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).

 

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Jack | One Month Old

Dear Jack,

Today you are one month old. Life before you seems like a distant memory. Adjusting to having you in our world rather than in my tummy has been one of the most incredible experiences your Dad and I have had the privilege living. This isn’t to go without saying that having a newborn hasn’t been a lot of work.

Our new life has been complicated, messy and often unpredictable. Your Dad has quickly grown to resemble a member of the Nascar pit-crew. He approaches a diaper change with speed, precision and great care – constantly challenging his time  and improving on his method to avoid and combat disaster. While I on the other hand have quickly grown to resemble my pre-teen self. I enjoy 2 hour windows of sleep, have my very own brand of eau due parfum and wear pajamas as if they’re “what’s hot” this season. There are nights I seem to rock you endlessly, as you press against my chest while I whisper lullabys in your ear. There are days I drink my coffee ice cold because you’ve pooped on me for what will be the first of many times of that day. Then there are days I look at you and cannot believe my body was able to create something so perfect. That your Dad and I were able to create something so perfect.

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The speed in which time has passed this month has terrified me. I’ve been warned that my life will flash before my eyes as I watch your life grow – and now it’s happening. As I fold your little newborn clothes and pack them into storage, my heart aches and celebrates the next step you’ve taken in your very fresh but very real life.

You have gone from our tiny 7 pound, 10 oz infant to our sturdy ten pound baby.  You have beautiful grey-blue eyes and have started to use them to explore your new world. You are beginning to recognize your Dad and I,  and you capture our hearts with each gassy smile. You love bath time, car rides and being rocked and swayed to rap music. It appears you have your Dad’s taste in music, we’ll work on that.

Jack Josef, you are the apple of so many eyes. You have brought sleepless nights and endless joy to this little kingdom you call home. Each and every day your Dad and I grow and learn more about you, more about being a parent and more about each other. The best part about having you here is the new purpose and thrill we’ve discovered in our lives.

This is only the start my sweet boy – of change, of learning, of the love we expect to grow within our home and family, and you are in the center of it all.

 

 

Introducing Jack Josef

Four days ago, on August 6 at 4:59 p.m. my husband Dave and I welcomed our first child and son. We are overjoyed and so very proud to introduce you to Jack Josef:

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Jack was born at 38 weeks 4 days gestation, and in true Jack fashion – wanted to make his entrance into the world one to remember.

The day before Jack’s birth I was a ticking time bomb. I literally spent the entire day sobbing. My mom called me, I sobbed. Dave called me from work, I sobbed. Jack had dropped into position at 31 weeks and by this point I was having the “I’m done with pregnancy” feeling many Mom’s experience in their third trimester. Although I had been uncomfortable for weeks leading up to Jack’s birth, I had not experienced such a rush of uncontrollable emotions – thankfully Louie was around to lick up all my tears before I drowned in them.

That afternoon Dave decided to lift my spirits by treating me to what would be our last date-night as “just us two”. We polished off too many servings of all-you-can-eat vegetarian sushi  and made our way to Canadian Tire to stock up on some final items before Jack arrived. It appears all the sushi left little room for Jack because as soon as I stepped out of the car I felt a pop in my abdomen. I turned to Dave to tell him something felt wrong (seriously, I thought my bladder exploded) but before I could get the words out – gushes and gushes of water began pouring out of me in the middle of the parking lot. Side note: this dramatic gush only happens in about 10% of pregnancies. Two 15 year old Canadian Tire employees looked at me with fear and horror in their eyes – I began laughing uncontrollably – super clean Dave grabbed whatever towels/blankets he could find in his car and lined his front seat before loading me in. Off to the hospital we went!

This is how we arrived at the hospital – I was pre-contractions – Dave was convinced I was a rockstar – we had no idea what kind of agony I was about to undergo.

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Since I wasn’t contracting, the hospital sent me home and told me to return when my contractions were four minutes apart. Within one hour, my contractions were four minutes apart – and let me tell you – contractions = not fun. I laboured at home for 6 hours before I found myself vomiting on our front lawn from pain. It would be a total of 17 hours of labour and one hour of pushing before we would meet the baby boy who had been living in my belly.

Since the arrival of Jack my heart has exploded with love in more ways than I can imagine. I’ve become even more obsessed with Dave, as I watch him transition into the most incredible father. This man was literally rubbing chapstick on my lips and giving me sips of water between each pushing cycle, he’s changed 99% of our sons diapers, and he’s up with me each and every night to help me feed our especially sleepy baby.

