A Community of Bullies

In recent years, the Indian community has begun to realize the delicate vulnerability of the childhood stage of one’s life. It’s when our self-esteem, mentality, and personalities are rapidly developing. The important thing to note, is that the utmost influential factor of the development of each of these traits – is a parent’s influence.

Ever notice how it a staple of our community to speak without thinking? This becomes especially true when an adult is addressing a child. Verbal abuse isn’t even considered abuse – it’s just the manner in which most Indian parents “parent.” Children who are misbehaving are degraded in the most aggressive and demeaning manner. It’s common for parents to call their offspring unpleasant names, comment on their physical appearance on the daily, and equate misbehaviour with poor character. If their children aren’t shaping up “on paper,” they’re told they’re terrible human beings.

Forget worrying about what this does to their self-assurance and identity formation. There’s much too strong of a emphasis on how a child or teen appears in the public eye. It doesn’t matter what’s going on behind closed doors or in the inner workings of a child’s psyche. All that matters is that the parents appear to be raising a stand-up kid.

Just from personal anecdote I can describe exactly when and where my self-esteem plummeted. I was born as a very fair and “cute” baby. I stayed that way until about 5-years-old. Then I began school, my nutrition took a hit, and most importantly, I began to play outdoors for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, as my pigment changed (due to increased sun exposure) – so did my self-esteem. But not because I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw, it’s because the adults around me didn’t like what they saw anymore. Their attitude toward me was tangibly different. I just didn’t know what I had done to cause the change.

They would turn to my mom and say, “she used to be so cute, what happened?”  I would hang my head in shame wondering what I had done wrong to go from being celebrated as one of the lucky “white ones” to receiving pity for now crossing over to “the dark side.” 

The Indian community places an unhealthy amount of emphasis on a child’s appearance. Don’t believe me? Just put on a few pounds and notice how many people will comment on your changing waistline. However, if you were to ace a test or master a new hobby, typically no one would bat an eye. The negative is always pinpointed and positives are swept under the rug.

Something needs to change in the way we communicate and raise our kids. How can we stop them from being schoolyard bullies when that type of behaviour is engrained in the very way they are raised? In fact, it is how they’re raised – through verbal threats, taunts, and expressions.

Be careful of how you speak to your kids and allow others to speak to them. Nothing grinds my gears more than when someone comments on my son’s weight, or other physical attributes – it makes me want to go ahead and pick apart all the things wrong with that person’s face.

Imagine throwing it right back at them – I used to be that vocal – but now I think I’ll teach my son to do the fending for himself. After all, it’s rather character defining to be able to learn of the way you can “woo” an easily swayed community or be shunned simply by the manner in which you respond to their adult bullying.

The Balancing Act

As you all know I recently released my South Asian Fiction Adventure novel titled Chasing Kismet.

Along with many messages of congratulations and praise, also came a few offhand snide remarks along the lines of, “oh WOW I can’t believe this is actually good!” Or “did you seriously write this all yourself?”

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Over the last few years I have developed a thicker skin than my insecure young adult self had (dang, when did I leave the YA zone)? And I’ve learned to take the negative with a grain of salt just as I don’t allow the rave reviews and soaring sales get to my head. Because no one falls quicker than a person whose head gets too big to carry, or someone who just can’t phase out the haters.

None of that is what I really want to talk about here, though. What I really want to explain is that there was no magical shortcut way for me to have produced this book and have something to forever be proud of.

Really – what it took was a big ol’ balancing act of keeping all my priorities and responsibilities straight. It wasn’t easy “keeping all my ducks in a row.” And that’s why they weren’t most of the time. Usually, when you take on too much – certain things suffer while other aspects of your life flourish. The secret to keeping it all together is learning what to put on the back burner and when to switch it up before you totally eff up the “lesser of your pressing priorities.”

For me, what I have to balance is my professional obligation to my husband’s family business, my role as a mother, my personal writing goals, and taking care of myself too.

Now I won’t lie – if I’m kicking ass at one or two of the things mentioned above, I’m usually sucking badly at the rest of it (typically my personal health and appearance takes the biggest hit).

