Motherhood & Madness: I knew this would be hard but this is REALLY hard.

I am staring at the computer screen trying to think of how to illustrate to you how difficult I find my life now. This does not mean I hate it, it just means I spend a lot of time wanting to throw my hands up in the air and say “fuck it”. After having my son, I was supposed to not work for a year. This did not turn into a reality. B was supposed to be actively involved. This did not turn into a reality. I am trying to hardest to balance caring for my son and work to bring in money. I also take on the majority of the responsibility for the physical chores and mental work (ie: noticing my son’s needs and what our household needs to function). I am not different from the millions of women and femmes that are in these beautiful and strenuous loving caretaker roles. This is new to me though and the adjustment makes me want to rip my hair out.

I finally know what sleep deprivation feels like and it feels like stupid. I am very forgetful and cognitively slow. I never feel rested. I always feel like I’m pushing myself and running on fumes. I find myself spending longer in the bathroom or shower when I can so I can have more time to myself. I bubble with rage when B says that he’s tired because I know he has slept longer than I have. I cannot for the life of my figure out why B has time to watch a movie and I don’t. How is it that he has finished 2 books since our son was born and I have started 4 books and abandoned them all?

I am trying to balance everything because I need to radically accept that this is what is happening in my life. I was life-balance_23-2147533397given a colouring book day planner and have started to attempt to organize my time. I have decided to dedicate 2 days a week to each of my jobs. None of these days will be weekends. All the other days will be solely dedicated to my son and to doing enjoyable activities during his naps such as reading, colouring, meditating and whatever else I want. I want to enjoy my son and when I am worried about fitting in work I do not enjoy him. He deserves all of me.

Well, a new year is a chance for a new me right?

I wish you all a very happy new year and that 2017 brings you one step closer to wellbeing 🙂 We got this!!

Motherhood & Madness: I could not have asked for a better birth

Motherhood&Madness

 

My son is now 16 days old! I am able to look back on his birth with memories that involve less physical pain and really appreciate how amazing my birth experience was. I would very much like to share my birth story with you and I would love to hear yours as well!

On Thursday, September 22nd, I went to see my Midwife for a regular check-up and I also was given the stretch and sweep I asked for to try and get labour started. I was 39 weeks and 1 day. While I had no medical reason for this non-chemical induction my overractive uterus (constant practice contractions that would not go away no matter what) was causing me great discomfort and sometimes pain. There were no guarantees it would do anything and I didn’t hold out hope that anything would happen (technically have no proof that the sweep did bring on labour, he may have come the day he did anyways).

On Friday, September 23rd in the afternoon, I began to experience mild cramps that felt like a period cramp. I had been experiencing these on and off for the past few weeks as my body prepared for labour but they hadn’t meant anything. These cramps started happening more frequently and for longer. Something, I don’t remember what, prompted me to put a panty liner on (I think I had felt like something was coming out and didn’t want to wreck my clothes) but I figured it was just regular old discharge. Around 7pm, I felt like I had peed myself and ran to the washroom. There was no pee but there was another liquid. My water broke! I can’t remember if it was before or after my water broke but my mucus plug also came out. I had all the signs that labour was starting!

I lay in bed and tried my hypnobirthing meditations and visualizations to help me get through the contractions which were growing in strength and gradually getting closer together. Despite everything I was trying and had prepared none of my comfort measures were working. Looking back this may have been because I had been allowed to labour alone. My midwife would later tell me that if she had arrived earlier (or if I had a doula) my comfort measures probably would have been more effective. I became the most concerned when I was in the shower and began violently shivering (I did not know that shivering is the body’s way of releasing tension during labour). I contacted my Midwife a handful of times because I felt like my contractions felt stronger despite being 6-7 minutes apart. She said that I seem to be coping well the contractions (doing my best to breathe through them) but I had decided that I wanted to change my birth plan. I was in a lot of pain and didn’t want to give birth at home, unmedicated anymore. We agreed that she would call me at 7 am on Saturday, September 24th and that would be when we could probably head to the hospital and I could have an epidural. “Whatever you want is what I want,” she said to me. My Partner and I called his Mom to see if she could drive us to the hospital. She came over (it was around 2 am or 3 am).

