Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The reality of a few weeks in

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I'm sitting here with the warmth of a sleeping baby snuggled into the nook of my arm, in the quiet of a house with a sleeping 2yr old and 4yr old tucked into their beds upstairs.

It's calm. Quiet.

I'll soak it up while it lasts--because I know that this quiet, calm house is a fleeting thing. It lasts for only a short period of time before the sound of running feet, busy kids, crying babies and loud toys fill the air. So I'll take it while it lasts.

If I've learned anything at all though over these past few weeks of having a newborn at home with us it's that just when you feel like you've got it all figured out--when you feel confident in your role as a mom and you feel like you actually have it all together, you're thrown a curve ball and everything can quickly start to fall apart.

Kids will cry, toddlers will have accidents on your floor, babies will throw up down your shirt just as you're trying to get everyone out for school...and it will all happen all at the same time. So you wipe the baby puke off as much as you can, and make the split second decision with the crying baby in your arms to step out anyways, and walk to the bus stop with your kids--pretending that baby vomit isn't dripping down to your bellybutton. Because this whole motherhood gig isn't always glamorous. Not glamorous at all.

But I promise you, it's worth it. It's beyond worth it.

  2.yr old summer hairdos make me ridiculously happy


So on those days when things are going right...when my house is tidy, when laundry is done, when spontaneous picnics are happening outside on a whim, when dinner is on the table and when kids are going to bed without a fuss I pretty much feel like I'm rocking this whole 3 kid thing. My kids are happy. I'm happy. Terry's happy. We're having a ball. We are sooooo darn lucky.






But on the days when I've been up all night and then look in the mirror, barely recognizing myself, and then realize that absolutely no amount of under eye makeup is going to cover the black circles living under my eyes--well, those are the days that I feel like I just might collapse. Those are the days when the clock hits 6:30am and I need to get out of bed regardless of whether I've slept at all because school doesn't wait for the sleep deprived mom. Those are the days when mornings feel like chaos, when little people don't move fast enough, when lunches are shoved into backpacks at the last minute and when trying to keep my 2yr old from escaping through my front door so he can ride his bike when we're all still in our jammies is my constant battle. It's when babies won't stop crying, when everything is just overwhelming and I end up feeling like I just might be failing at this entire mothering gig. Because some days are just plain hard.



 So we take the good days and enjoy them and soak them up, and realize that tough days are bound to happen too. It's just all part of this mothering/parenting experience. So on the good days we sit back and enjoy watching these kids play on their playground in our backyard. Where they will stay out there for hours on end climbing up the rock wall, sliding down the slide and swinging on swings. It's a kids little Heaven. And a mom's relaxation.


Or we stay outside for hours on end and watch little friendships grow right before our eyes.


Or Carter, Sophia and I spend the afternoon in our backyard, while big sister is at school. So little sister sleeps in the shade and big brother goes on scavenger hunts around the yard for hidden treasures.




It's those days when we're in the middle of eating breakfast and all of a sudden we realize that we've forgotten about our sleep deprivation since the excitement of ducks flying into our pool area all of a sudden takes precedence.




Or it's the Saturday morning when we started the kids in soccer, and we packed up our 2yr old, 4yr old and 3 week old into the van and barely made it to the soccer field on time without a major breakdown and without forgetting almost everything that we needed...and where the words "Really, is this even worth it??" came out of my mouth as we frantically pulled into the parking spot.


But then. 5 minutes into it I realized it was worth it. Completely worth it.

Because they loved it.

And so the chaos, the work and the millions of things that we forgot to bring all of a sudden didn't matter anymore. Because they loved it. They were happy.

And that's all that really mattered.




So I'll keep applying my thick layer of under eye makeup each morning, fooling the world into believing that I'm not as sleep deprived as I really am. And I'll snuggle my kids on the good days, apologize to them for their very tired mom on the tough days and soak up the miracle that I get to hold in my arms...our sweet little Sophia.

Happy late Mother's Day to all of the other mamas out there. You're doing a great job.

Erica xo










Thursday, 23 April 2015

It's a girl! Sophia's birth story

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Our little bundle is finally here. A sweet baby girl. Born just over a week ago.

