BEING A MOM IS BADASS AND REVOLUTIONARY AND THIS IS WHY

At a recent get together with friends, I got chatting with recent law school graduate who was telling me all about her upcoming professional ventures. You know, every day, run-of-the-mill type things like working at the UN and collaborating on groundbreaking human rights projects.

I was immediately intimidated.

She was smart and articulate and passionate about taking on some seriously impressive-sounding stuff, and believe me, I was there for it. It was a welcome break from my usual Saturday night of plucking dry boogers off of couch cushions and taking Buzzfeed quizzes that tell you what kind of candy bar best represents your personality.

For a brief moment, I forgot how much I missed conversations like these – interesting, provocative discussions about world politics, religion, humanitarian issues and everything in between.

I have fond, pre-kid memories of evenings just like this, where my friends and I would stand around, sip wine, shake our heads at the state of the world and decide how we would fix it. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I can escape a conversation without saying the words “please take your hand out of your pants,” or asking if anyone has seen my favourite pair of sweatpants (you know, the ones without the hole in the crotch?).

As this latest wave of nostalgia receded back towards the ocean of my enlightened, wine-soaked youth, it left me exposed. I was certain she could see right through me. I was certain she knew.

I could almost hear her mocking me.

This girl has no idea what I’m talking about, does she? Does she even know what the UN is?

She was of course, doing nothing of the sort, but my inner critic was raging.

Keep nodding your head, dummy. You’re out of your depth. Maybe you can contribute something meaningful to this conversation if she happens to ask which brand of diapers to avoid if you’re concerned about blowouts.

Later that evening after wrestling my children to bed, I collapsed with a generous glass of wine to further obsess about how unremarkable I’d become.

It bothered me. It bothered me because other than having passed the bar, I used to be her. I used to be worldly, ambitious, impassioned and well-rested. Once upon a time, I wanted to change the world, too. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.

You already are.

Suddenly, my inner critic was back. But this time, she was taking it easy on me. She had a few more reminders up her sleeve too, in case I’d forgotten who the hell I was.

1. Remember that you created life, you magnificent specimen. It’s truly amazing that women ever become pregnant at all, given the immense obstacles life has to overcome just for conception to occur. For most of us each month, our bodies know exactly what to do to prepare to create and sustain an entire human being. I’d like to see a law degree do that.

2. You also nurtured the hell out of that adorable little parasite, for many, many months. And you didn’t complain once! Just kidding. Maybe your pregnancy was beautiful and flawless, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was painful and terrifying and it brought you to the brink of collapse several times, but you did whatever it took to make sure that baby had a fighting chance. That is some warrior shit right there, and don’t you forget it.

3. You birthed an actual baby with your body. Speaking of warrior shit, whether you grunted your beautiful babe earthside via a warm tub surrounded by peaceful jungle noises, or willingly went under the knife in order to help them into this world safely, you are nothing short of a god damn soldier who deserves an entire fleet named after you.

4. You gave yourself up, happily. Your body was no longer yours, let alone your time. You were pulled in a million different directions, and it was exhausting beyond comprehension. You were shattered, but life in pieces never felt more whole.

5. You battled the darkness, and won. That doesn’t mean every day still wasn’t a fight. Some days, it still comes down to the eleventh hour.

6. You’re raising the next generation of world-changers, and that’s heavy. You don’t have to scroll through many headlines in the recent months to understand just how important – and crucial – this job is. It’s not for the weak, and you know it.

It took me a while, but I realized that my job is also pretty damn groundbreaking. Maybe even revolutionary.

I may not be standing at the threshold of the UN about to change the world.

But I’m where I am meant to be right now – at home, shaping its future.

And to me, that is a hell of a lot more exciting.

Mom and baby

I’m not an obnoxious dipshit online anymore and I hope that’s okay with you

During my defiant formative years, my exasperated British mother would often turn to me and say, “Do not speak unless you are spoken to.”

After all, proper young women were polite. They were quiet. They didn’t talk back, and they certainly did not steal $20 from their mother’s purse when she wasn’t looking.

Proper young women knew their place. Keep your elbows off the table and sit up straight. Say your prayers. Never tell a lie. Don’t stay out too late.

And use your god damned manners. Please and thank you.

REBEL WITH A CAUSE

It doesn’t take a psychology major to connect the dots as to why I spent the better part of my twenties rebelling against the Crown.

Not pictured: frilly white socks that matched the toddler’s. Mortification level: high.