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We are so thankful for all of the support extended to us during our pregnancy and now, with the arrival of Jack. We cannot wait to share this new adventure in our lives with you.

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Thoughts on Pregnancy as it Comes to a Close

At this exact moment last summer my fiance and I were cruising down the highway with the windows down and fine wine sitting in the back seat waiting to be sipped on a dock at sunset – we were living the life. We were two mid-20 somethings in the middle of planning a wedding and buying our first home together. We had dreams about the life we were about to embark on as husband and wife, and a large part of that dream was to become parents.

This summer is a world different than last. Dave and I are married, we’re moments away from becoming “mom” and “dad”, and the spontaneous days of wine-filled weekends are only a distant memory.

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I’ts been a little while since I’ve put pen to paper…or keyboard to screen, if you will. I’ve been caught up in experiencing these new and different summer nights. Caught up in listening to crickets chirp at sunset, and sipping tea on the porch while my husband sips his caffeine. Caught up in anticipation for the arrival of our son. And most recently, caught up in my thoughts.

Pregnancy has broken and healed my heart repeatedly over the last 34 weeks.  It pains me greatly to admit that my pregnancy has been challenging and difficult but I have never carried my son without gratefulness, I have never stopped counting my blessings. My blessings extend beyond our son to our family and friends, who have rallied around us and provided us with an outpouring of love and support.

There have also been moments where people’s comments and questions have caught me off guard. Moments that have strengthened me and my ability to hold my composure when faced with great ignorance.

Although my pregnancy has been emotionally draining and although I’m scattering these words across a page while on bed rest due to an escape attempt by my son 9 weeks earlier than his anticipated arrival – I sit here in awe, in love and in wonder of the journey the last 8 months has taken us on.

From the moment two pink lines on a stick dissolved all my worries of ever carrying a child to discovering we were having son that may have a chromosomal micro-deletion, to tears we cried when we learned he was healthy and the fear that filled us when we learned he is impatient like his momma, to this moment right now, where I feel him roll and flutter and kick inside my body which has become his home. All of it has been surreal, humbling and life changing.

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Until my son started powerhouse kicking me in my ribs, squishing my lungs, and sticking his bum straight out of my belly, there were many things I hated about this miraculous experience.   I hated all the hardships we had to experience and I hated feeling out of control. However something has overcome me in the last few weeks. Maybe it’s the fact that my son could arrive at any moment or the lesson’s I’ve learned over the last 8 months – but I am so incredibly grateful for every lesson Dave and I have been volunteered to learn.

Last summer we thought we were living the life – but today, we are living our destiny. It may be without wine, it may be without spontaneity, it may be with my feet permanently kicked up and my child’s head so low in my cervix that I nearly cry every time I have to move, but this is where we’re meant to be. Every hurdle we had to cross – it was meant to be. Every tear we cried in fear – it was meant to be.

I really questioned whether or not I’d want to do this all over again, carry a child. Whether my 16x20 sunshine print yellownext pregnancy will be as difficult as my first – but one of my cousin’s wisely advised me that one day this will all be a memory, and my son will be my reality. I will hold him, I will love him, I will care for him, I will look at him in awe and know he is the reason I was able to survive. We know parenting will be filled with many more learning experiences that will challenges us, but as we grow closer to meeting the little boy who strengthened our relationship, strengthened our faith, strengthened our love for our own parents and grew our hearts, we grow more certain that he will be a force that will continue to better our lives each passing moment.

Feelings of a First Time Mom

This morning I found myself tuned into a talk radio show on pregnancy and parenthood. Like anything these days that has to do with parenting, my ears perked up and my attention was drawn. One of the hosts was weeks away from her due date and sharing her excitement of becoming a first time mom. My heart smiled. I feel you, sister. Her co-host laughed, quickly deflating her optimism with some real-life advice:

“Parent’s lie about how wonderful parenting is” he began. “We want other people to be sucked into our misery.”

The insight to the chaotic reality of parenting went on for minutes, officially ending with an awkward laugh from the pregnant host. For first time parents, the “end of life as you know it” comments are a dime a dozen. And as naive as we may be to the demands of parenting – in this moment, as our baby is safely swaddled in our wombs, we’re elated…and we’re terrified.