Sophia Violet. 

Violet in memory of my loving Nana (my mom's mom) and Sophia just because we loved it. 

She is just the sweetest. Absolute sweetest. 



And this is what a new baby sister looks like after big brother and big sister opened her new baby gifts for her--and covered her with her beloved and generous presents (thanks Mids!). 




This sweet soul is so drenched in love I can't even contain it. It's true what they say--no matter how many children you have, you always have more than enough love for more. Her little froggy legs, her newborn smell, her baby soft skin, her tiny cry...I love everything about her.


So life has shifted in our household. Life has slowed down, but sped up, all at the same time. Slowed down since my body is telling me to slow down, to heal, to recover. But sped up since bringing home a new baby to a household already filled with two young children, a dog and a husband brings a slew of emotions, busyness, exhaustion, calmness and chaos all in the same breath. We're all slowly adjusting to this new sweet member of our family and trying to figure out how to manage it all while getting a four year off to school on time in between nursing a newborn, packing lunches and waking up early after a night of no sleep. Heck, 24hrs after she was born I was walking Mya to the bus stop with a newborn in my arms because I didn't want to miss sending her off to school that day. And I was hauling little bikes into the garage with one hand, and holding a one day old baby in the other hand after an afternoon of kids wanting to spend the day outside playing. So life just keeps moving, whether you're ready for it or not.  

But we're quickly learning that no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you try to include them in the process, no matter how many times a day you tell them that you love them, no matter how many special one-on-one moments you try to sneak in with them throughout the day, little brothers and sisters will feel the shift of emotions too of having a new baby in the house, and emotions will run high. Toddler tears will flow more easily than ever before. New behaviours from little people will sneak up on us out of nowhere, and it will all lead back to the fact that there has been a huge shift in our family dynamics. A new life is now here with us. And it's a lot of change.

So heart-to-hearts with four year olds, sitting on the edge of her bed at night, talking about attitude and the importance of her tone of voice will be had. And the pure, honest truth from little people that they are just trying to get some attention from mom and dad when these behaviours flare up will be revealed--because the reality is that it takes a lot of mom and dad's attention to look after a newborn.

So our first week of having a newborn in our house has meant that we're all learning to adjust. We're all learning to be patient with how each of us adapts to a new baby in the family. We're all learning that it's a balancing act to ensure that all three of our kids get our attention and no one feels left behind. 

So painting little fingernails on a Sunday afternoon for the sole purpose of having some mommy/Mya time, or racing cars together in the playroom so that Carter can have me all to himself are becoming a priority. All in the midst of trying to heal my sore body, nurse a newborn, get bath time in, remember library day and pizza day at school, keep up with the overflow of laundry and remember to do skin-to-skin as often as possible. It's definitely a balancing act. 

Hey, when the kids are all asleep, I really feel like I've got this whole 3 kids thing down pat.

But I must say that watching your older children embrace a new sibling and fall in love with her so deeply, so quickly is quite possibly one of the most amazingly beautiful thing that I've ever experienced.


Carter and Mya love their new sister. Love and adore her. Constantly ask to hold her, constantly ask if she is okay when she is crying and give her more love than I ever anticipated. Mya has already decided that she is this baby's second mom. Melts my heart. 


I've written both Mya and Carter's birth stories in the past--written them down so I don't forget. So I remember the details. So I remember the little pieces that make it our story. Mya's birth story, written here...and Carter's birth story, written here--the one that I still can't even read to this day without sobbing. 

And now here is Sophia's story. The day that she was born. So we don't forget.

********

It was 4:15am when I woke up to the most excruciating pain ever whipping through my body.

"Terry!" I called out, waking him up. "This is it".

We both quickly got out of bed and started getting ready to go to the hospital. Terry called my parents to come over to stay with Mya and Carter as I glanced over at the clock to see if I could time my contractions, just to be sure that it wasn't a false alarm...6 minutes apart.

I had been having painful contractions for weeks leading up to this day, but this was different. This was intense. This was excruciating. This was real labour.

I stepped into the shower, hoping that the warmth of the water would sooth away the pain in my back and throughout my body. But as I watched the soap slide down the drain I felt another contraction whip around my body and I tried to breathe the pain away.

