Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

In honour of Mother’s Day I am republishing this honest motherhood post from last year. While it’s always easy to share the bliss and joyful moments of motherhood, let’s also recognize the painful and raw parts too. The parts of motherhood veiled in post partum anxiety.

Check out Raw Beauty Talks for seven inspiring unfiltered stories about motherhood, sharing stories of post partum anxiety and depression.

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The first person to ever ask me if I had ever had any issue with post partum depression or anxiety was my hairdresser. It’s seems kind of unbelievable really, especially considering she asked me this question just this past weekend and my youngest is already two years old. So, how is it that no one ever checked in or flat out asked me this before?

We all know just how taboo mental health topics can be to openly talk that and too often we feel a bit uncomfortable asking the people in our lives the nitty gritty on how they are coping. We tend to assume our friends and family will feel comfortable enough to ask for help if they are having a hard time. However, in real life, this is far from the truth.

Right after I had Elisabeth I sunk into a weird unexpected cycle of feeling anxious. I never had any post partum depression or anxiety with the other two babies and to my intellectual brain it did not make sense. I had a healthy baby in my arms and she was my third baby, I knew how to mother a newborn. I’m sure the high risk pregnancy, crazy delivery and NICU experience all played a role in my post partum anxiety but truly post partum anxiety can target any new mum.

This hot prickly feeling of anxiety crept into my daily life as soon as I got home from the hospital. I should have been relieved that the pregnancy was over and that I was home with my new baby. Instead, the happiness and relief of that was not enough to carry me through all of the feelings of anxiousness.

One of the ways that I felt more in control and safe was being with the baby in my bedroom. We set up camp in my bed and I could actually feel tiny moments of bliss and happiness, it was definitely how I coped and survived this time in my life. However, if you asked me to do something that required getting out of the apartment, I turned into this uncertain sweaty anxious person with a whirlwind of thoughts.

When Elisabeth was about five weeks old my sister took my older kids over to Victoria to go and see family. It was all great until it was time to arrange bringing the kids back home. The plan was for me to meet up so I could go get them and drive them back home. At first I faked it and thought if I pushed myself enough I would get over the fear of leaving my bedroom, leaving the city and driving with the tiny baby to go and pick up the other kids. It was about a 45 minute drive away and the thought of having to do it made me feel physically sick.

It’s a drive I’ve done many times before and logically it did not make sense why it made me feel as upset as it did. That’s anxiety for you, it is totally not a logical process. I was worried about putting our very tiny baby into a car seat, I was worried about driving while feeling so tired, I was worried she might cry the whole drive. I convinced myself that she could stop breathing in her car seat and I even let myself ‘go there’ and envisioned getting out of the car and finding that she had stopped breathing.

Eventually my sister offered to bring the kids back home to me and I went from feeling totally ridiculous with all of my thoughts to feeling a sense of calm. I could stay in my bedroom, on my bed, with my tiny baby and we would be okay. I could stop having to constantly process the ‘what ifs’ that were totally illogical but still swarmed my mind. Things that I had done with my other kids when they were babies just felt like too much this time around. Everything felt scary.

It was even too much for me to make the six week post partum check up with my obstetrician. Instead, I just kept telling myself that I’d eventually book it. Months went by and I could never bring myself to make that appointment. It felt like getting there was this huge mountain and there was no way I could arrange care for the big kids, take the baby and make it work. However, as expected from a busy medical practice, there was no call to check up on me or see if I was okay. Eventually I was totally off the office radar but not going didn’t help my feelings of anxiety. Instead, I’m sure it made it worse.

Anxiety is a complex beast, it is completely controlling of your daily life. It steals your joy and your sense of self. The idea that something bad is about to happen all the time is utterly exhausting. Things that used to make you feel happy and satisfied were now coated with a new layer of uncertainty. I wish that someone had flat out asked me if I was having any problems coping when I had Elisabeth. Just having someone to talk about these weird feelings would have been beneficial.

Slowly over time I started to feel less and less anxious. As my baby grew and I felt more in control of my daily life I had more anxiety free moments. It was not an over night transformation but a gradual continuous shift into feeling more like my old self. For me the feelings were the most intense for the first 3 to 4 months post partum and slowly eased off over the rest of the first year.

If this story resonates with you and you need more information, please check out AnxietyBC for more help. 

 

 

 

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Recently I had a third birthday party to plan and I knew exactly what kind of party to plan; a princess birthday party with a Frozen theme. Birthday party planning is kind of my jam and I love figuring out a party theme and fleshing out the details to make it a fun event.

When Vancouver’s Crowned Princess Entertainment asked if we would like to have Queen Elsa come and celebrate with us for a princess birthday party we said yes! On the day of the birthday party it was so simple to get party ready and all I needed to do was make sure we had a chair for Elsa to sit in. As a busy parent it was really nice not to have to plan out any party games or activities for the children. Crowned Princess Entertainment took care of everything.

