This Whole Mom Thing: It’s Hard

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My “the baby has been up since 4 am and will only sleep while in motion” face. Note the unintentional lazy eye for authenticity.

Loving my daughter is easy. The first month of being a mom? Now, that’s been a bit of a challenge.

While perusing Facebook in the wee hours of the morning, with my tiny human holding me hostage by the nipple, I came across a clip from football coach and former ESPN analyst, Lou Holtz’s undergraduate commencement speech… from 2015. (Side note: Could you guys start posting more on Facebook so I don’t have to watch commencement speeches from 2015, please?) In his speech, Lou says that you shouldn’t tell people your problems because no one wants to hear about them and those that do are happy you have them. As I sat there rocking my angry, screeching, pterodactyl of a baby, I thought to myself, fuck that “Mr. Holtz, I respectfully disagree with you” and decided to write this very post.

Nobody tells you how challenging it is to bring home a new baby, or maybe they do but you’re not really listening because it doesn’t quite effect you yet. Let me tell you friends, this new mom thing, it’s hard.

Our first week with Stella, was the most draining week of my life. First of all, you come home from the hospital and not only have you been awake for 48 hours, but your body has also been through something pretty damn traumatic. Then while you are trying to heal, you have to take care of this teeny, tiny human who is a little annoyed that her world has been rocked too.

I was a zombie, an absolute mess, everything seemed a lot more difficult than I had imagined, especially breastfeeding. (It turns out, I should have been worried about more than just my vagina, ouch!) Everything seemed so straightforward in our prenatal class, when we weren’t completely sleep deprived trying to please a hysterical baby.

Friends and family asked how I was doing and I couldn’t help but respond with “I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.” Lou Holtz would not be impressed, but it was the truth. I felt like I should pretend that I was doing amazing, but I just didn’t have it in me. I felt like a bad mom letting people in on my little secret, but I’m a terrible liar.

After awhile though, I started to notice something: everyone who was already a mom said the same thing, “yeah, the first few weeks are the worst.” These mamas told me stories about how difficult their first month was, the sleepless nights, the postpartum surprises, the anxiety and frustration. I felt better knowing I wasn’t alone. I spent so much time focusing on my pregnancy and labour that I didn’t really prepare myself for when I would actually have to care for my baby, earth-side.

Stella is six weeks old now and honestly, the whole first month feels like a complete blur. The good news? Every day, things are getting better and better. In fact, I waited two weeks just to post this, to make sure that I wasn’t lying!

So all you new mamas out there, I see you, I know your struggles. Don’t be afraid to tell people when you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, you’ll happily find out, that they did too. And if you’re visiting a new mom, take a lesson from my friend Quinn who said to me, “how’s everything going, and you can say it’s awful, because honestly the first few weeks kind of are.”

Thank you to everyone who helped me (us) get through the first few weeks of motherhood, I am so grateful for all of your honesty, support and cooking! 

10 Things That Surprised Me About Being Pregnant

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Being pregnant is pretty wild and no matter how many books you read or apps you download there are bound to be some surprises along the way. (Ok, so I only read one book… but I have TWO apps…) At just less than two weeks to my due date I am currently on the home stretch (not sure if that pun was intended or not) and have been reflecting a lot on this whole “miracle of life” thing.

Here are ten things that I have found surprising throughout my pregnancy:

1.) I still think being pregnant is kind of bizarre and totally sci fi.
Before I was pregnant, the whole thing kind of freaked me out. Seeing pregnant stomachs morph and move was totally surreal and dare I say… a little creepy. I always thought I would feel differently while pregnant but I am still having a hard time wrapping my brain around this whole thing.

2.) I may live in maternity pants for the rest of my life.
It’s like Spanx and jeans had a baby and I, for one, am a big fan. Maternity pants – where have you been all my life?

3.) I thought my vag would be the star of the show.
From the time I saw that tiny pink cross, I assumed that every doctor’s appointment would involve stirrups. I was wrong, the star of the show for the most part has been this growing bump of mine and my first pee of the day in a cup (who knew?!).

4.) I don’t actually mind people touching my belly.
I like my personal space and the thought of people patting my belly made me cringe. Once I actually had a legit baby belly, and not just a “is she pregnant or does she just love carbs?” belly, it really hasn’t bothered me, it’s kind of cute. 

5.) I didn’t realize that people seem to think there is a prize for knowing you were pregnant before you announced it.
“I totally knew you were pregnant because your skin was so bad in December!” “I thought you might be pregnant because you were starting to get a bit of a gut.” “Ohhh I thought something was up because you looked sooo tired.” There is no prize people, these are not nice things to say, especially to a hormonal, chubby, acne ridden pregnant woman!

