Dandelion

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My favourite flower is the dandelion
With its bright orange leaves and green, green stem
The dandelion that I would grasp in my hands as a child
And carefully deliver to my mother, with love

My favourite flower is the dandelion
As a first sign of spring
Sprouting above the thick, green grass
Growing tall before the lawn mower crops it away

My favourite flower is the dandelion
When my mother would braid crowns for me out of flowers of sunshine
That I would wear proudly and feel like a princess

My favourite flower is the dandelion
That my daughter hunts in the yard
Like treasures she finds, squealing with delight
As she clasps the buds in her little yellow fingers

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MUM!

One year later

My baby just turned 1 year old.
However, this post is not really about her. She’s amazing, and I am so proud of her every day.  With her birthday floating by, I find myself looking inwards to what I have overcome with this pregnancy, birth, and the first year.
It’s probably evident by now that I am not one of those mom’s who spent her life wishing to have a baby, and then rushing to have another. I have no desire to re-live the pain, exhaustion, and borderline depression that came with pregnancy and caring for a baby. It didn’t really make me happy. While I didn’t have a preconceived notion of what child rearing would be, it wasn’t that. Maybe I shouldn’t say child rearing, but child carrying. It was, quite literally, the pregnancy and carrying the child that made me miserable with back pain. Pain that started at 12 weeks pregnant, and that continued until now. A whole year and a half later. I feel weak. Weakened by this experience that is motherhood. Something I thought I could pull-off effortlessly. It simply wasn’t the case. So here I am, on my child’s first birthday, checking in with myself. I know that I love my baby to death and wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world, but I also have no desire to do it again. I don’t romanticize the experience, seeing it through Rose coloured glasses. Nope, not this girl. I feel humbled by it. Weakened. Vulnerable. It’s not the empowering 1 year birthday story one might expect to read. I’m just being honest. I survived this year. I survived a traumatic birth and, lack of sleep, and excruciating back pain when my baby didn’t want to be put down. I’m sore. I’m tender. Perhaps one day I’ll look back on this time and forget all the pain I’ve felt, but this 1 year birthday is not it.

Things I Didn’t Do Before Having A Baby

Parenthood has been interesting. As this human grew inside of me and then proceeded to grow outside of me, I began to take on new characteristics myself. Some of them mundane, some hilarious, and some down right disgusting!
Here are a few things I’ve noticed (perhaps you can relate?!):

– Leaving the house with baby is a production. It’s no longer throwing on some shoes and running out the door. It’s also Murphy’s law that an impromptu diaper change will need to happen once everyone is dressed and ready to head out.

– Every time I leave the house without baby (read: rarely), I’ve developed a rocking motion while standing still. Oh, also, I sing and talk to myself now. Every. Time.

– I pee with the door open. I never did this before, but it became necessary with baby crawling around. The other day, however, she was at daycare and I realized I left the door open anyway. My dog just stared at me. I swear he was judging me.

– When I go to the mall (read: rarely), I find myself shopping for baby things more than myself. I think I’m just procrastinating, because, let’s be honest, my child doesn’t need any more clothes!

– I dance, jiggle, crawl on my hands and knees, and make more faces than ever before.

– I’ll just put this out there: diaper sniff test…

– I’m always distracted and often repeat myself

– When I go into cupboards or fridge doors, I shut them really quickly so little wandering hands don’t start unpacking everything. Even when she’s not around.

– That being said, everything needs to be on a higher shelf. Think it’s high enough? She’ll grow and stretch and inevitably reach it.

– I’m always distracted and often repeat myself…Oh, wait…

Self

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This has been a difficult year for me. Since being pregnant and being a new mother, I’ve struggled to balance my need for independence with the total dependence of a new baby. Some days it is very clear to me how fleeting this experience is, but most days I am filled with doubt, self-analyzing, and insecurities.
You see, being a mother has not been a lifelong goal for me. I don’t think I ever fully comprehended how all-encompassing it would be. I definitely thought I would easily birth this child and then swiftly get on with ‘my’ life (baby in toe, of course). It simply wasn’t that easy. And I struggled with this new reality.
I struggled because all of a sudden ‘my’ life had new meaning and priorities. Sometimes ‘my’ days were spent engrossed in changing quite literally 15 diapers per day. I’ve spent hours sitting, nursing my baby, every 2 hours for the first 5 months. I would spend most days in an utter daze due to lack of sleep, or I would be rocking my crying baby while crying myself, in sheer exhaustion. In those moments, it seemed like I would be in babyhood forever. I really did wonder why I chose this for myself.
Now my baby is 10 months old, and I am beginning to see through the fog. We have found a great daycare that she will start part-time. I am finally seeing myself as a separate identity from my child…and this scares me.
She is weaning from me, physically and figuratively. While she still wants me, she no longer needs me every second of the day. It means this very intense, intimate, attached year is coming to an end and we both have an opportunity to find ourselves. She will have a whole life at daycare that I won’t even see. I will have some time to build my career ( whatever that looks like).
My life is forever changed, but truly for the better. I’ve struggled with my identity, and still do, as I evaluate and re-evaluate my self-worth. My identity is neither tied to my career nor my motherhood alone, but strikes some impossible balance where I find myself.
As I write this now, I have my precious baby cradled in my bosom for a nap. I’ve finally come to cherish these moments where we are as close as humanly possible. I’m aware of how quickly life changes and am trying to absorb every second.

Time

There exists an alternate space in time that you only discover when you are a parent. A time where life speeds up. You literally blink for a second and find that your child has grown to twice her size.
‘How long have I been sleeping?’

Suddenly your time is not your own. Each month and year is invisibly marked BB (Before baby), or PB (Post Baby).