My Partner began to pack our hospital bag and get the car seat ready. At one point my partner was in the washroom and I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to poop. I bolted up in bed and yelled, “I NEED THE WASHROOM!” My Partner quickly got out and I went and sat on the toilet. My body began involuntarily pushing. The sounds that came out of my mouth were sounds I never thought I’d make. I guess I could describe it as a grunt. I can see why people say birth is primal. I became moderately afraid that I would give birth, unassisted and have my baby fall into the toilet. I had my partner call my Midwife and after speaking to me (it was very hard to talk on the phone while experiencing painful contractions and involuntarily pushing) she said she was coming over. My Midwife arrived, along with the Student Midwife, around 5 am on Saturday, September 24th. They checked how dilated I was and I was told I was 9 cm! My Midwife said that since I only had 1 cm to go it was safer to give birth at home (home births are completely safe, I’m talking about reducing my risk of giving birth in the car) rather than put myself in a car and head to the hospital where I wouldn’t even be able to get pain drugs because I was basically ready to push. I agreed to stick with my original plan of having a home birth. By the time my Midwives had set up their equipment (about 20-30 minutes) I was dilated to 10 cm and ready to push. The Midwife in charge of caring for the baby was called and she arrived within a few minutes.

I tried pushing on the birthing stool, on my back and very briefly on all fours and ended up doing most of the pushing on my back with my legs supported. It was the most comfortable position for me. My Partner stayed up by my head and told me that I was doing a great job, that he loved me and other words of encouragement. He responded to my demands of “don’t touch me” very well (touching during a contraction felt horrible) and let me hold his finger (seriously, just one finger was all I wanted) during my rest between contractions. As time passed, I kept asking my Midwives how much longer and where the baby’s head was (I admit that I probably slowed down the arrival of the baby because I was embarrassed about pooping myself so I wasn’t pushing the way I should have). They kept saying “soon” and eventually I said, in a joking way, “You’ve been saying soon for over an hour. That’s not soon!” Once the baby’s head got past the pelvic bone I could feel the pressure and burning pain and the only way to make that stop was to get the head out. I was asked if I wanted to see or touch the head but I said no, that I just wanted to get the baby out. Eventually, the head was born, my Partner saw it, and I felt the pressure ease a little bit (a neck is smaller than a head after all). The hard part was over and now all I had to do was give birth to the rest of the body. As I pushed the Midwives got in there with their hands to help get the rest of the body out. I did stop pushing at one point and said, “Ow” because it was hurting but as soon as I was finished saying “Ow” the baby slid out and was placed on my chest.

I was shocked at this fairly large, purple and puffy baby that had been placed in front of me. We confirmed that it was a boy and he had a good cry. After about 3 min, when the umbilical cord stopped pulsing (meaning my son had gotten all of the blood he needed from the placenta) my Partner cut the cord. I was very happy he did because he wasn’t sure if he would feel like he would want to. I delivered the placenta utilizing active management with no problem (it’s now in our freezer and will be buried under a tree when we buy a house). My son was born on Saturday, September 24th, 2016 at 8:25 am after 13 hours of labour. He weighed 9 lbs 8 oz, was 21 inches long and had a 37 cm head. He’s a big boy and shares a birthday with my best friend!

One thing that amazed me was how I needed every person that was there. If my Partner or a Midwife stepped away for something I felt a little more helpless. That may sound bad but I mean that together the 5 of us were stronger and I needed every person there to make the space feel comfortable and safe. Each person helped me give birth and we were a great team!

I really could not have asked for a better birth. It was exactly what I wanted. Am I going to rush to have baby number 2? Hell no! Pregnancy and birth are a lot of work and the recovery time has shocked me! While some may be able to get up and do everything they want after giving birth that was not me. I had some tears so moving and walking were very painful for awhile. I still have some pain but mostly feel it if I sit down to quickly, sit on the toilet, walk slowly or stand. If there’s one thing that gets to me it’s feeling this pain and having the bleeding. While all of it is normal, it has made it difficult for me to interact with my son the way I would like to. I am getting there though and plan on setting up a little play area for him today so we can do some quick tummy time when he wakes up!

