I am self-proclaimed foodie. I love all types of food. The colours, the scents, the flavours, they all fascinate me. Individual ingredients combined to create a culinary masterpiece to view, to smell, to taste, to devour; my favourite type of art.
Nutrition is a necessity of life. We must all eat. We must eat to live. My issue is that I live to eat. I am the type of person that has a craving every day, not just every once in a while and I cannot shake the desire until I have eaten the food. The simplest thing will trigger said desire. If I overhear someone mention something they made the night before, or see something on TV, immediately I feel the need to have it and I will not rest until I do. It saddens me to know this as my reality. I have so much respect for people who are able to turn down a special treat when it is offered to them. I envy that control. I don’t possess that control. I desperately want that control.
To complicate this love of food and lack of self control is the speed at which I eat, not allowing myself to feel full until I have eaten far too much. To make matters worse, I continuously ignore my food intolerances and suffer the consequences time and time again. I recognize these weaknesses, I understand how they’re harmful and yet I permit them to continue. Self control, WHERE ARE YOU?
Like the other mental struggles I’ve been working so hard to overcome, this has now joined the list. Rome wasn’t built in a day, I must tackle my demons one at a time. Regaining self control is now priority. How will I accomplish this? I’m not entirely sure but I think dedicating one of my many empty notebooks to log all things food is a good start.
I tend to find clarity and calm when I organize my thoughts into written word. Writing allows me to purge my mind of all the clutter and provides for structure that can’t otherwise be formed.
I will start logging every day not only what I’ve eaten but why I’ve eaten those particular foods and how I felt when I was unable to stop when I knew I should have. I must delve into the feelings attached to my eating and work through them. If I made a poor choice, I will write in a better alternative. I’m going to take a psychological approach to “dieting” and hope that through this I will regain the ability to make better choices. This is just another piece to the puzzle in becoming what I’ve sought to become this past year, a better version of me.
Change is difficult. We all face our own struggles, we are all aware of our own weaknesses and although the desire to improve may be present, the ability to break habits, to cause change, is easier said than done. When the desire is initially sparked it is usually strong however as time passes the novelty wears off and it slowly disappears until we are back to square one. We must stay focused and not forget why we made the original decision to change. We must keep the embers burning.
One of the biggest challenges I face as a parent is the ongoing need to make tough decisions on my children’s behalf. Society tells us that mothers know best, but do we really? Do I really? I’m not always so sure. In the past few years I’ve really felt the magnitude of this burden, specifically with decisions involving my boys’ health.
In the last year, I was required to make two separate medical decisions, one per child. To operate or to not operate? Two totally different surgeries. Surgeries which in the professional opinions of their specialists would be of extreme benefit to each boy. The results sounded tempting but I wouldn’t be the one who would be going through the procedures. I wouldn’t be the one going under the knife. My choice, their bodies. It took a while to arrive at my decision. I mulled over what the doctors had said, I did my own research and ultimately decided that the benefits far outweighed the possible complications. I ended up opting for surgery for both boys.
Our experience with the first surgery last year was not what I had expected. Recovery was rough. No, that’s an understatement. Recovery was hell. We learned the hard way that our youngest son is a bleeder. He bled and he bled and he bled. We ended up at the doctor’s office the day after surgery followed by 3 visits to the ER during the first week of recovery. His dried blood acting as a form of glue had fused the bandages to his skin. He screamed in pain. He cried out for me. I couldn’t help him and it broke my heart.
On the third day, on our first visit to the ER, the nurses and doctor decided if they were going to have any luck removing the bandages they would have to sedate him. On that Wednesday afternoon, I was introduced to the frightening effects of Ketamine. They assured me it was the best option at this point. He would be awake but he wouldn’t feel anything and he wouldn’t remember any of it. I helplessly agreed.
Starting an IV was more difficult than anyone in that room had anticipated. My son’s arms violently flailing, his precious blood seeping all over the white sheets. They called for back up.
Once they administered the Ketamine, the effect was instant. His screams turned into a weak moan which turned into silence. His eyes widened, his pupils shifted, the left to the left and the right to the right, as if they were trying to escape his body. His stare devoid of emotion. His movements stopped and he lay there still, eyes wide open and helpless as the doctor and nurses quickly worked to remove the bandages. I could not control my tears. I was broken. My baby is here because of me, because of the choice that I made for him. I chose and now he suffers.
