The Guilt

IMG_1850fWhy do I always feel guilty? Why do I always feel that I am not doing enough? Why do I always think that the grass is always greener on the other side? As we approach the six month-mark of exclusive breastfeeding (so proud of myself), and four sharp teeth, I am contemplating the idea of changing things up. I have discussed about potentially getting a pump with some of you, and still haven’t. I am beyond exhausted. I have lost an amazing amount of weight (which is great, don’t get me wrong, but I feel weak), my nipples are sore, and I am just not enjoying it as much. We are still co-sleeping, and she still nurses frequently at night.

I feel the need to mention that I am writing this post during a growth-spurt and therefore, I am very sensitive about the issue. After a couple nights of constant nursing, I am ready to tackle tonight but I can’t help and wonder: Have I hit rock bottom? Is this it? Can I keep going like that for a few more months?

One part of me wants to stop breastfeeding and feels extremely guilty for not wanting to continue to do what is best for my daughter. And the other part of me wants the best for me (mentally and physically speaking). It is just me and the girls 24/7 most of the times as my husband works away, and although we have family here, I care for them exclusively. I dream of a day off. I feel bad about it but it would make me feel so good – walking around, light and free. I would sleep in, read an entire book, window-shop without the stress of being as quick as possible so that my babies aren’t too cranky by the end of it, create, paint, do nothing.

What does it have to do with breastfeeding? Yes, good point. Well, I feel like I am losing myself. I don’t want to be cranky anymore because my child bites me when I feed her. I don’t want to be cranky because I don’t have time for myself in the evening. I don’t want to be cranky because I don’t have uninterrupted sleep. But when she is in her own bed, I can’t find sleep because I miss her.

My first baby drank formula when she turned 2 months old. I wanted the best for her. And I want the best for the new baby. But I know more. I have grown as a parent, and a mother, and it is hard to ignore the simple facts. Breast is best. It is not going to damage her – Sixtine is a beautiful toddler, but I can’t quite tell myself: “Oh, I am tired, I’ll just give her formula. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t best for her.” Pumping would be ideal. Unfortunately, it takes up so much time and energy – I am afraid it might make things even more complicated than they are now.

I am at a complete loss.

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Toddler Years: Handling Tantrums

cleaningup

Putting her blocks away without being prompted.

Sixtine is a very bright, wild, energetic and strong-willed little girl. She loves her newly found independence but still needs a lot of attention. I think the hardest part of being 20 months (for my baby anyway) is that she is torn between wanting to be her own individual and needing us – just as much as her 3 months old sister does, but differently.

She has gone through moving out of the country twice, being away from her father half her life in total, changing homes, language, entourage, routine and last but not least, a difficult pregnancy (modified bed rest, hospitalization) and a new baby in the family. Sprinkle with a typical 20-month old attitude and you have a clear picture of what we are going through right now.

She is craving for stability, routine and order which is why the Montessori approach works so well for us. Look at her putting her blocks away at the exact same place! She seems so concentrated and content. I was actually extremely surprised to see that she knew to empty her dirty clothes basket in her sister’s hamper.

One thing though, she is amazing with her baby sister. She kisses her, holds her hand, tells her not to cry, tell her “go” when she wants her to nurse, pour water on her head during bath time (gently – she means to help), shares her toys, will pull my hand when “Coco” is up so I can attend to her right the second ( I think she hears her better than I do ;)…and the list goes on!

However, I have been finding it really hard to keep my cool lately. She whines and cries a lot more than usual, and can be defiant as well. I am not as patient either and I suppose she can feel it too. What I usually do is I will explain to her that I am not happy with her behaviour and will have her sit on a cushion. She knows she has to stay on it until I go get her (usually a couple minutes) and I tell her to think about what happened. She usually gets very offended and cries, eventually, when I come back, I ask her if she is sorry and she will answer: “Yeah” and give me a big cuddle and kisses. It usually works – but for big tantrums, I am totally at lost.

I know I should ignore them but it is easier said than done – raising two young children alone, I have very little time for myself, I get frustrated and tired, I get to miss my husband (and I know Sixtine misses her Daddy so much it breaks my heart) who goes away for work, and at the end of the day, we are all very tensed.