B has been a massive help! He took two weeks off work and while I thought the two weeks would be great bonding time for B and his son, B has also been an amazing support to me while I have been healing. These past 2 weeks have been a special time for our little family. Tomorrow is my first full day by myself with my son. I am nervous but excited. My Mom will come by at some point and I do have some outings and appointments that will keep us both active.

Please feel free to share yours in the comments. Good or bad, it is important to own our birthing experience so if you did have a traumatic birth you can recover from it and learn about how you may want it different if you choose to give birth again. Sharing our birth stories also teaches others about birth. While nothing really prepares you for what birth will be like, it is good to read others experiences to get an idea. Thank you so much for reading my birth story.

Vision Board 2016: Update

Back in January, I created my first Vision Board for 2016. Seeing as we are now in middle-ish of July I thought it would be a good time to see where I am at in meeting these goals. I can already say that I am not meeting most of these goals but I do have a good reason 🙂

  1. Relationship: Find calm when B goes out. I have improved in this area. I’m not entirely sure why but I have found ways to occupy myself and B has been improving at balancing my needs, his needs and our relationship needs.
  2. Reading: Read 50 books. I changed this goal as I found myself falling behind for awesome (but lame) health reasons. My new goal is 20 books and I have read 16 books so far for 2016. If I hit 20 books I may increase to 25 books.
  3. Physical: Do yoga 3 times a week. Ya…I was doing that and then I felt too sick. I am doing more walking so that is helpful for my physical health!
  4. Friendship: Go out at least once a week. Not really doing this either do to health reasons. I have gone out more at certain times depending on how I physically feel. Friends are also being accommodating by coming over to see me. I could still see my friends way more!
  5. Family: Become pregnant. I DID IT!!!!! Today I am 30 weeks pregnant 🙂
  6. Education: Complete at least 1 online course. I haven’t found any courses that interest me. This is still a goal of mine!
  7. DBT: Use DEAR MAN at least twice a week. I haven’t been very conscious about whether or not I have been doing this but I am trying to say things in a calm and clear manner.
  8. Cat Fostering: Foster a minimum of 2 cats. Naevia left in January and Ophelia left in March. I personally only count Ophelia has my 2016 foster because I had Naevia at the end of 2015. B didn’t want to foster anymore so we decided to stop. I am very proud that I was able to find homes for 3 cats (one of them with me).
  9. Work: Go to work unless I am physically or emotionally unwell. I missed a lot of work due to pregnancy issues. When I have been able to go to work though I have gone. Work has been a good distraction from some of the unpleasant physical symptoms of pregnancy and my co-workers have been amazing!
  10. Blogging: Write a blog a minimum of once a week. Didn’t really do this. I felt very sick and also have found that I have been running out of things to say. My focus has shifted greatly on making sure that I am taking care of myself and not stressing myself out. I appreciate those of you who have stuck around 🙂

In the end, becoming pregnant is the only goal I really care about and I was successful!

Did you set any goals that you have met or are having difficulty meeting?

Vision Board 2016

My therapist, D, suggested I create a Vision Board. She makes them herself and I do enjoy creative self-help activities so I thought I’d give it a try. My Vision Board is based on my 10 goals for 2016. When I have some more money and an idea I want to create a physical Vision Board that I can hang somewhere in my apartment and, for now my virtual one will do just fine 🙂

I would like to present, Kristen’s Vision Board for 2016!

 

Vision Board

Relationship

Finding calm when B goes out in my relationship is probably my top goal for 2016. I have written frequently about the stress I experience when B goes out and I have seen more and more how this stress not only affects our relationship but also other parts of my life like my job and friendships. I will try and find this calm by using my DBT skills and asking B to work on areas in his life such as commitment. I know will have found this calm when B can go out (and I can go out) without feeling like I am being ripped apart from stress and feeling a desperate need for him or myself to come home quickly. The thoughts of being unworthy and unloved will disappear and be replaced with thoughts of worthiness and love.