But I still consider it a win if my son’s happy and fed, and if I manage to stay on top of my office work on a weekly basis.

But if you step back from this all- and really think about it, it’s quite funny that men never really have to struggle to find a balance between personal and professional aspirations. Usually, they’re one in the same and quite in sync with one another. For some reason only women have to conjure up some serious inner strength and mental stamina to pull off this seemingly impossible balance act called – having a family AND a career.

The ultimate responsibility of child rearing DOES always fall upon a mother, so any hopes, dreams, and aspirations outside of that role, usually fall by the wayside unless you try your ass off to make sh*t happen.

If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it all work. I knew from a very young age, pretty much at the age of 11, when I read my first real novel “The Underground Railroad to Canada” that I wanted to have my name embossed onto a glossy cover one day too. The immortal lasting effect of literature was something that just mesmerized me. As did my passion for wanting to create social change, or atleast sparking the mind of the individual who would do so.

So there you have it, a dream was born – one to be a real, actual, “big time” author.

Of course it took longer for me than most to publish this book and I have by no means “made it” in the world of literature. Not to
mention that having a child does throw your whole existence for a loop, and of course I faced countless instances of fret and worry about how I would be viewed as a married woman writing fiction about taboo subjects in my culture – but once you release your own demons, there’s nothing holding you back.

All that’s left is to put your pen to the paper, or in my case fingers to the screen, and let your heart bleed out your truest desires until your dreams become reality.

Purchase Chasing Kismet here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1540886131

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Keeping Up

It’s easy to become like a hamster in a wheel. A burned out hamster. One clinging on for dear life hoping not to get flung off that wheel and squashed by it. 

Sometimes trying to be all and do it all as a parent can leave you feeling like this. No matter how hard you try or how much you give – it’s just.. simply…not.. ENOUGH.

But you keep pushing through and you cling on to the rays of hope that you’re doing just fine. Despite the sighs and side glances of those surrounding you. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in these 15 months and some odd days of motherhood it’s that you just have to let go of expectations. 

Forget about caring what people think of you. Heck forget about what YOU think about you. Just do your best and know that it’s enough. Know that YOU are enough. 

If your kids happy, healthy, and fed – you’re doing just fine. 

So don’t allow your mommy light to burn out. And when the wheel starts spinning just a little too fast to keep up, step off and take a breather. 

Because you’ll always be able to hop back on and hold on for dear life with a clearer and better mind set when need be. 

Sorry for the lack of posts. Life’s been kicking my butt lately. Been struggling to stay physically and mentally up to it all. I tend to set standards way too high for myself and am most definitely my toughest critic. 

But I’m slowly learning that sometimes to be more means to give less. 

Any way, hope this was relatable to at least some of you. I know a lot of moms feel this pressure to be wonder-mom just like I do. But sometimes you just have to put yourself first! 
 
Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 💕

Mom Life: Onward & Upward

There’s certain life events which are definitively life altering. You think of your life as two ends of a spectrum on either side of this event. For many mothers – this point of revolution is the day they became a parent.

Life before baby was fairly uncomplicated. I worked for my family business, was a fairly decent wife, daughter-in-law, and daughter. And generally just kept to myself basking in the simple joys of an occasional movie night or take-out meal.

Then came the on a loop blurred together few months of motherhood involving diaper changes, feeds, difficult to induce burps, and gummy smiles to keep you chuggin’ along.

Sure I complain about all the challenges supporting a wee little life brings, but you know what I have come to realize now that I’ve come up for some air at the one year mark. That parenthood is pretty dang awesome.

The positive changes of becoming a parent are something that no one really talks about. Aside from the obvious – having an unconditional eternal promise of love straight from the depths of your soul directly into a mini-me version of yourself. There’s also the fact that if you’re the ‘type-a’ personality type like myself – you’re not going to take your new role as a mother lightly.

Meaning in every aspect, at every moment, you will devote your absolute entire being to becoming the best in every form relevant to your child.