Part of this involved playing the part of a glib, intolerable dickhead conveniently hidden behind a screen. See, I wasn’t brave enough to actually be the confrontational, obstinate and “woke” young lady I clearly believed that I was, so I did the next best thing: I faked it online.

Think of me as a former social justice warrior, except that instead of fake crying for social justice I bragged about being hungover at work, adopted a Bill Maher-esque hate-on for religion, and mocked new parents whose only crime was proudly sharing photos of their new baby on Facebook.

I’m actually not a terrible person guys — I just played one on the internet.

Look, hating things in my twenties was so fetch, and if it also helped me form a protective layer of crust so I didn’t have to address my own feelings of grief and anger — even better.

mean girl

MY DIPSHITTENING

Shortly before the birth of my first baby, I wrote a piece in one of my many failed blogs entitled, “5 embarrassing social media statuses that no longer apply to my life.”

These statuses included gems such as, “How much tequila is too much tequila to put in your breakfast cereal?”, a retweet of a generic children-are-the-worst joke, and a photo of my fridge full of terrible tasting beer.

I consider this piece the advent of my dipshit awakening.

My dipshittening, if you will.

I was beginning to recognize that despite thinking I was the greatest thing to happen to the internet since the guy who compiles stupid questions into a video, I was actually the complete opposite.

Most of the time.

Sometimes I was right on the money, though.

WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID?

Five years ago, I got so drunk at a friend’s wedding that I fell into a giant decorative plant.

In my defence, that plant had it coming.

That year was also probably the worst year of my life, and one time I allowed a boy to call me “Becky Foreskin” for the duration of the ninth grade because I had a crush on him.

Recently, the groom whose plant I accosted confessed that he misses my virtual alter ego, and that several other followers of my nonsense have been noticing a gradual paradigm shift.

I could read between the lines: I was losing fans at a rapid pace.

Was it something I said? 

But I get it.

I became significantly less of a drunken disaster. My news feed is likely not as amusing without pictures of me sucking face with a bottle of rum.

Duck face!

I get it.

I became more tolerant (or maybe I no longer have time to argue about things that don’t really matter). Either way, I do not feel the urge to wage war in the comments section with friends who hold opposing  views anymore.

I get it.

I became more self-aware. Yes, 90% of my newsfeed now is just photos of my children. Yes, I realize that this makes me a gigantic hypocrite. No, I’m not really sorry for any of it.

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 11.34.50 PM

I GET IT, OKAY? I BECAME BORING

I realize not many people on my friends list are interested in reading about the status of my vagina, or care to scroll through 143 photos of my toddler’s Thomas & Friends-themed birthday party (that shit was off the chain though — you’re missing out if you passed over my bomb ass cupcake train).

But I’m a parent now — for better or for worse. And the farther I wade into this magnificent, terrifying, and vastly uncharted territory, the more I realize that if I don’t want to raise a couple of giant assholes, I need to stop being one — both on, and offline.

I hope that’s okay.

I hope I’m still funny to some of you.

And if I’m not, at least my baby thinks I’m cool.

Probably not, though.

When Birth Is Traumatic

“It’s time to push.”

I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I made it. After 32 hours of labour, I was finally going to get the one thing I’d been striving for since the moment that line turned pink.

I was going to get my VBAC.

I had done everything right. I read the books, and attended the classes. I opted for a midwife, and hired a doula. Hell, I even refused drugs for 28 hours, just so I could give myself the absolute best chance.

And it worked. At 5:30 a.m. on July 15th, 2017, surrounded by an incredible support system, I got what I wanted.

I got my VBAC.

But it wasn’t the birth I pictured.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

So You Want To Destroy Your Baby: My VBAC Journey – Part 2

Aidan Robert: two minutes old. Weighing 8lbs, 2oz & 21 inches long.

It wasn’t an easy delivery, I knew that.

I knew because I watched the nurse obsessively study the baby’s heart monitor with a furrowed brow. I knew when a team of specialists suddenly came pouring into the room moments before he was born. I knew by the looks on the doctors’ faces as they strained and struggled to help me get him out.

Whatever euphoria I felt after achieving my goal of a natural delivery was immediately trounced by panic, confusion and urgency as my newborn was whisked away to the special care nursery for observation and pain management.

Only a few words sunk in as I lay there dazed and confused in the unsettlingly calm aftermath.

“His shoulders were stuck…cord around the neck…had to act quickly…we think his arm is broken…”

“…I’m so sorry.”

Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is a rare complication in labour and delivery (between 0.3% and 1.5% of births) where one or both of the baby’s shoulders get “stuck” behind the mother’s pelvic bone as the baby descends into the birth canal. As many as 20% of babies will suffer some sort of injury as a result, either temporary or permanent. The most common of these injuries are damage to the brachial plexus nerves, fractured clavicles, contusions and lacerations, birth asphyxia, and fractured humeri.

Aidan suffered a broken arm, or a fractured humerus, during delivery. This occurs in approximately 4% of infants with shoulder dystocia.

We are told that broken bones in infants heal exceptionally quickly.

I wish that offered even an ounce of comfort.

He’s Perfect

Three days after he was born, we brought our new baby home to a sea of brave faces.

“He’s perfect,” whispered my mother-in-law as she gazed down at him, sleeping peacefully still buckled safely in his car seat.

“He’s a perfect baby boy.”

No he isn’t! I wanted to scream at her, at all of them.

His head was covered in bruises and lacerations from his urgent vacuum delivery. His skin was tinged a dull yellow from what was clearly a nagging case of newborn jaundice as a direct result of the trauma. And his right arm, purple, swollen and lying limply at his side, was most certainly broken.

No, he wasn’t a perfect baby boy.

He was fractured and bruised. He was exhausted and in pain.

He was broken, and it was all my fault.

When Birth Is Traumatic

For most women, childbirth is not a serene, blissful experience consisting of one or two easy pushes, resulting in a precious pink bundle. Even for women with straightforward and uncomplicated births, it’s far from a walk in the park.

Unfortunately for some, birth can also bring physical and emotional trauma, and the effects can have a lasting impact on bonding, feeding, healing, health and future family planning.

As I continue to process my experience, I’ve taken note of a few things I’ve learned along the way. Here is what I’ve found so far:

1. Childbirth complications are difficult to predict. My labour was long, but relatively uneventful. However, even the most routine labour can be disrupted by unforeseen complications which can occur within a very short timespan. With Aidan’s birth, there was no cause for alarm until the last few minutes, but fortunately, with the help of experienced doctors and immediate interventions, serious complications were avoided.

2. Blaming yourself doesn’t accomplish anything. Sure, there are moments when I wonder how different things would have been if I had opted for a repeat cesarean section instead of a VBAC. It took me several days, but I eventually accepted that my son’s injury was not my fault. I made an informed, educated decision based on what I thought was best, and just because it didn’t work out the way I had hoped, doesn’t mean that I failed. Or that I failed him.

3. Postpartum support is everything. New parents should never have to wade through the murky postpartum period alone, especially new parents who are dealing with a medically complicated child. We could not have gotten through these last few days without the incredible support of our birth team, friends and family. In addition, our community also offers significant resources to help new parents cope, such as postpartum drop-ins for new dads, breastfeeding clinics, counselling services and more. We will certainly be using these in the coming days.

4. Healing – for all of us – will take time. Unfortunately, a difficult birth makes for a difficult recovery – both physically and emotionally. Accepting this, and most importantly, letting other things slide – such as laundry, cooking, dishes and cleaning – so we can focus on the healing process, is the best way for all of us to recover. Does McDonald’s do delivery in Canada, yet? Asking for a friend.

5. She was right. He is perfect. The cast just makes him look even tougher than he is.

Knocked Up Together: 5 Perks of A Preggo Friendship

The sun is peeking through my poorly drawn curtains, which means that somehow I made it through another sleepless night.

My lower back hurts so much that moments ago, I made the painful decision to fat girl tuck-and-roll into an upright position just so I could get some relief.

Standing at the foot of my bed in dizzy agony, I clutch my phone and begin to type.

Got up too fast, now I have lightning crotch.

I know she’ll sympathize.

It’s 6:45 a.m.

Friends Who Get Knocked Up Together, Stay Together

I met J in the fall of 2012 when fate brought us together in the form of medical office administration at one of our city’s major hospitals.

We quickly bonded over our mutual disdain for 9-5 wage slavery, fluorescent office lighting and Microsoft Outlook. Sadly, we both suffered early miscarriages a short time later, but it wasn’t until we became pregnant again only weeks apart the following year that a true friendship was born.

2014

There’s something particularly comforting and familiar about experiencing pregnancy – especially first-time pregnancy – alongside a good friend. Pregnancy can be a scary, isolating experience, especially if you’ve experienced complications and/or loss. Having someone in your corner – someone who simply gets it – can mean the world.

Two adorable toddlers, two subsequent losses, and two healthy pregnancies later, we’re both back at it, and I couldn’t be happier to share this journey with her once again.

