Saturday, 14 December 2013

DIY - Activity Advent

The Christmas season is by far my most favourite time of the year.  To be honest, I am one of those people who listens to carols year round and counts down to the big day starting Dec. 26th.  I know, I've got it BAD!  This year I wanted to do something fun for Marleigh since she is 2 years old and understands what's going on this year.  Also, with having a new addition to the family, I wanted to find something uniquely special just for Mommy and Marleigh.  And so the creation of "Marleigh's Activity Advent began.  My dear friend and craft guru Angie graciously opened her craft room to me one night and let me play.  I decided to make various Christmas bobbles to stick to the mirror in our kitchen.  I glued pre-cut cardstock circles to different craft paper...adding polka-dots, stripes, candy canes etc.  I decided not to write directly on the bobble so that I can reuse them next year and the year after and so on...  Thankfully I made this decision before starting, saving me time next year :)  So, each day I decide on a new fun Christmas activity to do with Marleigh Bear.  We call it our "special Christmas activity" - not a catchy title but she gets soooo excited about it.  I also decided that for the most part we would complete the daily activity after nap time - in order to ensure she still went down for a nap every day!  Sometimes I use it for behaviour management (ie. Marleigh, if you aren't going to listen to Mommy then that shows Mommy that you don't want to do your special Christmas activity).  Not sure what child psychologists would say about my approach but it works...for December, now what to do in January????
Another key element is that I decided what the activity is going to be based on what I have the energy for that day.  Having a growing family can be exhausting and I needed to make sure I wasn't adding any unnecessary "work". I write the activity on a sticky note and add it to the mirror underneath the bobble.  I was hoping to use cute star sticky notes or find xmas trees BUT...that would be making more work and it wasn't necessary.  I had to remind the type A teacher in me of this often.   This year we will only be doing 20 days (I think...we'll see) as we will be heading to Calgary on the 20th and from then on our days will be filled.  Here is the list of activities we've done so far...feel free to take this idea and revamp it to fit your family!

1: Stay in our jammies all day and drink hot cocoa
2: Eat a pink candycane
3: Get a picture taken with Santa
4: Watch Rudolph and snack on popcorn
5: Make a snowflake craft
6: Drive around the city and look at Christmas lights
7: Snuggle and watch a movie of your choice
8: Go for a coffee/hot chocolate date at Starbucks
9: Have breakfast in bed
10: Get a Christmas manicure (green & blue sparkles)
11: Eat red and green fish crackers for snack
12: Bake gingerbread cookies
13: Play outside in the snow
14: Paint a Christmas picture

*** other ideas ***
- build a snowman
- roast marshmallows inside
- go Christmas caroling
- make snow angels
- give a homemade Christmas card to a stranger
- go watch a school Christmas concert
- go see the zoo lights (Calgary)
- go ice skating
- go sledding
- go on a sleigh ride
- decorate a gingerbread house


NICU - Earth Angels

Naturally this post should precede my last one but sometimes I just can't help the organization/disorganization of my thoughts and when I have a moment to express them.  So here it is.

Our beautiful gift, Aspyn had to spend 6 days in the NICU at the Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge after she was born.  As soon as she entered this magnificent world she was a bright shade of  indigo.  Although I am a lover of purple, I knew that wasn't the best colour for a newborn.  Moments after our eyes briefly met and our hearts interlocked for what will be my eternity, she was whisked away to the NICU - "She just needs some oxygen", I overheard nurse Quinn graciously state, followed by, "but she is so beautiful".  Aspyn spent 2 days in an isolette with oxygen pumping to regulate natural levels.  Our first interactions were through 2 relatively small holes where my arms could go inside to touch her.  Her body, so tiny, so warm, so fresh, so perfect.  Watching her breath, sleep, grow from behind a plastic wall was difficult for my heart but I knew it was the best place for her.  Every 3 hours I could take her out, hold her in my arms and feed her, all while holding an oxygen tube next to her nose.  I became very good at learning to do the work of 4 arms with only 2.  After 2 days, our little Warrior had learned to regulate her oxygen levels and she could now live in an open isolette.  My heart was bursting with joy to see her growth!  On day 3, our little angel was struggling with her feeds.  Her muscle tone in her mouth and overall fatigue - all in relation to the Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) was causing her to be a messy eater (not keeping much in her mouth) and fall asleep during feedings.  At this point a Nasalgastro tube was placed up her nose and into her tummy.  Milk was poured into a syringe and attached to the tube where gravity would allow it to flow through the tube and into her tummy.  This would ensure that Aspyn was still getting all the nutrients she needed every 3 hours.  This is called 'garvage' feeding.