I quickly learned that in order to be a good mom I needed a few key factors to fall into place. They weren’t easy to come by but my oh my are they essential to keeping your marbles and being able to utilize them in the best way possible.

For starters, you need some decent amount of chunked together sleep. Not an hour here, and hour there, while blearily fumbling for the soother in the middle of the night then failing to get it into your child’s mouth hoping for just five more minutes of solitude. No, I mean actual quality disturbance free sleep. Here’s where the benefit of living with extended family comes in (yes there’s perks too).

When my body was still healing and I was recovering from the throes of childbirth I used to hand off my child for some one on one (or two on one) grandparent time in the wee hours of the morning and shove my face back into my pillow and sleep like I had never slept before.

Just those two consecutive hours of sleep were all I needed in order to feel like an actual human being again.

Then once I started getting my footing as a parent and moving about at a normal pace and fashion wasn’t so daunting – I realized I needed to feel good about myself again.

So began my trek to “shed the baby weight.” I yoga-ed, I ran, I dieted, and the results came.

It wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t, but the emotional and physical improvements are enough to keep me going on this path of self-improvement.

A year is all it took for me to realize that my child has truly brought out the best in me. Aspects of myself that I didn’t even know existed are now what brings me the self-confidence and happiness to keep going and keep smiling while I am at it.

Everyone speaks of the sleepless nights and how they miss their freedom – but let’s not forget that having a kid is a huge increase of responsbility which brings about SO MUCH good in your life.

Having my son has pushed me out of my comfort zone (that started with the very first pre-natal doctor’s visit). There are very few situations in which I feel shy or anxious anymore. Before just simple exchanges at the grocery store would send my stomach into knots. Now I sincerely don’t give a shit what people think or say about me.

I wake up earlier that I ever thought I would just to get a head start to my day. I spend extra time cleaning, getting ready, eating healthy before the sun even rises sometimes just to start off on the right foot.

All these little changes are what add up to really mean something in the grand scheme of things. By changing my habits for the better, I am not only happier with my own self, but I am setting the best example for my son as well.

I never thought a tiny person would have such a huge influence on my life. But he’s the reason I do what I do and I will continue to improve myself just for his well-being! Because that’s what it means to truly love your offspring, putting them above yourself, regardless of the circumstances, and no matter how challenging it may seem at the time.

Baby 101: This Too Shall Pass

Many of you child-free folk may not know that along with becoming a parent, also comes a wonderful plethora of parenting advice. When my son was born I was bombarded with countless suggestions and guidelines as to what the “proper” practices of child rearing are. Some things I took with a grain of salt, some words I repeat to myself every day as they have helped so very much, and others have just plain irked me.

There’s this strange phenomenon of people of younger generations to be afraid of “spoiling” our offspring with “too much love.” I heard things from such people like, “if you rock him to sleep he’s going to be clung on to you forever.” “Don’t let him in your bed, he’s going to become way too attached!” Or my personal favourite, “just let him cry it’ll build character.”

At first I was certain I would never just let my little guy cry out for me for long periods of time and sit idly by. There was absolutely no chance I was going to submit him to such subconscious torture. But then hit the age of sleep regression. That dreaded four month old age mark. Actually, heck, I can’t even say I dreaded it because when it came it hit me like a shocking ton of bricks. My naive and unprepared self had no idea that babies suddenly stop being sound sleepers and are awoken by every little thing that goes bump in the night (and day).

The physiological changes which bring this about are that of their “active sleep” now coming into play. They fall in and out of certain sleep stages and during transitions is when they are more succeptible to being bothered by external stimulus and thus wake more frequently. For my son his annoyance came in the form of horrendous teething pain. My once completely blissful sleeper was now waking every 20 minutes throughout the night. He would screech loudly and was hard to get back down. It was brutal. My eyes felt like sandpaper. My body ached from exhaustion. And my mind started to feel numb from all the sleep deprivation.

So I sought help and after asking around and my husband and I doing much googling we came across a certain company which specialized in something called “sleep training.” I had heard of this concept before but never paid it much attention as I thought I had been blessed with a magical baby who lulled himself to sleep and never needed such aggressive tactics to get him to stay asleep.