6.) I also didn’t know that my growing bump and body would be such a hot topic of conversation.
Whether it’s how small my bump is or how big, I still haven’t quite figured out how to respond… Thanks? Your belly looks like it doubled in size too? 😉

7.) I’ve never felt so in tune and yet out of touch with my body.
Being solely responsible for growing a human life is a pretty big task and requires you to pay closer attention to your body… but since this is my first pregnancy, I have no idea what is normal anymore! So, so many Google searches.

8.) I thought I would miss alcohol more.
This one was a pleasant surprise. The only times I have really missed having a nice adult beverage have been when we’re out for dinner or when I have to make small talk somewhere… I’m so much better at small talk with a glass of wine… or two, or ten.

9.) I have a new understanding and empathy for menopausal women.
I too can not control my emotions or body temperature, it’s frustrating! Oh, and I totally get why you ladies are always rocking white pants now, because you CAN. Liberating, right?

10.) I actually think I’m going to miss being pregnant.
Even though being pregnant is the most physically demanding (my poor belly button!) and nerve wracking (say a prayer for my vagina) thing I have ever done, I think I just might miss having this little partner in crime safe and sound, tucked away with me.

Did you find anything surprising about being pregnant?

The Best Worst Decision I’ve Ever Made

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“What the fuck have I done?” I thought as I laid awake on my tiny twin bed staring at the ceiling of my dorm room. “What was I trying to prove? Who did I think I was? I am not adventurous, I am not brave. What.the.fuck.was.I.thinking?”

I waited three days for my new roommates to arrive and for 72 hours I chastised myself for the worst decision I had ever made; the soundtrack in my head a compilation of self doubt, anger and crippling loneliness. I’d only moved 300 kilometres away from home but as I laid awake in those ikea sheets, it might as well have been 3000. I’d left everything I knew behind in search of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on anymore. I looked at pictures of my friends back home, taped to my concrete walls, and I couldn’t remember a single reason why I thought attending the University of Calgary was a good idea. “You always have to be different don’t you?” I scolded myself, “you couldn’t just be happy with the status quo.”

Deciding to move away for university seemed like a great idea at the time. I spent a year at Grant MacEwan as a commuter student, not investing any real time there or meeting many new friends. It was a good year but I wanted more. I wanted something different. Calgary was close enough for visits but far enough to gain the independence I was craving. Away I went… applied, accepted, arrived. My little dream had become reality but now I was certain that it was actually a nightmare. (Looking back, it seems ridiculous, but those three nights were some of the longest in my life.)

Eventually my roommates moved in and I was so pleasantly surprised: we drank. we talked. we clicked. (Well 3 out of 4 of us anyway…) We bonded with our quirky neighbour across the hall and over the next three years we embarked on a wild ride together. I made strong, important relationships with my new friends, I navigated my way through university (including switching my major in a mad mid semester panic), and I gained the confidence I needed through my new found independence.

We moved from the safety of our apartment style dorm to a mouse infested duplex and we dreamed together for hours on end about our futures and the people we would become. Booze, books and boys, we learned many lessons in many different facets of life. We challenged each other’s biases and we bonded over our similarities. It felt like we were on the cusp of everything and yet at times “real life” seemed so far away, we couldn’t wait for it to come.

Time has a way of romanticizing the past and erasing the hard edges of a memory. Sure, there were tears and heartbreak, loneliness and anxiety but there was so much more laughter and compassion. I can’t help but look back on my time at the University of Calgary and be amazed at how three short years could have made such an impact on the person I have become and the path that I took to get here.

As I crossed the C-train bridge and headed home after dropping off my final essay, I stopped to take a moment and soak in the view. The mountains to my right, the downtown core and iconic Calgary Tower to my left, I reflected on the scared 19 year old girl lying in that twin bed furious at herself. “This was the best decision you’ve ever made” I thought to myself, my eyes brimming with tears of joy, “You did it, you really did it.” 

The 5 Most Important Things I’m Learning From Yoga

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Not sure who to credit for this awesome cartoon making the rounds, let me know if you do! 

The first time I tried yoga I was 17, worked at a gym, and thought yoga was a place for flatulent old people. My sister and I decided to give it a go anyway and ended up confirming my suspicion: we spent 45 minutes stifling hysterical laughter caused by the audible farts of seniors. A fantastic ab workout, but not something I ever wanted to do again!