Barry and I were back and forth to and from the hospital every 3 hours to feed our little angel.  Between brief moments of Marleigh smooches, a quick bite to eat or a coffee run, we were EXHAUSTED and what I refer to as "running on pure love".  Marleigh had not met Apsyn yet as there is a Measles epidemic here in Lethbridge so no children under 18 are allowed in several areas of the hospital including the NICU.  (Vaccinate your kids people!!!!)

After 5 days and no real improvement with oral feeding, I was saddened to think that Aspyn might be in the NICU for a while longer.  Barry continued to remind me that this was the best place for her and in my heart I knew that too.  Wet met with her pediatrician Dr. Levin (most amazing woman....truly) and we were informed that because she is doing so well with her garvage feedings and we are doing so well managing them as well, there is no real reason Aspyn needed to stay in the NICU any longer.  I burst into tears as the thought of bringing her home seemed so far off and now was our reality.

That evening we were moved from the NICU up to Pediatrics and  I stayed over night with Aspyn.  I set my alarm for every 3 hours, garvage fed, changed diapers, etc. just like I would at home to ensure I felt comfortable leaving the hospital.  The next day Barry and I were further educated on garvage feeding and inserting/removing the NG tube as we would have to do it at home.  2pm, November 16th we were discharged from the hospital and on our way home!!

The nurses of the NICU, Quinn, Melanie, Stacey, Dawn, Crystal, and dozens more who may be nameless, will always be our Earth Angels.  From the depth of our souls, thank you for taking such excellent care of our hearts during a challenging time.  Our experience will forever be one of love and compassion.  Thank you!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Inner Demon

For those who know me well, some of this may not come as a shock but to many what I'm about to share may be difficult to read and understand.  I've decided to finally and genuinely commit to working on improving my view of myself.  I've never really understood the term "self-esteem".  In theory I assume it's all about establishing a vision of one's self to the highest or at best a positive esteem.    I can see how that pertains to everyone around me, but there has always been a disconnect to the definition and how it makes sense for me. I'm not sure that I can say that I have low self-esteem because that would suggest that I actual see some self worth which sadly I do not.

EEERCH!  hold up, put on the breaks here.  I'm sure that some of you may be thinking - how can she say/think that - this is awful - (and my personal favourite) can you think that way when you have so much and there are so many other people worse off?!  Don't get me wrong, I know how awful these views are and I am very cognizant of those worse off.   Just the other day my mom said to me "at least you don't have cancer" which I replied "True mom, but what you don't understand is that THIS is my cancer".  It's time that I stop minimizing my demon, pretending it will just go away and pushing it deeper in my subconscious ready to rear its ugly head at any moment.    

So, I've racked my brain trying to figure out where these views come from.  Honestly, I can't pin point a childhood 'event' or 'experience' that caused me to - for lack of a better term- hate myself.  But for as far back as memories take me I can remember "never being good enough".  I've never been skinny enough, pretty enough, smart enough etc.  I don't believe that anyone is born to HATE so somehow, throughout my journey I have LEARNED to hate myself.  I have begun opening up to a therapist about my demon as undoing/altering 30 + years of self-hatred requires professional assistance.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to get 'help'.  Perhaps because I thought it would get better with time or I'd like myself when I became skinnier, prettier, smarter?

Now that I have two, incredibly remarkable daughters I know that moments of questionable self-esteem are inevitably in their futures.  But I never want them to experience the self-hatred I have battled for as long as I can remember.  I want them to grow up believing that self-worth is cultivated through developing compassion and empathy for others, validating the importance of what makes you happy and following your passions, learning that it is okay to feel bad sometimes and that your place in this world matters!  I need to learn to love myself in order to teach my girls to do the same.

