Our Weaning Journey

We returned from our vacation in the wee hours of the morning on November 26th. From the 18th-25th my boobs had been hard at work. Because of how overwhelming the trip was for her, the constant heat and being on the go, and the lack of interest in solids during the trip, some days I felt as though I was breastfeeding around the clock.

As soon as we were back home, I turned to my husband and told him I was done. I couldn’t do this anymore. 14 months of breastfeeding is a long time. I think when we initially sign up for breastfeeding, we don’t really realize how much of ourselves we are giving up. We give up sleep, we give up personal space, we give up comfort, we give up privacy, we give up the whole of our bodies. Read that last one again, for people that don’t fully understand how taxing breastfeeding can be: we give up our whole bodies.

Breastfeeding isn’t solely about your breasts and the milk they provide. It can affect your hormones, and in turn your mental health. It can affect your weight, your energy levels, it can affect your appetite. There are so many other things, and I think for those people on the outside looking in chanting “Breast Is Best!” at women, they don’t fully comprehend just how much of a journey it is. There were so many days where I breastfed so much that my whole body just ached (surprisingly enough, my nipples were the only thing that didn’t). There were a lot of days I would be completely fine and then I would just suddenly start crying and be unable to stop for hours.

Breastfeeding is a lot, and it really opens your eyes to the true strength of a woman.

Long story short, after a week of being a constant buffet to my very picky and emotional child, I told myself that this was it, this was the end of our Breastfeeding journey. For my sanity, it had to be.

When I reached out to other moms about my weaning journey, I was bombarded with an endless stream of questions, rightfully so. When I started weaning I had so many questions and so little answers. I thought this needs to be a blog post. This is information that can be so helpful to other moms out there who have attempted weaning time and time again and failed because they didn’t know where to find the right answers.

How I Weaned My Daughter Off Breastfeeding In 10 Days!

Okay, first things first, buckle up and prepare for the worst. My daughter has always been a little diva. She is sassy, she is stubborn, she is a force to be reckoned with, so of course, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. That being said, never in my wildest dream would I ever imagine it would be so hard!

The first thing you really need to do to be successful at weaning is Come Up With A Set Schedule And Stick To It Come Hell Or High Water!

My daughter was an emotional feeder. What that meant was she would breastfeed when she got scared, when she was overwhelmed, when she hurt herself, any minor inconvenience in her life and she would come over and practically rip off my shirt. This meant a lot of days she was comfort feeding almost every hour or so.

My schedule was pretty simple. In the beginning stages of weaning, I would breastfeed her once when we first woke up, once in the afternoons before her nap, and once before bedtime. Outside of these set times, the shop was closed!

One thing I will suggest before you decide to wean is pump and stock up. If your child is like mine and acts as though you are trying to murder her as you wean her from breastfeeding, in the beginning, she/he will only accept breastmilk out of the bottle. Don’t even try anything else, it will just be way too difficult.

I think it’s also important to note, for other parents who have been introducing whole milk or other beverages to your child before weaning, that I found her being familiar with milk already made absolutely no difference. I had been giving her whole milk in places I couldn’t breastfeed, like in the car, since she was about 7 months and she still refused to take milk (even though she had taken a full whole milk bottle before) while weaning. She was too emotional and it was just a no-go.

What I did was keep a bottle handy with a small amount of breastmilk in it. Typically speaking, breastmilk before refrigerated can last about 4 hours out of the fridge. This is why I would only leave about an ounce out in a bottle because in the beginning, it was such a battle and I didn’t want to be throwing out so much unused milk. If you’ve been breastfeeding steadily, you will need to relieve some of that pressure by pumping outside of those times anyway, so I typically kept freshly pumped milk out in a bottle for her.

On standby, I would have a full 5oz bottle of breastmilk in the fridge. (Keep in mind you can’t microwave breastmilk.)

My days would start with a small breastfeed before she would have her breakfast, and while she was eating or playing I would pump out the excess milk, divide it into the two bottles, put the full one in the fridge and the 1oz bottle I would keep on hand because I knew when she got bored or upset, she would come looking for a feed.

Typically getting her to take the bottle was a battle every single time for the first three days. If your weaning while your child is fully mobile and can reach for you or pull your shirt down, I would suggest wearing a high neck, a fitted t-shirt during the first three days and even go so far as also wearing a sports bra underneath to make sure they are completely inaccessible. If my daughter even caught glimpse of my nipple she would completely lose her mind.

Most of the first three days will, unfortunately, be letting your child emotionally tire themselves out before they take the bottle because they have no more fight left in them (at least that’s how my wonderful weaning journey began).

This is going to take a lot of your strength, I know it did for me. My daughter became a completely amped-up version of herself and got quite violent with her tantrums. Typically a tantrum for her is lying down somewhere on the floor in view of me. She would press her forehead to the ground and cry before rolling onto her back (fake crying, mind you) and she would randomly lift her legs and slowly bring them down. It honestly looks a little bit like hilarious, emotional yoga. When we started weaning, she became obviously frustrated with the whole thing and started lashing out.

She would try and pull at my shirt and when I kept pulling her hands away and offering the bottle her frustration would peak and she would transform into this adorable little monster. Don’t let her cuteness fool you, she would pinch, slap, try and bite me. Honestly, my living room was the octagon and there were no rules in this match.

