Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Marriage

Happy Mother’s Day to those in the trenches of infertility.

Thank you to How to Buy a Baby, whose words inspired this doodle.

Mother’s Day weekend can be really hard when you’re infertile and in the trenches, trying add to your family. It hurts so badly. While you may not hold a child in your arms yet, you are a mother the moment you open your heart to the idea of your child.

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You are a mother to hope. You are a mother to strength. You are a mother to perseverance. You birth these emotions and nurture them month after month in the place of a child in your arms, you nurture them FOR the child that will hopefully come. This is not a meaningless task. It has merit. Your hope for a child in your arms makes today particularly painful but you are mothering already on your journey to that reality. And that counts.

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Uncategorized

Reasons my parenting is 800% worse around other people.

You may have heard of the *study published in 2015 that found kids are “800 per cent worse” for their mothers. It found that children as young as eight-months-old could be playing happily, but upon seeing their mother they were 99.9% more likely to begin crying, release their bowels, or need her immediate attention.

While this study was obviously a fake, the observations about child behaviour where bang on. Some psychologists have even shared clues as to why this phenomenon seems so relatable for so many families. Upon reading some of these articles I noticed that my parenting style bares a striking resemblance to the toddlers within the fake study. So I took the liberty of noting these similarities.

Please tell me I’m not alone.

•A need for attention!

Just like your unruly toddler, who will suddenly throw down an epic tantrum the second you get on the phone, this mama is thirsting for attention. I haven’t had an adult conversation for days (maybe even weeks) so I’m gonna do whatever it takes. I’m hoping that you might turn your eyes in my direction. Or at least roll them. I don’t even care at this point. There’s a good chance I’m gonna get loud, and if that doesn’t work there’s always the possibility I will stop my feet and start having a little tantrum of my own. Someone please, just put me to bed.

•Testing the limits.

There seem to be a lot of parenting rules these days. The way we feed, raise, carry, dress and let our children play or sleep are now major points of judgement in the parenting world. I can’t keep it all straight. But I find myself overwhelmed, and anxious by all of the things each sect says I’m not aloud to do. Although privately, I know I’m just doing my best to raise a well balanced human, I’m always pushing the playground boundaries. I’m not terribly rebellious, but these rules seem so inconsistent. At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to get it right anyway. So if anyone needs me, I’ll be sitting looking somewhat sullen on my phone, and sharing some kind of processed snack with the kid.

•Lacking skills

From the moment that baby was placed in my arms I knew I was in big trouble. I am not one of those people that ran around tooting their own horn and saying what a great parent they were going to be. I’ve always been afraid of newborns, they can smell my fear. And that fear is tripled when I have an audience. I’m afraid my social skills are questionable at the best of times. And awkward is kinda my specialty. I’m nervous and embarrassed parenting in public because you’ll probably realize I suck. So if I muster up the courage to parade this train wreck, just show me a bit of understanding.

•Seeking Independence

I love my kids. I’m actually really sad when I feel like we aren’t getting enough quality time. BUT, I’m also an introvert. I like having the space to think, I value periods of silence. I long for deeper conversations than our normal, albeit hilarious poop and fart talks.

And yet on the rare occasion I can steal myself away, all I can do is ramble on awkwardly about how irritating the kid can be. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but he’s obsessed with me.

•Can’t seem to control emotions

Okay surely others can relate to this. I’ve had to hold it together for a long time. I’ve likely had a host of positive emotions but I’ve also been lonely, bored or frustrated. I seem able to hold it together when I’m by myself, because after all, I realize there will be no search and rescue teams coming to help me. If we’re going to survive it’s all up to me.

So chances are if I’m even remotely comfortable with you, you may find me overreacting to everything. This is a cry for help. I need a time out.

•Underlying mental health issues.

Obviously this is a much more sensitive issue. Underlying mental health issues can definitely affect our moods. I’ve had anxiety all of my life. I’m generally scared to do most things, and I spend a lot of time fighting my brain. I don’t know why but my brain just loves to replay conversations or crazy scenarios over and over in my mind. Thankfully over the years I’ve managed to find ways to cope, and I rarely let it stop me from doing what I want to do. I have a ridiculous sense of humour and thankfully I can usually turn it on to get through most situations. I really push myself not to let fear stop me. However, a lot of that gets thrown out the window when it comes to my dear boys. I’ve often said that becoming a parent was like that scene in “The Grinch,” where his heart suddenly grows three sizes too big. This big love has my brain working overtime, imagining all of the ways I could possibly lose it.

