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‘Fair Newlywed Mother’ – A piece on Post Partum Depression by Christina Sanders
Once upon a time, there was a fair newlywed who was given an angel. The angel lived happily inside of her for ten months, after which he gracefully jumped down onto Earth.
He landed with a full head of ebony hair, five perfect fingers on each hand, and five wonderful toes on each foot.
The fair newlywed had all these ideas that she would be the greatest mother, with the perfect child. After all, her pregnancy had been smooth. Even given her history of depression and anxiety, she refused to imagine a life where she would even consider abandoning her duties as a wife and mother; where she would be quick to anger; where she would resent her child.
In a land not so far away, she had given birth. Not just to a sweet, handsome boy, but to a darkness. That darkness was named Post Partum Depression. Well, that life she had dismissed suddenly came to pass. Maids and matrons rushed to her side. The kitchen was scrubbed, the baby was held, and for a short while the mother could sleep away her misery.
While other mothers spoke of being blessed and of a love like no other, the fair mother screamed at The Depression and sat rocking in darkness for weeks and weeks. She knew she was blessed, but she could not feel it. Her once warm heart seemed icy. Her eyes were missing stars. She snuggled the babe, yet longed for happiness. It was then that her scream became louder than the hunger cries of her infant son, louder than the sobs in her throat, and she knew she had to silence it. She knew she had an overwhelming love for this darling infant boy, but she had to find it.
She was reunited with a matron whose babes had not lived inside. The fair newlywed was touched, moved, and awakened. She was reunited with her wellbeing. When the leaves turned and the green earth browned, that overwhelming love for her son was found. Like the season, the fair mother began to change. Her heart grew hot and her eyes twinkled again.
Post Partum Depression was no more, and The Sanders lived happily ever after.
The reasons for sharing my story:
Our struggles are not supposed to paralyze us, they strengthen us.
It’s OK to be more than a mother, a wife. Work on yourself. Personal development is just as important as parenting.
I remind myself every night before I go to sleep that Skyler is my WHY. He is the reason I wake up every day.
I am a better mother to him when I work out, eat the right foods, and practice gratitude.
This, too, shall pass.♥
Christina featured as our Miraculous Mum of the week January 9th 2017. Check out her nomination here.
Keith’s Story: Modern fatherhood meets good old fashioned family values
“The only thing that had ever been a certainty in my life, something I knew from a very young age, was that I would be a Dad and that I would do it well.”
Keith is my husband-man. I always call him husband-man and he calls me wife-woman (or Nonasaurous but well that is just an oddism!) because well we aren’t married but we are more than boyfriend and girlfriend you know?
We have been together for over 8 years now and do intend on getting married on our 10 year anniversary; Just a tiny wedding, more of a family holiday. We hope to get Keith’s granddad ordained so we can have the wedding on a wee Scottish island with just the family (15 of us).
We have always said we aren’t ‘marrying’ type of people. We aren’t religious and we believe in staying with each other because we choose to everyday not because the law says we are together. However it is tricky when you say boyfriend or partner as they both seem to take on other strong contagions, and with the kids starting school we thought it best.
When I first took our 4 month old son to Germany to meet family we almost weren’t allowed through passport control because Keith wasn’t with me (baby Aiden was the only Johnston and me, my Mum and sis were all Shaw’s.) Did you know that in that case, you need a letter from the Dad to say it is OK for you to take your child abroad!?
So I will marry my best friend. And he really is my best friend.
Well it’s not like he is a prankster or telling jokes all the time but he is always quoting films or books or something we experienced together to make me smile. Little ‘in’ jokes, which are probably annoying as hell to others but they make me smile. He will often say “Bit rude” which is reference to one of those late night police shows we saw together one evening. No one will ever get the reference, so it always makes me smile.
He is a commercial diver and works away from home frequently, but when Keith comes home he is all over Dad duty!
He is that fun Dad, you know the one that drives Mum crazy as he is out in the shed with the kids making something right as dinner is going on the table…but the kids are so happy that how can you be annoyed?!