But boy oh boy was I wrong. We needed help. Bad. In any way, shape, or form. I was at my wits end and willing to try anything after about three solid months of battling with a screaming, back-arching, over tired and frustrated child throughout the day and night.

So I called them up with high hopes of catching up on some much needed rest and within about twenty minutes my stomach started to turn at what I would be required to do during this so called “training.” I told the friendly and eager to help woman that I wouldn’t be able to apply it quite yet as I didn’t feel ready. So she just made me a schedule based on what I had told her of my sons daily routine and told me to reach out to her when I felt it was bad enough to require some intervention.

Well each night and day started to blend together as I grew more and more tired. I spent countless hours trying to find some sort of alternative. I started to grow frustrated and even resentful of my new role as a mother. I felt trapped by my responsibilities and the feeling of incapability to give my child what he needed – rest, was crushing. But still, my heart couldn’t let him cry it out. I just didn’t know why I couldn’t do it but it just didn’t feel right to me.

Then one day I got to talking with my mother. She explained that neither myself or my siblings were good sleepers as infants. But we eventually became kids who kissed her goodnight and went off on our merry way to bed.

So that directly contradicted the suggestion that I was somehow harming my sons long term development by not allowing him to learn to “self sooth.” I thought okay maybe my siblings and I were a one off. But the more older women I consulted the more they said allowing a baby to cry for long periods of time is preposterous and something they never did or would ever do.

But then it struck me. Our mothers broke their backs caring for us. Come hell or high water they did what needed to be done in order to give us the best upbringing possible. They made our lives cushy and complete at the sacrifice of their own needs and wants.

This was a direct contrast to my peers who were all advising me to allow my son to become independent at as early of an age as possible. No matter how loud the piercing shrieks it took to get there. I realized my inner gut resonated with that of being nurturing and following more of an attachment form of parenting. And that’s completely okay. Each parent has the right to raise their child as they see fit. Some things may clash due to generational gaps in parenting practice styles. Other may fall right in line as they have been tried and true.

But one things for certain. One does not ever stop being a parent once they become one. Day or night, screaming or happy child – there is no off switch. So stop searching for an algorithm or a shortcut way to make it all easier. Because sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one. That there is no pattern. There is no formula to make your baby sleep longer, feed better, crawl or walk quicker, or cry less.

All you can do is try your best and take things one day at a time – and remember the advice which I referred to at the beginning of this article that gets me through each and every difficult day that comes my way – this too shall pass. The good, the bad, and the ugly, it all passes – whether you let them cry through it or not is entirely up to you.

Loving & Leaving Your Kids 

I used to say I never wanted children. My rationale was that I just wouldn’t be able to bear the thought of the day they slam a door in my face shouting, “I HATE YOU!” Oh those dreaded teen angsty years to come. But of course I realized that is only a short lived time period with your child and it’s silly to write off having kids altogether just because of that.
So my husband and I made the decision shortly after my grandmother passed that we were ready to start a family of our own. The reason being because I saw how far the branches of her family tree reached and how lucky she was to not only be loved and surrounded by her grandchildren but also her great grand children too. I wanted to be so lucky as that one day. Which can’t exactly happen if you begin having kids at the age of 30.
So I battled a lot with wondering what kind of mother I would be. Then I just decided that I would let my son decide that. If he needed to be parented in a more hands off independent way, then so be it. If he needed me to be an arms length away at all times, then that’s how I’d be.
But there’s one thing which I have learned for certain. It’s that no matter how you raise your kids, make sure you raise them so that once they reach a certain age (adulthood) they are able to be fully independent autonomous beings completely in charge of their own lives.
It’s hard to make that shift. It’s hard to draw back. I know I’ll have an incredibly difficult time knowing when my role of being the centre of his universe is over. But that’s just a fact of life. In order to let one grow, you have got to let go a little bit. Of course I’ll always be his mother, and I am talking way way down the line here, maybe some twenty odd years down the road, but there’s one thing for certain, it’s that I want him to always be able to live strong and proud on his own two feet.
I don’t believe parents should be a safety net or crutches to their offspring. This only handicaps and stagnates their development. If you’re never allowing them to be their own person, you’re robbing them of the opportunity to have their own life just as you have.

