Let’s Talk


I wrote this post in honour of Bell Let’s Talk Day, although I didn’t complete it on time! That was to be expected, as I have almost zero spare time these days. Between another out-of-province move, completing tasks during my final weeks at work, managing my small (tiny) business, and grinding through the daily routines with my preschoolers, it’s a wonder that I even get time to sleep (I do, not enough, but I do sleep). I do a really GREAT job of making it all look easy, like I’ve got it all under control, but inside my head – its organized chaos. Emphasis on chaos.

I feel as though burnout has been lurking in dark places around me for about 6 months now. It’s been hiding around the corner, waiting to jump out and capture me, although it has tapped my shoulder and ran away a few times (if I had to personify burnout, it would look like The Grinch, in black).

image courtesy of: http://www.movellas.com/blog/show/201710101607513623/mental-health-awareness-day-2017

It may have started with a personal struggle which involved not having control in a certain situation, which I am learning to let go of. I didn’t know how hard it would be to explore this part of me, and especially how long it would take to shed this inner demand to control the direction of my life. I am still working on it; it continues to be a battle for me, almost daily.

I can say I hit “rock bottom” more than once, but it wasn’t until recently that the truth paid me a visit through a stranger. While I was trying to put my state of mind into words, my kids’ new pediatrician diagnosed me at first sight. Let me tell you this story.

Back in December, I took my two kids to their blood work follow-up appointment with a new doctor. I chose to switch their pediatricians because I felt the former doctor was too lax. I had seen this new lady at a walk-in appointment and was instantly impressed by her wisdom (or what I then thought was wisdom).

As a mother who was at her wit’s end about her daughter’s poor appetite and son’s hyperactivity, this follow-up was either gonna make or break me. After weeks of intense worry over my kids’ behaviours, this meeting was crucial. I went without my husband and took the kids out of daycare at the start of nap time because I couldn’t be bothered to accommodate schedules. This was almost urgent, and I was high-strung. Fortunately, results were great. I was told things that were pleasant and unpleasant, but it wasn’t until the doctor was on her way out the door that the daggers came shooting straight at me.

She brought her fleeting attention to me for a quick minute to say something along the lines of, ‘Supermoms can have ADHD. If you don’t manage it now, it can lead to burnout and ultimately depression. You will then get treatment for depression but all along the issue is ADHD.’ As she spoke, the tears that held their ground all day came rolling out, and that was her cue to leave. She left. I gathered myself quickly and left the clinic with the kids.

I cried again once I settled the kids in the car, I cried when my husband got home, I cried after the kids went to bed, and I cried myself to sleep that night (I surely took the following day off work). It was roughly 8 hours of heartbreak, confusion, and defeat that I kept playing in my mind over and over again until I gave in to the exhaustion and called it a night. It had stung to hear those words because they came from someone who knows nothing about me, although it was precisely what I felt and feared all these months. The truth stung: I’m not supermom, I’m a multi-tasking she-beast who can run out of fuel and free fall into an emotional void at any given moment if I don’t take a break. Still 2 months since that appointment, I sometimes I feel like I’m on the brink of burnout.

At some point, wanting to do it all went from being a simple goal-getter to battling mom-guilt. This mom-guilt term is REAL. It consumed me without notice. Guilt about not being present, not being active enough, not cooking fun meals, not taking them to museums, not giving them enough extra curriculars, not working hard enough to elevate my career and be a role model for my daughter, not being “with it” enough to answer all my son’s questions, not being patient enough, picking them up later from daycare, dropping them off too early at daycare, giving them a cookie at night, holding them back from “too much sugar”, guilt for leaving them with a babysitter, guilt for not feeding or paying that babysitter, guilt for even asking that person to babysit in the first place, the list goes on and on. Mom-guilt continues to consume me at times. I’m trying to forgive myself as I tell myself to downsize my tasks and goals. It hasn’t happened yet.

