goals that are going to stress me out. Instead I’m going to get out of the apartment every single day and just let this Summer unfold.
When Elisabeth was born I nursed her pretty much right away just like I did with my other 2 babies. I remember watching her tiny jaw move up and down and felt so content nursing my tiny amazing baby. After our stressful pregnancy I just couldn’t believe she was here in my arms nursing.
It took Elisabeth longer than usual to get through those meconium days and it took her a long time to clear her jaundice and get out of the phototherapy box. It also felt like it took forever for her blood sugars to normalize when we were in the NICU with her. The whole issue of low blood sugar was new to me as a parent as my other 2 babies had no NICU stays and no blood sugar issues. I felt like my stressful pregnancy just oozed into stressful post partum days. There was no break from worry and everything we did felt like it took so much effort.
I chose to walk from my patient room to the NICU for every single feed around the clock. Mainly because it was important to me and also cause I was still in awe of this baby. By the time I arrived in the NICU and tried to nurse then give her a top up of donor breast milk and THEN pump, there was about 1.5 hours left to sleep. Of course, like anyone who has been in the hospital knows, sleeping in a patient room is probably the least restful sleep inducing place to be. A housecleaner has to empty the garbage, a resident has to check on how I’m doing, the nurse needs to take my BP, the food delivery person sang a big entrance as she brought in my meal tray. All at different times. This is the story of the hospital.
When we were finally home and somewhat settled I started to relax. I started to feel comfortable with caring for my newest baby and we lazed in bed nursing and doing skin to skin and just recovering. Having her with me was literally my dream come true and it felt just right. So, when we went to the doctors for a baby check up a few days later I was shocked to learn she had dropped even more weight from when we went home from the hospital. How could that be? We were nursing so regularly. I had breastfed both the other kids and had actually been nursing in the early part of my pregnancy. I knew how to breastfeed. I taught breastfeeding, I was old hat at this game. What was the issue?
I set my clock so feeds were very regular and hand expressed breast milk to give to her as a top up. I had a friend who was a lactation consultant come over and watched me feed the baby. We made a plan and it seemed to be working, but it turns out that it wasn’t really. I felt like all I did was nurse this baby and joked to my husband that with the amount of hours I put into feeding her she should be rolly polly like her siblings were. However, she was gaining just the minimum amount of weight that babies are suppose to gain.
Last week I started to tune out the busy life and focus on how my baby was really feeding. She was working hard but I didn’t ‘hear’ a lot of milk swallowing. My girl was doing 100% of the work for about 60% of the reward. I was feeling so frustrated and somewhat defeated and that’s when I flipped the lip and saw that Elisabeth had an upper lip tie and most likely a posterior tongue tie. Was this the issue that has been holding us back from her gaining weight and breastfeeding effectively and efficiently?
I used to get all worked up if the kids randomly napped, especially if it was in the later afternoon. An unexpected afternoon nap meant that my quiet evenings were shot and they wouldn’t be tired for their usual 7-8 PM bedtime. This meant parenting went on even longer and the only break was sleeping, but even then you might be woken up with the things big kids request.
However, since having the baby there isn’t really the same kind of downtime in the evenings now. The day runs into the evening and the evening runs into the morning and then we (sometimes) change clothes and then we repeat. Those quiet adult only evenings don’t exist the same way. Some evenings I might be in the bedroom with the baby and my husband is cooking or working or finally getting a break.
Some nights it takes me till midnight till the baby is ready to do a stretch of nighttime sleep. I’ve given up getting all irritated when one of the kids randomly falls asleep in the afternoon. Like this afternoon when Josie was hanging out and then passed right out.
It was tough to wake this girl up after she snoozed for an hour. Even her big brother’s attempts of smooching and tickling didn’t make her flinch. Not even the ridiculous hugs he gave her made her move an inch. Just more snoozing. Obviously, she needed the extra sleep!
Tonight she’ll be up a couple hours past her usual bedtime, probably closer to 9-10 PM. I’m just going to roll with that.
Now that school is ending for the year, I’ll have all 3 kids together for the next 2 months. I’m starting to worry about entertaining all of them and I want to kick ass at being a mother. I need to find my summertime groove in motherhood. I want to stop just existing, which was just fine when I had a newborn, but I feel like it’s time to get serious.