The reason this is even a relevant issue is because all too often in my culture I see adult children hiding in shadows of their parents. They’re incapable of leading their own life because they’re just riding off the success of their parents.

Heck even I was raised in an extemely sheltered manner. My mom made my doctors appointments and cooked all three meals a day for me until the day I moved out into my husbands house.

But of course once you’re married. It’s silly to still live that way. Not to go off topic but why get married at all then? You may as continue being a child in your own home.

What brought this topic to my attention was during my sons gym class at the end the instructors asked us to step away for a few moments (called seperation time) to enourage the development of independence in our babies. I thought it was kind of silly at first but then I realized that it is important to not always coddle your child and be around them every waking moment because then as they grow older and you pull away it might not go so smoothly.

And sure some may say that one day he’s going to grow up and want nothing to do with me completely on his own so all of this is irrelevant but raising your child with that in mind is ridiculous. You shouldn’t be focused on the time he or she won’t need you anymore. That’s like not living your life the way you wish to because one day we are all going to cease to exist anyway.

I suppose all I am trying to say is parenthood is all about balance. It’s about enjoying the moments of their youth as long as you can, and learning to adapt and change to each stage of their life as they grow. This is the true mark of a loving family. Giving them the freedom to excel, while providing a strong base which always remains the same.

What are all your thoughts on parenthood if you are in this stage of life? Or what do you think of the way you were raised yourself? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

I feel like being a woman means reinventing yourself every few years or so. You hit Highschool – well you best be careful how you act around the opposite sex because you are responsible for the title you may be given if you’re just too friendly. You graduate – okay time to either make something of yourself or go to post-secondary but be ready to juggle familial responsibilities and personal goals. Alright there’s those wedding bells – well throw out everything you knew to be true because the hat you’ve got to wear now is one of submission and wiping the slate clean altogether.

And the biggest change of them all – motherhood. Often times I find myself browsing my various social media feeds which fill up a lot quicker on the weekends. Most of my peers are a.) Traveling b.) Partying c.) Having romantic adventures or d.) All of the above. So naturally sometimes as I’m just about to warm up another bottle near midnight I feel a twinge of sadness or longing for my carefree days.

I wonder where that girl went who no matter what the next wave of life washed upon her and brought on she rolled with the changes and magically metamorphisized into what was required. But now – your existence is completely just to provide love and nurture to another being and keep everyone else around you happy as well. Don’t get me wrong – I love my son more than life itself. But I’ll tell you I went into this whole parenthood thing completely naively.

Sometimes it’s such a feeling of panic and loneliness to know there is just never any off switch. It’s a 24/7 and 365 day job which has little reprieve or breaks in between. Then comes all the unnecessary nuisance and drama which comes with living in a East Indian construct and attempting to find your way as a new mom. At times it can feel nearly impossible and very trying.

Then there’s the guilt. The never ending guilt of motherhood which just keeps on reappearing in one form or another. If I do get a break – I feel it’s unfair for me to not be caring for him myself. If I get him to finish his feed quicker than usual I feel like I’m force feeding him. If he remains occupied with a toy for longer than usual I fear I am neglecting him. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. There is just no way to feel like you’ve got it all under control.

Prior to experiencing this myself I did find it unfair of just how much your life changes once your married and how little a mans does. Other than he stays in a few more weekends than usual (if you’re lucky). But now I see that it carries into every facet of life. A woman is just expected to accept what’s required and carry on happily. But sometimes that’s not always easy to do and you just feel like crap because it’s all just too much.

So what’s a girl to do? I suppose you just accept what you can’t change and you change what you can. You must always be constantly looking for ways to improve and accept your new role and chapter in life. Unlike other phases of life being a parent to a small vulnerable individual is actually only a small sliver of your existence. As time goes on your offsprings dependency decreases and you’ll find your autonomy once again only now you won’t know what to do with your time. It’s almost
like you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And once it’s gone – you’re left wishing for yesterday instead of being so focused on tomorrow.

