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Archive for the ‘Life Chronicles’ Category

 Just because you’re grown up and then some doesn’t mean settling into the doldrums of predictability. Surprise people. Surprise yourself. ~ Victoria Moran

I am a creature of habit and I enjoy structure and routine – predictability and me are friends. But like most good friends, there is a moment of unreliability which results in chaos. Example: wifey goes to bed leaving hubby to prep his lunch for following day. Wifey wakes 20 or so minutes later to fire alarm going off and smoke filling the house as hubby snoozes on the couch. Chaos.

Predictability is the difference between knowing my kid will nap and sleep well because we got home at the right time and enjoying an evening out with friends. Both are tremendously appreciated but rarely work together for the good of all in my household.

So what does a mama do? She brings out her juggling act which includes: fearlessness (cough cough), stamina and her plan for how to get her kid back on track after chocolate cake and adult conversation is enjoyed during dinner away from home.

Predictability is survival, people, at least it is for me. It supplies most of my fundamental needs: sleep, food and activities with friends. That’s what it boils down to. Sound sad? Here’s the thing, I love it!

My days of globe trotting, sneaking around Van Dusen Gardens after gates closed with my boyfriend (now husband), singing the the porcelain god (because them were the days) and dancing til three in the morning are memories for the sharing now.

My days now, they look a lot like this….

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And looking down at this sweet faceImage

And capturing moments such as this

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And somehow, in the middle of such predictability as weekly playgroups, nap time, meal time, and “Daddy’s home” time, there is an ever growing and changing dynamic. This is my life right here and now and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I consider social skills a bit like learning a language. I’ve been practising it for so long over so many years I’ve almost lost my accent. ~ Daniel Tammet

You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it – “be yourself.”

I don’t know about you but I often take my cues from those around me. When I was a kid, I learned to act like I knew what everyone else was talking about by cleverly chuckling and nodding “yeah,” even though I did not get the joke. To be naive and admit ignorance was setting oneself up for teasing. As a young adult, I learned to empathize in my neighbour’s plight with a mixture of murmurs and facial expressions that promised returned favour.

Some would call these kinds of behaviours social skills. But recently, I’m finding that a lot of these so called social skills generate some self-depreciation.

Here’s an example. I’m a mother. I want to be a good mother. I want others to think I’m a good mother. So I say things a “good mother” says.

“Yes, I’m loving the newborn stage.” Actually, I’d really like to jump ship at the moment but I’m not sure if you would empathize with or judge me. Wondering is answered when fellow mother gushes about how she loves the newborn stage – they’re so dependent on you for such a short time.

Thank God for that.

Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful moments I experience each day (some days more than others) with my newborn. He smiles at me, startles himself when he burps, snuggles into my shoulder… And then there are the hours of crying, fussing, not sleeping when I desperately need him to…

But it’s for such a short time…can I not put aside my own dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs? I shouldn’t be too eager for this time to be in the past. I’m not cherishing my baby enough. I’m selfish, I’m missing out…I’m just glad that babies keep growing. I enjoy my little Oliver more and more with each passing week. Is that not something to be celebrated and anticipated? Should I feel guilty for anticipating him becoming more interesting, better at sleeping, more cute?

I do cherish the magical times when it’s just me and my baby, connected in nature’s perfect design of a mother caring for her offspring. A new life becoming aware of the world outside the womb is breathtaking and wondrous. But here’s the thing – you as a mother don’t cease to have your needs met. I’d be lying if I said I’m already missing those first few weeks of Oliver’s life. I hold that time close to my heart but I embrace each day that holds more joys for both me and my little man to experience.

That’s the sugar coated version, folks. Now here’s the raw guts underneath the silky smooth mother-ese.

This is not my favourite stage – the newborn stage that is. I feel like it should be sometimes when other mothers lament over how much they miss their newborns. They were so small, so cuddly, so flipping hungry! A small measure of my life force is literally being sucked from me! My new little man is determined to get big (as he should) and is not content for more than five minutes if he’s not on the boob or sleeping. I might add his favourite place to fall asleep is the boob, double wham! Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong supporter of breastfeeding but that’s another post for another time.

Yes I know, this time goes by so fast, trust me, I know. It also goes by in a blurred concoction of sleep deprivation, non-stop attention to the toddler and infant’s needs to the point of neglecting your own and drinking coffee that has been reheated at least five times.