I had a moment of panic.

This was less than 6 minutes from the last one. Maybe 3 minutes...maybe less.

I let the pain subside, then stepped out to wrap myself in a towel, only to find myself gripping the side of the vanity as another painful contraction took hold of me.

This was all happening way too fast.

There was no build up to the pain like my previous labours. There was no checking the clock and having time to breathe and relax in between contractions. This was intense. This was extreme. This was the most pain I had ever felt in my life.

I quickly walked down the stairs to find my parents at the door.

"Thanks for coming so quickly", I said...and within that moment another strong contraction whipped through my body and almost brought me to my knees.

We stepped out into the quiet, cold, dark morning and got into our car. The world was still sleeping as we raced as quickly as we could to the hospital and I gripped the door handle and tried to control the pain as it shot through my body once again.

The wind hit my back as I stepped out of the car at the Emergency Room doors and Terry left to go find parking. The hospital doors were locked at this hour, so we had to go through Emerg and through the maze of hallways up to the 4th floor.

The glass doors of the Emergency Room opened as I clenched my stomach and saw over twenty pairs of eyes staring at me as I quickly walked in and gripped the side of the nurses desk in front of me as another contraction took over my body.

"Are you in labour?!" I heard a nurse call out to me.

I couldn't even speak. The pain was too intense.

Then all of a sudden I felt myself being put into a wheelchair and taken quickly down the maze of hallways and elevators all the way up to triage.

The lights were dimmed down low when she rolled me into triage. It was quiet. Empty. Calm.

"These contractions are coming really quickly", I said to the triage nurse as she brought me over to a bed. She pulled the curtain over and Terry walked in just as she was getting me set up.

"You're already 5cm dilated", the nurse said.

And just as she moved away the most excruciatingly painful contraction whipped around my body and I gripped the side of the bed until my fingers went numb.

"Just breathe", Terry said calmly beside me.

"SHUT UP!" I heard myself yell.

Oh no. I didn't just say that.

I looked over at Terry, sitting there beside me trying so hard to be supportive.

The pain subsided for a moment.

"I'm sorry about the shut up", I said reaching my hand out to him. "This is just the most intense pain I've ever felt in my life, and I need silence to get through it. So I know you're trying to help, but I really need for no one to talk at all until the contraction is over".

I heard the nurse beside me chuckle to herself as she overheard this conversation and continued to monitor the baby's heart rate.

Another contraction came just moments later. The intensity was beyond what I was even expecting.

"I need to push", I told the nurse.

"Oh no you don't, honey", she said, knowing that she had just checked me. "Not yet". And she casually started an IV and checked my blood pressure.

I'm not sure why everyone is so FREAKING CALM right now! I thought to myself as I watched her saunter over and take another look at the baby's heart rate.

This baby is coming and I'm about to deliver a baby IN TRIAGE. 

I don't do this every day.
I don't just deliver babies in a matter of a half an hour.
I'm not exactly comfortable with this.
So I'm not sure why everyone else is so INCREDIBLY CALM right now! I thought to myself.

And just as that thought crossed my mind, I yelled out to the nurse "My water just broke!".

Then all of a sudden it was mayhem.

The once calm, quiet, docile room was now filled with noise, movement and people.

"We need to get her out of here!" A nurse yelled.

Then all of a sudden I heard the click click click of the bed as they unlocked the brakes and started running me quickly down the hall.

People were all of a sudden everywhere. Bright lights from the hallway were shining down on me. OB's were being called. My eyes were shut tightly and I held onto the side of the bed as more contractions whipped through my body. They kept running.

The head was coming out. And I was in the hallway.

IN THE HALLWAY.

It felt like chaos.

I didn't know where Terry was.

I didn't know where I was.

They ran me into a room and I opened my eyes to find strangers in masks and scrubs hanging over me, bright lights staring at me.

I heard a resident nurse naively call out to the nurse beside her "Should we check her to see how far dilated she is once we get her settled here?"

"What?!" the nurse said back to her. "No--I can SEE THE HEAD".

"Terry!" I called out.

He was right behind me.