If we’re on some fun little outing with our kids, while you are enjoying seeing them play wild and free in nature, I am imagining all of the ways a person can fall and die. It doesn’t help that I’ve been blessed with boys whom rarely show concern for their own personal safety. So if my mood starts to shift into the controlling, and cranky helicopter parent zone, know it’s not because I hate seeing kids enjoying themselves. I’m still learning my triggers and how to cope with these over-reactive responses to horseplay. The point is, the emotions I show are just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what is going on in my mind. Like a small child you might be able to distract me, but it’s something I that probably requires extra help at times. If I find it’s affecting my decisions I know it’s time to reach out. For me that means talking therapies, but I have taken anxiety medications in the past and certainly wouldn’t rule it out. Maybe just ask if I’m ok? I may not be.

Ultimately though the real reason my parenting becomes 800% worse around you, is probably because you make me feel safe in someway. Maybe something in you tells me I can put my guard down. I know that with you I can let it all go, my tears, emotions,————bowels, whatever. And if you’re brave enough to stick around I’ll know you’re someone that I don’t have to hide all of my idiosyncrasies from. I’m not trying to use you as a garbage disposal for my feelings, I just need someone to lean on through this season of life. I’m overwhelmed and feeling the pressure of wanting to raise a good human being, but terrified that I’m going to fuck it all up. Just like the little people, when I start to display these behaviour issues, I hope you realize I don’t need you to scold me. I am probably already ashamed of my behaviour, and considering never leaving the house again. What I do need though is a soft place to land, some encouragement, maybe a hug, but mostly a friend.

Kiddos · Life · Uncategorized

Some love haunted houses or Goblins Green, but I just love my little Mr. Bean

So we have a bit of fun with Hallowe’en!! Homemade costumes just get my creativity flowing I guess. We went for a little Bean-tastic fun this year. Be sure to check out our video! Do you dress up for Hallowe’en with your kiddos? Share your favourite costumes in the comments, we would love to see them!

https://youtu.be/dwBVsqPzMHM

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Marriage · Uncategorized

#1in4 Couples experience pregnancy or infant loss.

I have read so many heartbreaking and touching stories this October, and I felt like I had to commend everyone for their bravery. It is not easy to allow yourself to be so vulnerable about such a personal thing. But I believe in my heart that our stories connect us. In times of hardship our stories ensure that we are not alone. And as thankful as I am that these topics are becoming less taboo, I have noticed a recurring theme in these stories and the comments that follow, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to ask a teeny favour of everyone. Could we just stop grading how bad each other have it? One person opens up and it creates a dialogue. Which is beautiful. But for some reason when we speak of our loss, especially pregnancy loss, we feel the need to grade each loss. “Oh Becky, I’m so sorry for your loss. I had a miscarriage last fall, but it wasn’t as bad. I was only a few weeks.”

It wasn’t as bad? Is it really less of a loss? Or just loss? Why do we do that to ourselves?

My husband and I have been trying to grow our family for the past 12 years. In that time we have had one successful pregnancy. I have always said I am very fortunate, because technically I have never had a pregnancy loss. Sometimes I even feel silly for getting upset about our struggles because it seems that some couples have it worse. Which frankly is just nuts. We try to grade how bad we have it in comparison to someone else. And from there we grade to what degree we’re allowed to be sad? It’s ridiculous. I do it too. I say well I have a step child and I birthed one kid, and I didn’t end up needing IVF yet, or I’ve only had a blighted ovum, that’s not a real miscarriage. But the fact is just because someone has it worse doesn’t mean your situation is not hard. Hard is hard. Loss is loss. Whether you have just begun trying to start a family but you’re worrying more and more as each month passes, or you’re a veteran to the infertility game. It’s ok to feel like it’s unfair-because it is. And whether you had a blighted ovum or a miscarriage the truth is you had joy and hope for a new life the second you saw that positive pregnancy test, and to lose that is devastating. So never feel like you don’t have a right to your feelings. As was once said to me; “you were a mom from the first time you cried about getting your period.”