I know that learning to change my views of myself and lessen my demon is going to be quite the feat.  There is a long endeavour ahead - I venture one step at a time - and I choose to TRUST THE JOURNEY.


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Aspyn Joy Smith

November 9, 2013:
Shortly after Marleigh Bear went down for a nap I decided to have a nap myself (knowing that peaceful nap times were soon to be over for me).  Once I laid down I felt a bit of a trickle between my legs.  Now, not too concerned at first since I had recently overcome an 8 week illness where when I coughed so hard, my bladder muscles couldn't keep up and would leak urine every so often.  So, I figured that I had once again peed a little and thought nothing of it and continue to enter my slumber.  Moments later I felt more of a trickle...and then more and more and more.  I called Barry into the room and stated that I thought my water was breaking.
    Earlier in the week, at my 1 of many Dr. appointments I was advised to go straight to the hospital when and if my water breaks.  Likely because Marleigh came fast and I was already 3cm dilated.  So my earth angel Erin came by and picked up Marleigh and Barry and I went off to the hospital.  It was confirmed that yes indeed my water had "sprung a leak" (verbatim Dr. Davies).  So I was sent home to see what would happen naturally and if nothing progressed by 8am on November 10th then I would be induced.  I recall many people saying that every labour story is different so don't count on your first experience to be any sort of precursor of what's to come this time.  So far though, the experience was very familiar.
   Since Marleigh was in good (correction - great) hands we decided to take advantage of the free time and go for dinner.  While at Firestone, I started to have contractions....10 minutes apart.  I was thrilled that things were starting up on their own.  After dinner we went home to watch a movie and my contractions continued...10 min, 8 min, 6 minutes apart.  We were convinced that baby girl was coming in the middle of the night.  At about 12:30 am my contractions were slowing down.  Now 20-30 minutes apart.  At 3am they had completely!  So I went to sleep and awaited the inevitable induction.

November 10, 2013:
8am: We arrive at Chinook Regional Hospital.  9am - Petocin drip begins.  I went into this experience with a bit more openness to the idea of having an epidural.  I had Marleigh naturally and was glad I did but was very nervous to feel that intensity again.  BUT, I thought I would see how far I could get this time naturally again.  11:30am I decided I was ready for an epidural.  The anesthesiologist was in a bowel surgery at that time so I had to hold off.  So, I chose to have some morphine...which did nothing.  by 12:15pm I was practically begging for an epidural.  Our AMAZING nurse went to check on the status of the anesthesiologist.  I was told that he would be able to help me out in about a half an hour.  So, over the next 30 minutes I breathed and glottal moaned through some crazy intense contractions while watching each minute pass on the clock (I like to torture myself).  1pm the anesthesiologist arrives to give me my epidural.  I sit up on the bed with my back curved like a cat awaiting this magical epidural.  As the Dr is meticulously lining up the epidural I am pushing baby.  Certainly not intentionally but I can't help it and I can feel her moving through the birth canal.  First, crazy pressure in  my rectum and then even lower where I can feel pressure in my pelvis.  Clearly, my pushing and tension is making it more difficult for the Dr. to get the epidural in but I am staying still in my desperate attempt to get some pain relief.  The epidural is successfully inserted at 1:22pm.  I swing my legs onto the table and the nurse asks me to open my legs so they can check to see how dilated I am.  Upon opening my legs I instantly feel a familiar/devastating release.  Yup, I proceed to poop all over the deliver table.  The nurse has a look of shock on her face and I think it's because of the poo monsoon I've just created but instead she shouts down the hall for Dr. Davie as baby girl was already crowning. Dr. Davie promptly slips into his gown and calmly asks me to push.  Then moments later another push and TADA, our baby enters the world.  Yup, that's right...2 pushes...that's it!  I look down at her and say the only thing that came to mind in my shocking state..."Holy Shit"...(literally...ugh).  Barry missed her coming out as neither of us expected it to come that fast.
    Aspyn Joy Smith entered this beautiful world at 1:26pm on November 10th.  The anesthesiologist comes to my bedside and says, "well, your epidural will kick in in about 5 minutes".  Bah!  So, I successful received an epidural this labour, however; it was a little too late to be effective!  4 hours and 26 minutes of labour, no tearing, no stitches, no swelling, minimal bleeding.  All I can say is that I truly believe my body likely isn't built for fashion (as it isn't the 'prettiest') but instead is built for function (does what it's meant to do)!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Thoughts at 32

Well, I'm part way through my 32nd week of pregnancy and oodles of thoughts consume my mind these days...

