Glory

Please join us in welcoming Stephanie back to Mama Might!

In July 2013, I posted an entry in which I shared my struggles with infertility. I ended my post by making sure that all of you knew of my faith in the Lord and how in His own way, He asked me to be patient. I knew He would send us another child, how and when we didn’t know, but His voice was strong in my heart; He was asking us to have trust and faith in Him.

About a year ago, I decided to thank God for the child He was preparing for us. As a reminder of the miracle that would come eventually, I attached a onesie to my ensuite blinds so that every time I would look at it, I would try my best to remind myself of the miracle our Lord was preparing and giving me the chance to thank Him for His plan.

I started praying every night using scriptures where Jesus declares His power of healing. I started thanking Him for His healing hands and the work He was doing through me. Basically, I was declaring the truth of scripture to increase my faith. On the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 2014, we attended mass to celebrate our mother Mary and the renewal of the vows of the religious sisters who lived in our community. After the mass, we met this lady with whom we started chatting. She shared that her boys were having a great time with our son and she then proceeded to ask if he was our only child. There it was—the grueling question! We answered that he was and that we had been trying extremely hard to give him a sibling, but we were struggling with infertility. She instantly took pity on us and asked if it would be ok for her to pray with us for the gift of another child. We happily said yes. While she was praying, a feeling of warmth invaded me. I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence with us. My whole body was tingling and I knew something amazing was happening. The Lord was touching me, whispering to me. The thought “am I experiencing my own annunciation right now?” filled my mind. My husband also felt the same way and on the way back home shared with me that he thought God just told us that it was time. Our child was coming.

I was still protecting my heart and wasn’t getting my hopes high. Seven days later, we found out that a little miracle was growing inside of me. Instantly, excitement and gratitude filled my heart. Unfortunately, while experiencing some physical signs of a possible unviable pregnancy, fear and doubt also invaded my mind. Was this baby going to be another lost child? Through the fear and doubt, our Lord was once again asking me to hold on and to have faith. “This was it,” a little voice was whispering in my head. Randomly many times and in different situations, the following scripture would come up “[…] if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”- John 11:40. I decided to cling to those words that Jesus spoke so many years ago. I also discovered the song, Glorious Unfolding, by Steven Curtis Chapman that would lift my spirits when doubt would take over. God was showing the importance of having trust in Him in order to see His glory… my baby. It is now almost time for our little glorious gift to make his grand entrance into the world. After praying, we found the name Loïc, which means Glorious Fighter. Is it a coincidence that the term glorious is mentioned again? Absolutely not. He did promise us to have faith in order to see His glory. For the second time, I’ve been carrying God’s glory and promise. It is a beautiful, breathtaking and indescribable experience. I can feel His perfect creation moving; what He has been preparing for us for so long… His promise. Once again, I am experiencing a little bit of Heaven by carrying our second son and will be living double of the divine graces by watching my miracles grow together.

Like the parable of the talents, this is a talent; a gift that the Lord gave us and I can not bury it and hide it. This miracle needs to be shared in hopes of giving faith and hope to all of you and to make you understand the divinity of God, His power of healing, and the importance of putting all of our trust in Him when we feel Him calling us to completely surrender, even if it is not easy.

What I pray for is that our story will bring many closer to His glory.

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A Bit of Sunshine

Please join us in welcoming Michele to Mama Might!

When my husband started graduate school a year and half ago, I remember standing in the door frame of our new apartment with my six month old in my arms as he left for school the first day. A feeling of dread washed over me as I realized that I was stuck in 650 square feet with a baby. I had nothing on my agenda. It was blank for not just for the day but for weeks.

After a few long days, I realized a few things. If I didn’t get out of bed, no one would care. If my house was a mess, no one would see it. If my hair didn’t get brushed or if lunch consisted of eating Cheerios out of the box, no one would ever know. There weren’t cookies brought over by neighbors. There were no lunch dates or play dates. I went to a few church activities but would come home in tears begging my husband to move. There was a little extra sting because even my sweet husband was busy with his new school. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t see what my life was like at home when he was gone (which was most of the time). I had a chronically sick, crying baby and nowhere to go.

I felt completely invisible.

