When the Garbage Trucks in Town

My boys are big fans of the garbage truck.

Big fans.

You know how Kayne loves Kanye? That’s basically how my boys feel about the garbage truck.

The garbage truck is king.

The garbage truck is the centre of the universe.

Now, I always imagined what we would do if we come across their one true love in the flesh.

I imagined it would be as follows:

1. Wave.
2. Look.
3. Move on with our day.

But that’s not how kids work, you guys. That’s not how Kanye loves Kanye.

When you meet your idol you gotta go all in. You don’t just wave and look.

So today, when the garbage truck passed us on the streets, I did what any sane mother would do for her kids, I chased that sucker through our entire neighbourhood while hauling my kids behind me in their wagon.

You should know, I was a track and field superstar ages 11-13. I had participation medals plastered all over my walls.

But chasing a garbage truck in the dead of winter is an entirely different ball game, guys. It’s no basic track and field meet.

First of all, the trail of smells made me gag. Hard. And as I was gagging the cold winter air was literally setting my lungs on fire.

As I gasped for stinky, cold air I continued to press on, hopping over puddles, dragging 50 pounds, maybe 55 – there were full diapers – of impatient and ecstatic little boys in a not-exactly all terrain little red wagon behind me.

Finally, FINALLY, after brute force and determination, we caught up to the darn garbage truck.

And wanna know what my boys did?

Nothing.

They did nothing.

They stood frozen in stardom.

They hardly made eye contact with the big, beautiful stinky beast before them.

And I nearly lost a lung.

Now, we’re back home. I’ve only thrown up once from overexertion and my boys haven’t stopped talking about the garbage truck we chased down this morning.

So, if you live in my neighbourhood and saw a lady in a big red coat running wild with a little red wagon behind her, that was me just trying to catch the garbage truck.

BIG, BIG NEWS ALERT

IT’S HAPPENING!

You know how people tell you that you should shoot for your dreams? This year, after far too long of mulling over it, I went for it. I launched myself towards them and I didn’t look back.

I’m so excited (and quite honestly, in a bit of disbelief) to announce that I’ve signed with an AGENT and MY BOOK is officially underway. It was written about motherhood for YOU. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, it’ll look a lot like what you see here – and I hope you’ll love it.

My agent and I had a chit-chat this morning about next steps, and he will be pitching it to publishers come January.

Keep your fingers crossed, send your prayers, and your best vibes.

I’m so excited to share the next stretch of this journey with you and am forever grateful for your support and friendship. ❤️

All my love, always.
A

P. S I see you, Maxwell.

Holiday Toy Guide for the Kid Who Doesn’t Need Toys

I know…the title is a bit contradictory – but hear me out.

We have family members who would love to give our boys a gift this Christmas. And I have to admit, I don’t want to take that away from them. I want them to be able to give our boys something special – it may even be something our boys grow to fondly remember years down the road.

I’m the first to threaten to throw the next toy through my door straight into our donation bin – but I’ve decided to be a bit flexible this time of year.

We’re raising our boys with important morals and values. We’re raising them to understand the true meaning behind this magical holiday season and all that comes with it. With that being said, I’ve put together a list of vetted toys that I will allow to enter our home.

If you’re looking for a list to pass along, this may suit your criteria the way that it suits mine.

Music

The Melissa and Doug Learn-to-Play Piano.

We’re huge fans of music in our home, and our living room often transforms into a dance floor. When I was a kid, my favourite Christmas gift and past time was playing the piano. This colorful upright piano features 25 keys and two full octaves. The littlest musicians will enjoy exploring concepts of high and low notes, loud and soft. More experienced “maestros” can follow the color-coded songbook to learn nine child-friendly favorites!

Learn-to-Play Piano

Melissa and Doug Band-in-a-Box

Again, music. I’m supportive of all things music in the home (as long as it’s not drums). I think it’s a wonderful way for our kids to express themselves – and this Band in a Box musical instrument set has everything preschoolers need to form a kids’ marching band, launch a solo career, or just enjoy exploring music and sounds! The set includes a tambourine, cymbals, maracas, clacker, tone blocks, and a triangle, plus a sturdy wooden storage crate. Strike up the band and spark a lifelong love of music with this unique wooden set of wooden instruments.

Band-in-a-Box - Clap! Clang! Tap!

Imaginary Play

Melissa and Doug Let’s Play House! 