Within minutes the bandages were off and his skin wiped clean. One by one each nurse and doctor disappeared and I was told by the last one that it would take a little while for my son to “come back” and that when he did, he may say things that don’t make any sense. She dimmed the lights and I sat and waited for my son to come back to me.
After what felt like an eternity, we made eye contact and he seemed to be present. I asked if he could hear me and he nodded. He faintly whispered something. I couldn’t hear him. I asked him to repeat himself. This time I heard him loud and clear.
“Are you a pig?” he asked.
“No, I’m not a pig. I’m your mommy.”
“Oh.” he said.
I nervously giggled.
A few minutes later I hear his sweet little voice again.
“I don’t remember your name.”
At that very moment my heart was broken. I told him my name and asked if he remembered his brother’s name and his father’s name, which he did.
He proceeded to ask me if we were in a race and rambled on about a few other things. He slowly returned and we were discharged.
We ended up having to return twice more that week although they no longer sedated him. He ended up with an infection and was prescribed an antibiotic.
Recovery was long, arduous and painful. I told myself I would never subject my children to surgery ever again.
The year passed and I found myself agreeing to a different type of surgery for my other son.
The surgery was a few days ago and his recovery seems to be going well. I was preparing for much worse and am so thankful that he is healing properly.
What tough jobs we have as mothers. These precious little lives are in our hands. The decisions we make for our children can be life altering and are usually done without their consent. I guess all we can do is follow our hearts and do what we think is best on a case by case basis. After all, mothers know best, right?
Throughout the days leading up to my departure many asked if I was excited. Although a part of me was, the excitement was overshadowed by anxiety, by fear.
“Are you afraid of flying?” they’d ask.
“No. I’m afraid of bed bugs and terrorism.”
We’d share a laugh and I knew how ridiculous I sounded as soon as those words escaped my mouth.
All of my fears have two commonalities. They are all things over which I feel I have no control and no matter how utterly preposterous, my mind has a difficult time turning them away. I end up completely consumed, picturing the worst possible outcome. I fixate on these created scenarios in such a way that makes their eventual occurrence seem inevitable.
My best friend who happened to be my hotel roommate for the weekend was kind enough to check the bed for bugs. Her confirmation that it was clear lifted a huge weight from my shoulders.
A few hours after getting settled we sat at an outdoor patio and enjoyed some cold drinks. Shortly thereafter I noticed several bites on my leg and my mood immediately shifted. Everyone assured me they appeared to be mosquito bites but I couldn’t accept that. I kept itching and panicking and surely annoying the hell out of everyone. I eventually noticed I was becoming the type of company that nobody wants on vacation and I told myself to mask my mood and put a smile on my face.
In the middle of the night I experienced a common occurrence for me where I wake up reacting to what’s happening in my dream thinking instead that it is reality. My husband is now used to this, my best friend, not so much.
I woke up screaming and jumped out of bed finding my way to the light switch. My friend awoke frightened. I had been dreaming about little black bugs crawling on the bed next to my face. The dream felt so real, but it was just that, a dream. My friend was so alarmed, her heart was pounding, her impression of me surely altered. I was embarrassed, I felt awful. I cried myself to sleep that night.
In the morning I apologized for my outburst. We had a long talk and she expressed how concerned she was for me. She said she didn’t realize the anxiety had gotten to that point. She feared it was consuming my life. I told her I’ve gotten better, I really have. She wasn’t convinced.
That conversation helped me more than I think she realizes. The anxiety, the fear, the worries, they really were consuming my life and to have her say it out loud was exactly what I needed. I was tired of allowing my fears to stop me from living. I was angered, I was exhausted, I was done! I told myself I had to enjoy this trip, with only two days left, I needed to let go of it all and to just be. And so I did.
I felt like a different person on the two days that followed. I felt light, I felt free, I felt powerful. I was in control of my life for once. My mind, body & soul all working together towards my ultimate goal of happiness. I had no time to be worried. From that point on, the sun felt warmer, the sky looked bluer, the sand felt softer, the food tasted better.
On my plane ride back home I told myself that I would no longer be that weak little girl whose fear of the world was limiting her growth, clouding her joy.