- Keith is loyal. He treats me and our relationship with the respect it deserves. In his line of work unfortunately it is frightfully common for men to be cheating on their partners and Keith makes no secret that he finds that behavior to be the lowest of the low. He always says if you don’t want to be with someone, don’t be with them. Simple. Don’t hurt anyone.
- Keith is my biggest champion. I don’t take compliments very well. I am so darn British with my “oh no, it’s nothing” attitude. He tells me nearly daily that I am doing an amazing job as a Mum, and that I should be as proud of our children as I would have ever been over achievements in the work place back when I managed theatres.
- Keith is always striving to learn things. This is probably my favourite thing about him. I find knowledge and determination very sexy. Keith loves to read up on things. Anything really and then will tell anyone who will listen all about it. He watches a lot of great documentaries and listens to countless pod casts as he is driving half way across the country on work. He passes this desire to just know more on to our son. Aiden asks so so many questions (as toddlers do!) but he will also just sit with a book aimed at 9/10 year olds and so slowly and with great determination he will work his way through the pictures and want to go over it with us. Keith is like me and he doesn’t dumb things down for the kids. If Aiden asked how divers dive, he is getting ALL the right details.
I think what I am trying to say as to why I nominated Keith is not because of something astonishing that has happened to him / us. We are very fortunate that we have never had to overcome any adversity or any hardship (well actually Keith only has one kidney but that never even comes up. We say the massive scars were from a shark attack!).
Keith told me that the only thing that had ever been a certainty in his life, something he knew from a very young age, was that he would be a Dad and that he would do it well.
Well I can tell you now: he is the most wonderful Dad and partner for me and our family, because he is himself and we are our little team unit.
Nothing will break our bonds, and it is our ordinary lives that make it so.
…He’s also 6ft 3 and bloody gorgeous in my potentially biased opinion…that doesn’t really affect his parenting abilities but it doesn’t hurt right?! ♥
Fiona writes about family life on her beautiful and honest blog “One of each, me and mine”. Have a look- dive on in! (Because you love a pun as much as the next guy…)
To read Keith’s Miraculous Dad nomination, click here.
Kates Story: On reinventing her career with two babies in tow
My motherhood journey started unexpectedly when my son decided he wanted to be born in the summer instead of the fall. While I had taken my delivery and parenting course early on the encouragement of my doctor who suggested that I could deliver early due to my Crohn’s disease, I didn’t understand what having a pre-term baby would mean.
After only minutes of labor, my head strong son arrived into the world and began his journey to break out of NICU. I had never heard of NICU and did not understand what being born early would mean but I was going to learn, quickly.
Oscar was a big baby for his gestation, but was having trouble with his feedings. As soon as he was fed, Oscar would projectile vomit despite being fed 15ml over 1 hour. If anyone is a nurse, or fellow NICU mom, they would know this was a VERY slow feeding rate. The issue continued, and being unexperienced parents, we thought this was normal NICU issues and took it in stride. Soon, we would be able to hold our baby for the first time, see him move to an isolate and even try his first outfit on.
He was nearly perfect minus a backwards foot and his ongoing vomiting.
During my NICU time, we stayed at the Ronald McDonald house, a charity that not only provided us the ability to be close to our child, but also provided us hot meals, support, and a warm hug when we needed it. I am forever grateful to the staff, volunteers, and supporters of their charity. It is hard to continually watch pregnant mothers walking the halls of the hospital only to see them leave happily in the next couple of days with their healthy babies. The staff at the Ronald McDonald House was always ready with a cup of tea to cheer those jealousy blues away. I truly believe we went home earlier because of their facility.
Oscar was sent home with his continued feeding issues, strict physical therapy for his foot and a soon to be discovered hearing issue. After months of doctors’ appointments and begging for answers, Oscar was treated for suspected Celiac’s disease. His vomiting stopped overnight and he finally started growing (he was only 9 pounds). Oscar continued to grow and blow away his milestones which he continues to this day.
During this time, my husband Adam worked away running his own oilfield consulting business. While we had seen much success over the years we were on the brink of a collapse in the price of oil. He was stressed about the prospects for his business and what it would mean for the finances of our family.
