Managing Guilt as a Working Mom

Empowering Woman: Ana

As a working mom I feel like there is always this guilt of leaving your baby to go to work.  As much as you might love your job, there is no love like the one for your son/daughter. While I was on maternity leave I honestly couldn’t wait to get back to work and my “normal” life.  I thought I wouldn’t miss my daughter that much, after all my mom was the one that would be babysitting.  Boy was I wrong!

The first couple of weeks after I returned to work were great! I felt like the “old me”. I missed my daughter but I knew she was in good hands at home with my mom.  I received a few pictures and videos throughout the day and I was fine.  Fast forward to 3 weeks after maternity leave and one day it just hit me out of nowhere.  I missed my daughter so much, I felt so guilty and nearly wanted to cry.  I just wanted to go home to her and hug her and kiss her.  But I couldn’t, because you know, I had to be an adult.  Ever since that day I have this constant guilt that I am not sure it will ever go away. Every time I leave to work, I know I do it to keep sane, but also because I want to provide a better life for my daughter.  It is a crazy concept.

Like I said before, I am blessed that my mom is able to care for my daughter.  There really is nobody else I would trust. In the beginning I remember having to tell my mom how Cami liked being held, how she liked being rocked to sleep, her schedule, etc… But now, she is the one that has to tell me how to be with my daughter. It breaks my heart. It is only natural tho, Cami spends most of her time at grandma’s. When she gets home its play time, nap time, bath time and her night time routine to get to bed.  My time with Cami is so limited. So even on days when I get to workout, ugh, it is hard! I feel like such a bad mom or even selfish for taking time away from her.

So there is this love/hate battle I have within me about loving and hating how much Cami loves spending time with grandma.  Sometimes feeling like I am not enough.  What if she doesn’t realize that I am her mother?  What if she thinks that my mom is her mom? Does she feel more comfort in my mom’s arms? Man, am I the only one that feels this way? Am I bad daughter for feeling this way? I don’t know. I would so love to be able to stay home with Cami every day and not have to worry about leaving her, or wonder if she knows who I am.  But that is just not possible for our family at the moment.  Although, I was able to move my work schedule around and reduce the amount of hours I work, I feel like it is just not enough.

Then there is the issue about how my husband and I want to raise her vs. how my parents would want to do things.  Obviously, they are the grandparents so they want to spoil her. So having to tell my parents to not do this or that, or do things a certain way is not the most pleasant thing. They have more experience at parenting than us, yes, but Cami is ours and sometimes having different parenting styles can be difficult. Having to say “no” to mom and dad is hard, especially when she is spending most of her time with them. However, I know my parents try, for the most part, to do things the way we ask, and it is so appreciated.

 

I realize that all these feelings I have may be normal.  I just never expected to feel this way. Deep down I know Cami knows I am her mother and loves me. She is just  growing so fast and I just hope to be able to experience all her firsts. I am very grateful to have such a loving and caring family that support us in every way possible, and that Cami will grow surrounded by so much love!

About Ana: 

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Hi there! My name is Ana, I am a 26 year old first time mama to a baby girl.  In my blog, The Blushing Mama, I talk about my experiences as a first time working mama, as well as health and fitness.  I love my job as a Paralegal, but most of all I love being a mama! In my down time I love spending time with my family discovering new places, working out and hey why not, catching up on some Netflix. The Blushing Mama is dedicated to my fellow mamas and women in hopes of creating a positive space to support and encourage each other in this crazy amazing life.

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I’m Happy We Lived Together First

Living with a partner before marriage was something that was never on the table for me. Sticking to my good Catholic roots, I wanted a ring on my finger and an ‘I do’ before snugging in under one roof with my potential husband.

Then I met him.

 

11950229_10153254346748370_2023321734804309702_o First date – Circa October 2011

 He was charming, he was lovely and he was trustworthy. He was also adamant about living together before giving me my ‘say yes to the dress’ moment. I struggled with the idea of tossing my life vision out the window and compromising on my (and my famiy’s) beliefs. However, as we approach almost six months of married life – I’m so happy we lived together first.

2014-12-13-21.32.43-768x1024Engaged.