Just something to think about. What are your thoughts on the “cookie cutter” way of life so many of us girls seem to be following these days? Would love to hear your opinion in the comment section below :).

The Baby Weight Struggle

As a teen and young adult I never had to think twice about what I was eating or needing to exercise. I rarely stepped on a scale and if on the odd chance I did, it was typically to see if I was gaining an adequate amount of weight for my age and height. When I was a child my mom used to get a lot of grief from family members that she wasn’t feeding me enough. Once I got a bit older the judgements became directed at me and people would say “Don’t you eat anything? You look sick! I remember also being taunted by my siblings that I looked like a starving child from a third world country.

So needless to say weight loss via dieting and regimented exercise programs was never really relevant to me – until now. During pregnancy I gained 36lbs. Each prenatal checkup with my obstetrician revolved around this weight gain and I felt embarrassed and odd about people now poking fun not at my bony physique but rather my round waddling self. It seemed strange that I was now experiencing the “other side” of societal body image expectations.

When I was “too skinny” for people’s liking they felt justified to point it out, and when I seemed too pudgy for my height people felt it acceptable to once again poke fun. I didn’t care at the time though, the more cookies the better. Food became a source of happiness and security for me while I was pregnant. Not sure if anyone can relate but I became so dependent and focused on food to make me happy that I remember one instance in which my husband forgot to bring fries with my burger and I cried hysterically for half an hour – kudos to him for dealing with my whirlwind of emotions for nine months.

After I had my son I was in no rush to get back in shape. I was in survival mode. I felt like a zombie. My back had curved and I was hunched over feeling aches and pain in every single bone of my body. Labour and delivery took an enormous toll on me. When I would get up for his night feeds my body would violently shake and I felt like I was going to pass out. It was like as he left my body so did all my strength (and sanity). My insides felt like they had been torn apart and I questioned if I would ever feel normal again. I looked at my puffy face through my bleary and sunken in exhausted eyes. I remember not liking what I saw and avoiding mirrors from that point on. I didn’t recognize this new frumpy and miserable looking shell of a person. I didn’t want this to be the new me. I wanted to feel “pretty” again. I wanted my skin to feel tight and secure again. I sure as heck didn’t want zebra striped stretch marks and rolls on rolls staring back at me.

So then a few months passed and I started hearing from family members that they expected me to have lost the weight by now. At a few instances I was even asked if I was pregnant again. Yeah, okay – with the horror of labour still burned fresh into my mind that was laughable to me.

At about the three month mark I made the decision to get back into it. And being the all or nothing kind of person I am I hopped on the treadmill one day and decided to just start running. I ran until my body shook, I ran until my legs were giving out, and I ran until the room was spinning and I felt like I absolutely could not run anymore. Very. Bad. Idea. I injured myself pretty darn quick this way. My knees started hurting about a week into these running sessions. So what did I do? Did I decide to take it easy and pull back a bit? No, of course not! I increased the elevation and speed of the treadmill and went an extra 5 then 10 minutes each time. Then came the day I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get up to feed my son. I couldn’t walk him around and rock him to sleep. I couldn’t even bend down to pick something up. Now this wasn’t normal after workout soreness. This was “oh my god I broke myself” pain.

So where that bring me now you may ask? Well I find myself repeatedly stepping on the scale after my low intensity workouts consisting of planking and crunches desperately praying for the number to go down. But now I feel something has dawned on me. It’s not even about wanting to shut people up anymore. The numbers shouldn’t be what’s important. They shouldn’t dictate how I feel about myself that day. Now it’s about feeling and looking good for myself. For my son. Because if I am able to look myself in the mirror and be okay with what I see, I’ll be a heck of a lot happier and better adept to care for him everyday.

So whether you’re struggling to put on or shed off the weight.. I suppose what matters is making sure you’re doing what you’re doing for the right reasons. Not out of embarrassment or anger towards those who like to point out your weaknesses, but rather to sculpt a better you, and be proud of what and who you are both physically and mentally.