Last week I had all 3 kids home for ONE day on a weekday and ‘almost’ lost my shit multiple times before it was 1 PM. I won’t admit to the amount of hours the big kids were plastered in front of screens while I was busy with the baby. There were no crafts or homemade activities or anything close to that. At one point I tossed down some crackers, a slab of peanut butter and bunch of cream cheese and called it lunch. I scrambled to get dressed while they made crumbs and ate lunch.
I feel like these summertime months will be a true test of parenting for me and I can’t help but wonder if I’m mom enough to kick ass at it. I still spend so much time nursing, soothing and putting the baby to sleep that I find it a challenge to simultaneously parent the other kids. I find myself yelling at the big kids to BE QUIET because they’re waking the baby up and I just want the baby to sleep so I can get dressed or maybe wash my face.
Of course, the baby is getting older and we aren’t in the newborn zombie phase anymore but we are still busy. My hands are always busy. We’ve had two great lazy months with slow mornings spent lingering in bed with coffee nursing the baby, but I feel like now is the time to get into some kind of up and at ’em routine that will be more productive with all 3.
My crew this summer: My 6.5 year old boy who is curious and interested in so many things and likes to be active with a plan. My curly haired 3.5 year old girl who wants to play and sing and glue things and always wants a snack. My tiny little baby that requires a lot of hands on care just to exist.
I want to kick ass at the 2 months of summer break. I don’t want it to be all tv watching while I yell at the kids to be keep it down while I try to put the baby to sleep. I want library days and casual picnics at new parks. I want outings and dirty feet from playing in the sand. I don’t want to feel that uppity stress I often feel. Really, I just want to kick ass at being a mother this summer.
What do you do to kick ass at motherhood? Do you follow a routine or create structure in your days? Do you let the dishes pile up and go outside to play? Share with me what works for you. I need all the tips I can get!
Back in the day when I was in the dating scene and looking for more of a serious relationship, I read that the best men to date are those that were kind to animals. Apparently, a man who loves animals is less likely to be a pyscho serial killer and I was totally in the market for a non psycho type of man. Except for a small percentage of women, I think most of us would have similar criteria.
It turns out that I met a guy who was pretty serious about his love for animals and rescue dogs in particular. I felt some instant relief that he must be a pretty normal guy given that article I had read about animal lovers being less likely to be a murderer. So, we had our first date and the second date came shortly after and the third date was booked while we were still on the second date.
Fast forward years later to the time we were newly married and his elderly dog lived with us in our apartment. She was so ancient and due to severe arthritis and old dog issues she was in no shape to be traipsing out of the apartment outside to pee. I’m sure at this point many people would choose to put the dog down. However, my husband the dog lover, carried the 45 pound dog in the elevator like a baby and outside till they found a grassy spot. He didn’t complain, he just did it for weeks and months until we both decided it was the end.
Then we had 3 babies together and it turns out this guy is also pretty smitten over newborns and is like a really fun dad. He loves newborns to the point where I had to beg to get the baby back in my arms because he was enjoying holding the baby so much. This happened on so many occasions in those newborn weeks with Elisabeth.
When we were first dating I was happy to learn that not only was he an animal lover but he was also like the most amazing cook that I knew. I remember on our third date he made me the most delicious high calorie dinner and that’s when I thought to myself, ‘this guy is a keeper’. I guess the rest is history because we’ve been married nearly 10 years already.
Like most babies, the evening is a time for cluster feeding and it’s the breastfeeding mama who has to sit back and let that baby nurse. I swear the baby knows it is almost time to cook dinner and she pipes up with the saddest hungriest cry ever that are only soothed by me. Since the arrival of baby #3, my husband has taken over dinnertime without any encouragement on my part. Besides the occasional sushi delivery or post partum meal delivered by a friend, he has made every dinner for us since we’ve been home from the hospital. I know, I am beyond lucky in this department and I am so thankful. Especially thankful as I really dislike cooking dinner and I’m not a fantastic cook to start with.
The picture below is what he cooked for us last week. It was all delicious and most of it was bought locally at the farmers market in Yaletown.
We’ve got fresh halibut cheeks with risotto and local fiddleheads. The first salmon of the season made into salmon cakes on top of seasonal local greens with a side of mash amd sausage and mushroom pizza baked on the BBQ. You can see why I’m hesitant to cook right? If I was to post a collage of my 3 dinner dishes it would be spaghetti, tacos and chicken caesar salad. He obviously wins.
