Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

Recently it dawned on me. I’ve been a registered nurse for 16 years and a student nurse for 4 years. Which means that for the last two decades I’ve been living the nurse life. Including all of the secret work we do behind the scenes.

I can vividly remember my very first patient and my assignment. I can tel you her name and diagnosis. The care plan in place and how nervous I was going in to the room to say good morning.

When I think about all of the people I’ve cared for over the last twenty years it boggles my mind. Especially all of the moments I was present for during a patient’s most vulnerable moment. All the way through to other patient’s most uplifting amazing life moments. This mix is what keeps bringing me back for more.

Student Nurse Life

I technically stared my career back when I was a student nurse. I worked nights and weekends with a home health agency to make money for school and rent. The home health company placed me with a couple of very special families to provide respite for their kids who had tracheostomys and ventilators to keep them breathing. I’d show up when everyone was heading to bed and leave in the morning before the coffee started brewing.

I was 21 years old and still going to school full time but quickly learned a lot of medical skills. Nurse life was now all about tube feeds and dressing changes and how to entertain a 9 year old while changing their airway tube. My very first shift I worked with a particular family, the mother laid out a turtle neck sweater for me to dress her daughter in for school. A fitted turtle neck for someone who breathes through a trach tube in their neck, connected to a vital breathing machine. Think about that one for a minute. I sweated and I swore in my head but I persevered.

There was the time I was told to give a bath to one of the kid’s who had a trach, ventilator and a tube feed. This little girl needed to be carried flat like a plank of wood from her bedroom to the bathroom. There was no lifting equipment or other person to help. Somehow we made it happen and even had fun in the process. It’s nursing memories like this that keep me moving forward and proud to be in the career that I am.

Nursing Moments That Change You

A pivotal moment for me came early on in my nursing career. A child I had taken care of for two years died. While his death was expected it was still painful. It also made me so very aware of the huge role nurses have on family health and well being. It’s not just about completing the necessary medical tasks and the to do list, it’s more than that. It’s well rounded and multi faceted care.

When I arrived at his funeral there were so many nurses in attendance who had taken care of him over the years. All of us looked equally heart broken as the friends and family there. If you didn’t know who was who, you would never guess that these nurses were not the actual family members.

Becoming A Maternity Nurse

I switched my path to working with childbearing families early in my career. I remember a seasoned non maternity nurse telling me I was escaping the reality of nursing by working with babies. I would just be having healthy normal patients and healthy normal experiences. However, this is where the secret lives of nurses really comes to fruition.

Ask any labour and delivery RN about the work they do. For the most part being a maternity nurse is about 98% happy work and 2% devastating. When the 2% comes it is the worst of the worst and makes a mark on your own heart forever. It is the work you take home when your shift is over. The work you remember for years to come.

Any nurse that has been involved with the death of a baby will remember the details from their first experience with loss. In fact, there are details of every single stillbirth or loss that I’ve been involved with that I still remember. While it was well over 12 years ago I still remember the name of the mother and the sounds that escaped her when we couldn’t find her baby’s heart beat at 38 weeks of pregnancy.

Nurse Life Memories

There was the baby that was born much too soon. I wrapped that baby up in a warm blanket and held them in my arms. until its heart stopped. I will not forget the shift I was working back on a cool January day. A full term baby was born with no heart beat. Together with the parents we bathed and dressed their baby. The grieving parents sobbed. Their hot tears splashed on my skin as we wrapped the baby in a swaddling blanket together.

These are the darkest moments, the 2%. The moments that really make me feel like being a nurse is the truly the most incredible work. When these deep moments conclude nurses will often temporarily escape to an empty room. We cry our own big wet tears and process the moment. Nurse life means you dry your eyes and walk back out into the hallway to get back to the 98%.

Read more nurse related blog posts here:

Celebrating Nurses Week: A Birth Story

Diabetes and Pregnancy: Real Life Stories

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Disclosure: Roowsi kindly gifted us two packages for this birthday party. As always, all opinions are our own and we only ever partner with companies we truly adore.

Recently we discovered the local lower mainland company, Roowsi. This company has an amazing game changing concept; rent items, have fun and return them. They even deliver and pick up so it’s an easy experience for you. No missing out just because you don’t have something or having to buy an item just for one time use.

Hosting A Kids Birthday Party

One of my favourite things to do is plan and host my children’s birthday parties. Over the last decade we’ve done everything from the slightly elaborate party to the old fashion living room party with just a handful of family. There has been homemade cakes and fancy custom designed cakes.

Planning for our youngest’s fourth birthday I knew it was going to be on the smaller scale with a few friends and family. It was a must to have a delicious cake from our favourite local bake shop and I want the kids to have some simple fun. I feel like if you have the chance to eat cake, make it an amazing cake and so we did.

