Memes for the Firefighters’ Wife

IMG_3543It is strangely quiet and peaceful in my household after the dark days of two children teething.  With the gallant return to posting tonight, I thought I would offer up some humour for the firefighter // emergency services wifeys with a young baby at home.

Because really, sometimes I just want to drink wine and create memes with a generator app and chuckle away, before realizing oh sh*t it’s midnight and I have wasted precious sleep time.  Emergency services wifeys, and all you #firewifeys please enjoy.  This is for you.  All of these memes are created based on my service as a #firewife, lol.

Thank you for what you do!

Ps this is just HALF of them. There are many more where this came from.

IMG_3570

IMG_3569

IMG_3565

IMG_3559IMG_3560.JPGIMG_3561.JPG

IMG_3562

IMG_3564.JPG

IMG_3558.JPG

IMG_3557.JPGIMG_3556.JPGIMG_3554.JPGIMG_3552.JPGIMG_3553.JPGIMG_3551.JPGIMG_3549.JPGIMG_3548.JPG

FullSizeRender.jpg

What The Grief of Losing Your Mum is Like – 2.5 Years Down the Road

You probably read the title of this post and thought “oh my gosh, that is tragic.”  If you yourself are in the journey, please know that I am approaching this post with a sense of gentleness & deep empathy, as well as authenticity. I believe in adding another voice to the dialogue out there & I can only do that by being 100% myself.

I want to share some silver linings of this difficult process, and give you a bit of my own hope and the strength I have found in the darkest moments of this human experience.

I hope this will touch you and give you a bit of strength to carry on your journey. If you have already been on this journey and have come out the other side, I hope it will give you a feeling of solidarity, knowing others have walked it too…and maybe as you continue to question how senseless your loss was, you can also begin to make some sense of it, and sprinkle in some some glimmers of hope.  This is what it is like for me, 2.5 years after being a cancer care giver and losing my mum when I was 6 months pregnant (aka this greatest shit storm of the “shit storms of life”!)

Some days I feel I can write, other days I just can’t.   Today I felt like something was telling me to write, so I am.  Quietly as both babies sleep, with a tea, I am sitting here typing.

I am glad I acted upon my hunch.

 

WHAT IS GRIEF LIKE 2 YEARS ONWARD FROM YOUR LOSS?

I feel like all I can do is list a few observations here.  Everyone is just so different with their timelines, so please don’t use this to benchmark.  But I hope it gives you peace.

-I miss my Mum EVERY damn day, it makes my heart ache. I think about her on average 10-15 times a day, mostly during activities with my babies I know she’d enjoy.  But it’s a strange thing.  I feel it, I think it, I acknowledge it, and it fades away.  Depending on my self care (see below) it fades away on its own, or with a grief burst.  But the aching is manageable.  There was a time when the grief felt like my heart was torn out, but it was a short stage in the grief process.  This one is a longer stage, but it is more manageable for sure.  I feel that carrying this level of grief, I can have a wonderful, loving, happy quality of life and live with gratitude.  Mostly for the reasons  below.

-My daughter’s health – physical, emotional, mental was not affected in any way being in my womb during such a stressful time in life.  She is a beautiful, happy, balanced child full of light, love and laughter.  Please don’t let anyone EVER tell you that your baby will be affected. 

-As an old soul in a new human body, my daughter had the honour of meeting and feeling other souls concluding their earthly journey.  At chemotherapy, I walked around and visited with patients.  There were many women there.  Young, old.  I happily let each of them touch my belly and say hello to my daughter, and it was beautiful.  It is one of the most cherished memories I have from chemotherapy.

There was one moment in chemotherapy I will never forget. An patient once told me that she felt great comfort greeting the little spirit in my belly, because she symbolized the infinite circle of life – as one life ends, another begins.  She said their spirits were just passing by and saying hello to each other in an infinite universal journey, and that they’d see each other again.  It sent chills down my back.