There are things that I’m getting better at:

  • asking for help/accepting help
  • breathing – in from the nose, out from the mouth
  • reading books, even if it’s two pages a week
  • TALKING about my feelings
  • not worrying about a messy house

Things that I still have to work on:

  • asking for help/accepting help
  • forgiving myself
  • letting go of things that are not in my hands
  • speaking to a professional

Things that have always worked for me:

  • speaking to my doctor about my anxiety
  • looking at my family history
  • not comparing myself to others
  • being open-minded and enlightened about the issues mothers/women face
  • honesty

Aside from my background in special needs education, the #BellLetsTalk initiative played a role in giving me courage to speak up about mental health education. Like myself, many others have taken steps to be proactive and challenge the stigma of mental illness. In fact, 4 out of 5 Canadians reported having this awareness since the start of Bell Let’s Talk.

I am no where near being the confident and balanced person I used to be pre-motherhood, but I know she’s still inside me waiting for the right moment to shine. If this post does any service to its readers at all, let it be a gentle nudge in the direction of self-acceptance and ownership of our imperfections. Let this post also serve as a reminder to be kind to others, as you never know what difficulties people face behind the scenes.



Word to Your Mother

On this day, my 33rd birthday, I’ve decided to write about a subject that’s been on my mind all year. This time of the year brings a bittersweet reminder for me. A reminder of the person who has played a pivotal role in shaping me and how I can not take her for granted, for everyone’s days are numbered.

There was a very long period (too long) in my childhood and my youth, where I resented my mom. I wanted her to be someone else. I wanted her to be like the other mothers. In a very low and vulnerable moment in my childhood, I even told her this. Twenty years later (maybe more) I still cringe at my disrespect and complete misunderstanding of who this woman was and why she was this way. I wanted her to dress like other moms, walk like other moms, talk like other moms, behave like other moms, and I probably even wanted her to think like other moms. Basically, I wanted her to be someone who she was not. Under the spell of some negative adult influences, and later in the midst of my adolescent angst, I must have said and heard back countless awful words in this mother-daughter relationship which I assumed was doomed.

It was during the course of a brief yet traumatic phase in my teens where I slowly learned that my mom was probably going to be the only champion I would ever truly have in my life. That night when I cried with my head in her lap, when I felt afraid for my future and for my standing with other members of my family, I felt like my mother was here to stay forever. With no judgment, no punishment, no abandonment, she would be my rock. From a culture where girls are encouraged to carry themselves in a way that leads them to be stereotypically “desirable” wives, daughter-in-laws, and mothers, my mom unknowingly taught me the meaning of feminism. But of course that part only came to me a few years ago. If only I knew then what I know now.

When my kids became toddlers, I began to catch myself acting and sounding like my mom. You know that comedic dialogue we always hear on TV, “I sound like my mother!” That kind of thing… In essence, of course I act and sound like my mom at times. I am her daughter after all. She raised me. She endured my tantrums, my stubbornness, my bad attitude, and everything else I am currently enduring with my little ones. I’m pretty sure I can look forward to the next 15 years of this wonderfulness (she also did tell me that one day karma would come around!). But hey, I’m proud to say I turned out decent. At 33, I may have not reached all the goals I had envisioned for myself but everything I have received and earned in life is due to her unconditional love and prayers. Whether it was finding a lost bracelet, passing my driver’s exam, or marrying the love of my life, none of it would have been possible without her unwavering prayers and support.

So what does a great mother really look like? Is there a dress code? At one point my mom’s favourite thing to do was wear my big brother’s hand-me-downs. Is there a language code? For those of you that know her, wasn’t my mom’s language quite colourful? Haha! Is there a schedule she’s supposed to follow? My mother worked night shift for many years, sometimes I wouldn’t be able to see her before 10pm. Is there a wife-code? Does a mother’s relationship with her child’s father necessarily define her ability to raise her children? I’ve learned a phD’s worth of lessons from my parents’ marriage.