"Honey, we need you to pull yourself onto this other bed now" one of the nurses told me.

You want me to do what?? I thought to myself. This baby's body is literally coming out of me as we speak, and you want me to do WHAT? 

Then all of a sudden I felt hands grip underneath me and they pulled me onto the bed.

There was no time for anything. No time to put my feet up in stirrups. No time for an OB to sit at the foot of my bed and tell me what to do. No time for anyone to count to ten as I pushed and breathed.

The baby was coming.

I didn't even know if anyone was there to catch the baby as I pushed. My body literally took over and I pushed for only a matter of seconds and all I heard was Terry's voice calling out "It's a girl! We have a baby girl!"

It was over. The pain was gone. I felt the warmth of a tiny body being placed on my chest. She was here. Our sweet little Sophia.




It was only about 40 minutes from the time that I walked through those glass doors of the Emergency Room that our sweet little daughter was in my arms, nursing already. The most incredible experience I've ever had in my life.



I turned to Terry after a few minutes and asked him to call mom and dad.

And the conversation went something like this:

"Hi mom", I said.

"Hi honey", she replied, expecting that we had just arrived and were calling just to give a quick update and to tell her when to come to the hospital to be there for the birth. "Are you all set up in triage now?"

"Nope, I'm nursing my baby as we speak", I said. "We have a girl!"

"WHAT?!!"

And the conversation with both Jen and Jeff, and Terry's mom went pretty much exactly the same way as well.

So as family members started to trickle in, everyone got baby snuggles and a re-tell of the events of the morning that they unfortunately missed. The first baby in our family who was born without a slew of family members right there beside us. Because unfortunately there just wasn't time.













So to our sweet baby Sophia, we love you more than words can even express.

And to our sweet Mya, our first baby of the family...thank you for loving your new sister so much and for taking such good care of her. You're going to be a wonderful mom one day, we can already tell. We love you beyond what you'll ever know.



And to Carter, thank you for your silly giggles and for always making us laugh. You are quite possibly the most loved little boy on the planet and we're so glad that both of your sisters have you--because boys will one day be knocking on our door, and we'll need your help.




Love, your very tired mom
xox
















  

       

  


































Sunday, 12 April 2015

A letter to myself--Dear new mom to be

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So I've reached the point in this pregnancy when meltdown city starts to happen. When I can barely walk since I'm already a few cm dilated and feeling every single painful step as I manoeuvre my way through my days. When the contractions are coming on so strongly, so frequently--but so inconsistently that it is just a painful tease. When I can't get up off the floor after bending over to brush little people's teeth or get them dressed in the morning. When sleep is non-existent since the pain in my back burns every time that I move. It's the time in this pregnancy when my patience wears thin since I just can't wait anymore to meet our little son or daughter. I just can't wait.
And everything that I'm feeling is everything that I'm sure every mom has felt at the end of their pregnancy, so it's something that I knew I should expect--but somehow you forget, and all of a sudden it's a surprise again. So I decided to look back to my other pregnancies for some inspiration. For some perspective. For some comfort. Because when you're at this point of wanting something so badly, it's good to be reminded of the small details that make it so amazing, so incredible and so hard, all in the same breath.

So when I scrolled through some of my old blog posts, I came across this post that I wrote a while ago. A post (a letter, actually) that was intended for new mom's-to-be...but really, it should be for anyone who is about to have a baby...their first, or (for us) their third. Because it reminded me of what to expect, what we have to look forward to and the reality of the challenges that undoubtedly come with having a new baby. So this one is for me--to give me my perspective back. To give me some clarity and patience as we wait for that incredible day that we are so blessed to be able to experience again. That day that I'm dreaming of and wishing for--because this baby is going to be welcomed into many outstretched arms who have been waiting patiently for him or her.

So, here it is...a little perspective and clarity for me...

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

     Dear New Mom-To-Be,
  
     Hi. My name is Erica--can I give you a hug? I know you'll need it because that's what we do when we both congratulate someone and when we need to comfort/support someone. Two of the things that I know you'll need lots of in the next little while after that sweet little baby of yours is born.