Now, I’m not one to sit and mope. I’m a generally happy person and I believe that life is what you make of it. After six weeks of sitting around, I went and got a nanny job with the only requirement being that my baby could come with me. Over the next year, my daughter and I created a happy life. We worked in other people’s homes. We went to flea markets and the beach. She and I explored farmer’s markets and libraries on weekends. I set goals for myself, such as walking outside for at least thirty minutes a day and to get rid of any possession that I didn’t want to clean. Through my adventures and goals, my life turned into something that was uniquely created by me, and I was enjoying it.

The thing that I kept pushing in the back of my mind was we were not at home. It was still true that if our beds were not made and dishes had not been done, that no one would notice. If we did not go out of the house, no one would care or miss us. And while I was aware of it, decided that I was perfectly okay with that because I was happy.

Then one day this all changed. A lady advertized on Freecycle that she needed a blender. I had a blender that was only used for making milkshakes, and I thought, “Eh, why not, she can have it. I don’t like cleaning it anyway.” I emailed her back telling her that she could come pick it up the next day at 2:00 PM. I thought that would be a great time. My daughter and the baby I am currently watching in my home were both usually napping by then. It shouldn’t be a problem.

Famous last words, right? I think it’s needless to say, but the next day did not go according to plan. The little guy I was watching got his first teeth in that day and would not stop crying. My daughter took advantage of this and decided to do all the things that her toddler mind wanted to do that I never would let her. When I put her down for her nap, she put her feet up against the wall and kicked it repeatedly. At one point, I realized one of the thumps was a bit off rhythm, and I realized, “Oh! There is someone at the door.” It was the lady from Freecycle, and I had completely forgotten. I opened the door frazzled and ran to the kitchen, grabbed the blender, and shoved it in her arms. She was trying to thank me and explain that she needed it to can peaches. I forced a smile and told her that it was nap time and sent her on her way.

A few hours later when I regained a bit more control, I felt so embarrassed that I treated her that way! I was so rude. I set her a quick email apologizing and then forgot about the incident (probably as my toddler shoved a roll of toilet paper down the toilet).

Exactly two weeks later, there was a knock on the door. I was surprised to see the lady from Freecycle standing at the door again. She was standing at the door looking nervous. She said to me, “Michele, I brought this for you. Thanks so much for giving me your blender. I really needed it to can all the salsa from my garden.” She then gave me a bag telling me it was for my baby and then left.

I opened the bag and inside was a beautiful yellow blanket with a card. The card said, “Here’s a blanket I made for your daughter. I hope it brings a little sunshine to your day. I know how hard it is to be a mom, but what you are doing is important. Best regards.”

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I put down the card and sobbed. The feeling of validation and love I felt in that moment was overwhelming. Even now as I type this tears are falling from eyes when I think of the tenderness of that moment. This random stranger came to my home and for the few minutes she was there she got a glimpse of my lonelier part of motherhood. She saw the mess. She saw my wrinkled and stained shirt. She saw me trying to comfort an upset baby on my hip with my toddler in another room needing my attention. She saw me trying, and she decided to acknowledge me as a person. She even remembered my name.

I don’t know much about her, other than her name and email, but I often wonder if she’s a mother. I would love to know how she learned to be so perceptive and to reach out. I learned from her how much one gesture can feed another person’s soul. I made a new resolution that day to be more like her- to keep both eyes open and to not let fear get in the way of reaching out to people. After all, you never know who is feeling invisible and needs a little reassurance that they exist and are important.

MicheleMichele is a stay-at-home mom of an almost two year old in Princeton, NJ. She spends her time figuring out how to live a fulfilling life while her husband goes to graduate school. Some of her current interests are trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle, Futurama, RIE parenting, and Waldorf schooling. She is on a first name basis with her local librarians and cupcake bakers and can be found reading some random non-fiction on the children’s floor on Thursdays afternoons. You can read more of her life at her own blog, Aisle 11.

 

The Challenge of Motherhood

Please join us in welcoming Kim to Mama Might!

Motherhood, for me, has been a struggle. Or, I should say, learning how to enjoy being a mother has been a challenge.

I always knew that I would have children. Even when I was a child, I knew I would be a mother and I knew – deep down in my bones – that I would love having babies. I didn’t know how many I wanted but two or three sounded good at the time. Like every other child in history, I was going to be a “way-funner-mom” than mine was!