The Grand Entrance: Queen Elsa Arrives

With a knock at the door Queen Elsa arrived ready to start the princess birthday party with an array of fun activities to keep the party flowing. She even brought her sidekick Olaf along. From her head to her toes Elsa was very legit and we were most impressed with her authentic Elsa personality, plus Elsa’s singing voice was truly out of this world amazing.

Story time With Elsa

While all the little party goers sat front and centre Queen Elsa read a story and captivated the attention of all the little kids. Before the party Crowned Princess Entertainment checked in with me and made sure it was okay to do a little make up and kid safe nail polish session with the guests. The little girls in attendance loved having Elsa use nail polish to fancy up their fingers.

Princess Glam Time

The Coronation Ceremony

When it was time for the Coronation Ceremony Elsa  made sure the birthday girl was able to take on the duties of being a princess. All the little party goers clapped and cheered as the birthday girl accepted her new role and was crowned with a golden tiara.

Do you promise to always have courage and be kind? 

Do you promise to stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves? 

Do you promise to always dream big dreams and never stop chasing them? 

I just can’t get over the look of adoration that the birthday girl is giving Elsa in the photo above. These little princesses were so floored with meeting Queen Elsa and having her at our birthday celebration. On the invitation that we sent out we encouraged our little guests to dress up in whatever princess attire they wanted. I love that we had so many dressed in blue and that there was at least one Anna.

We ended the party with Elsa and the kids singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the birthday girl. This was truly a memorable birthday. Elsa’s voice was so beautiful and the birthday girl felt very special with her guest singing to her.

Most of my kid parties usually include a take home sugar cookie as the party favour. West Vancouver baker Three Hearts helped us celebrate with these beautiful Frozen themed cookies. The best part is these were totally gorgeous cookies and they tasted really delicious. Too often I find that beautiful sugar cookies often lack the tasty factor and these cookies had both. I still can’t get over the details on these sugar cookies. 

We loved having Crowned Princess Entertainment celebrate with us for our princess birthday party. Their princess service was extremely high end and professional and having Elsa in our home made the princess birthday party a wonderful event for everyone. If you have a little princess in your life you won’t regret making their dreams come true with a visit from their very favourite princess. 

Vancouver’s Crowned Princess Entertainment gave us their Gold Package to review and Three Hearts gifted us with cookies. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.  

Check out our other birthday party posts for some party planning inspiration.

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Sometimes visiting a city can feel really overwhelming, especially if you have kids in tow and it can be even more bonkers if they are under five. Having the inside scoop on where to go and what to see can really make things a lot more enjoyable for everyone. We’ve put together a series of blog posts featuring fun family friendly field trips within Vancouver and first up is a trip to the The Bloedel Conservatory.

One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed doing with my kids is exploring different parts of our city together. It’s amazing how you can live somewhere for so many years and still have never visited something five kilometres away. I know this to be true because over the years we have become quite ‘downtowned’ and venturing over the bridge always feels like quite the event.

On this field trip we left the downtown core, went over the Cambie bridge and headed to Vancouver’s indoor tropical garden at The Bloedel Conservatory. The conservatory is located at the top of Queen Elizabeth park and gets credit for being the highest point in Vancouver. This makes for some amazing views while walking outside the front of the conservatory. It was bit of a drizzly Spring day which made it the perfect escape for us. We arrived early which was smart as it made parking super easy for us. There is a large pay lot just outside the conservatory and ample handicap spots.

The actual conservatory is on the smaller side so taking someone under five is perfect! You can do multiple laps inside and really take in all that they have to offer. There are over one hundred free flying birds to spot and you are provided with a laminated guide so you can learn more about each bird. The chirping birds and humidity almost made it feel like we were back in Hawaii, which was so welcomed.

Whether you are local or coming from afar we would definitely recommend a field trip to Vancouver’s Bloedel Conservatory. Add on a visit to the beautiful Queen Elizabeth park and you’ve got yourself a morning or afternoon adventure with gorgeous scenery.

Stay tuned for our next Vancouver Kid Approved Field Trip!

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Birthday party planning gets me all kinds of excited, thank goodness I have three kids with birthdays split pretty evenly through the year to help keep me going. Over the last ten years I have felt so much joy putting together birthday cakes for all my kids. From the elaborate local bakery cake, to the homemade from scratch cake to the store bought cake mix. Birthdays are a great occasion to celebrate and enjoy some birthday cake.

As birthdays start to approach I always ask the birthday kid what kind of cake they are hoping for. My son always asks for a homemade from scratch chocolate cake with strawberries. I love that he has a go to birthday cake request and I am happy to make him his special cake each September.