- it's 3:30am and I am awake because I'm just too uncomfortable to sleep
- in 8 short weeks we are going to meet our beautiful little girl
- I was 10 days early with Marleigh so we could meet her as soon as 6 weeks from now
- I am ready to have my body back
- my brain is allowing me to remember labour and that doesn't excite me
- I'm dedicated to making the next weeks as special as I can for our current family of 3
- the nesting has begun
- I am so excited to meet our little angle
- I'm nervous to learn of the struggles that come along with Down syndrome, although I welcome everything!
- I'm tired...all the time
- my tiger stripes are new this pregnancy and surprisingly I'm okay with that
- loving oranges, carrots and milk these days
- did I mention that I'm really tired?!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Do You Believe in Magic

True, the miracle of childbirth is nothing short of pure magic; however, the process leading up to the arrival of your sweet little bundle of joy can be the complete opposite.  For some moms, the glow of pregnancy starts at conception and continues on until baby arrives...lucky moms.  But for some of us it's....well...awful.  My intent here is not to sound whiney or ungrateful but instead to validate the very real experience pregnancy is for me.

So, started the first few months off with loads of nausea and vomiting partnered with complete exhaustion.  At the time I was teaching Kindergarten and all of those smells that come along with little kids was quite torturous!  Forcing a smile on my face every day, trying to hide the fact that I felt like death was upon me. A tough feat but I made it.

Second trimester I was actually starting to feel better, not great, but better.  Sadly, I was beginning to notice that my maternity clothes I wore for Marleigh were no longer fitting and I had to cough up a bunch more moula to fit into something decent.  Oh and summer had arrived so heat and pregnancy become my worst nightmare.  Lots of sleepless nights on the couch trying to regulate my body temperature.  Was really starting to notice baby's movements and was very excited!  Having another girl is very exciting but that also means that baby girl likes to sit directly below my ribs and kick upwards.  Cute at first, painful as time passes.  There have been a few times that I've had to gently guide her away from my ribs with a little shove downward...don't judge!

Third trimester has arrived and brought with it more exhaustion.  I find that I only have enough energy in a day to do a few things and then I need a break.  Feeling quite pathetic.  Tummy is getting bigger as baby grows.  Painting toes, tying shoes, carrying Marleigh, getting out of the vehicle in a parking lot, etc. are all becoming significantly more difficult.  HEARTBURN...ugh!  Heartburn is becoming my biggest nemesis...creating more sleepless nights.  Uncomfortable all the time, especially in bed.  When I roll over I look, feel, sound like a beached walrus crying out for help.  Nerves in my lower back are being stretched more as my hips get ready for labour, leaving radiating pain through my gluts.  I've begun to notice a mild shift of my weight from one foot to the other when I walk...otherwise referred to as "waddling"...yup, it's begun.  And perhaps the best of the worst, bladder control issues.  While at the farmers market last weekend, I took Marleigh to the washroom to use the potty (she's rocking the potty training). Upon completing assistance for the potty I stand up and walk towards the toilet for my own sake.  At that time I notice that perhaps I no longer need the washroom as it is apparent that I have already released my my pants...without even the slightest awareness.  I try to convince myself that perhaps my water has broken, surely I couldn't have just peed my pants without knowing.  Nope, amniotic sack in tact, baby still growing, mom needing to invest in some "poise" or "depends".