Okay – can you tell that I love Melissa and Doug yet? Their toys are durable and made from wood and designed to spark imagination and wonder. They’re really some of my favourites. This adorable little cleaning set is one of the top items on our list. Our two-year-old loves to help me clean and while I have no problem handing him the vacuum, there are some chores that should be left for mum and dad. This six-piece play set gives kids all the housekeeping tools they need to keep it clean! Sized just for kids and built to last, the broom, mop, duster, dust pan, and hand brush are comfortable to use and easy to store–just hang them from the sturdy cords onto the included stand for neat, compact storage. (The dust pan can also snap onto any of the handles.) Natural-wood handles add durability and a classic look; bright pops of color keeps lots of fun in the mix!

Let's Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop!

Developmental

Lace & Trace Pets 

Perfect for developing fine motor skills (and super affordable), this wooden set contains five sturdy, double-sided lacing panels, plus five color-coordinated laces! Develop hand-eye coordination and attention skills with this great activity.

Lace & Trace Pets

Construction Building Set 

Again, our two-year-old really loves to figure out how things work. He’s in this phase where he likes to take things apart and put them back together again. To keep him from taking a door off of its frame, we’ve put this construction set on our wish list. With 48 wooden pieces (including nuts, bolts, drilled bars to connect, and a child-size screwdriver), this classic building set gives kids all they need to tinker and build! Printed right on the sturdy storage box are building plans for a crane, motorcycle, airplane, and race car to get the fun started. With some imagination and a few creative twists and turns, kids can make hundreds more amazing structures, too! Any time kids play with this durable set, they’ll be building fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. Included extension activities guide parents to educational activities that also build early math skills.

Construction Building Set in a Box

Outdoor

Okay – this one is pricey – but if some family members wanted to go in on this together, this would be our top gift. All I ever wanted as a kid was one of those electric ride on cars – they were the coolest. Should someone feel inclined, we’re in LOVE with this double ride on (with seat belts) Peg Preggo Polaris.

The all-new Polaris Ranger RZR 900 is the perfect riding vehicle for kids who want to have fun! They’ll drive around the yard in their own RZR, hauling everything imaginable in their large sport bed with tie-down anchors. Foot pedal with automatic brakes. The 2-speed shifter with reverse allows them to drive at 2½ or 5 mph on grass, dirt or hard surfaces. Parents will appreciate the adjustable bucket seats and the 5 mph lockout that prevents beginners from going too fast. 1

Radio Flyer Wagon

With two boys and a lot of crap to haul around, we asked for this red Radio Flyer Wagon last year and have been in love. It’s perfect for bringing to parks, picnics, and even for a spin around the block.  We really love the protective cover to keep the boys safe from the sun, and the storage compartment under the seats make it easy to pack snacks and drinks.

he Radio Flyer Deluxe All-Terrain Family Wagon is designed with air tires for a smooth ride, and a UV blocking canopy for sun protection. With features that make it a very versatile wagon, there is endless fun. The 5 seating and storage options include: 1. seating for two, 2. flatbed, 3. covered storage & ride, 4. activity surface, and 5. XL storage & ride. The wagon also features seatbelts for safety, child and adult cup holders, and a fold-over handle for easy storage.

Radio Flyer Deluxe All-Terrain Family Wagon Ride On, Red

 

I Won’t Miss the Mess

Fun fact: I cleaned my house yesterday.

Like spent a solid few hours cleaning my house.

I did the tidying thing.

The vacuuming thing.

Heck, I even did the wiping the finger prints off of every surface thing.

Things looked good yesterday night. Someone could “drop-in” and I wouldn’t be ashamed.

My house was cozy and my mind was calm.

Man, does a clean house make my mind calm.

But then this morning the boys woke up in a needy mood.

Which is meant we were going to be late for our morning plans.

Which meant I would be rushing.

Which meant I wouldn’t be putting things away as I went.

Which also meant the boys would be tearing things apart as a way to express their frustration and get my attention.

So, everything I did yesterday? All those hours I put in? You wouldn’t even know.

I mean look at this.

The diapers on the floor. The tree missing ornaments. The random pieces of cardboard and clothing scattered about. Not to mention the banana smooshed into the floor and milk spilled on the couch.

Anxiety.

This is what my anxiety looks like in the physical form.

This is what my mind looks like trying to keep up with everything on my plate.

Look, you can tell me that one day I won’t have little munchkins to clean up after.