To add to his stress, I announced I was pregnant with our second child, who like Oscar decided a vacation in NICU was a great idea and was born at just over 30 weeks.
Beau was in rough shape, but thankfully, we had numerous friends at the hospital who were working on him and felt comfort in knowing they were going to save him. Save him they did, we count nurse Tannis as our guardian angel for being on shift that night when no doctors could be found.
Under the wonderful care of the NICU staff, our little guy grew and after a couple of days we could finally hold him and his million tubes. Beau has never looked back and is the happiest baby despite numerous trips to the hospital and a looming IBD diagnosis.
Beau is such a happy and easy going baby that even when I required emergency surgery he was even allowed stay on our ward so I could continue to nurse him; something they had never done before. He is truly a go with the flow kind of guy.
While all this was happening, the price of oil dropped from over $100 to around $40 and work around Alberta was drying up. As a self-employed family, this meant that we did what we had to survive as do not have access to maternity leave or short term disability.
While in the NICU, I spent time emailing clients and working on projects for my day job as a Portfolio Manager and prepping course material for my teaching position at the local college. Adam, my husband, continued to try and find work when possible but was beginning to re-think his future. His current business requires him to travel far from home and leave us alone for days on end. He once worked 215 days straight before having a day off. He considered going back to school and found the renewable resources program as he thought he would be interested in Solar Power. School, however, requires you take all the courses to graduate including a course on recycling which has turned out to be the most influential course either of us has taken to date.
The course required completing a paper on the plastic that can be found in the ocean gyres which are giant islands of trash floating in the oceans. The plastic in the gyres is often consumed by marine life, including fish which we end up eating. I was horrified that my children had accidently been eating plastic.
I began research the topic for myself and discovered that 40% of plastic ends up in the landfill within one year of product. This means that a valuable source of energy, heat and power is lost forever; I had to find a way to fix this.
I noticed that nearly every home in Canada has a fence and that an increasing amount are using vinyl fences which are made from virgin plastic and thought to myself why not replace vinyl with recycled plastic. I mentioned my idea to several friends who all told me it was silly idea and changed the subject.
But lucky for me, I didn’t think it was silly.
The fencing industry in North America is worth 36 billion dollars and it would give a long-term solution to our ever-growing plastic problem.
And then, like divine intervention, I noticed that my alma matta, The University of Alberta, was hosting an Innovation Contest. It was due that night by midnight and it was already 8pm, I wrote a small one page proposal and hoped for the best.
I was shocked when my idea made it to round two and even more shocked when I made it to the final three to present for the change to win the seed money. At this point, it didn’t matter if I won or lost, my idea was validated and someone else thought I should explore it further. Alone, I prepared my business proposal and presentation and presented again two amazing teams of well-educated and experience team members, even the judges were worried when I walked in alone. In the end, I won the contest, mentorship, and funding to start my business, Ecofence.
Today, Ecofence has manufactured our first 100% post-consumer plastic fence. It is neat to see a product you dreamt about to become reality.
The goal of Ecofence is not only to reduce plastic waste but to create a job where my husband can be home to take our kids to school, enjoy them on the weekends and coach their sports teams.
My kids are a part of our team. Not only do they have four piece suits for when mom has meetings and no sitters, attended lectures, spent hours coloring while mom does research they even help dad on our prototypes in the garage.I do feel guilty at times that our work days never end and our kids are often forced to play games alone and color beside us as we try to work. It is common for us to sit on the floor working on projects while trying to give the kids the attention they deserve.
Despite balancing start up demands, ongoing health issues, the lasting effects of being born premature and shifting economic conditions; we are teaching our children to be resilient, forward thinking and creative. They will grow up knowing that hard word, determination, and supportive families can make dreams a reality. ♥
Kate featured as our Miraculous Mum of the week December 11th 2016. Check out her nomination here.
Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding- the best blurb ever
Written by Jamie Gerk
Yesterday while grocery shopping with my little man (2.5 months) I stopped at a free sample stand (obviously) where a sweet little grandma was handing out waffle samples.