As the years went on my view of yoga remained the same, I tried a couple more classes at the Y but it just wasn’t my thing. And then surprisingly, my husband (boyfriend at the time) thought it would be fun for us to do yoga together.

Mike’s parents had taken him to a hot yoga class (probably in hopes of finding him a nice yogi wife) and he loved it. After some convincing, he persuaded me to try a class with him. It was so different than my first yoga experience, it was a real workout and a nice relaxation for my mind.

From there I ventured to our local yoga studio. It took a little bit of bravery but eventually I tried all of the classes they offered and learned that classes can range from virtually catatonic to the hardest workout of your life. No matter which class I took – Hatha, Flow, Freestyle Friday – the lessons of the class remained the same:

  1. Be present
    Don’t think about what happened before you got here or what is to come, focus on the now and be in the moment.
  2. Every day is different
    Don’t be so hard on yourself. Some days you are capable of more challenging feats than others. It’s nothing to be annoyed about, it’s life.
  3. Honour your body
    We are all unique including the limitations of our bodies. Put your ego aside and follow what is right for you, not what you wish you could do.
  4. Plant the seed
    When you face a challenge that seems impossible, instead of telling yourself you can’t do it, plant the seed that perhaps you will be able to in the future.
  5. Thank yourself for showing up
    It may seem small but making a commitment to yourself and following through should be celebrated. You did it!

After coming back from my accidental fitness hiatus, it is more clear to me than ever that these messages are the reason I love yoga the most. In a yoga class, more than any other fitness class I have taken, you are in control and most importantly, you are enough. 

If you are interested in trying your hand at yoga, my go to studios in Edmonton are Bliss YogaSpa and Navina Yoga which just opened this fall. Both studios have an amazing atmosphere and fantastic instructors. Enjoy!

Little Black Heart: What does it take to make a difference?

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I once took a Facebook quiz, back when taking Facebook quizzes wasn’t just something your parents and grandparents did, back when only students could have Facebook profiles, back when all Facebook photos were party pics uploaded from a digital camera… sigh, the good old days. I digress… I once took a Facebook quiz and it was called: “What colour is your heart?” 

Behind my keyboard I clicked away, telling Facebook with brutal honesty, how I would react in different situations and who I am as a person. I clicked submit with glee as I waited for the results, which obviously were very scientific and meaningful. Submit… Processing… Black. Wait… what? The colour of my heart was black. Not pink, not red, not even green or blue, but black. That’s not even a colour! I stared at the screen perplexed for a minute as the true colour of my heart was automatically posted to my profile. Well little black heart, I guess the world knows our secret now. 

So, you’re probably wondering, 1.) what’s the point of me telling you all of this and 2.) should you really continue being my friend/colleague/acquaintance? I’m getting to it!

Over the past few years I have been volunteering my time with two different organizations in our city: Big Brothers Big Sisters (6+ years) and Make-A-Wish (1.5+ years). Shocking right? I guess they didn’t catch my little black heart in the interview!

The one thing I have noticed when people hear about my volunteer work is that I get all sorts of compliments and pats on the back. “You’re amazing!” “I don’t know how you do it!” “Oh man, I don’t think I could do that.” “You have such a great heart!” (Ha!) 

Now I love compliments (almost as much as I love getting likes on Facebook) but in the words of one of our three year old Wish Kids, “I’m not a princess, I’m just a regular girl.”

Before I started volunteering, I too put volunteers on a pedestal. I viewed “them” as different from myself. “They” were bubbly, keeners. “They” were probably nicer, smarter, and better than me. “They” were movers and shakers on a mission. I, was little black heart. I admired the difference they were making, but didn’t think I could do it.

After perusing the Big Brothers Big Sisters and Make-A-Wish volunteer applications for awhile and chickening out, I stopped and thought about it. I realized that “they” were just regular people too,”they” just decided to step outside of their comfort zone and follow their heart (whatever colour it may be).

My little black heart told me that if I found the right opportunity, I could have a positive impact on my community. So I leaped and I’ve never looked back.

What does it take to make a a difference? Being yourself and having the confidence to know that you can. Take the leap, you won’t regret it.

Coming back, when you’ve let yourself go.

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Oh hey old friends!

I’m writing to you from a place I have been before. I’m writing to you because maybe, just maybe you’ve been here too. I’m writing to you because quite frankly, I need a bit of a kick in the ass. Here we go…

I had the best summer. A little bit stressful, a little bit busy, but in the end, a great time was had. I travelled, I partied, I enjoyed the hell out of my new backyard. But what I didn’t do… was yoga, spin or barre. Like… at all. 