I get it.

I cherish my moments.

But this living in a constant state of chaos thing? It’s killing my nerves.

This constantly cleaning and stepping on toys and feeling like I’m always in the middle of the same mess, drains me.

My husband pulls his weight.

I pull my weight.

We have bins and storage compartments and we tidy every. single. day.

But we can’t keep up.

Not in this season of life.

With two youngsters, ages two and ten months, we tend to find ourselves up to our elbows in stuff. Physical stuff, emotional stuff, financial stuff, just stuff.

And we try to purge and we try to maintain and we try to manage.

But there never seems to be enough time. There always seems to be something else.

There’s always stuff.

Quite honestly, this season of parenting looks a lot like my living room. It’s a lot of disorganized chaos.

And every day I give my best and honest effort.

Some days it falls apart.

Some days we keep it together.

Some days it looks like actual humans live here rather than a village of monkeys.

Look, I get it.

I get what you’re thinking and I know it, too.

I’ll miss having my babies tiny.

But man, guys. I don’t think I’m gonna miss the mess.

Actually, I know I won’t miss the mess.

Because the mess sucks me dry.

It takes up my time and then creeps back up on me on the bad days.

It’s reflective of the days I simply can’t handle the chaos.

It’s my Achilles.

I can honestly, without a doubt say – I’ll miss my tiny munchkins rummaging on the floor but I sure as hell won’t miss the mess.

Shame the Shamers

I have something to say this morning outside of my typical mumblings.

Some may not like it, some might, but I feel like it needs to be said.

In recent weeks I’ve seen my words all over the internet which has been a huge blessing.

But with a larger reach comes a larger audience and not everyone is as kind as the people on this page.

I’m all about telling it like it is in my day-to-day.

Some people can relate, some can’t.

Which is normal because motherhood is different for everyone.

Some of us have joyous pregnancies, for others, it can be messy, scary, or even heartwrenching.

Labour and delivery is full of the unexpected with the end result always being some type of recovery for mom.

Then comes motherhood and our beautiful baby.

Some of us have the baby that latches, sleeps, coos, and smiles.

Some of us navigate colic, and nursing struggles, and have appointments lined up every two days.

Some of us have it “easy” and have postpartum depression.

Some of us have it “hard” and have postpartum depression.

My point is it doesn’t matter how it happens or why it happens or how hard it is or how easy it is we still need to feel loved and supported.

Last night I scrolled through the comments on a post and my heart sank.

“This woman clearly needs help.”

“She’s obviously battling PPD. I feel so sorry for her. Someone help her.”

“Ladies, her kids might be really challenging.”

“She’s so selfish to think she should come first.”

And on and on and on…

The thing that riles me up the most – a lot of these women are mothers and sadly, the mom war lives.

I shake these comments off. I know who I am. But I worry about the other mothers reading these comments.

Here’s the thing – not everyone is going to be kind and supportive and understanding in this big old world of ours but never EVER let that shame you.

Never EVER let that stop you from sharing your feelings and finding the friend who gets it.

Never EVER let that stop you from asking for help.

Do you know how many “me toos” I’ve heard since starting this page?

Do you know how many private messages I get a week saying “that’s how I feel but I’m too ashamed to say it.”

Never EVER feel shame.

Motherhood is full of ups and downs, highs and lows and everything in between.

On the good days, we forget the bad.

On the bad days, we forget the good.

Let’s not forget there are people who understand what you’re feeling, whatever your case may be. You just need to find them. And the only way you can find them is by sharing and by speaking up.

And for what it’s worth – that mother who appears to have postpartum isn’t crazy. She’s one of the one million women who walk this path.

She needs the world to see that she’s human. She loves her babies and her life, her family and herself. She loves to laugh, she loves to cook, and she loves a good Hallmark movie, but sometimes the days are dark – and there’s nothing crazy about that. If anything, that deserves a “me too.”

The Upside of Down

Some of you may not know I have a job outside of wiping butts and boogers.

It’s true, there’s a life outside of cutting cheese into hearts and having an audience watch you pee.

During naps and after bedtimes, sometimes at three in the morning, I work on a magazine that I’m the editor of.

I’m also writing a book… And I work as a freelance writer putting together nifty little articles for some of your favourite spaces on the internet.

If you asked me when I became a mom if I could handle doing the working-mom-thing, the answer would’ve been no.