She had called me over specifically saying she had “just what a young mom needed”. I told her she was right, the only thing better she could have had was chocolate. She laughed and said “oh I remember that- chocolate got me through a lot of the stress with my little ones- I remember eating an entire pan of brownies when I was trying to nurse”.
She then stopped and said sadly “I wasn’t very good at it”.
I quickly told her that I myself had issues nursing and had turned to formula feeding, so I knew how she felt.
“Yes I remember how much happier my son was once we got him on the bottle- but I felt so guilty, with everyone telling you about how important breastfeeding is” she lamented. I said “I know what you mean, but remember that no matter how we end up having to go about it, our babies are fed, and happy”.
I walked away feeling so sad for this woman. Here she is, obviously at least 30-40 years after the fact, and still feeling mom guilt.
We are so hard on ourselves as moms.
This is in no way a statement that is pro formula or pro breastfeeding- every mom has to do what works best for her and baby- this is a statement that is pro Mom!!
So to you mamas that formula feed:
I see you endlessly washing bottles, comparing formulas, scared of choosing one that “isn’t best”, measuring out powder, blearily trying to make a bottle with one hand at 3 am with a crying baby in the other who decided that on that night they wanted an extra feed and you had only pre-made enough bottles for what they usually go through in the night. I see you feeding your baby in public, terrified that someone is going to come up to you and give you a “breast is best” lecture despite not knowing your story.
You are an amazing mama. Your baby is getting fed and will grow to be big and healthy.
And to you mamas that breastfeed:
I see you checking your shirts to make sure you’ve had no surprise “leaks”, exhausted because baby decided last night that they wanted to cluster feed for hours and there’s no one that can get up and feed them but you. I feel your cracked nipples, and that sense of feeling like nothing like a glorified vending machine some days, of maybe feeling like a part of you that used to be sexy now is purely functional. I see you feeding your baby in public, terrified that someone is going to come up to you and tell you to “cover up”, or “go do that somewhere else”.
You are an amazing mama. Your baby is getting fed and will grow up to be big and healthy.
To all us mamas, we are doing our best day in and day out. Try to tell that “Mom Guilt” voice to shut the hell up when it creeps in (easier said than done).
Know that you are doing what’s right for you and your little ones, and don’t let yourself be the person still beating yourself up 30 years later for that. ♥
Jayme lives in British Columbia, Canada and featured as our Miraculous Mum of the week November 27th 2016. Check out her nomination here.
Lucy’s story: three under thirteen months
So there I was in my 20’s full of confidence, I knew exactly what I wanted from life. I knew that children would feature in my life and as I look back I realise…I’m a planner!
Oh how that would hit me in the face! You can’t plan for the situation I found myself in!
My career was fully on track, I had recently married the man of my dreams, we had a lovely country home and I knew that I wanted my 30’s to be about family. Within a year of getting married and at 30 I had my beautiful daughter Emily Rose (born by emergency C-section after 2 days of labour but that’s another story!).
It’s safe to say I was one of those annoying new mums who had a really easy baby, she was sleeping from 11pm to 7am by 8 weeks in her own room. I read everything going, blended organic veg, gave her the very best etc etc…
Five months later I felt oddly ill after a few wines the night before.
Now I’m no stranger to a hangover however I knew this was different. The last time I felt like that was when I was pregnant. BUT I couldn’t possibly be pregnant, I was breastfeeding and hadn’t even had a period (therefore was not ovulating! That’s how it works right?)
I still had one of those cheap pregnancy tests in my draw (not the usual £12 branded one I did twice with Emmi), might as well just check….. OMG I WAS PREGNANT!!!
The docs asked me when my last period was and I explained to them I hadn’t had one since having my daughter 5 months ago… I saw the concern in the doctors face and had an ultrasound booked within a week.
So off hubby and I trotted to our appointment. We were told there was no heartbeat detected, we were likely to miscarry and I was to come back a few weeks later. My hubby was working away and I was quite happy to go with my mum to the next one. I’ve very pragmatic about things like that, what is meant to be will be..