I personally think (although a lot of moms I have spoken to about this have disagreed) that it’s best to provide comfort during this time to help them with the transition. Comfort was important to my daughter because that was why she breastfed so often. It was a comfort thing to her, much like a soother would be to another child. So to take away breastfeeding and also take away the comfort she needed in that time and let her cry-it-out by herself was something I knew just wouldn’t work emotionally for my daughter.

I needed to get her used to the routine but also let her know the comfort she needed from me was still there. So, I would pick her up with her back against my chest so she couldn’t hit, pinch, or bite me, and I would walk laps around our living room while counting softly, or singing. Usually after about five minutes or so she would calm down and it was time to repeat the process all over again.

Moms, let me tell you, this was a lot on me emotionally. I cried a lot, I lost my patience, I was frustrated and angry. Emotionally and physically, I was completely spent.

The most difficult part of the whole weaning process is feeling like you’re losing that bond with your child that you’ve build breastfeeding. It’s hard to go from being their favourite person to someone they may try and lash out because they don’t understand what is going on and why things are changing.

Emotionally I was a wreck, and my days were a tornado of tears, milk, and exhaustion.

The guilt was weighing really heavy on me during this whole thing and I found myself doubting my capabilities as a mom and whether or not I was fully up for the task.

After the third day, I eliminated the morning feed and kept her busy in the morning. If your child likes something else (mine loves water), I would fill their favourite cup with this and let them have that while they eat breakfast and play and you can pump. Typically I kept my daughter busy with Super Simple Learn videos because she loves to count along or watch the ABCs. (This company is super great and I absolutely love their videos. You can watch them for free on YouTube and they teach everything from animals, numbers, to days of the year, even sign language!) While she was busy, I would go into the kitchen where I could still see her but she couldn’t see me and I would pump.

The fourth day was still difficult, but substantially easier than the first three days. For any parent going through this, I would say once you get over the third-day hump, it’s pretty much downhill from there.

My biggest challenge was naptime and bedtime because my daughter was so used to nursing to sleep. Usually, when she started to get tired and her naptime was getting close I would put her in the stroller and take the bottle along knowing she wouldn’t give me any trouble taking the bottle in the stroller if she was busy looking around on the walk. Normally she would get just about through the bottle and would pass out.

On the fourth day, I also started to do 1/2 and 1/2 bottles. 

It’s important to start switching to whole milk, or whatever milk you decide is best for your baby gradually. The walks made that transition a lot easier, so will car rides and any other place your child will take a bottle from you without much fuss.

My daughter is also very curious, so I found if I took her into the kitchen with me to make a bottle and she could watch, she would take it from me right away just to see what was what.

When I started adding whole milk to her bottle she did give me a tiny bit of resistance. At that point, I also started adding a scoop of Ovaltine to her bottle which was something I would do when she started to get sick before we started the weaning process. It is chocolate flavour so of course, that made the world of difference to her.

By the sixth day, I eliminated any daytime feedings and we were strictly down to bedtime feedings. Having the few test days where I would give her a bottle for walks really helped with the transition and honestly, it was the easiest feed to completely cut out if I kept her busy.

Things to note, my daughter’s appetite completely changed while weaning but I expected that because when she is overly emotional she refused to eat any solid meals and will only snack. I had to get a little creative with snacks to make sure she was getting enough to eat. Anything your kids can pick up and eat themselves is always great because while they’re mad at you, getting them to sit and eat will be really difficult.

My daughter also got diarrhea while we were transitioning her from breastmilk. Now, a few people told me this wasn’t normal and that she may be lactose intolerant, however, she had been on milk since 7 months and had never had an incident. That being said, it is also possible to develop an intolerance. So when she started getting diarrhea, I switched to infant formula to see if that was what it was. The switch was awful, she hated the formula, it made her gassy and even made her spit up a bit, and she still had diarrhea.

I think you just have to know your child. My daughter is, as I’ve stated before, very dramatic. When she tends to be overemotional or resisting a big change in her life she often gets diarrhea. I decided to wait it out and see if it went away when she got used to this new routine.

Day eight was when I switched to 1/2 breastmilk and 3/4 whole milk. 

This was a fairly easy switch but I was also adding a scoop of Ovaltine to her first bottle and her bottle before her nap. Outside of those two 5oz bottles, she usually had a third around the time she woke up which was plain.

By the tenth day, we were exclusively bottle feeding. 

If you have a child who likes to feed to sleep as mine does, I find it helpful if you offer them the bottle before they actually get to bed. By the time we had gotten to the point where she was drinking from a bottle at bedtime, she was on 100% milk. I found it was better if I offered her the bottle while we were still reading stories because she didn’t associate that with bedtime and feeding to sleep. She would typically finish about 3/4 of her 10oz bottle before we were done reading. Most nights she would not want to finish it and she would roll around the bed a little bit until she felt settled enough to pass out.

So that’s it. That is how I weaned my daughter from breastfeeding in 10 days.

Now again, this is just my journey. My child is not your child. Maybe your child will be an angel while your transition and you will look back at this post wondering what in the hell was going on in my home during all of this, but maybe your child won’t be and maybe the things that worked for me may not help with your child. But honestly, sometimes just reading about someone else’s journey and realizing you’re not alone in your struggle is enough.