She has also been fighting against wearing diapers but also won’t sit on the toilets. I guess she just wants to say: I want to make decision for myself. And she can make some decisions; I offer choices when possible but it isn’t always.

It makes me very emotional just thinking of it – I love my baby so much and I wish things were smoother between the two of us…

I know that spending quality time together makes a difference – and I sincerely feel that I do that but maybe not as much as she would like – but I would really like to hear how you are going through the toddler stage or how you got through it.

ps: I need a serious plan for potty training. (I can’t let her run around naked anymore as we have mostly carpet in the house!)

Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal Smoothie Recipe

beforeafter

Ingredients + recipe:

  • 1 banana (we used fresh but you could use a frozen one)
  • 1/4 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup of quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of milk (we used almond milk – I am lactose intolerant and I am nursing Victoire who isn’t doing well on milk products)
  • 1/2 cup of plain yoghurt (we used organic vanilla yoghurt but you could probably go without)
  • 1/2 tbsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • optional: 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (we used unsweetened/pure chocolate ones)
  • Blend all ingredients in your mixer and ta da!

Makes two servings. My family enjoyed this smoothie a lot: Sixtine actually licked her spoon dry! I suggest not making it close to meal times as it is quite heavy! I couldn’t finish mine (might try it again without yoghurt, a bit more almond milk and minus chocolate chips haha).

What is your favorite smoothie recipe?

The 6 Week Growth Spurt & Breastfeeding

liberty

Going through a growth spurt and breastfeeding has proved challenging. I am starving. I am always thirsty (and water doesn’t cut it!). And I am beyond exhausted. (It is past midnight and baby is sleeping. I should go to bed.) So tired that my eyes hurt. I have cried the past two nights. More so last night when Victoire was crying, hungry and I felt empty. Not one drop of milk would come out. And all I wanted to do was sleep. I can understand now why a mother in distress would go to formula! We eventually fell asleep and, a couple hours later, some more milk had come in and she was able to nurse. She actually ate A LOT last night. I am hoping that tonight will be a little easier than last night – but I feel fuller, even tensed so it should be. I was able to get support from some ladies on the French LLL Facebook page and it really helped. Who would have thought that something so natural would be so hard!?

Life With Two Children Under Two

6 feet

Three girls. Three pairs of feet. Three different personalities and routines, wants and needs.

When I became pregnant with Victoire, I often wondered how life would be like, looking after a 17 months old and newborn. I wasn’t so much worried about organization than how Sixtine would react to this change in our lives. I felt sad for my baby daughter thinking she would have to share her Mama, a Mama who could barely walk her to the park during a long, tedious pregnancy. I felt sad thinking she would have to be the “big girl” now, a big girl that was only so little…

I never really enjoyed being the eldest of four. My friends in school would call me “the little Mama” and that, I didn’t want for my daughter to have to go through. I wanted her to live her life and not worry about who was coming after. Or at least, not for some time. I guess I was projecting my own fears on Sixtine.

I had been dreading it for a week but one very early Monday morning, my husband had to go back to work after three weeks home (including one at the hospital for the birth of baby). When that day arrived, I had a good cry (I can’t-do-it-alone-sob-I-am-too-tired-sob-help-I-need-somebody-help), wiped my tears, got up and went. I nursed Victoire, prepared breakfast for Sixtine, got both girls ready, and one thing after the other, it was bedtime for Sixtine. I had mixed feelings at the end of the day: I felt both happy and proud, and at the same time I wondered how I would be able to do it for another week, month, year. But I realize now that children bring the best in you.

Looking after both of them day & night is extremely challenging – I find it hardest at meal times and at the end of the day, when we are all tired. But even then, it is much better than what I had envisioned.