Over the past two years a lot of my pregnant friends have asked me what they should expect when their babies are born, and it's been hard to explain in full. I'm not sure that I even know how. But I thought I'd give it a try. A tiny, small fragment at least, of some of the things that you might experience as you approach this new world of motherhood.
    
Now let me start off by letting you know that I'm no expert.

Not. Even. Close.

But I am a mama of two who loves her babies hard, who has survived bringing two babies home from the hospital and who is still learning how to do it all (if that's even possible)--each and every day.


So, here it is. The reality of what you're about to step into, from one mama's perspective (and one mama's perspective alone). We all have different experiences, which is why it's so hard to explain to people sometimes what it's really like...but I'll try, from this mama's point of view.



Here you go:

You are about to experience the most incredible love that you've ever felt in your life. Your baby will be placed in your arms for the first time and your head will be spinning from the experience. You won't even be able to process what has just happened. This miracle will lay in your arms and you'll look at him/her and try to take it all in...but you won't be able to. It's too incredible. Too deep. Too amazing. But you'll try. Because you'll want so badly to breathe in every moment of it. Every second of it.



And yes, before you get to hold this precious little being it will hurt. It will hurt like nothing you have felt before. But you can do it. You're strong. You're brave. You're born to do this. Your body will do the work that it is designed to do, so don't worry if you don't know how to do it. You just breathe, listen to the nurses or your midwife and you'll be fine. Whenever I hear of women going into labor I'm so envious of the experience that they're about to have. I want to do it over and over again. A lot of work, pain (and some cursing) is all working towards the most incredible miracle in the world. It's completely worth it. I promise.


The pain that you were feeling just moments ago is now gone (well, mostly gone) and you'll hold that little bundle and try to examine every inch of his/her little face. You'll lock eyes with this little soul and you'll try to let the experience sink in. And you'll breathe. Because you did it. It's over. Good job, mama.

The first few days will be a combination of wonderful, scary, incredible and exhausting. Your body will hurt. But give it about 10 days and you'll start to feel better as your body begins to heal. It will get better.   



Carter-first week {at hospital}

As you hold that sweet baby you'll try to figure out what life is going to look like now. But you won't be able to, because it takes a while for life to settle into any kind of rhythm again. And that's okay--because a miracle has just been dropped into your arms. How can you expect that life will be anything as it used to be? A new normal will start to emerge though, and although it will be different, it will be great. It will be so so great.

Mya-first week {at home}
 "Enjoy every minute of this--they grow up so fast", you will hear. And you'll want to. You'll want so badly to enjoy every minute of it, because if everyone is saying it, it must be the goal of this whole mothering thing. But it's not. Just know that it's not. The goal is not to enjoy every single minute.

It's about enjoying the great moments and learning from the hard ones.


Don't feel bad if you're not soaking up every blissful moment of motherhood, because motherhood is not supposed to be 100% blissful. How would we ever learn, grow and teach if every moment was wonderful? Motherhood is sometimes hard. Really hard. But it will ultimately show us who we really are. What kind of person, behind closed doors, when noone is looking...we really are.

Mya {a few weeks old}
You'll discover things about yourself that you never knew before and you can't possibly discover those things if every single moment of mothering was incredible. But those wonderful moments? They're incredible. More than incredible. If you are completely present with your child and soak up every inch of them, man do they ever make the hard times fade away quickly. It's what will keep you going. Keep you smiling and keep you loving. 

And nighttime? Well, it's not always easy. You thought that you were tired when you were pregnant, but you will never experience anything like the exhaustion of being woken up and having to comfort a little human being multiple times in the middle of the night. It's okay if it doesn't feel like bliss. It's hard. So hard. But look at that bundle crying in your arms at 3am and breathe. You can do this. You're so lucky. So so lucky.


Do you know how many people would give everything that they have to be able to be woken up in the middle of the night with a baby of their own? You're so blessed. Go to your baby. Hold your baby. And when you're too tired to do it again, take a moment outside his/her bedroom door. It's okay to feel like you just can't do this anymore. We've all felt it. But you can. You can do this. And you know what? There won't always be sleepless nights. One day you'll look back and it will be a fleeting memory.