When I returned to work the following day I felt more carefree than I can ever remember feeling in my entire adult life. Everything that worried me only days ago seemed so small now, so insignificant, so unworthy of my time.
I told my coworker about my amazing trip and shared all of the funny and memorable moments I was fortunate to experience. When I was asked how I managed vacationing with anxiety, my response was immediate, and pronounced with such ease and conviction that my memory of that moment will always be vivid in my heart. With great satisfaction I responded, “Fuck the anxiety!”. That phrase has since become a staple in my vocabulary.
I’ve been asked this a few times in the last couple of days. The answer, no. I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps I am too busy. Perhaps I don’t have anything to say. Perhaps I am an expert procrastinator who can find 30 other things that must get done before I sit to write. Yes, I think that’s the one!
A lot has happened since I last wrote. I went on an amazing vacation that opened my eyes and that changed my perception of life, of me. Close friends and relatives reached beautiful life milestones that warmed my heart. I developed a new appreciation for everything around me, for each person I meet, for each day that I live, whether eventful or not on the surface, every day has meaning.
Every day is an opportunity to experience, to grow, to learn. I’ve known this for a while but have now accepted it whole-heartedly. Every day is a gift and I must treat it as such.
With that being said, I still have many less than perfect days where things don’t seem to go as planned and emotions fly high.
It is natural to have amazing days followed by grueling days where exhaustion takes over and doing nothing means everything. That’s ok. The key is developing the ability to emerge from those days bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to embrace the morning light. I think I have developed that ability. I’ve realized that sometimes those lazy days are necessary in helping to refuel me for the next; a little downtime is good every now and again.
We all need time to recharge, time to do nothing, time to reflect, time to rest, time to sleep, time to breathe. Some people just need more of this time than others.
On the morning of my due date, I awoke with contractions. I was unsure during the first few if they were the real deal but I shortly realized that what I had been reading about for months was finally happening. As my uterus tightened I thought, “Oh my God! This is it!”.
I let hubby know and together we started timing them. He called work and told them he wouldn’t make it in that day, “We are having our baby!” he said beaming with pride.
As the hours passed, my log sheets filled up with numbers and the blank spaces slowly disappeared. By the twelfth hour we thought we should make our way to the hospital. I had heard so many stories of women getting sent back home for not being dilated enough, but at this point I was ready for a change in scenery. We arrived at the hospital shortly after 7pm.
To my surprise, I was 2 centimetres dilated and the hospital admitted me. “So, it’s really happening?”, I asked the nurse. “It’s really happening.”, she said.
My husband asked how long it would take. At that moment, we completely ignored the part where she warned that it varies from person to person and focused only on her point that “on average” it was about an hour per centimetre of dilation.
We should have known that “on average” wouldn’t apply to me. My pregnancy was anything but average. My uterus always measured 4 weeks ahead and I was constantly asked if I was carrying twins. I even had to have a few ultrasounds towards the end of my pregnancy to check my amniotic fluid levels.
So, when my husband heard the nurse say an hour per centimetre, he happily called our parents and told them the baby would be born by 3am. (Ha!)
I told my husband I was ready and he knew that I was completely against having any pain medication.
“I am doing this the natural way”, I said. “Mind over matter”, I thought.
As the evening progressed into the wee hours of the morning, the pain intensified, as my patience and energy plummeted. I tried everything. The tub worked for a little. With each contraction, hubby would place the shower head over my belly. The pressure and the heat helped to ease the pain, but the longer I laboured, the less bearable it became.
“Let’s try going for a walk”, he suggested.
Back and forth, up and down; we roamed the hallways for what seemed like an eternity. When the contraction came, I would grab hold of the railings across the hallway wall, crouch down and scream.
“I can’t possibly keep going!”, I cried. “Yes, you can!”, he’d say.
At midnight the nurse checked me. I was certain she would say I was nearing 10 centimetres. How could I not?
“You’re about 3cms.”
“What?!” I yelled out.
I began feeling defeated.
At 7am, now 24 hours after my contractions began, 12 hours after we arrived at the hospital, and 4 hours after our son’s expected arrival time, my doctor appeared.
“You’re 5cms. I’m going to break your water and start you on some Pitocin.” he advised. “It will help you progress.”