2017

In addition to sending early-morning nonsense texts with absolute impunity, here are my top 5 perks of a preggo friendship:

1. You’re allowed to incessantly complain 24/7 without feeling the least bit sorry. As a lifelong pessimist and self-admitted chronic complainer, I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to constantly gripe and grumble to someone else without feeling like a complete and total burden. Backaches? That’s a grumblin’. No sleep again last night? That’s a grumblin’. An hour-and-a-half wait at the OB’s office? Oh you better believe that’s a grumblin’.

2. No fear is too small. I’ve written about fear before. It’s crippling, and a lot of the time, it’s far too easy to go down the rabbit hole of dark – and sometimes irrational – thoughts. No matter what we’re feeling in the moment, we always know that no fear is too small to share with one another. Sometimes, simply saying it out loud makes it all seem a little less scary, and that can make all the difference in the world.

3. Advice and experience-sharing isn’t obnoxious and condescending. Fortunately for me, J’s little girl is a few weeks older than my little boy, so whenever I have a question about behaviour or development, I simply ask about her experiences. Frankly, I’ve learned more about the subtle nuances of parenting from her than anything I could have read in a book or online. The best part? Her advice is 100% sanctimommy-free.

4. Maternity leave just got a whole lot more fun. Sometimes, simply daydreaming about spending maternity leave together is enough to pull me out of my pregnancy funk. While it’ll undoubtedly be complete and total chaos most days, I know we will both welcome it with open arms. No TPS reports until 2018 for these gals!

5. TMI is just a formality at this point. Finally, oversharing in any form simply doesn’t exist between us. We’ve literally seen and heard it all. Sometimes, as a formality, one of us will say, “TMI” in advance of sharing something gross and/or embarrassing, but we both know that truly, nothing is off the table. How liberating!

Mom Friends Postpartum Care Kits: The Hero We Deserve

[Jerry Seinfeld voice]

What’s the deal with babies getting all the stuff?

baby shower gifts

My first born was hella spoiled.

I mean, let’s be real: when it comes to getting that baby out, mom does all the work.

She nurtures it inside of her for nine long months, and when the big day finally arrives, she endures the most painful hours of her life in the form of labour or severe abdominal surgery.

And don’t even get me started on the recovery process.

Guys – this baby thing is no joke. Mom deserves something for her efforts.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

MOM FRIENDS POSTPARTUM KITS: THE HERO WE DESERVE

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Look, I’m all about showering babies with clothes and toys and RESPs, and I am so incredibly grateful for everything that I have been given.

But like the Food Shower, sometimes it’s good to give mom a little extra something. Whether that something is in the form of food or adult diapers – there isn’t a new mom I know who wouldn’t welcome it with open arms.

Speaking of adult diapers, I was fortunate enough to receive the Above & Beyond the Bump Postpartum Care Kit courtesy of Mom Friends, a Canadian company that is working to bust postpartum stigma and increase women’s access to practical information, peer support and postpartum resources.

[Frank Costanza voice]

Finally, a Tucks for the rest of us! (And a bunch of other sweet PP swag, too, so keep reading).

ABOUT MOM FRIENDS

Mom Friends was founded by three Canadian women who know a thing or two about what moms really need after giving birth. They’re moms themselves, so they’re not afraid to tell it like it is: having a baby is serious business, and women need all the support they can get.

Adult diapers? Check.

Cooling pads for your nether regions? Check.

Delicious milk chocolate to snack on while in labour? HELLA CHECK.

They know what’s really going on during that joyous postpartum period, and their kits definitely reflect it.

Don’t believe me?

Keep reading.

The Kits

Mom Friends Postpartum Kits

Currently, Mom Friends offers two postpartum care kits – Beyond the Bump ($65) and Above & Beyond the Bump ($93) – chock full of practical and essential items moms need after delivery. Click here to learn more about them from the official website, or continue reading to see what is in my very own personal kit.

ABOVE & BEYOND THE BUMP

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

I don’t know about you, but when I pack a suitcase, I fold everything poorly, cram as much as I possibly can into it, zip it up, and say a little prayer. These kits on the other hand, are clearly packaged with expert care. First impressions are everything, and Mom Friends impresses right off the bat.

Unlike me, it’s obvious that this company pays close attention to each and every detail, and that includes everything from the packaging to the products themselves. There is no cramming. There is no praying. Simply a flawless box polished with a delightful bow.

It’s basically a work of art. I almost didn’t want to open it.