On my birthday today, I pay homage today to the lionesses, the ones with the silent ferocity to undertake whatever life and people throw at them. The ones who refuse to wear socks or drink milk, the ones who hoard bed sheets from the 1980s and enjoy shopping at the dollar store for bathroom mats. The ones who cook meals that are too spicy or too salty, but the aroma fills the house with the smell of childhood and makes our mouth water. The ones who give practical advice like, “Don’t drink milk after eating fish,” or simply, “Don’t ever break someone’s heart.” The ones who would go to the ends of the earth for their children, stand up against what’s wrong and support us in what’s right. Today I hold in my heart the mothers whose prayers blanket our lives with daily protection, whether they are with us, or whether their prayers are sent from Paradise.

Without mom, I’d be an insignificant fraction of who I am today.

Finding that Formula

I left off my last blog post on a very “mom power” note, and everyone gave me such positive feedback. Except for my husband, who felt that my inner desire to burn his paperwork was not fair. Maybe, maybe not. But since I’m loving him extra these days, I issue this apology to him. Sorry babe! I won’t set your stuff on fire, promise!

Moving on, with a little help from great friends, I’ve been self-counselling and taking lots and lots of mental notes on how to stay sane. I give myself a B+ in this area but I see potential for improvement. Because going back to work this fall has not been like the previous 2 years. This time, I get to finish work and come home. No scrambling to rush home, prepare dinner for just the kids, pick up the kids, drop them home with my mom (God bless that woman), and then rushing through an hour’s worth of traffic to get to my night class – 2 times a week. I don’t have that heavy pit of mom guilt in my stomach anymore. Gosh, I can’t even tell you how crappy I felt sitting 3 hours in class while my children were giving their grandmother a hard time, even if it was just for an hour or so before their dad got home. I’d sit in class imagining all the quality time I was losing with my children, during such a crucial time in their development. It pained my heart. I give major props to parents who struggle to get their lives together on a daily basis, with and without help, to ensure some form of stability for themselves and their families. Taking those classes with a full time day job has been by far the most draining challenge I have ever taken on.

Here’s a funny picture of me getting a hug from my big brother on my Convocation Day last June. It’s the only picture from that day that I’m willing to share in this very public space! I realize that if I want to be a “blogger”, I need more photos!

So now working without night classes has been great! This is totally do-able. I’ve got great home-cooked meals happening for everyone. I’m sharing Instagram stories from my kitchen to show other busy people that they can do it too! I’m letting people peek inside my life a little bit so they can feel less nutty, and I can feel more accountable. And on that note, I have to say that even when things are running like a well-oiled machine in the house, I still have these dark days when nothing feels good. I feel accomplished, but I don’t feel GOOD. I can’t put my finger on what the issue is, but I have some ideas, and I’m working on them. I’ve promised myself I’ll write more. I’m sleeping earlier, eating healthier, talking more, and reading books.  It all helps.

If you feel like you’re in this place that seems like a never-ending rotation of guilt, exhaustion, discouragement, and possibly sadness, please hear me when I say that it will come and it will go. And when it goes, don’t look back. While I truly think that setting an example of work ethic and ambition is important for our young ones, We’ve got to remember that setting an example of happiness is equally important. This work-life-balance that many of us are trying to sort out in our 30s is, I think, one of the biggest hurdles our generation has to face. We don’t want to come short of career success and comfort, but we also don’t want to find ourselves over-working and under-“playing” like many of our extraordinary parents did while they raised us. From what I see in my children’s eyes, seeing a happy parent garners a happy child. This is the formula that I get back to when the darkness creeps up on me at the end of a thankless day, or week, or sometimes even a month. We can be extraordinary too. We can work and play, and however the scale settles for us individually, the outcome we should all aspire for is happiness.

A Bonfire, a Basket Case, and a Banana

Today I had one of those mornings when I find myself wanting to rent a luxury convertible and drive off into the sunset alone, with no plans other than to re-invent myself into anything but a mother. Yup, that’s the cold truth my friends. My Instagram profile might show otherwise, but the truth is such mornings, afternoons, and evenings occur frequently at my house and my mind is often master-planning my escape from it all. Today’s fantasy even went as far as burning all my husband’s work files, paperwork, etc., before packing my duffle bag (I travel light). The image of a 9 a.m. bonfire in my backyard was sweet. I could almost smell the satisfying fumes and ash as I type this, but I regress. The intention of this overdue post is to expose myself and crush the idea that I can do it all, when I truly can not.