I am thrilled, excited, anxious to meet our little girl soon (perhaps not soon enough)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

My Top 10

Read an article today titled "10 Ways Living With a Toddler is Like Being in Prison".  Seemed slightly extreme but I was obviously intrigued enough to read on and will share these findings with you:

10. You can't do anything without constant supervision
9. Every morning begins with someone screaming at you to wake up
8. You're always terrified something bad will happen when you're in the shower
7. You're terrified someone is going to crawl into your bed in the middle of the night
6. Meal time is fraught with tension
5. Someone's always watching you go to the bathroom
4. You never get to choose the movie and then it's hard to hear it over all the hooting and hollering
3. You're always terrified someone is going to punch, bite, tackle, stab or attack you with some kind of makeshift weapon
2. Contraband - like booze, chocolate and adult entertainment- must be smuggled in and consumed in private
1. Conjugal visits are hard to come by, require intense scheduling, and are often interrupted

BONUS: One Way Having a Toddler is NOT Like Being in Prison

** Being placed in solitary confinement is a reward, not a punishment**

After perusing through the list and laughing/crying at the parallelism between my life and what seems to be every other parent of a toddler, I started to reflect a bit.  As I have shared, and will likely continue to share, raising a toddler adventure at best!  Lots of tantrums, defiance, arguing, hitting, eye-rolling (already!) and just plain clashing of personalities.  BUT, I noticed that I haven't taken any time to reflect and share on the true blessings that also come along with raising a strong willed little human being. 

Here are my Top 10 Reasons I Love Raising a Strong Willed Little Human Being:

10. Whenever she hears someone say "Thank You", she immediately brings to my attention how "nice" that person is
9. Despite our frustrations through the day, she fills my hours with great big smooches and hugs
8. When she makes a mistake (has an accident, spills something etc.) she promptly responds with "Sowwy Mommy"
7. Whenever/wherever she hears music, every fiber of her being begins to dance and a pure sense of confidence and peace fills her soul
6. She kisses my pregnant belly and says "Hi Sister"
5. She knows exactly what she wants and won't settle for anything less
4. She loves to sit on my lap and read me her favourite stories -- Mostly "Boss Baby"....fitting much??
3. She brushes my hair while I blow dry it after a shower
2. She insists on sharing everything she eats with whomever is around
1. When I talk to her about what being beautiful means she points to me, herself and my belly and says "Beautiful Girls"

BONUS: She constantly amazes me with her ambitions, creativity, laughter, determination, kindness and love that I genuinely consider myself  LUCKY to call her mine!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Mommy Break

