Parenting Through A Pandemic

Where I live, we entered into another lockdown which included a 2week extension. Schools have been closed for weeks, and businesses including restaurants have either temporarily closed, permanently closed or have become delivery/pickup only. There is no question that this is a hard time. We are all tired, exhausted and very frustrated. We all want this to end.

This is a trying time for so many parents and families. We are faced with sacrifices we never knew would exist, and there is so much added pressure trying to maintain work and home life. While we are feeling upset and stressed out, there are some things to be grateful for. These will never take away the many struggles we faced, but I wanted to show you that not everything was crap!

I have formed a special bond with my daughter.

Being at home, and my daughter’s preschool was closed the beginning half of the pandemic, she was home with me full-time. At first, this was the hardest parenting lesson I experienced. How would I teach, and entertain my daughter for a full day, while being house bound? I felt panicked, and knew I was not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. I have had to pull up my sleeves and get creative. We walked, ALOT! We spent a lot of time outdoors in our backyard. We made friends with our local garbage & recycling truck men. I would be lying if I told you we didn’t watch more TV than planned. Sometimes we all need a break. Spending one on one time with my daughter, allowed us to form a better relationship we otherwise wouldn’t have. We created a routine that allowed us to dance, be silly, snuggle and just hangout, just the two of us. We created memories.

Photo by Angela Best

Our family worked as a team.

During the majority of the pandemic I was pregnant with my second daughter. While I got bigger and further along in my pregnancy, I had to rely on my daughter and my husband for more patience and help. Although, my husband was forced to work from home due to the pandemic closures, this was a blessing. Having him close by allowed me to lean on him a bit more for help. If he was at the office I wouldn’t have had the same level of help. This was certainly an adjustment, but overtime we were able to develop a groove that worked. I was able to develop a routine with my daughter that allowed me the necessary rest I required while she got to do activities she wanted.

I learned to let go, and pick battles.

Not everyday was a walk in the park. Some days we watched Frozen 1 & 2 in a day, while other days we spent more time outdoors. Excessive TV watching and tablet play, I was picking my battles. In normal circumstances I would have been more mindful. However, being house bound and with limits to what you can do for fun, I learned to let go, a lot! Wrestling a toddler to wear shoes, playing with sticks and using them as wands, while making sure she wore her hat on sunny days, didn’t always end up happening. I learned to pick my battles because not wearing shoes, playing with sticks, and not wearing a hat was not going destroy my day, it would have ruined my daughter’s day. We learned to let go when it came to meal time and meal prep by ordering take out more often than before. Our house looks “lived in”, with a side of chaos. We have learned to accept that things aren’t perfect and it’s ok to let go, sometimes. 

Photo by Angela Best

We have slowed down. 

Scheduling playdates, and activities have been canceled. This free time was hard to get used too at first. Now, it has been nice. Not having something scheduled a couple times a week, has been a blessing. As a family, we have adapted to more quality time, and planning more family activities around the house. Everything we do as a family has been thought out and slowed down. We have enjoyed taking a more “relaxed” approach, and we no longer feel that we have to cram so many activities in our day.

Even though a lot of days have felt hard and super stressful, I have learned so much. I have practiced patience, gained strength, and learned to love in many ways I didn’t know was possible. I felt so angry when I would see others not following the rules. It would make me so mad while others would travel to visit loved ones while I was waiting until it was safe. All of these feelings were so raw, honest and consuming. There is no doubt I felt pissed off!

It took me months before I accepted that this pandemic was out of my control. I’m still working on not allowing this pandemic to consume myself and my family, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with my girls and husband. This has been a blessing in disguise. Our kids are only kids for such a small amount of time. The time we have with them, are the times they will remember the most. Sometimes we have to experience the hardships, and stress before we can truly appreciate, and see the little moments that are meaningful. I find myself less mad and upset with this pandemic, and more excited for all of the new things we can do as a family, and the memories will continue to make.

Motherhood: The Truth

A lot of us know how difficult it is being a mom. I’m not just referring to motherhood in the sense of preparing lunches, and picking up your children after school and juggling schedules. I mean at the very beginning from the time your body is creating this tiny human inside your belly.

maternity

I was looking back at my maternity pictures and remembered how amazing I felt being pregnant. I can honestly say, I felt my best (most of the time) but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. This got me thinking about all the tremendous changes we go through.  Changes that aren’t always talked about. Not only does the media glorify some of the most difficult, painful and heartfelt moments, but often times so much of it is untrue. They focus solely on the small percentage of people who don’t experience difficulties that most women go through and expect the rest of us to follow suit.

I have spent these past months and days figuring out how to maintain a clean house, making dinner while entertaining my busy, sometimes fussy 5 month old, and realized it is harder than it looks. Most of the time, I can’t. I felt like I was a failure, and I can’t get it together. You research and try to find a way to make it all work, and if you tweak this, or change that, you can do it all…its a lie! It’s a lie that we can do lots of things well, all at the same time. Yes, most women are multi-taskers. However, while most of us can balance so many tasks at once, we end up dropping the ball somewhere.

So lets break the silence, and take a look at the hard truths, and real talks about motherhood:

Labour: The fear most woman have when they are pregnant. The topic most previous mothers will either share their horror story, or paint you the perfect picture. Yes, we’ve seen it in the movies, but is it actually like that? As much as I would love to say yes, the real truth is no. For most women, myself included, labour is nothing like the movies. It’s long, tiring, and painful. After talking with some moms, here’s what they have to say about it:

“Fast and furious!”

“I feel like time lost all meaning at the end.  I was pushing for 45 minutes but I had no conception of time. Could have been 45 seconds or 45 hours”

“No matter how many people tell you about their experience, yours is completely different. You can think about all the different possibilities beforehand but chances are you will forget every one and you just have to be in the moment.”