The other day, a very kind friend commented on one of my dinner Instagram stories, “Omg what are you not good at”, and it really got me thinking. My peers think I’m good at stuff! It appears that I’m good at cooking, when in fact the quinoa-stuffed eggplant in that photo was too salty, and I’m still not sure if I boiled the corn too much or too little. But hey, no one knows that because the picture looked exciting. I recently also shared a cute video of me colouring with my bossy 3-year old. People loved that one. What no one knows is that her fussiness can rise into stubbornness and then eventually escalate into revolt in the blink of any eye. Then comes her loud ugly crying that prompts me to close all the windows and blinds because I’m about to lose my shi*, but you won’t find that story on Instagram. The best are the compliments on my appearance, my figure, and my ability to look like a 25-year old. I don’t take any of that for granted at all, but all of it is thanks to a combination of great genes and hard work. Hard work that I put in to my health and fitness every 3-4 months with prolonged breaks in between when I feel crappy about myself.

I’ve spent the summer in a position that’s troubled me almost every day. I have 2 months off from work, and so I made a thought-out decision to send both my kids to daycare regardless. This decision has not been easy and has pretty much affected my conscience on a weekly basis. Every time someone has asked me, “Why are you sending them to daycare if you’re home?”, it’s been a loaded question for me to answer. The surge of shame, guilt and confusion overcomes my ability to respond honestly and I always end up telling a half-truth about their need for routine and stimulation. Of course, I have to justify it by explaining what’s in it for them because I don’t want to be judged if I share what’s in it for me. I haven’t been able to articulate the other half of the truth until I realized there is a simple explanation for it, called self-care. While this construct sounds revolutionary, it comes with the crippling caveat of mom-guilt. For example, when my husband asks me, “What did you do all day?”, why is it that I feel like ringing his neck? I’ll tell you why. Society has made me into a paranoid basket case, impeding me to even exercise self-care with ease. Every question, every comment, every criticism, and every complement makes me second-guess how I’m doing as a mother. It’s like there’s no winning with myself, let alone anyone else. And as I write this post today, I realize maybe it’s because I choose to only share the good, the funny, and the attractive parts of my daily life. Sure, I want friends and family to be proud of me, and for other women to feel inspired by my accomplishments, but at what cost? My sanity? No thanks!

I think it’s time to expand the meaning of self-care to something more substantial than a spa day or retail therapy. Self-care needs to include honesty with yourself and with others. It must include acceptance for what you need and not submission to what others expect. Self-care should include humour and personal space. Effective self-care needs to be learned and it takes time. Everyone’s methods are unique. So, if I want to sit on the couch and fiddle with my phone, look out the window, or browse the Netflix menu for an hour, before I decide to take a shower and then scrub the toilet and clean the sink, working up an appetite to eat toast, a banana, chocolate and candies (in that order), followed by blow-drying my hair and moisturizing my legs, and then returning back to the couch to spend another 90 minutes watch tv, fiddling with my phone, looking out the window, before I mentally prepare myself for the deliberately slow drive to the daycare to pick up my kids, then THAT’s how I choose to exercise my self-care.




The Day After

Dear Kids,

I’ve logged on to my blog after a year of hiatus. “I’ve been busy” doesn’t begin to encompass the grind that I have been going through ever since we left the mountains and returned to the potholes. Last year, in a matter of weeks, our family relocated across the country, moved into a new home, started new roles in our careers, began daycare, and went back to graduate studies. While I question my sanity on a daily basis, with serious concern for my mental health, I remember that everything I have decided to do has been with free choice and a conscious effort to set a good example for pretty much anyone out there who has goals to attain. Needless to say, you, my children are my greatest motivations.