It’s not that I dislike the infant stage. I’m sure in years to come, I will look back, as many before me, on a few fond memories of my children as infants. There is something so beautifully magical about holding a baby close while he snuggles into your breast. The connection between you and your infant is unbreakable. And whether you remember it or not, it is/was freaking exhausting! Maybe you had the baby that slept through the night by the end of its first month (I didn’t and still don’t) but you were still at that baby’s beck and call 24 hours a day, seven days a week until you decided that baby was old enough to be sleep trained.

I do cherish these days when my little Oliver is oh so little. But God am I ever thankful that he won’t always be so little! I am excited for his whole life. I am excited to see him raise his belly off the ground and rock forward in his first crawl. I’m excited, yes, for walking! How much happier will he be when he doesn’t have to express his displeasure to his mom that he can’t move himself? And how about watching that pooping, feeding, burping, throwing-up machine develop his personality? Can you remember how boring that cycle got (especially at 3 a.m.)?

I’ve tried to agree with other moms that this is such a special stage and I’m really enjoying it. The truth is, I enjoy moments of it. But so much of the time, I find myself feeling burnt out from exhausting all possible options for making my crying baby happy only to still have a crying baby. But it’s only for a short time right? Right, but that doesn’t zap the fatigue, the discouragement and the short breaks that only allow for you to fix yourself a cup of tea before a wail summons you.

Final thoughts on newborns….Thank-you Lord for their smiles, snuggles and coffee to smile back.

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Oliver

A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years and in your heart till the day you die. ~ Mary Mason

Oliver, you were born  into the brightness of morning. Looking out the window as I arrived at St. Mary’s hospital that May 29th morning, I reflected on how different this delivery was already gearing up to be than my labour with your brother. In a sentence, it was smooth sailing.

It was just your dad and I and my labour with you was progressing quite calmly (as calmly as labour can be anyway!). I had Braxton Hicks contractions the whole day before and was quite certain you were going to arrive very soon. I texted my good friend Amanda who is a doula and asked her what she thought. She was confident that “real” labour would commence probably in the early morning. And just after 2 am, I had a contraction that was quite a bit stronger than the ones I had been previously experiencing. I lay there trying to fall back to sleep for half an hour but it wasn’t going to happen. So with that, I got out of bed and eased myself onto the couch and Googled labour and when it’s a good idea to get oneself to the hospital! I remember reading a bit about if you can still talk through your contractions, you can probably stay at home still. So I sat there and talked to myself through a few contractions.

“I can still talk through this, yeah, it’s pretty strong but I can still talk…oooo….that was a bit stronger than before.” I giggled a little at how silly I must have looked.

The contractions continued at around five minutes apart and about a minute long and were growing in intensity although they were still quite manageable. So, I decided, I was going to have a shower. I was not going to the hospital with greasy hair this time, that was for sure. That was the first shower I’ve ever taken at 3 am, Oliver.:)

After my shower, I crawled back into bed with your Dad who awoke. We lay there for the next two hours deliberating over when we should call my doula, Brit and our friends, Julie and Brian, who would be looking after your older brother. We agreed around 5 am based on the progress on my labour.

By the time Julie arrived, I was not talking so well through those contractions anymore if at all. Julie was excited as was I and while your dad took our dog, Cosmo, to a friends house to be looked after, Julie prayed for me and you and the delivery. I felt peaceful and confident as Jesse and I drove 25 minutes to the hospital in Sechelt.

Arriving there, we walked ourselves straight up to the maternity ward and the night nurse greeted us warmly and led us into the spacious room where you would be born. Through the huge windows that overlooked the Extra Foods grocery store and other shopping venues, I could also see the ocean and lush coast line. This was so different than Richmond. What’s more is I was the only woman in labour of the two other women in the maternity ward so I had all two nurses to myself.:)

Dr. Bryson arrived shortly after us, around 6 am, and together, we awaited your arrival. That was it. No drama, no fuss, no worry, just a mama doing what her body was designed to do and lovely nurses telling her she could yell as loud as she liked because there was really no one around anyway. Funny though, I didn’t holler nearly as bad as I did the first time and I don’t even think I swore. But as with my labour with your brother, I got to thinking that epidural sounded mighty nice but like last time, it was just too late to get it because guess what, I was already fully dilated by the time we got to the hospital! I whimpered between contractions because I knew that even though they were hurting bad now, they were about to get a whole lot worse! In a comedic moment that I wasn’t actually able to laugh at because of the contraction I was experiencing, I looked over at your dad who was steadily gazing into my eyes with a gaping mouth and a bobbing head. I realized that he was trying to remind me to keep loose hands and a open mouth (something Amanda had told us was important during labour). I wish I could have snapped a shot of your funny dad, Oliver.