 Many couples seem to agree that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Coming out of your post-wedding bliss you are quickly thrown into a reality of combined finances, sharing personal space and learning each others good – or bad – habits around the clock. Marriage is all about compromise and as much as you try to sort out the kinks of significant compromises before getting hitched, they will constantly be thrown at you in all directions.

 How do we split the mortgage?

Who pays the utilities?

How do we decide on a fair and managed spending budget?

How do we split time between our families?

How much time do we spend with friends?

Who unloads the dishwasher?

The list goes on and on.

In shacking up with my husband while he was still my (serious) boyfriend we were able to settle out many of those kinks before tying the knot. And let me tell you – that year was hard. Between living together for the first time, adopting our first puppy, planning our wedding, dealing with family illnesses, and purchasing our first home, I’m surprised we made it to the alter still sane. We learned so much about each other and we able to sort out many of the unknowns many couples face in their first year of marriage.

We rented for a year to sort out our needs and wants: emotionally, financially and socially.

To even my surprise, we learned I’m a neat freak – so my husband has learned that leaving half-full cans of pop on the table, which the dog loves to knock over, is a big no-no.

We learned we love low key nights in, and like to dedicate certain days of the week towards time spent with family and friends.

We learned how to grocery shop and manage our budget.

We learned to give each other personal space to do the things we love.

We learned how to coexist and love each other for our quirks rather than resent them.

We learned that we for sure, most definitely, without a doubt want to spend the rest of our lives together.

I’m not saying this isn’t possible to figure out without living together first. What I am saying however is  my change of mind and acceptance to a different approach to marriage really worked in our favour.

We’ve been being married for a little over 5 months now and are a little over 4 months pregnant. I can’t begin to imagine jumping into a pregnancy so quickly after marriage if we hadn’t experienced our unwed year of living together. Especially as we face the ups and downs of genetic testing. I’m not sure we could handle our current situation quite so well.  Instead, our relationship is the strongest its ever been. The love I have for my husband has multipled in ways I could have never imagined. Paying a mortgage, blanacing work and family life, keeping house – they’re all part of a routine we’ve already figured out. Now, we just manage the unexpected things life is throws at us.

12465997_10153490952643370_2440820475165753421_oWedding – October 2015

 Although I’m sure my parents would have preferred we did things the old fashioned way, and although I’ll want to ensure my children understand the old school  type of respect to put into a relationship – I’m able to now appreciate the modern relationship.

At the end of the day a relationship is about understanding your partner’s point of view and making healthy compromises to make the relationship work. My husband understood and appreciated my perspective, while I understood and appreciated his. The combination of the two made for a comfortable experience where we both learned valuable things about ourselves and each other. I wouldn’t trade that unwed year for the world and truly believe it led to the success of our first year of marriage (thus far).

Did you live with your partner before getting married? Are you against it? Join in on the conversation!

 

 

Why We Need to Stop Referring to Babies as Normal

As seen on the Huffington Post.

 

What is normal? Well, according to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, normal is defined as usual or ordinary; not strange. In the same definition, Merriam-Webster’s adds normal is a representation of mental and physical health. In the concept of society, normal is defined relatively the same. Normal is largely based on how a person’s behaviour and appearance conforms with social standards. You are either “normal” and you fit into society or you are “not normal” and therefore do not. Until recently I placed little thought on the definition of normal and the injustice it serves for many members of our society.

It may be because I’ve been exposed to the sensitive nature of human normality, but I find fault in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defining normal by the mental and physical health of human beings. There is also fault in our society in the way we judge each other and categorize one another based on social norms. We live in a world that is so complex and filled with great difference. Differences that should be embraced and used as inspiration for kindness, generosity and understanding. A world where the term “abnormal” should only be used as a term to indicate results in medicine, not to define a human being. Even more so, not to define a fetus in limbo of a diagnosis.

It was only three weeks ago when my husband and I had our twelve week ultrasound with our first child. I watched my husband light up as he looked at the little life we created on a black and white screen. I clenched my husband’s hand with excitement, awing at our tiny baby’s nose. Little did I know I would rely on that hand only days later to be clenched as a result of panic and fear. In the days that would follow, we would anxiously be seated in our doctor’s office awaiting results we never anticipated to hear — that our baby had an abnormality.