Today however, I feel that somehow as a mother I have failed you, because humanity has failed you. I find that when I wish hard enough for something to happen, and if I say it out loud enough times, it happens. But with these current events, I wasn’t optimistic until the last moment. I spent only the last couple of days giddy at the thought of witnessing the election of the first female president. I intended on leaving my night class early to watch the election with your father and a bowl of popcorn, bringing victorious Timbits for my colleagues the morning-after, and possibly even purchasing a t-shirt with the American flag on it, because the hypothetical scenario I had created in my mind was so sweet. It was going to be such a privilege to be a young woman during this era. America was going to “be great again”, Hillary will have shattered the glass ceiling, and I would be a unicorn living in a fantasy world where I could continue conquering anything I set my mind to. Most of all, my children could grow up saying that in their childhood, a woman had publicly defeated a misogynistic and racist clown, proving that good people prevail.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it all went down and I have spent all day pouting in the sorrow of Hillary Clinton’s loss. I’ll get over it, because I believe that after darkness there is always light. And continuing on the path of setting an example for you kids, I will remember these wise words of the honourable Prophet Mohammed: “Those who enjoin right will be oppressed, and those who condemn vice will be suppressed. Hence, strengthen your faith for that time, and cling to faith as you would clench on for dear life.” The future seems scary right now, but we can’t let fear hold us down. When you’re older, I want you to look back at this day in history, and this post that your mama has written for you, and cherish all that good people have contributed to humankind. Without forgetting how bad people strengthened us, be proud of your roots and your identity. Know that education trumps ignorance, acceptance trumps judgement, kindness trumps bullying, love trumps hate, and faith trumps fear. Your parents and loved ones have taken the huge responsibility to steer you in the direction of what is good for you, and what will aid you in being good towards others. While hateful people might have the liberty to spread darkness in their path, don’t ever let that hold you back from following the light in yours. As Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech today, “Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” My dear little ones, you are nothing short of worthy and capable of moving mountains.

With Love,




























































Homemaking to Career-making: 5 Pointers

I’m ready to go back into the workforce. Whether that means going back to my profession of teaching, pursuing a small business venture, or experimenting with a new career path, I feel ready for anything. Getting into this head space took more preparation and effort than I ever imagined. After three years of being away from the grind of preparing lesson plans, attending meetings, meeting deadlines and dressing professionally (ok that last thing is not really a grind), one can imagine how nerve-racking it could be to get back into that flow. Admittedly, I haven’t entirely gotten used to this lifestyle of spending a large part of my day in my jammies and not having the motivation to style my hair. Babies who enjoy wearing their food and pulling my hair don’t exactly give me the encouragement a mother needs to maintain her appearance! Nonetheless, I’ve made a conscious effort to get out of my stay-at-home mom funk and prepare myself for the “outside” world.  

The following methods have really been working for me, allowing a significant change in my confidence and determination. I’m sharing these pointers in hopes that they can help you too!

1. De-clutter

When you have more than one child in the house, the plethora of toys, diapers, snacks, and clothes can be daunting. If tackling the entire home is hard right now, pick 1 room. For me that room is the kitchen, which is where I spend a lot of my time. When I have a tidy kitchen, I have a clear head and tend to be more inclined to cook or bake. If I de-clutter my bedroom, I’ll be more inclined to rest! Another good space to look after is an office (sometimes AKA the dining table!). De-cluttering a physical area simultaneously clears head space. When you don’t have junk to look at, it gets easier to organize your thoughts and get in touch with yourself.

2. Think out loud

In a household with a colicky baby, a tantrum-y toddler, a blairing television, repitive nursery rhymes, etc. – losing your voice is inevitable. I found my thoughts piling up in my head and overwhelming. Exhausting. I decided to just start sharing my ideas for personal and professional projects with my better half and some friends. I started to talk about new goals I found myself developing as my husband, my growing babies and other women inspired me. I asked myself, what am I passionate about? These conversations are ongoing, and so healthy.

