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Finding Your Tribe

24 Jul

Having a new baby can bring a whole lot of ups and downs.  Whether it’s having your first child, second, third, or fourth (fifth?! sixth?)  the changes it brings to the family unit can be big….life changing big.  A new human being, a new child, a new sibling, a new love.  One thing I have found since becoming a mother with my first child is you need to find your tribe. Your support group(s), friends, meet-ups, playgroups and outings where you can be surrounded by others going through a similar experience.  Finding those special groups who totally get you and totally get, or at least show support towards, what you are striving for as a family.

I have found many tribes and even after 2 years of being a mom I am still finding new ones while continuing to grow familiar ones.  I have built tribes from online relationships discovered through twitter and Facebook. I have nourished tribes I had previously from the yoga community, nannying gigs and existing friendships. I have been a part of powerful tribes that have come together over breastfeeding, attachment parenting, fun playgroups and baby signing and much more.

With social media being mainstream in society I continue to enjoy my tribes who I have made initial contact with through Facebook groups and twitter conversations.  Creating conversations within a closed Facebook group with women who just “get you” and then taking those online relationships offline to coffee dates, park playdates and dinners is a wonderful experience.  I think of how blessed I have been in being a social media enthusiast, blogging and tweeting and the relationships with people who I probably would have never of met if it wasn’t for social media.  I have created relationships through these channels and with some of those people they are some of the people we enjoy spending a lot of time with.  Some of the people who know the most about me and my business I have met online and took those relationships offline and watched them grow.

When it all comes down to it and you haven’t even managed a shower in a day or two you know that your tribe will still be there for you, with open arms.  So I want to thank my tribes for always being there for me.  And to all the mama’s out there who are feeling alone. Reach out. Find a tribe, maybe you need to try out a few first, but once you find the one that is right for you you will be knowing it is the right fit!

And if you are on twitter then come on over and let’s connect! Tweet me at @amandadegrace

Who is your tribe and how did you connect with them? Through a local playgroup? Childhood friends? online?

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Breastfeeding Moments & Tandem Nursing

21 May

It is amazing how different breastfeeding experiences can be for each child you have and the journey that happens along the way.  I have been breastfeeding for exactly 2 years and 4 days now and I don’t see the end in sight for a few more years.  It is magic to see your child nourished by breastfeeding, soothed, comforted and content.   Dominic still breastfeeds a few times a day and of course it is Bella’s only food at this time.  But it is not just her food. It is her comfort when she is sad, it is her quiet snuggly time with mom, it’s her protection against all the germs her cute brother may bring her way and it is security while she begins to explore this great big world around her.  We have never breastfed on a schedule and have always allowed our children access to the breast to feed and comfort at any time needed while they are young.

Breastfeeding an infant and toddler can be quite different and I had forgotten the little experiences that come along when breastfeeding an infant.  Our little Bella is a breastfeeding champ and had a great latch within the first few moments of being born.  It is so warm and enjoyable when you lock eyes with your little one while they are feeding.  Knowing that at that moment in time you are their everything. Their food, warmth, comfort, security, and they feel the love radiating around them.

There are several moments that are unforgettable and I treasure each and every time they happen with my children while feeding. With Bella they are all new, moments we are discovering together and creating memories.  Watching her eyes start to droop and blink as she gets sleepy.  Fighting sleep because she wants to continue to suckle and enjoy the warm milk flowing into her mouth.  The eyes become heavier and heavier, open less and less, until they are fully shut and the suckling soon stops but her mouth is still on the breast taking in the warmth and smell of being close to mom.

Then there are the times when she is full and is breastfeeding strictly for comfort. When she wants to be able to soothe herself through a sucking motion or by being close to her mom but doesn’t want anymore milk at that time.  When she makes noises, hands in a fist, pulling at the breast because the flow is too much and not what she wants.  Other times she has the same actions but it is because she wants milk but flow is not as strong so she grabs at the breasts, pulls her head back and makes noises.  Sometimes it is hard to figure out whether it is because there is too much milk or not enough and she is waiting for another let down. Usually with a rhythmic pat to her back or bum you can see whether she is just really tired and not hungry because she starts to fall asleep.