If you asked me when I actually went back to work after my first born, I would’ve broken down and cried in your arms.

At the time, it wasn’t right for me – but neither was the job.

I’ve been spending my entire life trying to find my place.

Navigating this big old world, trying to define myself, and redefine myself, and redefine myself once more as the world tells me I need to be more like “her”, more like “them”, more like that “mom”.

I’ve lost myself so many times trying to find the place I thought I had to be or be the person I thought I should be, that I completely lost sight of who I was and what I wanted.

The truth is, I love being home with my babies – but I also love being Anneliese. An ambitious, creative woman with a passion to better this world.

And what’s even more? I’m a better mom when I get to be that woman.

Working all hours of the night on my passions and all hours of the day on my babies can drain my soul sometimes – but it also lights a fire within me.

It pushes me closer towards the woman I always wanted to be.

When you start shushing the noise and start listening to your soul, your life comes alive.

And who would’ve thought I would’ve learned all that in a pit of darkness?

But sometimes, there’s an upside to down.

I’m Going to Have My Hands Full? I Had No Idea.

This piece was originally posted on Her View From Home

That’s it. It’s time to call you out.

Yes, you. The person who feels the need to interject their commentary on strangers in the grocery store, post office and yes, even in a public bathroom.

I’ve met you before – about a year ago – when my belly was busting at the seams and my ankles were overflowing from my shoes. You were astounded by my size and convinced there wasn’t a baby, but in fact a toddler swimming around my womb. And if I recall correctly, you rubbed my belly…just to be sure. Thanks again for that 😉

Now here we are again, a year later. My belly not quite big enough to draw your attention, but my situation appealing nonetheless.

You see us – me (pregnant belly and all), my husband and my one-year-old son – and instead of smiling at our beautiful (and exhausted) young family, you share a critical piece of information we may not be able to live without:

You know, you’re going to have your hands full.  Smirk, smirk. Giggle, giggle. 

It’s cute. It’s innocent. It drives me batty (that’s not the hormones talking).

I’m not quick on my feet to come up with a witty-response to your well-meaning comment. That’s why I’m taking it here – to the internet – to rant in all my glory.

Look, I get it. We’re going to be busy and I’m terrified. But, that whole having a newborn thing? I’ve done it. I know exactly how hard it will be and exactly what to expect. I may not know how to manage a baby on the boob while keeping my toddler Picasso off my walls or change a wet diaper while my older one decides my grandmother’s antique bowl is a potty… but we’ll figure it out, just like we did the first time around.

I love when you approach me and comment on how beautiful my son is or how my pregnant glow reminds you of a Christmas display. I’m not screaming, “Stranger danger!” when you come my way. But I’m not sure what the criteria is for the other type of comments. Is it seeing a parent with one misbehaving child? A family with two, three, heck, four kids? How many kids does it take to demonstrate a mastery in the art of multi-kid-tasking? (When I figure it out, I’ll let you know).

Whatever it is, please just try to smile and nod the next time you feel a parent is downright doomed (we kind of feel that way already and it’s always the last thing we want to hear).

************************************************************

Now, to the parents. I know you’ve heard this before. Hit me with your best comebacks!

The Problem with Mental Health Care: How Our System is Failing Mothers (and Everyone Else for that Matter)

As many of you know, I’m an open book. I’ll openly talk about my uterus, breastfeeding and  discuss the mistakes I’ve made over the course of my life. It’s why I started this blog. To share as a way to help myself heal, remind myself to laugh, and to hopefully inspire others do the same along the way. While I usually don’t leave anything off limits, I’ve never found the courage to openly discuss…the real me.

Every once and awhile I feel inspired to disclose my secret when I read a story by one of the many people who live, feel and experience life the way I do, yet I can never put my thoughts into words quite as eloquently. Because let’s be honest, anxiety and mental illness is hardly ever eloquent. Whether this comes out as beautifully written as a Shakespeare play or as confusing as a grade one journal entry, it’s time to create something with these words.