I am not an expert on anything, especially not parenting. All I can do is tell you what it was like for me and hope that somewhere in this blog entry there is something that will make your day even the tiniest bit easier.

As always, it’s been a pleasure pretending to know what I’m talking about!

Until next time.

A Low Bar For Self Care

My morning routines may not seem like much, especially considering most mornings my sink is more full than empty, my daughter is no doubt walking around the house with one slipper on, no pants, her hair still slightly messy from her sleep. Toys make up most of the space on the floor and at any given time my TV is playing Super Simple Learning Songs around the clock. From the outside looking it, I am sure there are handfuls of people that will wonder what in the hell I am doing with all my time.

For most stay-at-home parents, this is the norm and they are used to constantly drowning they don’t really expect a lifeline. They’re comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I never get to drink my coffee hot, I’ve stepped on more half-eaten ArrowRoot cookies than I can count, there are a lot of days when I don’t brush my teeth or my hair until late in the evening, track pants and old tees are my new fashion trend and all of my showers are taken with a small human at my feet, occasionally looking up at me from that very observant spot between my legs.

This is parenting.

I’m so used to it at this point, I don’t even know how I would function if things changed.

Today, while scrolling through Instagram, I saw something that pretty much stopped me in my tracks. It was a post by @scarymommy that had me pausing and rethinking the way I did everything.

To sum up, it pretty much said there has never been an instance where taking a shower, washing your face, or brushing your teeth has been considered self-care for dads, so why is it that when a mom gets to spend an hour by herself doing errands, taking a shower or doing anything any normal person gets to do as a daily part of their routine, the world stop and screams “Self-care!”?

Life for moms is rough. Someone who I love who tells it as it is; Chrissy Teigen will be the first one to clap back at anyone who questions her parenting, but having those questions and comments thrown out at her in the first place is not only eye-opening but completely normal in this day and age.

We live in a time where taking a moment to breathe sans kids is considered negligent. Where sitting at the park and pulling out your phone to message people about your day as your kids play ten feet away is enough to call the authorities about in the eyes of All-Knowing Amys and Judgmental Judys.

When did moms become these less-than-human things who had to live for their kids every moment of every day? Who isn’t allowed to admit they need time to themselves without being made out to seem like complete monsters.

Even I am guilty of calling things that should be my basic human rights self-care, when in reality, if I kept the bar where it had been before having my daughter, I haven’t received a single moment of self-care since becoming pregnant.

Society is failing moms, and for every troll on the internet that has the audacity to call a mom who dares go out for a drink with their girlfriends a bad mom, we fall lower and lower.

Sure, this isn’t the life of every stay-at-home parent. Some parents who stay home get up with an alarm clock every day, take a solo shower, put on their faces and get dressed without a child ever even popping up. But more often than not, that isn’t the case. It may be a few days, or even weeks before you see a make-up brush. Dry-Shampoo may know you better than your shower does, and although that is okay, don’t settle for the little things and tell yourself it’s big.

As parents, especially as mothers, we’ve earned the right the have guilt-free time to ourselves. We’ve earned time to work on our mental health and emotional wellbeing without someone saying that doing so makes us bad mothers. We deserve a lot more than we’re given and shouldn’t be shamed for saying so.

Basic care is not the self-care we desperately need and pretending it is maybe more damaging than helpful.

Look, I am just as guilty as every other parent out there. I’ve hidden out of view behind the couch eating a snack I didn’t want to share and raised a ”Self-Care” flag in triumph. I’ve gotten ready; makeup, hair, clothes, without being interrupted and dubbed that alone time as self-care. As ridiculous as it may seem, those stolen moments without a child attached to me are blissful.

But I deserve more, parents deserve more.

Mothers deserve more.

Let’s stop pretending basic care is enough.

Day 4 Of Weaning

The decision to start on the weaning process was not a difficult one to make for me. My daughter has gotten into the habit of feeding for every little thing and having my shirt constantly pulled down, whether at home or in public, was getting old really fast. I knew it would be difficult, my daughter has a big personality topped off with a whopping dose of drama, but I really didn’t think it would be this hard.

I did my research and came up with a game plan. I knew I wouldn’t go cold turkey because that seemed to have bad side effects for both mom and tot. The clogged breasts were enough for me to say I wasn’t going to try it, but knowing my daughter using feeding as a source of comfort, I didn’t want to completely rob her of that and leave her feeling as though she did something wrong.

My plan was to cut all feeding down to three times a day, which is substantially less than the dozen or so we were at before we started this process. There would be days where she would be in a mood and literally, all she would do is feed. Cutting it down to three was something I wasn’t sure if we could do the first day, but we made it through with a lot of screaming and tears (on both sides).

One feeding in the morning, one feeding before her midday nap, and then one at bedtime. Any other drinking outside of those three were going to be with cups and bottles and of course the solids.

At day 4, I have eliminated the morning feed. It’s easiest to keep her busy in the mornings and distract her from her need to feed with her solids and toys. Without them afternoon feed at this point, she won’t nap. I know a lot of moms reading this who have read somewhere that you shouldn’t nurse to sleep are probably thinking this is why. Sure, she needs to nurse to sleep at some points, but I also feel like as mother’s it’s our job to provide that level of comfort if our little ones need it, despite what some literature may tell us. I’m definitely not sorry I’ve been nursing her to sleep thus far, but it is a difficult habit to step back from.