It continues to amaze me how she can be crying and the moment I pick her up she knows it is her mama that has her.  She smells the breast milk as I move her even slightly towards my chest and her mouth opens ready to feed.

I love at night time when she is exhausted and we lay down to breastfeed.  She falls asleep, lets go of her latch and rests her check on my breast, warm little body snuggled up against mine and we drift off together. It’s her security blanket that will always be there for her as long as she needs it.

More than anything right now I love the moments where I can tandem breastfeed in a quiet space with both children. Looking at both of their big blue eyes looking into mine and knowing that the love we all have for each other continues to grow every moment of everyday.  Knowing that the breastfeeding journey we are on is what is best for my children and they will decide when it is time for the journey to change course or pace.

Two Years Too Fast

13 May

What a whirlwind! A whirlwind that has been absolutely amazing and a journey I am so blessed to be a part of.  Two years ago today I was wondering if he was ever going to make his arrival and wondering what life was really going to be like once we became parents.  Little did I know I would only have to wait 48 more hours to finally meet him!

The last two years I have learned so much from Dominic. I have learned what its like to really play and enjoy the simple moments such as pausing to watch a plane fly by, crouching down to watch an ant carry food and watch the squirrels run up the trees.

The joy of his laughter can lighten my mood at any time, no matter what is happening around me.  His smile always makes me want to smile back and the joy of watching him learn more everyday continues to amaze me.

Who knew that two years could ever go by so fast. As I pause and try to enjoy each and every moment while they are arrive, being present, I can’t help but worry how fast the next 2 will go by as well.

Morning Triumph

2 May

Most people would probably classify their morning successful if they have coffee to make, the kids didn’t throw a fit over wanting to watch more tv before school, toddler slept in past 6a.m. and there is no rushing out the door to work, school or an activity.

I have always been blessed that my husband is an early riser. Therefore he gets up with Dom at 5:30, sometimes early like today (4:30!!!!!), gets him breakfast and also gets himself ready for work. This allows me and Bella a bit more time in bed to sleep before I start my day. There is ALWAYS coffee on hand at my house. My loving husband learned early on that one of the keys to a successful marriage for us is making sure there was coffee on hand for me in the morning. It really is better for everybody this way.

So what do I classify as a successful morning? Well lately, more specifically since Bella came and I started pumping to have frozen breast milk on hand, I classify this as a successful morning….

Yep that is 70ml of pumped liquid gold. I know for many that may seem like nothing but for me this is a huge triumph. You see me and pumping have never really loved each other. It’s more that we tolerate each other.  I think this distorted relationship began almost exactly two years ago when I had Dom. I lost my milk supply and had to pump to get it back.  Some boobies like these milk machines and others don’t. I know where mine fit in.

However I keep at it.  It is important that our children get access to breast milk as much as possible and ideally exclusively.  So I am building a supply of frozen breast milk in my freezer. So if you come over for a visit and think the long sticks of white popsicles in our freezer are treats to be eaten think again. There is only one person those treats are for and they are for my baby girl when mama needs a few hours out of the house.

This morning was my best pump yet…70ml from one side in less then 8 minutes. I have found that I get the best results when babe is feeding on one side and I am totally relaxed.

So every morning around 7a.m. you now know what I am most likely up to. I have even mastered the breastfeeding while pumping and enjoying a sip of my morning coffee.


And Then There Were TWO!

27 Apr

Four weeks have passed in a whirlwind. I have no idea where the time has gone. Really…no idea…not a freakin clue!  In a way it just seems like Bella has always been here and always been a part of our family.  In other ways we have made changes within our family unit to adapt to life with two babes. I will add that we are very excited and happy with any changes to our family unit we have made though!

We are in our daily routine and it is going smoothly. There are definitely times I wish I had twenty extra pairs of hands but I have to remember to just slow down. I have found myself asking our 23 month old to “listen more carefully” or asking him why he hasn’t done something I have asked him a few moments prior to do. I have to remember that he is still technically one and that for his age he is very active, mature (as mature as a 23 month old can be!), extremely kind to his sister, polite and helpful.