Reading

In 2016, I would like to read 50 books. This is completely possible if I also include comics which totally count as books! My track record for reading is good. In 2012 I read 26 books in 3 months, 2013 I read 70, 2014 I read 56, 2015 I read 40 books and I’m almost done my first book of 2016! Reading is a passion of mine and reading a lot is what helps me stay sane! I have learned so much from books and I can’t wait to find out what I learn in 2016!

Physical

I am going to do yoga in my home using YouTube 3 times a week! I got a yoga mat for Christmas and I have a good YouTube channel to use that has a variety of different yoga videos. I would like to increase my flexibility, specifically, and will be using a yoga to do that. I want to use yoga weekly in 2016 because I know it helps my body and mind feel good.

Friendship

I will go out with a friend at least once a week. This also includes having a friend over. This goal will help my friendships and also my relationship with B. I used to go out a lot and fear has greatly held me back. I do have 3 friends in the city that I would see on a fairly regular basis, including one that I am seeing tonight! I will also put my family and my bestie in this category because my fear has stopped my from going to see them given they are 45 minutes away in another town. I need to see them as going back home and seeing them recharges me :). Job and what not permitted, I will aim to go back to see them once a month (like I used to).

Family

Those who have been reading my “Motherhood & Madness” posts will know that B and I are trying to become pregnant. While this goal is less in my control than the other ones it is still a goal nonetheless. We have been trying since July 2015 so hopefully, 2016 is our year!

Education

I spent a lot of 2015 leaving online classes and I want that to change this year. I will complete 1 online course this year so I can keep learning and adding to my resume. In the past, I have done online courses on AIDS, leadership, addiction and abortion. All have been extremely helpful in life. I wonder what I will learn this year?!

DBT Dear Man

DEAR MAN is the one DBT skill I am not really good at (this also includes GIVE and FAST). My goal for 2016 is to use DEAR MAN at least twice a week as situation arise. I do have my proof that DEAR MAN is an effective interpersonal skill I just still have my fears and need to get over them. I will know I am effective at using DEAR MAN because I will be using it, it will work or I will use it and be able to cope with an undesirable outcome.

Cat Fostering

Fostering cats has changed my life. I have been fostering for a month now and it has already resulted in 1 resident cat and a foster I really wish I could keep! My goal for 2016 is to foster a minimum of 2 more cats with 2-3 week breaks in between each foster. I really enjoy having the cats around and it feels great to know that the cats are happy in your home while they wait to be adopted. Fostering is one of the best decisions I have made and I can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring for this part of my life.

Career

I need to go to work! My goal is to go to work unless I am actually physically or emotionally fairly unwell. Because of my fears and insecurities, I have missed a lot of work. I give into the sadness and lay in bed when I really should get out there. I am going to push myself harder as going to work will help me accomplish others goals on my vision board as well.

Blogging

I want to blog at least once a week. I usually do this anyway and I want to make sure that I am writing quality blog posts. This blog is important to me, all of my readers are important to me and I always want there to be forward momentum on my blog.

Did you or would you create a Vision Board for 2016? Did you make any New Years Resolutions? I would love to hear what your goals are for 2016!

Motherhood & Madness: What I do want to hear when I’m struggling to become pregnant

Motherhood&Madness

Yesterday, I posted about the things people say to support me that I do not want to hear. While these statements are well-meaning, they actually invalidate my current situation and do not make me feel better. If I am going to discuss what I don’t want to hear it is important to discuss what I do want to hear as I struggle to become pregnant.

“That sucks.”

Say it like it is. It does suck! B and I went into this thinking it would ‘just happen’. I figured that maybe it would take two months to become pregnant. This is not the case and it sucks. 

“I’m here if you need to talk.”

It may surprise some people, but I do want to talk about this. Letting me know that you are available for that will mean the world.

“Do you want help finding resources?”

This is another great way to show me that you are there for me. Maybe you know someone who has had similar struggles and could connect me with them. I want to learn about fertility clinics, meet others who are or have struggled to become pregnant and read about fertility issues.

“I can relate.”

If you can relate, please tell me! We don’t need to go through this alone.

“No matter what it takes you will become a parent.”