And then, I felt your head crowning and in about 20 minutes, I felt that head swoosh out of me as I hung off the back of the upright bed on my knees. I heard your cry and breathed in sweet relief. It was 8:09 am. It was done and I was no longer pregnant! And there you were, blonde fuzzy hair and what’s down there? …..Balls! We had another boy and within a couple hours, we decided that you were Oliver Wesley Bowen – 6 lbs, 6 oz. and 21 inches of beautiful baby with enormous nostrils and a sweet, heart shaped face. We love you so much!

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To read Shae’s birth story, click here

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Making it work

A pleasure a day keeps stress away ~ Ethel Roskies

I used to work with a lady who would often in a singsong voice say “do-do-doo…” letting the last syllable trail off into the sounds of dishes clanging or the bristles of a broom sweeping. I always thought it was a little funny that her mantra never continued into a full tune.
My world got a little crazier about four weeks ago with the birth of my second son, Oliver Wesley. While I have had my husband around helping with my rambunctious toddler, he has been sick with a nasty cold this past week and together with sleepless nights and an equally sick and fussy toddler, I have found myself juggling a lot more than I am accustomed to. Let’s just say, crazy mama was in the house the other night. It was then that it dawned on me why my co-worker used to perform her little sing-song. She had found a reliable stress reliever – a means of making it through her day in the attempt of avoiding a mental break down when she got home. And then I thought of moms I have observed at one time or another throughout my life and the “funny” things they would say or do. I used to attribute their peculiar verbal expressions to some mutation that occurs when some women become mothers. As if they stopped being their cool, hip selves and morphed into what they thought a mother should look and sound like.

And here I am now, a mother to two boys and I am desperately looking for a way to de-stress in the middle of two young ones screaming – one running around with poo hanging from his bum and the other demanding to be fed AH-gain and a house that looks like 10 little boys had their way with it. “Do-do-doo” is not going to work here but I aim to find my mantra that will take the edge off of my chaotic little world. In the mean time, a glass of Merlot this evening is looking quite nice.

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As the gap between my last post and now indicates, motherhood and life in general have been keeping things in almost a constant state of chaos. I’ll save the details of the last couple months for another post because I want to write about something that has nearly been forgotten and abandoned as a distant memory – sex appeal.

My world right now is one that orbits around all things baby and the trials of motherhood. What do I talk about withmommy-brain most of my friends most if not all of the time? My kid – his napping habits; his poops; my worries and concerns over him; my delight in his development; my pregnancy this time around; my delivery experience last time; what I still need to acquire for baby no. 2…

What do I read? The strong willed child, Eating well when you’re expecting, The baby’s table…

What do I think about? Am I feeding my son nutritious foods enough? Did I dress him warm enough this afternoon and maybe not which is why he has a cough? Are the renovations we’re undergoing going to be over and dealt with by the time the baby arrives? Is my husband going to be able to take a couple weeks off?

You get the picture – I’m not thinking about whether or not I’m attractive today to somebody other than myself and possibly my husband. I almost forgot what it felt like to be admired by the opposite sex. Don’t get me wrong, I’m content to have my husband tell me I am beautiful and happy that we are still very much attracted to each other, but there’s a certain level of satisfaction that comes when a good-looking male smiles at you and not your breasts either. It happened the other night as I dashed into London Drugs and caught me completely off guard. It had been longer than I can recall that someone didn’t avert their eyes as soon as they saw my bulging belly. I felt slightly embarrassed as I started to smile back, sure that he would see my belly and feel embarrassed himself. Whether he noticed my belly or not, I glowed the rest of the evening because I had recaptured an essence of the woman I used to be before my world shifted from me to my sweet boy. It reminded me of the things I used to do because I enjoyed them – because of the satisfaction they brought me. So much of the time, my enjoyment is centered around my son and while I am so thankful for this short time I have with him being so little, I realized in that brief encounter how important it is for me to not lose sight of myself as an individual. Motherhood is a very big and all-consuming aspect of that but still only one of the things that defines me.