However, with cutting back, it only takes a few short minutes of feeding for her to completely knock out, which is wonderful compared to the 30 or so minutes it took before that.

Her hate of bottles has really set us back a bit. Ever since she was a baby she just hated the nipples of a bottle and refused to take them. It’s definitely made my job a lot harder. Looking back, I probably should have pumped more and given my husband more of a role in the feeding process and it definitely would have made this weaning process that much easier. With co-sleeping and my lack of sleep, I was just doing was easiest and best for both of us at the time, and I regret not taking more of a bumpy road.

Live and learn, no going back now.

Of all the bottles we’ve bought, and we have bought quite a bit, I find she likes the Avent bottle the best.

I’ve heard great things about the Nuk ones as well, but we have a few of these and she just prefers the Avent ones. You can buy them from Amazon, Walmart, BabiesRus for our Canadian mamas. They’re sold pretty much everywhere as they are a popular brand, and this nipple is closest to my own, which is why she prefers it.

What I’ve learned when buying bottles is just stick with one. Buy a bottle, and just keep at it. Eventually, they will be okay with it. Switching out bottles constantly for preference (unless your baby has colic) only makes things more difficult and your baby fussier.

If you have a tot with as strong of a personality of mine, you are going to have to tough out some majorly bad behaviour. At this age, it’s hard to correct behaviour as their understanding is not really at a point where you can nip things in the bud. All you can do is stop them from doing what you don’t like and try and get them to do something else. My daughter is really bad for biting, although it seems to be something she just does with my husband and me when she loses her temper. I cover her mouth with my hand when she is going to bite me, gently push her face away while saying “No” and try and get her to do something else, like look at her book or play with her toys. It usually takes more than one attempt but takes fewer attempts than it did in the beginning.

When I first introduce the bottle, she likes to drop dramatically to the floor and “fake cry” (did I mention she was dramatic) eventually this fake cry will grow into a full-blown wail that eventually turns into an actual cry. In short, she works herself up. (YAY ME!)

In the beginning, I would pick her up and calm her and try again. I would do this over and over. It left me feeling like I had gone about ten rounds in the ring when I was done. Now, I let her finished her dramatics first and when she’s all but calmed herself, I step in to provide a little comfort. It’s extremely hard! I’ve never been the kind of parent that lets her cry it out for any reason, but stepping in too soon showed her tantrums got her what she wanted and lengthened the process.

It’s been rough both physically, mentally, and emotionally. All I can really do is pretend it’s a little easier than it is and tell myself the break of the storm is coming sooner rather than later.

Winter Wear and Carseats

If you are living somewhere with four seasons, one of them a lengthy winter, you know that when winter really hits and you are facing temperatures as low as -40 Celsius, you know there is nothing more important than bundling your little one. However, if you’ve taken a moment to read through your car seat manual, you know you’re not supposed to put your child in the car seat in their winter jackets or snow gear as most manuals say it impairs the effectiveness of the belts.

So what to do?

Last winter we were mostly in the infant seat and my daughter was small enough to wear a coverall Sherpa suit which was lightweight. The infant seat is a blessing in so many ways because you can use the winter covers, your baby never leaves the seat outside and the click-in base means you can completely cover them and not have to worry about a thing. Once you switch to a convertible seat, things become a little more tricky.

Here in Canada, our winters can get intense. This means that our little ones need to be wearing something to get them from the house to the car that is warm and can fend off those frigid winds. My first choice, of course, was another Sherpa coverall, but it seems like they only make them to the 9-month sizes then they switch to jacket styles. Winters here typically mean thick winter jackets, hats, scarves, mittens, snow pants, and heavy-duty boots for our kids, add in a car seat and even if you decide to disregard the manual, it can be hard to get all that bulk in those belts.

Insert dramatic eye roll and sigh here.

Did I mention how easy last winter was?

After searching for the coverall Sherpa suits with no luck, I was out shopping and came across the character onesies.

As most parents know, these things are warm. Really warm. Too warm to even sleep in despite the fact they are sold as PJs. Most of our kids will wear these around the house, happy to be a shark, unicorn, cat, monkey, even dinosaur, but when they are tucked into bed they complain they are too hot and it gets stripped right off.

That got me thinking.

Are these onesies really that much thicker than the Sherpa suits?

Not by much.

I had finally found a warm, and cute solution. So long as my plans for the day mostly involve my toddler being in the car and stroller (it’s definitely not warm enough to play outside in) that was warm and cute. We bought her a handful of these PJs and would put them over her clothes for outdoor wear.

Sometimes being a parent means you have to use a little creativity to find solutions. She still, of course, has her heavy-duty snowsuit for days she wants to play in the snow, but for the most part, my one-year-old will be snug as a bug in a car seat in her PJ onesies.

The Wonders Of Breastfeeding, The Terrors Of Weaning

From the moment I got pregnant, I found myself hoping that I had a good milk supply. I knew more than anything that I wanted to breastfeed and I wanted to do it as long as I possibly could. My sister was a veteran, she had been brave and determined enough to breastfeed for two years and for some reason, I couldn’t remember it being something she struggled with. Knowing that my goal was to breastfeed just as long.