Four weeks in I am used to packing up the diaper bag with enough stuff for TWO, changing and washing all the diapers for TWO, the amount of clothes and blankets you go through with TWO children and DOUBLE the mess.  Even with now DOUBLE of everything I am extremely excited and grateful every single day for these two precious children in our lives.

 

I look at our sweet Bella and can’t believe she has already been here for a month and how much she has grown in that time.  Somedays I sit and brainstorm ways we could just freeze time. Or maybe we should just shut ourselves in the house for an indefinite amount of time so we can treasure every precious moment of our children’s lives. But really in reality how fun would it be not being able to watch our children learn, grow and discover the world?!

I am finding that time is hard to find these days with taking care of both cuties, running a business and the daily household tasks the time seems to slip away during the day.  In the little time I have while Dom has his nap in the afternoons I am quickly loading and unloading the dishwasher, throwing on a load of cloth diapers, making grocery lists and more….all while usually breastfeeding Bella.

To be the best mom I can be I have been trying to remember to take time out. Taking a few moments or an hour for me. Like taking the time out to write this blog post, enjoy a latte at the local coffee shop or a dinner out with friends. Of course Bella is normally in tow with me but enjoys sleeping all snuggled up in a wrap to leave me hands free.

One thing I can’t wait to be able to get back to? Working out and yoga!! But really everything else in the world can wait as long as I can treasure every minute with my two cuties!!

The Birth of our Bella!!

25 Apr

I really didn’t think this pregnancy was ever going to end.  It definitely went by faster then my first pregnancy did but when you are so sick 40 weeks seems like years and years!  In the last week, with the end in sight, operation “Get Baby Out” started. It started on a Sunday with an almost 3 hour walk downtown.  Well it was more like a waddle but I made it and it was also an accomplishment that I managed to not pee my pants throughout those 3 hours!  When we got home I was exhausted and my braxton hicks definitely started to get a little stronger and more often.  I could feel that the baby was getting lower and was hoping that when I went back to the doctors on that Wednesday that there would be a little bit more progress made.  I was secretly hoping that labour would start that night but unfortunately we cannot just choose when it will happen!

Fast forward to my doctor appointment on Wednesday where I found out I had made a little bit more progress but not a lot more. I requested a stretch and sweep in hopes of encouraging things along as it had worked for going into labour with Dominic.  I went home and began to have contractions that evening.  Contractions were irregular but definitely were not the regular braxton hicks I had been experiencing for weeks.  I went to lay down in hopes of getting some rest with the thought that I would most likely go into labour that night. It was a big surprise when I woke up the next morning and realized that the contractions had stopped and I was indeed still pregnant!

Sweet hubby was already off work as he had a lot of unused vacation to use so decided to stay home again knowing that I was going to go into labour soon.  The day was spent going for small walks and getting rest when I could. That night (Thursday) contractions started again and I quickly brushed them off as I thought my body was going to play “tricks” again with all this pre-labour.  I put Dominic to bed, something I had been doing for the last few weeks, as I knew that before we knew it our family of 3 was going to be a family of 4 and I wanted to ensure Dominic had lots of special mommy time before baby arrived.

Contractions continued but were not consistent. Within an hour they started to space themselves 6 minutes apart and we were thinking that this was the real deal! I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions so we waited a little longer. I soon realized that they were not slowing down and if we wanted to get to the hospital in time we better get moving!

We called Adam’s brother as he was going to take care of Dom and off to the hospital we went.  There we met our dear friend and wonderful doula, Anna Belanger.  Adam parked all of our cars and Anna and I walked up to L&D.  As I approached triage they asked me to have a seat in the waiting area as they were currently full.  A few choice words crossed my mind but I decided to spare these nice nurses of that and I instead told them that I was not waiting and was in full on labour.  They quickly moved another patient out of one of the rooms and brought me in for a quick check.  Once confirmed that I was indeed in labour they then quickly moved me into a room to labour. I believe a few not so nice words slipped out when the nurse who checked me told me I hadn’t really dilated anymore since my dr’s appointment that week.

