Living a Life of Love

The weeks and months leading up to my maternity leave were slightly stressful. Stressful only because the pressure I put on myself of course. I love working. I love working hard–I love accomplishing things and being good at what I do. I also enjoy being a part of a growing company and building a team and providing products and services I believe in. While it sounds like a cushy deal, taking a year off for maternity leave, for me, is a lot harder than it sounds.

Don’t be mistaken, I love my family, and I love being a mummy to Marigold and a wife to Martin, but it really doesn’t define me as a person.  It’s not the be all, end all of me.  Neither is my job.  I am the sum of these things and many others–all of which make me who I am.

While my current job isn’t exactly my dream job, it’s still awesome and I like the company and love my boss and the people I work with.  The hardest part is the timing, of course.  Putting my career on hold when things are positioned for growth in a major way isn’t the ideal scenario I had imagined when I first found myself with child.  I hadn’t expected that I would be getting a new boss, and that I would need to make a new and lasting impression on someone when I was tired, bloated and irritable. I didn’t think that I was about to miss out on something really rad for the next year.  I hate to miss out on things–I love to be right in the action!

I’m sure tons of other women and men go through the same thing when they take their respective parental leaves. I truly am grateful for the opportunity to take the full 50 weeks to spend time focusing on my new baby and growing family.

The last time I went on mat leave, I was literally counting the minutes before I could walk out the door and not return for several months, even though I was still there late on my last day.  This time I was really sad to go.  I was having sleepless nights thinking about the many projects I had on the go just before clocking out for the next year, and as my last day crept closer, I had expected my stress level to spike, but it slowly dissipated.  I was ready to go, and I know that I’m not in any real danger of being left behind at work.  I’m confident that I’ll be able to return and pick up where I left off and just spend this year focusing on real life–and my family.  What a treasure.

Almost three years ago now, I revived my blog because of this overwhelming need to write it all down.  I needed to tell everyone how I had never loved as much as I loved right then. With hormones running rampant, I’m sure, I was plagued with so many feelings and emotions, but it was the love that overflowed.

When I first discovered I was pregnant with my second child, of course I was thrilled, but there were hesitations that I hadn’t expected. I was worried about how I could possibly have TWO children (people survive with many more, I know I’m ridiculous) and look after them successfully. I was worried about our finances, and the size of our apartment. I was worried how Marigold will adapt. But most of all I was worried that I couldn’t possibly have any more love to give to another child. I just loved my little Marigold so much that I didn’t think it possible to have the capacity to love a new addition to our little family.

Two Peas on the floor, under a blanket

Two Peas on the floor, under a blanket

Martin gently reminded me that love multiplies as a family grows–and we have a never ending supply! We have found love in places that we never even knew existed.

The hardest part has definitely been dealing with my feelings for Marigold.  It’s weird, but I miss her.  I still spend time with her everyday, but she’s no longer my one and only, and I feel bad that my attention is divided.  This has been the greatest source of postpartum tears.  She is the most amazing big sister in all of the land, and I’m so proud with how she is handling it all.  She is a huge help with Baby Alice, and I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard her say “Don’t worry, Baby Alice.  Big sister’s right here” in the last 10 days.  And it melts my heart every time.

20140221_124904Miss Marigold and Lady Alice

One night I went to lay in Marigold’s bed with her before she went to sleep because I just missed her so.  I couldn’t stop the tears from coming, as they so often do these days.  I talked it over with Marigold, and for a not yet three year old, I’m impressed with her understanding.  I apologized for not spending as much time with her as I used to.  I got up to let her fall asleep, she said to me as I was leaving “Baby Alice needs you, Mummy.”  She totally gets it, and it just made me cry harder.  I’m so proud of her and I’m amazed at how awesome she is every single day.


Baby Alice is just perfect from head to toe and I loved her just as much as I did Marigold when she was placed in my arms.  It’s like there’s a love explosion in your heart when you give birth–I would do it over and over again because the feeling is incredible.  And the results–well, they’re incomparable.