Sixtine who I feared to be jealous and terrible, is actually very sweet to her baby sister, helpful, and generally well-behaved (as much as a 18-month old can be). She helped me change her sister this evening, holding wipes and diaper for me, and putting the dirty one in the garbage. She kisses, and strokes her sister’s head every single day, many times a day. She does sometimes walks on all fours (she has done that a few times now, since her sister has arrived), steals her sister’s soother, or jumps in her sister’s bed but I guess she is just showing her love. She loves her sister so she wants to be like her. She has also done a few cute things like putting a nursing pad under my shirt or hers. She’s also tried to nurse a couple times, asking then for a bottle of her own. (Oh yeah, and that one time when she told her sister not to scream with a threatening finger…I was in shock when it happened – it was the first time ever I heard her say “no screaming” (in French), let alone associate two words together.)

She loves her to pieces. The thought of it makes me really emotional as I can tell how happy she is to have a baby sister, even if she is still very small and doesn’t interact with her. I am so happy that we were able to give her the gift of a sibling. Now, I can’t say that it is all roses. I am extremely exhausted (as in major case of baby brain, and falling asleep for a half hour and waking up thinking it has been a full night already). I sometime forget to go pee or eat. I sometime feel like I am running a never-ending marathon.  I haven’t blow dried my hair since Vic’s birth. I have very little time for myself until the night comes, and even then, baby Vic keeps me company. She is breastfed and we co-sleep. But I enjoy her company very much.

It has only been a month and I know there are more challenging days to come but this is how things are right now. I don’t think I can afford to worry about how it will be in a few months down the road. Let’s see how it goes tomorrow and make the most of it. It is much less scary that way!

Parenting Alone

When Sixtine was about 5 months we decided as a family that I and the baby would go to France for a few months so I could recharge my batteries and it was really needed. I did recharge them and felt better as soon as I landed but I missed my husband terribly after three months. He came for a two-week visit and wedid lots of sightseeing which was a lot of fun. He also had the opportunity to meet all my family, friends and see where I was from etc… I told him I never wanted to be apart again after being away for so long.

But again, Sixtine and I flew to France on the 27th of October and won’t be seeing him until the birth of the baby (unless he gets some time off for Christmas). Our future is pretty uncertain as he is starting a new job and doesn’t know what is in store for him yet.

I am exhausted ( I have said and written that a lot lately. Forgive me.) and raising Sissi by myself is pretty challenging. My husband is a very hands-on father, always willing to help. It feels like I have no break without him around. It is 24/7. I am definitely not your stay-at-home mother type of person and I am starting to wish I was going to work. I know it sounds horrible but I don’t think it is. I love my daughter to death. I just want to be my own person, not “just” a mum.

I miss him terribly and Skype hasn’t been doing a great job. It is always cutting up, and there is like a 8 hour time difference which means at midnight there it is 8 in the morning here.

To sum it up: Parenting alone su*ks! – especially when you have the most awesome husband in the world!

Yes, We Are Expecting Again

…just for clarification. I posted a somewhat subtle picture a few weeks ago but I received an email from a friend asking if I was actually pregnant so I thought I would clarify the situation for everyone. I am currently 14 weeks+ pregnant and I am due in March.

Now, as I type, I am recovering from a fever and I have what I think is the flu so excuse me in advance if I sound harsh but I guess being up all week with a sick baby (she is perfectly fine now – I am not) and trying to survive the everyday life I have been very sensitive too many things, in particular, the questions and comments some people have been making since the announcement of my pregnancy.

  1. I know – when Sixtine was born (even during pregnancy) I said I would never be pregnant again and I only wanted one child. For whatever reasons, people seem to think it is appropriate to bring it up again. How about Congratulations, how are you feeling? instead of I thought you only wanted one! Oddly, these comments only come from one side of the Atlantic.
  2. Back-to-back pregnancies. I was pregnant not too long ago and my baby is only 11 months. We found out we were pregnant when she was 9 months old. I feel that naturally, my already stretched belly picked up where we left off pretty quickly. I posted a picture of my cute belly and received a lot of: OMG You are so big or comments along those lines. How nice!  In my defense, I would like to say that I haven’t gained a pound yet.
  3. I guess I didn’t need bullet points. I only had two main things to complain about.

I would also like to tell everyone that my house is a mess. And I have zero energy to do anything about it. It is really bad – but at the end of the day, I think if my baby is happy, entertained, fed, clean and rested, I have done an all right job.