I am not a baking wizard by any means and I can’t make a Pinterest worthy cake at all. So sometimes I am happy to connect with our local bake shop and let them be the master of the cake. One of our Vancouver favourites includes Cadeaux Bakery, they made the horse cake for our middle girls last birthday this January. It was delicious and came out perfect.

Chocolate dinosaur cake from Yaletown’s Ganache Patisserie. It was amazing!

Frozen themed cake from Cupcakes on Denman.

Homemade from scratch! Chocolate cake with strawberries as per request.

A carrot cake from Cadeaux Bakery for a Spring themed first birthday. Somebunny loved it!

Homemade rainbow cupcakes made by my sister for a special unicorn themed fourth birthday.

Mama’s chocolate cake with sprinkles. That year this birthday girl got TWO different cakes. This one was homemade.

Another auntie creation! Lambs, pigs and chicks for a fun farm themed birthday party.

A very special horse on this chocolate cake from Cadeaux Bakery.

My top pick for a bakery bought birthday cake is from Vancouver’s Cadeaux Bakery, they make the best carrot cake in the city and their custom creations are always so pretty. We have also had custom cake orders from Tessa of Sweet Bake Shop, side note Tessa just released her very first baking book!

Short on time or maybe creativity, the best cake can come from a mix or your local grocer. Putting candles on anything instantly makes it feel extra festive and special. Pair that with a family loudly singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and you’ve got yourself a perfect celebration.

Check out our other birthday inspired posts:

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Recently over our two week Spring Break we went and explored our province’s capital city, beautiful Victoria. Just a ferry boat ride away from Vancouver, Victoria is the home to a lot of Canadian history and landmarks. This includes The Royal BC Museum which was founded back in 1886 and, according to Tourism Victoria, is one of the foremost cultural institutions in the world.

Often when we meet up with the local Victoria cousins it can be tricky to find something the whole group will enjoy. The kids range from 2 to 13 with a mix of interests. Fortunately for us The Royal BC Museum has ample interactive exhibits making it a very family friendly activity.  I’m happy to say that all of the kids, and the two mums, enjoyed our day at the museum.

When you enter the museum you can wander the grounds and take in the sites before heading inside. With the parliament buildings off to one side and the old school house and totem polls to the other, there is certainly enough to explore. Hidden inside the museum is this cozy exploratory nook with built in stools. Perfect for the kids to cast a look out the windows and take in the view.

This year we have a new six year old in the group and this visit she got a membership to the museum. She was pretty smitten with her personalized membership card. When your child becomes a member they can enrol in the Kid’s Club for some fun perks, great for locals and regular travellers to Victoria like us.

All three of my kids enjoyed walking through the museum and being able to interact with the different displays. Buttons to push, things they were allowed to touch and move. This museum is definitely one for families of all ages.

If you are looking for a family friendly activity consider checking out The Royal BC Museum. The upcoming feature exhibit is about Egypt. There is also exhibits that we come to count on to explore. Like the Modern History Gallery and my personal favourite, Old Town. Sit in the train station and listen to the trains go by, have yourself a walk through the old house and see if you can smell the pies baking. I love this part of the museum.

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You just might be a true Vancouverite if you know that we are imminently approaching Vancouver’s famous cherry blossom season. It’s that time of  year where the trees swell with gorgeous hues of pink buds and soon canopies of blossom pop up everywhere in the city and in your Instagram feed. In fact, in some neighbourhoods in the city the blossoms are in full bloom.

There are truly many fantastic spots to go and enjoy Vancouver’s cherry blossoms but my favourite spot is the open green spaces in Stanley Park at the formal rose garden. Years ago we went for a walk downtown and ended up in the rose garden and captured these photos. The blossoms were not yet in full bloom but they were still so gorgeous, that pink against the blue sky is my favourite. You can also check out cherry blossoms at Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Gardens and Granville Island.

Vancouver loves their cherry blossoms so much that we hold an annual Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom Festival. This annual festival runs from April 3 to 29th this year and there are multiple locations to check out and enjoy some outdoor events and the perfect opportunity for a photo. An official Cherry Jam kicks off the festival with a lively noon hour concert right under the Burrard Station cherry blossom canopy.

The saddest part of Vancouver’s cherry blossoms season is just how short it is. It almost seems that just as the gorgeous shades of pink start to appear it all floats away. I have many happy memories walking with my children through Vancouver’s ‘pink snow’ and we once got caught in an epic cherry blossom snow storm. If there are windy days ahead you can guarantee that the cherry blossoms will be taken away.

While the festival occurs through out the month of April you can find cherry blossoms popping up through the city right now. Once a cherry blossom treat starts to bloom there is about two weeks of glorious pink before the blooms start to fall off or get swept away with the wind. This is your cue to stop and take that photo because there’s no guarantee the blossoms will be around when you swing by again.

Cherry blossoms on your mind? Check out the Vancouver history of this blooming tree right here.

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