On Tuesday I had "one of those days".  It had now been 11 days stuck at home potty training.  I know this will pay off in the long run but it is making both Marleigh and me CRAZY!!  The day started with lil M waking up in a fowl mood...crying, screaming and just plain grumpy.  I was in an average mood with the aftermath of 6 months pregnant weighing on my shoulders.  Now so far, Marleigh has been dominating potty training and we are so proud of her! 
Today, Marleigh regressed and decided to simply pee wherever, whenever she wanted...peeing on the carpet, in the laundry room, computer room and foyer.  She would announce "I'm peeing" and then try to clean it up after but by the 4th time I was like "Marleigh what are you doing?".  She would point to her little potty and tell me that is where she should go but I guess she thought peeing elsewhere would add a little excitement to our day.  It sure did...ugh. 
Lunch - she wanted a hot dog with ketchup to dip.  She looked so adorable with a ketchup mustache until she decided to kiss the cream couch over an over again leaving little red ketchup lip marks all over the arm rest.  I am aware that these are stories I will laugh about later (in fact, I laugh about it now only 2 days later) but at the time it was anything but funny.
5 o'clock - time to go pick up our new van...yes you read that correctly, we have invested in a family's happening...and secretly I love it!  (Toyota Sienna I named Ruby).  5pm not being the most ideal time to leave the house as it's pretty close to dinner but we couldn't help the timing.  Marleigh tries the potty (nothing) and I put a pair of pants on her, grab my wallet and run out the door.  We arrive at the Toyota dealership and are in awe of our shiny new family member.  Marleigh instantly starts climbing all through it.  The shine dulls a bit and is replaces with little finger smears - which I think is quite cute.  I don't realize that "picking up your new van" is a 45 minute process - that's totally not going to fly with Miss M.  As the sales rep begins his explanation of every crevice of the vehicle Marleigh stops dead in her tracks in the middle of the showroom and proceeds to pee her pants.  Of course, I only brought my wallet-nothing else- so we remove her pants, wipe up the urine off of the showroom floor and now have a 1/2 naked 2 year old running around Toyota.  Sales rep proceeds to take a picture of the happy family with their new van.  Barry and Jodi smiling and Marleigh (1/2 naked) screaming her face off.  Ok, I'm done...time to go home.  I make arrangements to come back for the 45 minute lecture another day.  Barry struggles (what a nightmare) to strap hangry, 1/2 naked Marleigh into her car seat in the back of this new (strange) van.  At this time she is shrieking, kicking, flailing etc.  I put the van into drive and it won't move.  So I roll the window down and ask the sales rep if there is an emergency break on that I'm not noticing.  I am holding back my own tears and frustration at this time.  He and Barry share a smirk and proceed to suggest that I turn the vehicle ON before trying to drive. F******%%%ck!  I'm an idiot but their smirks make me want to get out and punch them both in the face.  So I drive out with music blaring, air con on full blast and Marleigh shrieking in the background. 
Once home, Marleigh calms down...eventually and we eat dinner.  Mid dinner I phone my mom and inform her that I will not be bringing Marleigh to Calgary the next day with me because I need a break.  Mom puts on her best sad voice and says "oh I just bought her some fruit and veggies and dip", making me feel like a horrible mom for even suggesting a break.  May I remind her and myself that the only reason I am coming up to Calgary is for my monthly ultrasound for baby...not for a 'visit'.  So I have a true toddler tantrum myself, throw the phone across the room and run upstairs crying.  Apparently I had reached my threshold.  I turn my cell phone on and try to continue a Words With Friends game I have going on with my brother - I am finally beating him for once....I'm excited that this could be my first win against him.  Sure as Sh*&T, he gets a 63 point word and is now beating me.  Not realizing how ridiculous I am behaving, I start crying even harder (if that was even possible).  Barry and Marleigh come to see how I'm doing and Marleigh says "Mommy's sad, she's crying".  Ok, now I REALLY feel like a terrible mom.  She hugs me and eventually I come out of my slump and continue to conduct myself like an adult. 
My most amazing husband takes 2 days off of work (vacation days) to stay home with Marleigh and potty train so I can go to Calgary for my ultrasound in peace and quiet. 
I had the opportunity to meet a really great friend for dinner last night, I'm currently sitting in Starbucks awaiting a coffee date with another friend and will be meeting one of my besties for lunch.  Feeling slightly guilty for having "fun" while Barry is at home using his vacation days to do my job.  But like he said, we are a family and this is what you do for each other.  I was using my holidays to stay at home potty training too and that's just what we do. 
I am so lucky to share my life with such an incredibly supportive husband. 

1 day away from the chaos and I find myself anxious to get home to see Barry and Marleigh!  Sometimes I just need a hand and I am learning that it is okay to ask for help and take a BREAK :)

Friday, 9 August 2013

More alike than different

This time around I was super eager to get pregnant...perhaps because I could see how fast Marleigh was growing up and I wanted her to have a little friend to bond with, or maybe it was because 32 is just around the corner which would put me 'up there' when experiencing challenges such as parenting adolescence ;) Again, I took 3 digital pregnancy tests to confirm that we were expecting (you'd think I'd learn that 1 test would suffice).  It wasn't long before the exhaustion and major nausea kicked in.  At the time I was teaching kindergarten and barely survived my days spent with 5 year olds and nights with a 2 year old.  "How am I every going to handle two kids"?
Fast our 12 week ultrasound the technicians noticed that our lil' bean had excess fluid at the back of his/her neck.  What did that mean?  Our family doctor informed us that fluid in the neck can be a sign of a genetic abnormality.  Genetic Abnormality, Genetic Abnormality, Genetic Abnormality.  Those words echoed in my mind as I tried to decipher what that meant.  A week went by until we received more information about what that could mean.  A genetic counselor from the Foothills Hospital in Calgary called us and informed us that the fluid was likely 1 of 3 things.  1. Down syndrome, 2. Turner Syndrome 3. Nothing at all.  I will leave it to your discretion to google both syndromes for more information.   The waiting period of unknown was absolutely terrible.  Many restless nights, lots and lots of tears and a real deep fear of the unknown.
 At the beginning of June, I had an amniocentesis performed at the Foothills Hospital. Not  the most comfortable procedure but I am still astonished at the science behind it.  Four days later we received confirmation about our baby.  We found out that we are having another little girl which warms my heart and soul and she has Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome - her diagnosis not prognosis :) ).  Barry and I feel extremely blessed to be chosen as her parents and given the opportunity to see the world through her eyes!  What a gift for our entire family, the pure and beautiful role-model that Marleigh will be and the love that will be shared between two sisters who are more alike than different!
For now, I have monthly ultrasounds at the Foothills Hospital and we've had an ECG on her and looks like her heart is perfectly healthy.  She is growing at the 50th percentile and all of her organs are functioning perfectly.  She's a busy little girl (just like her big sis) and I'm feeling lots of kicks and squirms.  I'm still not sure where we will be delivering her but that knowledge will come as we get closer to her birth.  We are anxious and giddy about her arrival sometime in November (due date: 22nd)