The modern day dad is a man who likes to cook, loves old dogs and helps raise the babies. He doesn’t hesitate to wear the baby in a carrier or do his daughter’s curly hair in the mornings. He plays with his kids and you can catch him sometimes having just as much fun as the children.
I’m glad that we connected all those years ago on line. Way before it was legit to say you had met someone romantically in cyber space. 3 babies later and a lot of delicious dinners behind us, I’m thinking he was a pretty good catch. Happiest Father’s Day to the father of my three babies.
Today was a good day, an ordinary Monday with nothing major on the books. Being on maternity leave means that many of our days are casual. My sister and her little daughter came over in the morning for an easy coffee/park/girl cousin get together. The baby decided to cluster feed all morning and we were still in our pyjamas when they buzzed up to our condo to say they were here. Luckily for me, my sister wasn’t thrown off by the pyjama greeting and me giving her the baby to hold while I got dressed for the day.
The babe was fussy in her stroller fighting sleeping, so amidst sips of my iced coffee I slipped her into her carrier and within seconds the girl was snoozing. We ate croissants for lunch and watched the birds flying around oceanside. It wasn’t an overly unique day but it was just perfect for me right now. When the baby came out of the carrier she had delicious buttery flakes of croissant on her. Oops!
Josie, the baby and I (the girls!) all had a short quiet afternoon nap on my bed. It was an unexpected nap that was abruptly over once the house phone rang and sent me into a frenzy. I don’t know what it is, but the sound of the house phone ringing as a wake up call gives me a jolt every time.
Monday’s gorgeous day lent itself to a beautiful evening and the big kids had a picnic style dinner of homemade hamburgers out at the park. I love my kids enthusiasm for going outside and there were shouts of, ‘can we bring the sidewalk chalk?!’ and ‘can we bring lots of toys?!’. Yes to the chalk, no to lots of toys.
I had stayed behind in the apartment while the kids were outside picnicking and playing with fun dad. I was busy nursing the baby and doing laundry when I decided to throw in the towel, literally, and head outside to meet up with everyone. To be honest, I felt like a mini celebrity when Josie spotted me walking over and started hollering in excitement.
Sure, it was just an ordinary Monday but it was a pretty awesome day all the same. Over the past few months, since we first entered scary stressful pregnancy days with the baby, I’ve really been learning to savour the small and ordinary moments. Sometimes this is a challenge for me but when I get there, and I do frequently, it feels just right.
Last weekend my hubby and the big kids left our apartment at 10 AM to go to an outdoor pool in the city and they didn’t get back until the afternoon. They came home sun kissed and happy and apparently it was sooooo super awesome, as per Ben, that I really needed to come. I’ve been staying home a lot since the baby was born and the hubby takes the big kids on fun adventures, tires them out, and I take care of the baby. It’s been a nice ride and I’ve enjoyed the quiet weekends. Fast forward to this weekend and we packed up the 3 kids and the car and did the 10 minute drive to the pool.
There’s just something about the bright blue colour of the pool, the smell of sunscreen and the warmth on my skin that made me wish I could order up a poolside piña colada. I guess my brain is now trained to see blue water and instantly think of sipping adult beverages. We found a shady spot for me and baby to hang out in and set up our little day camp before the big kids ran to the pool. Of course there was me yelling, ‘don’t run! Ben! Josie! Just walk’.
I’m not keen on bringing a tiny baby into a public pool, especially since we are just getting her first round of immunizations this week, and so baby I hung out in the shade with her cozy and sleeping in our new Vancouver made carrier. I dipped my toes in and waved to the big kids who were having an absolute blast showing off their tricks to me and playing with their dad. Despite not fully being submerged, it was still so fantastic to be out with them.
I even got a picture of me at the pool, complete with my crazy lady hair blowing in the wind. That is a tiny eye poking out of my Baby Buddha carrier. That smile of mine is totally genuine and it really felt so great to be out with my family and enjoying the weekend like it was meant to be enjoyed. At first I was keen to stay back and clean and sort and organize with only 1 bambino in the mix, but I’m so glad my hubby got me moving and out the door.
I’ve decided that this summer I’m going to the be mum wearing the bathing suit at the pool. I’m not going to be hiding under cover ups or sundresses. There are lots of bodies out there and mine just happens to have had three babies, and one kind of recently, so I’m going to go buy a fabulous bathing suit and be in the moment with my kids and not just on the sidelines.