I have two boys, currently 7 and 4. After my first was born, I had a fairly rude awakening. I loved him more than life itself, I really did (and still do) but this motherhood thing was really hard. I’d like to say that I rose to the challenge, but for the first year or two of his life, I really was a very unhappy soul. I just couldn’t figure out how to balance shift work (I’m a nurse) and housework and the baby and my husband and everything else that needed to get done. I had big dreams about going back to school to be a Nurse Practitioner and I was so overwhelmed with motherhood that I thought that would never happen. More than once, I thought: “Maybe we should have waited. Maybe I wasn’t ready.” Of course, this made me feel  guilty. How could I have any regrets when my child was perfect and healthy? Why couldn’t I just be happy? Wasn’t this what I wanted? Would I ever feel like I was ready to have a second child? I wanted another child, but the idea of anything else on my plate seemed like insanity.

After a particularly rough month where I seriously feared for the integrity of my marriage, I sought help and began counseling. It helped enough that we were able to make the decision to have another child. After my second son arrived, I began to get overwhelmed again, much quicker this time. At three months, I began taking antidepressants and started counseling again. It all came as such a huge surprise to me. While my postpartum depression was mild, it still took me by complete surprise. My life was going according to the plan I had set out. Why couldn’t I happy with that?

Motherhood is the most life-changing thing that has ever happened to me. Even happy events can be stressful! I didn’t really prepare myself for the stress of it all (I’m not sure that there is a way to prepare for it); I just daydreamed about it and fantasized about it. I didn’t really consider how much my life was going to change. How full my heart would feel. How difficult it would be to go without sleep day-in-and-day-out. How a smile from your four-week old baby at 1am can make the sleep deprivation worth it.

I didn’t really consider how much of a learning curve it would be. I just thought I would know what to do and that I would love it right away. I didn’t know that it would take time, like any other skill. I have been a mother now for seven years and I am still learning how to be a mother, every day.

Displaying me.jpgKim is married with two boys (age 7 and 4). She lives in rural Nova Scotia. She is a Registered Nurse and is currently studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She has always wanted to write! She loves laughing, reading (especially Outlander!) and spending time at the cabin (where things seem much simpler). She has a blunt outlook on life and thinks it is important to both see the bright and dark sides of parenting.

Miscarriage – Part 1

Please join us in welcoming Jenna to Mama Might!

It was Friday, November 20th, 2009. I was sitting in an unfamiliar school gymnasium with my almost 2 year-old daughter and about 200 strangers. We were in line for her to receive the second part of the H1N1 vaccine. I had only brought one snack, raisins, and within 20 seconds of opening the container, they were spilled on the floor. I think the number we were given was something in the 90’s. We had hours of waiting ahead of us. The lovely lady beside me, a few decades my senior, graciously traded with me so that our turn would come sooner. She also gave my little girl a granola bar. God bless her. I remember getting up at one point to go to the water fountain and that’s when I knew something wasn’t right. There was no gush of blood. There was no pain. But I knew something was wrong. The rest of the wait was a blur, my little girl got her vaccine and we came home. I went to the bathroom and my worries were confirmed. I was bleeding at 12 weeks pregnant.

I talked myself out of worrying too much because I had friends who had experienced similar symptoms at the same point in their pregnancies and everything turned out fine. Unlike with my first pregnancy, I had chosen to be followed by a doctor instead of a midwife. As far as I knew, there was no one to call about my condition on a Friday night. I decided to wait until Monday and call my doctor.

That weekend at mass, I remember thinking “this could be my last time receiving communion with this baby in me.” I felt sad and worried, but tried to remind myself not to worry until I knew there was a real reason to be concerned.

The Monday morning, I went in to see my doctor. I don’t remember most of the details of this day. There was a lot of waiting in between moments pregnant with worry and grief. They gave me an appointment for an ultrasound. ”Are you sure of your dates?” she asked. “Hmm” she said. She didn’t smile. Neither did I. We were brought to a room in Emergency to wait. I cried the whole time. After what felt like hours, a doctor came in. Upon seeing me, she said “I guess you already know…[very. long. pause]…there’s no baby.” I felt pain. I felt angry that she would tell me in this way. There was no compassion, no empathy….just an assumption that I already knew. And then she said we could stay as long as we needed to and she left. And I cried. I cried out. Loud. I had never felt, nor have I since, such deep physical, emotional and spiritual pain. I already knew that I had lost the baby. I really didn’t need her to tell me, but hearing the words “there’s no baby”….it not only seemed like the worst way to tell me, but it ripped away any shred of hope I had left to hold onto that maybe everything was fine. I don’t know how long we stayed. Thinking back, it could have been minutes or hours that I sat there and cried. I have no memory of leaving or driving home. My only memory from when we arrived home was calling my best friend, and sobbing “she said there’s no baby” into the phone. My friend said the right thing, whatever it may have been. I kept crying.