It’s true.

It hurts when your heart is ready, but your arms remain empty. It’s painful, we don’t need to figure out if it’s more or less painful than what someone else is enduring —it’s just painful. That’s all.

Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Marriage

A bit of advice from a Father-less daughter on Father’s Day.

The other day after a crazy thunderstorm my husband pops up and asks our son if he wants to go check out the mud and giant puddles left by the storm. It’s definitely not something I would say, it was a very “Dad” request. It kinda hit me just how special Dads and father figures are. And it got me thinking and wondering about our lives now that neither of us have someone to call this Father’s Day.

My Dad died when I was 18. But thankfully I had my hubby’s Dad for the next 18 years. My Dad was expressive, emotional, and artistic. He swore like a sailor, and looked like a homeless rockstar. My father in law however was older, and more traditional. His emotions were generally private, and he looked like an old farmer type straight out of one of those country time paintings. If something didn’t work right, you might hear him say “Goodness”, where as my Dad was more likely to toss a tool and curse “motherf*ck’n piece of sh*t” haha.

Because my Dad was a one in a million, unique kinda guy, I didn’t always see my father in law as “my” Dad. So we started off very cordial. If we disagreed with one another’s point of view, which definitely happened, we didn’t challenge each other’s opinion. It was all very polite.

One day though, shortly before we were married I was walking into my husbands parents house and I was waiting for my hubby to follow me in, so I didn’t shut the door immediately. My father in law yells from the living room “shut the door! It’s not an asshole. It doesn’t close on its own”

When he came around the corner he says “Goodness I thought you were one of the boys”. He was kinda of embarrassed but I just smiled, because in that weird little moment I actually felt like one of his kids. We still respected each other’s opinions but it kinda broke the ice, we finally let it all hang out, and loved each other anyway.

And while our Dads were very different, they were both one in a million, unique kinda guys. I remember as a teenager dreading the thought of our Dads ever meeting. But unfortunately they didn’t ever get the chance. Which is too bad, because now I think they really would have been a hoot together. Although they were different they actually had a lot more in common than I gave them credit for. They both made it their priority to provide for their families. They both loved reading. They both told shitty Dad jokes. They both loved their kids until it bordered on annoying. Granted in different ways.

My Dad would show up to A&W with wild hair, and a threadbare t-shirt. Looking like my hobo stalker just sipping on coffee and watching me work. Whereas, my father in law was a phone talker. Something I’m not a fan of. But he and the mister could chat for hours. Even before we had moved, they’d chat on the phone and then expect us to come over or make us go out for coffee. Socializing, yuck. And after Our kiddo was born-sleepy, cranky double yuck. And I’m talking about me, not the baby. If you didn’t come by semi-regularly he might throw a little guilt trip on ya. Half kidding, but half not.

They were both just soo proud and loved their kids so much, they were kin of annoying. Our biggest problem was seriously that they just wanted to know our business all the time. And even though they could be weird or irritating, I’m so thankful that even when I was deep in my one of my introverted asshole moods, I saw their love for what it was and made time for them when I could. Or put up with them at least. And now, Every. Single. Day. I wish they were here. And making me roll my eyes with their annoying brand of loving.

We haven’t had a lot of days off since his Dad passed, and we’re still processing it honestly. But man, oh man, nothing screamed louder in my heart, than the silence of our phone on his first days off since his Dad passed.

So I was hoping this Father’s Day I’d find some way to honour our Dads. So while we were busy prepping a little surprise for my hubby I realized the best way I can honour Dads is to be annoying haha.

Well what I mean is that if you love someone, throw them a little love. Ya Dads/family can be annoying. Ya they can be inconvenient. We both come from families with five kids each, plus step family on my side. And a blended family of our own. So we generally always feel guilty. And we’re always struggling to keep in touch with everyone. In fact because I always feel a bit guilty about the things we can’t do, I sometimes avoid asking for anyone to show up for me. I don’t want them to feel guilty or obligated I guess.