Apparently I meant to have 3 babies in 13 months!!! What the fuckidy fuck (sorry- this is just how I felt at the time!)
There I was looking at the screen again and seeing two sacs…. I looked confused at the sonographer who asked “how old is your daughter again?” … “you are pregnant with non-identical twins” I laughed, I cried, I laughed and then I cried again… that’s kinda how it went for a bit (its called twin shock I’m told)
Then came the relentless phone calls “yes I really am having twins… no I’m not winding you up…no, I don’t know how I’m going to cope”…And that last bit was quite true. The enormity of what was about to happen to me, to us and our little unit of 3 kept hitting me in waves.
I won’t ever forget the day they entered the world. The agony of them taking away one of my boys to SCBU as he had breathing difficulties (he was a bit of a drama queen and was back with me within 4 hours!) my paranoia that they would mix him up and literally demanding my husband not take his eyes off him.
After everyone left that evening and I was left looking at my boys it hit me: how on earth was I going to do this, I’d had a C-section, I had 3 babies to look after??
So after a few days the hubby came to take us home. I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it but something was definitely very wrong.
After a few days, I found my husband in bed, crying. I’d never seen him cry. Ever. He told me he had something bad to tell me, that he didn’t know how to say it. My instant reaction was that he was going to tell me he was dying, or that he had cancer.
He told me that he had lost his job the same day the twins were born.
Phew!! It literally was phew. I though he was going to die!! In that moment as I heard myself telling him it didn’t matter, that everything else other than him, me and the babies was materialistic, that we WOULD get through it together – in that moment I knew as a unit, as a couple, our relationship went to another level.
I went into ‘planning mode’ again and we had a set plan of how we were going to get him back into work. Within 6 weeks he was employed and we did not lose our home.
43 nappies in one day was my record.
I tried to breast feed the twins… I managed 8 months with Emmi, 3 weeks with the boys. I remember my hubby just walking out of the bedroom at 4am as I sat in bed with one nipple bleeding, one leaking milk, trying to get one latched on while trying to wind the other – what a god send it was to see him walk back into the room with two bottles of milk. I remember these moments so clearly, all he said was “that’s enough now” in a tired, calm voice as we held a baby each and fed them, not exchanging another word…
I can look back at numerous moments that stand out and its unfortunate for me as when I look back on their first year I don’t do it with happiness. It was tough. Really tough. The 4 hours of sleep a night, every night. Every night for months. It was relentless. My daughter was dropping her naps, the boys were not sleeping through. They both had terrible reflux, and teething… do not get me started on the teeth!!!
I can honestly say I’ve never been pushed to my absolute limit as I was in that first year. I broke down in tears numerous times, I lost my way, I lost me for a little bit. I sat on my kitchen floor once saying “I fucking hate this, I hate it” meaning every word.
We were and are a team.
Somehow, I’m managing to get it right. I look at my adorable kids who are now 6 and the twins 5 and they are perfection (in my eyes!).
My boys are fussy eaters, my house is a mess half of the time, I struggle with the work life balance every day and question if I’m getting it right. I feel pulled in different directions all the time and there is never ever enough time!! It’s a full, brimming life!
Importantly my kids are well behaved, kind children. I’ve got my views on parenting and I know these are born out of having to be strict with manners, sharing, kindness, with 3 children I’m not able to pander to their every need.
I know others have different opinions however one of the empowering things about being at your wits end is that you learn quickly to not care what others think- to paddle your own canoe!
I also believe as mothers we need to judge each other less.
Every situation is unique to us all.
My biggest achievement and what I’m most proud of is my children. They are a reflection of my husband and I who are both good, kind, caring people. They are and will continue to be shaped by their own experiences but as a mother I will continue to shape them, to guide them, to be there for them as my parents are for me. To install in them that strong moral compass and ability to look at life for what it is, short, to be experienced and lived to the full.