This too shall pass. So although it's hard, try to enjoy those sweet quiet moments in the middle of the night when your baby has finally settled. One day those moments won't be there anymore.

This wild ride of motherhood feels like your heart is all of a sudden completely exposed. Open and raw. Bursting with a love for your child that you can't even describe. But easily broken with even the slightest thought of any harm coming to your baby. Your heart will beat for your child and sometimes it will really hurt. Your child's pain will be your pain, multiplied by a million. Your child's tears will turn into your tears as your souls entwine and his/her hurt or fears become your own.  

You will never be able to describe how it really feels to others. I can't even begin to try.


But just know that life with this new little being, although different than what it once was...although harder than what you might have expected...although more wonderful than you ever anticipated is all worth it in the end. Hang in there, mama. This ride of motherhood is going to make you love like you have never loved before.

Erica xox

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Easter sorrow to happiness and waiting on baby

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It's amazing what a year can do. I can't even really believe that an entire year has passed. But it's April again. It's the month that brings back memories of little people chasing after Easter eggs hidden all over mom and dad's house. It's the month that reminds me of turkey, ham and a huge Easter feast. It's the month that reminds me of family, laughter and sugar highs. But it's also the month that brings me back to last year at this time when we lost our baby. When our dreams of a third child were washed away. When our hearts were shattered and our world was brought to a halt. It's a month that still haunts me, still saddens me and still brings me to tears if I let myself think about it too much. I'm not sure that you ever really get over it.

But a year has passed now. And I'm ready to welcome a new little soul into this world. A little life who I have been desperately trying to keep inside of me for the past month, stuck on bed rest, but now finally able to actually relax--because this baby is ready. This baby can come now. We made it to Easter, which is maybe even a beautiful blessing that this baby is coming during the month that last year brought us so much sorrow. So much grief. Because this year, it was anything but sorrowful.

This year, it was great. It was magical and fun, and chocolate-filled and beautiful.

The Easter bunny came a few times this past Sunday. And the fact that Mya especially understood what was happening and completely fell into the magical experience of the Easter bunny coming to our house meant that this holiday was even more exciting for all of us.


The kids woke up to their house littered with colourful eggs full of treats, bouncy balls, chocolate bunnies and stickers...


and big sister helped little brother, until he found just as many treats as she had...which of course was just about the best part of it all for a mama to see. 



So with early morning chocolate indulgence, followed by Terry's bacon and egg breakfast...we got dressed into our cute Easter outfits and headed off to mom and dad's for more Easter egg hunting and food.  


Cute Easter baskets? Not necessary. According to us, that is. You get handed a big Tupperware container, as I always did as a kid, and you're told to go for it--fill it up, and then don't forget when all of the treats are found, we split them all up evenly. Everyone gets the same amount, so no one is sad at Easter time in this family. Not a soul.   



And then when all of the kids have found all of their treats, and they've all been divided out evenly..the adult hunt begins.

Back up kids.

It's the adults turn. And it can get a tad competitive.

So as everyone clears the space and turns their backs, mom and dad run around hiding more eggs for us big kids--and when they're done, it's an all out mad dash of Jen, Jeff, Terry and I tearing around the house scooping up treats and plowing each other over for the chocolates that are hidden in all of the places that we know to look. Because this adult hunt has been going on for as long as I can remember.

The only difference now though? We have several little people who can now help us divide all of these treats evenly when we're done--because even the adults egg hunt has to be fair.


But the best part of this Easter? Well, for me it was definitely finding out that our little Mya, who has been in an arm cast for these past couple of weeks (FYI, no more monkeys jumping on the couch in OUR house anymore!), was able to get a removable cast at the hospital the other day that we are supposed to be slowly weaning off of her.


So she helped little cousins learn to sit criss-cross applesauce for pictures, and was able to chase after Easter eggs without help. Which was just the best thing ever, for all of us.


So baby--whenever you want to come now, please do. We're ready. We're waiting. Thanks for staying put for this long, but I'm sore and uncomfortable now, just as I'm supposed to be days before my due date..so please come. I'm dreaming of squishy newborn legs and chubby cheeks and a sleepy baby falling asleep on my chest. I can't wait.


Love, your very pregnant mama xox

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