3. Negativity is counterproductive

Surround yourself with positive vibes. Being a new mom, particularly to very young children that are close in age, has shown me how dark some days can get. It’s not always sunshine and buttercups! Buttons are pushed, patience is tested and my mental and physical state is constantly challenged (imagine a toddler elbowing you in the stomach or a baby girl’s high-pitched shriek at 2a.m.). You have enough on your plate. The last thing you need is toxicity, whether it’s in the form of a bad relationship or a bad habit. Kick it to the curb. Remember that above all, your little ones  need you to be an intellectual, positive, and dignified role model.

4. Research

Use the resources that are at your disposal. Once you’ve figured out what floats your career boat, look it up. If you’re going back to your job, have practices changed since you left? Are there new employees at the office you might want to meet beforehand? If you’re seeking something new, are you qualified? Is your résumé ready to face the competition? Dig into your network and see who can connect you to the right people and places. Make phone calls. Read. Keep learning, it will give you clarity and confidence.

5. Act

Do it. Choose your return date and step back into that office (or classroom?) that you know so well. It won’t be as hard as you think because you will have your colleagues there to support you. Or, apply for that new job. You have nothing to lose! You never know what new possibilities await you unless you face them.

Sometimes the obstacle is not time, nor your family, it’s you. You have to break out of your mommy-shell and throw yourself back into the ocean of adults. You have to do this guilt-free. You have to redefine your priorities, and your purpose. Give yourself a chance. Cheer yourself on. Remind yourself that the world is your oyster. 


Girls’ Night

Now how does that saying go…”when one door closes, another one opens”? I don’t know if that idiom works as the backdrop of the feelings I experienced last week, but I’ll let you figure that out.

I’ve been fortunate enough to maintain many solid friendships from back home ever since we moved out west. In fact, some of those friendships actually blossomed after my move. It’s interesting how you can find commonalities with acquaintances, cousins, colleagues, friends-of-friends, and strangers, after you’ve been extracted from your bubble of familiarity, comfort and security. In this case I’m talking about a former colleague and friend, who has inspired me for the last year especially.

You know how every now and then on Facebook or on random websites you’ll have this ad of some crazy fit, pretty girl with toned abs and a wild before-and-after photo? That’s her. She’s one of them. Except she’s not a computer virus – she’s a real person! While some pregnant women in their 3rd trimester would probably want to punch her in the face for looking so flawless, because I knew her personally (biggest heart and sharpest mind in this universe), I was inspired to be like her. Ok WAIT, no I did NOT get into shape. This post is not a revelation of the umpteen pounds I lost thanks to her workout and meal program. That will happen one day, but not right now.

What happened is that circumstances have brought her to Vancouver, thus bringing me a real friend from my hometown, to my new home. And what happened is that while a door temporarily closed for her to end up here, for me, a door opened. The chances of me having time outside the home, without a child glued to me, increased dramatically. The possibility of me talking to an adult, and then cracking a joke, and then both of us laughing, went up. And finally, the likelihood of me feeling like myself again, goofing off, and discussing topics other than my children, my home, and my responsibilities, became greater.

So after having met up once for gelato (and a much needed heart-to-heart), we agreed on having a “girls night” last Thursday. Her bestie was in town with her husband (an awesomesauce couple by the way, PLEASE check them out at Love Tripping). I was giddy with excitement because this would simultaneously be my 1. First night out without a child, 2. First night out without husband, 3. First night out with girlfriends, since October 2013 = 17 months. True story. But up until hours before 7:30pm that day, I was looking for excuses to bail.

I was scared of being socially awkward in front of new people. See I’ve had many great conversations with strangers and new friends here in Vancouver, but all women and mostly mothers who understand the grind. But now I was doubting myself immensely. What if I don’t know how to have a conversation without mentioning my kids? More frightening, what if I can’t string together a few words more sophisticated than mum-mum and formulate a mature sentence? I was self-conscious about my appearance; bags under my eyes, a new grey hair, outdated clothes. We were meeting up at a hip urban restaurant, instead of a coffee shop or mall. I was scared that this place full of self-assured and cool people would swallow me whole. What if I dozed off or no one could hear what the hell I have to say because I don’t remember how to adjust my volume according to the sounds of music on loudspeakers and the buzz of adults catching up, flirting, and networking?