But fuck that. That’s not what our Dads taught us. So in honour of our Dads I want to make a little request. This Father’s Day (or any day) find a way to irritate the people you love, with your annoying brand of love. Trust me, they’ll love it.

And to all the Dads and father figures out there. You are pretty awesome. You are pretty special, one in a million, unique kinda guys. Thank you for being you!

Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Marriage · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care

Goodness.

I know I’m starting to sound like the bad news bear on here, but I promise you I am really a very happy person. I am happy, but the fact of the matter is that life can really be very hard. There are times when it is just best to allow yourself to be sad. If we are lucky enough to have a life filled with love, it only makes sense that we will have a life touched by grief. Grief may be the price of love, but it is worth every penny. My family recently lost someone very important to us. His name was Ed, he was my father in law, my husbands Dad and our sons Grandpa. We will always miss him, but he was a wonderful man who left an impression on people wherever he went. I can’t help but want to share his memory, and the message his life represented. We would like nothing more than to carry on his legacy, sharing love, and goodness. And hopefully helping others to look for, or find something sweet when everything seems sour.

This is the story of Ed, according to someone who loved him:

-The other day my son and I were at the pharmacy picking up a few things for the funeral. While we were waiting in line my little guy was looking at the packages of mini aero bars. He just stared at them and then finally said, “It’s too bad Grandpa died, now I won’t get anymore aero bars”. As you can imagine my heart ached hearing our boy try to make sense of this loss. I stopped what I was doing and we had a little talk. I told him we can still have aero bars, and now when we do we can think of Grandpa. I told him we can even share them like Grandpa used to. I cleared that shelf, filling our cart with the aero bars.

It also prompted me to write this. We shared it, and our chocolate bars today as we celebrated Ed. I hope he would have been honoured.

If you knew Ed, you’d know that when ever something was hard, or unfair or unfavourable, there was one phrase that was sure to come out of Ed’s mouth. That phrase was “Goodness”.

If he heard someone was going through a hard time, he’d say: “Goodness “.

If he was working, and things weren’t going well, he’d say: “Goodness”.

Or even when something simple happened-maybe seeing one of his grandkids spill their cup, he’d smile encouragingly and say : “Goodness!”

Say it with me now : “Goodness!”

Ed lived his life, saying and spreading goodness. He worked hard, up to the age of 78 in fact. He shared what he had and helped people when he could. He enjoyed the simple life. Family and friends were on the top of his list. He enjoyed nothing more than a good visit over coffee, and he never forgot to make sure his grand kids always had their fill of chocolate—usually the biggest aero bars he could find.

If he wasn’t spending time with family, he was likely on the tractor, both at work and home. Or maybe puttering away in the garden. He enjoyed fellowship with friends at church. And was often found reading his bible, the bargain hunter, or one of his natural health books—and then trying to convince his family and friends to check out whatever he’d been reading. His top recommendation for almost every ailment was to try apple cider vinegar. And if that didn’t work, try chocolate.

Something sour and something sweet. Ed knew something we all will. He knew that in this life, we are going to have to face our share of sour and sweet. Hardships and blessings.

Right now we are enduring our hardships. Our hearts although broken continue to beat. So I think right now it’s best to remember Ed and everything he taught us. Remember to take the sour, but always be on the look out for something sweet. And when you find it, get your fill! Share it! And remember that regardless of what this life brings you, don’t forget——“Goodness”

Be sure to like Sm’Art & Smitten on Facebook. Thank you for sharing.

Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Marriage · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care

Infertility Anonymous: We are 1 in 6.

I would say this club was exclusive but with statistics saying that 1 in 6 couples are dealing with the pain of infertility I know this can’t be true. Why is it then that it feels exclusive? It feels like you are the only one dealing with this? That the universe has singled you out, maybe even punishing you for your past sins? It took me awhile to get it, but I finally realized that although this wasn’t an exclusive club it was definitely a secret one!

My dad had struggled with alcoholism, so I knew a thing or two about keeping secrets, telling lies to hide the pain, shame and anger of it all. Tuck it back, keep a stiff upper lip, don’t let anybody see that you are weak, you are flawed, you are broken. And there you are, somehow you’ve arrived, your own secret club: Infertility Anonymous.