Later that evening, I remember thinking “this was God’s plan for this baby…for our family. I truly believe this.” I don’t remember telling anyone else what had happened (but searching my email account today, I can see that I sent out a message letting my friends know what had happened). I don’t remember anything from the rest of that night or the following day. I do remember not saying a single prayer for

the rest of the week. And I also remember the immeasurable amount of grace and faith that was poured into me throughout the following days – thanks to the countless prayers of others, I presume.

I have always had an easy time with faith. From the moment (while listening to a Chris Rice song) I realized there were people in the world who knew God personally, I just knew I could trust in His plan. Suffering a miscarriage was the first time I guess you could say my faith was tested. It didn’t really feel like a test, though. It just felt like an opportunity to confirm what I already believed.

In the days that followed, I received many emails and phone calls from people expressing their condolences. One friend emailed a link to this prayer which played a huge role in our healing process. After reading it, I began to see our miscarriage less as a cross to bear and more as blessing for which to give thanks. We had – we have – a child in Heaven. She (we believe our baby is a girl) stands before our Heavenly Father. She prays for us, her family still on earth. We will be united one day and every day until then we can look forward with hope to meeting this little soul who has gone ahead to our forever home.

It was somewhat startling to move from the depths of grief and pain to the heights of healing and hope and gratitude in such a short span of time. I am forever grateful for the power of our praying family and friends – I have no doubt that they carried us through those hardest days. I am forever grateful for those who reached out in the weeks that followed and expressed their condolences. We had experienced a great loss, and I appreciated those who acknowledged it. But we soon learned that we were blessed with an even greater gain. I weep with gratitude at the memory of developing a clearer understanding of what it means to have an eternal perspective. To know that I am called to live my life on earth as a gift knowing that the greatest treasure will be found when I leave this world and move onto the next – and I have an extra special gift waiting for me, there.

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Jenna Gernon is a wife and stay-at-home mom living in a [very] small town outside of Ottawa, Ontario.  Her faith journey was jump-started the day she listened to Chris Rice’s Clumsy; she joined the Catholic Church in 2004.  Jenna has a passion for photography and loves having her children as live-in subjects.  She jumps at the chance to take photos for others and is always looking at the world around her as potential photo shoot locations.  Aside from photography, she loves all things crafty, cooking good food, being with her family and friends and soaking in Canada’s four beautiful seasons.

Where Are Your Stories?

**Please join us in welcoming Stéphanie to Mama Might**

Where are you, you women longing to pour out your hearts, express your anger, your desperation, and your grief?  You women longing to bring forth a life, but to whom nature has been unkind.  You, who have been told by your doctor that you suffer from a hormonal imbalance, anxiety, or from some other gynecological issue.  You, who have been told by society that your problem isn’t real, and that it must be all in your head.  (After all, you just need to relax, right?)