At this point I had been hoping for a higher number but I was starting to feel hopeful.
The nurse started an IV for the Pitocin and my movement was now limited but I was so exhausted I didn’t mind.
Not long after the Pitocin started kicking in, the contractions grew stronger and more frequent and closer together.
Like clockwork, the anesthesiologist appeared at my door every hour.
“Are you sure you don’t want an epidural?”
“Yes, I’m sure”, I’d mutter.
I kept getting checked throughout the morning, only to consistently keep hearing, “5cms” over and over again.
Finally at 1pm as the nurse prepared to check me once more, I whispered to my husband, “If she tells me I’m 5cms, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m going to lose it!”
I took a deep breath as she went in.
“You’re still 5cms, honey.”
“I can’t do this anymore!” I yelled. “Give me the epidural!”
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” my husband asked. “You’ve planned for so long to do this naturally.”
“Give me the epidural!” I cried.
The nurse called the anesthesiologist and after a few nods and okays, she hung up the phone, looked at me and said, “Oh honey, he’s just out for a jog but shouldn’t be too long”.
Are you f*cking kidding me? He’s been here every hour on the hour and now that I need his f*cking meds he’s out for a f*cking jog? As you can imagine, I lost my mind!
By now, I had given up. All the focus and breathing techniques I was practicing just minutes ago were gone forever and I started to panic. The nurse gave me an oxygen mask and soon the anesthesiologist came to my rescue.
The original dose that they gave me didn’t freeze my entire belly so they gave me a little more. The machine was showing contraction on top of contraction but now I was numb.
At 4pm the doctor checked me again. Guess how many centimetres I was! Go ahead, guess! 5? You got it! After 33 hours of labour I was still only 5 cms dilated and the natural child birth I had been hoping for came to a crashing halt as they prepped me for a c-section.
As they wheeled me to the O.R. we passed by the waiting room where our parents and siblings eagerly awaited the birth of their first grandson and nephew. My eyes filled with tears and I just wanted this to be over. Give me my little boy!
In the O.R. the lights were bright, the air cold, and the room filled with doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists. They pumped me with more epidural.
“Are you going to make sure I can’t feel anything before you slice me open?” I nervously asked.
“What do you feel?” the doctor asked as he rubbed something along my skin.
“It’s pretty hot”, I said.
“Good! It’s supposed to be ice cold.”, he replied. “You’re ready!”
Hubby walked in dressed in scrubs and sporting a hair net and a mask. Looking sexier than ever, he took his seat next to me.
My arms were shaking uncontrollably due to the epidural. I was shivering and although I was getting cut open all I could think about was how I was about to meet my son. I had waited my whole life for this moment.
I hear a cry. “Is that him?” I yelled.
I looked up and the doctor slowly raised him up over the blue sheet.
He was swollen and bluish and beautiful and within seconds started peeing in the air.
When they handed him to me I was afraid to hold him. My arms were still shaking and I feared I would drop him. They assured me I wouldn’t. As I peered into his eyes I couldn’t believe this moment had finally come. He was so worth the wait!
“Hello, little man. I’m your mommy.”
Unfortunately, because I had been pumped with so many drugs throughout the day, the few hours that proceeded were all a blur and I am thankful for the pictures that I have as I sadly can’t rely on memory to relive those first few hours of his life.
That night, I lie awake in my bed, baby in his bassinet to my left, hubby sleeping on a chair to my right. Behind a curtain across from me a newborn screamed as his mother tried comforting him. The lights in the room were bright and every time a nurse would walk through the hallway door, it would loudly “ding”.
I couldn’t take my eyes off my son. Every movement, every sound had me captivated. I thought to myself, “I will never sleep again.”. Time proved I wasn’t entirely wrong.
Ah! Those 3 magical words! Back to school. I love everything about this time. I loved it as a student and I love it now as a parent.
My love for this begins with back to school shopping. While dragging my kids through the mall, I spent a whole day in paradise buying a new wardrobe for the oldest (the youngest gets hand-me-downs for life). I picked each piece of clothing with such love and consideration. My son on the other hand cried real tears when I took him to one last store to try on a few hoodies. “Why don’t the boys love this as much as me?”, I wondered.
And back to school shopping wouldn’t be complete without that never ending supply list. It sure adds up when you’re buying for two.