How Renting With Roowsi Works

This is where Roowsi came into the picture. They have the option to rent a huge variety of items that could be used for our kids party. Items we wouldn’t normally just have laying around our home. Like six cow hoppers and a full on ball pit with slide. We used their website to figure out what items we wanted and they confirmed the drop off and pick up time.

It was pleasantly surprising to see all of the different types of things Roowsi has to rent for a party. Everything from reusable party plates to a light box to create custom messages. All things that would help make for a fun birthday party without having to go buy things for keeps and figure out how to store them.

This ball pit came with everything you need. Including the air pump.

All The Party Details

For this party we used the amenities in our building in downtown Vancouver. We had plans to play some party games and let the kids be active. Luckily for us Roowsi had a ball pit and cute little cow hoppers to use for our party.

Roowsi was able to provide us with reusable party decorations like their felt rainbow banners and kid friendly table settings. Even the cake plate and lighter came from Roowsi. We love this local green concept and there was overall less waste to throw out when the party is over.

At the end of the party we packed everything back up into the boxes they came in and left them to be picked up. Items like these fun cow hoppers made the party a very easy experience and helped to pull our party together.

Renting items is great for the environment and also better on the bank account. We personally loved the idea we could rent larger items and not worry about how we were going to store them afterwards.

We love celebrating birthdays over here! Check out some of our other birthday inspired posts.

Hosting A Birthday Party At The Vancouver Aquarium

Choosing The Perfect Birthday Cake

How To Host A Princess Birthday Party

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We recently decided to check out Fort Langley’s National Historical Site with our out of town family. Fort Langley is located just under an hour drive from downtown Vancouver and is a great spot for tourists and locals.

Its been over two years since the kids had been there and they were eager to go back. We enjoyed the new kid pricing,  kids and youth up to 17 are free as of 2018, and thoroughly enjoyed the new indoor kids area.

Day Trip To Fort Langley

Being a tourist in your own city, or even in a neighbouring town, can be just what you need for a little escape. We often check out the tourist attractions in Vancouver but it’s also refreshing to head out of the city.

Our family has a constant working list of places to go and things to do. Whether it’s for our own family or to use when family or friends are visiting. Fort Langley National Historical site was on the list!

Ready to explore! Map in hand. Children get a booklet to use while exploring Fort Langley. Hand pressed stamps are located through out the Fort to help kids complete the booklet. At the end a prize awaits them!

Fort Langley

  1. Inexpensive family fun. It is under $8 for an adult and free for kids and youth under 17 years old. 
  2. Educational and interesting for a variety of age groups. 
  3. Gold panning! Prepare to get a little wet while you slosh water through your pan in search of a nugget.
  4. Lots of space to run and roam for kids who like to move.
  5. A new indoors kids area where kids can tap into their imagination and play with an assortment of themed toys related to the fur trade.

In search of the golden nugget! It took a bit of work but our crew eventually did find a shiny ‘gold’ nugget. A total hit with kids 2-11 and adults too.

Exploring The Big House

Fort Langley National Historical site isn’t just for kids. The adults we were with had a great time touring the two story Big House. As you can see from the photo evidence we had a bit of fun playing dress up while we toured the house. The Big House is recognized as a Canadian Heritage building.

If you’ve ever been that person who enjoys having a sneaky peek into someone else’s home, the Big House will meet your needs. Explore the personalised bathrooms and bedrooms through out the house. Be aware it is quite dusty inside the house so be mindful if anyone in your group has allergies.

When you’re done visiting the Fort go for a short stroll and enjoy some of the local shops and cafes in the Fort Langley neighbourhood. From small boutiques to tasty eateries, you can make it a day trip visiting Fort Langley.

Looking for other family friendly places to put on your list? Check out some of our other blog posts for inspiration!

Explore downtown Vancouver with kids 

Visit Victoria’s Royal Museum with family

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Vancouver’s cherry blossom season is almost here and we are all just a little bit excited. Soon the trees will swell with gorgeous hues of pink buds and canopies of blossoms will cover the city. As the season ends and the wind comes and delicate pink snow falls over the city sidewalks. It is all kinds of breathtaking.

Where To Find The Best Cherry Blossom Trees

There are many fantastic spots in Vancouver to go and enjoy the city’s cherry blossoms. A favourite local spot for our family is quite possibly 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 an absolute favourite.

For all of your Insta needs and general gorgeousness check out the city’s blooming cherry blossoms at Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Gardens and Granville Island. David Lam Park in Yaletown blooms an amazing canopy right by the seawall, so you get that mix of pink blooms with blue water.