After eight years of struggling with infertility, I am still searching for these women.  Thank God, some have chosen to reveal themselves to me.  It is thanks to them that I am able to understand my own struggles more fully.  It would seem, however, that most of us choose to remain hidden, cloaked in desperation and shame.   Unfortunately, many of us feel abnormal, misunderstood, and worst of all, alone.  Instead of shaking free from our prison of misery, we choose to stay closed off, wrapped in our grief, plagued by emptiness. It is rare to find someone willing to share their story of infertility with the world.  However, I believe that the world needs to see and hear us, and more importantly, that we need to see and hear each other so that our burden of isolation may be lifted. This is why I have chosen to put my experience into words; not only to lend my voice to those who need to be heard, but also to help those close to them more fully understand their struggle. This is my story.
I would describe my infertility as a state of exile.  My spirit searched obsessively, not only for a way to escape my despair, but also for a way to be included in the miracle of pregnancy.  During this time I began to question and lose faith in every detail and aspect of my being.  I was suspicious of the food I ate, the vitamins I swallowed, and the drugs I was prescribed.  Worst of all I began to distrust my own body which seemed to betray me month after month.  Why, it couldn’t even do something that should have been as natural as breathing!  In the same way that I lost faith in my body, I also began to lose respect for it.  I embarked on a journey of painful fertility treatments that came with a broad spectrum of horrible side-effects.
In addition to the physical toll of infertility, my exile also greatly affected my social life and my relationships with others. Since it was difficult to watch other women easily achieve my most elusive dream, it was painful to act normal around them and be sympathetic as they described their pregnancy woes.  Little did they know I would have given anything for leg cramps and heart-burn! Their beautiful, round bellies became demons that haunted me, whispering to me what a failure I was. I began to avoid places where pregnant women might be, or where families with multiple children were present.  As a result, it is not surprising to me that my infertility destroyed some friendships.  I lost friends by avoiding them during their pregnancies or, even worse, by poorly expressing the way I was feeling about their pregnancies.  It became a vicious cycle of heartbreak that began once I learned that yet another friend was expecting, and ended with the greater pain of eventually losing that friend altogether. I dearly miss those friends, every day.
Just like a lonely prisoner who dreams of being rescued, each of my monthly cycles would begin with a small glimmer of hope.  But as the cycle progressed, that small, bright bit of hope would gradually fade until the tiny spark was extinguished in a flood of disappointment.  “Making Love” became “Making a Baby”.  This beautiful act became a means to an end, and a source of deep anxiety.  Once the period of ovulation had passed, my anxiety would become nearly unbearable.  Sleep, my only reprieve from the stress, would vanish during those two weeks of hellish waiting.  When my cycle began again each month without fail, I would again be forced to accept that the dream of motherhood had evaded me once more, and I would feel like an imbecile for having the audacity to even hope that it might have been different this time. I would tell myself that enough was enough, and that I was through hoping, through trying.  But each time I told myself I had given up I would quickly forget my resolve to stop trying, roll up my sleeves, put my faith back in God, and  pick up the fight at the beginning of each new cycle.  Thanks be to God for the gift of this beautiful faith!  I believe with all my heart that one day a second child will come as a gift from my Lord, just as my first child was.
Despite the years of suffering and the loss of several pregnancies, my deepest happiness was the delivery of a little gift which miraculously arrived from the Lord five years ago.  My husband and I waited for this miracle for three long years.  And we have now been waiting for four years for a little brother or sister to join our sweet angel.  Only God knows when this second miracle will arrive, and I remind myself everyday to have patience.
I am deeply thankful for our first little blessing, and filled with sympathy for those who wait for one of their own.  With the help of God, and other women like you, I eventually made peace with my cross.  Beautiful round bellies and all the other wonderful gifts of pregnancy no longer haunt me.  All I can say to those of you who are waiting for your first, second, or third child is please don’t lose hope.  Know that you are not alone.  And above all, don’t be afraid to share your story so we can know, pray for, and support one another.

*This post has been translated from its original French by Amanda Winsor.*

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My name is Stephanie and I am a wife, a mom, a teacher and an owner of a (very small) tutoring/educational products business. I have three passions in life: my husband, my son and teaching. My life is filled with blessings and I do my very best to live it according to my faith.  Here is my post in its original French.
Ou sont passées toutes ces femmes qui voudrait raconter, crier leur rage, leur desespoir leur chagrin. Ces femmes qui veulent mettre quelqun au monde, mais qui ne sont pas choyées par la nature. Qui se font dire par les médecins qu’elles ont un problème d’hormones, d’anxiété ou d’autres problèmes gynécologiques. Qui se font dire par la société que leur problème ce n’est pas un vrai problème parce que ça se passe sûrement dans leur tête. Après tout, elle n’ont seulement qu’à relaxer!
Suite à 8 ans de bataille avec mes propres problèmes d’infertilité je cherche toujours la plupart de ces femmes. Dieu merci, certaines ce sont dévoilées et c’est grace à elles que je peux me comprendre un peu mieux. Il me semble que la plupart semblent rester cachées dans leur désespoir. Malheureusement, la plupart d’entre nous se sentent anormales, incomprises et seules. Au lieu de sortir de nos chaînes de misères nous restons emmitouflées dans nos couvertures qui empestent la faillite. Rares sont celles qui partagent leur combat avec le monde entier. Le monde a besoin de nous entendre, mais plus important encore, nous avons besoin de nous entendre pour que notre sentiment de solitude puisse au moins être effacé. J’ai choisi de penser sur papier pour aider à celles qui ont besoin d’entrendre et pour aider à leur proche à les comprendre. Voici ce qui se passe en moi:

Je décrirais mon infertilité comme un état d’exile. Un exile ou mon esprit obsède sur un moyen de s’en sortir ou plûtot d’y entrer….entrer dans le miracle de la grossesse. Mon être entier perd confiance et doute tout ce qui l’entoure: la nourriture que j’ingère, les suppléments que j’avale, les médicaments qu’on me donne et pire encore mon propre corps qui me déçoit cycle après cycle. Mon corps ne peut même pas accomplir un acte naturel comme l’est ma respiration, ma digestion ou mes battements de coeur. Comme la confiance est minimisée, j’ai l’impression que le respect que j’apporte à mon corps est conformément perdu et je m’embarque dans des traitements qui sont douloureux et qui viennent avec un baggage d’effets secondaires.
Mon exile attaque également ma vie sociale et mes relations. Parce que c’est très difficile de voir plusieurs femmes atteindre facilement mon plus grand rêve il est pénible pour moi de vivre impédueusement autour d’elles. De mon côté je prie pour les douleurs et les maux de coeurs. Les belles bedaines rondes deviennent des démons qui me hantent et qui murmurent à mon âme que je suis une faillite. J’essaie donc souvent d’éviter les endroits ou plusieurs femmes enceintes peuvent s’y retrouver ou plusieurs familles nombreuses sont présentes. Ce n’est donc pas surprenant que mon infertilité a détruite des amitiés. Ces amies ont été perdues car je les ai évitées pendant leur grossesse ou parce que je n’ai pas exprimer mes sentiments de façon appropriée lorsque je me sentais au bas-fond en leur compagnie. Je les manques beaucoup. C’est un cycle vicieux qui commence avec des pincements au coeur de voir ces amies enceintes et qui se termine par de plus grands pincements au coeur de les avoir perdues.
Tout comme une exilée qui voit un mirage, chaque cycle commence avec une lueur d’espoir. Au fur et à mesure que le cycle avance, l’atteinte du mirage devient de plus en plus obsédante. “Faire l’amour” devient “faire un bébé “. Le geste devient un outil et devient angoissant. Une fois l’ovulation complétée l’anxiété devient pratiquement insoutenable et je me touve à rêver à pouvoir dormir pendant ces deux semaines d’enfer pour ne pas avoir à faire face au stress qu’apporte l’attente. Finalement, au bout du cycle je realise que ce n’était encore qu’un mirage et je me sens idiote d’avoir espéré au rêve. Je m’y suis fait prendre encore une fois. Je me dis que c’est assez que je ne m’y ferai plus prendre… mais j’oublie rapidement, me remonte les manche, met ma foi en Dieu et je recommence mon manège le cycle suivant. Merci pour cette belle foi. Je sais qu’un jour ce deuxième enfant me viendra du Seigneur comme l’a été le premier.

Même avec ces années de souffrances et la perte de plusieurs grossesses. Mon plus grand bonheur est l’accomplissement d’un petit miracle que le Seigneur m’a envoyé 5 ans passés. Mon mari et moi avons attendu pratiquement 3 ans pour notre amour. Voila maintenant quatre ans que nous attendons pour un petit frère ou une petite soeur pour notre petit ange. Seul Dieu sait quand un deuxième miracle nous sera envoyé. Je l’entend me dire… patience. Je suis reconnaissante pour notre première bénédiction et je suis remplie de sympathie pour celle qui essaie d’atteindre leur première accouchement. Tout ce que je peux avouer à celles qui attendez pour votre premier, deuxième ou troisième enfant ne perdez pas espoir et souvenez-vous que nous ne sommes pas seules. Dévoilez-vous pour que nous puissions nous reconnaître et s’entraider.

Reflection on the First Year

Please join us in welcoming Chelsea to Mama Might!

