PTSD and Prematurity

I’m not sure where the time goes, but days become weeks and weeks become months.  I started this blog as a way to share my experiences and adventures with my children.  It also became a way to share more personal thoughts and journeys, becoming therapeutic for me.

After 3 years I am finally at a place to share the biggest therapeutic benefit that writing has had for me. It has helped me deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a term I never thought applied to me.  But through my blog and in turn other media outlets and bloggers I have seen more and more moms dealing with the same after-effects of having a premature child.

It has been almost 3 years since my son was born 8 weeks early.  He is healthy and thriving, but I spent over 2 years dealing with flashbacks, anxiety and moments of extreme sadness when remembering various memories from my pregnancy leading up to his birth.   Although the moments are fewer and further between, there are still triggers that can bring tears to my eyes.

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To put it into words is difficult.  Most people’s response focuses on how well my son is doing, but strangely that’s not where the PTSD comes from.  The sadness comes from the memories of events, the times leading up to his birth and the subsequent hospital visits.  I can only recently drive to the hospital without crying.  Hearing the name of one hospital I stayed at I gave me flashbacks.  Different things triggered brief moments.

The main focus is on the premature baby, understandably, but somewhere along the way the mother gets lost and forgotten.  I can still remember early on in my hospital stay, when I was still pregnant,  I had an “ugly cry” moment.  Everything built up and I couldn’t stop crying.  I was angry, sad, confused, alone, frustrated, scared; every reason to cry.  The nurse responded by showing me the fetal monitor and told me that my crying wasn’t good for the baby.  So when was I allowed to cry?

Maternity wards, NICUs and their hospitals need to find ways to work more with parents, especially after they go home.  There needs to not be just aftercare for the baby, but also for those caring for them.

I talked to a friend recently about a support group she is going to that helps people deal with the after effects of major illnesses.  She said it’s hard to explain to people because she’s healthy, she made it through the hardest part.  How do you explain fear and sadness to someone when outside appearances show none of it?

Every day, week, month is better.  My biggest advice to people who know someone going through it is give them validation for their feelings.  Let them know it’s okay and completely understandable to feel how they do.  They suffered a trauma and that doesn’t just go away.

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Parents as Athletes

I grew up with parents who played sports. I remember watching my mom’s weeknight basketball and was so impressed when she started touch football. I bonded with my dad at weekend football and slo-pitch tournaments.  Somehow while raising 4 kids they were able to keep involved in sports that they enjoyed.

My husband and I are now excited for our kids to see us as athletes.

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One of my guilty pleasures is reality TV.  Every season I look forward to watching The Biggest Loser.  This season has an “athlete theme”.  All of the contestants were former athletes who have lost that healthy athletic lifestyle and are now trying to get back to their former selves.  I think without effort it is so easy to lose parts of ourselves, especially with the reality of work and family.

There was a time I lost my identity. I wasn’t in a healthy relationship so in turn I became unhealthy. That’s when I re-found basketball.  I joined a co-ed league with a long time friend and began to feel good about myself again. It’s crazy how much that “athlete” is a part of your personality. Losing myself I lost that part, so finding myself meant finding that part of me.  It’s an identity of self-confidence and self-worth.

This past summer I joined my sister and played co-ed soccer.  Definitely not my sport of choice, but I had a great time.  I wasn’t very good, but I loved the atmosphere of team sport and the exercise.  As summer drew to an end I realized how much I would miss it.  I started looking into other leagues and found a women’s basketball league nearby.

After only one week I knew this is what I’ve been looking for; what I saw my parents a part of when I was growing up.  I can’t wait for my kids to be old enough that they can come watch me and cheer me on.  I want them to see that part of me and their dad.  The athlete, the competitor, and all that it stands for.

How do you stay healthy?

 

All-Inclusive Vacation…with Kids

This summer we went on our second all-inclusive trip with our kids.  We have been fortunate to have two destination family weddings in as many years and I have loved having a week away with family.  However, there are ups and downs when travelling to an all-inclusive resort with kids.