-I walk with a still pool of sadness in me.  Most days I do not notice it, but I know it is there, quietly sitting in my inner garden.  It used to be an overwhelming, choppy LAKE of sadness, but now it is just a still pool.  Every now and then, a rock is thrown into the pool, and the ripples cause tears.  I call my occasional tears “grief bursts” and I’ve learnt to be 100% okay with them and absolutely embrace them, even in public.  I will just tell someone “I lost my mum and I’m missing her right now, this is my grief coming out.”  The last big one I had was in December, as I was flying to London Heathrow on the Air Canada flight my Mum and I always used to take. As we flew over tower bridge, I lost it. Rather than hiding, mumbling I was okay, like I would have before, I simply said “my Mum and I used to take this flight every year and look for tower bridge as we arrived.  I lost her a few years ago.”  Why bother hiding something that is simply being human?

-Your emotional intelligence and emotional range, including empathy, will become so much more enhanced.  This is a gift, because from this moment forward, you will be a gift to everyone who has the honour of knowing you.  They will feel your love.  Because you know how to silently transmit it now with just a look, or your presence.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”  ~  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

-The grief bursts are about once every 2-3 weeks and most often are triggered by myself just being tired or run down, and then a trigger happening, like seeing an oxygen tank, a woman who looks like my mum, or one of her favourite songs coming on or seeing my friends with their own mums.

-Self care and grief go hand in hand.  When my self-care is low, my grief bursts are more frequent and more intense.  For example, when my self care is low, ColdPlay’s Paradise (funeral song) sets me off.  A few weeks ago that song had me pulled over on the highway sobbing my heart out.

When my self-care is high, Cold Play’s Paradise makes me smile and I am struck with a fond memory.  That happened today, in the middle of toys r us, where my mum used to love taking me on a weekend.  And today, I smiled, bought my daughter a toy and said “thank you mum.”

-Your grief will always be a beautiful barometer of self care, and (hopefully) you will take better care of yourself than before, because you are more aware of how self care impacts your mental, physical and emotional health.

-Every moment outside of those ripples, of those grief bursts, I am generally joyful and full of gratitude.

My appreciation of life, health, and happy moments is 1000x stronger than they were before losing my Mum.  Loss intensifies sadness but it also intensifies happiness and gratitude for life.

Trust me on this one. 

  

 

 

Protecting your Fortress – Life Coaching Techniques to Help New Moms Retain Self-Identity and Confidence

  

As I write this post I have a large, imposing fortress sitting on a hill top in my mind.  And inside that fortress I am sitting, blissfully happen, ALONE and not BEING TOUCHED OR CRAWLED ON BY ANYONE.
Can you tell I’m PMS-ing a bit today?  My poor, sweet husband wanted a cuddle last night. I wanted TO NOT BE TOUCHED BY ANYONE OR ANYTHING including the cats.  I was done.

Which brings me to today’s topic.  It’s really about defending your fortress.  Your last bastion of solitude from what I call the slow creep.

As mamas, the slow creep is something we have to be super mindful of.  Each part of the slow creep seems innocent in itself.  But x365 days of mat leave, making choices over and over again, each one you make sets a precedent – and enough times, will set a pattern.  

 

It leads to us feeling guilty and checking our i phone at the gym or not leaving until everything seems peaceful and perfect at the house.

(The slow creep is “I’m just going to pause my workout to answer this question / solve this problem I just got texted about.”)

It leads to us choosing the “easier” option – not going out, not bothering to dress up, skipping the makeup that day, eating cereal instead of a balanced meal. 

(The slow creep is “I’m going to change back into my runners to walk with the stroller later, there’s no point in bothering with a different outfit.”)

It leads to us not even being able to go to the bathroom or shower alone.

(The slow creep is answering a question from someone from behind the door.)

It leads to us doing the bulk of housework or chores.  