The benefits of breastfeeding just seemed right to me, not to mention the savings. I wouldn’t have to spend as much on bottles, I wouldn’t have to keep up with the whole sterilization process, I wouldn’t need to get up and make formula bottles in the dead of the night when she woke up fussy… there was no question. Not to mention the bond breastfeeding created, it was just everything I wanted.

Something I’ve mentioned a lot in my blog thus far is the lack of candid blogs when it comes to the whole pregnancy and parenting process. For whatever reason, a lot of motherhood is wrapped up in a pretty bow, sprinkled in glitter and presented to us women as this glorious thing. In many ways, it absolutely is, however, I wish I had been better informed of the struggles that went along with breastfeeding.

I’m not saying, had I known, I would have made a different decision. There is just something about walking into a battle informed that makes things easier. You knew the hardships that would be ahead, and that makes it all the more easy to shrug off the constant feeling of being exhausted and drained, the way your body gives up when you have been breastfeeding for hours and hours when your child is going through a growth spurt, sickness, developmental leaps (the changes in your baby are constant and not as broken up as they lead us to believe), the aches and pains, the sore nipples and irritability. A lot of things go hand in hand with breastfeeding.

Hair loss.

Yes… hair loss.

After 14 months of breastfeeding, I am just about ready to throw in the towel. I miss having my body to myself. It’s been 14 months of breastfeeding, 9 months of being an apartment to my baby as she grew and flourished. That’s almost 2 whole years of sharing my body 24/7 with someone else.

This means it’s been almost two years of no (minimal) caffeine, no alcohol, the inability to take medications for certain things that pop up, a careful eye on my diet, prenatal vitamins… the list is endless.

Breastfeeding is taxing, and I really have to throw my hands up to any woman who has done it time and time again, pregnancy after pregnancy. Good on you, you’re a Queen because I keep telling my husband he couldn’t pay me to do it again.

At this point, it seems to be more for comfort than anything else, but that also means that every slip and fall, every bump, every bruise, every fussy moment means she is climbing up and pulling my shirt down, getting a single moment to myself without a baby attached to me by the nipple is a rarity.

I can’t tell you the amount of jealousy I feel when I see videos of pictures of a baby just chilling with a bottle. Lying in their crib, casually sipping on a bottle while mom snaps a photo. With social media, the stream of content is constant, and it is so easy for a photo or video to have you questioning every parenting decision you’ve made.

I’ve found myself thinking that bottle-fed babies seem less fussy, they seem to have less separation anxiety, better capable to self soothe… the list of things were endless in my mind and at times, when I am extremely tired and at my breaking point, in those moments it makes me question whether I made the right decision for my baby as mother and wondering what I’ve possibly done to her with the decisions I’ve made.

I’ll have an order of parenting with a huge side of guilt please… yes, just keep the guilt coming.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a hundred more times, being a parent is hard. It’s especially hard for mothers. Add breastfeeding to the mix, and most days just functioning is such a task for me.

As the weening process begins, I had found my already somewhat difficult girl to become an actual terror. There is hitting, there is screaming, there is scratching and pulling. There is a lot of time with her spent on the floor, crying hysterically as she lays sprawled out as I try to offer her a bottle.

If I thought breastfeeding was hard, weening is a battle I don’t think I will either win or survive.

A 10-15 minute tantrum is honestly enough to make me want to crawl into bed, pull the covers up over my head, and just hope tomorrow comes and is a better day than today. It is rough.

When she cries the way she does, it honestly strips me bare. It exposes every single nerve and emotion in me and leaves me completely vulnerable. At the core of it, I feel like a terrible mother. Cradling her against me, singing to her, trying to both soothe her and let her know that I mean business breaks me down. Every moment I am smiling through it, but inside I am fighting back tears because if I am being completely honest, I never imagined it would be this hard. I never imagined that she would swipe at me, that she would act so primal and desperate.

It’s honestly heartbreaking and something that wasn’t mentioned in any parenting blog, forum, social media post. That lack of information is so damaging to moms. We already do emotionally and mentally fragile after giving birth, some of us never really get back that armour we wore before. To look for answers and reassurances from other mothers and to find none just leaves us feeling like failures.

Not every moment in parenting is picture-perfect. There is a lot more screaming, crying, yelling, and lashing out than any Instagram mom will ever dare to tell you. There are a lot of days spent in track pants and a sports bra/nursing bra, with your hair greasy and unkempt, streaks of tears down your face as you wonder about yourself, about your baby, about parenting, and everything else.

Parenting is hard.

Babies are little people who can’t fully communicate and often lash out because they don’t know what else to do. Their behaviour is especially bad with mom because you are their safe space and they trust you so completely that they know they can be their absolute worst with you (lucky us).

I honestly wish I could use this post to give you some helpful tips that are sure to get you through the weening process, but at this point, I am just taking it day by day. Instead, I will use this post to tell you to hang in there, remind you that you are an amazing mom and you will get through this!

We are all stronger than we know, and we will survive the weening process.

Until then, we will have a little cry and pretend we know what the heck we are doing.

Second Birthday As A Mommy

At the beginning of this month, I celebrated my 29th birthday. As long as I can remember, I have not really been a birthday person. The idea of celebrating entirely for me has always left me feeling awkward. However, now that I am a mom, I am trying to embrace celebrations.