Upgrading our room was our best decision, and depending on financial ability, I would say this would be our number one recommendation.  With a suite, the kids could go to bed in one room while we stayed up in the other.  We were able to sit out on the balcony and have other people over.  This also gave my husband and I a separate room from the kids which really helps everyone sleep better.

Another piece of advice is change your idea of what “all-inclusive” means to you.  The days of lounging in the pool with frequent visits to the swim-up bar are long gone.  The only time I had a drink was when someone else happened to get me one.  When I was writing my trip advisor review my husband mentioned that if we had been drinking we would have been disappointed with the bartender service.  Funny how with kids that becomes our lowest priority.

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Going away with friends and family also means having lots of opportunities to go out at night with everyone.  But obviously this took some maneuvering.  I had a girls’ night out while my husband stayed back in the room with the kids and my dad.  He also had a night out while I stayed in (and got some much needed sleep!)  As it was our anniversary while we were there, my parents watched the kids one night so we could go off resort to Flying Fish for a fantastic dinner.  My mom even stayed with the kids for the second half of the wedding night so that my husband and I were able to go out together.  If we had been on our own with the kids, we would not have had nearly as many nights out.

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Being flexible with the kids schedule was really important too.  Restaurants don’t open for dinner until 6pm; my kids normally go to bed at 7pm.  So we did afternoon naps/quiet time later in the day, timing as soon as they got up with baths and going out for dinner.

Also, we really used technology.  The only way my daughter stayed up past 8:00 the night of the wedding was bringing the iPads to the beach.  The fact that the resort had wi-fi was a huge bonus.  The kids were able to watch movies on Netflix which extended the night.  We even brought tablets to dinner, which we would never normally do.  But it helped the kids stay seated and really made it that much more enjoyable for my husband and I.

Ipads on the beach
Ipads on the beach

Implementing consequences when you’re away are difficult.  We obviously let a lot more slide.  Luckily there was a kids’ area with water slides that we used as incentive throughout the day.  If the kids were good, then the last 1/2 hour of the day could be spent on the water slides.

Again, we were so fortunate to have another week away with our extended family.  But I can say that we’re both looking forward to no more All-Inclusive trips with the kids for a very very long time.

How do you vacation with kids?

 

Surviving Week One

I really thought that my daughter would be the one not to cry.  So on day 3 of kindergarten drop-off I was taken off-guard when the screams of “mommy come back!!” were coming out of her mouth.

Being a stay at home mom, my daughter hasn’t had a lot of time outside of my supervision.  She spent a few months at a home day care, but has otherwise been home with me.  As soon as she turned 3 I made sure that she was in lots of parent-free activities.  I even put her in a week of full day summer camp as a trial run.

But still on day 3 she cried the “ugly cry”.

What did I do wrong?

First, I really think the reason she first started to cry was because she thought that she was supposed to.  I could see her at the fence working her face up to make the tears start.  That’s when I should have left, never giving her the chance to  start.  But then her brother started crying, worried about his older sister.  Then she just wanted a hug, and then just wanted to me to watch her play, then another hug, but not through the fence this time.  By the time I found a teacher to take her, the screams had started.

As I quickly pushed the stroller away I could see other parents’ sad faces reflected in mine.  All of us ached for each other and felt the same guilt.

I can leave her crying, I know that’s a normal reaction.  But I can’t leave her standing at the fence crying by herself.  So the second day I didn’t give her the second hug, but stayed at the fence with her until I found a sympathetic, and free, teacher to come take her hand.

Pre-Tears
Pre-Tears

Luckily by day 5 the tears were done.  Partly because there was a waiting teacher to take her, prepped from the previous days.

My son goes to school next year and I’m already trying to think of what I can do to help my son, who won’t even be 4 yet.  I’m looking into daycare for twice a week for him and hoping the gym daycare is another way to separate from him slowly.

How do your kids deal with separation?

Kids’ Triathlon

I am now the proud parent of two triathlon participants.

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When a friend suggested I look at the SunRype TRi KiDS Triathlon I was excited.  Even more excited when I realized it was by birth year so my December-born son could also participate with my daughter.

Earlier in the summer both kids ran in the 1KM Tot Trot for Milton Family Fun Run and they had a blast!  They loved running and being cheered on and seeing everyone there for them.  Plus the medal at the end was a huge bonus.