Almost.

There’s a reason I’m a writer and not an entrepreneur – but enough about my failed dreams: let’s get to the good stuff.

FOR THE LADYBITS

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Mom Friends has mom covered from head to vagina – literally.

Let’s start with the latter.

We all know that for most women, labour means that their ladybits are about to have the worst day of their life.

But it doesn’t have to totally suck.

This kit has everything a woman could possibly want to ease postpartum discomfort “down there”, including:

  • Adult diapers
  • Feminine pads
  • Granny panties
  • Epsom salts
  • Tucks personal cleansing pads
  • Witch Hazel
  • Perineal spray bottle

Why this is awesome: Thanks to Mom Friends, I don’t have to look the 17-year-old Shoppers Drug Mart cashier in the eye when they ring up a sale of bulky, overpriced adult diapers and mondo pads. Also, did you know that Witch Hazel can be applied to a cesarean section scar to reduce pain and swelling? I wish someone had told me that two-and-a-half years ago.

FOR THE BOOBIES

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

To help mom out on the upper deck, this kit also contains:

  • Lanolin nipple cream
  • Disposable and reusable nursing pads

Why this is awesome: For the breastfeeding mom, there’s no greater joy than not having your expensive nursing bras stained with over-eager breastmilk. I’ll also take no cracked nipples for $100, Alex.

FOR THE MOM

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Keeping hydrated and fuelled for what could be a marathon labour is no small task.

And that’s just pre-baby challenges.

After baby comes, mom needs to be taken care of as well – both physically and otherwise. Fear not, Mom Friends once again has you covered. In the Above & Beyond kit, there is also:

  • Lip balm
  • Lactation tea
  • A soap bar
  • Chocolate and energy bars
  • A water bottle
  • Brochure on postpartum depression

Why this is awesome: While I’m tempted to list a thousand reasons why chocolate is bae, I have to give a shout-out to Mom Friends here for not shying away from the fact that postpartum mental health is important AF. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, as many as 20 per cent of new moms experience varying degrees of postpartum depression, so if you plan on bringing a new mom a savory treat when you visit her, don’t forget to also ask her how she’s doing. It may not be as delicious, but it’s a hell of a lot more sweet.

NOT AS UNFIT

As my due date looms, I’m feeling more and more prepared thanks to the incredible support system I have around me.

But many women aren’t as lucky.

If someone you know is expecting, be a friend. Don’t forget about baby, but I urge you to strongly consider a Mom Friends postpartum kit in lieu of a diaper cake and 20 pack of facecloths.

Trust me – a little extra mom love will go a long way.

Mother and newborn

Four weeks to go until I can do this again!

Less Stuff, More Food: Why The Food Shower Is Where It’s At

This past weekend, my aunt threw me a small, intimate baby shower to celebrate my second little boy who is currently roundhouse-kicking his way across my uterus.

Now you may be wondering: but Becca, you don’t seem like the type of humble, agreeable human being who would enjoy such festivities, so what gives?

It’s true.

I don’t particularly like showers of any kind, including – but not limited to – ones that are thrown in my honour. However, due to the past and present generosity of both friends and family, my tiny black heart has managed to grow several sizes.

This weekend was no exception.

The theme of this shower – and by “shower”, I mean “a relaxing, casual afternoon surrounded by close friends and family sipping wine and eating gourmet sandwiches” – was food.

Food: literally the best part of life.

Food: get in my fat, disgusting pregnant belly.

Food: listen, I can’t stop eating … no seriously you guys, I have a problem.

The Food Shower

The Food Shower is hands down, the most brilliant way to help out second-time moms since rich people invented the nanny.

In lieu of gifts, tacky games, and similar standard baby shower fare, guests were instead asked to prepare and bring a meal that could be frozen, so my family wouldn’t have to worry about eating McDonald’s five nights a week cooking immediately after the baby arrives.

No cooking.

No grocery shopping.

No meal prep.

No dishes.

What new parent wouldn’t want that? Screw diaper cakes and games and registries – give me family, friends, and frozen meals any day.

So if you’re planning on throwing a mom-to-be – especially a second, third or fourth time one – a baby shower, consider this alternative to the standard nonsense.

Less stuff, more food.

You literally can’t go wrong.

Especially with a haul like this.

Gym Class Hero (Ode To My Mother)

Image courtesy of iStock.

“I’d be lost without her,” my friend lamented the other day.

She was talking about her mother.

It was a foreign sentiment to me–the earnest appreciation of the bond between mother and daughter. I suppose it’s because the relationship with my own mother has always been strained.

