Jack’s First Thanksgiving

This is a year of firsts for us. For Jack, everything is a first – which is why I’ve been trying my hardest to make each holiday extra special (even though my son will remember none of it). Earlier this month we dedicated an entire week to celebrating Thanksgiving. Lord help this child when Christmas rolls around. Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. Growing up, my parents would load our kick-ass, boxed style mini-van with a turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. There is only one Thanksgiving I recall not being there – a weekend when my Dad threw his back out, and coincidentally, our hamster Molly kicked the bucket (R.I.P).

The first year Dave joined our family for Thanksgiving at the cottage was in 2012. We were just two early-20-something’s in love.

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First came love, then came marriage, then came our dog Louie, and THEN a baby carriage.

To celebrate Jack’s first Thanksgiving and our first year of marriage, Dave took a week off of work, and I went into overdrive planning excursions.

We packed our small, hatchback Volkswagen with turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. We continued the tradition of spending Thanksgiving at the cottage.

20161009_110637 The cottage is home. It’s a structure that has weaved its way into my heart in way that could never unravel. I hope to weave this piece of my heart into Jack’s.

We spent three peaceful, warm autumn days laying fireside, watching movies, and hiking the wilderness (that’s really not that wild).

20161009_134305From there, Dave and I did the unthinkable.  We abandoned our 9 week old baby to spend a night alone celebrating our first wedding anniversary…in Blue Moutain. Fear not. He was with my totally-obsessed-with-their-first-grandchild parents, and I’d bet he was completely and totally smothered with love and kisses.

We started our night away with a beer tour at the Collingwood Brewery, a small, quite brewery about 20 minutes outside of Blue Mountain. I had the sampler – and after five small tasting flights felt like a 17 year old with their first taste of freedom.

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Childless and ready to party, Dave and I checked into the hotel and quickly made our way into The Village for an early dinner. After pounding pasta covered with primavera and washing it down with a cold glass of water, I crawled my way into bed at 9 o’clock (after pumping to keep my supply up, of course  – #momlife).

The next morning we grabbed a coffee and jetted up the mountain for an early morning hike.

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About a quarter-way up the mountain we stopped and hugged while we stood in silence. Between the chaos of a newborn and adjusting to life as parents, we remembered how to love but we forgot how to hug. Standing there with the sun beating on my back and my arms around my man was one of the most calming moments I’ve had in these last two and a half months.

After 18 hours of being away from our sweet, baby Jack, we craved him. Ditching our afternoon plans, we ventured home to scoop our kin from his dotting grandparents. “Do you think he missed me?” I asked Dave. “Of course” he replied. “Do you think he loves me?” I asked Dave. “Yes, he loves you” he smiled.

I showed up at my parents with tears flowing from my eyes… and my baby barely blinked.

To wrap up the week we did something I’ve always looked forward to – baby or not – pumpkin picking. Although this year I looked forward to it more than any year before. What two month old isn’t dying to pick a pumpkin? The answer: all two month olds, especially mine:

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We got a cute family photo –  though, Jack was less than impressed.

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To me, Jack’s first Thanksgiving was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It laid the foundation for tradition, gave this momma some much needed time to relax, and created some beautiful memories – that we will always keep in our heart and Jack can one day admire through photos.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy Update: Week 24 – Viability

Women live by milestones in their pregnancy and this week is a big one – 24 weeks is when a baby is considered to be viable, meaning if it was born at this time it has a reasonable chance for survival. The baby’s rate for survival will continue to grow at 2-3% per day until week 27, as baby continues to pack on the pounds and develop organ maturity.

Baby Stats

At 24 weeks I feel and look pregnant. This belly has officially popped. At least once a week someone will tell me how big my belly is and how gigantic they think Pork Chop will be (thank you by the way, both Pork Chop and I are flattered). All joking aside, Pork Chop has been growing in leaps and bounds and as of Friday weighs 1 pound, 6 ounces and is a little over a foot in length.