While I’m sure  through initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk Day and campaigns from the Canadian Mental Health Association you’ve become aware that mental health patients have few resources in our country, you may not be aware that our system is completely failing them.  Each and every day people seek help and fall tragically through the cracks. While you read this, here are some important stats to keep in mind:

  • 1.2 million Canadian children live with mental illness
  • In any given year, 1 in 5 adults in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness, but only 1 in 3 will receive treatment
  • 1 in 13 women report experiencing depression during the postpartum period

Mental health has long been recognized as a fundamental aspect of one’s health, however under our current health regime the majority of mental health services do not meet the eligibility requirement of “medically necessary.” Unless received in a hospital, psychological services must be paid for out-of-pocket or covered by private third-party insurance. This means that weekly visits to psychiatrics or counsellors come at one’s own expense. With the burden of paying for one’s mental health left to the individual, it is not surprising that so many Canadians put mental health concerns on the backburner.

We can’t do this anymore. We need to take a stand. 

So, here I am taking my stand and calling bullshit on the whole system.

Three weeks ago I was faced with a daze and emptiness I haven’t experienced in a very long time. Be it the collective emotions that came with my new role as a working mom, prolonged sleep deprivation and pregnancy hormones or hell, just the stress of living and thriving in our social media dominant, mess of a world, something caused me to die a little inside.

In a moment of desperation, I put my life on pause – an opportunity moms rarely have. I called in sick to work, brought my son to daycare and went home for a date with Netflix, a cup of coffee and my couch. Instead, when I walked in my house I wrapped myself in a blanket and I cried. I cried and cried, then sobbed, and then I hit rock bottom.

You should know, this is not a good time for me to lose it. I have a loving and supportive husband, a beautiful and healthy son, a silly and quirky dog (yes, I love you too, Louie) and a little bean inside my belly – all of them need me. Now is not the time for my mind, body and soul to scream “I’ve had enough.” But you can’t argue with truth.

As much as I want to wallow in self pity, life doesn’t pause and let you heal. Bills need to be paid and babies need to be snuggled. In an attempt to nip this overwhelming sense of… well….feeling overwhelmed, I did something I never do and asked for help.

I Googled “support for moms in Halton Region”, and results flooded my screen. There were mommy support groups, a crisis hotline, even a warm line at a local hospital that provides 24 hour support to moms in the first year of their child’s life. All incredible resources, right? I thought so too. Then I started dialing.

Between tears, I dialed numbers, trying to find a program to help me cope with all the unorganized thoughts and emotions flying through my mind.

I’ll save you my feedback on the 7 publicly funded organizations I reached out to – in short, they have a lot of work to do.

While initially it seemed like there was a world of help and support for an overwhelmed, new-ish mom like me, there really isn’t. At some point along the way, each and every resource let me down. They listened to me through tears, told me self-care was critical, and failed to provide any resources they promised to.

And here’s the sad part, I’m not alone. People used to say that it takes a village to raise a child. Today, some of us are lucky to have support from our extended family but this village you hear of costs approximately $2000+ a month in daycare costs, maids, nannys, therapy, takeout and bottles of wine (when mommy has just had enough).

Our society today provides moms with little to no support. We literally grow and birth a baby, get a high five and are sent on our way. No one prepares us for the worry (is my baby eating enough? are they happy? is their poop supposed to be that colour? why are they crying? why aren’t they crying? what is that spot on their leg? THEY HAVE THE MEASLES!). No one prepares us for the weeks, months, sometimes years of being up around the clock. No one prepares us for breastfeeding failure, drifting from our friends and partner, or coping with zero – and I mean ZERO time for ourselves. No one prepares us for the work + life + baby balance.  No one prepares us. We’re expected to shower, smile, eat, stay fit, work, clean, maintain romance, maintain friendships, maintain our eyebrows, raise a tiny army, run an envy worthy Instagram page AND stay sane through it all? Nope. Not happening. Maybe I’m doing something totally wrong. Maybe I expect too much of myself – but this whole system isn’t working for me.

There needs to be more resources.

There needs to be more support.

And we can’t continue to treat mental illness like a separate entity to our health.  It’s not.

Our mind is our being, it’s apart of who we are and it’s a big part of how we love, laugh, function and remain healthy day to day. Our country can’t continue to turn a blind eye to the millions of children, adults and mothers who silently struggle every day, trying their very best not to lose it.

With all that being said, here’s my call to action: if you feel the way I feel, I encourage you to speak about it. More importantly, I encourage you to tell all levels of government about it. Demand they make changes to our system and stop failing our people. In the meantime, I encourage you to be kind to others, to kind to yourself and to bring back the village.

Back to Work: I survived. It was one hell of a week, but I survived. 

This past Sunday my sweet baby turned one. A whole year old.