It’s like life sped up and you remained in one place, not feeling like you’ve aged.
But how can you not age, when this little human has grown so much?
Gaining aptitudes, personality, and attributes that literally did not exist 1 year ago.
As my baby ages, I continue to be baffled when I look at photos from this time last year.
‘Whoa. Where did that time go?’
How does a little person grow so much in so little time, and I didn’t even notice a thing?
2015 was a year totally and utterly consumed by this human.
Other things happened, sure, but they all ultimately came back to this one person. I carried, birthed, cared for and nursed her as my prime objective in life.
I will never have a year like this one again. With it’s pain, learning curves, worry and joy.

I’m not sure I’d want to relive it, exactly. But I wouldn’t mind if time would stop playing it’s silly games on me.

Memories

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Playing Piano with Nana

What defines a memory for a child?
Is it just the things that the child can recount or remember?
I choose to think it also includes experiences, moments and activities of all kinds.
Like my child is a piece of dough that is kneaded, formed and sculpted with every touch.
Are we not all a result of the many years of experiences we’ve had, remembered clearly or not?
Why play with a child, if that toy will not be remembered?
Why chatter endless conversations with your toddler, answering ‘why? why? why?’, if those conversations won’t be saved into long term memory?
Why read that book, again and again, until you’ve saved it to memory?
Because, I think, experience and character is formed in many ways, and when you’re young, memory isn’t even the most important one.
How will your child know the world, and the people in it?

How does your child grow, learn, explore and experience, if not by a million tiny moments that are both immediately forgotten and yet remembered forever.

Jet lagged baby: 6 days in

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We’ve been home from Thailand for 6 days, and I think we have finally overcome (the worst of the) jet lag with the baby. It seems that Westbound was even more difficult than going East (which took about 4 days).
With a baby as young as 8 months, it really isn’t possible to do anything differently but let her sleep when she needs to. There’s no keeping her up a few more hours so she meets her regular bedtime. There’s no waking her up at a particular time without epic tears. There’s no reasoning, and daylight doesn’t seem to influence her.
So, we’ve been going with the flow.
As we’re staying at my parents house (re: we sold our house and have nowhere else to go), we holed ourselves in a hotel for the first two nights to avoid major disruption.

Night 1: Absolutely no change from our Asia schedule. We were awake all night and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant in time for ‘bed’ at 7am. Then we slept ALL day, waking up around 5pm for dinner.

Night 2: When we got back from dinner, we slept again, hoping our exhaustion would allow us to sleep through. We were mostly right, but Evey was up for the day at 3am.

Night 3: Back at my parent’s place, Evey went to sleep at 3pm. This was fine, except she then woke up from 10pm – midnight (Chris’ shift), then again 2am – 4am (my shift). She then slept until 6am, and was up for the day.

Night 4: Back to bed at 4pm, with a wake up from 11pm – 2am (Chris’ shift). She slept until 6am. Despite the long shift awake, we start to feel she is getting back on track!

Night 5: This might have been the toughest daytime. Evey had many meltdowns and inconsolable tears. This is either a result of the jet lag and not sleeping properly, or teething, or both! We tried to push her bedtime to 5pm, but it was hard earned as she had a fit and cried alot. I didn’t even manage to get her into her PJ’s, just straight to bed. She woke up for about 30 minutes at 3am. We thought she might stay up at this point, but then slept until 7am. Consider this a huge success!

We’ll see if we are back on schedule now. Evey generally is a very scheduled child, and even in Thailand she took to her home schedule once she adjusted to the time change. The last 6 days have been very hard for all of us, with a combination of sleep deprivation and a frustrated baby. It really does make me think twice about travelling that kind of distance again! But we seem to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s hoping tonight will continue to follow a more ‘normal’ schedule.

Arriving at Railay island, Krabi province, Thailand

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We’re into our last week of our adventure through Thailand.
We settled on returning to a beach location, escaping the congestion of both Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Further, we feel the heat less when we can dip in the sea or the pool. Evey appreciates it most.

We flew from Bangkok to Krabi town, where a van met us and transported us to a longtail boat off the shores of Krabi town. We had to climb onto a barge from the beach, then over a longtail to reach our designated boat. We were glad to have Evey’s lifejacket as we climbed over.

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The longtail carried us and 2 other guests at our hotel. One man was coming to Railay from Houston, Texas to go rock climbing with friends. As we approached the island, rock climbing seemed like a terrifying, though probably wonderous activity.

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The longtail pulled up to a beach area next to a long pier. A tractor with a trailer attached pulled up next to us and we unloaded. We had heard we might have to get wet climbing out of the boat, but this was not the case. The longtail comes as close as it can, and the tractor comes the rest of the way. We were delivered directly to our hotel entrance.

Our hotel is on Railay East, the pier side. The other side of the island is Railay West, where swimmming and the beaches are. The 2 sides are connected by a pathway with a concrete walkway, fully accessible with the baby stroller (a lovely relief!). The pathway is scenic, with limestone rockfaces, caves, and wild monkeys.  Plus, it’s only a 5 minute walk to the beach.

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The beach: how to even describe this beach? Limestone mountains, aqua blue waters,  and patches of shade for comfort. We didn’t actually swim in the sea today, but will head back there tomorrow.  We’ve been told that further up the beach there are longtail boats serving food, so we will check that out.

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This afternoon we settled for a dip in the hotel pool with infinity pool and even more breathtaking views.

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I can already feel that we will thoroughly enjoy our last week in paradise.

I Chew This

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Chew, chew, chew
Num, num, num
Teething baby chews.
Baby chews bottle
Baby chews straw
Baby leaves scratches all over Mummy’s sunglasses.
Chew, chew, chew
Drool, drool, drool
Stickers? Baby eats them.
Tablet? Baby mouths it.
Fingers? Take a chomp on those.

3 teeth all at once.
Chew, chew, chew.