(The slow creep is “ugh, I just want this done NOW so I’m just going to do it myself.” )

It leads to us slowly losing our self confidence.

(The slow creep is that one morning where you think “I haven’t done that in __years/months since I had my baby, I won’t be any good now!”)

It leads to us slowly losing a sense of our own self-identity.

(The slow creep is that one night where you don’t bother going out with some girlfriends because you just don’t feel like it.)

 

Sounds pretty sinister, right?  

The problem with the slow creep is that it is each seemingly innocent moment that we are not always conscious of.  Those have a huge compounding effect over the duration of a year, and set precedents, set patterns.

One day you are in the bathroom.  Your 2 year old is being especially cute and you let her in, just once to watch you do your hair and makeup. *This is the slow creep.

One day you are in the bathroom.  Your husband opens the door and your baby comes crawling in, hanging on to your leg while you are trying to pee.  *This is the slow creep.

One day you are in the bathroom, your husband has a question and asks you through the door. You answer.  *This is the slow creep.

Each time is innocent enough to say “yes” or let it happen right?  But now three humans can do it.  And you are just one person.

A precedent has been established.  

You are now accessible whilst in the bathroom, to three people.  

This is an example RIGHT out of my book.  Last week I realized, of all things, I at least deserve to take FIVE MINUTES to complete basic bodily functions in privacy.  I got annoyed at myself because I had fully let it happen each time somebody wanted something from me.  I didn’t defend my fortress from the slow creep.

I cracked down. I reinforced my moment to myself physically with the lock on the door and in words, with a request:  “This is one time I need to not be interrupted. I give a lot of myself all day to all of you, and this is a time you will have to be without me”  (ok, the words I used for my two year old were a lot simpler than that!)

 

THE CHILDREN EXAMPLE

It’s the weekend.  Or maybe a week day if your husband does shift work.  He’s not working. One of your two children has a playdate.

You decide to take both, you might as well since you are going out. *This is the slow creep.

What precedent / pattern / routine are you setting up if you always offer / settle for taking and managing both kids and your husband gets the downtime?

This is one I also have to work on.  If my husband has specifically requested some downtime, no problem, I will take both.  But I don’t want to set up the precedent that both kids all the time is my responsibility.  I frequently have to remind myself of what we have agreed is 100% equal in our books and what would / would not lead to a pattern of resentment settling in

For me, I would feel great resentment if it became a pattern – if he was kid-free all the time, by my own doing –  by settling for just taking both kids “because I might as well.”

(-please note this is in our own family’s situation, other people may have a different balance point that works for them.)

 

Have a think about it.  Has there been anything that slowly, innocently enough, has seemed to have faded away.  What is important to you, that you should put in your fortress and defend with words and actions from the slow creep?  What does the slow creep mean to you?

 

The Basic Gear You Will Need for Your Baby (A Somewhat Minimalist and Gender Neutral List)

This blog post came about as a side-project. After I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I went to town on everything we own in our house including everything I had accumulated over a year with a baby.

When our 2nd baby came along, I had been able to pare down everything and keep the most important things, which are on this list.  It made a huge difference in the feeling of overwhelm and reduced our clutter.

I followed both Lucie’s List and Pregnant Chicken, which were awesome. I can’t recommend them enough.  Add yourself to their mailing list.   They were fantastic to learn from.

I pretty much bought everything they recommended because I had no idea what I was getting myself into with my first baby.

What motivates me to provide a gender neutral / minimalist list?  

I HATE accumulating too much stuff.  And it happens really  quickly with kids. Clutter and “stuff” stresses me out. My goal is always to own items that I use at least once a week.  

I found the process of acquiring baby gear SO OVERWHELMING. There’s an entirely new vocab.  I bawled my eyes out twice. Picking out a stroller and picking out a car seat.

It wasn’t fun for me, even when it was just pinning on Pinterest.

People loved telling me what I would need and every time, I would answer with “What the hell is that?”  – Clueless.