I remember the exact thoughts I had the day Davey and I found out we were going to become parents.

I can’t believe this is happening. 

Holy shit, a product of my broad-shouldered husband has to make it’s way out of my body in 9 months.

Who decided we were adult enough to be the sole providers for a human life? 

My life and my heart are officially complete. I’m so in love. 

And since that day, the feeling has relatively stayed the same.

20160511_215058The idea that the actions, words and decisions my husband and I make will form the development, safety and happiness of a human is daunting. The thought that we chose to bring a life into this world and are now responsible for the stable upbringing of a child is immensely overwhelming. I often question my ability to be a strong mother. Wonder how the hell my belly can grow any larger without exploding. Mourn the loss of Dave and I being “just us two”. Fear the pain, discomfort and unknowns of labour.

On the flip side of this fearful wonder is breathtaking thrill. A keenness to explore the world through a new set of eyes.  An appetite to teach our child about humanity and hopefully raise him or her to be compassionate. A wonder and imagination for the traits we’ll share and what they will look like. A dream about our new adventure as a family of four (we’re counting Louie).

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Between all my doubt, anticipation, wonder and excitement there is love. An emotional equation I believe all parents experienced their first time around. And although seasoned parents may snicker at my naivety – I know there is no shame in the naivety I hold.

I trust parenting won’t be easy. I trust my relationship will change, that I’ll go days un-showered,  live solely off caffeine and fondly reminisce the days of freedom. However, the concept of becoming a mother makes me so excited I could pee my pants (if I wasn’t already peeing a little from my baby’s pressure on my bladder).

So ease up, folks. Let us first time parents be naive. Let us be optimistic. Let us learn the hard way. We’re already afraid of what we’re losing yet so eager for what we’re gaining. In those moments of weakness, those endless nights of crying, we’ll need you to reminisce with us. We’ll lean on you to soak in those moments of chaos. But for now, just like we’ll live the world through a new set of eyes, relive your first time in becoming a parent through ours. Because for us, it is pure magic.

 

 

 

 

The Results Are In…

Dave and I are overjoyed to share that our sweet little Pork Chop has officially been cleared of all genetic/chromosomal conditions!!!!!!

Of all the times I’d love a drink to celebrate, this is it but instead, we’re going to treat ourselves to a round of ice cream!

There are no words to express the relief and happiness (happy is an understatement) we feel right now, which is probably why I’m sitting here blubbering away as I write this.

It’s always so much easier to be positive on the flip side of things, but faith, love and kindness from others kept us strong. If you’re currently going through a shitty situation, we pray you can find some light in your darkness.

Peace & love,

Annie and Davey

An Odd, Yet Truly Heartfelt Letter to Baby Gap

Dear Baby Gap,

This thank you letter is probably unlike one you’ve ever received before. It has nothing to do with your staff or your customer service. It has nothing to do with the pleasant shopping experience I had darting around your online store. It does however, have everything to do with the joy a recent purchase brought me.

For the last seven weeks my husband and I have been going through the ups and downs of genetic testing. We are expecting our first child, and the wonderful pregnant glow that most women get to enjoy has been ripped from beneath my feet. With so many unknowns about our beautiful little baby, we’ve feared becoming “too” excited.

Last week I couldn’t resist splurging on adorable items at your store. I made my purchase with both giddiness and hesitation. In the week that followed my purchase, we continued to wait for our baby’s results. Today, we are still waiting.

Yesterday was one of the harder days for me. After a chat with our hospital, we were advised we could have another week and a half of waiting. Another week and a half of torment. Another week and a half of wondering if our little baby will be healthy. Then my husband walked in with a package.

Tearing it open, the contents inside brought immediate tears to my eyes. I envisioned my child, healthy and happy as can be, with their tiny little bum in your tiny little pants. I imagined the fall, with my child sitting plump in a pile of leaves, transformed into a little cub while sporting your adorable bear hat. For a moment, my spirits were lifted and I had, what I imagine, is the feeling of excitement most women have while experiencing a healthy pregnancy.

So here’s an odd yet fully heartfelt thank you, Baby Gap. Your clothing gave me hope. It gave me excitement. It put my husband and I back on cloud nine. You delivered exactly when we needed it, in a moment of weakness and tears. And we couldn’t be more grateful.

Anneliese