Lucy lives near Bristol, England with her beautiful family, and featured as our Miraculous Mum of the week November 20th 2016. Check out her nomination here. ♥
Lyndsey’s story: on labor and club feet:
On the morning of August 13 I called the hospital because I was leaking fluid. My husband had left for work and I chose not to say anything because I didn’t want him to get excited, I was only 37 weeks and 4 days and a first time mom. I heard too many stories of a first time mom thinking they were in labor only to be sent home to wait another 2 weeks. The nurse kindly agreed that it’s better to be safe than sorry and that I should come to the hospital in one hour. I frantically started to do laundry and sew up some curtains for the nursery.
I eventually drove myself to the hospital for what I thought would be a quick checkup. I refused to pay for parking and opted instead to walk 4 blocks from my free parking space. Someone forgot about me in the waiting room but I was eventually seen and informed that I was 5cm dilated and going to have my baby THAT DAY. I figured it was time to call my husband.
10 hours later my beautiful Isaac was born.
And then one hour after that I heard what no mom ever wants to hear after they have a baby: “We need to top up her epidural!” Nurses and doctors worked around me and 3 hours later I was settling into the postpartum unit with my sweet little bundle and my tired hubby.
The next morning the doctor mentioned something about clubfeet and physiotherapy but nothing really registered at that point since Isaac still was unable to successfully latch on to breastfeed.
I told the doctor that my husband and I were both tongue tied as babies, and sure enough, Isaac was as well. We were able to feed Isaac with the help of a nipple shield but what I thought was normal cluster feeding was actually non-stop breastfeeding with a couple 15 minute breaks throughout the day.
Thinking back, I should have questioned what was happening but I just kept on going since we were dealing with another medical issue. Isaac had been diagnosed with clubfeet.
This meant that both his feet and ankles were improperly positioned so that his feet pointed down and inwards with the soles facing each other. And when this little peanut curled up on his own he would wrap his ankles around each other to get comfy. The doctor and physiotherapist told us as much as they could about the congenital deformity and when we were ready they stretched his feet towards the correct position and casted both of his legs from the top of his thighs down to his toes.
Full casts are required because babies’ legs and feet won’t hold smaller casts. Each week we went into the clinic where the physiotherapist would stretch his feet and ankles closer to the correct position and apply the cast. Isaac would scream through the whole procedure and was pretty uncomfortable for the 2 days following each new cast. We spent a lot of time cuddling and nursing so that Isaac could feel comfortable.
Most clubfoot babies require 5-8 weeks of casting followed by a surgical procedure to clip the Achilles’ tendon and then 3 more weeks of casting. Isaac’s feet however were stretched and casted into the correct position with only 4 weeks of casting and did not require the tenotomy. So at just over one month, Isaac was moved to the next phase of treatment: boots and bar. The boots are actually tiny gladiator sandals which hold his feet in a properly flexed position. A bar is attached between the feet to keep them externally rotated.
Around this same time we finally decided to have Isaac’s tongue tie treated. He had been nursing well with the nipple shield and gaining weight but his symptoms of reflux and inability to be satisfied were really starting to take its toll on our family. The dentist used a laser to correct both his tongue tie and lip tie. She said that his tongue tie was one of the worst she’d ever seen. Isaac was able to breastfeed much better almost immediately after the 3 minute procedure. In addition his symptoms of reflux completely disappeared!! We still had some work to do to improve the breastfeeding experience but things were looking much better.
Back to his feet: for three months Isaac wore the boots and bar for 23 hours per day. During his hour off he would usually get a bath and stretch out his feet. But sometimes we would just cuddle without having any casts or braces in the way. Now, he wears the boots for 12 hours overnight. He loves the daytime freedom and spends most of the day kicking and grabbing his free feet! He will continue to wear the boots and bar overnight until he is 4 of 5.
The whole process has been tough at times, which really added to all the other challenges new parents experience. Luckily, we have had excellent medical care and are comforted by the fact that the treatment method has a success rate of over 90%. And since these babes grow so fast, our little Isaac will be running around and playing just like a regular kiddo in no time!
Lyndsey lives in Canada with her husband and son, and featured as our Miraculous Mum of the week November 13th 2016. Check out her nomination here. ♥