There is no possible way to guess what you’ll need until you’ve gone through it, so this list is written with the knowledge of hindsight and is really written in a “advice for dummies” way because I was a dummy myself and had no f*cking idea what a jumperoo or a swaddler was.

Most of these items are gender neutral (read: Can be used by multiple children!)

 

Blanket #1

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.48.28 PM

Aiden & Anais Cotton Muslin Lightweight Swaddle Blankets

Swaddling is a word, and a magical art all in one.  That I did not learn until discharge day at the hospital.  Then the Aiden & Anais Swaddlers alllllllll made sense.

The cotton muslin gets silky soft the more you wash it, and these patterns do not fade.  Gender neutral too.  These wraps are wonderful to wrap up those go-go-gadget arms and legs, as well as cover the car seat, cover the stroller, cover your boobs for a feed – all sorts of things. They are nice and large.  There’s a reason people always buy these. They are just so multifunctional!

They’ll fit your baby from newborn up to 9 months.  I also used these blankets to lie on the ground for diaper changes (no need for a diaper pad) cover the stroller, cover the car seat, on planes, as a feeding / pumping cover by tying around my neck, and as head support in the car seat.  I STILL use them here and there.  These come in a pack of four, which I’d recommend – it lets you keep one in the car, one in the bedroom, one in the stroller and an extra put away.

aden + anais Classic Swaddle 4-Pack Twinkle

Blanket #2:

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.31.32 PM

This is a very large light fleece blanket that has travelled the world with us.  It’s been brilliant as a blanket for my kids and myself on planes, for picnics and beach time, and also as a make-do-tent on planes, by clipping it in the fold up seat tray.  It’s my  go-to for the stroller in cooler weather or as a blanket on cold nights.  It hasn’t pilled or lost its softness despite a gazillion washes.

Babies can get way too hot in fleece blankets, which are generally too thick and warm, but they loove snuggly blankets.  So this one is perfect.

Bonus is the fact that it is $2.99 at Ikea.  Seriously, best $3 I’ve ever spent. I’ll keep using this for myself.  Great couch throw.  Gender neutral colours also.

Ikea Link:

Krakris Throw Blanket Ikea

THAT’S IT.  NO MORE BLANKETS. YOU ARE DONE.

But sorry friend, you’ll get like 100000x blankets.  And stuffed toys.

People loooove buying you stuffed toys.

 

CLOTHES

You may have seen on Pinterest the “capsule wardrobe” concept.  Essentially, you pare down your wardrobe to a few high quality neutral items, which are mixed and matched with accessories.

This is a technique that greatly reduces clutter and simplifies life. If you apply this technique to your baby’s clothes it is a game changer!

LONG OR SHORT SLEEVED ONESIES

Invest in long sleeved body suits in neutral colours.  White, tan, grey, black. Whatever your preference. Buying them in four-packs is economical, working out to $5 each.  I have been impressed with Carters’ as a brand.

“>Carter’s 4 Pack Long Sleeve Baby Onesies – White

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.53.30 PM

It’s a little boring, isn’t it? Just buying super plain clothes.  But here’s where it gets fun. My life was changed when I bought a few Hug Me Sew Bibs from Etsy.

DROOL BIBS / DROOL SCARVES

I tried out a few brands and these are the best quality.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.55.13 PM

These are cotton (fleece on the underside) bibs that you put on your little drooler.  They catch all of the drool, save you from doing an obscene amount of laundry, and all of a sudden you are accessorizing that simple onesie with a variety of adorable bibs that are way cheaper to buy than a bunch of clothing.