“Excruciatingly painful, but resulted in the greatest reward, and you forget about the pain immediately!”

“I could have done without the whole ‘doctor’s hand scraping my uterus from the inside’ part!”

No matter what you read or hear, the truth is,  it’s tiring, can be painful, can be fast, but one thing that remains the truth for all of us, is the reward!

sleep

Sleep: I remember while I was pregnant the amount of unsolicited comments and advice about how little sleep I will get once our baby arrives. It seems to be the first thing people are itching to warn you about. While I find myself scrolling through social media threads, I often wonder how so many celebrities looked refreshed immediately after having their babies. How did they do it? What’s the hidden secret? The truth is, there isn’t. It’s called air brush, dry shampoo, and a 1 day makeover. For some, they might even have a nanny, or home nurse come and assist.  But, lets hear it from other moms:

“It’s amazing how little sleep you can survive on!”

“Our first night home I was so sleep deprived that I was hallucinating carnival music in the sound of the bathroom fan, the creepiest possible music.”

“Amazed at how my body could actually function on 3 hours total sleep.”

“Life exists in 2 or 3 hour increments, it didn’t feel like days or nights.”

“A bad night can be fixed by a quick shower and accepting you won’t get anymore sleep right now.”

“I thought I knew what tired was before a baby, but felt it wasn’t super difficult to function on almost no sleep.”

“Still exhausted, but nothing coffee can’t fix.”

“I just take it one day at a time, and give myself permission to nap instead of cleaning the house.”

Somewhere along the way, we are told that women are born to be mothers. We are the ones who can get it all done. We are great wives, great homemakers, great moms, great friends, and no matter what, we can do it all. And then…we have kids. And the truth is, kids limit us. For the first few years or longer, our babies require all of our help to learn and develop, and to grow into young adults. But in the beginning, this means that the primary objective is to meet the physical and emotional needs for our little humans. This is where time is limited. The amount of sleep I get is limited by my daughters bad dream, lost soother, or teething pain.

Feeding: There is so much pressure towards women on how we feed our babies. There’s pressure in the media, through our families and friends on whether we formula feed or breastfeed our babies. Not only is this strictly a personal choice, but no matter our choice, women shouldn’t be scrutinized for the decision they choose. Articles we read, and even in the media, make breastfeeding “easy”. Even though it might be easy for some, the truth is, it’s very hard for most women. But, lets hear it from other moms:

“Without lactation consultants we wouldn’t be happily breastfeeding at 6 months.”

“Not easy!”

“So much more difficult than everyone makes it out to be; would have been impossible for me without my lactation consultant.”

“Challenging, complicated and very emotional, but I’m so grateful to experience it.”

The choice you make is completely a personal choice.  And for most women, it’s not easy in the beginning, but leads to a rewarding bonding experience in the end. For some women, including myself, breastfeeding was not in the cards. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, some things are not meant to happen, and that’s ok. Women should never be faulted for their choices or their inability to breastfeed their baby. Every woman and their circumstances are unique, just like every baby is unique. ♥

Zoey-park1

Being a mom comes with its ups and downs. By the end of the week, you might be feeling like you are at the end of your rope. You might feel cranky, stressed, angry or even find youself shouting at your family. Sometimes you need to take a step back and remind yourself how far you have come. Remind yourself that its ok if you have no energy to cook a gourmet dinner, or that your house isn’t company ready. Remind yourself that this is a sign of the greatest accomplishment life has given you, a baby. A baby who has filled your life thus far with giggles, snuggles, drool covered kisses and endless smiles. These moments don’t last forever, so embrace them while you can!

The Plan

From the moment you find out you are pregnant, you start to think about all things that come with being pregnant, and after your baby arrives. You spend hours researching from all the foods you can and can not eat, to nursery decor and baby proofing the house. One of the most important things that you start to think about is your birth plan.

I remember being asked so many times “ what’s your birth plan?” Or “ you have a birth plan, right” of course I would always say “yes,” even when I knew I never thought about it. I knew automatically what I didn’t want, but a birth plan? Why would I need a plan for my birth? I thought I would show up at the hospital, and the plan would be that the baby would come out. That’s the plan, right?

After my husband and I attended our six-week prenatal class, there were discussions about birth plans, what it all meant, and what it included. This became so much more clearer. We planned so much, from the nitty-gritty details of our ideal delivery and arrival of our baby, what items we wanted to have in our room,  who was going to cut the umbilical cord and an in-depth music play list that I would have playing in my hospital room. Yes, this was important!

Letu2019s hold hands while we eat, Mom!.jpg

 

When the time came, Thursday January 25 at 6:14 AM, our baby girl arrived. Did we follow our “birth plan?” No! In fact, it was far from our plan, and that was OK!  My delivery ended up with a scheduled induction, an epidural,  and 2.5 hours of pushing, with no sign of baby’s arrival. This led to a last-minute c-section for delivery.  I decided  that pumping versus nursing was the best way for me to feed our baby, along with having to supplement with formula. All of these things, were far from what I had planned and originally wanted to have, but this needed to be done for the safety, and happiness for my baby girl, and myself. The one thing that stayed true to our plan, and what was the most important to us,  our baby would arrive safely, and healthy.  We knew everything else would fall into place, and it did.

After the delivery, I learned very quickly that a plan is just a plan. When it came time for me to make a plan, and discuss what I wanted and didn’t want, I never thought that our birth plan would change. So, for all the mom’s to be,  expect changes, especially  “think on the spot” last minute changes. Don’t beat yourself up over your plan not working out or think for a second you have let yourself down, or your baby down, because a plan, is just a plan, and only that.