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but before summer hit I was seriously killing it (toot-toot). I was going to spin or barre at lunch and finishing the night off with some yoga. I felt A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and began to view my body more by what it could do and less by what it looked like. I felt strong and it was empowering. I was doing poses in yoga I didn’t even think were physically possible!

It was a great place to be, but one day I just… stopped. I let the lure of sunshine, Netflix and wine on the deck carry me away. Four months of bliss but now I am here: ready to get back at it and absolutely terrified. It’s easy to workout when you are already fit. It’s hard to face the music and realize your body isn’t capable of what it once was and know that it’s your own damn fault.

Anyone who has been here before knows that the hardest part is getting up, driving there and walking through those doors. It’s nerve-racking. Like first date, nerve-racking. You know it’s either going to be great or terrible, there’s rarely an in-between. If you’re competitive with yourself like I am, the whole time you’re going to be comparing your current self to the fit, ass kicking version of you from before.

You’ll be frustrated when poses that used to be restful are now a shocking amount of work. You’ll be embarrassed when the weights you pick up are much lighter than before and still seem like torture. You’ll be annoyed when the instructor pushes you harder and counts out those last thirty seconds in the slowest.countdown.ever. “That was WAY more than thirty seconds you bastard, we know how to count,” you’ll think in a fit of blind rage. And then the hour will be up and you’ll realize that you did it, you survived. It might not have been pretty but you did it.

On Friday, I dragged my nervous self back to spin and I survived. Yes, I was way worse than before, yes I contemplated cancelling the class about 100 times before I actually went, and yes I felt discouraged while I was doing it. But when it was done? I felt A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

I’m not telling you this to dig for compliments, I’m telling you this because I’m going to need this reminder and you might to. It’s easy to feel good when you are doing all the right things, it’s harder when you’re clawing your way back. Working out, spin, yoga, barre, running, whatever your thing is: getting it back won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. That incredible feeling once you’ve accomplished even just that first class back, is your glimmer of hope.

Keep going, don’t stop. We don’t want to be back here again! And if you reeeeeally need to, hit up DQ afterwards, to remind yourself that after all, you do need balance. 😉

Are you pregnant? The worst question ever.

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It seems that no matter what point you are at in life, there is always that one nagging question that friends, family, and acquaintances can’t help but ask you. Even though you can’t stand that particular question, I bet you’ve caught yourself peppering others with the exact same one. Small talk, at it’s finest. 

For me, it started out in kindergarten when a well-meaning photographer tried to elicit a smile from me on picture day, “What’s your boyfriend’s name?” he quipped. I scowled. (There’s a hilarious picture kicking around somewhere to prove it.)

Moving through the grades, the question remained pretty stagnant, some form of “who do you like?” was always hovering around.

Eventually I outgrew that particular query but the question that replaced it was a doozie: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I was so jealous of the kids that knew their path, “Be a marine biologist”, “Become a teacher”, “Go to medical school”.

Shit… I don’t know.

Once I muddled through the unknown and found myself in university I got hit with the most persistent double wammy of all time: “What are you going to do with your degree?” AND “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” (Yeah… I was single for awhile….) 

After finally making my way through fretting over my degree and being badgered about being single – I did it, I found a great job and I found a great guy. Boom, done. Hallelujah! Bring on the small talk people! 

Oh wait… “Do you think he’s the one?”, “Are you going to move in together?”, “When are you going to get engaged?”, “Are you going to start a family?”, “Are you trying to start a family?”,“Are you pregnant?” 

Nothing makes me more awkward than when someone asks me if I’m pregnant. Can’t a girl just drink a pop once in a while? We’re not on The Bachelor here, I don’t always have to drink white wine! I get it though, I’ve done it to people too and I’ve regretted it.

If someone wants to tell you that they are pregnant, guess what? They will. It’s too intimate. It’s too personal. And when you’re wrong, at the very least, they’re left thinking, “I really regret wearing this maxi dress without Spanx now.”

After some careful deliberation, I’m happy to report that I’ve come up with a litmus test to help you decide whether or not you should ask someone if they are pregnant. 

The next time you see someone and you’re wondering if they might have a bun in the oven, ask yourself this: “Have I had unprotected sex with this individual any time within the last 9 months?” 

Yes? You have? You’re home free, go ahead and ask – oh and congratulations, because you my friend, might have a baby!

And no, for the record, I’m not pregnant.