Hug Me Sew Drool Bibs

PANTS / LEGGINGS

Here’s a sample of a 2 pack you can buy in neutrals for a boy.  I tend to recommend Amazon for everything as I’ve found their prices cheaper.  You can get great deals in stores though, so if you love shopping (me) stop in when you are out and about – otherwise, Amazon will almost always be a better deal.  I also tend to recommend Carters or Baby Gap because they seem to hold together and resist fading better than other brands.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.56.05 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.56.50 PM

Carters Baby Boys 2-Pack Pants Grey & Navy

WINTER BABIES

If you plan on going outside for walks in winter (I did a ton and am so glad, it kept me sane,)  just go for a “bunting bag.” I know, wtf, all this strange language right?  You learn a whole new vocab with a baby.

And again, go for one bigger so they last longer in it.  Make sure it has ears.  It is outrageously adorable and enjoyable looking at a baby bear in a stroller.’

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.59.05 PM

Carters Baby Bunting

ACCESSORIES

Babies  don’t need shoes until they walk, but they do need some kind of foot covering.  Especially if you are Canadian and will spend any time shuffling babies around in the cold weather.  The other thing I learnt is no matter what you put on those feet, the little mastermind creatures somehow get EVERYTHING off.

That is why I love Padraig knitted booties.  Yes, they are expensive.  I balked at the price and didn’t buy a pair till my 2nd born.  But here’s the thing. You buy a pair in the 6-12 month size and they are going to last your kid an ENTIRE year.

It doesn’t matter that they are too big when they are little…  it’s not like they are walking, and if they are in the car seat, or strorller, they are covered with a blanket anyways.

Hand crafted & stitched, you are supporting local business and you can throw them in the wash. Win, win and win.

Padraig Knitted Baby Booties

MISCELLANEOUS

I had no idea how tiny and blocked baby noses become.  If they get a cold, it’s actually quite stressful VERY STRESSFUL watching them struggle to breathe.  New parent trauma I’m telling you. lol.

I’m going to horrify you with this recommendation but a snot sucker is the best & fascinatingly disgusting thing you could possibly put in your medicine cabinet.  It’s absolutely disgusting yes, but it does the trick.

Especially if you “pre spray” your babies’ nasal cavities or drop some slightly saline water in there (which they’ll hate by the way.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.01.39 PM

After trying at least 5 different brands, I finally got the best one and man, does it work a thousand times better than any other.  Don’t go for the shitty $6.99 turkey baster style snot sucks in shoppers. GET THIS ONE:

Nose Frieda Snot Sucker.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.00.11 PM

Baby Bottles & Pump (So many brands.  Personal preference. They all do the same thing)

Other useful additions to the medicine cabinet:

Gripe Water

Camilia Homeopathic teething drops

Baby / infant ibuprofen and acetominophen

A baby bottle cleaning brush * I just gone one, 2 kids later and wonder on a daily basis WHY THE HELL I did not get this sooner.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.03.14 PM

Other miscellaneous items:

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.30.57 PM

A portable travel crib (lots of brands.  Personal preference = Phil & Teds travel crib)

A stroller (needs its own blog post. My favourite of 4 brands is still the Bob Stroller.)

A portable high chair – not necessary until 4 months.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.44.22 PM

A car seat

A baby carrier (so many brands.  Personal preference = baby bjorn carrier one)

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.43.06 PM

A baby swing / “baby bouncer” **This is key to being able to cook and drink coffee.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.37.05 PM

Toys

Each baby had different preferences with toys, so the requirement for this section was that both kids had to L-O-V-E both. These toys progress really nicely in age from 0-4 months, then 4-8 months, then 9 months plus.  These three items were a life saver for being able to prepare dinner and generally function as a human being!

Yes these start to take up a bit of room but these three toys provided endless entertainment when all other toys’ novelty wore off.

Also, if you are going for minimalist for the love of god don’t let people buy you stuffed animals.  They add up VERY quickly and babies never seem to want to play with them.

Activity Arch 0-4 months

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.36.25 PM

Exersaucer 4-8 months

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.33.49 PM

“Jumperoo” 8 Months+ *

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 4.37.31 PM

*my toddler still tries to climb in this.