Recently I stumbled upon the Instagram account of this amazing Vancouver based swimsuit shop, Nettle’s Tale Swimwear, and even without having been at the actual shop yet, I’m raving about it! I’m going to be making plans to go baby free and pick out an awesome suit that I will rock all summer long and feel good wearing.
I can’t believe I’ve lived in Vancouver for 13 years and have never been to this particular outdoor pool. It’s clean and well maintained and seriously close to us. Last summer when I worked, the nanny took the kids here and that’s when I first even started having Second Beach Pool on my radar. If you haven’t been here yet, you should totally put it on your summer bucket list. I have a feeling we are going to be frequenting this joint pretty often this summer.
Also, can you believe that baby Elisabeth is 8 weeks old and THIS weekend’s trip to the pool was her third time being in the car? We are a total family in the city and walk most places, so she rides stroller style or in a carrier. Luckily she did just fine on the 10 minute car ride and had her big brother narrating her every move from his seat.
Have a fantastic week ahead dear readers! I’m going to be making last years fun summer drink recipe of watermelon-Fresca-splash of vodka. Super summery and absolutely delicious.
Over the last 8 weeks since the baby arrived there have been many days where I’m still in pyjamas and I realize it’s after noon. There are equal days where I feel the rage of stress when we have to be out the door bright and early and I’m still tired from the night and have that frazzled feeling.
I know myself well enough to know that I do not like early morning starts. I’ve never loved rushing around to be somewhere, especially so when babies are involved. It makes me feel a bit out of control and I feel like I’m trying to find my footing for the rest of the day. In my ideal baby centred world, outside life wouldn’t commence before noon.
Unfortunately for me, the baby and I had a bunch of early morning starts this week. It’s often my husband who is on the receiving line of my stress induced rage as I fly around our home trying to get things organized and out the door on time. The baby is crying and wants to be soothed to sleep and I’m trying to find a clean pair of stretchy pants to put on.
Of course, on both of our early morning days I under estimated how much time I’d need to get both of us ready and to the appointment on time. Both of the times she cried and I felt flustered on our walk to get to our appointments. Both days I sweated a bit extra and kept trying to tell myself to cool it, it’s fine. Relax.
Friday came and I was more than ready to take a day off from grocery shopping, cleaning, planning or organizing something. Instead we chose to just have fun. Today was calm and filled with sunshine and I pushed away any nagging feelings and let myself just be mindful of the moment we were in. This is how I wish every single day was but, alas, reality.
Josie, the baby and I slowly strolled to where we needed to be. We ate french fries by the water, we smelled like sunscreen and I didn’t find myself shouting or yelling no. While it was effort to be mindful all day and not let my mind wander or start to fret, it was worth it. Today was needed.
One of the reasons that I love being a Mama in the City so much is having places we can go that are fun and close to us. Can you believe the baby has only been in a car TWICE since she was born! We seriously just walk everywhere we need to be. Today we had a walk and a short boat ride and we were transported to Granville Island. We had fun amongst the seagulls and the tourists and it was a simple easy adventure, but it meant a lot.
We made sure to stop and stock up on a few summertime essentials, sidewalk chalk and bubbles of course, and the kids had a picnic style dinner outside and then they played till they were totally dirty and ready for bed. I love when they can end the day with some outside play. There is something about playing in the fresh air before bed that feels so good.
I’m trying to find my footing and to practice being mindful of the moment I am in. I’m trying.
Let’s do this!
Today was just one of those days. Fussy baby, demanding 3 year old, tired mama. You know the story. I know these days will pass and a good day is just around the corner, but I hate them all the same. Trying to enjoy each moment can be a challenge when real life intrudes. Demands, needs, multiple children crying in sync, needing things now now now. That kind of crazy often hampers the ‘enjoy every moment’ that I truly try to live by.
However, here we are!
My baby is 6 weeks old which means a few things. For instance, she is officially done with her newborn phase. Cue the sobs as she is my last baby which means my last newborn and I LOVE newborns. I am aware I said we were done back with baby #2, but I’m super serious this time around folks. Like super serious. Cough..vasectomy serious…cough.
Being done with the newborn phase doesn’t mean that a switch has been flicked and life is totally easy peasy now. My body is recovered from labour and birth but I am tired and still not recovered from pregnancy. I am still learning how to mother all 3 and I still feel very excited when she takes a nap on someone else, like my sister who was visiting us over the weekend.