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A year where the first 6 months felt never-ending as I navigated the unknowns of motherhood. And where the last 6 months felt like my entire life was flashed before my eyes, as I watched my boy learn, grow and develop into what would be a happy, hilarious and tiny toddler.

As I reflect on my year with Jack my heart hurts. There were so many moments I neglected to enjoy as I struggled with postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation. My heart also hurts because it’s beaming so much with love and pride, a hurt that can only be felt when you truly love someone more than yourself.

While sitting on my couch this Tuesday morning at 3 a.m. the memories from this year, both good and bad, flew through my mind like you expect your life to flash before death. Indeed, I felt like a piece of me was dying – more specifically, a piece of my heart. In only a few short hours I would be bringing my son, my one very true love besides my husband, to a facility –  leaving him in the arms of a stranger while I spend my day in a cubicle making money for The Man. My heart ached and I cried.

As if this wasn’t torturous enough – abandoning my baby – my mind also questioned how we would survive?

If you’ve talked to me about my son recently, you would probably know he doesn’t sleep. If you’re inside my close social circle, you’d know I haven’t slept longer than 2 hour stretches in the last 8 months. This is no exaggeration, and yes, we’ve tried pretty much everything. Returning to work meant not only giving up my necessary afternoon nap, but it also meant a stranger holding, consoling and rocking my baby as he struggled to sleep.

If you’ve talked to me recently, you’d know my husband and I are expecting our second child. Another little being, who we are elated to meet. If you’re inside my close social circle, you’d know I found out I was pregnant when my son was only 8 months old and I was battling some serious postpartum hormones. Returning to work meant putting myself another peg lower on the totem pole, and not fully healing before the arrival of our sweet baby bean.

If you talked to me this week, you’d know my first day back to work was an absolute shit-show. I began my day on 3.5 hours of sleep and ended it with a scene out of a horror movie – though now that I’ve healed, it seems more like a comedy show. I picked up Jack and we scurried home for dinner and snuggles. Not knowing exactly what he had eaten at daycare or how much he had eaten at daycare, I filled him with his favourite ravioli. Note to parents making this transition; ALWAYS ask your care provider when your child last ate and how much. When I picked Jack up out of his high chair, he instantly projectile vomited on my shoulder which went in my hair, down my shirt and made its way down my pants. In return, my disgusted and pregnant self couldn’t contain my dinner and joined him in emptying my tummy. Cue the dog –  who decided it was time for his dinner. Dave walked in to not one but two babies, crying on the bathroom floor, naked and covered in vomit…and a very happy dog.

It was then and there on that bathroom floor, after just one day of trying, I decided I wasn’t cut out for this whole working mom thing. I decided I wasn’t strong enough and I decided the only logical answer was to quit. If I quit I could continue to make home-cooked meals for my family,  take my naps,  fuel my son’s mind, grow my young bean, be a kick-ass wife for my husband and heal my very neglected soul.

As all these thoughts went through my mind, I remembered a feeling from that day I hadn’t felt in a year – the feeling of being a useful, intelligent, strong individual and woman. The feeling of being proud of myself for providing for my family, communicating as an adult, and inspired by things I’m passionate about (outside my family).

In reality, as hard as it is to crawl out of bed after a restless night of (no) sleep, drive my son to daycare and wave goodbye to him (and his tears) in the arms of kind and loving women, not all of this experience is bad . Parts of it are challenging while parts of it are refreshing – and I’m learning I’m capable of so much more than I’ve ever given myself credit for.

Although I’m only at the beginning of my short jaunt as a working mom (kudos to the mommies weeks, months and years into this journey), I’m quickly learning that with anything, balance is important and putting yourself first is priority. Moms are seriously wonder-women – but do you hear me here? Putting yourself first is priority. There will be days I’m going to call in sick because I need a day to calm my mind or play with my son, there will be days I’ll order takeout because I simply don’t feel like making dinner, there will be days Jack and Dave won’t have my full attention because my heart needs it more and there will be days, like this Tuesday, where I just want to quit.

Being a mom and a (pregnant) working mom is no easy feat. It takes time to adjust to new roles and routines but be kind to yourself, as I’m learning to do now. Life at home with Jack was hardly ever glamorous. We had our fun and I would jump back into that stay-at-home mom role in a heartbeat, but 5/5 days of the week Dave would always receive a subtle “when are you coming home” text when I was at the end of my rope. Neither being home with your kids all day or working full-time is glamorous.