I had never expected to find myself in this club. I had fallen in love with Mike in high school. He had already navigated the world of teen parenthood, and he was fully aware of the stigma that stained him. He was just a child himself when he was blessed with that bouncing baby boy. His relationship with the mother was a mess, however, and the break up even worse.

He was always in a tug of war with himself: fight for a relationship and potentially make things worse; or, let him go and accept whatever he was offered, hoping the lil’ guy wouldn’t hate him too much for it. For the most part Mike chose the latter, hoping that if he wasn’t intruding too much, Joe would be better off. It was less painful for him to view it as an adoption of sorts, but at the same time he knowingly accepted the title of deadbeat. Needless to say the thought of pregnancy and parenthood made me a little apprehensive and Mike utterly terrified. With my always irregular cycle, I know there were many times we both stared at a pregnancy test praying it was negative, never knowing that years later we’d be doing the same but trying to will it to be positive.

We were married just over three years (we were together for eight) when we started trying. I was only 23 and he was 25, so it still felt kind of rebellious. It was fun back then, we’d pull the goalie so to speak (that’s Canadian for having unprotected sex) and I assumed that in no time I’d be knocked up. How hard could it be? He’d done it before, and my family was like a baby factory so I figured we would have this baby making business in the bag.

Almost a year slides by and nothing. My always irregular periods are now nearly nonexistent, so I visit my GP. Blood tests and ultrasounds reveal nothing. It might be PCOS or endometriosis, but they aren’t sure. I read anything I can find on these topics and it appears to make sense: my weight gain seems out of control; my period is irregular; and my hormones are all over the place. I research every possibility and try to listen to what my doctor told me: “You are young, some of these things make it take longer, keep trying.” I am diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis and honestly I’m thrilled. I think, “that must be the problem.” Now I can fix it and all of my dreams and plans can start happening. We keep trying and I can’t help but buy things for our baby. We have discussions all the time about this hypothetical baby. What will the gender be? What should we name him/her? Will this angel have my eyes or Mike’s adorable dimples? I dare to think there is hope. Another year slides by and then another. I’ve seen several specialists, each one passing me along to another, and with each one, I’m put on waiting lists. Everything moves at a snails pace and I try to be patient, but it seems that no one can help me and my frustration grows. I get all kinds of instruments and doctors poking around in my downstairs. They still aren’t sure what the problem is, but we try clomid again, do more tests and talk about other methods to induce ovulation, injections and way more tests.

By this time it all feels very clinical, the passion, excitement and glowing prospect of pregnancy have long since faded.

But shortly after year five, finally a breakthrough: an MRI confirms that I have a brain tumour. I take it in stride as its benign and thankfully the treatment means I may get pregnant after all. Unfortunately, though, the medication makes me feel nauseous all the time and my mood swings border on dangerous. Again we find another year creeping by and still no baby. To make matters worse, everywhere I turn there are beautiful little babies being born. Each perfect chubby cherub I see rubs salt in my wounds.

My family and friends had been asking for some time if we plan on starting a family. One old fella at the restaurant I worked even goes as far as to say I should throw my wedding rings in the bush if I don’t wanna give my man a family. I try my best to keep my secret hidden, brush their questions and comments aside and stay where I feel safe: hidden within the walls of my secret club. Every now and then the cracks would show. I would tell someone my secret, and they would offer advice, all with good intentions of course, but nothing they say can help. It just makes me angry. They say “Maybe you should adopt” and I’d think sure, no biggie, just years of being under a microscope, years of waiting, a hefty price tag for foreign adoption or the potential of heartbreak if the “real mother” as I saw it at the time, changes her mind and takes the baby back. Or they’d casually tell me “just do IVF,” as if the physical and financial burdens that go along with it could possibly come close to a casual decision. But the most common nugget of advice was just to “RELAX” and honestly its not the worst advice, but it didn’t help in any way. I always found myself fantasizing about inflicting pain on the person who so graciously offered this bit of wisdom. It was far too painful to tell them we’d been researching adoption since about year three. I was too embarrassed to tell them how I’d been saving for years to “buy my baby” and that with each medical attempt and subsequent failure I would retreat even farther into my secret club. I built walls, I dug holes, I did whatever I could to keep people out, even my husband. This was my cross to bear. After all it was my fault, it was my body that wasn’t doing as it was intended. How could I tell anyone that deep down I feared I had somehow been marked by death? With my Dad and grandparents all gone, it was as if the grim reaper was on my heels, definitely to close to bring forth life.