I am also a wife; a lover and partner to my husband – my best friend with whom I am on this life journey. Together we are experiencing, learning and growing.I am a dancer and a writer and hope to develop my skills in both areas and bring more positive attributes into my life therein. I am also eager to learn about my world and how I can form the best life I can in it now and beyond my motherhood days. I love people and I love community. I love intelligent conversation. There is so much that makes up an dynamic individual and I want to experience life in full as a person who is embracing all aspects of myself. I want to be a good mother, a loving and respectful wife, a person with hobbies and goals and I want to look and feel beautiful, even sexy now and again!

jesseginnybeach

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The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday. ~ Steve Maraboli

The view from Boat Nook, Pender Island

The view from Boat Nook, Pender Island

This is a story of the unexpected turns that life takes and the journeys that lead us to new resting places.

Pender Island was home to my husband and me for three-and-a-half years. We came as a newly married couple and left as parents to a eight-month year-old boy. The island has a timeless, unchanging quality about it, comforting and reassuring. Our days there are cherished and held closer to our hearts than can be often expressed.

We really felt we would be on Pender, well for good. We were looking at properties to potentially buy only weeks before we left. We were well established in the community, had good friends and a thriving business. Our sudden move came almost out of nowhere. Our main reasons for the decisions were feeling that running a business was taking away from our time together as a family and also thinking ahead to what we wanted for our futures (career wise, opportunities for our children, etc.). But I realized only a few weeks ago that there was another reason I was unaware of.

I want to share this story because I feel that it is a continuing of the healing process that I have been undergoing for the past two years. I have heard other people share their stories of challenges faced, pain suffered and the love therein experienced. We all have our stories and the world becomes a smaller place it seems when it is realized that we’re all on our unique journey of learning and finding joy and peace within our circumstances. I hope that my story speaks to your own untold tales in which you may be still seeking understanding and peace.

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Pender is one of those places you can leave your car door unlocked with the keys still in the car. The slower pace and small community suited Jesse and I just perfectly. After our first year there, we were familiar faces in the community. I worked at the grocery store and Jesse was one of the few plumbers on the island. We dove right in to getting involved that first year and spent every Friday night of our summer there at the pub, singing and competing in the Gulf Island Idol competition. Go ahead, you can laugh. We acted in a comedic theatrical production and swing danced in one of the talent shows. Jesse would join the Ultimate Frisbee games whenever he could and I took up pole dancing with a private instructor. There was so much to be a part of and there was a sense of kinship amongst island folk. We all had to deal with the ferries, we all hunkered down with candles and the wood stove during power outages and we all basically knew each other on some level or another.

Jesse and I found out we were expecting at the end of August, 2010.We were among some 11 other couples who also eagerly awaited their bundles of joy. I was the happiest and fittest I had ever been when I got pregnant. We taught dance lessons while I was pregnant and spent many happy hours dreaming of our future with our little one. We would take our child to the Medicine Beach to play, he or she would be friends with so-and-so’s baby and go to Pender Elementary School.

I didn’t realize the week before I went into labour that my baby was growing sicker and sicker within me. A day or two after suffering from the flu and being bedridden with a fever for two days, I went back to work at the grocery store. The day I went into labour at 32 and a half weeks, I fretted over the phone to my mom about whether I should go on mat leave early. I didn’t want to put out my co-workers but there were many different sickness bugs passing through the store and I didn’t want to put anymore strain on my baby and my body. Too little too late. By the time I realized the contractions I began to experience following my phone call with my mom could be the real thing, we were minutes from missing the last ferry out. And miss it we did. By this time, labour was in full effect and I was hunched over in pain. We waited at the clinic on island for the on call doctor to arrive. The clinic did not have the amenities for delivering babies so it was determined that I would have to be helicoptered off the island. An ambulance raced us over to the helicopter pad and as I was wheeled out, I called for my husband.

“He can’t come, it’s too risky in this wind,” said one of the paramedics. “He will have to come on the first ferry over.”

“I’ll call your mom,” said my husband as the helicopter doors shut.

By the time I arrived at the hospital, I had gone from  two cm dilated to about six. I was not managing the pain well at all and asked for an epidural. After a failed attempt at correctly inserting the needle, I finally got my injection. But I never got to feel the relief because shortly after, my baby’s heartbeat started to dramatically drop. Amidst the delirium of pain that I believe must have been compounded by the realization that my birth plan was going completely wrong, I just figured that their equipment was just malfunctioning. To this day, I still wonder if the blindfold of denial had already blanketed my conscience as it was apparent that something was dreadfully wrong with my baby. As they wheeled me down the hall for an emergency caesarean section, I cried.