My husband nearly pushed me out the door with these wise words: “Just make a cowboy accent when you’re nervous.” So I survived (without the accent, thank God). I went, I saw, and I conquered. I spoke with my mouth full (not polite, but give me a break the food was delicious). I did talk about my husband and children, but hey, they’re my raison d’être. I think we all had a really good time chatting and eating and getting our minds off the wear and tear of our current lives. The evening confirmed for me that “there’s a reason behind everything”. The three of us were destined to be together that night to lift each other up and offer support during challenging times. It was definitely a girls night that I personally needed for a long time and am so grateful to have had.

And if nothing else, at least my shoes were on point. 🙂


I haven’t written in several weeks. Obviously my hands are full with the hustle-bustle of an active 2-year old and a slobbery crawler (who’s always getting knocked over by the 2-year old). Besides my hands though, my mind has been full too – full of reflection. As my daughter has reached 10 months, I realize that my break is finally near. After almost 3 years of pregnancy-childbirth-breastfeeding-sleep deprivation-repeat, I have finally found the time to THINK. More shockingly, I’ve been thinking about ME. It almost feels selfish to admit that. But this is my space to be honest so yes, I have been wanting to think about myself for a long time. I have secretly prayed for this stage to come and save me from Lego minefields and high chair explosions.

There have been some trying times since my last post. My husband has worked around the clock, keeping him at the office past the kids’ bedtime and awake all night once he got home. It wasn’t a pretty sight but I kept my game face on knowing that it was only a matter of days. Ultimately though, those days began to feel like an eternity. I’ve tried to keep myself and the little ones busy everyday, not just to help time pass but to especially make myself feel that like my hard-working husband, I am contributing something to our lives and household as well. At the end of the day, I don’t always feel like I’ve succeeded. I go to bed exhausted and still feel like I could have spent a few less minutes watching TV or shouldn’t have taken those 15 minutes (that’s A LOT) to lay in bed while the babies napped. 

I have loved every moment of spending time at home with my babies, but man am I ever ready to exercise my creative muscles and do something else! Returning to my day job isn’t presently a choice – as ready and eager as I am to go back to teaching. In the meantime I’m exploring other interests and hobbies. Asking myself, what would make me feel independent again? What kind of personal project could excite me? Do I have any talents?? (I don’t have any, but you get the gist) Most importantly, what’s my 5-year plan? Oh yeah, I went there. And turned up with some answers and new goals that surprised me. 

So with that said, I hope I could inspire other women reading this! Although motherhood is a huge triumph in itself, we’re definitely made of more than the soft stuff. My experience has taught me that if I can have the strength to go without sleep and a social life for a year plus, and still come out smiling, I can definitely do other great things with that same dedication. Wish me luck!

The B-Word

Babies and bellies galore and it’s only January! What an exciting time. I get so giddy when I hear of someone being pregnant or even going into labour. I know, I’m a nut. I feel like I’m part of an unspoken sisterhood and hey, I just love sending my sisters positive vibes! As busy as my days get, I love catching up with my mommy or mommy-to-be friends. It’s so important to have a go-to support system which includes a fellow mom (and by mom I’m not referring to someone born in the 1950s or 60s). There are some things that are minimally, if at all, discussed before a woman gives birth, and sometimes it’s best to hear those truths from a girlfriend, instead of pushy nurses or grandparents! Now I’m not talking about the new shapes and sizes your lady parts will take, or the surprise leaks. I’m talking about the joys and sorrows of the B-word. Breastfeeding.

I’m not an expert but I have had the good fortune to see both sides of the coin. Nursing your baby can be 1) a straight hit, 2) a tumultuous journey to a hit or, 3) a tumultuous journey to a miss. But it’s never a straight miss because mothers aren’t given the liberty to leave it at that. We are urged to try, try, and try again. With good reason of course. Breast milk is custom-made by the mother’s body for her child, packed with nutrients and antibodies. There is an abundance of benefits to feeding your child breast milk. Check out what the Public Health Agency of Canada has to say about it if you need more convincing. When things go awry though, it can be as frustrating as it could be rewarding. Those hazy, tiresome, discouraging days following childbirth make you feel like you’re the lone soldier on this sometimes cruel mission to breastfeed- trust me it wasn’t easy for me the first time. But I’m back to my senses now, and believe me when I tell you that you are not alone! I’ve come up with tips for the Top 6 Challenges that could make your journey with nursing quite the roller coaster ride, as they did for me.