Here’s a big (virgin daquori) cheers to you mommies, you bomb-ass-do-it-all-babes.  I’ll be taking notes from you as I dredge through this messy new chapter in my life and learn a whole new way to balance (I seriously was just getting the hang of having a kid).

 

Honestly, I Don’t Care How You Feed Your Baby, But I Want You To Know This…

Last week The Honest Company approached me and asked if I wanted join them in a conversation about one of the most intimate and important experiences in a family’s life: feeding their newborn baby. Without hesitation, I said yes. Honest presents judgement free stories on its blog covering moms from every walk of life. Today I share my story and a letter to parents in hopes to end the judgement and stigma that comes with the personal choices families make to feed their baby.

Before I dive into my raw and real  experience, I’d like to say I’m not here to argue breast isn’t best. Instead, I’m here to shed some light on why breast wasn’t exactly best for my family under our circumstances. I would never encourage or discourage a mother from breastfeeding, pumping, or formula feeding. I’m 100% in favor of supporting moms by advising them to do what they feel is best for their baby and family. It’s my hope in sharing my story that a mommy in need, a mommy who feels like a failure when it comes to feeding her infant, will know she’s not alone.

Dear Mommies,

Congratulations on your beautiful ray of light. You’ve just started one of the most incredible chapters in your life. With all new roles, this one comes with a period of learning. Actually, there’s a good chance you’ll never stop learning – and you’ll grow stronger because of it.

I was where you are only nine short months ago. I was living (and continue to live) a life that no amount of reading, watching videos or joining Facebook groups could have prepared me for.

I’m a mom who had a baby that was unable to latch – and there was nothing that could have prepared me for it. Most of my reading and most of my encounters with medical professionals, peers and family prepared me for breastfeeding my baby. No one ever mentioned failure. Of course, there was the option to choose other methods, though these methods were hardly addressed or explained to me.

As a new mom,  I was afraid of wronging my son and I was afraid of not giving him the best. Through pressure from myself and the fear of being judged, I sacrificed my sanity and well-being to make breastfeeding work.

I could talk to you about the visits I had with lactation consultants, months I spent attached to a breast pump, suck training, syringe feeding, jaundice, formula and nipple shields.  I could also talk to you about the the guilt, anxiety, frustration and heartache that came with the decisions I had to make to keep my son fed and nourished. However, I’m here to talk to you as a mom on the flip side of all of that. I’m the mom that has done it all – and every step of the way I felt some type of pressure, stress or guilt.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if one, some or all of these options work for you and your family. Sometimes, as much as we prepare,  life has a different plan and pushes us in a different direction than we initially imagined.

Whatever direction life has pushed you in when it comes to feeding your child, whether it’s what you expected or what you’ve had to resort to, as long as you are nourishing your child, keeping them fed and loving them endlessly, you as a parent are doing your job.

The best you can give your child is accepting your circumstances and making it work. Show them you can overcome adversity, adjust to change and go with the flow.

If there’s one thing I learned from crying on the bathroom floor at three in the morning from emotional and physical exhaustion, it’s that my choices were driven by love, not logic.

In all your parenting triumphs and struggles, there is someone else out there who gets it – and as one of them, I want to say I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for doing your absolute best.

In closing, I want to introduce you to my nine month old son, Jack.

See his smile? It’s not a result or being fed formula or breast milk, bottle or boob, his smile is a result of love. For for first week of his life he was fed breast milk by a syringe. For the first three months of his life, he was fed through a bottle filled with breast milk I pumped around the clock. From months three through four, he exclusively breast fed after finally latching completely out of the blue. From months four through six, he was fed both formula and breast milk as I struggled to maintain my supply. And lastly from months six and onward, he’s been formula fed (along with purees of his favourite Italian dishes) after my supply complexity dried up.

My biggest goal as a parent is to raise Jack to always be compassionate, kind and gentle. How he was fed as an infant will have never come up on first dates, university applications or job interviews. It has no indication of the type of person he is or will grow up to be.

Together, lets stop making moms feel isolated, hopeless and judged as they navigate uncharted water and raise their families. Lets answer questions rather than offer advice, lets offer support rather than sympathy, and lets be the generation of moms who end the mom war.

We’re all in this together, we may just be doing it a little differently.

Wishing you sleep + happiness,
Annie