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Left: 11 weeks  Right: 22 weeks 

 

Highlight from the Week

At 24 weeks I’m able to tell the difference between the magic of pregnancy gas and the baby moving. And let me tell you, this kid loves to move. Pork Chop has literally turned my uterus into a dance floor and is constantly wiggling and kicking about. Not only has Dave been able to feel Porky’s powerful punches but we can actually see the baby move when we lay in bed at night. The baby’s movement has quickly made me love being pregnant. Keep in mind, pregnancy is demanding both physically and emotionally, so this feeling can change on any given day.

Each and every time Pork Chop gives me a nice big kick in the bladder, my heart literally explodes into a million pieces. It’s these special moments that calm my anxiety and make everything worth it.

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Louie has become very attached to me lately and is obsessed with his baby.

 

Mama & Baby’s Health

The active movement of the baby has kept me on my toes and landed Pork Chop and I in the hospital on Monday. Being a first time Mom I’m really not sure what to expect in a pregnancy and with all the high risk testing Dave and I have been through, I’ve been on high alert. Last weekend after a very active week in my belly, Pork Chop decided to take a three day hiatus from dancing. This stop in movement also came with cramping and with that, a very worried Mama. Although a baby’s movement isn’t consistent until 28 weeks, a quick call to Labour and Delivery validated my concerns. As soon as I shared my symptoms with the hospital, I was told to immediately head to the hospital’s prenatal clinic.

When I arrived at the hospital I became so overwhelmed with worry and the lack of parking that I sobbed in my car. Wooo, hormones! Once I was able to collect myself, I made my way to the prenatal clinic and was immediately hooked up to monitors. All of our records were transferred over from our high risk doctor and genetic specialist, and within fifteen minutes, we could hear baby’s very regular heartbeat on the monitor. I was soon released but had to return a few days later for additional testing.

The doctor’s at the hospital we’ll be delivering at have decided they would like to continue to monitor the small amount of fluid in Pork Chop’s brain but told us their concerns are minimal.

Cravings

Peanut butter and chocolate. I seriously can’t get enough of it, guys.

New Symptoms

Overall, I’m feeling great which is a big change from the first trimester. My emotions have started to balance out (I think a big part of this is being released from high risk care) and my energy is coming back in full swing. Three to four times a week Dave and I will spend at least an hour walking around our neighbourhood or a park. It feels great to get back into a routine and have enough energy to make meals for my man.

One symptom that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon is my dislike for meat. Most days I still border on being a vegetarian. In this regard, Pork Chop does not live up to their name.

Oh, and, my innie is now an outie, hollaaa.

Baby Purchases

We’re trying to keep baby purchases minimal and based on necessity. Although we haven’t made any recent purchases, we did set up Pork Chop’s nursery this week which still needs some art. Once our baby’s gender is revealed – in a month (yay!) – I’ll be doing a whole feature on the nursery, so stay tuned!

 

On Choosing Happiness and Celebrating my Husband on His Birthday

Today, is April 22nd, my darling husband’s birthday. A day I obsessively try to perfect as I attempt to make each of his birthday’s better than the last.

When Dave and I first met, I questioned whether our relationship would be lasting. We are opposite and contrary forces – yet, he compliments me, balances me and interconnects with me in a way that creates harmony in our relationship.  Through heartache and through laughter, through life’s great lessons and through unexpected moments, through our triumphs and through our failures, being his wife will always be one of the greatest honours in my life.

To share my life with Dave is a continual ‘pinch me’ moment I never get tired of. Each morning I wake up to him, my heart swells with love. I fill with excitement as I soak in his brilliance, his company and his kindness. My heart oozes with adoration as he anticipates the arrival of our child. My mind is in awe at his incredible way of understanding and processing the world. He is truly one of a kind.

People have told me that I’m lucky to have found Dave. Without denying truth, there are days I do indeed feel lucky. However, acknowledging that Dave and I chose one another rather than found each other through luck is important.  We built our relationship on a foundation of hard lessons learned. Lessons that once tore our hearts apart at the hands of undeserving individuals. It was only through those lessons and learning from past mistakes that we would be able to open our hearts to one another.  We learned to value ourselves and only give each other away to a person willing to love the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly in us. We learned to pick and choose our battles and to always respect one another, even during our greatest disagreements. Falling in love with one another was a decision our hearts made, but  giving our best to each other and making a continuous effort to have our relationship work is a mindful choice we make each and every day.