The series of painful memories that followed waking up from surgery came home with us to our island home. In the weeks that followed, I sat in our house, reliving every moment, replaying the movie reel over and over in my mind until I had compact snapshots of memories that still haunt me today. I thought about waking up from surgery and asking where my baby was. I thought about holding her stiff body for hours after, not even believing that she was actually gone. I thought about watching her being wheeled down the hospital hallway, away from me forever. I thought about that first night as the devastation of what had happened finally sank in and my body heaved with wrenching sobs and cries. It was the beginning of the heartaches that followed once life had “resumed” on Pender. I watched each of the other expecting parents have their baby. As time went on, I watched my friends with their little ones chatter about what their babies were up to. Every time I saw them, I couldn’t help but imaging that my Shaely would be be learning some of the same skills or as time went on, have little play dates with them. The beautiful spell under which we had glowed and thrived on Pender had been broken. As life began to come back to me and I experienced the birth of my son, I found a place to rest my sorrows and focus anew. But when you have a baby 10 and half months after losing one, there isn’t much time or room for healing to happen. I realize now that this is part of the reason that I needed to leave Pender. For all the beauty, good friends and enriching life we had there, it had become a place of deep sadness and depression for me.

So here I sit in my home in Gibsons. My little boy runs around the house, amusing himself with a whisk, a play station controller, a link roller, anything and everything. My belly is starting to tighten as my third baby in three years grows within me. I am happy and feeling myself finding little bits of understanding and peace with passing time. But it is that time of year when I am reminded from where I have come. This Saturday marks two years since losing our Shaely. How much has happened, how much I have changed. I feel ready to go back to Pender for a visit although I am also nervous for the feelings that might await me there. It too must be part of the process and the journey I am on to find peace and understanding.

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The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. ~ Mike Murdoch

There is a season…

I am in the season of constant mothering. I am fulfilling my need to love and nurture a little one and soon two little ones. My day begins around 6 a.m. although sometimes my son wants to start the day even earlier to my groggy dismay. His happy squeals, as he tromps around his home, are music to my ears. He reminds me throughout the day to take great joy in life’s little treasures that can be easily overlooked and squelched. To him, a bare patch of skin is a delightfully seized opportunity to blow a zerbert or as as we call them “ferberts.” Our days are spent reading stories, doing housework (we’re still working on “clean-up time”), going to the park (his newly discovered favorite place) and playing independently. For me, playtime usually means a brief look on Facebook or organizing some corner; not nearly as exciting as the discovering going on in my son’s world but a break in the routine nonetheless. Except that, even those snippets of time are part of the routine itself.

I have found both comfort and boredom in “the routine.” It’s been easy enough to pinpoint where my days are lacking excitement and are even dull at times. But just the other day, I realized how much comfort I get out of our routine. Stay-at-home parents, you can probably relate to what I’m about to share, at least I hope so!

It happened first thing one morning as I went about making Shae breakfast. As I picked him up to put him in his highchair, my hand automatically went to turn on the dining room light but it was already on. I stood with my hand wavering over the light, confused and after a moment made the motion of swiping the switch anyways. I have become so accustomed to turning on the silly light just before I put my son in his chair and it already being on tripped some well worn route in my brain. And if that wasn’t enough to make me roll my eyes at my ridiculous need to keep within habit, my husband and I went to bed earlier than usual that night, without enjoying any of our usual unwind and alone time together. I was tired but I just wasn’t ready to turn in. Something was missing. And I realized that I had developed not only a routine of comfort for my son, but for myself as well! Oh Lord…has my world become that small and redundant? I didn’t realize as I embarked on this journey of parenthood that adjustments to my lifestyle such as these would occur. I mean, you expect your days to be preoccupied with little ones; you expect to not have much time to yourself; you expect to make friends with other moms and talk about your little ones more than your career objectives, but I could have hardly expected that my world would be a little thrown off if I didn’t turn the light on at the right time! I’m not saying by any stretch that I wouldn’t have been able to function if I didn’t “pretend” to turn it on, just more that making even the sweeping motion set things “right” in my brain. “B” follows “A,” chair follows turning on the light.

The realization of such things gives me a chuckle or two at my need for silly routines. Maybe they’ve always been there and are just illuminated in the light of parenthood. Because parenthood, I’m finding, does throw your world a little. I find myself so focused on the needs of my son and creating the most convenient schedule I can for both him and me. It’s a lifestyle of routine that doesn’t always have an intelligent reason for being, but it somehow works.

It is a season and and I aim to make the most of those days filled with silly ways because as my son is teaching me, there’s so much in which to take delight.

courtesy of executivehomemaker.com

courtesy of executivehomemaker.com

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