I still have extra pounds on me that accumulated in part to the stress eating that took place before every BIG SCARY ultrasound to check on the baby. Those BIG SCARY ultrasounds took place weekly or every 2 weeks from 22-37 weeks, so go calculate the calories. We had to drive by a Belgian restaurant and let me just say, schnitzel and frites are like awesome foods for emotional eating. I’m okay with the extra curves, it will come off like it did the other times. I’m just impatient.
Having a 6 week old baby also means she is at her peak crying. So the ‘milk drunk’ thing doesn’t happen every time I feed her. There is more soothing and more fussy crying and more sweating by me as I try to calm her while we are out and about. Like today in the grocery store when she wanted to eat NOW mid aisle. I found a quiet corner and was trying to latch her on and tried to be all relaxed and discrete and calm…but milk ended up leaking all over my shirt and I got sweaty from trying to handle the situation of a frantic nurser and a curious 3 year old.
The only time her crying gets me all worked up is when I’m out with the other kids and she is fussing up a storm to nurse or just wants to comfort nurse. Then I find myself feeling flustered with parenting the other 2 and end up usually doing my weird mom voice, ‘No Josie. No I don’t want you to stuff those expensive greeting cards under the stroller. Okay, I need you to listen to me. No, now Josie. That’s it. Put all of the cards back over there’. That was us today at the grocery store when Elisabeth needed to fed NOW and Josie wandered off and started perusing the pricey cards nearby. I’m pretty sure we didn’t take any illegal cards home. Pretty sure.
Some days Elisabeth is my easiest baby out of the 3 babies and some days she makes us work for it, but never like baby #1 did. She has awake periods and can, on occasion, be content to just hang out and watch the world go by. She is a major fan of my awesome singing voice and particularly enjoys when I ad lib a song and just go for it. This also results in smiles, which aren’t a lot but they’ve started. The 6 week mark is a time for change.
She has been known to sleep 5 hours in a row over night but it’s not constant and I’m fine with that. I want her to eat eat eat (like the Italian grandmother, mangia! mangia! mangia!), so I’m actually pretty happy with her waking up every 3-4 hours over night. We’ve had lots of nights where she is up every hour and fussy and I just roll with those nights.
I keep my night parenting pretty unexciting and I do most of it in the dark. We nurse, change bums, nurse, soothe, settle and then I try to go back to sleep before we do it all over. Luckily, this has worked with all my babies and they seem to go back to sleep after our routine. Whether we do this routing every ONE hour or every FIVE hours. I’ve always felt most comfortable when my babies sleep close by and it turns out that SOME babies WILL sleep in the bassinet next to your bed. Just SOME because #1 and #2 didn’t and I don’t want first time mamas out there to think that ALL babies just magically sleep in a bassinet.
Some days we’ve got our new life totally figured out and some days I feel like I’m running up hill in a heat wave. Totally normal, totally expected. Even after today, when there were more hectic moments than calm moments, when I am so glad the big kids are off in bed and I’m nursing the baby while I write, I still feel thankful and I still feel happy.
I am living the dream and right now that dream is motherhood. I am fully submerged in it and I’m consciously embracing each moment with our tiny newborn, even when it feels hard. Like really hard.
One thing that gets a bit of a backseat when you’re mothering a newborn is yourself. You will be the last to shower, the last to get dressed and the last to eat. It’s fine though. You will get over it and be happy that your baby is washed and dressed and fed and snuggled on your chest. Eventually you will shower and eat at regular intervals. The third baby taught me that. Eventually you will find yourself again.
The blessing of my third baby is knowing that these all encompassing newborn days are heavy but swift. No sooner are things semi figured out and then they are over. Just like that. Over.
Today I had mixed feelings of being totally content with my current place in motherhood and feeling irritated that I’m wearing the same stretchy outfit (once again). I felt annoyed that my baby cried the whole 3 minutes I was in the shower and that it was close to 11 AM and I still hadn’t eaten anything.
From experience I’ve found that the cure for feeling annoyed in motherhood is to go outside. Forget the mess at home, the chores that really need to be done and just get outside.
So, we did.
One big kid was at school and the other big kid had fun plans, so it was just me and the baby. We went on a short walk around our downtown neighbourhood stroller style. I grabbed an iced Americano at one of my favourite cafes and we strolled the city sidewalks. We took in the hustle and bustle and people watched and for a moment we lived on their energy.
Instant mood lift.
Super charged on sunshine, we came back home and settled in on the chores and all the things begging to be taken care of.