Davey, today I celebrate you. The man you are, the professional you are, the kind, caring and selfless individual you are. I celebrate the days you make me frustrated and the days you make me fall hopelessly in love with you all over again. Today, I celebrate your compassion and your support. Your way of comforting me when I’m nearly inconsolable. I celebrate your optimism, especially when it relates to our pregnancy.  Davey, I celebrate your love for your family and the love you have extended to mine. I celebrate your brilliance and your love of learning. Your sense of humor and your laid back approach to every day life. But Davey, most of all, I celebrate that you chose me to celebrate your remaining birthdays with.

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Happy birthday my darling. Though Dave’s Birthday-Fun-Day-Extravaganza will be a little less extravagant and a little more in tune with our current stage in life, I hope today makes you feel loved, honoured and celebrated.

All my love,

A

 

 

Reasons Why I Love Sunday

Sundays. You either love them or you hate them. They’re the wind down from the weekend and the amp up for the work week. For some Sunday is filled with dread of the week ahead but I have grown to love Sunday.  In between all the chaos of every day life, the chores and the commitments, the errands and the expectations,  Sunday becomes the perfect opportunity for unstructured family time.

Up with the sun and the birds, our Sundays usually begin before 7 A.M. With puppy’s head on my pillow and his feet in my darling husband’s face, I wake up and instantly know I’m where I’m meant to be. It’s those few moments in the morning that often become the most cherished moments of my day.

Reason #1 why I love Sunday: Waking up at home with my family. 

Although Sunday is a day for unstructured family time, it has also become a day of tradition. Since the early days of our relationship, Dave and I have loved treating ourselves to breakfast on a Sunday morning. There’s something about someone else making your breakfast and cleaning up the dishes that becomes the perfect way to start your day. Once we’ve sipped our final cup of bottomless coffee, we scurry home to grab the pooch and make our way to our next traditional Sunday spot.

By 9 a.m. on a Sunday you’ll find Dave and I walking the trails at our favourite park. A park my parents first introduced me to as a child when we used to spend our Sunday mornings together. I thank my parents for instilling my love of nature and zest for adventure. My deep rooted love of exploring is something I’ve been able to thankfully rub off on Davey.

“You know, when I used to think about what life would be like one day when I was a kid, I never thought I’d be walking trails with my pregnant wife and 10 pound dog in the early Sunday mornings. But I love this.

Reason #2 why I love Sunday: Living tradition. 

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Our mornings at the park allow Dave and I time to talk without our screens or gadgets. It’s an opportunity for us to reconnect with one another, listen to one another and truly hear one another. It’s also an opportunity to embrace our silly puppy in all his spunky glory.

Reason #3 why I love Sunday: Creating time for love and laughter. 

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Sundays belong to our family – our new, little and growing family, and our larger, love with all our hearts, made us who we are today family. It’s about creating meaningful moments that will get us through the sometimes difficult week we have waiting ahead.

Reason #4 why I love Sunday: Spending quality time with family. 

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Sundays are for relaxing and feeding our hobbies. It’s a day for me to plan my weekly entries for my blog, for Dave to rule the world (an Civilization players out there?) and for us to get in some snuggles. A day to be mindful and grateful about the blessings we have in our life.

Reason #5 why I love Sunday: Cuddling my sleepy pup (thanks to the big morning at the park). 

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Its a day for me to binge-watch my favourite teeny-bopper TV shows – currently hooked on Pretty Little Liars, cover our bed with clean sheets and fill our fridge with home made nutritious meals for the busy week ahead.

Sunday is about calming my mind and healing my soul.  Before I learned to go-with-the-flow of a Sunday, I also used to dread them by overwhelming myself with chores, errands and to-do’s. By focusing my time and attention on the important things in my intimidate world, I’ve been able to find balance between creating memories and managing our home.

This morning is Monday and I started my day but spilling an entire blender full of the banana chocolate peanut butter smoothie I had been craving on the kitchen floor. Remember my cute and spunky pooch? Well he got a stain on our brand new couch. And my husband was unable to zip me into my favourite dress.

Thank goodness for Sunday.

 

What do your Sundays look like?

 

 

 

 

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.

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 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!