So our love has grown.  Martin was right–I didn’t have anything to worry about.  We’re a family of four now.  I’m truly grateful for all the things that I have in this life, and I honestly don’t take it for granted.  I came from nothing, and now– I have everything.  And it’s definitely not lost on me, this extraordinary life of love.




Alice's First Bath

Moving to Scarborough

As Marigold continues to grow, I have less and less time to write. She’s requiring more attention to keep her amused each day, which means, less time for me to do the things I want. That on top of household chores that are mostly getting done at the bare minimum leaves me with only a few minutes to surf the internet, and play video games. And I’m going to learn to knit plus I want to learn to sew. God, if only I was one of those people that could get by on 4 or 5 hours sleep then I might be able to do the things I want.

I keep being faced with decisions that I really don’t want to make. We are constantly making easy choices from the minute we wake up in the morning and often we don’t even give it a second thought that we have a choice. Getting out of bed, brushing our teeth, what to eat for breakfast, what to wear for the day and the list goes on. And on and on and on. Then there are the larger life decisions: who you are going to marry, where you are going to live, what you are going to do for a career. But sometimes, an unexpected quandary presents itself before you and suddenly you have to make a decision about a situation you have no prior experience with. Or sometimes you are faced with a decision you have made many times before, and you need to be reminded that you’ve done it before on blind faith, and it’s worked out in the end…hasn’t it?

It would be great if every time you had to make a decision that the only person affected would be you, and you alone. I think this is the reason why decisions become so difficult–the outcome has a great impact on someone around you. And it’s typically someone close to you. Someone who you love very much. I always think back to moving to Toronto, the biggest decision of my life thus far. Again–my decision to move meant leaving Matt (and dumping his sorry ass–I can say that now, it’s been long enough) and hurting someone I loved very much. I was leaving behind my friends and family and the only life I had ever known, but on the other side of that decision was tremendous opportunity which I would not have had otherwise, and I’ve been reaping the rewards ever since.

The last unexpected quandary I faced was a high impact/low return type of decision. My decision, in fact, has permanently damaged a friendship, and hopefully most of that damage will be repaired, though I’m sure some scars will remain.

Sometimes you just need to stand up for what you believe in regardless of how much it might hurt someone and regardless of how supportive you really want to be. It makes me sad to think that I had to choose at all let alone make the choice I made. And though my decision is hurtful, I hope it makes a strong statement. Because after this, I’m not going to beat the dead horse, because the horse is already dead, there’s no sense in that. And beating dead horses just makes a bloody mess that becomes pretty impossible to clean up. I’ve said my piece and voiced my concern. I’m going to let the issue die and rest in peace. At the very least I can show my support for moving forward.

God, disappointing people sucks so bad. And I really fucking hate letting people down. I want to make everyone happy all the time, which is probably why I’m so great with customer service. But, I know deep down that making EVERYONE happy is an impossibility. I have to think now of how my decisions–high impact/low return, or high impact/huge opportunity will affect Martin and Marigold first and foremost. I have to do what is best for our family, even if that means letting other people down that I care about very much. I have to make sure that the choices I make are ones that Marigold will admire once she’s older.

You can’t take a mulligan. There are no do-overs. Life was so much easier when it was just me. I don’t mean because of the extra work of taking care of a family. I mean that if I fucked up, the only person that faced the consequences was me. Gone are the days of risking my job with people calling in sick for me because I was passed out on a toilet in the bar’s basement bathroom the night before (Thanks Peter Peattie). Gone are the days of complete and utter irresponsibility. Now MG and MM are in the line of fire, and I just want to do what’s best for all of us, even if it means moving to Scarborough**.

I want to be someone she is proud to call her mother. And sometimes that means closing some doors and opening some windows. Right now I’ll just wait for the window to open, and decide whether or not it’s time to close the door, and try not to get black out drunk while I’m waiting.

**For the record we are not now, nor ever moving to Scarborough, it’s just a phrase I use now to demonstrate just how much I’m willing to sacrifice for my family.