From an early age, I knew my mother was different from other moms. Around the same time, I believe she came to a similar realization about me; that I was not going to be the daughter she’d always imagined I’d be.

I think that’s when the distance between us began to grow. We have always been two extremely different people from two extremely different worlds. Throughout the years, I’ve lost count of the times and ways we’ve hurt each other; the months we’ve gone without speaking.

Today, the absence between us is as wide as it is far. It will never recede–something I accepted long ago. When I became a mother myself, it still wasn’t enough to bridge the gap we’d created over time and space.

But when push comes to shove, she’s always had my back.

GYM CLASS HERO

It was 1996 and I was in the eighth grade. Gym class had just ended and I was changing in the locker room with the rest of the girls from my class.

Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, one of the loudest and most aggressive girls in the class yelled out, “Rebecca smells!” and the room erupted in laughter.

For the record, this was probably the first and only time I’d ever experienced any form of “bullying”. By today’s standards, being called out for stinking up the place (which I did NOT, by the way) wouldn’t even register on the bullying scale.

While being made fun of in front of half the class by the girls who could afford new clothes and dance lessons wasn’t exactly high on my list of priorities, I got over it pretty quickly. Again, let’s not even call this bullying.

Let’s call it what it really is–kind of hilarious.

At least I thought so.

I remember casually mentioning the incident to my mother over supper that night, but thought nothing more of it the next day. Life resumed.

At least I thought it did.

Little did I know, while I was eating my lunch in the cafeteria the following afternoon, my mother was on a mission. After the lunchroom cleared out and the children were herded outside, something strange started happening.

One by one, they came up to me.

And one by one, they apologized.

“I’m sorry I laughed yesterday in the locker room.”

“She shouldn’t have said that to you for no reason.”

“I apologize for saying that you smell, I won’t do it again.”

It was a very confusing time.

Don’t Mess With My Child

I never found out exactly what she did, or how she did it.

Did she spend the night calling around to a handful of eighth grade moms, demanding an apology from their daughters?

Did she march down to the schoolyard that morning to meet with the gym teacher?

Did she somehow manage to personally track down and confront each and every one of those girls?

Furious and mortified beyond belief, I refused to speak to her for days. My life was over. How dare she embarrass me like that! I didn’t need my mommy to fight my battles. This wasn’t even a battle!

But that’s the thing. She wanted to fight for me, even if I didn’t want to fight for myself.

And whether she knew by doing what she did, she would make my life a lot worse, I eventually came to understand that it came from a place of love. Despite our differences, at the end of the day, she was just a mom, standing in front of a gobsmacked preteen girl, asking her not to bully her child.

So happy Mother’s Day, mom.

We may not always see eye to eye, but you’ll always be my gym class hero.

So You Want To Destroy Your Vagina: My VBAC Journey – Part 1

Guys, my ladybits are chill.

Like, super-intact and impeccable.

I’m talking fully-functional, here–unaltered and unscathed. That’s because they narrowly avoided the eight-pound fetus that almost came rip-roaring through them nearly two-and-a-half years ago.

Don’t envy me just yet, though.

I am also the proud owner of a six-inch abdominal scar, and vivid memories of excruciating surgery that took weeks to heal–both physically, and otherwise.

I WAS THE 17%: 2014-2015 CesarEan Section RATES in Canada

In 2014, after going into labour naturally but ultimately not progressing, I delivered my son via unplanned cesarean section (c-section). Much to my dismay, I was part of the 17 per cent of Canadian women under the age of 35 whose first baby was born by c-section.

My son’s birth was a hugely disappointing experience, and while I’m grateful for no complications and a good recovery, it left a lasting impact. Mostly though, it motivated me to educate myself and solemnly swear to rejig my plans should I ever be stupid brave enough to do this again.

30 weeks pregnant with #2 = stupid enough to do this again. Image courtesy of Clipartfest.

So You Want To Destroy Your Vagina: The VBAC

Pronounced “vee-back”, this innocent-sounding acronym stands for vaginal birth after cesarean, and is seriously badass.

Why?

Because women who decide to attempt a VBAC are foregoing their right to request an elected repeat c-section, and instead, are willing to subject themselves to 1) hella pain 2) some pretty scary sounding risks and 3) crazy stupid disappointment should the VBAC be unsuccessful.

The good news?

According to OntarioPrenatalEducation.ca, giving birth vaginally after a previous c-section is quite safe, and the success rate for many women is upwards of 70-80 per cent.