Trying.

This year was a difficult one to really try and embrace the celebrations. It was a cold day on the 9th and my husband was working long shifts. My sister was also working which meant the two people I would usually celebrate with were unavailable, and if I am being perfectly honest, it was something of a relief.

As much as I told myself I wanted to lean into my birthday this year, I really didn’t want to. Getting older has always been an odd thing to celebrate for me.

A lot of people kept asking me what I did. Like my birthday was a grand event that needed to be thoroughly celebrated. I spent my day much like I have spent most of my days for the past 14 months; with my daughter.

We played all day, practiced her walking, I taught her some coordination games. Honestly, there was no better way to spent the day than with my favourite person.

As much as I want to make every celebration special for my daughter, there was nothing more special to me than just spending time with her.

These last two birthdays with her as a huge part of my life have been the best birthdays of my life.

Cold Weather and Your Child

For any moms that live somewhere that has four seasons (or at least rumours having four distinct seasons) you’ve likely said your goodbyes to summer come September and should be enjoying the wonders of Autumn/Fall. Here in Toronto, Fall has felt short-lived. Sure, our leaves are still changing colours, the pumpkins and other gourds were out and we are surrounded by Pumpkin Spice everything, but the cold has crept in quickly. I know a lot of people who have been wearing their winter coats for the past two months and will likely, keep them on until May.

As parents, we find this in-between season a struggle when it comes to dressing our little ones. Although a lot of days at hitting between 1-12 degrees Celsius, there are those random days that will surprise us with a little more sun and a little more heat. Is it time for our little ones to don their hats and scarves, to keep their little fingers covered?

My opinion on this will always be: YES.

Nothing makes me more annoyed than when I pass by someone pushing a stroller who is wearing a hat, scarf, mitts and a warm jacket and you look at the baby/toddler they are pushing and they have their hands out, bright pink from the cold.

If you, as an adult, need mitts or gloves, then those tiny little fingers definitely do. If you have your ears covered than your baby/toddler needs their little ears covered. If you have your winter coat on, please don’t have your baby/toddler wearing just a sweater. What makes you think their tiny little body is more capable of keeping warm than yours?

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for this. “My baby/toddler gets hot.” “My baby/toddler doesn’t like wearing a hat or gloves.”

Its always better to have your baby bundled, even if they get hot. It’s better to have them a little too warm than cold, especially since there is no visual way of knowing if they are too cold. How the body works when it is cold, is to protect its core first, which means if your child is not wearing gloves, the body will not work extremely hard to push blood into their fingers or hands, and will instead protect/work to warm the torso. Extremities such as fingertips are highly susceptible to frostbite when there isn’t blood being pushed into them.

How likely is it that your child will get frostbite? You’re just out for a stroll.

Frostbite or frostnip can occur in children under 0 degrees Celsius, which is a common winter temperature for us here in Canada. It is also more common when there are winds because winds cool the skin faster. One of the most common causes of frostbite in small children is not dressing warm enough for the weather. With that being said, it’s definitely better to be safe rather than sorry.

As parents, we are going to come across a lot of things our children don’t like to do. When we were kids ourselves, the idea that we didn’t like something didn’t really cross our minds. Once our parents told us something, that was kind of it. In this age of parenting, we are more likely to take our children’s feelings into consideration in a lot of our planning, but being safe and prepared for the weather really shouldn’t be one of them.

As winter approaches, please take all the necessary precautions for your children when it comes to combatting the winter weather!

The Impossible Job of the Stay At Home Parent

Before I got pregnant there was always this discussion about the difficulties of the stay-at-home parent. Often it was discussed by people who didn’t have kids, ones who stood on the outside looking in while they went on to their 9-5s somewhat envious of the stay-at-home parent for the possibility of sleeping in, staying in your PJs or workout clothes all day, and getting to spend most of your time at parks or other seemingly enjoyable locations.

“What is there to complain about?” “How can a job you do in your PJs possibly be difficult?” “God forbid, I had to spend my days at home binging hours of Netflix?” “What are they complaining about? I would love spending all that time with my kids if I had them?”

These are some of the most common comments you have probably heard.

Well, this is for all the people who don’t have kids and think that parenting 24/7 is such an easy task.

There are days when even parents who don’t intend to co-sleep have spent a whole sleepless night with this child in their bed, little legs and feet in their back, hands thrown over their faces, wishing for just three inches of childless mattress so they can close their eyes enough to make it through the next day. Then, exhausted and sore, they have to get up and go a whole day at the beck and call to their little minions.

There are no sick days, there are no holidays or days where you can phone it in and just go through the motions. Even the routine of being a stay-at-home parent isn’t as much of a routine as you’d like because children are unpredictable. They are living, breathing things that are in charge of every waking moment of your day, no matter how much you schedule or plan.

One of the most tedious jobs I’ve had was working at a Bridal Consultant. I worked at four different wedding gown stores and the job seemed simple enough; help brides-to-be find the gown of their dreams during a one-hour consultation. Usually, you are one-on-one with the bride (and usually an entourage of her choosing) in a room trying to decipher all her contradicting wants and needs. There were honestly days of this job (which I stayed in for over seven years) where I wanted to pull my hair out and burn the boutique to the ground. But, at the end of the day, I got to go home. I got to unload, I got to leave those brides behind for evenings, little weekends, vacations, and completely forget about them.