She has her feet in the air and her head on the ground

So I thought this would be a lot easier. Well, that’s not to say that I thought it would be easy, but I just didn’t expect to feel like a complete failure every other day.

While I was in the hospital, I felt like I was stuck in jail. The ward room I was in confined me to a space surrounded by curtains that was about 7×7, and in that space was a bed, a table with a cradle type thing, a night stand, a food tray and a chair. I’m 5 foot 8 and Martin is 6 foot 3 with a combined weight of over 400 pounds, PLUS a little baby in that tiny space. Needless to say it was a bit crowded and uncomfortable. Oh, and there were three other families in close proximity with their babies as well. On the flip side, I am thankful that we live in Ontario, and my prenatal care and delivery did not cost a cent out of our pockets. I am also grateful that we live in a place where the care available to us and our child is exceptional.

Half of the nurses in the maternity ward were obviously young and childless and the other half were sortof cold and opinionated–these were the people instructing me on how to care and feed Marigold! Everyone kept telling me the “correct” way to do things when it came to breastfeeding, and the funny thing was it was all contradictory–it’s like they set out to confuse a new mom on purpose.

Marigold wasn’t eating at all–she was barely awake. Some of the nurses said this was normal, especially after an epidural. I was hand expressing my milk (colostrum) and trying to give it to her from a little medicine cup….she was doing shots in her first day of life! The breastfeeding consultant at the hospital told us that she would likely need to have her tongue clipped because of a tongue tie. A tongue tie is “an unusually short and thick membrane connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth”. It prevents the tongue from extending past the gum and lips which inhibits breastfeeding. Another nurse told us not to worry about it, that it would sort itself out.

Being new parents we just want to do anything possible for our baby to eat. I was getting so frustrated that she wouldn’t latch on and I was so worried because my poor child MUST be starving (even though her stomach at birth was the size of a chickpea).

We were anxious to get home because learning to breastfeed in the hospital was not happening–it was completely uncomfortable and foreign. Let’s be realistic–I wasn’t coming home to nurse in my Craftmatic adjustable bed, and the hospital chairs were so hard, that after sitting in one trying to nurse for 30 minutes I could barely walk. On top of that, the bathrooms were disgusting! I won’t go into detail, but if you really want to know what I mean by disgusting, I’ll give you the details personally.

Thankfully, the hospital discharged us that night and we were able to come home. The first night was almost sleepless. Martin was so helpful–he watched after her while I got a little bit of shut eye, then I was awake most of the night just watching her sleep/comforting her when she was whining.

We were originally sleeping in our bedroom downstairs, but decided it was definitely too cold for us and Marigold, so we opted to move our lives to the first floor, and sleep in the spare bedroom. We are so fortunate to have the option to sleep upstairs as it’s much more comfortable for the time being for everyone. We’ll move back down once it stops bloody snowing.

On top of all the commotion of having a baby, trying to feed my child, coming home from the hospital and getting settled, I lost my phone. Being the 21st century, we don’t have a home phone and we had just filled out all the hospital forms with MY phone number. How inconvenient! Doctor’s appointments, Public Health–I was so worried. The next morning I was pretty much a basket case. My biggest fear was that someone was going to come and take away our baby because I couldn’t feed her and I wasn’t looking after her properly and I didn’t have a phone! I know now that this was irrational, but at the time I really was worried that this was a possibility. Martin was so supportive–again, I don’t know HOW people do this on their own. Martin’s mom was in town the whole week to help as well, which was absolutely amazing. She was able to stay with his sister and give us our space when we needed it, but was always available to drive to doctor’s appointments, or come by to hang out or help with a bit of housework when needed.

I learned a lot about family from Martin, his parents and sister. They were all making sacrifices for our little family, and I will be eternally indebted to them for this.