Bottling it all up: My battle with breastfeeding

I was super prepared. I had it all planned and organized. I would breastfeed until I saw that first tooth come in, and then it was bye-bye boobie. But, there was a different plan in store for me, one that involved blisters, agonizing pain, and harsh guilt inducing lectures from nurses frequently visiting my rapidly weight dropping newborn.

At first, everything went beautifully. He was born, I latched him within the first thirty minutes and we just clicked. I was like okay what’s all the fuss about that was a piece of cake. Then in came a nurse fresh into her shift took one look and said “oh no no that’s all wrong you’re going to need a nipple shield” and sent my husband off to find the first of many breast feeding aid contraptions we would soon be on the quest for. He came back with it and she opened the package handed it to me and said “Here use this.” I tentatively asked “Um doesn’t it need to be washed and boiled first.” She rolled her eyes and responded “No, just run it under some hot water it’s fine, it’s new out the package.” My gut told me this wasn’t right but my exhausted and aching self just went with it anyways. My son made a face and scowled at his first introduction to plastic within an hour his life. But we carried on that way but it wasn’t going quite as smoothly anymore.

He nursed on and off for a few hours then it was time to call in the family. We held off on the phone calls because we wanted just a short while to sink into our new roles and absorb the chaos that had just ensued. Then came the slew of visitors into the late hours of the night and my son slept for hours but everytime I would ask if I should be doing a feed again the rotation of visiting nurses would say “Oh no newborns usually go about a period of six hours without eating. Their tummies are tiny yet.” Whether that was right or wrong I don’t know but I do know that the more I had tried in that first 24 hours the better we would’ve gotten at it as a pair, onlookers present or not.

A few days and several frustrating nursing sessions later we arrived home to a house full of visitors and I sat there exposed and bare to people I had only met a handful of times because our room was much too warm for me to throw a blanket over us to cover up. Not to mention it takes time to get the baby latched on properly so fiddling with trying to keep yourself covered and keeping the baby on and AWAKE was a real struggle.

The next week was horrible. We had been told he was near dehydrated and loosing too much weight so we had to really put him on a strict around the clock feeding schedule to get his weight up. Problem was about two minutes in to the feed he would fall fast asleep all snuggled up and cozy. The nurses told me to wake him with a cold damp cloth and keep on feeding. So one feed would blend in to the next and soon all that was left was a extremely skinny baby and one exhausted and desperate new mother.

We took him to the doctors for his two week checkup and he said plain and simple “stop all this nonsense. Formula is not rat poison. Pumping doesn’t make you any less of a good mother. Take a break, get his weight up, and end this exhausting madness.” And just like that I felt like I had been released from my inner turmoil and battle of breastfeeding hell.

I’ll admit it to you all breastfeeding was absolute torture to me. I shudder at the memory. Seeing my “breast friend” pillow makes me cringe as I remember the days I was pretty much a zombie sitting uncomfortably on our rocking chair torturing the poor child to keep on nursing. And then came our final nurse visit at home and she said “you don’t have enough milk. He’s just been using you as a pacifier for hours.” I glared at her wondering why it hadn’t dawned on her before to let me in on this possibility.

Once it became common knowledge in my family that I had low milk supply came the countless suggestions of how to get it up. Well if you REALLY love your child it will just come in. Lay him on your chest and just be patient. DON’T give the bottle. Yeah, okay, tell that to the kid who had now learned the joys of easy flowing milk from our bottle feeding sessions. He was having four oz from the bottle after “nursing” with me for fourty minutes. Clearly he was getting close to nothing from me. But it made no sense to me since he was flourishing in those first few days and I absolutely knew the colostrum was there at that time, so why no milk?

I don’t think one single factor can be pinpointed for why those first few weeks turned out to be absolutely horrendously the exact opposite of the picture perfect quiet and serene moments I had envisioned for my new little family. Instead I had a revolving bedroom door, several embarassing moments, and a whole lot of family dynamics that needed sorting out as we all adjusted to the changes that a new baby brings.