Why I Wanted Our Baby To Be A Girl

I have recently come to the conclusion that wanting a baby girl because they are quiet, calm and sweet wasn’t very accurate. It appears that, as she develops her own personality, my daughter is a real active, fearless girl and I am starting to think…Will she want to go to ballerina classes? Those were my plans for her! She doesn’t take her fearlessness after me as I have always been considered as a “delicate flower”, a very girlie girl. My husband must be over-the-moon excited as he gets 2 for the price of one! “She may enjoy playing hockey”, he even said. Uh, no. Dance, and er..art, and if you really insist maybe figure skating.

Obviously, I love my daughter the way she is and won’t force her to do anything but I am hoping that we will get to share some things together. I am so happy that she is a smart, happy, social, full of life, and risk-taker type of person! I mean I wouldn’t dive off a bed like she does. I know she is only little and she will sure grow and change but she is starting to show us who she is and I love it!

When I first became pregnant, my only wish was to have a healthy pregnancy, delivery and baby. And then, as the pregnancy evolved I started to wish (more or less secretly) that we were expecting a girl. My dad kept saying “It’s a boy, it has to be boy. Nature will make things right…”. He meant balance things up a little bit as he is the father of four girls! And I felt it was a girl but waited until the day it was confirmed: “You are expecting a girl”! It was such a beautiful day.

We were ecstatic and then, after a bit, I felt a little sad for the baby boy we also envisioned and dreamed of…I think we won’t make the same mistake again (talking about two distinct babies – a boy and a girl) and will just talk about “baby” until we find out what baby is as it was really sad to think about that boy we already loved yet didn’t exist in real life.

Some of you may have requested to know the gender of their baby, some others may have waited for it to be a surprise…I was one of those mamas counting down the days to gender revelation day. You should have seen my face! I guess we all have our reasons for wanting a specific gender, or not wanting to know. I was glad we got to know as it helped prepared myself mentally…I think it would have taken me a few weeks to get over the fact that we weren’t having a girl. Don’t take me wrong though. Children are blessings and I would love a baby boy just as I love my baby girl, but some of us can’t help but wish for one or the other. I think I always felt like I would be a mama’s girl. Growing up in a family of 6 including 5 ladies, I never really had close friends that were boys, and I always wanted to have a daughter.

Now, if we were to have another baby some day, I know my husband would love to have a boy and I have to say that I would love to have a baby sister for my daughter but would be just as happy to have a boy, now that the girl box has been ticked!

I would love to hear your thoughts on baby gender! Did you find out the sex of your baby during your pregnancy or did you want the surprise? Why? 

On Raising A Bicultural Baby

Bicultural: of, relating to, or including two distinct cultures.

Sixtine is French. And she is also Canadian. I don’t know if it is me and my naturally-inclined way of stressing out, or if other first-time mothers of bicultural children have felt this way but it can be very overwhelming to make parenting choices when both cultures don’t see eye to eye.

It affects every aspect of everyday life, especially in the food department…To give you an idea, food is not introduced the same way, one tells me that 3 bottles of 7oz a day is enough and the other tells me that milk should be baby’s main source of nutrition, one is more into attachment parenting, the other favorites independence in children…One sells formula at about 12 euros, one sells it at about 30ish dollars which tells me that Canadian want to discourage women to formula-feed or encourage them to breastfeed if you prefer.

As a first-time mum, (of bicultural children or not), it can be tough to feel confident with your choices, let alone when cultures come into it. I feel divided and overwhelmed.I just want to do the right thing. But what is the right thing? My husband tells me to keep doing what I am doing, but do I know what I am doing?

Sigh…Teething Rant

 
She’s teething.
My poor little one has been going through a lot of pain over the last five days and I am starting to wonder if it will ever stop. She hasn’t had a good night sleep for days, she hardly naps anymore, won’t eat much, and fusses a lot (etc.). It breaks my heart to see her in so much pain. She is a very easy baby so I can tell right away when something is wrong.
I am beyond exhausted. I take my hat off to single parents! Parenting with my husband is so much easier but I guess at the end of the day, you do what you have to do.