Imagine having to do your job constantly. From the moment your eyes open until they close and night (and most nights, even after your eyes are closed). There is no clocking out, there are no care-free evenings, there are no vacations.

Don’t mistake me that for meaning that being a parent is awful. It’s not. Most days you smile more than you cry, you forget about the underlying exhaustion while you make playdates, and meet-and-greets, and appointments. You go through 22 hour days without even realizing you’ve taken five mini-naps while your child is eating, or playing, or watching their favourite program. Parenting is a rollercoaster, and for most of it, you are smiling (even when you’re screaming). Saying it’s easy though, is like saying you can wake up today after no preparation and enter a strong man competition… every minute of it will be a struggle.

I think what a lot of people don’t realize is what exactly makes being a stay-at-home parent so isolating. Your social life completely disappears if you don’t have other stay-at-home friends. It’s isolating and lonely, and sometimes all you want is to sit down with any other adult person and have an actual conversation.

There isn’t a lot of support for stay-at-home parents. When the bulk of people out there think that it’s easy, there isn’t a lot of support. Some people say you can lean on your families and friends for the support you need, but sometimes you just crave support from people who don’t necessarily know you. Ones that won’t respond with “Yes, but you’re so strong, you can get through it.” or “I know you, and this is just a bad day.” 

Making new friendships is extremely difficult. You spend a lot of time at kids programs and the park hoping to connect with other parents but a lot of them are just out there trying to catch their breath, their eyes glued on their kids and hoping to get a few moments alone before they have to go back in and do a load of laundry, or start dinner, or get their kids in the bath. When you factor in that becoming a parent has most likely isolated you from your social circle if they are still without kids, not being able to make any new friends can be depressing.

Alongside all of that, there is the constant guilt. You feel guilty because your child may not be making their milestones. You feel guilty because you spent those extra ten minutes in the bathroom, or on your phone, or computer ‘ignoring’ your child(ren). You feel guilty about reaching out and asking your partner for help because they’ve been at work all day and you’ve been home. The list of things that trigger guilt in parents is miles long, and new things get added to that list every day.

And all of this is barely scratching the surface. Imagine having a child who requires extra attention. A child with health issues, or developmental issues. Just imagine the constant struggle of being home with them all day, never getting the chance to come up for air.

Parenting isn’t easy.

If it was, there would be a lot more high-functioning, perfect adults running around. The truth is, we never know if what we are doing is right, we just do our best and hope everything turns out.

In a world where the cost of living keeps rising along with the cost of childcare, a lot of parents are opting to stay home until their children reach school age to help with the expenses of childcare, which means there are that many more parents out there staying home and reluctantly signing up for the difficult job of being a stay-at-home parent. So many more single parents that have to get on assistance just to make ends meet.

All of this definitely weighs on the stay-at-home parent. The mental and emotional strain on parents, in general, is immeasurable.

As someone who has always worked with children in one way or another, my eyes have always been somewhat open to the issues and the hardship of being a parent, but becoming one myself has definitely put things in a whole new light.

Parenting IS a job.

For anyone out there that doesn’t think so, they clearly have no idea what they may one day be getting into.

The Mental and Emotional Weight of Milestones On Parents

Every baby develops at their own pace.” This is something that you will hear a lot as a new parent. This gives your mind a little bit of peace as you move through the days. You tell yourself that your baby will sit up on their own when they are ready, your baby will crawl on their own when they are ready, your baby will start to coo and babble when they are ready. You just wait, excited to be a part of their moments when they happen.

Yet, the check-ups happen often and at each appointment, you get the same question. “Is your baby hitting the scheduled milestones?”

For a parent, this question can make you overly anxious, especially if your child is one of the many that beats to their own drum and wants to set their own pace. That tiny little devil named Comparison creeps in and you find yourself looking at other babies, wondering how old they are as they take wobbly steps across the playground.

Up until this point, my daughter has been on track for all her milestones, early even. I would start to get a little nervous and then we would wake up one day and it would just happen. She would be sitting, she would be crawling. Just like that.

Walking has been the hardest milestone to tackle so far and I feel like everywhere I look there are younger babies wobbling around. I can’t fully express to you how this makes me personally feel, and I feel like this is a common feeling shared among parents who’s children don’t follow the curve of the developmental charts. You feel like you’ve failed. You’re frustrated with yourself for not doing more and you look back at everything you’ve done over the past months leading up to now. You wonder what you should have swapped out to ensure your baby was hobbling along with the others.

I’ve said this once, I will say this a thousand times; parenting is lonely. That inner voice you had before you became a parent that makes you doubt yourself and question your worth suddenly gets a megaphone when you become a parent. Every emotion you feel has a side order of guilt.

Those people who joke about parenting being the hardest job in the world, really have no idea. It is a lot more than just organizing programs, carpools, and playdates. The emotional and mental toll of being a parent is unmeasurable and something a lot of people who aren’t in the same situation will never understand. We don’t get to log off at the end of a workday, we are on 100% of the time. Can you even imagine being so thoroughly mentally and emotionally consumed every minute of every day?