Anna ran a hot bath and my nurse started my iv.  Into the hot bath I got and spent a good few hours labouring in the dark with Anna providing sips of water and cooling my face with a wash cloth. We sat in the bathroom the two of us quiet and still.  A perfect atmosphere to encourage that baby to drop even more and prepare my body for delivery.  The nurse was absolutely wonderful and would only come in to check on us and the baby once in a while. Keeping the lights dim and voice quiet throughout.  Contractions were coming one on top of the other with little to no breaks. It was definitely intense as things were progressing well.  After a few hours in the tub and only getting out to go to the bathroom, I moved onto the birthing ball and took my famous position by the sink and once again, just like my last labour, proceeded to as hubby would say “try to pull the sink faucet out of the wall.”  In my defence those contractions are wicked waves and you want to hold onto something!

With my water still not broken I requested that it be broken to relieve some of the pressure and to allow my body to begin transition. The doctor was amazing and the entire atmosphere was almost like I had my desired home birth in what hubby finds is the “safety feeling” of the hospital.  My water was broken and the nurse and doctor stood off to the side as I hit transition and then requested that it was time to push. After pushing for a few minutes on all fours the pressure was quite intense and I began to feel that ever popular burning sensation that all women feel. I wanted to turn over and 7 minutes later of what was apparently very efficient and effective pushing baby Bella was here!  The room stayed quiet as I delivered our baby girl and they immediately placed her on my chest where she laid contently.  We celebrated her arrival and I also did a little celebrating of the fact I would not have that ever lasting nauseous feeling again until we have a third!

The “after pains” and the contractions that occurred while delivering the placenta was definitely more intense than it was for my first delivery but this was to be expected.  However the sensations that occur throughout this time are dampened when you have a sweet baby laying on your chest.

Anna cut the cord as we had requested and baby girl latched on immediately for her first breastfeeding experience.  It is so magical to watch a newborn find the breast all on their own and latch on. Watching how they know exactly where to find their food source.

Within an hour we were left quietly to rest with our Bella as hubby quickly fell asleep and I laid quietly snuggled with baby still on a high from such a wonderful birthing experience.

The morning came quick and new big brother Dominic joined us at the hospital to see his sister for the first time.  The look of amazement and curiosity on his face when he met his sister is something we will never forget. He immediately came over to her and wanted to get a closer look at her. Touch her eyes, ears, feet and kiss her.  Even 3 weeks later he still looks at her with the same amazement and always wants to cuddle her.

What an amazing experience it was to have another natural labour and delivery with Bella! Already can’t wait for #3 😉

 

Long 9 Months but Totally Worth the Wait (and sickness)!

10 Apr

The last year has been a whirlwind for me and my family.  We decided we wanted to expand our family at the end of last June and by the first of July we were expecting our little baby who we would find out a few months later was a sweet little girl.  We knew we were ready to add a  new addition to our family and that Dom would be a wonderful big brother. What I wasn’t ready for was to feel even more nauseous then when I did for Dominic.  The nausea and vomiting hit full force by week 4 and unfortunately continued to get worse until week 26 before it at least started to stabilize a little.  It’s funny how quickly your perspective can change and how “good days” means only getting sick once or twice.

My baby boy quickly realized that mommy wasn’t much fun throughout those months but that I was still more then ready to snuggle and read books at any time.  Daddy became the go to person for all things fun and exciting. Daddy did all the early morning wake ups, late night snuggles, park dates, museum visits, grocery shopping and everything else in between.  My days were filled with just “to get through” with feeling sick, tired and at times emotionally drained.

I feel like I missed out on nine months of Dom’s life.  In that time he seemed to grow from my little baby to my little man.  I missed chasing him around the park, watching him learn and explore at museums and various activities and having the energy to really explore live at his level.  The things he learned as I watched from the sidelines was amazing but I wish I could have been in on the action with him.

However, when I look at the end result of growing Dom a sweet baby sister who we will all be able to love and enjoy her company for a lifetime I know it was more than worth it.

Finally holding sweet Bella in my arms now and watching Dom’s eyes light up the moment they are in the same room together I would feel nauseous for a lifetime to see them together.  The love that is floating around in our home is amazing!

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