I very much want to hear that there are many ways to become a parent with each of them being valid. Sometimes I need the reminder that there is hope and that I have the strength to keep going until I have the family I deserve.

If you struggled with becoming pregnant or starting your family (ie: through adoption, surrogacy etc.) what did people say to you that was helpful?

 

Motherhood & Madness: Parent’s Relationship Status

Motherhood&Madness

Photo from Popsugar.com

Almost a months ago I wrote a blog about why I do not want to get married. Overall, I believe marriage is a personal choice, not the next rung on the ladder of life and not needed to commit to the person you love. I very much appreciated those of you who liked and/or left comments of support. One comment though stated that my future children will not care about my reasons and that parents should put their children first. I replied to this comment to make sure I understood (“Are you saying that parents should be married and that puts their children first?) and asked if they could explain to me their reasons for believing this. I have yet to hear back and may not so I wanted to explore my understanding of this comment.

Are married parents better than unmarried parents?

First, what do you think?

Please feel free to elaborate in the comments. Any comments that are attacking in nature will not be posted. I respect your personal experiences.

I did do a bit of research to find out what SCIENCE says. Some research from 1998 has some pretty disappointing statistics on unmarried parents. Today Parents did a poll that showed unmarried, single mothers are just as good at parenting, the fathers tend to be in the picture and are not looked down upon by their married counterparts. The Telegraph has statistics saying that almost all couples that stay together while raising children are married. Umarried Equality says that children do not care if their parents are married and said that having family commitment ceremonies strengthen the family bond. The Washington Post says that couples having children without getting married is growing and the stigma around it is lessening. And since 2002, where I live, and more recently in the USA, same-sex couples couldn’t legally be married but they could be together and they did raise children with great success.

I respect data, but there are MANY factors that go into assessing if parents are successful at parenting. I feel that to say that marriage means better parenting is a big a jump. I do honestly understand the reasoning behind committing to being married means commitment to the children. I grew up with married parents. My parents are committed to each other and to myself and my sisters. I also know people, some of my close friends and family, who’s parents were married but then divorced. Stats Canada says, “In 2008, 40.7% of marriages were projected to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary.” In the cases of my close friends who have divorced parents, their parents were better able to care for them as a result of the divorce. For some, they did lose relationships with their fathers but, hey, some people shouldn’t be parents. I also know of one couple who were not married when they had their daughter and actually didn’t get married until she was about 8 years old. Everything was fine and they decided to get married when they wanted to.

Since 2002, where I live and more recently in the USA, same-sex couples couldn’t legally be married but they could be together and they did raise children with great success.

I personally feel that it is more about the people in the relationship than whether they are married or not. I found it difficult to leave a bad relationship when we shared a cat! I can’t imagine “easily” leaving a relationship that wasn’t working out if I had a child with them. That’s personally not how I work. I do acknowledge that I am only trying to start a family and am not yet pregnant. I am completely open to the fact that I may change mind once there is a child actually involved. For now though, this is where I stand.

I’m not looking to change anyone’s minds. I just hope that we can continue to lessen the stigma around unmarried parenting and respect people’s choices.

DBT Skills: Valued Living Questionnaire 2012 and 2015 Comparison

Valued Living Questionnaire

 

I first filled it out in 2012 and then again in 2015 for my DBT homework!

Even though Family and Romantic Relationships has remained the same I approach them differently. My family is extremely important in a new way because my family is changing which is resulting in us coming together more to support each other. My romantic relationship has changed from a value based in desperation to one based on mutual respect. I value my current relationship because we are stable and supportive of each other and not because I feel like I need to do everything I can to hang on to it (as I felt with my ex in 2012).

Parenting holds higher value for me in 2015 as my boyfriend and I discuss starting a family soon. I am evaluating all the factors that I can currently foresee that will affect me as a parent. In 2012, I was not thinking about this at all!!

Self-care is more important to me now because I see the value in it and I understand it more. I see now that self-care is a vital part of managing my emotions whereas in 2012 I felt stupid for needing to use self-care because I was told I “shouldn’t have to” by my ex.

Overall, being in a healthier relationship and having a good job has influenced a lot of my values. Things that weren’t possible are now possible and it’s very exciting!