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The skin I'm in

I confess!  From as young as I can remember, I allowed my self worth to be determined by societal expectations of what I should look like on the outside.  Not gonna lie, I've always been...big boned, plump, chubby, fat, not-skinny, not good enough.  I can remember following Weight Watchers with my mom when I was in grade 3.  I vividly remember a conversation with my third grade teacher about my need for frequent washroom breaks because I was on a 'diet' and drinking a lot of water.  Sad, very sad...but an experience that was merely foreshadowing what was to come!
After many, many years of tears, yoyo diets, self-hatred, and self-pity, I found myself laying on the floor in our spare bedroom balling my eyes out.  Barry came to see what was going on and all I could muster out was "I just hate being me so much", "I want to just cut all the fat away and be normal".  This episode arose shortly after I completed University where I gained the freshman 15lb and senior 15lb.  When I started University at the age of 22, I weighed 200lbs (scary, I know but I kept convincing myself that I held my weight well). Upon completing my university degrees I weighed in at an astonishing 228lbs.  It used to be very difficult to even say this to myself let alone share it in a blog but I choose not to hide anymore.
In 2009 I embarked on a real health kick and joined Herbal Magic.  After a full year of major commitment, obsession with portion control, and THOUSANDS of dollars I found myself weighing only 174lbs and 75 inches smaller from all areas of my body.  Now I could do things I never thought I could.  I was playing volleyball, dodgeball and joined a running club.  I made a promise to myself that I would never, ever see 228 on the scale again!  The sad truth is that although I had lost 54lbs and seriously looked like a totally different person, I never did reach my goal of 160lbs so I felt like a failure.
When I got pregnant in the winter of 2010 I was up to 200 lbs and my biggest concern was "I'm going to get fat again".  I did a lot of self talk about how weight gain will be a guarantee and I could always lose the weight after. As the weight started piling on I could feel the guilt, shame and disgust grow from the pit of my stomach.  At Marleigh's birth I weighed 247lbs (gross, I kept thinking).  I had broken the covenant promise I made to myself and here I was way over 228 lbs.  Don't get me wrong, having Marleigh is sooooo worth the weight gain and body alterations but I couldn't help but feel ashamed.
After Marleigh's birth I tried Weight Watchers, HCG drops, went to the gym 4-5 days a week and managed to lose 25 lbs.  You do the math.  that put me at 222lbs (only a few pounds short of that dreaded 228).
So here I am again, pregnant and putting on weight, the only difference this time is that my starting weight is 22lbs more than it was when I got pregnant with Marleigh.  I am concerned that I may be the size of a house before lil' girl arrives but honestly, I am dealing with the weight gain significantly better this time.  I don't know if it's because I was already 'fat' that the change isn't as devastating or if I am finally realizing how worthwhile the weight gain is to have beautiful, healthy children.  Either way, I am consciously trying to focus my energy on health and not weight (easier said than done).
As I embark on raising another beautiful girl I endeavour to invest some really hard work on teaching my girls that the value of self is found in your character not your reflection in a mirror.  I will need to learn and buy into this truth myself!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

It only makes you stronger...