$20 worth of glue sticks, check! (No joke, I had to buy 10 of them!)
I spent last night labelling their belongings and packing their supplies into their bags. I took extra care in making their lunch. I added a few extra snacks and a note to let them know I’d be thinking of them.
We woke up a little early today as I wanted to make sure to get their “first day of school” pictures outside the front door. This has become an annual tradition in our home, along with many other households as can be witnessed each year on my Facebook feed.
I drove them to school and reminded them multiple times to take the bus in the afternoon. I told them how much I loved them and how proud of them I am and that I hope they have fun and learn awesome, new things. Before I knew it we were at the school. They gave me a quick kiss and then they were gone.
In all honesty, I’m a tad envious of my children. I wish I could have stayed with them all day as they got to experience the countless joys of everything that makes the first day of school so wondrous. Seeing friends they haven’t seen all summer; The anticipated moment of finding out who their teachers will be; Sitting at their new desk for the first time and organizing all of their new school supplies; I could really go on and on.
I spent all day at work eagerly awaiting dinner time so that I could ask them all about their day. I was so excited I decided instead of wasting time cooking I would just grab some take out so that I could relish as many moments as I could with my kids.
I rushed home with take out bags in hand. I opened the door and called out, “Boys, I’m home! Come tell me all about your day!”
“Ugh, do I have to?”, the younger one yelled from the basement.
Clearly he had no idea just how much I had been waiting for this moment. After rounding up the crew and sitting for dinner I began the interrogation.
“How was your day?” I asked.
“Good.” they answered.
“Did you have fun?”
I quickly learned these questions were getting me nowhere.
I literally had to ask the exact questions for which I wanted answers. After a good half hour, I got all my questions answered and then some. The boys began sharing more and more and before I knew it, my mission was accomplished. They both had a great first day and are both looking forward to the year ahead.
Do you get the same one word answers from your kids? If so, try some of these questions to open up dialogue and to find out how your little one spent their day!
-How did you feel when you first got to school?
-What did you like most about your teacher?
-What made you really happy today?
-What made you laugh today?
-How did you feel when you left school?
-What are you looking forward to the most this year?
-How can mommy help to make this a great year for you?
When I dreamed of becoming a mother, I gave very little thought to what life would be like after the baby phase. In fact, any time I envisioned myself as a mother, it was always to a little baby. How foolish. Did I not consider that these babies would grow up?
I imagined a quiet life, rocking my little one to sleep on the porch as I watched the sunset. My dream was picture perfect, reality on the other hand proved to be quite different. Those sweet moments that I imagined would last forever were gone in a flash.
They weren’t babies for long. They soon learned to crawl and to walk and to destroy everything in their paths. My home, once my oasis, had now become their playground. My furniture rearranged to keep them from pulling the curtains and from climbing the television stand and my decor boxed up and replaced with alphabet blocks and stuffed monkeys. Cheerios could be found in every room of the house, as could sippy cups and tiny plastic spoons. I had to be careful to not step on little cars and try to avoid kicking the potty which resided on the living room floor most days. I lived in chaos, total & utter chaos. This I certainly hadn’t imagined but what I also hadn’t imagined was just how much I would love these little people and how little this “mess” would bother me. It became our reality, it became my day-to-day life.
As the months and years passed, I slowly got my house back. Piece by piece we said goodbye to the play pen & the high chair, to the vibrating seats and the musical swing. Cribs turned into big boy beds and mountains of stuffed monkeys turned into piles of Pokemon cards.
One day I looked around and it was all gone. The world I thought I would live in forever had changed.
I can’t deny that I miss those sweet moments with my innocent boys as they explored their way into the world but I do love the stage they are in today. They are now young men, developing their own personalities and preferences. They are independent and responsible. We can have intelligent conversations and they are capable of making rational decisions. How did we get here so fast?
I have learned that parenting is an ever-changing experience, a constant transition into new and different phases. As my children grow, so do I. As my children learn, so do I. I am not the same mother today that I was last year because my children aren’t the same people that they were last year. I must progress with them, we must evolve together.
In a few years, the life that has now become all I know will once again be gone and I will have to adjust to my new role as a mother to teenage boys. The struggles will be different and the territory unknown, but I will venture through, just as I have in the past. What a beautiful journey.