Cherry Blossom Festival

Vancouver loves cherry blossom season so much that we have an annual festival to celebrate the blossoms. This year you can participate in festival activities from April 4-28, 2019. A variety of events are happening through out the city, including the kick off event the Cherry Jam right downtown Vancouver.

Allergy Free Cherry Blossom Fun

If the thought of all those blossoms has you sneezing and rubbing your itchy eyes, head to the indoor installation Blossom at Metropolis. There you will find 250,000 curated blossoms on display without the sneeze effect. Don’t miss out on this beautiful indoor installation, it’s only showing until the end of March.

Enjoying the cherry blossoms at Blossom at Metropolis

Blossom Trivia

  • The pink blossoms you see in Vancouver are actually a mix of cherry and plum trees.
  • The Japanese cities Kobe and Yokohama gave the Vancouver park board 500 trees to plant at the Japanese cenotaph in Stanley Park. This was to honour the Japanese Canadians who served in the First World
  • Peak bloom time for Japanese cherry trees is actually only one week long and can be less if there is a lot of rain or wind.
  • In Japanese culture the cherry blossom trees represents fragility and beauty. An epic reminder for us as the blooms are so breath taking and then gone just like that.

As a family in the city we live in a high tourist area and will soon have bus loads of tourists brought to our door step to take in all that pink. Their ultimate mission is to view the blossoms at peak bloom and take photos with the cherry blossom trees. We have to admit, the blossoms do make for an amazing back drop for photos.

Check out another one of our posts about Vancouver life!

How To Tour Downtown Vancouver With KidsH

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The Bloedel Conservatory is just a short drive out of downtown Vancouver. Here you can expect a fun visit with kids of all ages. Once you enter the front doors of the conservatory a warm tropical atmosphere greets you along with the sounds of birds singing.

The Bloedel 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 of the city while walking out front of the conservatory.

There is a large pay lot just outside the conservatory and ample handicap spots. While there is some steps to go down in order to enter the building, there is also wheelchair/stroller accessibility just around the dome.

Planning Your Visit

The actual conservatory is on the smaller side so taking a little one under five is perfect! You can do multiple loops inside the Bloedel Conservatory and take in all that they have to offer. Kids will enjoy sitting and listening to the different parrots chat and whistle. Plus, there’s a small bridge that bounces as you walk! Kids four and under are free.

Older kids can take one of the complimentary bird guides and go on a seek and find. It turns out that our seven year old really got into matching up the birds that she saw in the conservatory to the ones on the guide.

What To Expect At The Bloedel Conservatory

There’s over one hundred free flying birds to spot and guests are provided with a laminated guide to learn more about each bird. The chirping birds and humidity almost made it feel like we were back in Hawaii, which was a welcomed feeling on a cold day.

Whether you are local or coming from afar we’d recommend a visit to The 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.

Find more Vancouver family fun right here:

How To Tour Downtown Vancouver With Kids

Summer Fun In Vancouver

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In honour of Bell Let’s Talk I am republishing this honest post on maternal mental health. While it is easy to share the joyful moments of motherhood and a new baby it is equally important to recognise the painful and raw parts too.

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. How can it be that no one ever checked in or flat out asked me this before?

All of us know just how taboo mental health topics can be. Especially talking openly about  mental health, too often we feel a bit uncomfortable asking people in our lives how they are actually coping. It’s easy to assume our friends and family would feel comfortable reaching out and asking for help. However, in real life, this is far from the truth.

My Experience With Post Partum Anxiety

Right after I had baby number three I sunk into a weird unexpected cycle of feeling anxious. I never had any post partum depression or anxiety with the other two babies. I had a healthy baby in my arms and I was a seasoned mother, so why was I feeling this way?

This third baby was a high risk pregnancy, a wild delivery and our families first NICU experience. In retrospect that all played a role in the post partum anxiety but it was never red flagged by anyone.

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

Coping With Post Partum Anxiety

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 an uncertain sweaty anxious person with a whirlwind of spiralling thoughts.

When the baby was about five weeks old my sister took my older kids over to Victoria to see extended family. It was all great until it was time to arrange how to bring the kids back home. The plan was for me to meet up about 45 minutes from home so I could go get them and drive them back.

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 not a long drive but 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 an illogical 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 while I was on the highway.

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.

The thought of going to the appointment felt like like this huge amount of energy. So I let myself  decide that there was no way I could go. As expected, 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.

Support Through Post Partum Anxiety

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 this third baby. Just having someone to talk about these weird feelings would have been beneficial to my mental health.

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 steady. 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. Check out Life With A Baby for more support.

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