Depression washed over me. The pain of the infertility was like the grief of losing my father, maybe worse,because it seemed like no one would understand. It was like it didn’t matter to anyone. I was carrying all of this pain and they didn’t even notice. But how could they know, after all I always kept the doors to my secret club locked up tight.

I hate to compare infertility to death, it sounds so dramatic, but for me it was like that. I had dreamed of growing old with someone, having a bunch of babies and one day watching our grand babes play while we sat on our front porch. They were simple dreams, maybe even kinda cheesy, but they seemed to be dying and there was nothing I could do but work through the grief. Like one does with any kind of loss; I went through the shock and denial, moved onto anger, bargaining and depression and finally acceptance. And I know, this all sounds very heavy, but that was why I had my club. And although I felt safe when I would retreat there. It was a very lonely place to be. It took a long time, but eventually I accepted that my vision of “how things were supposed to go” had died. I slowly realized that by tearing down that old dream, I was able to open up, let a bit of sun shine in and start building some new dreams. I found friends I loved and trusted, I let some of my pain spill out and they listened. I finally opened up to one of my high school friends and found she was building her own secret club. I wondered how many of us are out there? Each situation is similar but just different enough to keep us feeling alone, secluded. I started talking and slowly my walls came down. I reached out to groups on the internet. Each story was bittersweet, filled with ups and downs. I began to view things in a new light. Each couple pushed past fear and loss and kept trying, despite enormous challenges. They weren’t broken or weak. They were strong, determined and resilient. If they were all of those things, then maybe I was too. I was still in a secret club as the internet offered anonymity, but I could speak and share my feelings without fear. We Infertile had our own code, a secret language I couldn’t seem to get the hang of…TTC 6.5yrs, 2 rounds s.o, iui’s, considering ivf. Every story was like a lifeline, a rope that helped me cling to hope. Maybe I would be somebody’s mama someday, even if it wasn’t the way I had envisioned. Each friend that let me cry on there shoulder or listened to an angry rant, was actually helping me climb out of the holes I had dug. I told my husband all of my deep dark secrets, the jealousy I harboured toward the people who had been bestowed this blessing, pregnant woman especially. I was even upset with him, he was a father and even if the situation hadn’t been ideal, he had a child and I had nothing. I revealed the anger I felt when someone dared to complain to me about their superb fertility, the pitfalls of parenting, their pregnancy, or, the circumstances of the birth. It was an envy I couldn’t escape. I’d give anything to have those things to complain about, to trade in my membership, switch from Infertility Anonymous over to the Mommy Martyrs Club. I worried that with those thoughts, he’d think I was a monster; but he didn’t. So I’d test him, say something ridiculous or crazy, we’d see a cute baby and I’d ask him “Do you want that one? I mean it comes with a stroller and everything.” It’s an awful joke I know, but oddly, even that level of crazy didn’t scare him off. I figured he must really love me, maybe I’m safe out here after all. We both have clouds that follow us and they roll in from time to time, and sometimes we get caught in the storm. Even though we couldn’t stop the rain from falling, we could hold each other till it went away. That’s what we did. As they say “without the rain, there would never be rainbows,” and for us this was true. Finally in August of 2012 after nearly seven years of waiting, we received our miracle, our baby. I had heard that a baby may be one of the most common place of miracles, but it was miracle just the same.

I suppose I’ll never know why we were chosen to be in this infertility club, but mine will no longer be anonymous. I hope that like me you find some comfort in finding out that you aren’t alone. I hope that you find people you trust to talk to and help you carry this burden. And most of all I pray that you all find a way to cling together, weathering the storm while you wait for your miracle. Keep your hope alive and focus on seeing that rainbow.