 

The words used to describe this abnormality were as complex and scientific as they come. In medical terms, our baby had a thickened nuchal translucency. In more common terminology, the condition placed our baby at higher risk for genetic differences such as Downs Syndrome, and congenital heart defects. As quickly as the words left the tip of my doctors tongue, the tears were streaming down my face. I locked my eyes on my husband and plowed through an entire box of Kleenex as our doctor explained the tests we would have to undergo, doctors we would need to see and risks of our pregnancy. There were few words that stuck with me during that conversation.

We were sent home with a copy of our ultrasound. The top of the paper stamped with urgent in big, red, block letters, and the bottom of the ultrasound using the word abnormal to define our little 12 week baby.

In the days that would follow I would search the Internet to find expectant parents in a similar situation. To my surprise baby forums were flooded with parents whose baby had the same abnormality. The majority of mother’s discussed the tremendous amount of heartache they went through, only to find out that their baby would be born “normal.”

From the few people we shared this heart breaking news with, many wished us well and hoped that our baby would be born “normal” rather than healthy — and each time someone wished our baby be born normal, my heart ached. In one sense, I understood that their intentions were well-meant, but in another sense it was clear that if my child was born with physical or mental differences, my child would not fit into society’s definition of normal. In combination with the serious complications and medical issues that come along with Downs Syndrome, society viewing my child as “not normal” was not something I was ready to accept.

A team of genetics counselors prepared us for the worst possible outcome. We were forced to place value on the life of our child, and the value they would have in our world. I continued to imagine our little baby, who my husband and I created through love. A baby with innocence and purity. A baby who I loved without even meeting and continued to love despite the differences he or she may have.

After a grueling two weeks our baby’s DNA testing came back low risk for trisomy related chromosome conditions. Before we had a chance to breathe a sigh of relief, we were told a second abnormality was found and we would require further genetic testing. My heart aches for my husband and I as we face this new path of unknown, but my heart also aches for the families who will become the statistics we fear. The family who will have to integrate their beautiful child into a society with a closed definition of normal.

If you know a family member, friend or coworker in a similar case of limbo, please do not tell them you hope their baby is born normal. Rather, substitute normal with the word healthy. It may seem like a small request to make but it means a world of difference to the people living this situation. The word normal is a shitty reminder that it’s not just good enough to be born healthy.

To everyone who has ever felt like they never fit in, who has ever felt like they were not normal, know: what makes you different makes you beautiful. Embrace your difference. Our world is a beautiful place full of many beautiful people. Placing a standard or status quo on what makes a person normal in our society masks the true beauty of all of our differences.

A Letter to My Body During Pregnancy

Dear Body,

We need to talk. I know you’ve come to learn that something foreign has been hanging out within your skin. It’s okay. I know it’s there – and it’s time to ease up, we’re growing a baby.

That’s right. A baby – not a virus, or a parasite. Just a human, that we need to grow… from pretty much scratch.

It may seem like a lot to ask, but hear me out. Women have been doing it for years.

Between the all-day “morning” sickness, mood-swings, and aversions to pretty much all of my favourite foods, I could almost swear you weren’t happy to be housing this little sea-monkey.

Mom’s have shared that you’ll eventually come around and give me a little bit of a break. But they’ve also shared that before long you’ll start attacking me again with sleepless nights, swollen feet, and leaky-breasts.

I’m here to ask you to be patient as we protect and grow this new love of mine. This is new for us. You’re changing in ways you’ve never experienced before (yay, boobs!) and you’re also supplying life to a very special little person. This is something to be proud of.

They say we will forget about all of this, after we go through hours of painful labour, and eventually push a 7 to 10 pound person out of our vagina. I’d like to believe them. Women often do this more than once after all.

One thing I do know for sure and can promise you, is whether we forget about this or not, the prize we gain at the end of this journey will be more than worth it.

So hang in there, body. You’re doing okay.

We have a 6 more months left to go, so it’s time to man-up and give it our all. One small request though – can you stop making me cry? My husband is starting to think I’m a little bit batty.

Love,

Your soul.