Just over a year ago I left my job to begin my maternity leave.  Waiting for the arrival of my daughter was both exciting and torturous… I have always struggled with patience!  What made the whole experience even more amazing was that I would have a year off to spend time enjoying my new family of 3 (4 with the family pooch).  I had all kinds of plans and ideas about what I would accomplish while I was at home.  The gardens would be beautiful, the house spotless. I would have a chance to do all kinds of crafty projects and cook more nutritious, homemade meals.  I was going to get in shape.  I would indulge in terrible books and bad romantic comedies!

My daughter was born on her due date (punctual like her mama!).  It was the most incredible day of my life.  We felt blessed, happy, relieved and terrified all at once.  We were lucky enough to be working with a fantastic team of midwives so we were able to head home from the hospital a few hours after her birth.  We were all exhausted and despite the first-night-at-home anxiety, we got a much needed night of sleep.  As it turns out, it was really the only “peaceful” night in our house for the next six months.

Our perfect and beautiful daughter fit the textbook definition of colic.  She cried, and she cried, and she cried.  Before she was born we decided that we were not going to give our daughter a pacifier until after breastfeeding was well established.  By day two we were desperately trying to get her to take it, anything to soothe her and stop the crying and screaming.  We went into new parent problem-solving mode.  We had read so many pregnancy and baby books, surely we could figure this out.  We tried swaddling, rocking, shushing, breastfeeding, swinging, cuddling, massage, white noise and chiropractic.  We blamed it on milk supply and gas and acid reflux and  teething. I eliminated caffeine, dairy and chocolate from my diet in case that was the cause.  No matter what we tried we most certainly did not have the happiest baby on the block.  In fact, we spent most of last summer with the windows sealed shut so that neighbours wouldn’t be bothered.  Within a couple of weeks the daytime crying had decreased but evenings remained very difficult.  Without fail the crying would begin at 5pm and carry on until 11pm each day.  While the other new moms that I met had babies who were already sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, my daughter was waking up (at least) once every hour.  I gave up sleeping in bed and decided that camping on the couch was much less frustrating.  I came to accept that exhaustion was the new normal.  I had a more difficult time accepting that I could no longer drink coffee to try to balance myself out!  I remember thinking that my husband and I would never be able to eat dinner together again—who would hold the crying baby?

Thankfully, around 3-4 months things began to improve.  Slowly but surely the tears were replaced by happy baby giggles and gibberish.  We were even able to spend time together as a couple when she would go to bed.  It was still a long time before my daughter slept through the night but she began to wake less frequently.  With each and every milestone we were overwhelmed by a sense of pride.  It was incredible to watch as our daughter developed more and more personality each day.  We were in love from the moment we met her, now we were having fun too.

We recently celebrated our daughter’s first birthday.  My garden is overgrown with weeds, my house is rarely as clean as I would like and my craft room has been turned into a storage area.  I have tried out 5 new recipes (only because I committed to do so for my blog), and read exactly zero new books.  I am proud to say that I did accomplish my health and fitness goals!  I look back and I wonder how my husband and I managed to get through the first six months.  I have no doubt that it was the most difficult (and rewarding) thing that either of us have ever accomplished.  I am so grateful that our friends and family were there for us.  They provided us with words of encouragement, visits, the occasional dinner and oatmeal cookies!  My daughter is now a happy, confident, and determined toddler.  She is also a great sleeper, something that I never could have imagined a year ago!  If you have are the new parents of a “cry baby”, hold on.  I promise you that you are in for more fun than you can imagine!  Be patient, ask for help and give yourself a break from time to time.  Soon you too will be celebrating your child’s first birthday and as difficult as things may seem you will look back on these times and miss them.

ChelseaChelsea Bastien is the mom of a sweet, funny and adventurous toddler.  She is happily married and living in Ottawa, ON.  She is passionate about health and fitness and is currently pursuing a career as a personal trainer.  Follow her blog at www.labfitness.tumblr.com

My Breastfeeding Story

**Please join us in welcoming Jenn to Mama Might**

In the three months since becoming a mother, the one thing I’ve learned is that everyone has an opinion about every issue surrounding how to raise my child. They have very strong opinions. Not only do they readily share their opinions, but they make you feel like you are going to ruin your child’s life if you don’t adhere to the same philosophy as they do. This was manifest in my life as a mom when it came to the issue of breastfeeding.