I can only describe my first year as a mother as being INTENSE.  Marleigh was a great baby and watching her grow was such a true joy.  However, Barry and I encountered a very trying time in our marriage only a few short months after we welcomed lil' M to this world. 
I can honestly say that I lived through a darkness I never knew/wanted/thought I could ever survive.  Thank you to all of our friends and family who were open ears and arms for both of us and allowed us to make our mistakes, learn from them and grow into the truly stable/strong couple that we are today.  There were moments when I thought not being 'here' would be better than weathering the storm that was life but somewhere deep down (a depth I didn't even know existed in me), and endless counseling, communication, honesty and hope, I got through the most trying months of my life.  I certainly don't wish this sort of struggle upon even my worse enemy but I don't regret it.  I am so very proud and grateful of the person I have become, the strength I now pass on to Marleigh, the love and compassion I have for/with Barry through accepting that all humans are capable of mistakes (me included), that forgiveness is a choice that we choose to make each and every day, that marriage is less about the perfect love and more about the willingness to never give up on the spirit of another human being, and that no one ever said life was going to be easy....but it will always be worth it.  (I'm sure that is a huge comma splice...eek, writing 1000 comes back to haunt me!)
In the midst of this learning curve the opportunity to move to Lethbridge arose and within 1 month of casually talking about our 5 year plan of moving back to Lethbridge we had moved.  January 23rd we took ownership of our new home.  Still very uncertain of life at this time, I chose to trust the journey and take things day by day.  We absolutely love living in Lethbridge and we love our home--a place where Marleigh learned to crawl, eat solid foods, climb stairs (over and over again), walk, brush her teeth, and now potty train.  All of which truly make a place a home!

Expecting our 1st baby!

2010: Upon returning home from a relaxing Christmas holiday in Creston, I had a sneaking suspicion that there was more to know behind my heartburn and complete exhaustion.  After taking 3, yes 3, digital pregnancy tests (holy shnikey those things are expensive) we were elated to know that we were expecting our first child.  Barry held me in his warm embrace while we cried together, panicked slightly  and finally jumped for joy at the news.  It's pretty crazy how one tiny little stick can evoke such intense emotions!  We waited until 5 weeks and finally told our family....true Barry and Jodi style by making t-shirts that said "Bun in the oven" and "The Baker"!  Our entire family was thrilled to say the least and so our journey began.
We decided not to tell anyone else until we had passed the "safe zone" of 3 months (as if that even exists).  During those first 3 months I was met with nausea, exhaustion, and heartburn, which I've come to affectionately refer to as volcano chest :(  The nausea intensified resulting in needing diclectin to get me through the minutes.  note: at this time I was substitute teaching all over Calgary so vomiting in classroom garbages and school aged washrooms was nothing short of awful!
The remaining 6 months of my pregnancy where pretty easy.  I struggles with weight gain...47 lbs to be exact! As my entire body changed for this beautiful miracle, I couldn't help but feel ashamed and ugly. I have heard about women who feel radiant and beautiful when they are pregnant...I wanted to punch them!  To be honest, I didn't really enjoy being pregnant but I saw it as a necessary element of this process.
On August 25th, upon finishing a workout at the pool (hhmm, workout...perhaps I am using this term loosly, it was more like an hour of floating), regardless, I met my grandma for lunch.  I remember my tummy feeling pretty tight at lunch but that was pretty much the norm 11 days away from due date and 47 extra pounds in stow.  As I stood up from the table a lunch the gush happened...yup, a gush, just like you hear about in the movies.  I looked at my grandma and said "something happened", I wasn't certain what was going fact, I thought I might have peed myself.  Laugh now, but wait until you have a baby constantly kicking your bladder.  Sure enough, my water had broke, and broke, and broke and broke.  As I squeaked out of the restaurant in my now drenched flip flops, I thought to myself "holy crapy I'm having a baby".
For hours nothing progressed and on August 26th at 11:45am I was induced at the High River Hospital (which was a totally amazing experience and I recommend delivering there if you can).  At 5:14pm, after intense labour (with no drugs, might I add), our beautiful Marleigh Jade Smith entered the world.

Somewhere to start...

I have created this blog as a living, always changing document of MY triumphs and tribulations of being a mother.  Some of you may relate to my feelings/experiences and others may think they are far too radical to have any relevance.  To me it makes no difference, as I use this blog to reflect for myself and my girls.  As I complete nearly two full years of motherhood and am only months away from welcoming a new little lady into my life, I have lots to reflect on and even more to learn.

Thank you to those of you who are courageous enough to come along for the ride!!