Benefits also include:

  • No risk of complications from an abdominal operation
  • Reduced risk of blood loss
  • Less pain
  • Reduced risk of a postpartum fever
  • Reduced risk of an infection
  • Being able to walk sooner after birth
  • A shorter recovery time
  • Satisfaction of having a vaginal birth
  • Earlier start to breastfeeding and better success with breastfeeding at three to six months
  • Fewer potential complications for the newborn

MY TOP 5 VBAC PREPARATION TIPS

This time, I’m doing things differently, so that I have the best chance of sabotaging my vajayjay having the birth I always wanted. I learned a lot from my first birth, and I feel so much better informed and prepared this time around.

Check out my Top 5 VBAC Preparation Tips below:

        1. Research hospitals / birth centres in your area
          Did you know that hospitals are required to disclose their c-section rates? For my first birth, I decided to deliver at the hospital closest to my home–without thinking too critically about it. Big mistake. After my hugely disappointing delivery, I did a little digging and was surprised to find out that this hospital had the highest rate of c-section deliveries in the entire city – a staggering 33%! Needless to say, I’ve made a switch.
        2. If your pregnancy is low-risk, consider a midwife.
          Midwives are experts in normal pregnancy, birth and newborn care. In Ontario, they are funded by the provincial government, so their services are free. Furthermore, becoming a midwife in Ontario requires a four-year university education at one of three accredited institutions: Ryerson, Laurentian or McMaster University. If you are looking for an advocate, informed choice, excellent continuity of care, and a more personalized experience with minimal intervention, a midwife is an excellent option. Midwives are generally more open to VBACs as well, which sealed the deal for me, personally.
        3. Consider hiring a doula.
          Truthfully, the idea of having a doula always seemed a little hippy-dippy to me, but I’ve changed my tune in recent weeks. Although they can be costly (services range from $600-$1,000), a doula provides individualized, non-clinical support and care during childbirth and the postpartum period. According to DONA International, doulas have been shown to reduce the rate of c-sections by anywhere from 28 to 56 per cent.
        4. Read read read.
          I’m constantly researching and reading up on pregnancy, birth and delivery, to the point where I almost feel like a first time mom. There is always something new to learn. I highly recommend Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Childbirth Without Fear, and have you heard of the internet? There are dozens of great studies and articles out there pertaining to VBACs in particular, so get into it.
        5. Attend classes or seminars
          Do a little research in your area and see if your local hospitals or birth centres put on any classes or seminars. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending one put on by this program, and I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m all in, baby.

But we should probably talk about the risks, too.

VBAC Risks

Typically, most big decisions–like the time I decided to play drinking games with a $13 bottle of Zinfandel–are usually accompanied by certain risks.

Remember university? Me either.

According to The Ottawa Hospital’s Plan of Care for Birth After a Previous Cesareanrisks associated with a trial of labour and planned VBAC include:

  • Unsuccessful trial of labour (due to lack of labour progress or other concerns) which requires a c-section
  • Infection after birth
  • Blood transfusion
  • Uterine rupture
  • Severe injury/damage to the uterus that requires a hysterectomy
  • Permanent harm to the baby or death of the baby

Fortunately, the most serious risks are extremely rare, and typically hospitals–like mine–take monitoring and safety measures extremely seriously.

Guys, my ladybits are chill.

Time to see what they can do.

Stay tuned.

I’m so glad my mother doesn’t read my blog.

Dollar Store Toddler Easter Basket Ideas & Why I Didn’t Mind Spending $50

Sometimes, I don’t even recognize myself.

Easter is going to be lit this year.

See, normally I couldn’t care less about Easter (minus the four-day weekend and chocolate everything), as our little family is a big ol’ pile of sinners. I also typically loathe feeling obligated to buy stuff that we don’t need whenever a big holiday rolls around.

But two weeks ago, when I walked into The Dollar Store for dish sponges and came out with $50 worth of Easter bounty for my two year old — I realized that I’m no longer the person I used to be.

I’m one of those moms now.

And for the first time since I was a toddler myself, I’m actually excited for Easter.

Dad & I rocking Easter hard in the 80s.

I finally get it.

I finally get what all the fuss was about. You know, all those times when your parents used to say, “One day, you’ll understand.”

There’s something remarkable about watching your child experience something for the first time.

That first taste of chocolate cake on his first birthday.

Opening presents from Santa Claus on Christmas morning.

Hunting for Easter Eggs after the Easter Bunny stops by during the early days of spring.