1. The baby won’t latch. Remember that your little bundle of joy is as new at this as you are. He or she might need your guidance and especially your patience. Be mindful of his/her body temperature. Suckling is quite the workout for their little bodies so don’t overdress them at the time of feeding. You’re probably a sweaty mess too, which can add to the potential discomfort. In fact, it’s recommended to undress them to their diapers for maximum comfort and to keep them awake. Tickle your baby’s cheek or toes to remind them to keep going!

2. Your milk supply is low. You should keep yourself well-hydrated and don’t diet! Juices, milk, and especially water are beneficial to keeping your milk supply going. I had been advised by my doctor to drink a full glass of water right before feeding. My mother used to encourage drinking milk and mother-in-law encouraged soups. Some women even take fenugreek pills, as it is linked to promoting milk flow.

3. It may happen intermittently which can cause blocked ducts. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. My little guy wasn’t (and still isn’t) keen on eating much. He always lasted 10-15 while nursing and I don’t think he was getting much because my supply was low. All his on and off in those early stages kept me engorged here and there, ultimately blocking my ducts and giving me DUN-DUN-DUN mastitis. I will never forget that day. Pumping, massaging, cold compresses, and at worst, antibiotics will have to conquer this challenge.

And if all does go well…

4. Pump and introduce the bottle right away. Second time around, I had non of the above-mentioned issues. Being without friends and family though, I didn’t put importance on bottle-feeding because I thought that I wouldn’t need the freedom and the breaks. Oh but 8 months later is it ever a regret! I know time is short when all you want to do is sleep, but try to dedicate a few minutes to pumping and bottling your milk. That way your little one won’t be overly attached to your body and others can help with feedings.

5. Expect less sleep, less rest, and a more dependent baby. This is mostly true. Nursing your baby can give you quiet moments in the day when you have no choice but to sit down with pillows propped up behind you, but you’re also more likely to have a baby who wakes for feedings at night and needs your particular attention more often. This has been my personal experience, as compared to my first born who mostly drank formula, slept through the night, and was quite independent.

6. Be prepared to be hungry all the time. Losing the baby weight had been a cloud over my head from the moment I left the hospital until I decided to just let it go for now and focus on being happy and active for my children. The biggest challenge after lack of sleep has been dealing with the hunger pangs. I avoided eating “too much” at first but it wasn’t working for my energy level and it definitely wasn’t going to benefit my exclusively breastfed baby. While junk should still be avoided, do not diet! Try these for a healthy boost.

Finally, what do parents do when breastfeeding just won’t work? After speaking with lactation consultants, nurses, doctors, others you trust, and most importantly your partner, things still may not flow (pun intended) the way you’d hope. So infant formula has to be the route to take, and don’t feel bad about it! Infant formula is an alternative to breast milk, full of vitamins and nutrients. In fact formula even has vitamin D, unlike breast milk. Read as of page 4 at this KidsHealth.org link to find out the pros and cons of formula-feeding.

I’ll end with this: bonding with your baby will happen regardless. No matter how you feed your precious baby, he/she will love you, need you, and want you just the same. Do not fear a disconnect from your child if breastfeeding is not a hit for the two of you. What baby needs from mommy is love, warmth, and her strength. That doesn’t mean that you have to get up and cook dinner with one hand while Swiffering with the other. It means you have to believe in yourself. Your care, worry, and perseverance proves that your maternal instinct is switched on and the well-being of your baby is your priority. But pressuring yourself to breast feed perfectly and exclusively, may not work. The mental and emotional strain alone will be trouble for both of you. There is no right or wrong answer to how this mothering thing works, and you are definitely not alone on this ride.