1KM Tot Trot - Milton Family Fun Run
1KM Tot Trot – Milton Family Fun Run

Prepping them for the triathlon was a bit easier because they knew a little about the atmosphere.  But I don’t think my husband and I were quite prepared.  This was a HUGE event.  The entire south parking lot of the Milton Sports Centre was taken over with bikes and transition areas and fans and so much more.  It really felt like a real triathlon.

I was so impressed with how smooth and organized everything was.  We went the day before to get the registration packages and both kids enjoyed getting their numbers written on them and some cool new tattoos.  I was really thankful for Pedalheads being there to show us how to properly fit their helmets.

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My son was in the first heat which was a little intimidating.  I was worried about not knowing where to go.  But the staff and volunteers did an amazing job at leading and directing us that as soon as we walked into the pool area any worries were gone.

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An added touch was that people used the kids’ names when they were cheering.  Having their first names on the front bib was such a great idea.

Shortly after the race I got emails from Zoom Photo showing pictures of my kids from various points in the race.  It was great seeing my daughter’s hands up in the air as she crossed the finish line.  I sent the link off to grandparents if anyone was interested in ordering pictures :)

The motto of the race was “Complete to Compete” and was a great event for kids of all ages.  We can’t wait for next year!

How do you keep your kids active?

First Day of Kindergarten

Twas the night before kindergarten….and I’m getting teary eyed.

imageWe met with my daughter’s JK teacher today and it wasn’t until we walked out of the school that it hit me.  After being at home with my daughter for the majority of her 4 years, tomorrow I begin to share her with someone else.

I am so very fortunate that after my son’s birth my husband and I decided that I would stay home and care for our children.  I have a job that allows me 3 years off (on top of my 2 maternity leaves) so I still have one more year at home with my son.

We enrolled my daughter in full-day summer camp for a week as a trial-run.  It was a great idea for all of us, as it really showed what the day would look like. It helped me figure out lunches, my husband understand the timelines, my son realize his sister wasn’t around, and my daughter she learned that she’ll be okay.  She can leave me and home and routine for an entire day and we’re still all here at the end of the day waiting for her.

But that was just one week.  I knew there was an end so never fully took it as the beginning of school and everything coming up.

She had a meltdown today because her brother was playing with more toys than her.  I had to help her count breaths to calm her down.  Who will do that? She’s worried if the other kids will like her.  What if they don’t?  When she’s tired she’s not reasonable so I give her space.  How can that happen in a room of 30 kids?

I know these are all the worries that other parents have.  But I wonder if they are ones that came earlier for when many kids go to pre-school?

But aside from all my worries, there is also a huge level of excitement for her.  The opportunity to paint, colour, glue, cut, sing, play, dance, learn and so much more waiting at her fingertips! She will come home every day with stories of the greatness of her day.  And that excitement is what will keep my tears back tomorrow.  That promise of so much more for her.

What are your worries with a new school year?

 

Good Support

Years ago I decided it was time to invest in a good bra.  I simply wasn’t fitting into department store bras.  I can’t even remember how I came across Goodnight Goodmorning in Oakville, but I am so glad I did.

Some people might think spending $100+ on a bra is crazy.  But imagine how many cheaper bras you go through and I it would equal up to that same amount.  The difference is, my $100+ bras last for years.  I have some that I’ve been wearing for over 5 years.

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A good bra not only makes you look fantastic, but feel fantastic.  Talking with someone the other day, she said that she had bought a new bra for an upcoming event that she wanted to feel “indestructible” for.  Imagine an undergarment making you feel that way?

When I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter I knew it was time to start investing in nursing bras.  I purchased two from Goodnight Goodmorning and they lasted through nursing my daughter, then through my next pregnancy and another year of nursing my son.  Two well taken care of bras, worn daily for over 3 years and still in good quality for me to pass down.  That is a worthwhile investment.

Sports bras are another difficult purchase for larger breasted women.  But no problem when you are looking at the right stores.