I feel lucky, because this is one of those things that not everyone gets a shot at. That isn’t lost on me. These are those rare moments when being a parent stops being scary and frustrating and exhausting, and for a brief moment, you remember.

Through their eyes, you suddenly remember when things were easy and simple and full of magic. You remember the time before — before life showed up and the clouds rolled in. Before you knew what worry and stress and poor life decisions and property taxes were.

So yeah, I take it back.

I am not sorry, for any of this.

Now let’s find out what I spent my money on when I should really be saving for the new baby.

WHAT’S IN MY TODDLER’S EASTER BASKET

1. Paw Patrol MASHEMS

$3.50 each.

For the longest time, my son was absolutely mental for Paw Patrol. He’s mostly moved on to Thomas the Tank Engine now, but once in a while, he’ll decide he’s interested in the adventures in Adventure Bay again, which is why I grabbed a few of these weird, gross little things. MASHEMS are basically just squishy, stretchy toys that vaguely resemble a beloved cartoon character. Mash away, kids.

2. Thomas & Friends Blind Bag

One surprise engine, $1.50.

Thomas is the flavour of the week, and for $1.50, you can’t go wrong. These toys are perfect for hiding inside of eggs, too. Which beloved Island of Sodor weirdo is inside? I can’t wait to find out.

3. VARIOUS Easter Themed Toddler Activities

Paint book, $2.50 | Easter Themed Stickers, $2.75

This one checks off two boxes. Not only are these full of tacky Easter cheer, they’re also good for fine tuning those adorable little toddler motor skills, and a lot better than slapping an iPad in front of him for an hour when I inevitably need a mommy time out. I apologize in advance to my mother-in-law, who will probably be scrubbing tiny paint smudges off of her floors and peeling stickers off her walls for the remainder of the weekend.

4. Random Boy Toys & Book

Book, $3.00 | Bubbles, $1.25 | Sunglasses, $1.25 | Hot Wheels, $3.00 | Bouncy Balls, $1.25 |            Paw Patrol Playing Cards, $2.00 | Washable Markers, $1.50 | Creepy Bugs, $1.25

This pack has everything: reading and art supplies, the need for speed, gross bugs, and cool shades. This collection should keep him busy for around five minutes. Ah, five minutes alone on the toilet — bliss!

5. Different sized Plastic Eggs & Basket

Basket, $1.50 | Plastic Eggs, $3.00

Rain or shine, this kid is going hunting for hella eggs this weekend. I’m more excited for this than the time I got to sleep past 6 a.m. (that was this morning).

6. Candy and Chocolate

Maynards Gummies, $1.50 | Jellybeans, $1.25 | Chocolate Bunny, $1.25 | Chocolate Eggs, $2.50

Obligatory. I could have gone way more overboard than this, but the important thing here is that this is still way too much candy for a two year old to consume on his own, so he’ll need some assistance. I grudgingly accept this role.

Happy Easter everyone, and remember the true reason for the season: the opportunity to buy your child’s love.

I’m Tired of Talking About It: Do I have Gestational Diabetes Or Not?

Are you as sick of reading about my potential gestational diabetes diagnosis as I am of writing about it?

You’re in luck, because this is the last time either of us have to endure it.

After a week of officially freaking out (mostly sulking), not sleeping (there’s a shocker) and eating healthy (barf-o-rama), I am happy–and frankly, a little shocked–to report that I do not have gestational diabetes.

Far from it, actually.

According to science, my fat, disgusting pregnant body is completely normal when it comes to insulin production and blood sugar regulation.

My Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) Results

So what gives?

Why all the unnecessary stress over nothing?

Only around 75% accurate

Last week, my midwife–rather unconvincingly–tried to assure me that the first test I spectacularly failed–the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT)–is actually only around 75% accurate.

Of course, I couldn’t take what a grown woman in overalls was telling me at face value without conducting my own research.

So I did, and it turns out she was right.

According to a study* conducted in 2012, if there are 100 women that actually have gestational diabetes, 74 will have a positive GCT test, and the other 26 won’t know that they have it. The 77% “specificity” means that if 100 random women test positive for GD, 23 of them (including me in this case) don’t actually have it.

Yo, science: listen up. There has to be a better option than putting us through this crap. On behalf of fat, disgusting pregnant women everywhere–please come up with a better plan.

I’ll leave you to it while I power through this box of Oreo thins over here.

No calls.

*Shoutout to my new friend and fellow toddler mom Sarah, who helped me make sense of the study. Women & Science, y’all.