We hired a doula/lactation educator to come in and do a breastfeeding consultation. Her name was Bianca, and she was amazing! She along with some other women started this company combining their resources and offering consulting on fertility, pregnancy and parenting. The company is called Bebo Mia. The philosophy of the company thrives on what is best for the mental health of the entire family–ie: do what is best for us as a whole rather than a black and white right way/wrong way of doing things. She spent time with us asking about our birth experience, understanding what our expectations were and observing how I was breastfeeding Marigold. She offered advice and pointers that I didn’t get in the hospital, along with hands on assistance! She helped me modify the positions I was already using (the football hold is better for larger breasted women, and also, I learned you don’t have to support your whole breast, you can just make a boob sandwich for the baby) and she introduced me to the side feed which has come to be a life saver for us. Bianca was able to easily answer all of our questions about Marigold, breastfeeding and co sleeping in such a way that was practical while considering the needs of our family first. She was open and honest and drew on her experience as a mom to advise us. We really connected with her and I felt a million percent better once our consultation was done. At the end of it all, it turns out she’s a derby girl….what a small world! It was the best $125 I have ever spent–not only for the knowledge I gained, but for the peace of mind and comfort she provided at a time when I was at the end of my rope.

A visit to the doctor told us that Marigold did NOT need to have her tongue clipped. Dr. Karlinsky explained it this way–years ago kids were all getting their tonsils out, boys were all getting circumcised–these were the “fashionable” things to do. She said in 25 years of practise, she had done two tongue clippings–in the last year, she had done 10! The human race is not evolving in a way that requires more tongue clippings, at least I don’t think so. As each day went on, Marigold’s tongue was getting stronger and pushing out between her lips–she was absolutely fine.

Breastfeeding continues to be a struggle. Mostly because this child DOES NOT want to wake up! They say the baby should “suck suck swallow”, well, Marigold “suck suck sleeps”. I am committed to waking her up every 2 to 3 hours to make sure that she eats even just a little bit. It’s getting better each day, but man do I ever have some low points.

Our family doctor is new to family practise, and last week when we went to visit her for a weight check, she told us that Marigold had not yet gained enough weight. I was obviously devastated because I had been working so hard to make sure I was feeding her enough. I felt like a terrible mom and that I was completely inadequate to look after a baby. I cried almost for the entire day, feeling like a failure who was completely incapable of caring for her child.

On the flip side, the baby had gained 150 grams since she was discharged from the hospital, she is healthy and happy, she is going to the bathroom regularly–so really there is nothing to worry about. We really feel that the doctor was overreacting (she even said she was being aggressive herself, as she used to be an emergency room doc), and we are just committed to doing what is best for us and Marigold.

It’s almost impossible to know how much the baby is eating and I’m constantly worried I’m not making enough milk, she’s not eating enough et cetera et cetera. Like I said, a lot of times I feel awful and like a complete failure. Most of the time I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone because all my energy is directed towards being successful at breastfeeding. Each day it gets easier, and sometimes it gets worse. We are committed to breastfeeding for now, but we always know there is an alternative.

It has been a big adjustment having a baby at home and moving our lives upstairs. I have come to terms (sortof) with not having a neat and tidy house. There are piles of baby clothes and blankets everywhere, baskets full of baby things and diaper changing necessities in places that were void of clutter before. Sometimes I go down to our bedroom just to see what neat and tidy looks like, since it’s so bare from us moving upstairs. Fortunately, we’re still eating a lot and we are getting a lot of rest. Marigold has a long sleeping spell at night (by long I mean about 4 hours), so that has worked out well for us.

Martin goes back to work on Monday, and though I’ll miss him, I look forward to getting into my own routine of doing things. The nicer weather is around the corner so I’ll be able to take little miss Marigold out to the park and to visit with friends. It will be another adjustment, but I’m sure we’ll manage.

I never wanted to be one of those people that had a baby and was all “baby baby baby” all the time. I still want to maintain outside interests and relationships, and have friends that are not parents. Marigold is definitely number one in our lives these days, and 90% of my time is spent with her, not leaving much for me to pursue other exciting adventures like my days past. So forgive me if you think I’m all “baby baby baby”, but that’s all the time I have for now, and I’ll only have this time with her once.

I want to make sure that I get it right.