This isn’t a post to complain or make you all feel sorry for me or my son. All I felt needed to be said is that sometimes things don’t work out how you expect them to. But all that matters is you try your absolute best and shut out any external influences and just do what is best for your child.

Ultimately I ended up committing to a full time pumping schedule (and still am to date). What you got to know about exclusive pumping is that you are now running on two schedules. You have to express milk the same amount of times and at the same intervals as the baby’s feeds. So for us that was every 3 hours around the clock. That means we were doing an hour to two hour long bottle feeds (my baby isn’t a very enthusiastic eater) and then I would have to pump afterwards – even at night, even when the baby was asleep. That was the toughest. Peeling myself out of bed when I knew I technically did not have to. But I did it. I stuck to it no matter how hard it got. Because I wanted what was best for my child.

Did that matter to anyone though? Did that stop them from passing judgement? No. Try explaining to your 80 year old grandmother that the baby IS being fed my own milk I just require a machine to excrete it because he just stopped latching after one too many bottle feeds. Try explaining to people that it wasn’t a easy choice, perhaps not a choice at all to go this route. And yes I cared about losing that bond. There is no better feeling of completeness of knowing you are nourishing your child directly from your body as he lovingly gazes up at you.

Bottle feeding is not the lazy or easy way out. It is double the work, it is hard and mentally exhausting. As many aspects of motherhood are regardless of if you are breast or bottle feeding.

So there’s my long drawn out story about my battle with breastfeeding. I do have times where I feel like a failure and I know how very easy it would’ve been to be able to feed him whenever wherever. Now going out has so many restrictions. When did I pump last, when am I going to pump next, often conflicts with when his next feed is. A little hard to get much done when you only have an hour in between to spare.

Every day is getting easier though. And I know all this will soon be a distant memory. And when that baby fever hits, and surely it will, I know I’ll forget all this agony and have that idealistic image of me happily feeding my baby without a care in the world once again.

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes of Birth

I neglected to fully prepare myself for labour and delivery. It was a fact of female life that I just refused to accept. I had been terrified of having to give birth ever since I learned where from and how babies arrived into this world. But that didn’t stop me from wanting one, and eventually going through it myself and conquering my fears. I still do wish I had looked over some tips and “insider knowledge” which only women who have given birth are privy to. So here goes a few random tidbits of labour and delivery advice based on my personal experience. Hope it helps anyone it’s relevant to!

First and foremost trust your body and just accept and don’t be afraid that it’s do or die, or more importantly push or die.

You have to be your own health advocate, sometimes a hospital can be the least caring environment you could possibly be. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion if something just doesn’t feel right.

Nothing goes as planned, so don’t even bother having a strict plan. A general idea of your birth wishes is good to have though. I outlined who I did and didn’t want present (incase an unwanted audience showed up), which medications I was okay with receiving, and how I wanted the first moments with my son to be.

Do not feel bad about requiring pain relief. You are a modern woman in modern day in a modern hospital. You are not in a third world country where surely if such pain coping mechanisms existed they would be used so have no shame in doing so if needed!

The pain will surprise you, but it will pass. The urgency and seriousness of the moment will also surprise you, but this too will pass. Just roll with the punches (or pushes) and keep on going.

Imagery, deep breathing, and positive self talk really does do wonders.

You absolutely must have at least two people by your side (for leg holding and verbal encouragement). Make sure it’s two people who can handle things getting gory and unpleasant, as well as someone who won’t mind taking a few verbal and physical abuses.

You will be forever completely changed the moment they place your little one on top of you so try to keep that in mind during the entire process, especially near the end.

The rush of hormones which come charging in shortly after will make you insane – certifiably guaranteed.

Once it’s all over visitors will arrive almost immediately. And while you feel as though you’re on death’s doorstep the exhaustion caused by forced smiles and incoherent small talk will give you that nice little shove into the direction of full blown crazy new mom territory – take it in stride.

Last but not least, be prepared but not regimented, vocal but not lost in shouts and screams (only wastes your energy), be focused but not solely honed in on the pain and be sure keep perspective. Just remember your body was MADE to do this. When in doubt stay strong and just keep pushing!