My husband and I have been married for seven years, waiting until a few months ago to have our first child. This means that most of our friends and family members already have children and have “tried and tested” methods for raising them. Leading up to delivery, we attended the prenatal classes together. I read every book and blog I could find on labour, delivery, the first weeks and especially breastfeeding. I was prepped. I was ready. I knew what to do.

Little Man had to be evicted five days after my due date. He was just shy of seven pounds and because of the drugs in my body, he was a very sleepy and reluctant latcher. The nurses and I tried for the first 12 hours to get him to drink, but he kept falling asleep. They checked his blood sugars, but he was fine so we didn’t worry. He had dropped 11 ounces before we left the hospital.

When we got home, I was not prepared for the hormones and exhaustion that took over my life. Besides dealing with the trauma my body had just endured, I was trying to nurse this little infant. Pushing through the pain and cracks, I kept asking everyone, “Is this normal? Should I dread every time he needs to be fed?” But we pressed on.

We started taking him in for his Well-Baby check ups about a week after he was born, going every few days to monitor his progress. By the time he was three weeks old, the nurse was getting concerned that he hadn’t gained enough weight. He wasn’t back to his birth-weight yet. She said they would give us a few more days and he may need to be given formula. I cried on the nurse. I felt so ashamed and disappointed. Mostly in myself. I thought that there was something more I should have done. What was wrong with me as a woman and a mother that my body couldn’t give my baby what he needed? I tried following the advice of the nurse to the letter: drink more, rest with your feet up, wake him every two hours no matter what, and do everything you can to keep him awake while he eats.

I went to meet with the local lactation consultants. They watched me feed my son, gave me a few suggestions about positioning, but told me that we were doing great together. They urged me not to fret and to continue doing what we were doing. They really frowned on “giving up” on breastfeeding by “giving in” to formula. Later that week, we were attending a breastfeeding support group meeting when my phone rang. The pediatrician told our nurse that he would really like us to try formula, at least for a few days, so they could rule out other health related causes. I was devastated by this recommendation.

I felt like there was no way to win. Every path I chose had someone nay-saying, frowning and clucking their tongues about my choice. Oh, and on top of everything else, my husband left to be away for work in the middle of all of this. I talked to him and we decided to listen to the medical professionals and do what we felt was best for our son. Nay-sayers be darned!

So I would breast feed him as usual, then I would offer him formula in a bottle. That first bottle he gulped down almost two ounces. I will admit that I cried, feeling like I must have been starving him if he was that hungry right after drinking from my supply. He started out only taking between a half ounce and two ounces at every feeding. He then started crying after he breastfed, looking for more, until I gave him the bottle. I started to believe that I was insufficient and he would always need more than I could give. BUT at least he was still getting the benefits of breast milk.

After five days, we went back to the nurse and he had gained over a pound! We were all flabbergasted! We continued in this way for another week and he gained another pound! The nurse couldn’t believe it. At that point, he had reached his milestones, so we started giving him the bottles every second feeding or so. He continued to gain, so we eventually stopped giving them to him at all.

I am proud to say that we are back to exclusively breast feeding. He has more than doubled his birth-weight at three months of age (which is the six month growth milestone). He is a happy, healthy, growing boy. He didn’t reject the breast because of the bottles. My milk supply didn’t dry up. He is not scarred for life. It is actually very convenient that he will take the formula now from someone else when I need to be away.

I share this because I know a lot of women go through the same situation. This is especially true of babies with low birth weights or who were born prematurely. The doctor figures my son was getting too tired while breastfeeding and stopped eating before he was full enough. This was enough to satisfy his thirst, but not to gain enough weight.

The moral of the story is: don’t let anyone else shame you into doing something that goes against your instincts. First time mothers often doubt our intuition for our children because we feel that we do not have the expertise that experience gives. However true this may be, please learn from my story that doing what is best for your baby is never wrong. Every mom is different. Every child is different.  What works for one, may not work for another. God designed us to be the mother of that particular child and has equipped us to handle any situation. Even if we doubt ourselves sometimes. As someone pointed out to me, on graduation day, you will not be able to tell which student on that stage was breastfed and which one wasn’t.

Jenn and her little man :)

Jenn and her little man 🙂

Jenn married her high school sweetheart seven years ago. She and Scott just had their first child in March. They live on the North Shore of Nova Scotia, where Jenn is an elementary school teacher.