A couple of years ago I decided to treat myself to a well fitted bathing suit.  I had a couple from Bikini Village in their largest cup size but support-wise they just weren’t doing it for me.  Again, Goodnight Goodmorning to the rescue. I bought a Change bikini and love it.

Recently I was fortunate to do a bathing suit and lingerie segment with Goodnight Goodmorning on CHCH Morning Live.  I can’t believe how many people have been asking me about the suits I was wearing.  From full piece, to tankinis, to bikinis Anya and her staff are unbelievable.  They really do have your best interest in mind and help to find styles and colours and sizes that make you feel your best.

What’s your secret for feeling “indestructible”?

Finding the Balance

Shhhhh.  My 4-year-old daughter is at camp and my 2.5 year old is sleeping.  TV is off and the only noise is the kettle boiling.  Which means it’s a perfect time to plan our fall activities/schedule :)

I have been very fortunate to be able to stay home with my kids the past 4 years.  Being home means that all of our lessons, etc. could be during the day.  Our nights and weekends have been kept reasonably clear and I am thankful for that.  But with my daughter starting school this Fall, it’s time to start our adjustment to the real world.

Not only are we dealing with the calendar differences, but also trying to find the right balance of activities.  At 4 years old, how many activities should she be doing? And what activities give her a wide range of interests?

For my husband and myself, we decided 3 activities were good.  2 during the week and 1 on weekends.  We also want to continue introducing her to new activities.  Which means taking a break from gymnastics and trying something new.  The city Drama School is perfect for my daughter, who loves to entertain.  And it has an ideal time, right after school with lots of time to get home for dinner and play time after.

Singing in the Garden
Singing in the Garden

As well, after a year of skating we’re ready to take the step to hockey.  Before the fall season starts, we’ve enrolled my daughter in Henderson Hockey, who runs a MiniRinx program, giving her a chance to practice skating with all the equipment on.

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The third activity is the one I will always keep on the schedule year-round; swimming.  As a safety factor, both kids will always be signed up for swimming.  An added bonus: it’s always the cheapest activity.

Loves to Swim
Loves to Swim

Lucky for me, I still have one more year at home with my son so I can still do his activities during the day (swimming, gymnastics, and skating).

How do you balance your kids activities?

 

Not Just a Mom

I started this blog over 2 years ago to keep my sanity.  It gave me a chance to use my brain outside of diapers, playdates, meltdowns, and midnight feeds.

As my daughter lost her nap, I lost time to write.  I have dozens of half-finished posts, filled with non-sensical ramblings.  Slowly losing time to do something I love I find myself missing that part of my personality.

Being a stay at home mom is the most surprising decision I have ever made, but it is 100% the best decision I have ever made.  As we near the day my daughter starts school full-time (less than 3 weeks!) I am starting to look back at all the extra time I’ve been able to have with her and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  And as that day gets closer I will try my best to make sense of my “first day of kindergarten” ramblings :)

With one more year off of work I am again reminded of how fortunate I am.  When the time comes, I will have had almost 5 years off to be at home.  I have one more year of extra time with my son and I am so looking forward to it.  But within that year I also know it is time for me to start transitioning back to my other job.  Supply teaching will slowly help with the adjustment back to full-time teacher, but I also think making the time to write/blog again will help as well.

Time to start merging mommy-brain with working-brain :)

For other SAHMs, how do you keep your non-mom personality?

Packing with Kids

stashmom:

One year later and we’re off to the Bahamas!

Originally posted on Mom on the Move:

We recently got back from a family vacation to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  My husband, our 3-year-old daughter, 18 month old son and myself were travelling with a large group for my sister’s destination wedding.  A few friends have been asking about what I packed and what I missed so I thought I’d share it here.

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What I Packed

  • Toys – bring lots!  We didn’t bring enough.  My daughter is old enough to entertain herself, however my son needed a lot.  Before the trip I went to the dollar store and got inflatable and sand toys, but I needed to bring more.
  • Swim – I wanted my kids to be wearing some sort of flotation device at all times.  We’ve used the puddle jumpers before but outside of the pool I thought it would limit their arms.  Then I found the Speedo Swim Vest.  By no means a lifesaving…

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