That’s being a parent, and no… it most definitely isn’t easy.

Outside of the doctor’s office, everyone else questions you about their milestones as well. It’s like you are in competition with every other parent and their child and those parents want you to know exactly how advanced their little baby is. They will tell you just when they reached the milestone your baby hasn’t yet, note their child is younger and then reluctantly add… “But she’ll get there. Every baby moves at their own pace.”

I know babies who had started walking as soon as 8 months, and then I know other’s who started when they were around 2 years. Everything else in their lives was comparable, there was no big issue or rhyme or reason to it. That was just when they were ready. So how can there be a chart that says when our babies should accomplish what tasks when that is such a huge gap? How is that second mom supposed to feel about her baby’s development when the chart states walking should take place between 12-18 months?

I can tell you what I am feeling, I am feeling a bit stressed, a little worried and overwhelmed and definitely guilty.  I practice with her for a few hours every day, I don’t like to overdo it because she gets frustrated and I don’t want her to associate walking with frustration. Yet, I can’t tell you how many messages I get a day asking me if she is walking yet. It’s frustrating and disheartening.

I tell myself I am just going to release the reigns a bit. I am going to sit back and let her tell me when she is ready, but a part of me can’t help feeling like I should be doing more to help her along.

For anyone who is feeling this way, I am right there with you. It’s hard to let them figure things out all on their own, but that looks like the only way to progress.

Whether or not I am capable of this is irrelevant right now, I am going to have to figure out how to step back and let her take the lead on this.

Rainy Day Madness

As Canadians we know moving into the month of October we had better buckle up for the rollercoaster weather. September brought us low temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius, and highs of 34 degrees Celsius which I think left the bulk of us, here in Toronto, wonder what the in the world was going on. One day you are wearing a light sweater and thinking it may be a bit too much for the weather, the next day you’re contemplating taking your winter coat out of hibernation.

This weather means two things. The first thing is dressing your baby or little one for the outdoors becomes difficult. You struggle with dressing them warm (which is what I always tend to do) and removing their little hat to see sweat matted hair, or dressing them on the lighter side and having to hurry home as soon as the sun starts to dip in the sky and it goes from warm to freezing in a matter of moments. The second struggle is your little one getting sick.

The constant up and down, being bundled, and unbundled usually leads to some kind of cold. My daughter usually gets congested with thick, mucus boogs that dry on her face before I can ever wipe them away. Wiping their nose is a constant battle which usually means you have a kicking, swatting, screaming baby who would tell you to f**k off if they could as you wipe their nose over and over.

It quickly becomes a routine of sitting in the bottom of a steamy shower, humidifier, essential oils, saline sprays, and chamomile. I always find congestion is something that sticks with you longer than any other symptom. When it is the lone symptom, it really does want to hang around, especially when the weather is so unpredictable. Going from hot weather outside, to AC on full blast inside, back to a freezing night outside really messes with your body, especially for babies and children whose bodies are still so small and trying to figure things out.

A lot of parents decide to spend most cold days indoors, not wanting the trouble.

Now, just for fun, let’s add some rain.

This past week we had three-four really grey, damp, and rainy days. Rain for me, especially now that I have a one-year-old, means its an indoor day. Unfortunately, for a lot of parents, days, where you have to keep your kids indoors, makes you feel like you are the warden in an insane asylum where your patients/inmates are bouncing off the walls, rioting, wound up with unspent energy, and refusing the essentials like naps and snacks. My daughter turns into Mr. Hyde when she is kept inside for two consistent days in a row.

We were in for four.

By the third day, I was hiding in the bathroom, pushing snacks underneath the door while a naked baby screamed at me, banging on the door and snatching those snacks in-between fits of rage and lunacy.

And my child is only one.

I can’t say whether or not it gets easier when they get older or whether or not this is the easy stage (insert nervous laugh here). Part of me believes this age is harder because there is no negotiating. They are too young to want to sit inside a fort and watch a movie or do anything that will really give us a break. This is also the stage where any minor change completely throws their routines up in the air. Not going out for a walk or going to the park for an hour or so to spend some of her energy, means she has all the energy built up and it turns into a frustration she can’t voice or work through.

This usually means she crawls over to her ‘zone’ (the mats by the balcony door), lies down on her back and fake cries for anywhere between 15-45 minutes because she just doesn’t know what to do with herself and she is sick of both mommy and her trusty best friend Toby (our dog). She is a kid who likes to be social, so the same faces for days on end makes her act pretty irrational.

Our apartment turns into a battle zone. Toys and books all over the floor, more snacks scattered around than in her mouth, baby songs playing on a loop, usually a lone diaper open somewhere on the floor that she has taken off at one point so she can crawl around naked and I have forgotten about for the time being.

Fall is hard. More rainy days mean more madness (for both of us). I honestly can’t wait until she is old enough to enjoy just sitting and watching her favourite movie or show for a few hours. (Insert new age gasp here as I admit to wanting my child to sit and watch TV so I can get a break.)

As we move closer and closer to December and when they are predicting we will have our first snowfall here in Toronto, I wonder how adding more indoor days is going to affect her mood. Will she adjust over time, realizing this is just another part of life, or will indoor days always be a battle. Some kids just need to be outdoors.

I guess time will tell.